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Vol. 8 No. 9 - September 6, 2008


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Two new schools!

Below: On Sep. 3, the exterior of the new Monument Academy school building was nearing completion, while interior work and unpacking of furniture continued in preparation for classes starting Sep. 8. The school is at 1150 Village Ridge Point, a new road that parallels Highway 105 and intersects Knollwood Drive one block north of the new traffic signal at Knollwood Drive and Highway 105. The school is one block east of Knollwood Drive. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Below: On Aug. 10, the dedication and public open house was held for the newly-completed Palmer Ridge High School. This view is from west of the academics and administration building looking southeast toward the arts building in the center and athletics building on the right. The school is located at 19255 Monument Hill Road. It is north of the intersection of Monument Hill Road and Woodmoor Drive. Photo by David Cruz.

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D-38 board approves ballot measure requesting $2.7 million; remains concerned about Monument Academy issues

By John Heiser

At a special meeting August 29, the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board reviewed and approved the wording of a November 4 ballot measure requesting a $2.7 million mill levy override (MLO) for "maintaining class sizes and preserving elementary reading teachers and student support and increasing teacher compensation to more competitive levels." They also received a briefing from Superintendent Ray Blanch on the Monument Academy (MA) finances and building construction project.

Board President Dee Dee Eaton and board members Mark Pfoff and Gail Wilson were present. Board member John Mann was out of town. Board member Jeff Cantlebary resigned August 11. The district is seeking applicants to fill the position. Applications must be filed by September 9. Applicants must reside in Director District 5 and be registered voters in the school district for at least 12 months prior to appointment. Director District 5 covers the eastern-most part of the school district. More information is posted on the board of education page on the district’s Web site at www.lewispalmer.org

MLO discussion

Wilson and Pfoff said the district’s identified needs exceed the $2.7 million being requested. Wilson said, "It’s not realistic to ask the voters to approve more."

Pfoff noted that the proposed additional tax would amount to about $15 per month on a house with an assessed valuation of $350,000, which is the average assessed value in the district.

Wilson added that the Douglas County School District, where teacher compensation already exceeds compensation at Lewis-Palmer by 15-17 percent, will be requesting an MLO in the upcoming election. If the Lewis-Palmer district’s MLO is not approved, teacher compensation will fall further behind.

Superintendent Ray Blanch said that even if the MLO for $2.7 million passes, some additional budget cuts would be needed. He added that approval of the MLO would preserve and protect the core values of the district but would not allow reversing the recent increases in student activity fees or restore any of the programs or positions that have been cut.

The board voted unanimously to accept the following wording for the ballot measure:

"Shall Lewis-Palmer Consolidated School District No. 38 taxes be increased $2,700,000 in tax collection year 2009 and by whatever amount is annually received thereafter by a mill levy of not to exceed 6.263 mills for the purposes of:

• Maintaining class sizes and preserving elementary reading teachers and student support

• Increasing teacher compensation to more competitive levels

Shall such tax increase be an additional property tax mill levy in excess of the levy authorized for the district’s general fund, to be levied and collected pursuant to and in accordance with Section 22-54-108, C.R.S; and shall the revenues from such taxes and any earnings from the investment of such revenues constitute a voter approved revenue change and exception to the limits which would otherwise apply under Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution or any other law?"

Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution is commonly referred to as the Tax Payers’ Bill of Rights or TABOR.

MA update

Blanch said that while progress has been made in addressing many of the district’s concerns stated in its June 23 letter to the MA, two significant points remain: Confirmation of TABOR compliance and separation of the MA board and the MA Building Corporation (MABC) board. The MABC was formed to construct the new MA building.

Blanch said the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority (CECFA) has requested from the district a letter of good standing for the MA. Blanch said that based on the financial documents MA has submitted so far the district cannot issue such a letter.

Cheryl Wangeman, the district’s assistant superintendent of operations, said the district’s contract with MA calls for financial records to be delivered by July 15. Adequate records were not delivered by the agreed upon date. She added that on August 28, she received some documents showing revenue and expenditures and budgets for 2008-9 and 2009-10 but has not been able to determine whether the information provided is sufficient to assess TABOR compliance. She said an audit of the MA books for 2007-8 was to be conducted in mid-August but the auditors put the audit on hold because the books were not in a state to be audited.

Wangeman added that the 2009-10 budget was based on an assumption of 610 students, a 10.9 percent increase from the 550 assumed in the 2008-9 budget. She questioned how realistic that assumption is given that the district is experiencing a decline in student population. The number of students enrolled is an important factor in the amount of revenue MA receives because the district passes through to the MA the per-student funding from the state.

Blanch noted that the 2008-9 budget should have been based on 526 students since as of July that was the number officially enrolled in the MA. Enrollment numbers will be updated in October.

Pfoff added, "I am concerned about projections with 10 percent growth."

Due to past issues with financial records provided by MA, Blanch said the district cannot issue a letter of good standing until the audit is completed.

Wangeman said that the results of the audit must be delivered to the district by October 31.

Pfoff said, "I want to have this resolved by October 1."

Wangeman said the district had recently received a planning package for the MA building project from the El Paso County Development Services Department. She noted that such packages are typically received quite awhile prior to the start of construction. She said comments are due to the county by September 11. Blanch said the district should provide comments focused on student safety on and off-site.

Blanch noted that prior to building the Palmer Ridge High School, the district held several public meetings and worked closely with county planning even though that is not required when a public school is being built by a school district. He expressed disappointment that MA board gave the public less opportunity to comment on the MA project.

On the other issue remaining from the June 23 letter, Wangeman said the district met with MA representatives regarding the requested separation of the MA board from the MABC board but has not yet received any written communication on the subject.

**********

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 September 18 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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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 MLO Summit, August 14: District administration recommends $2.7 million measure

By John Heiser

At a special meeting August 14, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Superintendent Ray Blanch and Assistant Superintendent for Operations Cheryl Wangeman presented the administration’s case for a property tax mill levy override (MLO) measure on the November 4 ballot requesting $2.7 million in additional property tax funding for the district. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session with the audience of about 35 people.

Some highlights of Blanch’s presentation:

  • The district has an annual operating budget of about $40 million. About 55-60 percent comes from the state with the remainder from local property taxes. The budget is composed of 71 percent salaries, 15 percent benefits, 8 percent supplies, and 6 percent services.
  • There is a 3 percent designated reserve ($1.2 million) required by the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR). The board has elected to hold an additional 3 percent designated reserve, which results in an improved bond rating for the district. On the recent high school construction bond issue, it resulted in a savings of about $4.5 million.
  • The district’s undesignated reserves as of June 30, 2007 were $3.9 million. As of June 30, 2008, the undesignated reserves were $2.1 million. $1.4 million of those funds will be used to cover the anticipated operating expense deficit during the 2008-09 school year. An additional $200,000 will be used to cover the anticipated operating expense deficit during the 2009-10 school year. By June 2010, the undesignated reserves will have been reduced to about $527,000.
  • During school year 2008-09, $252,000 in spending reductions are planned. Blanch added that part of the reductions correct for reductions in student population.
  • In 2009-10, if the MLO passes, additional reductions totaling $200,000 will be needed. If the MLO fails, $1.2 million in cuts will be required. Blanch said $1.2 million equates to a staff reduction of 16-20 full-time equivalents (FTE).
  • In 2010-11, additional reductions are anticipated totaling about $200,000.
  • Currently, the district’s teacher lifetime compensation is 2-4 percent behind comparable districts in the Pikes Peak region such as Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 and Academy School District 20. It is 15-17 percent behind compensation in Douglas County schools.
  • Blanch reported some of the results from a survey of registered voters in the area conducted toward the end of the 2007-08 school year. The responses indicated 75 percent of those surveyed clearly value investing in quality education, including world language instruction for elementary­-aged children. 73 percent expressed support for increasing teacher compensation. 68 percent said they feel there is a connection between strong schools and high property values.
  • The survey of 300 households showed only marginal support (53 percent) for a ballot measure requesting $3.6 million and stronger support (66 percent) for a request for $1.5 million. The survey found less than 50 percent of the respondents placed much value on past and future budget cuts.
  • Blanch said the staff recommends the following as critical priorities and estimates the associated costs totaling $2.7 million: Increase teacher compensation approximately 7 percent ($1.5 million); prevent further increases in student activity fees ($500,000); preserve elementary reading intervention teachers ($300,000); add 3 FTE elementary world language staff and provide instructional materials ($200,000); and improve student access to technology and technology instruction including Internet safety ($200,000). He added that while passage of a $2.7 million MLO would support these critical priorities, it would not restore the budget cuts made in the 2007-8 and 2008-9 school years and would not remove the student activity fee increases adopted in the 2008-9 school year.
  • Blanch noted that if the MLO passes, MLO-related revenue and expenditures will be accounted for independently from other district funds, will be audited annually by an independent CPA firm, and the results of the audit will be reviewed by the district’s all-volunteer Facilities and Enrollment Committee, which will report its findings to the board.

Here are some highlights of the question and answer session:

  • If the MLO passes, will class sizes still have to increase? Blanch replied that a budget reduction of $400,000 would still be required so some class size increases may be necessary.
  • Is a transportation (busing) fee still a possibility? Blanch said it was still a possibility with or without approval of the MLO. He added that the district had a $150,000 increase in fuel costs from March through July. He said that equates to 3 FTE. Wangeman noted that no district currently charges a fee for busing children to and from school. She added that the total annual cost of the busing program is about $2.2 million. Of that, the district is reimbursed for all but about $950,000. She noted that the fee committee concluded that due to potential safety concerns, it should be a last resort.
  • Does the compensation deficit with respect to other districts apply to benefits also? Wangeman said that the employee benefits package is through a pool with other districts and so is very similar to other districts.
  • What will happen if neighboring districts such as Academy district and Douglas County pass MLO measures and District 38 does not? Blanch replied that the district’s current disadvantage in teacher compensation will get worse.
  • Will any of the MLO funds go to the Monument Academy (MA)? Wangeman said the district passes through to the MA the per-pupil allocation from the state but MA does not receive any property tax revenue.
  • Will other district moneys be used to address the MA funding shortfall? Blanch said the district is facing its own challenges and does not have any funds available to assist the MA.
  • What would the tax increase be? Wangeman said that if the MLO measure passes, the increase would be $4.15 per month per $100,000 in assessed value so a typical $350,000 house in the district would see an increase of about $15 per month.
  • How will passage of the MLO be promoted? Blanch said the district is precluded from spending any money promoting the ballot measure; however, a committee of volunteers are donating their time and money to provide information to voters. Cathy Wilcox, the chair of the volunteer committee, said a series of gatherings are planned (see list below).

**********

MLO informational meetings are scheduled for

  • Monday, September 22, Kilmer Elementary School, 4285 Walker Road 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, September 24, The Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 13, Tri-Lakes YMCA Community Room, Jackson Creek Parkway, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

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 September 18 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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Monument Academy Board meeting, Aug. 16: Steady progress reported toward opening school Sept. 8

Below: At the Monument Academy Board meeting Aug. 16., (L to R) Treasurer Laura Hannon, Senior Administrator Jane Lundeen, Secretary Jay McKeown, Vice-President Diana Helffenstein, Director Will Cochran, and Director Bob Bowker discuss plans for back to school orientation Sep. 5 and the start of classes Sep. 8 in the academy’s new building. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Academy Board opened its regular August meeting with a previously announced executive session at 6 p.m. on personnel matters and negotiations on construction contract and personnel matters. The regular meeting started at about 7:25 p.m. The board discussed progress to date on organizing all the events and administrative requirements for opening their new school building, as well as construction progress.

The new school is located at 1150 Village Ridge Point, a new road that is parallel to Highway 105. The school is one block east of Knollwood Drive. Village Ridge Point intersects Knollwood Drive one block north of the new traffic signal at Knollwood Drive and Highway 105.

There is another access to the school from the driveway on Highway 105 for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is adjacent to the east. At publication deadline, construction of new lanes on Highway 105 east of the Knollwood traffic signal had not yet been completed.

Board President Mike Wong was absent and excused. Vice-President Diana Helffenstein presided.

Committee reports

Acting Parent Teacher Organization president Ashley Herebic updated the board on "Back to School" activities for opening the new building. She asked board members to volunteer to lead tours of the building for parents and students. Herebic reviewed fund raising activities that will commence in September and noted that the hot lunch program will begin about Oct. 1. (See "Calendar" on the home page at www.monumentacademy.net for the latest updated information on all activities regarding the new school year.)

Director Bob Bowker discussed a number of training dates in the governance report.

Senior administrator Jane Lundeen gave a lengthy report on all the steps needed to move "recycled" equipment from the former north and south campuses to the new building, "move-in" dates and schedules for staff members and volunteers, and dates and times for parent/student orientations on back to school day (Sept. 5) and the first weeks of classes that will begin on Sept. 8.

Board Treasurer Laura Hannon reported that the audit for the past 2007-2008 school year had started earlier in the day with the auditors performing their reviews in the D-38 "Big Red" headquarters building on Jefferson Street in downtown Monument. She said her unaudited end-of-year figures were $3,164,691 for total revenues, $3,019,915 for expenditures and $293,557 for the end-of-year balance.

Dana Murphree, the owners’ representative for construction of the new school building, said the temporary certificate of occupancy would now be obtained a day later than planned, on Aug. 22, due to substantial road washout and erosion caused by heavy thunderstorms over the weekend. Otherwise, several types of building inspections are on-going as construction continues on schedule. The health department inspection will be conducted before opening day.

The permanent certificate of occupancy will be issued in the first week of September. Teachers were to be e-mailed after all the furniture has been moved in and fixtures installed so the teachers could more efficiently set up their classrooms without interfering with movers and contractor personnel.

Business Manager Maribeth Muhonen said that the sale of about $1.6 million in additional parity bonds would be closed on Aug. 29. All written agreements for the second bond issue had been received and finalized and there would be no delays with the sale. The proceeds will be used to pay off the remainder of the contract that Monument Academy Building Corp. has with general contractor JE Dunn that was not covered by the first bond issue. A donation of $4,200 had been received from Home Depot and donations for landscaping and moving trees to new location around the building will be solicited.

Treasurer Laura Hannon reported that negotiations with the landlord of the former south campus were proceeding and she hoped to have them resolved in a few weeks. There are no disputed issues with the landlord of the former north campus and "the landlord’s requests are being ironed out." "It’s not as easy as closing the door and saying goodbye," said Helffenstein.

Hannon also asked board members and staff to attend classes offered by the Colorado League of Charter Schools, Sept. 12-19, to educate themselves on a variety of issues, particularly grant request writing and financing seminars.

The board set dates for several upcoming regular board meetings: Sept 16, Oct. 14, Nov. 11, and Dec. 9. The board will hold work sessions a half-hour before these regular meetings. (See "Calendar" on the home page at www.monumentacademy.net for the latest updated information on the starting times and locations of regular and special board meetings.)

Helffenstein said the board would address issues raised by D-38 regarding Monument Academy Building Corporation governance in a second executive session on negotiation for construction matters and personnel at the end of this meeting.

Helffenstein said there would be several ribbon cuttings throughout the day on Sept. 5 for parents and students attending orientations for Back to School day and a separate ribbon cutting ceremony for dignitaries, contractors and subcontractors, local special district representatives, and media on Sept. 13 at 10 a.m.

Bowker asked that the staff prepare a single sheet of paper for students to provide their parents listing major events for the first part of the school year (for posting on refrigerator doors) and also post it on the home page of the Web site. Hannon noted that Assistant Principal Lisa Bartilotta and Administrative Assistant Lorraine DeMarco have prepared a master calendar for the upcoming school year. Hannon said that a volunteer is needed to help post and maintain the various calendars on the web site.

Helffenstein reported that she felt the academy was now "in a good place" with D-38 Superintendent Ray Blanch following discussions on numerous topics. "Most issues are addressed … I think we are getting close" to resolving them. In response to a parent who asked about D-38 revoking the academy’s charter, she added that while it "may still be on the table on their side," she said she did not expect a vote on it. "I don’t see that happening."

The board unanimously approved several policy actions to update various academy handbooks. Bowker asked that each page of each handbook have a specific revision date as a footnote to make it easier for board members, staff, and faculty to discuss questions about policies with parents and students. Footnoted dates would make it easier for everyone to know whether they are referring to the most current pages for guidance.

Approval of the staff handbook was continued however, to ensure that all pages were up to date on references to the various documents that set the policies described in the handbook.

The board unanimously approved:

  • New insurance policies for liability and health coverage.
  • All new hires and resignations for the coming school year. The actions on each of the individuals affected had been reviewed in the executive session held before this open session.
  • A resolution to set a total operating reserve of 10 percent, which includes a 5 percent reserve for the two bond issues, and the state-mandated 3 percent TABOR reserve.

Hannon and Helffenstein volunteered to be appointed to fill the two board member seats on the separate Monument Academy Foundation board, which typically meets once a quarter.

The meeting returned to executive session at 9:30 p.m.

**********

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 meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Sept. 16 in the new building, 1150 Village Ridge Point. Information: (719) 481-1950.

