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Vol. 9 No. 10 - October 3, 2009


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Click here to view a page of higher resolution photos from this issue.

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Volunteers clean up the Santa Fe Trail

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Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Members of the Pikes Peak Wildfire Prevention Partners and other volunteers who are working on the Santa Fe Trail wildfire mitigation project. Many of them work for companies including Anderson Tree and Stump Removal, Forest Keepers Tree Care, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Wildland Fire Suppression Crew, the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and other groups dedicated to wildfire mitigation.

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Below: Phil Vallejo, a volunteer who works for Anderson Tree and Stump Removal of Colorado Springs, trims dead foliage and branches from brush and trees along the Santa Fe Trail. 

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Below: District Park Ranger for the Pikes Peak Ranger District, Brent Botts, who coordinated the effort.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

On Sept. 25, Brent Botts, park ranger for the Pikes Peak Ranger District, coordinated members of the Pikes Peak Widlfire Prevention Partners in a volunteer fire mitigation project along the Sante Fe Trail. Sept. 25 was also National Public Lands Day. The trail section being cleared extends from western Monument to Palmer Lake and runs for a little over three miles.

Every year, the fire mitigation project is necessary to maintain a tree and brush condition that will inhibit the spread of wildfires. Some of the organizations that provide the volunteer manpower include Forest Keepers Tree Care, Anderson Tree and Stump Removal, the Colorado Springs Fire Explorer Scouts, the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Wildland Fire Suppression Crew. They are all associated with the Wildfire Prevention Partners.

Wildfire Prevention Partners is a group of fire professionals, homeowners, and interested individuals. The organization promotes wildfire awareness and provides operational direction and resources to the community. If you have a personal interest in participating in these projects, you can learn more about the organization by going to its Web site (www.ppwpp.org). 

As a result of this project, the Santa Fe Trail in effect becomes a natural and a defensible barrier to fire expansion should a wildfire occur.

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Triview Metropolitan District, Sept. 15: Fixed-rate bond refinancing approved

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Below (L to R): Robert Fisher and Steve Remington sign papers for 30-year fixed rate bond sale. Standing are John Self of Wells Fargo Brokerage Services and bond counsel Kristine Lay of Kutac Rock. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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By Jim Kendrick

The Triview Metropolitan District board held a special meeting on Sept. 15 and unanimously approved a contract with Wells Fargo Bank to refinance all district bond debt from one-week renewable variable rate bonds through the sale of $47,955,000 in fixed-rate bonds. Board President Bob Eskridge and Director Julie Glenn were absent from this meeting. Director Robert Fisher presided in Eskridge’s absence.

The board also approved a work order for additional engineering services by engineering consultant Nolte and Associates Inc. to perform support services for construction of the Misty Creek Park project.

Low rate means big savings

John H. Self of Wells Fargo Brokerage Services LLC in Denver stated that the average interest rate for the bond sale had turned out to be 43 basis points better than the initial rate offered, a significant savings to the district. The settlement date for this bond sale was Sept. 24. Wells Fargo offered 27 series of tax-free bonds in variable total amounts to investors, each maturing annually on Nov. 1 from 2013 to 2039. The average life of the series of these new fixed-rate bonds is 19.7 years.

The net interest cost for the series of bonds is about 4.76 percent, considerably less than the maximum 6 percent threshold the Triview board had set to initiate refinancing, and even less than the best case of 5 percent net interest cost that was believed to be the best outcome possible. The all-inclusive interest cost is about 4.78 percent. The total interest for all the bonds if none are paid off prior to full maturity is $44,352,566.

Some of the other details from the Wells Fargo documentation were:

  • $960,600 was transferred from the 2003 Compass Bank bonds’ debt service reserve fund.
  • $637,116 was transferred from the 2006 Compass Bank bonds’ debt service reserve fund.
  • The total amount available from the refinancing prior to paying closing costs was $49,552,716.
  • The cost of issuance for the new Well Fargo bonds is $124,500.
  • $14,764,615 was used to refund the 2003 bonds.
  • $32,719,802 was used to refund the 2006 bonds.

Bond counsel Kristine Lay of Kutac Rock LLP in Denver briefed the board on the specifics of the bond purchase agreement and the certified record of proceedings that Triview Treasurer Steve Remington had negotiated with Wells Fargo. Remington, Fisher, and Director Steve Cox unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the bond sale. Then Remington signed the documents as the authorized officer for Triview, which led to the final closing on Sept. 24.

Remington was congratulated by Cox, Fisher, Monument Town Manager Cathy Green, Town Treasurer Pamela Smith, and former Triview district manager Ron Simpson for the extraordinary amount of time Remington has devoted to negotiations as an unpaid volunteer board member. The deal will save Triview constituents well over a million dollars each year for the next 30 years. This was a most significant day for the residents and business owners of Jackson Creek.

Decision on Nolte request delayed

Nolte originally asked for $3,120 for oversight of the Misty Creek project. Now, Nolte is asking for an amount not to exceed $7,120. The additional $4,000 is for on-site oversight and responding to the contractors’ requests for information and material approval. The project has been delayed due to unforeseen conditions such as a particularly wet spring and the presence of a large amount of unsuitable material on the site. After a lengthy discussion, the board continued the matter to the regular board meeting scheduled for Sept. 30.

The board also approved four payments over $5,000:

  • $22,305 to Amwest Inc. Well A-8 repairs
  • $22,316 to the Copestone Co. for the first construction invoice for the Misty Creek Park project
  • $5,200 to Susemihl, McDermott, & Cowan PC for legal work and attending Triview board meetings
  • $53,000 to John R. Hurley Asphalt for filling and sealing cracks on 13 Triview streets

The board went into executive session at 6:30 p.m. to discuss contract negotiations. The meeting was adjourned immediately after the executive session, without any further votes taken, at 7:20 p.m.

**********

The next meeting of the Triview Metropolitan District board of directors will be held at 5 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Monument Town Hall and Police Building, 645 Beacon Lite Road.

Information: 488-6868.

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5 candidates for 4 seats

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Below (L to R): Mark Pfoff, Gail Wilson, Jeff Ferguson, Dave Cloud, and Robb Pike. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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By Harriet Halbig

An election to fill four of the five seats on the Lewis-Palmer School District’s Board of Education will be conducted by mail-in ballot beginning in mid-October, with a deadline of Nov. 3 for receiving ballots.

Of the current members of the board, John Mann’s term continues until 2011, and board President Dee Dee Eaton will not be running for re-election. Only one board position is contested—the District 3 position of Gail T. Wilson, who is opposed by David Cloud.

Mark Pfoff and Robb Pike are running this year because they had been appointed to partial terms.

For a map of the director districts, go to www.lewispalmer.org and click on Board of Education tab.

OCN has given the candidates an opportunity to answer two questions:

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

Responses from the candidates appear starting below.

A Meet the Candidates event is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 8 at Prairie Winds Elementary School at 6:30 p.m. Directions to the school: Take exit 161 from I-25, head east on Highway 105 for approx. 3.2 miles to Archers Drive. Turn left and continue for 0.9 miles to 790 East Kings Deer Point. For a map, go to www.lewispalmer.org and click on Board of Education tab. Click on District Event Calendar, then the Meet the Candidates event calendar entry, and then View Map.

The event, sponsored by the District Accountability Advisory Committee, will feature questions prepared by the committee and the opportunity to submit your own questions.

Director District 1 Candidates

Jeff Ferguson

What in your background would help you as a school board member?

I have three children who went to school in the district, and I currently have two grandchildren attending school in the district. I was on the Lewis-Palmer School Board from 1987 to 2003 and have experience with board level leadership and decision-making. I am currently professor of Service Management and Marketing at UCCS and have taught at the college level for over 36 years. In conducting research on effective service organizations, I have learned a great deal about what makes organizations run effectively. I believe that my experience will be useful to the school district.

What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the Lewis-Palmer school district, and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The two places I would focus on are budget and values. The weak economy has caused a budget crisis for schools throughout the country. Effectively dealing with it is a big challenge for the school district. The budget is a numerical representation of the district’s priorities. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. The board will need to carefully assess expenditures to ensure that they align with district priorities. In addition to ensuring that existing funds are allocated appropriately, we need to seek additional and alternative sources of resources. This may include lobbying for a change in state funding formulas to more accurately account for the disproportionate number of high school students we have in our district. This is important because high schools are much more expensive to operate than elementary or middle schools.

We should seek partnerships with businesses and not-for-profit organizations to identify ways to provide educational opportunities that are not entirely funded by the district. For example, businesses frequently need interns, and our students can benefit from real world experiences.

The high-quality education in the Lewis-Palmer School District is delivered through our teachers. We must compete for talent when we hire, and support, respect and recognize the great work of our current professional staff. I believe we should refocus on Lewis-Palmer values to create a community that is invigorating, inviting and joyful. Lewis-Palmer should be the employer of choice for teachers looking for a place to achieve their career goals. A good job is not just about pay. People want to work for a cause. A key role of the school board is to keep the great cause of educating our children front and center in all we do.

Director District 3 Candidates

David Cloud

What in your background would help you as a school board member?

My experiences as an educator and businessman will bring a unique perspective to a position on the D-38 Board of Education. I have a Ph.D. in Engineering from Oxford University and taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy for over nine years. During this time, I developed new courses in a nationally-accredited curriculum, supervised instructors, served as Advisor-in-Charge for the Astronautical Engineering major, was selected "Outstanding Military Educator" in 1992, and directed curriculum activities as Deputy Department Head. After retiring from the Air Force, I co-founded and served as CFO of Teaching Science & Technology, a private company developed to provide continuing education on space mission and satellite system design to engineering professionals and have been actively involved in developing and teaching the company’s curriculum for the past 14 years.

Through my career, I’ve learned that success in any discipline demands an ability to continue learning after leaving school, and K-12 education provides the foundation to achieve this goal. As a resident of D-38 since 1991 and the father of two LPHS graduates, I know that D-38 has provided this foundation for the two decades I’ve lived here. As a board member, I will strive to maintain the high quality education that everyone in this district expects.

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

  1. The first issue is the need to restore fiscal responsibility. From 2000 to 2008, D-38 operating revenues grew from $21 to $41 million—an increase of 18.5 percent above student growth and inflation. This growth should have been enough to maintain existing educational capabilities and significantly add to them. Yet, the district has spent more than it received for four straight years; including $2 million deficits in each of the two years before PRHS opened. This uncontrolled spending emptied the district’s reserves and forced it to cut capabilities that never should have existed. To regain its financial footing, the district must create a sound long-term financial plan that focuses on closing the gap in teacher compensation, restoring spendable reserves, and accommodating future student growth while maintaining educational quality. For the next few years, it won’t be easy, but it can be done!
  2. The second issue is the need to re-establish community trust in the district’s financial decisions. In 1999, voters passed a $4 million MLO by a margin of almost 2 to 1. But for three straight years, voters have rejected much smaller MLO proposals. The message is clear—many in the community don’t trust the district to spend their hard-earned dollars responsibly. Since 2005, district officials have expanded educational capabilities at an alarming rate without regard to the financial consequences of their decisions. Members of the school board must represent everyone in the community and make decisions that effectively balance the desire to expand capabilities with the financial constraints that exist. If they don’t, no amount of communication will restore the trust needed to move forward. Every decision I make will attempt to balance these legitimate, yet competing demands!

Gail Wilson (incumbent)

What in your background would help you as a school board member?

I have spent my entire career in different education roles. I spent 19 years as a classroom teacher and an almost equal amount of time as executive director of a non-profit in education-related businesses. From these experiences I have a balanced view of the demands and expectations of employees and employers, of teachers and learners, of parents and grandparents, of taxpayers and policy-makers and of Tri-Lakes residents.

My experience has also afforded me an awareness of, and respect for, the continually evolving education profession. I have been involved with education’s evolution from a rote-based process to a one where accountability and meeting each child’s individual needs is the norm.

A productive board of education must work as a highly effective team amongst themselves and with the superintendent. I have experience in both building teams and being an integral part of quality teams.

My leadership skills, years of experience in education at differing levels, awareness of—and respect for—the difference in leading and managing, knowledge of school finance as it relates to Lewis-Palmer School District, and commitment to my community and the education of its children provide me with the required background to be an effective school board member.

For additional information, please access my Web site: www.gailwilsonforlp.com

What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the Lewis-Palmer school district, and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

Student achievement must always be our top priority. Looking forward, the challenge is to ensure the school district has the tools to maintain and, in fact, exceed the outstanding educational record of D-38. Research shows the two most important tools needed for top quality education are parent involvement and teachers.

Parents in our school district are some of the most supportive and involved parents around. The culture endorsed by the school board and implemented at the administrative level must be retained and openly encouraged.

The second important tool, the teachers, is more dependent upon financial resources. As budgets are developed, I will support expenses reflecting the importance of recruiting, training, and retaining excellent staff. That includes providing safe and healthy work/learning environments, having the materials required to educate all children and preparing them for the competitive world of the 21st century.

Director District 4 Candidates

Mark A. Pfoff (incumbent)

What in your background would help you as a school board member?

I have been on the school board since November of 2007. During this time I have learned a great deal about education, the district, and our community. I have attended many school functions to include Building Accountability, District Accountability, and PTO meetings. I am currently on the Audit Committee and hold the position of treasurer on the school board. I bring a unique background to the board; currently I am a detective with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office specializing in computer crimes and Internet Crimes against Children. Prior to going into law enforcement, I was a computer engineer for 20 years. I have two children currently enrolled in the district, which means I have a vested interest in the success of Lewis-Palmer.

What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the Lewis-Palmer school district, and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The greatest issue facing the district is the current economic situation. The state has reduced our funding and will most likely continue to do so. Fortunately, the current school board realized early on the budget needed to be addressed. In late 2007, the school board and administration team started developing a plan to balance the budget and set up long-term planning. Because of this effort, we have a balanced budget and modest reserves to address unknown expenses and/or additional revenue cuts by the state. Going forward, it is important the school board continues to monitor the budget closely and make adjustments when needed.

I know there are a few who believe the current school board has not been fiscally responsible and the budget needs to be cut more than it already has (we’ve already cut $4 million). I would ask one simple question, "Where would you make the cuts, and be specific." It is unfortunate we can not adequately compensate our teachers and staff for the tremendous jobs they do educating our children. So, I do not support additional cuts unless required to balance the budget.

Another issue facing Lewis-Palmer is funding. Colorado is 48th out of the 50 states in funding education, and Lewis-Palmer receives the lowest per student funding in the state. The way state funding is calculated, it does not take into consideration the dynamics of our district. School districts receive the same amount of funding for first-graders as they do for seniors in high school. Obviously it is more expensive to educate high school students. We are a top-heavy district; which means we have a higher percentage of students in high school (40 percent) than in elementary (33 percent). Districts should be compensated based on the cost of educating their students, not the total number of students. Colorado school financing needs to be addressed.

Another goal of mine is to help ensure our children are educated in a safe and secure environment. Since joining the school board, I have supported many safety initiatives to include I-Safe, Safe-to-tell, a School Resource Officer, and security upgrades at Lewis-Palmer High School.

I would like to thank all the teachers, staff, and volunteers whose personal commitment to this district is the reason we are successful.

Web site: www.MarkPfoff.com

Director District 5 Candidates

Robb S. Pike (incumbent)

What in your background would help you as a school board member?

The greatest asset I bring is a passionate commitment to strengthening the educational environment within District 38, evidenced in my learning and leadership efforts since being appointed last year. Although I have been supporting or active on various boards for years, I am always reminded that it takes a year to gain understanding, build vital relationships, and learn how the board and district collaborate for the good of our students.

I believe a board member is best defined not by their experiences, but by their frame of mind. A board member must be willing to learn, listen, and oftentimes subtract out the emotional content, without losing the passion for public education. Although we volunteer to run for the school board, the moment we are elected it is our duty to make decisions based on what is best for our students. These decisions are without doubt hard and draining. Yet, ask anyone that has served on the school board and my guess is they will tell you it was a joy and an honor.

What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the school district, and what would you propose the school district should do about them?

For several years the board and district leadership team have been working on the first and most important issue facing us today, and that is our long-term financial position. Many in our community are feeling the effects of this economy in our homes, and the impacts are felt and shared by our students and educators. For at least the next three years, there will be significant funding challenges to all levels of government, to include our school district. As a board, our responsibility is to develop a responsible and actionable plan to balance the budget, ensuring all the while that the available resources support and enable the most effective student learning possible. This will be a difficult task with the current economic forecast.

The second major issue is preparing students to enter a global workforce. Our students, whatever career path they choose, will be competing for jobs with people from all over the world. We are fortunate to have the educators we do in our schools. They work to provide our children with one of the best educations in the state. I have yet to hear a teacher mention CSAP scores as their bar for student achievement. As a board member and a co-leader with our educators, students, and the community, I believe we need to challenge ourselves, both as a board and as involved citizens, to raise the performance bar to ensure our high expectations are fully realized. It’s a bit of a truism but still valid: our children are the future and our role is to provide support, encourage, stimulate and help guide them on the journey of life that’s before them in this rapidly changing, global environment.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 board, Sept. 17: Board discusses organization, funding

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Education discussed the district’s organization at its Sept. 17 meeting. Superintendent Ray Blanch said that the district features a relatively non-hierarchical organizational plan, including principals in addition to traditional administrative staff in many of its decisions. He said that in this way the district benefits from each individual’s personal expertise.

Blanch said that he intends to update assistant principals and athletic directors on district activities on a weekly basis, feeling that this aids in their professional development and in promoting from within the district in the event of an open position at the principal level.

Blanch said that the administrative council has recently discussed professional development and will soon discuss methods of evaluation and a resource manual with samples of all district forms.

Board member Gail Wilson commented that this system of keeping all staff informed of district matters results in savings in training costs and lessens the need to make new hires from outside the district.

In his superintendent’s report, Blanch said that current enrollment numbers reflect a decline of 47 students as opposed to the expected decline of 137 used in the budgeting process for the year. He stressed that Oct. 1 is the date of the official count and that final budgeting decisions must be based on that number.

A quarterly budget update from the state was scheduled to be received on Sept. 21, and the board planned to meet for a work session on Oct. 1 to discuss the budget. The board agreed that it should consider using any available excess funds to offer a raise or bonus to the district staff, because they have continued to do such high quality work during the economic downturn.

All members agreed that it is critical to maintain a board-mandated reserve in the event that state funding is withdrawn or otherwise changed, but that a process for developing priorities would be useful since state law will not allow funding to recover quickly.

Federal stimulus funds for special education are expected to total $800,000 and will be applied to professional development and such capital investments as improved accessibility to district buildings and transportation for those participating in the transition program from high school into the community.

Additional stimulus funds have not yet been allocated by the state.

Blanch also commented that the district includes private teachers of preschool-age children and that this policy has aided in the growth of the preschool program within the district. This action is an example of the district’s support of small businesses in the community that benefits the private sector and the schools.

