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Vol. 9 No. 1 - January 3, 2009


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the PDF file. This is a 11.1 Mbyte file and will take about 64 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. Click here for help with PDF downloads. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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Palmer Lake, Dec. 14: 75th annual Yule log hunt

Below: Yule Log finders Megan Skahill and Cheyenne Wingo with Matt Skahill. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Click here for additional coverage

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Tri-Lakes Cares sees increased need in the community

Below: On a blustery and bitter cold Dec. 20, Monument Hill Sertomans distributed 191 packages of Christmas food and gift certificates at Tri-Lakes Cares to provide for 700 people. Photos by Jim Kendrick.

By Harriet Halbig

Tri-Lakes Cares saw an increase of 22 per cent in individuals requiring food aid this holiday season. A total of 191 families received aid representing over 700 individuals, with the help of numerous Sertoma volunteers packing and delivering the packages.

In addition, the number of children’s gifts provided increased by over 40 per cent over 2007.

Director Judith Petitbon said that the Tri-Lakes area is a generous community and has always been willing to help those in need. She said the organization looks forward to continuing its aid activities in 2009.

For those interested in learning more about the organization, their website is at www.tri-lakescares.org. At that site you may learn about volunteer activities and such services as access to the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, free medical care, a food pantry, and funding for post secondary education.

Those wishing to make cash donations may send them to Tri-Lakes Cares, Post Office Box 1301, Monument, CO 80132.

The group’s largest annual fundraiser is the Empty Bowl Dinner, held in cooperation with Monument Hill Sertoma in the fall of each year.

The group’s annual report will be available at www.tri-lakescares.org in February.

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Monument Planning Commission, Dec. 10: Plat for tire store rejected

Below: Vice Chair Kathy Spence (left) explains to Rick Blevins of Vision Development why she opposes placing the proposed Discount Tire Store next to the Monument Marketplace Texas Roadhouse at the Dec. 10 Planning Commission. The commission voted 3-2 to oppose the preliminary/final plat for the lot next to the restaurant. Photo by Jim Kendrick. 

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission voted 3-2 on Dec. 10 against the preliminary/final plat for a proposed Discount Tire Store on Filing 17, a vacant 0.88-acre lot south of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in the Monument Marketplace.

During the 60-minute hearing, the commissioners expressed concerns that Vision Development Inc., the owner of the Marketplace, had reneged on a promise to the Planning Commission to reserve the lots along I-25 for restaurants and upscale shops and a gathering place by the clock tower and to keep all auto-related business on the southeast corner of the commercial development.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith said the previous staff had not written this restriction into the Planned Development (PD) site plan that was filed with the county and that the developer’s promise could not now be enforced.

Vice Chair Kathy Spence and Commissioners Glenda Smith and Becki Tooley voted no because of the failure of the Marketplace ownership to keep its promise, while Commissioners Tom Martin and Dave Gwisdalla voted yes. Commissioners Ed Delaney and Bill Baker were absent.

Plat for Monument Marketplace lot opposed

Vision Development’s Rick Blevins said that the plat met the requirements of the site plan and the town Comprehensive Plan. There is another unplatted vacant lot between Filing 17 and the clock tower to the south.

Spence opened her remarks by saying, "When we first saw this, everything along that view corridor was restaurants. I truly don’t feel that this is a restaurant. I don’t feel it has that look. I’m not thrilled about this going in there. It’s just the view from the highway is going to be lost." She added, "Now the precedent of what’s going to come next after we were shown sit-down restaurants . . . I’m disappointed that Chili’s facing the wrong way. Texas Roadhouse is great. And I think that this is really going to hurt."

Blevins said he understood Spence’s concerns. He said he recalled discussing restaurants or upscale retail for the frontage on I-25. "Unfortunately, we can’t get upscale restaurants to come to this town but we can get retail," he said. "The master plan says retail. This is retail. We’re going to make the building appearance nice. It’s not going to be automotive service where they’re overhauling engines. They sell tires and mount them as part of that service."

Spence replied, "I just feel that there are other spots in town and even right there" at the Marketplace. "This is just not appropriate."

Blevins said that Vision first offered two other locations along Jackson Creek Parkway, but Discount wanted the visibility of a lot along I-25. Vision still plans to construct a gathering place with seating by the clock tower and has coordinated with Betty Konarski of Tri-Lakes Views for continuing art displays. There are two adjacent pad sites to the east of the clock tower for gift shops and upscale retail. There has been interest from retailers for these pads next to the gathering place.

Tooley and Gwisdalla asked questions about the number of parking places, locations of available sidewalks, and the effect of traffic on pedestrian circulation in this location.

Blevins noted that the master plan, which the town approved four years ago, specifies every aspect of details they had questions about. However, these two recently appointed commissioners had never seen the master plan.

Martin said that the Marketplace would provide more space for customers to walk around while having tires installed than at other tire stores in Monument.

Griffith said that Filing 17 would have 32 parking spaces. She added that the adjacent Wal-Mart lot is never completely filled.

Gwisdalla asked numerous questions about other topics related to the PD site plan. Some of his questions were about drainage, overnight parking, building elevations, and allowed construction materials.

Note: A plat is a drawing that shows the boundaries of the lot, traffic circulation, and the easements for the utilities that will serve any buildings constructed on that lot. Typically questions about a site plan are not germane to a plat hearing. In this case, where the site plan has already been approved for the commercial center, such issues are reviewed, resolved, and approved by the staff without any formal review by the Planning Commission or the Board of Trustees. However, the staff usually informs both boards on development progress during the staff report portion of the agenda.

Griffith noted that the proposed plat is consistent with the 1987 Regency Park Development Plan, the town’s Comprehensive Plan, and town subdivision regulations regarding regional commercial development.

Griffith noted that the staff had made a comment at the pre-application meeting with Vision and Discount, and again during the staff’s site plan review, about the appropriateness of the location, "because there is an auto-related portion of the development over where Checker automotive is located. It would have been our preference to have (Discount) there also. But there is no specific requirement that auto is restricted to that (portion) and we really don’t have the ability to say no. It really does meet the Comprehensive Plan."

Griffith added that her initial concerns about overhead doors facing I-25 were resolved, and these garage-type doors will face east. In discussing the 12 criteria the staff used to analyze the plat proposal, she noted that one parking space is split between this lot and the adjacent lot for the Roadhouse.

Griffith proposed two conditions of approval:

  1. Technical corrections shall be made and approved by staff including, but not limited to, that the title and all references to the plat shall be "Preliminary/Final" and that the full width of the access easement to the property shall be clearly labeled.
  2. Any minor adjustment to lot lines necessary to accommodate the proposed Discount Tire development or other commercial development shall be made by the applicant and approved by staff prior to recordation.

There was a lengthy discussion in which Gwisdalla asked several questions about the materials, design, and external appearance of the building and the overhead doors. He also suggested that the staff offer a financial inducement to get Discount Tire to move to the southeast portion of the Marketplace.

Griffith responded that the building will have to comply with the very detailed design guidelines in the Marketplace regulations, which the staff uses in its internal site plan review and approval process. Griffith reiterated that the proposal complies with the proposed commercial uses listed in the Marketplace master plan and that the commissioners’ role in this hearing was to consider the details of the plat, the boundaries, and circulation of traffic.

During lengthy further discussion about the Discount Tire Store’s appropriateness, safety, and the role of the Planning Commission as an advisory body, some of the points Spence reiterated were:

  • "This type of business was never intended" for the I-25 frontage, next to "a really nice restaurant," "an art show," a clock tower, and shops with a lot of kids going back and forth.
  • "It’s not appropriate."
  • "I feel it’s not safe."
  • "It’s not what was presented to us before."
  • "I’m not against the business at all. Checker looks great."
  • "On this commission, I’m the one who has been here since the beginning" of Marketplace hearings.
  • "We’ve already had some changes here from the start. If we can’t make a difference here, then what are we doing here?"
  • "I truly believe that this is morally wrong because of what we were told before."

Spence also suggested that the tire store be moved next to Checker or to the other side of Chili’s. However, there is no Marketplace lot south of Chili’s.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp replied that once the master plan guidelines are approved, the commission should follow the design guidelines. He added that there is no safety issue in this proposal.

Griffith said to Spence that the staff had reviewed the sidewalk issue, and there is nothing in the comprehensive plan, design guidelines, or Regency Park subdivision regulation "criteria that would give you a real reason to deny the application. I don’t see anything that you can say does not meet the subdivision criteria."

Griffith added, "It is definitely not my preferred location. It would be a great use by Checker. I did a pretty thorough review of the code for Regency Park, and it clearly says that auto-related uses are allowed in this zone. … I wish the site plan had been more specific and had said that auto-related uses are only allowed in the area where Checker is, but it doesn’t say that."

Smith said, "I’m hopeful that this building will turn out not to be too much of an eyesore and will function properly in that position."

Walgreen’s plat hearing postponed

After the 3-2 vote against the plat with the two conditions noted above, the commissioners unanimously postponed the hearing on the Mountain View Subdivision Final Plat and Alley Vacation for the proposed Walgreen’s store that is planned on the abandoned Broiler Room lot on the west side of Highway 105 between Second and Third Streets.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:48 p.m.

**********

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 15: $7.5 million budget approved for 2009

By Jim Kendrick

At its last meeting of the year on Dec. 15, the Monument Board of Trustees approved the 2009 budget proposed by Treasurer Pamela Smith. After more than an hour of discussion on cost-of-living increases for the staff, the board approved $7.5 million in spending for 2009—which included some rollover funds from projects not completed as planned in 2008—by a 4-2 vote. Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee Steve Samuels voted no, opposing any increase in staff pay that might increase the likelihood of layoffs.

Trustee Tim Miller was absent.

All four of the town staff department heads repeatedly volunteered to forgo their proposed 2 percent cost-of-living increase during the discussion (a savings of about $7,200) to help ensure that the proposed 3 percent cost-of-living increase for hourly employees was kept in the 2009 budget. The actual cost-of-living increase for the year is about 5.9 percent. The 3 percent hourly raise amounts to an increased cost of $69,000. Two Police Department employees left for higher-paying municipal jobs nearby in 2008, and another will leave in January. The town’s building inspector also left for a $10,000 raise in Colorado Springs.

The board agreed to a condition to consider cost-of-living increases for the four department heads for the second half of 2009 if revenue increases are borne out. Town Manager Cathy Green had already removed any pay raise for herself in the proposed 2009 budget before this hearing.

Budget discussion

Some of the assumptions in the 2009 budget noted by Smith were:

  • Total revenues increase by 3 percent
  • Sales tax revenues increase by 4 percent
  • Property tax revenues increase by 11.6 percent
  • Health insurance cost increases are reduced from 19.9 percent to only 6.7 percent by increasing the employee deductibles for hospital in-patient, out-patient, and emergency room visits
  • A full-time equivalent information technology staff position is created for all of 2009 to relieve Smith of that additional duty, raising the staff to 44.5 full-time equivalents
  • New capital expenditures total $278,700

Some of the 2009 budget specifics Smith noted were:

  • Net General Fund revenues drop from $3.71 million in 2008 to $3.58 million
  • Total General Fund expenditures increase from $3.18 million in 2008 to $3.38 million
  • Payments for the new Town Hall and Police Department building from the 1-cent water sales tax fund increase from $1.36 million in 2008 to $1.82 million
  • The lease-purchase payments for the building after construction is completed will be made from the Capital Projects Building Fund rather than the General Fund
  • Other capital project expenditures drop from $1.2 million in 2008 to $278,700

The board also unanimously approved a resolution for the 2009 appropriation of $7.515 million, composed of:

  • $3,655,706 – General Fund
  • $39,000 – Community Development Fund
  • $30,235 – Conservation Trust Fund
  • $153,172 – Debt Service Fund
  • $14,453 – Storm Drainage Impact Fee Fund
  • $35,040 – Traffic Impact Fee Fund
  • $1,343,695 – Water Enterprise Fund
  • $1,822,651 – Capital Projects Building Fund
  • $421,479 – Water Rights Acquisition, Storage, and Delivery Fund

Samuels said he thought the board should not make any salary increases until July or August at the earliest, based on individual performance, to see whether revenues decline like those of his landscaping business in Colorado Springs, which is a larger and more expensive operation than the town. He noted that he had "shut down all salary increases and all additional overtime" for his business’s employees.

Samuels also said department heads should be evaluated on revenues raised and how they control spending in their individual budgets. The pay in Monument is lower because the staff work is more "laid-back" than in Castle Rock and Colorado Springs. He noted that he is hiring people laid off by his competitor for 80 percent of what they are worth in a business environment of mismanagement where "money is wasted left and right."

Samuels added, "Let’s be honest, I have people who have worked for me for 20 years who would kill" for the pay in the Public Works Department, and Public Works Director Rich Landreth would "kill to have" them.

Glenn said that Christmas sales revenues were down, people can’t get loans for construction and raw land, and that the lending market won’t improve for 12 months, leading to a static economy. He added that the board should be conservative on salaries. Glenn said the department heads and town manager were doing a "fantastic job." But he didn’t want to have to cut employee positions or hours later in the year.

Smith disagreed, noting new businesses are being built in the Monument Marketplace and Monument Ridge centers and that the 4 percent increase in sales tax revenue is only $120,000. She also noted that the board had approved the current pay methodology three years ago and had not indicated any change was needed. Smith added that municipal pay in Castle Rock and Colorado Springs is considerably higher than in Monument.

Trustee Rafael Dominguez noted that the military cost-of-living increase for 2009 is 5.9 percent based on inflation. The town should minimize loss of continuity and proficiency due to further employee losses. "We need to show we value our employees," he said.

Trustee Travis Easton agreed, noting that it costs $40,000 to $50,000 to train a replacement.

Trustee Tommie Plank said that not purchasing mouse habitat from the Pastimes homeowners association for $50,000 would cover most of the hourly employee cost-of-living increase. Her book store is doing better now than in previous Christmas seasons and her customers are very positive, she said. (Correction: Although the board stated and the minutes of the Dec. 1 meeting recorded that this habitat was owned by the Santa Fe Trails HOA, it belongs to the Pastimes HOA.)

Trustee Gail Drumm noted that the small amount of money required for a 3 percent raise would not precipitate layoffs this year. Layoffs would be caused only by "something drastic" or "catastrophic" that would require a far more extensive revision in the budget.

Smith noted that the board had not given the staff any guidance on leasing the current Town Hall after the staff moves to the new Town Hall in April, a possible source of additional revenue, after many lingering maintenance items are repaired. Green added that the board had planned to lease the building to the seniors for only $1 per year, and the seniors were still interested in the offer. Dominguez said the town should get the market value for leasing the building instead.

During the public hearing, resident Tony Berico asked if the board could guarantee there would be no layoffs if the staff were denied a cost-of-living adjustment. Glenn said there could be no guarantee. There were no other citizen comments.

There was considerable further wide-ranging debate on many economic trends and forecasts, as well as specific line-item costs and percentages regarding these pay and benefits issues before the 4-2 vote.

Fountain Creek Watershed District

During public comment, Bob Miner, the Town of Palmer Lake representative to the Fountain Creek Watershed Study, asked the board to be a participant in an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to form a Title 32 special district for the management and conservation of the Monument and Fountain Creek watershed and the related floodplain and wetlands. Miner said that the "Town of Palmer Lake will meet with the county commissioners" in early January to discuss town ratification of the IGA. He suggested that Monument participate in this meeting as well.

