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Vol. 9 No. 3 - March 7, 2009


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

the PDF file. This is a 10.3 Mbyte file and will take about 60 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. Click here for help with PDF downloads. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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D-38 Chess Tournament, Feb. 21

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Photos by Bernard Minetti

Below: Yulan Liu from Lewis-Palmer Elementary School was the only participant in the kindergarden grade at the District 38 Chess Tournament Feb. 21. There were a record 92 contestants participating in this event. The tournament is held every year and is open to all District 38 students from kindergarten through grade 12. 

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Below: D-38 Chess Tournament in progress. 

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Below: 1st Place winners (l-r front) Alex Laverde, Logan Kazimer, and Isaac Seo. In the rear, Erik Flinn.

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Pikes Peak or Bust Winter Festival draws 900

Below: Cowboy Steve shares his space with Elena Salgado. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

Pikes Peak or Bust, the Monument Library’s winter festival in partnership with the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, attracted over 900 visitors on Feb. 28.

The entertainment varied from a melodrama created by Lewis-Palmer High School drama students to a trick roper and campfire stories, with a musical background supplied by the High Prairie Band.

In addition to library and museum staff, members of the Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High School Serteens and the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library helped to make the event go smoothly with their efforts and sponsorship.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education, Feb. 19: Teachers concerned about budget cuts

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Below: More than 50 teachers attended the District 38 school board meeting Feb. 19. Photo by John Heiser

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By John Heiser

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education meeting Feb. 18 was attended by more than 50 of the district’s teachers.

Teacher and Lewis-Palmer Education Association (LPEA) President Tim Nolan spoke on behalf of many of the teachers in the audience. He said that staff morale is low, and the workload is overwhelming. He said the LPEA would like to meet with the administration and school board to discuss district policies and other issues. He said, "We want to help. We want to work together." Nolan added that decision-making needs to be more clearly communicated to the staff.

Superintendent Ray Blanch noted that the district is wrestling with significant funding cuts. He said the district’s leadership team, which consists of Blanch, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman, Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning Shirley Trees, and the nine school principals, is determining how those cuts are implemented.

Board President Dee Dee Eaton said that under the Policy Governance model that the board has adopted, the board makes policy decisions and looks to the leadership team to provide the best decision on budgets and expenditures.

Board member John Mann noted that Colorado is the 45th state in the nation in terms of spending on education, and the Lewis-Palmer district is one of the 14 lowest-funded school districts in the state. He added that six of the 14 lowest-funded districts are in the Pikes Peak region. He said, "We are hearing the message that everyone is concerned and anxious. We are all frustrated by constraints beyond our control."

Other teachers spoke briefly in support of Nolan’s comments. Jennifer McConnell said, "We want to have a say in what is kept and what is cut." Karen Kennedy said, "There is distrust between the teachers and the district administration."

Blanch replied that the communication path with the teachers is through the building principals who are part of the leadership team.

Teacher and LPEA member Kristin Boyd questioned if the district has clearly identified core values. Additionally, she voiced concern about the district possibly abandoning the middle school model of instruction in favor of a junior high concept. Blanch replied that the district’s strategic vision defines values of student learning, the whole child, and community engagement. He added that the district sees value in the middle school model, which uses a teaming approach to instruction; however, each school can choose to move away from or modify that model. Eaton said that movement to a junior high model has not been discussed with the board. She said, "We support the middle school concept."

Eaton presided at the Feb. 19 meeting. Board members Mann, Mark Pfoff, and Robb Pike were present. Board member Gail Wilson’s absence was excused.

Community engagement

The board held a community engagement session with parents Julie Blackstone, Rafe and Michele Blood, and Dave Carmi, who, even though they live outside District 38, have elected to enroll their children in the district’s schools. The parents answered such questions as: "How did you hear about D-38?" and "What programs would you suggest we keep or cut, as may be necessary?"

