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Vol. 9 No. 2 - February 7, 2009


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Winterfest coming Feb. 14

Below: The Hodgson family took advantage of a frozen Palmer Lake to practice a little hockey, Jan. 11. Palmer Lake’s Third Annual Winterfest will be coming to the Lake on Feb. 14, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Photo by David Futey.

Free concert, Feb. 14

By Susan Hindman

The Rocky Mountain Music Alliance (RMMA) will present a free concert of piano and woodwind music by Francis Poulenc on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road. Performing Poulenc’s music will be Michael Baron, piano, (pictured above) and the Colorado Springs Woodwind Quintet.

Though the concert is free, tickets must be reserved online at www.rmmaonline.org or by calling 484-0192. A free-will donation will be accepted.

In past years, the RMMA has presented several concerts each season, but because of a downturn in the economy, there was only enough funding for one concert.

"Since so many in our community are also struggling, we are opening this concert up to the public for free," said Pam Brunson, president and founder of the RMMA. "We are hoping our free concert will bring in a large crowd of people who would normally not attend for financial reasons."

Baron is the artistic director of RMMA. The quintet includes Heike J. Gazetti, clarinet; Paul Nagem, flute; Alejandro Vieira, bassoon; Sarah Balian, oboe; and Michael Yopp, horn.

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Weighted grades, school closure rumors discussed

By Harriet Halbig

The District Accountability Advisory Committee discussed weighted grades and rumors of school closings at its meeting Jan. 13.

Dr. Marie Revak, the School District 38 director of assessment, distributed a paper describing the concept of weighted grades and their future use in the district. These grades, which will be granted to those of the class of 2012 and later, will pertain only to advanced placement (AP) classes.

Weighted grades are designed to encourage students to take more rigorous classes, to maintain the availability of AP courses as the student population declines, and to make more students eligible for scholarships.

To be eligible for weighted grades, a student must have an A, B or C in the class and must take the advanced placement exam in the subject. The student’s grade will not change on his or her report card, but an additional point will be added to the grade, affecting the student’s grade point average and class standing.

Revak said that no freshmen are now enrolled in AP classes, so all students and parents will have equal access to this concept. In 10th grade, the first class available is Advanced Placement European History.

In response to a question, Revak explained that only AP classes are involved because lesson plans for these classes must be submitted to a national board for approval. There is no such requirement for honors classes.

She further explained that performance on the AP exam is not part of the grade for the class, because results of the exam are not available for a few months. However, colleges use results of the exam to determine whether students can skip classes at the college level.

Local School Districts 12 and 20 also use weighted grades in conjunction with AP classes and the International Baccalaureate Program.

High school teachers are now mentioning this at parent and scheduling meetings, and the information will be made available to parents of eighth-grade students to help them plan for future studies.

Mirielle Bock, who presided over the meeting, then addressed the need for an additional co-chair for committee, asking for volunteers. There was no response.

She suggested that beginning at next month’s meeting, school representatives should begin presentations on their school improvement plans, possibly with student involvement.

An audience member suggested brainstorming subjects to be considered by the committee. Subjects suggested were school closings, nutrition, grant processing, and academic integrity.

Regarding integrity, it was suggested that the district develop an honor code similar to one a student would encounter in college or the workforce. Many voiced concern at the ease of cheating with new electronic information sources. It was suggested that this could be introduced as a freshman seminar.

District 38 Superintendent Raymond Blanch then addressed the subject of school closures, acknowledging that there are many rumors on the subject. He came from a large meeting at Kilmer Elementary earlier in the evening.

Blanch said that such decisions are made based on enrollment numbers and the capacity of schools. As long as a school is at 60 percent capacity or higher, no action is taken. When it falls below 60 percent, a blue ribbon committee is formed including community representatives, the DAAC, faculty, and others. The process leading to a closure would take up to three years.

The decline in district school population is at the elementary level, but Blanch pointed out that a number of homes approved to be built are not under way due to poor economic conditions. In addition to population patterns, the district must consider the condition of the physical plant of a facility when considering a closing. The emotional upheaval related to closings is also a concern.

Blanch said there have been two years of budget cuts in the system, and when school populations decline some teachers circulate among campuses. The community has made a commitment that it prefers smaller schools, and projections are constantly monitored.

At this time, no District 38 school is below 67 percent capacity, and no closures are being considered. Enrollment is based on the October count conducted each year.

In response to a question, Blanch said that recruiting students from outside the district has not proven productive. He said that he will continue to publicize the goals of the district, and he felt it more important to stress education than recruitment.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

**********

The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Learning Center of the district administration building, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument.

Additional articles on district 38 below.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District Board, Jan. 28: Board tours wastewater facility; expansion nearing completion

Below: Board members and plant staff observe the final step as the treated water passes through the "flume" on its way to storage. This water will be utilized for golf course irrigation. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below (L to R): Superintendent Robert Hull was congratulated by Donala board president Dennis Daugherty for being named Employee of the Quarter. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 28, the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors toured the expanded facilities at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. The board then held its regular meeting in the facility’s conference room. All board members were present for the tour and board meeting.

The Donala board did not meet in December, and a number of Jan. 28 agenda items concerned issues raised at other meetings that were reported in the January issue of OCN.

Donala is a co-owner of the facility, with the adjacent Triview and Forest Lakes Metropolitan Districts. Donala operates the wastewater treatment facility for these metro districts. The facility is located at 14770 Jumping Mouse View, which is just north of the Air Force Academy on the west side of I-25 and the railroad tracks. The wastewater is treated to "swim beach" standards, and some of it is used for irrigation on the Gleneagle Golf Course.

The expansion of the facility is nearing completion. A hoist will be added to the ultraviolet disinfection building. This hoist will help raise the gates when changing the flow of treated wastewater from one ultraviolet channel to another. The foundation for the new biosolids building is complete, and construction will begin when the permit is issued by Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

Because of the radium that has been found in the sludge produced by the plant, Waste Management may no longer be permitted by the state to dump the facility’s sludge at the Midway Landfill. Donala General Manager Dana Duthie noted that he has negotiated with Parker Ag to take the "hot" sludge to its "hot-rated" landfill instead. However, the Parker Ag dumpsters are too big for the facility’s current sludge building, and there could be a problem until the new larger sludge building is completed. Sludge hauling costs may increase by $96,000 in 2009.

Duthie said that the intergovernmental agreement on funding with Triview Metro District was signed in November. "However, I have no clue of who to talk to at Triview. Nobody answers the phone. I sent them an e-mail the day before yesterday. I copied (Triview Board President Bob) Eskridge, who will not even return any of my e-mails or phone calls anymore." He added, "We know the bottom line is $16.3 million and we’re just about there."

Duthie listed the various specific cuts he had made during a three-hour meeting with engineering consultant GMS Inc. and primary contractor Weaver Construction on Jan. 25. No Triview representative attended the Jan. 25 meeting. Duthie forwarded these decisions to Triview in writing after the meeting.

Duthie said he was trying to avoid a confrontation on these final construction project cost-cutting decisions and the final cost. The intergovernmental agreement states that a "confrontation would only come if they don’t approve the overspending. There’s nobody to talk to. Nobody that comes to any of the meetings. Their engineer is not employed anymore, so he doesn’t come and weigh in on any of these decisions." He added that Ron Simpson, the part-time consultant who is acting district manager, also does not attend facility construction meetings. "It’s going to come to a head. It’s going to be ugly." Duthie noted that he had discussed his continuing frustrations with Monument Mayor Byron Glenn, who said, "I understand."

Duthie advised the board that the Triview staff positions held by Simpson, District Administrator Dale Hill, Triview Attorney Pete Susemihl, and the district’s contract inspector will be eliminated on April 1. The long-term Triview contract with engineering consultant Nolte Associates was not renewed for 2009. One of the three remaining Triview staff members has been transferred to the town staff, and the other two will be transferred. The Triview board will have no staff of its own. It’s not clear who Donala will talk to about future construction decisions and debt payments or routine operations.

Duthie said he thought Triview had about $50,000 left from its two Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority loans. Under the intergovernmental agreement, Donala will lend Triview money at 4.5 percent (or the prevailing Colotrust interest rate plus 0.5 percent) for Triview’s share of the remainder of the facility construction costs, which will come from future tap fees.

Duthie asked the board members to reread the intergovernmental agreement on the ownership of the facility now that Triview "has not agreed to anything. We don’t have any communication with them." Duthie noted that Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth attended the most recent facility construction and operations meetings.

The board directed Duthie to keep the project and plant operating on schedule and continue notifying Triview and Monument, in writing, of all decisions that he makes in their absence to ensure "a paper trail" in case this "goes to court." Duthie reiterated he had made no decision yet that would cost Triview any money, only decisions that save money.

Environmental attorney Tad Foster’s expenses for negotiating discharge permits for Upper Monument Creek, Tri-Lakes, Security, and Fountain wastewater facilities were $22,000 each in 2008. The facility’s budget for Foster is $10,000 for 2009. Foster is attempting to minimize the drastic cuts required in maximum concentrations of metals, ammonia, and some other compounds in treated wastewater discharged into Monument and Fountain Creek by the four facilities. Duthie has asked Foster to minimize his expenses but acknowledged that Foster’s expenses may be even higher for all four clients in 2009. Each pays 25 percent.

Tour turns tutorial

Duthie led the tour, which was also attended by Donala resident Warren Gerig and Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund. During the tour, Duthie explained the new sequencing batch reactor process, detailed the history and challenges of each phase of the plant expansion, described the financial constraints that drove the choices made as previously unknown existing structural problems were discovered, and listed the upgrades that remain to be completed. Mike Poeckes, Donala’s chief waste plant operator, and Robert Hull, Donala’s superintendent, also answered questions as the visitors examined each building’s new features.

Gerig also attended the board meeting that followed the tour.

Donala Board President Dennis Daugherty congratulated all the staff members for all their efforts for a successful expansion. "As long as I’ve been on the board, this has been the major project."

Employee of the quarter honored

Daugherty congratulated Superintendent Robert Hull, who was Employee of the Quarter.

2008 financial reports accepted

Director Tim Murphy noted that in 2008, the total operating revenues were $197,044, or 4.66 percent above the budgeted amount, while total operating and administrative expenses were $890,413, 26.63 percent below the budgeted amount.

While $750,000 had been budgeted for capital projects, the total capital expenditure was $4,798,366 in 2008 due to the district’s purchase of the Mount Massive Ranch.

Background: The purchased property is approximately 711 acres and is about 7 miles southwest of Leadville. The board approved the contract at the Aug. 20 meeting, and it was signed Sept. 11. The district had 65 days to conduct research on the property and its water rights. The sale closed on Nov. 19. The board unanimously approved a resolution Nov. 24 completing the purchase for $4.78 million. Appraisals estimated the value of the water rights at $3.38 million. The land raises the property value to $5.03 million.

Duthie said the district expects the final adjudicated amount to be 300 acre-feet per year, about 20 percent of the district’s yearly total water use. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. A water court ruling is needed to convert the water rights from agricultural to district use. The final water rights adjudicated for district use may change based on studies the district has initiated.

Due to the unstable credit market at this time, the district decided to finance the purchase from cash on hand, including part of the $5.8 million it had invested with Davidson Fixed Income Management when the contract was signed. The board has passed a resolution to reimburse this fund from future financing when it is appropriate.

During December, the district’s yield for its remaining $4.8 million in the investments managed by Davidson rose to 2.96 percent, higher than the Colotrust Plus fund, the district’s benchmark for comparison, which yielded 0.97 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 3.4 months.

The board unanimously accepted the 2008 annual financial report, along with the monthly financial reports for November and December.

Amended 2008 and 2009 budgets approved

The board unanimously approved the 2009 mill levy certification and individual resolutions for the:

  • Amended 2008 budget
  • 2009 budget
  • 2009 appropriation
  • Changes in rates and fees that were approved in November
  • Adoption of the Colorado Special District Records Retention Schedule

Duthie noted that the amendment for the 2008 budget accounted for the purchase of the Mount Massive Ranch for $4.78 million. This purchase decreased the 2008 end-of-year balance carried forward in the 2009 budget. The balance dropped from the budgeted amount of $10,861,395 to $8,169,997.

The mill levy of 16.296 mills for most of the district will produce revenue of $1,193,268 for general operating expenses in 2009. A separate mill levy of 8.148 mills will raise $2,635 for a few annexed lots in Chaparral Hills. These lots are referred to as "Area B." They receive only water service from Donala and pay only half the district’s general mill levy.

The 2009 budget includes $11,035,903 for total expenditures and $13,319,723 for total revenues. The 2009 appropriation is for $13,319,723. Duthie remarked that he did not like the 2009 end-of-year balance of $2,283,820, which reflects the potential cost for an agreement for Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to provide renewable water to the district. Duthie added that it was not likely that this particular expenditure would be made in 2009, but was included just in case. In the interim, the staff is reviewing options to minimize expenses for vehicles, landscaping services, personnel, and payroll.

The board also approved, by consensus, the "2008 Lookback," a short annual "history for unofficial reference of the events and issues that affected the district."

Mount Massive Ranch update

The board unanimously approved a bid of $35,800 for Layne-Western Co. to drill 10 monitoring wells that will determine how ground water affects surface water runoff on the newly purchased Mount Massive Ranch. These 4-inch wells will be 15 feet deep. They will help determine how much groundwater percolates to the surface and how much surface water goes into the ground. The measurements will be taken for a year to help maximize the ranch’s water rights that Donala can have adjudicated for district use. The study may produce a projected increase of 25 to 30 percent of the total appropriation.

Some specifics of the negotiations with CSU were deferred to executive session. Several other technical issues also need to be resolved by further study. Donala’s attorney plans to file the water application for the ranch with the water court by early May and will include CSU documentation in that application. In August, the district will ask for a court date once all the objections from other entities with Arkansas River water rights are known. A court decision will likely not be issued until at least a year later.

The specifics of the substitute supply plan for quantifying how much ranch water could be available for temporary water leasing have not been developed yet and likely will not be filed for 2009. Duthie said there is a risk that the often lower use rates associated with these substitute supply plans can reduce the permanent adjudicated water rights in the court case. However, it is likely Donala will want to use ranch water in 2010, which may require a substitute supply plan at that time.

Duthie invited board members and staff to accompany him on a snowshoe and cross-country ski inspection of the ranch property. The district gets half of the hunting vouchers the state allows for the ranch. Donala constituents interested in one of the district vouchers can apply for a district drawing. The application procedure is described in the district newsletter that accompanies monthly bills.

El Paso County Water Authority report

Duthie reported that in 2009, the El Paso County Water Authority would be limiting its activities due to declining membership dues. Triview dropped out, and Sunset Metropolitan District and the Town of Palmer Lake have not paid their dues. The authority will meet monthly to adopt positions for the state legislative session until the money runs out.

The authority will also work on the Transit Loss Model for Monument and Fountain Creek and creation of the Fountain Creek Watershed District, a Title 32 special district for the management and conservation of the Monument and Fountain Creek watershed and the related floodplain and wetlands. Duthie noted that the district needs to remain a member of the authority to stay abreast of legislative issues and the watershed district’s potential impact on Southern Delivery System negotiations.

New officers were selected at the Jan. 7 authority meeting:

  • Kip Petersen of Cherokee Metro District – president
  • Rich Landreth of Monument – vice president
  • Ann Nichols of Forest Lakes Metro District – secretary
  • Roy Heald of Security – treasurer

Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority report

Duthie reviewed the agenda items from the Dec. 17 and Jan. 21 PPRWA meetings. See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n1.htm#pprwa and the PPRWA article below for details of these two meetings.

Duthie also distributed copies of a Jan. 22 article from the Pueblo Chieftain on the Southern Delivery System (SDS). The article expresses the paper’s concern that only two-thirds of the proposed 5-foot, 50-mile pipeline’s capacity to pump 78 million gallons per day will be used by SDS partners Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security, and Pueblo West.

The article also listed numerous other concerns raised by various consultants, who work for unnamed interest groups, at a Jan. 21 Pueblo County Commissioners meeting. The article questions whether the unused pipeline capacity will later be used to transport water from the Arkansas River to northern El Paso County entities not listed in the submitted Environmental Impact Statement for the project. It states that "another 15,000 acres of farmland in the Arkansas Valley could be dried up as a result."

Duthie said the Chieftain’s principal concern is that northern El Paso County water that will flow through the SDS pipeline will be agricultural water. He added that one of the 115 stipulations placed on CSU by Pueblo County in its approval of SDS would only allow water owned by the four partners of SDS to be transported through the new pipeline. CSU must formally respond to these stipulations by Feb. 11.

The Chieftain article did not discuss which entities already own water rights in the Arkansas River that they cannot use until the SDS pipeline is built. (See the article at www.chieftain.com/articles/2009/01/22/news/local/doc497833ad8f449982977825.txt )

Duthie discussed the authority’s approval of $38,216 with Donala, CSU, Monument, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, members of the authority’s Northern Structure Committee, to have GMS "fine tune" its engineering estimate for constructing an authority connection to the CSU distribution system at Highway 83 and Northgate Road. Some Colorado Water Conservation Board grant money might be available to pay for development of the conservation plan.

Duthie noted that the PPRWA had not yet paid $10,000 to Parker Water and Sanitation District, as District Manager Frank Jaeger had requested, to participate in the Flaming Gorge water project, but it probably will do so. Duthie said the chief of the Colorado Division of Natural Resources had provided a letter of support for the project to Jaeger to submit to federal agencies involved in the decision. The Wyoming Department of Natural Resources has said it is also willing to provide a letter of support.

At 2:50 p.m., the meeting went into executive session to discuss personnel matters and negotiation strategies.

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 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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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Jan. 21: Woodmen Hills decides not to join; Flaming Gorge project a step closer to feasibility study

By John Heiser

At the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority’s (PPRWA) regular monthly meeting Jan. 19, it was announced that the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District will not join the authority. Larry Bishop, manager of the Woodmen Hills district, said his board disapproved the $10,000 annual dues required for membership. Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala Water and Sanitation District and treasurer for the authority, said the authority will probably run short of funds before the end of the year.

Flaming Gorge project update

Gary Barber, PPRWA manager, reported that Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said he gave a letter supporting the Flaming Gorge project to Frank Jaeger, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District.

Jaeger heads a Colorado-Wyoming coalition of governmental water providers pursuing a project to construct a pipeline from the Green River in southwestern Wyoming and northwestern Colorado east across Interstate 80 to the Front Range and then south to Parker’s Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which is three miles southwest of downtown Parker.

At the PPRWA meeting Dec. 19, Jaeger said he had a letter of support from the Wyoming Department of Natural Resources and needed the letter from Sherman before he could proceed with due diligence research on the feasibility of the project.

Aaron Million, the entrepreneur formerly promoting the project, reportedly confronted Jaeger at a South Metro Water Authority meeting. Million and Jaeger reportedly exchanged harsh words, with Million accusing Jaeger and his coalition of stealing his project.

For more information on the project, see "Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority meeting, Dec. 19: Authority urged to join coalition to bring water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir" in the Jan. 3 issue of OCN. The article is posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n1.htm#pprwa

Legislative update

Dick Brown, the PPRWA’s lobbyist, said that Gov. Bill Ritter has submitted a list of "shovel-ready" Colorado infrastructure projects to the Obama administration for potential federal funding.

Brown reported that the rainwater cistern legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 08-119, which failed last year, has been split into two bills.

SB 09-80, sponsored by state Sen. Jim Isgar, would authorize the collection of precipitation from up to 3,000 square feet of a roof of a building that is primarily used as a residence and is not connected to a domestic water system serving more than three single-family dwellings, provided the water collected is used for fire protection; watering of poultry, domestic animals, and livestock on farms and ranches; irrigation of not over one acre of gardens and lawns; or ordinary household purposes. If the bill passes, those who want to collect rooftop rainwater and snow melt will be required to file an application and pay a fee.