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Officials celebrate completion of Baptist Road project

Below: Aug. 13: ‘Road Work Ahead’ signs are now in the past on Baptist Road as, after years of construction and related delays, both sides of the road are finally open to traffic. Photo by David Futey.

Below: Aug. 14: Numerous past and present board members of BRRTA, PPRTA, PPACG, and the Highway Advisory Commission crowd together to cut the ceremonial ribbon to celebrate the completion of the widening of Baptist Road and construction of the new access road that runs from Leather Chaps Drive south to the Family of Christ Lutheran Church. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 14, County Engineer Andre Brackin, who managed the widening of Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to Desiree Drive and the new construction to extend Struthers Road to connect to Jackson Creek Parkway in his previous post as El Paso County Department of Transportation capital projects manager, hosted the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the Leather Chaps Drive intersection.

Brackin introduced the current members of the BRRTA board, numerous other county and town staff members, citizen volunteer members of the Highway Advisory Commission, and representatives of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA), Colorado Springs City Council, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), primary contractor Rocky Mountain Asphalt, and several other subcontractors.

Board of County Commissioners Chairman Dennis Hisey noted, "This is a great day that has been a long time in coming. We always do a ‘lessons learned’ on a project on what we could have done differently. I have to tell you there weren’t a lot of things we could have done differently. This was just one of those projects where one thing led to another which led to another. I asked at one point if we could have just delayed the work for a year to let everyone else get everything else done so the road wasn’t torn up so long. But the answer was—not really. For those of you who had to drive this road regularly during the long construction period, I apologize, but it was well worth it. Good to see you here."

District 1 County Commissioner Wayne Williams noted that BRRTA initiated the process under former commissioner and Baptist Road resident Duncan Bremer. Williams noted that neighboring governments in a lot of places have trouble working together, making this project an exception. Baptist Road now extends to Hodgen Road as an important east-west corridor connecting I-25 to Falcon, with the financial assistance of PPRTA. "It’s a great thing to finish this and get all the utilities relocated. … It’s an awesome road that really functions." Williams noted the support of recently retired county Transportation Director John McCarty.

Monument Mayor Byron Glenn noted the cooperation of numerous communities that are members of PPRTA that gave financial support to BRRTA, which is now diligently working on expanding the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. He also praised Bremer for his vision as a member of BRRTA and Brackin for his perseverance. "Construction projects have a lot of unknowns. Once you get into them they can be very frustrating," Glenn said.

County Commissioner Sallie Clark, chair of PPRTA, also expressed gratitude and congratulations to other members of the PRRTA board, including Colorado Springs Vice Mayor Larry Small, as well as a number of staff members and Highway Advisory Commission volunteers. "Governments sometimes get criticized for not planning ahead, but it takes a lot of planning to get these projects off the ground and then completed like this is today." She noted that the construction was so well done that Mayor Glenn wanted to annex it as soon as possible. "Prior planning makes these things happen, thanks to all the commissioners and those who came before us."

Brackin added, to much laughter, "One day maybe I’ll be that eloquent to speak like you all do. Engineers need something to aspire to." He added that the planning process had actually spanned a 10-year period, and his staff and contractors had been tireless in the past year in getting this difficult project done.

The total construction contract amount is $10.2 million for the now completed Baptist and Struthers Road improvements, 2.36 and 1.07 miles respectively.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Aug. 8: 2007 audit approved; interchange expansion contract options discussed

Web site exclusive: Plans for Blevins Buckle and THF property

By Jim Kendrick

There was good news at the Aug. 8 meeting of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA). The 2007 audit was unanimously approved, and it appeared that the long-needed right-of-way on the northeast corner of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange might finally be donated to the project by THF Realty Inc.

However, there has been no progress in receiving approval from the state historian or the U.S. Department of the Interior for removing the crumbling concrete remnants of the original Denver Highway that is to be replaced by the new access road to the Diamond Shamrock fuel station on the northwest corner of the interchange.

The BRRTA board is composed of three county commissioners and two Monument trustees: Commissioner Wayne Williams, board chair; Mayor Byron Glenn, board vice chair; Commissioner Dennis Hisey; Commissioner Amy Lathen; and Trustee Travis Easton. Lathen was absent and excused.

Auditor Dawn Schilling gave a presentation on her final draft of the 2007 BRRTA audit. She gave a "clean" or "unqualified" opinion, the highest opinion possible. At the end of 2007, BRRTA had $25.036 million in assets, of which $21.149 million are restricted for construction of the interchange. Total liabilities are $21.64 million, resulting in total net assets of $3.395 million.

BRRTA voters approved a 1 percent temporary sales tax on Nov. 6, 2006, to pay the interest and principal on construction contract bonds over a maximum of 20 years. BRRTA sold $21.5 million in bonds for the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion project in May 2007, in anticipation of a construction contract being awarded within a few weeks. The temporary BRRTA sales tax began on July 1, 2007. However, this planned contract award has been delayed for over a year. The continuing contract award delay has resulted from THF Realty not agreeing to a timely transfer of needed right-of-way to BRRTA after over a year of negotiations. The delay has recently been complicated by the controversy over the unexpected designation of the original Denver Highway as "historic."

Schilling said that the audit now shows that the $21.5 million in bond proceeds is being divided into two new funds: A debt service fund and a capital project fund. The debt service fund is for accumulated resources (temporary 1 percent sales tax revenue and interest) and payments made for bond principal and interest. The capital project fund is for acquisition and construction of road improvements.

In 2007, only $265,020 in general fund road use fees were collected, although the budgeted amount was $810,000, due to the regional construction slowdown. As a result, investment income on the general fund balance was $36,484, versus the budgeted income of $8,000. General fund expenditures were $213,416, less than expected. The end-of-year balance was $563,457, versus the budgeted amount of $762,084, a difference of $198,627.

In the new debt service fund, total revenues from the first six months of the temporary sales tax were $441,944 instead of the budgeted amount of $750,000. However, there was unbudgeted interest earned on the portion of net bond proceeds in this fund, resulting from the construction contract award being delayed over a year. This $84,264 reduced the revenue shortfall to $223,792. Expenditures were $348,572 less than expected. Transfers from other funds were $506,804 less than expected. This resulted in the end-of-year debt service fund balance dropping from the planned $3.578 million to $3.196 million.

In the new capital projects fund, no revenues were budgeted. However, the portion of the net bond proceeds in this fund earned $454,241 in interest while held in a savings account due to no construction contract being awarded. Planned expenditures in the capital account dropped from $11.608 million to only $427,771. The amount transferred from other funds was $506,804 more than expected. As a result, the end-of-year capital projects fund balance increased from the expected $5.561 million to $18.104 million.

Schilling noted that of the $21.748 million invested by BRRTA at the end of the year, $21.05 million was invested in the SEI Daily Income Treasury Portfolio, rated AAA by Standard and Poor, "a great credit rating."

Williams asked Schilling to note the total value of the assets in the interchange that will be transferred to the county and state transportation departments at the end of the interchange expansion project in her final report submitted to the state. She said she would add that information to Note 4 (capital assets) on page 15 of the audit.

The board unanimously approved four expenditures:

  • $1,350 to BKD LLC for accounting services
  • $28,437 to Jacobs Carter Burgess for construction management services
  • $8,500 to Clayton and Company Inc. for appraisal services
  • $4,225 to R.S. Wells LLC for BRRTA district management services

BRRTA fee study approved

Two proposals to study and possibly update BRRTA’s fee schedule of April 28, 2006, were submitted by engineering consultants TST Infrastructure LLC and Felsburg, Holt, and Ullevig (FHU). District Manager Denise Denslow of R.S. Wells LLC said, "We consulted with many different firms. It’s surprisingly difficult to get proposals" as most of the transportation-oriented firms said they didn’t have this particular kind of expertise. Denslow said that TST’s "estimated budget" was about $3,000-$4,000 higher than the FHU proposal and the latter was better equipped to perform traffic analysis.

Glenn said, "What scares me is ‘estimated budget’ which leaves BRRTA wide open for changes." Glenn added, "Regardless of who the board chooses, I’d like you to get a lump-sum contract so there are no surprises in the end." Williams suggested that the contract say that the board would have to approve any payment changes.

Denslow noted that she had done an informal study of road improvement fees in the Denver metro area and El Paso County before the April 2006 fee increase and it was hard to get data for fee comparisons. "It might be a difficult study." Williams agreed, noting that these fees often include costs for other internal improvements.

Jim Di Biase of Olive Real Estate Group Inc., developer of the proposed Fairfield Inn and Suites in the Monument Ridge development on the southeast corner of Baptist Road and Struthers Road, asked the board to reconsider the road use fees BRRTA would impose on the hotel. The study prepared for the Monument Ridge developer by traffic engineering consultant Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Consultants Inc. made the following main points based on the firm’s traffic study:

  • Although the hotel would be much larger than the other land uses, it would generate less total traffic volume.
  • Even after accounting for the pass-by trips generated by the other land uses, which are trips into the site made by drivers who would already be on Baptist Road anyway, the hotel would generate fewer trips per square foot than the other retail land uses.
  • The hotel would generate 8.90 new trips per square foot compared with 44.96, 72.48, and 248.06 new trips per square foot to be generated by the drugstore, the sit-down restaurant, and the fast-food restaurant, respectively. These rates account for the pass-by trips.

Di Biase said, "Frankly we were a little overwhelmed by the amount of fees from BRRTA we were asked to pay." He added that the proposed fees for the Fairfield Inn were not "fair and equitable" based on the impact on BRRTA’s infrastructure. A second study was prepared for Di Biase by traffic engineering consultant Lee, Scott, and Cleary that he said showed that McDonald’s generates 236 trips per 1,000 square feet, Walgreen’s generates 41.85 trips per 1,000 square feet, and Chase Bank generates 202 trips per 1,000 square feet, while the Fairfield Inn generates 8.61 trips per 1,000 square feet. The hotel’s BRRTA fee is about $183,000 while McDonald’s fee is about $88,000. The hotel will generate only 3.65 percent of the traffic McDonald’s generates on a per square foot basis, he said.

Di Biase asked the board to "revisit this issue. Just so you know, from our perspective we have no problem paying our own way. We understand that it’s new development, that developers need to assist with building infrastructure, roads, and bridges. The issue is what’s fair and equitable from our perspective." He added, "At some point the economic viability of the project is in question for an 85-room hotel. People don’t spend $180-$200 for a night’s stay at a Fairfield Inn. It can only generate so much revenue." Di Biase also noted the large increases in fees now being charged by the town and Triview Metropolitan District. "This project can’t be successful under these fee structures."

There are three BRRTA commercial fee classes: destination retail/hotel ($3.75 per square foot), convenience ($15 per square foot), and other ($3 per square foot).

Williams said it is appropriate to consider other fee classes and proposals for a study. BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker of Grimshaw and Harring PLC noted that the Fairfield Inn has already paid the full fee. The categories in the fee structure were created in 1999. There are two residential and three commercial rates. Williams added that, "Fees are supposed to be related to the use. That’s the whole purpose of why they are fees instead of taxes. And so we have to have them rationally related. To the extent that they are not, we want to try and fix them."

Tom Kassawara, Monument’s director of Development Services, asked that the study result in a fee structure with categories and criteria that are simple, clear, and easy to apply to development applications when town staff collect the BRRTA fees at the time building permits are issued. He added that there are about 30 types of commercial developments in the nationally recognized Institute of Transportation Engineers Trip Generation standard handbook.

A motion was unanimously approved to authorize a "lump sum" study on possible revisions to BRRTA’s fee structure by FHU that includes a recommendation on more fee categories. In particular, the study would consider a separate fee rate for hotel and office buildings as well as alternative rates based on trip generation versus building square footage criteria for various generic uses.

The proposed rates will be compared with the criteria used in the Trip Generation handbook for both measurement criteria. Denslow said she would have FHU provide a more detailed scope of the study to the board. The refined scope and more completely defined proposed product of the FHU study will first be coordinated with Denslow and Kassawara, then the proposed product will be referred to the board for a go-ahead decision prior to FHU performing the study.

Hunsaker reminded the board that any proposed change in BRRTA fees requires a minimum of 45 days notice prior to the hearing to approve the revision.

Baptist Road widening project completed

Andre Brackin, who replaced recently retired county Transportation Department Director John McCarty as county engineer, invited all in attendance to the ribbon-cutting ceremony to be held on Aug. 14. (See report on page 10 for details.)

Glenn asked Brackin to lengthen the timing of the dual eastbound-to-northbound left-turn light on Baptist Road at Jackson Creek Parkway. He noted that vehicles turning left were completely blocking the single eastbound Baptist Road lane between the parkway and the interchange.

Brackin said the signal contractor was on site at that intersection during this meeting and would update him in about an hour. The contractor was to visit the site for the next few days to finalize the timing for various times of the day.

I-25 interchange update

Project engineer Gary Heckman of engineering consultant Jacobs Carter Burgess reviewed the contents of an update memo from his colleague, BRRTA construction manager Bob Torres, to the board summarizing the status of the interchange expansion project.

Right-of-way issues: All deeds, legal descriptions, and temporary construction easements have been recorded with the exception of the as yet un-donated THF Realty right-of-way along the south border of the vacant hardware store property.

The interchange expansion project could begin with construction of only a 60-foot-wide section of Baptist Road adjacent to the THF parcel. This would prevent prompt construction of the median. However, this change would require completion and approval of numerous new drawings for this section of the project before the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the owner of the interchange, would give a modified right-of-way clearance to initiate the bidding process for the project. These modifications have not yet been discussed with CDOT.

THF has concluded a separate agreement for a special use permit with CDOT that details THF’s ability to continue to use Struthers Road and donated THF right-of-way north of Baptist Road to construct drainage and landscaping on the west side of the THF parcel, after completing the right-of-way donation to CDOT. However, CDOT will not sign the special use permit until the THF property has been donated.

Struthers Road north of Baptist Road will be demolished to build the new dual lane northbound on-ramps to I-25.

Torres, Heckman, Hunsaker, and Denslow met with THF representative Karen Blumenstein on Aug. 7 to discuss the proposed BRRTA/THF memorandum of understanding (MOU) and identified the following concerns that need to be resolved in order for THF to donate the needed right-of-way:

  1. The BRRTA board must agree to changes recommended and agreed to by Blumenstein and Hunsaker.
  2. The county must agree to the grading and storm water discharge elements of the MOU.
  3. The BRRTA board must agree to continue negotiation of the access road on the adjacent ADK Monument Developers LLC property to connect the THF property to Baptist Road.
  4. If the BRRTA board agrees and signs the MOU, THF will complete the donation forms and deeds for transmittal to CDOT for recordation within one week.

Environmental issues: Jacobs Carter Burgess has negotiated a work-around solution with CDOT regarding the delays caused by the designation of the original Denver Highway as historic. Construction plans will be modified to leave the current access to the Diamond Shamrock fuel station open and temporarily delete the new access roads that were to be constructed over the top of the short segment of crumbling abandoned highway.

Should the Federal Highway Administration approve the original proposed design and mitigation recommended for this "historic feature," then a construction modification order would be processed to build the new access road and widen Baptist Road west of the Diamond Shamrock entrance.

In either case, Jacobs plans to complete construction of the new water and sanitary sewer lines that will serve the Diamond Shamrock property no later than Dec. 31. They will be built within the existing BRRTA right-of-way on the north side of Baptist Road. These new lines will "have no impact on" the abandoned historic concrete.

Engineering consultant PBS&J plans to complete the modifications to the company’s original construction plans for Baptist Road west of the interchange no later than Aug. 18, including the addition of the Diamond Shamrock water and sanitary sewer lines.

The Federal Highway Administration has received all necessary documentation to render a decision by the end of November on whether to preserve the historic crumbling concrete.

Utilities issues: The water and wastewater lines have been reviewed and approved by the county, though the signed documents had not been received prior to this BRRTA meeting. These two utility lines will be added to the original and new drawings by PBS&J.

Construction of these lines was a condition of Valero Corp.’s donation of a substantial amount of right-of-way for the new dual lane southbound off-ramp and the westbound acceleration lane that will eliminate the current access to the Diamond Shamrock station on Baptist Road.

If the interchange construction plans cannot be advertised by the end of August, a separate bid for only the water and sewer lines will be advertised by Jacobs to complete their construction by Dec. 31. The Town of Monument has offered to assist Jacobs with contacting potential bidders and soliciting bids for the water and wastewater line project. This assistance would require creation of a separate agreement between the town and BRRTA.

The Mountain View Electric Association has provided all necessary right-of-way plans, deeds, and legal descriptions for relocating its electric utility lines.

Jacobs will inform the other utilities when a date is set for advertising the expansion bidding process.

Williams asked that contractor bids include two alternate bids for the interchange expansion, with and without the new access roads for the Diamond Shamrock, as part of the public bidding process. This would avoid potential controversy over future change orders.

Glenn said his understanding was that the Federal Highway Administration had already forwarded its opinion on the historic designation to the U.S. Department of Interior.

Glenn asked about the status of condemnation of the THF right-of-way to gain immediate possession and use so that the bid process could be advertised. Hunsaker replied that the appraisals submitted to CDOT for the THF right-of-way differed significantly. THF’s appraisal is about $2 million, while BRRTA’s appraisal is $400,000. Williams noted that immediate possession and use doesn’t require agreement on the value of the condemned right-of-way.

