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Vol. 9 No. 11 - November 7, 2009


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Monument Safe Trick or Treat

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Below: (L-R) Ansley Teague, Alex Licklider, Hannah Licklider, Kenzie Teague, Colby Teague, and Riley Licklider dressed in their best potted flower costumes for Monument’s Safe Trick or Treat held October 31. Though dressed as a bee, Charlie Licklider was showing more interest in the candy he received than in the flowers. Given the good weather, the streets all around Monument were filled with Halloweeners of all ages as businesses opened their doors and provided an array of treats. The staff of Expectation’s Salon, located on Washington Street, handed out 320 candy bags by 4 p.m. The crowds were so large that by 4:15 p.m., a number of businesses ran out of candy. Photo by David Futey.

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Wilson wins reelection

By Harriet Halbig

This is a summary of some of the results of the Nov. 3 election results. Winning candidates names are shown in boldface.

Following are results for the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education election. The seat for District 2 was not up for election.

District 1: Jeff Ferguson, 3,201 votes
District 3: David Cloud, 1,652 votes
                Gail Wilson
, 2,156 votes
District 4: Mark Pfoff, 3,170 votes
District 5: Robb Pike, 3,183 votes

Following are the results for Academy School District 20. Three seats were up for election. Listed in order of the number of votes received.

Doug Lundberg, 8,930 votes
Linda Van Matre
, 8,051 votes
Catherine Bullock
, 7,537 votes
Tracey Johnson, 4,437 votes
Terry Kunkel, 4,417 votes
Fran Reichert, 3,844 votes
Mark Smith, 3,726 votes
Dan Reifschneider, 3,324 votes
James Jenista, 2,919 votes

Web site page www.elpasoelections.com/2009coordinated/results.htm has complete election results.

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Oct. 21: Faced with the need to increase water rates, authority monitors water deliberations

By John Heiser

With water providers planning to raise water rates as much as 87 percent next year, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Utility Policy Advisory Committee’s (UPAC) is reviewing CSU’s policies regarding providing water service to entities outside the city limits, including the Tri-Lakes area.

These issues were the focus of the Oct. 21 regular monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA).

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 Utility Board (UB) in January or February regarding possible changes to Executive Limitation 13. The UPAC’s recommendations could open the way for regional partners’ use of the planned Southern Delivery System (SDS) pipeline and other CSU facilities.

The PPRWA is carefully monitoring the UPAC review of Executive Limitation 13 with an eye toward the possibility of PPRWA members obtaining water from CSU.

For news on the UPAC deliberations, see the article on page 4.

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.

Recommendations to UPAC

Kip Petersen, manager of the Cherokee district and president of the PPRWA, has written a letter to the UPAC presenting the PPRWA’s position. Some highlights:

  • "We believe CSU staff should be given as much flexibility as possible to develop individual service agreements with customers (or groups of customers)." He added, "It may be appropriate for CSU to become a wholesaler of water. It may be more logical to simply transport a customer’s water through the CSU system. Those decisions and arrangements should be left to CSU to develop, subject to approval by the city."
  • "We believe that although annexation may indeed be appropriate for some outside customers, it should not be a requirement."
  • "If annexation is not being considered, the deeding over of water rights should not be required, especially if the service agreement developed has a limit in time. It is not appropriate to ask a customer to deed over his water and then to terminate service to him sometime in the future, literally leaving him ‘high and dry.’"
  • "In some cases, specifically in dealing with stormwater control and the Fountain Creek Watershed District, complying with the conditions (imposed by Pueblo County on the SDS project) becomes difficult. Water and sanitation districts in Colorado do not normally have purview over stormwater. Although it may be possible to change their service plans to adopt some measure of control, EI Paso County has specific requirements and responsibilities by law that cannot be overcome. We also believe that it is not appropriate to use this issue as a way of forcing the county to comply in the same manner that the city has. Although El Paso County may indeed need to step up and do more to satisfy the quality and quantity of flows in Fountain Creek, that issue should not be held as a condition for water service for its individual ‘customer’ entities."
  • "There are entities in northern El Paso County that have customers in the Platte River basin. The condition (imposed by Pueblo County) that water service cannot extend outside the Arkansas basin would be prohibitive if literally enforced. The fact is that although some of the water these customers use may transpire from their irrigation into the Platte, most of their water is returned through their wastewater system to Monument Creek and the Arkansas. The condition should be modified to allow service to customers in El Paso County, regardless of basin."
  • "As RW Beck, Denver Water and others have presented to your committee, the charges levied on outside city customers should be based on a cost of service analysis, not simply a multiplier levied on CSU costs or rates."
  • "We also believe that the costs and fees should depend on the type of service required. Some of us need treated water through the CSU system. Others need raw water. Some only require their own water transported through the system. There may be some who would be better off with a full service agreement. We understand that outside city customers should pay more for their water than inside city customers. We simply request a logical, cost of service-based approach."

CSU discussions

The Cherokee and Donala districts have announced that they are currently in negotiations with CSU regarding access to renewable water.

Petersen noted that it appears he might pay CSU as much as $3.8 million to lease 1,000 acre-feet of water per year. Since an acre-foot is 326,851 gallons, that works out to about $12 per 1,000 gallons. That rate is about four times what local districts typically charge their customers. Petersen said that based on that "worst case scenario," he is proposing an 87 percent increase in water rates for the customers in his district. He added that he is continuing to pursue alternative sources of water.

Petersen and Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala district, said they anticipate that their contracts with CSU will not be finalized until after UPAC makes its recommendations to the UB.

Duthie noted that he is planning to spend about $250,000 on Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat mitigation at the site of the potential connection with CSU in anticipation that the contract issues will be resolved and the connection will be made.

Petersen added, "The way that CSU treats Donala and Cherokee in these initial discussions is being watched very closely by a number of people."

Other matters

  • The PPRWA voted unanimously to designate Dick Brown, PPRWA legislative liaison, as its representative to the Colorado Water Congress.
  • Duthie, who 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 Brown would be retained at their current rates. At the end of 2010, the proposed budget would completely deplete the PPRWA’s remaining funds.
  • The PPRWA participated in the Medications in the Water Supply symposium held Sept. 26. (For details, see the article at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n10.htm#rx). Brown reported that the cities of Longmont, Fort Collins, and Littleton are looking at implementing additional take-back programs for pharmaceuticals. He said the local police departments are getting involved, which helps address the issue of dealing with narcotics and other controlled substances. Brown said he would provide information on those programs. Duthie noted that Donala collects unused pharmaceuticals for use by Doctors without Borders.
  • Brown also reported that cooking oil recycling programs are being implemented. The collected oil is converted to bio-diesel fuels. Brown said he would provide information on those programs.
  • Brown suggested that posting position papers on the PPRWA Web site would be helpful in educating the public. He noted that the site gets 2,500 to 3,000 hits per month. The information on disposal of medications is one of the more popular areas.

At the completion of the public portion of the meeting, the group went into executive session to discuss negotiations and receive legal advice. One of the announced topics was a report from Rick Fendel, the district’s attorney, regarding a meeting he attended Oct. 20 with representatives of the Super Ditch organization that is looking to sell agricultural water to the PPRWA or its individual members. Issues in those negotiations 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.

**********

The next regular monthly meeting of the PPRWA will be held Nov. 18 at 8:30 a.m. at the Cherokee Metropolitan District office, 6250 Palmer Park Blvd. in Colorado Springs. 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, on SDS at www.sdswater.org, and on the Colorado Water Congress at www.cowatercongress.org

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Colorado Springs Utilities Utility Policy Advisory Committee, Oct. 7: Policy panel considers financial issues in regional water partnerships

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Below: Colorado Springs Utilities chart presented at the UPAC meeting Oct. 7 showing available capacity in the SDS pipeline from October through May even at full build-out of the city.

Click on the chart to zoom in

By John Heiser

At the regular monthly meeting of the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Utility Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC) on Oct. 7, the committee heard several presentations regarding financial issues related to regional water partnerships.

Types of funding arrangements

Bill Cherrier, CSU’s chief planning and finance officer, gave an overview of potential funding arrangements for regional partnerships.

His presentation covered:

  • Equity buy-in—Imposing a fee to cover part of the cost for existing infrastructure
  • Modified equity buy-in—Imposing a fee to cover part of the cost for new infrastructure such as the Southern Delivery System (SDS)
  • Incremental cost—Charging partners based on the calculated cost to CSU
  • Capital contribution—Charging a share of the cost of new infrastructure

RW Beck survey on regional approaches to water

Wayne Vanderschuere, CSU’s Water Supply Resources manager, reported that engineering firm RW Beck had been commissioned by CSU to prepare a study of regional approaches to water.

Vanderschuere introduced RW Beck Vice President and Utility Business Consultant Lynn Adams.

Some highlights of Adams’ presentation:

  • During the study, they identified 14 regional water agencies and surveyed 10 of them. The agencies varied from regional authorities that supply only wholesale water (e.g., the San Diego County Water Authority) to regional boards that provide service to wholesale and retail customers (e.g., Denver Water) to municipal utilities that focus on retail water customers and provide limited wholesale water service outside their service area boundaries (e.g., the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities).
  • They found that most of the agencies use a cost of service analysis to set rates they charge regional partners. That analysis resulted in rates that averaged about 20 to 40 percent higher for customers outside their service areas than the rates charged customers within their service area. Three of the agencies charge the same rate outside as inside. Denver Water charges 27 to 55 percent higher rates. In the case of the City of Phoenix, the one agency that used a fixed multiplier, the multiplier is 1.5 times.
  • The study also found that three of the agencies currently provide transport, also known as wheeling, of a regional partner’s water. Nine of the agencies are currently involved in jointly funded projects with the cost contribution usually based on flow allocation. Four of the agencies provide some measure of representation for regional partners through direct participation on the governing board or through participation in committees or forums that have representation on the governing board.
  • The study concluded that having an equitable rate structure, maintaining a good relationship and communication, and having access to sustainable long-term water supplies were viewed as three of the most important factors in successful regional partnerships.
  • At the conclusion of the presentation, RW Beck proposed doing a more detailed analysis of the cost of service factors in setting rates for regional partners, tailoring the lessons learned to CSU and community needs, and providing additional briefings to stakeholders.

CSU’s long-range water supply and demand

Vanderschuere and Jenny Gray, CSU Water Supply Project engineer, presented CSU’s projections for long-range water supply and demand. Some highlights of that presentation:

  • The current city boundaries encompass 196 square miles, of which 126 square miles are developed.
  • Conditions at build-out, estimated to occur about 2050, were extrapolated from 2007 residential and commercial water use assuming no additional conservation measures are adopted.
  • At build-out, the city’s current maximum water use of 70 million gallons per day (mgd) is projected to approximately double to 138 mgd.
  • The city’s current water infrastructure can provide a maximum of 88 mgd.
  • SDS is planned to add 78 mgd capacity, of which 1.3 mgd is designated for the City of Security, 2.25 mgd is designated for the City of Fountain, and 3.9 mgd is set aside for anticipated downtime. That leaves 70.1 mgd for CSU.
  • At build-out, the city is projected to require that full 70.1 mgd capacity during the irrigation season from June through September. Use during the other months is projected at about 40 mgd during October, about 20 mgd during November, about 10 mgd December through March, about 20 mgd during April, and about 60 mgd during May. See chart below on this page.
  • The excess pipeline capacity could be used to fill local storage or recharge aquifers.
  • The first water is scheduled to flow through the SDS pipeline around 2017.

**********

This article is based on minutes posted at www.csu.org/residential/about/upac/minutes/2009/item3010.pdf, notes by Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala Water and Sanitation District, and handouts distributed at the Donala board meeting Oct. 21.

The regular monthly UPAC meeting is held at 8 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at the Blue River Board Room, Fifth Floor, Plaza of the Rockies, South Tower, 121 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs 80903. The next meeting will be held Nov. 4. Information on the UPAC is available at 448-4800 or www.csu.org/residential/about/upac/item1047.html

Information on the UB is available at 448-4800 or www.csu.org/residential/about/utilities-board/item1048.html

Information on the SDS project is available at 668-7582 or www.sdswater.org

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board, Oct. 15: Sewer project behind schedule

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District were told Oct. 15 that progress on the sewer project on Deer Creek and White Fawn Drive was behind schedule. The contractors started work later than promised and are now on their third crew. The project is scheduled for completion by Nov. 4, and a penalty will apply if the work is not complete by that date.

The board briefly discussed the draft of the 2010 budget. The hearing and vote on the budget will take place at the Nov. 12 meeting. The budget must be presented to the state by mid-December, and an opportunity for public comment must be offered before submission.

Dick Durham, a representative of the Church at Woodmoor, spoke briefly to the board about plans to add a school to the church’s property. He said that the church presently has two wells and a septic system and that the addition of a school would require that the property be connected to a sewer system. Although plans for the school are not yet firm, he requested that the board consider trading a well site for tap fees and connecting the church property to the Woodmoor Water district. The board agreed to consider the possibility and discussed where the nearest district wells are now located.

The Joint Use Committee report indicated that the plan is operating well, except for an excess of copper in the Monument area, and that health care benefits for three employees of the committee would be added as a benefit in lieu of pay increase.

In his manager’s report, Jessie Shaffer said that the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority is nearing completion of its discussions with Colorado Springs Utilities and that the city seems to be thinking more in regional terms. A decision will be made in December regarding Woodmoor’s possible partnership with CSU.

Shaffer reported on the El Paso County Water Authority, which administers the transit loss model and consists of 10-12 entities, including Woodmoor. The model monitors flows in Monument and Fountain Creeks to enable buying, selling or trading effluent credits. He said that water authorities in the northern part of the county are being overcharged for their part in the model, and that Woodmoor may be compensated for this in the future. He suggested that Woodmoor continue to participate in the authority for as long as the cost is not prohibitive. Any entity that withdraws from participation and re-enters would have to pay a fee (the previous three years’ operating costs divided by the number of entities participating). The board agreed to continue its participation.

In his operations update, Randy Gillette reported that the flushing operation has been completed. There was one water main break on Doewood Drive, with no damage to homes but extensive damage to the street.

There is no new subdivision construction, but there were a few housing starts whose tap fees were paid previously.

Shaffer reported that the district’s attorney has notified the attorneys for the Arbor Mountain project on Highway 105 that present water rates will not continue into 2010 unless they make a commitment to construction before the end of the year.

The board went into executive session at 2:30 p.m. to discuss water rights, storage rights, a renewable water strategy and legal issues.

**********

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 Nov. 12. For further information, call 488-2525 or check www.woodmoorwater.com

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Monument Sanitation District board, Oct. 22: Change in cost-sharing rules could spur fee hike

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Photos by Jim Kendrick.

Below: Marcus Aragon of Brannan Construction Company, Mike Wicklund of Monument Sanitation District, and Rodney Lang of engineering consultant GMS, Inc. pause for a moment on Sept. 29 during ground-breaking for preparation of the initial staging area for Wakonda Hills sanitary sewer collection system expansion. The project is being financed by $2.418 million in federal stimulus loans under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The first $2 million is a "forgivable" loan, which means no principal or interest has to be repaid to the EPA. Project costs in excess of $2 million, up to $418,000, would be financed by a separate interest-free federal loan administered by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, to be repaid in equal installments for 20 years. The loans closed on Sept. 1.  

Click on the photo to zoom in

Below: Brannan employees dig a trench over 20 feet deep through the vacant Zonta parcel on the west side of Beacon Lite Road south of Wakonda Hills. The trench is for a new Monument Sanitation District collection line that will serve the west side of the Wakonda Hills development and connect to existing district collection lines in the adjacent Century Park development to the south. Brannan will restore the disturbed pastureland when the Zonta excavation is completed. There are currently no active plans for development of the Zonta property. The project is expected to be completed before the end of 2010. 

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 22, Mike Wicklund, district manager of Monument Sanitation District, gave the board updated information on increased costs for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility in 2010. A proposed change to the Joint Use Agreement that governs facility operations and cost-sharing methods would change the category for several costs from "operations" to "ownership" or "capital."

This proposed amendment to the agreement would increase the number of cost categories that are equally shared by the three co-owner districts: Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. There would be no change in the formula or costs for sludge removal.

All board members were present for this meeting.

Joint Use Agreement amendment update

Under the current Joint Use Agreement, operational costs are split among these three special districts each month using a formula based on the measured volumes of wastewater they each deliver to the plant and the relative measured strength or concentration of wastes that have to be treated in each district’s wastewater. Woodmoor’s operational costs are roughly three times higher than those of Monument or Palmer Lake, because Woodmoor is a much larger district with much higher wastewater flows.

The proposed amendment calls for clarifying the cost category for items like building and vehicle insurance and maintenance from "operations" to "ownership" or "capital" and would significantly change the amounts the districts have traditionally paid for these items. Some infrequent costs such as those for recoating submerged clarifier structures every 10 years to prevent corrosion would be reclassified as a capital cost because recoating extends the life of the clarifier rather than being a simple maintenance cost like a filter change.

Capital costs are shared equally by the three districts, while maintenance costs are divided using the flow and treatment formula. Current plans call for the amendment to be enacted before the end of 2009 and take effect at the start of 2010. This policy change would significantly reduce the proportion of operating costs and increase the proportion of ownership and capital costs for each district.

Woodmoor would receive a lower monthly bill in 2010 for each type of Tri-Lakes expense that is changed from the operations category to the ownership or capital category. Woodmoor is charged about 60 percent of each operations cost and 33 percent of each ownership and capital cost. Each change in cost category will save Woodmoor money—about 27 percent on each of these expenditures.

On the other hand, each expense category that is changed in the amendment would increase the share paid by Monument and Palmer Lake by 13 percent, from about 20 percent to 33 percent for each expenditure.

For example, if the Tri-Lakes facility purchased a $20,000 replacement truck, which is categorized as an operational expense under the current Joint Use Agreement rules, Woodmoor would pay about $12,000 (60 percent) and Monument and Palmer Lake would pay about $4,000 each (20 percent each.) However, use of the truck has nothing to do with treating the varying amount of wastewater each district delivers to the plant or the varying concentrations of wastes that need to be treated. If the amendment is approved, the $20,000 cost of the truck would become an ownership expense, which would be shared equally and each district would pay $6,667.

Monument’s annual direct costs for Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility operations would increase about $50,000, from about $123,000 for 2009 to about $174,000 in 2010 if the amendment is approved and enacted. If the amendment is not approved, Monument’s facility cost in 2010 would increase to $168,510, a difference of about $8,000. The amendment would increase Palmer Lake’s 2010 cost about $7,000 and reduce Woodmoor’s cost about $15,000.