House Bill (HB) 09-1129, sponsored by state Rep. Marsha Looper, would, if passed, direct the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to select the sponsors of up to 10 new residential or mixed-use developments that will conduct individual pilot projects over the next 10 years to collect precipitation from rooftops and impermeable surfaces for non-potable uses. The purpose of the pilot projects include quantifying the amount of precipitation that accrues to the natural stream system from surface and ground water return flows; evaluation of a variety of precipitation harvesting system designs; measurement of precipitation capture efficiencies; and quantifying the amount of precipitation that must be augmented to prevent injury to decreed water rights.

The authority unanimously voted to support SB 09-80 and HB 09-1129. Neither of the bills has yet been scheduled for hearings.

Brown reported that another bill that failed last year, HB 08-1259, which proposed restricting districts from providing service to customers outside their boundaries, has been re-introduced in a modified form as HB 09-1006 sponsored by Rep. Andy Kerr. The bill, if passed, would require cities or towns setting sewage system rates for owners of property outside the boundaries of the city or town, if those owners comprise more than 50 percent of all owners of property receiving the sewage system service, to base the rates on the actual cost of providing the service. The bill would prohibit cities or towns from imposing arbitrarily higher sewage system rates on owners of property located outside of the city or town or from discriminating against such owners solely on the basis of the location of their properties.

Brown said HB 09-1006 was prompted by a contract dispute between Littleton and south Jefferson County. He noted, "The Legislature is the last place you want to go to resolve a contract dispute." He added that even though the new bill does not address special districts, if it were to pass, it could create a precedent of the Legislature dictating how utility rates are set.

The authority unanimously voted to oppose HB 09-1006. (On Feb. 3, HB 09-1006 was indefinitely postponed by the House Local Government Committee.)

Other matters

  • Rick Fendel, the PPRWA’s attorney, reported on negotiations with the Arkansas River Valley Super Ditch group that, if agreement can be reached, would supply water for the pipeline that has been proposed to bring water to northern El Paso County. Fendel said that one of the current issues is obtaining rights to store water in the Pueblo Reservoir.
  • Rocky Wiley of Tetra Tech-RTW Engineering reported that the Agriculture Committee is holding a hearing on legislation to fund water conservation programs through the CWCB. The grant money being sought by the authority to develop a coordinated conservation plan would be covered by that legislation. The authority unanimously voted to support the legislation and to postpone work on its conservation plan pending the outcome of the legislation.
  • Wiley was directed to work with the sponsors of the Water Returns conservation program to investigate the possibility of presenting local water conservation workshops. Duthie noted that the Douglas County Water Resource Authority has an excellent video on its Web site: www.dcwater.org
  • The Northern Infrastructure Committee was formally recognized and authorized to refine earlier engineering estimates of the cost to interconnect the local districts. The committee will also look at the cost to connect to Colorado Springs Utilities’ water system at Highway 83 and Northgate Road. The funding for having GMS Inc. conduct these studies was set at a not-to-exceed amount of $38,216. The Northern Infrastructure Committee consists of representatives of the towns of Monument and Palmer Lake and representatives of the Donala and Woodmoor water and sanitation districts. The proportion of the cost of the engineering studies each participant will have to pay has not yet been determined.
  • The resignations from the authority of the Academy Water and Sanitation District and the Triview Metropolitan District were formally recognized.

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

**********

The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held Feb. 18 at 8:30 a.m. at the City of Fountain Town Hall, 116 S. Main St. in Fountain. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month. The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Jan. 13: Total expenditures under budget for 2008

By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 13, the Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility unanimously accepted the December financial report from CPA Nolan Gookin, which showed that the total for expenses and capital expenditures for 2008 was $580,951. This is 93.58 percent of the $625,108 budgeted for the year.

Facility Manager Bill Burks noted that this was a very good result, considering the fact that legal expenses had risen to 225 percent of the amount budgeted for 2008 to fight unprecedented new statewide anti-degradation limitations. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has said it would impose the new limitations for effluent copper in the facility’s next five-year discharge permit for 2010 through 2014.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

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

New copper limits could be costly

The Health Department plans to cut the limits for potentially dissolved copper in Tri-Lakes’ treated wastewater in the new discharge permit to less than one-third of the current restriction—from 24.8 parts per billion (ppb) to 8.0 ppb—even though the Health Department staff knows that the facility cannot meet this restriction. The copper level for the facility’s effluent in December was 12.2 ppb, an amount that is barely measurable using the present testing equipment. However, testing over the past several years has shown that copper is undetectable in Monument Creek downstream of the Tri-Lakes facility. The EPA can impose fines of up to $10,000 per day for failure to meet this new copper limit.

The JUC learned of the reclassification of upper Monument Creek in June 2008. Woodmoor was informed in May that the creek’s category had been changed from "use protected" to "reviewable." This reclassification was made in June 2007 and was unknown to the three owning special districts. The change was revealed in the state Health Department’s response to an application by the Woodmoor district for a second discharge permit to return water to the creek upstream of the Tri-Lakes facility. This discharge would replace water taken out farther upstream as an alternate source of drinking water for Woodmoor’s customers.

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

The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission stated that this reduction in copper limits, based on commission’s redesignation of Monument Creek from "use protected" to "reviewable" status, was strictly a policy decision at hearings on the new anti-degradation limits in June 2007 and July 2008.

The JUC may now face a $25 million plant expansion to meet the much tighter limits on copper, other metals, ammonia, and phosphates that may be imposed by the commission’s more restrictive anti-degradation policy. The facility’s operating costs would also go up dramatically due to the state Health Department’s tightening restrictions under either stream classification.

Facility staff is conducting a year of testing for these compounds upstream and downstream of the discharge point to establish a water-quality baseline for Monument Creek as part of its negotiations with the permit writers in the Health Department’s Water Quality Control Division.

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund reported that the Town of Monument had initiated caustic soda treatment of drinking water from town wells 3, 8, and 9 on Jan. 6. This treatment should begin to reduce the amount of copper leached from water pipes, particularly in newer homes where the problem is worse. Monument also passed an ordinance prohibiting copper water pipes for new construction, which will be enforced by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. The town will begin weekly sampling of its drinking water for copper and pH in new homes and some recently constructed homes in February.

Wicklund noted that the national average for the concentration of copper in wastewater delivered to treatment facilities is 200 ppb. The average level for Tri-Lakes influent is 60 ppb. The highest concentration comes from the south part of Monument’s collection system, where most of the new home construction has taken place. The tested level was 145 ppb in December. It will take about two years to line Monument’s existing copper water pipes with caustic soda, which should significantly reduce leaching of dissolved copper. This has been demonstrated by Woodmoor’s long-term caustic soda treatment of its drinking water.

Burks noted that the new Palmer Lake water treatment plant will also incorporate caustic soda injection for its drinking water. He said that if the pH level in Monument’s influent wastewater increases from the current average of 7.15 to about 8.0 as expected, due to the new caustic soda treatment, it will be good for the facility. Burks added that he hoped these two actions would help lead to successful negotiations with the Health Department for higher copper limits in the new discharge permit "once and for all." (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n8.htm#juc for more details.)

Burks reviewed the December discharge monitoring report results for the facility. Some of the results he discussed were:

  • Ammonia – an average of 3.4 parts per million
  • Cyanide – undetectable
  • Arsenic – undetectable
  • Iron – an average of 22 parts per billion
  • Trivalent Chromium – undetectable
  • Hexavalent Chromium – undetectable
  • Zinc – an average of 54 parts per billion
  • Silver – undetectable
  • Cadmium – undetectable
  • Lead – undetectable
  • Manganese – an average of 150 parts per billion
  • Nickel – undetectable
  • Selenium – undetectable
  • Mercury – an average of 2 parts per trillion
  • Molybdenum – undetectable

Of these, only silver has a state limit – an average of 200 parts per trillion.

All of the semi-annual toxicity test results for the second half of 2008 were negative.

The average wastewater flow for December was 1.13 million gallons per day (MGD) with a maximum flow of 1.21 MGD. The average flow for 2008 was 1.17 MGD with a peak flow of 1.26 MGD. The facility’s capacity is 4.2 MGD.

Burks discussed a technical memo prepared by JUC environmental consultant GEI on its study of copper concentrations at various Monument Creek locations upstream and downstream of the Tri-Lakes facility. The purpose of the study is to develop a translator model for these locations that shows the ratios of dissolved copper, potentially dissolved copper, total copper, and total recoverable copper as well as total and dissolved organic carbon. The JUC concurred with GEI’s recommendation to continue sampling for several more months to establish a baseline of at least 20 data points for discharge permit negotiations.

Burks reported a structural problem in inactive aeration basin C, where ice had applied pressure to a column supporting a walkway that extends from the shoreline over the water. Pieces of concrete had cracked and fallen off the column. An engineer from engineering consultant Tetra Tech RTW examined the structure, determined that there is no significant problem at this time, and will propose repairs that should be made this summer. Burks suggested placing floating wood and Styrofoam blocks and blowing air into the water inside the barrier to inhibit ice formation.

Joint Use Agreement review approved

At the Dec. 9 JUC meeting, Woodmoor had proposed a process to review the current Joint Use Agreement (JUA). This agreement governs facility operations and cost-sharing procedures and has not been revised in over a decade. Woodmoor’s former District Manager Phil Steininger stopped acting as the executive agent for facility management at the end of 2006. Burks took over supervision of all facility operations beginning in 2007. The current JUA does not reflect this change.

Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s JUC representative, suggested that the facility’s Policies, Practices, and Procedures document, which is separate from the JUA, would be a good place to start the document review. The suggestion was approved. Comments are to be provided to Burks before the meeting on Feb. 10. The review of the current amended JUA will begin after that with a goal of finishing by November, before the next annual JUC meeting.

Wicklund distributed draft revisions of outdated paragraphs in the document for JUC members to discuss with their respective district boards. The revisions reflected motions that the JUC had approved for these policy changes in 2006 and 2007.

Wicklund noted that the JUC can amend this document by majority vote, unlike amendments of the JUA, which require unanimous approval by the boards. The JUC scheduled a vote on these document revisions at the next meeting on Feb. 10. Nasser said that the JUC could begin review of the JUA a few sections at a time at successive meetings. He also suggested an expansion of the glossary and definitions sections.

The meeting adjourned at 11:15 a.m.

***********

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

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Jan. 7: Operator reports improved numbers, ideas for tackling future issues

By Susan Hindman

Operator Anthony Pastorello reported greatly improved readings of carbonaceous biological oxygen demand (BOD) levels in the lagoons that treat the Academy Water and Sanitation District’s waste. In November, the CBOD reading was 37; in December, it was down to 19; 25 is the permit maximum.

The district had been out of compliance five times over an eight-month period in 2007-08, prompting a warning letter from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Control Division Clean Water Assurance Unit in December that threatened fines if action wasn’t taken.

Pastorello reported he has received a variance that allows him to be the ORC (operator in responsible charge) of both the district’s wastewater collection and treatment systems, until he gets his operator’s license. Prior to that, former operator Jerry Jacobson had been retained to perform those duties. The variance is good until the end of March, at which time Pastorello expects to have his operator’s certificate.

He included that information as well as the improved CBOD readings in a third letter to the state Health Department, to let them know the progress. (A second letter had been sent out in December outlining how the district proposed to correct its problems.)

Looking ahead

In 2010, the district will be facing new statewide wastewater regulations regarding ammonia treatment. Academy currently cannot treat the ammonia in its lagoons, so it must come up with plans for how it will do so before its operating permit, which expires in 2010, will be renewed. Ammonia can register higher readings in winter and affects CBOD levels.

Pastorello said he has been investigating the idea of developing a subsurface vertical wetland to tackle ammonia removal. The district’s third (unused) lagoon lies on a little over an acre of land, which would be large enough to develop into a wetland system. He said these systems have been around since 1999, are used in cold-weather states, and "have good results in the wintertime."

He described the process that leads to the removal of ammonia and said he plans on visiting one of these systems currently in use. "We have the room for it, and it’s less expensive," he said.

Well 2 failed

Pastorello reported that no water was coming out of the deep well (No. 2) on Dec. 12. The pump had to be pulled, and a hole was found in two lengths of pipe. In addition, the cast-iron pump, which was only 4 years old, was rusted out. "Generally stainless-steel pumps last 10 to 15 years," he said.

A new 50 hp motor and a less-corrosive, stainless-steel pump were installed, and 12 lengths of pipe were changed out, at a cost of $18,000. He said the well is now pumping more efficiently and a better quality blend of water is coming out, reducing the need for the oxidizing agent potassium permanganate to be added.

Delinquent accounts update

Treasurer Walter Reiss reported that 11 homeowners responded to letters sent out in December regarding delinquent accounts and that partial or full payments had been received. He hadn’t seen the most recent past-due list.

The revised 2008 budget was approved.

New director sought

Director Susan Girschick has resigned from the board, and a new director is being sought to replace her. Anyone interested in joining the board should contact board President Richard DuPont at 481-9869.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 4: Reverse osmosis system is newest lagoon upgrade idea

By Susan Hindman

Operator Anthony Pastorello presented an idea to the board for upgrading the district’s current lagoon system, something that is required because of upcoming statewide regulations that will change the amount of ammonia allowed in the wastewater. He discussed a small reverse osmosis (RO) system that would allow the lagoon system (which treats waste) to remain intact but upgrade the process itself, in order to strip away the ammonia.

He said the system is self-maintaining—it "flushes itself out"—so while "there’s a lot of backwash," it’s efficient. This type of system cleans the wastewater enough that it could allow for drinkable water, though that isn’t part of the current plan. A representative from the company that would install the RO system will be coming out to see the lagoons and discuss it further.

While it’s an expensive system, Pastorello said it wouldn’t cost as much as tearing up the current system and building a new one from scratch. Construction would be minimal, and the RO system can be retrofitted to the existing lagoons.

He said he also visited a subterranean wetlands system in Penrose, "but the problem with a subsurface is we’re going to need a really big footprint for the little bit that we use," Pastorello said. He was told the wetlands work well but that they require certain types of willows and cottonwood trees that "absorb a lot of water and need to be harvested." He added, "The other problem is they’re good but they’re not 100 percent reliable." He feels that whatever is done should be better than that for the long term.

The goal is to have an ammonia treatment plan in place by October 2010, when the district’s operating permit expires, even if construction doesn’t begin right away. President Richard DuPont said he hopes they can delay upgrading or building a new system until the current bond is paid off, which will be in 2014.

Numbers are down

The latest carbonaceous biological oxygen demand readings in the lagoons were a source of pride for Pastorello. The numbers are "fantastic," he reported: 11.4 in January. That’s down from 37 in November, which was one of five infractions that had gotten the district into trouble with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment Water Quality Control Division Clean Water Assurance Unit in December. The permit maximum is 25.

**********

The Academy Water and Sanitation District board usually meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is March 4.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board, Jan. 8: Review of Joint Use Agreement sought

By Harriet Halbig

At the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Board meeting Jan. 8, Board President Benny Nasser said he had asked for a review of the Joint Use Agreement that created the Joint Use Committee (JUC) for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility.

All directors were present at the meeting.

Nasser said the JUC would not meet until the following week. He suggested that the review of the agreement begin with the policy, practices, and procedures portion of the agreement, and that a new glossary be developed.

Nasser suggested that the board of each participating entity meet and make assignments to seek comments. The review should be completed by November of this year. (See the JUC article for information on Nasser’s suggestion.)

Manager’s report

Manager Jessie Shaffer said that Frank Jaeger of Parker gave a presentation to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) on the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. He said Jaeger proposed taking Colorado River water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir (near the Colorado/Wyoming border) and moving it to the Denver metropolitan area. He distributed a letter of intent to participate in the project and wished to assemble a group to discuss its feasibility. He said the South Platte metropolitan group and the Castle Rock authorities were also involved.

The member organizations of PPRWA agreed to consider the proposal and asked to be notified of further developments.

Operations report

Randy Gillette, assistant district manager, delivered the operations report. He said there continues to be difficulty with reporting due to the dates of meter readings, resulting in the appearance in some months that over 100 percent of water pumped is accounted for, while in other months it appears that less is accounted for. However, he said that the goal of at least 90 percent accountability is always met.

Gillette reported that there were service interruptions in December due to cold weather. Well 11, reported in December to be out of order, is now out of the ground and being repaired.

Regarding construction in the district, the Lake Woodmoor repairs have been completed, Gillette said. Top soil replacement and planting will be done by the contractor in the spring. The refilling of the lake is under way and will reach its highest point in May before the beginning of irrigation season. The water used to refill the lake is coming from Monument Creek and wells. By May 2010 the lake should look as it did before the beginning of the repairs.

Shaffer reported on the possibility of pumping water back from toe drains to avoid waste. He said that the contractor estimated a cost of $80,000 for this aspect of the project and that estimate would be maintained until spring. If this action is approved, there is remaining unused funding within the 2008 budget to pay for it.

Responding to concerns that the level of the duck pond would be affected, Shaffer said that a deep line which maintains the pond is fed by groundwater and would not be affected by the pumping. The area in which the duck pond is located is not owned by the water district.

Shaffer then reported that the request for an easement presented at the November meeting has been withdrawn. The contractor that made the request has found alternative solutions to its drainage problems.

Attorney Erin Smith explained a series of routine reports and resolutions required by state law on an annual basis. Among these were the requirement to supply an accurate map of the jurisdiction of the district, a designation of meeting times, and a list of officers.

She also pointed out that state law requires recording of executive sessions. The recordings can be destroyed after 90 days. Smith recommended that the board comply with that rule.

Officers for 2009 approved

Benny Nasser, president; Jim Whitelaw and Elizabeth Hacker, assistant secretaries; Barrie Town, secretary; and James Wyss, treasurer.

The attorney also explained that she must file a standing disclosure form regarding possible conflicts of interest. She distributed the previous year’s forms to all members to review and make any changes if necessary.

The general meeting adjourned at 2 p.m.

********

The next meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 12 in the district conference room at 1855 Woodmoor Drive. Meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com

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Monument Board of Trustees meeting, Jan. 5: Monument Marketplace Discount Tire plat approved

Below: Monument Police Department Reserve Officer Gregory Fell (C) was sworn in as the first member of the department’s new volunteer program. Officer Fell’s wife Carol (L) pinned on his new Monument Police Badge while Police Chief Jake Shirk (R) and Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee Tommie Plank looked on. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 10 the Monument Planning Commission had voted 3-2 against the proposed preliminary/final plat for the vacant pad in Monument Marketplace that is expected to be the home for a new Discount Tire Store. The Monument Board of Trustees voted 5-1 to approve the preliminary/final plat on Jan. 5. Trustee Tommie Plank voted no. The tire store is to be constructed next to I-25 south of the adjacent Texas Roadhouse Restaurant.

Trustee Rafael Dominguez was absent.

Correction to the Planning Commission vote on the Discount Tire plat

The article in the Jan. 3, 2009 edition OCN on the Dec. 10 Planning Commission meeting contained an error on how two planning commissioners voted on this Monument Marketplace plat. Commissioner David Gwisdalla actually voted "no" and Commissioner Glenda Smith actually voted "yes." OCN regrets the error.

Reserve police officer program initiated

The meeting opened with an added agenda item – the swearing in of new Monument Police Department Reserve Officer Gregory Fell as the first member of the department’s new volunteer program. Police Chief Jake Shirk said these volunteers have to be commissioned.

Shirk described Officer Fell’s extensive experience: 13 years service as a chaplain with the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office, 4 years with the Colorado Springs Police Department, and 9 years as a reserve deputy with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Officer Fell’s wife Carol pinned on his new Monument Police Badge upon his new town uniform after Shirk administered the oath.

Discount Tire Store plat sparks discussion prior to approval

Vision Development, the owner of Monument Marketplace, proposed a preliminary/final plat for Filing 17, a vacant 0.88-acre lot on the northwest side of the development. The Discount Tire Store application is not reviewable by the Planning Commission or the Board of Trustees because the design guidelines for all buildings have already been approved as a component of the Planned Development site plan. The staff would only bring the tire store building to a hearing if Discount Tires’ individual lot site plan does not comply with the master plan’s design guidelines.