Board member John Mann commented that he had toured Lewis-Palmer High School with Blanch to see how mill levy funds had been spent at that facility. He said he was impressed with the improvements in technology and design. It was impressive that students helped decide what furniture and other items to include in the project, including furniture that is adjustable to different-size students. The high school had scheduled an open house on Sept. 28 for the public to see the results of its support.

Auxiliary Services Director Hal Garland reported on the donation of sidewalks surrounding Palmer Lake Elementary School as part of a federal Safe Route to School program administered through the state. He said that sidewalks will now entirely surround the school and that in the future there will be sidewalks between the school and the library. Neighbors of the school are pleased to hear that some drainage issues will be corrected as part of the project. The project will go to bid in late September and will cost about $30,000.

Carl Janssen, outgoing chair of the Operations Advisory Committee, reported that use of funds from the 2006 bond issue is ongoing and that an audit has been performed and approved. He thanked the board for its openness with the committee.

Blanch thanked Janssen for his service on the committee and said that by helping with the facilities of the district, the committee has helped the students and staff.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman presented a contract for hot food service to Monument Academy beginning on Sept. 27. She said that the district’s attorneys had been consulted and that no additional liability will result from this service. The meals provided will be those offered in the elementary schools.

The board voted to approve the contract.

The board approved routine matters concerning approval of minutes of previous meetings, resignations and appointments of staff, policy reaffirmations, land use requests, terminations, and financial accreditation.

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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 meeting of the board will be held on Oct. 16 at 6 p.m.

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Lewis-Palmer School District Accountability Advisory Committee, Sept. 15: Committee discusses programs, goals

By Harriet Halbig

The District Accountability Advisory Committee heard about current school funding issues at its Sept. 15 meeting.

Board of Education liaison Gail Wilson reported that the board would meet the following Thursday and that there was little legislative activity to report. School finance legislation will soon come out of committee, and the state must solve several funding issues by 2012 due to conflicting legislative and constitutional issues.

Wilson said that federal stimulus money had not yet been distributed to the states. She said that Race to the Top is a new program from the federal Department of Education that would award funding to 10 states, and Colorado hopes to be included.

Wilson explained that Lewis-Palmer is a base-funded district, receiving the minimum amount of funding allowed per student. The district shares a lobbyist with 13 other districts, and it is imperative to let legislators know of the district’s needs.

Committee member Cori Tanner commented that parents are the best lobbyists and that it is unfortunate that the district does not have a single entity (such as the PTA in some areas) to represent the district. She suggested that the district needs someone who can supply parents with e-mail addresses or phone numbers of legislators and a list of talking points to mention when contacting them.

Wilson suggested using a marketing approach. A group of school boards and boards of education called Build a Better Colorado is addressing the matter.

Cathy Wilcox suggested telling parents of the situation when they arrive for parent teacher conferences later in the month. The district could supply a sign-up sheet or handout with contact information.

In response to a question, Wilson said that the board has not met with state Rep. Amy Stephens, but that Superintendent Ray Blanch has been in touch with her.

The committee then reviewed a list of charges for the committee. The committee is charged with facilitating communication among district committees such as the Early Childhood Education Task Force, Special Education Advisory Committee, Whole Child Task Force and Gifted Education Leadership Team. Members agreed to meet with each at least once a year.

The committee is also charged with generating or participating in task forces created to pursue student learning ends related to the district strategic vision. Some suggested activities were participation in the Whole Child Task Force, support of the teaching of world languages and performing arts in the district, and formation of a political action committee to improve funding.

Chairperson Mirielle Bock suggested that each committee member submit a list of two priorities before the next meeting.

Finally, the committee is charged with aiding the Board of Education in facilitating the accreditation of schools by monitoring schools via the School Improvement Plan, assisting the board in community engagement and advising it regarding district budget priorities.

Bock said that each school’s School Improvement Plan is provided to the committee early in the year, and progress is reported near the end of the school year. Last year’s reports often stressed community involvement, and she said that this year’s reports would stress more quantitative changes in test scores.

Bock said that one way in which the committee helps with community engagement is by sponsoring Meet the Candidate events before board elections. The first of these events will be held on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in the learning center, and the second will be at Prairie Winds Elementary on Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Members discussed the means of publicizing the events and the format for submission of questions and time allowed for responses. Index cards will be distributed for questions to be submitted. Three-minute responses would be allowed. There will be at least as many questions as there are candidates (five) so each candidate will have the opportunity to be first to answer.

The committee briefly reviewed a proposed plan for the coming year’s activities. As discussed at the committee’s May meeting, the location of the meeting will vary each month, from school to school. The October meeting will be held at Palmer Ridge High School. Items of discussion for that meeting will include a review of a charter school application (a letter of intent has been received, but not the application), a presentation from Great Education Colorado, and a presentation on the Colorado Growth Model.

Administrative liaison Shirley Trees pointed out that the charter school application must be received by Oct. 1 for the school to open in 2010. In answer to a question, Trees said that if the district presently offers everything that the applicant offers, the district is not required to accredit it. If there is a gap in academic offerings, further investigation is required.

Trees and Wilson stressed the value of DAAC’s input on such matters, because the review of such applications is very time consuming.

Bock said that the finalized committee charge would be presented to the Board of Education in October.

**********

The next meeting of the committee will be on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at Palmer Ridge High School.

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D-38 Special Education Advisory Committee, Sept. 9: School funding a major concern

By Harriet Halbig

At the Sept. 9 meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee of Lewis-almer School District 38, representatives of a state education advocacy group warned of school funding problems.

Casey Shea and Lisa Wyle of Great Education Colorado made a guest presentation. Great Education Colorado is an organization advocating long-term investment in education from preschool though college, informing citizens about funding issues and giving them a mechanism to be vocal advocates for our schools.

The organization focuses on what the public wants for its schools, whether it is receiving it and how to achieve its goals.

Among the "wants" they have identified are reduced class sizes, updated technology and textbooks, improved teacher compensation, a well-rounded curriculum to include art, music and physical education, and free preschool and full-day kindergarten.

Colorado is 40th in per pupil funding, 38th in pupil/teacher ratio, 40th in the use of technology in schools, and 49th in spending per capita for higher education, according to Great Education Colorado. Shea and Wyle said that funding English language learners and special education places a large burden at the district level (for special education, 74 percent of funding is at the district level). They said that TABOR and Amendment 23 are contributing factors to this issue. In addition, federal stimulus funding is available only for a limited time.

When asked what the public can do to remedy the situation, they said that it is critical for individuals to convey the impact of school funding on individuals and work to promote long-term solutions. They said that Great Education Colorado has a speakers bureau and also suggested contacting state legislators about the problem. There is a clause in the state constitution saying that the state must supply a thorough and uniform free education.

Shea and Wyle suggested that the public needs to convey a sense of urgency. Although the decline has been gradual, a point may be reached where recovery will be difficult and the students in the system during that time will suffer disadvantages.

One suggestion was to invite a legislator to tour a school, not to give an unrealistic impression but to show the actual condition of the facility and its shortcomings as well as its strengths. Politicians do not see the schools as a significant problem at this time, they said.

A pledge form was distributed for those who wanted to be informed of any legislative action on behalf of education.

Special Education Director Julie O’Brien reported that funding for special education has not been cut for this school year. However, class sizes are growing and training is less available than in the past.

She said that information on federal stimulus funding has not yet been received, but that targets for spending would include staff development, materials, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance ( such as lifts for wheelchairs and a bus for students in the transition program), and technology. Requests are now being discussed, but the funding is not yet approved. She said the state would give the district a budget, and the district would bill the state on a monthly basis as the funds are spent. She has been told that her budget request is due at the beginning of November.

Regarding the district’s compliance with the state performance plan, O’Brien reported that we are now in the third year of a three-year cycle. During the first year, the district was found not compliant in three categories. In the second year it was noncompliant in one category. At present, it has been notified that a disproportionate number of children are in the special education program with regard to race and ethnicity (6 percent of the school population, and 9 percent of special education students are Hispanic).

This finding requires investigation and reporting on the part of the district and additional training for teachers to improve performance, O’Brien said.

The committee then discussed goal setting for the upcoming year. Members agreed to continue with the Someone Who Cares Award for those making contributions to the lives of special education students by offering extra help and support.

Another goal is to improve the accessibility of general education to the special education students and increase access to such skills as computer skills.

A committee member commented that, without computer skills, some special ed students cannot effectively communicate their knowledge. It was suggested that a panel of teachers, administrators and parents could discuss the problem.

Another question concerned how special ed students fit into the vision of the district. A position paper could be developed, it was suggested.

Other suggestions were to devise a way to attract more parents to SEAC meetings and to review the bylaws of the committee.

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The Special Education Advisory Committee meets on the second Wednesday of each month at the Learning Center at 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be held on Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Sept. 8: Trustee Tim Miller resigns

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Below (L to R): Sept. 21: Former Trustee Tim Miller receives a certificate of appreciation from Mayor Travis Easton. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Below: Tri-Lakes Cares Executive Director, Debbie Swanson, discusses homelessness issues at the Sept. 8 Board of Trustees meeting. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 8, the Monument Board of Trustees accepted the written resignation of Trustee Tim Miller of Jackson Creek. A motion to accept his resignation passed unanimously. Miller was unable to attend the meeting as previously planned, and presentation of a certificate of appreciation was postponed until Sept. 21.

Trustee Rick Squires was also absent from this meeting.

The consensus of the board was to wait on a vote to appoint Miller’s replacement until Sept. 21 as well, so that the vacancy could be properly advertised on Sept. 9.

Encroachment permit ordinance approved

The staff drafted a new chapter of the town code to require a revocable permit for any encroachment in a public right-of-way or public easement. The new language establishes a process to ensure that new encroachments do not create a hazard and that owners of the encroachments maintain proper liability insurance. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposed ordinance on Aug. 12.

Some of the features of the new chapter that Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported were:

  • Examples of encroachments that would be permitted or encouraged would be awnings, projecting signs, temporary signs such as sandwich boards, banners, and outdoor seating areas.
  • Another example of an acceptable encroachment is a privately owned single or group mailbox—not used for U.S. Postal Service mail—located within a public street.
  • Administrative review and approval would ensure safety and that the encroachment does not impede the use of a public right-of-way or easement.
  • Approvals of revocable permits and short-term or long-term leases are at the sole discretion of the town.
  • Permits will not be approved if improvements do not conform to the architecture of a building or are aesthetically discordant with the building or area as a whole.
  • Cornice encroachments will not exceed three feet and will generally be covered by a long-term air rights lease.
  • Owners must provide a minimum of $100,000 of liability insurance coverage for each incident, with the town specifically named as the insured party as well as for damage to another person or property.
  • The new chapter grants the town manager or designee the authority to adjust the amount of insurance required based on potential liability for a specific improvement up to $1 million.
  • The owner of the improvement must agree to hold the town harmless from any claims or liability.
  • Persons installing the improvements must be licensed and insured.
  • Sign encroachments will also require a sign permit.
  • Some encroachments may also require a permit from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.
  • Encroachments placed in a right-of-way or easement without a permit, or that are not removed after a permit has been revoked, are a public nuisance that the town may remove with or without notice to any person. If the cost of removal and a 15 percent administrative fee are not paid to the town, collection by the county will be done in the same manner as delinquent general taxes.

Amendment to fence ordinance approved

Kassawara said the staff added new provisions in the fence code regarding permitting, height, maintenance, and standards for appearance and safety to provide more protection for the community.

Three sections of the code were amended:

  • A new section that lists the definition of a fence (17.40.050)
  • A complete revision regarding heights, appearance, and safety (17.48.120)
  • Addition of fences to the regulation that lists violations and fines regarding buildings and structures (17.88.060)

Kassawara also noted that the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department requires construction permits only for fences taller than 72 inches. The town’s revision requires a zoning permit rather than a construction permit.

In the past, fence companies have installed fences across easements and blocked sight lines, endangering motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Fences installed across public and utility easements can be removed if they interfere with access or repairs.

Some of the revisions regarding safety, aesthetics, and proper installation were:

  • The town will now require a permit for any new fence.
  • Barbed-wire fencing will only be allowed for public utilities.
  • An exception for "invisible pet fences" has been added to the general prohibition of electric fences.
  • The maximum fence height on corners is 30 inches so that new fences will not create vision obstructions.
  • The maximum fence height in front yards is 42 inches, with exceptions for security fencing for commercial and industrial areas and outdoor play areas for licensed day care homes.
  • The maximum fence height is 72 inches, except for public recreational areas.
  • Fencing design and quality will be compatible with the site and adjacent uses, with appropriate screening, visibility, security, and appearance as determined by the director of Development Services.
  • The finished side of a fence shall face any adjacent public right-of-way, and additional landscaping is required to screen the fence.
  • Fences will be installed with a 12-inch setback from sidewalks to prevent snagging of bicycle handlebars.
  • Fencing with easements or near public improvements may not interfere with the easement or improvement. The service provider/beneficiary of the easement may remove any fence that interferes with their use of the easement, and the property owner who installed an improvement may be responsible for replacement(s) of the improvement.
  • The Board of Adjustment will have the ability to grant a variance where the strict application of fence regulations would result in exceptional or demonstrable hardship(s), or may approve an alternative design that would improve compliance of a fence with the intent of the regulations.
  • Fences must be maintained in good condition by property owners.
  • The updated regulations will apply primarily to new fences. Existing fences will be "grandfathered" as legal non-conforming fences as long as they are not in the public right-of-way or on other public property without the town’s permission. If they are in the public right-of-way, they will require a revocable permit. If the code amendment is adopted, all fences, whether new or existing, will be required to be properly maintained.
  • The word "fences" has been added to "buildings and structures" in the separate section of the town code—17.88.060—regarding violations and penalties for unlawful erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, conversion, maintenance, or use. This separate regulation now explicitly states that erecting a fence without town authorization is a code violation.

Developer Charlie Williams, representing the Housing and Building Association, thanked the town staff for providing a draft of the new regulations to the association for review and comment. He said the association supports a regulation that clarifies previously ambiguous situations. Some of the concerns Williams addressed were:

  • Tighter town requirements for permits than the 72-inch limit used by Regional Building.
  • Duplication of existing fence restrictions in the landscaping codes that homeowners associations (HOAs) already enforce, particularly with regard to new fence locations being correct.
  • Any future requirement for a survey that normally costs about $350 compared to the cost of the fence installation, which is normally half that amount, particularly when replacing a fence that has already been surveyed.
  • The ability of the available town staff to quickly complete a permit application with a single visit to Town Hall—which should require no more than 10 to 20 minutes—in normal construction years when 100 to 125 new fence permits may have to be processed.
  • Any fence fee should be minimal to reflect the 10- to 20-minute requirement for a staff review.
  • The potential lack of sufficient clarity in the new requirement that new fences be "aesthetically pleasing."

Trustee Gail Drumm objected to several aspects of the new requirements, preferring to leave enforcement to HOAs. Mayor Travis Easton replied that the town cannot rely on HOAs to enforce new civil aspects of the proposed code amendment.

During considerable further discussion, Kassawara proposed a standard review fee of $8.50 to $10, with a two- to three-day turnaround. The fee for more complicated reviews would be the town standard of $50 per hour.

The new language was approved by a vote of 4-1, with Drumm opposed. A condition was proposed and approved that adds "or a designee" to the section that allows the director of Development Services to make all decisions regarding whether the appearance of a proposed new fence aesthetically conforms to the property or area.

Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week

Police Chief Jake Shirk noted that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children 3 to 6 and 8 to 14 years old in the United States. Parents and caregivers need to make certain that kids are "buckled up every trip, every time." The Town of Monument and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District each have fully certified child passenger safety seat technicians who will inspect residents’ child safety seats and provide training in their proper and safe use.

Monument’s technician, Donna Jack, noted that all children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat and recommended these four steps for ensuring child safety:

  • Keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit for the seat at least to age 1 and up to 20 pounds.
  • When children outgrow the seats, they should ride in the back seat in forward-facing child safety seats, usually up to age 4 or 40 pounds.
  • When children outgrow both seats, they should ride in booster seats until vehicle seat belts fit properly, usually at age 8 or less than 4 feet 9 inches tall.
  • When children outgrow booster seats, they can use the adult belts in the back seat if they fit properly.

To make an appointment for seat inspection and training, contact Code Enforcement Officer Jack at 719-884-8035 or djack@townofmonument.net. For more information see www.nhtsa.gove/cps or call the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District at 719-484-0911.

Liquor licenses

The board unanimously approved an annual renewal of the liquor license for the King Soopers at 1070 W. Baptist Road.

Financial reports

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

  • $165,678 to Pioneer Sand Co. Inc. for Third Street improvements
  • $22,621 to Lytle Water Solutions LLC for engineering services for redrilling of well 7 on Highway 105 at the Santa Fe Trail crossing
  • $6,880 to Mountain View Electric Association for electric service for new street lights that are part of the Third Street improvements
  • $5,160 to Pikes Peak Regional Communications Network for annual radio fees for police communication

Mission, vision statement discussion continued

There was a lengthy discussion regarding adoption of draft mission, vision, and values statements for the board that had been proposed by Trustee Rafael Dominguez. Resident Steve Meyer suggested that the board publish its own vision.

An alternative point of view raised by some other trustees was that these statements should reflect the views of the residents rather than the trustees. They suggested seeking public input at the Community Night Out to be held in conjunction with the Oct. 16 board meeting. A consensus was reached to discuss these two alternatives with citizens on Oct. 16.

Some water issues in 2010 budget resolved

The board concurred with Public Works Director Rich Landreth’s recommendation that the town should continue to participate in the U.S. Geological Survey’s Transit Loss Model for Monument Creek ($15,000 to $20,000) and the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority ($15,000) and to include the necessary funding in the 2010 budget. The purpose of the Transit Loss Model is to accurately measure water exchanges between entities with water rights in Monument and Fountain Creeks. The purpose of the authority is for towns and special districts to obtain, develop, and fully utilize surface water rights to relieve pressure on the groundwater aquifers in the Denver Basin.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp offered the board options on how to proceed on a preliminary inquiry from an entrepreneur who is considering opening a medical marijuana facility in Monument. There is very little case law to resolve the conflict between the new amendment to the Colorado constitution that allows the use of medical marijuana and federal laws that do not. The board was divided on whether to prohibit marijuana businesses, do nothing, or try to control them with a comprehensive ordinance that will address state and federal law.

The consensus of the board was to ask Shupp to provide information on a draft ordinance to regulate marijuana sales before someone opens a business in town and becomes exempt prior to passage of the final ordinance. Shupp said the town was more likely to end up in litigation if it passed an ordinance that prohibited now-legal types of marijuana sales.

Town Manager Cathy Green reported that the transition period for final enactment of the railroad quiet zone for the Second Street crossing was nearly finished.

Green said that the Triview Metropolitan District was about to approve a total refinancing of all the district’s bond debt of over $47 million from renewable short-term bonds to 30-year fixed-rate bonds. The sale of the 30-year bonds by Wells Fargo Bank should be completed by the end of September. The town and Triview boards will begin holding periodic joint meetings after all the bond refinancing activities are completed.