Tim Schutz, Palmer Lake Sanitation District’s attorney, reviewed the proposed amendment to the Joint Use agreement, along with Mike Cucullu, the attorney for the wastewater facility, Larry Gaddis, Monument’s attorney, and Erin Smith, Woodmoor’s attorney. Schutz asked Bill Burks, the Tri-Lakes facility manager, to "provide some additional specificity" to some of the cost items that will change from being operational expenses to equally shared expenses: building, grounds, and vehicle maintenance; vehicle replacement; and general legal.

Fee increase needed in 2010

Wicklund advised the board that the district’s current monthly fee structure would no longer produce enough money in 2010 to cover increases in the Tri-Lakes facility costs charged to Monument if the cost-sharing amendment noted above is approved. He presented budgets based on the current $22 monthly fee, which results in a deficit of over $11,000, and options with the monthly fee raised to $23 or $24. After the board concluded its discussions, there was consensus among the board members to raise the monthly fee to $25, to go in effect on April 1, 2010, and Wicklund was asked to prepare an additional draft budget option for this $3 fee increase. The district’s monthly fee would still be the lowest in the Tri-Lakes region. For example, Palmer Lake’s monthly fee is $28.

The Monument board decided that the 2010 budget items of $22,000 for a study on the feasibility of installing a windmill supplemental electric generator and $15,000 for a study on how to connect a rented portable generator in the event of an electrical power loss should be deferred for a year.

The copper level remained low at 5 parts per billion in September. Wicklund noted that the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department would begin enforcing the Monument ordinance and district resolution prohibiting the use of copper water pipes in new construction beginning on Nov. 1, 2009.

Wakonda Hills construction update

Wicklund reported that the district is now being reimbursed for the installation of the collection line in the Zonta parcel south of Wakonda Hills on the west side of Beacon Lite Road. The first "stimulus" reimbursement check was for about $188,000 from the $2.418 million in federal "stimulus" loans awarded to the district by the EPA on July 27 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This increased the district’s capital preservation fund from $223,336 to $411,756, part of which will pay for the Wakonda Hills lift stations that are not part of the ARRA project.

Wicklund reviewed all the numerous procedures required to document every financial transaction and every piece of equipment installed in the project to comply with EPA regulations and Buy American Act requirements. The EPA has granted an additional $20 million for its Office of Inspector General to inspect the $60 million worth of water and wastewater stimulus projects it has funded in Colorado.

The district paid engineering consultant GMS Inc. $43,329 for Wakonda Hills engineering services. The district’s total cash assets increased from $351,561 at the Sept. 24 board meeting to $496,504 on Oct. 22. In addition, district tap fees for the year have risen to $94,200, nearing the $100,000 mark in the 2009 budget.

Wicklund noted that Brannon Construction, the general contractor for the Wakonda Hills project, was installing about 180 feet of new collection line per day in the Zonta parcel on good weather days. The line through the vacant Zonta parcel should be completed in early November, and work can then begin in Wakonda Hills until winter shuts down construction for the season.

The meeting adjourned at 8:28 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the district office, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Oct. 21: District plans survey of views about water and potential ballot measure

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Below: Donala Water and Sanitation District Vice President Tim Murphy congratulates Del Phipps on being named employee of the quarter. Photo by John Heiser.

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By John Heiser

At the Oct. 21 meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, the board unanimously voted to contract for a public opinion survey to be conducted in November by Floyd Ciruli’s company, Ciruli Associates. The results of the survey will be available in December. Community meetings are scheduled for January. The estimated cost for the survey is about $16,000, plus about $40,000 for associated consulting.

A principal purpose of the survey is to assist the board in deciding whether to place a measure on the May 2010 ballot and, if so, whether the measure should seek authorization to increase property taxes as well as increase the district’s debt. If the board decides to go ahead with the ballot measure, it would be intended to finance improvements to the district’s systems over the next 10 to 15 years and to purchase additional renewable water. The board needs to make a decision on the ballot measure by February in order to include it in the May 4 election.

In March, Ciruli proposed to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) to conduct a phone survey to gauge public opinion on the seriousness of the water supply situation and willingness to accept higher rates and fees to address it. There is information on some of Ciruli’s prior surveys and some of the findings of those surveys at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n4.htm#pprwa. The PPRWA has put that project on hold for now.

The survey Ciruli will be doing for the Donala district will be similar but include questions designed to estimate the degree of support for a ballot measure authorizing additional indebtedness and whether the voters might approve increasing property taxes to help pay off the increased debt. Ciruli said he would canvass by phone 350 to 400 district residents.

If Donala residents favorably view the idea of a ballot measure and the board approves putting one on the May 2010 ballot, the district will then be precluded from expending funds to promote the measure. Several residents have agreed to help encourage voters to approve the measure. Rod Kuharich, one of the residents who volunteered to help, is the past director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and is the current executive director of the South (Denver) Metro Water Authority. According to Kuharich, "It is essential that Donala secure renewable water resources to replace diminishing and ever more expensive ground water. Donala is embarking on a program to obtain these renewable resources, and I fully support their efforts, not only for our community’s security, but also to be assured that our property values will be maintained."

Budget

Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, distributed copies of a draft 2010 budget.

Total projected annual revenue for 2010 is $4.688 million. Some of the larger amounts are $1.815 million from water sales, $1.223 million from property taxes, and $893,000 from sewer service.

2010 expenses for operations and administration are projected at $4.098 million. Some of the larger amounts are $640,608 for wastewater plant operating expenses, $490,075 for repayment of loans, $480,000 for salaries, $400,000 for repairs and maintenance, and $350,000 for utilities.

Capital project expenses are estimated at $2.5 million, including $1 million for connection to Colorado Springs Utilities at Northgate Road and $1 million for renewable water and infrastructure.

Duthie noted that he is not anticipating any well redrilling for the next two to three years. He added that no additional wells are planned and, depending on what other water the district obtains, it may be more economical to buy additional water rather than to redrill existing wells in an attempt to increase production.

The projected ending total fund balance for 2010 is $4.908 million, down $2.644 million from the projected starting fund balance for the year of $7.552 million.

A hearing on the budget will be held at the board meeting scheduled for Dec. 3.

Proposed increase in water rates

The draft budget is based on the following proposed increased residential water rates for 2010:

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 in 2009.

Rick Evelo, general manager of the Gleneagle Golf Course, noted that the proposed 10 percent increase follows a 4.9 percent increase last year and asked for a justification for the increases.

Duthie replied, "We’re facing big-time expenses. We have known that for a while. The rates for everybody else went up last year about 10 percent. The reality is that we’re probably looking at 10 percent increases for the next several years." He added, "We were handcuffed for the first 11 years that I was here because the rates were locked in by the previous golf course owner and developer of Gleneagle and Donala. The rate was fixed for 15 years at 40 percent of what everyone else paid."

Duthie noted, "Colorado Springs is imposing a 41 percent increase for this year and has announced 12 percent increases per year for the next eight years." He noted that those rate increases will affect the cost of water Donala buys from Colorado Springs.

Duthie is also recommending 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.

A final decision on the rate proposal will be made at the board meeting scheduled for Dec. 3.

Golf course patio home project update

Evelo noted that the environmental easement imposed as a condition of the county’s July 9 approval of the sketch plan and rezoning to build 47 patio homes on the driving range is scheduled to be completed and approved by the end of the year.

Evelo added that until the economy recovers, it will continue to be difficult to finance the needed improvements to the irrigation system, even though contractors are offering to do the work for substantially less than what they previously bid.

Mount Massive ranch update

Duthie reported that Pridemore Construction has completed 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. Good access to the property would be critical if the district decides to sell it or a portion of it to a developer.

Water court case update

Eighteen objectors 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.

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 about half of the objectors to the first filing filed objections to this second filing. The district will request that the two cases be combined into one case.

Duthie estimated that the whole process could extend into the summer of 2011.

Water conservation plan approved

The board unanimously approved a water conservation plan for the district. The plan addresses the district’s conservation measures and programs, including the graduated water rate structure under which those who use more water pay a higher rate per 1,000 gallons. Some highlights of the plan:

  • The groundwater aquifers are expected to supply enough water for at least 20 more years before becoming uneconomical.
  • Water rates are expected to double between 2008 and 2018 to help cover the anticipated expenses for access to renewable water.
  • With an eye to extending the life of the aquifers and reducing the amount of renewable water the district must purchase, the plan sets a goal of reducing overall water use by 20 percent and notes that the results so far have been disappointing. For example, after three years of irrigation rationing, the overall savings have been just 7 to 8 percent vs. the goal of 15 percent. It appears many residents are not reducing the amount of water used for irrigation, but are doubling their use on their allotted days. There has also been a substantial shortfall in the hoped-for 10 percent increase per year in xeriscaped yards.
  • As of April, the district had paid out $3,000 in rebates for installing more water-efficient appliances and fixtures. The program has not been in effect long enough to assess the associated water savings.
  • The golf course has been using wastewater treatment plant effluent for irrigation since 1994, significantly decreasing its dependence on the district’s wells. From 1994 to 2006, this reuse water accounted for 48 percent of the golf course’s requirements. In 2006, the district obtained rights to use water from Jake’s Lake, which is adjacent to Gleneagle Drive near the fire station, for irrigating the golf course. Wastewater treatment plant effluent is used to satisfy the downstream holders of the rights to the surface water in Jake’s Lake. Since 2006, the combination of reuse water and Jake’s Lake water has covered 50 to 60 percent of the golf course’s irrigation needs.
  • The district is actively working to minimize leaks in the water system. As a result, 95 percent or more of the water produced is put to productive use.
  • The district is exchanging and rebuilding water meters so they will more accurately record the amount of water used and residents will not get a false sense of economy.

Other matters

  • Del Phipps was named the employee of the quarter. He has been with the district since November 2005 and has attained his A operator’s certification.
  • During the three months from July 1 through Sept. 30, 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 0.26 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 2.8 months. Duthie noted that the district has withdrawn $1 million to cover the final payments for the wastewater plant expansion.
  • Duthie distributed copies of his notes from the Oct. 7 Colorado Springs Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC) meeting. Some highlights are included in the UPAC article on page 4.
  • Duthie said the wastewater treatment plant expansion is essentially complete and the final cost is expected to be about $16 million, which is about $300,000 less than recent estimates.
  • The district has submitted its comments on the new permit for the expanded wastewater plant. The new permit is projected to take effect in the next month or two. Duthie said the main issue is the low flow analysis in which the state used an average of the past five years, overlooking the fact that the flow has increased every year and will likely continue to increase. He added that this issue will affect the standards for metals in the effluent. The metals tests include tests for copper, which has become a significant issue for both of the local wastewater treatment plants.

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

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The Donala board will hold a special meeting to approve the budget on Dec. 3 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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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board, Oct. 28: Board switches location for new station

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 28, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board held two meetings, a semi-annual volunteer firefighter pension board at 6:30 p.m. followed by the regular October board meeting at 7 p.m. The financial soundness of the pension fund continues to improve based on increased contributions from the district and matching funds from the state.

The board approved a change in plans for a new Station 3 on Highway 83 to use land David Wismer has offered to donate to the district.

The board also reviewed the draft 2010 budget and scheduled a hearing for the final budget on Dec. 2. All board members were present.

Pension board meeting

One of the two volunteer firefighters on the Wescott pension board, Battalion Chief Mike Badger gave a status report on the volunteer pension fund through the end of 2009. Some of the pension fund items Badger discussed were:

  • The recent state actuarial study shows that the pension fund is currently funded at 108 percent of the amount required for current benefit payments.
  • The investments in the pension fund have rebounded sufficiently to result in positive returns once again.
  • The pension fund balance has increased in the first three quarters of 2009 from $449,059 to $603,887.
  • One more volunteer has begun receiving retirement payments from the pension fund since the previous meeting.
  • Total payouts are currently $2,265 per month, for an annual total of $31,500.
  • The district is strictly enforcing the state’s annual training requirements for volunteer firefighters to qualify for "pension years" toward retirement qualification.
  • Wescott is responsible for paying a proportionate share of any future retirement payments for volunteers who qualify for a pension with more than five "pension years" with Wescott.
  • If Wescott merges with Black Forest Fire and Rescue District, the Wescott pension fund balance at the end of 2009 would only be about 80 percent of the actuarial amount needed to meet the state requirement. Wescott must increase its current base retirement payments from $300 per month plus an additional $15 per month for each year beyond 20 "pension years" (up to a maximum of 30 volunteer years and $450 per month) to Black Forest’s flat retirement payment of $500 per month to retired volunteer firefighters with 20 or more "pension years."
  • Currently, Wescott qualifies for the state’s maximum rate for matching contributions of 90 percent due to the district’s base pension rate of $300 per month. The state’s matching percentage would drop below the 90 percent maximum if Wescott were to increase the pension base rate to $500 per month to match Black Forest’s base benefit payment.
  • In 2008 and 2009, the Wescott pension board approved a district contribution of $100,000 per year, which results in state matching fund contributions of $90,000 per year in 2009 and 2010 respectively (90 percent match.)
  • Badger proposed a $50,000 district contribution to the fund for 2010, which should result in a $45,000 state matching contribution in 2011 and a net funding rate of about 110 percent at the end of 2010. The Wescott district contribution would have to be increased again in future years if a merger with Black Forest is determined to be in the best interest of both districts at the conclusion of the ongoing merger study.

Wescott board Treasurer Dennis Feltz suggested that the district contribute $100,000 again in 2010 to minimize the temporary burden that would be placed on the Black Forest pension fund should a merger take place promptly. Director Bill Lowes also recommended a 2010 contribution of $100,000 because it would again net the maximum state matching contribution of $90,000 in 2011.

No final decision was made by the board on the amount of the district’s pension fund contribution to be included in the 2010 budget.

The pension board meeting adjourned at 6:56 p.m.

Board approves Wismer land donation for new fire station

Foti contract details: The Wescott board had previously entered into a $1.14 million contract with Dominic and Claire Foti to purchase their home, located at 14560 Highway 83 on a 28.75-acre lot on the west side of the highway that is accessed by the first asphalt driveway south of Kaessner Lane. The closing date for the sale was Aug. 31. The district planned to use the Foti house as a temporary third fire station and residence for volunteer firefighters until a new fire station could be built in the vacant meadow area along the Highway 83 frontage at the east end of the property. The Foti house is located uphill on the west end of the long narrow property, about 1,200 feet from the highway, with a substantial number of screening trees between the house and the vacant frontage area.

On Aug. 18, the El Paso County Planning Commission approved the Foti house for use as a temporary station. The district had asked for the hearing as part of its evaluation prior to the anticipated Aug. 31 closing on the Foti property. The district’s July 15 letter of intent to the county and site development plan proposed to temporarily use the existing Foti structures and utilities at an intensity that corresponds to the current residential use.

Wescott vehicles would use the existing asphalt residential driveway. There are no erosion or floodplain issues on the Foti property.

The existing barn and carport do not have paved access and would not be used for fire protection purposes. These structures would continue to be used for storage of tools and supplies needed for maintenance of the entire property. (See www.elpasoco.com/agenda_items/u-09-001.pdf for the site plan and additional details of the proposal. The site plan is on page 10 of this file.)

The county Development Services Division’s staff report recommended approval of this Wescott proposal with the following conditions and notations:

  1. Prior to the authorization of a building permit, a site development plan application shall be submitted and approved by Development Services.
  2. The approval of location is for the temporary use of the existing residence as a fire station and the future construction of a new fire station as depicted on the approval of location site plan. Future development of the new facility will require approval of an additional site development plan and will be subject to all applicable development standards of the code at the time of submittal.
  3. Future facility expansion will be limited to the area depicted on the location approval site plan and reviewed pursuant to the dimensional standards of the RR-5 (rural residential) zoning district.
  4. The district shall adhere to the guidelines of the submitted Wildlife Habitat Plan on file with Development Services.

Approval of location requests are not forwarded to the El Paso Board of County Commissioners for consideration. Pursuant to C.R.S. 30-28-110, final El Paso County action occurs at the Planning Commission.

The county Development Services staff report also stated that the Wescott location plan complies with the public safety services goals in several county codes and plans, and in the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan.

The Foti property and all the adjacent properties are also zoned RR-5 There were no written responses in the planning commision packet from the 11 adjoining property owners that Development Services had notified of the Aug. 18 hearing.

The county staff report noted that Wescott would use the residence as is, with no new construction, to house two to five fire personnel on a 24-hour basis. Some of Wescott’s smaller fire vehicles, as well as the personal vehicles of the firefighters, would be parked in the existing garage or on the driveway. No large fire trucks would be located on the site until the new station is built at the front of the Foti property after several years. The configuration and timing of the new station site had not been determined.

The county staff report also noted that access to Highway 83 is regulated by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and that no new access points were being sought by the district during the first phase of development where the existing residence is proposed for use as a temporary fire station. The county staff determined that the small fire vehicles that would be assigned to the temporary station are suitable to the existing access and no impacts to the transportation network are anticipated. When the new station is built, the county and/or CDOT may require the installation of additional traffic facilities, such as emergency signals, and acceleration/deceleration lanes. The impacts of the new station expansion would be evaluated at the time the district submits the new site development plan to the county.

Wismer donation details: At the Aug. 26 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting, Shamrock Ranch owner David Wismer offered to donate five acres on the east side of state Highway 83, opposite the Stagecoach Road intersection, to the district for construction of a third fire station provided the district would agree to pay for all transaction costs for the transfer of ownership.

Wismer stated that his ranch is a constituent of the Wescott and Black Forest fire districts and that he is "a friend and supporter" of both districts. He said he was speaking in opposition to Wescott’s offer to purchase the Foti property as well as building a fire station adjacent to his house.

"Why would the Donald Wescott Fire Department spend over a million dollars for a 28-acre property when you have to go out and still acquire money to build a fire station?" Wismer asked. "I speak in opposition because I think it’s a misuse of taxpayer money, especially in a time when things are so tight."

Wismer noted the neighborhood’s concern regarding the Foti property’s access to Highway 83 that was verbally expressed at the Aug. 18 county Planning Commission hearing and the need for a "full-blown CDOT" review and approval. He said the Foti entrance’s line of sight to the north and south is "a significant hazard" due to the high number of "18-wheelers" on Highway 83.

Wismer offered to "make a gift of five acres of Shamrock ranchland to the fire district, free and clear. The anticipated location would be approximately a mile north of the Foti site, opposite Stagecoach Road. We’ve done some preliminary investigation with CDOT, and have a preliminary approval of a curb cut there. The line of sight issue is much more attractive, much less negative than at the Foti site. At least in some anecdotal conversations that I’ve had with El Paso County Planning, they would concur with that."

