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Vol. 8 No. 8 - August 2, 2008


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the PDF file. This is a 13.7 Mbyte file and will take about 79 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. Click here for help with PDF downloads. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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Monument Band Shell opens on a high note

Below: (L-R) Gordon Burt accompanies Chuck Pyle at the opening of the Monument Band Shell at Limbach Park on July 9. Photo by David Futey. 

The concert attracted a good turnout. In the background, a train’s horn competes with the music. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Below: Limbach Park band shell ribbon-cutting July 9. Woody Woodworth, event organizer, is second from the right. Photo by David Futey.

Below: Chuck Pyle and Gordon Burt perform. The series concludes Aug. 6 with a performance by the bluegrass group Palmer Divide. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

A ribbon-cutting ceremony, numerous thanks for volunteer efforts, a renowned performer playing on stage, and a lawn full of concert-goers were the sights and sounds at the opening of the Monument Band Shell. The eight-year effort to build the band shell, constructed on the corner of Second and Front Streets in Limbach Park, finally ended on July 9. It was built with joint financing among local businesses and the town, along with considerable volunteer support.

Through cookie sales at a concert series over those eight years and by other means, the Historic Monument Merchants Association raised over $13,000, with another $50,000 contributed by the Town of Monument.

Another key component in the band shell’s design and construction that was highlighted throughout the opening ceremony was the significant volunteer contributions. Cathy Green, Monument town manager, noted the following as contributors:

  • John P. Nelson Associates
  • Robinson Construction
  • Barton Brothers Concrete
  • Clark Land Surveying Inc.
  • MK Meyer Electric
  • Anthony Manufacturing
  • CJ Masonry
  • Kane Koncrete Inc.
  • Peak View Roofing
  • Parker Excavating
  • MCM Engineering
  • Yee Consulting Engineering
  • Geoquest LLC
  • Pikes Peak Regional Building Department
  • The Town of Monument

Along with these companies and organizations, Woody Woodworth, owner of High Country Home & Garden, Tommie Plank, owner of Covered Treasures Bookstore, and other downtown merchants provided continual support to the effort.

Since the inception of the summer concerts, performers have played for free. However, in the tradition of traveling minstrel shows, a hat is passed around the audience for contributions to the performers. On this evening the "Zen Cowboy," Chuck Pyle, and Gordon Burt, accompanying Pyle on fiddle, were the recipients of the audience’s appreciation and christened the stage with a mix of Pyle’s songs. The Concerts in the Park Series in July also included Sweet Revenge, Bob Turner, and Jim Adam. On Wednesday, Aug. 6, bluegrass band Palmer Divide will perform from 7 to 9 p.m.

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Expert details extensive use and production of toxic chemicals in natural gas production

By Chris Pollard

In an informational meeting held on July 22 at the Pinecrest Events Center in Palmer Lake, with about 60 people present, Chris Amendsen, president of the Front Range Environmental Resource Coalition (FRERC), gave a brief update regarding the proposal by Dyad Petroleum to drill for natural gas west of the Tri-lakes region. The coalition had invited Dr. Theo Colborn, the internationally renowned and awarded expert on the effects of chemicals used and generated in the production of natural gas, to give a talk about the many issues with chemicals related to this process.

Amendsen noted that while the current proposal by Dyad was to drill two test wells, it had in fact leased 21,000 acres of the Pike National Forest. With a density of wells that could be reasonably seen to reach one per every 40 acres, the final tally could exceed 500 wells.

He presented a chart that illustrated a section of the geology in the local area. This showed the Denver/Arapahoe aquifer, from which local water districts draw their water, going down about 6,250 feet. Dyad wants to drill through this aquifer down to 8,000 feet. The two proposed drilling sites are on two 5-acre sites adjacent to Raspberry Mountain—almost immediately adjacent to the Red Rocks subdivision.

Amendsen pointed out that because drilling has effects below and above ground, the problem is not just a Tri-Lakes problem but also a Colorado Springs and Air Force Academy problem.

No decision on the drilling is expected before spring 2009, but the environmental assessment by the U.S. Forest Service could be released as early as January 2009. He noted that Dyad had been invited to attend the meeting but had again declined. Amendsen added that even with all the potential liabilities inherent in a drilling operation, Dyad, an eight-person company, would have to post only a $50,000 performance bond.

Bonnie Hildebrandt, a member of FRERC, then introduced the guest speaker. She noted that the primary goal of the presentation was to provide education on the issues of air and water pollution related to gas drilling operations. Colborn is an international expert on health issues related to the chemicals used in the gas drilling process. The information she has provided will form the cornerstone of FRERC’s response to the environmental assessment report. FRERC had concerns over the Forest Service’s and Dyad’s ability to maintain safe operations.

Colborn has spoken in several countries, written a book, "Our Stolen Future," and founded the organization called the Endocrine Disruption Exchange. She has received numerous accolades and international awards. She was an advisor to the EPA on endocrine disruption issues and was selected as one of Time magazine’s 2007 Global Environmental Heroes.

In a biography handed out at the meeting, Colborn was noted as an expert on the trans-generational effects of toxic chemicals in the womb on the developing endocrine, immune, metabolic and nervous systems. She is a professor emeritus of zoology at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

Colborn said she would talk about "What you need to know about natural gas production." She then showed some pictures of gas drilling operations in Garfield County, where well heads had now reached a density of one per 35 acres. Some wells in production had a number of evaporation ponds and others had larger ponds for storing water that comes up with the gas. These ponds are filled by water trucks driven from yet other wells close by. In the evaporation ponds, powered misters are set up to force the water into the air. Now the permits have been changed in the area to increase the density to allow one well per 10 acres.

To illustrate the various stages in the construction of a well, Colborn talked about a well being drilled in Gunnison County, but the water from the site feeds into Garfield County. Two ponds are present at the first stages of drilling—one filled with the rock chips from the cutting head and the other with drilling mud used as a lubricant and blocking agent. The area where they were drilling was immediately adjacent to a creek. During the drilling operation, a methane leak developed and started to flow into the creek. This drilling is occurring on lands within the national forest where farms have become no longer profitable and the owners are selling out to energy companies.

While drilling, the men work 12 hours on 12 hours off, because drilling has to continue around the clock. The men are typically hired on contract, without benefits, starting at $28 an hour.

The next phase of the operation is called frac-ing (fracturing), though the industry is now trying to change this to "stimulation," Colborn said. There may be as many as 28 wells on a drilling pad site. Each of these wells will have up to six spurs out the bottom of the main drill pipe. Then, with explosives and high pressure injection of chemicals, these individual spurs are fractured out to as much as 2,000 feet. In the process the equipment on the surface uses vast quantities of diesel fuel for running the pumps and trucks associated with the operation. Each well may require around 20 "frac-ing tanks." While the tanks are supposed to be kept closed, it is common for them to be left open.

After the frac-ing fluids are forced down the well and left under pressure for a period, the pressure is released and the fluids then come back up the pipe and are stored in the tanks. The thousands of gallons of fluids involved in fracturing the well include surfactants, proppers to hold the bore open and various other chemicals. In addition, there is extensive use of very strong biocides. The reason for the biocides is to kill bacteria down the hole that might produce hydrogen sulfide. Other bacteria that are killed can corrode the drill pipes. The material is extremely toxic, and the industry now is turning to organic biocides.

The trucks that store the concentrated frac-ing chemicals are usually anonymous-looking large U-Haul-style trucks. Chemicals are kept in 42-gallon barrels inside the trucks with no indication on the outside that they contain toxic chemicals.

As diesel is burned in the frac-ing and well servicing, considerable levels of NOx (nitrogen oxides) are produced. The wells also generate quantities of volatile organic compounds that are vented off. In sunlight, these two sorts of compounds combine to produce ozone. In Pinedale, Wyo., they are reaching 122 parts per billion in the middle of winter. Colborn said the concentrations should be limited so that people are not exposed to more than 40 parts per billion, because the ozone molecules can get into the lungs and destroy cells. This damage is cumulative, and tests have shown that children exposed to these molecules in the air in the Los Angeles area now have reduced lung capacity by the time they reach their early 20s. It is also known to trigger asthma. She said increasing ozone concentrations causes reduced birth weights in newborns and rising incidences of asthma.

Because of the clean air in the Colorado area, monitoring of ozone has not been extensive. More recently, Pinedale, Aspen, and Denver are having ozone problems. In Denver, this is thought to be due to drilling north of the city.

Colborn then described the process of removing the dirty water from the gas. Each well head has a dehydrator and a flaring stack. The dehydrator consists of a tank where the gas is bubbled through ethylene glycol to absorb the water. The ethylene glycol then goes to another tank where it is heated to remove the water, and the condensate from that ends up in storage tanks. The other polluting gases that come up with the natural gas are flared off by burning on site. Because the process is apt to freeze in the winter, methanol is stored on site to heat the system.

Colborn noted that some new sites have a closed system, and water condensate is re-injected back into the well. She also noted the presence at each site of 500 hp diesel-driven fan and pump combinations that cool and pump the gas at about 500 pounds per square inch into the distribution pipes. These pumps can be built immediately adjacent to homes, and noise suppression equipment can muffle the sound.

Some of the coal bed methane wells that are nearer the surface give off tremendous amounts of fugitive methane coming directly out of the ground. This is a concern because methane is a much more powerful climate-changing gas than carbon dioxide.

In a further comment on the evaporation pits, Colborn said that she had found that most of these ponds were not covered with nets to protect animals and birds as they were supposed to be. She had been able to fly over some of the ponds hidden in the mountains near Grand Junction. These ponds were exceeding their allowable limits in the tonnage of volatile organic compounds dumped in them. In her opinion this was being exacerbated by wildcatters dumping into the ponds.

A new evaporation pond west of Grand Junction is now servicing one water truck per minute. The tendency is to run some of these ponds very close to overflowing. Another issue with the evaporation ponds has to do with the sticky residue that is left at the end of the process. Some companies have bought land close to the ponds and are now "discing" the residue into the surface soil.

Colborn then talked about her unique research into the types of chemicals used in frac-ing mixes. Information is not published nor required to be published on the materials that companies use. She has found one complete recipe for these compounds but has needed to analyze the contaminated water found in residential wells to determine what chemicals are used. People whose wells have been compromised have reported bizarre health effects. Many of these people have adrenal gland problems and other endocrine-related problems. In almost all cases, it has been impossible to prove that the illnesses are directly caused by the contamination.

Over the years, Colborn has accumulated information on chemical use on the Western Slope. Through the availability of MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) she has identified 215 products containing 278 chemicals. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology intern helped her categorize the health effects of these chemicals. Of the chemicals used, 93 percent had the potential for causing adverse health effects. Of these, 81 percent have the potential of four to 14 health effects, and 42 percent are endocrine disruptors. These are more of a problem because they can have prenatal effects. She noted that many people now suffer from endocrine-related problems such as thyroid problems and diabetes. While most organizations cite the lack of cancer-causing problems with these chemicals, other health problems are much more prevalent.

In a study of old evaporation pits in New Mexico, most of the chemicals in the pits were on the Superfund list. This had the potential to make every pit a Superfund site.

Colborn then turned to the atmospheric effects of haze. Conifers were susceptible to the level of haze, and she believed that parts of the San Bernardino Forest in California were lost because of the ozone haze there.

We do not know every chemical used by the gas drilling industry, Colborn said, and we do not know the quantities used nor their concentration or what combinations are used. She said we do not know what is recovered and what is left in the evaporation pits. Nobody is keeping track of the vast quantities of water that drillers’ trucks take from the Colorado River and that might not be returned, she said.

Colborn said there is a need to implement baseline monitoring of well sites and then monitor them continuously while in production. She said there are chronic latent problems with the contamination of the ground, water, and air.

She noted that further information was available at her organization’s Web site: www.endocrinedisruption.org

Colborn then introduced Laura Amos, who lived in the gas drilling area of Garfield County and who was diagnosed with primary hyperaldosteronism, a very rare condition involving a tumor in the adrenal gland.

Amos said she had lived in a "gas patch" on a small ranch in rural Colorado. This area had a huge amount of natural gas below the surface, and initially it was not exploited. Then, Halliburton developed the technology for frac-ing, and Garfield County is now the site for more than 25,000 active gas wells, some only 150 feet from homes.

The process was initiated in 1998 by the arrival of a land manager representing the drilling company. A few months later, work began on her property and by 2003 she realized that she was now living in an industrial wasteland. The environment had been completely taken over, and there was constant traffic.

There were many nasty odors of diesel fuel natural gas products, and it smelled like a chemical lab every day, Amos said. She was awakened in the middle of the night with headaches and subjected to around-the-clock lights and profanity from the drilling and maintenance crews and their trucks.

Because of her health problems, she spent eight to 12 months doing research on natural gas production and became interested in the chemicals used. She found information on them was unavailable, and Congress had given the industry an exemption from the safe drinking water act. The watchdog organization of the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission was made up mostly of oil and gas industry people.

Amos came across a memo written by Colborn noting the use in frac-ing of a chemical called 2 butoxyethanol that had a tendency to induce malignant and non-malignant adrenal gland tumors. While EnCana, the drilling company, initially denied the use of this compound, she found out that at a later frac-ing site it was indeed being used. EnCana then organized the delivery of commercial water.

She said that she then became more active in trying to solve the problem. While she and her husband were investigating outfitters, she found herself in an unlikely partnership with environmental organizations. Thinking that the federal government was on the side of the people, her research only led her to believe that the White House was inseparable from the energy industry. She became overwhelmed by the problem of taking on a multi-billion dollar industry. She has had little luck in finding lawyers to help her tackle the issues, and the media attention she has gained has upset workers in her area to the point where her family has been threatened.

The only positive turning point has come about through discussions with Colorado state officials. The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission has been restructured by the state Legislature to include non-industry participants, and there is some hope that the oil and gas laws will be rewritten.

Amos said that we need to continue drilling but the drilling should be done responsibly. She said that the industry tried to pay for public approval by donating money for local causes and buildings. People should do their own research on the oil and gas industry and get to know the regulations and attend the Gas Commission meetings.

Glenn Yoder, treasurer of FRERC, gave a short summary of the group’s funding to date. Donations totaled $15,440, with expenses of $2,157. A recent benefit concert raised $1,300. The organization estimates it would need close to $50,000 to prepare an adequate response to the environmental assessment. If the group gets halfway to the goal, it plans to start working on research for the response, he said.

**********

For more information, see www.frerc.org

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Monument Academy Board, July 15: Board gives update on new Academy school building

By Chris Pollard

About 60 parents gathered at Monument Hill Church on July 15 to hear an update on the construction and financing of the new Monument Academy school.

Dana Murphree, the owners’ representative, said that the building had been connected with Qwest and some of the painting had been completed. The elevator had been delivered but not yet installed. The contractor had started placing some of the ceiling and tiling and was working on the concrete curb and gutter outside. Work had begun on the stone facing on the east end of the gym.

Jay McKeown, board secretary, and Laura Hannon, treasurer, then gave an update on the schedule for construction and opening of the school as well as information on financing for the building. JE Dunn, the contractor in charge of construction, was now planning on having a temporary certificate of occupancy on Aug. 21 and working toward getting a permanent certificate of occupancy for the same date.

Members of the Academy School Board had met with JE Dunn to go over the financial status of the project. Although JE Dunn had informed people that they would run out of funds on July 25, they had reviewed their position and expected the funds to last through the end of July. This was significant, because July 23 was the date when the board expected to get approval of another bond issue to cover the extra costs.

The bond holders who had financed the original issue of bonds had asked for more information before they could decide on whether these should be subordinated bonds or parity bonds. If they are parity bonds, the holders of the newly issued bonds would have the same status as the original holders. Holders of subordinated bonds would have a lower status.

They planned to meet with the state board and bond underwriter on July 23. If approved, they might be able to get funds as early as September. If this happened, they would have one month to finance. If they could get a commitment letter from the bond issuers, they felt that they could get a bank loan to cover this.

On the positive side, they announced that the Monument Academy Foundation, which had earlier accepted a donation of 4.5 acres of land in the Highway 105 corridor, had come to an agreement with a buyer. The Academy board expected the foundation to donate the proceeds, expected to be a substantial sum of money, to the Academy funds.

Contingency plans: They then went on to discuss talks with School District 38 and contingency plans if the school is not ready to open for students on Sept. 8. Students need to be in school on Sept. 15 for a state mandated count on Oct. 1 that determines the head count for the year. If there were further delays, they might be able to petition the state Board of Education to delay the count date. As far as the teaching schedule, they believed they could accommodate later start dates.

Hannon said they were confident that they will meet the date, noting the significant steps to completing the interior of the building. At the last meeting they had noted that the mechanical aspect of construction was running about a week behind, but that was now on schedule. JE Dunn has also been having regular inspections of the work, so that they did not expect any surprises.

In the question-and-answer session at the end of the meeting, Murphree noted that access to Highway 105 was to be at a new signaled junction currently under construction at the west end of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints parking lot.

When asked about the missing upper walls of the gymnasium at the east end of the building, she said that the metal siding was expected to be installed during the next week.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Special Meeting, July 24: Monument Academy building shortfall now estimated at $1.6 million; second bond issue planned

Below: July 24: District 38 board members Jeff Cantlebary, Mark Pfoff, Gail Wilson, and Dee Dee Eaton discuss Monument Academy finances with Superintendent Ray Blanch and Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Wangeman. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 School board held a special meeting July 24 to receive a briefing from Superintendent Ray Blanch on the latest information on the Monument Academy (MA) finances. During the course of the meeting, it was stated that MA intends to pursue a second bond issue to cover the shortfall in financing for the new building that is under construction on Highway 105 just east of Knollwood Drive. Including the costs associated with the second bond issue, the shortfall is now estimated to be $1.6 million, an increase from the $1.2 million shortfall reported in June.

Present for the meeting were school board president Dee Dee Eaton and board members Jeff Cantlebary, Mark Pfoff, and Gail Wilson. Board member John Mann participated by speakerphone.

At the beginning of the meeting, the district board members present unanimously approved two consent agenda items. The first item addressed personnel issues including appointment of licensed staff. Eaton said this item involved replacement of staff no longer with the district. She said the total number of full-time equivalent licensed staff would not increase as a result of approval of the item. The second consent agenda item was for expenditures over $25,000 requiring board approval.