Glenn said, "We’ve been working on this condemnation for awhile. I don’t see why we can’t go with possession and use. I don’t want to be blackmailed by THF. I want to be able to say no deal, we’ll pay for it, and just move on if it comes to that, though this MOU might be just fine with everybody."

Williams added, "I’m sharing the mayor’s frustration. I want to make sure we’re under way no later than the (protected Preble’s) mouse going to sleep (Nov. 1) so we don’t lose that construction season. It gets harder as the ground gets harder and frozen." He stated that the board should get the advertising for the bidding process started "as quickly as we can" regardless of the THF issue and "clearance for this beautiful historic tourist attraction of the old Denver Highway. … People have been paying the sales tax and they’d like to see some progress."

Heckman said the timing for the advertising and bidding process would be a minimum of eight days for pre-bid preparation by contractors after the ad is published, three weeks for accepting bids, and one week for evaluation, award, and a notice to proceed—a total of five weeks.

Hunsaker gave a point-by-point technical analysis of his and THF’s remaining concerns with the latest draft MOU between BRRTA and THF. Some of his concerns were:

  • He had not seen the deeds for the right-of-way donation to be sure that BRRTA would take title of the land.
  • A paragraph states that the entire BRRTA interchange project will be completed before the planned start date for the THF project, and any changes to the BRRTA project will be subject to THF’s prior review and approval, which shall not be unreasonably withheld. "Who can know what delays or problems will crop up during the construction project," Hunsaker added.
  • A paragraph states that BRRTA agrees to THF’s revised plans for an access on Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and the interchange. Hunsaker asked whether the town, CDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, and the county all had to approve of this intersection and whether BRRTA has to obtain permits from all of them, as well as what happens if one or more is not obtained.
  • THF requires BRRTA to give access for grading in all adjacent right-of-way, but BRRTA cannot give permission for CDOT or county right-of-way.
  • THF does not guarantee it will protect BRRTA improvements or agree to a time when THF grading access terminates.
  • BRRTA cannot grant THF free use of and access to drainage facilities owned by the county or CDOT as required by the THF draft.
  • A paragraph states that THF will not have any additional financial obligations to BRRTA, which might waive the regular BRRTA fees and prevent obtaining additional right-of-way for acceleration, deceleration, or turn lanes.
  • THF requires that BRRTA allow it to assign its interests, rights and obligations to any third party without the consent of BRRTA, which would imply that no notice would have to be given to BRRTA either.
  • There is no mention that BRRTA has not agreed to waive any of its rights under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.
  • None of the eight exhibits to the MOU was provided by THF.

Glenn stated that he has a business relationship with ADK, the owner of the adjacent parcel to the east, which is working out a joint venture business arrangement with THF. He recused himself from voting on the MOU. He said he still wanted to make comments because he is responsible to the people of this area, and as a business owner of the ADK parcel he wanted to make sure the MOU doesn’t impact future negotiations between THF and ADK.

Hunsaker said it’s a fine line on conflict of interest. Williams asked if Glenn would be commenting as an interested party or the mayor. Glenn said his comments would "be outside of being mayor."

Hunsaker outlined access difficulties for the THF property if ADK does not provide access to Baptist Road, which would require a trip up Jackson Creek Parkway to Higby Road, then south on Struthers Road—a total trip of 5.5 miles instead of the current access just north of Baptist Road via the south end of the Struthers frontage road. This is the basis of the $2 million claim by THF for loss of the latter access.

Hunsaker added that the cost of the access road to the THF parcel through the south end of the ADK property would be about $400,000. BRRTA can’t approve building this access for THF in return for the donation of the THF interchange right-of-way because BRRTA doesn’t own the needed dedicated right-of-way through the ADK property.

Hunsaker concluded that if the MOU is signed between THF and BRRTA, it will take about a week to gain possession of the THF right-of-way. If Baptist is not widened next to the THF property, it would take an additional three weeks to redraw the construction plans for just east of the bridge over I-25. If the THF right-of-way is condemned, it would take a minimum of 45 days to gain possession and use of the THF right-of-way.

Williams noted that neither THF nor ADK had submitted any modified plans to BRRTA, Monument, CDOT, or the county for the modified access road through the south end of the ADK property. BRRTA has no authority to approve land use plans. The southern access for the ADK parcel was approved over two years ago by the Monument Board of Trustees, with approved county and state access permits, but the site plan was never recorded. Glenn said ADK had obtained the county and CDOT permits "a month ago based on the current PBS&J design drawings."

However, the alignment of the principal road through the two properties proposed by THF is not similar to that approved by the town. Kassawara said no extension for recording the site plan had been granted by the town.

Brackin said the access permits were issued by McCarty because the county had not conducted an engineering review in a timely manner when the town approved the site plan.

There was consensus among the other three BRRTA board members that there had been no formal review of the draft amended THF site plan and that ADK had not agreed to the use of a roundabout or where the connection of the alternative access road will be made to the east side of the THF parcel.

After considerable further discussion, the board conditionally approved the MOU in concept, with Hunsaker’s proposed revisions, by a 3-0-1 vote with Glenn recusing himself. The finalized document will be signed by the board members at a later date once THF agrees to the amended language. Once three BRRTA board members have approved and signed it, the MOU may be executed to obtain the donation of the THF right-of-way.

The board also unanimously approved a sign easement agreement in concept with Family of Christ Church for the church to erect, maintain, and replace, if damaged, a 6-by-10-foot sign with appurtenant landscaping and/or fencing that will mitigate light from vehicle headlights shining on the residence at 15410 Leather Chaps Drive when they turn to drive west to the church from Leather Chaps on the new frontage road. None of the other property owners on the frontage road responded to the board’s request for comment or participation in the sign agreement. The board agreed to enlarge the easement to ensure there was sufficient area to build an appropriate fence or plant sufficient landscaping. The board will give final approval of the sign design when it is submitted by the church.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:19 p.m.

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The next regular meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 at Monument Town Hall 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Friday of even-numbered months. Information: 884-8017.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Aug. 6: Lift station pump creating headaches

By Susan Hindman

The Academy Water and Sanitation District’s new operator, Anthony Pastorello, reported at the Aug. 6 meeting that problems with pump 2 in the lower lift station will necessitate an immediate repair. He was planning on pulling the pump the day after the meeting to investigate the problem. He said that engineer Fred Ladd reported the concrete in the outflow control box is deteriorating and needs to be replaced.

The rough estimate is $20,000, and the repair plan would include minimizing disturbance to the system and would take around 1½ days. It was suggested the work be done before the weather gets cold, out of concern that the concrete could crumble into the overflow box.

Board President Richard DuPont said that Jerry Jacobson, the district’s previous operator, had talked about this problem in the past and that "Jerry has reiterated this a couple of times … that it wouldn’t last the winter. It’s crumbling. I’ve seen it, and it’s a mess," DuPont said. However, he noted that the board didn’t budget money for fixing this, so the funds would have to come from other budgeted items, and other less-urgent projects may need to be put on hold.

Jacobson continues to come in once a week to help Pastorello transition into the job and take care of other business. The board is paying Jacobson hourly and voted to reimburse him up to $500 a month for "use of his operator’s license," necessary for signing off on paperwork, until Pastorello is licensed to do that task.

Pastorello passed out information from the state about the 2009 groundwater rule and some of the things that will be required of groundwater systems. He will be following up with a representative from the state about compliance requirements.

He also plans to start installing the new meters in homes and will be contacting district residents to make appointments.

Various issues related to Pastorello’s employment were discussed. The district is looking into buying a vehicle for him to use, as he doesn’t want to use his own for district work (something Jacobson had chosen to do). A health insurance policy was agreed upon.

Treasurer’s report: Treasurer Walter Reiss distributed copies of the audit report. He reported that the district had $177,000 as of Aug. 1 but that he had spent $139,747 to cover the November payment for the bond principle plus half the interest, so the account was down to around $37,000.

The district also has money in CDs that matured in July, and Reiss was able to renegotiate new one-year CDs at 3.66 percent interest, higher than other rates he had seen. He noted that the audit reported a net increase in revenue of $9,635, "So we’re up to an $11,121 increase in revenues for the year to date." He added that the water sales for this time of year should be at $115,000, "and we’re at almost $98,000, so we’re behind a little bit."

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is Sept. 3.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee meeting, Aug. 8: New rules for effluent limits discussed

Below: Environmental attorney Tad Foster briefed the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee on Aug. 12 about the new tighter copper restrictions that will be imposed by the state in the facility’s next five-year discharge permit for 2010-2014.The facility will not be able to meet the new restrictions as currently configured. Engineering consultant Mike Rothberg briefed the committee on options for expanding the facility with new equipment that may cost as much as $30 million. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

Environmental attorney Tad Foster and engineering consultants Mike Rothberg and Joe Tamburini of Tetra Tech RTW (formerly Rothberg, Tamburini, and Windsor) advised the committee on the ambiguous status of renewal of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility discharge permit for 2010-2014. They also updated the JUC on a July 15 re-hearing of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission’s reclassification of the upper segment of Monument Creek from a "use protected" designation to "reviewable" in June 2007. This re-hearing took place in Denver at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n8.htm#juc for more details.)

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. Two of the three primary representatives were present: President Dale Platt from Palmer Lake, Vice President Lowell Morgan from Monument. Alternate Woodmoor representative Barrie Town filled in for the absent and excused Secretary-Treasurer Benny Nasser. Numerous directors and staff members from the three districts attended the meeting to learn of the new paradigm the facility must comply with in the future.

Discussion of facility permit limits and compliance issues

Foster first gave a two-hour presentation on numerous technical issues of the new reviewable designation applied to Monument Creek which will now come under "anti-degradation" rules and policies for the first time. Rothberg then briefed the committee on his preliminary study of equipment options available to meet substantially tighter restrictions on remaining metals, ammonia, total inorganic nitrogen and phosphates in treated wastewater that the facility discharges into Monument Creek at the south end of Mitchell Avenue.

"We’ve got a lot of catch-up to do," Foster said as he first discussed his extensive study of what the anti-degradation rules mean in terms of compliance and new, more stringent restrictions on the facility. He then briefly discussed the meaning of the re-hearing results for "what the 2010 permit may look like."

The purpose of state anti-degradation limits is to protect the assimilative capacity of the streams in Colorado that receive treated wastewater. For example, if the water quality standard in a discharge permit for a stream has been 10 parts per billion (ppb) for a metal like copper in the past – under the previous "use protected" standard for Monument Creek – then the average concentration in plant effluent for a use protected permit was 10 ppb. "Use protected" status was conferred on Monument Creek because the effluent from the facility was more than 50 percent of the flow downstream of the facility more than 50 percent of the time. In dry seasons, the facility’s discharge was the bulk of stream flow in the creek, with negligible flows coming from upstream.

The result of the commission’s July 15 re-hearing was that the commissioners declared as a policy that the old use protected rules for Monument Creek no longer apply because effluent had to predominate for all of 8 years out of the past 10 years (the new meaning of majority of the period.) There has been a substantial increase in rain and snow over the past few years following the drought, coupled with the significant increase in the amount of run-off from water used to irrigate lawns within the Tri-Lakes region. The facility does not meet this new policy definition of majority of a decade to allow the standards of effluent dominance to apply. Majority now means 8 out of 10 years.

Majority used to mean more than half of a decade under the old rules. The facility would easily meet a standard of effluent dominance more than half the time in the past 10 years, if that was the actual standard for a "use protected" designation as it has been in the past. The implication of this new "8 out of 10 years" policy imposed last year by the commission is that few if any stream segments in Colorado meet the higher standard. Thus nearly all streams are now reviewable by the commission and the water quality control division of the health department. However, these rules have not been widely applied in the past and it’s not clear how each facility may be able to negotiate for standards that appear to be ambiguous. The negotiation workload on the Water Quality Control Division and the commissioners may become very high due to the very high number of public reviews that may be triggered when facilities routinely exceed the new lower concentration limits.

New rules apply for the segments that now have been re-designated as reviewable. For example, if the average concentration of copper in the creek downstream of the Tri-Lakes facility was found to be 1 ppb, the facility standard would allow for an increase of only 15 percent of the difference. In this case the difference is 9 ppb, and 15 percent of that is 1.35 ppb. So the discharge limit would be (1 + 1.35) ppb or 2.35 ppb. Right now the facility can only reduce copper concentrations in its treated wastewater to 8-12 ppb when operating at peak efficiency.

However, the tests that have been approved by the U.S. EPA can only measure concentrations above 5 ppb, which is not useful if the new discharge permit limit were to be set at 2.35 ppb. Tests of water in Monument Creek less than a mile south show that copper is undetectable, an unknown amount less than 5 ppb, making compliance with a standard of an average of 2.35 ppb a very difficult and expensive prospect.

If more complete testing were performed of water in the creek downstream the new standard might be different. For example if the average level of copper could be measured more completely and precisely downstream of the facility and it turned out to be an average of 5 ppb, then 15 percent of the difference would be 0.75 ppb and the standard would become (5 +.75) ppb or 5.75 ppb. However, the Tri-Lakes facility still cannot meet this higher standard without expensive modification. The type and cost of this modification is unknown at this time.

Foster said that causing more than a 15 percent increase in a pollutant’s concentration, which the facility does for copper at the present time, triggers a public review process by the state of the alternatives available to improve facility performance. "What do we have to prove in this process and what are the alternatives?"

Some of the questions that the facility must answer are:

  • "Is this increase in pollutants necessary?"
  • "What are the alternatives available to avoid the increase?"
  • "What effluent level and how much of an increase is necessary to support important socio-economic development, where growth is an important development."

Woodmoor plans to recycle some of its treated effluent by pumping it back upstream to a discharge point upstream of Monument Lake to store it in the lake. The stored water would later be pumped from Monument Lake to Lake Woodmoor, then to a Woodmoor water treatment plant to use it for irrigation or drinking water.

The location where the recycled, treated effluent is discharged would be a new secondary discharge for the facility. This new discharge is subject to different rules and permit standards than the existing discharge from the Tri-Lakes facility.

Planning for this additional discharge has triggered a whole new set of permit issues for the facility regarding how and where to measure downstream concentrations within Monument Creek. Testing locations downstream of the second discharge location are upstream of the Tri-Lakes facility discharge. It was unclear at this time where testing should be performed, if the facility could arrange for the U.S. Geological Survey to perform the tests as an impartial entity, how often tests should be performed over a 10-month initial sampling period and how many metals and other pollutants should be tested for.

After about two hours of discussion of very technical options and scenarios on how various technologies might be used to treat a variety of pollutants, there was consensus that the owning districts should pay for additional short term testing of pollution concentrations for all the possible pollutants in the stream, downstream of the existing Tri-Lakes facility. The goal is to establish that there is a measurable background concentration of copper in Monument Creek separate from the copper added to the stream for the facility.

There is a probability that measured average level will be negligibly small due to the high number of test results where the actual level of copper would be below the minimum threshold of 5 ppb and could not be detected resulting in numerous test concentrations of zero.

The boards of the three districts have not appropriated or budgeted funds for this additional and potentially costly testing. Some districts’ budgets may have to be amended before the end of 2008 if the testing proves to be costly. Tests must begin soon so each of the owner districts can project total new costs. No decision was made on whether to use much more expensive testing methods to determine levels of copper concentration below 5 ppb.

Rothberg’s cost estimates for installation of additional (tertiary) treatment equipment have ranged for $1.5 million to $30 million, depending on how the new rules are applied and how many metals and other compounds must be removed at a higher rate to meet the tighter standards. The current value of the facility is about $6 million. Operating costs would be more than double what they are now in addition to high interest payments on new bond debt to pay for facility expansion.

The committee unanimously approved a motion to have facility manager Bill Burks arrange for testing downstream of the Tri-Lakes facility and downstream of the new Woodmoor recycled effluent discharge. Monthly tests are already being conducted by the facility for metals in Monument Creek downstream of the facility. The location of a second testing point for the new discharge would be in Monument Lake or upstream of this lake. There should be enough information from the first few rounds of tests October to plan for a Water Quality Control Commission hearing in December. The purpose of this hearing would be to determine how to proceed with permit renewal negations throughout the last year of the current permit before it expires at the end of 2009.

Foster said he had arranged a meeting with the Water Quality Control Division’s permit writer and her supervisor in Denver later in August and would report on the results of that question and answer session at the next meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 12:20 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 9 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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Donala Water and Sanitation District, August 20: District under contract to buy ranch; wins awards

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting August 20, the board approved a negotiated contract to purchase Mt. Massive Ranch. The ranch is approximately 681 acres and is about 7 miles southwest of Leadville. The purchase price is $4.6 million with $100,000 in earnest money and the balance due at closing. The district has 65 days to conduct research on the property and its water rights.

Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, noted that the ranch owner, Ronald Strich, approached the district not the other way around. The deal would provide rights to at least 225 acre-feet per year of surface water rights. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. According to Duthie, 225 acre-feet represents about 20 percent of the district’s yearly total water use. A water court ruling will be needed to convert the water rights from agricultural uses to district use. Duthie said the district expects the final adjudicated amount to be closer to 300 acre-feet per year. If as a result of the water court case, the district receives rights to more than 225 acre-feet, the district would pay Strich an additional $8,000 per acre-foot with an escalation clause if the water court case is not resolved within two years.