The Fountain Creek Watershed District is being organized under the state’s Urban Drainage and Flood Control Act by the El Paso and Pueblo Boards of County Commissioners to:

  • Mitigate flooding, sedimentation, and erosion
  • Address water quality issues
  • Improve drainage
  • Obtain funding and federal assistance for protection of open space and development of recreational opportunities, including parks and trails
  • Construct capital improvements to mitigate sporadic flooding from intermittent torrential storms

Parties to this IGA will appoint a governing board to petition the state Legislature in 2009 to create the watershed district. There will also be a district Citizen’s Advisory Group and Technical Advisory Committee to advise and assist the governing board.

Matching funds were raised by the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force, a group organized in 2006, for a $75,000 Water Supply Reserve Account grant from the Arkansas Basin Roundtable and the Colorado Water Conservation Board for Task Force operations.

Besides El Paso County and Pueblo County, potential signatories to the IGA are the cities of Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Fountain, and Manitou Springs and the towns of Green Mountain Falls, Monument, and Palmer Lake.

The inequality of status among the two counties, three home-rule cities, and four statutory towns, as well as other "atypical factors and special conditions concerning them" has led to including a paragraph in the IGA stating that special legislation is required from the General Assembly for creation of the watershed district. The special legislation is needed because, for example, the four towns will not have their own individual representatives on the watershed district’s governing board.

The directors of the governing board, up to a possible total of nine directors, are listed in the IGA as:

  • One El Paso County commissioner
  • One Pueblo County commissioner
  • One Lower Arkansas Valley Conservancy District Board director or a citizen from Pueblo County – this person is appointed by the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners
  • One citizen at large from Pueblo County – this person is appointed jointly by the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners and the Pueblo City Council
  • One director each for the cities – appointed by the respective city councils that choose to individually ratify and execute the IGA
  • One "small municipalities representative" for the towns, if any individually ratify and execute the IGA – this person is appointed jointly by the El Paso Board of County Commissioners and Colorado Springs City Council from the single nominees from each of the participating town boards or a citizen at large from El Paso County – this person is also appointed jointly by the El Paso Board of County Commissioners and Colorado Springs City Council
  • One member of the watershed district’s citizen advisory group – this person is appointed jointly by the El Paso Board of County Commissioners and the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners

Each appointing party’s governing body will make its initial appointments of primary directors within 30 days and within 5 days for replacements after that. One alternate director may also be appointed to attend meetings if the primary is unavailable or has a conflict of interest per Colorado state statutes. No proxies are allowed.

No reimbursements will be provided to directors by the watershed district. However, each appointing party may pay a salary or reimbursements to its director(s) at its sole discretion. The governing board will appoint its own officers: a chairperson, a vice chairperson, and a secretary.

Funding for the watershed district will come from El Paso and Pueblo Counties. Watershed District taxes would have to be approved by the voters of the counties, but fees could be imposed by the district without a vote by the taxpayers.

Miner said actual direct funding obligations to the watershed district by the participating towns would have to be worked out individually in a future agreement.

Glenn expressed concern that Monument would not have a representative on the watershed district’s governing board or a voice on how the town’s share of the costs would be spent.

Former Monument Mayor Betty Konarski noted that as the town’s primary representative, she is currently the president of the El Paso County Water Authority and Landreth is her alternate. She added that Landreth is the town’s primary representative to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and she is the town’s alternate to that group. Konarski suggested that it might "be a value to" the Board of Trustees to get a briefing on the IGA, its long-term goals, the structure of the various watershed groups, and funding sources.

The Board of Trustees took no action on the suggestion by Miner to have a town representative attend the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners hearing on this IGA the next morning.

The El Paso Board of County Commissioners had ratified and executed the IGA on Dec. 15, before this Board of Trustees meeting began, by a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Wayne Williams and Amy Lathen opposed. Williams and Lathen voted no because of the district’s presumed ability to levy fees similar to the existing Colorado Springs Stormwater Enterprise fee, which they also oppose. "There is a fundamental principle at work here. Do we allow an entity that’s not elected by the people to forcibly impose a burden on the citizens of both counties?" said Lathen.

Their motion to add a condition to IGA ratification that both of the county boards or the voters of both counties must approve the implementation of any watershed district fee was defeated by a 2-3 vote, with only Williams and Lathen in favor. The discussion leading to the 3-2 vote for approval of the IGA, with no conditions, lasted several hours.

On Dec. 16, the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the IGA after a few minutes of discussion.

Car show approved

The board unanimously approved the annual special event permit for the Tri-Lakes Cruisers’ Annual Car Show on June 14. Proceeds from the event are donated to Tri-Lakes Cares. The same portions of Second, Front, and Washington Streets will be closed from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. for this increasingly popular event.

Annual appointments approved

The board unanimously appointed Landreth to be the town’s primary representative to the El Paso County Water Authority and the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority for 2009 and Konarski as the alternate to both.

Downtown Highway 105 takeover

The board unanimously approved a draft resolution to the state committing the town to accept ownership and maintenance responsibilities for one mile of Highway 105 from the west side of the railroad overpass to the Second Street intersection not later than January 2010. The town would not take over maintenance of the railroad’s bridge or the bridge over I-25.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has a Maintenance Incentive Pilot Program that will give $20 million to competing counties, cities, and towns that take over state highways that no longer serve state highway goals due to development. The board’s approved draft resolution requests $850,000 from the state to help the town pay for most of the state’s estimated $1.1 million maintenance cost for this portion of the road for the next 20 years. If the state offers $850,000, the town must accept the offer. If the state offers less than the requested $850,000, the town has the option to accept or reject the state’s offer of ownership. The state will make its offer in about six months.

The town will continue to maintain the state’s park-and-ride lot at Woodmoor Drive and Highway 105 on the east side of I-25 and perform snow removal on the sidewalks of the bridge over I-25. This is in return for the state continuing to perform maintenance on the state’s traffic signals at McDonald’s and Safeway.

After a transfer of ownership of the portion of Highway 105, Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said the town could relocate these two signals to Beacon Lite Road and Washington or Third Street to better meet future traffic loading as the town develops. Drumm asked that the town staff commit to not spending any of the state’s money, if offered, on anything other than this one-mile strip. Smith said the staff could create a separate, single-purpose fund for any money the state offers to the town in June.

The board unanimously approved Change Order 2 for $86,455 from the Capital Projects Building Fund to be paid to primary contractor Alexandher Building Co. The change order includes installation of extensive Police Department security systems, audio/visual equipment, and the associated wiring for these systems as well as wiring for telephones and data systems.

Triview service contract renewed

The board unanimously approved a one-year renewal of the water and wastewater operational services contract with Triview Metropolitan District for $213,864, an increase of about $15,000 from 2008. The contract provides operators from the town staff for Triview’s systems, which provide service to town residents and businesses in Jackson Creek.

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

  • $103,534 to Triview Metropolitan District for its share of October sales tax
  • $6,500 to Triview for its share of November motor vehicle tax
  • $5,199 to John Nelson Associates for architectural services for the new Town Hall building
  • $181,795 to Alexandher Building Co. for construction services for the new Town Hall building

Kassawara asked the board for guidance on obtaining a digital model for the town’s water system from engineering firm GMS Inc. The town has already paid for the model. It has been requesting delivery over the past 18 months. Easton, a civil engineer for Nolte Associates, said he would speak to Roger Sams for the board to expedite the contracted transfer prior to the town initiating lawyer-to-lawyer contacts or litigation.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that the Pastimes HOA acquired the mouse habitat it wants to sell to the town from the developer through a quit claim deed. Shupp said the town needs to demand title insurance and a warranty deed so that the HOA can demonstrate unencumbered title with no liens. The Pastimes HOA also needs to formally vote for approval of the sale of the property to the town. Green noted that the $50,000 for the purchase is included in the approved 2009 budget and the staff will proceed, following Shupp’s guidance.

Kassawara reported that progress was being made on plans to convert the abandoned concrete batch plant at the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Washington Street to the Santa Fe Trail Business Park.

Landreth reported that:

  • The town’s Christmas tree lighting and caroling in Limbach Park’s new bandshell on Dec. 5 had gone well. About 200 people attended the event.
  • Well 3 has a new pump, motor, and 800 feet of pipe and will be operational by the end of December.
  • Siemens has not completed repairs to rust inside new filters recently installed in Triview’s B water treatment plant.
  • The Forest Lakes water treatment plant has been completed
  • The floor of the Forest Lakes water tank has been repaired and the tank is being refilled so that the remaining leaks can also be repaired. The town leases 500,000 gallons of its 1.5 million gallon capacity.

Police Chief Jake Shirk reported being "overwhelmed" with toys and donations for the Department’s Santa on Patrol program.

Toys and gift certificates were later delivered on Dec. 20. In addition, four shopping carts of donated toys were delivered to the Monument Marketplace Wal-Mart for distribution. (See photo).

Green reported that the Triview board has agreed to start the first phase of a town takeover of district operations. Triview will transfer district manager, administrator, legal services, and inspections duties to the town staff in the first half of 2009. The district’s three hourly staff members will become town employees in a subsequent phase. Two public forums are scheduled for April 20 and Oct. 19 to discuss the transfer of Triview operations to the town.

The town has sent out letters to residents advising them of their responsibility to keep sidewalks on their property free of snow and ice. If people are physically unable to shovel their sidewalks, the town will find volunteers to assist them.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

**********

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

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Dec. 11 Town adopts budget, pursues road takeover

By David Futey

By unanimous decision, the Palmer Lake Town Council adopted the budget for fiscal year 2009 on Dec. 11. It also approved the required appropriations for the budget. The 2009 budget is slightly over $732,000.

The council elected to only fill one of the two full-time Police Department vacancies and allocated some of the savings to the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department for the purchase of long-needed bunker gear and testing of the department’s self-contained breathing apparatus.

By unanimous decision, the council also approved a resolution that authorizes the Town of Palmer Lake to enter into negotiations with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) regarding the takeover of a portion of State Highway 105.

CDOT has $20 million available in 2009, on a first-come, first-served basis, to entice communities around the state to take over maintenance of portions of state routes. The available funding would be provided to communities to assist with road maintenance over a 10-year period.

If Palmer Lake and CDOT agree on a takeover of part of the road, the town would be responsible for 3.5 miles of Highway 105. At the meeting, Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich provided a summary of his evaluation of costs for that 10-year time frame and estimated that close to $1 million should be proposed to CDOT for the takeover. The funds would not be subject to TABOR spending restrictions. The procurement of snow removal equipment and functional culverts in the designated stretch of road were among other needs and stipulations for maintaining the road.

The advantage for Palmer Lake to take over this portion of Highway 105 is that it could install sidewalks along the highway without approval from CDOT. Also, the state does not allow angle or head-in parking on its managed road, which is part of the town’s wishes as expressed in its updated Comprehensive Plan. The state wants only parallel parking. The town would also be eligible for highway use tax monies.

Radosevich also suggested that should the town receive the $1 million, annual interest from that fund could cover a portion of the road maintenance. A concern with taking over maintenance for the road would be if major work were required. Trustee Jan Bristol asked about the town’s liability, and Town Attorney Larry Gaddis stated there is some liability but it is "not a great issue."

Bristol also raised a concern about the rush into negotiation and whether enough money had been allocated. Radosevich said that at this point, there would not be a need for additional road maintenance staff because contract services could be used.

Committee reports

Mayor John Cressman and Trustee Dan Reynolds were absent for this meeting. Trustee Nikki McDonald acted as mayor.

Bristol and McDonald noted that they have been talking with community members and business owners to understand expectations for the Palmer Lake Parks and Recreation Department.

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman announced that Dan Reynolds has been selected as the new Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department chief and Greg Lokken as the new assistant chief. Coleman also stated that the annual Chili Supper and Star Lighting on Nov. 29 was a great success and received a significant community turnout.

Water Trustee Max Stafford noted that capital improvements for the water plant are proceeding and that the water rate increase began Nov. 1.

Palmer Lake Police Chief Gene Ferrin said that the department’s new reporting system was online and being used in conjunction with the courts. All data are Internet-based, as the company that developed the software also maintains the data at its site. There is no hardware expense for the department. It costs $250 per month for the Police Department and court system to use the software.

Ferrin said a new dispatch system is in use with the mobile laptops installed in police vehicles. This will enable dispatchers to track vehicle location with built-in GPS. This should reduce dispatch time. He also expressed appreciation to Al Serra Motors for refurbishing the police cruisers and providing an associated factory warranty. The cruisers received new suspensions and other items. This saved the department significant costs over the purchase of new vehicles.

Officers sworn in

By unanimous decision, the council approved the hiring of two positions for the Palmer Lake Police Department. Alan Sekowski, who previously served as a deputy sheriff with El Paso County, and James Deyoe were sworn in to fill the two positions. Sekowski was selected for one of the two full-time openings as a patrol officer. The other full-time position will not be filled. Deyoe is taking a part-time position with the department and will assist officer training.

The meeting ended at 8:39 p.m.

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The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 8. The meeting will be held at Town Hall at 7 p.m. Check the town’s Web site ( www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/index.shtml ) or call 481-2953 for any meeting changes.

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Palmer Lake Sanitation District, Dec. 9: Smith sworn in

Below: Palmer Lake Sanitation District Board President Dale Platt (right) swore in new Director Dale Smith on Dec. 9 during the regular December board meeting in the district’s Bonnie Hanson memorial conference room. Directors Virgil Watkins, Gary Atkins, and District Manager Duane Hanson look on. The board then unanimously approved the 2009 budget and appropriation. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee meeting, Dec. 9: JUC approves 2009 budget

Below: The boards of the Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District held the annual Joint Use Committee meeting on Dec. 9 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 9, the Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility met at 10 a.m. and unanimously approved the $773,115 balanced budget and corresponding appropriations for 2009 at a public hearing during the regular December meeting. The copper concentration in the facility’s treated wastewater dropped sharply to 7.4 parts per billion for November.

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. All three primary representatives of the JUC, the facility’s board, were present: President Dale Platt from Palmer Lake, Vice President Lowell Morgan from Monument, and Secretary-Treasurer Benny Nasser. Several other directors and staff members from the three districts also attended.

During the subsequent annual JUC meeting of all the directors of all three districts held at 11:30 a.m., Facility Manager Bill Burks gave a summary of plant operations for the year.

Woodmoor proposed that the JUC meet to discuss a process to review the current Joint Use Agreement (JUA). This agreement governs facility operations and cost-sharing procedures, and has not been revised in over a decade. Woodmoor District Manager Phil Steininger stopped acting as the executive agent for facility management at the end of 2006. Burks took over supervision of all facility operations in 2007. The current JUA does not reflect this change.

There was consensus that each of the three district boards would nominate a director at the January JUC meeting to form a committee to discuss the JUA. Burks agreed to have 20 copies printed of the current agreement for all the directors and district managers to review. Suggested changes will be forwarded to the district director nominated for the formal JUA review.

There was also a discussion regarding creation of a separate subcommittee to study options for re-use of the facility’s effluent to reduce groundwater demands in Monument and Woodmoor.

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Triview Metropolitan District Board meetings, Nov. 15, 19, 21, and Dec. 9: After several meetings, Triview’s 2009 budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

The board of the Triview Metropolitan District held a series of special and regular meetings leading to approval of the 2009 budget. Initially, the proposed budget was not balanced, with a shortfall of about $500,000 in revenue versus expenditures.

The board decided to have the Town of Monument staff take over some management functions at the end of the first quarter to cut operations costs. This article covers some of the highlights of these meetings. Workshop discussions are not covered.

Special meeting Nov. 15

The board met at 8 a.m. to discuss questions the directors had regarding the 2009 budget. All five directors attended: President Bob Eskridge, Robert Fisher, Steve Remington, Julie Glenn, and Steve Cox.