"My only condition for this gift would be that it would not cost me money beyond the gift." For more details, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n9.htm#dwfpd

After Wismer’s donation offer at the Aug. 26 Wescott board meeting, the district negotiated a 60-day extension on the planned Aug. 31 closing for the Foti property purchase to make a detailed comparison of the Foti and Wismer properties prior to making a final decision on which property to obtain. None of the county staff actions or the Planning Commission approval for using the Foti property for fire operations apply to the Wismer land.

Wismer subsequently offered Wescott a draft lease agreement for a 35-acre filing within the Wescott district. Wismer offered Wescott the option to obtain and pay for county approval of a subdivision of these 35 acres in the future, in order for Wescott to separate the five acres for the station from the other 30 acres of this filing. Under the proposed lease, Wescott would be able to complete the county’s approval processes for the fire station location on the Wismer donation, a plat for the 35-acre filing, and a site plan. There was no time constraint on Wescott’s decision on whether to take ownership of the five-acre lot after platting or continue operations under the lease with Wismer.

Foti’s rebuttal to Wismer’s lease: At the Sept. 16 Wescott board meeting, Foti’s real estate broker, John Nix of Coldwell Banker, discussed advantages of Wescott completing the Foti property purchase. Some of Nix’s discussion items were:

  • Purchase of the Foti property is not a "misuse of funds" as Wismer had stated to the Wescott board on Aug. 26.
  • The county Planning Commission had already unanimously approved the district’s location request and immediate use of the Foti house use as a temporary fire station on Aug. 18.
  • Wismer had telephoned Nix in early August to advise him that he would "object" to the Foti’s sale to Wescott at the county hearing on Aug. 18 because the noise from the new station would "be a major annoyance that would affect my home."
  • Wismer would also object to the danger of limited sightline visibilities at the Foti’s driveway on Highway 83.
  • In response to Wismer’s phone call, Nix used a GPS instrument to measure the sightline visibilities in both directions along Highway 83 at the access points to both properties. Nix stated that his measurements showed that the sightline visibility for the Foti driveway is greater than that for the proposed access location for the vacant Wismer lot.
  • Nix calculated that the separation from the Foti driveway to the bluff that buffers the Wismer house from Highway 83 is about 400 yards.
  • Nix’s measurements show that two homes are within 100 yards of the proposed Wismer lot access location and another six homes are within 250 yards of this access, making all these houses subject to more annoyance than Wismer would experience in his home if Wescott were to complete the purchase of the Foti property.
  • Subdividing the Wismer property to build the new station could take 18 months to three years.
  • Some time will be required for Wescott to reach an agreement on terms of the donation with the Wismer trust as well as on the new station design and site location.
  • Properties involving trusts require more paperwork to address terms and conditions of covenants, control, and restrictions (CC&Rs); the Foti property has no trust or CC&R restrictions.
  • There are 57.8 acre-feet of adjudicated, court-decreed water rights that would be transferred to Wescott with the purchase of the Foti property and protect district taxpayers from the liability of potential lawsuits by neighboring property owners.
  • The approximate equivalent value of the Foti house for future resale by Wescott would be about $575,000.
  • The other existing buildings and structures are available for immediate storage of Wescott vehicles.
  • Nix stated his belief that the Foti property is still the best option, as the Wescott board had determined after five months of due diligence research on available properties within the district. The total net cost of building a new station on the Foti property would be less than on the Wismer property with considerably less aggravation. The new station could also be completed much sooner, and Wescott would be able to immediately use the Foti house as a temporary station.

Oct. 28 discussion and decision

Joyce Heffner Williams of Keller Williams Realty discussed a point paper she had prepared for the Wescott board comparing the Foti and Wismer properties.

Some of the points Williams made, in addition to those already noted above, were:

  • Subdividing the Foti property would yield three five-acre lots in the vacant land between the Foti buildings and the five-acre vacant area for the new station, which the district would not need and would sell for a total of about $450,000. Keller Williams would accept a fee of $500 for this sale.
  • Wescott should determine the value of the improvements and the 57.8 acre-feet of water rights that would run with the Foti property.
  • The approximate district cost for accepting a lease for the Wismer donation is about $19,000.
  • Wismer would donate about one acre-foot of groundwater rights for the five-acre lot, and the district can purchase another acre-foot of water rights from Wismer for $1,500.
  • The Highway 83 sightline distances for southbound traffic at the Foti and Wismer access points are both 400 yards. The northbound sightline distances are 500 yards for the Foti access and 350 yards for the Wismer access.
  • The district would have to spend about the same amount of money on a well, septic system, electrical/gas/phones/cable service, platting and subdivision fees, and road fees for construction of the new fire station on either property.
  • Wescott should consider paying for the subdivision of the Wismer five acres to eliminate the leasing agreement as soon as possible and own the donated five acres "free and clear."
  • Wescott should ask for a 99-year lease with automatic renewal.
  • Wescott should reserve the rights to sublease or assign the Wismer lease as determined by the Wescott board without the owner’s consent for public uses such as an ambulance service or police substation. This would prevent cancellation of the lease.
  • Any improvements to Wismer’s property by Wescott should be deeded to Wescott.
  • Any/all water rights needed by the district should be deeded by Wismer to Wescott with a separate water rights deed.
  • If there are any underlying deeds of trust, mortgages, or other obligations affecting Wismer’s five acres, Wismer should agree to subordinate them to Wescott’s interests.
  • Wismer must supply "leasehold" title insurance with the lease to protect Wescott’s interest.
  • Wescott should reserve the right to name changes or entity changes within the term of the lease with Wismer to cover the contingency of some form of merger with the Black Forest fire district or any annexation.

Board President Kevin Gould stated that the board had completed all aspects of performing due diligence in receiving professional real estate and legal advice to evaluate and compare the offers from the Fotis and Wismer. Gould said that it would be a prudent decision to obtain the Wismer property. Directors Feltz, Scott Campbell, and Bill Lowes concurred.

Director Greg Gent expressed his concerns about the lack of specificity regarding the water rights that would be transferred by Wismer, as well as their seniority. He expressed concern that all aspects of station construction must be reviewed and approved by Wismer. Gould and Chief Jeff Edwards responded that the district would have used the same kind of mountain lodge-style of design and landscaping that Wismer was requesting for the new station in the design of the Foti property.

Gent also expressed concerns about the effect of any possible future annexation of the Shamrock Ranch property by Colorado Springs on the district’s long-term service to areas in Colorado Springs south of Northgate Road.

Wescott serviced a substantial county area south of Woodmen Road before Colorado Springs made sequential annexations up to Northgate Road. Wescott continues to serve these areas through a mutual aid agreement with the city and continues to receive property tax revenue from some of them.

During a lengthy technical discussion, Edwards noted that current estimates for the new station have ranged from $1.3 million to $1.6 million, depending on the number of engine bays.

The board approved Gould’s motion to terminate the extended purchase contract with the Fotis, to sign the Wismer lease agreement, and to make the associated $19,000 payment by a 4-1 vote, with Gent opposed.

Campbell asked Gould to have the district’s attorney Tim Schutz review the lease one more time regarding Gent’s concerns. Gould replied that he did not believe there was anything in the lease of any concern and that the lease would go away as soon as the district platted the Wismer filing.

No decisions were made regarding initiation of county and CDOT reviews and approvals for a new station on the Wismer lot.

Foti will receive a total of $40,000 from Wescott from the cancelled purchase contract.

Bookkeeper contract approved

Feltz distributed copies of the contract that Angela Morton had signed earlier in the day (Oct. 28) to serve as the board’s part-time bookkeeper, beginning on Nov. 1. Morton will work about 20 to 30 hours per month, and the contract calls for her to attend all board meetings. The contract is very similar to the bookkeeping contract used by the Black Forest fire district.

Gould noted that the hours restriction was not listed in the contract.

Campbell expressed concerns about Morton performing additional duties beyond what the board had previously agreed upon and that they are not accounting duties—such as preparation of district board agendas and district election responsibilities. These duties had been performed by the district’s administrative assistant. "I’m uncomfortable with how this process has occurred. I understand that there was a desire and a need to have an accountant." Note: Morton is not an accountant.

Feltz replied that Morton would be taking care of the books, including the financial records. Morton is flexible about having the other duties added or not required. "But we have nobody working for us," Feltz said.

In reacting to the hiring, Campbell asked that in the future the board make such decisions at the board level with a consensus, since the chiefs had not requested a bookkeeper and had not requested separate outsourcing for payroll matters. No board member has the power to act alone, he added.

Feltz said the board had discussed these two initiatives and that the bookkeeper would be working for the board. Campbell replied that the intent was not wrong, but the process was wrong. "I don’t ever want to sit here again as a board member and look at a contract that has been signed for the very first time."

Gould agreed with Campbell’s concerns about contract processes and asked the other directors to review Morton’s contract after the meeting and e-mail any concerns they might have with the Morton contract. Gould said he would forward those concerns to Schutz, who would determine if a contract amendment is required. If so, Schutz would prepare the amendment.

Paycheck company issues discussed

Gould asked Edwards to review problems with payroll checks that have occurred in the first four pay cycles since check preparation was outsourced to Paychex Inc.

Edwards said there were several issues. Although the first two pay cycles were correct, firefighters were underpaid by an average of $300 for one pay cycle, and checks were not issued to Edwards or Assistant Chief Vinny Burns for another pay period. The staff provides Paychex with all the payroll and leave data, but the company has also had troubles listing leave correctly. Edwards has asked to have the same Paychex employee who prepares paychecks for Black Forest employees, but that has not happened. The cost for the check preparation services is more than expected due to charges for reports that Paychex is preparing for end-of-the-year audits. Paychex also ran an extra payroll that resulted in an extra $35,000 being withdrawn from the district’s checking account and numerous checks having to be cancelled.

Edwards said the staff is doing just as much work as before the outsourcing contract began at a cost higher than the fixed cost promised, but the staff will continue to work through "all these glitches."

Feltz said the purpose of the contract was to have the same consultant for payroll processing as Black Forest, which is Paychex.

Gould agreed that the Paychex contract was supposed to make things easier. "Let’s keep working with them." Gould asked for an update at the next board meeting. "If this isn’t working the way we want it to, there’s no reason to stick with it, but don’t give up on it in two months." Edwards replied, "We’re going to push through and we’ll keep you posted." Gould asked Edwards and Feltz to call Paychex to resolve these continuing issues.

Merger/ budget update

Lowes reported that he, Campbell, Schutz, Edwards, and Burns had met with a few representatives of Black Forest on Oct. 7 to discuss merger and budget issues. The main constraint of a merger is that Wescott would have to drop its property tax mill levy from 7 mills to match the Black Forest property tax mill levy of 5 mills. Wescott would also have to raise its pension benefits to match those of Black Forest. Initial assessments show that a combined operation may be able to function effectively with only an overall mill levy of 5 mills. The advice of an accountant with expertise in special district finances may be engaged to review the subcommittee’s findings.

Wescott will consider preparing an operational budget for 2010 that stays within 5 mills and use the revenue from the other 2 mills to pay for capital improvements. Revenue issues will be discussed at the next joint subcommittee meeting on Nov. 4. However, it is likely that it may take two years or more for Wescott and Black Forest to resolve their current capital expenses for new stations before both districts would be able to drop to only 5 mills. Black Forest has a 1-percent bond issue that must be paid off.

There are three methods that could be used for a merger:

  • Inclusion of Wescott into Black Forest
  • Consolidation
  • Formation of a joint fire authority, which would require a dual election

Inclusion is the quickest and simplest method for two viable districts, does not require an election, and could be reasonably concluded to have an election for a new seven-member board for the new combined districts in November 2010.

Consolidation would require a costly and time-consuming election in each district. Also, each district would have to help prepare a new service plan for the combined district. Each district would be responsible for its own debt and keep its previous mill levies.

A fire authority would require its own separate board in addition to the two district boards, which increases expenses. In recent years, some Colorado fire authorities have been dissolved.

Campbell emphasized that the Wescott and Black Forest boards would attempt to maximize transparency regarding the decision factors considered in moving toward a merger. If the inclusion method is chosen, it would be picked because it makes the most sense and its efficiency would be explained to the public. "Nothing is being hidden."

Gent suggested holding joint board meetings that would be a town hall format to give constituents a number of opportunities to learn about the issues and provide feedback.

Treasurer’s report

There was a lengthy technical discussion of accounting adjustments that have had to be made to make ledger adjustments for the payroll errors discussed above.

The board went into executive session at 9:30 p.m. to discuss personnel matters. The regular meeting resumed at 10:35 p.m.

Possible pumper purchase discussed

The board discussed purchasing a small pumper truck that would be better able to be driven down the narrow driveways for homes in wooded areas without fire hydrants that are common in the eastern portion of the district. The price of pumper trucks will increase about $6,000 in 2010 due to a new EPA requirement for expensive new emissions control systems. No decision was made regarding the truck purchase. Delivery would occur at the end of 2010.

The meeting adjourned at 11 p.m.

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

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Donald Wescott Open House, Oct. 3

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Below (L to R): American Medical Response paramedic Laura Kent and Donald Wescott Fire Protection District firefighter Valerie Marshall discussed child safety seats with visitors during Wescott’s annual open house on Oct. 3. Wescott Fire Department currently has two certified car seat technicians available to check child passenger safety systems. Even if you have had your car seat installed for months or years, it is important to know that it is still installed correctly. Please call 488-8680 to schedule an appointment for a car seat check with Marshall or Firefighter Jonathan Urban. They ask that you locate the instruction manual for your car seat and the owner’s manual for your car. Bring your child to the seat inpection so the firefighters can help you get the best fit. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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PLVFD Open House, Oct. 3

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Photos by David Futey

Below: (L to R): Dianne Nugen, a registered nurse with Front Range Flu Shots, administers a flu shot to Margot Krueger during the flu shot clinic held in the Palmer Lake town office on Oct. 3 in conjunction with the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) Open House, Oct. 3.

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Below: Smokey Bear poses with Assistant Chief Greg Lokken, firefighters Kim and Joe Polonsky, and Fire Chief Dan Reynolds. The PLVFD accepted donations and provided hot dogs and drinks and a variety of information on personal and fire safety.

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Below: Kelly Armbrust operates a fire hose as PLVFD Assistant Chief Greg Lokken provides guidance. The water for this children’s activity was provided from the department’s wildland truck. The truck is used for water transfer for wild land and house fires.

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Below: Kristina Reavis, a flight nurse, shows Patrick and Hannah Hodgson the inside of the Penrose-St. Francis Health Services Flight for Life helicopter.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Oct. 5: Gingrich appointed to board

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Below: Stan Gingrich is sworn in by Town Clerk Scott Meszaros at the Oct. 5 Monument Board of Trustees meeting. Gingrich was appointed to replace former trustee Tim Miller. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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By Jim Kendrick

At the beginning of the Monument Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 5, Stan Gingrich was sworn in by Town Clerk Scott Meszaros to fill the vacant Board of Trustees seat of former trustee Tim Miller. The board also approved a restatement of the 2009 town budget and received copies of the first draft of the 2010 budget. All board members were present.

Gingrich appointed again

Gingrich, a Santa Fe Trails resident, had been previously appointed by the board on Aug. 17 to fill the vacant seat on the Monument Planning Commission of former Commissioner Tom Martin. However, the next Planning Commission meeting, scheduled for Sept. 9, was cancelled due to a lack of agenda items. Miller resigned at the Sept. 22 Board of Trustees meeting. Before Gingrich could attend the next Planning Commission meeting in October, he was appointed by the board to replace Miller on Sept. 22. Gingrich was out of town on Sept. 22 and could not be sworn in as a trustee until the next board meeting on Oct. 5.

Preliminary 2010 budget published

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith distributed copies of the 30-page preliminary 2010 budget to board members and department heads, meeting the state’s Oct. 15 deadline for first publication. Smith noted the following assumptions for the preliminary budget:

  • General Fund revenues are increased by 3.5 percent, though sales tax revenue is not expected to be the same as in 2009.
  • General Fund expenditures are increased by 1.9 percent.
  • The ending General Fund balance, less capital, is forecast to increase by about $296,000.
  • Salaries and benefits are based on a 1 percent cost of living increase and a 5 percent increase in the town and employee contributions to health insurance, though annual health insurance premiums have typically increased 7.5 percent or more in recent years.
  • No additional staff members, or "full time equivalents," are proposed for 2010.

The projected totals for each 2010 line item are based on the projected amounts through the end of 2009. Amounts through the end of this year are based on the budget performance for the first three quarters. If budget issues arise in the final quarter of 2009, department heads are responsible for curtailing spending to keep from overspending "known revenues" in their budgets.

Town Manager Cathy Green said that for 2009, the hospital deductible was increased with the resulting savings from reduced premiums retained in the town budget to help individual employees pay the deductibles for hospitalization. This policy change lowered overall health insurance rates.

No firm decisions were made because the trustees had not seen the preliminary 2010 budget before this meeting. Additional budget discussions were planned for the regular Nov. 2 and Nov. 16 regular board meetings, but not for the Oct. 19 open house board meeting held at Palmer Ridge High School. The public hearings on the final 2010 budget and the 2010 property tax mill levy are scheduled for Dec. 7. The 2010 mill levy, which will remain at 6.289 mills, must be approved by Dec. 15. The budget must be approved by the end of December, though a quorum may be hard to raise for the Dec. 21 regular board meeting. The staff will plan to have the budget and mill levy approved on Dec. 7.

Green gave an overall review of staff policies and processes, 2009 results to date, and future plans. She noted that the last time a comprehensive review like this occurred was in 2006.

Green was followed by the department heads giving an in-depth review of 2009 to date and plans for the future in their areas of responsibility. Green concluded the review with a discussion of updates to the town’s capital improvement plan. Throughout this wide-ranging discussion, there were numerous technical questions from the board about a variety of issues because many of the trustees joined the board after last year’s similar review process for the 2009 budget.

There were no public comments on the preliminary 2010 budget after this two-hour discussion concluded.

Old Denver Highway discussion

During the discussion on the 2010 asphalt repair budget, there was a sidebar regarding improvements to Old Denver Highway. The board gave direction to the staff to begin researching the condition of the road in order to develop a long-term plan for repaving it.

The town took ownership of Old Denver Highway in April 2008 because it is a major roadway entering downtown and the county had no funds to maintain or improve it. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n5.htm#bot0407 for details of that decision.) Since then the town has made repairs to the worst sections of the roadway, but the entire road needs upgrading. This would be very expensive.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth and Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara were asked to begin a short-term study, within available funding, on two segments of Old Denver Highway. One purpose of the study is to determine if the road’s subgrade or the stormwater culvert under the road are failing where Teachout Creek crosses the road between the entrance to Trails End (Wagon Gap Trail) and the hockey rink. This has been the site of routine flooding during thunderstorms for years. The other segment to be studied is the cracked asphalt at the entrance of R-Rockyard.