Public comments

Debbie Swanson, the new executive director of Tri-Lakes Cares, discussed services that are available in the Monument area and county for transient and homeless people. She expressed concern that limited resources may not be distributed to these people in the most effective way, such as creating and encouraging aggressive panhandling situations that exacerbate the growing problems that are occurring within the town. Swanson called for a program to educate the public on how to remain open and welcoming while understanding that some well-intentioned acts of charity can be destructive for the people they are trying to help, as well as teach residents the best ways to organize support and assistance. She suggested that it is better for a charity like Tri-Lakes Cares to give out bags of food and clothing than for individuals to give people cash.

Monument resident and business owner Carolyn Simzisko gave a lengthy description of how some homeless people with apparent mental problems can create unpleasant if not intimidating and frightening situations when they enter local stores with no intent to purchase items. Their presence can literally empty a store in moments when they are loud and incoherent.

Even after Simzisko was able to get one persistent visitor to leave, he remained agitated and hung out in front of the store, waving his arms and "babbling" in a manner that still intimidated her customers. She said homeless and transient people searching dumpsters for food create additional problems when people use their shops’ rear doors to take out the trash or go to their vehicles.

Shirk and Shupp suggested that all store owners ask the management companies for their shopping centers to publish a unified no-trespass policy that applies in all stores to this specific individual in order for the policy to be more likely to meet a constitutional test.

Chief Shirk opened a lengthy discussion by speaking about the difficulties that arise when municipalities try to deal with homeless people—balancing their constitutional rights while trying to control "camping" and aggressive begging. He added that this is a social rather than a legal or police issue. Homeless people are very adept at knowing and using the limits of the law to their advantage to avoid a technical violation by limiting their aggressiveness, shouting, and pushing.

Shupp concurred, noting that there can be significant liability if an arrest turns out to be "incorrect." There are no state regulations pertaining to this issue.

Shirk said he interviewed 11 transients one day and all said "The word is out in Colorado Springs. Come up to Monument. The residents are very generous," making the town a "very nice place to be." Only two were "truly homeless." The others characterized themselves as travelers who did not want help, just money to maintain their lifestyles. Shirk said it is not in the residents’ best interest to hand out money and food. "Don’t give them cash." It encourages them to stay and others to come to Monument from Colorado Springs and Castle Rock, where people do not give them money.

The board asked Shupp to provide copies of the Colorado ordinances that appear to be most pragmatic when dealing with the homeless. Shupp and Green said that their study of the issue leads them to conclude that just passing an ordinance will not make a significant difference, since most have been found to be unconstitutional.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:18 p.m.

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The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Sept. 21: Gingrich appointed to succeed Miller

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Below: Sept. 15, Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk addresses the Citizens Police Academy. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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By Jim Kendrick

West-side resident Stan Gingrich was unable to attend the Sept. 21 Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, but his prior persistence paid off in a "promotion" anyway, from planning commissioner to member of the Board of Trustees. Gingrich will be sworn in Oct. 5 to succeed former Trustee Tim Miller before he could actually attend his first Planning Commission meeting. Gingrich was out of town and could not attend this BOT meeting.

Gingrich had been appointed by the Board of Trustees on Aug. 17 to replace former Planning Commissioner Tom Martin for a term running through January 2010. However, the Sept. 9 Planning Commission meeting was cancelled due to lack of agenda items. Gingrich had formally applied and undergone two unrequited interviews for a trustee appointment at previous BOT meetings this summer before his appointment to the Planning Commission.

Gingrich’s latest appointment will also be somewhat short-lived. It runs through April 2010 when he must run for re-election to remain a member of the BOT.

Mayor Travis Easton presented a certificate of appreciation to Miller for his service on the board.

Trustee Rick Squires was absent from this meeting.

Major arrests by Monument Police Department

Police Chief Jacob Shirk reported that the Police Department was contacted in early March by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a case involving Internet child pornography and a possible sex assault on a child. The FBI’s suspect lived in Monument.

The department drafted a search warrant for Michael Dodson’s house at 517 Saber Creek Drive in Jackson Creek and his office at the U.S. Air Force Academy. All of his computer equipment was seized for a forensic investigation. The department issued an arrest warrant for Dodson on Aug. 31, charging him with sexual exploitation of a child, a class 3 felony. The department arrested Dodson at the Air Force Academy without incident and transported him to the El Paso County Justice Center. Bail was set at $10,000.

Shirk also reported the completion of a two-year drug investigation that led to 18 arrests for distribution of marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and mushrooms. Eight of these were felony arrests. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation assisted the department. The department will get back about $3,000 of the $7,000 in captured drug money turned in to the district attorney’s office. Shirk also noted the proactive stance of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 in helping the investigation of the suspects, who were high school students.

Shirk noted that undercover surveillance and communications intercepts reveal the level of fear of the Police Department in the area due to the effectiveness of the investigation and the numerous arrests. The department has several unmarked cars available and also uses rental cars to enhance undercover surveillance. Shirk cautioned that the impact is likely to be only short-term, as with any drug problem.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club donated $950 to the department, which was used for the purchase of an entry kit, a collection of tools used for forced entries by tactical teams.

Citizens Police Academy begins

Shirk noted the start of the Citizens Police Academy on Sept. 15 with a full class of 19 participants. The course is being taught by Sgt. Steve Burk, Sgt. Mark Owens, Detective Steve Blaskowsky, Officer Chad Haynes, and Officer Steve Lontz.

Opening public comments

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance, which was created in September 2006, gave a report on the Tri-Lakes Senior Citizen Program that was similar to his report to the Palmer Lake Town Council on Sept. 8. See the Palmer Lake Town Council article for a report on his remarks at the council meeting.

Roberts’ remarks also contained some new information:

  • The BOT donated $1,500 in the second quarter of 2008. Roberts had told the Palmer Lake Town Council that the BOT had made no donation to the Senior Alliance.
  • Voluntary donations from senior citizens have totaled over $9,000, rather than the $2,500 figure he had reported to the Town Council on Sept. 8.

The Palmer Lake Town Council is still considering donating the last $9,000 from the privately endowed Lucy Owens Fund, which the council administers for her estate, to the Senior Alliance. However, Roberts did not report that Palmer Lake’s Fire Trustee Gary Coleman had asked at the Sept. 8 Town Council meeting that $5,000 of the last $9,000 in the fund that was previously promised to Roberts for two years now be reallocated to the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department for purchase of a used SUV to replace the 1989 Chevy Suburban that served as the department’s emergency vehicle for 17 years.

Mountain View Electric has donated $10,000 from its Round-up Fund, with another $3,500 pending. Donations from local businesses and individuals to the alliance have amounted to over $6,000.

Roberts publicly commended D-38, current donors and volunteers, and especially the Town of Palmer Lake for the essential role they have played in supporting the senior program. He said the Senior Alliance looks forward to the Town of Monument’s participation.

He invited the BOT to become a continuing donor to the Alliance, because 66 percent of the 300 households receiving the Tri-lakes Senior Beat newsletter reside in ZIP code 80132. However, many who live in 80132 are not Monument residents. Roberts reported that 11 percent of the households have 80133 ZIP codes and 23 percent have other codes.

Monument Town Treasurer Pamela Smith replied that the board approved a $2,000 donation from town revenues to the Alliance last year when it passed the 2009 town budget. "It’s never been requested" by Roberts with the required written request. Roberts said, "Can I have it?" She asked him to send her an e-mail or "a piece of paper" from the Alliance so the town could cut the check.

Palmer Lake Mayor John Cressman said, "I’m challenging the town of Monument to step in probably where we can’t after this year and we’re not even sure how much of that $9,000 we’re able to give to the Senior Alliance. So, we get great joy and satisfaction and good reports from Mr. Roberts about how he spends the money that we’re able to give. That came from the Lucy Owens Fund and she was a matriarch of Palmer Lake with much money and endowed it to Palmer Lake to give to reasonable causes." He added, "Right now with the budget crunch there’s a lot of little noise in the background from other people that would like to have some of that money. I can’t speak highly enough of our seniors in this community and the work that they are doing and what they have accomplished in District 38." He concluded, "I’m here to challenge you and to beg you to help the Senior Alliance as we have."

Palmer Lake Mayor Pro-tem Nikki McDonald added that the leaking roof of the Palmer Lake Library is now also competing for the remaining $9,000 of the Lucy Owens Fund, in addition to Coleman’s $5,000 request for the remainder of the fund.

Easton replied that the BOT will continue to look for ways to donate tax revenue to the seniors. "I think this board as a whole is committed to that and our past contribution effort is reflective of that."

Mark Ennis, President of the Tri-Lakes Health Alliance Partnership, the parent organization for the Senior Alliance, asked for support for the continuing and increasing need for the partnership’s volunteers to provide meals to seniors in need.

Development Services fee schedule amended

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported that the staff had drafted a fee structure for the new town code requirement for a fence fee. The staff determined that the fee should be $15 for a single-family residential home fence. The staff determined that the fee for a commercial fence should be $50. Any unusual extra work will be charged at the standard fee of $50 per hour.

The fee schedule also incorporates changes to the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority fee schedule that was enacted on Sept. 1.

Four other fees were noted:

  • $25 for a revocable permit
  • $50 for a temporary use permit
  • $50 for a permit for a business operating in a parking lot
  • $250 for a Triview infrastructure impact fee

The board unanimously approved a resolution amending the fee structure.

Off-site VIN ID fee approved

The board unanimously approved a separate resolution to create a $20 fee for off-site vehicle identification number (VIN) verification services, which are available for such purposes as new license plates and insurance. The fee for VIN verifications performed at Town Hall remains at $10. The extra $10 covers Code Enforcement Officer Donna Jack’s travel costs to drive a town vehicle to off-site inspection locations.

To make an appointment for a VIN verification, contact Jack at 719-884-8035 or djack@townofmonument.net

New solicitation ordinance approved

Shirk reported that the new solicitation ordinance defines "active" solicitation. Some of the specific unlawful actions noted in the ordinance are:

  • Continuing to solicit from a person after the person has given a negative response to the soliciting.
  • Intentionally touching or causing physical contact with another person without that person’s consent in the course of soliciting.
  • Intentionally blocking, obstructing, or interfering with the safe or free passage of a pedestrian or vehicle, including unreasonably causing a pedestrian or vehicle operator to take evasive action to avoid physical contact in the course of soliciting.
  • Persisting in closely following or approaching the person being solicited and continuing to solicit after the person has informed the solicitor by words or conduct that the person does not want to be solicited or does not want to give money or anything of value to the solicitor.
  • Using profane or abusive language that is likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction from the person being solicited or would cause a reasonable person to be fearful for his or her safety.
  • Soliciting money from anyone waiting in line for tickets, for entry to a building, or for another purpose.
  • Approaching or following a person for solicitation as part of a group of two or more persons, in a manner and with conduct, words, or gestures intended or likely to cause a reasonable person to fear imminent bodily harm or damage to or loss of property or otherwise to be intimidated into giving money or other thing of value.
  • Soliciting on any private or residential property after having been asked to leave, or refrain from soliciting by the owner or any other person lawfully in possession of the property.
  • Soliciting within 20 feet of an automated teller machine.
  • Soliciting in or upon any public transportation vehicle or public transportation facility within or at any bus stop or parking lot, structure, or other parking facility.
  • Soliciting within 6 feet of an entrance to a building.
  • Soliciting any person entering or exiting a parked motor vehicle or in a motor vehicle stopped on the street.
  • Soliciting any person located within the patio or sidewalk area of a retail business establishment that serves food and/or drink.
  • Soliciting after dark—one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.
  • Nothing in this chapter of the code shall be construed to prevent a person from acting in accord with a license or permit, as previously defined in the code.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that the maximum punishment of a $1,000 fine or 90 days imprisonment would likely only apply to repeat offenders.

Easton reminded everyone that the town has no jurisdiction over the intersection of the northbound I-25 exit ramp and Colorado Highway 105; Both are state roadways.

The ordinance was unanimously approved.

New unlawful camping ordinance approved

Shirk reported that a new ordinance makes it unlawful for a person to camp or store personal property, including camp facilities and camp paraphernalia, in any park, street, or publicly-owned parking lot or area.

However, the town manager or designee is authorized to permit people to camp and store personal property, occupy camp facilities, and use camp paraphernalia in these places in the Town of Monument if several specific conditions are met in the application.

The maximum punishment is a $1,000 fine or 90 days imprisonment.

New ordinance on medical marijuana dispensaries proposed

Town Manager Cathy Green reported that a proposed ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries was taken directly from an ordinance passed in Alamosa in response to inquiries regarding legal businesses recently authorized by Amendment 20 of the Colorado Constitution. She added that this ordinance is not ready to be voted on. If the board finds the language acceptable, the staff will reformat the ordinance into standard Town of Monument code format and schedule a Planning Commission hearing. She noted that a marijuana dispensary is not a "use by right" for a commercial zone.

After a lengthy technical discussion, the board agreed, by consensus, to refer a draft Town of Monument ordinance on medical marijuana dispensaries to the Planning Commission.

Liquor licenses

The board unanimously approved an annual renewal of the liquor license for the Texas Roadhouse in Monument Marketplace at 16196 Jackson Creek Parkway.

Financial reports and updates

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

  • $110,670 to Triview Metropolitan District for July sales tax plus $3,979 for August motor vehicle tax
  • $6,070 to AFD Pavement Marking LLC for striping, edge lines, turn lanes, and arrows for Old Denver Highway and Jackson Creek Parkway
  • $11,192 to Lytle Water Solutions LLC for engineering services for redrilling well 7 and other consulting work
  • $353,232 to Henkle Drilling and Supply Co. for redrilling well 7
  • $10,283 to Qwest for burying phone lines that are part of the Third Street improvements

Smith reported that expenditures are still less than the amount budgeted through the end of August. Sales tax revenues are currently the majority of revenues and remain higher than budgeted for 2009. Water fund revenues are down about 23 percent due to the wet weather this year. The expense of redrilling well 7 will eliminate most of the prior 2009 savings in water fund expenditures prior to the pump failing.

Staff reports

Kassawara stated that the staff and board have always known that Third Street upgrades would be a difficult project because of all the previously buried utilities and the ones that are now also being moved underground. He noted that general contractor Pioneer Sand is still on schedule and on budget. "You could not ask for more cooperation" from Pioneer. "It’s going as well as can be expected" with the level of complex coordination required.

Every affected property has retained access, though not always direct access, Kassawara said. Every access complaint has been addressed immediately.

Kassawara continues to hold meetings with the developers of all the major town and Triview Metropolitan District developments.

Some of the items that Rich Landreth, director of the Public Works Department, reported were:

  • The department completed all required railroad quiet zone installations for the Second Street crossing.
  • Staff members assisted an Eagle Scout project to install sod and landscaping near the bandshell in Limbach Park.
  • Roads staff members assisted with crack sealing of roads in Triview Metropolitan District.
  • Water staff members are running the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District water treatment plant to provide augmentation water to the Air Force Academy, potable water to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, and water for leak checks of the district’s new 1.5 million gallon water storage tank.
  • The contractor has completed all leak repairs and leak testing of the new Forest Lakes water tank. Monument leases 500,000 gallons of the storage capacity from Forest Lakes.
  • The transformer for Triview’s Well A8 has been replaced, and the well is back in operation.
  • Construction on Triview’s Misty Creek Park was temporarily stopped to redesign the trickle channels in the new drainage system

The meeting went into executive at 8:50 p.m. to discuss contract negotiations and was immediately adjourned after the executive session, without any further votes, at 9:20 p.m.

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The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Beacon Lite Road Improvements Community Meeting, Sept. 22: County officials get residents’ input on road upgrade

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Photos by Jim Kendrick

Below: County Engineer Andre Brackin (L) ) addresses the Beacon Lite Road Community Meeting Sept. 22. 

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Below: County Commissioner Wayne Williams (R) address the Beacon Lite Road Community Meeting Sept. 22.

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Below: A portion of the Beacon Lite Road concept. Provided by El Paso County.

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the PDF file of the Beacon Lite Road concept. This is a 494 Kbyte file and will take about 3 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.

By Jim Kendrick

County Commissioner Wayne Williams, Director of Public Services Tim Wolken, County Engineer Andre Brackin, Engineering Services Manager Carl McClellan, and Design Section Leader Allisa Were held a community meeting at Monument Town Hall on Sept. 22 to present a project overview of potential Beacon Lite Road improvements from County Line Road south to the Wakonda Way intersection and solicit residents’ input. More than 50 county residents who daily or regularly use Beacon Lite Road attended.

Brackin said the county began monitoring the unpaved north end of Beacon Lite in 2006. The Board of County Commissioners directed the county Department of Transportation staff to initiate plans to upgrade Beacon Lite Road to accommodate increased traffic in 2007. The initial review and concept improvement plan was completed last year. This session was the first resident meeting.

Brackin noted that this segment of Beacon Lite Road is in need of enhancements to its current conditions, particularly sight distance restrictions for curves, hills, and intersections. Southbound traffic counts in early September at the County Line Road intersection were about 876 vehicles per day. Traffic counts at the Highway 105 intersection were about 3,313 vehicles per day. Trucks are about 10 to12 percent of the traffic on Beacon Lite. Most traffic accidents on Beacon Lite have not been at intersections, and many accidents are not reported.

Some of the potential road improvements being considered are sight distance, shoulder, and intersection improvements as well as surface paving. Building these improvements would result in impacts to existing property, utilities, and drainage, because much of the existing dirt road is on private property, which Brackin called "prescriptive right-of-way." This means the county does not have a deed for the right-of-way.

Brackin and Williams asked the residents to provide access to their private property so the county can survey the area, collect data, and review current access and road alignment options in order to provide the residents feedback on potential upgrade alternatives. Once a preferred new alignment option is selected, the county will have to acquire property for the new right-of-way through donations, negotiated purchases, or in the worst case, condemnation by eminent domain with immediate possession and use while a judge determines the correct reimbursement payments. However, the county’s policy has long been to make every possible attempt to avoid condemnation if an upgrade is approved. The county pays for the property owner’s separate appraisal as well as its own when adverse possession is used.

Some of the next steps in the process are:

  • Collect data, including warrant studies to determine the type of traffic control changes needed
  • Analyze the number of trees that need to be cut down
  • Evaluate short-term regrading and resurfacing with gravel while the feasibility study is completed
  • Complete an alternatives analysis, including determining whether it should be designated a local or collector road, as well as choosing rural or urban status, to calculate how much right-of-way must be obtained
  • Solicit additional public input
  • Identify the best alternative with the fewest impacts to property, utilities, and drainage
  • Determine a potential funding source for the likely cost of over $3 million
  • Add Beacon Lite Road improvements to the county’s five-year capital improvement plan
  • Present a proposal to the county administration and commissioners to get their direction
  • Begin preliminary engineering design and then construction

Brackin and Williams emphasized that very little is known about the geology under the surface of the private property on either side of Beacon Lite Road but there is probably a reason for the sharp curves and steep slopes.