Some of the main concerns that the directors discussed were:

  • Assessed valuation calculations
  • Revenue calculations
  • Sales tax amounts
  • Residential building
  • Fee reimbursements
  • Operations and maintenance contracts
  • Fund balances
  • Triview-Town of Monument joint efforts
  • Cost reductions

The meeting adjourned at 11:17 a.m.

Regular meeting Nov. 19

The board met at 5 p.m. to discuss some routine matters. The board unanimously approved routine payment of bills, invoices, and vouchers and an engagement letter from the district’s CPA, James A. Thieme, for 2009.

The advertised public hearing on the 2009 budget was opened, but there were no public comments. Because only Directors Robert Fisher, Steve Remington, and Julie Glenn could attend this meeting, further discussions of the 2009 budget were postponed until a special meeting on Nov. 21 so that all five directors could participate.

The meeting adjourned at 5:12 p.m.

Special meeting Nov. 21

The board met at 4 p.m. to continue the 2009 budget hearing of Nov. 19. All five directors were present.

The board postponed consideration of several sets of meeting minutes until December and opened the public comment portion of the hearing on the 2009 budget.

Some of the concerns raised by Triview resident Joe Martin, a former Triview board member, were:

  • What progress is being made on combining the board with the Town of Monument in these economic times with a substantial deficit?
  • Some problems such as 20 houses having red sidewalks and red driveways caused by Triview’s irrigation system are far less important than Jackson Creek Parkway and installed sidewalks that are falling apart.
  • The board needs to look at lowering the mill levy if there is an opportunity created by combining the town and district boards.
  • The board needs to appropriately take care of the people working hard for the district.

Eskridge responded that he favored Martin’s positions and agreed with his priorities. Acting District Manager Ron Simpson said the board still needs to approve a budget and mill levy by Dec. 15, and amendments to the 2009 budget could be made later, once any future agreements with the town are made.

Triview resident Dave Sansone said Eskridge had not answered Martin’s questions and asked what stumbling blocks prevent bringing the town and the board together. Eskridge replied that the five members of the board have to agree on moving in this direction, there are questions of what benefits will accrue and what the costs and savings might be. Sansone asked for a copy of the draft budget. Simpson and Fisher said they could only give him a working draft that would most likely be changed.

Triview resident Rafael Dominguez, a member of the Monument Board of Trustees, asked what consolidation efficiencies the board was looking at from an operational perspective. Eskridge said that the board was considering what extra expenses would be charged to Triview by the town for such things as snow plowing equipment. Currently snow plowing is outsourced to private contractor VDH LLC.

Fisher said that the 2009 budget must be based on the worst case of no combination with the town due to the difficulty of modifying and creating a variety of intergovernmental agreements prior to such a merger. Julie Glenn said she disagreed, and Fisher was only expressing his opinion, not the board’s.

Triview resident Michael Toland said he supported the town taking over operation of Triview. Triview’s recent large mill levy increase concerned him along with Triview’s current plans to scale back services such as snow plowing. Eskridge said he could not guarantee that there would be no mill levy increase due to the terms of the two Colorado Water and Power Authority Loans for $4 million that the district has taken out to pay for expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Resident Tim Miller, a member of the Monument Board of Trustees, expressed concern that replacing the existing wooden stop and speed-limit sign posts that are falling down with more wooden posts might not be cost effective. Eskridge replied that new wooden posts are a "lot cheaper" than bids submitted for currently available metal posts.

Monument Town Manager Cathy Green asked the Triview board to support a grant application due on Dec. 12 for the Safe Routes to Schools program. No matching funds are required. The grant would be used for putting down stripes for bike lanes on Leather Chaps Drive as they are shown on some Triview plans but have never been installed. Grant awards range from $50,000 to $250,000. There were no objections from Triview board members since there was no cost to Triview. Green said that Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth would determine the cost of the striping to be listed in the application.

Simpson added that Classic Homes had just informed him that there would be no construction of models in Sanctuary Pointe (formerly the Baptist Camp property) in 2009. No construction is planned by John Laing Homes in Promontory Pointe either. As a result, projected tap fees have to be revised downward in the 2009 budget raising the deficit to $562,000.

Julie Glenn replied that it would be easy to find almost $1 million of savings if the town takes over all operations. The town would hire the two Triview billing clerks and the operations manager as part of the takeover. The town’s building inspector would take over all Triview inspections.

Cox said it was too late in the year to consider the takeover option, and the board needed to pass a budget within a few weeks based on no merger.

Simpson said the board could immediately save $400,000 by eliminating the district manager and district administrator positions, and the contracts for the district’s attorney, engineering consultant Nolte Associates, and other duplicative services via a merger with the town. Other services, such as landscaping, would be much more labor intensive and savings would be smaller because the town doesn’t currently have the required equipment or personnel to take them over.

"There should be a way to make it work," Simpson added. "The town is not going to charge a profit and in terms of economy of scale, there’s got to be something there that works."

In his extended statement to the Triview board regarding a possible merger with the Town of Monument, some of the points Monument Mayor Byron Glenn made were:

  • "I saw a savings of $500,000 back in April."
  • "The town is not out to make money, just to serve its residents."
  • "You need management, we have management."
  • "There is no intention in my mind or my board’s mind to kick the Triview board members out. We need you."
  • "I want the community to work. I don’t want to pay more than 35 mills. I don’t want my sanitary and water bills to go up. My god, I’m tired of paying for government mistakes. If we work together, we can solve this problem."
  • "All it takes is sitting down, talking, being realistic, and working it out. We’re not out to make a profit. We’re out to serve the community. And I believe you guys are too."
  • "It’s a partnership."

Simpson added that Triview can’t go away, Triview’s debt has to be paid, and the Triview board has statutory functions and obligations it cannot ignore. The district has a fund balance of $1.6 million and could pay the deficit from that balance.

District Administrator Dale Hill also said that while it is a bad practice, the board could offset the deficit from cash reserves, which would leave about $1 million in reserves for "catastrophes" at the end of 2009.

Simpson said he had received five proposals to outsource operations and maintenance, street sweeping, snow plowing, landscaping, and water and sewer. VDH offered a 5 percent discount on its previous bid just before the meeting, by dropping the proposed fuel surcharge.

Mark Snoddy of VDH further discounted his bid during the meeting to 8 percent to continue providing snow, landscaping, and street sweeping services in 2009.

Green told the board it had to make a decision very soon on whether the board would switch from town operation of Triview’s water and wastewater systems to VDH so that she could determine if she had to lay off the town’s four operators devoted to Triview operations in order to finalize the town’s 2009 budget by Dec. 15.

Green added that the town is not a business and if Triview could not decide on a long-term agreement for employee continuity, she had no interest in year-to-year bidding against temporary contracts from commercial businesses.

While there would be no initial charge to Triview for the additional work performed by the town’s department heads to run the district, Triview would have to immediately pay for a snowplow blade and a plow truck before next winter if the town takes over snow removal from VDH in January.

Fisher suggested that the Triview board attend the Dec. 1 Board of Trustees meeting to discuss merger issues.

The board then asked a wide variety of questions about specific budget items.

The board went into executive session at 6:20 p.m. to discuss contract negotiations. After coming out of executive session at 7:15 p.m., the board formally accepted the proposed intergovernmental agreement with Donala Water and Sanitation District for wastewater plant expansion contracts by a 4-1 vote, with Remington opposed. There was also additional discussion on the schedule needed to set the 2009 mill levy and get the 2009 budget approved in time to be sent to the state by Dec. 11.

The meeting adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

The cost of the plant expansion has risen by about $8 million, requiring Triview to get two separate $2 million loans from the Colorado Water and Power Authority for its half of the overrun. Subsequently, the authority forced Triview to raise the district’s mill levy for 2008 to ensure the district’s solvency, enterprise status, and ability to continue to make loan payments. The authority could force another mill levy or rate increase if Triview’s budget problems are not resolved. Former District Manager Larry Bishop resigned shortly after the board voted to raise the mill levy on Dec. 11, 2007. Simpson, who had been the previous district manager before Bishop replaced him in August 2006 returned as a part-time acting manager a year ago. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n12.htm#tmd and www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n1.htm#tmd for details of this loan crisis and management turnover.)

Although Fisher said he and the other Triview board members would attend the Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 1 to continue public discussions on the merger and how the town’s and district’s budgets would be affected, only Cox attended. There was no discussion of the merger or the budgets. There was also no discussion of the merger at the Dec. 15 Board of Trustees meeting, and the only agreement made was for continuation of town operation and maintenance of Triview’s water and wastewater collection systems. (See BOT article for more details.)

Regular meeting Dec. 9

The board met at 5 p.m. to continue the 2009 budget hearing of Nov. 19 and Nov. 21. All five directors were present.

The minutes from the meetings of Oct. 29, Nov. 15, Nov. 19, and Nov. 21 were approved with the condition that any board member could make changes to any of the minutes by e-mail within 48 hours. The final versions of these minutes are now available at www.triviewmetro.com/news/index.htm

Administrator’s report: The board unanimously approved routine payment of bills, invoices, and vouchers.

Hill said there were "three large unexpected bills" that resulted from re-issuing $47 million of bond debt on a weekly basis since Nov. 1:

  • $21,000 to Sherman & Howard LLC, D.A. Davidson’s bond attorney, for legal services
  • $17,000 to Standards & Poor’s for providing a debt rating of A– to the district
  • $10,000 to Kutac Rock LLP for attorney Kim Casey’s legal services as the district’s attorney

(See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n12.htm#tmd for an explanation of this new short-term financing strategy that was approved at the Oct. 29 Triview board meeting.)

Hill said there should be no more "large unexpected bills" for the rest of December.

The board also unanimously approved a motion for Hill to pay all the bills that come in for the rest of December. Hill will e-mail each director regarding each bill that comes in before Dec. 31 and get individual director approvals by reply e-mail.

Hill also discussed the amendments she had made to various unspecified revenue and expenditure figures in various unspecified funds within the 2008 budget. Hill said the "fund balance" at the end of the year should be about $2.4 million.

Note: No copies of these draft documents were provided to OCN. What each of these discussed numbers represented could not be determined. The staff members of the other special districts in the Tri-Lakes region routinely provide detailed monthly financial reports to OCN at each of their board meetings to facilitate accurate and complete reporting of the amounts staff members discuss, as do the town staffs of Monument and Palmer Lake. Former Triview District Manager Larry Bishop always provided copies to OCN of all documents referred to in Triview meetings.

Eskridge said, "For a tough year, we have done remarkably well. ... You’ve done a great job of doing that there. We’ve not dug ourselves into a hole."

Engineer’s report: Mike Trinity of engineering consultant Nolte Associates reported that all the new major equipment and piping have been installed in the water treatment plant. The automatic controls are being programmed. Siemens will come in to test the new filters for internal rust in the paint and will replace flawed filters as required.

Most of the new buildings that are part of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion are nearing completion. The drawings for the sludge belt press building have been completed. Once a price is received from the contractor, construction of this building will begin and should be completed next summer.

Operations report: Operations Manager Steve Sheffield reported that VDH was nearing completion of the temporary storage shed for well A-8 on Baptist Road. Snoddy reported that the Regional Building Department had required replacement of the foundation and more anchoring for the temporary building.

Manager’s report: Simpson reported that he had just received copies of the two change orders for the wastewater plant from March and April of 2007 that cost $871,000 and $1.8 million respectively, as well as all the other change orders for the rest of that year. Simpson said the district had already paid for all these change orders and he would now sign them. Weaver Construction is upping its bond from $8 million to $12 million.

Simpson advised the board that the Town of Monument is installing a town water line and a Triview sanitary sewer collection line from Old Denver Highway to the Diamond Shamrock truck stop at the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. The truck stop will have to include into the Triview district and pay a Triview sewer tap fee.

Monument Mayor Byron Glenn said he wrote a letter to Valero Corp., owner of the Baptist Road Diamond Shamrock fuel station, stating the town would provide the lines. He told Forest Lakes Metropolitan District Manager Anne Nichols about this several months ago. He said the installation was the town’s responsibility and the town would enter into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Triview to pay for the inclusion and tap fees in order to expedite expansion of the interchange. Valero’s septic system was in the way of the expansion.

Glenn added that it was to Triview’s advantage to allow Valero to include so that Triview could receive half the truck stop’s sales tax.

Simpson said that Forest Lakes does not want to be involved in this IGA. He also said that the sewer line had to be enlarged from 4 to 6 inches to connect properly to the Triview-Forest Lakes 8-inch interceptor line.

Simpson said he would be meeting with Jim Miller of John Laing Homes. The district’s attorney, Pete Susemihl, added that Miller wanted to discuss how Triview would pay them back for any infrastructure that the developer installs for Triview. Susemihl also said that some of the documentation for Triview’s road building district within Promontory Pointe had not been signed by Laing’s attorney.

Copper Heights water report discussed: Simpson noted that new documentation is now being required by the state to give more complete information on how much groundwater is available prior to allowing construction to begin in any development. Pulte Homes had received approval of its Planned Development site plan from the Board of Trustees, but never recorded the site plan with the county and has now abandoned the project. Vision Development is taking over the Copper Heights development located at the north end of Leather Chaps Drive.

Nolte Associates was asked by Triview to provide Vision with the hydrology reports it prepared for Pulte. These reports show that Triview has sufficient water to supply Copper Heights at a density of seven houses per acre under the new, more stringent state requirements. Vision Development’s Rick Blevins said in two e-mails that Nolte had not provided the needed documents as requested. Simpson said he would make another request.

2009 budget approved: Simpson said he had revised the budget to show that Triview would eliminate the positions of the manager, administrator, attorney, and the contract for a consultant building inspector at the end of the first quarter of 2009. Nolte will remain under contract to Triview for engineering work not performed by the town staff. Water attorney Krassa & Miller will also remain under contract to Triview.

Simpson said that the Colorado Water and Power Authority would not require Triview to increase its rates in the first quarter of 2009 to ensure the district’s ability to make loan payments to the authority.

There was a lengthy discussion of a variety of unspecified numbers contained in the most recent version of the 2009 budget. Several corrections were made to many documents the directors looked at. No final versions of the budget and the associated appropriation were available.

The 2009 budget, appropriation, and mill levy (35 mills) were unanimously approved.

The board approved an IGA for contracting water and wastewater operation services from the town and separate contracts with VDH for landscaping, snow removal, and street sweeping.

Note: No copies of these documents were provided to OCN. For information on the final documents, contact Simpson or Hill at 488-6868.

The meeting adjourned at 6:56 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the district conference room, 174 N. Washington St. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Dec. 10: Violations a sore subject with the state

By Susan Hindman

Fred Ladd, of Ladd Engineering, reported on a meeting with Ginny Torrez of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment Water Quality Control Division Clean Water Assurance Unit. The meeting was prompted by an angry letter from the department over Academy’s high levels of carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (CBOD) in the lagoons that treat the district’s waste.

Ladd told the Academy district board on Dec. 10 that Torrez is "not happy." "She’s upset that we were out of compliance so much" and given these circumstances, wondered why Academy is still using the previous operator—who left in August but is the "operator of record" for the district until the current operator, Anthony Pastorello, gets his license. Torrez blames the previous operator and the board for three years of high numbers.

In a separate meeting with Dave Knope, of the state Health Department’s engineering and design unit, Ladd said he was assured that the steps the district is taking to correct the problems are adequate. The district is hoping to avoid fines threatened in the November letter.

One objection the state has is over the use of Pond Doctors in the lagoons, which the district has had since 2000. The Pond Doctors, which are water circulators, have been used to supplement the blowers, which provide the primary aeration. Aeration is essential to the proper breakdown of waste and ensures the necessary biological activity in the lagoons.