Landreth assured the board that ongoing Public Works inspections of Old Denver Highway ensure that it is not unsafe.

When funding becomes available, the entire length of Old Denver Highway, which the county had designated as a county truck route, needs to be studied to determine if the existing roadway is actually strong enough to handle the load of heavy trucks, such as full R-Rockyard gravel trucks. If the road is not strong enough, patchwork repairs on the worst sections will not last long.

One proposed policy change to be studied is a potential requirement to force heavy R-Rockyard and Pioneer Sand trucks to access I-25 from their Old Denver Highway locations in the county solely using the I-25 Baptist Road interchange (Exit 158). Kassawara noted that the town would have to have a sound rational basis to reverse the county’s previous designation of Old Denver Highway as a truck route.

Trustee Tommie Plank noted that the owner of R-Rockyard is a former town trustee.

Note: The town has a continuing problem with trucks using Old Denver Highway, Beacon Lite Road, and Highway 105 to avoid the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) port on the Monument Hill portion of I-25. CDOT maintains only portions of Highway 105 and has asked Monument and Palmer Lake to take ownership of the portions west of the I-25 Monument interchange (Exit 161).

Supplemental 2009 budget and appropriation approved

Smith noted that two supplemental ordinances were required to recognize additional funds that were routinely confirmed as available by the 2009 audit. These funds were "rolled over" at the end of 2008 and were being added to the "actual" amounts available in the original 2009 budget and appropriation ordinances. The additional funds cannot be spent unless a revised budget is forwarded to the state. Some of the amounts discussed were:

  • An additional $892,541 in the General Fund.
  • An additional $862,888 in the Water Enterprise Fund.
  • An additional $1,968,360 in the Capital Building Fund.
  • An additional $173,405 in the supplemental funds.

Over 96 percent of these additional funds are to be used for the new Town Hall facility and capital projects.

The board unanimously approved separate ordinances for the supplemental 2009 budget and the 2009 appropriation. The amounts of additional money to be spent in each line of the supplemental budget matched the corresponding increases in the annual appropriation.

In other matters, the board unanimously approved an annual liquor license renewal for the Circle K store/Shell gas station at 1190 W. Baptist Road, in the King Soopers center on the northeast corner of the intersection of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway.

Trustees’ comments

Plank discussed the Empty Bowl event on Oct. 7 sponsored by Monument Hill Sertoma for the benefit of Tri-Lakes Cares. (See article on page 36 for details.)

Trustee Rafael Dominguez noted that the western end of the Third Street improvement project was nearing completion and "looking great," and that he had driven along the new paving.

Trustee Gail Drumm reported no increase from the previous month’s low rate of housing starts, as reported by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, with most houses being built in Falcon and Fountain. Most are built only after they have been sold. Commercial building is starting to slow down as well.

The board approved four payments over $5,000:

  • $83,687 to Amwest Inc. for equipment for redrilling well 7.
  • $16, 671 to CIRSA Insurance for the fourth-quarter property/casualty insurance payment.
  • $16,735 to CIRSA Insurance for the fourth-quarter workers compensation insurance payment.
  • $7,792 to Nolte Associates Inc. for engineering work on the Third Street Improvement Project construction layout.

The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Board holds town hall meeting, Oct. 19

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Photos by Jim Kendrick.

The Monument Board of Trustees held a "town hall" style meeting at Palmer Ridge High School on October 19 to solicit input and answer questions from citizens on current issues, and to obtain comments and suggestions on the board’s draft mission, values, and goals statements. 

Below: About 40 non-profit vendors set up booths in the hallways to provide information to about 200 people in attendance. 

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Below: About 30 people attended the board meeting, forgoing the Broncos game on Monday Night Football that night. The only business item on the agenda was approval of payments over $5,000, which included a monthly payment to Pioneer Sand of $344,904 and $7,046 to Comcast for work performed on the Third Street construction project, which is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving if the weather remains warm enough for paving. 

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Monument Planning Commission, Oct. 14: Regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 14, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved an amendment to the town zoning code that creates "use by special review" regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. The commission also approved a Class II home occupation business license for Chyann’s Pet Care, a dog grooming service, at 79 Fourth St. Commissioner Glenda Smith’s absence was excused.

The commissioners unanimously approved a motion to continue hearings on Amendment 2 of the Monument Ridge Preliminary Planned Development Site Plan and a replat of Lot 10 in the Monument Ridge Final Plat. Monument Ridge is the commercial development on the southeast corner of Baptist and Struthers Roads, opposite the King Soopers center. Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, said that the Monument Ridge developer, Swat 14 LLC of Colorado Springs, had not delivered the required notices to adjacent property owners on time, requiring a postponement of the two hearings.

The hearings were rescheduled to the next regular Planning Commission meeting, which will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. due to Nov. 11 being Veterans Day, a national and state holiday.

Commissioner Dave Gwisdalla noted that he had visited the Monument Ridge development earlier in the day and found "waste and debris" littering the site. Kassawara replied that the town has "been after them intermittently" to clean up the site since January, as the town staff now performs these types of administrative duties for the Triview Metropolitan District.

When there was no response from Swat 14 last winter, the town then notified the developer’s bonding company. The bond company cleaned up mounds of fill, concrete and construction debris, and did some seeding, trimming, and grading, but did not finish the required work on the detention ponds. The town had already started the notification process with Swat 14 again. Kassawara also noted that the construction bond is held by Triview Metropolitan District, rather than the town.

Medical marijuana dispensary regulations approved

Kassawara noted that the town had received a preliminary inquiry in August from an individual regarding opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Monument. The staff told him to provide a letter discussing his operation and what he wanted to do. He had not yet submitted this letter.

In 2000, Colorado voters passed Amendment 20 to the state constitution, which approved the use and dispensing of medical marijuana. This approval is in contradiction to federal law, which prohibits this. Kassawara also noted that the federal government since then has agreed to let the states legitimize and regulate medical marijuana. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has rule-making authority to regulate the use of medical marijuana, including the creation of dispensaries. Dispensaries are only to provide medical marijuana for pain to patients with a prescription from a licensed doctor.

To date, the state government has not created any laws for the regulation of medical marijuana. The town code does not contain any provisions to regulate dispensaries. Without new regulations, the town cannot control where dispensaries could be located within its boundaries.

This amendment regulates only the location and operation of dispensaries. It does not address in any way the growth of marijuana within the town or how the dispensaries would obtain marijuana for sale.

On Sept. 8, the Board of Trustees directed Town Attorney Gary Shupp and the staff to draft an amendment to the zoning code to regulate dispensaries. The proposal requires that dispensaries fall under the portion of zoning code on "Use by Special Review" and some specific regulations regarding dispensaries, to include review and approval by the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees. The proposed draft amendment was based on a similar ordinance in Alamosa.

Kassawara stated that three options were considered by Shupp and the staff before the Board of Trustees asked them to draft the proposed amendment for review by the Planning Commission. The options were: Do nothing, prohibit the use and distribution of medical marijuana, or restrict the location of dispensaries to certain zones.

Kassawara said that doing nothing does not resolve the ambiguity of the town’s lack of regulations that neither restrict/prohibit nor allow medical marijuana dispensaries.

Prohibiting medical marijuana and dispensaries would most likely lead to a lawsuit against the town sooner or later. Aurora has chosen to ban medical marijuana and dispensaries, because its home rule charter requires strict compliance to federal law.

Kassawara noted that the other towns that have taken action on the issue have chosen to restrict. No town has formally chosen to do nothing.

The staff, Shupp, and Police Chief Jacob Shirk reviewed a lot of the existing state ordinances regulating dispensaries prior to drafting this proposed ordinance for this hearing. Kassawara said Shirk did not see any "inherent dangers" from dispensaries from a criminal standpoint as long as the proposed amendment on security and safeguards is followed. Kassawara added that there have been no police reports about dispensaries attracting a crime element or causing a problem, though "a lot of police chiefs are very nervous about them."

The Planning Commission had three options: Oppose the ordinance, pass the ordinance with or without changes, or make no recommendation.

Kassawara reviewed some of the provisions in the proposed amendment.

Locations: No medical marijuana dispensary can be located within 1,000 feet of the following:

  • The exterior boundary of any residential zone district.
  • The exterior boundary of any existing or occupied mobile home.
  • The exterior boundary of any lot on which is located a single family or multifamily residence, whether located within or outside of the town.
  • Any church or religious institution.
  • Any educational institution or school, either public or private.
  • Any licensed child care facility.
  • Any public community center, park, fairground, library, or recreation center, or any publicly owned or maintained building open for use to the general public.
  • Any other existing medical marijuana business, whether such business is located within or outside of the town.
  • Any halfway house or correctional facility.

Ads: Advertisements, signs, displays, or other promotional material depicting medical marijuana uses shall not be shown or exhibited off the premises or in any manner visible to the public, from roadways, pedestrian sidewalks or walkways, or from other public areas.

Indoor use: All business related to, or consumption of, medical marijuana shall be conducted indoors. All building openings, entries, and windows shall be located, covered, or screened in such a manner as to prevent a view into the interior. For new construction, the building shall be constructed so as to prevent any possibility of viewing the interior from the exterior of the structure.

Security: Medical marijuana dispensaries shall provide adequate security on the premises. At a minimum, such security shall include:

  • Security surveillance cameras installed to monitor the main entrance and the exterior of the premises to discourage criminal acts as well as nuisance activities as well as to facilitate the reporting of them.
  • Security video shall be preserved for at least 72 hours.
  • Robbery and burglar alarm systems that are professionally monitored and maintained in good working order.

There was a lengthy technical discussion among the commissioners, Shupp, and Kassawara on the numerous ambiguities surrounding how federal law and future state laws might apply to dispensaries and several other marijuana issues not germane to the proposed amendment. Some of the items discussed about the amendment were:

  • Pharmacists and pharmacy owners are not likely to want to dispense marijuana as a pain-relieving substance, due to existing state and federal licensing regulations on drugs, even though there are no state regulations on dispensaries.
  • The Walgreens pharmacies do not meet the proposed 1,000-foot separation criteria.
  • Operating procedures for medical marijuana dispensaries are the sole responsibility of the state Health Department, while zoning is a local responsibility of the town.
  • The current 1,000-foot restrictions do not eliminate the possibility of building a dispensary within the town. A larger separation distance would not be legal, because it would likely prohibit all potential locations.
  • This amendment does not address existing widespread abuses by doctors who give out prescriptions indiscriminately in other regions of Colorado and other states.
  • A standard sales tax could apply to dispensary sales of medical marijuana.
  • Some dispensaries, such as those in the town of Niwot, have hundreds of customers.
  • A proposed state statute to limit the number of customers that an individual dispensary could serve was not passed.

During public comment, Monument resident Cheryl Rogers recommended that if an ordinance is passed, the regulations should be simple, to the point, and clear.

The commission unanimously approved the proposed amendment with a recommendation to add a prohibition on marijuana symbols on signs, advertisements, and promotional materials.

Home business license approved

Cheryl Rogers applied for a Class II home occupation for pet grooming business in her home’s garage. Class II home occupations are those that may affect neighboring homes and must be approved by the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees. Class I home occupations have no such impact and can be administratively approved by the town staff.

Rogers, who has groomed pets for over 25 years, and another employee would groom about seven pets per day in the garage with a separate entrance during normal daytime weekday business hours. Customers would park in Rogers’ driveway or in on-street parking. Pets would use a fenced private gravel backyard area as a "pet comfort station." Rogers provided signatures from all the adjacent property owners acknowledging her home occupation request. None of the neighbors had expressed any concerns.

Kassawara reported that the grooming business meets all 14 of the town’s home occupation criteria.

The Class II home occupation was unanimously approved, with two conditions recommended by the staff and agreed to by Rogers:

  1. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made by the applicant and approved by the staff.
  2. No more than 12 pets shall be groomed in one day.

The meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road, by Highway 105. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Oct. 8: Town survey extended to Nov. 30

By David Futey

Trustee Jan Bristol told the Palmer Lake Town Council on Oct. 8 that "they have not received the response that they would have liked at this point" to the town survey. A week later, the survey was extended to Nov. 30.

Roads Trustee Bryan Jack and Fire Trustee Gary Coleman were excused from the meeting. Jim Kin of Gaddis Kin and Herd PC was present as town attorney instead of Larry Gaddis.

Town survey response urged

Bristol encouraged everyone to fill out a survey and return them to drop boxes at the Palmer Lake library, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, and the Palmer Lake Town Hall.

The town survey results will help the Town Council address issues facing the town in the coming year, Bristol said. These issues include water service and rates, improving roads, and the importance of the Fire Department and other town services. The survey asks residents to rank those and other items so the council can understand the importance of the services to the community. Bristol said that she and members of the survey committee may visit homes to encourage completion of the survey.

Oct. 15 was the initial cutoff date. Town Clerk Della Gray said almost all the 500 surveys have been picked up, but not many have been returned. As of Oct. 12, 120 surveys had been returned. Gray suggested that those taking the survey may be waiting until the last minute to return the survey.

Note: Gray issued a press release on Oct. 15 announcing that the survey period had been extended to Nov. 30 to ensure maximum citizen participation.

During the review of the meeting agenda, Mayor John Cressman stated that he did not expect a vote on the Surrey Ridge issue since Trustee Jack was not at the meeting. Cressman stated that he wanted Jack’s input on this matter, because Jack has researched the situation and his input was important to the discussion. Cressman stated the town engineer’s recommendation was to build a road.

Committee reports

Cressman represented the town during the Safe Walk to School Day on Oct. 7.

Bristol said the Glen Park tennis court fence has been worked on to prevent tennis balls from leaving the court. The additional Parks and Recreation shed has been completed. Bristol thanked Cressman, Ivy Wild Costumes, and, particularly, the Junior Honor Society for their participation in the Safe Walk to School Day. Trustee Nikki McDonald said this event was another example of "small town living and the value of living in this community." Bristol said she and McDonald are still attempting to meet with the Chamber of Commerce concerning the Fourth of July activities, and a meeting is not set as yet. A meeting may not occur until January.

Due to Coleman’s absence, Cressman read the Fire Department report. The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) raised over $2,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) during the Fill-the-Boot fundraiser on Sept. 5-7. A "thank you" from the PLVFD was given to "the many generous citizens of Palmer Lake." On Sept. 12, the PLVFD and El Paso County Search and Rescue were dispatched to look for hikers near the reservoir. The hikers were located and escorted down by Search and Rescue.

The department’s 1998 Chevrolet Blazer, which served as an interim rescue vehicle, was permanently taken out of service due to the high cost of repairing a mechanical failure. Cressman said he located a 2004 Ford Expedition that may serve as a replacement. Fire Chief Dan Reynolds and Cressman will be reviewing the vehicle the week of Oct. 12 to determine if it will suit the department’s needs and is in the department’s price range.

Roads Superintendent Bob Radosevich said the final cost for finishing County Line Road was $69,952. The work was completed in one day and has a one-year warranty. A "vactor" truck was hired to vacuum out a plugged culvert at the school. The final 3,200 gallons of magnesium chloride has been placed on main roads. There were road repairs after the Sept. 15 rainstorm, and the new concrete ditches worked as planned during the storm.

All right-of-way issues have been resolved with Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) regarding the installation of curbs and gutters on Highway 105. CDOT has been asked if the town can receive an extension for the project before putting it out to bid. The town received approval from CDOT to install an 8-foot-wide sidewalk and parallel parking along Highway 105 from the fence line to Primrose Street. The cost of the project is $50,000 and cannot be paid for through the Community Development Block Grant. Business owners on Highway 105 may need to help pay for the project.

Water Trustee Max Stafford attended the September meeting of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. At the meeting the district did not approve the Sundance/LaFarge request for a gravel mine and concrete/asphalt batch plant. The decision was only advisory, since the mining and batch operations would be beyond the 100-year-old flood plain. The decision was forwarded to El Paso County on Oct. 6.

At the previous council meeting on Sept. 10, Stafford was asked for an update on the town seeking an agreement with the railroad to transport water across the railroad right-of-way and into the lake. The town’s water attorney contacted the Office of the State Engineer in the Colorado Division of Water but no answer had been received prior to the council meeting. An answer was expected the week of Oct. 12.

Cressman said the low interest loan for the town’s water plant upgrade is now being paid. Gray said the town will need to raise water rates to cover the loan payments. A basic rate increase of 9 percent has been recommended, but the council did not vote on that proposed increase. If approved, the rate increase would help cover three months of operational revenue that is needed. It was also recommended to Cressman that the capital improvement fee be increased to $13 a year.

Police Trustee Dan Reynolds reported that an arrest was made in a sexual assault investigation and the suspect has been placed on $100,000 bond.

Christina Cervantz has been hired to replace outgoing Records Technician Kathleen Encinias. Encinias’s last day was Oct. 14. Besides receiving training from Encinias, Cervantz will also receive training from the Monument Police Department.

The police chief hiring process is proceeding on schedule. The department received 12 applications, and those applicants completed a written questionnaire to further refine and reduce the candidate pool. Upon review of the responses to the questionnaire, the number of candidates was reduced to six. These candidates were brought in for an interview on Oct. 24, with the intention to get down to the two top candidates. The hiring is to be completed in early December. Gray said the first set of interviews are closed and that three candidates will be invited back for citizens’ input and exchange with the candidates. Reynolds, Jack, two police chiefs, and a citizen are on the search committee.

License approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved a business license request for Lifting Spirits LLC, an adult and senior day care center. The business owners are Sonja Search and Madeleine Stevens. It will be located at 735 Hillview Dr., Unit A. The total number of individuals who can be served is based on the square footage of the facility. The business will operate 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

Status of senior citizens program

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance (TLSA), thanked Cressman, Coleman, and McDonald for attending the Monument Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 21. Cressman noted that Monument had donated $2,000. Roberts added that he had already received Monument’s check.

Roberts then inquired about the status of the Palmer Lake funding for 2009. Cressman stated no decision has been made regarding the available $9,000 from the Lucy Owens Fund. Cressman told Roberts that the TLSA "may not get all $9,000, but something will come your way." McDonald suggested Palmer Lake should give something on a yearly basis, maybe through the Park and Recreation budget. She said "seniors are becoming more and more a part of this community."

Roberts said it would be helpful for budget planning to know if a consistent amount was being provided. He is also confident Monument might budget an amount to the TLSA on a yearly basis and that funding should be helped as the program increases its visibility. Roberts concluded by asking if council needed anything else before making the decision. Cressman responded that council had all the information it needed to make the decision. Roberts once again thanked Palmer Lake for the "essential" funding it has provided.