Blanch presented background on the MA financial situation. Some highlights of his presentation and the associated discussion were:

  • Blanch noted that under state law, MA has the authority, independent of the district, to contract, budget, lease or purchase school facilities, retain fees, establish educational programs, and hire and compensate employees. He said that obligations entered into by MA are the sole responsibility of MA and not the district. He added that MA is responsible to maintain its own financial records.
  • He said district staff and MA staff held additional meetings on July 8, July 18, and July 24.
  • MA has been unable to obtain a bank loan to cover the shortfall. On July 23, MA met with the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority (CECFA). CECFA has authorized MA to pursue a second bond issue but declined to guarantee that second bond issue. The second bonds are to be at parity with the first bonds and so the second bond issue would require approval by the current bondholders.
  • District Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Wangeman said that instead of an interest rate of about 6 percent, like the first bond issue, the lack of a guarantee on the second bond issue would probably mean the second bond issue will carry an interest rate of about 9-10 percent. She added that it would likely take 4-6 weeks to get the bonds issued.
  • MA claims their enrollment is 551 full-time equivalents (FTE). Blanch said current enrollment figures in the student information system show 526 FTE. MA says some parents have not yet completed enrollment. Blanch said that the funding to MA will be based on the July 1 count of 526.
  • Blanch said that even though the building contractor JE Dunn is hoping to meet a "target date" of August 21 for a permanent certificate of occupancy, the contractual completion date is October 22. MA classes are scheduled to start September 8. Blanch said MA is expecting to receive a written statement next week from the building contractor committing to the target date.
  • Enrollment numbers per school as of October 1 determine subsequent state funds. Blanch reported that the Monument Academy currently has no contingency plan to house students in the event the school is not completed in time for the start of the 2008-09 school year. He added that the district is preparing a contingency plan to absorb the students in the event the new school is not ready in time.
  • Blanch said the district has not yet received the year-end fund balances needed to determine compliance with Tax Payer Bill of Rights (TABOR) reserve requirements. He noted that earlier figures from MA suggest they will have a narrow margin to comply with TABOR. Blanch added that the terms of the first bond issue require MA to maintain a 5 percent reserve in addition to the 3 percent TABOR reserve.
  • Wangeman said the lease payments on the building in 2008-09 will be partially covered by bond proceeds. She added that her bigger concern is the 2009-10 budget since the lease costs will "go way up." Wilson said the district should ask for two years of budgets.
  • Blanch said the funding shortfall may be a violation of state law that prohibits public schools from entering into a contract unless appropriations have been made to cover the costs. The response from MA is that the Monument Academy Building Corporation (MABC), a separate non-profit corporation, is building the school and has made the contractual commitments. Blanch said the district has referred the matter to legal counsel for an opinion.

Cantlebary, who said his children are students at MA, asked if it would be possible to delay the start of classes in the event the building is not ready on time. Blanch said the September 8 start of school date for MA could be delayed but not beyond October 1, the date when enrollment numbers are determined to calculate state funding. Changes in the start of school date would have to be discussed with the state.

Mann said that in deciding whether to vote to cancel the contract between the district and MA, he is looking at three factors:

  • Receipt of additional financing to cover the cost of the building.
  • Whether the building is finished August 21, a certificate of occupancy is issued, and school starts September 8.
  • Timely and complete reporting to the district of the MA’s finances.

Pfoff said that due to the failure of the MA board to keep the district informed about the financial difficulties, he has lost faith in the MA leadership. He said, "They need to prove to us that they are viable." He noted that classes in the district schools start August 14 and expressed concern that if completion of the MA building is delayed and the students have to be absorbed into the district schools, that will impact the whole district.

Earlier in the meeting, Pfoff described as "deceptive" an e-mail to MA stakeholders from Maribeth Muhonen, MA business manager, that stated the CECFA had approved funding to complete the building. At the end of the meeting, Muhonen explained that she had sent the message without board approval following the July 23 meeting with CECFA. She said that at the time she thought their decision to authorize MA to pursue funding meant the funding was approved.

Eaton said, "We’re not at the point of a vote. We’re just asking questions. We’re owed the information."

Cantlebary expressed disappointment with the "us" vs. "them" tone of the discussions and noted that there is a lot of frustration in the community with the lack of communication. He encouraged those with concerns to contact the school board members. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses for the board members are posted on the district’s web site. He said, "We need to make this all successful."

**********

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 August 21 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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Update: Lawsuit filed by D-38 retirees

the filing for the lawsuit against D-38 as PDF file. This is a 600 Kbyte file and will take about 4 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. Click here for help with PDF downloads. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

The article entitled "Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, June 19: Retired teachers concerned about change in retiree health benefits…" in the July 5 issue of Our Community News included comments by attorney Lisa Welch Stevens regarding changes to the health insurance program for retired district employees. On July 24, Stevens filed suit against the district on behalf of 8 retired employees claiming breach of contract and demanding reinstatement of the retirees’ insurance coverage and unspecified cash damages.

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Monument Academy special board meeting, July 28: Board provides responses to D-38 concerns

By Jim Kendrick

At a special Monument Academy School Board meeting on July 28, President Mike Wong stated that building contractor JE Dunn Construction is on schedule to complete construction of the new school building on Highway 105 and to obtain a certificate of occupancy by Aug. 21. A second bond issue of about $1.6 million will be completed the last week of August, and the proceeds will be used to pay off the remainder of the contract that Monument Academy Building Corp. has with JE Dunn that is not covered by the first bond issue.

Vice President Diana Helffenstein said there will be an "all parent" open house and orientation for all students in the new building on Sept. 5, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to be held on Sept. 6. Classes will begin on Sept. 8.

Also present at the meeting were Treasurer Laura Hannon, Director Will Cochran, Senior Administrator Jane Lundeen, and academy attorney Brad Miller. The absences of Secretary Jay McKeown and Director Bob Bowker were excused.

The board held this special meeting to provide information to its stakeholders regarding concerns about the academy’s finances and the construction schedule that were expressed by Lewis-Palmer School District staff and board members at a D-38 meeting on July 24. The D-38 meeting’s primary agenda was "Monument Academy budget discussion in regards to operations and capital construction," but Wong said academy board members were not allowed to speak in response to the concerns. (See the article on page 9 for details of the D-38 presentation made by Superintendent Ray Blanch at the July 24 special meeting.)

Construction progress and financing status

Treasurer Laura Hannon gave a detailed report on the current construction status of each part of the building. The academy is recycling as many items from its previous campus locations as possible. She noted that no air will be recycled by the building’s ventilation system; a constant supply of fresh air should minimize contamination and the spread of colds. (See the "Town Hall Presentation – 4/1/2008" link at www.monumentacademy.net for more information.)

A deceleration/right turn lane is being constructed for westbound Highway 105 traffic. The existing parking lot access on the west side of the adjacent church will also serve as an entrance to the school. A traffic signal will be built at this intersection. Vehicles entering the school property from this access will exit to the west to a new intersection on Knollwood Drive on the school’s new road, Village Ridge Point. There will be no westbound acceleration lane built on Highway 105 on the west side of the church driveway.

Wong stated that the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority (CECFA) had approved the academy’s second bond sale. CECFA approved the bond issue at a meeting with the board on July 23.

CECFA, which was created by the Colorado General Assembly, provides financing for colleges, universities, certain secondary schools, charter schools, and other educational institutions, as well as financings for cultural entities. Historically, tax-exempt rates have been 20 to 25 percent below taxable rates, which can translate into substantial interest savings over taxable financing. CECFA issues tax-exempt revenue bonds, notes, or other obligations, and loans the proceeds from the sale of these obligations. This capital may be used to acquire, construct, reconstruct, repair, alter, improve, extend, own, lease, or dispose of properties and to refinance outstanding obligations. Though CECFA is the state bond-issuing authority for a variety of governmental entities, payment of bond interest remains the sole responsibility of the academy’s board. (See www.cecfa.org for more information on policies, procedures, bond counsels, and investment bankers.)

Wong added that the bondholder for all the bonds initially issued for construction of the school building had given "verbal consent" to the bond underwriter to allow the bonds in the second issue to be "parity bonds," with the same status and priority as the first bond issue. This is good for the academy because the newer bonds will not have to be issued at the higher interest rate, which would have been required if the newer bonds had been subordinated to the first bonds. A verbal approval is necessary prior to drafting the final bond sale documents, including formal written consent to parity for the second bond issue. The bondholder for the first issue may also purchase some of the new bonds.

Hannon noted that the academy’s bond counsel, Kutak Rock, LLP, has performed 31 bond issues for charter schools, and the academy’s investment bank Kirkpatrick, Pettis Inc., has performed 29 bond issues for charter schools. "So the people we’re dealing with, it’s not their first time at the rodeo," Hannon said.

Bond agent Russell Caldwell, of the underwriting investment firm D.A. Davidson & Co., informed Wong, in a letter dated July 24, that Davidson "will sell and close the additional bonds authorized yesterday by CECFA." He added, "our normal process will close these bonds the last week of August."

Wong stated that

  • "Our underwriter has given me every assurance that they will be sold …"
  • "He’s issued probably 90 percent of the charter school bond offerings in the state of Colorado."
  • "He’s got the list of pure institutional buyers he’s gone to before."
  • "Our initial bond offering, the one that was about $12.3 million in September sold in about an hour."

Wong then responded to a list of seven concerns recently expressed by D-38 officials:

1. Appropriation of funds: D-38 is concerned that Monument Academy, a public school, entered into a contract with JE Dunn without having appropriated the full contract cost, in violation of state law.

Wong’s response

The academy board formed the Monument Academy Building Corporation, which is a simple entity with one asset (the new building), one liability (the semiannual interest payments and fees to the bond trustee), and one income stream (the academy’s semiannual lease payments, which pay the semiannual interest payments and fees). The corporation is similar to those formed throughout Colorado for the construction of many other charter school buildings.

The corporation entered into the contract with JE Dunn and will own the building. The academy will lease the building from the corporation. The corporation has entered into a 30-year bond agreement with the bondholders, which the academy board cannot do.

The academy pays the lease from the corporation with "per pupil revenue" from the state, a steady income that is independent of which building classes are taught in. Not a single dollar of additional taxation will be created by the academy’s two bond issues, in contrast to the mill levy override elections that D-38 has initiated.

The bond trustee provides oversight of the corporation’s books and the academy’s lease payments. The academy board never sees a penny of the bond proceeds because the bond trustee handles all the financial transactions including payments to JE Dunn and the bondholders.

Miller stated that he had exchanged letters with the D-38 attorney, who had acknowledged to Miller that there have been no unlawful acts or laws broken by the academy board.

2. Funds to complete the school building: D-38 is concerned that the shortfall has grown from $1.2 million to $1.6 million.

Wong’s response

The academy receives about $3.8 million in per pupil revenue and will only have to make one semiannual interest payment during the 2008-09 school year. The first and last interest payment will be paid from reserves set aside from the bond sale proceeds by the bond trustee.

The sale of the new bonds will be completed and proceeds will be available by the last week in August. The final payment to JE Dunn from these proceeds will not be due until about Sept. 15.

The amount of the bond sale is about $1.6 million to cover administrative costs and reserves in addition to the additional $1.252 million needed to pay the remaining balance of the JE Dunn contract in mid-September.

CECFA issued an inducement resolution after the July 23 board meeting giving preliminary authorization for the second bond issue, which allows the bond agent to incur the expenses required to solicit purchases by potential bondholders. This is the major hurdle for the second bond issue.

CECFA will issue a financing resolution in August that formally authorizes the second bond issue as all the required legal bond documents for the corporation, bond agent, underwriter, bank, and bondholders are finalized.

The third step is for CECFA to issue the new bonds.

The term of the second bond issue was initially budgeted for 10 years at 7 percent interest. Now that they will be parity bonds, rather than subordinated bonds, the term for repayment has been extended to 30 years, lowering the additional semiannual interest payments. The interest rate will be determined at the time of sale, but is expected to be around 7 percent.

Holland added that this has been the academy’s hardest budget year due to the move. There will be no other debt than the bond interest payments. "The board is already putting that money away" for the second interest payment on the second bond issue.

The board was scheduled to meet with JE Dunn the next day, July 29, to review the status of these financing steps and the timeline leading to the final payment when JE Dunn issues its final invoice in mid-September.

Enrollment should go up about 10 percent, exclusive of the preschool, in the 2009-10 school year. The board expects enrollment to increase from 545.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) students this year to about 800 students, the capacity of the new building. These trends will increase total per pupil revenue and lower the percentage of the annual budget that has to be dedicated to the fixed bond interest payments.

The board is currently showing 600 students at this time for this academic year, which equals 558.5 FTE students for per pupil revenues. If D-38 only provides the academy with enough revenue for about 525 FTE students initially, the shortfall will be made up after the formal enrollment accounting date in October.

Wong added that the academy board is trying its best to give D-38 the most accurate enrollment data it can in a timely manner and keep communications open.

3. Scheduled completion date: D-38 is concerned that the contract only requires JE Dunn to complete construction by Oct. 22.

Wong’s response

He said he is 95 percent certain that the board would receive its certificate of occupancy for the building on Aug. 21. This will give the academy three weeks to get the equipment into the building and set up for classes to begin on Sept. 8.

4. TABOR Compliance: D-38 is concerned that the proposed ending fund balances for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years are near the 3 percent minimum Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) cash reserve requirement.

Wong’s response

The board expects to meet the TABOR cash reserve requirement for this year’s budget and in the coming academic year. "We would be the first to admit that it will be close in 2008-09," he said.

5. Enrollment differences: D-38 has stated that the current academy enrollment figures in the district’s student information system show 526 FTE students.

Wong’s response

The board had budgeted for 550 FTE students but expects the number to actually be about 560 FTE for 2008-09.

6. Disclosure to stakeholders: D-38 is concerned about a lack of communications since January with parents and with JE Dunn, and that JE Dunn may cease work.

Wong’s response

The board has held multiple open meetings with parents, faculty, and JE Dunn over the past couple of months, with a meeting nearly every week to keep them informed and counteract incorrect information in the media.

Wong stated, "It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when" the $1.25 million shortfall "became known." There were some other issues that were taking up the board’s attention and time early in 2008. The board "made attempts to address the problem, without making it public, on our own and we just could not make those things happen fast enough."

Miller added, "I would say that I think it was knowable that there was a certain number in one ledger and a different number in the contracts, but there wasn’t effectively a reading of ‘Oh, these are disparate and they don’t match and why don’t they?’ There was some underlying understanding of fund-raising deficits that were supposed to be part of this that they didn’t make. So they were aware of some of the money specifically. They weren’t aware of the extent of it. And I think that’s pretty fair that nobody drew the lines between the dots until a much later date."

7. Colorado Open Meeting Law notices: D-38 is concerned that the academy board has not always complied with the open meeting law, with executive sessions being held before posted time for the public meeting to begin.

Wong’s response

"We’ve always made our best efforts to comply," he said. "They have raised some of what I would call some technical issues that may be violations or may not be." He cited the board’s invitation to D-38’s regular board meeting on June 27. D-38 thought the academy’s participation in the meeting should have triggered the academy to post a notice about the meeting, separate from D-38’s posting.

"Honestly, it was not set up the way I thought it was going to be. I just thought we were going to be in the audience as members of the public. But they had set up a table for the Monument Academy board and four of us were there. But we didn’t plan on all of us going and saying a certain message or anything. And they cited that as a violation of the open meetings law because we didn’t post that meeting as a public meeting. But the reason we didn’t was we didn’t talk about it beforehand. We knew we were kind of all invited to it, but we didn’t know how many people were going to show. The open meetings law requires us to post public notice of any meeting of three or more board members, and so they have said that that’s a violation."

When an unidentified parent asked Wong if D-38 "set you up" at "a meeting where you weren’t allowed to speak," on July 24, Wong replied, "It felt like it."

Former board member Michelle Bell said from the audience, "How can they be disappointed? If there’s only one-way communication and they don’t allow another one’s view, we can accept responsibility for some things but we also don’t have to accept responsibility for other things. Communication is a two-way street." She added, "In your defense, they want to go ahead and have this meeting and beat you over the head for the things you have missed. You all have done all these things in five weeks. They haven’t given you credit where credit is due, and you should be very proud of what you’ve done."

In related business, Wong said that the landlord of the south campus building believes that the academy has to make more repairs to the building and has filed a lawsuit. The academy’s attorney is trying to negotiate a settlement and appears to be getting close to an agreement.

The board unanimously approved the 2008-09 student handbook.

The board went into executive session to receive legal advice to determine positions and strategies for negotiations on the construction contract and financing matters related to the new building as well as building and contract matters related to D-38.

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Updates on the new building’s construction status are available at the academy’s Web site, www.monumentacademy.net under the "New Building Update" link that can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the menu on the left side of the home page.

Academy board meetings are announced on the home page of the academy’s web site, or on the master calendar that can be found under the "Calendar" link on the home page.

The next board meeting will be held on Aug. 19; time and place had not been determined by OCN’s publication deadline.

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Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee, July 9: Creek reclassification issue still muddy

By Jim Kendrick

Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Manager Bill Burks told the board members of the Joint Use Committee (JUC) on July 9 that its environmental attorney, Tad Foster, was out of the country and would not be available to update the JUC on a rehearing of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission’s reclassification of the upper segment of Monument Creek from "use protected" status in June 2007.

This decision may lead to much tighter water quality restrictions on the facility’s effluent when the current discharge permit for Monument Creek expires at the end of 2009. The commission’s rehearing on the stream reclassification was scheduled for July 15 in Denver at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. Each district’s primary representative was present: President Dale Platt from Palmer Lake, Vice President Lowell Morgan from Monument, and Secretary-Treasurer Benny Nasser from Woodmoor.

Uncertainty over future permit limits continues

After several years of being faced with a $1.5 million expansion to treat only copper in an effluent-dominated creek, the JUC may now face a $25 million plant expansion to meet the much tighter limits on copper, other metals, ammonia, and phosphates that may be imposed by the EPA’s more restrictive anti-degradation policy.

The facility’s operating costs would go up dramatically due to the state Health Department’s tightening restrictions under either stream classification. Foster was scheduled to appear at the next JUC meeting on Aug. 12 to present options for negotiating the numerous limits of the facility’s next five-year discharge permit for 2010-14.

The JUC learned of the reclassification of upper Monument Creek at the previous JUC meeting in June. This change, made over a year ago, was unknown to the three owning special districts until it was revealed in the Health Department’s response to an application by the Woodmoor district to the state for a second discharge permit to return water to the creek to replace water taken out farther upstream as an alternate source of drinking water. Woodmoor was informed in May that the creek’s category had been changed from "use protected."

This "use protected" status was based on the fact that most of the time, the amount of water discharged by the Tri-Lakes facility into Monument Creek, between Monument Lake and the west end of Baptist Road, was much more than the naturally flowing surface water coming from upstream. This ratio of high-flow rates of effluent to low-flow rates of natural surface water a majority of the time every year made Monument Creek "effluent dominated." This dominance has always resulted in a Colorado stream being automatically categorized as "use protected" until now.

The removal of this "use protected" status means that federal and state anti-degradation standards will now apply to the northern segment of Monument Creek, and the standards for discharged effluent will be much tighter for the Tri-Lakes facility and the adjacent Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility used by Donala Water and Sanitation District and the Forest Lakes and Triview Metropolitan Districts.

The new copper limit for the plant’s discharged effluent may drop to 1.35 parts per billion (ppb) over a two-year period, a maximum that the facility cannot meet with the existing equipment. However, current testing procedures cannot detect copper when it is less than 5 ppb. No copper can be detected in Monument Creek where it crosses Baptist Road above the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Facility. It is unclear at this time if a new more costly copper testing method will be required of Tri-Lakes.

There are no treatment standards for numerous pharmaceuticals and hormones that are routinely flushed down toilets and cannot be treated by the Tri-Lakes facility.