In the past, Academy has alternated the Pond Doctors with the blowers to avoid having to run the blowers all the time. But because there’s potential for short-circuiting, and the Pond Doctors "don’t mix enough," which affects the lagoons’ efficiency, they shouldn’t be used without the blowers, Ladd said. From now on, they will be used for mixing but not for aeration.

"The theory is, you utilize them to augment your blower times," said Pastorello. "They’ve (the state) had nothing but problems with them in the past in other installations, and they specifically addressed their disapproval of the devices in the district’s 2000 inspection report. It was stated in section 9 of the report that they do not approve of using this as an addition to aeration treatment, and that if the district continues to use the devices, they do so at their own risk."

Director Ron Curry wanted it to be on the record that this was the first the board had heard of the state having a problem with the Pond Doctors.

The state is also unhappy that sludge had been allowed to build up for so long in the two main lagoons. A recent draw-down revealed 4 feet of sludge in the main lagoon, with 6 to 8 feet at the edges, and about half that amount in the second lagoon. Though the district didn’t know about the high levels until then, Ladd was told "it should have been routine maintenance," and the board was faulted for the problem. Sludge is supposed to be cleaned out every 10 years, but Academy’s lagoons haven’t been cleaned in 22 years, which reduces the efficiency by up to 50 percent, Ladd said. As soon as the problem was discovered, the district signed a contract for sludge removal, which will begin as soon as the weather warms in March.

Pastorello has been working hard to troubleshoot the problem of the high CBOD numbers. He said the material he has been reading and the people he has been talking to all point to getting more air in the system. So in mid-November, he started running the blowers all the time in cell 1, instead of cycling them, and "after two weeks I noticed the green tint to the water was turning brown," he said, indicating improvements in the level of algae in the lagoon. He believes that uncontrollable algae growth is the source of the high CBOD readings. In addition to the change in water color, the CBOD numbers have greatly improved, he said. He also started continuous aeration in cell 2, along with other minor maintenance, and the water is also showing positive results there as well.

In addition, he is sending the samples to two testers, to compare CBOD results. Though he hadn’t finished tallying the numbers, he said, the samples have been coming in "great."

Money still owed

In November, Academy Board Treasurer Walter Reiss sent out 11 letters to homeowners regarding past-due accounts, and from those, he said he received about $1,600. However, 12 letters will have to be written in December, he said. Those homeowners owe the district a total of $9,100; eight of these delinquent accounts are eligible for shutoff, he said.

Rate increase notices to be sent

Postcards were approved to be sent out informing homeowners of the monthly fee increases to begin Jan. 1. Water service fees will be $20 (a $5 increase); sewer service fees will be $30 (a $10 increase).

2009 budget approved

The board passed the 2009 budget, which includes the appropriation of tax revenue funds to cover sludge removal costs in the spring; the account with those funds would be replenished when one of the district’s CDs matures in August 2009. As for the 2008 budget, it’s projected to end up $18,000 over budget, and Reiss suggested submitting a revised budget to the state in January 2009, once all the billing for 2008 has been submitted or paid and all income has been received.

Pastorello is one step closer to acquiring added certification

Pastorello said he passed the test for his collections license, which is for wastewater collection into the lagoons. Next, he’ll take a wastewater operator’s license test in February.

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Board, Dec. 12: Board approves 2009 budget

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District approved the 2009 budget at the Dec. 12 meeting.

All directors were present with the exception of Elizabeth Hacker.

New District Manager Jessie Shaffer reviewed the 2009 budget and said that work continued on getting rate models in order. He said the county assessor had increased assessments and that interest income for the district was down from 4.14 percent to 3.17 percent.

Construction of facilities in 2009 is budgeted at $926,000. The current dam construction at Lake Woodmoor is included in the 2008 budget, except possibly the expense of seeding following the construction.

Total expenditures for the district in 2009 are estimated at $5.5 million.

Outgoing District Manager Phil Steininger said that the amount budgeted for insurance should be $87,900 to reflect higher coverage for liability and property. The insurance agency had recommended adding additional coverage against federal cases (such as discrimination, refusal to offer service, or terminating service) and to increase the deductible.

Attorney Erin Smith then suggested that the board pass a resolution to approve the 2009 budget and the 2009 appropriations to authorize expenditures. The motion passed.

Treasurer James Wyss asked if there were questions on the financial report. Receiving none, it was approved.

Report on the JUC

President Benny Nasser reported on the Dec. 9 meeting of the Joint Use Committee (JUC). He said there was a public hearing on the budget, but no members of the public attended. He said that the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant was having problems with radium residue in the sludge treated there. He said that although it is not yet a legal issue, there is a legal limit beyond which the sludge would be considered hazardous material, thereby changing the manner of its disposal.

Nasser pointed out that the presence of radium is due to wells being drawn down.

Engineer Mike Rothberg commented that the levels of radium in some wells in Monument are necessitating closure of some of them. He also commented that Woodmoor Water and Sanitation frequently monitors its wells and has found no problems.

Nasser then announced that the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility in Monument had received a safety award and a one-year extension through 2010 of its temporary modifications to its discharge permit limits for copper. The temporary higher limits of 24.8 parts per billion on average and 36.4 parts per billion for an individual reading had been scheduled to expire when the current discharge permit expires at the end of 2009.

He said that the JUC reported treating 399 million gallons of sewage during the past year, including 195 pounds of copper. It analyzed 2,000 samples and received a plant operator merit award.

Next year, the committee anticipates replacing the facility’s computer-based control system.

All members of the board agreed to review the Joint Use Agreement authorizing the creation and activities of the JUC.

Report on the PPRWA

Shaffer said that the Pikes Peak Rural Water Authority (PPRWA) is formulating a conservation plan. During the first phase, the first six of 12 items have been drafted. He said that the authority is seeking grants to help with the expense of writing the plan. Once such grants are in place, development of the plan will continue.

Shaffer said that small refrigerator-door magnets have been ordered to assist in explaining to residents methods of disposing of pharmaceuticals so that they would not enter ground water. He said that drug companies and pharmacies have declined to take back unused drugs. The magnets are too heavy to mail with billing statements and will perhaps be inserted in a newsletter or made available at the office.

He said that the El Paso County Water Authority discussed future directions for their activities and wishes to continue meeting through 2009 as a networking group.

Operations update

Operations Superintendent Randy Gillette said that due to the timing of holidays, there was a change in meter-reading schedules. He noted that the directors need to look at average billing per year rather than monthly figures. He added that the district can account for 97 percent of its water

Gillette said maintenance activities continue. Well 11 is not working and will be replaced under the 2008 budget. He also said that everyone is now a certified operator and all had passed the Sacramento study course for operators.

Regarding construction projects, Gillette said the lake refill schedule has been submitted and will begin in January.

Regarding the status of subdivisions, he said the county has approved the development of two lots in Knollwood Village between the bank and Monument Academy on the north side of Highway 105. One of the buildings will be a Premier Vision Center. On the south side of Highway 105, opposite the Monument Academy, there is renewed activity regarding the Arbor Mountain Senior Center.

First proposed a few years ago, the senior center will be a 100,000-square-foot, three-story building including 57 residential units and an on-site clinic. When first proposed, it was determined that Woodmoor could not supply sufficient water for the high-density facility, and the proposed plan was denied by the Town of Monument. Woodmoor now requires that the development maintain a two acre-foot reserve of water and approach the town for additional water rights. The developer is not an expert on water issues and will need professional advice before resubmitting the proposal, Gillette said.

Attorney’s report

Smith said that she would bring updated rules and regulations to the January meeting of the board so that they could be distributed.

She recommended that the board pass a resolution regarding fees that must be paid for customer hearings regarding the shutoff of service. The current amount charged is $500, which is insufficient to cover legal fees. Smith recommended that the board increase the fee to $1,000.

The meeting went into executive session at 2:30 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 8 in the district conference room at 1855 Woodmoor Drive. Meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority meeting, Dec. 19: Authority urged to join coalition to bring water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Below: At the PPRWA meeting Dec. 19, Frank Jaeger, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District, encouraged the PPRWA to join a new coalition he heads that is looking into bringing water to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in the northwest corner of Colorado. In the foreground are Monument Mayor Byron Glenn and former mayor Betty Konarski. Photo by John Heiser.

Below (L to R): Gary Barber presents memento to Phil Steininger. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the PPRWA’s regular monthly meeting Dec. 19, Frank Jaeger, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District, encouraged the PPRWA to join a new coalition he heads that is looking into bringing water to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in the northwest corner of Colorado.

Rueter-Hess Reservoir

The Rueter-Hess Reservoir is three miles southwest of downtown Parker on Newlin Gulch, which is a tributary drainage of Cherry Creek. According to the Parker Water and Sanitation District, the earth-filled dam will rise 185 feet and the reservoir will encompass 1,170 acres, which is about one and half times the size of the Cherry Creek Reservoir. The district’s web site says, "Rueter-Hess employs a water management system that captures surface water, especially storm runoff that normally would be lost downstream. By storing water, it allows the Parker Water District to meet demands during peak summer months and extend the life of underground water aquifers."

Planning for the project started in 1985. Construction started in 2004 and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2010. When completed, the reservoir will hold about 72,000 acre-feet and there will be water within about ¼ mile of I-25. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

Jaeger said they are currently moving about 30,000 cubic yards of dirt per day. He estimated that the cost for the project will reach about $250 million including the cost of their expanded wastewater treatment plant that has an initial capacity of 10 million gallons per day and pumps reuse water to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir. He noted that the wastewater plant could be expanded to 40 million gallons per day.

Jaeger added. "You can’t do anything without reuse. Reuse every drop you’ve got."

In response to a question, Jaeger said that about 11,000 acre-feet of storage in the reservoir has been sold.

There is more information on the Rueter-Hess Reservoir at www.pwsd.org/rueter_hess_reservoir.php and at www.rueterhess.com

Flaming Gorge/Green River pipeline

Several years ago, entrepreneur Aaron Million proposed the Regional Watershed Supply Project, which involved construction of a pipeline from the Green River in southwestern Wyoming and northwestern Colorado east across Interstate 80 to the Front Range and then south to Pueblo. Million said his privately-developed project would create 3.8 million acre-feet of storage in Flaming Gorge, include hydroelectric power generation, and pump 165,000 to 250,000 acre-feet of water per year through the proposed pipeline. Million estimated the project would take 3-5 years to complete and cost $2 billion to $3 billion.

Jaeger said that Million has not partnered with any water providers and is now focused on other uses for Green River water and no longer pursuing moving it through Flaming Gorge.

Jaeger heads a Colorado-Wyoming coalition of governmental water providers. He said he has been working on this for the past 18 months. He added, "I have every water provider in Wyoming along the I-80 corridor at the table ready to sign a contract." He said he is now looking for Colorado water providers to join the coalition. Jaeger said the Parker district has spent about $250,000 on the project so far. He is asking those who want to be part of the effort to pay a $10,000 contribution as a sign of interest.

Jaeger said he is currently seeking permission from the federal Bureau of Reclamation and from the Wyoming and Colorado divisions of natural resources to conduct a due diligence analysis of the project. Jaeger is also seeking potential sources of federal funding for the project, which he estimates will cost between $2 billion and $3 billion and take 10 to 20 years to complete.

Jaeger’s plan would be to deliver the water to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir. If Tri-Lakes area water providers decide to participate in the project, they would have to find a way to bring the water south. Gary Barber, PPRWA manager, said the water would need to be brought 27 miles from Castle Rock since Castle Rock is a partner in the Rueter-Hess project.

Ron Simpson, Manager of the Triview Metropolitan District, noted that bringing water from the north would be much less expensive than the previously discussed project to bring water north from the lower Arkansas River basin.

According to Jaeger, the minimum available water is 160,000 acre-feet and the total demand from the Wyoming water suppliers is about 30,000 to 35,000 acre-feet per year. The combined demand from the PPRWA members is about 25,000 acre-feet per year.

In response to a question from PPRWA President Phil Steininger, Jaeger estimated that the capital costs are likely to be about $20,000 per acre-foot and annual operational costs would be about $60 per acre-foot.

Dana Duthie, General Manager of the Donala Water and Sanitation District, noted that areas to the north of the Tri-Lakes area have anticipated shortfalls of about 400,000 acre-feet per year and questioned whether there would be any water from the project to serve the local area.

Jaeger said that at this point they are doing preliminary research to see if the project is feasible but "take my word that we’re going to do everything we can to find out if there’s water and build a project but there are no guarantees." He later added regarding the shortfall issue, "Everything is negotiable based on money and need. It will be a long, drawn-out negotiation."

Jaeger asked the PPRWA to make a decision regarding joining the coalition "within a month or so."

Larry Patterson, City of Fountain utility director, said, "Everybody is waiting for someone else to step up." Patterson expressed appreciation to Jaeger for his efforts.

2009 budget approved

Duthie, treasurer of the PPRWA, distributed copies of the 2009 budget based on a two-tier dues structure. Districts serving or with potential to serve 1,200 or more single family equivalents (SFE) would pay $15,000, down from $25,000 for 2008. Districts with fewer than 1,200 SFE actual or potential customers would pay $5,000 per year. In addition, associate membership would be offered at $1,000.

Duthie estimated total revenue for 2009 to be $155,200 from membership dues, member project share in the conservation plan and northern infrastructure engineering study, and interest on the authority’s funds.

Administrative expenses and contingency are projected to total $214,500 leaving a $59,300 deficit and an estimated ending fund balance of $37,700. Some of the larger expenses are a $63,000 consultant fee for the general manager, $45,000 for legal fees, $30,000 for the northern infrastructure engineering study, $30,000 for the conservation plan, $15,000 for conservation projects, $10,000 as a lobbyist fee, and $10,000 for advertisements.

The costs of any additional projects undertaken by the authority would be divided among the participating districts.

Other matters

  • Barber presented a memento to Steininger recognizing his service as PPRWA President during 2007 and 2008.
  • The following officers for 2009 were unanimously elected: Kip Petersen, President; Rich Landreth, Vice President; Dana Duthie, Treasurer; and Jessie Schaefer, Secretary. Schaefer has been picked to succeed Steininger as general manager of the Woodmoor District. Steininger retired as of the end of 2008
  • At PPRWA’s November meeting, Rocky Wiley of Tetra Tech-RTW Engineering distributed copies of two proposals to prepare a conservation plan for the authority. The lower cost one, at about $20,000, would prepare the plan but minimize the amount of public input included. The second proposal, for about $44,000, would have greatly expanded public input and public education. At the December meeting, it was decided to postpone action on the proposals until the January meeting.
  • Barber reported that El Paso County and Pueblo County have approved an intergovernmental agreement forming the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control, and Greenway District. Legislation governing the new district has been drafted. The vote by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners was 3-2 with commissioners Wayne Williams and Amy Lathen opposed. Williams and Lathen voted no because of the district’s presumed ability to levy fees similar to the existing Colorado Springs Stormwater Enterprise fee, which they also oppose. Barber noted that the Colorado Supreme Court found the stormwater fee to be constitutional even though it was not approved by voters. (For more information see BOT article)
  • Barber noted that rainwater harvesting legislation has been split into a rural component and an urban component. The proposed legislation is being discussed by the new state affairs committee of the Colorado Water Congress.
  • Duthie reported that a foreclosed house in the Donala district was heavily water damaged because the electric and gas utilities were shut off and the Donala district was not informed so they could shut off the water. As a result, an upstairs pipe froze and flooded the house.
  • Patterson reported that the City of Fountain passed an 8 percent increase in water rates.