A plat is a drawing that shows the boundaries of the lot, traffic circulation, the easements for the utilities that will serve any buildings constructed on that lot, and any specific conditions for approval.

As the members of Monument’s Planning Commission had done on Dec. 10, the trustees also expressed concerns that Vision Development Inc., the owner of the Marketplace, had reneged on a promise made years before in hearings on the shopping center’s master plan to reserve the lots along I-25 for restaurants and upscale shops and a gathering place by the clock tower and to keep all auto-related business on the southeast corner of the commercial development.

Mayor Byron Glenn said, "In the hearing we were told what the use was going to be. We lacked the foresight to have it stamped on the plan what the use or the substitute uses were going to be." The previous staff had not written this restriction into the final PD site plan that was filed with the county and so the developer’s promise could not now be enforced.

Tom Kassawara, Director of Development Services, said that nothing was written into the minutes for the previous hearings. He added that the staff had suggested that Discount Tire be built on a vacant lot next to the existing Checker Auto Store. He added that the proposal meets all existing town standards and criteria for approval and the Planning Commission voted no based on use rather than plat standards.

Vision Development’s representative Rick Blevins said that the plat was the only subject of this hearing and it met the requirements of the site plan and the town’s Comprehensive Plan. Blevins said that Vision first offered two other locations along Jackson Creek Parkway, but Discount wanted the visibility of a lot along I-25.

Blevins noted that Vision had tried for five years to bring in upscale restaurants along I-25 without success. Vision still plans to construct a gathering place with seating by the clock tower and has coordinated with Betty Konarski of Tri-Lakes Views for continuing art displays. There are two adjacent pad sites to the east of the clock tower for gift shops and upscale retail. There has been interest from retailers for these pads next to the gathering place.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that there was no specific condition of approval listed in the motion for master plan approval and listed on the recorded master site plan that would prohibit the Discount Tire Store use on this lot.

Design guidelines accepted

The board asked the staff to prepare an ordinance for a future hearing that would codify the design guidelines recommended by the town’s architectural committee for downtown Monument as part of the zoning code. The Planning Commission had unanimously approved the committee’s proposed guidelines in October.

Resolutions

The board unanimously approved resolutions to:

  • Reappoint Planning Commissioner Glenda Smith for another two-year term.
  • Add Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District as a member of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority.

Annual appointments made

Trustee Rafael Dominguez was appointed to replace Glenn on the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority board. Trustee Steve Samuels was appointed to replace Glenn on the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments board. All other trustee appointments were renewed for another year.

Financial matters

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

  • $5,160 to engineering consultant Nolte Associates, Inc. for development of road standards (Trustee Travis Easton abstained)
  • $15,993 to drilling company Amwest, Inc. for repairs to town well #3

The board unanimously approved the November financial report. The board also discussed the monthly sales tax report.

Home rule discussion

There was a lengthy discussion on whether the town should seek home rule status. A ballot question on home rule status for the town was previously defeated on November 7, 2000. Trust of the town government was an issue in that election.

Some of the home rule issues that Green and the trustees discussed were:

  • The town would have more power and control over its own direction than it currently has as a statutory town.
  • TABOR would still apply and additional taxes would go to a vote of the people.
  • Under home rule, the town could approve its own impact fees and excise taxes.
  • Self-collection of sales tax would require hiring additional full-time staff but allow direct collection and likely produce higher revenues with fewer errors.
  • More flexibility is available for issuing bonds and increasing general obligation bond authority with voter approval.
  • Improvement districts and franchise fees are easier to create for water rights and utilities.
  • More control is available for bidding processes and delinquent accounts.
  • Home rule towns can pass lodging taxes.
  • At least one special election would be required.
  • The steps include creation of a study group, a charter commission, and a list of issues that the charter would address, and a charter.
  • An election on adopting a charter could be held in 120 days after the creation of the Charter Commission.
  •  Town meetings should be held to provide information on home rule.

Town Clerk Scott Meszaros explained that:

  • The Home Rule election process may begin any time a petition is submitted if that petition meets the legal requirements for sufficiency.
  • Alternatively, the Board could pass an ordinance to conduct an election to begin the Home Rule Process.
  • The initial election would ask the voters to vote yes or no on conducting a Home Rule Charter Commission process.
  • The initial election could take place in November as a combined election with the county as a "Special Election" or in April 2010 at the regular election, which must be conducted anyway for three of the trustee positions.
  • This is not a "regular" election year and no funds have been budgeted to conduct any sort of election without a 2009 budget amendment.
  • There would be another election to vote on the charter within 120 days of the first election.
  • One of these two elections would not align with April or November elections.
  • The out of phase special election would be more costly than a combined election with two or more purposes held in April or November.

Staff reports

Town Manager Cathy Green reported that the Economic Development Commission would be meeting with Arbor Mountain senior living facility developer Tim Irish on Jan. 23. She said that Irish had written an e-mail complaining about the town’s land use process and requirements. The e-mail was not sent directly to town staff. However, the email was forwarded to several trustees and staff members. A Planning Commission hearing on Arbor Mountain will be held on Feb. 11.

There was further discussion of several options for how the old town hall could be used when the staff moves into the new town hall. No decisions were made.

The board chose Mar. 7 as the date of its next retreat.

Kassawara reported that he wanted to renew the town’s engineering consultant contracts with Jacobs and Nolte. The board asked for resolutions on renewal for the next meeting.

The Board entered executive session at 8:45 p.m. to discuss water related items and came out of executive session to immediately adjourn at 9:37 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees meeting, Feb. 2: Creation of Fountain Creek Watershed district endorsed

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 2 the Monument Board of Trustees approved a resolution for creation of a Fountain Creek Watershed special district and renewals of consultant contracts and liquor licenses. Trustees Gail Drumm and Steve Samuels were absent.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to formally support a proposal for the state legislature to initiate the process for creating a new special district. The legislature would do this by approving an initial intergovernmental agreement for preservation and improvement of the Fountain Creek Watershed. Parties to the agreement will be El Paso and Pueblo County, the city of Colorado Springs and Pueblo and representatives of small towns that also wish to participate. Monument Mayor Byron Glenn said that he would like to be the small town representative to this special district board and represent all the small towns like Monument, Palmer Lake, Green Mountain Falls, and others that may choose to participate. He noted the importance of Colorado Springs and Pueblo improving their joint efforts on water issues in the future. (See the article on the Dec. 15 Board of Trustees meeting at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n1.htm#monbot for a detailed explanation of some of the many procedural and financial issues regarding this proposal.)

Animal control contract renewed

The board unanimously approved a resolution to renew the annual pet control and licensing services contract with the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region for $9,500.

Jacobs contract extended

The board unanimously approved a one-year extension of the continuing services contract with engineering consult Jacobs Engineering Group. The original contract was with Carter Burgess, which has been acquired by Jacobs. The same employees serve the town. Bob Torres, who is the construction manager for the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion, explained the new organization’s approach to town projects.

Nolte contract extended

Engineering consultant Nolte Associates, Inc. has been exploring options to transport Third Street stormwater under Front Street in drainage pipes instead of under the railroad tracks as previously planned. The town has been unable to obtain access for drainage between the west end of Third Street and Monument Lake. The latest plan is to direct this stormwater to the south end of Front Street and then to Dirty Woman Creek.

Tom Kassawara, Director of Development Services, noted that Nolte is very involved in the Triview Metropolitan District’s inspection services and development of the Town/Triview Water Utility Policies and Standards. The town may need Nolte’s expertise and corporate memory in the future regarding the proposed town staff takeover of Triview operations.

Glenn expressed his dissatisfaction with Nolte’s performance on the Third Street improvement project, particularly with Nolte’s supervision of subcontractor Ayres Associates on the stormwater master plan and subsequent drainage planning and design. "We’ve lost two years."

Kassawara explained the problems that have plagued this project as well as the many good things Nolte has done for Monument during the same period.

Nolte spokesman John Radcliff agreed that some town projects were not handled well previously. He stated that now that he is in charge, the Town will not encounter such issues again.

The board approved a one-year extension of the Nolte contract by a 3-1-1 vote with Glenn opposed. Trustee Travis Easton abstained because he works as a civil engineer for Nolte.

Kassawara noted that there is not enough money in the budget to complete the Third Street project. He suggested seeking grants or completing the project in phases.

Kassawara added that he had determined that contracts with Ayres and Stantec should not be extended.

Villages of Monument vacation completed

The board unanimously approved a resolution to provide a quit claim deed to Jack Wiepking, developer of the Villages of Monument, for Tract B in Filing 3 of this development. This property was formerly owned by the town and is the location for a future detention pond. The board formally vacated Tract B during the plat approval hearing held in July, 2008. Wiepking needed the quit claim deed for a real estate closing.

The Villages of Monument homeowners association will take ownership of the detention pond from Wiepking and maintain the detention pond when the filing is developed.

Liquor licenses approved

The board unanimously approved one-year liquor license renewals for:

  • Jasmine Garden Restaurant, 1425 Cipriani Loop
  • Casa Diego’s Restaurant, 1455 Cipriani Loop

Financial matters

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

  • $117,024 to Triview Metropolitan District for November sales tax
  • $4,033 to Triview for December motor vehicle tax
  • $15,000 to Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority for 2009 dues
  • $23,921 to El Paso County Water Authority for 2009 administration of the Monument Creek Transit Loss Model
  • $7,976 to Carter Burgess for project engineering fees
  • $280,158 to Alexandher Building Company for construction of the new Town Hall
  • $33,406 to CIRSA Insurance Company for first quarter workers’ compensation and property/casualty insurance
  • $6,000 to Faris Machine Company for a water department trailer
  • $5,000 to Rocky Mountain Rail Authority

Public Art for New Town Hall

Betty Konarski of Tri-Lakes Views asked the Board to proceed with creating pedestals and determining a designated public place to display public pieces of art that had been selected for board consideration during a recent competition. She discussed the judging process and members who judged the entries for the public art displays. She provided a handout on the three pieces the judges selected as finalists and asked for the Board’s opinions on them.

All members of the Board agreed on selection of two pieces for public display. The first, "Blade of Grass" by Louis DeAngelis of Fort Collins was a 7’9" Silverdale Limestone piece. The second, "Perception of Freedom" by Janet L. Sellers and Glenn A. Hayes of Monument was a concrete medium piece with seven dove-shaped openings in the round piece. The Board stated that the third piece, "Odette - Queen of the Swans," a flat Yule Marble piece with shape of a human torso on each side, could possibly be displayed at Limbach Park or another outdoor location.

Home rule discussions continue

Glenn asked how the board would select members of the charter commission if the voters approve moving forward with the charter process.

Scott Meszaros, Town Clerk, stated that the Board does not appoint members unless not enough people apply for commission. Usually there are nine members. Any interested person who is a registered elector in the Town of Monument may complete the candidate petition. This is identical to the process used to elect trustees. Candidates with the most votes are elected to the charter commission. If there aren’t enough candidates to fill all the commission positions, the additional vacant seats may be filled by appointment by the Board of Trustees after the commissioner election.

The initial commission election would ask the voters to vote yes or no on conducting the charter commission and home rule election. This same ballot would contain the names of people who successfully petitioned to be elected to the charter commission. If the voters approve proceeding with the home rule process, the charter commission then has 120 days in which to convene and create the home rule charter document, which is then voted on by town electors. This interval does not align with the six-month interval between April town elections and November national/state elections.

Glenn stated that he would like to see the Town Manager assemble the Pros and Cons and to create a presentation for the April 20 Special Town Meeting that is to be conducted at Creekside Middle School.

Public comments

Mark Ennis, president of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP), provided a handout and flyer on the various services that the non-profit organization provides. He discussed the community blood drive HAP holds in the Monument Sanitation District conference room at 130 Second Street every eight weeks. Ennis asked if HAP might be able to utilize "banner space" on the town’s light poles to advertise the community effort. He stated that a volunteer had agreed to make new banners for HAP’s activities if the town could provide information on the size of the town’s previously displayed banners.

He also discussed the possibility of holding the blood drive at the current Town Hall once the town staff moves into the new facility.

Trustee Tommie Plank asked Ennis to provide pamphlets for distribution at the next Monument Merchants Association meeting.

The meeting went into executive session at 8 p.m. to discuss contract negotiations. The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m., immediately after coming out of executive session.

**********

The next meeting will be held on Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission meeting, Jan. 14: Downtown Walgreens hearing continued again

the Walgreens site plan as a PDF file. This is a 7.1 Mbyte file and will take about 42 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. Click here for help with PDF downloads. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 14, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved a town staff recommendation to continue the hearing for the Walgreens Final Plat a second time due to adjoining property owners asking for more time to review the Walgreens proposal. The Planning Commission had approved the first continuance, also recommended by the staff, on Dec. 10.

Commissioner David Gwisdalla was excused from the meeting.

Walgreens hearing continued

The Walgreens property is located on the west side of Highway 105 between the Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center to the south and the 7-Eleven store to the north. The two vacant buildings on the Walgreens property will be demolished.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith said that two adjacent property owners had asked for another continuance. Sally Beck owns the vacant unplatted property directly to the west of all four of these buildings. She asked for more time for her attorney and land planner to review the Walgreens plan. Griffith said the owners of 7-Eleven had also requested more time to negotiate their issues with Walgreens.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said there was no limit to the number of times a hearing can be continued, but there is a time limit of 180 days from the first published hearing date to a vote on the final plat by the Planning Commission. The Walgreens hearing was first scheduled for Nov. 12.

Home rule recommended

Ed Delaney noted that he had been chairman of Monument’s home rule charter commission in 2000. Delaney said the charter that this committee had drafted was "a nice charter. Unfortunately we had other political problems which ended up getting it shot down."

Monument has always been a statutory town. Statutory towns are easier to set up and have all powers expressly given them by the Colorado Constitution and Legislature.

Converting from statutory to home rule status requires that a town commission be elected to create the charter.

Home rule towns must create their own charter. The charter is like a constitution for the town. It defines organizational form, terms and duties of officers, standing committees, etc. Home rule towns have all powers not expressly denied them by the Colorado Constitution and Legislature. Once it is completed, the charter goes to the voters for approval or disapproval.

Monument voters approved a ballot measure to create a charter and elected nine home rule charter commissioners in a town election held on April 4, 2000. This proposed charter was defeated in the election held on Nov. 7, 2000.

Delaney told the Planning Commission that he advocated creation of trustee districts. "I eventually see Jackson Creek taking over the town board with the amount of people we have in Jackson Creek. A major portion of our population will be down in that area. I would really like to see at least one representative from Old Town." He added, "You’re not run by the state Legislature. You’re run by your own people. The town people make the charter work."

Commissioner Bill Baker asked how the trustee district boundaries would be determined. Delaney said the boundaries proposed by the charter commission in the 2000 charter were based on population, about 1,000 in each of the five proposed districts, and the town could also vote to realign its own trustee district boundaries to adjust for future population shifts.

Delaney urged the commissioners to apply for the charter commission if the Board of Trustees (BOT) approves another election to start the home rule charter development process. Commissioner Glenda Smith, who was re-elected as a trustee in the April 2000 election, supported Delaney’s recommendation.

Griffith said she would provide copies of the 2000 charter proposal to the planning commissioners. Shupp added that citizens could obtain copies of the 2000 proposal from Town Clerk Scott Meszaros.

This 2000 charter is also available for review at www.coalitiontlc.org/monument_charter.htm

Two BOT public hearings on Feb. 20 announced

Griffith announced that town staff would hold a workshop on Feb. 3 for downtown residents to comment on new zoning rules for setbacks and building heights in the R-1 downtown B (business) district. The Planning Commission had recommended approval of the revisions for all R-1 areas, but the BOT had objected to them applying outside of the B district. A final BOT hearing on an overlay that only applies to the B district is currently scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 20. Feb. 19 is a federal holiday.

Griffith also announced that the downtown design guidelines in the architectural review committee’s white paper, which the Planning Commission approved in December, will be converted to an ordinance. The BOT public hearing on this ordinance is also scheduled for Feb. 20.

Griffith noted that the town staff had requested that the county install sidewalks and bike lanes on Highway 105 east of the Knollwood Drive intersection for the safety of "pedestrians and kids in the area." Griffith also noted that there is not enough room on Highway 105 on the west side of I-25, in particular by the new Town Hall located at the Beacon Lite Road intersection.

Smith asked Griffith to apply for the Safe Route to School grant program for the Monument Academy location.

Griffith said that there will be a hearing on the Arbor Mountain senior living center at the Feb. 10 meeting.

Baker asked Griffith to see if the Colorado Department of Transportation would agree to change the timing of the state’s traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 105 and Jackson Creek Parkway for rush hour periods to reduce the current backups that develop there.

The meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.

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The next Planning Commission meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8014.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Jan. 8: Participation in watershed district discussed

By David Futey

On Jan. 8, the Palmer Lake Town Council discussed a proposal to participate in a special district that is being created for protection of the Fountain Creek watershed. The board also approved three new business licenses.

Town Attorney Larry Gaddis was excused from the meeting.

Representation key issue with watershed district

Palmer Lake citizen Bob Miner has been providing the council with a summary of the issues surrounding the Fountain Creek watershed at council meetings over the past few months. He has been regularly attending meetings regarding the formation of the Fountain Creek Watershed Authority (FCWA) ( www.fountain-crk.org ). At this council meeting, Miner offered the following:

  • The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners has asked to meet with Palmer Lake council members in January to discuss the issues surrounding the FCWA, including the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) being formulated by the FCWA. As of the Jan. 8 council meeting, a date for the meeting had not been set. On Dec. 16, the Pueblo County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to accept the IGA.
  • The IGA is an attempt to establish an entity, in this case the FCWA, which would function similarly to the Denver Urban Drainage District.
  • If approved by the state Legislature, the FCWA may be able to impose a "fee" on those within the district and dictate management of Fountain Creek. Palmer Lake is located at the very northern end of the district.
  • The watershed area comprises less than 15 percent of the county land mass.
  • County Commissioner Wayne Williams has raised a concern about the lack of representation from the Tri-Lakes area on the Citizens Committee.

Miner asked the council what part it wants to play in these ongoing matters with the FCWA and the IGA. Mayor John Cressman stated, "We do not have a voice" at this time based on the makeup of the Citizens Committee or the proposed nine-member board and that the situation "needs to be corrected if possible." Cressman added that he does not feel the town needs to be involved at this time. Only one seat on the board would represent all of the small communities within the district.

Roads Trustee Bryan Jack repeated his concerns from a previous Town Council meeting about the lack of representation for the Tri-Lakes portion of the county and the pressure by the FCWA to work the IGA through the state Legislature. Jack continued that this could create a government entity that was not voted on by the citizens and that a special district such as this can assess a fee but not a tax without citizen input. Council members will attempt to attend a January meeting held in Colorado Springs Council Chambers that will go over the IGA and related information.

Business licenses approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved the following business licenses:

  • Upscale Resale, located in the West End Center, 755 Highway 105, Unit H. This business, owned by Patricia Bragg, will offer new and used items.
  • Anything Goes Gallery, located at 104B Highway 105. This business, owned by Marsha Romack-Bailey, will offer consignment furniture, jewelry, collectibles, and art.
  • Geni in a Bottle Auto Brokers, located at 790 Highway 105. This business, owned by Rickey L. Haddock, will be a solely Web-based auto seller and wholesaler. There will be no car inventory kept on the premises.

Ordinances approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved an ordinance to amend the 2009 budget. Town Clerk Della Gray stated that the planned bond payments in question are already prorated, and new funding lines had to be created in the General Fund. There is no fiscal impact on the town. Gray said this action would improve the town’s ability to receive loans from the Department of Agriculture and/or funding from the federal stimulus package. These changes had been cleared with the town’s auditor.

Committee reports

Cressman attended a recent meeting of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments ( www.ppacg.org ). Of particular note from the meeting was a discussion about President-elect Obama’s desire to help fund transportation and related infrastructure projects along with an aggressive timetable for such projects. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) indicated that the selected projects would need to be initiated six months after any funding bills are passed.