The original expansion cost estimate for the Tri-Lakes facility was $1.5 million for single-purpose equipment to remove additional dissolved copper to meet the proposed standard of 8 ppb to be imposed in January 2010. Before the stream category issue had been raised, the Water Quality Control Division staff had told Burks that the new average copper limit for 2010-14 would likely be raised to an average of 9 ppb and a single measurement maximum of 13 ppb. Even this standard would be hard for the facility to meet at maximum operating efficiencies without expensive modifications.

Meeting the anti-degradation standards would cost about $25 million for a reverse osmosis tertiary filter. However, the waste brine produced by these filters is a toxic hazardous material that presents significant problems and high costs for disposal. (For additional technical details see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n7.htm#juc.)

2007 audit approved

The facility’s audit for 2007 was presented by CPA Pat Hall of Jaspers & Hall PC. Hall said his audit opinion was "unqualified"—or "clean"—the highest possible opinion. Hall made no adjustments or management comments to the JUC regarding the accounting policies, procedures, or controls implemented by Burks and consultant CPA Nolan Gookin. No budget amendment was required, despite some unexpected capital costs. After a full discussion of the lengthy document, the JUC members unanimously approved the audit.

Semi-annual effluent testing results reported

In addition to monthly testing, the facility must test for a variety of elements and compounds every six months. A few of these test results must be below a specific upper limit for each test as well as a maximum average value. For the rest, a report of the tested value is all that is required. When a tested value falls below the lower concentration limit that a particular test can detect, the value is reported as a zero concentration. The detectable materials were:

  • Iron (48 parts per billion)
  • Copper (8.3 ppb)
  • Zinc (78 ppb)
  • Manganese (140 ppb)
  • Mercury (1 part per trillion)
  • Ammonia (1.8 parts per million)
  • Inorganic nitrogen (5.7 ppm)

The maximum allowable average is 24.6 ppb for copper and 23 ppm for inorganic nitrogen. There are no limits for the others under the current facility discharge permit, which expires in 2009.

In addition, the following materials could not be detected in the treated effluent discharged into Monument Creek: cyanide, arsenic, trivalent chromium, hexavalent chromium, silver, cadmium, lead, nickel, selenium, chorine, oil, and grease. Note: the facility uses ultraviolet light rather than chlorine for disinfection to kill any residual germs in the effluent just prior to discharge to the creek. There was no detectable toxicity toward standard samples of aquatic life.

Burks said, "The plant is really performing well right now."

Merger reported

Burks reported that engineering consultant RTW Inc., which designed and built the facility, has merged with Tetra Tech Inc. and will now operate under the name Tetra Tech RTW Inc. This firm is also the engineering consultant for the Palmer Lake and Woodmoor special districts.

Capital improvements underway

Burks reported that the sand-blasting and recoating of all the metal parts in the facility’s clarifiers with coal tar epoxy and the replacement of all the diffuser filter socks on the air hoses in both aeration basins was proceeding on cost and on schedule. Burks said that the plant would now be able to operate at maximum efficiency with both aeration basins in continuous operation.

The meeting adjourned at 11 a.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Aug. 12 at the facility conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

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Monument Sanitation District Board meeting, July 17: Tighter restrictions on Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility may lead to district rate increase

By Jim Kendrick

Tad Foster, the environmental attorney for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, was unsuccessful on July 15 in seeking a reversal of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission’s decision in June, 2007 to remove it’s designation of Monument and Fountain Creek as "use protected." Foster, along with attorneys for Colorado Springs Utilities and the City of Pueblo, had asked for a re-hearing since there was not proper notice of the change of designation being part of the June meeting’s agenda. The Commissioners voted 7-2 to again make Monument Creek undesignated and subject to far more restrictive EPA and state "anti-degradation" standards.

As a result, the Tri-Lakes facility is likely to be subject to much tighter standards on all dissolved metals and compounds such as ammonia and phosphates in its next five-year discharge permit for 2010-2014. Recently, dissolved copper in the facility’s effluent has been a potential problem. The southern portion of the district’s collection system services new houses along Old Denver Highway, which have the highest concentrations of copper in the wastewater delivered to the facility. This higher concentration is believed to be caused by aggressive water leaching copper from the inside of drinking water pipes in the newer houses. The concentrations have recently averaged about 140 parts per billion (ppb), but there have been recent peaks over 200 ppb.

The district is partnering with the town of Monument to start treating the town’s drinking water with caustic soda, as Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District has done for many years, to reduce the amount of copper being leached from copper pipes. The concentration of dissolved copper in Woodmoor’s wastewater is roughly half that of the wastewater in the southern portion of Monument Sanitation District.

The new copper limits that may be imposed on the Tri-Lakes facility have been rumored to be 1.2-1.35 parts per billion (ppb) averaged over two years. The current facility permit limit for copper is an average of 8.7 ppb, but the state Water Quality Control Division has given a temporary waiver raising the limit to 24.8 ppb through the end of 2009.

In the past three months, with the facility operating at maximum efficiency, copper levels in the discharged treated wastewater have been about 7.8-8.3 ppb. This performance will not meet the limit of 8.0 ppb on average that the division had reported would be the new standard for 2010-2014 under the "use protected" designation of Monument Creek.

The districts that own the Tri-Lakes facility have spent about $400,000 over the past three years researching how to meet the projected 8.0 ppb copper standard, but now the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment may sharply tighten this restriction to an average of less than 2 ppb. The current EPA-approved testing methodology for effluent copper limits cannot detect a concentration less than 5 ppb.

Engineering consultant Mike Rothberg, of Tetra Tech RTW, has informed the facility that the cost of adding reverse osmosis tertiary treatment equipment to the facility to meet the new tighter federal anti-degradation standards will cost about $25 million. The current value of the Tri-Lakes facility is about $6 million. Wicklund said, "If the state requires the plant to treat effluent to the most restrictive limits under the new stream classification, we will be treating and discharging water to Monument Creek that is equal to the water quality of bottled water like Aquifina. We will be discharging purified water to the creek, water cleaner than what is delivered to our taps at home and cleaner than any water source in Colorado.

"We’ve already spent $400,000 on a moving target to conform to the state’s old stream standard. How much more does the state expect us to spend on an unknown target under an as yet undefined standard resulting from them changing the stream designation without public notice and then rejecting our input on the change of designation?"

Delaney appointed to the board

Below: July 17: Ed DeLaney is sworn in by Chairperson Glenda Smith after being unanimously appointed to be a director of the Monument Sanitation District Board. Photo by Jim Kendrick

The board unanimously appointed Ed Delaney to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Director Bob Kuchek. Delaney, who is also chairman of the Monument Planning Commission, has served for many years on the district board in the past and volunteered to fill the vacant seat when he learned Kuchek was stepping down.

Resolution approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution stating the district would spend no more money on trying to solve the Tri-Lakes facility’s copper problem until the state health department provides definitive information on what the limits for metals and other compounds will be in the next five-year permit. The consensus of the board was that the $400,000 spent to date on solving the copper problem may have been for naught.

Rate and tap fee increases discussed

District manager Mike Wicklund advised the board that it may have to raise monthly fees above the $20 residential rate that has been in effect for over 10 years. The board may also have to raise tap fees to help meet rising capital costs because material and labor costs for repairs and new construction have risen at a rate much higher than inflation.

The board asked Wicklund to prepare an analysis to show how much rates and fees may have to be increased to cover the construction and operating costs for the Tri-Lakes facility’s expansion.

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The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 21 at the district office building, 130 Second Street. Meetings are normally held the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, July 16: Private funding for pipeline to transport ag water on hold

By John Heiser

At the July 16 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), Alex Brown and Steve Hogan of Alex Brown Consulting reviewed some of the next steps needed to secure private funding for the 80-100 mile-long pipeline to bring water to the Tri-Lakes area from the lower Arkansas River.

In the first phase of the analysis, the rate required to cover the cost of transporting the water and repaying the $500 million to $1 billion construction cost would be about $4 to $6 per 1,000 gallons. That figure does not include the costs for leasing the water, storage, and advanced water treatment. When those factors are included, the total cost for the water would substantially exceed what local districts are currently charging their customers for water. For example, the Donala Water and Sanitation District currently charges $2.75 per 1,000 gallons for a customer’s first 10,000 gallons per month.

Hogan said it is essential that the PPRWA decide what it wants to do before seeking private partners to fund it. He said the PPRWA representatives have to then go sell the project to prospective investors.

Phil Steininger, PPRWA president and general manager of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, asked about the role of the general public in the process.

Hogan said issues raised by critics of the project need to be addressed so the representatives can be persuasive in presenting the project.

Brown suggested that a public information program is an important part of the process.

Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala district, said, "We have a project. It’s been defined. It certainly hasn’t been selected. We’re at a dead stop until we accept that this is the way we’re going. I think we’re a long way from that. We need to figure out where we’re going."

Gary Barber, PPRWA manager, said, "There has been a sense for awhile that [the pipeline project] is impossible. What I got out of [Brown’s] study was that it is possible but difficult."

Brown was paid $24,000 for the work they have done but not authorized to do any additional analysis or planning at present.

Other matters

  • State Senate Bill 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 an 8 to 10 year study to assess potential impacts to water rights holders. Barber said that some studies have suggested that 90 percent of the run-off never reaches the creeks. Barber added, "It has become tangled with the gray water issue." PPRWA attorney Rick Fendel said the home builders are looking to use cisterns to reduce water dedication required for new developments.
  • Jessie Shaffer, engineer for the Woodmoor district, reported that the Northern Collaboration Committee is organizing a meeting to review the information gleaned from the questionnaires submitted by PPRWA members. Shaffer said they need legal advice to help analyze the opportunities to do water exchanges for wastewater plant effluent. The board authorized Fendel to assist the committee.
  • Rocky Wiley of Rothberg, Tamburini, and Winsor Engineering reported that additional revisions to the joint water conservation plan have been requested by the state agency before the grant request can be approved. Regarding the lack of uniformity in conservation measures by PPRWA members, Duthie said, "We all should be doing the same thing." He noted that it creates problems when customers in his district are told they can water only on certain days and then they see excessive irrigation being done at the Monument Marketplace.
  • Wiley reported that Representative Amy Stephens is organizing a meeting in September to address the issue of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals in the water supply.

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

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held August 20 at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second Street in Monument.

The PPRWA’s Web site is www.pprwa.com

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Don’t waste your water

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

  1. Don’t use running water to thaw food.
  2. Teach your children to turn the faucets off tightly after each use.
  3. Soak your pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  4. While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
  5. Avoid installing ornamental water features and fountains that spray water into the air. Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation.
  6. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly—and not just because it looks better. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.
  7. Buy a rain gauge to track how much rain or irrigation your yard receives. Check with your local water agency to see how much rain is needed to skip an irrigation cycle.
  8. Install an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don’t have to let the water run while it heats up. This will also reduce heating costs for your household.
  9. Insulate hot water pipes so you don’t have to run as much water to get hot water to the faucet.
  10. Do one thing each day that will save water. Even if savings are small, every drop counts.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, July 16: Negotiations continue on district’s offer to buy a ranch for the surface water rights

By John Heiser

Following the executive session at the end of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting July 16, the board approved and signed a contract to purchase Mt. Massive Ranch, which is about 7 miles southwest of Leadville. The proposed purchase price is $4.6 million.

As of press time, the rancher had not yet signed the contract and negotiations were continuing on the terms of the deal. Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, noted that the rancher had approached the district not the other way around. The deal, if successful, would provide rights to about 225 acre-feet per year of surface water. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. According to Duthie, 225 acre-feet represents about 20 percent of the district’s yearly total water use. A water court ruling would be needed to convert the water rights from agricultural uses to district use. If as a result of the water court case, the district receives rights to more than 225 acre-feet, the district proposed to pay an additional $8,000 per acre-foot with an escalation clause if the water court case is not resolved within two years.

Board President Dennis Daugherty presided at the July 18 meeting. Board members Dick Durham, William George, Tim Murphy, and Dale Schendzielos were present.

10-year projection on capital projects

Duthie distributed the following list of anticipated capital improvement projects:

  • Expansion of the wastewater treatment plant in 2008: $8 million (paid for with a loan).
  • Loop Mission Hill/River Oaks in 2008-2009: $150,000.
  • Re-drill well 3D in place in 2009: $450,000.
  • Re-drill well 3A in place in 2010: $500,000.
  • Add an Arapahoe aquifer well in Sun Hills in 2010: $800,000.
  • Regional infrastructure in 2010-2011: $2 million.
  • Re-drill well 7D in place in 2011: $450,000.
  • Tank on Struthers Ranch in 2011: $800,000.

Two additional items needed in the event the ranch purchase succeeds:

  • Ranch water court case in 2009-2010: $300,000.
  • Ranch mitigation work in 2011: $200,000.

Water returns project and irrigation rationing update

Duthie reported that most of the participants in the Water Returns project have begun and some have completed their projects. The participants have reported that they have many neighbors asking about their projects. The first request for reimbursement under the program has been received.

The irrigation rationing program runs May 26 through Sept. 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

Duthie presented an analysis of June water use this year compared to June 2007 and June 2006. The rationing program was started in 2007. He noted that June 2008 was hot and dry, similar to June 2006, with only 0.15 inches of rain compared to 0.47 inches of rain in June 2007. Overall, the district with 5 more customers in 2008 than in 2007 used 13 percent more water than in 2007. With 45 more customers in 2008 than in 2006, the district used 1 percent more water than in 2006.

Comparing the 21 customers who have Evapo-Transporation (ET) controllers that use a variety of data to optimize irrigation of Kentucky Bluegrass, 9 used less water in June 2008 than they used in June 2006, 12 used more.

During June 2008, 262 residential customers (12 percent) used more than 40,000 gallons. 20 customers used more than 70,000 gallons. One customer used over 130,000 and received a $900 water bill.

Duthie said most customers are following the rationing program rules; however, the district has issued 55 warning letters, 7 second warning letters, and 2 fines.

Other matters

  • Office manager Jackie Sipes was named the employee of the quarter. Duthie commended her work on the recent district election.
  • On the results of the recently completed audit of the district’s books for 2007, Tom Sistare of CPA firm Hoelting & Company, reported an unqualified opinion, the highest possible; however, he noted a couple of items which had been improperly recorded and were corrected. Duthie said, "I am very satisfied with the audit and our accounting procedures."
  • Duthie noted that the governor has signed 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. He said the bill was amended to conduct an 8 to 10 year study to assess potential impacts to water-rights holders. He said one of the biggest problems is that developers and homebuilders are interested in using cisterns to reduce the amount of water they have to identify in order to get their projects approved and would therefore be able to build more houses with the same amount of water.
  • During the three months from April 1 through June 30, the district’s $5.8 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 3.96 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 2.52 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 5.9 months.
  • Duthie reported on the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) meeting July 16. For more information, see the PPRWA article on page 17.
  • Triview’s water treatment plant A, which was intended to be a temporary plant, lacks a tank for backwash recovery so all the water used when backwashing the filters goes into the sewer system. Duthie said that three consecutive backwashes occurred on July 4 exceeding the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant’s influent pump station. Duthie said he has offered to help Triview add backwash recovery to their plant but that Triview does not want to spend money on the temporary plant. Duthie said Triview has now modified the timing and flow rate on the backwash at the plant to reduce the likelihood of problems.
  • Additional discussions have been held with the regulatory agencies that control Monument Creek water quality. The agencies are tightening the standards for effluent discharged into the creek. Duthie said the two local wastewater plants would have difficulty meeting the proposed standards without implementing reverse osmosis, which would be very expensive. For more information, see the Joint Use Committee article on page 14.

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

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Wednesday, August 20 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. Due to a conflict with the schedule of the Special District Association conference, the September meeting will be held Tuesday, September 16. The district’s Web site is at www.donalawater.org

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Triview Metropolitan District, July 22: $2 million state loan approved

By Jim Kendrick

This Triview Metropolitan District meeting was continued from June 24. The purpose of the continuation was to continue discussing the possibility of shifting district administration to the town. However, Monument Town Manager Cathy Green said that Director of Development Tom Kassawara and Public Works Director Rich Landreth could not attend. The item was tabled. Follow-up meetings on this issue will continue to be held until it is resolved and a consolidation plan is developed.

The board unanimously approved a resolution for a second $2 million low-cost loan from the Colorado Water and Power Authority to pay Triview’s share of the $4 million cost overrun that has occurred during the expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Triview’s first interest payment on this new loan is due in February.

Triview is splitting the cost of the expansion with Donala Water and Sanitation District, a co-owner of the facility. The other facility owner, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District is not participating in the expansion because it already owns enough of the plant’s capacity for its entire development.

Acting district manager Ron Simpson praised the work done by district administrator Dale Hill, CPA Jim Thieme, and auditor Tom Sistare in preparing all the documentation the authority required before approving the second loan.

Board president Bob Eskridge was out of state and his absence was excused. Vice president Robert Fisher chaired the meeting. Directors Steve Cox, Julie Glenn, and Steve Remington were also present.

Misty Creek Park plan approved

Mike Hussey, landscape architect with engineering firm Nolte, presented alternative landscape plans and options he had researched for the 1.2 acre Misty Creek Park, which is a detention pond bordered by Misty Creek Drive and Baptist Road that stretches from Toreva Drive to Candle Creek Drive. The original plan that was approved by the town of Monument and Triview in 1999 called for a half a basketball court, benches, and landscaping. The main choice to be considered was whether to install a basketball court, elevated 12-18 inches higher than originally planned or a grass field that would be about 80 feet by 80 feet. Hussey also presented many documents showing various types of park equipment and trail materials that could be installed based on the recommendations he had received from the staff and residents in attendance at the June 24 meeting.

There was an hour-long discussion that focused primarily on whether to install the basketball court or a grass field. Resident Paul Stewart and his family all said they were in favor of the hard surface court, stating that area kids need a place to play. Glenn added that portable basketball backboards located along the curbs in Jackson Creek for street games are a traffic hazard. One resident, who said that she lives next to the detention pond and that she represented two other adjacent homeowners who did not attend this meeting, was opposed. (Although she did not identify herself or sign the meeting attendance roster, OCN later learned that her name is Jill Stratton.)

Stratton said that the drawings she was given by her builder, Classic Homes, showed that the detention pond would be a permanent open space with no basketball courts. She was opposed to the noise of basketball games and skateboards on the proposed basketball court, which would lower the value of all the adjacent properties, including hers. Stratton asked the board to beautify it as a passive open space rather than make it a noisy active playground area.

Simpson replied that the basketball court has been part of the plans for the park since the development was approved in 1999, but there has been insufficient funding to improve the park since then. After considerable further discussion the board unanimously approved Hussey’s original design with a basketball court by a 4-0 vote. Stratton walked out of the meeting saying the district would be hearing from her attorney.

In other matters, Resident Mark McClure noted that he greatly appreciated the new mulch and plants that were installed in his Saber Creek Drive neighborhood, then added that the new plantings had all died. Simpson noted that the pump in the district’s irrigation well A4 had failed and had to be replaced, which was "bad timing" for the new plantings.