Overall, the parents said they were pleased with the enrollment process and are strong supporters of the district’s schools. They particularly noted the care and concern demonstrated by school staff members. Some improvements were suggested in handling special-needs students. There was also a brief discussion about the middle school experience for those with children in grades 6 through 8.

Other matters

  • Operations Advisory Committee (OAC) capital improvement plan report presented – Dave Goebel, OAC member, presented a review of the capital improvement plan, including recommendations made previously for the 2008-­09 school year. Committee recommendations presented for 2009-­10 include: 1) annually revisit the project categories to ensure that they remain current and relevant; 2) provide ongoing staff training on the use of the SchoolDude software, to be able to use it to its full potential to manage the district’s assets; and 3) involve the members of the OAC in the review of the selection criteria for the project manager position prior to bid and award of capital improvement contracts. Blanch said that the systemic process established last year for identifying and tracking capital improvement projects has greatly expedited capital improvement project work throughout the district.
  • Monitoring report ­Operating Limitations: Asset Protection (2.6) accepted –Blanch presented this monitoring report in accordance with the Policy Governance model. He addressed comments and questions from the board members, who then voted to accept the report. This policy states in part: "The superintendent shall neither cause nor allow organization assets or image including the district, its schools, charter schools and any association affiliated with the district or its schools to be unprotected, inadequately maintained or unnecessarily risked."
  • Updates to Policy Governance manual approved – The board approved minor revisions to the Policy Governance manual. The manual and corresponding monitoring reports are now posted on the district Web site ( www.lewispalmer.org ) under the Board of Education section. Blanch said the Policy Governance manual will be revised to remove all references to charter schools.
  • Exclusive chartering authority resolution approved – Wangeman presented the resolution certifying that Lewis-Palmer School District 38 meets the state criteria required to retain exclusive chartering authority. The board unanimously approved the resolution, which will be submitted to the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado State Board of Education.
  • Superintendent’s update – Blanch cited the "proud, strong history" of the district. He said, "A lot of strong traditions have gotten us where we are." He noted that the district has overcome difficult challenges, including at one point not being accredited by the state and merging two districts into one. He said the current economic challenges are an opportunity to consider "our identity as a district" and determine what it means to "pursue excellence" (the current vision statement) and how to communicate that to the community and the surrounding area. He expressed appreciation for a "solid board and administrative team."
  • Board members’ comments – Board members discussed the dialogue with teachers. Eaton asked Blanch to provide policy and procedural information regarding communications between the school board, administration, and staff. Blanch stated that Policy Governance establishes these lines of communication. This form of school board governance is a significant change from previous years and will need to be more clearly communicated to all staff members, he said.

**********

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 March 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

See additional District 38 articles.

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Monument Board of trustees, Feb. 17: Downtown Walgreens plat approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 17, the Monument Board of Trustees approved a preliminary/final replat for a new Walgreens store to be built on the west side of Highway 105 between Second and Third Streets. The board also approved the vacation of the Ada Street right-of-way and most of the existing alley between Second and Third Streets from the northwest corner of the Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center and Carwash to the 7-Eleven.

All of this commercial area is zoned C-1. The Walgreens site plan will be reviewed and approved administratively by the town staff without hearings by the board and Planning Commission.

The members of Cub Scout Pack 67, Den 4, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Trustees Gail Drumm and Steve Samuels were absent from the meeting.

Walgreens plat conditionally approved

The presentations by the staff and Allison Kern, representative of the applicant/landholder, NLD Holdings IV LLC, were essentially the same as those presented to the Planning Commission on Feb. 11. The trustees asked questions similar to those of the commissioners about the recommended conditions of approval, site plan specifics, and facility operations. The responses to these questions from the staff and developer spokespersons were identical. See the Planning Commission article for a report on these presentations. Some of the additional information raised in this meeting is now listed.