Community Development Trustee Nikki McDonald and Parks and Recreation Trustee Jan Bristol presented a year-end report of activities. Among the items mentioned were the Columbine Festival, Chautauqua, and the Bill Crawford Memorial Gardens. Maintenance of the gardens has been taken over by the town, and the American Legion has been approached for a donation to assist with the upkeep. Crawford was a World War II veteran and a Congressional Medal of Honor winner.

Bristol has continued her meetings with town businesses. In those discussions, business owners have said parking is their main concern. Merchants were also asked to provide feedback on streetscape designs, which will be reviewed after the sidewalk project is completed.

Bristol and McDonald are now involved in the Fourth of July Fireworks Committee. McDonald said there is a need for new volunteers on the committee as a number of key individuals have recently stepped down. Cressman was approached by Heuberger Motors, which expressed an interest in supporting the fireworks.

McDonald announced that the Third Annual Winter Fest will be held on Saturday, Feb. 14. The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department will be providing refreshments.

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman thanked outgoing Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Chief Phillip Beckman for his four years of service to the community. Beckman will continue on as a Palmer Lake firefighter. By unanimous decision, the council appointed Dan Reynolds as fire chief. The selections for other Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department positions are:

  • Assistant chief: Greg Lokken
  • Fire captain: Alex Farr
  • Fire lieutenant: Kim Polonsky
  • Medical captain: Shana Bell
  • Medical lieutenant: Abigail Vierling
  • Secretaries: Vicky Baker and Jane Garrabrant

Trustee Coleman stated that the Larkspur Ambulance Service Agreement ended on Dec. 31. The town has presented an agreement to Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection for it to assume ambulance service to the town. Tri-Lakes is currently responding to emergency medical dispatches.

Roads Trustee Jack summarized the Roads Department activities for 2008. These activities included:

  • The resurfacing of 2 miles of gravel road and rebuilding of County Line Road with 12,500 tons of millings received from El Paso County and the I-25 resurfacing project.
  • 150 feet of concrete ditch and a new drop inlet installed at the Walnut/Crescent intersection in a joint effort with the Palmer Lake Water Department,
  • A 250-foot concrete ditch installed on High Street to help alleviate drainage issues.

Jack also stated that the engineering for the Safe Routes to School grant project is nearing completion.

The Roads Department staff recognized Trustee Jack for all his "hard work and support" for the department during this past year. The staff cited the acquisition of the millings, updating of the department Web site, and effective communication with citizens regarding road issues and conditions.

Cressman, Gray, and Water Trustee Max Stafford attended a meeting with the U. S. Department of Agriculture to assess federal funding options for the water plant upgrades, primarily in the form of low-interest loans. The Water Department engineering staff is continuing to prepare information on water plant renovations.

Stafford also stated that the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority had sent the town an invoice for $5,000 for annual dues.

Police Trustee Dan Reynolds summarized the December police report. The primary issues in December were underage drinking and vandalism, particularly in the Glen where windows were shot out in 10 parked vehicles. Police Chief Gene Ferrin was involved in an accident that totaled one of the newly refurbished patrol cars. The other driver in the accident was cited. At this time, the funds received from insurance for the accident settlement will be saved and not go toward the purchase of another vehicle. The department will be with one less patrol vehicle for the time being.

Gray noted that she had submitted a letter of intent for the town to accept a federal grant of $138,000 for sidewalks, handicap ramps, and auxiliary parking lots. The Community Development Block Grant is administered by El Paso County.

Citizen lodges a concern

Resident Gary Atkins raised a concern about the activity occurring at the Palmer Lake Industrial Park property at Circle Road and Frontier Lane, which is near residential properties. In 1995, the area where the business resides was re-zoned for commercial activity. Atkins said that, at the time of rezoning, concessions were made by the owners of the property to leave the landscape natural behind the building and to not receive shipments at the back door in order to reduce commercial traffic on that side of the building, which faces residential properties.

Atkins also stated that drainage has been damaged by commercial traffic, and parked trailers and other outdoor facilities are now on the property. He asked the council to have this and other activity cease because he believes they violate the original rezoning agreement.

Cressman requested that Atkins talk with the building’s owners first to determine if a solution could be found. Cressman and Gray reviewed council minutes from the 1995 rezoning meeting and did not see Atkins’ concerns being violated as part of the zoning. Atkins stated that Chuck Jones was mayor of Palmer Lake at that time, and his son-in-law was the realtor for the property when it was originally sold for commercial use.

Shuttle service available

Jeff Hulsmann, owner of O’Malley’s Pub, updated the council regarding the shuttle service he started in December to transport passengers from his establishment to their home or other location. The 15-passenger shuttle transported 80 to 100 riders on New Year’s Eve. Presently Hulsmann is the only driver due to insurance restrictions, and the shuttle is available only on weekends at this time. Hulsmann hopes to eventually have volunteer drivers available and then extend the hours and days of operation. The shuttle service is free.

The meeting ended at 8:39 p.m.

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The next regular council meeting will be on Feb. 12. If the council holds a workshop, it will be on Feb. 5. The meeting and workshop will be held at Town Hall, on 28 Valley Crescent, starting at 7 p.m. Check the town’s Web site ( www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/index.shtml ) or call 481-2953 for any meeting changes.

Police chief Ferrin placed on administrative leave

On Jan. 27, OCN was notified that Mayor Cressman had placed Palmer Lake Police Chief Gene Ferrin on administrative leave pending further action—no criminal activity was involved in this matter. In the interim, Mayor Cressman has asked Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk to act as police chief for the Town of Palmer Lake. No other details were available by press time.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Jan. 28: Ups and downs of economy affected ‘08 budget

By Susan Hindman

John Hildebrandt, treasurer of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, presented the year-end budget, which reflected some now-familiar economic dilemmas. Specific ownership taxes, which districts receive from the sale of vehicles, were down 16.16 percent, or $65,442.

Ambulance revenue collection was 5.77 percent below budget for the year, although the steep drop in collections starting in November was troubling to the board. Collection had averaged around 55 percent over the first 10 months of the year; in November, it dropped to 31.67 percent, and in December was 33.42 percent.

"To go down 20 percent for two months running, there’s something wrong," said Director Charlie Pocock.

A number of charges were written off in March 2008—some dating back to 2002—and some have been sent to collection agencies. The board agreed that the payment trend needs to be monitored.

Only one expense category ran significantly higher than expected: insurance, which was 15.66 percent over budget. Two other categories were over by a small amount: training, which was 1 percent over; and buildings, in which the high repair and maintenance costs for the three stations were balanced by the lower amounts paid out for supplies, so it ended up 2.6 percent over budget. Overall, however, expenses were 16.21 percent, or $775,480, under budget.

Hildebrandt reported a surplus of revenue over expenses of $1,015,143, so the district entered the new year with a nice cushion.

By way of thanks

Dan Scott, with the Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association, presented an award to firefighter Elliot Linke, in appreciation for his support of the annual Amateur Radio Field Day, an emergency preparedness exercise held by the group at Station 1 in June. Linke said the event involved a lot of government agencies and was very successful and productive, and "We had a really good time."

Staff changes

Chief Robert Denboske reported the following changes: Tracy Cox has been promoted to lieutenant; Keegan Black and Mike Rauenzahn were promoted to driver-operators; Erin Lamb Smith has been hired as a new firefighter-paramedic; and Christopher Keough is a new firefighter-EMT.

Keep a wish list?

Director Bill Ingram brought up an article he had read in the Special District Association’s newsletter suggesting districts keep a list of "shovel ready" projects in case federal stimulus money becomes available. He wondered if the district should start such a list and suggested putting a new fire station on Baptist Road on that list. But because of the lack of growth in the area, board members said there would be no way to fund staffing for a new station. Denboske said he would look into other possible projects.

Ambulance service for Palmer Lake

An updated contract that would provide ambulance service to Palmer Lake should be en route to the Palmer Lake Town Council for review, Denboske said. After that, it will be returned to the Tri-Lakes board for review.

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The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (next to the bowling alley). The next meeting is Feb. 25. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 266-3367 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, Jan. 28: Amended 2008 budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

The board of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District approved an amendment to the 2008 budget that includes all the final details of the financial transactions related to the district’s first participation in wildfire fighting outside the state. The district sent firefighters to California for an extended period last summer.

Treasurer Dennis Feltz, acting Chief Vinny Burns, and acting Deputy Chief Mike Badger explained the amendment to the board. Chief Jeff Edwards has been called back to active duty again and has deployed with his Wyoming Air National Guard unit to the Middle East. All board members were present at the meeting.

The 2008 budget did not include funding for wildland deployments. This was a new endeavor for the district, implemented by Chief Edwards, to provide more training opportunities and real world experiences for the firefighters. The district paid for all deployment expenses upfront, such as payroll, benefits, fuel, equipment, and vehicle maintenance. Once federal funds were received, the accounts were reimbursed accordingly.

There was a learning curve for what was covered, what wasn’t covered, and what the federal rules were for reimbursement. The district received federal reimbursements of about $79,000 for the California deployment, about $24,000 more than the direct costs.

New financial software approved

Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall asked the board to accept monthly financial and annual budget reports in the standard format of the district’s new Quickbooks software. Marshall had just completed a switch of all bookkeeping records from the previous locally designed spreadsheet that had been used for many years to this industry standard commercial software. The board unanimously approved Marshall’s request.

The board also accepted the monthly financial reports for November and December.

2008 run report shows increased activity

The 2008 annual run report showed an increase of 189 runs, about 17 percent, from 1,113 runs in 2007 to 1,302 runs last year. Burns noted that there were no firefighter injuries on any of these runs, a commendable achievement by all the full-time and volunteer staff. There were 97 runs in November and 110 in December.

There was a lengthy discussion on how runs varied for different days of the week and different months. There were 524 medical responses, an increase of 37 percent. The largest increase was in AMR responses, up 111 percent. Captain Mike Whiting said the most significant number was the increase in medical responses for Wescott only, a 20-25 percent increase.

Capt. Scott Ridings reviewed his shift’s participation in three residential structure fires in December, all out of district. Ridings said the district’s help in two house fires in Black Forest was very successful. In particular he noted that a minimum amount of water was used in efficiently extinguishing an attic fire, significantly limiting damage.

Badger, who is also a member of Wescott’s volunteer pension board, said he had received the district’s packet for this year’s actuarial study from the Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado and that he would be filling it out. Badger will provide a more complete report at the next semi-annual pension board. The final results will be briefed to the pension board in October.

Badger also presented two draft revisions to the policy and procedures manual for the board to consider. Both revisions provide clarification about training policies and reimbursement for training expenses.

Director Bill Lowes suggested that the board initiate a full review of the manual. The board asked Burns to provide a list of suggested changes for discussion at the March board meeting. Director Scott Campbell suggested that the board also initiate annual reviews of all district regulations. The board agreed and decided that October was the best month and would provide the best background for budget review and preparation.

Community involvement highlighted

Board President Kevin Gould stated that District 20 Discovery Canyon Campus representatives had approached him and thanked Wescott for their community involvement with the school’s science fair. Burns explained that the winner of the upcoming Silent Auction at the Air Force Academy would be entitled to a special night out with the Wescott firefighters, to include transportation by Engine 1, a tour of the station, and dinner. Burns added, "Estimated value of this prize: Priceless!"

The board went into executive session at 8:13 pm to discuss personnel matters. The session concluded at 10:03 p.m.

Prior to adjourning at 10:07 p.m., the board adopted its 2009 Goals for the District. The board requested that Burns and Badger communicate these goals to the staff and encouraged having them posted as the district’s mission statement.

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The next meeting of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board will be on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board, Jan. 15: Board discusses program promoting science, technology, engineering, and math

Below: Community engagement Jan. 15 regarding Project Lead the Way. Clockwise from nearest: Superintendent Ray Blanch, LPHS students Andy Wilbourn and Sam Wallace, LPHS industrial arts instructor Tony Ramunno, PRHS students Connor Campbell and Sae Ichihara, PRHS Engineering and Design Technology instructors Tyler Dall and David Bedia, school board member Robb Pike, PRHS student Derek Emeis, school board members Gail Wilson and Mark Pfoff, and school board president Dee Dee Eaton. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting Jan. 15, the board held a community engagement session with high school students and staff involved in Project Lead the Way, which promotes science, technology, engineering, and math education through pre­-engineering course offerings. PLTW was started in 1986 in New York by teacher Richard Blais. It has since expanded throughout the country to 3,000 schools and 250,000 students. There is more information on the program at www.pltw.org

Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) Engineering and Design Technology instructors Tyler Dall and David Bedia and Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) industrial arts instructor Tony Ramunno and students Connor Campbell (10th ­PRHS), Sae Ichihara (10th­ PRHS), Derek Emeis (9th ­PRHS), Sam Wallace (10th ­LPHS), and Andy Wilbourn (10th ­LPHS) participated in the discussion of PLTW with school board members and Superintendent Ray Blanch.

The students answered such questions as: "Why did you take this course?", "Is the district meeting your needs regarding whole child education?", and "How do you learn best?" During the course of the discussion, the district was urged to work on attracting more females to the program and to present information on the program to students earlier in their education.

District urged to adopt a sun safety policy

During citizen comments, Dr. Christina Nelson and Ilima Kane, representing Sun Safe Schools ( www.sunsafeschools.net ), presented information regarding sun safety and the prevention of skin cancer. Nelson noted that two bad sunburns doubles a child’s cancer risk for life. Sun Safe Schools, an outreach program funded by the National Cancer Institute, is designed to assist school districts in developing and adopting a sun safety policy. Both women encouraged the district to consider implementing a sun safe policy to benefit the health of students and personnel. Kane reported that six districts in Colorado have adopted sun safety policies.

Blanch noted that as an operational policy, it would fall under his administration’s jurisdiction. He added that last year, the district received grant funding from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to promote sun safety at the elementary schools.

resident Dee Dee Eaton presided at the Jan. 15 meeting. Board members Mark Pfoff, Robb Pike, and Gail Wilson were present. Board member John Mann’s absence was excused.

Other matters

  • Posting of 2007­-08 stakeholders’ report – This annual report, required by the CDE, is posted on the district Web site. A letter announcing the posting of the online report will be mailed to all stakeholders by the end of January. This is the first year the CDE has allowed electronic posting of this information. This will save the district approximately $8,000 in printing costs. The report includes a compilation of data regarding student performance and information about the district’s schools, students, and operations.
  • Operations Advisory Committee (OAC) update – Committee member Carl Janssen presented the report. The OAC is charged with tracking the expenditures from the mill levy override (MLO) ballot measure that was approved by voters in November 1999 to provide enhancement of elementary school reading programs; resources to maintain, enhance, and initiate other programs; staffing to reduce class sizes and hire staff for two new schools; expansion of gifted and talented education; and textbooks and instructional materials. Janssen reported, "The MLO was used for the voter-approved purposes." The OAC also recently reviewed the district’s financial statements for the 2007-­08 school year and the independent audit report.
  • Revisions to operational policies presented – Blanch presented recent changes to the district’s operational policies for professional and classified staff insurance/fringe benefits and ­bidding procedures. He also addressed the need to adopt the policy on advertising. Under the Policy Governance® Model of school board government, operational policies and decision-­making are under the superintendent’s authority.
  • Operating Limitations Policy 2.7: Compensation and Benefits – Blanch presented this monitoring report in accordance with the Policy Governance® Model. The policy states, in part, "The superintendent shall neither cause nor allow jeopardy to fiscal integrity or to public image through employment, compensation, or benefits to employees, independent contractors, or volunteers." Blanch addressed comments and questions from board members, who suggested minor revisions to the report before formally voting to accept the report.
  • Superintendent’s update – Blanch presented ideas for realignment of the board meeting agenda to more closely support the Policy Governance® Model. He gave an example of an executive summary report that will be used to address and summarize appropriate agenda items for future board meetings. He also discussed the choice enrollment flier that will be mailed to parents outside the district to encourage enrollment in District 38.
  • Board members’ comments – Eaton stated that the daylong board retreat held Jan. 10 was very worthwhile. Board members discussed communication and the workings of the Policy Governance® Model. Pike said the recent retreat helped him to more clearly understand his role as a board member. He added that he will review the board policy manual and other materials that may be used to train future board members. Wilson said that it seems the district’s policy on facilities rentals is not fully implemented, so it may be necessary to modify the policy or begin to enforce it more strictly. Pfoff asked Blanch how the district’s budget may be affected if the state cuts education funding. Blanch responded that Cheryl Wangeman, assistant superintendent of operations, would attend a state meeting regarding school financing later in the month. She will report to the board in February regarding the issue of state funding.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the District’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The next regular monthly meeting of the board will be held Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. with a reception at 5:30 p.m.

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

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

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Special Education Advisory Committee, Jan. 14: Annual report on services completed

By Harriet Halbig

At the Jan. 14 meeting of the School District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee, Julie O’Brien, the district director of special education, said that her office has completed the annual report on all children who access services. The special education program does its annual count in December.

When a child reaches age 6, he or she exits the preschool category. Childfind coordinators, who monitor children of earlier ages, do not see a student’s day-to-day performance as do kindergarten teachers, but rather rely on occasional home visits to monitor performance. For this reason, each child is re-evaluated at age 6.

The number of students accessing services is now 537 out of a total student population of about 5,000. O’Brien said it is typical for about 10 percent of a school population to be involved. She explained that bilingual students are primarily assisted with increasing their English skills. Only after the language ability has been improved is an effort made to detect possible learning disabilities.

The annual report also includes information on the qualifications and training of the staff.

There is a speech clinic at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School for preschool-age children, treating exclusively articulation issues. To qualify, a student’s articulation must be interfering with his or her ability to learn. This clinic offers one-on-one training with a speech therapist. There is also a paraprofessional on staff. In addition to training the children, parents are trained to help by reinforcing the training at home.

As a result of this program, many children who have reached age 6 and have been re-evaluated, have been found not to require further special-education assistance. Presently there are about 20 students involved at the clinic.

Due to cost restraints, the district is reconsidering the availability of the center. O’Brien said the service will continue to be available, but perhaps not on a one-on-one basis.

The general goal of the special education program is to teach in the least restrictive setting, so isolating children may not be the best practice.

Regarding staffing of the department, the director’s office is looking at where the students are going (for example, from the primary to secondary level) to be sure that the staff is in place where needed. Information on available staff will be available on the Web site. Transition meetings involving special-education staff at both levels and parents will be held in April.

Ilanit Bennaim then gave a report on parent-support meetings for the remainder of the school year. A presentation by Sam Towers of Towers Behavioral Services would be offered on Feb. 25. The Peak Parent Center will offer a program on March 18, and on April 22, there will be a presentation on special needs trusts and estate planning for families with special needs children.

In addition, the resource fair discussed at the December meeting has been scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 4 at the Learning Center.

Chris Amenson reported that work on the SEAC Web site had been suspended while the district changes servers. He said an occupational therapist in the district wishes to create a site with occupational therapy activities for parents (motor skills, sensory integration, keyboarding, etc.)

Amenson also reported that this would be his last meeting as chairman, as he must return to his participation in the Front Range Energy Resources Council. He asked for a volunteer to replace him. There was no immediate response.

Regarding grants and fundraising, it was reported that there are relatively few opportunities available. It was suggested that the committee seek partnership with such organizations as the YMCA.

In closing, it was reported that some scholarships were still available for the inclusion conference in mid-February.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

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The Special Education Advisory Committee meets on the second Wednesday of each month in the Learning Center of the administration building, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. Parent support events are held on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

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Board of County Commissioners January meetings summary

By Jim Kendrick

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved several consent items related to the Tri-Lakes area in January. There was no discussion of these consent items, which included approval of the Palomino Reserve preliminary plan, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) road maintenance project list and budget for 2009, and a liquor license for the Sundance Mountain Lodge on Woodmoor Drive.