Glenn noted the deteriorating condition of the district’s "23 miles of streets and 46 miles of sidewalks," particularly the amount of grass growing in cracks in the asphalt roadways like a "ghetto." Simpson replied that the district does not have the cash reserves or revenues to fix all these problems at this time.

The board went into executive session at 7:10 p.m. to receive legal advice to determine positions, strategies, and instruction to negotiators for district negotiations.

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The next meeting is at 5 p.m. Aug. 25 in the district conference room, 174 Washington St. in downtown Monument. For information, phone 488-6868.

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Monument Board of Trustees, July 21: Village at Monument commercial filing rezoned residential

Below: July 21: Landowner Jack Wiepking explains to the Board of Trustees his reasons for converting Filing 3 of the Village at Monument development from commercial to residential, adding 22 single-family lots. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

After canceling the regular meeting on July 7 for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the Monument Board of Trustees had a full agenda for its regular meeting on July 21. Mayor Pro Tem Steve Samuels presided due to the excused absence of Mayor Byron Glenn.

The board approved four changes for the Planned Commercial Development (PCD) Filing 3 of the Village at Monument development between Old Denver Highway and the Trails End development. The high-density, neo-traditional neighborhood concept of the Village at Monument development was originally approved in 2000. The changes included in Jack Wiepking’s proposal were:

  • A change in zoning from PCD (now obsolete) for Lot 2 and Tract B in Filing 3 to the current, more general planned development (PD)
  • A vacation and replat revision for the new road alignment of the south end of Buffalo Valley Path, coupled with a vacation and replat of portions of Tracts C and D and a small portion of Wagon Gap Trail between these latter two tracts in Trails End
  • A final PD site plan creating 22 single-family home lots in Filing 3
  • An associated major PD amendment for the Trails End development to allow driveway access for six of these 22 new residential lots to Wagon Gap Trail

Background: In 2000, Jack Wiepking received initial Board of Trustees approval to build 44 patio duplex homes in two planned residential development (PRD) filings at the 20-acre Village at Monument. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v2n1.htm#bot1217 for details)

Wiepking was the landowner (Wiepking Real Estate Investments LLC) and the developer (owner and president of MasterBilt Homes in Monument.) The project was to be a neo-traditional neighborhood development, with two filings for 44 homes, a third filing with 80,000 square feet of commercial space, and over 5 acres of open space with far more landscaping than a standard Monument development. Filing 1 consists of six four-plex units. Filing 2 was approved as 10 duplex units.

The project had mixed-use zoning so residents could have a barber, doctor or coffee shop within walking distance. Wiepking’s original concept was to create a "live, work, and play environment" where residents could feel like they are part of a neighborhood, not a subdivision. The nostalgic craftsman-style homes have front porches and garages in the rear.

Sidewalks were designed to be 5 feet wide so two people can stroll comfortably side-by-side. They would be built a few feet from the front porches and separated from streets with a treed-lawn grassy area to give passers-by a better chance to talk with homeowners sitting on porches. Residents would be able to walk to the southern filing of adjacent restaurants and offices. However, the actual configuration of the commercial space would depend on demand. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v2n6.htm#botmay6 )

In October 2003, the board approved a change in Filing 2 to allow construction of 20 single-family homes instead of the originally approved 10 duplex units. Wiepking told the board, "The change to single-family from duplex units was sales driven; the duplexes across the street haven’t sold well." (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v3n11.htm#monbotoct6 for details.)

Staff project summary: Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara gave a brief summary of Wiepking’s new proposal for the 8.5-acre Filing 3 project. The new site plan contains:

  • Residential lots—6.39 acres, 75.9 percent
  • Right-of-way—1.06 acres, 12.3 percent
  • Water quality pond—1.09 acres, 11.8 percent

The 22 lots will range from 7,000 to 27,000 square feet, with an average density for the whole development of 2.5 dwelling units per acre. Home prices will range from $200,000 to $500,000, for a total assessed value of over $9 million. There are over 5 acres of open space composed of parks, trails, and landscaped areas in Filings 1 and 2.

The size of the water quality pond in Filing 3 can be reduced because there will be less impervious surface with residential than commercial uses. Ownership and maintenance of the pond will be taken back from the town to become the responsibility of the Filing 3 homeowners association. The pond will serve all three filings, however.

Zoning change: The application meets all rezoning requirements and criteria in the town’s comprehensive plan and municipal zoning code. There are a sufficient number of remaining commercial lots available in the downtown area. All referral comments have been addressed or have been made conditions of approval for the rezoning. There were three recommended conditions of approval.

The two Village at Monument residential filings retain their now-obsolete planned residential development (PRD) zoning, as do all the adjacent Trails End lots. All the adjacent vacant lots on the east side of Old Denver Highway retain their now obsolete planned industrial development (PID) zoning, and there have been no firm proposals from landowner Phoenix Bell on how the six lots in this huge vacant parcel north of Baptist Road will be developed.

Director of Public Works Rich Landreth recommended that, as a condition of approval, a 6-foot sound wall be constructed around the new Well 9 building and associated electrical transformer that powers the pumping infrastructure.

The Air Force Academy asked that notes be added to the PD site plan, zoning document, and vacation and replat documents that disclose the noise that may be generated in the area by the academy’s training aircraft. This was recommended as a second condition of approval for rezoning from PRD to PD.

The town’s standard condition that any technical corrections have to be made by the applicant and approved by staff was also recommended by the staff.

PD site plan: The preliminary/final PD site plan application meets all of the town’s review and approval criteria. The two conditions on the transformer sound wall and site plan note on noise from the academy’s training aircraft also apply to the site plan application.

Another recommended condition of approval was that the wooden sound wall around the transformers must be completed before the town will issue a building permit for any of the three new adjacent Village at Monument lots.

The staff added a condition that the developer must post a surety deposit with the town for completion of a 5-foot-wide sidewalk along the frontage of Filing 3 next to the west side of Old Denver Highway. Another condition was that final off-site improvements will address comments from the town’s traffic consultant regarding the construction of turn lanes and expanded pavement on Old Denver Highway. The town’s standard condition that any technical corrections have to be made by the applicant and approved by staff was also recommended.

Filing 3 final plat changes: The staff recommended four conditions of approval for the final plat:

  • Any necessary technical corrections shall be made by the applicant and approved by the staff.
  • The applicant shall execute a subdivision improvement agreement that shall be recorded concurrently with the final plat.
  • The applicant shall dedicate any required utility easements in the configuration requested by the utility provider, including a 15-foot utility easement along the front lot lines on Buffalo Valley Path.
  • Applicant shall post surety for the cost of constructing a 5-foot sidewalk adjacent to the subdivision along Old Denver Highway.

Third major amendment to Trails End final PD site plan: Trails End landowners Five Y Eyes Guys LLC and James Morley requested that their 20-by-140-foot strip of common open space on the north side of Wagon Gap Trail be removed from their final PD site plan. This land would become the front yards and driveways for the six adjacent Village at Monument residential lots purchased from Wiepking by Morley. Trails End would still have 28 percent open space, exceeding the 20 percent minimum requirement. Morley’s six new houses would have two-car garages and be similar in style and materials to the Richmond Homes in Trails End.

The single recommended condition of approval for the site plan amendment was that the rezoning and final plat for Village at Monument Filing 3 be approved before this amendment is approved.

Wiepking’s remarks: Wiepking noted that after eight years, MasterBilt has sold 40 of the 44 dwelling units in Filings 1 and 2. He had never received any interest in the commercial lots for a use other than an office-warehouse, which is inappropriate for a mixed-use neo-traditional neighborhood development. Wiepking said he was unable to find buyers for lots in the commercial filing due to lack of sufficient vehicle traffic on Old Denver Highway and stiff competition from other available commercial lots in the downtown area and Jackson Creek with more traffic and better access.

Wiepking added that he did not want to pass on the incomplete project to his kids, having learned the hard way about the marketability of neo-traditional neighborhood developments. He sold MasterBilt to his employees two years ago. Wiepking Real Estate Investments LLC is still the landowner for the project. A few of the many factors he discussed were:

  • There is not enough traffic on Old Denver Highway to convince commercial developers from national chains that commercial businesses could be sustained in Filing 3.
  • "There is no development in the county that I feel better about than Village at Monument."
  • "I’d like to finish this project in my lifetime."
  • "I wish it would have worked."
  • The current housing depression is bad and will last until 2010 at a minimum.
  • The northern 16 lots in Filing 3 have to be 170-200 feet deep and therefore have to be 80-90 feet wide, which makes them expensive; however, there is plenty of room for all the extra trees he will install for compatibility with the other two filings, particularly along Old Denver Highway.
  • The other six lots purchased by Morley are smaller and similar in size to adjacent Trails End lots.

There were no public comments regarding any of Wiepking’s four proposals.

Board discussion: There was a lengthy discussion of the history of commercial development in Monument. Some of the trustee comments were:

  • Trustee Tim Miller asked where the Village at Monument is located. Wiepking replied that the development is on Buffalo Valley Path south of Ranchero Drive. Miller asked where the existing houses are located. Wiepking said they are the north end of the development. The vacant land of Filing 3 is at the south end of the development.
  • Miller asked Kassawara to confirm that the staff reports for each of the four applications were identical. Kassawara said the four staff reports were different because of their different purposes and different proposed conditions of approval.
  • Trustee Gail Drumm said, "I remember when this was all new and brought before us, the possibility of commercial there was possibly viable when the stuff across the street goes in." The higher than average density for the houses was approved because "we were counting on that commercial end to make that whole area different. That’s the reason I believe it got passed in the first place was because of the commercial end and I still think it’s a viable situation. It may not be today, but down the line it still seems like a good place." However, the original densities of the three filings were approved by the board in 2001 and the requested change from 10 duplex units to 20 single-family homes in Filing 2 was approved in October 2003. Drumm was not elected to his first term as a board trustee until April 6, 2004. (www.ourcommunitynews.org/v4n5.htm#monelection)
  • Trustee Travis Easton said he had no problem with the four proposals. Samuels agreed with Easton, saying, "I’d rather wait, well it’s not our nickel, it’s your nickel" and might take another 15 or 20 years before the area is developed. "It’s a jewel in the area."
  • Trustee Rafael Dominguez said there are not enough rooftops (homes) to sustain commercial operations in the filing, also noting that the vacant land across Old Denver Highway (between Baptist Road and Highway 105) is already zoned commercial (PID).
  • Drumm asserted that it was too soon for the board to let Wiepking change the zoning, and the town should make him wait until the adjacent vacant Phoenix Bell property between Old Denver Highway and I-25 is developed to see if someone might want to build a restaurant or coffee shop in Wiepking’s Filing 3.
  • Samuels asked Drumm how many more years would be a fair time restriction on Wiepking before allowing him to rezone to residential. Drumm responded that the lateral spacing between the houses being built in the Trails End development is too small. Samuels responded by noting the much larger lot sizes Wiepking has proposed in Village at Monument Filing 3.
  • Town Manager Cathy Green said that she has been an advocate of commercial in neo-traditional developments for 20 years as a planner. She stated that in nearly every instance, the number one failure is the commercial section. This failure occurs in every state that tries to develop these kinds of mixed-use developments. The vacant commercial areas all have to be converted to residential due to lack of "the correct density" for people to be able to walk to them. The only stores that are built and survive in these developments are convenience store-gas stations that people drive to, Green said.
  •  Samuels agreed, saying that the commercial area in Spring Creek, the major Colorado Springs neo-traditional neighborhood, is still a vacant lot filled with weeds after six years, with the exception of one coffee house "run by Miss Colorado."

Wiepking said, "My kids aren’t going to college" based on his profits from the Village at Monument. There will be no retail or restaurants in Filing 3 until the traffic count and number of rooftops along Old Denver Highway rise significantly, he said. (For more details on the revised proposal for this filing, see the article on the June 11 Planning Commission hearing at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n7.htm#monpc.)

After considerable further discussion, the board unanimously approved all four applications with the staff’s proposed conditions. Trustee Tommie Plank asked that a condition be added to the Village at Monument PD site plan that the houses built on the northern 16 lots have complementary architecture to the existing 40 homes in the development. Her requested additional condition was also approved.

St. Peter campus expansion questions answered

The staff had been asked to research the noise generated by air conditioner units on the church’s buildings on the east side of Washington Avenue, possible use of a material softer than asphalt in the new parking lots that may be used as play areas for the church school, and what kind of legal arrangements could be reached to share costs of the existing church parking lot adjacent to Town Hall to cover liability for shared use by town staff and town hall visitors.

These questions were asked of the staff when the board approved an expanded use of the church’s property by special review on Dec. 3, 2007. The church is building a new parish building and parking lots at the south end of its property.

During a 40-minute discussion, St. Peter’s architect, Brian Bucher of Bucher Designs, said that he and professional engineer Jeff Given of Given and Associates had researched new quieter air conditioning units for the new parish hall and possible acoustic baffling for the existing units on the parish elementary school. Bucher said he would be installing the quietest new units available, but there is little that can be done practically to isolate the noise generated by the existing older units without reducing airflow and efficiency. Bucher gave a lengthy presentation on all the ways the church has tried to respond to the needs of the community and the concerns of neighbors and town staff in completing its plans.

Bucher said that there was no softer material that could be used to replace the asphalt. Samuels noted that he is the general manager of Colorado Springs’ largest landscaping company and he agreed that there was no suitable substitute that would survive in Monument’s climate.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that the town’s insurer had agreed that it could provide liability insurance for the shared use of the church’s existing parking lot. Whether the board wishes to make a policy decision to help pay for the construction and maintenance of the church’s new parking a block and a half to the south for the church’s expansion has nothing to do with liability insurance.

The staff and the church agreed that representatives of each would meet on a regular basis to discuss the transition to a larger church campus and negotiate an agreement on sharing the church’s existing northern parking lot.

Liquor licenses

The board unanimously approved a change in the liquor license for the La Casa Fiesta restaurant at Second and Front Streets to reflect that the owners had incorporated their ownership as La Casa Fiesta Inc. Annual license renewals for the following businesses were also unanimously approved:

  • 7-Eleven at Highway 105 and Third Street
  • Monument Liquor Mart in Monument Marketplace on Jackson Creek Parkway
  • Jackson Creek Chinese Restaurant in the King Soopers center on Baptist Road
  • Safeway Store No. 1440 at 624 Highway 105

Future Mitchell Avenue extensions discussed

Kassawara noted that the Hellbusch family, owners of Monument Landscaping at the north end of Mitchell Avenue, had inquired about the future location of a possible northward extension of Mitchell Avenue to intersect Highway 105 on the west side of the railroad tracks. The Hellbusch family would like the town to annex the portion of their property that is in the county and would like to build on a portion of the currently platted Mitchell Avenue right-of-way, if the right-of-way can be vacated.

Three possible routes for the northward extension of Mitchell were analyzed by town engineering consultant firm Carter Burgess and were briefly discussed by the board.

The board and staff discussed the matter, then concluded that it is too soon to respond to the family’s inquiry about annexation and vacation or make recommendations about the three proposed alignment options. It will be at least a year before there is any information available on how the railroad tracks through Monument may be realigned for high-speed rail if freight traffic is rerouted to the east.

County resident Sarah Nasby asked if the town had reached any agreements with the county on the southward extension of Mitchell Avenue from the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility to connect to Forest Lakes Drive. Nasby’s residence is west of the proposed construction. Green replied that there had been no further discussions with the county since the last hearing Nasby had attended and that the staff would notify her of any agenda items regarding Mitchell Avenue as she had requested.

Third Street improvements

The board approved the following change orders submitted by engineering consultant Nolte Associates for contracted work on the town’s ongoing improvement project for Third Street. Trustee Easton, a Nolte civil engineer, recused himself from the vote. An additional cost of $7,288 is for:

  1. "Additional hours to incorporate Department of Local Affairs specifications into the project manual."
  2. "Additional hours to coordinate burial of overhead lines belonging to Mountain View Electric Association, Comcast, and Qwest. The original number of hours established for this task was exceeded due to the difficulty in dealing with these utilities, and because of field problems that have arisen during the relocation of these lines."
  3. "Additional project management coordination time with Ayres Associates for the redesign of the drainage system to accommodate a lesser design storm."
  4. "Additional work performed by an environmental consultant, Peter Smith, of Smith Environmental and engineering. Smith was contracted by Nolte to conduct a study of potential Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat issues associated with planned location of the drainage outfall from Mitchell Avenue to Monument Lake" due to a landowner declining "to permit the additional flows from the Third Street Project across his property" per "the original design assumption."

Other matters

Eight payments over $5,000 were approved:

  • $134,166 to Triview Metropolitan District for May sales tax
  • $6,136 for June motor vehicle tax
  • $16,080 to CIRSA for quarterly state property and casualty insurance coverage
  • $16,546 to CIRSA for quarterly state worker’s compensation coverage
  • $72,385 to Forest Lakes Metropolitan District for the town’s share of water storage tank costs
  • $11,912 to town water attorney Krassa & Miller LSC for legal fees
  • $67,338 to The Alexandher Building Co. for the first construction payment for the new Town Hall building
  • $100,859 to Robinson Construction LLC for construction of the new town bandshell in Limbach Park

Green noted that the amount budgeted for the band shell to cover the labor and materials that were not donated to the project had originally been listed as $65,000. The new total had only been billed by the contractor a week before this board meeting. She said she should have e-mailed the trustees before the meeting to advise them of the increase in the net cost since the original estimate. The band shell construction has been delayed for several years, during which all construction costs have risen faster than inflation.

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith said that the board had authorized $700,000 in capital spending by the staff in the 2008 budget, and the higher costs for the bandshell would not result in overspending of the $700,000 appropriation.

Smith stated that she would give the board a draft 2008 budget restatement in August, but the town cannot add many things to the budget due to small increases in revenue compared to previous years.

The board also approved Smith’s monthly banking, financial, and sales tax reports.

Landreth reported that:

  • Monument’s water production and use is higher than last year.
  • Triview water operations have been "problematic. We have been dealing with numerous control and valve problems, and one of their well pumps had to be replaced. We have maintained production and quality. Water usage is very high."
  • "We are losing" water technician Anthony Pastorello, and Public Works is advertising for a replacement for the position.

Green reported on the board/staff retreat held on July 7:

  • The general fund generates an average of $300,000 per year for new (non-water) capital projects.
  • Many capital projects are estimated at over $1 million.
  • The Third Street drainage outfall design cost has risen $400,000.
  • The construction phase funding that has been lost due to the design increase will be made up from the water enterprise fund or borrowing of 15 percent of the town’s cash reserve.
  • The remainder of the stormwater master plan projects will cost about $8.5 million.
  • The board may ask the voters for a low-interest loan ballot issue in 2009; there may not be a need to increase taxes.
  • Roadway projects total $17 million and may be able to be funded by developers and cost sharing.
  • Park and recreation projects total $3.5 million and are eligible for state Great Outdoors Colorado grant funding.