Surrey driveway issue

At the start of discussion on this agenda item, Cressman told Brian Scott, who arrived after Cressman’s earlier announcement on the matter, that the council will not put a motion on the table at this meeting. Cressman restated that the town engineer wants a road built and not the driveway coming into Surrey. Another issue is that the closest water main is on Prairie, and that further impacts the development. Scott thought there was a water main at Kent Street.

Scott presented information on bid prices he received from two construction companies. Scott said the bids are based on a list of negotiated items discussed during the Road Committee meeting Oct. 1. The bid items included building a 148 linear foot by 22 foot-wide road in front of Scott’s lots of 12-17 and rough cutting another 145 linear feet to the centerline of Kent Street. There was slightly over a $22,000 difference between the two bids as one bid was for $19,893 and the other for $42,130. Scott also stated that he would not need road maintenance from the town if this proposal were followed. Scott raised a concern about recapturing capital costs for him and present land owners who would not benefit from the road. He did not expect a decision on the matter until his proposal was reviewed.

Michael Shay, who owns two parcels of land that would fall on either side of the road, was concerned about how he might be financially impacted if a road is constructed. He was told that it depended on who builds the road and that he would not be impacted until he acquired a building permit. Palmer Lake resident Dan Smith reiterated his concern from the September council meeting about safety with traffic coming out on Spring Street. Smith said that "unless there is improvement with the line of sight by cutting out the hillside, access onto Spring Street will be problematic." He noted that Jack reported a traffic assessment that 500-plus cars a day travel on Spring Street. At the conclusion of citizens input, Cressman made a motion to table a vote on this matter until the next council meeting. The motion was unanimously approved.

2010 preliminary budget

Gray provided a preliminary budget for 2010. She said the town "has been fortunate, as revenue has been steady." Gray is predicting a revenue increase of $3,000 over what was budgeted in the 2009 budget and that 93 percent of the budgeted revenue has been received. She summarized the proposed budgets for each department. Gray thanked Reynolds and Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk for keeping the current police budget under control.

A request from the Police Department was made for additional funding for part-time expenditures in 2010. The roads budget for 2010 remained the same as it was in 2009. Gray said she needs assistance with the Water Department’s budget because of the proposed rate increase and improvement fee increase. Cressman restated that the water rates need to go up in order to fund the treatment plant upgrade.

Gray said the projected 2010 town revenue is $884,512, which is $5,000 lower than in 2009, because revenue is expected to decrease. Based on that revenue amount, the town administration is budgeted $189,081, of which $27,000 is mandated by law. The remaining areas are funded as follows—bond payments $160,775; Fire Department $51,700; Police Department $325,915; and Roads Department $157,041. It was decided that Gray would have individual budget meetings with each trustee to review their 2010 budget, with those meetings completed by the end of October. Gray reminded the council that members will need to vote on the TABOR overage, which is up in 2011, during 2010.

The meeting ended at 8:05 p.m.

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The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 at Town Hall. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/ or call 481-2953.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board, Oct. 15: Blanch underscores technological advances

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Education discussed technology purchased with 2005 mill levy funds at its Oct. 15 meeting.

Saying that most members of the public associate the 2005 mill levy with the construction of Palmer Ridge High School, Superintendent Ray Blanch said he wished to demonstrate how some of the funds were used to update and improve Lewis-Palmer High School.

In addition to improvements to the athletic stadium and security systems, funds were used to add advanced technology to some classrooms and to provide more user-friendly spaces within the school. Blanch said the future of education is away from memorization and toward collaboration and social learning.

To further these goals, new technology enables students to respond electronically to questions from teachers, to view enlarged textbook pages or calculators to help with their studies, and to refer to class discussions and examples online from home.

An added advantage of this technology is that class size is less important when the screen is the focal point of the class.

In addition, new study areas are now available outside school hours, with faculty available to help with homework questions. Students may also check out laptops for use in this facility.

A statistics teacher and an advanced math teacher demonstrated how these technologies improved their effectiveness and said that it enabled them to present materials more quickly and effectively. Two students commented on their preference for the new technology, because it enabled them to review class examples and questions and to annotate them on their own computers at home for future reference.

An additional improvement is the construction of a distance-learning lab, which will enable the district to offer advanced placement classes to both high schools at once and possibly to offer classes from Pikes Peak Community College to groups at the high school.

In response to a question, it was noted that rooms with the advanced technology can be reserved by teachers of all subjects for their use.

Board member John Mann asked whether the use of the new technology would affect the district’s budget for textbooks. The response was that books are still necessary and that the two methods of teaching are mutually supportive.

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance, gave a report on the group’s activities, which are supported by District 38. He said that the weekly lunches at the Learning Center are attended by about 30 seniors. In addition, each Tuesday the seniors enjoy open bowling at Pinz. The monthly newsletter has a circulation of about 300, and the group has a new website, trilakesseniors.org.

The annual Silver Book, funded by Mountain View Electric Association, is a valuable reference of services offered free to seniors. Monthly daytrips are offered with the use of a school bus. The program Eyewitness History allows seniors to discuss historical events with students, and senior volunteers help with reading at some elementary schools.

The new senior center on the campus of Lewis-Palmer High School opened in August, and attendance has been good. Roberts thanked the school district for making these activities possible.

Deborah Goth presented the annual charge for the District Accountability Advisory Committee. This charge is detailed in the article on the committee’s meeting on page 26.

Dr. Marie Revak, director of assessment for the district, gave a report on the Colorado Growth Model. For details, see report on the District Accountability Advisory Committee on page 26 of this issue.

In his superintendent’s report, Blanch said that he has had to flex some personnel within the district to achieve some goals. State law requires a personnel director, and there is an inability to hire from outside at this time. He said it is critical to have someone in that position and someone to deal with crisis management such as interactions between the school district and law enforcement (for example, when law officers request access to a student).

Regarding student learning reports, it was said that when Palmer Ridge opened it was decided to standardize exams at the two high schools so the meaning of a transcript was equal. Writing assessments are now being done each year at both high schools.

Regarding the October count of students, Blanch said that the district has lost 50 students from last year’s total, rather than the expected 150. He said that this year’s senior class is the largest in district history, which will change next year’s demographics, but that this year’s eighth-grade class is also quite large.

The largest drop in enrollment is at the elementary level.

Blanch said that many of the new enrollments are from Douglas County and Discovery Canyon. He said that the board should consider having some of those who transferred into the district come to a board meeting and discuss their motives and what they see as the strengths of the district. He said that district administrators keep track of military transfers into the area and new employers so that they may recruit new students.

In closing discussion, board member Mark Pfoff commented that the board should assess the needs of the Jackson Creek neighborhood. He said that District 11 has changed an underused elementary school to a K-8 facility. He felt that using such creative solutions in District 38 could help prevent families from going to District 20 schools to avoid overcrowding. An alternative solution would be to change school boundaries.

Board member Gail Wilson said that she had met with Monument’s mayor and Blanch regarding community engagement. She said they had a good conversation and suggested also contacting the mayor of Palmer Lake and representatives from community associations.

Board member John Mann reported that he attended the meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee the previous evening and that he sensed that the group felt underserved. He said that the board should monitor its activities to keep apprised of its concerns.

Wilson suggested that members of the board should rotate months and attend SEAC meetings.

The board approved routine matters concerning approval of minutes of previous meetings, resignations and appointments of staff, requests for leaves of absence, monthly budget summary and other matters.

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The board 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 Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.

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Lewis-Palmer School District Accountability Advisory Committee, Oct. 13: Great Education Colorado, Colorado Growth Model explained

By Harriet Halbig

On Oct. 13, the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) heard a presentation on Great Education Colorado.

Gail Wilson of the Board of Education referred to an article in the previous Sunday’s Denver Post about Great Education Colorado and its statement that an economic downturn is the ideal time to invest in education. She said there is a severe funding shortage statewide that will get worse before improving.

Lisa Wild, policy director of Great Education Colorado, gave a presentation on her organization’s activities. The mission of the organization is to focus on increasing investment in education. To do this, we must determine the following: What do we want? Are we receiving it? What is the gap? What can we do?

In terms of what we want, Colorado’s kids need smaller classes, quality teaching, updated books and technology, well-rounded curricula, and preschool and full-day kindergarten for all.

The state has over 818,000 children in grades K-12, 219,000 in four-year colleges and 107,000 in two-year colleges. The state ranks 40th in per pupil funding, $1,387 below the national average; 38th in pupil/teacher ratio, 40th in technology and 49th in spending at the higher education level.

The gap is caused by legislation over the past 25 years, beginning with the Gallagher Amendment to lower property taxes, followed by TABOR in 1992, which limits the state’s ability to compensate for the loss, and Amendment 23, which became a ceiling unrelated to the needs of the system. Federal stimulus funds are available only for two years.

An additional issue is the fact that in Colorado, funding for such programs as special education, free lunches, English Language Learning, and gifted/talented training are funded primarily by each district. In Wyoming, for example, these programs are funded primarily at the state level. In Colorado, districts are funding over $816 million to cover these expenses.

To solve these problems, Great Education Colorado says the public must tell the story of the causes and impacts of cuts being made in budgets statewide. The organization can provide tools to do this and can keep the public informed of legislative activity.

In response to a question, Wild said that, when referring to "haves and have-nots" in the context of funding, District 38 is a floor district in the floor state, meaning that its funding is among the lowest. Due to mill levies, for example, the Aspen schools spend about $11,000 per pupil, while district 38 spends about $6,550.

When asked whether a lawsuit could override the affects of TABOR, Wild said that the state constitution requires an equal and quality education for all, thorough and uniform. She would hope that the Supreme Court would give priority to the constitution.

For those wishing further information on the organization, the website is www.greateducation.org

Dr. Marie Revak, the district’s director of assessment, explained the Colorado Growth Model for assessing student achievement. She said that this model was designed for Colorado and used here exclusively.

In essence, the model compares student achievement in relation to statewide peer groups rather than exclusively by test scores. Each student’s scores are assessed as they change from one year to the next, and each student is assigned to a growth percentile, with those above 65 percent rated High, those 35-65 percent rated Typical and those below 35 percent rated Low. These ratings are unrelated to grade level achievement.

School districts are rated above or below the 50th percentile. Revak said District 38 rates well above the 50th percentile, and its students also rate highly in relation to the rest of the state. She said growth is reported on the levels of individual student, school, and district.

Those wishing to see an explanation of the system can look at schoolview.org.

There was concern about explaining the model to parents before they were shown their student’s rating. Revak said that individual teachers would be tasked with explaining the results.

Chairman Mirielle Bock led a discussion of the charge of DAAC for presentation to the Board of Education.

The committee voted to continue monitoring the Early Childhood Education Task Force, Special Education Advisory Committee, Whole Child Task Force and Gifted Education Leadership Team by receiving regular reports from their membership.

The committee also voted to form a political activity committee in response to funding concerns and to work toward developing an academic integrity policy for grades K-12 regarding such issues as personal responsibility, cheating, and related issues. It was felt that discussing such issues as inclusion of world languages and fine and performing arts in the curriculum was not desirable due to lack of funding.

The committee will also continue to serve the Board of Education by monitoring performance of district schools via their School Improvement Plans, assist the board in community engagement through such events as Meet the Candidate and Education Summits, and review and provide input concerning charter school applications. Finally, the committee will advise the board regarding district budget priorities.

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The next meeting of the committee will be on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at Creekside Middle School.

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Web site exclusive: D-38 Special Education Advisory Committee, Oct.14: Committee discusses priorities, vision with superintendent

By Harriet Halbig

At the Oct. 14 meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Raymond Blanch discussed his vision for the program with members of the committee.

Blanch said that the advocacy of special needs individuals should be the job of anyone interested— not just the parents of the children in the program, but all citizens who wish to participate. He said that it is critical to be creative and make maximum use of the talents and tools available within the district.

He said that a staff member of the district is creating a database of resources available with the goal of making them accessible to all and to avoid spending limited stimulus funds on things already available in the district.

Blanch said that there has never been an open conversation regarding the goal of special education and that this is an ideal time to address the issue. He said that some of the goals of the program should be measurable and specific, while others are more broad in scope.

Secretary Ilanit Bennaim suggested that one of the problems of the program relates to transitions between levels (elementary-middle school-high school-community). Blanch agreed that solving this problem would be a good example of a measurable goal.

Blanch said that there is a special education leadership team within the district that consists of instructors, therapists, and others. They stress that it is important to have a good relationship with families of special needs students. It is especially important to contact families soon after they move into the district so they can feel welcome and know whom to contact with questions. Although general enrollment in the district is declining, there is a significant turnover of families from one year to the next.

Among the goals of the district is to get feedback from students about the success of the program and to make values consistent from one campus to another. 

Regarding federal stimulus funding, Blanch said that the district must supply narrative to justify any funding. One specific need in the district is a lift for wheelchair users at the high school, to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Blanch then led a discussion on the district’s vision for special education. He said that the mission is to prepare students to be good learners, good citizens and contributors to society.

Blanch asked members of the committee to suggest key words indicating why special education is important. Some of the words offered were: legally required; support; preparation for life; access to future; moral obligation; equality; self esteem, and inclusiveness.

After brief discussion, it was agreed that a way to express the goal of the program is with the statement that special education should support and maintain each child’s individual potential by allowing the use of appropriate tools and support so each student has access to a curriculum that meets his or her educational needs.

To achieve this goal, educators must acknowledge that students learn in many different ways and progress must be frequently assessed—every three to six weeks rather than once a semester. They must be creative, flexible, and innovative in their approach to each individual.

Suggestions from the committee included the need to stress early detection of the need for services and avoid the over-diagnosis of ADHD. 

Another suggestion was to stress the need for teachers to promptly respond to telephone and e-mail messages from parents. A common suggestion was to include parents in all decisions regarding students to develop a feeling of cooperation and teamwork. Blanch commented that teachers are committed and creative and wish to help all students succeed.

Another suggestion was to increase community engagement between special needs individuals and the surrounding area. In this way, barriers could be broken down and community support for the program could be enhanced.

A final suggestion was to stress independent living and learning outside the classroom. This requires significant participation by families of the students in the program, integrating learning opportunities in everyday life.

It was agreed that a formal system should be created and made known to staff and families regarding such issues as who should be present at Individualized Education Plan meetings. There should be a collective statement of goals so that progress could be easily measured. Parents would then have a better idea of what to expect when attending a meeting and would be better prepared. Parents know their children best and wish to be treated as partners in the process.

The committee members then discussed their goals for the coming year. They agreed to stress the activities that have been successful in previous years, such as the Someone Who Cares award program for individuals helping special needs students, lectures for parents, and a resource fair held once a year to acquaint parents with services available in the larger community.

Board of Education member John Mann, who attended the meeting, said that he is happy to receive e-mails from parents who have concerns. He said that he receives a lot of e-mail from constituents, but seldom on the subject of special education. He said that parents should first go through the system to solve their issues, but that he is happy to hear of their concerns.

Mann also commented that it would be a worthwhile goal to raise awareness of special needs individuals in the community, making them more visible in publications and other ways.

Blanch announced that Director of Special Education Julie O’Brien will be leaving the district but will continue to participate during a transition period.

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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 Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Oct. 9: All Baptist Road bridge lanes opened

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: All eight lanes of the new Baptist Road bridge over I-25 were opened for use at 3 p.m. on Oct. 8. The Exit 158 interchange is being expanded by general contractor Lawrence Construction. The project is well ahead of schedule. Funding for the project is provided by $21.5 million of 20-year revenue bonds issued by the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) in 2007. Members of the BRRTA board and staff inspected the completed bridge on Oct. 9 after the BRRTA meeting concluded. (L to R): Project engineer Gary Heckman of engineering consultant Jacobs Engineering Group; County Commissioner Amy Lathen; Monument Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara; BRRTA District Manager Denise Denslow of R.S. Wells LLC; Construction contract manager Bob Torres of Jacobs Engineering Group; BRRTA accountant Carrie Bartow of Clifton Gunderson LLC; County Commssioner Dennis Hisey; Monument Mayor Travis Easton; BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker of Grimshaw and Harring PC. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

General contractor Lawrence Construction continued to stay well ahead of its planned construction schedule and opened all lanes on the bridge over I-25 at the Baptist Road interchange for full movement of traffic on Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. The mood at the Oct. 9 regular Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) was upbeat and optimistic as a result of this major milestone being completed early.

The board unanimously approved a motion to schedule hearings for its 2010 budget and appropriation on Nov. 13, as well as a possible separate hearing for an amendment to the 2009 budget, if an amendment is required. The board also unanimously ratified the final audit report for 2008 that will be submitted to the state by auditor Dawn Schilling.

The absences of County Commissioner Wayne Williams and Monument trustee Rafael Dominguez were excused.

Several payments approved

The board unanimously ratified four checks for services:

  • $3,339 to Clifton Gunderson, LLP for accounting services
  • $245 to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a stormwater permit fee
  • $2,563 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal services
  • $4,175 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management services

The board unanimously ratified five requisitions and unanimously approved one requisition for interchange construction work performed in the past two months:

  • $47,786 to Qwest
  • $921,367 to Lawrence Construction
  • $114,013 to Jacobs Engineering Group
  • $92,686 to Jacobs Engineering Group
  • $1,150,022 to Lawrence Construction
  • $81,061 to Jacobs Engineering Group (approved)

BRRTA’s accountant, Carrie Bartow of Clifton Gunderson, gave a brief summary of her quarterly report that covered the authority’s transactions through Sept. 29. She noted that the annual interest on the authority’s ColoTrust account had increased from 0.02 percent to 0.28 percent, which she described as still "not much," earning a big laugh. Her unaudited financial statement was unanimously accepted.

District Manager Denise Denslow distributed copies of the draft 2010 BRRTA budget that she and Bartow had prepared for review by the directors. Denslow asked the board members to e-mail any questions or comments they might have to her. No action on the draft was expected or taken.

Denslow noted that BRRTA’s retail sales tax revenues have not been as high as had been projected when the $21.5 million in road construction bonds were issued, due to the lack of previously expected retail growth in Monument under the current economic conditions. She will be monitoring revenues and the minor expenses that are expected during 2010 to make sure bond payments are secure.

Construction update

Contract manager Bob Torres of Jacobs Engineering gave an update on the interchange project. He reported "two remaining glitches." A Qwest line was accidentally cut while it was being relocated, delaying the installation of curb, gutter, and sewer for the new westbound lanes of Baptist Road near the intersection with Jackson Creek Parkway. Some work remained to be done for installing curb, gutter, and median paving in this location.

However, Lawrence and Jacobs expected the project to be 99 percent complete by the end of October, three months ahead of schedule.