Tom Kassawara, Director of Development Services gave a more extensive description of the large detention pond that will fill the vacant area on the west side of the new private access easement, which will replace the current alley. Walgreens has agreed to add additional landscaping on the western boundary of the detention pond to increase visual screening for the adjacent vacant property. The other landscaping around the detention pond already exceeded the town code requirement

Mayor Byron Glenn asked several questions about access to Highway 105 and Second Street, noting that there are many near collisions when vehicles turn right into the alley behind the Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center from westbound Second Street. He also expressed concern about vehicles turning left into the alley from eastbound Second Street being too close to Highway 105. This led to a very lengthy discussion with Walgreens traffic engineering consultant Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Consultants Inc.

Hodsdon gave a lengthy presentation on how the east side of the Second Street would be restriped on the east side of the Highway 105 intersection and how the right lane of Highway 105 between the McDonald’s traffic light and Second Street would also be restriped.

Hodsdon said LSC’s traffic counts show that vehicles turn left from eastbound Second Street onto northbound Highway 105 about once every five minutes, or 12 times per hour during peak rush-hour periods. The new striping plan he passed out to board members showed that the left-turn lane will become much longer to create a series of two left-turn lanes: one for left turns into the alley and one for left turns onto northbound Highway 105. The LSC study shows that vehicles turning left onto 105 will not stack up in a long enough queue to block left turns into the alley. Hodsdon said he did not believe that vehicles turning left onto 105 will block the sight line of drivers turning left into the alley. He said, "It’s a little tight," and an engineering design will have to be performed to determine where the stripes will actually be located and where some additional asphalt can be installed.

Second Street is only three lanes wide between the alley and the Beacon Lite Road intersection, and there will be considerable stacking of cars in the single eastbound through lane by the alley. This will also block "right on red" vehicles trying to enter the southbound I-25 on-ramp. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) owns this part of the intersection. There is very little room to add more asphalt for eastbound cars on Second Street due to the existing guard rail that protects adjacent Preble’s mouse habitat.

Currently the right southbound lane of Highway 105 between the McDonald’s traffic signal and Third Street is a dedicated right-turn lane. Hodsdon said that CDOT had directed LSC to restripe the right lane to a combined through right-turn lane.

The southbound right lane between Third Street and the shared access for Walgreens and 7-Eleven will be unchanged.

A new dedicated right-turn lane will be constructed on the west side of southbound Highway 105 just south of the new shared access with 7-Eleven. There will be five southbound lanes south of the new main Walgreens access and the Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center: a right-turn lane for westbound Second Street, two through lanes to the I-25 on-ramp, and two left-turn lanes for the bridge over I-25.

Vehicles exiting the southeast corner of the Walgreens lot will be forced to turn right only to prevent drivers from trying to get into the left-turn lanes to the bridge.

Kassawara added that this CDOT traffic flow scheme "is a lot better than what’s out there today," and is what the town staff would have asked for had CDOT not already directed it. Two entrances to Walgreens on Highway 105 are necessary due to the existing 7-Eleven, he said.

Hodsdon said that drivers wanting to exit southbound from Walgreens to turn left to go east over the I-25 bridge will have to exit at the shared access with 7-Eleven. There will be signs in the Walgreens parking lot that direct people to the common access. Hodsdon added that CDOT has a very similar design in Pueblo that has proven to be safe and effective. Kassawara reiterated how much planning had taken place with CDOT to improve traffic between Third and Second Streets.

Glenn asked why access for the 7-Eleven could not be restricted to the Third Street entrance. Several trustees said that vehicles turning left from westbound Third Street into the 7-Eleven create dangerous backups into the southbound Highway 105 lanes, particularly when there is a line of cars waiting to get to the gas pumps.

Glenn said the alley is too close to Highway 105. Kassawara said the town can’t take away the existing alley access "without a big struggle."

Trustee Tommie Plank said she had concerns about the appropriateness of a Walgreens at this location. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said she should express her concerns to Kassawara privately after the hearing.

There were no public comments in favor of or opposed to the vacations.