Sgt. Steve Burk of the Monument Police Department reported that the town will hold its first Citizen’s Police Academy from Aug. 20 to Oct. 15. Participants must commit to one night a week for nine weeks, plus one Saturday morning, to increase their understanding of law enforcement’s role in the criminal justice system and daily tasks performed by police officers.

Applications for the academy must be submitted by Aug. 8. The application form and course schedule may be downloaded at the Police Department’s Community Services Web site: http://monumentpd.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=93&Itemid=106 

The meeting adjourned at 9:03 p.m.

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

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Monument Board of Adjustments, July 10: Variance for rear deck glass sunroom approved

Below: Reba and Michael Abair explain their request of a setback variance for a rear deck sunroom at the Monument Board of Adjustments meeting July 10. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On July 10, the Monument Board of Adjustments unanimously approved a request from Michael and Reba Abair for a rear setback variance of 7 feet to build a glass sunroom on a portion of their existing rear deck, which overlooks Lyons Tail Road and the King Soopers shopping center in Jackson Creek. Their rear deck is 13 feet from the rear lot line, an exception to the 20-foot rear setback restriction that is allowed by Regency Park zoning regulations. No portion of the structure, including a sunroom addition, would be allowed within 20 feet of the rear lot line by the regulation.

However, there is a 20-foot open space buffer, landscaped with trees, between the Abairs‘ rear lot line and the north side of the Lyons Tail Road right-of-way.

Lyons Tail Road is the very busy collector road that was the sole primary access for all homes in Jackson Creek to the Baptist Road interchange, via Jackson Creek Parkway, during the many months that the Leather Chaps Drive and Baptist Road intersection was closed for construction of additional lanes and a new traffic signal.

The Board of Adjustment meets from time to time to hear and decide appeals of requirements, decisions, or determinations made by administrative officials. The board also hears applications for variances due to practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship resulting from enforcement of:

  • Minimum area/width of lot
  • Maximum height of building
  • Minimum front/side/rear yard
  • Minimum off-street parking requirements
  • Minimum landscape requirements

Application fee reduced: The fee for the Abairs’ variance application dated June 5 was $750 plus an additional $150 fee for a retainer for any corrections that the town might have to make to bring the project into compliance with the town code should the owner fail to meet code requirements. The fee was raised to $750 in February based on analysis of the average expenses and staff time required for a typical commercial variance application. The retainer is refunded if the town does not have to make corrections following a final inspection.

However, the Board of Trustees created a separate application fee of $350 for residential variances at its meeting June 16. The reduction was based on the Abairs’ proposal, which demonstrated that because most residential variances are limited to setback issues, they do not require as much staff time for review and approval.

The Abairs’ application package included written approvals of the proposed sunroom’s configuration and materials from their homeowners association and their adjacent neighbors.

Staff presentation: Karen Griffith, the town’s principal planner, presented the Abairs’ application and criteria for review and approval to the board. She quoted the portion of the town code that allows the board "to grant a variance from the prescribed minimum rear setback requirements if by reason of exceptional shape or topography of a lot, or other exceptional situation or condition of the building or land, practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship would result to the owners of the property from a strict enforcement of the Code requirement."

Griffith noted that the Abairs’ lot is a "double frontage lot" with a rear "frontage" on Lyons Tail Road. The town’s regulations on subdivision lot design standards require a 10-foot treed buffer between back yards and roads for double frontage lots; in this case there is an existing buffer of 20 feet. She also noted that Michael Abair has been fighting skin cancer for some time and must minimize his exposure to the sun.

Her proposed motion to approve the Abairs’ rear setback variance was based on three findings:

  1. Exceptional conditions: The lot is a shallow double frontage lot facing a busy collector road and the homeowner has a medical condition.
  2. Practical difficulties or unnecceary hardship are caused by the previously approved lot having a rear yard that is too shallow to mitigate traffic impacts and noise from Lyons Tail Road. Also, the homeowner’s medical condition creates another practical difficulty in using the rear deck. Enforcing the 20-foot setback restriction for the glass structure would create an unnecessary hardship.
  3. There would be no adverse effect on public health, safety, and welfare because the variance is only 7 feet. The use of glass will further mitigate any visual impact since the sunroom will be essentially transparent.

Griffith recommended one condition of approval: The sunroom shall be constructed primarily of glass as depicted in the land use permit application and shall not be enclosed with primarily solid opaque walls in the future.

Griffith also noted that the Abairs have six months to apply for a building permit from the town if the board approves their request for a variance. New construction must be completed within a year of the building permit being issued. During her question and answer discussion with the board members, she also noted that the variance, including its condition of approval that it must remain a glass structure, will run with the land if the Abairs sell the property. The condition and the variance will be recorded on the lot’s plat by the county clerk and recorder and be part of the required disclosures at the time of a future sale.

The board unanimously approved Griffith’s proposed motion and condition of approval.

Volunteer sought for vacant board seat

The board consists of five members appointed by the Monument Board of Trustees. There is currently a vacancy on the board. Adults who have been a Monument resident for at least one year are eligible to apply for the vacant seat. Normally the board meets no more than two to three times per year. The last board meeting was held on Nov. 16, 2006. The Board of Trustees makes the appointments, which run for a period of three years.

The board members in attendance for this meeting were Trustee Tommie Plank, Planning Commissioner Kathy Spence, and Deputy Town Clerk Claudia Whitney. Member Don Smith was out of town.

The board unanimously approved the appointment of Spence as the board’s chairperson for the coming year.

Any Monument resident wishing to serve on the Board of Adjustments should contact Whitney at 884-8017 to volunteer.

The meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, July 10: Vacancies filled on council and planning commission

Below: (L-R) Town Council members Bryan Jack, Jan Bristol, Nikki McDonald, Mayor John Cressman, Town Clerk Della Gray, and council members Gary Coleman, Max Stafford, and Dan Reynolds conduct town business during the July 10 town council meeting. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On July 10, the Palmer Lake Town Council filled vacancies on the council and the Planning Commission. Jan Bristol was sworn in as the new Palmer Lake trustee by Town Clerk Della Gray, filling the vacancy created by Richard Allen’s resignation. Also, the council unanimously approved the selection of Dennis Stern to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission.

Council positions merged

In an effort to provide greater effectiveness in addressing and coordinating a number of issues and projects, the council decided to temporarily merge the efforts of Trustee Nikki McDonald, Parks and Recreation, and Bristol, Economic Development, under one yet-to-be-named area.

Solution sought to railroad culvert problem

On June 16, Mayor John Cressman and Awake the Lake representative Jeff Hulsmann met with a representative of the Union Pacific Railroad to discuss the damaged culverts under the tracks that continue to hamper water flow into the lake and a proposed pedestrian walkway over the tracks.

At the July 10 meeting of the council, Hulsmann suggested that the town consider funding an engineering study of damaged culverts under railroad tracks that continue to hamper water flow into Palmer Lake.

Hulsmann produced topological maps showing how water used to run under the tracks into the north end of the lake. This water flow assisted with the ecological environment of the lake and also the feeding of Plum Creek. The Union Pacific Railroad installed culverts that appear to have diverted this runoff water flow. The railroad now seems interested in restoring the flow, because it might be affecting the integrity of railroad tracks in that area north of the lake.

The Union Pacific Railroad representative raised concerns about safety and potential trespassing by pedestrians who would use the crossing over the tracks to reach the lake, instead of walking up to County Line Road. Hulsmann suggested that the railroad may be interested in a pedestrian bridge over the tracks to resolve both issues. Two options for a bridge include:

  • Adopt-a-Bridge program through the state
  • A flat-bed railroad car placed upon abutments on either side of the tracks

Out-of-service flat-bed railroad cars are being used for secondary road bridges where weight limitations of the cars can be accommodated. A possible location for the bridge would follow the park master plan, placing it south of the baseball field where foot traffic has created a path.

Firefighters gain certification

Shana Bell and Troy Oliver completed their certifications for firefighter I, after passing the hazardous material examination.

Liquor license approved

By unanimous decision, the Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority approved a hotel/restaurant liquor license for Amuze Bistro, owned by William Sherman. It was noted that Sherman contacted 13 residents in a designated survey area near the restaurant, located at 292 S. Highway 105. A total of seven responded, all favorably, to the proposed licensing. Sherman also noted that he has improved parking on the side and in the back of the restaurant. The restaurant will have a maximum occupancy of 12 for dining inside and additional informal seating outside.

Fire Department activities announced

  • The department’s 70th anniversary celebration will be held on Aug. 17 at The Depot restaurant on Highway 105.
  • The department will be conducting controlled burns for fire mitigation in city parks and around the lake, time and weather permitting.
  • The department is pursuing five grants including the SAFER grant to create the paid position of volunteer coordinator. Other grants are seeking assistance for protective equipment, a brush truck, and mobile data terminals.

House numbers should be visible

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman reminded Palmer Lake residents to prominently display their house numbers so they are visible from the street. The department will install address signs for residents for a $20 donation. Call (719) 481-2902 to make an appointment.

Surveying completed

Trustee Bryan Jack reported that the surveying for the right-of-way sidewalk grant has been completed and sent to the engineer.

Water use up

Water Trustee Max Stafford reported that on average, an acre-foot of water is being used per day during the summer. That is more than normal. Also, more water is being pumped from wells since May 21 due to issues with the surface water plant.

Fireworks summary

Fireworks Committee representative Jeff Hulsmann provided an analysis of the July 4 fireworks and related activities. Hulsmann noted that parking and traffic were significant issues given the one road in and out of town and the increased interest in the event. For next year’s event, there is a need to increase volunteers. The cost of the fireworks was $28,000.

The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

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The next regular council meeting is on Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. The next Town Council workshop is scheduled for Aug. 14 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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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, July 16: Community wildfire protection plan on hold

By Jim Kendrick

Chief Jeff Edwards gave the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board an update July 16 on his proposal to develop a community wildfire protection plan (CWPP). The consultants who will perform the study and plan development are currently busy creating plans for other districts, Their first step will be to prepare cost estimates for plan preparation later this year. There is no funding for plan development in the 2008 budget. Initial funding, a rough estimate of about $6,000, will have to be part of the district’s 2009 budget.

All board members were present.

Board gets wildfire plan update

Edwards reported on the status of the district’s CWPP, a tailor-made plan that assesses fire hazards, prioritizes areas for treatment, and recommends actions to reduce structural damage. These plans must be approved by three agencies: the Colorado State Forest Service, the local Fire Department and the county’s Environmental Services. The board approved development of a plan at the previous meeting on June 18. Implementation of the plan involves extensive community involvement for removing fire hazards in wooded residential lots throughout the district and chipping services for removed slash and brush.

Edwards noted that Dave Root, assistant district forester from the State Forest Service, and Keith Wurley, a consultant forester and arborist who performs assessments of wildfire protection plans for the state, will prepare cost estimates and give the board a preliminary presentation on developing a CWPP. Edwards suggested spending about $6,000 initially for a basic study rather than a full CWPP that would cost $20,000 to $30,000 for expensive global positioning system documentation. The district’s funding for full-scale development of the plan will have to be added to the 2009 budget. The two consultants are currently finishing a similar plan for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

Nine volunteers recruited

The district has 15 full-time staff and 10 volunteers and has just recruited nine new volunteers. Four of the new volunteers are qualified as firefighters and emergency medical technicians, another four are qualified as firefighters, and one is a qualified EMT. Four of the new volunteers live in the Wescott district.

The summer wildfire season in California is winding down, with over 70 percent of the individual fires being under control, Edwards said. Wescott has been sending one shift to California as part of a federal program for supporting local firefighting agencies. This is a "win-win" situation, he said, because the district’s firefighters receive standardized wildfire training and the district is reimbursed for all costs.

Wescott provided fire engines to the fireworks displays at Palmer Lake and Flying Horse Ranch as well as the Monument Fourth of July parade.

Capt. Mike Whiting reported that the district made 679 runs through the end of June, a 20 percent increase over the first half of 2007. The AMR ambulance covered 326 of these responses.

Financial report

New administrative assistant Cheryl Marshall reported that steady progress is being made by the new district auditor in completing the 2007 audit. Marshall also discussed three major purchases made in December as part of the 2007 budget. Although they were paid for in early 2008, the expenditures are still part of the 2007 budget. She has clarified this with the district’s CPA.

Marshall noted that about 70 percent of the tax revenues budgeted for 2008 had been received, which is typical for the first six months of the year. Revenues for the first half are about $1.25 million, while expenditures have been about $982,000.

The board scheduled an open house question-and-answer session for staff members on Aug. 15 at 7 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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Protect your home from wildfires

With rain totals down this year, wildfires remain a danger in the Tri-Lakes area. Here are some tips for protecting your home from wildfire exposure, courtesy Allstate Insurance Co.

  • Remove all dry grass, brush, and dead leaves at least 30 to 100 feet around the home. Homes in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet.
  • Regularly rake leaves and twigs, and remove dead limbs.
  • Clear all flammable vegetation and replace native plants with ornamental landscaping plants that are fire resistive.
  • Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.
  • Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs that are within 10 feet of the ground.
  • Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
  • Prune tree branches and shrubs within 10 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Remove vines from the walls of the home.
  • Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and barbecue grills. Place a screen over the grill—use nonflammable material with mesh no coarser than one-fourth inch.
  • Stack firewood at least 30 to 100 feet away and uphill from your home.
  • Clear combustible material within 10 feet of your home.
  • Use only safety-inspected and approved wood-burning devices.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, July 23: Budget review shows hiring more firefighters may not be possible

By Susan Hindman

While on the surface, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District is on track with its finances, with expenses running 5.65 percent under budget and income up for the month, the overall economic downturn has the board viewing future hiring more cautiously.

The district’s income is dependent upon property taxes and specific ownership taxes (which the district receives from the county, collected from the sale of vehicles); both are vulnerable to changes in the economy. Another revenue source, from ambulance calls, is holding steady. There were 60 to 95 ambulance calls each month the first six months of the year, generating $57,000 to $88,000 in charges. The collection rate, however, is running around 56 percent year to date.

But with specific ownership taxes down 8.24 percent for the year, Treasurer John Hildebrandt predicts the district will wind up with a shortfall of $70,000 to $75,000 for the year, which he has warned about at previous meetings.

However, the pending shortages—which include impact fee collection at 24 percent instead of 50 percent for the year—coupled with plans to hire three full-time firefighters in the third quarter prompted a request by Director Charlie Pocock for a midyear budget review. He is concerned that since 2009 won’t be a reassessment year—meaning the county assessor will base property values on 2008 figures—the income generated from taxes will remain the same. "Only growth could change," he said, but there’s not much of that going on currently.

And in 2010, when the assessor next reviews valuations, Pocock said, the results might not be good for the district. He read from a Gazette article that said the value of homes in the Tri-Lakes area had gone down 12.5 percent since last year. "So when the assessor takes another look at our home values, we could see a reduction in the total assessed value of property," which would lower the amount of revenue the district receives from those taxes.

In looking at line-item expenses for the next year, Pocock said he anticipates 5 percent to 7 percent inflation in most items. An additional increase will come from the SAFER grant. In 2005, the district won a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant totaling $700,000 over five years, which helped to bring on seven new firefighter-EMTs. Over the course of five years, the grant money received from the government goes down, while the district’s required contribution goes up.

So if these rates go up, and the revenue stream remains the same, Pocock sees a budget shortfall next year, one that could wipe out the contingency fund—unallocated reserve money currently totaling $231,240.

"Bottom line," he said, "is nobody wants to hire these three guys more than I do, but I think we need to take a more realistic approach. Instead of hiring them as full-time employees, I think we could look at hiring them as part-timers or temporary employees without benefits." That way, he said, it would be easier to lay them off if the funds went away.

Chief Rob Denboske agreed with Pocock, saying he’d rather hire temps than get into next year and find that they have to lay off people.

Battalion Chief Greg Lovato disagreed, saying, "I think the temporary situation would probably limit the pool of candidates out there. … People aren’t going to leave something they’ve already got that’s halfway decent to come out and take a temporary assignment to just be shut off six months later."

The new hires would help the district reach its goal of having four firefighters on each fire truck that goes out. Currently, only Station 3 (on Woodmoor Drive) has four.

Director Roger Lance questioned how aggressively personnel have been seeking other grants. Denboske said that although not all avenues have been pursued, "We’ve been successful at getting grants. I think we’ve got the folks to do it." The district had applied for another SAFER grant last year but didn’t get it.

After some discussion, President Tim Miller concluded by saying he wanted to put off a decision until he could meet with Hildebrandt to further discuss the budget.

Another expense problem is overtime. As of the end of June, only around $300 remained of the $25,000 budgeted for overtime. Denboske requested $10,000 to cover the rest of the year. He was told he should use what’s needed to maintain staffing, and that the finances would be worked out at the end of the year.

Tuition assistance proposal

Prompted by a firefighter’s request for tuition assistance, the board decided to take a closer look at what the personnel manual says regarding reimbursing education fees (tuition, books, etc.) for firefighters wanting to attend school. A proposal was submitted clarifying the wording about funding for job-related and job-required educational expenses, to help explain what would qualify for reimbursement.

The first round of changes to the proposal was approved, and it will be discussed again at the August meeting.

Code of conduct proposal

Apparently the result of conversations during a previous executive session, the board had asked the district’s attorney to prepare a new code of conduct regarding executive session rules. But after they reviewed the "Code of Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policy," there wasn’t much support for it.

Director Roger Lance said he went through this new code—which was "obviously written by an attorney"—the fire district’s existing code, and the Special District Association’s (SDA) code "paragraph by paragraph," to see what was different or not addressed. "There are not many things that aren’t addressed adequately," he said, adding that this new version had a negative feel to it. "I don’t see a need for it," he concluded, and suggested updating the current policy manual instead.

There seemed to be universal agreement that this new version was more than what was needed. Miller suggested the issue be tabled for further examination.

Beefing up the Web site

Lance asked if it was possible to create a forum for people to post questions and the district to provide answers on the district’s Web site. He said he has gotten calls from housing associations about things like fire-pit safety and dead trees. He said posting a "frequently asked questions" page would "give us more public involvement." In addition, he said that minutes are supposed to be posted a certain number of days after a meeting and that agendas are supposed to be posted prior to meetings, so the Web site could be the place for that.

The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters; no announcements were made.

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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 Aug. 27. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com

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Gleneagle group fights golf course development

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in and download the submissions to county planning

Click on the drawing to zoom in and download the submissions to county planning

By Bill Carroll

On July 5, about 45 Gleneagle area residents attended the first meeting of the Gleneagle Residents’ Environmental Action Team (GREAT) in the library of the Western Museum of Mining and Industry to discuss issues and concerns over the proposed development of the Gleneagle Golf Club’s driving range.

The new organization, created to organize opposition to the intended project, is being spearheaded by the Eagle Villas homeowners association (HOA) with support from several of the other HOAs in Gleneagle that might be adversely impacted by the proposed development. During the meeting, GREAT representatives discussed the reasons behind the organization, various issues and possible strategies to employ in opposition to this development.