To resolve access issues with the property, Strich and the district are considering splitting the estimated $350,000 cost of purchasing two adjacent 35-acre parcels. Duthie noted that access is important because the district may offer portions of the property for development once the water court case is completed.

Board president Dennis Daugherty presided at the August 20 meeting. Board members Dick Durham, William George, and Dale Schendzielos were present. Tim Murphy was absent.

District wins awards

Donala won the Outstanding Water Treatment Plant of the Year Award from the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The award cited the district’s Graham-Nance Water Treatment Plant on Holbein Drive and Robert Hull Water Treatment Plant on Bermuda Dunes Way. The Rocky Mountain Section of the AWWA covers Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.

In addition, Mark Parker, Donala’s Chief Water Operator, won the AWWA Ralph M. Leidholdt Water Treatment Plant Operator of the Year Award. Parker will receive the awards at the AWWA Conference in Colorado Springs September 16.

According to the AWWA, "Mr. Parker was chosen for his demonstrated commitment to water quality for the Donala Water and Sanitation District. He has improved chemical feed systems, water quality monitoring, and security for the Donala water treatment systems. The Holbein and R. Hull water treatment facilities (WTFs) are equipped with the latest technology in water quality monitoring and have received compliments from the State Inspector on the general cleanliness of the WTFs."

Daugherty said to water operators Mike Lavin and Kent Griffin, "On behalf of the constituents, thank you for the quality work you do every day."

Water returns project and irrigation rationing update

Duthie reported that most of the participants in the Water Returns project are underway 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 paid.

The irrigation rationing program runs May 26 through September 1. Under the program, 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 water use in July 2008 compared to July 2007 and July 2006. The rationing program was started in 2007. He noted that July 2008, with 6 rainy days and 1.24 inches of rain, was similar to July 2007, which had 7 rainy days and 1.06 inches of rain. July 2006 was much wetter with 16 rainy days and 6.01 inches of rain. Overall, the district with 5 more customers in 2008 than in 2007 used 6 percent less water than in 2007. With 45 more customers in 2008 than in 2006, the district used 33 percent more water than in 2006.

During July 2008, 634 residential customers (30 percent) used more than 40,000 gallons and 12 percent used more than 50,000 gallons. 10 customers used more than 70,000 gallons. One customer used over 95,000.

Comparing the 21 single family customers who have Evapo-Transporation (ET) controllers that use a variety of data to optimize irrigation of Kentucky Bluegrass, 12 used less water in June 2008 than they used in June 2007, 11 used more. Total water usage by customers with ET controllers was 15 percent less in July 2008 than in July 2007.

Duthie said most customers are following the rationing program rules; however, the district has issued 119 warning letters and 4 fines.

Other matters

  • According to the minutes from a special board meeting held August 4, the board directed Duthie to pursue surface water from the Bessemer Ditch in the Arkansas River Valley. The Bessemer is the largest ditch in Pueblo County.
  • 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 3.75 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 2.44 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 4.9 months.
  • The Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Colorado Recycles, the Colorado Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association, and House District 20 Rep. Amy Stephens will host a symposium, Rx in the Watershed, Sept. 26, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pikes Peak Community College Rampart Range Campus, 11195 Highway 83. The symposium will explore ways to keep pharmaceuticals out of our water, including safe disposal of medications by consumers. For more information contact Rep. Stephens, 303-866-2924, or e-mail Amy.Stephens@earthlink.net
  • Duthie said that Roger Sams, the district’s engineer, is looking at the possibility of adding power generation through small hydroelectric units at the pressure reducing valves in the water system and adding solar electric panels on top of the district’s tanks. Duthie noted that grants are available to help with the costs.
  • He said start up of the sequencing batch reaction equipment at the wastewater treatment plant is now expected in late September or early October. The latest estimate of the total cost for the plant expansion is $16.2 million. Duthie said Donala has proposed assisting the Triview Metropolitan District in financing their portion of the costs for the expansion.
  • Infiltration of storm water into the wastewater system has become a problem. Duthie said they have been looking at potential sources such as possible open or leaking manholes within the Triview district. During the heavy rains in mid-August, the amount of water in the system taxed the wastewater plant’s capacity. He said that on August 17, the flow reached 1.2 cubic feet per second. Duthie said, "One more day of rain would have overwhelmed the plant."
  • Well 14, which cost more than $1 million to construct and equip, has been shut down due to the level of radioactivity in the water. Treatment options are being considered.
  • Duthie reported that additional discussions have been held with the regulatory agencies that control Monument Creek water quality. The agencies are tightening the standards for effluent discharged into the creek. Duthie said, "This could be potentially real expensive." For more information, see the Joint Use Committee article on page 17.
  • The Academy Water and Sanitation District rejected for now Donala’s offer to supply wastewater service to Academy’s customers for $34 per month per customer.

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 Wed., September 17 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. The district’s Web site is at www.donalawater.org

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Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 4: Expert reviews history of regional water issues

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees held a very short business meeting Aug. 4 prior to the originally scheduled retreat on regional water issues. Water expert Gary Barber, the executive director of the Pikes Peak Regional and El Paso County Water Authorities, reviewed the history of his efforts on behalf of these two bodies to supplement groundwater from the Denver basin with surface water.

Trustees Travis Easton and Steve Samuels were absent.

During public comments, resident Wendy Wadge asked the board why the town had taken down her yard-sale signs without notifying her, even though her signs had her name and address on them, had been approved by her homeowners association, and were not a safety hazard.

Wadge said that the town has never enforced the rule consistently in the eight years she has lived in Pastimes. She added that the town took down none of the many Richmond Homes signs along Old Denver Highway on the same day, nor had the town taken down any of the yard sale or real estate signs posted throughout Jackson Creek, including those on town street lights or road signs. She said that her sign was not a safety hazard. Wadge presented a list of written questions to the board regarding yard-sale and all the other types of signs commonly on display in town and county rights-of-way.

Town Manager Cathy Green said for aesthetic reasons there was a town ordinance against posting signs in the town’s right of way. A board policy allows an exception for political signs in the 60-day period prior to an election, though there is no written exemption in the sign code. Yard-sale signs that meet the size limit can be posted on a homeowner’s property. Green suggested that Wadge ask the board to amend the sign code. Green said that the newly hired code enforcement officer, Donna Jack, removes signs small enough to fit in her staff car, and will enforce the code throughout the town in the coming weeks on both sides of I-25. Larger illegal signs are removed and taken to Town Hall in larger Public Works vehicles, Green added. The board asked Green to provide a written list of answers at the next board meeting. Trustee Tommie Plank asked Wadge to attend the next board meeting.

The board unanimously approved the refund of a $15,000 construction bond payment made by Corona Sierra Colorado Inc. of Larkspur, owner of the Carl’s Jr. Restaurant in the Monument Marketplace. Sierra Colorado made the bond payment when the town issued the building permit for the restaurant.

At the end of the 20-minute regular meeting, Barber began a 90-minute retreat concerning water issues with a presentation on the history of the El Paso County Water Authority, the Palmer Divide Water Group, and the latter’s successor, the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. [See www.ourcommunitynewsorg/top_stories.htm#water for reports on these groups.]

Barber and Public Works Director Rich Landreth answered trustees’ questions about future town and authority strategies, possible town supplemental water right purchase options, and legal and political constraints.

The board adjourned at 8:49 p.m., immediately after the conclusion of a brief executive session on contract negotiations.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 18: New police officer sworn in and four staff awards presented

Below: The family of just-sworn-in Monument Police Officer Keith Moreland pins on his new badge as Chief Jake Shirk "supervised" at the Aug. 18 Board of Trustees meeting. Moreland recently retired after 30 years of service in the Los Angeles Police Department. Shirk then presented four Chief’s Commendation awards to Officer Chad Haynes, Receptionist Irene Walters, Chaplain Angela Robbins, and DEA crime analyst Jessica Packard. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk swore in Officer Keith Moreland and then presented four Chief’s Commendation Awards to members of the department to open the Monument Board of Trustees meeting on Aug. 18. The board also approved a replat of Vision Development’s Woodmoor Placer Subdivision on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway, opposite Lewis-Palmer High School.

Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustees Rafael Dominguez and Gail Drumm were absent. Mayor Pro Tem Steve Samuels presided.

Moreland sworn in

Town Clerk Scott Meszaros swore in Keith Moreland. His wife pinned on his new badge. Shirk noted that Moreland’s application asked if he had ever been involved in traffic accidents. Shirk said his answer was "‘LAPD, 30 years.’ ... We’re very proud to have this very highly decorated officer of the Los Angeles Police Department."

Four police awards presented

Officer Chad Haynes received a Chief’s Commendation Award for his volunteer work as community youth officer, particularly with students of Grace Best Elementary School. Shirk’s commendation noted that Haynes had met individually with all 80 third-grade students to present them teddy bears. Haynes also researched and implemented an Internet safety class for children. He is the Explorer Cadet advisor and works with area schools on programs to ensure student safety. Haynes is a member of the Direct Action Response Team and was just selected to be an instructor in tactical operations for this program. Shirk added that he was also selected as Monument Hill Sertoma’s officer of the year a few weeks ago.

Police receptionist Irene Walters received a Chief’s Commendation Award for her public relations successes, such as setting up the teddy bear presentations at Grace Best and resolving long-term neighborhood animal complaint disputes.

Police Chaplain Angela Robbins received Chief’s Commendation Award for her tireless efforts, such as her support of the Palmer Lake Police Department after the death of its chief, birthday cakes every month for every officer and staff member, and her instant availability.

Local parent Jessica Packard received a Chief’s Commendation Award for her volunteer administrative support in revitalizing the Explorer Cadet program. Packard is a crime analyst for the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency office in Denver and has made training opportunities available for Monument police officers that would not typically be offered to such a small department.

The board recessed for 15 minutes for a reception to congratulate these five dedicated public servants and their families.

Replat for Woodmoor Placer Subdivision

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported that the board had approved the vacation and replat for the Woodmoor Placer Subdivision with conditions. This three-lot parcel contains the Tri-Lakes YMCA in the center lot. One of the conditions was creation of a 30-foot water and sewer easement within the vacant north lot "in an approximate location where the existing sanitary easement is located, prior to recordation of the plat."

After extensive discussions between Jackson Creek Land Co. and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, a compromise was reached on Aug. 14. Vision Woodmoor "discovered an existing 16-foot easement on the north property line of Tract 1, which has been added to the plat to satisfy their current concerns. The property owner has agreed to add this easement" on the updated plat.

This condition of approval will be dropped from the vacation and replat documents. There will be a note on the revised replat documents stating, "The need for additional easements shall be evaluated when Lot 1 and Lot 3 submit site plans for development, and any additional easements needed for the provision of utility services to serve these lots shall be dedicated at the time of site plan approval."

This compromise will allow the town to issue a permanent certificate of occupancy to the YMCA, once the modified vacation and replat documents are recorded with the county. The town had been renewing the YMCA’s temporary certificate of occupancy well beyond the normal timeframe during this controversy. Town Manager Cathy Green said the YMCA "had run out of extensions." The board approved the modified documents unanimously.

Trustee Travis Easton thanked Kassawara and Jackson Creek Land Co. representative Rick Blevins for their hard work in reaching this compromise to relieve the pressure on the YMCA and town staff.

Trustees’ comments

Trustee Tim Miller stated that he was ecstatic that all the paving for Baptist Road had been completed. He asked about the status of the median. Green said there were insufficient funds for installing pavers in the entire length of the median. "Nothing was in the budget to do any kind of planting." Kassawara had said he would talk to the county Transportation Department about the weeds in the median. "Possibly at some point we could put pavers in it." Miller replied, "We just need to do something." Mayor Glenn has advocated at past board and Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority meetings that the town annex this newly paved portion of Baptist Road from the county once the warranty period for the new construction is over.

Trustee Tommie Plank invited everyone to attend the Art Hops that are held by the Historic Monument Merchants Association in the downtown area on the third Thursday of the month. Stores remain open until 8 p.m. for this heavily attended event.

Public comments

Tri-Lakes Views Steering Committee Chair Betty Konarski advised the board that the committee is ready to start on the second phase of its program, a one-year process to select sculptures for public display for the coming year from submissions by as many as 300 Colorado artists.

Konarski said that there will be two display locations at the new Town Hall—one in the lobby and one outdoors in the new Highway 105 median—as well as three outdoor display locations adjacent to the Monument Marketplace clock tower. Rick Blevins, Vision Development’s development director for the Marketplace, concurred. The sculptures on display would be rotated annually. Konarski said the board and Blevins would have a right of refusal on the particular sculptures selected by her steering committee for display, noting that Plank represents the board on the steering committee and will help select the sculptures to be displayed.

Konarski said she would be back soon asking for funds from the board’s community development fund for promotions and planning for the annual shows. She hoped that these art works would be purchased. There will also be annual show pedestal locations in Limbach Park or at local schools in the future. The committee plans to initiate fundraising soon, using ideas that have been successful in Golden, Loveland, and the Western Slope.

Staff reports

Supplemental budget and appropriation approved: The board unanimously approved a supplemental budget and appropriation. Treasurer Pamela Smith stated that this annual event allows the town to recognize additional revenues carried forward in January and allocate them for additional expenditures, following the board’s acceptance of the 2007 audit. Smith reported that approval of the supplemental budget and supplemental appropriation ordinances "allows the Town of Monument to expend an additional $643,989 in the General Fund, $660,802 in the Water Enterprise Fund, $1,175,158 in the Capital Project Building Fund, and $173,467 in the supplemental Funds. Over 93 percent of the increased expenditures are to be used for the new Town Hall Facility and Capital Projects."

Expenses over $5,000: Smith described a new procedure to "clarify the process of approving checks over $5,000" that had been requested by Miller. Any request that exceeds the original budget amount will be brought back to the board for an additional approval.

The request report will now include:

  • What the request is for (capital or expenditure)
  • The original budget amount
  • The amount paid year to date
  • The remaining budget amount, which should be more than the request
  • A computer printout of the account affected by the request
  • A capital project printout of where all the capital projects are year to date

The board unanimously approved the following payments:

  • $108,186 to Triview Metropolitan District for June sales tax
  • $4,767 to Triview Metropolitan District for June sales tax
  • $8,148 to Forest Lakes Metropolitan District for the town’s portion of construction costs for work performed by Bosco Construction Inc. on the Forest Lakes water storage tank in pay application No. 7
  • $175,238 to Alexandher Building Co. for construction costs for the new Town Hall building
  • $17,231 to water attorney Krassa & Miller for legal fees

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that Kalima Masse, former owner of the concrete batch plant property on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and North Washington Street, was continuing to sue the town for damages for the town refusing to renew her defunct business license. The process of discovery has begun with her submission of a "40-page summary of what they think the damages are. What’s interesting is that they’re only asking for attorneys’ fees, not for any other damages," about $119,000.

Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) initiated: Shirk reported 115 accidents in the past year on Jackson Creek Parkway and its connection to Highway 105. As a result, the Monument Police Department will target the causes of these accidents with ticketing, such as speeding, following too closely, and failure to obey signs.

Shirk also noted that 12 people are attending the nine-week Citizen’s Police Academy that started on Aug. 20 and that he would be holding a second meeting with 35 local pastors on Aug 26 on community preparedness.

Samuels said that "Nights like tonight are special to me because when you have families of people starting new careers or people that have done good things for the community; I kind of got a little choked up through the whole thing because this is what community is. It’s so easy for people to complain that things aren’t right and we wish they would be done differently." He added that "Commending people for doing positive things is so important. It should be done in all departments for any staff making an effort to do what is above and beyond what is expected. ... Tonight was awesome." Trustee Travis Easton concurred on "celebrating the positives."

Green introduced the town’s new code enforcement officer, Donna Jack, to the board. "She’s not giving out tickets and citations now," Green said. "She’s simply giving out friendly information and talking to neighbors. I’ve received a couple of calls, and people have said to me they are very pleased to have her on board." Green also introduced the Town Hall contractor, Chris Alexander. Easton said that Jack had also been praised at the August Chamber of Commerce meeting. Green added that Jack has been very successful getting builders to clean up and maintain their construction sites, especially in Jackson Creek.

Green invited the trustees to the annual Tri-Lakes regional focus panel. This year’s meeting focused on utilities with presentations from Aquila, Mountain View Electric Association, Rocky Mountain Rail Authority, and Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority.

Miller noted the sudden death of Mrs. Nan Fritzsche, the attendance clerk at Lewis-Palmer High School and the number of students saddened by this untimely event.

The meeting adjourned at 7:21 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2, due to the Labor Day holiday. Meetings are normally held the first and third Monday of the month at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Aug. 14: Council faces decisions on water

By David Futey

As with other communities in the Tri-Lakes area, water and the infrastructure to support it is becoming an issue in Palmer Lake. Water treatment plant staff and engineers are evaluating solutions and costs for at least two issues. The Palmer Lake Town Council discussed these issues at its Aug. 14 meeting.