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

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held Jan. 21 at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second Street in Monument. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, Dec. 3: Edwards being deployed; Burns appointed acting chief

By Jim Kendrick

The 2009 budget, appropriation, and mill levy were unanimously approved at the Dec. 3 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board meeting. The mill levy for the coming year remains at 7.0 mills. With the increased number of commercial buildings within the district, the total assessed value and property tax revenues will rise to $1,692,796. A copy of the budget is posted on Wescott’s Web site. (See www.wescottfire.org/documents/2009DWFP_Budget.pdf for more details.)

Treasurer Dennis Feltz was excused.

The board unanimously approved a revision to the district’s military leave policy and procedures. The proposed changes in wording bring the policy into alignment with current state statutes and the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act that protect job status, pay grade, and the accrual of longevity and seniority.

Chief Jeff Edwards has been called back to active duty again and will deploy with his Wyoming Air National Guard unit to the Middle East in January. Edwards previously served four months of active duty in Kuwait in early 2007 and three months of active duty in Iraq in 2004.

Edwards suggested that words be added from the Special District Association: "Although there is no requirement that employers pay the difference between military pay and the employee’s regular pay, the district in its sole discretion has the option to revise the compensation for the employee to include the pay differential if the district chooses to do so." The board approved all the suggested revisions unanimously.

The board unanimously approved a motion making Assistant Chief Vinny Burns Wescott’s acting chief during Edwards’ military leave of about four months.

The board unanimously approved a motion to pay Edwards the difference in his salaries while he is on military leave.

The board deferred making the final amendment to the 2008 budget until the January meeting. The federal government has not completed processing all of the expense and reimbursement paperwork from this summer’s wildland fire deployments, and Wescott has not received all the payments that are due for its crew’s participation. The decision to participate in this program was made in the spring, long after the 2008 budget was approved in December 2007.

New fire apparatus discussed

The board continued its discussions that began a year ago regarding the purchase of new pumper and ladder fire trucks, and planning for construction of another fire station on the eastern side of the district. The board has also begun talks about merging with Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District to the east. This planning led to the extensively revised format and allocations approved in the new budget noted above.

The board asked Edwards and Burns to develop a proposal for a strategic plan. The directors said they intend to use the plan to focus discussions on how to prioritize the purchase of land, construction of a new fire station, and the new apparatus.

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The next meeting of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board will be on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings will normally be held on the fourth Wednesday of the month starting in January. Information: 488-8680.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Dec. 10: Tri-Lakes to provide ambulance service for Palmer Lake

By John Heiser

During the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting Dec. 10, Chief Robert Denboske announced that the district has received a draft contract for providing ambulance service to the Town of Palmer Lake. The Larkspur Fire Protection District has provided ambulance service since October 2006 but has said it will discontinue service at the end of December. Prior to 2006, the Tri-Lakes district had provided service to Palmer Lake for many years. Denboske said Tri-Lakes will provide ambulance service to Palmer Lake while the details of the new contract are finalized.

Financial report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt presented a report on the financial status of the district as of the end of November. He reported that the authority received 103.4 percent of the $4.78 million in revenue anticipated for the year. The revenue exceeded the budget by $160,197.

Ambulance revenues stood at $390,885, which is 86.9 percent of the $450,000 budgeted for the year. Hildebrandt noted that November was the first month this year that the ambulance revenues have come in below budget.

Total income of $317,329 from specific ownership taxes lagged at 78.4 percent of the budgeted amount for the year. Hildebrandt said, "With a further slowing of the economy, we will be $70,000 to $75,000 short for the year." Specific ownership taxes are paid as part of vehicle registration and decline with the age of the vehicle. With fewer new vehicles being purchased, the total tax received by the district came in below expectations.

As of the end of November, despite insurance expenses of $391,711, which are 13.65 percent over budget for that point in the year, overall expenses were under budget by 14.97 percent.

Hildebrandt said that as of the end of November, the district was showing a surplus of revenue over expenses of $1.28 million, of which $337,609 came from the sale of ladder truck 2033.

He noted that the district has adequate reserves to cover expenses through the early part of 2009 until it begins to receive property tax revenues in February and March.

2009 budget approved

The board unanimously approved the 2009 budget as presented by Denboske. It calls for annual operating fund revenue of $4.02 million and operating fund expenses of $4.02 million, up from the $3.91 million budgeted for 2008. Denboske and Hildebrandt acknowledged the efforts of the staff in preparing the budget.

Repaired fire truck to be returned to service

Denboske reported that repairs have been completed to the fire truck that was badly damaged in an accident in July. He said the repairs cost about $57,000, not the originally estimated $121,000. He added, "You can’t tell there was any damage."

2009 meeting dates set

The board unanimously approved setting the fourth Wednesday of each month as the date for the regular monthly meetings. The two exceptions are that the November meeting will be held Nov. 18 and the December meeting will be held Dec. 9.

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The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting will be held Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

For more information, call Chief Denboske at 266-3367 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board, Dec. 18: Second-graders make holiday presentation to the board

Below: Members of Gail Ostergren’s 2nd grade class at Kilmer Elementary School read Twas the Night Before Christmas. Photo by Robin Adair.

Below: MLO Committee volunteers (L to R): Mark Pfoff, Deb Goth, Kristin Boyd, Mirielle Bock, Robb Pike, Cathy Wilcox, and Gail Wilson. They and other community volunteers spent about eight months working on this campaign. Photo by Robin Adair.

By Stacey Paxson

Before the District-38 School Board meeting on Dec. 18, members of the Mill Levy Override (MLO) Committee attended a reception with board members and district administrators.

In addition to the five Board of Education members (President Dee Dee Eaton, John Mann, Mark Pfoff, Robb Pike, and Gail Wilson), attending were D-38 Superintendent Ray Blanch; Cheryl Wangeman, assistant superintendent of Operations; Shirley Trees, assistant superintendent of Student Learning; Aileen Finnegan, principal of Prairie Winds Elementary School; and Gary Gabel, principal of Palmer Ridge High School.

Some of Gail Ostergren’s second-grade students from Kilmer Elementary School also were there.

Holiday presentation

Members of Ostergren’s class read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas" as part of their preparation for holiday celebrations. The poem, written by Clement C. Moore, was first published in a New York newspaper, the Sentinel, on Dec. 23, 1823. Up until its publication, the appearance of Santa Claus had never been defined, and Moore is credited today as the man who put a face to Santa.

This description of St. Nick prompted Ostergren to create a Christmas activity that would allow the students to describe Santa in their own words. At the D-38 meeting, Ostergren selected two students to read their poems. The class concluded the presentation with a reading of the Christmas classic and a tossing of their Santa caps.

Ostergren had approached Vicki Wood, secretary to the superintendent, about the concept of presenting to the School Board, stating, "They just need some good holiday cheer and I know I can do that with the second-graders."

MLO committee commended for its efforts

Following the holiday performance, the regular D-38 meeting began with the commendation of members of the MLO Committee. Members of the committee are Robin Adair, Mirielle Bock, Kristin Boyd, Deb Goth, Ron Grundman, Helen Liou, Kelly Kempf Mobley, Pfoff, Pike, Ron Schwarz, Owen Walcher, Cathy Wilcox, Gail Wilson, and Deb Zeh.

The MLO Committee was formed in the spring of 2008 following the certification of the MLO by the school district. Members of the committee had previously worked on other bond and MLO issues. The committee volunteered to attend Board of Education meetings to be available to answer questions from the community, held five community meetings, distributed mailers with pertinent information regarding the MLO, maintained a Web site, distributed yard signs and large banners, and stood at store fronts passing out literature and encouraging community members to vote for the MLO.

Committee Chairwoman Cathy Wilcox said about the failure of the MLO, "This will be a challenging time for all D-38 employees and students of D-38, but our quality staff and administrators will do the best they can to keep cuts away from kids and forge ahead with the number one priority of providing an excellent education for our D-38 kids."

Annual audit report presented

Wendy Swanhorst, from Swanhorst and Co. LLC, briefly discussed a letter submitted to the board in regard to an audit performed in August 2008. Though recommendations were given to the board, Swanhorst said that none of them are of great significance, and overall the board was in a good position in regard to general accounting practices and compliance with federal accounting controls.

The consensus of those involved in the committee was that it went very smoothly. Pfoff said in regard to the work of the audit committee, "Having been in positions in the past where you don’t get a lot of appreciation until something goes bad and then you get criticism, Cheryl and her group have done a phenomenal job."

Wangeman commended accountant Nancy Tive for her work on the audit report.

The board accepted the audit report and recommendations given by Swanhorst and Co.

All schools scored well

Blanch reported that the School Accountability Reports (SAR), or state report cards, revealed that all the schools in the district scored high or excellent. Blanch stated, "Each one of those campuses is doing a great job in so many different ways . . . it certainly is an opportunity to celebrate; this didn’t happen by accident. This is a result of dedicated staff members, teachers, and support staff members working hard to make this happen."

This system will allow the district to eventually see what specific growth takes place within a year. It can then be determined if each student is making a year’s worth of educational advances in a year’s time in comparison to peers across the state. This will enable educators to help each student progress from the current position of academic achievement to the next level. The SAR does not report information such as health and fitness levels.

Wilson noted that six schools in D-38 were recognized under the John Irwin School of Excellence Awards. "We could suspect that there were not that many districts that have that percentage of their campuses qualifying for John Irwin awards," said Wilson. Created in 2000 and named after a former state legislator, the John Irwin award honors the top 8 percent of public schools in Colorado as determined by the SARs.

Board votes to support lawsuit seeking greater funding for public education

Wangeman reported that the Colorado Supreme Court will hear the Labato v. Colorado lawsuit filed in 2005 by public interest law firm Children’s Voices. The complaint was filed based on an article of the Colorado Constitution that states that the "general assembly shall . . . provide for the establishment and maintenance of a thorough and uniform system of free public schools throughout the state, wherein all residents of the state, between the ages of six and twenty-one years, may be educated gratuitously."

The case is referred to as an adequacy case because it challenges whether or not the state of Colorado is adequately funding public education. Upon the recommendation of the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), the D-38 board voted to contribute 25 cents per pupil toward supporting this litigation.

Other matters

  • Consider/approve adjustments to 2008­-09 budget – The changes to the 2008-09 budget presented by Wangeman at the November meeting were unanimously approved by the board. General fund revenues were reduced by $288,000 as a result of lower student enrollment than previously expected and changes in special-education revenues. A decrease in expenditures of $294,000, due primarily to a net reduction in staffing positions, was also noted. This resulted in a net reduction of $6,000 in the general fund budget.
  • Consider/approve preliminary 2009­-10 capital reserve budget – Wangeman reviewed the capital reserve expenditures, as previously discussed in detail at the November board meeting. She explained that initial approval is necessary to ensure that capital projects will be able to move forward this summer. After lengthy discussion, the board approved the preliminary capital reserve budget for 2009-­10, holding $400,000 in reserve, with the understanding that the budget will be re-evaluated in June.
  • Consider/approve 2009­-10 school calendar – Wangeman presented the 2009-­10 school calendar for board approval. Members of the calendar committee – including parents, teachers, and administrators – considered such areas of concern as legal holidays, Professional Learning Community days, and the importance of completing the first semester before winter break. Board members approved the calendar, which will be posted on the district Web site. A draft of the 2010­-11 calendar has also been prepared and will be finalized soon.
  • $1.1 million in Lewis-­Palmer High School improvements approved – On Dec. 4, board members toured LPHS with members of the OAC (Operations Advisory Committee, formerly called the Facilities and Enrollment Committee) to discuss necessary improvements to the school facility. Board members approved funding for the high school improvements, in an amount not to exceed $1.1 million.
  • Board member comments – Pfoff expressed concern about the elimination of the School Resource Officer (SRO) position due to budget reductions. Blanch explained that Hal Garland, director of Auxiliary Services and responsible for overseeing campus security, is working with El Paso County and the local police departments to determine how the district might continue to provide security services for our students and facilities. The district will not have an SRO for the second semester of the current school year. Board President Eaton stated she has recently attended presentations by several high school students in the gifted and talented program. She commented on the skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm demonstrated by these students, and complimented the teachers, principals, and staff members who contribute to the success of this and other special programs within the district.
  •  Monument Academy funding unaffected by MLO failure — In response to a question, it was stated that the failure of the MLO in November will not affect Monument Academy. The budget for Monument Academy is overseen by the Monument Academy board.

Final cuts in the budget and staff due to the failure of the MLO have not been announced, but are expected to be made by February 2009.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The next regular monthly meeting of the board will be held Jan. 15 at 6 p.m.

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

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

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District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee meeting, Dec. 10: Special Education Advisory Committee plans programs for 2009

By Harriet Halbig

School District 38’s Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) met Dec. 10 with Special Education Director Julie O’Brien presiding.

Ginger Stringer of the PEAK Parents Center was a guest at the meeting. The center is a federally funded organization that serves to help parents advocate for special needs children and those transitioning to adulthood (up to 26 years of age).

Stringer’s focus was on introducing the 2009 Conference on Inclusive Education to be held at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center in February. She explained the many workshops to be offered on such subjects as implementing RTI (Response to Intervention), families and educators working together, and inclusive postsecondary education options for students with intellectual disabilities.

Stringer suggested that people attend in teams, including a parent, a special education teacher and a mainstream teacher. Scholarships are available.

O’Brien also mentioned that she is helping to organize a silent auction to be held during the event.

Regarding other services from the PEAK Parent Center, Stringer said that parent advisers are available to discuss legal issues and resources in the community. Legal issues include estate planning and guardianship.

She also mentioned the PEP (Parents Encouraging Parents) conference to be held in Colorado Springs in late February. The conference is free and includes hotel and meals. PEP is co-sponsored by PEAK Parent Center and the Colorado Department of Education.

O’Brien commented that the parent support subcommittee of SEAC had been told that PEAK Parent Center and Colorado Department of Education could tailor a program for the community. SEAC would host it, perhaps in March. Possible topics would be accommodation modifications and access to general education curriculum.

Ilanit Bennaim, of the parent support subcommittee, then referred to a resource fair held two years ago. She said she had e-mailed all participants asking for program ideas and received eight responses. Bennaim listed the potential speakers and their subjects and suggested that the first program, on the International Dyslexia Association, be held in January. She suggested holding another resource fair in April 2009.

O’Brien reported that a designer had been contracted to work on the new SEAC Web site.Changes will be sent to her for her approval.

She also reported that suggestions for additional subcommittees included the Somebody Who Cares program, which would award those who go the extra mile to help special needs students. The recipients would receive balloons and a certificate. Suzanne Faber volunteered to coordinate the program, including development of a nomination form.

In a brief report on grant research, O’Brien suggested that some areas in which the district could benefit from grants are post-school planning and supported employment. She said the district has no certified teachers in alternative cooperative education (formerly known as work/study).

O’Brien reported on the survey that was sent to parents in October. Forty-four responses were received. It is unknown whether any of them were from the same parents who responded in May.

She said parents expressed concern that progress reports were not frequent enough, since they come out with report cards. She said that parents are entitled to speak with individual teachers to receive more frequent updates. New rules require that regular education teachers must attend the entire Individual Education Plan meetings rather than a portion of them.

Problem areas that surfaced in the survey are that extended school year options are not explained to all parents and not all necessary staff attended the meetings.

She suggested that someone develop a new response mechanism for parents in addition to the survey.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

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The next meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday of January.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Dec. 12: 2009 budget approved, including interchange expansion

Below (L to R): At the BRRTA meeting Dec. 12, attorney Jim Hunsaker, manager Denise Denslow, and board members Amy Lathen, Dennis Hisey, Travis Easton, Byron Glenn, and Wayne Williams. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) unanimously approved its 2009 budget on Dec. 12. Monument Mayor Byron Glenn announced that he would be stepping down after seven years on the board so that another town trustee could gain BRRTA experience as Glenn nears the end of his second four-year term. All board members were present: County Commissioners Wayne Williams, Amy Lathen, and Dennis Hisey and Trustee Travis Easton.