In late 2007, the Gleneagle Golf Course and its planning consultant, Thomas and Thomas, laid out a plan to the community for building 47 patio homes on the driving range as a means to generate $1.5 million that is needed to replace the aging golf course irrigation system. Several meetings between the golf course and various community groups and members have been held since then and a formal application has been submitted to the El Paso County Planning Commission for approval of the plan. The plan calls for revision of the area master plan and approval of a development sketch plan, and rezoning of the driving range from its current RR5 residential to planned unit development (PUD).

Leading Friday’s meeting were Tom Morse and Doug Jenkins of GREAT; they are also members of the Eagle Villas HOA. Morse stated, "We formed GREAT to pull together the community and inform them what is happening in their back yards … and we’ve started circulating petitions within the community that will be given to the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) further illustrating and quantifying our opposition to this ill-conceived plan." Morse further stated that a public hearing on the project at the Planning Commission might come as soon as Sept. 16.

Jenkins discussed various issues GREAT has with the intended project and its adverse impacts on the community as a whole and the various homeowners immediately adjacent to the project in particular. During the initial discussions, it was pointed out that several requests had been submitted to the golf course owner, Miles Scully, a San Diego attorney, to meet with GREAT and other concerned residents in Gleneagle with no response received from Scully. Eagle Villas HOA President Dennis Beasley did, however, mention that golf course management advised him this week that Scully will be in the area on Aug. 7 and might be available to talk to residents.

Beasley also stated that in a recent face-to-face meeting with golf course manager Jon Brockman, "Golf course manager Jon Brockman stated he submitted his resignation to the owner effective July 31 (supposedly over being placed in the middle of the project’s controversy)." A successor to Brockman has not been announced, but in a conversation following the meeting, Brockman advised that he will likely be maintaining some management responsibility for a time, even though he will be off site.

Jenkins mentioned that "there are several major issues of concern that we are addressing in our overall opposition to the project—regional, community, neighborhood, water, safety, and economics." Jenkins then elaborated on some details on each issue with questions coming from the assembled residents.

When the discussion came to water and its availability, Gleneagle resident and Donala Water and Sanitation Board member Richard Durham mentioned, "Despite complaints and concerns from this group and some of the residents about there not being enough water for this project, the golf course does have sufficient water in its current allocation for the proposed driving range project." In responding to a comment that developing the driving range is only the tip of the iceberg and that the balance of the course might be developed next, Durham commented, "The golf course can only develop the driving range … they cannot develop the balance of the golf course because they do not have the amount of water in their existing allocation to do such a large housing project." In a follow-up conversation, Donala Director Dana Duthie commented that the golf course does have sufficient water to construct the proposed 47 patio home development.

During the meeting, Jenkins mentioned that the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District did not recommend approval of the project, citing several concerns over safety issues such as close proximity to other residences and access to the community via rather narrow driveways that would be insufficient for emergency vehicle access and turn-around.

There was considerable discussion over the closeness of the intended project to the existing Eagle Villas residences and property lines. Jenkins mentioned that the new development will have a setback of only 25 feet from the backyard walls of Eagle Villas residences that currently border the driving range.

Furthermore, Jenkins pointed out that unlike other developments that phase in lot and home sizes to accommodate and better mesh with existing homes and lots adjacent to that new development, the golf course’s planner may have taken into account the size of the new proposed dwellings compared to Eagle Villas and the town homes across the street on Mission Hill Way but did not take into account the lot and home sizes of the single-family homes along Gleneagle Drive. Those homes are only 30 yards away on the opposite side of Hole 6 that will border the east and southern portions of the proposed project.

In situations like this, developers who are building lots smaller than those next to them will build larger lots and fewer homes on these periphery lots to better mesh with existing surrounding communities. An example of such an action is in the pending Promontory Pointe development along Baptist Road (now on indefinite hold because the developer has left the area) where the Town of Monument required larger lots along the eastern boundary to better mesh with Kingswood lots (that are 5 acres).

One of the fears exhibited by GREAT management and some of the assembled residents was a "worst-case scenario" that the project would be approved and started but for some reason not completed, laying idle for an unknown time; similar to the situation with Promontory Pointe.

There were many discussions on issues, including whether the golf course would actually use the money generated from the sale of land for an irrigation system, and that the timing was not good for a new housing development. The overall tone of the attendees was one of complete opposition to the project in the strongest terms and an intent to pack the county Planning Commission hearing room and ultimately the BOCC meeting with residents supporting this opposition. GREAT will use the comments from the meeting to further refine its strategy for opposing the project.

In closing the meeting, Morse stated that GREAT had submitted a letter of opposition to the project to the Planning Commission, as had several other area HOAs such as the Gleneagle Civic Association. He said even NEPCO (North El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations) and many other Gleneagle residents sent in comments. According to the county Planning Commission, about 60 pages of comments and opposing views for the project have been received from various public and private entities.

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For additional information about GREAT and its activities opposing the proposed golf course development, a Web site was created: www.gleneagleupdate.com. The next GREAT meeting will be held once a firm date for the Planning Commission meeting has been announced.

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July Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

We received a wide variety of weather for the month of July around the region, with heavy rain, hail, high temperatures, smoke, and even some remnants of a decaying hurricane. For the month as a whole, temperatures were about normal, with high temperatures ending above average and low temperatures below average. Precipitation was close to average, but for many of us that all came in a couple of big storms, not the best scenario for providing moisture to our plants.

July started off the same way June ended—warm and dry. However, things began to change quickly, as higher levels of moisture began to work into the region. This, along with little waves of energy rotating through the atmosphere, helped to trigger thunderstorms each day from the 2nd to the 7th, with one exception, the 4th of July.

The strong storms developed during the early evening hours of the 3rd, when a line of severe storms dropped heavy rain and large hail in a narrow line along Highway 83 from County Line Road through the north side of the Springs. Many residents under these storms picked up 1-2 inches of rain in less than an hour, and this led to some flash flooding in the area. Several rounds of garden-variety thunderstorms developed during the afternoons and evenings of the 5th through the 7th and when combined with general cloudy skies, cool temperatures, and light rain, helped add a significant amount of moisture to the parched soils.

The second week of July started off stormy and wet, with heavy rain and hail for many of us on Tuesday the 8th. The afternoon and evening storms on the 7th and 8th held down high temperatures below average, with upper 70s to low 80s common. Moisture levels quickly dropped over the next few days and the storms disappeared. Temperatures were well behaved for the next few days as well, with highs in the 80s on the 9th-11th, then cooler air moved in on the 12th and highs held in the low 70s on Saturday and upper 70s to low 80s for Sunday the 13th making for a beautiful weekend.

Fairly typical mid-July weather affected the region from the 14th through the 20th. This included warm temperatures and scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Highs reached into the mid- and upper 80s during the entire period, which is around normal to a little above normal. Thunderstorms developed on several afternoons, with the strongest storms occurring 14th, 17th, and 18th.

As usual, these storms were hit and miss. Some areas picked up over an inch of rain and got hit by large hail, while others barely received enough to wet the ground. As we move into August, afternoon and evening thunderstorms will become more common, as this is the time of year when we receive the peak amounts of moisture associated with the Southwest monsoon.

The last week of the month saw the typical pattern of morning sunshine and afternoon clouds and scattered thunderstorms. Temperatures were a little above average for the period, with highs in the mid-80s to low 90s through the period. Some areas received a good shot of rain, while others missed out on the fun. This is typical with summertime thunderstorms, which affect small areas for short durations. Therefore, some of us get beneficial rain and others just some clouds.

The weather pattern across the region didn’t change much through the end of the month with one exception. The remnants of Hurricane Dolly, which moved onshore near Brownsville, Texas, moved into New Mexico and southern Colorado on the 27th and 28th. This brought with it higher levels of moisture and added lift to the atmosphere. It allowed thunderstorms to develop that were a little more enhanced than would have happened otherwise.

A look ahead

August is the last true "summer" month for the Tri-Lakes. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant afternoons and highs from the mid-80s at the beginning of the month to mid-70s at the end. Temperatures at night get more comfortable as well, often dipping into the 40s, making for better sleeping weather. Thunderstorms are still common during the afternoon and evening, as moisture moving out of the Southwest helps to add to the activity. August of 2004, 2006, and 2007 received above-normal precipitation for the Tri-Lakes, while August 2005 started warm and dry and ended on the wet side. Hopefully we will see above-average rainfall this year as we head into fall. The official monthly forecast for August 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for an equal chance of above or below normal temperatures and precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

July 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 84.9° (+1.0)
Average Low 49.5° (-1.6)
Highest Temperature 90° on the 5th, 28th
Lowest Temperature 43° on the 12th
Monthly Precipitation 2.99" (+0.17")
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 2.99" (+0.15") (the pecip season is from July 1 to June 30)

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

Remember, weather affects all of us every day and is a very important part of life for us 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

Another side to Farmers Market issue

Once again, misinformation about the farmers markets in Monument is being intentionally and maliciously circulated and, once again, the Lewis-Palmer School District needs to set the record straight with some facts. A basic fact is that Monument now has two outdoor markets at two locations every Saturday. They are very different events for separate causes and they both promote our community, as they provide opportunities for business and resident participation and add flavor and color to Tri-Lakes weekends.

After several years of providing land to a private, commercial enterprise (The Monument Farmers Market) free of charge, the district has moved to a more consistent and accountable business model for its facilities rental operations. The resulting review and update of D-38 rental policies was based on the principle that buildings and fields should be rented consistently and fairly district-wide. The review also brought to light the fact that many of its rental fees did not actually cover the cost of impact on district facilities and were not market-competitive.

This led to the plans to increase rental charges this summer. The district suspended use of propane on its property due to liability and insurance concerns, and safe ways to allow propane use in the future are the focus of continuing discussion. The market owner chose to relocate rather than pay a fair rental price and did not make any attempt to respond with concerns or input. Since it moved to a privately owned free location, the market advertises increased vendor numbers, so this appears to have had only a positive impact on that business. The move left D-38 with an empty lot in a year of financial difficulty for the district. Leaving the space idle all summer would have been irresponsible to taxpayers and students.

A letter to OCN last month accused one district employee of trying to "take over" the market and of making negative comments about its participants. Those statements are patently absurd. The employee in question was tasked with implementing district policy and did so respectfully and professionally. The superintendent of schools did return phone calls, and the district has those records.

Fortunately D-38 has been able to start its own event on that vacant lot to benefit community Schools: Big Red Saturday, which has included the participation of student and youth groups and nonprofit organizations to showcase education and community involvement. Big Red doesn’t charge students to join in, and encourages kids to perform, raise public awareness, and try their entrepreneurial skills. Student musicians, athletic clubs, and even a youth dog park project are participating. Big Red Saturday has been joined by a host of generous and amiable vendors.

The Tri-Lakes region is lucky to have two great weekend activities for residents and visitors and we wish both markets success. Cooperation and mutual support would help that along. Big Red is now proud to feature every weekend: two farm-fresh produce vendors, bakers, local honey, crocheted and handmade items, work gloves, pet products, yard décor, and more. It’s very nice, plus it’s a lot of fun. We hope everyone will visit.

Robin Adair
D-38 community relations manager

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Outrage over oil and gas leasing

In June, the Bureau of Land Management announced that it plans to offer about 55,000 acres on Colorado’s Roan Plateau for oil and gas leasing. As a Coloradoan, I’m outraged by this! When people think of Colorado, they think about the outdoors and the associated recreational opportunities. Activities such as fishing, hunting, river rafting, hiking, skiing, cycling, camping, backpacking, and many more come to mind.

I recently returned to Colorado after spending the past five years in the Pacific Northwest to pursue these amazing opportunities. I came back to be in Colorado to reconnect with the outdoors. I never imagined fellow residents would be supporting the destruction of our beautiful state. Don’t we have a responsibility to make the least impact on the environment as possible? Not only for ourselves but also for our children and our children’s children?

I guess my primary complaint is that we don’t seem to care enough about the environment to fight to protect it. We’re taking the natural beauty for granted, believing it will always be there. The truth of the matter is, if we allow operations to come in and ravage the land for its finite resources, the beauty won’t remain for long.

We can’t go on believing that the generations after us will take care of our environmental problems. We need to take accountability and break that notion. Honestly, ask yourself which is more important: easing the financial strain on your own pocketbook or permanently protecting the open spaces that generate billions of dollars in tourism each year?

For those of you who believe slowing the inevitable increasing cost of gasoline is more important, I say to you, I’m truly disappointed. For those of you who believe in the beauty and exoticism of Colorado’s natural beauty, find a way to get involved.

When’s the last time you had a moment for the environment?

Jeremy Boedigheimer

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Fireworks lead to tragedy

Our border collie, Scooby, was a great dog and loyal friend. He was a skilled Frisbee catcher, tireless hiker, nimble climber, and devoted companion. During our years of canine-Frisbee competition, he won many state and regional events. We did several charity demonstrations, and his Frisbee catching was shown on a local newscast and in photos published in local newspapers. Scooby’s outdoor accomplishments also include 146 ascents of 47 fourteeners and innumerable climbs of Eagle Peak and Mount Herman. Our wonderful canine companion, so full of life and spirit, was killed on Interstate 25 the night of July 4.

Scooby and several other dogs were playing at our cul-de-sac party (in Jackson Creek) while fireworks elsewhere in the neighborhood reached a crescendo. Frightened, he bolted from the party, and apparently ran and ran—west, away from the fireworks. After frantically searching throughout the night and most of the next day, we found him dead next to the interstate.

Fireworks that explode and/or leave the ground are illegal in El Paso County. Despite this well-publicized law, such personal fireworks were going off all over the area, with parental consent and participation. This is a very poor and irresponsible parental lesson for young people: If the laws interfere with your fun, just break them!

We acknowledge that it was our responsibility to watch Scooby that night. Nonetheless, those shooting fireworks in Jackson Creek share culpability for this tragic event.

While we are grateful to the Monument police for their assistance in looking for Scooby, we are critical of their ineffective enforcement of the fireworks laws. Breaking fireworks laws should have some significant consequence for violators. If the Monument police would issue an appropriate number of citations, the public will get the message that officers are serious about enforcing the law.

At the pet crematorium the following Monday, there were many dead dogs awaiting cremation. An employee indicated that such numbers were normal following the Fourth of July. With such carnage, much of it caused by fireworks, there were a lot of broken hearts that day in El Paso County.

David and Emily Hale

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Disputing rumors about Monument Academy

I would consider myself irresponsible if I did not comment on my observations over the past couple of months regarding the Lewis-Palmer School District’s concerns with Monument Academy’s funding shortfall for its new building and the relationship between the two entities. Let me first dispel a few rumors that I have heard in the community, at board meetings, and/or through the media.

Monument Academy has obeyed all laws in developing a separate corporation to obtain the new property. Most charter schools follow a similar model to allow more flexibility in financing. In a regular public school, bonds for new capital are secured through a bond referendum approved by local taxpayers. Charter schools do not operate or secure capital using any local monies.

In my very strong opinion, Monument Academy has not been fiscally irresponsible. Despite MA’s budget being much smaller than a regular district school, they continue to offer a quality education as evidenced by achievement scores, parental support, teacher satisfaction, and the success of the students as they move on to new environments

MA has overcome the largest financing hurdle and has been approved to sell additional bonds. JE Dunn has agreed to complete the construction project. In fact, they have stated that instead of requesting a certificate of temporary occupancy (CTO), they will request a certificate of permanent occupancy (CO) the third week of August.

My biggest concern is the tension and mistrust that seems to exist between the L-P School District and MA. We only recently moved to the area, so I have very little history with either the district or MA. Last week, I went to the district meeting with an open mind to observe the climate. There was great tension between the district board and those from MA at the meeting. No one in the audience was allowed to speak, despite numerous distorted or misinformed facts being fed to the media and public. It did not seem these were intentional, but there was little willingness to allow MA to correct. I feel it would be helpful to generate accuracy if one MA representative was allowed to address incorrect information at district board meetings.

I do not think anyone would disagree that it is important for MA and the district to work together amicably to solve all of its problems, as we all have the same mission, to educate our students to the best of our ability. When we are at odds, we place our community at odds. It is time to let go of the history, find a new home for negative emotions, and roll up our sleeves to work on challenges as a team.

Lisa Bartilotta
MA assistant principal

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Things are happening at WIA

Woodmoor residents have been attending board meetings and raising questions.

Recently I received a rather intimidating letter from a board member, Terry Holmes, which prompts me to write this letter. Woodmoor residents, here are some of the facts.

One year ago, the WIA board discovered our director, Camilla Mottl, had misrepresented her credentials. The board decided to do nothing - but they did give her a raise and a bonus! In March, I presented to the board a copy of the original resume she presented to the 2001 board during her hiring which misrepresented her credentials. Her claims of credentials on the WIA website were further refuted by The Better Business Bureau and The National Community Assoc. Institute. Those false claims were not removed until earlier this year. How can the board retain a person in a position of responsibility who they know has been deceitful?

In April, I attempted to present to the board a list of concerns but was cut off after two minutes and gave my written statement and request for response to the secretary. To date, I have not received a reply nor have some members of the board even seen my concerns.

The board president, Steve Malfatti, is not allowing residents their right, by law, to speak at the board meetings. Many residents have experienced this first hand.

Recently, the WIA bookkeeper resigned and submitted a proposal to provide bookkeeping services at a substantially lower cost. Maybe she was overpaid? A question about the employee medical insurance reimbursement was raised in February when the treasurer declined to sign the checks. WIA has not been withholding taxes and social security from these checks for over 5 years! This could cost us plenty in back taxes, interest and penalties!! Could this risk our tax-exempt status?

Jake Shirk has recently resigned from the board. He had been requested to investigate the misrepresentations by the administrative director, Camilla Mottl. Due to the state of affairs at WIA and the increasing demands of his family, he resigned. The board has not appointed a replacement despite having an interested volunteer, Steve Steffey, who received the 4th highest number of votes among the 7 candidate who ran for the board positions this year.

Annually, WIA generates a profit of $50,000-70,000., resulting in a fully funded replacement reserve fund and a "slush fund" of over $300,000. However, in the last few months, Ms. Mottl has reported our "slush fund" to be $137,000. Why do the numbers keep changing? Ms. Mottl is responsible for the day to day handling of our money!

If you have concerns about Woodmoor and your money, please attend the board meetings and see for yourself. They are held at the Barn, the fourth Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m.

Hilary Brendemuhl

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Perspective on our community: Congress shows its disconnect again

By Terry Maketa, Sheriff, El Paso County

Citizens and local law enforcement leaders should be outraged. I am embarrassed at the lack of support for local public safety displayed by our U.S. Congress in their most recent decision. In today’s public safety environment, we are witnessing so many agencies struggling with funding at the local level. Struggling to keep their fleet fueled, equipment maintained, and fund programs that prevent crime.

Many of these challenges are a direct result of growing federal unfunded mandates, many of which are driven by homeland security, and yet the funding support once provided from the federal government through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant is being slashed by 67 percent for the 2008 fiscal cycle. Sadly, these cuts are not taking place to reduce the bloated federal deficit; they were done to fund local law enforcement efforts in foreign countries. Yes, you read that correctly, foreign countries!