The first issue is that the filter media that removes impurities needs to be replaced, at an estimated cost of $200,000. However, after the media is replaced, the turbidity (or cloudiness) of the water still might not be reduced to less than the current 1.0 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU). The turbidity standard in the United States is 0.3 NTU. Thus the plant would not be achieving the standard even with a filter media replacement.

A second issue with the water treatment plant is that the valves that prevent untreated water from mixing with treated water may be failing. Despite effective maintenance performed by water treatment plant staff over the years, these two issues are the result of aging water plant equipment that may have reached the end of its .

Related to these issues, the council discussed the need to create revenue to fund improvements before the situation becomes a crisis. A water rate increase, tax increase, bond issue, and a general obligation bond were mentioned as possible options. Further discussion is needed as the council awaits the results from the engineering studies before any action could occur.

Trustee Max Stafford noted, as with last month, that water use is higher and slightly above 1 acre-foot per day. This compares to 0.87 acre-foot used last year at this time. As a result of the issues mentioned above, the majority of water is being produced from the well, which in turn has raised electrical costs for the water services to $8,000 a month.

Community Wildfire Protection Plan

Keith Worley and John Chapman presented the council with a draft of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). This advisory document provides information on the differing wildfire zones around Palmer Lake, including identifying a half-mile buffer around it, and wildfire preparedness such as evacuation routes, civilian staging areas, firefighter safety zones, and staging areas. The CWPP also sets priorities for evacuation routes, a defensible space around homes program, and fire fuel treatments on state, county, and federal lands.

Further discussion on the CWPP will take place at council meetings in September. Once the plan is finalized and approved, it will enable the town to apply for grants to support the initiatives in the plan. Grant submission guidelines generally require a CWPP to be in place. It was also noted that in 2009, a $2,500 state tax deduction for fire mitigation may be available for homeowners, but their community needs a CWPP in place to qualify.

Town finances to be reviewed

Mayor John Cressman noted that, as with other communities, Palmer Lake town revenues are down due to a slow economy that has reduced revenues from housing permits. Cressman indicated that a review of the town budget will be forthcoming as a result. Municipal departments have already begun budget tightening as the financial situation has become apparent in recent months.

Recreation updates

The Glen Park tennis courts are being revived. The cracked asphalt surface has been removed. Feedback from community members who play tennis at the park suggest that the concrete surface should be resealed and large cracks repaired. This would also be the most cost-effective option, officials say.

The volleyball court by the lake received donated sand that was put in place by parks staff.

Fire Department updates

Trustee Gary Coleman noted the following:

  • Firefighter Greg Lokken is now certified by the state as Fire Instructor I.
  • Fire Chief Phillip Beckman and firefighters Kevin LaBella, Peter Wolf, and Matt Maier assisted with wildfires in California.
  • The fire ban continues within the town limits and Palmer Lake watershed. All open fires, such as campfires and charcoal grills in public places, are prohibited. Residents can use home charcoal, propane, and natural gas grills.
  • During the week of Aug. 25, five residents signed up and received fire mitigation by "The Masticator," a mulcher that will remove brush on their properties.

Laptops for police vehicles

Trustee Dan Reynolds reported that two laptop computers will be installed in police vehicles and should be in service in 30 to 45 days. The laptops will be used for dispatching, seeking information on licenses and warrants, and other information-gathering. Funding for the laptops came in part from the training budget, because they will be used for training.

July 4 expenses incurred by the town

Town Clerk Della Gray noted that it cost the town $15,000 to support the July 4 fireworks and related activities. Of that amount, Gray noted that $8,208 was "out of pocket" in the form of wages for services, parking signs, and miscellaneous items. Council members discussed the difficulty in assessing the benefits from funding July 4 activities, such as taxes received on purchases during the event and follow-up visitations from those who attended it, to determine whether or how much it benefits the town.

Awake the Lake committee

Mayor Cressman is waiting for an elevation survey report to determine if the construction of a culvert at the lake is possible before making a proposition to Union Pacific to build it. If a letter to Union Pacific is prepared, it will also include the request for a pedestrian bridge. For background on these items please review the council article in the Aug. 2 issue of Our Community News. ( www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n8.htm#pltc )

Appointments to Board of Adjustment

The council unanimously appointed the following members to the Board of Adjustment. Those approved were the only applicants: Eddie Kinney (2 years), Bob Miner (2 years), Doug Wilson (2 years), Gary Coleman (1 year—Town Council representative), David Cooper (1 year—Planning Commission representative), and Kurt Ehrhardt (alternate).

Sign requests

By unanimous approval, the council approved:

  • A sign for Villa Décor, 868 Highway 105. The sign was previously approved by Planning Commission. Each business in that building unit will need to apply for sign approval.
  • A Sertoma Club sign, to be installed on the north side of State Route 105 on the Inn @ Palmer Lake property. This sign was previously approved by the Planning Commission. The Council made one provision regarding the installation—that it not include information about Mosaic until the sign that is illegally installed with Mosaic information is removed.

The council also discussed an upcoming change in sign approvals. After finalizing the process with the council, the Planning Commission will solely approve signs and the council will no longer be involved in the process.

Business license request

The council unanimously approved a business license for Armory Parts Exchange Inc., owned by Jeff and Michelle Selvig. The business, previously located in Colorado Springs, will sell surplus gun parts but not ammunition, firearms, or receivers. The business is dually addressed with a warehouse at 320 Highway 105 and the office located at 84 Highway 105, Unit B.

The meeting adjourned at 9:21 p.m.

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The next regular council workshop is scheduled for Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. Both meetings will be 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. For more information, call 481-2953 or visit the town’s Web site at www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us 

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Palmer Lake celebrates 70 years of volunteer firefighting

Below: PLVFD fire fighter Dan Reynolds grills hot dogs as Palmer Lake community members partake in the pot luck pig roast for the PLVFD’s 70th anniversary celebration. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

The Palmer Lake community came together on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 17, to celebrate 70 years of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. It was in 1938 that the department was officially recognized and certified by the state. The department has come a long way since a handful of community members used a hand-drawn hose cart to fight fires. The first fire truck was purchased in 1921. Now firefighters drive a 2002 American LaFrance engine pumper, with the ability to carry 1,000 gallons and pagers are used to alert the volunteers of an emergency

As one of the first civic units to form in Palmer Lake, the department has led the way in sponsoring and supporting annual community events. These events include the July 4 fireworks, Yule Log Hunt, Christmas Star lighting, and the annual chili supper, a fundraiser to support maintenance on the star.

The department, consisting of Chief Phillip Beckman and 38 firefighters, remains the only all-volunteer unit in the Tri-Lakes area. With that number of volunteers, the department and town no longer contract with other fire departments in the area to assist with fire response. However, the Larkspur Fire Department does respond with a paramedic and ambulance transport and are contacted when an alert to Palmer Lake volunteers goes out.

The Palmer Lake department is part of The North Group, an association of six fire departments in northern El Paso and southern Douglas counties ( www.ngfire.org ). The fire departments in this association provide cooperative assistance in situations that occur within the Red Zone, those areas designated as high risk and high hazard for wildfire.

This group also provides mutual aid among the represented communities for structural fires. In those situations and with distances between communities factored in, each department may or may not respond with firefighting equipment based on a matrix of available equipment each department possesses and the location of the emergency.

The Depot Restaurant opened its door to host the 70th anniversary festivities. Depot owner Alicia Gatti organized the food and encouraged Palmer Lake community involvement by making it a potluck affair. The Depot also provided a pig roast and a few other food items. For activities, there were horseshoes, a raffle with prizes from a wide variety of community businesses, and music provided by Reckless, the Thaddeus White Trio, and other local groups.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board members

(L to R) Rick Barnes, John Hildebrandt, Bill Ingram, Tim Miller, Barbara Kelly, Roger Lance, and Charlie Pocock. Photo by John Heiser

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, Aug. 20: New firefighter and lieutenant sworn in

Below: At the Aug. 20 DWFPD board meeting - Above: Jeff Sherman (left) was sworn is as the newest full-time Firefighter/EMT and Firefighter/EMT Bryan Ackerman was promoted to Lieutenant. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Below: Assistant Chief Vinny Burns (left) received from volunteer Jim Rackl a donation of $5,200 worth of training DVD’s to be used by Donald Wescott Fire Protection District employees for certification training. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

The board room of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District was more crowded than usual Aug. 20, with family and friends in attendance to celebrate the swearing in of Jeff Sherman as Wescott’s newest firefighter/EMT and of firefighter/EMT Bryan Ackerman as a lieutenant.

Wescott volunteer Jim Rackl formally donated $5,200 worth of in-house training materials to the district. The district received a glowing letter of thanks for the donation of its former pumper engine to a volunteer district in the San Luis Valley. Rackl teaches firefighting courses at Pikes Peak Community College and at department training events held throughout the area.

Board Chairman Kevin Gould was excused. Secretary Greg Gent chaired the meeting in Gould’s absence.

Sherman and Ackerman sworn in

Gent administered the oaths of office for Sherman and Ackerman, assisted by Chief Jeff Edwards.

Training videos donated

Assistant Chief Vinny Burns accepted the "Essentials of Firefighting" 32-DVD set and supporting documents donated by Rackl to assist district staff to complete Firefighter I and Firefighter II state certification. (See photo to the right.)

Vehicle donation praised

Edwards read portions of a letter from Jon Montano, coordinator of the San Luis Valley Regional Emergency Trauma Advisory Council, thanking the district for Wescott’s donation of pumper 3. Edwards noted that the Pierce engine was fully equipped. Montano wrote, "This Fire Truck, in such outstanding condition, and with equipment exceeds all we had hoped for. … How can we ever repay you and your community for the kindness and generosity that you and your department have bestowed upon us. Thank you!!!!"

Treasurer’s report

Recording secretary and executive administrative assistant Cheryl Marshall noted that while the district’s auditor was completing the 2007 audit, he had suggested setting up a separate fund for expenses and federal/state reimbursements for wildland support. Wescott has deployed shifts of its full-time firefighters to California throughout the summer to gain valuable experience and training in combating numerous wildfires. All pay and expenses are reimbursed to the district and will soon be handled in discrete line items in the district budget.

The board unanimously accepted the 2007 audit.

Chief’s report

Jeff Cunningham, the district’s insurance agent, presented a proposal for the 2009 calendar year liability and property policy with no increase in rates. The total premium will go up about $2,100, however, due to the district’s increasing number of calls, the increase in medical coverage for added staff, and equipment changeovers.

Edwards noted that Cunningham had completed an audit of all the district’s standard operating procedures and practices for his company, VFIS. After a preliminary review of the proposal packages presented to them by Cunningham, the board agreed to make a final decision on the proposal at the September board meeting, to give each director time to review the proposal in depth before a vote.

Edwards noted that the district’s firefighters who were the first emergency personnel to respond to the shootings Dec. 9 at New Life Church would be honored on Sept. 19 at the Wings of Honor annual award presentations by Penrose-St. Francis Hospital, along with Battalion Chief Jim Schanel of the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

Wescott personnel were the first emergency crews to arrive on the scene at the church. Wescott’s AMR ambulance treated and transported two of the shooting victims to the hospital. One victim was pronounced dead at the scene, and the fourth victim refused treatment or transport. Wescott crews remained on the scene for eight hours.

The crews in Wescott’s AMR ambulance were AMR paramedic Doug McIntyre and Wescott firefighter Roger Lance. The Wescott firefighters in Engine 1 were Capt. Scott Ridings, Curt Leonhardt, and volunteer Jim Rackl. Schanel coordinated all fire activities at the scene with units from the several departments that responded to the incident.

Wescott crews are trained to handle trauma but had not been specifically trained to enter a scene like that with a suspected second shooter still at large and suspected improvised explosive devices that had not been found or disarmed. The Wescott triage and extrication took only 8 minutes and transport to Penrose in downtown Colorado Springs took only 11 minutes for this level 2 trauma. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n1.htm#dwfpd for more details.)

Capt. Mike Whiting presented the district’s run report for July. There were 111 runs, bringing the total year to date to 790, a 23 percent increase over the 641 in the same period in 2007. Whiting noted that new software is being used to conform to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, and it will give more flexibility in providing analysis of district operations, particularly in the coverage area south of Northgate Road, as requested by the board.

Edwards noted that the district staff members would be conducting their annual "Fill the Boot" campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association from Aug. 22 through Sept. 1 throughout the northern county area.

The board postponed the next meeting from Sept. 17 to Sept. 24 so that directors and staff can attend the annual Special District Association meeting Sept. 17-20 in Breckenridge.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 24, in the Station 1 conference room, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors special meeting, Aug.14: Former candidate joins board

By Chris Pollard

At an Aug. 14 special meeting, the Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors elected Steve Steffey to fill a vacancy on the board.

Because of the recent resignation of Jake Shirk, director of Woodmoor Public Safety, a special meeting of the board was called to define a procedure for and elect a resident to fill the vacancy. Also present for the meeting, besides many residents and several potential candidates for the vacancy, was Kim Koy, director of the Mountain States Employers Council’s regional office in Colorado Springs. At the suggestion of Shirk, the board had contracted with the office to review some aspects of the WIA’s operations, particularly with regard to personnel policies and procedures.

After a lengthy discussion about procedures for the election and with considerable input from residents, many of whom suggested that the board should elect the top candidate from those not elected at the earlier annual election, the board decided to listen to the potential candidates present at the meeting and read the resumes of those who could not make the meeting.

After much discussion, the board held a ballot to elect the new candidate but ended with a tied vote between Steffey, who was on the slate of candidates for the annual election, and Mike Johnson. A re-vote after more discussion failed to resolve the tie.

There was yet more input from residents and several lengthy discussions before Bill Walters, treasurer, made a motion to elect Steffey to the position. Several people spoke on behalf of Steffey’s volunteer work and attendance at previous WIA meetings, and the motion passed 6 to 2.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Aug. 25: No plans to use management company

By Chris Pollard

In anticipation of an agenda item related to replacing the Woodmoor Improvement Association administration with a contracted management company, about 65 residents were present for the Aug. 25 meeting of the Board of Directors.

Later, several of these residents, including John Ottino, former board president, spoke against the idea of a management company, saying that members were happy with the way things were being run. Association fees were said to be low compared to other homeowners associations, and a large portion of those fees were used to support Woodmoor Public Safety, so the potential for savings was limited.

Board President Steve Malfatti made a motion that would make it more difficult to bring in a contractor by adding requirements for a special meeting and a member vote. In response, the remainder of the board felt that there was no need for the motion because there had been no discussion of this idea and there was no intent to go in this direction. George McFadden, secretary, who had been associated with this idea in the past, said that he had no plans to go in this direction. After further discussion, the board voted against the motion.

Malfatti recognized Steve Steffey as being the newest board member. Later in the meeting, Steffey noted that he was looking forward to working with Kevin Nielsen, chief of Woodmoor Public Safety, in Steffey’s position as director of Public Safety

Common Area report

In response to a comment earlier in the meeting by resident Ken Shorter about some of the common areas being overdue for mowing this year, Gary Marner said that he would organize the mowing contractor to work on these areas. He said this had not been done earlier because of the limited growth due to the shortage of rain.

Treasurer’s report

Bill Walters, treasurer, said that overall, WIA finances were in good shape. Income from fines was way ahead of budget. Legal fees were high at $11,000, versus the budgeted amount of $6,000. Woodmoor Public Safety has also seen a significant increase in income. The WIA is currently owed around $32,000 in annual dues, but Walters reminded the board that this was not an unusual amount for the time of year.

Public Safety report

Kevin Nielsen, chief of Public Safety, first thanked Jake Shirk, who recently resigned, for his work and support while serving as director of Public Safety. The past month had been extremely busy, with some 400 calls for service. This included two reported burglaries, one of which appeared to be some sort of revenge attack and the other was youths entering an empty house. There was one case of criminal trespass-auto where a Jeep was entered through its soft top. The trespassers were unable to remove the radio.

Nielsen noted that some of the schools had restarted, and he was monitoring South Woodmoor and discouraging students who don’t have school permits from parking illegally. The new Palmer Ridge High School seemed to be running very smoothly, and the traffic engineering had been done well, he said. There had been a few calls regarding the presence of bears, and Nielsen reminded residents to not leave trash outside and keep barbecue grills and pet food inside. Hummingbird feeders should be out of the reach of bears.

Forestry report

Amy Smith said that grant money had been distributed to residents for fire hazard reduction but that further grants for 2008 had been denied. She speculated that Woodmoor had competition from other areas that were in far worse shape. Nevertheless, she said she had applied for grants for 2009.

Smith noted that one of the recent big projects was the clearing of parts of the Fairplay median, for which she had received a number of compliments. She planned to attend a Firewize conference in November.

Executive director’s report

Camilla Mottl said she had received a letter from a resident regarding the potential of gas drilling near Mount Hermann. The resident said that she would like to see more community action on the subject to ensure that the value of the community is maintained. Later in the meeting, Smith suggested that the board try to arrange for a presentation about the proposal by the local group FRERC (Front Range Environmental Resource Coalition).

Mottl said the other main cause for concern was burrowing by prairie dogs in the southern part of Woodmoor. Many residents wanted the board to take action against the owners of adjacent land because the burrowing was destroying trees and landscaping and undermining foundations.