Some of the points Williams made were:

  • The first county study to improve Beacon Lite Road was performed about 35 years ago.
  • People have been asking him for improvements to Beacon Lite Road since he first ran for office.
  • County property taxes are less than one-third of Douglas County taxes, and all other Front Range counties have higher tax rates.
  • Currently, obtaining funding from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) seems to be the most likely option, depending on the total cost if one of the available options is approved. However, PPRTA funding may not be available until after another successful ballot issue election to extend PPRTA’s current limited 10-year lifespan beyond 2014.
  • Because maintenance of asphalt roads is cheaper than maintaining dirt or gravel roads in some unusual circumstances, the county has considered paving only three county gravel roads: Bowstring Road in Woodmoor, Rio Road in Falcon, and Beacon Lite Road.
  • A timetable for improving Beacon Lite depends on what is discovered during surveying and data collection.
  • Putting chip seal on the existing road without straightening it would significantly change drainage and encourage higher speeds that would result in higher accident rates.
  • Trees just outside future county-owned right-of-way may still limit sight distances if the road is not sufficiently straightened.

Some of the comments made during citizen input were:

  • High speeds are the most threatening existing problem due to limited visibility.
  • Putting up three-way stop signs at intersections is the cheapest short-term speed control option.
  • Beacon Lite residents are used to the contour and grade of the road, but the surface is terribly inconsistent—unacceptably "severe washboards" or "severely slimy surfaces" in rain or snow.
  • Traffic is much worse since the Conoco exit was closed for weigh station safety.
  • Washboards take longer to reappear when magnesium chloride is applied to the dirt road.
  • People who live near County Line Road east of I-25 have started using Beacon Lite Road to avoid traffic jams on Monument Hill Road at Palmer Ridge High School.
  • The level of the road has changed significantly, making it more difficult to get in and out of driveways, especially when towing trailers.
  • Mailboxes and their posts do not last long on Beacon Lite.
  • There are a significant number of dead trees, due to mag chloride and beetles. The trees will fall on the road eventually.
  • Snow is often plowed only in one direction, leaving a single lane, a dangerous situation.

Some of Brackin’s and Williams’ responses to citizen comments were:

  • Grading and gravelling the road may be the best interim solution, but it would break down fairly quickly and require a lot of costly maintenance.
  • Gravel roads last longer with a high crown due to improved drainage, but are very unpopular because motorists prefer driving on flat roads.
  • The sharp curves and steep grades may have resulted from currently unknown geological and drainage factors.
  • Single lanes are plowed first during a snowstorm to open and keep open major roads until time permits a second lane to be plowed.
  • Frontage roads work only when there is not much traffic or development on them.
  • An example of a bad frontage road with too much traffic on it now is Monument Hill Road, because the intersection with County Line Road cannot be close to I-25, leading to its now dangerous curves.

Williams thanked the citizens for their large turnout and asked them to attend the following meetings on Beacon Lite:

  • The next community meeting
  • County Highway Advisory Committee hearing
  • County Planning Commission Hearing
  • Board of County Commission Hearing

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Palmer Lake Town Council meeting, Sept. 10: Final Lucy Owens Fund payment decision deferred

By David Futey

The Palmer Lake Town Council delayed a decision on requests for money from the town’s Lucy Owens Fund at its Sept. 10 meeting.

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman said the Fire Department is still seeking a used Suburban as an emergency vehicle and requested $2,000 toward the purchase of the SUV, as well as $3,000 for the purchase of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Coleman asked that the total request of $5,000 come from the remainder of the Lucy Owens Fund, a private bequest to the town from Owens’ estate that is used for town grants.

The previous 1989 Suburban emergency vehicle was retired after 17 years of department service. Coleman noted that this $5,000 would have to be deducted from the remaining amount in the Lucy Owens Fund that had already been designated to be donated to Tri-Lakes senior citizens’ activities.

The Fire Department is currently using a 1998 Chevrolet S10 truck transferred from the Palmer Lake Police Department as the interim emergency vehicle. During a lengthy discussion, Police Trustee and Fire Chief Dan Reynolds suggested that a slightly used Yukon might be able to fulfill the emergency vehicle requirement.

Reynolds said the present AED is 5 years old and cannot be updated, although newer AEDs can be updated. Roads Trustee Bryan Jack stated that the El Paso County Emergency Services Authority has a grant pool that funds purchases and could possibly provide $3,000, without a matching grant requirement, toward the AED purchase, in lieu of the request for reassigning $3,000 from the Lucy Owens bequest.

Trustee Jan Bristol and Mayor John Cressman suggested that Coleman’s request for funding needs further discussion and exploration. Mayor Cressman placed the request on hold.

Status of Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance (TLSA), presented the council with a status report on the organization. This report fulfills a pledge the TLSA made upon receiving the second $10,000 donation from the private Lucy Owens Fund created by Owens’ estate. The Palmer Lake Town Council was designated by Owens to decide how to disburse the cash fund. Roberts requested the third and final $10,000 donation from the original pledge made by the town.

Among other items, Roberts reported that:

  • Thirty to 40 seniors are served lunch each Wednesday at the Learning Center in the D-38 administration building. Seniors make a $3 voluntary donation for the $5 lunch that Pinecrest Catering provides at a discount. Volunteers for the United Methodist Church perform the plating, serving, and cleanup.
  • Discounted Tuesday bowling at the Pinz Bowling Alley on Highway 105 draws 10 to 20 seniors each week.
  • The Tri-lakes Senior Beat newsletter, published by Allen Alchian, goes to 300 households in the Tri-Lakes area. Alchian also created the www.TriLakesSeniors.org Web site, which is financed by an individual donation.
  • The Tri-Lakes Silver Book, which lists services and assistance provided to seniors, was issued in January 2009 with Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) funding.
  • The TLSA Thrift Store, located in the West End Center in Palmer Lake, has grossed $12,000 in sales since opening in March. Net Thrift Store proceeds from the sale of donated items should be enough to replace the annual donations from the Owens Fund, so the TLSA can continue to support senior programs, such as monthly day trips.
  • The intergenerational program, I Witness History, has restarted with the new school year. This program pairs seniors, who share firsthand experiences from such events as World War II and the Great Depression, with D-38 students.
  • In July 2009, the Tri-Lakes Senior Citizen Center moved from its interim Palmer Ridge High School location to a more spacious and permanent location on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus, with a grand opening on Aug. 12 attended by 120 people. A variety of activities are available for seniors at the center and at the adjacent YMCA.
  • The TLSA is on a "solid financial base" in 2009 with a carryover from 2008 of $19,000 in addition to $10,000 in net Thrift Store proceeds. Grants totaling $6,000 have been received from Black Hills Energy and MVEA. Volunteer donations from seniors have totaled $2,500. Additional grants totaling $8,000 are expected later in 2009.
  • Roberts formally requested the third and final $10,000 donation from the Lucy Owens Fund, "which I understand has somehow shrunk to $9,000 and may have shrunk even further than that based on what I’ve heard here tonight."
  • Roberts commended the council "for the essential role you have played in supporting the senior program. The senior community again thanks you. Tri-Lakes is definitely getting known as a friendly place for seniors and their families to move to. We look forward to your continued support."

Coleman said, "Chuck, last year you told us that the Town of Monument didn’t have any money to donate to the senior alliance. Have they coughed up any money yet?"

Roberts replied, "No. I go to them next. Care of the seniors doesn’t seem to carry the same priority at the Monument town council as it does here. I look at these faces and all of you have personally gotten involved in the senior program and I appreciate it. We don’t get that kind of support in the Town of Monument."

However, Roberts noted at the Monument Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 17 that the board had donated $1,500 to the alliance in 2008 and budgeted a $2,000 donation in the 2009 budget. See the Sept. 21 Board of Trustees meeting article for details.

This money came from Monument tax revenue rather than a private donation. Monument has no similar endowment fund from an estate for dispersing privately donated funds to charities. The Palmer Lake Town Council has not donated any of its municipal revenue to the Senior Alliance.

A lengthy discussion followed between Roberts and the council about how poorly the Town of Monument has supported the Senior Alliance since the council began allocating money from the Owens Fund in 2007. No one mentioned the many years the town of Monument has hosted two senior lunches per week in their Town Hall for free.

Some of the comments made by various council members follow.

Bristol suggested that Roberts tell the Monument board what percentage of the seniors supported by the senior center are Monument residents compared with the percentage of Palmer Lake residents, adding "I don’t know how you shame those folks into taking care of their seniors, but I think it might be interesting to do." Roberts replied, "That’s pretty easy to do" using the Senior Alliance’s mailing list. Cressman added, "I bet most of them are from Monument."

Bristol noted, "Regardless of what we’re able to do this year, next year it’s off the table for us. We’re not going to have the ability to help, and somebody’s going to have to pick that up." Cressman said, "Why don’t we go challenge them?" and stated that he would attend the next Monument board meeting. Roberts said the council members should attend the first Monument board meeting in October. Palmer Lake resident Richard Allen said that at least 80 percent of those attending the center are from Monument, and someone needs to fill the void after the private "seed money" from Owens runs out. Note: At the Monument BOT meeting on Sept. 17, Roberts said that Monument residents made up 66 percent of those supported by the senior center.

Cressman said he would "make a presence" at the Monument board meeting and speak with Travis Easton, the new mayor of Monument, about donating toward the organization. "I’ll be in Travis’s ear" and "try and get him thinking about that a little bit harder before that meeting." Roberts added, "We’re expecting a change in Monument with Mayor Easton there now. When he was a trustee, he was always a voice in the wilderness supporting senior programs. One of the major things being bogged down there is the Arbor Mountain senior residence going through the approval process at the town."

Reynolds reiterated that reallocating $5,000 of the last $9,000 of Owens’ money to the Fire Department would provide more help to all Palmer Lake’s residents than giving it to the senior center, where attendance by Palmer Lake seniors is so comparatively low.

Jack and Cressman told Roberts that a final decision on the contribution from the Owens fund should be determined at the regular Town Council meeting on Oct. 8.

Community Development Block Grant

Town Clerk Della Gray reported that DeAnne McCann and Tiffany Colver wish to meet with Mayor Cressman, Trustees Nikki McDonald and Bristol, and Gray to determine a way for the town to qualify for funds in the HUD community block grant program to assist with various projects. Trustee Jan Bristol said the projects must benefit a percentage of low-income residents, and the town might not meet the "threshold" because the average income of the town is too high.

Committee Reports

Cressman announced that the town survey is now available to fill out by residents, business owners, and those who work in town. He thanked Palmer Lake resident Karen Stuth for assisting with the survey development and requested that all town people complete the survey. The survey is an opportunity to provide input on how to improve management of the town.

The survey is available at the Palmer Lake Town Office building at 42 Valley Crescent, as well as the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts at 304 Highway 105 and the Palmer Lake Library at 66 Lower Glenway. The town will be receiving completed surveys through mid-October. Call 719-481-2953 for more details.

Repaving the west end of County Line Road has been completed for a total cost of about $75,000.

Bristol, the Parks and Recreation and Economic Development trustee, congratulated the Palmer Lake Historical Society for the successful Chautauqua in August. Bristol said that there has been vandalism in Glen Park and requested that additional police patrol the park. The toilets in the park are now locked due to vandalism, and they might be replaced by steel bathroom facilities. Bristol and Trustee Nikki McDonald are meeting with Monument Hill Sertoma and the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce to coordinate brochures on the 2010 Fourth of July fireworks display.

Fire Trustee Coleman reported that the Pikes Peak Wild Fire Prevention Partners would be clearing brush on Sept. 25 and 26 just off Santa Fe Trail in order to improve it as a fire break.

The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department responded to 30 calls in August and extinguished a suspicious fire on the picnic pavilion roof near the lake. The department is investigating the incident.

The U.S. Forest Service has provided a newer refurbished tender vehicle for the Fire Department’s use to transport additional water to local fire calls in areas where there are no fire hydrants. In return, the town keeps the vehicle in running order and responds to all Forest Service calls in Pike Nation Forest west of town.

Reynolds reported that Police Technician Kathleen Encinias has submitted a letter of resignation and that her last day will be Oct. 15. Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk—who has been acting as interim Palmer Lake police chief for most of 2009—and town representatives are seeking her replacement. The announcement for the Palmer Lake police chief position has been posted to numerous police-related publications and Web sites. Reynolds expects the position to be filled by early December.

Jack reported that Middle Glenway has been milled after the Palmer Lake Water Department installed the water main and hydrants in the roadway.

Jack is interested in lowering the speed limit of County Line Road from 35 to 30 within the town limit due to traffic counts and business traffic. He thanked the City of Colorado Springs for providing message boards during the repaving of County Line Road.

Negotiations are continuing with the Colorado Department of Transportation for installing curbs and gutters on the state’s Highway 105 right-of-way. Current plans called for the request for bids on the Highway 105 streetscape project to go out on Sept. 29.

During his report, Trustee McDonald asked Water Trustee Max Stafford if any word had been received from attorneys regarding the town seeking an agreement with the railroad to transport water across the railroad right-of-way and into the lake. Stafford said the town’s request is still being considered by the Colorado State water engineer level, but Stafford had received no word to date.

Gray reported that if each town department, other than water, stays within the present level of spending, total spending will not exceed reduced revenues, which are "currently steady" at about 89 percent of the budgeted amount.

Business licenses

By unanimous decision, the council approved a request for a new business license for Main Street Brokers, 19 Highway 105, by owner Trish Flake. The request relates to a change in ownership and name, from Raspberry Mountain, as Flake takes over the building and becomes the primary broker. The nature of the business remains the same.

By unanimous decision, the council approved a request for a business license for Olde Towne Realty, also at 19 Highway 105, by Sandra Throgmorton, and a sign request by Karen Jones for All About Homes. The sign request had been unanimously approved by the Palmer Lake Planning Commission.

Surrey driveway issue

Brian Scott, owner of a vacant property on the corner of Surrey and Spring Street, had formally requested use of the existing driveway easement at the August council meeting. Scott wants to access the property to build a single-family detached lot and wondered about the status of his request. There is a buyer from California interested in building a house on the property. Roads Superintendent Bob Radosevich and Town Clerk Gray met with the realtor for the buyer. The property has a very steep, 20-foot elevation difference from the street to the property. Given the amount of traffic, the driveway access would need to be at street level for drivers to view Spring Street traffic. The property already has a driveway, and it might be possible to widen the driveway opening and create a separate access to the two residences that share the road access. Radosevich said building a road to Kent Street presents a challenge to access the back properties.

A very lengthy discussion ensued on how a street might be accommodated to this and other affected properties, including input from homeowners who would be affected by changes to the road. If two or more people will build in the back area of this location, a road costing about $75,000 needs to be built. The town does not have the money to build this road.

Cressman had a concern for safety and drainage and stated that someone needs to develop an access to the area. Town Attorney Larry Gaddis suggested this be referred to the town engineer and assigned to a council committee, and have them make a recommendation. A decision on the matter was postponed until the October council workshop.

By unanimous decision, the council approved the ordinance amendment for the replat of Clio and El Moro. This was a different correction to the replat that was recorded in 2008 with the original ordinance. The correction included additional information that was recently discovered about inaccuracies of the affected boundary lines at that time.

By unanimous decision, the council formally recognized the Palmer Lake Fire Department as an entity of Palmer Lake. In the past it had been informally recognized.

By unanimous decision, council approved the audit of 2008.

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The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/index.shtml or call 481-2953.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board, Sept. 3: Board approves development of conservation plan

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District approved up to $22,000 to develop a district conservation plan at its Sept. 3 meeting. Board members James Whitelaw and Barrie Town were absent and excused.

The board discussed at length a proposal from Tetra Tech Inc. to develop a conservation plan for the district. Tetra Tech representative Rocky Wiley spoke briefly about the proposal, saying that such a plan would save money and conserve water by delaying construction of additional wells and other facilities. He assured the board that conservation could be achieved without negatively affecting service.

Wiley said that the district is still small enough not to be affected by some state regulations, but that having a conservation plan in place could be instrumental in getting grants from the state for future projects.

Wiley pointed to such current policies as use restrictions for irrigation and rebates for water-saving devices such as appliances and toilets as evidence that the district has been planning for conservation for at least a year.

District manager Jessie Shaffer agreed that having a conservation document is an advantage when dealing with state agencies and said that many component agencies of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority have individual plans on file. He said that the district began its voluntary restrictions three years ago and that they are now mandatory. The district will continue its rebate program, Shaffer said, and any program will involve monitoring and evaluating the results, and some measurements will be more qualitative than quantitative.

Such activities as conservation programs in the schools would be an example of activities not easily measured, but their long-term effects could be significant to the future water use of the district, Shaffer said. He also pointed out that the state requires education and xeriscaping programs.

After further discussion, the board voted to approve up to $22,000 to develop a district conservation plan. Services under the contract include profiling the existing system, forecasting demand, profiling proposed facilities, identifying conservation goals and selecting measures and programs to reach those goals. The resulting plan will include an implementation plan and timetable and methods for data collection to monitor the success of the plan.

On other matters, assistant district manager Randy Gillette reported that flushing of fire hydrants along Woodmoor Drive would begin shortly, which may result in temporary discoloration of water. He also reported that the Deer Creek sewer construction was scheduled to begin, and was expected to be completed by the end of October. He said that one lane of Deer Creek would be dug up, seven manholes would be replaced, and three manholes would be rehabilitated.

Gillette also reported that the district is still using largely lake water but will shift back to wells in the near future.

Shaffer then reported that an agreement between Woodmoor Water, the Town of Monument, and Tim Irish, representing Arbor Mountain, is now in draft form. Arbor Mountain is a senior residential complex planned for the south side of Highway 105 just east of Knollwood. He said that the developer hopes to break ground on the development before the end of the year.

Shaffer also reported that site acquisition for Well 22 is almost complete and would be discussed further during executive session.

Attorney Erin Smith reminded the board that the budget for 2010 must be filed by Dec. 15. She was assured that the draft budget would be presented at the board’s October meeting and approved at the November meeting.

Smith also suggested that the district send a letter asking tenants to give landlords access to water billing information. At present the district is forbidden by law from disclosing the billing information to a third party (the landlord).

The board went into executive session at 2:15 p.m. to discuss water rights, water team strategies, Arbor Mountain and various legal issues.

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The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board meets at 1 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at the conference room at 1855 Woodmoor Drive. The next meeting will be on Oct. 8. For further information, call 488-2525 or check www.woodmoorwater.com

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Sept. 16: Authority focuses on connection to Springs Utilities

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below (L to R): Paul Rochette and Tom Binnings of Summit Economics. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photo to zoom in

a PDF file of the Sept. 2 presentation to the UPAC. This is a 128 Kbyte file and will take about 3 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.

By John Heiser

At the Sept. 16 regular monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), the members reviewed the presentation made Sept. 2 to the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Utility Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC). The UPAC makes recommendations to the Colorado Springs Utilities Board (UB).

Concerns in the 1990s that providing water to areas outside Colorado Springs would encourage development in those areas and thereby erode the city’s potential tax base led the UB to adopt Executive Limitation 13, which has had the effect of greatly restricting CSU’s participation in regional projects.