The other "glitch" is continuing—and probably will continue through March, April, or May—due to Valero Corp. not installing water and wastewater lines on its Diamond Shamrock truck stop property. This has delayed the removal of several septic tanks on the south boundary of the truck stop, which is preventing installation of curb, gutter, and sidewalk for the westbound lanes of Baptist Road to the west of the new southbound dual lane off-ramp. The delay will last until it is warm enough to install concrete again next spring.

A temporary "bituminous curb" along Valero’s new property line on Baptist Road will be installed to control drainage on the northwest corner of the interchange. This temporary curb will prevent direct right turns into the Valero station from Baptist Road at the previous Baptist Road access point.

Note: This is a problem that has not been resolved for about a year. The Town of Monument hired Jacobs to install a water main and sanitary sewer collection line for the benefit of BRRTA, Valero, and Triview Metropolitan District, the servicing special district for the vacant land between I-25 and Old Denver Highway to the north of Baptist Road. These installed water and wastewater lines run along the north side of Baptist Road from the Old Denver Highway intersection to the southwest corner of the Valero truck stop. The installations were completed by Jacobs many months ago to ensure that Valero had plenty of time to install and connect its own water and wastewater service lines to the building on its property as well as remove the failed septic systems that the county Health Department condemned last year. Removal of the septic systems must occur before Lawrence can install curb, gutter, and sidewalks along Valero’s Baptist Road frontage.

The authority’s attorney, Jim Hunsaker of Grimshaw and Harring, noted that this Valero delay might lead to a minor problem with the road construction bond agreements next year. These bond agreements require that the remaining money in the capital fund must be moved into the debt service fund by May 1, before the project is completed. Final invoices must be submitted before May 1. However, the weather should warm up before that, allowing prompt completion.

Torres reported that Lawrence had earned about $12,124,000 of the total Lawrence budget of $13,259,000. Lawrence has completed 91.4 percent of the work in 75 percent of the time allowed in the contract.

Mountain View Electric was scheduled to start moving the electric power poles that are in the middle of Valero’s new drainage ditch and driveway in mid-October. Mountain View has changed plans over the past three years and will now bury these power lines rather than install them on new poles. If this plan to bury the lines turns out to be cheaper than erecting new poles outside of the interchange right-of-way, BRRTA may get a refund from Mountain View Electric, most likely after May 1.

Torres and Denslow reported that Lawrence and Jacobs have no more work to be done in or near the protected Preble’s mouse habitat. Mountain View will be in or near mouse habitat when it buries its power lines after Nov. 1, and still will require a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit.

THF Realty access negotiations still stalled

Hunsaker and Torres reported that it had been two months since their last meeting with various representatives of THF Realty, owner of the former Foxworth Galbraith hardware store property. BRRTA has offered different options to THF regarding a new access road to its currently "landlocked" parcel since before Lawrence Construction was awarded the construction contract.

The new dual-lane northbound I-25 on-ramp is located where the Struthers frontage road used to be. This new construction has eliminated access to the only existing entrance from Baptist Road for the closed hardware store. Similarly, there is no longer any access to the THF property’s entrance from Higby Road along the remaining segment of Struthers Road to the north.

Torres noted that BRRTA had put in a curb cut on westbound Baptist Road for emergency access to the THF property. This curb cut is just east of the new northbound on-ramp. However, THF has rejected that option and has not taken down a small section of its white fence next to the new curb cut to allow fire or ambulance vehicles access to the store’s parking lot.

County Commissioner Dennis Hisey said that once Lawrence Construction concludes its work and removes its equipment from the Baptist Road interchange, BRRTA will not be able to build a temporary access road regardless of where THF may finally decide it wants it to be installed. The last BRRTA offer to build an access road for THF has expired, and the board members said they have already made all the offers BRRTA’s attorneys feel are necessary to resolve the emergency vehicle access issue.

The meeting adjourned at 2:52 p.m.

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The next meeting, which includes the 2010 budget and appropriation hearings, will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 in Monument’s Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Information: 884-8017.

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October Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

October was quite a month weatherwise around the region, with three big snowfalls and several days of cold and fog. Precipitation and snow for the month were above normal, and temperatures were way below average. In fact, this was one of the coldest Octobers we’ve seen in the last hundred years, as the average monthly temperature was 7° below normal. The low temperature for the month exceeded the 100-year return frequency value and the high temperature equaled the 100-year return frequency value.

The month started off quiet and cool, with clear to mostly clear skies noted from the 1st through the 3rd, then some low clouds and fog on the 4th. A dry cold front moved through late on the last day of September and sent temperatures tumbling for the beginning of October. Overnight lows dropped well below freezing, into the low and mid-20s from the 1st to the 3rd, with lows in the 30s on the 4th and 5th. Highs only reached into the low to mid-50s each day as well, even with sunny skies, definitely providing us with a "fall" feel to the air.

The first full week of October started off quietly enough, with mostly clear skies and seasonal temperatures. Highs went from the mid-50s on the 5th and 6th to the upper 60s on the 7th as wind kicked up from the west/southwest ahead of an incoming storm. Most of the energy with this storm stayed to our north, but a strong cold front did race through early on the 8th. Upslope flow stuck around through the weekend, but the moisture was very shallow. This allowed for plenty of low clouds, fog, and flurries with a nice coating of rime ice building up on all things exposed to the winds, but no big snowfall for us.

Temperatures were at record low levels for two days, with record lows and record low maximum temperatures throughout the region from Cheyenne through Pueblo. Highs barely managed to hit the low 20s, with overnight temperatures hitting the low teens. The deeper moisture was just a little way off, with Denver and other areas north picking up snow, including 1-2 feet of snow in southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. Clearing finally began to move back in during the afternoon of the 11th, giving a nice respite from the cold and clouds.

The middle two weeks of October included the warmest days of the month along with another shot of snow. There was a period of dry, sunny weather centered on the 19th and cold, snowy conditions the following week. The week of the 12th started off quiet enough, with high temperatures rising from the upper 50s to the low 70s by the 14th. A couple of the mornings did start off with some areas of low clouds and fog, as abundant low-level moisture was left behind from the week before.

Clear skies and quiet conditions took hold the next few days, with highs at a seasonal normal from the 15th to the 17th when a ridge of high pressure moved over the region. Westerly winds kicked in the next few days and, when combined with the abundant sunshine, allowed temperatures to soar to near record levels in the upper 70s on the 18th. As usual however, the strong winds were out ahead of a storm system that was rapidly developing over the Intermountain West. The first effects of this storm were felt on the 20th, when an initial cold front rolled through around 1 p.m. Clouds quickly thickened and lowered during the day with light rain and drizzle at times.

Then the heart of the storm moved through as an area of low pressure set up shop in a favored location for us, right over the New Mexico-Colorado border and into southeastern Colorado. This allowed 5-8 inches of wind-driven snow to pile up on the 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, our first good snowstorm of the season. Temperatures were chilly as well, with highs not getting above freezing with the snow and wind on the 21st. We did see a brief break and return to quiet weather from the afternoon of the 22nd through the 24th, but Mother Nature was just "reloading."

Another powerful but quick-moving storm moved through on the 25th. This storm brought several hours of light snow and chilly temperatures during the morning and afternoon of the 25th, and a second surge dropped a quick 2-4 inches during the evening. Temperatures were again chilly as well, with highs hitting only the mid- to upper 30s. Clear skies quickly returned for Monday, and with the fresh snow, morning temperatures were cold, with single digits for some of us.

The quiet weather didn’t last long, as the next storm—the biggest of the month—was developing over the Intermountain West. This system began to affect the region late on the 27th as low clouds, fog, and flurries developed behind the initial cold front. Snow quickly developed in earnest during the early morning hours of the 28th and continued through the evening of the 29th.

This storm was a slow mover, which allowed it to accumulate quite a bit of snow, with 10-20 inches pilling up around the region. And when combined with strong winds at times, especially on the 29th, near-blizzard conditions developed. Of course this made for some tough travel and we didn’t get the worst of it. Many areas from Denver through Fort Collins and up into the foothills received 2-4 feet of snow, and most roadways across the eastern plains from Limon northward were closed.

Quiet weather quickly returned for the last two days of the month, with mostly sunny skies and moderating temperatures. And because it was still October, the sun did a good job of melting some of the snow as high temperatures jumped back through the 40s and 50s just in time for trick-or-treaters.

A look ahead

November can be an active weather month for the Tri-Lakes region, with winter conditions often experienced. However, many Novembers have just a touch of snow and many mild, sunny days. High temperatures average in the upper 40s early in the month to low 40s by the end, with overnight lows often dipping into the teens and single digits. Most years, the first sub-zero temperatures are recorded in November as well. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

October 2009 Weather Statistics

Average High 50.8° (-9.2) 100-year return frequency value max 67.7° min 50.7°
Average Low 24.5° (-5.2) 100-year return frequency value max 36.8° min 26.4°
Monthly Precipitation 2.05" (+0.45") 100-year return frequency value max 4.63" min 0.18"
Monthly Snowfall 29.2" (+15.4")
Highest Temperature 77° on the 18th
Lowest Temperature 8° on the 26th
Season to Date Snow 30.7" (+16.5") (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 9.85" (+0.05") (the pecip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 841 (+229)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)

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

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

Heartfelt thanks from the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club held the annual Wine and Roses, a wine-tasting event with a silent auction, on Oct. 23. The funds raised from this event are returned to the School District 38 community in the form of grants to deserving public service, educational, and nonprofit organizations.

We would like to especially thank Dirk Stamp of the Wine Seller for arranging all the wine vendors that participated, and the Air Force Academy for their assistance in the logistics and set-up of our event. A very special thank you goes to the wonderful local restaurants that provided all our delicious food: MoZaic, The Picnic Basket, It’s A Grind, La Zingara, Sundance Mountain Lodge, Texas Roadhouse, Diamond Creations Catering, Domino’s Pizza, Hollywood Theaters, Temptations Chocolate Fountain, Bella Panini, Bayou BBQ, Endangered Species Chocolate, The Wisdom Tea House, Sugarland Sodas, Chili’s Restaurant, Natural Grocers, and Rosie’s Diner.

We would also like to thank our Gold Sponsor, The Gazette, and these additional sponsors: Ent Federal Credit Union, American National Bank, Monument Reprographics, Moeller Custom Properties, Peoples National Bank, Louise Watson–Watson Recruiting, First National Bank of Monument, Tri-Lakes Printing, John Eyer–Peak Value$, Schmallen Home Organization & Window Coverings, Patrick Hall–State Farm Insurance, Jesus Damian, TLC Repair Shop, and Elizabeth Bryson for their generous contributions to this event.

Also, thanks to our women’s club volunteers and local Serteens from both Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge high schools; to husband-helpers Brian Bush, Wayne Claybaugh, Mike Jennings, Bob Maixner, Gary Simms, and Eric Tanner; and to The Little Flower Shop, The Tribune, Our Community News, Snippetz, and the Woodmoor/Gleneagle/Jackson Creek Monthly newsletters.

Our deepest appreciation to the local businesses and individuals that provided items for our silent auction: The Little Flower Shop, Mountain Boy Sledworks, Eagle Wine & Spirits, The Club at Flying Horse, Girl of the Golden West, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Mike Keough–Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire Protection District, Mozaic, B&E Filling Station, Amuze Bistro, Monument Police Department, John Eddy–Sky Sox Baseball, All Things Pawsible, Two Timers Fine Consign, Sherri Fogel–Silpada Designs Jewelry, Dr. Venus Moshrefi-Holistic Healing Health, Gary & Peggy Wilmoth, Dirk & Laura Stamp, Joe Bohler–Places In Time Fine Art, Sandy Feldkamp, Dana Franzen CPA, and Carl and Maria Tilberry.

We would like to thank our celebrity wine pourers for the time they donated: Captain Dan–Klite FM, John Karrol, Heather Skold, Monsignor Bob Jaeger, Mayor Travis Easton, Mayor John Cressman, Jim Maguire, Dr. Ray Blanch, and Mike Boyle.

Lisa Simms and Gerrie Maixner, co-chairs for Wine and Roses, and the entire Tri-Lakes Women’s Club are very grateful for the continuing support of our local community that has enabled us to grant almost $550,000 back to the community.

Ann Sentman and Suzanne D’Innocenzo
Co-chairs, Publicity

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Praise for the Woodmoor Improvement Association

We are long-term residents of Woodmoor, and we want to express our appreciation to the Woodmoor Improvement Association Board for their positive hard work for our community. We feel that their ideas of community get-togethers, walking trails, and a possible dog park are all great and will help make our community a better place to live. Thank you.

Don and Deanne Graham

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Articles called misleading

On page 16 of the Oct. 3 issue of Our Community News ("Gingrich appointed to succeed Miller," Monument Board of Trustees, Sept. 21), under "Opening Public Comments," the reporter misquoted me, giving readers the impression we misled our donors. He overlooked the fact that donation information reported to Palmer Lake (Town Council) on Sept. 10 was for "so far in 2009" only. Donation information reported to the Monument BOT on Sept. 21 was total to date from when the "program was officially started in September of 2006." Hence the big difference in amounts.

In addition, the focus of our appearance at the Sept. 10 Palmer Lake Town Council meeting (same issue, page 20) was cash donations to the Senior Alliance for 2009 to date. In that context, the council asked if we had received a cash donation this year from the Town of Monument. The answer to that question was no, not yet. We didn’t learn until a week later that Monument had $2,000 budgeted for the Alliance.

This article left readers with the impression that the Alliance doesn’t recognize the prior cash donation and the many non-cash contributions made by the Town of Monument to the Tri-Lakes senior community. This is absolutely not true. The Alliance and the senior community sincerely appreciate Monument’s many contributions, including use of the Town Hall for the Golden Circle meal program—making arrangements so that these meals could continue after the town moved to the new town hall—donation of land for a senior retirement residence, and much more.

The Alliance is proud to have the Town of Monument as one of its partners in the Senior Citizen Program and looks forward to a long and productive relationship.

We have been very appreciative of the exposure the OCN has given our efforts to build a credible senior citizen program here in the Tri-Lakes, and we know these were honest mistakes. We make it a practice to give any media representatives present copies of our prepared remarks just to try to minimize mistakes like this.

Chuck Roberts
Director, Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance

Editor’s note

Having closely reviewed the recordings from the meetings in the preparation of the two articles referenced, OCN stands by the accuracy of its reporting of what Roberts and the trustees said during the Sept. 10 Palmer Lake Town Council meeting and the Sept. 21 Monument Board of Trustees meeting.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Gifts that keep on giving

By the staff at Covered Treasures

If your Christmas list includes booklovers, you’ll want to consider some exciting new titles available for all ages and interests. Why not choose a gift that keeps on giving, page after page after page?

Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies
Selected by Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton (Little, Brown & Co.), $24.99

Julie Andrews and her daughter hand-selected a wonderful mix of their most cherished poems, songs, and lullabies in this rich and diverse poetry collection. James A. McMullan’s stunning watercolor paintings bring to life 150 treasured works, with 21 of them read aloud by Andrews and Hamilton on the accompanying CD.

Ranches of Colorado
By John Fielder (Westcliffe Publishers), $95

For two years, acclaimed Colorado nature photographer John Fielder focused his camera on 50 of the state’s most beautiful working ranches. The result is a classical coffee table book including 375 incredible photographs and essays based on interviews with 10 ranch families, written by the late Rocky Mountain News reporter James Meadow. Proceeds from the sale of each copy benefit the Colorado Land Trust community, a group of nonprofit organizations that work with ranchers to protect their ranches forever from development.

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America
By Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin), $27

The National Book Award-winning author of The Worst Hard Time brings to life the epic story of how the largest-ever forest fire in America led to the creation of our national parks system.

Across the Endless River
By Thad Carhart (Doubleday), $26.95

The central character of this historical novel is Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau, the guides and translators of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It includes his intriguing sojourn as a young man in 1820s Paris.

Ten Little Counting Books
By A. Atkins, S. Rescek, J. East, and C. Reasoner (School Specialty Publishing), $14.95

Titles in this delightful series for young children include: Ten Little Bears, Ten Little Fairies, Ten Little Mermaids, and Ten Little Racing Cars. With lively illustrations, rhyming tales, 3-D characters, and fun pop-ups, these books entertain and encourage youngsters to learn to count to 10.

The Silver Spoon for Children: Favourite Italian Recipes
By Amanda Grant ( Phaldon Press), $19.95

This new volume contains delicious, authentic, yet simple recipes rewritten for children from The Silver Spoon, the best-selling classic of Italian cooking. The entries were adapted and tested by an expert in children’s nutrition.

The Maze Runner
By James Dashner (Delacorte Books), $16.99

In this young adult book, Thomas awakens trapped in the Glade, and his memory has been erased. He remembers only his name. But a cryptic message from the outside world could help Thomas to unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind and help him find his way to freedom.

So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week
By Ellie Krieger (John Wiley & Sons), $29.95

From the host of the Food Network’s "Healthy Appetite" comes a gorgeous cookbook that reflects an innovative sensibility for creating light and healthy dishes that are a pleasure to prepare for even the busiest cook.

The Children’s Book
By A. S. Byatt (Alfred A. Knopf), $26.95

From the Booker Prize-winning author of Possession comes a spellbinding novel that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years. The story centers on a famous children’s book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves.

9 Dragons
By Michael Connelly (Little, Brown & Co.), $27.99

For mystery lovers, LAPD detective Harry Bosch is off on the fastest, fiercest, and highest-stakes case of his life. The murder of John Li, an L.A. liquor store owner Bosch has known for years, hits Harry hard, and he promises Li’s family that he’ll find the killer. He brings in a detective from the Asian Gang Unit, uncovers a link to a Hong Kong triad, and instantly, his world explodes.

As you make your gift list and check it twice, why not consider a book—the present that can be opened again and again?

Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: Water now to prevent plant damage

By Woody Woodworth

It’s colder, and the wind has a whisper of winter as we head into mid-fall. The leaves are now off the trees, the days are shorter and gardening activities are at a standstill. Or are they?

People who have lived in the Tri-Lakes region for a few winters know that this time of year brings many duties to the seasoned gardener. Many of us are taking the time now to check our landscape and water the plants that are dry. By taking a few minutes now and throughout the fall, you can help avoid "winter kill" on many of your trees, shrubs and perennials.

A good way to explain winter kill is to use the evergreen as an example. Many times in drier years, they appear to be growing well in early spring and even begin to show some new growth, but in late spring and early summer, they begin to die back. This condition is often related to the lack of moisture they received in fall and early winter.

You may ask, "But didn’t we just get a little bit of snow? Or you may be saying, "It rained a week or so ago." Although both of those may be true, the past several weeks of warmer, windy, and dry weather can quickly deplete the soil of moisture and put plant roots at risk of dehydration.