2009 budget approved

The General Fund will receive $469,804 in road use fees and $16,282 in interest, and a transfer of $150,000 from the capital fund. The latter amount is a "temporary loan" to the Capital Projects Fund for payment of initial expenses for the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion project before proceeds from the $21.5 million bond sale are available. Expenditures will total $730,400. The fund balance will drop from $1,080,019 at the start of the year to $963,023 at year-end.

The Capital Projects Fund will receive $100,000 in interest. Expenditures will total $12,696,846, composed of costs for bank fees, investment fees, construction management fees, road construction, and paying back the $150,000 loan to the General Fund noted above. The fund balance will drop from $17,686,361 at the start of the year to $5,101,515 at year-end.

The Debt Service Fund will receive $64,200 in capitalized interest and $700,000 in sales tax revenue. Expenditures are $1,060,965 for bond interest and $40,000 for investment fees. The fund balance will drop from $2,835,475 at the start of the year to $2,498,710 at year-end.

The board also unanimously approved an amendment to the 2008 budget adding $150,000 for an added construction cost of the sound wall on the south side of Baptist Road east of Gleneagle Drive.

Preliminary study of commercial road use fee schedule presented

Consultants Todd Frisbee and Colleen Guillotte, of traffic engineering consultant Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, presented the results of a study on the current BRRTA rates in its traffic impact fee schedule that were documented in a preliminary report.

At the Aug. 8 BRRTA meeting, 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 added that a second study was prepared by traffic engineering consultant Lee, Scott, and Cleary that he said showed that the Monument Ridge 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 per square foot 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.

BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker, of Grimshaw and Harring PC, noted that BRRTA’s road use fee schedule currently has only five categories: single-family residential ($1,500 per dwelling unit), multi-family residential ($1,050 per dwelling unit), destination retail/hotel ($3.75 per square foot), convenience ($15 per square foot), and other ($3 per square foot).

The study expanded the number to 30 categories as requested: 4 residential, 15 commercial, 8 office/institutional, and 3 industrial. Guillotte said the preliminary study also compared two possible expanded BRRTA fee schedules with these 30 categories based on the current single- family home impact fee of $1,500 and the Front Range average of $1,900.

Guillotte noted that the current $1,500 fee for a single-family dwelling that generates 9.57 new trips per day within BRRTA equates to $157 per new trip. If the basis were increased to the average Front Range impact fee of $1,900 for a single-family dwelling, it would equate to $199 per new trip.

In calculating fees per new trip for the 26 commercial categories, Guillotte noted that new trips are different from pass-by and diverted trips. According to the current Institute of Transportation Engineers Trip Generation Handbook (Eighth Edition, 2008), which is the industry standard, pass-by trips are attracted from existing traffic traveling along adjacent roadways that make an intermediate stop between their origin and destination. Diverted trips are also trips that make an intermediate stop, but these trips are diverted from another roadway. Pass-by and diverted trips do not have the same impact on the roadway network as new trips.

The percentage of new trips generated by the commercial categories under the current BRRTA fee structure would range from a low of 16 percent for a new gas station with a convenience store to a high of 80 percent for a new movie theater. All trips generated by single- and multi-family homes, new hotels, nursing homes, office/institutional, and industrial buildings are new trips.

There was a technical discussion on the limitations of the preliminary study. Williams noted that the study may not adequately differentiate the traffic impact of BRRTA and non-BRRTA residents traveling on Baptist Road to the various types of commercial sites within BRRTA, in effect under-reporting the actual road use impact.

There was consensus that an estimate should be prepared for the next meeting on how these two proposed fee schedules would affect future BRRTA impact fee revenue. The estimates will be based on the commercial growth projections in the March 2006 market analysis of future BRRTA sales tax revenue prepared by consultant King & Associates Inc. This report was published prior to advertising the $21.5 million bond to finance the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v6n4.htm#brrta for details of King’s findings.)

The board unanimously ratified/approved the following checks issued since August:

  • $15,881 to Carter & Burgess Inc. for construction
  • $3,500 to Dawn A. Schilling LLC for preparation and filing of the ratified final 2007 BRRTA audit
  • $24,731 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal services
  • $3,910 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management services
  • $30,813 to PBS&J Engineering for engineering services
  • $500 to BKD LLP for accounting services
  • $322 to McGraw-Hill for construction regulation publication
  • $150,000 to Rocky Mountain Materials & Asphalt for sound wall construction
  • $219 to The Gazette for publication expenses
  • $245 to Colorado Dept of Public Health & Environment for a construction permit
  • $2,197 to the Denver Newspaper Agency for budget publication
  • $10,687 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal services
  • $17,084 to R.S. Wells for district management
  • $255 to T. Charles Wilson Insurance for title insurance
  • $219 to The Gazette for publication expenses
  • $1,300 to BKD LLP for accounting services
  • $175 to the El Paso County treasurer for title insurance
  • $4,020 to Grimshaw & Harring LP for legal services

District Manager Denise Denslow of R.S. Wells noted that she and another staff member had spent a lot of time with the state Revenue Department straightening out the collection and remittance of revenues from BRRTA’s new temporary 1-cent sales tax by all the vendors within BRRTA.

The board unanimously accepted the third-quarter financial report presented by CPA Wanda Bynum of accounting firm BDK LLP.

The board unanimously approved an e-mail process to authorize industry-standard monthly construction payments in 2009 for the Baptist Road interchange project being constructed by Lawrence Construction Co. BRRTA meets only every other month, preventing monthly approvals by the board.

Denslow will be authorized to make the approved monthly payments to Lawrence once a minimum of three BRRTA board members favorably reply to Denslow’s e-mails containing monthly Lawrence payment requests, or if 10 days pass without negative votes from three board members. The BRRTA president or vice president will sign the check per the request of BRRTA’s bond counsel.

Lawrence’s schedule calls for construction to be completed within 12 months for the $12,614,738 contract.

The board unanimously approved the following capital payments from bond proceeds for the interchange construction project:

  • $184,671 to Lawrence Construction for Pay Application No. 1
  • $35,476 to engineering consultant PBS&J for engineering expenses
  • $79,076 to Jacobs Carter Burgess for construction management expenses

Construction update

County Engineer Andre Brackin said that the Baptist Road widening project is substantially complete. The sidewalks between Baptist and Lyons Tail Roads have not been completed due to utility issues.

The Town of Monument wants the median landscaped. Glenn asked that any remaining funds be escrowed to help the town pay for installing an irrigation system in the median sometime in 2010.

Bob Torres of Jacobs reported on interchange progress. He said that the project should conclude on Jan. 20, 2010. Lawrence Construction has established a construction equipment storage area near the electric substation on Jackson Creek Parkway north of Monument Marketplace.

The three Jackson Creek box culverts under Baptist Road will be cast in place rather than using precast units. Baptist Road will be temporarily closed during construction of the middle box culvert and the median from Jackson Creek Parkway to the bridge. The county public information officer and Colorado Department of Transportation will advertise the closure.

Struthers Road between Baptist Road and Higby Road has been permanently closed. The south end of the road will be excavated; the new dual-lane northbound on-ramp will then be constructed on this right-of-way.

The town will restripe the intersection of Higby and Jackson Creek Parkway to change the southbound right-turn lane to a through lane. The traffic signal timing and sequencing will not be changed.

The right-of-way issues for THF Realty and ADK Monument Developers LLC on the northeast corner of the project have not been resolved, Torres said. THF owns the former Foxworth-Galbraith hardware store property and ADK owns the vacant land between the THF parcel, Jackson Creek Parkway and Monument Marketplace.

The Department of Interior is expected to issue a ruling by early February on the historic clearance BRRTA has requested for the abandoned original concrete Denver Highway just west of the Diamond Shamrock fuel station. The current lack of a clearance has not affected Lawrence’s schedule.

Torres said that Qwest, Black Hills, and Mountain View Electric Association are providing good cooperation for utility relocations so far, with no delays expected.

The sanitary sewer line Jacobs is installing between Old Denver Highway and the Diamond Shamrock fuel station was expected to be finished by Dec. 31 as required. There is a slight grade problem to ensure gravity flow that should be resolved soon. The Town of Monument is paying for the sewer line to expedite construction. The new dual-lane southbound off ramp required the removal of the fuel station’s septic system.

The water line to the fuel station is more problematic with respect to delivery of construction materials and the cold weather, Torres said. Glenn asked Torres to write a letter to Valero Corp. explaining the delays in installing the water line to Valero’s fuel station.

Torres noted that no plans have been finalized for a planned extension of Triview Metropolitan District water and sanitary sewer lines across the north side of the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection to the south sides of the ADK and THF parcels and across I-25. BRRTA has no plans or funding for the Triview water line.

Glenn asserted that BRRTA should pay for the extension because THF and ADK have paid road use fees. Triview has no money to pay for the extension and if the line is installed later, paving would be have to be dug up, he said.

Williams said that there is no existing water line, and the water line is not a roadway improvement. Building new utilities is not BRRTA’s responsibility. He added that he didn’t believe BRRTA could legally pay for the water line based on the wording of the ballot issue.

The board approved $1,540 for two signs on Baptist Road advertising BRRTA’s involvement in the project and a completion date of spring 2010 for now. One sign will be on westbound Baptist Road east of Jackson Creek Parkway. The other sign will be on southbound Jackson Creek Parkway, south of the King Soopers entrance by Lyons Tail Road.

Construction remains on schedule to avoid problems when Preble’s mouse restrictions on temporarily impacted areas on the east side of the interchange begin on April 30.

Torres said he would discuss the project at a Northern El Paso County Coalition of County Organizations (NEPCO) meeting at 10 a.m. on Jan. 10 at the Family of Christ Lutheran Church on Baptist Road, opposite the King Soopers center.

The board unanimously approved a sign easement agreement with Family of Christ Church at the intersection of the church’s new frontage road and Leather Chaps Drive south of Baptist Road. The church will install and maintain a 5-by-10-foot sign but will not be responsible for adjacent landscaping on either side of the sign.

The meeting adjourned at 3:50 p.m.

*********

The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 at Monument’s Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Friday of even-numbered months. Information: 884-8017.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Dec. 16: Public Safety staff busy with vacation checks

By Chris Pollard

At the Dec. 16 meeting, Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen said that his staff had been busy during the month of November, performing over 100 vacation checks on residents’ homes. These checks had been useful in identifying many doors left open each day.

There were 18 calls for barking dogs and two reports of vandalism. One of these was a damaged mailbox but the other was far more dangerous. Somebody had taken some industrial transparent stretch wrap and tied it across Woodmoor Drive. The wrap caught the roof rack of the first vehicle to pass and tore it off. Public Safety was working with the Sheriff’s Office on the incident.

Now that winter had arrived, Nielsen’s patrols were assisting people who had problems with driving in the snow—people who had got stuck or were flustered by the road conditions. Patrols also were busy at Toboggan Hill reminding people that skis and snowboards are not allowed and ensuring that jumps are not built on the hill.

Woodmoor Barn mold remediation

As part of the refinishing of the Woodmoor Barn, new carpet will be installed. Around $25,000 was in the budget for what was expected to be commercial grade carpeting. There were some problems in removing the old carpet because it had been glued down too well. There was some discussion about whether repainting should be done while the carpet was up. It was generally agreed to get bids for this and see if it could be done at the same time.

It was hoped that the mold remediation could be completed before the end of the year. Total cost of the remediation was expected to be around $41,000, with around $9,000 of that for the removal of some asbestos-containing filler and the rest for mold removal. There might be some extra charges for mold retesting. This amount did not cover any of the costs of the planned remodeling, and suggestions were made to consider substitutions for the specified tile floor and stainless appliances to reduce cost.

**********

The next meeting Jan. 12 will begin at 6 p.m. with a forum for candidates for the coming election. The regular directors’ meeting will start at 7 p.m. The location is undetermined at this time.

The annual meeting will be on Jan. 26 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Sign-in will be at 6 p.m., with the formal meeting at 7 p.m.

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December Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Temperatures were near normal for the month, with many swings between cold Canadian air masses and warm westerly winds. Precipitation, including snow, was below average for the month. However, the big snowfall from Nov. 30 combined with a few reinforcing shots of snow meant that many areas kept a nice snowpack throughout the month.

The first week of December had some wintry weather interspersed with brief mild and sunny periods. A trace of snow fell on the 1st as temperatures stayed below normal. Then warmer and windy weather moved in that evening as winds gusted overnight and kept temperatures above freezing. Highs on the 2nd hit the mid- and upper 50s. However, as usual, this was ahead of a cold front, which dropped through the region just before midnight on the 2nd.

Temperatures on the 3rd and 4th were chilly, with highs staying below freezing on the 3rd and holding only in the teens on the 4th as a reinforcing shot of cold air moved in. In fact, the high of 15° F on the 4th occurred just after midnight and temperatures tumbled into the single digits during the day with light snow.

Warming, westerly winds moved back in over the next few days, scouring out the cold air and returning temperatures back to above normal levels in the 40s and 50s. The next cold front arrived during the afternoon of the 8th, accompanied by more cold air and moisture. This time most of us picked up 3-6 inches of snow from the afternoon of the 8th through the morning of the 9th. High temperatures held in the teens again on the 9th, even with sunshine returning.

The rollercoaster ride continued as the cold air moved out to the east and temperatures rose back into the 40s from the 10th through the 13th under mostly sunny skies. Then the next even colder airmass moved in just after midnight on the 14th. This Arctic front brought with it the coldest air of the season so far. Temperatures were in the low 30s when the front arrived then quickly tumbled to the single digits and continued to dip below zero during the day. A couple inches of snow accompanied this chilly air mass as well.

Temperatures continued to bounce up and down every few days during the week of Christmas around the region, with highs hitting the low to mid-40s on the 22nd and the 28th and holding below freezing on 23rd, 24th, and 27th. Several powerful Pacific storms slammed into Colorado, but because the origin of these storms was from the west/southwest, we missed out on all the fun here on the Front Range. Instead, western Colorado and the mountains picked up lots of snow. Several areas in the San Juan Mountains accumulated over 4 feet of snow during the week! We did have a couple of brief snowfalls around the area on the 23rd and 26th, but that was about it.

The month ended with quiet and mild conditions, as our "January thaw" came a little early this year. Be sure to look for the top weather events of 2008 and a yearly weather summary in next month’s issue.

A look ahead

January has the coldest average temperatures of the year, but precipitation is on the low side, with amounts generally less than an inch. The month has numerous sunny and windy days, with quick shots of snow in between. The last few Januarys have generally been warmer than normal, with near normal precipitation and snow. January 2006 received more snow than normal, and then last year was about average.

The official monthly forecast for January 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for better than average chances of above normal temperatures and equal chances of above or below normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

December 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 37.2° (+3.9°)
Average Low 12.8° (+2.0°)
Highest Temperature 55° on the 2nd
Lowest Temperature -11° on the 15th
Monthly Precipitation 0.60" (+0.97", 64% above normal)
Monthly Snowfall 10.3" (+16.9", 66% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 38.9" (-5.8", 13% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 13.42" (+1.57", 12% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1230 (+20)
Cooling Degree Days 0

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

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

Watch for Bill Kappel’s 2008 Weather Summary in our Feb. 7 issue.

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Letters to Our Community

Generous community fills up Red Kettles

Below: Sertoman Benny Nasser rings the bell at Safeway on Christmas eve. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Despite the downturn in the economy and Monument Hill Sertoma having five fewer days than in the 2007 bell-ringing season, the Tri-Lakes community contributed $34,164.80 to Sertoma’s Salvation Army Red Kettles located at Safeway, King Soopers, and Wal-Mart. These contributions set a record of $1,314.03 per day.