The UPAC is now reassessing Executive Limitation 13 because development outside the city is occurring even without access to CSU’s services and regional water planning is becoming increasingly important to address watershed problems, water project costs, and environmental issues.

The UPAC is holding a series of meetings with the goal of providing recommendations to the UB in January regarding possible changes to Executive Limitation 13. The UPAC’s recommendations could open the way for use by regional partners of the planned Southern Delivery System (SDS) pipeline and other CSU facilities.

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

The Sept. 2 presentation to the UPAC paid for by the PPRWA was prepared and presented by Dave Bamberger, Paul Rochette, and Tom Binnings of Summit Economics LLC. Bamberger prepared a report for the PPRWA in 2006 that found that northern county areas contributed significantly more to the city’s economy than they cost in lost tax revenues. Rochette was formerly an economist for CSU. Binnings served on the UPAC from 1991 to 2003.

At the Sept. 16 PPRWA meeting, Rochette and Binnings summarized their UPAC presentation. Some highlights:

  • In 2006, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) estimated there were 104,420 vehicle trips from the suburbs to Colorado Springs each day. Of those, 23,360 came from Palmer Lake, Monument, and Black Forest.
  • PPACG also estimated 41,100 vehicle trips per day from Colorado Springs to the suburbs. Of those, 3,190 went to Palmer Lake, Monument, and Black Forest. A total of 21,710 went to the U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Carson. Rochette and Binnings noted that most of the trips to the military facilities would not entail lost sales tax revenue to the city.
  • Binnings and Rochette concluded that the net result of development in the suburbs is a positive impact on city sales tax revenues.
  • Colorado is the fourth most preferred state to live in (source: Harris Poll), second in entrepreneurial activity (source: ITIF index), third highest in venture capital per capita (source: Beacon Hill State Competitiveness), fourth highest in research and development inputs (source: Milken Institute), sixth best state for business (source: Forbes Magazine), eighth in high-tech exports (source: AEA Cyberstates 2008), and has the tenth most Fortune 500 company headquarters (source: Fortune Magazine).
  • According to the Brookings Institute in 2008, Colorado "is experiencing some of the highest population growth rates and economic and demographic transition of any place in the country."
  • The Pikes Peak region grows about 100,000 people per decade. The forecast is for 125,000 per decade in the coming 30 years.
  • Primary growth has been north and northeast, changing to east-northeast with the development of Banning-Lewis Ranch and southeast with the growth of Fountain.
  • The urban Front Range uses 6.8 percent of the state’s water for municipal and industrial purposes.
  • Collaboration creates more financially viable and sustainable solutions for industries and communities, especially when the Pikes Peak region must compete with other regions.
  • If a water crisis were to develop outside the city, there is a high probability that a higher governmental or judicial authority would intervene and the regional image would suffer.
  • Failure to take collaborative approaches creates significant risks to water costs and availability, thereby potentially hindering economic vitality and growth.
  • Water development is expensive and requires higher rate structures or rapid expansion of the customer base to spread out the cost.
  • The objective for Colorado Springs should be to promote quality, sustainable development while exercising a high degree of long-term control and influence over the regional water supply.
  • CSU should let staff engage stakeholders and potential partners to see what opportunities are viable.

The following are some highlights of other presentations at the Sept. 2 UPAC meeting based on notes by Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala district, distributed at the Donala board meeting:

  • Ralph Braden, president of the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association (HBA) said the HBA supports regional partnerships but that the city should not sell water rights; that is, CSU should offer to transport water but not provide water. He said the HBA does not support requiring annexation to the city in order to connect to CSU.
  • Stella Chan, CSU rate manager, gave an overview of CSU’s rate and development charge structure. She said the proposed 50 percent surcharge on water rates for service outside the city compared to service for district residents is traditional and industry-standard.

Duthie commented that a 50 percent surcharge on CSU’s third-tier rates would be unacceptable.

Other matters

  • Duthie, who also serves as PPRWA treasurer, distributed copies of a budget based on a continuation of the current dues structure under which districts serving or with the potential to serve 1,200 or more single-family equivalents (SFE) would pay $15,000 per year, and districts with fewer than 1,200 SFE actual or potential customers would pay $5,000 per year. Gary Barber, PPRWA manager, and Dick Brown, PPRWA legislative liaison, would be retained at their current rates. At the end of 2010, the proposed budget would completely deplete the PPRWA’s remaining funds.
  • Rick Fendel, PPRWA attorney, noted that the EPA is pressing the states to adopt numerical standards for nutrients in streams and lakes. He said that ammonia and nitrates are regulated now. Next would be phosphorous. He added that this issue has been elevated to a national priority due to problems in the Mississippi River basin and the Gulf of Mexico. The EPA presented its concerns to the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Fendel said the commission resisted but, in the future, may not have a choice.
  • The PPRWA is trying to set up a meeting with representatives of the Super Ditch group to negotiate a contract. Issues include covering the legal costs for obtaining a water court ruling to change the use of the water from agricultural to municipal, obtaining water storage rights in the Pueblo reservoir, and including a guarantee that there will be sufficient water available.

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held Oct. 21 at 8:30 a.m. at the new Monument Town Hall and Police Department Building, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

There is information on UPAC at www.csu.org/residential/about/upac/item1047.html, on the UB at www.csu.org/residential/about/utilities-board/item1048.html, and on SDS at www.sdswater.org

Information on Summit Economics is at www.summiteconomics.com

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Sept. 16: District considers raising water rates 10 percent

By John Heiser

At the Sept. 16 meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, Dana Duthie, the district’s general manager, presented a recommendation to raise residential water rates 10 percent for 2010 as follows:

Water

Rate per 1,000 gallons/month

Range (gallons)

Old rate

New rate

Increase

0-10,000  $     3.00  $    3.30 10%
10,001-20,000  $     3.90  $    4.30 10%
20,001-30,000  $     4.40  $    4.85 10%
30,001-40,000  $     5.50  $    6.05 10%
40,001-50,000  $     7.70  $    8.50 10%
Above 50,000  $     8.80  $    9.70 10%

The minimum water service fee, which provides no water, would be increased to $13 from $12, with $3 of that fee designated for water development.

The proposed water rates for townhome complexes match the above residential rates up to 40,000 gallons per month. Over 40,000 gallons, the rate would be $7.70 per 1,000 gallons per month (up from $7 per 1,000 gallons in 2009), or $6.70 per 1,000 gallons per month for those townhome projects that have made significant reductions in their irrigated landscaping.

The rate for reuse water for the golf course is proposed to cost $2.60 per 1,000 gallons per month, up from $2.36 per 1,000 gallons per month in 2009. Untreated water from the district’s wells is proposed to cost the golf course $3.60 per 1,000 gallons per month, up from $3.30 per 1,000 gallons per month.

Duthie recommends increasing the sewer fee from $26 to $27, with $2 of that fee designated for sewer development and used to help pay off the debt for the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant.

No changes are proposed to the water and sewer tap fees and water and sewer development fees charged to developers.

Availability of service fees charged to owners of vacant lots would be unchanged at $300 per year.

Based on the board’s favorable comments about the proposed rate increase, Duthie will develop the district’s 2010 budget. A final decision on the rate proposal will be made at the November board meeting.

Mount Massive ranch update

Duthie reported that at a special meeting Sept. 4, the board selected a bid for $53,329 from Pridemore Construction to build a road using the access easement across a property near the district’s recently purchased Mount Massive Ranch. The ranch is in Lake County about seven miles southwest of Leadville. The access easement is the subject of a legal action. The property owner who brought the legal action claims the easement was specifically designated for the use of several adjacent properties but not the Mount Massive ranch. The district has offered the property owner $1,500 to resolve the matter.

Good access to the property would be critical if the district decides to sell it or a portion of it to a developer.

Also at the Sept. 4 special meeting, the board gave its attorneys direction to seek a settlement with Ronald Strich, the ranch’s prior owner. The district wants to buy out the grazing lease held by Strich in order to keep cattle off the ditch work the district has been doing and to simplify access to the property. Strich has expressed interest in buying back from the district 90 acres adjacent to his remaining 70-acre property so he can obtain hunting privileges on the land.

Strich has an ongoing lawsuit against Lake County regarding access across his property. Strich recently moved that suit to federal court and added defendants including the U.S. Forest Service and Federal Bureau of Land Management. At the Sept. 16 board meeting, Duthie estimated the suit will now probably take a year or two to be resolved.

Water court case update

Eighteen objectors have filed 16 statements of objections with the water court regarding the district’s plan to convert the Mount Massive Ranch water for district use. The objectors include the Arkansas River Water Conservation District, the Southeast Water Conservation District, the City of Aurora, the City of Buena Vista, the City of Salida, the City of Colorado Springs, the Fort Lyons Ditch Co., the Hitchcock Ditch Co., and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The district will need to seek resolution with each of the objectors prior to the trial. Duthie said he anticipates offering tours for the objectors in June or July 2010, with a trial date in October or November 2010.

Some of the main objections concern how much historical use there has been on the ranch, whether there were rights in place to divert the water at the points it has been diverted, the need to replace historical return flows to nearby creeks, and philosophical objections to drying up productive agricultural land.

In the course of preparing the water court case, the district’s attorney, Rick Fendel, discovered that a water court ruling issued in 2000 regarding the ranch contains a clerical error that must be corrected. Given the amount of time that has elapsed, the only way to correct the error was to file for another ruling. Duthie reported that Sept. 30 was the deadline for objectors to file their objections to this second filing. He estimated that the whole process could extend into the summer of 2011.

Special newsletter on water

The district sent to residents a special September newsletter about the district’s water supply. The newsletter is posted at www.donalawater.org/water-future/water-supply-initiatives.html. Some highlights from the newsletter:

  • "… How do we propose to move water from a ranch near Leadville to our local neighborhood? The simple answer is Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) or an alternative pipeline from the Arkansas River. The ranch water flows through Willow Creek into the Arkansas River about 5 miles south of Leadville. From the Arkansas, it can be picked up at any one of several points of diversion that CSU owns along the river, including Twin Lakes and Pueblo Reservoir. It can then be transferred through the CSU distribution system, treated and delivered to our system. Colorado Springs is currently going through an investigation to look at a regional approach to water service, and should have some new policies in effect within another year. In the meantime, they have offered Donala a short-term agreement by which we would purchase and move water from their system to ours. We see this as an important first step in a new relationship, and have authorized our attorney to iron out the details."
  • "We will not be moving much water initially. Once our own water flows into the other end of the CSU system from Mt. Massive, there will be more available, but hopefully also at a cheaper rate. In the meantime, we are simply constructing the connection and buying enough water to ‘keep the pipes wet,’ looking at it as a first step to a lasting, renewable water supply. Donala will make the actual connection between the CSU system in Northgate Road and ours in Struthers Road. We hope to have it complete and water flowing by next summer."
  • "The initial project to connect to CSU will cost the District about $750,000. The ‘Usage Fee’ we will be charged will be almost $200,000 each year, and the water rate the District will pay for the use of CSU water will be over $10 per 1,000 gallons. We have not established yet what the rate will be when they start moving our Mt. Massive water, or even if that asset will be attributed to the rate or the usage fee. But contrast that water rate to the average of $4.90 per 1,000 gallons that our customers paid for treated water in 2008, and you can see that there will be a shortfall in our revenue unless some changes are made. Even by adding in the portion of your property taxes Donala receives, the average single family home paid a little over $5.50 per 1,000 gallons last year."
  • "We have been building a ‘nest egg’ of tap fees and other revenue through the years. That’s what we used to buy the Mt. Massive Ranch ($4.7 million). It is what we will use for the costs mentioned for this connection, and for a while at least, the shortfall in the rate structure. But we do not have the bank account to cover the estimated $10.3 million it will take to upgrade our system over the next 10-15 years, or the money to purchase the other 80 percent of the water rights needed. Our growth is all but over, even without the current economic slowdown – there’s not much land left to develop in Donala. We do have some ideas on how to finance all of this, and will be bringing them to you by way of ‘Town Meetings’ over the next few months. In the meantime, we are also looking at a rate increase of 10 percent for the next year, and similar increases for follow-on years."

Other matters

  • During the three months from June 1 through Aug. 31, the district’s $4.9 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 1.12 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.25 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 3.7 months. Duthie noted that the district will withdraw about $1 million to cover the final payments for the wastewater plant expansion.
  • Although the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) has suspended its meetings so its members can attend the Colorado Springs Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC) meetings, issues remain regarding funding the administration of the transit loss model. The transit loss model, which is administered by the EPCWA, measures and records the amount of non-native Fountain Creek watershed stream flows owned by several municipalities and water districts. The amount of this water added to native stream flows by external sources, such as effluent from wastewater treatment facilities, can be exchanged or reused. The model calculates how much of the added water is lost as it moves down the creek. Tri-Lakes area entities reportedly feel they are getting little or no benefit from the model in selling effluent downstream and are considering stopping their participation in the project. Donala is paying about $12,000 per year toward the cost of administering the model. Duthie said the local water commissioner from the state engineer’s office is insisting that Donala continue its participation in order to monitor exchanges that are part of the arrangement that gave Donala the right to pump water from a well in Fox Run Regional Park.
  • Duthie distributed copies of his notes from the Sept. 2 UPAC meeting. Some highlights are included in the PPRWA article.
  • The new permit for the expanded wastewater plant has been received, and Duthie said he expects it to take effect Nov. 1. The permit calls for additional testing and reporting, including tests for metals and for whole effluent toxicity to see if specific species of minnows and fleas survive exposure to the effluent. The metals tests include tests for copper. Duthie said that much of the copper that has become a problem in wastewater plant effluent in recent years is leached from residential plumbing. He noted that Donala, Monument, and Woodmoor add caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) to the water supply to reduce the acidity and slow the leaching of copper from the pipes. The Triview Metropolitan District that serves Jackson Creek is not currently adding caustic soda. Duthie distributed copies of a letter he sent to the Triview board asking them to require that the water operations staff for Triview’s facilities begin adding caustic soda.
  • Water use this August was similar to the same period last year. Duthie reported that during August, 56 customers used 40,000 gallons or more. One rental house used over 118,000 gallons, resulting in a water bill of $863. The district worked with the renter to adjust the irrigation controller to reduce the water use. Duthie noted that one benefit of the irrigation-rationing program was that peak use during August was about 2.3 million gallons per day, down from about 4 million gallons per day several years ago prior to rationing.

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

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Oct. 21 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.

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

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Monument Sanitation District Board, Sept. 24: Wakonda Hills stimulus project begins

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 24, Monument Sanitation District Director Mike Wicklund advised the board that all required paperwork had been completed to begin expanding the district’s collection system in Wakonda Hills on Sept. 28. It will be financed by $2.418 million in federal loans awarded to the district on July 27 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009—otherwise known as economic stimulus funding.

Members of the district staff, engineering consultant GMS Inc., and general contractor Brannan Construction Co. attended final administrative training from the EPA and Colorado Health Department on Sept. 18, regarding federal regulations governing ARRA projects.

Secretary Kristi Schutz was attending the Special District Association conference in Keystone, Colorado. Her absence at this board meeting was excused.

Gov. Bill Ritter notified the EPA and district by letter on Aug. 25 that he had formally approved all of the state’s wastewater and drinking water stimulus loans. The loans closed on Sept. 1. On Sept. 18, Brannan was issued a notice to proceed.

After the Sept. 24 board meeting, Brannan started surveying work on Sept. 28, and "broke ground" with on-site earth work on Sept. 29. The nationwide EPA deadline for all ARRA projects for breaking ground was Sept. 30.

The total estimated cost of the expansion project is $2.418 million. The first $2 million is financed by "forgivable" federal loans, which means no principal or interest has to be repaid. Project costs in excess of $2 million, up to $418,000, would be financed by a separate interest-free state loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, to be repaid in equal installments for 20 years. The loans closed on Sept. 1.

However, due to the recession, the Brannan bid, $1.575 million, is less than the original estimate for construction costs, and total project costs are now estimated to be about $1.9 million, not counting any contingencies and/or necessary change orders that may arise. The Wakonda Hills bids opened on Aug. 18 ranged from $1.575 million up to $2.7 million.

The estimated completion for the project is six months, but the project may have to be shut down for up to three months during the winter and resume in the early spring.

2010 budget discussed

Wicklund presented the first draft of the district’s 2010 budget to the board. The draft showed the original 2009 budget and how it was amended on Aug. 20 after the ARRA loans were approved.

The 2009 revised budget and appropriation includes $338,000 from district reserves to pay for two lift stations, which will also be part of the Wakonda construction. The lift stations were not eligible for stimulus financing because the administrative process of getting them approved by the state could never have been completed in time for all the various ARRA application deadlines. Approvals of the design of the lift stations and associated force mains are expected by the end of 2009.

The changes in the 2009 budget and appropriation account for the worst-case total project cost of $2.756 million. It now appears that the actual final total cost for the ARRA project and lift stations may be as much as $500,000 less than that figure.

The draft 2010 budget included two tentative options for raising monthly fees by $1 per month or $2 per month to cover repayment costs for two lift stations and force mains that are not financed by the ARRA loans and to offset the continuing decline in commercial revenue coupled with inflation.

The actual cost for this other portion of the Wakonda Hills project will not be known until after the state Health Department holds a series of EPA 208 Plan hearings to review and approve the lift station and force main designs later this year. Bids cannot be solicited until the design is approved.

Because these required state hearings for the lift stations could not be held soon enough to meet the tight application deadlines for the ARRA loans, the district has always planned to pay for them separately, from district capital resources.

These fee increase options are unrelated to the fee increase approved in a special board meeting on Feb. 6, the first in 15 years, when Wicklund discovered a substantial decline in town water use by commercial users that would significantly reduce revenues throughout 2009.

See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n3.htm#msd206 and www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n3.htm#msd219 for details on the February fee increase.

The board approved the February increase knowing that it might not be high enough to cover operating expenses for the rest of 2009, and another increase might be required in 2010. Also, the February fee increase was made before the district learned that it might be eligible for a stimulus grant for Wakonda Hills.

JUC report

Wicklund reported that the final draft of the proposed changes to the Amended Joint Use Agreement, which governs operations at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, had been completed. The district managers for the three owning districts—Monument, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District—drafted the proposal. Mike Cucullu, the attorney for the wastewater facility, has reviewed and approved the proposal, which the managers then forwarded to the three attorneys for each of the districts. These attorneys will review and coordinate a final version of the latest amendment.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

**********

The next meeting is at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, Sept. 23: District offers fire mitigation recommendations

By Bernard L. Minetti

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Treasurer John Hildebrandt told the board on Sept. 23 that the district budget was approximately 1 percent under projections for the year to date. Chief Robert Denboske said the 2010 preliminary budget would be available to the board in a week or so.

Hildebrandt also discussed the status of the billing process. Denboske said that the billing for such items as ambulance accounts had been slightly behind schedule due to the transition to an outsourced billing company. He indicated to the board that the delay had been temporary and is now up to date.