Palomino Reserve

On Jan. 8, the commissioners unanimously approved a preliminary land use plan for the Palomino Reserve development, located on the southwest corner of Highway 83 and County Line Road. The owner, Shawn McKee, proposed the preliminary plan for the 88.3-acre subdivision that was previously called Elk Ridge Estates. The plan calls for 15 single-family lots with a minimum lot size of five acres. The existing zoning is county RR-5 (Residential Rural.)

Currently the property is a horse ranch with a single house and barns located on the southwest corner of the property with an existing unpaved driveway access to the west side of Highway 105, a half mile south of the County Line Road intersection. All these buildings and other horse facilities would become a single lot. The rest of the property, which would be subdivided into 14 lots, is open grassland.

The preliminary plan shows the location of boundaries, easements, and roadway rights-of-way. It also lists the various service providers and constraints on the proposed uses of the property. The preliminary plan shows two cul-de-sac roads that would serve the areas north and south of the floodplain. The primary cul-de-sac road would intersect the existing driveway that serves the existing ranch buildings on the southwest corner of the parcel. Future residents would drive east to Highway 105 using the existing driveway access for the existing ranch buildings.

A floodplain bisects the property running from the midpoint of the eastern property line, where it crosses under Highway 105, to the northwest corner of the parcel. The floodplain significantly limits the available space for construction on most of the lots.

There were seven conditions of approval:

  1. Prior to the commissioners’ hearing for the final approval of the preliminary plan and associated documents, the applicant shall address any remaining technical corrections to those documents.
  2. Applicable school and park fees shall be paid with any final plats.
  3. A driveway access permit will be required from the county Development Services Department for any access to a county-maintained roadway.
  4. The County Attorney’s Conditions of Compliance shall be adhered to at the appropriate time.
  5. The developer shall comply with federal and state laws, regulations, ordinances, review and permit requirements, and other agency requirements, if any, of applicable agencies including, but not limited to, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Endangered Species Act, particularly as it relates to the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as a listed species.
  6. A completed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit shall be provided to Development Services prior to project commencement if ground-disturbing activities will occur in wetland areas. Alternatively, a letter from a qualified wetland specialist indicating why such a permit is not required will be acceptable.
  7. There shall be no direct lot access to Colorado Highway 83 from any lot within this subdivision, unless such access location is approved by the CDOT.

The two notations were:

  1. Approval of the preliminary plan will expire after 12 months unless a final plat has been approved and recorded or a time extension has been granted.
  2. A Letter of Map Revision is currently under review by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This agency must approve this letter prior to the BOCC giving approval of the final plat.

Road waiver request: The applicant requested a waiver that would allow the use of a private unpaved cul-de-sac road with access to County Line Road at the Spring Valley Road intersection to serve the four northern lots. Access for this kind of private road onto County Line Road is not allowed without an approved BOCC waiver. The state will not allow access for this kind of private road to Highway 83. The design standards for this unpaved private road are also part of the waiver request. If the waiver request is denied, the preliminary plan will have to be redesigned.

The county staff recommended approval of the waiver for County Line Road access due to the limited area served by the private road and the low desirability of constructing a bridge over the floodplain to connect the two cul-de-sac roads.

Some of the other items noted in the staff’s report were:

  • Each of the residential lots will have its own well and septic system.
  • The existing RR-5 zoning was approved in 1955.
  • All setbacks are 25 feet and the maximum structure height is 30 feet.
  • The staff determined that the plan is consistent with the county’s regulations and policy plan and the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan.
  • This subdivision is located at a substantial distance from the nearest fire station.
  • A fire protection cistern for storing water will be constructed on the lot by the Highway 105 entrance.
  • The plan shows specific preliminary no-build areas with boundaries for setbacks, but FEMA may change them during its review of the proposal.
  • Expansive soils were found on the site.
  • Due to groundwater depth, full basements may not be feasible on all lots.
  • All lots have two potential on-site septic system locations.
  • A suitability analysis for mouse habitat was performed. Fish and Wildlife must give a clearance letter before the final plat is filed.
  • The West Cherry Creek Basin has not been studied and no fees have been assigned.
  • The county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force recommended approval of using the existing access to Highway 83.
  • The adjacent portion of County Line Road, an El Paso County minor arterial, is maintained by Douglas County.
  • The adjacent portion of Highway 105 is maintained by CDOT.
  • Fees will be paid in lieu of dedication of land to the county parks department and Lewis-Palmer School District 38; no county park or school facilities are planned for this development.
  • A bridle trail easement will be provided by the developer.
  • None of the 12 adjacent property owners returned the county’s request for comments on this proposed development.

(See http://bcc.elpasoco.com/NR/rdonlyres/B673744E-B634-4E1B-94C9-6DEBFBE463DB/0/1816b2.pdf for specifics of the preliminary plan.)

The plan was previously approved unanimously by the Planning Commission on Dec. 2, 2008, with the same seven conditions recommended by the county staff.

2009 PPRTA Road Maintenance Project List approved

The 2009 PPRTA Road Maintenance Project List was approved on Jan. 12. The list includes paving and chip seal overlays, gravel road resurfacing, concrete improvement projects, geotechnical projects, and safety/special projects. The funding listed below is provided entirely by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority 1-cent sales tax.

The project list was reviewed and unanimously endorsed by the county’s Highway Advisory Commission on Nov. 18, 2008. The project list was presented to the BOCC on Dec. 22, 2008. The board’s requested revisions had been incorporated into this list.

PPRTA also funds maintenance projects for roads under the jurisdiction of the Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and Green Mountain Falls.

Recently the town of Ramah joined PPRTA. Ramah’s representative to the PPRTA board is Ramah Trustee Pamela Smith, who is also Monument’s Treasurer. Ramah is not part of this list. (See www.pprta.com/FAQ/rta_faquestions.html for more details on PPRTA)

The projects from the county’s portion of the PPRTA Road Maintenance Project List that are located in the Tri-Lakes area are:

  1. Asphalt Overlay: Woodmoor Drive from Lake Woodmoor Drive north to Deer Creek Rd - $115,940
  2. Asphalt Overlay: Lake Woodmoor Drive from Woodmoor Drive east to Saint Andrews Drive - $106,929
  3. Asphalt Overlay: Furrow Road from Sherwood Glen N north to County Line Rd - $25,317
  4. Asphalt Overlay: Baptist Road from Tari Drive east to Longmeadow Lane (doesn’t say whether east or west intersection of the loop with Baptist Rd) - $80,917
  5. Asphalt Overlay: Higby Road from Cloverleaf Drive east to Roller Coaster Road - $250,595
  6. Asphalt Overlay: Sun Hills Drive from Gleneagle Drive northeast to Stella Drive - $182,598
  7. Asphalt Overlay: Monument Lake Road from Raspberry Lane north to Peak View Blvd - $51,996
  8. Asphalt Overlay: Hodgen Road from Meridian Road east to Eastonville Road - $171,007
  9. Asphalt Overlay: West Top of the Moor Drive from Woodmoor Drive W to Promontory Way - $91,791
  10. Asphalt Overlay: Archer’s Drive from Trumpeter’s Court north to E Kings Deer Point E - $8,329
  11. Asphalt Overlay: East Top of the Moor Drive from Woodmoor Drive to Promontory Way - $83,445
  12. Geotechnical preparatory work for future repairs: County Line Road from Indi Drive to Palmer Lake Limits - $6,000.
  13. Geotechnical preparatory work for future repairs: Kingswood Drive from Baptist Road to endpoint - $6,000.

Items 9 and 11 repave all of Top of the Moor Drive, but the west half and the east half of this looping road are separate projects.

Sundance Mountain Lodge liquor license survey area approved

On Jan. 12 the board approved the survey area for a new liquor license for Sundance Mountain Lodge LLC at 1865 Woodmoor Drive. The Lodge is the extensively renovated and redesigned building that was formerly called the Falcon Inn. (See www.sundancemountainlodge.com.)

On Jan. 27, the board unanimously approved the new hotel and restaurant liquor license for Sundance Mountain Lodge following an abbreviated public hearing. No objections to the new license were filed and only one person out of the 178 surveyed in a one-mile radius gave a "no" response.

Gleneagle Golf Club liquor license renewal approved

On Jan. 27, the board approved a change in manager and an annual renewal of the hotel and restaurant liquor license for the Gleneagle Golf Club at 345 Mission Hills Way. There were no adverse comments received regarding either of these agenda items.

Subdivision of a 5-acre lot in Chaparral Hills approved

On Jan. 27, the board approved a vacation/replat of lot 23, 14870 Curb Bit Lane, in Chaparral Hills. Owners Kenneth and Patricia Brier subdivided their existing 5.45-acre lot on the west side of Curb Bit Lane south of Struthers Loop into two separate lots of 2.8 and 2.6 acres. The property is in the RR-2.5 (Residential Rural) zone district. There were no objections from adjacent property owners.

There were nine conditions of approval:

  1. All Deed of Trust holders shall ratify the plat. The applicant shall provide a current title commitment at the time of submittal of the new Mylar copies of the plat documents for recording by the county.
  2. The subdivider must provide certification from the county Treasurer’s Office that all prior years’ ad valorem taxes for the subdivided land have been paid to the Development Services Division.
  3. The subdivider must pay, for each parcel of property, the fee for tax certification in effect at the time of recording the new plat.
  4. The applicant shall submit the Mylar copies to the Enumerations office of the Regional Building Department to obtain new addressing for the subdivided lots.
  5. The developer shall comply with federal and state laws, regulations, ordinances, review and permit requirements, and other agency requirements, if any, of applicable agencies including, but not limited to, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Endangered Species Act, particularly as it relates to the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as a listed species.
  6. The County Attorney’s Conditions of Compliance shall be adhered to at the appropriate time.
  7. Drainage and bridge fees for the Black Forest Drainage Basin in the amounts of $3,521.93 and $109.26, respectively, shall be paid prior to recording of the plat.
  8. Fees in lieu of school land dedication in the amount of $844 shall be paid to El Paso County for the benefit of Academy School District 20 prior to recording the vacation/replat.
  9. Park fees in lieu of land dedication for regional and urban park purposes shall be paid prior to recording the vacation/replat.

The notations were:

  1. Final plats not forwarded to BOCC within 12 months of Planning Commission approval shall be deemed withdrawn and a new final plat shall have to be submitted in its entirety.
  2. Failure to record the final plat with one year following BOCC approval will require reconsideration by the board. This reconsideration may require compliance with new criteria, regulations, and updated fees.
  3. A driveway access permit will be required from the county Development Services Division for any access to a county maintained roadway.

Some of the items noted in the staff report were:

  • Lot 23 of Chaparral Hills was platted with 5.12 acres in August 1971 with R zoning, which required 20,000-square-foot minimum lot sizes. The developer chose to develop lots of at least five acres each. The county initiated rezoning of these parcels to A-6 (Agricultural) in 1990, which had a minimum of 2.5 acres per lot. A-6 zoning has since been renamed RR-2.5 (Residential Rural.)
  • Driveway access to the existing lot and house does not change.
  • Access to the new lot will be provided by a 30-foot flag stem.
  • A 30-foot right-of-way reservation for future connectivity to the adjacent property to the south has not been required and the reservation is now vacated.
  • No traffic impact study is required for additional traffic created by the new house to be built on the new lot.
  • Donala Water and Sanitation District will provide water and sanitary sewer services to the proposed residence on the new vacant lot.
  • The owners’ existing residence will retain the use of its existing well water and existing septic system.
  • The owners’ existing residence will be restricted to 0.66 acre-feet per year, requiring that a revised well permit be issued by the State Engineer reflecting this limitation.
  • The revised well permit must be submitted to the county for review prior to recording the final plat.
  • The owners must pay a cash in lieu fee to the county Parks Department for the new lot; the amount is undetermined at this time.
  • The owners must pay a $306 cash in lieu school fee to District 20 for the new lot.

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NEPCO meeting, Jan. 10: Homeowners’ associations get update on Baptist Road I-25 interchange

Below: At the NEPCO meeting Jan. 10, Bob Torres (standing) and Gary Heckman (right edge of the frame) answered questions about the Baptist Road I-25 interchange project. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

The Jan. 10 meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) was the first one for the newly elected board of directors that consists of President Hans Post and directors Steve Kearney, Louise Link, Ginny Markl, and Bob Swedenberg.

Meeting facilitator Link introduced Bob Torres, BRRTA (Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority) construction project manager for Jacobs Construction Co. that is overseeing the Baptist Road I-25 interchange replacement. Prior to joining Jacobs, Torres was with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for 28 years. He was the Region 2 transportation director and oversaw the interchange replacement at Highway 105.

Torres presented an update on the status and plans for the project. He was assisted by Gary Heckman, BRRTA construction project engineer with Jacobs.

Highlights of Torres’ presentation:

  • The project is a joint effort of BRRTA, CDOT, the Town of Monument, and El Paso County.
  • It is being funded through a $21.5 million BRRTA bond issue based on a 1 percent sales tax charged at businesses within BRRTA. Voters approved the tax Nov. 7, 2006, and it went into effect July 1, 2007.
  • CDOT contributed $2 million in developing the preliminary and final design of the interchange as part of the I-25 Corridor Environmental Assessment project conducted by contractor PBS&J.
  • Lawrence Construction is the prime contractor for the interchange project. Lawrence was the prime contractor on the Highway 105 interchange replacement. Lawrence’s winning bid was $12.61 million.
  • Jacobs is serving as project manager and construction manager and their part of the work is budgeted at $1.75 million.
  • The total construction budget is $15.68 million.
  • Adjacent property owners ADK Monument Developers, Forest Lakes, Phoenix Bell, THF Monument Development, and Valero donated right-of-way for the project.
  • The project will widen Baptist Road to four lanes from Jackson Creek Parkway to the interchange.
  • A new eight-lane bridge will be built over I-25, and new I-25 ramps and signals will be installed.
  • A new 8-by-8-foot, 624-foot-long concrete culvert will be installed under Baptist Road to handle storm water flows down Jackson Creek. It will replace an existing 4-foot diameter culvert.
  • The Struthers frontage road will be closed north of Baptist Road and new access roads will be constructed to the Diamond Shamrock station and to the Timbers development adjacent to the former Foxworth-Galbraith location.
  • New water and sewer lines will be installed along Baptist Road west of I-25.
  • Sewer, telephone, gas, cable TV, and electric utility lines will be relocated east of I-25.
  • The project will construct stormwater sewers and water quality ponds.
  • Mitigation will be done to compensate for disruption of wetlands and Prebles’ meadow jumping mouse habitat. Work in the mouse habitat areas can be done only from Nov. 1 to April 30.
  • On I-25, two lanes of traffic are to remain open in each direction between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. For necessary nighttime lane closures, I-25 traffic will be diverted to the ramps to bypass the construction.
  • On Baptist Road, lane closures are not allowed between 6 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Nighttime lane closures required for certain construction activities will be announced in advance through press releases and through project message sign boards.
  • The notice to proceed was issued to Lawrence on Oct. 28, 2008. Completion is scheduled for January 2010.
  • The major elements of Phase 1 (November 2008 through May 2009): Shift I-25 alignment to allow for construction of the overpass structure, install erosion control measures, delineate habitat areas, construct detours, construct northwest and southwest ramps, install new water and sewer lines west of I-25, construct the north half of the overpass, relocate utilities, construct the north half of the Jackson Creek culvert, construct access roads, and construct the north half of Baptist Road.
  • The major elements of Phase 2 (May 2009 to July 2009): Demolish the existing overpass, pave the northwest and southwest ramps, construct the storm sewers, and construct and pave the northeast and southeast ramps.
  • The major elements of Phase 3 (July 2009 to October 2009): Construct the south half of the overpass, construct the south half of the Jackson Creek culvert, and construct the south half of Baptist Road.
  • The major elements of Phase 4 (October 2009 to January 2010): Finish ramp construction, install traffic signals, install lighting, install landscaping, and install signs and striping.
  • In response to a question, Torres said that no park and ride facility is planned for the Baptist Road interchange. There is a large park and ride facility at the Highway 105 interchange.
  • Torres said that no separate bike/walking path is planned, but that there will be 8-foot to 10-foot sidewalks and striping for a bike lane on the roadway.
  • Maintenance of the interchange and ramps will be done by CDOT.

About 25 Tri-Lakes area homeowner associations (HOAs) representing about 6,800 properties are members of NEPCO. Many HOAs were represented at the meeting, which was attended by about 40 people.

Link described upcoming NEPCO meetings:

  • March 14—Forestry and the status of the proposal to drill test gas wells on Mount Herman
  • May 9 – Law enforcement issues with El Paso County Sheriff Maketa
  • July 11 – School district issues and property values with the superintendents for School Districts 20 and 38
  • Sept. 12 – HOA legal issues with attorney Lenard Rioth
  • Nov. 14 – County issues with El Paso County Commissioner Wayne Williams

**********

NEPCO meetings are held every other month. The next NEPCO meeting will be held March 14, 10 a.m., at the Family of Christ Lutheran Church on Baptist Road. Topics will include forestry and the status of the proposal to drill test gas wells on Mount Herman.

For more information on NEPCO, visit www.nepco.org or contact Bob Swedenburg, NEPCO secretary, at 481-2723 or swedenburg@comcast.net

Bob Torres can be contacted at 578-3308 (office), 641-9596 (cell), or robert.d.torres@jacobs.com

Gary Heckman can be contacted at 306-3773 (cell) or gary.heckman@jacobs.com

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Woodmoor Improvement Association annual meeting, Jan. 26: Annual meeting covers budget, election

By Harriet Halbig

Treasurer Bill Walters presented the 2009 budget at the Woodmoor Improvement Association’s annual meeting Jan. 26. President George McFadden presided at the meeting.

Expected income is $763,891. Walters said that in 2008 the association had more income than budgeted, but with the mold and asbestos problems at the Barn, the association ended the year $7,000 in the red.

Including this expense, he said, the association has used about $50,000 of its $300,000 reserve fund.

Walters said that the association is now seeking bids for a new auditor, and that all but two of the association’s employees are now part time.

He then briefly reviewed the 2009 budget, explaining that income includes dues, new construction fees, and assessments. Also included are rentals for space in the Barn, class fees and income received by the Public Safety division for such things as checking commercial properties, vacation checks of homes, and outside residential checks.

Expenditures cover administrative expenses such as salaries, benefits, computer programs, covenant enforcement, janitorial services, legal fees, and worker compensation.

He pointed out that the association’s reserves are in a separate CD and not commingled with other monies.

Election

Secretary John Wilson then explained election procedures. He said that this year the election included the use of directed proxies. If a homeowner expressed an opinion on a proxy returned by mail, the board was required to vote in that manner. In addition, he said that the League of Women Voters would oversee the election process and observe the counting of the ballots. The association also rented a post office box in Briargate exclusively for the receipt of the proxies, with the only key in the possession of the League of Women Voters representative.

For those members who did not respond by mail, ballots were available on the evening of the meeting and would be collected in a sealed box and retained for counting the following day.

The candidates for the three open positions on the board were then allowed three minutes to introduce themselves. The balloting was then declared open and the ballot box circulated throughout the room. The balloting was then declared closed.

Vincent Elorie Award

The 2008 Vincent Elorie Award for good citizenship and volunteerism was then presented to Jim Woodman, whose contributions included service as a tree monitor. He was an active member of Sertoma who was instrumental in helping obtain funding for fire mitigation in the community, and he helped achieve Firewise status for the community.

Goals

McFadden then offered the president’s report. He said that the association has set several goals, including holding more open meetings, including budget meetings, with fewer executive sessions. All documents involving the association will be reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that they are up to date. E-mail addresses for all board positions will be provided so that members can more easily contact the individual responsible for a given area.

McFadden said that the board is pleased to have a retainer relationship with attorneys from Hindman and Sanchez so the board will feel free to ask any questions.

He reported that the Barn remediation is almost complete and that testing would be performed on Jan. 28. Once the testing is completed, it will be possible to paint and recarpet the building.