Many of the shallow-rooted plants are particularly susceptible to die back. Pay particular attention to the evergreens such as junipers, spruce and firs, but remember the maples, aspens and flowering crab trees will need supplemental water, too. Check your lawn occasionally and be sure to provide some moisture as long as the ground remains unfrozen.

Other plants in the yard may be in a totally different micro-climate from the rest of your yard and may require additional attention as well. For instance, if you have perennials or shrubs close to a stucco-sided home, a heat zone is created that is drier than other areas under shade. That particular zone may not freeze all winter, and plants in that area will require more water. The same is to be expected in areas on the south side of your home. They will dry out faster than other areas.

Winter watering is really quite easy. Get out a hose and attach a small sprinkler to the end. Set it on only the spots that need water and move it frequently where water is needed—mostly near root systems. Water for only 15-20 minutes in one spot—that is usually enough. Be sure to wait until the warmth of the day is upon us and allow two to three hours of daylight to let the water soak in. Water every three or four weeks whenever the temperatures are in the upper 40s to lower 50s, and your plants will reap the benefit next spring.

Woody Woodworth is a member of the Garden Centers of Colorado and owns High Country Home and Garden in downtown Monument.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Northern saw-whet owl

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Below: Photo of juvenile Northern Saw-Whet Owl taken in May 2008 by Cyndee Henson. 

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By Elizabeth Hacker

One of the perks of writing this column is hearing from residents like Cyndee Henson of Palmer Lake, who e-mailed me photos of three juvenile northern saw-whet owls she discovered in May 2008. Cyndee wrote, "I first heard a noise that sounded like a gas leak or shush-ing or pishhh in a couple trees in my yard around 9 p.m. For more than a week, the little owls moved to a different tree each evening and I was able to take pictures. I also took a photo of the mother." Given it was May and these juveniles where still together with their parents, we thought that they may have recently fledged from their nest in Glen Park.

A diminutive predator, the northern saw-whet owl is one of the smallest forest-dwelling owls in North America. Cyndee has a pet-sitting business and enjoys observing all kings of animals. She said she may not have noticed the owls if she hadn’t taken her dog out for a walk. Though saw-whet owls commonly perch in the forests of rural and urban areas, few people see them. Cyndee said the little owls were in plain view, stood perfectly still, and didn’t fly away when she approached them.

As with many predator species, the female is slightly larger than the male and may reach 8 inches in length with a wing span of 20 inches. I hesitate to say it’s about the size of a robin, because although it weighs only 3 ounces, it appears much broader than a songbird. This is because owls have broad wings and fluffy feathers that allow them to silently fly and land on their prey.

The saw-whet’s facial disc is a grayish color with a white V-shaped pattern of feathers that rises from the top of its black beak and terminates above its eyes. It has a large round head with big bright orange-yellow eyes. Owl eyes face forward, giving them binocular vision and greater depth perception. Unlike many owl species, the saw-whet has no ear tufts, which aren’t really ears but tufts of feathers. An owl’s ears are not symmetrical like human ears and are located behind the facial disc. An owl’s hearing is so keen that it can detect the movement of a tiny mouse under three feet of snow!

Like other owl species, the saw-whet’s eyes are fixed in its sockets so it must move its head when it wants to look around. It can rotate its head more than 180 degrees, so it can see from all directions.

The dark, curved beak is small and hooked, and well adapted to feeding. Their preferred diet includes mice, chipmunks, shrews, and large insects. Owls are nocturnal and hunt from dusk to dawn. The northern saw-whet owl hunts from the lower branches of dense trees or underbrush. It captures its prey with its sharp talons, kills it with its beak, and takes the meal to its perch in the upper branches of a tree or stores it in a cache, generally located in an abandoned woodpecker cavity.

During the winter when the temperature drops and the cache freezes, the saw-whet owl thaws its food by sitting on it. The food is torn into bits and swallowed in small pieces. Owls usually consume all of their prey and expel bits of undigested hair and bone in pellets. But when hunting is good and mice abound, the saw-whet will eat only the heads and leave the bodies on the ground.

Most of the year, the saw-whet owl is solitary and hides in dense forests and underbrush. When it is spotted, it doesn’t move. Cyndee noted that she could have reached out and touched these owls because they stood perfectly still and were curiously watching her. Because she knew that human contact with wild owls can have unintended consequences, she resisted her urge to handle them and took some awesome photos.

Saw-whet owls breed once a year between March and July, when the owls become social and vocalize. Male owls vocalize to attract a female and establish a territory. Females respond and both continue calling. Once a bond is established, the pair will remain together for the duration of the breeding season. Given the nomadic nature of this owl, lifelong pair bonds are unlikely but not impossible.

After the courtship, the female establishes a nest in an abandoned tree cavity where she will lay three to seven ping-pong ball-size eggs. The female incubates the eggs while the male brings her food. The eggs hatch about a month later in the order they were laid. Often only one or two chicks survive and birth order plays a significant role in their survival. Both parents take turns feeding the chicks for about three weeks. The parents leave the nest but continue to feed the adolescents until they learn to fly. This all takes place in about two months. It is amazing that these downy chicks will develop into completely mature independent birds within eight weeks.

Some populations of northern saw-whet owls move about within their breeding range, while others migrate to warmer climates. Their life expectancy is 5 to 7 years in the wild, but survival is a challenge and their numbers are declining. In addition to habitat loss, they compete for nesting cavities with aggressive birds like starlings and are preyed upon by larger raptors like the red tail hawk and great horned owl.

This little owl is so cute that it could be cast in a Disney movie, but that name "saw-whet" would have to go! Where did it originate? As with many birds, the person who discovers it generally names it. In this case it was named by a member of the Audubon Society who thought the owls’ distress call resembled the sound of a saw being sharpened on a whet stone, thus the name "saw-whet." Perhaps the creative geniuses at Disney will come up with a more appropriate name.

Other than birding, one of my favorite things is buying a new book at Covered Treasures Bookstore. A few months, ago I purchased "Wesley the Owl" by Stacy O’Brien, and this true story about a biology student who rescues an injured barn owl was a compelling read filled with interesting discoveries about a remarkable bird. I highly recommend it for adults and children. I read portions of it to my 7-year-old book buddy as well as to my husband Randy, and both thoroughly enjoyed it. Be prepared, there will be many laughs as well as a few tears.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist in the Tri-Lakes area. Her bird prints are available on her website, www.ElizabethHackerArt.com, with proceeds benefiting habitat preservation. E-mail her at elizabethhacker66@yahoo.com with your questions and bird stories.

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Art Matters: Is your wish list ready?

By Janet Sellers

No, I am not necessarily talking about a wish list for "Giftmas." I am talking about your daily or life wish list. How is your stress level? How is your friend and fun level? How is your to-do list vs. fun-to-do list?

Well, of course, I have some artful answers to these questions. First off is, a daily romp into artful living. You can stay at home and do this if you like, or meet others and do it, too. The simplest method is to keep a sketchbook, and I’ll tell you how to do that later in this column. I’d like to start with this idea, because it is the foundation of most art works. Visiting an art gallery or a museum for inspiration is great, but having a friend or two (especially new art friends) and a time to meet is also fruitful.

Art enrichment is a good stress reliever for humans of all ages, and has been for millenia. Here’s why: Art activates the creative part of our minds; our creative mind finds solutions to problems and issues, and often in that process relieves stress.

Stress relief is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself or someone else. All for the price of a pencil and something to draw upon. You can draw a line 35 miles long with one humble number 2 yellow pencil. So even with half a pencil, you can draw a line almost 18 miles long. I suppose it depends on how closely you put the lines to determine how much paper that would use, but a new sheet of paper isn’t the only medium for drawing.

Pencils can write on tile, rocks, wood, stone, walls, concrete, and more. Pencils can write upside down, right side up, and under water. Because a pencil is made from the mineral graphite, even your signature in pencil will outlive ink, watercolor, and other art mediums. So grab a pencil and you can get started in sketching any time.

Here are some ways to kick off your art life and destress for the upcoming, busy winter season. You can be an artist, or just look like one, pencil in hand, and join the many ways that artist of all ages stay agile in mind and spirit. You can destress any time of day with art.

Join others in the arts here in our community. Here are some I’m going to visit this month:

Palmer Lake Art Group

These dedicated artists and art lovers are one of the backbones of our local art scene. Fortunately for us, the Palmer Lake Art Group is open to new membership in all art interest levels. Even more, they support their artists in numerous successful art exhibits and sales, and offer local students financial support in scholarship funds every year. Few arts organizations have the strength and providence to do so much in our area as this dedicated group has done for decades.

The Palmer Lake Art Group holds a meeting on the second Saturday of each month. The meetings start with a short mixer time at 9:30 a.m., which is followed by a business meeting at 10 a.m., after which there is usually a program covering some aspect of art or art business. These programs are provided by local members and by invited guests.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA)

Suzanne Jenne and Diane Cornish, opening receptions, Saturday, Nov. 7, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Jenne, one of the Resident Artists at TLCA, will be exhibiting at the Resident Artist Exhibit at TLCA in December. Don’t miss this unique experience—it’s a must! Suzanne’s exhibit reflects on life, art, food, and cooking in the French countryside. Her show features paintings, photographs, handcrafted items, original recipes and a French "marché" (market) where gift items appropriate for the holidays will be for sale.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts also is proud to exhibit the one-woman show by Diane Cornish. The Resident Artist travels through time as she shares and celebrates her inner images, heartfelt observations, memories, dreams, and visions.

The Storys will be the music entertainment for the evening.

Now it’s your turn

As promised, here are some tips to get you going in your own art and sketching on your own. Consider joining a real, live class or art group. (Even watch online; youtube.com will work in a pinch to get your pencil moving and your mind out of a box). You can get started any time, right here in Tri-Lakes, with your art efforts. And, to make it more fun for everybody, e-mail us a photo—a favorite you did within this sketching series—for a follow-up here in Art Matters (sign and date your sketch) to kick off the New Year in January 2010. Ready, go!

How to draw masterfully in only six weeks

The discipline of doing the drawing from masterworks is important for many reasons, one being that it will get you started!

Step 1. Materials can be simply pencil and paper; be sure to keep them together in a three-ring binder or notebook, and date each one. Step 2. Use superb examples and go where the art is: an art class, online, books with famous masters (Michaelangelo, Ingres, Sargent, etc.) as well as your imagination. For the first two weeks, limit your efforts to making a 3-by-3-inch section that interests you. Continue with one-minute drawings for a total of 10 minutes and 10 sketches of this sort each day; a maximum of 12 minutes and 12 drawings each day. Step 3. You’ll have up to 500 drawings by the end of just six weeks. Spectacular!

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

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PLAG Craft Fair, Oct. 3-4

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Below: A festive atmosphere surrounded the Palmer Lake Art Group’s (PLAG) 36th annual Christmas Craft Fair held October 3 and 4 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Anne Shimek is one of the few PLAG members who has participated in all 36 fairs. On how the craft fair got started Shimek said, "This (craft fair) started out as a way for artists in the group to have a show and it is now one of our biggest fundraisers." A portion of the proceeds received from the sales goes towards PLAG’s art scholarship fund, which provides financial assistance to help school district 38 art students further their art education. As holiday songs played in the background, browsers and buyers had a variety of crafts, including pottery, jewelry, basketry, apparel, and paintings, to view and choose from along with a selection of baked goods. The show was coordinated by PLAG member Margarete Seagraves. Photo by David Futey.

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TLCA Annual Member Show

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Below: The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Annual Member Show and Silent Auction took place during the month of October. Ronny Walker’s sculpture, Choices, was selected for Best of Show while Carol Naylor’s watercolor batik piece Lady in the Morning shown above received First Place. Walker and Naylor were two of the many TLCA member artists who displayed 153 works including oil paintings, mixed-media, photography, and sculptures. Artists donated 29 works to the silent auction. Proceeds from the auction sales will be used to benefit the Center. The show was chaired by Sandra Kinchen. Photo by David Futey.

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Snapshots of Our Community

John Adams Return a Rocky Mountain High for TLCA audience, Oct. 3

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Below: John Adams at TLCA Oct. 3. Photo by David Futey.

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By David Futey

John Adams, skillfuly accompanied by Willie Hoevers, Tim Stroud, and Randy Utterback, returned to the Tri-Lakes Center of the Arts (TLCA) stage on October 3, paying tribute to John Denver’s music and the person behind the songs. Adams, who is from Holland, became influenced by Denver’s music after hearing "Take Me Home, Country Road" in 1972.

In a pre-concert interview, Adams said "John’s music is about everyday living and people recognize something from their own lives" in the songs. Adams added, "People come up to me (after concerts) to tell their story, usually conveying something very private" as the audience members connect with Denver’s music and Adams’ powerful performance of it.

Not only has Adams been influenced by Denver’s music but also his humanitarian efforts. Denver started or was involved in such charitable organizations as the Hunger Project, Plant-it 2000, and the WindStar Foundation. In turn, Adams has been an Ambassador for Ronald McDonald Children Homes and also a UNICEF teacher for seven years.

Through the music and stories of his personal relationship with Denver, Adams tries to convey to the audience that "John showed what one man can do." Adams added that it is "not how much you are doing as long as you act," a message that can be heard through any number of Denver’s songs.

Information on John Adams can be found at www.johnadamsmusic.com

Information about upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Coffee and Chatter, Oct. 5

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Below: Pictured (L to R): Margaret Williams, Joan Shotts, Sandy Liston, Carolyn Hodges, Dr. Penelope Allen, Fran Richardson, Lorrie Jaeger, Shirley Price, and Francine Boisclair. Photo by RaeJean Claybaugh.

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On Oct. 5, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) held its first Coffee and Chatter of the year. The Coffee and Chatter group was formed to provide a casual atmosphere for members to get together, drink coffee, and chat. They are held at 10 a.m. the first Monday of each month at different members’ homes. The next one will be held Monday, December 7. For more information contact interestgroups@tlwc.net

The TLWC is a non-profit organization that has been serving the needs of the Tri-Lakes Community for more than 40 years. To learn more about the club, please visit www.tlwc.net or send an e-mail to membership@tlwc.net

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Fire Prevention Presentation at LPES, Oct. 8

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Below: During Fire Prevention Week, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Prevention District conducted presentations at some of the D-38 Schools including Lewis-Palmer Elementary School (LPES). Left to right in this photo taken at LPES Oct. 8 are Rick McNew, on loan from the Colorado Springs Fire Department; Julie Murray, LPES first grade teacher; Morgan Cudney, paramedic; Cindy Desautel, LPES first grade teacher; and Mo Ayala, firefighter and primary presenter. All the firefighters are stationed at TLMFPD Station 3. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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Wells Fargo presents grant to Senior Alliance, Oct. 15

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Below (L to R): Wells Fargo Colorado Springs Business Banking Manager, Pete Vujcich; Tri-Lakes HAP director, David Betzler; Tri-Lakes HAP Board President, Mark Ennis; Wells Fargo Personal Banker, Debbie Graham; Wells Fargo Colorado Springs Business Banking Administration Manager, Marcia Harris; Wells Fargo Colorado Springs Senior Business Relationship Manager, Jay McKeown. Photo provided by HAP.

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The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) received a $1,500 grant from the Wells Fargo Community Assistance Fund. The grant was presented by Steve Helbing, Wells Fargo Regional President, to Tri-Lakes HAP Board President, Mark Ennis. In thanking Mr. Helbing and Wells Fargo, Mr. Ennis explained the grant will help sustain and expand HAP’s Senior Alliance Program by contributing to the Senior Meals service project. It will also help strengthen and expand the Senior Citizens Center programs at Lewis Palmer High School, a partnership between Tri-Lakes HAP and School District 38. 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.

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First Woodmoor Fall Festival held Oct. 18

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Photos by Elizabeth Hacker

According to festival organizers, over 400 people attended the 1st Woodmoor Fall Festival. The event collected a large amount of canned food for Tri-Lakes Cares.

Below: Jason Miller of The Genuines helped provide entertainment.

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Right: Goodman and Sons gave scenic rides.

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Landmark restaurant damaged by fire reopens, Oct. 23

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Below: The Coffee Cup Restaurant in downtown Monument, which was closed after a fire in June, reopened for business on Oct. 23. Wendy and Jeremy Diggins have owned the restaurant for nearly 10 years of its 31-year existence, and it had been a daily gathering place for many city employees. To celebrate the reopening, the owners donated the profits from that day’s proceeds, $1,053, to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District to show their appreciation of the firefighters for saving their building and minimizing overall damage. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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Empty Bowl filled with compassion for those in need

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Photos by David Futey

Below: The Lewis-Palmer High School cafeteria was filled with attendees of the 2009 Empty Bowl. The Silent Auction, back along the outside wall, had 153 donations that were combined to make 71 bid items. 

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Below: Empty Bowl attendees examine wooden and fired pottery bowls available for selection. Over 1,009 bowls were donated by wood turners and potters from the Tri-Lakes and Colorado Springs areas. 

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Below: Bonnie Irish (center), Catering Manager for Lewis-Palmer School District 38, accepts a plaque from (L to R) Bonnie Biggs, Empty Bowl Coordinator, and Wayne Claybaugh, President of the Monument Hill Sertoma. The plaque recognized her efforts and those of the Lewis-Palmer kitchen staff who worked all day and then served at the Empty Bowl. Lewis-Palmer School District 38 received a plaque for its support of the event and Debbie Swanson, Executive Director of Tri-Lakes Cares, received a mock, oversized check to note the donation the organization would eventually receive once the event’s donations and expenses were resolved. 

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Below: After a very long day, Bonnie Irish, Lewis-Palmer High School Catering Manager, poses with kitchen staff and Lewis-Palmer High School Serteens who helped serve the over 700 attendees of the 2009 Empty Bowl. Irish and staff served a variety soup including Beef and Cabbage, Green Chile, Black Bean, Santa Fe Chicken, and Egg Drop. 

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By David Futey

On Oct. 7, over 700 Tri-Lakes area residents and others turned out to support the 2009 Empty Bowl Dinner held at Lewis-Palmer High School. As with previous Empty Bowls, proceeds from this 19th edition of the event went to support Tri-Lakes Cares and the services it provides to those in need. Through early October, Tri-Lakes Cares provided assistance to over 5,000 families, already far exceeding the number of families served throughout the entire 2008 year.

Sponsored by the Monument Hill Sertoma, Lewis-Palmer High School and Palmer Ridge High School Serteen Clubs and Lewis-Palmer School District 38, the Empty Bowl requires a significant volunteer and community effort for it to succeed, and that support only seems to grow each year. This year a collection of 28 individuals and groups, including local potters, art departments, art schools, and art stores, donated 1,009 wooden and fired pottery bowls.