The Lewis-Palmer Serteens collected $3,548.23 and the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America collected $2,315.28. Eighty Sertoma members, the Lewis-Palmer Serteens, and the local Cub and Boy Scouts of America provided 1,600 hours of volunteer bell ringing and administrative organization and oversight in 26 days.

onument Hill Sertoma thanks all those in the Tri-Lakes community who contributed to the Red Kettles and for those who volunteer their time to the Red Kettle campaign during the holiday season. Your generosity and kindness made for a successful 2008 Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign!

Mike Wicklund
Chairman, Monument Hill Sertoma Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign

Monument Mayor describes the State Of The Town

The state of the Town of Monument is well! Although there is currently a strong downward trend in the economy, we have seen the opening of new retail shops within the Town limits which have helped steady our revenue stream. We are cautiously optimistic that the revenue stream in 2009 will stay fairly consistent with 2008 and have prepared the Town budget accordingly.

We believe it is of vital importance in both good and bad economic times to provide an efficient spending plan that demonstrates our commitment to eliminate tax payer waste, spending your hard earned tax dollars the best possible way we can. To accommodate our beliefs, the Town has partnered with the Triview Metropolitan District to provide administration, daily operations and maintenance of the District, thus potentially saving the residents of Triview at least $500,000 per year. This savings can, therefore, be applied to current debt payments or much needed capital improvement projects within the District. This type of partnering also helps the Town residents not living in the Triview District by reinforcing the ability of the District to pay debt and, therefore, maintaining strong housing resale values which impact the entire region. We are all residents of Monument whether one lives on the east or west side of I-25. It is therefore the Town leadership’s responsibility to make sure the financial strength and well being of the Town is enhanced and maintained.

Major infrastructure improvements along Baptist Road were completed this past summer and a second major project began in November; the new Baptist Road and I-25 interchange. The construction of this interchange is anticipated to be completed in the first quarter of 2010, and will include a widened bridge with new on and off ramps, along with the continued widening of Baptist Road from the interchange eastward to Jackson Creek Parkway. The project is being totally funded by the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority’s (BRRTA) one cent sales tax increase, which was approved in November of 2006 and went into effect on July 1, 2007.

Other large infrastructure projects which have started this past year and are scheduled to be completed in 2009 include the Town’s new Police Station and Town Hall facility located at Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105. Construction is anticipated to be completed this spring. Drainage and pedestrian improvements on Third Street are slated to start mid 2009, and hopefully be completed by early 2010. Limbach Park improvements and a band shell were completed prior to July 4th and anew park in Santa Fe Trails was just recently completed.

As we move into 2009, water resources development will be our top priority. We are looking at ways to better utilize our current water supply, while planning for future water resource development. We will be developing a Water Development Plan within the next few months and hope to have it in place by June. This plan will outline our best alternatives for reusable and renewable water, and how we, as a region, can utilize our existing supply to its greatest efficiency. This plan will also outline anticipated costs and timing for each alternative.

As a final note, I firmly believe that we create our own community. Therefore, we truly need all of you involved in our process and informed as to where we are headed as a Town. In order to facilitate your limited time and tough schedule, we are preparing for two Town Symposiums this year, one on April 20 and one on October 19. These symposiums will give the Town leadership an opportunity to openly discuss with you the planned future direction of the town and to obtain your input, thoughts and suggestions of where you, the people, want to see this community go. So please mark your calendars.

We hope you all have a great 2009!

Byron Glenn
Mayor, Town of Monument

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Perspective on our community: Phil Steininger to retire from water district

By Elizabeth Hacker

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) manager Phil Steininger said farewell after more than 25 years of service, and service is what this manager is all about.

At the age of 19, Steininger came to Colorado from Grabill, Ind., to work at the Frontier Boys Village in Larkspur (now the Emily Griffith Center). For three years, he supervised a cabin of 12 troubled teen boys. A few years later, he met his future wife, Joan, when she moved to Colorado to work at the Village. At that time, Steininger was a sales representative for a plumbing and heating wholesaler in Colorado Springs and volunteered at the Boy’s Village on weekends.

WWSD was one of Steininger’s accounts when in 1984 the district’s manager John Price announced that he was leaving. Steininger thought it would be easier to manage a water district than sell plumbing and heating supplies, so he applied.

When Steininger took over management of the district, it was much different than it is today. Three employees took care of supplying water to the 685 taps (customers). All water came from three Dawson wells that didn’t require treatment, and everything worked pretty well until that day in the summer of 1987 when the district ran out of water.

Although there were signs that residents were using water faster than the wells were pumping it, actually running out was unexpected. Steininger didn’t have time to alert the board members before sending a fire truck out to tell residents to immediately stop watering. He laughs as he recalls that the board president first learned that the district had run out of water while playing in a golf tournament at the Woodmoor Country Club as the fire truck drove by warning people not to irrigate. He adds that it wasn’t so funny at the time.

This crisis alerted Steininger that the district needed to develop a long-range plan to secure water for the future and immediately hired a consultant to begin work on one. Over the years the plan has served to guide the district as it has grown. WWSD now supplies water to more than 3,000 taps, pumps water from 21 Arapahoe Basin and Dawson wells, operates two water treatment plants, employs 13 full-time people, is financially secure, and has a reserve to help fund future water rights.

Steininger credits his professional staff, the support of the residents, and competent consultants for helping to secure the district’s future. He noted that in 1987 the residents supported a $1.8 million bond issue to complete building the district’s infrastructure, and again in 1997 they passed a $2.4 million bond issue to build the Tri-Lakes Waste Water Treatment facility, adding that the bonds will be paid off in 2011.

In addition to managing the district, Steininger has served as president for the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and the El Paso County Water Authority. Steininger noted that water planning is a regional issue, and he has also served on the action committees for Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Environmental Committee and on the statewide South Platte River Basin Roundtable.

More recently the district has developed a water conservation standard that includes an alternating plan for lawn irrigation, rebates for water-saving devices such as low-flow toilets, classes on water-wise landscaping, a xeriscape demonstration garden at the South Water Treatment Plant, educational bill stuffers that explain ways to conserve water, and an elementary school poster contest.

For Phil and Joan, their two sons, Ben and Andy, and their daughter, Sarah, life is about being together and serving their community. Whether it’s traveling to learn about the culture of an exotic country like Chile, going to Limon to help clean up after the 1991 tornado, or snowshoeing in the mountains, they enjoy being together.

Although Steininger is retiring from WWSD, he isn’t really retiring. He and Joan are members of the Mennonite Community and are moving to St. Catharine’s, Ontario, to manage two thrift stores in a lower-income area of that community. Phil is looking forward to the management challenge. Joan will be working with him but is also planning their hikes on the historic trails along the shores of Lake Ontario!

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Tightening the belt and the wallet

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Keeping those New Year’s resolutions can be a real challenge, but if you’re vowing to lose some weight, live healthier, or gain control of your finances, there are books to help you stay on track.

The Complete Cheapskate
By Mary Hunt (St. Martin’s Griffin), $14.95

Becoming a classy, dignified cheapskate is not all that difficult, and Hunt shows how with her user-friendly principles of saving, restraint, and living debt-free. The book shows how to create—and stick to—a monthly spending plan; live well off 80 percent of your income; climb out—and stay out—of debt’s hole; stretch every dollar to its absolute maximum; manage savings and investments; lower bills without lowering living standards; and live within a financial plan.

Shopper’s Guide to Healthy Living
By Kathy Loidolt with Drs. John and Gail Warner, $12.99

This 105-page consumer resource offers information, advice, tips, techniques, resources, and lists for shopping wisely on a budget for everything from skin care products, to bug spray, to groceries and more. "Tear-out" shopping lists are provided to help the reader remember what to get—and what to avoid as well, and there is a section devoted to "Recipes for Healthy Living."

Where Does the Money Go?
By Brian Schweitzer (iUniverse Inc.), $14.95

Schweitzer is a writer and business owner who has created a simple method for management of personal finances that provides daily adaptability for life’s continual changes. He improves awareness and control of finances, presents an alternative to budgeting, simplifies decisions regarding all purchases or expenses, and allows you to live comfortably in a lifestyle of spending based on your cash flow.

The Mayo Clinic Plan: 10 Essential Steps to a Better Body and Healthier Life
By The Mayo Clinic Staff (Time Inc.) $24.95

Do you want to look better, feel better, and be healthier? The Mayo Clinic Plan spells out in clear, understandable terms, its 10-step approach to a healthier life. The core of the book focuses on fitness, diet, and weight, and how to improve your exercise and eating habits. Tools—from exercise plans to menus and recipes—are included to keep readers on a healthy path.

How Not to Die
By Jan Garavaglia, M.D. (Crown Publishers) $24.95

Dr. Garavaglia is one doctor most people would rather not see anytime soon. She is the chief medical examiner for the District Nine Medical Examiner’s Office in Florida, presiding over 1,100 autopsies a year. What is particularly sad is that many of these deaths could easily have been prevented. In this book, Dr. G., as she’s known to many, identifies the often-unintentional ways we harm our bodies, and then shows us how to use the information to live better and smarter. In "Highway to the Morgue," we learn the one common sense safety tip that can prevent deadly accidents. "Code Blue" teaches us how to increase our chances of leaving the hospital alive, and "Everyday Dangers" informs us why "neat freaks" live longer.

Real Life
By Dr. Phil McGraw (Free Press), $26.99

Wouldn’t it help to know what the worst days of your life would be like before they hit? In this book, Dr. McGraw helps prepare people for what he believes are the seven most common critical days they are likely to face: loss; fear; adaptability breakdown; physical health problems; mental health issues; addiction; and existential crisis. With the right attitude and the right information, says McGraw, every worst day can be turned into a valuable life experience.

Buy-ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
By Martin Lindstrom (Doubleday), $24.95

How much do we know about why we buy? Do sexy images and scantily-clad models actually create bigger sales? Does subliminal advertising still surround us despite the government bans? Author Lindstrom carried out a $7 million neuromarketing research study that peered into the brains of 2,000 volunteers from around the world, and his findings may surprise the reader.

With a little help and a lot of determination, you could be one of the small percentage who keep their resolutions in 2009.

Until next year, happy New Year and happy reading.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: The goldeneye

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of a Goldeneye Duck by Elizabeth Hacker. 

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

The cold winter winds have sent the migrating songbirds packing to warmer climates. While in Mexico last month, Randy and I observed numerous warblers and other summer birds. A few bluebirds may linger here to protect a territory, but in general the cold weather and limited food supplies force songbirds to winter in milder, more favorable conditions.

It may seem counterintuitive that some species of waterfowl choose to winter in Colorado, but compared to the far north where they breed, the cold open waters of the Colorado, South Platte, and Arkansas Rivers may seem balmy. As these ducks rest in preparation for the spring migration, they develop their most colorful plumage, making winter the best time to see them.

An excellent place to observe winter ducks is the Carson Nature Center just north and east of C-470 and Santa Fe Drive in Littleton. There, birds have grown accustomed to people moving along the trails that parallel the South Platte, so it is possible to get a close-up view of them as they frolic, fly back and forth along stretches of the river, and dive for food.

The goldeneye is a medium-size cavity-nesting diving duck, averaging 18.5 inches in length, with a wingspan of 26 inches, and weighing about 1.9 pounds. It winters here from December through March.

The name "goldeneye" comes from its striking brilliant yellow iris. The male’s eye-catching black and white plumage is quite handsome and reminds me of a little boy dressed up in a tuxedo. The duck has a chunky body with a big head. Although the markings vary between the Barrow’s and the common goldeneye, without the aid of a viewing scope, distinguishing the difference is challenging for this birder.

The male goldeneye has a blackish iridescent green head with a distinguishing crescent-shaped white patch between its eye and bill. The jet black feathers on its back, rump, and upper tail coverts (small feathers) are sharply contrasted by brilliant white feathers on the male’s breast, sides, belly, and across its secondary wing coverts. His bill is black, legs and webbed feet are a drab yellow, and his tail is a grayish brown.

Similar to other duck species, the female goldeneye is smaller and less showy. She doesn’t have to be beautiful because the males will pursue her no matter what she looks like, and her drab plumage may even help to camouflage her and her chicks from predators. Her head is brown with an off-white neckband, and her back and sides are speckled gray. Her upper wings are dark brown, and her secondary wings are a dull white. Her bill is black and transitions to yellow near the tip, and her legs and webbed feet are yellow.

The legs of diving ducks are set farther back on their bodies so they appear top-heavy or clumsy while waddling on land. However, in the air or on the water, there is no more agile or graceful bird.

In some areas of the country, the goldeneye is known as the "whistling" duck due to the whistling sound it makes in flight. It is one of the fastest flying ducks, and as it flies the air moves around its beating wings creating a distinctive whistling sound. While being observed on the South Platte, a small flock of goldeneye for no apparent reason darted up off the water in unison, flying about 5 feet above the surface for several hundred yards and then moving higher before circling and heading back to the same spot. Though the whistling sound grew faint as the birds flew away, the distinctive sound was detectable during the entire flight.

The goldeneye diet consists of fish, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans. It often congregates in a small group of five or fewer birds. Unlike the mallard, which is a herbivore or dabbling duck, the goldeneye is a carnivore and diving duck. After surfacing from a dive, a goldeneye will shake its head to dispel water, which is unusual for a duck.

It breeds in the northern boreal forests of Canada, Alaska, and the United States. It is a cavity nester but, unable to excavate its own cavity, it looks for abandoned woodpecker holes or nesting boxes. It has a strong homing tendency and will often use the same cavity in successive years. Females do not breed until their third year.

Nests are usually located near water but may be found in woodlands up to a mile away.

Like the common goldeneye, the Barrow’s goldeneye is not too particular about holding on to its own offspring. A female may lay her eggs in the nest of another goldeneye or even another species of cavity-nesting duck. Ducklings are highly independent and feed independently shortly after hatching.

Although the goldeneye is a game bird prized by some hunters, it is not highly desired at the table, reportedly having a strong fishy flavor. The life span of a goldeneye is longer than most ducks and can live up to 18 years in captivity.

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.

Below: An unexpected holiday visitor showed up at Jim and Paula Kendrick’s house. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Art Matters: Show will feature a local legend

Images below copyright Joseph Bohler. See www.placesintime.com for more information.

Palmer Lake Star

Afternoon Light

Quiet Winter

First Light Broadmoor

By Janet Sellers

When my little family first moved here to the Tri-Lakes area years ago, my children liked to go to the "Beanie Baby store" (Petal Pushin’ Gift Store) and shop. At that time, they had a beautiful grand piano there, as I remember (maybe it was a baby grand, or maybe just a shiny black piano of some sort) and frequently when we went to the shop, there was a nice man playing that piano. He would smile, play some, and chat with people as they came in and went out of the store. At the time, I thought to myself something on the order of, "How friendly these people are . . . and, wow, he’s good on the piano."

We also had the local phone book at hand, and I enjoyed the cover, which was almost always a painting of a local scene here in our area. Again, I thought to myself that the cover artist was "really good" and recognized his work around town, especially at the B & E Filling Station restaurant.

It was years later that I attended a class and watched Joe Bohler demonstrate some watercolor work he was doing, yet I still had not connected all the dots on this local creative legend known to us all as Joseph Bohler. I just enjoyed being around him and chatting here and there, and I hope he did, too. These are wonderful memories we have of the delights of living in our community.

For a little history on Bohler’s famous side, in June 1991 he was elected by his peers to membership in the National Academy of Western Art and won the Silver Medal for Watercolor in its 1992 show. He is a life member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America, a founding member of the Northwest Rendezvous, and a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, Watercolor USA Honor Society, and the Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Society. Wow again.