Congress recently passed an emergency spending bill, HR 2642, which included $680 million for police in other countries while at the same time reducing funding for U.S. local law enforcement from $520 million in fiscal year 2007 to $170 million in 2008. The U.S. Senate attempted to raise the funding to $490 million, but the House leadership struck the language that would have given local law enforcement across the country the funding needed for multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, much needed equipment, operating supplies, and the funding for treatment and prevention programs.

I was floored by the actions of our Congress and my focus transitioned to anger when I found out the funding cuts were to support local law enforcement in Mexico and South America under the auspices of counter-narcotics efforts. Congress is giving money to the Congo Police Department at the expense of U.S. law enforcement. Mexico police will be getting $400 million taxpayer dollars.

Then I became outraged when my daughter told me what she observed during a recent trip to Mazatlan. Mazatlan Police were armed with what she described as M-16 weapons, new tactical vests, new uniforms, and driving new Dodge Chargers, with custom wheels and low profile light bars. Yet in Colorado alone, we have smaller law enforcement agencies that do not have the funding to replace a worn out patrol car and these agencies are actively seeking used police vehicles through donations.

As a citizen, I want to know why our congressional delegation can be so misguided in their priorities. Why does it continue to be acceptable in the "Beltway" to take a bill like HR 2642, specifically created as emergency war funding, which is much needed support for our soldiers, and "pork" it up with millions of our hard-earned tax dollars for local foreign police. They set aside $682 million for foreign policing and cut U.S. local policing by $490 million. These actions are a clear example of the staggering disconnect that exists between them and the communities that elect them.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new with our U.S. Congress. Priorities in the "Beltway" have been turned upside down in the past few years and that is why we the people will continue to be the victims of inflated fuel costs, an ailing job market, a declining economy and now, we can include the category of diminishing public safety.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Beyond Harry Potter

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Young adults are no longer caught between the younger-kids’ books and adult fiction that may or may not interest them. On the heels of the Harry Potter series, a number of authors are offering riveting volumes designed to keep teens and "tweens" eagerly awaiting the next page or the next book. Many adults are also finding these well-written and imaginative series enticing.

The Inheritance Cycle Series
By Christopher Paolini (Alfred A. Knopf), 10.95 to $18.95

Eragon, the first book in the Inheritance Cycle Series, begins when a poor farm boy discovers a blue stone in the forest. Instinct tells him to take it home; such an object will at least buy his family food for the winter. Instead, the stone brings him a dragon hatchling, and he realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Now Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, must take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders and fight to save their world from a king whose evil knows no bounds.

In Book Two, Eldest, Eragon and Saphira travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship. The new people and places awe Eragon, but chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn.

Brisinger, Book Three in the series, goes on sale Sept. 20, and promises new adventures as Eragon fights for his life against the dark hand of the evil king.

The Twilight Series
By Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown and Co.), $10.99 to $19.99

Deeply seductive and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight, the first book in this series, is the story of Edward, a vampire, and a mortal girl, Bella, who falls unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him. The excitement of secret love and hushed affection morphs into a terrifying race to stay alive.

New Moon, Book Two in the series, finds both Edward and Bella in mortal danger and alternates between romance and suspense.

In the third book, Eclipse, Bella is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob—knowing that her decision could ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. The final book of the twilight saga, Breaking Dawn, will be available Aug. 2.

The Maximum Ride Series
By James Patterson (Little, Brown and Co.), $6.99 to $20

There’s one last chance to save the world—and it’s in the hands of six extraordinary kids who can fly. In this series, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, Angel, and Maximum Ride fly free as birds until Max and her gang are discovered by an FBI agent and forced to face their worst nightmare—school. The Angel Experiment, School’s Out Forever and Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, the first three books in the series, have kept readers on the edge with their page-turning adventures.

Book Four, Final Warning, which is available in hardcover, finds Max at a funeral for a sad, doomed 7-year-old who was turned into a monster and sent after the flock. In an emotional moment, she finds out he also shared half of her human DNA.

Dreamhouse Kings Series
By Robert Liparulo (Thomas Nelson), $14.99

Local author Robert Liparulo, who has received rave reviews for his adult thrillers, debuts his young-adult series with two exciting volumes. In the first book, House of Dark Shadows, the King family moves from L.A. to the secluded small town of Pinedale, and 15-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. However, he, David and Toria soon discover there’s something odd about the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into—strange sounds, giant footprints, and a hidden hallway with portals leading to far-off places in long-ago times. Xander begins to wonder if this is a teen’s dream come true—or his worst nightmare.

Book Two, Watcher in the Woods, finds the Kings trying to rescue a lost family member while dealing with a mysterious stranger who is watching their every move.

Book Three, Gatekeepers, is coming in January 2009.

There’s still enough summer left for young adults to choose some page-turning books before the required school reading kicks in. Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: Deadheading your flowers

By Woody Woodworth

Increase the enjoyment and value of your flowering plants by investigating the potential of deadheading. The process of removing the faded/spent flowers before they set seed with the goal of forcing a plant to rebloom is called deadheading. Some say deadheading is a way of fooling Mother Nature. To decide if deadheading is right for your flowers, consider the normal lifecycle of a flowering plant, the goal of deadheading and the proper techniques to follow.

If left alone, a flowering plant would put forth a bloom. The blossom would then be fertilized and set seed. In this complete reproduction task, the plant expends its energy and nutrients to set seed instead of producing more flowers. Annuals are intended to grow, flower, set seed, and die.

The main goal of deadheading is to produce more blooms on a plant. This goal extends the value of your investment on annuals and perennials, and beautifies your flower gardens by removing the dried up flowers. In addition, deadheading your flowering plants conserves the plant energy and removes hiding places and food for insects that often become pests in our gardens. It can also reduce the potential for fungal diseases by permitting minor improvements in air circulation.

Not all plants will bloom a second time even after deadheading them (e.g., poppies). You still may want to snap off the spent blooms to save the plant’s energy, to make the plants look neater, and to help the plant be stronger and produce nicer blooms the next season.

Deadheading plants is not difficult. You’ll want to plan to remove the seed head before the seeds start to develop—before the florets begin to fall. With your fingers and thumb, snap off any faded or dead flowers. Make sure the stems are broken cleanly. If the stems are tough or if there is danger of hurting the plant as the dead flowers are removed, you may want to use scissors, pruners, or a penknife. For plants that get long and gangly, like the blue salvia, you want to cut the entire plant back in half. While it will look "bald" at first, the new growth will rush right out of the plant and fill it in.

Fortunately, some annuals, such as begonias and impatiens, are "self-cleaning." They drop off their spent flowers and continue to bloom for a long season. Impatiens do, however, naturally get leggy when it is hot and wet. These plants benefit by being cut back in half.

When deadheading roses, keep in mind that a bloom stem can be no larger in diameter than the stem from which it grows. Thus, the subsequent blooms will be proportionate in size to the stem from which they emerge. This means the farther down the stem you cut, the larger the bloom stem and subsequent buds will become. Keep in mind that the larger the bloom stem, the longer it will take for the rose to rebloom. Make your cut at an angle away from and slightly above the node.

No matter what kind of plant you are working on, do not remove any foliage, even if it starts yellowing. The nutrients for next year’s blooms are still being transported to the roots at this stage.

While deadheading your flowering plants may be a way of fooling Mother Nature, it is also a way to give your garden a longer blooming season. It does not appear to hurt your plants. In fact, it conserves their energy and often provides stronger more beautiful plants the following season.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Home and Garden.

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On the Trail: Fox Run Regional Park

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

By Ray McCoy

If you enjoy the outdoors and desire to walk trails for relaxation, you have to go visit Fox Run Regional Park. Situated between Roller Coaster Road and Stella Drive, this 300-acre park has it all. Well-groomed trails provide the hiker with nearly 5 miles of gradually sloping ascents and descents between 7,200 and 7,500-foot elevations.

There are plenty of signs indicating where you are with respect to the main trails and lots of information posted to get a better understanding of the area with its unique environment. You need to be aware that these are multi-purpose trails shared with mountain bikes and horses. There are no motorized vehicles allowed here. When you go, don’t forget your K-9 companion and remember to respect others on the same trails by keeping dogs on their leash and removing their "stuff" from the trails.

There are also two ponds in spots that offer wonderful views of Pikes Peak and the Front Range. The lower pond is nicely landscaped to include a water fountain, a gazebo that extends into the pond, and terraced rocks.

As you enter the park, you will find several large grassy areas just right for outdoor games and numerous pavilions to reserve for your gathering and grilling pleasure. This is truly a gem to be enjoyed by the entire family, so take an evening or a day over the weekend and go work up a sweat hiking, running or biking—you’ll be glad you did. 

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: The black-chinned and magnificent hummingbirds

Click here or on the drawings to zoom in

Below: Drawing of a black-chinned hummingbirds by Elizabeth Hacker. 

Click on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of a magnificent hummingbirds by Elizabeth Hacker. 

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

As I write this column, a pale cabochon moon is rising on the eastern horizon, reflecting the citron rays of the setting sun. A male rufous hummingbird with its luminous feathers all aglow in the fading sunlight is sitting on a branch of our French lilac tree looking back at me. I wonder why he isn’t over feeding at one of our feeders. The Rampart Range is casting its long shadow, so perhaps the little rufous is absorbing the sun’s last warm rays before it bids adieu.

We always look forward to summer when the hummers buzz around our yard. Around July 4, the rufous shows up to bully the other birds away. This year we observed far fewer broad-tailed and rufous hummingbirds, but we saw two species that we’ve never seen before. In May, we observed the black-chinned hummingbird and later in July, we saw the magnificent hummingbird. This was a treat as neither species is commonly found in Colorado.

It is thought that the California wildfires and habitat loss in Mexico and the United States may be possible reasons for the increasing annual decline of common species as well as shifting migration patterns for the uncommon species. Other contributing factors like the West Nile virus may also play a role in the annual hummingbird decline.

We observed the black-chinned hummingbird at Fountain Creek Nature Center in early May. At first glance, it didn’t stand out from other hummers because it is about the same size and its feathers aren’t conspicuous. Its posture is more erect and it flies in a straight line with its head held high, which is quite different than the hummers commonly found here whose heads are horizontally aligned with their bodies. It also has a unique sound that includes a zing rather than a whir and high-pitched chips and ticks.

The black-chinned hummingbird measures about 3 1/2 inches in length and has a 3 1/4-inch wing span. It weighs about 3 grams: about the weight of a dime plus a dollar bill. The male is dull metallic green above and gray below. His black chin and upper throat with a violet, iridescent gorget (lower throat) looked like a formal bowtie above the white of his upper breast. The female’s coloring is dull in comparison to the male and resembles the female broad-tailed hummer.

Each spring, the black-chinned migrates from Mexico to southern British Columbia, where they breed and nest. It arrives in Canada in late May and begins returning to Mexico in late June. It is commonly observed in Arizona and New Mexico throughout the summer but is uncommon in Colorado.

The magnificent hummingbird was reported in early July in Manitou Springs and was also seen on the Palmer Divide about that same time. Unlike the unassuming black-chinned, this hummer stands out because of its larger size and unique coloration. It is the second-largest hummingbird north of Mexico, and only the blue-throated hummingbird is larger.

The magnificent hummingbird can range up to 6 inches long with a wingspan of 7 inches. It can weigh up to 8 grams: about the weight of three dimes and two dollars. The male has bold contrasting colors, with iridescent purple crown, turquoise throat, and black belly. The female is duller overall, green above and gray below. Aptly named for its spectacular plumage, the magnificent hummingbird is one of several hummingbird species found in southeast Arizona but not regularly seen elsewhere in the United States. To find it in Colorado made this summer one for the record books for many birders.

Describing hummingbird flight requires a thorough aeronautic vocabulary. The hummingbird’s unique skeletal structure allows it to fly forward, backward, sideways, and even on its back. Hummers can hover, take off vertically, and pivot on a stationary axis. In black-chinneds, this requires 50 wing beats per second. The smaller the bird, the faster wing beat rate. Therefore, the magnificent hummer flies slower, about 40 beats per second.

My favorite American bird artist, John James Audubon, referred to hummingbirds as "glittering garments of the rainbow." Hummers most certainly add interest and color to our wonderful Colorado summers.

As the sky transitions from pale blue to a deep lapis, the clouds become a purple blanket, and the rufous’ tangerine feathers fade to auburn. He flies off to where I don’t know. Will he be back tomorrow or be many miles farther south on his long journey to his winter home in Mexico?

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist in the Tri-Lakes area. Her bird prints are available online or at the gift shop in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake, with proceeds benefiting habitat preservation. Contact her at elizabethhacker66@yahoo.com or www.elizabethhackerart.com with your questions and bird stories.

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Art Matters: Culture remix and the creative commons era

By Janet Sellers

The rules of creativity have changed again!

Artists, as the creative cultural thinkers and leaders, have virtually owned the corner on the ability to integrate art, culture, and community for tens of thousands of years. They were usually the ones who defined culture, vision, and meaning to societies in the most visible and tangible forms. Artists manifested ideas for themselves, their political leaders, and eventually for whomever could pay them (or their agents) for it. Artists are the ones who know their culture, their verbal and visual communications and perceptions, and create relationships to these that benefit others.

As time went on, intellectual rights needed to be reserved, and the copyright laws came into being. An artist/author had complete rights to all copies of the work for a number of years, and permission for any use of any sort had to be legally granted. Even buying an artwork outright did not carry copyrights over to the new "owner." The artist/author has, since these laws of the 1800s, owned full rights to any form of copying. This even extended to design ideas on a napkin and other informal methods of communication.

That was good for the artists, since the income and profits had to be shared with them by publishers, museums, and the many venues for the designs and the art. No more art slaves, thank you very much, where the art was bought for a pittance and sold and resold for zillion-dollar profits with the artist outside the loop of providence.

And then we have great changes again, with new technologies creating further avenues of showing our thoughts as things. Since creativity builds on creativity, the difference between one visible thought form in art and imagination and another is essentially unclear in the realm of the digital age. In addition, knowledge and skill are readily available through alternate stored knowledge besides human hands and brains.

Artists still are the main creators, but their creations are offered for more than their initial purpose and audience. The middleman has lost the chokehold on the production, management, and profits of creative thinking. Our current decade of technology and communication offers creative endeavors in myriad ways via electronics and the World Wide Web to the average person, and for free.

To make expressions and relationships to creative thinking not only available but also intelligible to all of us, this collage of visions and technologies has required a certain level of technical understanding that is informed by the past, but not a slave to it, and certainly not held hostage to the previous forms. Where once our monuments were carved in stone as were our texts, we now have digital, electronic access for the mission of memory and expression in addition to the ones we physically touch.

As the common ground for computer and Internet access entered more of daily life, so did the interest in one of humanity’s greatest resources of all time: our imagination for adapting an invention to personal interests. The viral age of thought, aka "free culture," has taken on its own life with blazing speed, and it continues its big bang of activity.

Enter a need for stability without constraint, a new, useful order without chaotic repercussions to the established community. The answer appears to be in "cc" or Creative Commons of free culture and our current remix culture. When I visited Stanford University this past June, I discovered the Creative Commons projects and information that started with some of the law professors there. Legal scholars at Stanford University have coined expressions and instituted measures with legal institutions to protect the newest phase of intellectual property rights: cc or "creative commons" to replace, or at least improve on the c or "copyright" laws of the last bunch of decades. While I missed out on the seminars and lecture series when we visited Stanford, it so piqued my interest that I’ve kept up with learning as much as possible here, from home.

Where the copyright laws sought to protect intellectual property from direct copying, the creative commons window of opportunity makes for some copy, and a lot of inspiration, to be accessible for fun and frequently also for profit. This is known as "remixing" or "remix culture."

Sharing art (and a lot more in creative activity) online, at brick and mortar galleries, and even in two places at once is possible and pretty darn doable these days. The scholars at Stanford Law School have set up a Web site to educate, inform, and instruct anybody on using the cc measures. In their words, "... Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved." You can get more information on-line (of course!) at www.Creativecommons.org

Speaking of remix culture, some of our local art galleries have remixed their existence to new and even more interesting things. From the sublime to the amazing, fancies abound if you know where to look. (The next Art Hop is 5-7 p.m. Aug. 21.)

Second Street Art Market is now a wine bar as well as an art gallery. The gallery offers online sales as well as a brick and mortar gallery. Co-owner Heather Buchman told me about their new wine adventures at the last Art Hop. And this adventure is in person only. Wine tasting is now available there by the glass or by the bottle, and they will offer "flights" of wines (three or more) for tastings.

Wine terms about tastings are as old as wine making, and since the 14th century the methodology has transitioned to more established formalities. The formal terminology continues to evolve, but informal, recreational wine tasting tends to be much less analytical. I love nice wine, and my taste for wine has a very wide range, from wines that I can afford to buy and share, to munificent wines that friends can afford to buy—and share (those would have to be on their dime, but it would be twice as much fun). The wine bar will share space at the gallery location of Second Street and Beacon Lite Road, just across from the public art piece known as the "Ice Mural."

Buffalo Blues has remixed to the Candy Box n Gallery, with art classes, art demos, and art to buy. The chocolate is a cool weather item, but there are other delights in sweet abundance such as special honeys, jams, and sweets. The tempting in-person sweet adventure has some tastings, also. The gallery is on Second Street in the Chapala building next to the alley. Owner Sharon DeWeese has just painted a huge landscape mural on the garden walls, so go up the alley a bit to see it.

And up about 20 feet, just across from Margo’s on the Alley gallery, there is a delightful bronze statue in a little garden-y grotto. Locally known as "the Mermaid," she is more a princess of nature.

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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Monument Art Hop brings art, music, and a birthday

Below: At the Monument Art Hop July 17, John DeFrancesco demonstrates Plein Air painting while accompanied by Rare Ould Times on the front porch of Margo’s on the Alley. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

As has become a tradition over the past four years, the Monument Art Hop for July offered a blend of music, fine art, food, and art demonstrations for patrons to enjoy. Patrons had their choice of 18 business locations in the Monument area to take their evening stroll and enjoy the offerings.

Of particular note at this July 17 Art Hop was the 15-year birthday celebration of Covered Treasures bookstore. Bookstore owner Tommie Plank expressed great appreciation for the community as it has supported her independent bookstore over those many years. On this evening, Plank expressed her appreciation through a special discount for customers, balloons, a cake, and refreshments. The featured authors at the bookstore were Jo Ann Schuh and Barbara Lynette, who have come up with a unique cookbook concept. Their cookbook, As Time Goes By—WWII Cookbook offers not only period recipes but anecdotes, stories, and remembrances of that time from interviews conducted by Schuh and Lynette.

A particular story of note in the book centered on Gil Turley, who was a World War II prisoner of war in Germany’s Stalag I prison. Turley cooked for prisoners in the camp with rations provided by the Red Cross and kept a record of his recipes on Chesterfield cigarette packs. The cookbook contains a photo of Turley’s recipe "book."

The Monument Art Hop occurs on the third Thursday of each month from May through September. Aug. 21 and Sept. 18 are the last two dates for this year. The Art Hop runs from 5 to 8 p.m.