Along with the support received from the art community, 16 area churches and 40 businesses and individuals contributed in various way to the event. A number of volunteers were needed to organize and serve at the event. Sertoman Bonnie Biggs coordinated the event with a 12-member committee. Biggs, along with 22 Sertomans, 60 Serteens, volunteers from Tri-Lakes Cares, and Lewis-Palmer cafeteria and custodial staff, worked together to serve and deliver an enjoyable event.

Keeping with tradition, every adult and child attending the event could take home a bowl. Over the years, and as bowl collections have grown, a bit of excitement and anticipation mounts when the bowl selection begins. Palmer Lake resident and potter Anne Shimek was surprised by the rush for bowls at the event’s start. Shimek said "I had 50 (bowls) made, and they were gone in the first 15 minutes."

Bowls not selected by the end of the evening were then made available for purchase. After selecting their bowls, attendees then had their choice of a variety of soups, breads, and desserts. After dinner, attendees could browse and bid on a variety of items at the silent auction.

The silent auction, coordinated by Barbara Vermeersch, had 153 local businesses, artists, and others donate services, artwork and other items. The donated items were then merged into 71 bid options. A preliminary accounting showed $5,000 in final bids received at the auction.

For information on Tri-Lakes Cares and how to donate to assist those in the community, go to www.tri-lakescares.org

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Hundreds contribute to Wine and Roses

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Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below (L to R): Those in charge of orchestrating the event were Co-presidents Yvonne Jennings and RaeJean Claybaugh, Co-presidents-elect Lisa Simms and Gerrie Maixner, and co-publicity chairs Ann Sentman and Suzanne D‘Innocenzo.

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Below: Dirk Stamp, owner of the Wine Seller, arranged for the wines and accepted orders for future delivery. 

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By Harriet Halbig

The seventh annual Wine and Roses charity event sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club was held on the evening of Oct. 23 at the Blue and Silver Press Box on the Air Force Academy campus.

Over 300 tickets were sold for the event, which featured food from local restaurants, celebrity pourers from local media, the Monument Fire Protection District and the Board of Education, and a silent auction of food- and wine-related items. Proceeds from the event will benefit local schools, police and fire departments, and nonprofit groups.

Dirk Stamp of The Wine Seller arranged for the wine and took orders from those attending who wished to enjoy their selections at home.

Members of the local Serteens assisted with the event.

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October and November library events

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Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Golden Retriever Sadie, Laura Johnson, Muriel Evans, Newfoundland Molly, Jim Reed, Labrador Hula, and Tina Johnson look forward to seeing you in Monument for Paws to Read.

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Below: Andrew Riviere and his mom Michelle enjoyed Cosmic Bling, a program which was part of All Pikes Peak Reads.

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By Harriet Halbig

October at the library featured a variety of programs associated with All Pikes Peak Reads, a community program featuring a selection of books for all ages on a futuristic theme.

Late October saw Not So Scary Stories for the younger set and Stories in the Dark for those 8 and older.

The library was represented at a number of community events during October, including the Tri-Lakes Health Fair and the Y’s Creepy Crawl on Halloween morning. We enjoy meeting our patrons at these events and introducing new residents to our services and programs.

For November in Monument, remember that Paws to Read is now offered twice a week, on Mondays from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity to read to this patient audience.

On Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1:30 meet tarantulas and other creepy crawlies, featuring Rowan Monks and a variety of insects. Meet them up close or keep your distance, but there is a lot to learn.

November’s Read It Before You See It program features Fantastic Mr. Fox on Nov. 18 from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Come for a fun discussion, an activity, popcorn, and a drawing for a free movie ticket (must be present to win). This program is for ages 7 to 12. Registration is required. Call the branch at 488-2370 or drop by the desk.

For our teen patrons in grades 7 through 10, invite your friends from the werewolf or vampire clans to attend a New Moon kickoff party, in anticipation of the premiere of The Twilight Saga: New Moon movie on Nov. 20. Compete with your friends in a game of New Moon Jeopardy to win tickets to the movie and other New Moon prizes. There will be music, fun, and Bella’s birthday cake. The fun begins on Saturday, Nov. 14 from 4 to 5:30. No registration required.

For our adult patrons, there will be a special program on Wednesday, Nov. 11 from noon until 1 p.m. featuring the Pillar Players. This is a chance to "watch" a radio show as the players perform My Favorite Husband using sound effects from times gone by. A light lunch will be served.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program refresher course will be offered on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Charge for the eight-hour course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Class size is limited and registration is required.

For those interested in genealogy, there will be a class on accessing the free geology websites offered by the library on Friday, Nov. 13, from 10:30 a.m. until noon.

The Monumental Readers book group will discuss Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton on Friday, Nov. 20 at 10 a.m. New members are welcome.

On the wall during November will be My Watercolor Pastime by Sharon Fong, a 24-year-old resident whose watercolors feature Asian themes, aspens and abstracts.

In the display case will be Aquamarine Swirl, a collection of glassware from the 1930s.

Palmer Lake events

The Palmer Lake Branch reminds patrons that Paws to Read is now available twice a month. In November, the dogs will be in the branch on Saturday the 7th from 11 a.m. until noon, and on Thursday the 19th from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Another new feature to the Palmer Lake schedule is the addition of Toddler Time on Fridays at 10:30 in addition to Story Time on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Toddler Time caters to those 1 and 2 years of age, while Story Time is for those 3 and older.

November’s Family Fun is a workshop to make your own "Zany Wooden Toy" from a book by Bob Gildorf, who will be on hand to help make a Tissue-Launching Crossbow and other simple and silly toys from his new book, Zany Wooden Toys that Whiz, Spin, Pop and Fly. Best for ages 6 and up, the program will be offered on Nov. 21 at 10:30 a.m.

The Palmer Lake Book group will meet on Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. to discuss a holiday-themed book of the reader’s choice. New members are always welcome.

Hope to see you at the library!

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Health Fair provides low-cost screenings for many, Oct. 24

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Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Mark Ennis of the Tri Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership and Jackie Sward of the Tri Lakes Cares clinic were organizers of the event

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Below: June Freyer and Cindy Rush, volunteers at Tri-Lakes Cares, explained the services of the organization.

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By Harriet Halbig

The ninth annual Tri-Lakes Health Fair was held at the YMCA on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Mark Ennis of Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, one of the organizers of the event, said that he was pleased with the attendance at this year’s event. A new collaborator, 9HealthFair, offered access to additional services over previous fairs.

Dianne Pape, a representative of 9HealthFair, said that screenings included extensive blood screening (28 panels) for $30 and a basic blood cell count for such things as infection and anemia for $15. In the event of abnormalities in results, individuals would receive a phone call within 72 hours advising them of the results and suggesting further action. For those without insurance, referrals to low-cost clinics would be provided.

Pape said that about 170 participated in the blood screening.

Bone density and blood sugar screenings were also available. In addition, there were blood pressure, vision and hearing tests, and skin cancer screenings. Pape said that individuals often have questions about family history and its influence on health.

Ennis said that a disappointment for the day was the lack of flu vaccine, causing the Visiting Nurse Association to withdraw from the event. He said that most health fairs in the area are held in the spring, but the Tri-Lakes Fair is held in the fall to encourage family participation and provide easy access to flu shots. In a normal year, about 150 people take advantage of the opportunity.

Next year’s fair will feature greater participation from 9Health and offer additional services.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Oct. 15: Air Force Academy historian details Pike expeditions

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Below: At the Palmer Lake Historical meeting Oct. 15, Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Seeling presented a short history of the two major expeditions that Zebulon Pike accomplished during his career as an Army Officer. Seeling is presently assigned as Deputy of Operations in the History Department at the Air Force Academy. Photos by Bernard Minetti.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

At the Oct. 15 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society, Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Seeling talked about interesting aspects of the two major expeditions of Zebulon Pike into the northern and southwestern areas of the early United States.

Seeling is presently the deputy of operations in the History Department at the Air Force Academy. He has a master’s in history from the University of Nebraska, and he specializes in teaching the resident cadets American and world history. Seeling was a master navigator in B-52 aircraft during Operation Desert Storm.

In his discussion of the expeditions of Pike, he pointed out the differences in the objectives of the two journeys, which were undertaken in 1805-07. In the first expedition, Pike was to find the source of the Mississippi River, select sites for military posts, establish trading relations with the northern Indian tribes, and ascertain the activities of the English traders. This expedition was primarily into what is now the northern United States.

On his second expedition, which at one point took him into the Colorado Springs area, he was to restore Osage Indian captives back to their people, consummate a permanent peace treaty between the Osage and Kansas tribes, establish friendly relations with the Comanche tribe, and acquire knowledge of the southwest boundary of the Louisiana Territory. The western boundary of the Louisiana Purchase went through the Colorado Springs area.

In 1820, Pike went into battle in Toronto. The War of 1812 was won by the American forces, but Pike was fatally injured and died aboard an American warship.

As a note of interest, Pike never named Pike’s Peak after himself. It was originally called Grand Peak. The peak received its name through use by miners and others who came afterward and who kept referring to the mountain as Pike’s Peak. The name eventually stuck.

**********

The next meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society will be held in the Palmer Lake Town Hall at 7 p.m. Nov. 19. "Pioneers of the Air Force Academy Area" will be presented by writer and historian Jack Anthony. Among his noted works are two articles concerning Colorado history. One he wrote is "History Trail Run—Monument to Palmer Lake." The other, "History Trail Run—The Husted Trail Wreck," he co-authored with Wilbur H. Fulker.

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Monica Deluca installed as ninth Monument postmaster

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Below: On Oct. 22,Monica Deluca, who had just sworn her oath of office as the ninth postmaster of the Monument post office, displays a framed copy of her oath, On her right is her husband John. On her left is Marla Lacy, senior operating manager of postal operations for Region 3, who administered the oath, and rural carrier Stephanie Busch who held the bible during the administration of the oath. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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By Jim Kendrick

Monica Deluca was installed as the ninth postmaster of Monument on Oct. 22, with her husband Richard by her side and about 35 employees in attendance. She has worked at the Monument post office for the past five years.

Several employees participated in the ceremony:

  • Rural carrier Paul Munk started the ceremony with opening remarks, noting that the Monument post office was opened in 1949.
  • Maintenance supervisor Willie Gibbons led the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Clerk Bonnie Hurley sang "America the Beautiful."
  • Rural carrier Jerry With gave the invocation and humorously commented on good and bad drivers, customers, and dogs.
  • Munk introduced Marla Lacy, senior operating manager of postal operations for Region 3, which spans parts of Colorado and Wyoming.
  • Lacy spoke about postal service history before administering the oath for the first time in Colorado using a framed copy of the oath, which she presented to Deluca.
  • Rural carrier Stephanie Busch held the Bible for Deluca as she took the oath of office.
  • Clerk Trish Strother gave the closing remarks.

Some of the other Postal Service representatives who attended the ceremony were:

  • Vicki Clute, postmaster of the U.S. Air Force Academy post office, who replaced Bonnie Hurley’s husband as postmaster.
  • Trudy Finan, postmaster of the Lake George post office and former postmaster of the Palmer Lake post office.
  • Elaine Haddan, postmaster of the Elizabeth post office.
  • Renee Shigoda, acting postmaster of the Sedalia post office.
  • James Jarman, supervisor of customer service for the U.S. Air Force Academy post office.

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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.

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.

Tri-Lakes Chapel Community Blood Drive, Nov. 12

Tri-Lakes Chapel is holding a blood drive Nov. 12, 3-7 p.m., at 1750 Deer Creek Rd. at Woodmoor Drive. Walk-ins are welcome or sign up for your donation time online at www.trilakeschapel.org. Blood collected will go to Memorial Hospital. For more information, call 481-3600.

Taste of Lewis-Palmer Middle School, Nov. 12

The third annual Taste of Lewis-Palmer Middle School will be held Nov. 12, 5-6:30 p.m., in the Lewis-Palmer Middle School cafeteria, 1776 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Sixth-grade students are selling cookbooks with 110 recipes that are special to them. Many students will make their recipe for people to taste. Tickets will be available at the door; each taste costs 50 cents.

This event is part of a service project that teaches students global awareness, economics, and compassion. Sixth-graders want to do something to help the world, our country, and our local community. The students have chosen to raise money to purchase two milk menageries for another country, to send money to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and to donate locally to Tri-Lakes Cares and the Lewis-Palmer Middle School Cares fund. For more information, call or e-mail sixth-grade teacher Carrie Block, 867-8251 or cblock@lewispalmer.org

Department of Human Services Advisory Commission needs volunteers

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded volunteers to serve on the newly-established Department of Human Services (DHS) Advisory Commission, consisting of nine voting members who have resided in the county for at least one year. Applications for the open positions are due by Nov. 13. The goal of the commission is to offer a citizen’s perspective of programs and services provided to citizens by the Department of Human Services. The DHS Advisory Commission is in need of three at-large representatives, one at-large community agency representative, and one representative from each of the five county commissioner districts. District 1 encompasses the northern portion of the county including Briargate, the northern portion of the Air Force Academy, Monument, Palmer Lake, and Black Forest. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com; click on the "Volunteer Boards" link at the top.

Wayne Williams speaks on county development issues, Nov. 14

All are welcome to this meeting of Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) Nov. 14, 10 a.m.-noon, at Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 Baptist Rd. (enter at the east door). County Commissioner Wayne Williams will address water issues, transportation issues, the Gleneagle Golf Course re-zoning situation, the expected economic impact on EPC/Tri-Lakes area, and the most important issues facing our area in coming years. Info: 481-2723 or visit www.nepco.org

Operation Christmas Child Collection Week, Nov. 16-23

Monument residents will pack shoebox gifts for children in more than 100 countries suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine, and poverty. Donate small gifts at Tri-Lakes Chapel, 1750 Deer Creek Rd., Monument Nov. 16-19, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Nov. 20, 21, and 23, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; or Nov. 22, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For more information, call 303-745- 9179 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org

Monument unveils Christmas Banners, Nov. 20

Historic Downtown Monument presents the third annual "Banner Christmas" featuring original Christmas art banners hand-painted by renowned local artists. The banners will be on display on lampposts in Historic Downtown Monument throughout the holiday season, beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving. For more information, visit www.monumentmerchants.com/banners.htm or contact Vicki Mynhier, 460-4179.

Palmer Divide Bluegrass Band, Nov. 21

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) will present a concert featuring Palmer Divide Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.). Palmer Divide offers up original acoustic music with well-crafted lyrics, innovative instrumentation, and tight three-part harmonies. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Advance 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. For more information, visit www.trilakesarts.org or phone 481-0475.

Palmer Lake’s Chili Supper and Star Lighting, Nov. 28

This popular annual fundraiser takes place Nov. 28, 5-8:30 p.m., at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Chili, hot dogs, potato soup, and cinnamon rolls will be served. The cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children under age 12. All proceeds go toward maintenance of the Palmer Lake Star on the mountain, which will be lit at approximately 8 p.m. as part of the Chili Supper festivities. The evening features door prizes and a bucket raffle. One lucky raffle winner will be the one to light the star! To donate prizes or for more information, phone the Palmer Lake Town Office at 481-2953.

Comments on the Regional Transportation Plan due by Dec. 1

The Board of Directors of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) approved the Vision, Mission, and Principles for the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) Update for public comment. This framework will guide PPACG staff and advisory committees in developing the short- and long-range transportation strategies for the Pikes Peak urbanized area. To view the Vision, Mission, and Principles and provide comments, please visit the RTP Web site at www.movingforwardplan.org. Submit your comments before Dec. 1.

Historic Monument Small Town Christmas, Dec. 5

This day full of holiday activities includes a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday crafts for the kids, reindeer, miniature donkeys, carolers, hayrides, hand-painted holiday banners, a Christmas tree lighting, merchant special events and refreshments throughout Historic Downtown Monument, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pick up a location and event flier from a participating merchant or call Vicki Mynhier, 884-8016, for more information.

MOMS Club Holiday Extravaganza and Coat Drive, Dec. 5

The MOMS Club Colorado Springs North Chapter will host its Holiday Extravaganza Dec. 5, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Sundance Mountain Lodge, 1865 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Local crafters and artisans will exhibit and sell their hand-made goods. Holiday baked goods will be available and favorite local home-based businesses (Mary Kay, Arbonne, Avon, Pampered Chef, Discovery Toys, Entertaining at Home, Usborne Books, TomBoy Tools, Creative Memories, Stampin Up, Lemongrass Spa, Tastefully Simple, Silpada, lia Sophia, and many more) will participate.

Profits will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares and the Mike King Family Fund. Admission is $2 for ages 10 and older; children under 10 are free. Admission is free to those who bring a new or gently worn coat (with working closures and no stains or rips) for the One Warm Coat drive. Stop by to shop the unique crafts or just to drop off a coat. The donated coats will be distributed to those in need in our community. For more information, call Tamara Baxter, 510-9814, or e-mail momsclubnevents@yahoo.com

MOMS Club (MOMS Offering Moms Support) is an international nonprofit organization and a 501(c)(3) publicly-supported charity. The club is a support group for mothers who stay at home with their children, including those who work part-time but are home with their children during the day. For more information about the MOMS Club Colorado Springs North Chapter, visit the Web site at www.cosnorthmomsclub.com

Singers and musicians needed for Christmas production

Tri-Lakes Music Association seeks singers, orchestra musicians, and anyone who would like to help in any way. Be a part of this exciting Tri-Lakes Christmas tradition. Performance dates are Dec. 19-20, 7 p.m., at Palmer Ridge High School. Vocal practices meet every Sunday, 1 p.m. (2 p.m. for orchestra), at The Inn at Palmer Divide, 443 Highway 105, Palmer Lake; and every Monday, 6 p.m., at Trinity Lutheran Church, 17750 Knollwood Dr., Monument. All proceeds from the show go to Tri-Lakes Cares and to scholarships for high school seniors. For information contact Bob Manning, 481-3883, or e-mail rwgmanning@comcast.net

Free firearm safety kits to be distributed locally

Monument Police Department will provide free firearm safety kits to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe, the nationwide firearms safety education program. Each kit contains gun safety information and a cable-style gun lock that fits most types of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Monument Police Department administrative offices at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Feel free to drop by during those times to pick up a free gun-lock kit. For more information, phone 481-3253.

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.

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 Nov. 1 to 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).

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 Web site 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).

New thrift shop opens in Monument

Hangers—Your Thrift Shop is now open Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, at 341 Front St., Monument. Shop for gently-used clothing, books, and household items. Proceeds from Hangers will be used to promote the ongoing mission of Tri-Lakes Cares, a community based nonprofit. For more information, call 488-2300 or visit the Tri-Lakes Cares Web site, www.trilakescares.org

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. 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.

Senior Safety Program

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

Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

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

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