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts will have a show of Joe Bohler’s work in the beginning of February with prints for sale and originals on exhibition as well. I mention it now in January because I would like to get the word out to you all so you can enjoy it start to finish, and I don’t want you to miss the gala event of the opening of the show.

While the opening reception will be Feb. 21 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Joe will be present to personalize the prints sold), the exhibit begins on Feb. 3. I enjoy art openings as much as anyone for schmoozing and as a gala event, but for having a chance to look at the artwork up close and perhaps choose favorites, I like to be in the early-bird viewing, so I thought I would share that with you.

Joseph continually paints on location and teaches workshops throughout the world. He has visited Spain, Portugal, Morocco, England, the Greek Isles, Italy (Venice, Rome, and Tuscany) and Mexico (Acapulco, Taxco, Mexico City, and Oaxaca).

He is also a gifted musician. Blues and honky-tonk piano style are played at yearly piano concerts. In 2001, he released his first CD, titled "Rocky Mountain Blues." His second CD, titled "Springtime in the Rockies," was released in 2004.

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

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Snapshots of Our Community

North Pole Craft Show, Dec. 6

Below: Sertoma’s 3rd Annual North Pole at Tri-Lakes Craft Show, Dec. 6. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below (L-R): Caine McCord and Alishaunia Cox, both Palmer Ridge High School students, volunteered their time to assist the craft show. Their service is part of a school civics project that teaches the importance of community involvement. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below: All proceeds from Ann Halter’s booth went to Tri-Lakes Cares. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Rope baskets by Bob Towery were among the handmade items. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Bernard Minetti

North Pole at Tri-Lakes returned to Lewis-Palmer Middle School for its third year on the first weekend in December.

The fair featured 45 vendors with a wide variety of offerings, from locally produced alpaca yarn to Russian imports, from cosmetics to hand-coiled rope baskets. Most of the vendors were from the local area and many have participated in previous fairs. The sponsor of the fair is Monument Hill Sertoma, a group that distributes $90,000 per year in grants and scholarships. The price of admission to the fair was a donation of nonperishable food to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares. This year the fair generated 900 pounds of food and several hundred dollars in donations.

Coordinators of the event were Peggy Wilmoth and Dennis Daugherty.

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Monument Small Town Christmas, Dec. 6

Below: Allen Goodman, of Allen Goodman & Sons, provided tractor-powered hay rides for visitors of the Monument Small Town Christmas on December 6. The hay ride started at Second Street Art Market and circled through downtown Monument, taking riders past the 20 businesses participating in the event. Photo by David Futey.

Below: Many children took the opportunity to mingle among and pet miniature donkeys provided by MJB Miniature Donkeys, L.L.C. of Palmer Lake during the Monument Small Town Christmas. The donkeys originate from Sicily and Sardinia and can live up to 50 years old. Photo by David Futey.

Below Girl Scout Troop #90 hosted an arts and crafts fair at the town hall during the Monument Small Town Christmas held on December 6. Hats, bird feeders, and tree ornaments were among the many crafts children could make during the 3-hour activity. Photo by David Futey.

Below: Santa and Mrs. Claus (Mary Russelavage and Nick Primavera) enjoy meeting and talking with (L-R) Jackson, Emma, Olivia, and Jennifer Taylor during the Monument Small Town Christmas celebration in Limbach Park. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below Maggie Williamson, owner of Bella Art & Frame displays works by Thad Hendrick Pottery. Bella Art & Frame was one of the sponsors of the hayrides. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below Abundant Life Church members Mike Goll, Debbie Townsley, Ashley Townsley, Troy Townsley, David McDonald, and Tommy Mix present the manger scene in Bethlehem Revisited. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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Palmer Lake Yule Log Potluck Dinner, Dec. 9

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below Those who came to eat, work, and enjoy. Part of the pot luck dinner is assembling the Yule Log trophy pins, which are made of willow sticks and evergreen with a ribbon tie to keep it all in place. These trophies are handed out to all the participants in the Yule Log Hunt. 

Below: President Kurt Voelker with wife, Laramie, and (L-R) children Kyah, Ryder, and Ayla. Kurt has been active in this tradition for all of his 32 years. He follows in his father’s footsteps. The tradition has been ongoing in Palmer Lake for 75 years. 

Below: The Yule Log ladies assemble the Yule Log pins. 

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Palmer Lake Yule Log Hunt, Dec. 14

Photos by Bernard Minetti

Below: Finders (L-R) Cheyenne Wingo and Megan Skahill won the right to ride the log all the way back to Town Hall. Other searchers trade places after each short pull.

Below: The searchers take turns riding the Yule Log back to Palmer Lake Town Hall.

Below: Megan Skahill and Cheyenne Wingo help cut the log.

Below: "The Holley Berries" (L-R) Kate, Rebecca, and Kathryn Holley.

Below: The wassailleers (L-R) Rollin Murphy, Duane Hanson, and Rodger Voelker who each year are responsible for the brewing of the Palmer Lake wassail.

By David Futey

Since 1933, the Palmer Lake Yule Log Ceremony has marked the beginning of the Christmas holiday for members of the Palmer Lake community and those who join in on this festive tradition. Orchestrated by the Palmer Lake Yule Log Association, the ceremony is marked with bagpipers and musicians, caroling, hooded "hunters" of the log, and the drinking of wassail, a mix of apple cider, spices and other ingredients. However, the centerpiece of the ceremony is the finding of the Yule Log.

The log, about 5-6 feet long, is notched, tied with a ribbon, then hidden in the woods with the utmost of secrecy the day before or up to a week prior to the ceremony. The hunters, some draped in red or green hooded capes, parade from Palmer Lake Town Hall to Glen Park where they are given the perimeters of the search area. Upon a signal, the hunters fan out in search of the log. Once the log is discovered, a whistle is blown to alert the unsuccessful hunters, a rope is tied around the log’s notch, and it is then pulled back to Town Hall. Children of all ages are given a chance to ride on it along the way.

Once the Yule Log arrives at Town Hall, it is cut and a portion of it is burned in the Town Hall fireplace with the remainder of last year’s Yule Log. The other portion of the log is saved, to be burned with a portion of next year’s Yule Log, giving continuity and history to the tradition.

The finders of the 2008 Yule Log were Megan Skahill and Cheyenne Wingo.

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Santa on Patrol, Dec. 20

Below: Hugs all around from Santa. Police Chief Jake Shirk reported being "overwhelmed" with toys and donations for the Department’s Santa on Patrol program. After the distribution Dec. 4, four shopping carts of donated toys were delivered to the Monument Marketplace Wal-Mart for distribution. Photo provided by Chief Shirk.

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Chili Supper Raffle winner

Below: Bethany Bonser riding the fire engine she won at the Palmer Lake Chili Supper. The raffle raised money to support the Palmer Lake Star and the maintenance it requires to be kept in operation for year round holidays. Photo provided by Phyllis Bonser.

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Gleneagle house decorating contest winners

Photos by Mary K Jones.

Below: First place: 14190 Gleneagle Drive, Svetlana Goncharova. 

Below: 2nd place: 14540 Latrobe Dr, Rob and Kelli Bell. 

Below: 3rd place: 215 Scottsdale Dr, George and Linda Lee. 

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December and January events at the library

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Madison Doolitttle decorated cookies before attending Mrs. Claus’ program.

Below: Mrs. Claus visited the library Dec. 13.

Below: Harpists Cassidy Dwelis, Sarah Orfield, and Hannah Van der Hart brought their heavenly music to the library Dec. 20.

Below: Paws to Read Dog Sequoia shows holiday spirit.

By Harriet Halbig

December brought a wide variety of events and atmosphere to the library.

On Dec. 13, Mrs. Claus arrived to share stories and songs with young patrons. She brought with her several puppets and books to share. Before the program, youngsters were invited to decorate large cookies with frosting, sprinkles, and candy.

The following Saturday, patrons enjoyed a lovely concert of seasonal music on the harp offered by students of the Renee Quinn Harp Studio of Woodmoor. Ten musicians participated, singly and in ensemble. The event was well attended, with the audience overflowing the community room into the main area of the library.

Since Dec. 1 it has been possible for patrons to check out a laptop. There is no charge for the use of the five laptops available, but the following rules apply: The laptops must not leave the library and are available to patrons age 12 and older with a photo ID and an established library card in good standing. Patrons must sign an agreement and may check out the computer for up to three hours. Cables and mouse are supplied.

In January, "Star Wars" fans can look forward to meeting Storm Troopers from the Mountain Garrison of the 501st Legion in person and learn about space travel and other galaxies. The program will be held at the Monument Branch on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 1:30 p.m.

Beginning on the 12th, adults are welcome to participate in Celebrate a New Year of Books, a reading program to last until March 9. Patrons are encouraged to read eight books in eight weeks and receive such prizes as chocolate, Panera Bread coupons and coffee mugs. Come to the branch (Monument or Palmer Lake) to register.

The times for Super Tuesday stories and crafts will change in January. They will be held at 10 a.m.and 10:45 a.m. for preschoolers ages 3-7. The programs were formerly held at 10:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.

All groups holding regular meetings will resume their regular schedule in January. Computer classes for adults will also resume.

January displays at the library include "Books You Have Never Seen and Probably Will Never See Again" in the case. This includes a number of books published from 1493 to the 2000s from the collection of Chuck Robinove, local book collector and rare book dealer. On the walls will be art work from the students of Palmer Ridge High School.

Planning has also begun for the 2009 Winter Festival at the Monument Branch. This year’s festival will be held on Feb. 28 from 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry. The theme is Pikes Peak or Bust, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the gold rush of 1859.

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Johnson and Maguire receive Sertoma awards

Photos provided by Stephen Plank.

Below: (L to R) Donald Johnson receives the Sertoman of the Year award from Stephen Plank, Monument Hill Sertoma President.

Below: James Maguire (center) receives the Service to Mankind award from Glenn Scott (L), and Stephen Plank (R), Monument Hill Sertoma President.

At its annual Holiday Celebration Dec. 9, Monument Hill Sertoma club presented awards to two local citizens who manifest exemplary standards of service to the community.

Donald Johnson was recognized as Sertoman of the Year for his unwavering support of the club’s programs and for his very active participation in leadership roles in the club and at Sertoma’s District level. Presenter Ted Bauman said of Don that he truly exemplifies the heart of what Sertoma tries to achieve in the world, be a solid example of service to others. President Steve Plank presented Don with a plaque and echoed the sentiment of the group in applauding all the contributions Don has made to the success of the club.

It is a tradition in Sertoma that a member of the community is singled out every year to be recognized for the service work that individual provides to the people of the area. This year , the Service to Mankind award was presented to James A. Maguire, long time resident of Monument. Maguire was cited for his affable nature and for his generous contributions to the many and varied agencies and programs in Monument and Colorado Springs. It was stated that Jim adds significantly to the meaning and nobility of Sertoma’s Service to Mankind Award.

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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.

Recycle your Christmas tree, Jan. 3-4

This weekend you can drop your tree off at two locations in the Tri-Lakes area. Boy Scouts Troop 8 will accept trees Jan. 3-4 at Monument Wal-Mart, 16218 Jackson Creek Parkway. Donations are accepted.

You can also take your tree to Treecycle at the Baptist Road Trailhead, Baptist Road at Old Denver Highway. They will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. two weekends, Jan. 3-4 and Jan. 10-11. Please remove all lights and decorations first. Discarded trees will be ground into mulch which will be given away free to El Paso County residents on a self-serve basis while supplies last. A suggested tax-deductible contribution of $5 supports El Pomar Youth Sports Programs throughout El Paso County.

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Volunteers Needed: TALK English! Facilitators, Jan. 10

Meet community members from around the world - facilitate weekly TALK English! groups. Provide English language learners a friendly and supportive place to practice informal social conversation. Free training provided Jan. 10, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs. For more information call 531-6333, x2223.

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Adult reading program, Jan. 12-March 9

Celebrate a new year of books and read for prizes! Register on line at ppld.org or drop in at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., (488-2370); or the Palmer Lake Branch Library, 66 Lower Glenway (481-2587.)

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"You Choose!" Colorado Children’s Book Award, Jan. 13-31

Visit the Palmer Lake or Monument branch library and vote for your favorite of the books nominated for the Colorado Children’s Book Award. For more information, call 488-2370 or 481-2587.

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant applications available soon

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

The TLWC sponsors two major fund-raising events, Wine and Roses, a wine-tasting event in October, and the Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale in April. Over the last 36 years, TLWC has awarded over a half million dollars to Tri-Lakes community organizations. Grant applications, instructions, and guidelines can be downloaded from the TLWC Web site, www.TLWC.net, or by sending a request with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to TLWC Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132.

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Library seeking applicants for Art Evaluation Committee, Jan. 30

The Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) Board of Trustees is accepting applications through Jan. 30 to fill two vacancies on its Art Evaluation Committee. Art committee members review works submitted by local artists for exhibit at all PPLD galleries. Committee meetings are scheduled several times a year and last approximately 2 1/2 hours. Membership terms are two years, with a possible renewal of one year. Applicants should submit a letter of interest with credentials listing arts-related background information to: PPLD Board of Trustees, c/o Carol Brunk Harnish; P.O. Box 1579; Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1579. For more information, call 531-6333, x2332 or e-mail charnish@ppld.org.

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Volunteer tutors wanted

Become a LitSource tutor and help an adult with limited literacy or English language skills. No teaching experience required; free training is provided. Registration is required. Mon., Feb. 2, 9, 23, March 2 and 9, 5:30 - 9 p.m., at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs. Call 531-6333, x2223 for information or to register.

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Joseph Bohler Print Exhibition at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Feb. 3-28

Renowned local artist Joseph Bohler will have an exhibition and sale of his prints at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Feb. 3-28. Originals will also be displayed. The public is invited to the signing reception Feb. 21, 6-8:30 p.m., when Bohler will be present to personalize the prints sold. TLCA is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. More information is available at www.trilakesarts.org or phone 481-0475.

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Winter Fine Art Show coming in February

The Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) will present its annual Winter Fine Art Show Feb. 6-27 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). The free opening reception will be held Feb. 7, 6-9 p.m. More than 30 PLAG member artists will exhibit a wide variety of art works in different media. Show proceeds fund scholarships for seniors at Lewis-Palmer High School who plan to continue art studies. The exhibit will be open noon-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays in the Lucy Owens Gallery. Admission is free. TLCA is located at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, call Craig Mildrexler, 303-681-3697.

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Discovery Canyon Campus "Give Your Heart to Science" Gala, Feb. 27

Discovery Canyon Campus PTO will hold its second annual Gala event Feb. 27, 6:30-10:30 p.m., at the Air Force Academy Blue and Silver Club. It will include live, silent, and dessert auctions. The PTO is raising funds for campus enrichment in hands-on science and math at their K-12 school. Catering of appetizers will be by The Garden of the Gods Club. Tickets must be purchased in advance for $40 per person, or $50 per person for limited VIP seating. No tickets will be sold at the door. To purchase tickets call 234-1819. To advertise your business or service at the event, e-mail dccgaladonations@gmail.com.

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Low-Income Energy Assistance Program

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners has approved the Department of Human Services’ contract with Goodwill Industries of Colorado Springs to assist low-income households with their winter home heating costs and non-fuel emergencies such as heating system repairs and window replacement. This federally funded program, known as LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program), runs through April 30, 2009. Any U.S. citizen or legal resident of Colorado who pays heating costs directly to an energy provider, or whose heating costs are included with their monthly rent, may qualify for LEAP if their monthly gross household income falls within the federal poverty guidelines set annually on Nov. 1. For more information, call 1-866-432-8435.

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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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