Reports

Public Safety Director Steve Steffey reported on his department’s activities in 2008. He said that reports of open doors were down 30 percent from the previous year. Over 17,000 vacation checks were completed. Calls for service declined 4 percent from the previous year, but vandalism increased by 10 percent. Animal complaints were up 17 percent. He urged homeowners who own dogs to give their phone numbers to their neighbors so that complaints could be handled without involving Public Safety.

Steffey said that the department updated contracts with commercial entities during the last year, as many of these contracts were several years old. The new contracts more clearly state the duties of public safety and limit liability.

Gary Marner, director of common areas, reported on a major cattail removal project and said that the sign to the Barn will be lighted in response to many complaints that it was difficult to find.

He said that his committee will be actively seeking volunteers to participate in projects in the new year.

Anne Stevens-Gountanis reported on the Architectural Control Committee. She said that among the members of the committee is Kate Horton, a licensed builder. During 2008, there were 203 projects approved by the committee. The committee continues to seek the best types of roofing for the area.

Forty-nine new homes were built in the community in 2008, and there were eight major modifications to existing homes.

The forestry report was given by Chuck Maher. He said that his division published the WIA Firewise report and held neighborhood meetings, sponsored a high-altitude gardening class, and performed 214 lot evaluations during 2008. Projects completed during the year included the creation of firebreaks in the median of Fairplay and the thinning of vegetation in five cul de sacs. A forestry and mountain pine beetle class was also offered at the middle school, and students were taken on a field trip to the Church at Woodmoor to see the effects of beetle infestation.

In 2009, the division plans to continue to raise awareness of forestry issues, maintain status as a Firewise community, and administer grants to further the needs of the community. A final goal is to maintain a base of forestry volunteers.

The report on covenant protection expressed the intent to continue to educate the community through newsletters and encourage homeowners to come to the WIA office for waivers or extensions rather than waiting to be contacted for a violation. An example of this would be an additional vehicle in a driveway because a college student is home for the summer.

Comments

In a question-and-answer session, one member asked that the people of Woodmoor be notified of vacancies on the board rather than being told that a position had been filled. McFadden replied that the bylaws require the board to fill any vacancies in non-election years. He said that to change this policy would require a special meeting of the membership to change the bylaws.

When asked whether a majority vote by the board could move WIA to a management company, McFadden responded that yes, the board may bind the association in contracts. However, the board has not formally discussed this move and has no intention of doing so. Again, to prevent this action would require a change in the bylaws.

Past President Beth Courrau asked about the 291 lots of Pulte town homes in south Woodmoor that pay an annual fee to WIA and monthly dues to a smaller association of their own. She expressed concern that a line item in the budget that reflected this income had been stricken from the budget. Treasurer Walters responded that the association must consider the consequences that would occur if the town homes withdrew from WIA, and this caused them to remove that revenue from the budget.

Chuck Maher expressed concern that the annual association dues had not increased. In the bylaws, the association is limited to a 3 percent increase per year. He is concerned about an emergency such as a catastrophic fire and feels that insurance is not sufficient. The response was that WIA is responsible for its buildings and common areas, but homeowners are responsible for their own fire insurance.

The final public comment concerned Woodmoor Park, the town homes located near Lewis-Palmer High School in south Woodmoor. A man said WIA should consider enforcing the covenants, although Woodmoor Park has its own restrictions. He said that the landscaping in Woodmoor Park has been unsuccessful and its appearance reflects poorly on Woodmoor.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Election results

Following a meeting of the board on Jan. 29, it was announced that the newly elected members of the board are Steve Steffey, Mari Rollins, and Chuck Maher. The officers for 2009 are as follows: George McFadden, president; Bill Brendenmuhl, vice president; Bill Walters, secretary; Mari Rollins, treasurer, Anne Stevens, Architectural Control; Steffey, Public Safety; Maher, Forestry; Gary Marner, common areas; and Jim Wilson, member at large.

**********

The next WIA meeting is at 7 p.m., Feb. 23 at the Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Monday of the month. Info: 488-2693 or visit www.woodmoor.org

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Top weather events of 2008

By Bill Kappel

2008 colder than normal

For the year, temperatures averaged 1.1°F colder than normal. This is a large departure over a 12-month period and is similar to the weather in much of the rest of the world, which witnessed one of the coldest years in decades.

Snowy beginning of the year

Snowfall from January through May was well above normal across the region, giving us a good start to the growing season. Each month saw at least 16 inches of snow, with March coming in as the winner with over 25 inches. Even May was snowy, with 18 inches accumulating; it was the second year of the previous three in which May has recorded double-digit snowfall totals.

A very dry June

Right on the heels of the wet and cold spring, summer started off very dry. June recorded less than an inch of rain, well below normal. Big storms can and do occur during June (June 1965 for example), but we sure missed out this year.

Flash flooding in July and August

When we did finally get some rain during the summer, it decided to come all at once. Very heavy rain fell in a short period on July 3 and Aug. 5 across several areas around the Palmer Divide, leading to some flash flooding. Then a wet and cold storm system piled on more heavy rains during the weekend of August 15th. After all was said and done, August recorded well over 5 inches of rain for most of us.

Heavy snow on the last day of November

Heavy snow bands formed late in November, on the 29th and into the 30th, as a very strong jet stream moved directly overhead. This allowed for very efficient lift in the atmosphere. This lift in the upper atmosphere (about 20,000 feet above the ground) combined with a strong north/northeast flow at the surface to produce mountain-enhanced snow bands as the winds blew up the north side of the Palmer Divide. There was plenty of moisture and cold air to work with as well, combining to give us our first big snow of the season. By the end of the day on the 30th, most had accumulated an impressive 10-20 inches of fresh snow in less than 24 hours.

The table below gives the 2008 yearly weather summary for the Tri-Lakes region. Note that the weather station is located one-half mile east of Highway 83 off Walker Road at an elevation of 7,371 feet. Be sure to check out the weather section of my Web page at www.thekappels.com/Weather.htm for more fun and facts on the weather in our region.

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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January Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

The first month of 2009 turned out to be slightly warmer and a little drier than normal as a continuation of the pattern we’ve seen across the U.S. most of the fall and winter. This pattern has been signified by a strong ridge off the West Coast and a deep trough over the Great Lakes region. This has led to cold and snowy conditions from the Midwest through the East Coast and mild and dry weather from the Rockies through the West Coast.

Around the Tri-Lakes region, we have been on the edge of both of these patterns with no definite trend either way. Therefore, we have been hit by several quick-moving systems and have received numerous glancing blows of cold air, interspersed by dry and mild weather.

The month started off dominated by a strong ridge of high pressure. This led to the proverbial "January thaw" for much of the first week of January, only briefly interrupted by a quick shot of snow and cold. Temperatures jumped into the 40s and low 50s on the 1st and 2nd of the month, accompanied by gusty winds out of the west/southwest.

A quick-moving cold front did make an appearance during the first weekend of the month, racing through the region during the morning of the 3rd with temperatures tumbling to the teens through the afternoon. This storm had enough cold air and moisture to produce plenty of light, fluffy snow as well, with most of us picking up 2-4 inches before the snow stopped on Sunday the 4th. The cold air stuck around as well, with highs only touching the low teens on the afternoon of the 4th.

The first full week of January saw a mixed bag of weather, ranging from snowy and cold to breezy and mild. The week started off on the chilly side as a storm system was leaving the region. Highs held in the low 30s on the 5th and 6th under mostly sunny skies. Mild air quickly moved in the next day on west/southwest winds, and temperatures jumped into the 40s and 50s. We also had our typical bouts of mountain wave clouds during these days as strong winds roared over the Rockies and produced the spectacular cloud formations where air currents were forced to rise and fall over the mountains like water running over a rough river bottom.

The next cold front arrived during the morning hours of the 9th and brought 1-3 inches of snow. Temperatures held near normal levels with highs in the 30s through the rest of the weekend under mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies. This fast flow, with quickly changing air masses racing over the region, from mild to cold, is very common for January and ensures that the weather pattern around here this time of the year never gets too stagnant.

Winter was in full force to start off the week of the 12th, but it ended more like summer. Snow and blowing snow started things off on Monday, with 4-6 inches accumulating around the area. This storm quickly cleared the region, with sunshine returning for the rest of the week. Initially, temperatures were slow to warm, as there was plenty of fresh snow to reflect sunlight and take energy out of the atmosphere that would normally go into heating the air. This changed by the end of the week, as a very strong ridge of high pressure developed off the West Coast and slowly edged toward Colorado. Temperatures rose to above normal levels on Saturday and Sunday, with highs in the upper 40s and low 50s as westerly winds kicked in.

Clear and mild weather started off the week of the 19th, with temperatures well above normal as highs hit the 50s and low 60s under sunny skies. Some areas around the Front Range hit the low 70s during this period. Wintry weather did return by the latter half of the week as temperatures dropped back to normal when a couple of shallow, cold air masses moved in. These produced areas of low clouds, fog, and flurries.

However, because the air masses were so shallow, they retreated off the Palmer Divide by late morning on the 23rd and 24th. This left us mostly sunny, allowing temperatures to hit the 40s while lower elevations around us were stuck in the 20s. A more organized storm system began to affect the region by the end of the weekend. This brought the coldest air of the month to the region on the 26th and 27th.

Temperatures reached only into the high single digits during the afternoon of the 27th after morning lows started off well below zero. A few inches of fresh snow accompanied this cold air as well, but as has been the case most of the month, this cold air didn’t stick around long. High pressure built back in to end the month, giving us mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures on the 30th and 31st.

A look ahead

February is often a dry and cold month for the Tri-Lakes as we move toward the snowy and unsettled conditions of March and April. Precipitation averages less than an inch, with average high temperatures in the 30s. It can get very cold in February with arctic air making strong pushes into the region. However, days begin to get a little longer, which leads to some sunny days and snow melts faster. February 2005 was right around normal temperature-wise, while February 2006 and 2007 were cooler than average, and February 2008 was cooler than normal as well.

The official monthly forecast for February 2009, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for equal chances of above- and below-normal temperatures and precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

January 2009 Weather Statistics

Average High 41.2° (+0.9°)
Average Low 13.4° (+0.8°)
Highest Temperature 60° on the 21st
Lowest Temperature -11° on the 27th
Monthly Precipitation 0.61" (-0.22" 34% below normal)
Monthly Snowfall 12.8" (-3.5" 22% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 51.6" (-10.2" 17% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 14.02" (+1.12" 9% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1165 (-17)
Cooling Degree Days 0

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

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Big thanks for Small Town Christmas

I wanted to thank you for the excellent coverage of the many community events that take place in the old Monument downtown, most recently Small Town Christmas on Dec. 6, 2008. This event has been sponsored by the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA) in cooperation with the Town of Monument for more than a decade. These events number high on the list of things that set Monument apart as a true community.

In addition to the people already mentioned, I wanted to name some others who have worked hard for a very long time to keep this day special. One is Vicky Elliott, the longtime owner of The Office Center in downtown Monument. For more years than she likes to remember, Vicky has handled the huge task of managing the very popular craft hour in the Town Hall. Local Girl Scouts help out with manpower, the HMMA foots the bill, and the town provides the venue, but it is Vicky who secures the supplies for the crafts and buys the cookie dough and supervises the event. This year, so many kids came to do crafts that every last scrap of supplies was used (or eaten).

The actual names of our Mr. and Mrs. Santa were mentioned in your article (Nick Primavera and Mary Russelavage), but I wanted to add my own gratitude for the extra effort they put into making a truly special day for all the children who came to visit Santa. Although they were only requested to be present until noon, they both stayed in our beautiful band shell until 1 p.m. to be sure that every child had a chance to express his or her wishes.

The HMMA has made this day a focal point for this community’s holiday celebrations all these years as a way of expressing gratitude for the support shown the small businesses that make up the organization. This tiny core group is critical to the long-term identity of the town. A downtown marks the history and personality of a town in ways no shopping center (however wonderful) can ever do. The citizens of Monument seem to understand and appreciate this, and make a genuine effort to support the downtown.

So thanks to all who made the day a part of their family’s holiday, and thanks to all the business owners who arranged and paid for the many extras (donkeys, reindeer, hayrides, gifts, free projects, etc.) that made the day memorable. Monument truly is a great place to live.

Lucy McGuire
Director of Downtown Development
Town of Monument

Tire store a good fit for Marketplace

The rejection of the proposed plat for Discount Tire is yet another failure by the Monument Planning Commission ("Plat for tire store rejected," OCN, Jan. 3, 2009). The original vision for Monument Marketplace as an upscale shopping center such as the Promenade Shops at Briargate is clearly not going to happen (that vision ended with construction of Wal-Mart and Home Depot).

Our marketplace is a shopping center of convenience: a place to buy inexpensive groceries, household items, and automotive parts; rent movies; purchase pet and office supplies; and sit down for an inexpensive meal. The Monument Marketplace is too large and impersonal to support small, quality restaurants like you might find in downtown Palmer Lake or Monument. And there aren’t enough people in the Tri-Lakes area to support upscale restaurants like the ones in Denver and Cherry Creek.

Since we can’t change what the Marketplace has become, I think the focus should remain on successful retail businesses. If you have ever shopped at a Discount Tire, you would have found it to be an excellent business. They offer an excellent line of tires, very good customer service, and competitive discounts for our military. They are a business that knows the importance of location, and you cannot expect them to be stuck in the back corner of the Marketplace and expect them to be successful.

Eric Sandberg

Editor’s note: Despite the Planning Commission vote, the Monument Board of Trustees went on to approve the plat for Discount Tire at its Jan. 5 meeting. See the article above for a full report.

Rescue a dog, gain a companion

After reading about the mill dog rescue group, I knew I had to give one of those poor neglected creatures a good and loving home. I checked www.milldogrescue.org and while looking through the adoptable dogs, an adorable little Japanese chin named Lani caught my eye. I knew she was the one for me and would make a wonderful companion for our Tibetan spaniel, Bogart, who we rescued from the Humane Society in 2004.

After filling out the online adoption forms, I was contacted by a representative and shortly after was notified that I was accepted as a good home for Lani. I picked up my little girl at the PetSmart on Powers and Union in October. Since I love gardening and flowers, I changed her name from Lani to Lily. We brought Bogart along with us, and he too thought she was very special. Lily has been a joy. At first, she was afraid of people and would run away from them. In just a short time, she has become a friendly, loving companion that is no longer afraid of people, plays with her toys, plays with Bogart, eats well, walks on a leash, and has become a good buddy to our cat Julian, who we adopted from a no-kill shelter 10 years ago.

To those of you who may have thought of rescuing a mill dog but weren’t sure what they may be like, I offer this to you: With lots of love, patience and kindness, you will have the most loving friend and companion that you could ever imagine.

Bev Levine

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Click It or Ticket enforcement focuses on rural Colorado

Provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)

High Fatalities, Low Seat Belt Use Among State’s Rural Drivers and Passengers

In an effort to increase seat belt use and save lives on Colorado’s rural roadways, the Colorado State Patrol and 21 rural law enforcement agencies are stepping up seat belt enforcement Feb. 11-17. The Click It or Ticket campaign takes place in Alamosa, Bent, Delta, Elbert, Garfield, Gunnison, Huerfano, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, Otero, Prowers, Washington, and Yuma counties.

"We’re focusing our enforcement efforts in these rural counties because our studies indicate that seat belt use is very low in these areas," said Pamela Hutton, CDOT chief engineer and governor’s representative for highway safety. "Living in a rural county myself, I know the sense of security rural drivers feel and the temptation not to wear a seat belt, but with more than half of Colorado’s fatalities occurring in rural areas, it is extremely important to buckle up no matter where you drive."

Coloradans driving or riding on rural roadways face a much greater risk of being injured or killed than do those in urban or suburban areas. In 2007, 57% of traffic fatalities occurred in rural Colorado. One contributor to higher fatalities is a lower seat belt use in rural parts of the state. An observational seat belt study conducted in 2008 showed that seat belt use is lowest in Eastern Colorado with only 77.4% of rural drivers and passengers buckling up. That compares to an 83.6% seat belt use rate along the urban Front Range. Seat belt use is 79.4% in the Western region of the state. The overall statewide seat belt use rate is 81.7%.

"We know that regular seatbelt use is the single most effective way to prevent injuries and death in a crash," said Sheriff Gerry Oyen, Bent County Sheriff’s Office. "Since I began my career in law enforcement 42 years ago, I’ve seen a drastic change in the effectiveness of seat belts and people’s attitudes towards wearing them. Nowadays there’s no excuse not to wear one. Our goal is to get more people buckled up in rural Colorado."

Young males and pickup truck occupants are among those at greatest risk. In 2007, three-quarters of the unbuckled deaths were men, and nearly half of them were ages 18 to 34. Also in 2007, 73 people died in pickup trucks in Colorado, and 68% were not wearing seat belts. Only 70% of pickup truck drivers in Colorado wear seat belts. That compares to a 83.7% seat belt use rate for cars, 85.4% for vans and 84.9% for SUVs.

"Pickup trucks do not make you invincible. Studies show they are twice as likely as cars to roll over in a crash," said Col. Mark Trostel, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "Develop the habit to take two seconds to buckle up yourself and your passengers. You’ll avoid a ticket or much worse."

Colorado has a secondary enforcement law for adult drivers and front-seat passengers. Drivers can be ticketed for violating the seat belt law if they are stopped for another traffic violation. Click It or Ticket enforcement focuses on speeding and aggressive drivers. Drivers who are stopped for a traffic violation and are not using a seat belt will be ticketed. Seat belt fines are $65 per violation.

Colorado’s child-passenger safety law includes both primary and secondary enforcement. The infant seat, child safety seat and seat belt provisions of the law are primary enforcement, meaning the driver can be stopped and ticketed if an officer sees an unrestrained or improperly restrained child in the vehicle. The booster seat portion of the law is secondary enforcement. The child-passenger safety law clearly defines child safety seat and seat belt use from birth through age 15. The public can find more information about the law and assistance with using child safety seats and seat belts properly by visiting www.carseatscolorado.com

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Let’s celebrate presidents’ month

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Did you know that Feb. 12, 2009, is Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday? With a new president taking office during a very difficult period in our history, it may be a good time to look back at the monumental problems faced by some of our greatest presidents.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
By Jon Meacham (Random House), $30

Andrew Jackson, his close group of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this book about the man who rose from nothing to shape the modern presidency. Jackson’s election in 1828 ushered in a new era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. A master storyteller, Meacham details the human drama that shaped Jackson’s private world through years of storm and victory. One of the most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
By Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster), $21

This multiple biography illuminates Lincoln’s political genius as the one-term congressman/prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president. An acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Goodwin presents a highly original work centered on Lincoln’s mastery of men during the most significant presidency in the nation’s history.

The Reagan I Knew
By William F. Buckley Jr. (Basic Books), $25

In The Reagan I Knew, the late Buckley offers a reminiscence of 30 years of friendship with the man who brought the American conservative movement into the White House. Though Reagan tended to shy from personal intimacy, he and Buckley shared a true friendship. They shared inside jokes and vacations, advised each other on domestic and international politics, and mentored each other’s children. This book presents the most revealing portrait of Ronald Reagan the world is likely to have.

Traitor to His Class
By H. W. Brands (Doubleday), $35

This sweeping new biography highlights the life of Franklin Roosevelt, the man generally considered the greatest president of the 20th century, admired by Democrats and Republicans alike. The book sheds new light on FDR’s formative years and on his remarkable willingness to champion the concerns of the poor and disenfranchised. Drawing on archival materials, public speeches, personal correspondence, and accounts by family and close associates, acclaimed best-selling historian and biographer Brands offers a compelling and intimate portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s life and career.

President Obama: The Path to the White House
Edited By Adi Ignatius (Time Inc.), $19.95

Barack Obama’s path from Hawaii to Indonesia to the White House represents one of the most unlikely and fascinating journeys in U.S. political history. With this special publication, Time marks Obama’s rise with an illustrated 96-page book, containing original reporting and analysis from the magazine’s political experts. The book showcases the intimate behind-the-scenes photography of campaign photographer Callie Shell, who has been visually documenting Obama’s journey since he began his run for president. Readers will receive a colorful and concise account of how Obama rose to power—from his early days, to his Chicago years, to the moment when he became a political phenomenon.