Barn remodeling projects

In discussing old business, the board decided to proceed with a project to remodel the kitchen and bathrooms in the barn. Board members noted the poor condition of these facilities and the age of the appliances. They also noted the increased income from the use of the facility and felt that improvements were necessary.

New building discussed

Malfatti noted that the board had received notice from the county regarding a proposal to build a single-story, 7,775-square-foot medical office and general retail building. Noting a discrepancy in the lot size in parts of the document, the board said it would ask the county for clarification. The proposed building would be on the north side of Highway 105 between Knollwood Boulevard and the new Monument Academy School. (Below: South elevation).

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August Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Temperatures ended right on average for the month, but don’t let that fool you. High temperatures ranged from record highs in the 90s during the first few days of the month to record low highs in the 50s during the middle of the month. Precipitation was well above average as a series of thunderstorms and heavy rains pounded the region starting on the 5th and continuing off and on through the 24th. Most residents picked up 5-9 inches of rain, a good 30-50 percent above normal for the month.

The month started off hot and dry as high pressure built into the region from the southwest. As this area of high pressure continued to strengthen, temperatures continued to warm. Highs touched record levels during the first few days of August, topping out in the low to mid-90s from the 1st through the 4th. Unfortunately for most of us, these hot temperatures were accompanied by little to no rain.

The weather made a dramatic change starting on the 5th and lasting for the next few weeks, as higher levels of moisture began to move into the region. This "juicy" air allowed strong to severe thunderstorms to develop almost daily. This, combined with very weak winds up high in the atmosphere meant that these storms were able to drop heavy rain over the same area for extended periods.

The first round of heavy storms hammered areas just to the east of the Tri-Lakes, from Highway 83 east through Meridian Road along Hodgen, then south to Shoup. This round of storms dropped more than 3 inches of rain in less than an hour, which led to lots of flash flooding. Several rounds of afternoon and evening thunderstorms continued to develop over the next few days, and with all the clouds and storms around, temperatures were held to below average levels—in the 70s and 80s.

Wet and cool weather continued through the week of the 11th, starting with the normal pattern of afternoon and evening thunderstorms and then transitioning to cold and wet, as an unusually strong area of low pressure moved through the region Friday the 15th through Sunday 17th. Temperautres were at or slightly above normal for the first few days of the week with low to mid-80s from the 11th through the 13th.

Thursday the 14th was a transition day as an area of low pressure moved into the region directly from southern Canada. This storm brought cold temperatures, low clouds, fog, drizzle, rain, and some hail. This was more like a winter-type storm than a mid-August event. And even though it moved in over the weekend, probably ruining a few outdoor plans, it was sure nice to get some soaking rains. Scattered thunderstorms continued to develop each afternoon and linger into the early evening hours through the 23rd, as temperatures rebounded to normal levels behind the departing system.

The weather quieted down to end the month, as mild temperatures returned under mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies. There were a few isolated storms around most afternoons, but for the majority of us, dry conditions prevailed from the 24th through the 31st.

A look ahead

September is a transition month for the Tri-Lakes region, with the last tastes of summer mixed in with our first morning freezes. Leaves begin to change by the end of the month as well, and three out of the last five Septembers have seen at least a trace of snow. The overall weather pattern is generally one of tranquility, with our chances for thunderstorms dwindling and blizzard conditions not quite ready for prime time. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant afternoons, with highs from the mid-70s early in the month to the mid-60s later in the month. Our first sub-freezing low temperature usually occurs during the second or third week, so prepare those tender plants. The official monthly forecast for September 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for normal temperatures and normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

August 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 77.9° -0.5°F)
Average Low 49.5° (+0.5°F)
Highest Temperature 94° on the 1st
Lowest Temperature 42° on the 18th
Monthly Precipitation 5.61" (+2.32" 41% above normal)
Monthly Snowfall 0.0" 
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 8.60" (+2.52" 29% above Normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)

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

Remember, weather affects all of us everyday 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

District 38 deserves our support

With regret, on Aug. 11 I tendered my resignation from the Lewis-Palmer School Board. I received a job opportunity in California that could not be refused. This has not been an easy decision for our family, as Colorado has been our home for over 25 years. Although my permanent residence will stay in Colorado for a period of time, the commitments to the new position require me to step down from the LP School Board immediately.

As my wife and I were reviewing job opportunities, the single stipulation we had for where we moved was that the schools had to be at a level to give our children an education to be successful. In my comparisons of schools we were struck by the similarities of each district. Revenue per student, changing populations requiring building (and in some cases shuttering) of schools, challenges to meet testing standards and growing classroom sizes were all common.

One difference with D-38 stood above all others, and that is the vision Dr. Blanch and his team has developed for the district. Not one district I reviewed had anything close to this type of vision statement and plan for the future. We are privileged to have Dr. Blanch leading this district, and the job he has done is apparent.

To my board members, I thank them for their patience and hard work since the election. This board has made some tremendous strides in a short period of time. These successes include implementation of policy governance, changed focus towards longer-term goals, strong support of teachers and students, and a drive towards tighter fiscal responsibility. With all of the work to be done, I regret putting the task of finding a replacement board member on their plate.

This November, an MLO will be placed on the ballot to support D-38. One use of these funds will be to improve teacher compensation. We must provide the district with the necessary tools to hire and retain the best teachers if it is to be successful. A second use of the funds will be to drive continuous improvement in our district and allow expansion of key programs such as world languages. These funds are necessary to support the vision of the district. I encourage you to attend a community summit or contact your board representative to learn more and join me in supporting this ballot issue.

Jeff Cantlebary

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Palmer Ridge traffic mess must be fixed

An open letter to Principal Gary Gabel

I am writing to express my total and complete dissatisfaction with the morning and afternoon student drop-off and pick-up procedures at Palmer Ridge High School. This is a safety hazard.

The key issue is that the roadways coming into the school have been inadequately designed to handle the peak flow of traffic. I understand that this problem is not of your making but unfortunately it is now yours to fix. If you recall, traffic issues were a major concern to the voting public when looking at funding this school. The district assured us that full and complete traffic studies were done to alleviate community concerns. In the December 2006 Second High School Progress Report submitted by Ray Blanch, the following was stated:

So if the roadways were designed for full student build-out and we only have half student build-out now (freshmen and sophomores only), what is going to happen when we have all four classes attending? I think you know the answer to that question.

Well, it appears that the community’s fears were well-founded as now we have a complete mess each and every morning and afternoon when dropping off our kids. The roadways are clogged with cars, kids are walking all over the place, and eventually there will be an accident. And we aren’t even into winter yet!! Think of the issues that will happen when the roadways get icy and slushy on the roadways near Monument Hill.

I would like to formally request that someone from the district, community, Saunders Construction, and H&L Architecture come up with a plan to address these issues before someone gets hurt. It is standard procedure to include warranty provisions in both construction and design contracts, so there should be mechanisms to remedy this intolerable situation. If someone gets hurt, the issue of inadequate design will surely be raised.

This traffic problem needs an immediate fix before winter sets in.

Lynn Feldmann

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Retired teachers can join D-38 lawsuit

I believe that the position of the retired teachers needs to be explained to the community. We take a lawsuit as a very serious step and only as a last resort. Many of us have taught 30 years in the district and up until recently have seen it as our second family. We were part of the group of teachers that built District 38 into one of the most respected in the state. In addition, many of us remain active contributors today, donating our time and experience assisting with athletic events, serving on committees, and filling in where necessary. In short, we have the district’s students and teachers best interests at heart and always have.

I would like to explain that when we retired, we were guaranteed in writing by D-38 that we could stay on the school insurance at their rates until the age of 65 if we paid the entire cost. To our knowledge, there are no actual subsidies provided us by the district or significant costs to them, and we receive no financial benefits from them other than being allowed to remain in and pay the group rate. No documentation has been provided by the administration showing us otherwise.

This agreement was breached in May when the district informed us by letter that they were suddenly forced by GASB Statement 45 to charge us 175 percent of the district rate, and if we didn’t like it we would have to find other insurance. When we asked to see that forced dictate in writing, they could not produce the documentation. Dr. Blanch later admitted that they were in fact not forced to make this decision but had made this choice voluntarily and independently.

When this increase is as much as 10-15 percent of your retirement check, it certainly alters your lifestyle and makes you question the reasons and necessities for the breach of contract. We were given only one week to comply with the change. We met with Ray Blanch and Cheryl Wangeman and were given several other erroneous reasons for the change of policy; but as I stated, ultimately it was admitted that the decision was theirs, not GASB or the Board of Education’s but the district administration’s. The BOE had not even been notified of the decision at that time. We attempted to notify the other D-38 retirees, but we know there are some that were not reached or even aware they had been misinformed. Some of our original group that were notified dropped out for fear of reprisals against them or their family members still working for the district. If there are retirees that are interested in joining our lawsuit, they can still contact our attorney.

Richard Stewart

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Former Monument Academy board member criticizes D-38 board

The June 27, 2008, District 38 board meeting this summer offered evidence of unprofessional behavior on the part of the D-38 board in dealing with its own charter school. During this meeting, the D-38 board members and the superintendent tried to embarrass the Monument Academy (MA) board by highlighting the MA building budget shortfall and questioning MA’s business practices. While the budget shortfall was unfortunate, it is a common problem, as evidenced by D-38’s own budget problems necessitating an MLO this election.

The MA board has been on top of the issue, yet the D-38 board did not want to hear MA’s explanations. Rather, D-38 chose to foster hysteria over the issue by reporting that the contractor would be halting construction, and that the school was in jeopardy of not opening on time. In addition, these actions show that some D-38 board members do not understand the charter school system or even the district’s authority over their own charter school. Rather than educate themselves in charter schools, they chose to impugn the integrity of the MA board.

The conduct of the D-38 board members and Superintendent Blanch at this meeting was damaging to the relationship between the district and its charter school. Much worse is the fallout to the reputation of a school that has served our students with an excellent education without spending a dime of district money. That is correct—MA students do not get any district dollars, yet MA students perform among the top students in the district in state assessments.

MA parents vote for District 38 board members, yet these members have historically failed to represent the 500-plus D-38 students under their charge. There was hope that the new board members would continue to bridge the relationship between the two boards. Since the D-38 board chooses to treat the MA board with such disregard, achieving a cooperative relationship will be problematic.

If we are to do what is right for the children in the district, it must begin with treating each other with respect and insisting on more professional behavior from the D-38 board. The MA board deserves our applause for conducting themselves with such dignity in the face of adversity and for setting the proper example for our students.

Monument Academy is a tuition-free public school of choice that incorporates core virtues into its everyday curriculum. The Monument Academy School Board has exemplified the core virtues of integrity, self-control, honesty, perseverance, courage, and responsibility these past several weeks and months. This was despite the District 38 board’s attempt to distract from MA’s work of finishing the project of building a permanent school facility and questioning their ethics as well.

In spite of the hysteria caused by misperception, the Monument Academy board chose to let their actions speak for themselves. The financing problem has been addressed. The building will be finished on time. Classes will begin as scheduled. Truth has won over insinuation. Integrity has spoken over fear.

Maribeth Friend

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Gas drilling would punch holes in forest and in budgets

Colorado is being overrun by oil and gas companies. As we continue to give them tax breaks, they are destroying our roads, our bridges, our water quality, our air quality, our wildlife, and our tourism.

We here in the Tri-Lakes area have only one beautiful tourist attraction, the Monument Preserve of the Pike National Forest. Tourists from all over the country come to hike the Mount Hermann trail, to ride the mountain biking trails or to drive Mount Hermann Road. These tourists bring significant dollars to our economy by eating at our restaurants and by shopping in our stores. As El Paso County struggles with a budget deficit of over $9 million, we can’t afford to lose their tourist dollars. Who wants to hike over a 5-acre drilling rig when they can go to a more pristine area?

If the proposed gas drilling near Mount Hermann proceeds without adequate safeguards on the Monument Preserve, what will it cost us? The damage to roads, to bridges will be high. The loss of tourist dollars will be difficult to measure but will adversely impact local businesses.

ther Colorado counties have found that the associated costs of constructing and repairing infrastructure exceed the taxes that they receive from gas drillers. Their county budgets suffer due to the needs for roads, bridges, site clean up, etc. El Paso County Commissioners have not yet agreed to even consider writing county oil and gas regulations to protect El Paso County taxpayers from the high costs that will underwrite natural gas drilling here. Residents of El Paso County should encourage their elected County Commissioners to write and pass oil and gas regulations now, before the lack of such regulations hits our already empty pocketbooks.

Gloria Lanyon

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Corrections to article on toxic chemicals used in gas drilling

Dr. Theo Colborn suggested some corrections and clarifications in the article entitled "Expert details extensive use and production of toxic chemicals in natural gas production" on page 1 of the Aug. 2 edition of Our Community News.

Colborn noted that she is considered an international expert on chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system but not on the use of chemicals to produce natural gas. Gunnison County natural gas activity is in the Delta county watershed, not in Garfield County.

In the discussion about a new system to re-inject contaminated water into the same well, the water actually is piped to a central re-injection well, which comes under what is called a closed system. While the article stated that Colborn "has needed to analyze the contaminated water found in people’s wells," she has not yet analyzed well water.

The article reported that "Many of these people have adrenal gland problems and other endocrine-related problems" related to well contamination. This was an incorrect generalization from the case reported later in the article. Colborn wanted to point out that there are only a few reports available that confirm that drinking water wells have been contaminated in Colorado. However, many incidents of domestic well contamination have been documented in the Pinedale, Wyoming area.

The reference to "91 percent of the chemicals used ..." should have said "93 percent of the products used ...". Colborn’s comment about the increase in endocrine-disrupting disorders was not directed at the natural gas industry alone. It was a general statement to make a point that endocrine problems are at epidemic proportions in the industrialized world today, and we do not want more instances of endocrine-disrupting chemicals being introduced into the environment.

Our Community News regrets the errors.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: First novels

By the Staff at Covered Treasures

Many favorite writers will have new books released this fall and winter: novels and short stories from David Baldacci, Stephen King, Wally Lamb, Toni Morrison and John Updike are eagerly anticipated. Nonfiction from Thomas Friedman, Michael Moore, James McPherson, Anne Rice, and uncountable political books are soon to be in bookstores everywhere. But there are several novels on the Independent Booksellers Bestseller List now that are definitely worth your attention.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
By David Wroblewski (Ecco), $25.95

Set in the northern woods of Wisconsin, this beautifully written book reaches depths of emotion rare in a debut novel. Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar’s lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar’s paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the once peaceful home. When Edgar’s father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm—and into Edgar’s mother’s affections.

Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father’s death, but his plan backfires—spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father’s murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar homeward for a breathtaking climax to the story.

David Wroblewski grew up in rural Wisconsin, not far from the Chequamegon National Forest where The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is set. He now lives in Colorado with his dog, Lola.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Dial), $22.00

London, 1946: writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Thus begins a tale of the inhabitants of the British Isle of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, during the German occupation. Formed by a remarkable circle of courageous men and women, the Society began as a cover to protect them from the Germans. Written as a series of letters, each of the residents has a poignant, frightening, and sometimes humorous story to tell. Soon Juliet is drawn into the lives of this group of friends. With their appetite for good books and their determination to honor the island’s haunting recent history, this is a community that opens Juliet’s heart and mind in ways she could never have imagined.

Author Mary Ann Shaffer was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in 1934. Her life-long dream was to "write a book that someone would like enough to publish." Because of failing health, she asked her niece, children’s’ book author Annie Barrows, to see the book through to it’s publishing. Mary Ann died in February 2008, knowing that her novel was to be published in English and in translation in many languages throughout the world.

The Lace Reader
By Brunonia Barry (Morrow), $24.95

"My name is Towner Whitney. No, that’s not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time. . . ."

Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations. The disappearance of her aunt brings Towner home to Salem and brings to light the truth about the death of her twin sister. Set in past and present Salem, Massachusetts the story intersperses details about the history of lace makers, the famous witch trials, and a modern family’s intricate history.

The Lace Reader is a mesmerizing tale that spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths in which the reader quickly finds it’s nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction. Packed with interesting characters (including modern witches) and several plot lines, it all comes together at the conclusion for a riveting read.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Brunonia Barry has written books for young readers, but this is her first original novel.

The Gargoyle
By David Andrew (Doubleday), $25.95

"An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time, The Gargoyle is a hypnotic, horrifying, astonishing novel that manages, against all odds, to be redemptive" (Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants).

Although definitely not for everyone, The Gargoyle is, above all, entertaining. The result of seven years of research and composition, this is the kind of pleasure reading that is hard to find: fantasy and suspense combined with intelligent research and strong writing. Often raw, sometimes delicately detailed, the novel is definitely a page-turner. It offers a modern and historic love story that, though predictable, cannot be called conventional, and a rogue narrator that manages to finally win over the reader despite his bad behavior.

Andrew Davidson lives in Manitoba, Canada.

Give a newly-published author a try; you might discover a new favorite! Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: How Dry I Am

By Woody Woodworth

If I were a tree living in the Tri-Lakes region, I’d be screaming for a drink of water. Even though we have had a recent rainy spell, your trees are very thirsty and need supplement water. July and August brought us many hot days, and the result is a high transpiration loss through your trees’ leaves.