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Arts center marks anniversary and looks to the future

Below: (L-R) TLCA President Gail Wilson is joined by fellow TLCA board members Marina Nelson, Sandra Kinchen, Dennis Phillips, Nancy Shorter, and Lisa Phillips for the 10th Anniversary cake cutting. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

In conjunction with the opening reception for the Proud to Be an American art exhibit on July 12, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) remembered its past with a 10th anniversary celebration and also looked to its future. The TLCA’s future and enhancement of its identity is the purpose behind a capital campaign goal of $105,000. By reaching $60,000 of that goal thus far through pledges, cash donations, and grants, the TLCA will begin facility improvements.

After years of attending to the internal spaces and environment, the center’s future improvements will focus primarily on the exterior of the building and to improve energy efficiency. The improvements being initiated include replacing doors and single-pane windows to improve the building’s look and energy efficiency, creating an outdoor entry way to increase curbside visibility, repairing and replacing the exterior stucco, splashing on a new coat of paint, and improving accessibility for those with disabilities.

All these improvements will further enhance the center’s image and its focus of being a "community art center." Gail Wilson, TLCA president, stated that "we want the community to think of this as their art center, a place that is more than just paintings but where the arts, humanities, music, lectures, and film provide a broader artistic and educational experience for the community."

The Proud to Be an American exhibit, with its patriotic themed mix of paintings, photographs, quilts, stained glass, and sculptures, runs until Aug. 31.

Besides exhibits and other activities that are drawn into the facility, the TLCA is home to nine artists who maintain studios in the buildings. Their studios were open for public viewing during the opening reception and offered a glimpse into the diverse artistic talent in the Tri-Lakes area. In the tradition of talented musicians taking the TLCA stage, Tim the Turtle and the Spicy Generic Brand Cheese Snack, a Monument-based saxophone quartet, played a mix of classical and traditional pieces for those attending the opening.

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Information regarding the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and on how to donate to the capital campaign can be found at www.trilakesarts.org/index.html

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Snapshots of Our Community

Renaissance Festival in Larkspur concludes August 3

 Photos by David Cruz.

Below: The Renaissance Festival has been run by the Paradise Family for the past 20 years. The Larkspur location has more then 100 acres with 44 acres committed to the festival grounds and its year-round structures. 

Right: Kiera Drury of Lakewood, Colorado tries her best to blow a horn. Keira has been attending the festival since birth and was almost delivered at the festival 7 years ago. Her family, like many, return each year to enjoy the activities. The festival concludes Sunday, August 3. For more information, visit www.ColoradoRenaissance.com or call (303) 688-6010.

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club presents check to Tri-Lakes Community Preschool

Below: This spring the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) awarded over $31,000 in grants to qualified organizations. One of those recipients was the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool, a non-profit preschool located in Monument.

In the photo, Pam Jarka, executive director of the school accepts a check from Donna Adams, TLWC president, and Donna Wagner, TLWC grant chair for 2008. Jarka said, "We are so grateful to the TLWC – they have done so much for our school." This year’s grant funds a replacement childcare management software program used to document the school’s many requirements.

TLWC awards grants to non-profit and public service organizations as well as public schools that serve the Tri-Lakes area. Since inception the club has awarded over a half million dollars to these organizations.

The club holds two major fundraisers each year: The Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale and Wine and Roses. Each event is staffed by the club’s 200 plus members, all volunteers. Photo provided by the TLWC.

Adam and Stilwagen Concert in the Park, July 30

Below: (L to R) John Stilwagen and Jim Adam entertain an estimated 500 people at the Concert in the Park July 30. Adam has been playing the Blues for over 20 years. His Web site is at http://web.mac.com/jimbostake2/iWeb/JimAdamBlues. Photo by Brett Newcomb.

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July and August events at the library

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below Jean Bishop, with a tarantula, assisted with the Bug’s Eye View program. 

Below: Ron Farley with a Nile Monitor. 

Below The library’s Fourth of July float remained at the branch throughout the month.

By Harriet Halbig

July began with the Fourth of July Parade through downtown Monument. The library’s presentation, coordinated by Deborah Worthey, included a float, a kazoo band of volunteers and young patrons, a green "reading bug" supported by six people, staffers dressed as hunters with bug nets, and a group from Friends of the Library.

To our delight, we were awarded the Announcer’s Choice Award for our theme. The float remained in the library until the Summer Reading Party on July 25 at the new Tri-Lakes YMCA.

As of July 19, 2,116 children were participating in the Catch the Reading Bug Summer Reading program, with 206 enrolled at Palmer Lake. Monument’s participation was the third-largest in the entire Pikes Peak Library District. The teen program, Summer Tour 2008, has 430 participants in Monument and 44 in Palmer Lake.

Throughout July, there were a number of special programs each Tuesday at the Monument Library. One of these, Bug’s Eye View on July 15, featured Ron Farley of the Mountain Aire Reptile Rescue and Sanctuary of Castle Rock. Farley brought an array of creatures with him, from giant millipedes and hissing cockroaches to a snake and a large Nile monitor lizard. The event was very well attended, with children lining up to hold and pet the animals.

Farley says he travels throughout the state to rescue creatures that have been mistreated or whose owners are unable to care for them when they become too large or expensive to support. The Nile monitor, for example, can reach 6 feet in length. Some African turtles, which were part of the presentation, require very specific dietary and temperature conditions and will live for many decades.

August will feature some special events and the return of some groups that suspended their meetings during the summer.

The Chautauqua Assembly at Pinecrest is set for Aug. 3 in Palmer Lake. This free event, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., will feature speakers, historical portrayals, music, hayrides, and a square dance.

The annual Ice Cream Social will be held Saturday, Aug. 9, on the Village Green in Palmer Lake. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library, this event will be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and feature the Daytime Singers of the America the Beautiful Barbershop Chorus and ice cream from the Rock House. Families are encouraged to bring their elders to this event honoring our seniors.

At 10 a.m. Aug, 15, the Monumental Readers book group will discuss The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve.

The Senior Synergy discussion group, which suspended its meetings during June and July, will resume meeting every Wednesday at 10 a.m. beginning in August.

Such other regular events as the Tri-Lakes Knitters, Literati and Beyond Writers Circle, and Toddler Times will also resume or continue at their usual times.

Jax the Paws to Read dog will appear at Palmer Lake once again on Saturday, Aug. 16 at 10:30 a.m. Beginning in September, he will be at the branch the first Saturday of each month.

Exhibits at the Monument branch will include, in the display case, a collection of metal and plastic antique, vintage, and modern cookie cutters from the United States and Europe. Hanging on the walls will be Art Over 50, a collection of photographs and paintings by Tri-Lakes residents.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, July 25: Estemere Mansion comes alive once again 

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

Below: Beautiful, quiet spaces abound such as this patio. 

Below: The Conservatory, designed by Kim, kept many of the home’s original details. 

Below: Stained glass and new hardwood floors make this billiard room warm and inviting.

Below: One of several water features adding elegance to the grounds. 

Below: Roger Ward explains upgrades to the kitchen. 

Below: Jessum Buds provided the musical entertainment for the afternoon.

Below: Dr. William Finley Thompson, Founder of Palmer Lake and builder of the Estemere Mansion. Photo provided by the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

By Donna Hartley

On the night of July 25, the Palmer Lake Historical Society hosted Daniel Edwards, author of a newly published book on the life and times of Dr. William Finley Thompson. Edwards has made an extensive study on the history of Palmer Lake and discussed some new information he had uncovered. Thompson was not only the founder of Palmer Lake but also built its famous jewel, Estemere Mansion. On July 26, Roger and Kim Ward, owners and restorers, again opened their property to the public for an up-close tour of this historical estate.

Between 1887 and 1890, Thompson had Estemere constructed and through the years it changed owners many times, sometimes falling into severe disrepair. In January 1998, the Wards purchased the estate to use as their personal residence and began an enormous and loving restoration to its former glory. In addition to the detailed renovations inside and out, Kim Ward designed a Victorian conservatory, which was added off of the newly expanded kitchen in 1999. The conservatory is a light and airy construction enhancing Estemere.

Touring the buildings and grounds of this architectural gem was enhanced by folk and bluegrass music performed by the Jessum Buds of Palmer Lake, for visitors’ entertainment. Palmer Lake Fire and Rescue and the Palmer Lake Historical Society served food and beverages while the Rocky Mountain MG Club brought classic cars.

Members of the Historical Society, dressed in period costumes, assisted with the tours while Roger Ward personally conducted guests around, explaining the extensive work that brought each area of the estate back to life and original glory.

Stained-glass windows and ceilings, authentic woolen rugs, period furniture from the late 1800s, custom-designed and richly-colored tiled fireplaces, inlaid wooden floors, a deep lapis lazuli painted sky with stars on the third-floor observatory ceiling, wood and plaster moldings in the original designs of the home, were only a few of the remarkable restoration efforts shown to the public. The Wards’ passion for historical accuracy and their love of Estemere is a treasure for not only the people of Palmer Lake, but also for the people of Colorado.

**********

The Palmer Lake Historical Society usually meets the third Thursday of each month. The next meeting will be August 21, 7 p.m., Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. As of press time, the topic had not been announced. For information call 559-0837, e-mail plhist@aol.com, or visit www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/plhs

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Mining museum celebrates 26th anniversary

Below: (L-R) Loretta Howden, Marketing Coordinator, and David Carroll, Executive Director, ready to cut the Western Museum of Mining and Industry’s 26th Anniversary cake for visitors to enjoy. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On July 14, nearly 200 visitors took part in day-long festivities to celebrate the Western Museum of Mining and Industry’s 26th anniversary and to learn a bit about local history. The museum is a nonprofit organization and one of three museums in the Pikes Peak region accredited by the American Association of Museums. The anniversary marks the formal opening of the main exhibit building in 1982. The museum and its property have a history all their own as well as ties to the history of the area.

The museum’s collection started with one person’s "love of mining objects" that led him to collect artifacts related to mining. Frederick Farrar was accepted into the Colorado School of Mines in 1928 but transferred to the University of Colorado after two years. However, those two years, coupled with a life-long interest in the operation of mechanical devices, proved key to the eventual establishment of the museum.

In 1941, Farrar married Katherine Thatcher of Pueblo, who, through her father, shared Farrar’s interest in mining and a vision for a metal mining museum.

In 1970, the Farrars incorporated the Museum of the West, changing the name to the Western Museum of Mining and Industry in 1973. In 1977, the present 27-acre location was purchased and made the permanent site for the museum. The museum’s core collection came from the Farrars, who had collected an extensive number of mining artifacts during the 1950s and ‘60s.

Not only did the Farrars provide the initial collection but they helped with the design and construction of the buildings and funded the museum’s day-to-day operations. They also provided the museum with its mission of preserving mining equipment and educating the public through hands-on activities, exhibits, and displays.

Frederick Farrar died in September 1985. By that time, much of the museum’s mining equipment, such as the Yellow Jacket Stamp Mill, Corliss Horizontal Cross-Compound Double Acting Steam Engine, and Osgood Steam Shovel, were in place thanks to efforts by him and museum staff . Now, 23 years later, the Farrars’ passion and vision are displayed every day at the museum.

The site of the museum has its own bit of history, including an association with a town that no longer exists. Ownership of the property can be traced back to Clark Cozens, who initially owned the property in 1874 and received it through the 1862 Homestead Act. The farm house that stands at the front of the property was built in 1894 by Joseph and Sarah Reynolds, who owned 1,000 acres and used it for farming and ranching from 1889 to 1901.

The multi-gabled, Queen Anne-style house is relatively intact from the time of the Reynoldses. It features an ornate fireplace with carved-wood mantle, which heated the first-floor parlor and dining room along with the second-floor master bedroom. In 1997, the house was entered into the State Register of Historic Properties. The Reynoldses also built the two bunkhouses and the east barn. In all, there were 10 property owners prior to the land being purchased for the museum.

From the late 1800s into the 1900s, the property and surrounding area was in the town of Husted. Husted, with a school, stores, restaurant, saloon, and church, was located just west of what now is the Air Force Academy North Gate. During its height in the 1880s Husted was home to about 75 people. The area was represented in state government by Joseph Reynolds. He served two consecutive terms in the Colorado House of Representatives. By 1941 the town had only six residents, and in 1956 the abandoned remains were sold to the academy for $551.25.

In the late 1800s, small towns along the Front Range like Husted were assisted by railroad activity. In the 1890s, potatoes grew on nearly 20,000 acres in the Husted area and were shipped out with dairy products on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. The area supported the railroad with railroad ties and other lumber. The railroads and Husted also share a bit of tragedy, with train wrecks occurring in 1909 and 1914. The 1909 wreck was a head-on collision between east- and west-bound trains that resulted in 10 deaths and over 40 injuries. Other trains were blown off their tracks by strong winds.

What’s next for the museum? David Carroll, executive director, noted that the museum is pursuing preservation of buildings on the property, particularly the farm house, and new programming. Carroll indicated that the museum intends to open the farm house to the public in the future and is currently working with the State Historical Fund, a program of the Colorado Historical Society, and a historical architect to help the museum.

Carroll stated that "it is the museum’s intent to host lectures and events in the house that explore the history of this area." As development encroaches around the museum, with the possible addition of a major retailer nearby, the museum may become an oasis for education related to and the preservation of mining, industrial technology, and local history. It also might end up as the last open space in the Northgate area.

An upcoming event related to the Farrars and to celebrate their contribution to the museum’s beginning will be the art exhibit, Lure of the West: The Katherine and Fred Farrar Collection on Thursday, Sept. 18. It will include previously not displayed paintings from the Farrars’ collection such as works by Harvey Otis Young, known for his landscapes of the Rocky Mountains and the West, Joseph Henry Sharp, and Charles Partridge Adams. For information on this and other upcoming events, go to www.wmmi.org

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Slash and Mulch season ends in September

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash (tree debris) and Mulch season continues through September. Slash drop-off ends Sept. 14; mulch pick-up ends Sept. 27. 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. A donation of a non-perishable food item will be distributed to nonprofit Black Forest organizations.

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, visit www.bfslash.org

Monument’s Citizens Police Academy begins Aug. 6

The Monument Police Department is hosting its first Citizens Police Academy Wednesday evenings, 7 to 10 p.m., at Monument at Town Hall. The free 9-week course begins Aug. 6. Participants will learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, CSI, use of force, communications, E911, community policing, and much more. They will also have the opportunity to shoot a variety of police weapons. This is a great opportunity for citizens in the Tri-Lakes area to see first hand what law enforcement is all about. For more information and to download an application, visit the department’s web site, www.monumentpd.org, and click on the Community Services button. You may also phone the Monument Police Department at 481-3253.

Ice Cream Social, Aug. 9

The Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library sponsor this annual free event to honor our senior citizens. Bring your elders and come enjoy music by the Daytime Singers of the America the Beautiful Barbershop Chorus and delicious ice cream from The Rock House. The event is Aug. 9, 1:30 to 3 p.m., at the Palmer Lake Village Green, adjacent to the Palmer Lake Branch Library. For more information, phone 488-2370 or 481-2587.

Baptist Road Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Aug. 14

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 14, 1:30 p.m. The ceremony will be held at the SW corner of the intersection of Baptist Road and Leather Chaps Drive. For more information, phone Pam Podhirny, EPC at 520-6812.

CASA needs child advocates, Aug. 14

CASA of the Pikes Peak Region is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that trains and supervises volunteers to represent the best interests of our most vulnerable citizens–victims of child abuse, neglect, and severe domestic conflict. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to be a voice for these children in court and in the community. The desired result is that children are placed into safe, loving homes where they can thrive.

CASA volunteers are an amazing force for good, but more are badly needed. Find out how you can make a lifelong difference for an abused or neglected child at an open house Aug. 14, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at 701 South Cascade, Colorado Springs. No experience is necessary. To learn more about the many fulfilling volunteer opportunities available at CASA, contact RoseMary Jaramillo at 447-9898, ext. 1008 or visit www.casappr.org

Wine and Roses tickets on sale, Aug. 15

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club presents Wine and Roses, their annual fall fundraiser, Oct. 18, 5 to 8 p.m., at the Blue and Silver Club at the U. S. Air Force Academy. Proceeds from the event benefit local nonprofit groups. Tickets, $50 per person, go on sale to the public beginning Aug. 15. For reservations and information call 877-230-6288 or e-mail trilakeswineandroses@yahoo.com

Burro Birthday & Concert, Aug. 16,

Come to the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) to celebrate burro mascots Nugget and Oro Aug. 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bluegrass concert by Grass it Up will be 1 to 3 p.m. Enjoy a fun-filled day for the whole family including a gold-panning demonstration, cake at the corral at noon, and much more! See a list of the day’s events on the Web site. The museum opens at 9 a.m., so come early and look around. Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome and food & beverage vendors will be on-site. The cost is $10 non-members, $5 members, $2 children 3-17. 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

Free dog wash, Aug. 23

Camp Bow Wow of Monument will hold a charity dog wash Aug. 23, noon to 2 p.m., to benefit Dreampower Animal Rescue. Dreampower is a non-profit that has operated in Colorado Springs since 1990 and has recently started holding adoption fairs at the Monument PetSmart. This organization works to find safe, loving, permanent homes for companion animals. Camp Bow Wow is located at 18985 Base Camp Road, Monument. For more information, call 632-9247.

County Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy begins Aug. 28

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is now accepting applications for the second Citizens’ Academy this year. The free twelve-week course will be held Thursday evenings beginning Aug. 28, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and will culminate with a graduation Nov. 13.

The academy will offer participants a unique insight into the various functions of the Sheriff’s office. Participants will accompany a patrol deputy on a ride-along, tour county detention facilities, and learn about criminal investigation from detectives. Additionally, participants will learn about topics such as use of force, vice and narcotics operations, and emergency services such as wildland fire and search and rescue teams.

There is no charge to attend the Citizens’ Academy; however, seating will be limited to the first forty-two completed applications received. Applications must be returned by Aug. 13, 5 p.m. Citizens wishing to attend should contact Sergeant Jeanette Whitney at 520-7275 or Deputy Jake Abendschan at 520-7107 to request an application.

Handbell choir ringers needed

The Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir has openings for experienced adult handbell ringers. Opportunities exist also for youth ringers, 4th grade and above, in the Tri-Lakes Youth Community Handbell Choir. Rehearsals begin this fall on Monday evenings. If interested, please call Betty Jenik, 488-3853, or e-mail ljenik@comcast.net

Pikes Peak Library District Call for Art, Sept. 17

Artists, here’s a chance to have your art seen by another segment of the city–library users! The Pikes Peak Library District Art Evaluation Committee will be jurying art for future shows in library galleries. Interested artists should submit five pieces of art in show-ready format (matted, framed, and wired.) Selected artists will have their work exhibited in library art galleries. For more information, e-mail charnish@ppld.org or call 531-6333, ext. 2332. Submissions will be accepted on Sept. 17, 10 a.m. to noon, at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave. Pick up your submissions the same day, 4:30-6 p.m., at Penrose Library.

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