In discussing the 2010 availability of funding for the department, Denboske advised the board that the increase of "assessed value" funding should be approximately 3.84 percent for 2010 (a $118,637 increase), while the 2009 increase was 3.1 percent.

The board also approved an expenditure of $16,300 for Bondi and Co. to conduct an audit of district accounts.

Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman provided an overview of the status of the Fire Mitigation Program. He said that he was having difficulty getting the word out to homeowners associations, since he did not have all their addresses. He also stressed the importance of the responsibility of each homeowner to have a working knowledge of the program. HOAs that did not receive a copy of the fire mitigation letter should contact Kauffman to be placed on the distribution listing.

Kauffman also indicated that he has scheduled presentations to Tri-Lakes students during October. Teachers and homeowners may contact Kauffman at (719) 484-0911 for information and assistance.

Denboske then apprised the board of the hiring of an administrative assistant to facilitate the efficiency of the district’s administration. He also stated that when calling the district administration number (481-0911) between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, callers will now connect with a live responder rather than the previous mechanical answering machine. The new administrative assistant is Jennifer Martin, a Palmer Lake resident and a Palmer Lake planning commissioner.

Recommendations for fire mitigation

The fire marshal’s letter concerning fire mitigation contains, in part, the following information:

  • The fire district provides free wildfire mitigation assessments for any homeowner living in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The fire district follows the FireWise program.
  • A majority of the fire district falls under the Wildland Urban-Interface guidelines. Property owners, can help the fire department in battling a wildfire by following the steps of the FireWise program.
  • Proper identification of your home is essential. Your address needs to be visible from either direction of travel (If we can’t find you, we can’t help you.) The house address numbers need to be at least four (4") inches tall on a contrasting background on a post at the entrance of your driveway. All driveways need to have a clearance of thirteen and half (13.5’) feet in height and a minimum clearance of twelve (12’) feet in width.
  • Defensible space around your home is your first defense from a wildfire in your area. This is not meant to be a barren area around your home or on your property. Defensible space is either man-made or natural, where the vegetation is modified to slow the rate and intensity of an advancing wildfire. It also helps protect the forest from a structure fire. A typical defensible space extends a minimum of seventy-five (75’) feet around a home. Trees should be thinned to ten-twelve (10’-12’) foot crown spacing. Mow grass and weeds to a height of six (6") inches or less for minimum distance of thirty (30’) feet from all structures. Tree branches need to be pruned up to a height of ten (10’) feet above the ground. Remove all slash and debris from your property.
  • Many naturally occurring plants in our area are highly flammable and can fuel a wildfire. Removing flammable native vegetation and replacing it with low-growing vegetation and fire-resistive plants is one of the easiest and most effective ways to create a defensible space.
  • Make the placement of your house FireWise. Avoid ridge tops, canyons and areas between high points on a ridge. Choose a site away from heavily vegetated areas. Use fire-resistive or non-combustible construction material. Enclose the undersides of balconies and decks. Cover all vents and chimneys with a wire mesh to prevent sparks from entering your home or leaving your chimney with the potential to start a wildfire.
  • Smoke detectors save lives when properly installed and maintained. Test your smoke detectors weekly and replace the batteries twice a year (see instructions on your smoke detectors). Clean your smoke detectors once a year.

This fire mitigation discipline was submitted by Fire Marshal Curtiss Kauffman (719-484-0911). The responsibilities of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District fire marshal include but are not limited to:

  1. Reviewing all commercial plans for new construction, remodeling and/or tenant finishes.
  2. Fire inspections on all commercial buildings and all schools in the fire district.
  3. FireWise assessments at the homeowner’s request.
  4. Fire prevention for schools and homes at the homeowner’s request.
  5. Review all new subdivisions coming into the fire district.
  6. Other duties as deemed necessary per the fire chief’s direction.

**********

The next meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 west of Monument near the bowling alley. The board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. Information: 266-3367.

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September Weather Wrap

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: On a warm Labor Day, Kylee Wildasin of Glenealge was able to enjoy a neighbor’s slip and slide. By the end of the month the Tri-lakes area had days of freezing temperatures,snow, and rain. Photo by David Futey.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Bill Kappel

It was a bit of a tale of two months for September, with summer holding tight through the early part of the second week, then winter making an early appearance during the third week. But fall wasn’t totally skipped, as we did have some pleasant, crisp days mixed in as well.

This is about "normal" for the region, as September is a transition month for us and we usually move pretty quickly from summer to winter. And overall, the temperatures reflected the battle between seasons, with average temperatures ending just a touch below normal. However, precipitation was again back above average after a bit of a lull in August.

September started off mild and drier than normal, continuing the trend that we saw for much of August. High temperatures reached into the low to mid-80s each afternoon, with the exception of the 6th, when we only hit the upper 70s. These temperatures were around five degrees above normal for early September, making for a nice Labor Day weekend to enjoy the outdoors. We did have some isolated thunderstorms, but most of the time it was dry.

The second week of September continued with warm and dry conditions for the first few days as highs continued to hit the 80s on the afternoons of the 7th and 8th. And typical of a summer pattern, isolated thunderstorms developed during the afternoon. However, with the dry air, significant rain didn’t reach the ground. A subtle change moved in late on the 8th, as upslope flow behind a cool front allowed low clouds to develop the next morning. This held highs in the 70s over the next few days. Plenty of cloudy moved in as well, with a few areas of showers and sprinkles.

A stronger cold front moved in during the early morning of the 11th, but it took most of the day for the moisture to fill in. By the evening it was cloudy and cold, with rain and drizzle developing overnight. As the area of low pressure responsible for this front moved closer to the area from the northeast, rain and thunderstorms intensified during the day on Saturday, with most areas picking up around an inch of soaking rain.

Temperatures were held down as well, only reaching the low 60s. With all the moisture around from Saturday’s rain, Sunday saw plenty of low clouds and fog through early afternoon, before a little sunshine broke through. However, clouds quickly built back in and a few thunderstorms developed.

The week of the 14th started off mild, with highs hitting the upper 70s and with the last bit of warmth to end summer, scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms developed. Cooler conditions with low clouds and fog in the morning moved back in on the 16th and 17th, but this was short-lived. Sunshine and mild temperatures returned again from the 18th through the 20th, but this time big changes were soon to follow.

Right on cue, as the season turned from summer to fall, our first major storm system was gathering strength in the Northern Rockies and about to send some big changes our way. An area of low pressure and cold temperatures moved over the region and was "cut off" from the main flow. This helped it stay put over the general vicinity for a number of days and led to unsettled and cold conditions.

Its first effects were felt as a powerful cold front roared through during the afternoon of the 20th and quickly dropped temperatures from the 70s to the 40s. This front was followed by rain and thunder later that day. Cold air continued to stream in as well, and by Monday the 21st (the last day of summer) snow began to fall. Temperatures struggled to hit the low 40s and dipped below freezing for the first time in the season.

It was not much better the next day, as cold air and scattered snow, some mixed with rain, stuck around for Tuesday. Another burst of moisture circled around the low pressure area, which was now stationed over the eastern plains of Colorado. This round of moisture brought our heaviest snowfall, with snow off and on most of Wednesday the 22nd.

At the peak, some areas had 1-2 inches covering the ground, but because it was still September, the sun was strong and the ground still warm, so the snow soon melted. But that certainly doesn’t mean it was warm, as high temperatures didn’t get out of the 30s all day. The slow warming trend started on Thursday, but unsettled conditions stuck around, with bouts of rain and snow affecting the area through Friday morning.

Quiet and mild conditions returned just in time for the last weekend of the month, with highs hitting the 70s on Saturday and Sunday under mostly sunny skies. A quick-moving cold front raced through during the 27th, and temperatures were a good 20 degrees cooler on Monday the 28th. But with plenty of sunshine, we warmed back up quickly during the last two days of the month. Winds kicked up quite a bit, though, on the 30th, gusting over 40 mph at times, ahead of a storm that was moving into the region from the west.

A look ahead

October can be an active weather month for the Tri-Lakes region, with winter conditions often experienced. In fact, for three of the last five years, weather around Halloween has been cold and snowy. Remember the 6 to 15 inches of snow that fell during 2004 from Halloween night through Nov. 1st. Snow can be heavy at times during any part of October, as when over 20 inches of snow fell Oct. 9-10th in 2005, and 2006 saw over 24 inches of snow in less than 24 hours on Oct. 26th. The weather can also be very dry and mild, so enjoy those days when you can.

For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

September 2009 Weather Statistics

Average High 70.9° (-0.4) 100-year return frequency value max 77.5° min 63.5°
Average Low 39.6° (+0.1) 100-year return frequency value max 46.7° min 36.1°
Monthly Precipitation 2.24" (+0.61") 100-year return frequency value max 4.23" min 0.39"
Monthly Snowfall 1.5" (+0.6")
Highest Temperature 85° on the 3rd
Lowest Temperature 29° on the 22nd, 23rd
Season to Date Snow 1.5" (+0.6") (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 7.80" (+0.72") (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 284 (+1)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (-3)

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

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Support the 3/50 Project and local merchants

The following is from the 3/50 Project’s Web site, www.the350project.net/home.html

What three independently-owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? Stop in. Say hello. Pick up something that brings a smile. Your purchases are what keeps those businesses around.

If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally-owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. Imagine the positive impact if three-fourths of the employed population did that.

For every $100 spent in locally-owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it on-line and nothing comes home.

The number of people it takes to start the trend: you.

Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy.

Julie Bille

Open letter to kind strangers

Late morning on July 24, my dog was hit by a car on Mount Herman Road. The circumstances are unimportant, but the helpful response I received from people I had never met was amazing. Without hesitation, people stopped to see what they could do to help. Several people tried to keep my dog calm. One man lifted my dog into my car and made sure I’d be able to take her to the vet. The man driving the car that hit her was incredibly upset and would have helped me get care for her if my car hadn’t been nearby.

I don’t know any of your names or how to contact you. I would like to say thank you for stopping and caring and helping. Mercedes, the black dog, is fine. She had scrapes, bruises, and sore muscles, but no lasting injuries.

Again, thank you.

Anne Bevis

Thanks to a helpful person

Thanks again to the man and his family who helped me fix my bike on Aug. 1 at the Rock House. We had all been riding on the Santa Fe Trail and interacted a little along the way. When we ended up at the Rock House for ice cream, and I mentioned I was having trouble with my bike wheel, he got out his tool set and set it to right—just like that! Thank you so much for making my return trip smoother than the one up the trail! There are such great people out there in the world.

Lisa Hatfield

Wilson gets board member’s support

I was appointed to the school board in November of 2007 to a two-year term. Prior to joining, I knew the community had some concerns and I wanted to address them. I found the rest of the board members were as motivated as I was in resolving these issues. For the last two years, the school board has spoken as one collective governing body. We did not always agree, but we respected each other’s opinions and constructively worked each issue. You cannot spend the amount of time we have together and not know what motivates each other. I know everyone on the board wants to do what is best for our community and our children.

Going into the election this fall, I would like to state my support for Gail Wilson, who is running for another term on the District 38 school board. Her knowledge of education, especially early childhood education, makes her a valued resource on the board. She understands an education is the foundation for a person’s future and should not be treated like a product on a production line.

I would encourage everyone to come out and meet all the candidates at the District Accountability Advisory Committee’s Meet the Candidates night on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at Prairie Winds Elementary School. This will be a great opportunity to hear all the candidates speak. I will be there and would love to talk with everyone about our school district, of which I am very proud.

Mark Pfoff

Parent backs Wilson for School Board

I am writing this letter in support of Gail Wilson for District 38 School Board. Wilson currently holds a seat on the D-38 School Board. She has proven herself to be both a highly productive and proactive member of the board. She has open communication with her constituents and is very easily reached for comments or questions. She is always willing to hear what the public has to say and does not shy away from tough questions.

She has extensive experience in education as well as a background in financing and fundraising for nonprofit organizations. She has a comprehensive understanding of school finance law and the operational guidelines for Colorado School Boards and holds herself accountable to those guidelines.

Wilson engages and supports the Tri-Lakes community, she supports teachers, and she questions finances and budget while always acting on behalf of District 38 students. She has consistently demonstrated that the students of D-38 are her number-one priority. She is a highly regarded member of the District 38 School Board and one who deserves re-election this November. Retaining Gail Wilson is retaining a voice for our children and their education during this tough economic time.

Cathy Wilcox

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: What’s new in the book world?

By the staff at Covered Treasures

This fall brings a rich harvest of enticing new titles for all ages and interests. Following are just a sampling of those available—some recent releases by best-selling authors and several fresh approaches by first-time authors.

Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story
By Monica Holloway (Simon Spotlight Entertainment), $24

In this exceptionally touching memoir, the author of Driving with Dead People tells of the special connection between her autistic son, Wills, and the cancer-stricken golden retriever, Cowboy, who provided companionship, confidence, and strength. Black-and-white photographs throughout the book illustrate this true story.

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea
By Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns (Alfred A. Knopf), $50

America’s National Parks sprang from an idea as radical as the Declaration of Independence: that the nation’s most magnificent and sacred places should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. In this beautifully illustrated narrative, Burns and Duncan delve into the history of the park idea, from the creation of the world’s first national park at Yellowstone in 1872, through the most recent additions, to a system that now encompasses nearly 400 sites and 84 million acres. This is a companion volume to Burns’ 12-hour PBS series.

Catching Fire
By Suzanne Collins (Scholastic), $17.99

In the second novel of her Hunger Games trilogy, Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before and surprising readers at every turn. With a blend of suspense, science fiction and romance, the book will appeal to its young adult audience—and to many older adults as well.

The Sequoia Seed: Remembering the Truth of Who You Are
By Karen Wright (Bibliocast), $15

In a profound discussion of everyday challenges, Wright captures humanity’s journey of spiritual awakening. Her words embrace us as we walk through the fires of change and show how crises and tragedies can destroy us, or they can lead to the deeper truth of what life can be. She encourages the reader to seek not just money, but meaning; not just ego, but spirit.

Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library!
By Vicki Myron & Bret Witter (Little, Brown & Co.), $16.99

Based on Myron’s best-selling true story, this delightful children’s picture book tells the hilarious and heartwarming story of how Dewey learns what it takes to be the best library cat of all. Found in the public library book drop slot on the coldest night of the year, this tiny, shivering, dirty kitten is adopted by the librarian and named Dewey Readmore Books. He loves his new home, but when he discovers the library’s littlest visitors like to chase him, pull his tail, and squeeze him extra tight, he wonders if he is truly cut out for his new job.

Half Broke Horses
By Jeanette Walls (Scribner), $25

This is the true-life story of Lily Casey Smith, a resourceful, no-nonsense, compelling grandmother. At 6, she was helping her father break horses. At 15, she left home to teach in a frontier town—riding 500 miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car and fly a plane, and with her husband ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeanette’s memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle. Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and a most heart-breaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds—against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn’t fit the mold.

Ring of Fire
By P.D. Baccalario (Random House), $16.99

In the first book of the Century quartet young adult series, Baccalario begins a mystery that will take four cities and four extraordinary kids to solve. Harvey from New York, Mistral from Paris, Sheng from Shanghai, and Elettra from Rome find themselves thrown together with a briefcase of clues that take them all over Rome in search of the elusive Ring of Fire, an ancient object so powerful that legend says even a Roman emperor couldn’t control it.

When the leaves and the temperatures start falling, it’s a good idea to keep an inviting new book close at hand. Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: The well-diversified garden

By Kathy Green, Guest Columnist

Take a drive around almost any neighborhood in the United States, and you’ll see the same thing. Yards are all green and boring, each having a nicely mown lawn, a few shrubs, some juniper or pine trees, a nice ornamental tree or two and some petunias or other annuals for color.

Then every once in a while, your eyes will be drawn to a yard that is different–and it’s easy to see why. It has many types of flowers, herbs, shrubs, and trees with a small but functional area given to grass. These two types of yards are different in many ways, with the first relying on us to take care of it, and the second taking care of itself.

The first type of yard represents a monoculture of plants, while the second has diversity. A monoculture exists when the same type of plant is used extensively in a given space, whether that is a garden, a yard, a neighborhood or a city. It’s kind of like putting all your money into one stock. When the stock is performing well, life’s good. But when the stock tanks, you potentially lose everything. The plant kingdom is the same.

Plant hundreds or thousands of the same type of tree, and if a pest or disease comes along that is specific to that tree, all the trees you planted will die. The plight of the Dutch elm and the ponderosa pine are two great examples. Millions of Kentucky blue grass lawns suffer every year from pests and diseases that thrive in the monoculture that is the American lawn. So, to keep them looking perfect we rely on lots of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides and reach for the "bug spray" whenever a blade of grass is inflicted with something.

What makes a diversified garden/yard better than a monoculture? There are many things—sustainability, pest and disease resistance, providing food for many types of insects, birds, wildlife and people, feeding the "soil web," better use of water resources, and little to no dependence on fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides.

Designing a well-diversified garden is easier than you might think and costs less in the long run than large swaths of green grass. Most importantly, a diversity of plants is much better for you, your neighborhood, and the planet. Having many different plants does not just mean throwing a bunch of them together and calling it a garden. As with all the best garden designs, planning before planting is one of the most important things you need.

Choose plants that encourage pollinators, provide food and shelter for beneficial insects, and cover the ground with living mulch that prevents weeds. Beneficial insects and pollinators are extremely important inhabitants of a well-diversified garden, because they take care of most other problems. In our world where 96 percent of the insects are beneficial or benign, it makes no sense to spray insecticides to eliminate pests, when the "good bugs" are always hungry for supper!

When designing your garden or yard, it’s important to have enough different types of plants to help control pests, provide food, and still be beautiful. For each plant you want to include in your garden, ask yourself four things: 1) Does the plant provide food, shelter, or pollen? 2) Does the plant have natural resistance to pests and/or diseases? 3) Does the plant provide more than one season of interest? 4) Can the plant thrive without lots of supplemental water once it is established?

If you answered "yes" for at least three of these questions, consider the plant for your garden or yard. If not, move on to the next plant. There are literally thousands of plants that will have "yes" answers and will grow in our planting zones, so take the time to seek them out and plant them! Who knows, you might not even miss that sea of green that was once your front lawn.

Kathy Green is a Garden Designer and Garden Coach who has gardened in Woodmoor for the past 12 years. She owns All Things in Nature, LLC and would love to hear from you at www.allthingsinnature.com

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Prothonotary warbler

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Below: A drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of the Prothonotary warbler. 

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By Elizabeth Hacker

As summer transitions into fall, songbirds have begun their long migration to warmer regions. While many typical songbirds have left this region, the fall migration can also be a time of discovery as uncommon birds stop here.

Sept. 19 was a mild day, and my husband, Randy, and I met up with naturalist Ken Pals and his Birding 202 class for an early morning field trip. We began our day at the Big Johnson Reservoir and moved over to Fountain Creek Nature Reserve, where we observed about 30 species of birds. At 11 a.m. as we were wrapping up, we stopped beside a murky pond and heard the "Tweet, tweet, tweet" call of a warbler. At first we thought it might be the Wilson’s warbler, a fairly common songbird here, and in fact we did see one. But Ken noted that this call seemed a little different.