You may notice them a little droopy, some browning on the tips, or maybe they’re not growing as aggressively as you might think they should be. Now is the time for supplemental water.

o you may ask, "How much should I water my trees?" This is a good question that is asked frequently, and there are a lot of right answers because "how much" can depend on "how often" and "how big" the tree is. Most experts agree that new-tree watering should occur six to seven times per month, simulating frequent, natural rainfall.

Five gallons of water will saturate about 5 cubic feet of the average soil type, which is about the size of the tree-well of most newly planted trees. Generally 7 to 10 gallons once per week is adequate, but more may be needed in drier conditions.

A basic rule is that new trees should be watered regularly from early spring until the leaves drop off in the fall. During normal dry times, once a week is adequate. If the afternoon temperatures are extreme, try twice a week. But don’t stop there. When the temperatures are in the 50s during October and November, give your trees another drink.

Your tree’s roots continue to grow in soil that is above 40 degrees. Just because the tree’s leaves are gone doesn’t mean it doesn’t need water. We usually try to water our trees twice a month through December. We water at mid-day when frost is off the ground to ensure water reaches the roots. When the cold of January hits us, we stop watering until mid- to late March, then start back up twice a month through April. Resume normal watering as needed through the growing season.

Deep-root watering stops wasteful runoff and concentrates on the area that matters most. Surface watering often leaves you wondering when you should stop, usually resulting in more time and water than is necessary. Soaker-hose and slow-drip watering methods may soak the surface only, promoting root growth near the surface. Deep root development is essential for strength and drought hardiness when the tree establishes itself and the watering stops.

Deep watering, to a depth of 12 to 18 inches below the soil surface, favors a vigorous root system. Sprinkler systems are for watering your grass. No deep watering occurs. In most cases, relying on your sprinkler system will result in inadequate surface watering as only the top few inches will be soaked.

Generally speaking, a tree should be well-established in three to five years, depending on the deep root development. This means that the tree can survive drier times without help. If you want the tree to continue growing at its maximum, you should continue to water and fertilize it. As the tree grows, so does the size of the root system. You can get a general idea of the size of the root system by looking at the size of the above-ground spread. Remember that 5 gallons of water saturates about 5 cubic feet of soil. This should give you an idea of how much water is needed.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Home and Garden.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Killdeer

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of a killdeer by Elizabeth Hacker. 

Click here to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

The killdeer is a common shorebird with an uncommon, piercing high-pitched call. Muted coloration allows it to blend into the landscape, but fortunately for us birders it often shouts "killdeer-killdeer," so it is easy to spot.

As a member of the shorebird family, one might expect to find the killdeer along shorelines. And while it is possible to see a killdeer along the edge of a lake, it is more common to see it in grassy pastures or marsh grasses away from lakes. I’ve even seen this bird foraging for insects along railroad tracks, gravel roads, and in parking lots. It is probably one of the most adaptable shorebirds and will even nest on urbanized lawns. The downside to its adaptability is that the killdeer is more vulnerable to pesticide poisoning, lawn mowers, and collisions with cars.

The endearing killdeer is a medium-size shorebird that ranges in length from 8 to 11 inches with a wingspan of 19 inches. It quickly moves along the ground on its moderately long legs. It is the most widespread and familiar member of the plover family of birds.

Male and female killdeers look alike. The brown feathers on its back are contrasted by the bright white feathers on its belly. It has a brown head with a black band between its amber eyes, white "eyebrows," and distinctive black bands around its upper chest. It has a rather long, narrow black bill, and long tail. The chick’s feather pattern is almost identical to the adults’ from the time they are hatched.

Killdeers nest on open ground, often on top of gravel. The nest is not lined with vegetation. Four to six eggs are laid in a slight depression on top of the ground. Eggs are spotted and look like stones.

Like most other wading birds, killdeer hatchlings are "precocial" birds and follow the adults away from the nest shortly after they hatch. In contrast, songbird hatchlings are "altricial," or blind, featherless, and helpless. Most birds are born altricial and would die if their parents didn’t bring them food. Killdeer hatchlings quickly learn to forage, because their parents do not bring them food.

Precocial birds stay in their eggs twice as long as altricial birds and have more time to develop. A just-hatched killdeer chick is actually two weeks more developed than an American robin hatchling. Although adult robins and killdeer are similar in size, a killdeer’s egg is twice the size of a robin’s, because more nourishment is needed to sustain the embryo for its longer time in the shell.

No other bird employs the "broken-wing act" to distract predators from the nest as well as the killdeer. It drags itself along the ground, sometimes on one foot, dragging its wings like they are broken, and it whimpers! Its act is highly dramatic. Once the predator is distracted from the nest by the adult killdeer, the adult killdeer gives up the drama and flies away chattering, seeming to say, "Ha ha, I fooled you."

The broken-wing act used to lead predators from the nest does not deter a horse or cow in a pasture from stepping on the eggs. To scare off a large hoofed animal, the killdeer ruffles its feathers, displaying its tail over its head, and runs at the animal to startle it in an attempt to change its direction.

It is comical to watch juvenile killdeers scurrying in every direction as they are learning the broken-wing act. I observed this behavior while hiking with an old high school classmate this summer in Lake Elmo, Minn. She hikes solely for exercise, has never birded, and didn’t notice the killdeers until I pointed them out to her. The birds were only a few yards from the trail and putting on quite a show. We both had to stop and watch them and found it so interesting that we returned daily to check on their progress.

Fall migration season has begun, and because of the unusually dry summer, a shift in the airstream, and the California wildfires, I expect to see some uncommon birds migrating through the Palmer Divide. Last week I observed a pair of green herons and a juvenile and adult black-crowned heron, two species I don’t often see here. The best place to look for birds is near water.

Fellow birder Jean Anderson reported a bird in the middle of Palmer Lake that we cannot positively identify. On a hike with the Gleneagle Women’s Club a few weeks ago, we saw four juvenile red-tailed hawks roosting in trees at the top of Mount Herman. When these magnificent birds spotted us, they took off and soared over the Monument Valley. It was truly a sight to behold.

Birding is interesting, inexpensive, and something everyone can enjoy.

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

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Art Matters: Imagination made visible

By Janet Sellers

I have written about plein air painting now and then over the years, but I’d like to explain why this is such a big deal in art-making history. A small product changed the art-making world: the invention of the paint tube. The tube allowed artists to go out into nature sans "studio as laboratory." That freedom created a new world for art. I would like to share one artist’s story.

The artist, Claude Monet, was a cutting-edge artist of his time. He was considered an art reject by the official Paris Salon in his early days. And yet, his inimitable visions of nature and the feelings of vitality he has shared with us have their own power to reach and refresh our generation 100 years later. With our sensory-overloaded lives, Monet’s fresh vision soothes us as the master for which he came to be known. And so, we begin that artist’s story of art outdoors.

One day, while on a train ride, Claude Monet passed through a country village in the Giverny area of France. He backtracked to investigate, and visiting that place changed his life forever. He rented a house, and later bought it and the surrounding farm and its buildings, transforming the place into flower gardens of endless variety and interest.

Monet created his gardens and his pond in the 1880s by diverting the Ru Creek, which ran alongside his home in Giverny. He wanted to paint lush gardens in full season, and just step outdoors from his home and studio to do it.

His homemade pond covered about 2 acres, but with his careful plantings it has always taken on a grander vista. He would get out in his little boat to draw and paint right on the water. As his assistant, his stepdaughter would bring supplies in another little boat and she painted alongside him as well. He worked outdoors, "en plein aire," three seasons of the year (in winter he traveled to warmer climes).

Monet designed—and planted—all of his gardens. The famous water lilies were put about his pond in tubs so that he could move them around as he wished for his paintings. Monet considered his gardens his best art. He said, "My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece."

Most painters of his day made a journey to the countryside and painted outdoors only after a long train ride or hike. They had to pack it all up at day’s end. Still, it was an era of freedom, with the newly developed tube paints that allowed artists to go outside the studio walls. For hundreds of years, artists had to mix their own pigments with linseed oil, and the paints were kept in pig bladders with stoppers. Those were impossible to take along for a day trip outdoors. Many of Monet’s contemporaries sat on a stool under a sun umbrella or in the shade under trees enjoying and painting nature. Monet sat in his little boat in the gardens he created and took in as delights to paint.

Those who first visited our area of Tri-Lakes discovered it the same way that Monet found his paradise. Early citizens rode the train from Denver on the way to Colorado Springs and stopped in Palmer Lake or Henry’s Station (the Monument stop). Henry’s Station was renamed Monument, and to provide the name, a large rock was called Monument Rock. Almost a hundred years later, we may be riding the highway instead of the railroad, but the same journey brings people to our Tri-Lakes natural beauty, and it brings artists to our area and galleries.

My children have fished, skipped rocks, or splashed in each of our three local lakes: Palmer Lake, Lake Woodmoor, and Monument Lake. I have watched and photographed our water scenes here for decades, and painted them as well. On site or in the studio, nature and the water nourish the art spirit. But I had not painted while upon the water before this year. This season, I bought a kayak and have been on the serene water of Monument Lake. It is relaxing, and not hard to do at all. I wish I had done it much sooner. Fortunately for all of us, our three lakes have been cared for and kept by our community for us all to enjoy a little boat or fishing escapade from time to time.

To help more of us enjoy plein air art as recreation, I’ve included some of my outdoor art secrets below, but feel free to share some of yours. Painting outdoors is quite different from painting in the studio: The breeze chases the papers from the artist’s work spot, bugs fly past or get stuck in the colors, and keeping steady on the uneven outdoor surfaces while actively painting is a challenge. In a boat on the water, anything inside the boat is at risk of getting soaked from a splash or from a sudden drop of rain. So we artists have to take special precautions.

An outdoor watercolor painting kit could be as simple as packing three primary colors, brush, and block of paper in a sealed plastic bag. This makes it simple to take out and put back to safety. Watercolor dries quickly in the warmth of the sun. Oil paints are gooey, and would be harder to work with—especially on a boat in a lake—but given ample stowage, there could be room to put that sticky oil painting someplace safe while the artist rows back to shore.

I hope readers can relate to the efforts of artists painting outdoors—"plein air" painting. Plein air refers to the outdoors, but the art of painting will forever be "imagination made visible." The more we understand, the more we can appreciate each artist’s work. Who knows? It could change our lives, too.

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Fiber works and photos highlight Art Hop

By David Futey

The August Monument Art Hop brought together its usual array of accomplished artists from near and far. Included were Deidre Adams and Lilian Critchlow. Adams, from Littleton, presented her mixed-media fiber works at the Second Street Art Market. Adams combines her painting and stitching interests and skills to create works that are drawn from "states of change."

Lilian Critchlow presented a number of her photographs of famous pop and rock stars at the Wisdom Tea House. Though Critchlow now calls Manitou Springs home, her experience in other cities and travels throughout Europe and the United States, plus her photography skills and interest in music, enabled her to capture and have published images of many of the greats in music. Her exhibit included concert and backstage photos of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Lenny Kravitz, and other rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm-and blues-musicians.

Patrons of the Monument Art Hop had their choice of 18 businesses in the downtown area to visit during the event. The Art Hop is sponsored by over 30 businesses in the Monument and Palmer Lake areas. The final Art Hop of the season will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Sep. 18.

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Information on Deidre Adams can be found at www.deidreadams.com and Lilian Critchlow at www.noasartphoto.com/

Below: Deidre Adams is shown with works she presented at the Second Street Art Market. Photo by David Futey.

Below: Lilian Critchlow is shown with one of her exhibited works at the Wisdom Tea House, a photograph of B.B. King, Robert Cray, and John Lee Hooker. Photo by David Futey.

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Chautauqua event recalls 19th-century gatherings

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Cowboy Steve demonstrates his roping skills. 

Below: Don Moon as President Teddy Roosevelt served as Master of Ceremonies.

Below: Period costumes were on display.

Below: The High Prairie Band accompanied the morning church service.

By Harriet Halbig

Chautauqua returned to Palmer Lake on Aug. 3.

Palmer Lake hosted the first chautauqua in the Rocky Mountains in 1886 and held the events annually until 1910. The gatherings consisted of a collection of educational and entertaining presentations.

The gathering this year took place at the Pinecrest Events Center and was sponsored by the Palmer Lake Historical Society, Pinecrest, Sertoma, the Denver Foundation, and the Pikes Peak Library District.

The day began with a cowboy church service in Pinecrest’s chapel. The Rev. John Snyder presided, and music was provided by the High Prairie Band of Tri-Lakes Methodist Church. The hymns chosen reflected those of the late 19th century.

During his sermon, Snyder spoke of the tradition to open a chautauqua gathering with a church service, and he spoke at length about the Rev. John Dyer, a historical figure in Monument of the time of the first Palmer Lake gathering.

Dyer was a Methodist minister who traveled on foot, skis or on horseback to preach in Monument and in mining camps in the mountains. He was 62 when he arrived in the area and served here for two years, building a parsonage on Jefferson Street on the site of the present Tri-Lakes Cares building. Because he traveled so widely and frequently, delivering the mail became one of his duties. He wrote an autobiography called The Snowshoe Itinerant and later became chaplain of the Colorado Senate. A stained-glass window in the Capitol building bears his image.

Snyder also spoke briefly of the likely subject matter of sermons during the late 19th century. At that time, preachers such as Billy Sunday would primarily discourage drinking, dancing, and card playing at mining camps and elsewhere, whereas today we do not stress what should not be done, but rather such things as seeking truth and justice.

The offering received at the service was donated to Tri-Lakes Cares to purchase school supplies.

In the Pinecrest Events Center, the program began with the reading of a proclamation by Don Moon as President Teddy Roosevelt. He also spoke of the history of the teddy bear and Roosevelt’s activities as a hunter and later supporter of the national park movement and environmental activist. He said that when people questioned how a hunter could be an environmentalist, he responded that the environment must be maintained in order to have animals to hunt.

Moon, as Roosevelt, served as the narrator for the remainder of the day. He thanked Nikki McDonald and Jeff Smith for donating the use of the facility for the day, and chairperson Mary Meyers and her committee for the long hours of planning that went into the event.

The first performance of the afternoon was a portrayal of Enos Mills by John Stanfield. Mills was instrumental in the founding of Rocky Mountain National Park. He had arrived in Colorado in 1884 as a teenager and climbed Longs Peak over 40 times alone and over 300 times as a guide. He spent his summers in Estes Park and winters working in various mines in Montana and Wyoming. He studied animal behavior, writing a book on grizzly bears, which is still widely in use.

Mills’ great uncle owned a house at the foot of Longs Peak that later became the Longs Peak Inn, owned by Mills from 1902 until the time of his death. From there, he offered treks into the mountains and evening nature talks. He also served as the state snow advisor, measuring snow depths along the ridge of the Rockies from Wyoming to New Mexico to predict spring water supplies.

It was in the performance of this duty that he came upon many areas clear-cut trees and became concerned with maintaining the environment in this area. In the opinion of settlers at the time, trees were meant to be cut down to build homes or clear farms. Mills realized the effect of these practices on erosion and wildlife and traveled widely in this country and abroad to speak on the subject.

Following Stansfield’s portrayal of Mills was Cowboy Steve, a trick roper. He explained that the difference between American cowboy roping and that of Mexico and South America is a matter of intricacy. The American cowboy stresses speed and accuracy, while the South American stresses style and skill. His performance included some audience participation.

Richard Marold offered a portrayal of Winfield Scott Stratton, a carpenter and draftsman from Indiana who came to Colorado after the Civil War. He became interested in mining and studied at the Colorado School of Mines and Colorado College. He struck gold on the south slope of Pikes Peak on the Fourth of July in 1891 and named his mine the Independence. His legacy in Colorado Springs includes the Winfield Scott Stratton Post Office, the old City Hall, the courthouse that now houses the Pioneer Museum, and the Myron Stratton Home, named for his father, which has operated continuously since 1913 as a residence for the poor.

During the remainder of the afternoon, visitors enjoyed a performance by "Zen Cowboy" Chuck Pyle, Native American dancing by Project Lighthouse, showings of the film Summer Sojourn about the Chautauqua movement, music from the 1st CO Volunteers, a "Civil War band," nature walks with Master Gardener Diana Picchietti, and a walk to the site of the original Chautauqua with local historian and videographer Jim Sawatzki. The final entertainment of the evening was a square dance after dinner.

Sawatzki said that the committee hopes to hold this event annually on the first weekend of August. Community response was very positive and enough donations were received to allow the group to begin planning for future events.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Final Concert in the Park, August 6

Below: Woody Woodworth sings at the final Wednesday night concert of the "Concerts in the Park" season on Aug. 6. All of the concerts, sponsored by the Historic Monument Merchants Association, were held at the new band shell at Limbach Park. Woodworth, owner of High Country Home and Garden, is a member of the association, created the concert series, and has organized all of these events. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n6.htm#bandshell) Photos by Jim Kendrick.

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St. Peter Church’s Fall Festival, August 22

Below: Runners at the start of the 5k and 10k runs head down Jefferson Street to begin their journey. Photos by David Futey.