"They Have Killed Papa Dead!"
By Anthony S. Pitch (Steerforth Press), $29.95

Pitch’s thrilling account of the Lincoln conspiracy and its aftermath transcends the mere facts of that awful night. It transports the reader to one of the most breathtaking moments in history, revealing much that is new about the stories, passions, and times of those who shaped this tragedy. Virtually every word is based on primary-source material with new quotes from previously unpublished material, new images, and a new understanding of Lincoln’s legacy. This engrossing book aches with sadness while pulling the reader forward with page-turning excitement.

Many of our presidents have grown in office and risen to the occasion when faced with monumental problems. We can all learn how to face adversity a little stronger by looking back at the character and decisive actions of some of our country’s foremost leaders.

Until next month, happy reading.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Common merganser

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of a Common Merganser Duck by Elizabeth Hacker. 

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

In February, daylight increases and weather conditions are more favorable for bird watching. A few months remain before the songbirds return, but it’s a good time to see the abundant waterfowl that winter here on the open lakes and streams.

In January, several common mergansers were listed on the 2009 winter bird count at Fountain Creek Regional Park. There is nothing common about this bird, which is the largest of the three merganser species referred to as "sawbills" because of their serrated bills, which are very effective tools for grasping slippery fish. The other two species of merganser are the hooded merganser (featured in OCN, March 2008), which also winters here, and the red-breasted merganser, which reportedly prefers the coastal salt water and is not generally found in fresh water.

The winter range of the common merganser is composed of the most northerly unfrozen lakes, streams, and coastal areas. Small flocks of 10 to 20 of them are often observed swimming in the open waters along the Front Range. Although it prefers lakes and secluded wetlands, during a cold snap when lakes freeze it moves to the open water of fast-moving streams.

Winter is the ideal time to observe the common merganser, because it has molted its dull rusty brown post-breeding feathers and is strikingly handsome in its new, boldly contrasting black-and-white breeding plumage. Its large body size and long bill make it easy to spot. It weighs 2.5 to 4 pounds and is long and sleek in appearance. As with most waterfowl, the male common merganser is showier and a little larger than the female. Unlike the typical dull brown plumage of many female ducks, the rust-colored, windswept head feathers of the female are distinctive, and fellow birders often refer to her as the "bad-hair-day duck."

The white body of the adult male sits low in the water, but it holds its iridescent greenish-black head erect as it effortlessly glides over the water’s surface. Suddenly it disappears below the surface, diving for fun or to chase a small fish. If successful in a chase, it surfaces with its catch wiggling in its long scarlet orange beak.

Mergansers are thought to fish cooperatively. That is, one merganser may chase a fish into the toothy bill of another. Often gulls and bald eagles are seen hovering in the vicinity of mergansers, watching them as they surface with a fish. Gulls and eagles have been observed stealing fish from mergansers as they surface.

They are silent except when courting, so it was a birder’s dream to hear the male’s whirring-like notes as he called to a female, which answered him with a muted quacking response. The proud drake spends much of the day displaying and calling to attract a female. Males will encircle a female and to gain her attention take turns puffing up their breasts and flapping their wings. If the female swims away, the drakes will chase her and may become aggressive. In late winter pair bonds form, and in March they fly to their breeding range.

Depending on the latitude, pairs reach their breeding range in April or May. Upon arrival, the female immediately builds a nest. The nesting habitat of the common merganser varies, but most often nests are built in tree cavities. Infrequently it will nest on the ground under a tree root, in a rock crevice, in a hole in a stream bank, in a hollow log, or in a chimney. The female chooses the nest site and makes a bowl-shaped nest, which she lines with her soft downy feathers. Within two weeks after the pair arrives, the female will lay an egg a day. The average nest contains 10 eggs, and the month-long incubation begins after the last egg is laid. The male may stay to guard the nest for a week but leaves before the eggs hatch to join other molting males.

Chicks hatch within hours of each other. They leave their nest the next day and head for water. The mother may protect the chicks for a short time, but she does not feed them. The young from many broods join together to form what is referred to as a crèche, and shortly thereafter the mothers leave the crèche to molt in private.

As soon as the chicks reach the water, they will begin to dip for food. In the first two weeks, the chicks’ diet consists of aquatic insects like dragon flies that they can catch near the surface. After about 12 days the young ducks begin to develop feathers, which allow them to dive more deeply for fish.

In comparison to many migrating birds, there is less information on the migration and habits of the common mergansers. They are thought to be the last birds to head south from their breeding range in the arctic and sub-arctic boreal forests and among the first species to fly north in the spring. Though there are a few banding programs, overall the common merganser is one of the least studied birds and much is yet to be learned about it.

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

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On the Trail: Treat our suffering trails with care

By Tim Watkins and Jon Nordby

It was not all that long ago that the small ribbons of dirt winding and rolling among trees, scrub oak, and varied and diverse geologic formations were relatively unknown and hence relatively untouched. The 1,000-acre area had been at various times a cattle ranch, a Civilian Conservation Corps base, and a tree farm and nursery for regeneration of seedlings to replace burned areas of forests, and now is a base for Hotshots forest firefighting crews.

Ironically, the area became a burn zone in 1989, forever radically changing the scenery and the ratio of large trees to scrub oak. The trails were still somewhat secretive and hidden by thick growth, and the paths were narrow and twisting. There were not a lot of people frequenting the place. A few equestrians, and a few cows, staffed the grounds. There were a few joggers/runners, and the newly introduced mountain bikers on rare occasion. Except for an occasional horse or snowshoe enthusiast, these trails in the Monument Preserve rested all winter long.

"Progress" found the Tri-Lakes area, and the local population exploded along with the rest of northern El Paso County. The trails no longer rest any time of the year—a story clearly told by the vehicles in the parking lot even on the coldest winter days. The preserve has become a favorite of the increased population of local residents who discovered their back yard is a thousand-acre park full of trails winding through the wonderful scenery and diverse terrain. Joining those living close-by are outdoor enthusiasts who drive in from many Front Range communities to mountain bike, ride horses, or enjoy the area on foot.

This "progress" has left many of the trails in the incredibly beautiful area in less than pristine condition. The use has become …well … overuse, and the area is suffering. We need to make corresponding "progress" in how we use and maintain the Monument Preserve. First and foremost, there needs to be consideration of the lands, for they are irreplaceable and sacred to many of us. Please stay on existing trails, do not wander off the original beaten path, for this widens and "braids" trails, damaging the vegetation and surrounding ecosystem, and results in a trail system we cannot maintain.

If it is too wet or too icy to stay in the trail, turn around and stay off of them! Go to drier spots or find other dry places that don’t have as fragile an ecosystem like dirt roads or less-used paved roads. If you have to hose off bikes, shoes, horses, or other equipment to get the mud off, then that is soil that you took from the trails—leaving them rutted and deeper than before you used them. Multiply that pile of mud by thousands, and you will understand that we all need to be diligent in when to use the trails and when to turn around.

Please, too, show consideration to other users, even if you don’t like their style of locomotion. Slow down in the many areas where the winding trails and bramble oak limit visibility—always assume others are nearby and out there for the same reasons you are. Greet them and pass only at slow speeds when safe for all involved.

Finally, be considerate not only of other users but of the place itself. Again I say it: The preserve is sacred, as is all of the Earth we live on. There is a wonderful group of dedicated people who work hard to maintain and service these trails to keep them as usable and sustainable as possible in increased traffic use. The Friends of Monument Preserve (www.fomp.org) works with the Forest Service and community volunteers to work on trails, reforest the burn area, preserve the history, and address many other ongoing concerns in and around the 1,000 acres. FOMP needs volunteers, concerned members, and donations to provide for tools, signs, and materials to replenish the area’s vegetation and maintain trails. See the Web site for membership and schedules.

Please take this all to heart. Use the wonderful area we have and keep it usable for those who will come later on. Be thoughtful and considerate of the land and of the other people who frequent the wonderful trails we have.

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Art Matters: Art as creative industry jump-starts local economies

By Janet Sellers

As I began the research for this column on our economy and art, I assumed that art efforts overall might tank over the next while, or that it is considered a frill by many. I, for one, believe that the arts are a necessity for many reasons, most of them personal and not as a numbers game.

I was astounded to find the data and numbers for revenues generated from the arts to be in the billions of dollars annually. In addition to this community cultural strength, the real estate and merchant economies are at their strongest because the active arts communities are places that attract and keep people; buyers wish to visit and belong to highly enriched cultural places. Even without knowing a lot about art per se, we can all appreciate its energy and the powerful effect it has on our lives.

In our Front Range area alone, the arts/cultural dollars each year result in more new dollars circulating here than sports, ski resorts, and other "famous" Colorado activities combined. The arts are one of the largest dollar creation entities in the United States, offering thousands of jobs and investment opportunities overall in the creative sector known as the "creative industries."

Our imagination is engaged with our art experiences, of course. But did you know that our place of living is financially enriched by its presence? Studies show that where there is art and cultural enrichment, there is a social and economic vitality in a community. Happily, this translates into an economic boon in any financial climate. Many Colorado civic and state projects have policies where each project/developer must devote 1-3 percent of building budgets to art for that immediate community. The action of adding art to the architectural projects bears out facts and numbers for continued economic health after the construction dust settles.

Here’s how the arts stimulate our economic energy, as reported from local and national data in 2007:

  • The arts are a growth industry. In five years, the economic activity of nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences grew nearly 24 percent from $134 billion in 2000 to $162.2 billion (11 percent when adjusted for inflation).
  • Arts organizations are responsible businesses, employers, and consumers. Spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations—only a fraction of the total arts and entertainment industry—was an estimated $63.1 billion in fiscal 2005, and leveraged an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by arts audiences. This $166.2 billion in total economic activity supports 5.7 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs and generates $29.6 billion in government revenue annually: tax revenue $12.6 billion; state government revenue $9.1 billion; local government revenue $7.9 billion; total household income generated $104.2 billion ( www.AmericansForTheArts.org).
  • From large cities to small rural towns, this research shows that the nonprofit arts are an economically sound investment. They attract audiences, spur business development, support jobs, and generate government revenue. Locally as well as nationally, the arts mean business. (Source: Arts & Economic Prosperity III, Americans for the Arts, 2007)

In our community, we have some notable public arts associations and venues. In the past month, at least five sculptures have been chosen to go on exhibit around town by the Tri- Lakes Views organization. We expect an announcement soon, hopefully with photos, about the pieces chosen for its upcoming 2009-10 public art exhibit year. In light of this happy news, we also would like to share this press release from the Tri-Lakes Views so you can get involved in some detective work. Here goes:

"WANTED: Public Art Information. Tri-Lakes Views, a community based art organization, is looking for public art on display in our area. The goal is to catalogue the location of all local public artwork and create a comprehensive map for the public. Public art is defined as outdoor artwork that is easily visible and accessible to the public. Also helpful would be the artist’s name and medium, if known. Anyone with information on locations of public art in our area may contact Karen Ball at 481-5658 or kayzde@aol.com. Tri-Lakes Views is the 501(c)(3) organization that raised funds to install the "Ice Harvest" mural in downtown Monument. They are working to bring more public art to our community via the ARTSites project. ARTSites will be a yearly exhibit of outdoor art on-loan from the artists and displayed throughout our area. Information on their many programs and how you can give your support may be found on their website, www.Trilakesviews.org." (As a supplementary note, all of the public art from the ARTsites project will be for sale).

Before writing this month’s column, I drove around town to try to find some of the public art we have here. One favorite is a bronze sculpture (see photo) in an alcove behind the Candy Box n’ Gallery, just across from Margo’s on the Alley. Alas, I did not find an artist plaque to inform me of the details of artist, title, and so on. Surely there are a number of works we could enjoy, but do we know where to find them? These are the things we need you all to investigate and report to us on.

Speaking of nonprofit arts organizations and exhibitions, the Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) is having its Winter Art Exhibition at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts throughout February 2009. The PLAG show and the show for Joseph Bohler went up Feb. 3, so you can drop by and see them right away if you like. Besides the two main art galleries and artists’ studios, the center also has a gift shop selling art and artisan jewelry, cards, and more. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Highway 105 in the town of Palmer Lake—just across from the lake. Go out for a walk around scenic Palmer Lake and drop by the Arts Center for a walk in our local art scene. Besides warming your tootsies on a cold day, it will also warm your heart!

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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At the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

Photos by David Futey

Below: Connie Kay Miner was literally going in circles when creating this work which she then aptly titled, Going in Circles. While working on this quilt she had to constantly move around it in order to weave the circles and other patterns. 

Below: debi Story Maddox poses next to one of her works in her Time Out of Mind series at the TLCA on January 24.  

For additional information on these artists, see the concert article below.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Palmer Lake trustee brings holiday joy by train

Below: Palmer Lake Trustee Gary Coleman operates the Polar Express for a young visitor to Christmas Trains. Coleman operated an exhibit of N and O-scale sized trains until January 18. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

Palmer Lake Fire Trustee Gary Coleman said he has had a fondness for trains "probably since I was born." Coleman recounted how there would always be a train and Nativity scene underneath the tree at Christmastime.

Coleman’s father worked at Union Station, and at times Gary would accompany his father to work and ride a train or two. Those experiences have led to a lifetime interest and passion for trains that he now shares with the Tri-Lakes community each holiday season while also trying to assist the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

For the third year in a row, Coleman set up and operated a Christmas Trains exhibit over the holidays. This year’s edition featured a likeness of the train from "The Polar Express" and a model of the town of North Pole. For a donation to the Fire Department, you could get a Polar Express bell and hot chocolate.

For those who missed this wonderful exhibit, you will have to wait till next year to determine if you can still hear the bell ring, as Trustee Coleman does.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society hosts potluck

Below: The Palmer Lake Historical Society held its annual potluck Jan. 15. Photo provided by Phyllis Bonser.

By Dee Kirby

On Jan. 15, the Palmer Lake Historical Society (PLHS) celebrated its annual potluck at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, which was brightly decorated in patriotic red, white, and blue with touches of Americana decor to complement the theme "Historic Show and Tell." Two tables held artifacts from the museum and personal, historical treasures contributed by people.

The Pledge of Allegiance and a robust "Yankee Doodle Dandy" opened a brief meeting to elect the new officers to the PLHS board and thank the outgoing board members and volunteers who distribute fliers and make phone calls for the monthly meetings. Incoming officers are Phyllis Bonser, president; Al Walters, vice president; Victor Vaile, treasurer; Ron Herd, secretary; Rogers Davis, museum director; and Mary Meyers, Kim Braun, Hans Post, and Bob Kirby as at-large board members who cover other board duties.

During dinner, Dee Kirby played piano music for the diners. The evening concluded with a show-and-tell by those who brought their historical artifacts to share. The PLHS plans to repeat a Historical Show and Tell at the January 2010 potluck.

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The PLHS usually meets the third Thursday of each month. The next meeting will be held Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. The topic is "Mining History and Ore Processing," presented by David Carroll of the Western Museum of Mining & Industry. For information, call 559-0837, e-mail plhist@aol.com, or visit www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/plhs. Those interested in the history of the Tri-Lakes area and Colorado can become a member. Memberships cost $10 for individuals and $15 for families.

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Simple machines intrigue museum visitors

Below: During the WMMI Simple Engines Day on January 10, Tim Hunter demonstrates the energy field created by a Tesla coil by lighting a fluorescent light. Mr. Hunter, a retired electrical engineer, became fascinated with the Tesla coil at an early age and has built several coils over the years. The Tesla coil creates a high voltage, low current, high frequency alternating current. In a darken room, as this photo was taken in, the air can be seen as becoming ‘charged’ as plasma filaments connects to the bulb. Nikola Tesla, inventor of the coil, was a resident of Colorado Springs and performed experiments here from 1899-1900. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On Jan. 10, visitors to the Western Museum of Mining and Industry were captivated and challenged by the many exhibits at the museum’s Simple Machines event. From the use of force and fulcrums while using a lever to the dynamics of using a pulley, visitors gained an understanding of a variety of physics properties.

During various times throughout the day, a Tesla coil was demonstrated by Tim Hunter. Hunter has built a number of coils over the years after gaining an interest in electricity and Tesla at an early age.

The museum is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. From 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 28, the WMMI and Monument Branch of the Pikes Peak Library District will hold a joint activity at the museum. There will be games, activities, history interpreters, and other events, and it is free.

Check the museum’s Web site ( www.wmmi.org ) or the library’s Web site ( www.ppld.org/AboutYourLibrary/HoursLocations/monument.asp ) for details.

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Audience gets the gifts at music and art event

Photos by David Futey

Below: During his January 24 performance at the TLCA, Rob Drabkin (R- with guitar) enjoys a saxophone solo by his father Harry Drabkin (L) as upright bass player Eduardo ‘Bijoux’ Barbosa (center) looks on.

Below: Jessica Sonner enjoys a moment with the audience during her TLCA performance on January 24.

By David Futey

Even though it was headliner Rob Drabkin’s birthday a day or two prior to his concert at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts on Jan. 24, it was those who attended the music and art event of that evening that received all the presents. The first present the audience opened contained the voice and stage presence of Jessica Sonner.

Sonner, a native of Lakewood who opened for Drabkin, is starting a tour to promote her latest CD All We Need. This comes on the heels of a 2008 tour season that took her to 130 cities where she performed 155 shows at colleges and small venues. It seems the intimate atmosphere that the small venue offers is to her liking as she charmed the TLCA throughout her performance. The songs she wrote and performed come from her keen observational skills and reflect on her pop influences, such as Sheryl Crowe and Patti Griffin. Hearing those pop sounds was difficult while growing up in a Christian household that frowned upon certain influences as pop culture. As a result, Sonner would sneak a radio to bed and listen to pop music under the covers.

Sonner learned to play the piano while growing up and eventually taught herself guitar. Those talents, coupled with a music business degree from Anderson University in Indiana, where she also begin honing her songwriting skills, have led her to explore her artistic expression to the delight of many across the country.

The second present that evening was Rob Drabkin’s second appearance at the TLCA. He opened for Wendy Woo at her performance in 2008 and was excited to receive an invitation back as he found the TLCA audience very appreciative last year. The audience was so pleased with his return that they serenaded him with a rendition of "Happy Birthday," though he left them guessing his age. Drabkin, a Denver native, won the Westword Music Award for Colorado’s Best Singer-Songwriter of 2008, and it only took a verse or two to realize that his selection was more than justified.

Accompanied by his father, Harry Drabkin, on saxophone, Eduardo "Bijoux" Barbosa on upright bass, and Daren Hahn on percussions, Drabkin played selections off his two solo EPs and just-released compilation CD. Drabkin’s guitar playing reflected not only his many years refining his style with the instrument, but also his tutelage on finger-style guitar playing from fellow Coloradan and guitar virtuoso Ted Reece. Drabkin says he is a "musician before a lyricist" and writes around the mood he creates with the groove of the song. And he has been in a groove of late by selling out at venues across Denver and beyond. Compared to the likes of Dave Matthews and John Mayer, it will not be too long before others locally and nationally discover few comparisons to Drabkin.

The final gifts of the evening were the diverse and dynamic artistic offerings of debi Story Maddox and Connie Kay Miner, whose artworks were displayed until Jan. 28 (See photos on page 31). Maddox, a relatively new resident of Monument, held her first one-woman show, with 30 pieces on display. Maddox creates four to six works to form a series based on a particular theme. Drawing her inspiration from everything from God’s creations in nature to medieval art, Maddox maintains an edginess to her works.

Her series work also enables her not to be "put into a box," as it is difficult to believe that the series on display at the TLCA were made by the same artist. One example is her Time Out of Mind series that explored how life is regulated by time and how it seems to run out on us. For this show, Maddox was trying a concept of "buy a painting based on what you can afford." Her motivation behind this concept is to get art into the home and be enjoyed.