Then a few of us saw a little yellow bird flitting in and out of the brush about 5 feet from the edge of the pond. Once we got a good look at it, we saw its bluish wings and were able to identify it as a prothonotary warbler, which hasn’t been reported here for many years.

This woodland warbler is a neo-tropical passerine, or perching bird, that inhabits wet woodlands and slow-moving streams in the Midwest, Middle Atlantic states, and Southeast. It winters in Central and South America and migrates directly across the Gulf of Mexico. The prothonotary warbler is an accidental vagrant in Colorado and is only occasionally seen in the fall.

This striking warbler acquired its name from 18th-century Louisiana Creoles who thought the bird’s plumage resembled the golden robes of the protonotarius, a Catholic Church official who advised the pope, and this certainly would apply to this little warbler with its brilliant yellow head and chest. The male and female prothonotary warbler look very much alike, but the male is a little brighter. This species is one of the most colorful birds in North America and is one of only two warblers that are secondary cavity nesters.

The male prothonotary warbler arrives before the females to establish nesting territories and builds "false" nests adorned with moss to attract females. It is not clear why the males build these "dummy" nests, but when the females arrive a few days later, the males will display in front of their artificial nests. I can imagine this might be quite comical.

The actual nest is often located in an abandoned woodpecker hole lined with fine hair and soft grasses by the female. The nest is always located near to or over water. The female lays as many as seven eggs and incubates them for 12 days. The young hatch naked and helpless. Both parents tend to the young for about 20 days, at which time the fledglings begin to venture from the nest. It is to the chicks’ advantage that they can swim short distances by flapping their wings, as they often fall into the water before they learn to fly.

Once the fledglings leave the nest, the parents divide them into two groups and each parent feeds one group for up to 30 days. When the juveniles are flight-ready and able to forage on their own, they gather into small flocks. The parents then may mate again and raise a second brood.

Like all warblers, the prothonotary warbler doesn’t stay in one spot for more than an instant. It flits up and down and in and out of the brush. Fortunately it moves about in the same general area, so once we got it in our sights we were able to get a pretty good look at it, but we had to hold our binoculars steady and stand in one spot for quite awhile.

Ken Pals told us that migrating birds may stay in the region for several days, so Randy and I went back the following morning to see it again. Imagine our surprise when we got to the pond and it was surrounded by birders with scopes and long telephoto lenses pointed at the location we had seen the prothonotary warbler the previous day. Many of these observers got wonderful photos, but we were unable to get close enough to see it again.

Pals offers birding classes twice a year, and I have enjoyed taking both of them more than once. He generously donates the proceeds from these classes to the Friends of El Paso County Parks. If you’re interested in enrolling in one of his classes, contact him at 719-520-6387 or kenpals@elpasoco.com

Be a better birder

In a recent Birder’s World magazine, noted author and birder extraordinaire Peter Dunne stated that good birders—even great ones—are made, not born, and suggested the following ways to become a better birder:

Don’t just go birding, learn about the birds. Invest in good equipment. Go birding a lot; bird with better birders (like Ken Pals or join Aiken Audubon Society) but also look for birds on your own. Learn from your mistakes. Read everything. But most importantly, have fun!

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist whose limited-edition bird prints are available online at her Web site, www.ElizabethHackerArt.com. Proceeds from the sale of her prints are donated to habitat preservation. She welcomes comments and questions at elizabethhacker66@yahoo.com 

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Art Matters: The thought leaders

By Janet Sellers

An image in our mind has a powerful influence on us. Words and text have some sway, but images, especially movies, have a tremendous sweep on our minds and memories. We can read endless articles on an issue, and let it go past us. But, let a cartoon, photo, or film clip pass our vision, and our mind records it as close to a real experience.

As creatures of vision and visual experience, we tend to believe what we think we see and play along first, then reconsider in terms of how far to take a visual notion. A nation’s—and trickling down to a town’s—personality and love of place is identified by its creative community as well as its politics. And politicians are taking notice of the arts as a utility.

Last summer, the White House via the National Endowment for the Arts called together a group of artists and "made asks" of these artists saying,"You are the thought leaders; you are the ones that ... tell our country and our young people sort of what to do and what to be in to ... what’s cool and what’s not cool ...." and asked the artists to "continue to get involved in those things, to support some of the president’s initiatives ... to do things that we are passionate about and to push the president and push his administration."

The "asks" at the tele-conference also included: "And then my ask would be to apply artistic, you know, your artistic creative communities utilities and bring them to the table."

So the arts as utility, then? Wouldn’t it be amusing to take that tri-colored campaign poster that said "hope" and put the word "think" there instead?! How far would that go politically? The arts can bring in attention, memory, and meaning to an otherwise forgettable event or movement.

Using the arts is what politicians have done for ages, and we let them, hands open and minds closed. Unless we use our visual and artistic sensibility to think as we look. This comes from close association with art, artists, and creative works. We can’t be fooled or lulled into going along with a political agenda when we know what is going on. We can know what we are getting into, and are aware of to what we will belong and be human with in terms of the impact of the arts and thinking.

How does this affect us here in our local arts community? Are we immune to the national pressures and sway of the arts giants? We are not as immune as we may pretend, and yet, with applied intelligence, we can check inside "us" and decide where our arts support will go locally. The arts make it fun to go to a place. They can also make our children a lot smarter, too. Locally and nationally ... in the whole world ... now.

The arts make a place attractive and approachable. The arts enrich a place to become "a best-loved place," which is currently being studied for economic improvements to communities. The local art is a lot more fun and memorable at the unique, personal, and creatively arranged local shops. It is a personality thing. It’s a belonging thing. It’s a human thing. And, it is powerful.

Fall arts events in Tri-Lakes

The Art Hops ended in September, but that means the October art events will bring on the gifting season in style. We’ll have our own celebrations each month, and our annual art banners will be up as well in Historic Monument. It is located between Beacon Lite Road and Front Street from east to west, and Second and Third Streets from south to north. Each gallery and all the shops-with-art welcome you—some are new, some are in a new place.

Prickly Pear interiors shop moved to Second Street at the Alley, so Second Street has yet another art-inspired place to drop in and enjoy. What else can we notice in town?

Many of our local shops now have art for sale and art to view. Some also have art classes and demonstrations from time to time. A stroll through the area frequently holds a surprise venue. It seems that every time I go into the town and walk on our beautiful autumn days, I find a new place that just popped up or started showing off some art.

A new venue to the area is offering art this season: Luna Salon (two doors north of High Country Store) at 263 Washington St. has an outdoor scupture garden and indoor art gallery for patrons to enjoy indoors as well as outdoors. I like to drop by and say "hi" (and I do take a chocolate from the dish) and see what’s new there.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts will be offering its fall classes and art shows, of course. We can look forward to the annual TCLA member artists’ show and sale Oct. 5-31. This show highlights the fine artists who are members and support the center in myriad ways, especially creatively! Fall classes will include many mediums in hands-on art, as well as a book-related session of the Artist’s Way course in creativity, and other art/creativity related reading. The center can be reached at (719) 481-0475, at www.trilakesarts.org or drop by the big, sunny yellow building at 304 Highway 105 across from the lake in the Town of Palmer Lake.

Where else in town can you find some art to make you feel good, just for that purpose? Send in your answers and I’ll put them in Art Matters!

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. Info: artspa@mac.com or www.janetsellers.org

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Monument Art Hop concludes another successful year

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Photos by David Futey

Below: Leslie Bernsen

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Below: Mary Stern and Laura E. Reeve

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By David Futey

Sept. 17 marked the finale of the Monument Art Hop for the 2009 season. At Covered Treasures Bookstore, artist Leslie Bernsen, above seated next to her work titled Song Bird, displayed an array of her works, including jewelry, charms, and acrylic-on-paper art. Through the Web site, winndevon.com, Bernsen offers posters made from her paper art designs, which have been sold internationally.

Also at Covered Treasures were Monument authors Mary Stern and Laura E. Reeve (L to R in the right-hand photo above), who were available to discuss their latest publications. Stern’s first book, titled Where Did All the Animals Go?, takes us along for a hike with a grandmother, her dog and grandson on Mount Herman. Stern said she wrote the story to encourage children to read and to get them outdoors and go on a hike. A portion of the sales from her book goes toward Reach Out and Read Colorado. Stern will release her second book in November of this year.

Reeve, a former Air Force officer, was promoting her 2008 book release, Peacekeeper, along with Vigilante, to be released in October. The books are a fusion of Reeve’s military experience and her lifelong interest in science fiction.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Dakota Blonde returns to TLCA, Sept. 12

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By David Futey

Falling overwhelmingly in the category of better late than never, Dakota Blonde made their long-awaited 2009 appearance at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) on Sept. 12. An April snowstorm, which caused the cancellation of the originally scheduled show, delayed their appearance a few months but did not dampen the enthusiasm the band received from the assembled Tri-Lakes area "Blonde Heads."

A near-capacity crowd gathered for Dakota Blonde’s fourth appearance at the TLCA, and it was treated to the breadth of the band’s musical talents. The intimacy of the TLCA venue lends to the band’s ease in engaging the audience through song and conversation. The latter was exemplified by the story Mary Huckins related about the April storm that cancelled the concert. While driving in the blizzard in search of a wireless connection to inform the TLCA of the cancellation, she eventually used a Wi-Fi connection at a Safeway, moments before it closed, to relay the cancellation message.

The band performed selections from their four released CDs and covers such as "Walk Like an Egyptian." By the end of the night, the band’s solid performance left the audience with a hope that Dakota Blonde’s next TLCA appearance will be sooner rather than later. Information about Dakota Blonde can be found at their Web site (http://dakotablonde.com). Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org

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NEPCO discusses HOA legal issues, Sept. 12

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Below: Renowned attorney Lenard Rioth is addressing legal issues faced by homeowners’ assocation at the NEPCO meeting, Sept. 12. Photo by John Heiser.

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The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) meets on the second Saturday every other month. Their next meeting will be held Nov. 14, 10 a.m. at the New Monument Town Hall and Police Building, 645 Beacon Lite Road. At that meeting, El Paso County Commissioner Wayne Williams will address local issues.

NEPCO’s mission is to facilitate communication and interaction among the homeowners’ associations and residential areas of northern El Paso County in order to exchange ideas on topics of common interest to the constituent associations and to develop collective responses to the county and towns on issues affecting the quality of life of NEPCO member associations.

For more information, visit www.nepco.org or call Bob Swedenburg at 481-2723

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Woodmoor Business Fair, Sept. 13

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Photos by Elizabeth Hacker

The Woodmoor Business Fair Sept. 13 drew about 25 vendors representing everything from real estate, home repair, health insurance, dog sitting and animal care, to jewelry sales. Below: Jan Santino displaying Silpada jewelry. 

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Below: Real estate agent Claire Boyton of the Platinum Group displaying homes for sale in Woodmoor. 

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Below: Warren Santino talking to a man about insurance. 

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Tri-Lakes Cares’ thrift shop grand opening, Sept. 18

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Below: Preparing to cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the Hangers Thrift Shop are (L to R) David T. Van Ness, Executive Director of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce; El Paso County District 1 Commissioner, Wayne Williams; Debbie Swanson, Executive Director of Tri-Lakes Cares; Sandy Bauers, store manager; Scott Campbell, President of Tri-Lakes Cares; Ken Valdez, Chamber Board member and Farmers Insurance executive; Jack Fry and John Anderson, Tri Lakes Cares board members. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

The Hangers Thrift Shop, which will be one of the funding sources for Tri-Lakes Cares, had its grand opening Sept. 18. Located at 341 Front St. in downtown Monument, the new store features ample parking in a safe environment. At this time the streets surrounding the store are under construction, but access is still convenient for customers and item donors.

When it’s time to clean out the closet or clear out the garage, simply bring the items to the east door of the location. Sandy Bauers, who is the site manager, will be happy to accept your donations. The store has 23 volunteers to help with the store operation. Their efforts help to fund the Tri-Lakes Cares primary operation, which provides assistance to those with needs. Executive Director Debbie Swanson stated that Tri-Lakes Cares works to improve people’s lives by providing emergency assistance, self-sufficiency programs, and other social services.

When you visit the shop, you will notice that great care has been taken to lay out the merchandise in an extremely neat and efficient manner. It is fascinating just to walk the aisles and explore the merchandise. My wife and I came to cover the opening and found ourselves purchasing some items that were extremely hard to find and that we had wanted for some time.

Take a few minutes to drop by and check out this new store.

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Monument Hill Sertomans clean up I-25, Sept. 19

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Photos and information by Bob Wickham, Highway Clean-up Chairman.

Sertoma volunteers Ed Thomlinson, Jim Murphy, Rich Schlueter, and Judith Thomas cleaned up I-25 between County Line Road and Highway 105. Monument Hill Sertoma conducts these clean-ups twice each year in the Fall and the Spring.

Below: Ed Thomlinson

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Below: Jim Murphy and Rich Schlueter

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Below: Judith Thomas 

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Concert in the Park series receives Governor’s Award

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Below (R-L) Sweet Revenge, consisting of band members Hal Young, lead guitar and vocals, Evonne Young, lead vocals, Woody Woodworth, rhythm guitar and vocals, and ‘Doc’ Shiffer, filling in on bass guitar this evening, closed out Monument’s Concert in the Park series. Photo by David Futey.

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By David Futey

After being rained out on their originally scheduled date, Sweet Revenge drew the 2009 Concert in the Park series to a close on Sept. 5. During the concert, it was announced that the Concert in the Park series had been selected for Best Promotional Event in the 2009 Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence.

The awards, sponsored by Downtown Colorado Inc., have been presented each year since 2003 and highlight "outstanding projects and people that reflect an attitude of perseverance and dedication to community revitalization in Colorado." The award was formally presented at a gala held on Sept. 24. The judges who selected the concert series said the project was an "Amazing story! Innovative incremental success, grassroots community with wide involvement."

Vicki Mynhier, the Town of Monument’s director of Downtown Development, submitted the award application with assistance from Woody Woodworth, owner of Home & Country Garden, Tommie Plank, owner of Covered Treasures Bookstore, and Cathy Green, Monument town manager.

The Concert in the Park series had a very simple beginning, but "perseverance" and "dedication" by many have made it a success. In 1999, Woodworth and friend Jody Adams played in the courtyard area on Second Street in Monument, drawing over 40 people who danced and listened to the performance on a warm summer evening.

Given the response, Woodworth petitioned the town of Monument to use Limbach Park for future concerts. Permission was granted by the town, and two other concerts were performed that year. In 2000, five concerts were held and sponsorship was received from the Historic Monument Merchant’s Association (HMMA). A flatbed trailer was donated for a stage and a canopy was made so bands could play, rain or shine. The Town of Monument waived fees and provided electrical hookups for the stage.

Starting in 2002 and for the following five years, the Coffee Cup Café provided food during the concerts, with proceeds going toward the building of a band shell. The HMMA joined in this fundraiser for the band shell, as members baked cookies and sold drinks, and donations were received from members of the Monument community. The combination of these and other activities eventually raised $13,000 for construction of the shell. The band shell was placed on the town’s 2007 capital improvement plan, and construction was completed on July 7, 2008.

A tradition of passing the hat among concert attendees, to show their appreciation and help pay the bands for their performance, was started early in the concert series. This tradition, coupled with crowds growing to over 500 per concert enabled Woodworth to draw in and schedule local and national performers. Interest by performers in the concert series culminated with six concerts being performed this past summer, the most in the nine-year history of the series.

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September and October library events

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Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Cassandra Marshall and Norman Black of Challenger Learning Center. 

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Below: Nathan Hollenbaugh and Marcus Lyons meet the storm troopers.  

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Below: PPLD Trustee Kathleen Owings and Associate Director for Adminstration John Courtney answered questions. 

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By Harriet Halbig

September at the library ushers in the season of All Pikes Peak Reads (http://ppld.org/aboutyourlibrary/events/appr2009). This year’s program, a futuristic theme, officially began on Sept. 20 at a kick-off event at America the Beautiful Park.

Teen patrons who read APPR selections "Rocket Boys" or "Have Space Suit Will Travel" and submit a review will receive a bag or a Frisbee for their efforts.

In September, about 150 patrons attended the Challenger Learning Center’s Stellar Portal and visited with a group of uniformed storm troopers who posed for photos and helped at the circulation desk. We were excited to have them on hand, especially since ours was one of five events they had scheduled for the weekend, including two charity walks.

On Sept. 16, community leaders from business, education, civic, and library circles met to begin planning and brainstorming ideas about the future of the Monument Branch. Presentations were made by Pikes Peak Library District Executive Director Paula Miller, Associate Directors John Courtney and Dee Vazquez, PPLD Foundation Director Dolores Fowler and Board of Trustees member Kathleen Owings. If you are interested in helping with this project or sharing your input, please contact Jean Harris (488-2370) or Dolores Fowler (531-6333 ext. 2205).

For our young patrons, the Paws to Read program at the Monument Branch continues from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, and now will also be on Mondays from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Life Circles writing group held its first meeting on Sept. 21 and will continue to meet on the first and third Monday of each month at 10:30 a.m. to pursue its goals of writing memoirs. New members are welcome. Please contact the branch to register if interested.

Several All Pikes Peak Reads events are scheduled at the Monument Branch for October:

  • There will be a showing of the film "October Sky" at the branch on Oct. 9 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • The Monument Branch will host "A Nose for Space" on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 1:30 p.m. This event is an original performance by the Manitou Art Theatre, directed by Birgitta De Pree. World-class clown Jim Jackson will return as Mr. Guffaw, a hapless inventor who dreams of traveling into space and sets out to build a rocket ship. The resulting Rube Goldberg Rocket Machine will be constructed on stage, accompanied by space-age music by Benjamin Pratt. The show explores all the necessary and not so necessary items needed for space travel and is packed with scientific data about space, the solar system, the moon, and astronauts.
  • On Oct. 16 the Monumental Readers will discuss "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks. New members are welcome, and registration is not required. The program begins at 10 a.m.
  • On Oct. 17 from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. the branch will host the AARP mature safe driving program, designed for drivers 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Registration is required and class size is limited.
  • On Oct. 23 teens and tweens are invited to Cosmic Bling Bling, an All Pikes Peak Reads event. Come between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to create your own cosmic decorations, bracelets or necklaces, or "alientastic" decorations for your cell phone, backpack, hat, shoes, and hair.
  • On Oct. 24 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. the Monument branch will present Not So Scary Stories for patrons ages 4 to 9. Hear some sort of spooky stories and make a craft. Costumes encouraged.
  • On Oct. 28, attend Read It Before You See It. For ages 7-12, there is a discussion, an activity, popcorn, and a drawing for movie tickets to go see the movie, "The Fantastic Mr. Fox." Registration is required. Call the branch at 488-2370 or drop by to register.