Below: Knights of Columbus members prepare pancakes and sausages for the Pancake breakfast. Photos by David Futey.

By David Futey

The 2008 St. Peter Catholic Church Fall Festival offered a variety of entertainment and activities over the course of three days. The festival committee, chaired by Frank Cheeseman, started the third year of this festival on Friday, Aug, 22, with a golf outing during the afternoon and Casino and Bingo night, with nearly 100 participants, in the evening.

This was followed by 5k and 10k races on Saturday morning, along with a pancake breakfast cooked by the Knights of Columbus. For Saturday afternoon, a Children’s Carnival featured inflatable rides, games, face painting, and a climbing wall. The evening concluded with dinner and music where guests could sample entrees provided by Paravicini’s Italian Bistro of Palmer Lake.

Sunday morning featured a Champagne Brunch, with the St. Peter Women’s Guild providing homemade breads and rolls.
The pastor of St. Peter’s, the Rev. Jeff Schneibel, C.S.C., sees the festival not only as a community and family event but also a way for the parish to strengthen its ministry to over 1,000 children who belong to the church. The church provides education to 150 of those children who attend kindergarten to fourth grade at the parish school. The festival enables all children in the parish to share in the fun together. Proceeds from the weekend festival went toward St. Peter’s religious education center, the building of the new parish hall, and other needs.

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LPHS home game, August 29

Below: Sand Creek Scorpion quarterback Marshall Muse is brought down by members of the Lewis-Palmer defense during the Rangers home opener on August 29. The Rangers lost to the Scorpions 17-13. Photo by David Futey.

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Miss Colorado Springs, a CSC teacher

Below: Melaina Shipwash at the Colorado Sports Center with some of her ice skating students. Shipwash is Miss Colorado Springs and 1st runner-up to Miss Colorado.

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August and September events at the library

Below: Sybil Krafft of the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library was a charming hostess at the Ice Cream Social in Palmer Lake, Aug. 9. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

Below Members of the Daytime Singers of the America the Beautiful Barbershop Chorus entertained. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

The month of August featured some major events at the library. The summer reading programs ended at the end of July, with participants picking up their prizes and drawings held for such major prizes as laptop computers and iPods.

One lucky teen from Monument won a computer.

The Chautauqua Assembly on Aug. 3 is covered in a separate story on page 35.

The annual Ice Cream Social in Palmer Lake took place on Aug. 9, one in a series of hot, steamy days. Hosted by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library and serving ice cream from the Rock House, it was a popular event for all ages. The Daytime Singers of the America the Beautiful Barbershop Chorus entertained. Due to threatening skies, ice cream service was moved to the covered porch of the Palmer Lake Town Hall, and seating was offered indoors.

As the beginning of the school year approached, library staff contacted schools to encourage students to apply for library cards. Teen coordinator Diane Sawatzki visited Creekside Middle School on registration day and accepted nearly 100 applications for cards.

September will feature many interesting events. On Sept. 6 and the first Saturday of each month thereafter, Jax the Paws to Read Dog will be at the Palmer Lake branch at 10:30 a.m. Children are invited to come and share books with the patient and appreciative Newfoundland.

Computer classes for adults will resume in September. Covering Internet basics, word processing, and beginning skills, the free classes are offered in the morning before the library opens. For information on dates and registration, contact the Monument Branch at 488-2370.

On the second Wednesday of each month from September through December, the American Girl Book Club will meet. Open to girls ages 7 through 11, the club will meet from 4:15 to 5:15 at the Monument Branch. The first book to be discussed will be Meet Kit, about a girl of the Depression era. To sign up for the club, please call the branch or use the Events Calendar at PPLD.org.

Saturday, Sept. 20, the Monument and Palmer Lake branches will jointly sponsor an American Girl Tea from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Those interested in attending must register by calling 488-2370. Come in "tea attire" and bring your American Girl doll.

Also on the 20th, AARP will offer its popular driver’s safety course from 9:30 until 5:30 at the Monument Branch. Registration is required, and a minimum of 10 students are required. The class is a great way to brush up on driving skills. A certificate is issued at the end of the session that entitles the attendee to a discount on car insurance. The cost of the class is $10. Call the Monument Branch to enroll.

The Read it B4 You See It Book Club resumes on Thursday, Sept. 25. This group discusses books that have recently been released as films. September’s title is City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. The club is open to kids in second through fifth grades. Snacks will be served, and a drawing will be held for a movie ticket. The program is from 4:15 to 5 p.m., and registration is required.

On Sept. 26 from 10:30 until noon, those interested in genealogy can learn about searching census records using HeritageQuest with the help of a member of the Special Collections Staff. The program will be held in the community room at Monument.

In these times when resources are scarce, a program on saving money is always welcome. On Sept. 27 from 2-4 p.m. at the Monument Branch, come learn to "Fly Cheap" from travel photojournalist Ron Stern. Learn to use the Internet to find free and discounted flights, cruises, and accommodations.

A group of History Buffs will meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 1-3 p.m. at Monument. Each month, the group will choose a period of history and read any book pertaining to that period. The following month, members will discuss their findings.

In the display case for the month of September will be Small and Scrappy, a group of small handmade quilts by Harriet Halbig. On the walls will be black-and-white photographs of Colorado by Myron Wood.

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Monument Library is Colorado Library of the Year

Below: Some of the Monument Branch Library staff: (L to R): Julie Simmons, Libby Theune, Branch Manager Jean Harris, Becky Campbell, Harriet Halbig, Diane Sawatzki, and Toni Pollard. Photo provided by the Pikes Peak Library District.

By Harriet Halbig

The Monument Branch Library has been awarded the Colorado Library of the Year Award by the Colorado Association of Libraries.

Some criteria for this award are excellent customer service, community outreach, programming that increases circulation and patron visits, creative community partnerships, and innovative ideas.

Founded in 1975 as the Monument Hill Branch, the library was originally located in the Lewis-Palmer Middle School (now Grace Best Elementary). The branch moved to the Woodmoor Center in 1999 and increased in size in 2002.

In his letter of support, former District 38 Superintendent of Schools Dwight Bauman said, "I must tell you how impressed I have been with the leadership of our library. They are innovative and creative in the ideas they bring to our community. … They continually search for ways to keep the Monument Library progressive and abreast of the latest in library services."

Programs at the library seek to involve all ages of patrons—children who attend the Thursday evening Snuggle Up Time, toddlers, young school-age students, teens who act as volunteers and planners of activities, and adults who come for Socrates Café and Senior Synergy and interest groups such as the Literati and Beyond Writers Circle and the monthly knitting group.

Community outreach activities include school visits in support of summer reading programs and participation in the annual Fourth of July Parade in Monument.

The library won the Directors Award for Partnerships within the Pikes Peak Library District in 2007 for its involvement with such organizations as Sertoma, School District 38, the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library and the YMCA.

The award will be presented at the Colorado Association of Libraries’ Annual Conference in November.

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Burros’ birthday and bluegrass a blast

Below: (L-R) Grass It Up band members Shannon Carr, Jon Bross, and David Jeffrey entertain WMMI visitors to the 3rd Annual Burro Birthday and Bluegrass Concert in the museum’s library. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

Though the Western Museum of Mining and Industry’s burro mascots, Oro and Nugget, stayed snug in the barn, numerous visitors to the museum waded through the rain Aug. 16 to celebrate the burros’ birthday. The third annual Burro Birthday and Bluegrass Concert acknowledged the burros’ 10 years of life, with eight of those years spent at the museum. The festivities included mining demonstrations, exhibits, face painting, music, and, of course, cake and ice cream.

Burros have a long history with the museum. Molly and Polly, who lived into their late 30s, were the first burros to browse the range at the museum. When Molly died, Oro and Nugget were brought in to re-establish the herd with Polly. Polly subsequently died two years after their arrival. Oro and Nugget were adopted from the Bureau of Land Management.

Besides their duties as mascots, Oro and Nugget play a role in the museum’s curriculum. The burros are key participants in the museum’s Pack Your Burro and Discover the Pikes Peak Region program. This cross-curriculum program, structured on the Colorado Model Content Standards, is themed on being a prospector and integrates map reading, math, art, and other academic experiences. It utilizes those skills as students conduct business in a mockup of an 1890s general store and in other activities. The program is designed for third- to fifth-grade students, and nearly 1,000 students go through this program each year. A minimum of 25 students is required to reserve the program along with advance registration through the museum.

Since the mid-1800s, the prospector with his donkey has been an iconic symbol of mining as donkeys played a key role in the history of mining. As pack animals, they accompanied the prospector and carried his belongings as he panned and placer-mined for gold in hopes of finding the mother lode. Prior to mechanical forms of transporting mining materials, donkeys also provided power for hauling rock from underground mines. Donkeys were later replaced by mules in performing this work, which brings to question the distinction between the two.

Donkeys are in the equine family and thus related to the horse. A small donkey is sometimes referred to as a burro. Mules are the offspring of a male donkey, also referred to as a jack, and horse mare. The intent of this combination was to couple the horse’s power with the intelligence of the donkey. From this you may ask, what is the offspring of a horse stallion and female donkey, called a jennet? The answer would be a hinny, which is usually smaller than a mule. Offspring of a horse and donkey in any combination are usually sterile.

The stubbornness of a mule has been somewhat misunderstood. Mules tend to be more single-minded and smarter than horses as they compensate for their smaller size and slower speed when confronted by predators. As a result of this and their physical attributes, mules were often used in war zones.

Lively musical entertainment for the day’s festivities was provided by the bluegrass band Grass It Up. Though band members are originally from Alabama and Wisconsin, this trio of Shannon Carr, Jon Bross, and David Jeffrey now call Colorado Springs home and have been playing in the area for nearly four years. Besides a regular Wednesday evening gig at Front Range Barbecue on Colorado Avenue in Colorado Springs, Grass It Up has played at events at the Broadmoor and other local venues.

The event was sponsored and supported by the Gay and Lesbian Fund, The Gazette, Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., and Josh and John’s Ice Cream.

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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 ends soon. 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.

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Rebecca Folsom Concert at Tri-Lakes Center Sept. 6

Rebecca Folsom will perform at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Sept. 6. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. concert. A seasoned vocalist, Folsom has been writing and performing professionally for over 10 years and has played on BBC television/radio, Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, The Bluebird and Opryland in Nashville, and many other venues. Tickets are $12 TLCA members and $15 non-members and are available at The Wine Seller (481-3019), Covered Treasures Bookstore (481-2665) in Monument and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. TLCA is located at 304 Colorado Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, visit www.trilakesarts.org

Folsom will offer a vocal performance workshop Sept. 6, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. The workshop is for all levels of singers. Rebecca teaches exercises to help singers open the natural resonance, strength, and beauty of their individual voices. The workshop fee is $65, and registration is available at TLCA (481-0475) at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. More information is available at www.trilakesarts.org.

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Watercolor show & sale, Sept. 9-Oct. 4

Below: Beyond the Sounds by Rebecca Whitfield

The Pikes Peak Watercolor Society Annual Member Show & Sale will be held at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Sept. 9-Oct. 4. The public is invited to the opening reception Sept. 12, 5 to 8 p.m.

The Lucy Owens Gallery will feature A Marriage of Contrasts, Two Artists, Two Media, Two Views with Paul Douglas Whitfield in Pinhole Photography and Rebecca Wavrin Whitfield in Mixed Media Painting. They will present a gallery talk Sept. 27, 1 to 2 p.m. TLCA is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization located at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, phone 481-0475 or visit the Web site at www.trilakesarts.org.

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Open House, Sept. 10

Learn about the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC), its fundraising efforts and great interest groups. The open house is Sept. 10, 6 to 8 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. TLWC membership is open to all women living in School District 38. The club sponsors the Wine and Roses event in October and the annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale in April. Proceeds from these events benefit local nonprofit groups. For more information e-mail membership@tlwc.net or visit the Web site, www.tlwc.net.

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High Point Academy Benefit Horse Show, Sept. 13

High Point Academy is holding its annual Benefit Horse Show Sept. 13, 9 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m., at 7749 Palmer Divide Rd., Monument. The riding academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides equine-assisted therapy for children and adults with physical, cognitive, emotional, and learning disabilities as well as English and Western riding lessons. Participants will each receive an award and the recognition of family and friends. Local merchants in the Tri-Lakes and Colorado Springs areas sponsor the event with cash donations, silent auction items, and door prizes.

A volunteer of the year award will be given to an individual who has demonstrated leadership and made a positive difference in the lives of people with special needs. For more information about High Point Academy or its parent organization, Pine Creek Foundation, see www.pinecreekfoundation.org or phone Executive Director Julie Conrique, 303-663-8424

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Chili Cook-Off, Sept. 13

The Historic Downtown Merchants Association is holding its annual chili cookoff and tasting Sept. 13, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., corner of Front & Third Streets in Historic Downtown Monument. Get out your secret chili recipe, chop some chilis, and fire up the stove! Cook a pot of chili and enter the cook-off or just come to taste for $5. Besides chili tastings, the event features food vendors, music, and fun for the entire family! Proceeds benefit local causes. For more information, call Lucy McGuire, 481-2954, or e-mail vmynhier@ccnewspapers.com.

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Pikes Peak Library District Call for Art, Sept. 17

The Pikes Peak Library District Art Evaluation Committee will jury 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., Colorado Springs. Pick up your submissions the same day, 4:30-6 p.m., at Penrose Library.

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Mill Levy Override Community Informational Meetings

The all-volunteer citizens’ committee working to support Lewis-Palmer School District is planning the following informational community meetings about the upcoming mill levy override ballot issue.

  • Sep. 22, Kilmer Elementary School, 4285 Walker Rd., 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Sep. 24, Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr., 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 13, Tri-Lakes YMCA Community Room, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The public is welcome to attend, ask questions, and learn more. For more information, contact Cathy Wilcox at cfishwil@comcast.net or 229-8113.

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Citizen Emergency Response Training (CERT) in Black Forest, Sept. 24, 26, 27

Prepare to serve your community in times of crisis. Learn basic preparedness and response skills that can help in daily emergencies or in a disastrous event. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring a three-day CERT course at the Black Forest Fire Department Station 1, on Burgess Road one block east of Black Forest Road (corner of Burgess and Teachout.) Participants must attend all three sessions to receive a certificate of completion. The sessions are Sept. 24, 6 to 10 p.m.; Sept. 26, 6 to 10 p.m.; and Sept. 27, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The training is free and open to persons of all ages 12 and up, including Boy and Girl Scouts seeking to earn their Emergency Services Merit Badge. Physical ability is not a limiting factor for this program; in fact, the county encourages senior citizens and handicapped persons to participate in the training. For registration and information, phone Bill Carroll, 488-4288, or e-mail info@gleneaglehoa.org.

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Rx in the Watershed Symposium, Sept. 26

Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Colorado Recycles, the Colorado Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association, and House District 20 Rep. Amy Stephens will host a symposium, Rx in the Watershed, Sept. 26, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pikes Peak Community College Rampart Range Campus, 11195 Highway 83. The symposium will explore ways to keep pharmaceuticals out of our water, including safe disposal of medications by consumers. For more information contact Rep. Stephens, 303-866-2924, or e-mail Amy.Stephens@earthlink.net

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Palmer Lake Art Group Christmas Crafts Fair, Oct. 4-5

Palmer Lake Art Group will hold its 35th Annual Christmas Crafts Fair Oct. 4, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Oct. 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, just off Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. A wide variety of unique handmade items will be available for purchase including pottery, glass, wood, metal, jewelry, basketry, pinecone and fabric items, plus a selection of baked goods. Proceeds fund art scholarships for Tri-Lakes-area students. For more information contact Margarete Seagraves, 487-1329, or e-mail seagml@msn.com.

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Creative Crafters Showcase, Oct. 11-12

Shop more than 100 booths for original items handmade by local artists at this annual fine art and craft show Oct. 11, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Oct. 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Road, Monument. For more information call 488-3046.

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Wine and Roses, Oct. 18

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club presents Wine and Roses, its annual fall fundraiser, Oct. 18, 5 to 8 p.m., at the Blue and Silver Club at the Air Force Academy. Proceeds from the event benefit local nonprofit groups. Tickets, $50 per person, are available at Covered Treasures (481-2665), Second and Washington Streets, Monument and The Wine Seller (481-3019), Highway 105 & Roberts Drive. Reservations and information are also available by calling 877-230-6288 or e-mail trilakeswineandroses@yahoo.com.

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Handbell choir ringers needed

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

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Volunteer Tutors Needed!

Share your love of reading. Tutor an adult once a week for two hours. Work one-to-one with an adult to improve their reading, writing, comprehension and/or English language skills. No teaching experience required. Free training is provided. Call 531-6333, x2223 with questions or for application information. Training sessions are Sept. 9, 16, 23, 30 and Oct. 7, 5:30 to 9 p.m., at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs.

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Senior Safety Program

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

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Gardener Help Desk at Monument Library

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

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The Library Channel

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

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Library District’s new Kids Web

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

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

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Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

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

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County offers on-line mapping service

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

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IRS starts free e-newsletter for small businesses

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

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County now accepting batteries and electronics at waste facility

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

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