In the Lucy Owens Gallery, Miner displayed 25 of her quilts, ranging from 4-inch-square miniatures to queen-size. Miner, of Colorado Springs, attempts to dispel the sometime negative impression that quilts are only made from leftover pieces of material or have little in the way of thoughtful design. Using public domain patterns that are 100 to 200 years old, such as one known as the log cabin, and her own designs influenced by her knowledge of color design, thread quilting and motifs, Miner displayed quilts with a range of themes, designs, and color patterns. Besides recently winning first place in the TLCA member show, her quilts have won awards at state fairs and other events, and have been displayed in state buildings and other prominent settings. In describing her designs, Miner hopes the viewer is drawn into her work and is able to read the unique story that each quilt possesses.

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For more information on the artists in this article, please go to the following Web sites or use the noted contact information: Rob Drabkin ( www.robdrabkin.com ), Jessica Sonner ( www.jessicasonner.com ), debi Story Maddox ( www.storymaddoxgallery.com ), and Connie Kay Miner ( connie.miner@comcast.net ). For information on the TLCA, upcoming events, and its capital campaign, go to www.trilakesarts.org

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January and February library events

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Joseph Elisha of Fountain meets the Storm Troopers. 

Below: The Monument Branch family tree. 

By Harriet Halbig

The year began at the library with many highlights.

On Jan. 10, many patrons young and old came to meet and have a photo opportunity with Storm Troopers from the Mountain Garrison of the 501st Legion. Following the photo session, a teacher from Science Matters gave a presentation on conditions on distant planets.

The adult reading program began on Jan. 12 and will continue until March 9. Those participating will receive a book bag, Rocky Mountain chocolate, a commemorative coffee mug, and a coupon from Panera Bread Co. In addition to books, books on CD or tape may be counted toward the total. To receive all prizes, one must read eight books in the time period.

Planning for the 2009 Winter Festival continues, with the theme of Pikes Peak or Bust. Details appear in a story elsewhere in this issue. The date is Feb. 28, and the place is the Western Museum of Mining and Industry.

Patrons at the Monument Branch were treated to a photographic family tree of the staff during January. The brainchild of staffer Gwenda Rosebush, the tree appeared on the study room window. Each staffer was encouraged to submit one photo of high school age and one of early childhood. Patrons were asked to identify the photos. Those who correctly identified 10 or more received a generous prize of the library’s favorite item—chocolate.

February brings a varied collection of events. The library district, in conjunction with the Imagination Celebration, is sponsoring a poetry contest for children on the theme of food. The Poetry Stew contest is open to all fourth- and fifth-graders in the Pikes Peak region. The deadline for the contest is Feb. 14. For entry information and questions, call Nancy Maday, 531-6333, x 2405. Awards will be announced in mid-April.

Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Monument branch, artists from the local art studio Monart will offer a workshop to make a beautiful valentine for someone special.

The popular AARP Driver’s Safety Course will be offered on Feb. 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Registration is required at the branch or online. The cost is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers.

Palmer Lake’s Family Fun activity for February will be Cookies for the Birds. Come to the library on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 10:30 a.m. to hear stories about birds and make a bird feeder.

The Palmer Lake Book Group will meet on Friday, March 6, at 9 a.m. to discuss Geraldine Brooks’ "People of the Book." To request a copy or for further information, call the branch at 481-2587.

Wall exhibits for February include Orange and Black Artists by the students at Lewis- Palmer High School and, in the display case, examples of Moroccan Amethyst by Hazelware, a type of glass popular in the 1960s.

Looking forward to March, the annual celebration of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday will be held in Monument on Monday, March 2. Open to all ages, readings of his popular works will be followed by a craft and refreshments. The program will be offered at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

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Event Feb. 28 marks anniversary of gold rush

Below: Circa 1860. Courtesy of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.

By Harriet Halbig

The Monument Library’s Winter Festival for 2009 will commemorate the 150th anniversary of Pikes Peak or Bust, the gold rush of 1859.

The event will be held at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry on Saturday, Feb. 28, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The museum is located at 2025 North Gate Blvd., just off the Gleneagle exit from the interstate. Watch for the library banner on the fence.

Activities will include a melodrama by Lewis-Palmer High School students, storytelling by local authors of Ever After Stories, trick roper Cowboy Steve, music by High Prairie and Nathan Worthey, gunslingers (outdoors, weather permitting), gold panning, and an opportunity to meet the burros that live on the museum grounds.

Crafts, food, and door prizes will round out the festivities.

Admission to the museum will be free to those attending the event. Tours will not be conducted at this time.

For further information, contact the library at 488-2370.

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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.

Winter Fine Art Show Opening Reception, Feb. 7

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

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Colorado Autism Commission Public Hearing, Feb. 13

The governor-appointed Colorado Autism Commission will hold a public hearing Feb. 13, 6-9 p.m. at the Gold Hill Division Police Department, 955 W. Moreno Ave., Colorado Springs. All interested parties are encouraged to address the Autism Commission to express their valued and essential input, concerns, experiences, and stories. These testimonies will contribute to the development of a 10-year strategic plan to coordinate and expand services for all Coloradans affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. For additional information on these hearings, please contact Andrea Ayala with Developmental Behavioral Health Inc., 482-8051.

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The Jean Ciavonne Poetry Contest: Poetry Stew – Poems About Food

All fourth- and fifth-graders in the Pikes Peak region are invited to create a poem for the 2009 Jean Ciavonne Poetry Contest. Six winners will receive a prize of $25. Winners will also receive a book and an Imagination Celebration poster. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 14, 2009. Award will be announced in mid-April as part of the Imagination Celebration and Young People’s Poetry Week. For contest rules and information, visit ppld.org or call 531-6333, x2405.

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Tri-Lakes Cares Electronics Recycling Event, Feb. 14

Tri-Lakes Cares has teamed with Guaranteed Recycling Xperts (GRX) to provide our community with a responsible and convenient way to dispose of electronic waste such as computers, TVs, and almost anything with a cord or a circuit board. The event will be held Feb. 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at the District 38 "Big Red" parking lot, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Recycling fees range from $5 for desktop/countertop items to $25 for large TVs. Net proceeds will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares. GRX is southern Colorado’s only certified e-steward e-waste recycler. No items will be landfilled, incinerated, or shipped abroad to be dumped. Visit GRX online at www.grxrecycles.com or call Bill Morris, 325-6673.

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Palmer Lake Winterfest, Feb. 14

Come down to the lake for a bonfire and ice-skating Feb. 14, 1-5 p.m. Skates will be available for use free, compliments of Colorado Sports Center. The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department will sell refreshments: coffee or hot chocolate for 50 cents, and hot dogs or bottled water for $1. For more information, call 488-2953.

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Free Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert, Feb. 14

The RMMA will present a free concert of piano and woodwind music by Francis Poulenc on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road. Performing Poulenc’s music will be Michael Baron, piano, (pictured on page 1) and the Colorado Springs Woodwind Quintet.

Though the concert is free, tickets must be reserved online at www.rmmaonline.org or by calling 484-0192. A free-will donation will be accepted.

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Shannon Whitworth & the Refugees, Feb. 15

Shannon Whitworth & the Refugees will perform at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Feb. 15. Doors open at 5 p.m. for the 5:30 p.m. concert. Singer/songwriter Whitworth, playing clawhammer banjo and guitar, will be accompanied by Jon Stickley and Jake Hopping of the Refugees. Tickets are $12 TLCA members and $15 non-members and are available at The Wine Seller (481-3019), Covered Treasures Bookstore (481-2665) in Monument, and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. TLCA is located at 304 Colorado Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, visit the Web site at www.trilakesarts.org.

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County Fair Queen contestants wanted, apply by Feb. 19

The El Paso County Fair Queen Committee is seeking qualified candidates to serve as the El Paso County Fair Queen for 2009. Eligible contestants must be single and never married females ages 18 to 22, and an El Paso County resident. Applications must be received by the fair office by Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. The contest will be held Mar. 7, beginning at 9 a.m., at the fairgrounds. The queen is chosen based on judges’ points in four areas: horsemanship, application, public speaking, and personal interview. Application packets are now available at the El Paso County Fairgrounds Office located at 366 10th St., Calhan, CO 80808, Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; at www.elpasocountyfair.com; or by calling 520-7880.

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Apply by Feb. 20 for Sheriff’s new Citizens’ Patrol

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office began a new program in January, the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Patrol. The program is aimed at providing support to patrol deputies and providing a service to the community. This new volunteer program allows citizens to perform law enforcement-related duties that do not require a sworn deputy. Citizen volunteers will be able to participate in a wide variety of areas which were previously unavailable to volunteer corps.

Some of the services provided by the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Patrol are motorist assist, traffic control, parking complaints, crime prevention assistance, towing, and vehicle identification number verifications. The training for this program is twofold; the first step is attending the 12-week Citizens’ Academy offered by the Sheriff’s Office in the spring and fall. The second step is a 45-hour training program and subsequent field training program. The spring 2009 academy is scheduled to begin on March 5. Applications are due by Feb. 20. For more information on the program, call Cathryn Richards, volunteer coordinator, 520-7216; or visit the Web site, http://shr.elpasoco.com

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Apply by Feb. 20 for Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is accepting applications for the spring Citizens Academy. The 12-week Citizens’ Academy will be held Thursday evenings, 6:30-9:30 p.m., beginning Mar. 5. Participants will learn about the numerous responsibilities of patrol deputies by accompanying one on a ride-along, the challenges facing detention staff by touring detention facilities, and the intricacies of a criminal investigation as detectives take them through the investigative process. Additionally, participants will learn about topics such as use of force, vice and narcotics operations, and emergency services including wildland fire and search and rescue teams.

Applications must be returned by Feb. 20, 5 p.m. There is no charge to attend the Citizens’ Academy; however, seating will be limited to the first 42 completed applications received. Call Sgt. Jeanette Whitney at 520-7275 or Deputy Jake Abendschan at 520-7107 to request an application.

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D-38 Chess Tournament, Feb. 21

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 is sponsoring a free chess tournament Feb. 21 at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School, 1315 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument. The tournament is open to all D-38 students, from kindergarten through grade 12. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the first round starts at 9 a.m. There will be four rounds and the tournament should end by 1 p.m. Parents are invited to remain at the tournament, or they can return to the school near the end of the tournament. Chess sets will be provided, but children should bring their own snacks. Pizza and sodas will be available for purchase, with proceeds paying for trophies and medals. Each student will receive a trophy or a medal, so please contact Steve Waldmann, the Creekside Middle School Chess Club Coach at 488-9887, or huskerco@gmail.com and tell him that you will be coming to the tournament so that he knows how many trophies and medals to order.

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Joseph Bohler signing reception, Feb. 21

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

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Protect Our Wells Annual Meeting, Mar. 30

Protect Our Wells (POW) is a Colorado nonprofit, citizen-based organization formed to advocate the interests of residents with private wells in the Denver Basin Aquifers. The public is invited to attend its annual meeting Feb. 23, 7-9 p.m., at the Woodmen Valley Chapel, 8292 East Woodmen Valley Rd. Mar. 30, 7 p.m., Mountain Springs Church, 7345 East Woodmen Valley Rd.

Also, the board is seeking residents with private wells from Black Forest, Tri-Lakes, Falcon, Peyton, and Ellicott to sit on the Board of Directors. There are currently two positions open and elections will be held at the Feb. 23 meeting. If you have a private well and are interested in working with POW, please contact Bea Crandall, 495-4213 or Sandy Martin, 351-1640. For more information about POW and the responsibilities of board members, visit www.protectourwells.org.

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"Mine Your Own Business!" Opening Reception at Mining Museum, Feb. 26

Join the Western Museum of Mining & Industry Feb. 26 for an evening of light hors d’ oeuvres, music, beer, and wine to celebrate the opening of its latest exhibit exploring the business of mining during the gold rush of 1890s. Strategic Financial Partners will provide information on investing in gold stocks. Call ahead for reservations at 488-0880. The museum is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off of I-25 at Gleneagle exit 156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. For more information, phone 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org.

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Community Development Advisory Board volunteers wanted

The El Paso Board of County Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the newly established Community Development Advisory Board (CDAB). Applications for the open positions are due Feb. 27. The CDAB needs one representative from each of the five county commissioner districts. District 1 primarily encompasses the northern portion of the county including Briargate, the northern portion of the Air Force Academy, Monument, and Black Forest.

The county is expected to become an "entitlement community" April 1 and will be awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to carry out community development activities to foster revitalization of neighborhoods, economic development, and improved community facilities and services. The CDAB will review matters of importance regarding the CDBG program and make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners concerning community development issues and use of CDBG funds. District representatives are appointed by the Board of County Commissioners for five-year terms. Terms will initially be staggered from one to five years. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

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

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

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"Pikes Peak or Bust" at the Mining Museum, Feb. 28

Celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Colorado Gold Rush at Monument Library’s biggest party of the year Feb. 28, 1-4 p.m. The free event takes place at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry. Come dressed in Western wear and enjoy the scheduled events, pioneer crafts, snacks, door prizes, and more. At 1 p.m. LPHS students will perform an Old West Melodrama; at 2 p.m. Cowboy Steve, award-winning trick roper, will perform rope tricks; at 3:30 p.m. are Campfire Stories by local authors of "Ever After Stories." Meet the burros, try gold panning, listen to live music, get your face painted, and see gunslingers if the weather permits. The museum is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off I-25 at Gleneagle exit 156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. For more information, phone the Monument Library, 488-2370.

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Poetry submissions wanted for "Poetry While You Wait"

The Pikes Peak Poet Laureate Project is now accepting submissions for the "Poetry While You Wait" project, a community-wide effort that will place poetry pamphlets in waiting areas throughout the Pikes Peak region during April 2009. Locations will include doctors’ and dentists’ offices, government and social services offices, auto repair and oil-change stations, barber shops and beauty salons, hospital/emergency room lobbies, bus stops, laundromats, and retirement communities.

Poets from El Paso and Teller counties are invited to send up to five poems, each no more than 30 lines long and suitable for public consumption, to poet@pikespeakpoetlaureate.org. Printed copies of work may also be mailed to the COPPeR offices, at Poetry While You Wait, P.O. Box 190, Colorado Springs, CO, 80901. Please include a one-line bio with your submission. Poems must be received by Feb. 28, 5 p.m.

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"Outta The Garage" at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Mar. 6

Get your dancin’ shoes on and come to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Friday, Mar 6, to listen and dance to "Outta The Garage". Tickets are $5 and only sold at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. show. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Colorado Highway 105, Palmer Lake, 719-481-0475. For further information, visit the website at www.trilakesarts.org

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Volunteers needed for Black Forest Regional Park panel and Pineries Open Space Master Plan Committee.

The El Paso County Parks Division has been awarded $15,000 from the Park Trust Fund toward a Park Master Plan Update for Black Forest Regional Park. The Park Advisory Board is seeking interested volunteers to serve on the Master Plan Update Committee. The Black Forest Regional Park Master Plan Update Committee will consist of two Park Advisory Board members and five to seven citizens appointed by the Park Advisory Board. It will meet as necessary and will remain in place until the Master Plan Update is adopted by the Board of County Commissioners. Residents who live in the Black Forest area, users of Black Forest Regional Park, and residents with an interest in parks and open space are encouraged to apply by sending a resume and letter describing their interest to: El Paso County Parks–Black Forest Regional Park Plan; Attention: Amy Spark; 2002 Creek Crossing; Colorado Springs, CO 80905. Applications may also be faxed to 719-520-6993 or e-mailed to parks@elpasoco.com

There are also openings on the Pineries Open Space Master Plan Committee. If interested, send a resume and letter of interest to the above address, but specify Pineries Open Space Master Plan Committee instead of Black Forest Regional Park Plan. For more information on El Paso County parks, call (719) 520-PLAY (7529).

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Senior discount Mondays at the Mining Museum

The Western Museum of Mining & Industry is offering a special admission rate on Mondays to adults age 60-plus for the months of February and March. Each Monday seniors will be admitted for $2.50 (regularly $6). Make sure you take one of the guided tours starting at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. where our interpreters will fire up the antique steam engines and other equipment. Come to the museum and find out what drew so many people to the American West. Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off of I-25 at Gleneagle exit 156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. For more information, phone 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org.

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State Patrol targets I-25 north of Colorado Springs

In 2008, the Colorado State Patrol investigated 375 traffic crashes, including 41 injury crashes, on I-25 between milepost 149 (Woodmen) and 163 (County Line Road). The patrol is making that section a "Safety Zone Enforcement Area" in an effort to reduce the number in crashes, especially those resulting in injury or death. This will be done by increased strict enforcement tactics and signs placed to remind motorists of the specific enforcement in that area. The four leading causes of crashes in this section were following too closely, unsafe lane change, driving too fast for conditions, and inattentive driving. These four driving behaviors will be targeted in particular.

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Adult reading program, Jan. 12-March 9

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

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant application deadline, Mar. 15

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

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

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Theater auditions for adults coming in March

Auditions for the first adult production of the newly formed Spotlight Community Theatre will be held March 16, 17, 18, and 19, 7-9 p.m. Please call 488-0775 to schedule an audition time and to get further information. Visit www.spotlightcommunitytheatre.com to find out more about this exciting local group.

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El Paso County Sheriff’s Office seeking citizen input

Sheriff Terry Maketa is seeking members of the community to participate in a survey regarding the Sheriff’s Office. The survey is offered exclusively online through the Sheriff’s Office Web site, http://shr.elpasoco.com/. The intent of the survey is to gather information about the performance of the Sheriff’s Office, thoughts about crime and the fear of crime, perception of needs for the office, and some basic demographic information. The survey takes about five minutes to complete and will serve as a valuable tool for gathering important information.

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CDOT seeks input on I-25 rest areas at Larkspur

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is seeking public input on the potential closure of the I-25 rest areas at Larkspur. The rest areas, which were built in the 1960s, are in need of major repairs/reconstruction and are becoming too costly to maintain. CDOT spends more than $500,000 annually to maintain the Larkspur rest areas and often closes them for repairs for weeks, and sometimes months, due to vandalism and old sanitary systems. CDOT will consider closing the rest areas, turning them into truck chain up areas, and exploring opportunities for a possible public-private partnership among other options.

"We want to evaluate whether there is a true need for this rest area today," said Tony DeVito, CDOT Region Director. "When it was built, there were not the same services we have available today at Monument and at Castle Rock." The public is encouraged to provide feedback on the potential closure of the rest areas by e-mailing info@dot.state.co.us or sending written comment to: CDOT, 4201 E. Arkansas Ave., Room 277, Denver, CO 80222.

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Wanted: Public Art Information

Tri-Lakes Views, a community based art organization, is looking for public art on display in our area. Their goal is to catalogue the location of local public artwork and to create a comprehensive map for the public. Public art is defined as outdoor artwork that is easily visible and accessible to the public. Anyone with information on locations of public art in our area may contact Karen Ball at 481-5658 or kayzde@aol.com. Also helpful would be the artists name and medium, if known. Tri-Lakes Views is the 501(c)(3) organization that raised funds to install the "Ice Harvest" mural in downtown Monument. They are working to bring more public art to our community via the ARTSites project, a yearly exhibit of outdoor art on-loan from the artists and displayed throughout our area. For more information visit www.Trilakesviews.org

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Fourth Annual Gleneagle Spirit 5K run/walk coming in May

Save the date, May 16, for this spirited annual athletic event and fundraiser for Boy Scout Troop 194. Runners, walkers, volunteers, and spectators are needed! Call Mark Rudolph, 492-3974, for more information.

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Volunteer tutors wanted

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

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Low-Income Energy Assistance Program

Low-income households can get assistance with their winter home heating costs and non-fuel emergencies such as heating system repairs and window replacement. The federally funded program known as LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program), runs through April 30. Any U.S. citizen or legal resident of Colorado who pays heating costs directly to an energy provider, or whose heating costs are included with their monthly rent, may qualify for LEAP if their monthly gross household income falls within the federal poverty guidelines. For more information, call 1-866-432-8435.

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