On display during October is Drawn West—Mapping the Way to Colorado from the Louisiana Purchase to Statehood, a fascinating display of maps from PPLD’s special collections and the Library of Congress.

In the display case will be Empty Bowls, a display of handmade pottery in recognition of the Empty Bowls Supper sponsored by Monument Hill Sertoma and benefiting Tri-Lakes Cares.

Palmer Lake library events

The Palmer Lake Branch is happy to announce expanded hours for the Paws to Read program. Paws to Read dogs will be at the branch on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 11 a.m. to noon and on Thursday the 15th from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Let your child practice reading and build fluency by reading to a Paws to Read dog. No registration required.

Two All Pikes Peak Reads events are scheduled for the Palmer Lake Library in October. On Oct. 15 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. teens and tweens are invited to create cosmic decorations—space-age necklaces, bracelets or decorations for hats, shoes, backpacks, and cell phones.

The Challenger Learning Center of Colorado Springs will present a program on Living in Space at the branch on Oct. 17 at 10:30 a.m. Come try to adjust to the microgravity of space with a space suit and hands-on activities. Learn how you might eat, sleep, balance, and stay strong in a place where you have to guess which way is up.

And finally—come if you dare to the Palmer Lake Town Hall on Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. for Stories in the Dark. In a room lit only by candles, hear spooky stories that will send shivers up your spine. Suggested only for the very brave (ages 8 and up). Program lasts 45 minutes.

The Palmer Lake book group will meet on Nov, 6 at 9 a.m. to discuss Affluenza by John de Graaf. New members are welcome. If you have questions or wish to reserve a copy, call the branch at 481-2587.

Hope to see you at the library!

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Sept. 17: Local videographer documents history

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Below: At the Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting Sept. 17, producer/director Jim Sawatzki discusses his video Here Lies Colorado Springs, which covers the life of Helen Hunt Jackson. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

Jim Sawatzki, a local resident who is nationally known for his documentaries on historical events and people, talked about his projects at the Sept. 17 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society. He has received several acknowledgements for his works, such as a nomination for an Emmy, and he received a Telly award.

Sawatzki was an art teacher for most of his career but later decided that he was more interested in presenting video documentaries on historical events, people, and places. He knew that children, in particular, would be drawn to a video presentation on these subjects rather than having to learn it from a history book.

He has been doing these documentaries since 1992 and has been featured on local PBS affiliates, local TV channels, and nationally on A&E’s Biography Channel. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and has now made his life’s work doing presentations to schools, libraries, and other interested organizations such as our Society and in the directing and the production of DVD documentaries.

One of his works is the "Palmer Divide Trilogy." It contains "Milestone," which is a history of Monument. The trilogy also contains "The Village on the Divide," a history of Palmer Lake, and "Divide Country," which is a glimpse of the Divide area from prehistoric times through the 19th century.

You can find additional information and you may also order these DVD’s on Sawatzki’s Web site www.palmerdivideproductions.com

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In October, the Society will present Railroads and the Military. This presentation will be at the Palmer Lake Town Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Seeling, an instructor in the History Department at the Air Force Academy, will be the presenter.

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Taste the wine, smell the roses

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Below: Perusing the silent auction offerings at the 2008 Wine and Roses event. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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By Harriet Halbig

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is eagerly anticipating its seventh annual wine tasting event, Wine and Roses, to be held on Friday, Oct. 23 at the Air Force Academy Blue and Silver Press Box.

This event has been held annually since 2003, when it was created as the second large fundraiser for the club, in addition to the spring Forest Pines Antique Show.

On-site chefs will prepare delicious hors d’oeuvres and decadent desserts to tempt the palate along with dozens of fine domestic and imported wines arranged by Dirk Stamp from the Wine Seller. This year, the wines and food will be displayed together to help with pairings. Guests can order wines to be delivered to their homes at a later date.

Other features of the event are celebrity wine pourers from local TV and radio outlets and local government agencies, a silent auction for dinner- and wine-related prizes, and handmade souvenir wine charms by Louise Watson.

Along with members of the women’s club, Serteens from Palmer Ridge and Lewis-Palmer High Schools will be on hand to help.

The Blue and Silver Press Box at the Air Force Academy is the event location for the second time. Parking is offered on the same level as the entrance and guests are requested to come in business attire or dress up as they wish.

Tickets are $50 per person ($17 of which is tax deductible). Reservations are limited, and it is strongly suggested you purchase your tickets early. You may order tickets by writing a check to TLWC, Attn: Wine and Roses, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132. You may also call 488-2124 or visit www.tlwc.net for additional information.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club currently has 200 members and is a nonprofit organization, set up exclusively for charitable and educational purposes in the community. The club has granted more than $500,000 to schools, fire and police departments, and other non-profit organizations that provide services to residents in School District 38.

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Haunted Mines opens

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Photo by David Futey

The Haunted Mines opened on Oct, 2 for its third season, and the staff has been hard at work blasting new tunnels, making discoveries of old mine shafts, and getting the mining equipment operational in order to scare you this Halloween season.

Among the mine changes at this year’s haunt is the Rapid Descent Hoist, which drops you uncomfortably to the 13th level of the mine. Apparently none of the Haunted Mines staff who have tested the descent have survived the drop as yet, but they are trying to get the kinks worked out before opening night.

Though the mine owner passed away this year, his mansion will be available for your viewing. You will also get to meet the mansion’s staff, who claim the owner has yet to leave. If you get thirsty through your travels in the haunt, you might stop by the Saloon for a drink but you will encounter a very ill-tempered barkeep.

Students from area high schools, including Palmer Ridge High School, Lewis-Palmer High School, Pine Creek High School, Palmer High School, Rampart High School and Liberty High School volunteer as actors at the haunt. They and many other volunteers help with designing the haunt and with its various construction and operation needs.

Long lines are expected this year, so be sure to dress properly for the weather. You can also purchase tickets online through the Haunted Mines Web site, www.hauntedmines.org. The Web site provides a calendar for the dates and times the haunt is open. The Haunted Mines is located at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry, just off I-25 at exit 156A.

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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.

Christmas Crafts Fair, Oct. 3-4

The 36th Annual Christmas Crafts Fair, sponsored by the Palmer Lake Art Group, will be held Oct. 3, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Oct. 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent (across from the Village Green, just off Highway 105). Admission is free. A variety of crafts, including pottery, jewelry, basketry, and paintings, will be available for purchase along with a selection of baked goods. A portion of the proceeds funds art scholarships for Tri-Lakes area students. For more information, contact Margarete Seagraves, Craft Festival chairman, 487-1329, or her co-chairs Jana Towery, 487-9853 and Linda Roberts, 488-2065.

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Flu shot clinic and Palmer Lake Fire Station Open House, Oct. 3

The clinic is Oct. 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Palmer Lake Town Office, 42 Valley Crescent. Call the office, 481-2953, for information on available vaccines and costs.

Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department will hold an open house the same day and time at the fire station located next to the Town Hall. For more information, call 481-2902.

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Donald Wescott Fire Prevention Week Open House, Oct. 3

Donald Wescott Fire Protection District will hold its annual open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 3 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. There will be many fire engines, ambulances, brush trucks, and wildland fire apparatus to inspect, plus many displays, including the Flight for Life helicopter and the Lowes "Prevent Home Fires" safety trailer, as well as information booths from Farmer’s Insurance and Home Depot. Hot dogs will be served! Info: 488-8680 and www.wescottfire.org .

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A Tribute to John Denver, Oct. 3

John Adams and Friends will perform a concert of John Denver’s songs at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Oct. 3. Doors open 7 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. show. Since John Denver’s passing, Adams has committed himself to keeping Denver’s music alive. Tickets are $12 for TLCA members and $15 for non-members ($15 and $18 at the door) and are available at Covered Treasures Bookstore (481-2665) in Monument and The Wine Seller (481-3019) and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. TLCA is located at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.org.

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Benefit for Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue, Oct. 4

A wine tasting and silent auction to benefit Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue will be held Oct. 4, 4-6 p.m., at Sundance Mountain Lodge, 1865 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. All proceeds go directly to help transport, treat, foster, and adopt rescued dogs. Wine tasting is by Dirk the Wine Seller. The cost is $30 per person. Stay after the event and enjoy dinner at Oakley’s Restaurant at Sundance Mountain Lodge. For more information and to purchase tickets online, go to www.goldenretrieverfreedom.org. To purchase by check, call 303-749-8499 or Ann at 651-1268.

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Halloween Scavenger Hunt, through Oct. 31

Kids age 6-12 will have a fun time at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) building a miner’s skeleton as they answer mining trivia questions throughout the museum. Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., this event will run the entire month of October. Discount coupons are available at www.wmmi.org. Cost with the coupon: $6 adults, $4 seniors, $2 children. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd. (I-25 exit 156A). For more information, call 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org.

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Haunted Mines, through Oct. 31

The Haunted Mines haunted house is on the grounds of the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI). Each year the haunt gets bigger and better! Haunted Mines is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings, and each night Oct. 27 to Nov. 1; 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 7-10 p.m. weeknights. All proceeds from the Haunted Mines are donated to WMMI. Regular tickets are $13, less with discount coupons available on the Web site; visit www.hauntedmines.org for details. WMMI is located just north of Colorado Springs at 225 North Gate Blvd. (I-25 exit 156A). For more information, visit www.hauntedmines.org, or phone 488-0880, or visit www.wmmi.org.

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Tri-Lakes Immunization Clinic, Oct. 6

An immunization clinic for people under age 22 is scheduled for Oct. 6, 1-5 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. Free for those with Medicaid or CHP+, uninsured, Alaskans, or Native Americans. Some insurances can be billed. No appointment needed. For more information, call Jackie Sward, 481-4864 x23.

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Empty Bowls Dinner, Oct. 7

Monument Hill Sertoma, Monument Serteens Clubs, and School District 38 present the Empty Bowls Dinner and Silent Auction Oct. 7, 5-7:30 p.m., at the Lewis-Palmer High School Commons Area, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. This popular annual fundraiser for Tri-Lakes Cares features home-cooked soup, bread, and dessert. Bowls are handcrafted by local artists, and you get to keep yours! One child under age 12 is admitted free with a purchased ticket. Tickets, $20, must be purchased in advance: in Monument at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Second and Washington Streets; High Country Home & Garden, 243 Washington St.; Second Street Art Gallery, 366 Second St.; Tri-Lakes Printing, Woodmoor Center; in Palmer Lake at The Rock House, 24 Highway 105; or call Bonnie Biggs at 651-1946.

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Meet the School Board Candidates, Oct. 8

Four positions on the Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education will be up for election in November. All candidates have been invited to attend a public forum Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m., at Prairie Winds Elementary, 790 King’s Deer Point East. Directions to the school: Take exit 161 from I-25, head east on Highway 105 for approx. 3.2 miles to Archers Drive. Turn left and continue for 0.9 miles to 790 East Kings Deer Point. For a map, go to www.lewispalmer.org and click on Board of Education tab. Click on District Event Calendar, then the Meet the Candidates event calendar entry, and then View Map.

The forum is sponsored by the District Accountability and Advisory Council. Voters are encouraged to attend. For more information, call Robin Adair, 785-4223, or e-mail radair@lewispalmer.org.

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Lewis-Palmer football games broadcast live over the Internet by Q-SKY FM

Tentative schedule (Pre-game show starts at 6:45 p.m. unless otherwise indicated) Oct. 9, Liberty, 7 p.m.; Oct. 23, Air Academy, 7 p.m.; Nov. 6, Wasson, 7 p.m. For more information visit www.qskyfm.com or e-mail loboradio@ymail.com or phone: 930-0083.

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Community Closet now open second and fourth Saturdays

The Tri-Lakes Church of Christ is offering free clothing on the second and fourth Saturday of each month (Oct. 10 and 24), 1-3 p.m. The church is located at 20450 Beacon Lite Rd. in Monument, at the southwest corner of Beacon Lite and County Line Roads west of I-25. Donations of clean clothing and shoes in good condition are appreciated. For more information, call Bruce and Lyn Eatinger, 495-4137; or the church, 488-9613.

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"A Casino Night in Casablanca," Oct. 17

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) will co-host an evening of Las Vegas style fun and excitement Oct. 17 at TLCA, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Doors will open at 6:30 and gaming will begin at 7 p.m. The cost of $40 per person or $75 per couple includes a buffet and $500 in "Casino Cash" to play blackjack, poker, craps, and roulette. The evening will also feature a live auction and prizes. For tickets or more information call the Chamber at 481-3282.

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Wine and Roses, Oct. 23

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club presents Wine and Roses, a wine tasting event, Oct. 23, 6:30-10 p.m., at the Air Force Academy Blue & Silver Press Box. On-site chefs will prepare delicious hors d’oeuvres and decadent desserts. These will be accompanied by dozens of fine domestic and imported wines arranged by Dirk Stamp from the Wine Seller. The event also will feature celebrity wine pourers from local TV and radio outlets and local government agencies, a silent auction for dinner and wine-related prizes, and handmade souvenir wine charms by Louise Watson. Serteens from Palmer Ridge and Lewis-Palmer High Schools will assist the women’s club members throughout the evening. Proceeds benefit the Tri-Lakes community. The cost is $50 per person.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is a non-profit organization set up exclusively for charitable and educational purposes in the community. The club has granted more than $500,000 to schools, fire and police departments, and other non-profit organizations that provide services to residents within the boundaries of School District 38. For tickets or more information, call 488-2124 or visit www.tlwc.net.

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Meet the Author: Homer Hickam, The Rocket Boys, Oct. 23

Pikes Peak Library District Foundation and Challenger Learning Center of Colorado will present a fundraising dinner Oct. 23, 7 p.m., at Air Force Academy Dolittle Hall. The event includes a silent auction of space memorabilia. The $100 cost includes a signed copy of The Rocket Boys (October Sky). For more information, call 531-6333, ext. 1212.

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Tri-Lakes Health Fair, Oct. 24

9Health, Health Advocacy Partnership and the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce will hold a health fair Oct. 24, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes YMCA. Parking will be in the northwest Lewis-Palmer High School parking lot. Shuttle service will be provided to and from the Y.

The Health Fair offers flu shots, free vision and hearing screenings, lung function testing, bone density testing, skin cancer screenings, blood pressure checks, cholesterol and blood sugar screenings, and much more. A comprehensive blood chemistry screening (fasting is recommended for best results) will be available for only $30. For more information, contact the Tri-Lakes Chamber at 481-3282.

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Safe Trick or Treat, Oct. 31

Bring the kids downtown Oct. 31, 3-5 p.m., for safe trick-or-treating as Monument merchants provide treats and activities and show off their creative costumes. The Monument Police Department patrols the streets to help insure the safety of our goblins.

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CASA 411 Night, Nov. 5

CASA volunteers are an amazing force for good, but more are badly needed. Get the 411 on CASA volunteer opportunities and find out how you can make a lifelong difference for an abused or neglected child. No experience is necessary. The meeting will be held Nov. 5, 5:30 p.m., at the CASA Building, 701 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs. For additional information or to RSVP, please call RoseMary Jaramillo at 447-9898, x1008 or visit www.aChildsVoiceInCourt.org.

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Black Forest Arts & Crafts Show and Sale, Nov. 5-8

The 45th Annual Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild Fall Show and Sale will be held Nov. 5-8 at the Black Forest Community Center. (Black Forest Rd. just north of Shoup Rd.) The times are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 5-7, and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Nov. 8. Admission is free. Do some holiday shopping with the crafts and baked goods from over 90 artisans and culinary Guild members. Due to fire regulations, strollers are not allowed. For more information, call 494-1455.

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Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)

LEAP helps residents struggling to pay their home heating bills. LEAP benefits provide assistance to help families with their heating bills but are not intended to pay the entire bill. The eligibility period for LEAP runs from Nov. 1 through April 30. Applications are accepted each year during the eligibility period. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. For more information about LEAP benefits, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435).

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Gleneagle Golf Club seeks volunteers for advisory committee

Gleneagle Golf Club has implemented a Community Advisory Committee to help establish a stronger relationship between the club and the community. The committee is looking for representatives from all Gleneagle homeowners associations. The committee meets the fourth Wednesday of the month, 6:30 p.m., at Gleneagle Golf Club. For more information call Rick Ebelo, 488-0900.

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County Prescription Discount Program now online

Significant savings on medications are just a click away. El Paso County’s Prescription Discount program is growing in size, scope, and ease of access. There are more than 80 participating local pharmacies and dozens of discount card distribution locations and agency partners that are offering the card to their employees and constituents. Now people can download their own personalized prescription discount card on the county Website at www.elpasoco.com

Any county resident without prescription coverage can use this program. Even if you have insurance for prescription medications, you may still benefit from the discount card, since it might save you money on prescription medications your existing plan does not cover. For more information about the County Prescription Discount Program, log onto www.elpasoco.com or call 520-6337 (MEDS).

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Tri-Lakes Senior Citizens Center is now open

The new Tri-Lakes Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium and is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, 1-4 p.m. other weekdays. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multi-purpose room. Programs offered include bingo, bridge, pinochle, crafts, and cribbage. Also available at the center are Wii video games, various puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table.

The center will be staffed entirely by area volunteers and is made possible by generous donations and contributions from Access Construction Co., Black Hills Energy Inc., Lewis-Palmer School District 38, Munsen Construction Co., R Rock Yard, and many individual donors to the Tri-Lakes Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy (HAP) program. Tri-Lakes HAP was established in 1996 as a non-profit organization serving Monument, Palmer Lake, Woodmoor, Gleneagle, and unincorporated areas of northern El Paso County. The Tri-Lakes HAP mission is to improve the health and well-being of the Tri-Lakes community through community-based services and support. Information about Tri-Lakes HAP and its programs is available on its Web site, www.TriLakesHAP.org. Information about programs for seniors is available at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.

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Handbell ringers needed for holiday concert

Looking for experienced handbell ringers, youth and adult, to play in a community choir. If interested, please contact Betty Jenik at 488-3853 or ljenik@comcast.net.

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New thrift shop opens in Monument

Hangers—Your Thrift Shop is now open Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m, at 341 Front St., Monument. Shop for gently-used clothing, books, and household items, Hangers will provide customers in the region with affordable items much sought after in these difficult economic times. Proceeds from Hangers will be used to promote the ongoing mission of Tri-Lakes Cares, a community based non-profit. For more information, call 488-2300 or visit the Tri-Lakes Cares Web site, www.trilakescares.org.

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Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance Thrift Store in Palmer Lake

The new store is located at 755 Highway 105, in Unit 9 behind the West End Center in Palmer Lake. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Books, sporting goods, furniture, home furnishings, appliances small and large, and more are available at incredible savings. The thrift store is a project of the Senior Alliance in cooperation with the entire Tri-Lakes Community. The project’s mission is to raise funds and resources for Tri-Lakes Senior Citizen Program activities, provide volunteer opportunities for Tri-Lakes residents, and offer affordable merchandise to all Tri-Lakes residents. For volunteer information call Hope, 481-4640. To donate items call Chaz, 229-5946.

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