The vacation of Ada Street, the alley, and utility easements was unanimously approved with the same two conditions approved by the Planning Commission.

There was considerable additional discussion about the intersection of the south end of the alley and Second Street. Glenn said he wanted a new dedicated westbound right-turn lane added between Highway 105 and the alley. However, the land required for his proposed lane belongs to CDOT, as does the main intersection. CDOT does not believe a right-turn lane for the alley is necessary due to the low traffic count and the speed limit of 25 mph on Second Street.

Kassawara suggested modifying the curb and gutter to create a larger curb radius so drivers don’t have to slow down as much when turning into the alley. Hodsdon said the proposed right-turn lane is not needed because there is adequate room for cars to wait in line before turning left into the alley. Peak turn rate for right turns into the alley is 22 per hour, and total peak left turns into the alley would be 17 per hour (12 per hour for Walgreens).

Shupp said the town has no say over the CDOT right-of-way easement given to the Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center, including taking away the CDOT right-of-way to create a right-turn lane. CDOT created a right-of-way easement for the oil change center so that owner John Savage could provide the landscaping that was required of him by the town when he built the carwash addition. CDOT would have to "abrogate that agreement" with Savage.

Kern said the plat proposal does not change the alley location or use and is only concerned with the new Walgreens property line. She said the traffic issues were a site plan issue. Kassawara said the town had already continued the plat proposal two months to resolve the 7-Eleven issue.

Kassawara proposed a third condition that would require him to meet with CDOT and John Savage, owner of the Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center, to explore the possibility of increasing the turn radius for right turns entering the alley from westbound Second Street as well as trying to get additional right of way on both sides of Second Street west of the intersection for right-turn lanes. Kassawara said he could complete the research before it would be time to administratively approve NLD Holdings’ final site plan.

The plat was unanimously approved with the two conditions approved by the Planning Commission and Kassawara’s third condition.

Sertoma Freedom Week

Ted Bauman of Monument Hill Sertoma Club discussed the club’s sponsorship of the annual Freedom Essay Contest. About 550 middle school students from Creekside, Lewis-Palmer, and Monument Academy participate. The top students from each of the school’s present their papers at a club breakfast.

Bauman introduced Creekside winner Michelle Chan, who read her paper "A Light Behind the Blinds: The Freedom to Dream" that contrasts her life in the United States with her grandfather’s persecution in Communist China. Bauman also introduced Chan’s family and her teacher, Vicki McClure. Each of the board members told Chan how proud they were of her presentation.

Glenn read a proclamation declaring Feb. 16-20 "Sertoma’s Freedom Week" in Monument.

Bauman presented a plaque bearing the Pledge of Allegiance to Glenn to be mounted in the new Town Hall, which is still under construction at Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105.

Arbor Day proclaimed

The board unanimously approved a resolution for Arbor Day on April 24.

Grant resolution approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution to seek a Great Outdoors Colorado grant of $37,500 for improving the town’s skate board park. The town would have to match the grant with in-kind labor and funding of about $5,000 to $12,500. Any new equipment purchased for the skate park would be sectional so it could be removed if vandalism becomes a problem again.

Three payments over $5,000 were unanimously approved:

  • $148,531 to Triview Metropolitan District for its share of the town’s December sales tax.
  • $5,931 to Triview Metropolitan District for its share of the town’s January motor vehicle tax.
  • $386,181 to Alexandher Building Co. for construction payments for the new Town Hall/Police Department building.

Board comments

Trustee Travis Easton, a member of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority board, said that there was good progress on the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion. (See BRRTA article for more details.

Glenn said he attended an interesting water meeting on Feb. 13 also attended by:

  • Monument Water Attorney Bob Krassa
  • Monument Water Engineer Bruce Lytle
  • Monument Water Agent Gary Barber
  • Monument Town Manager Cathy Green
  • Monument Director of Public Works Rich Landreth
  • Triview Metropolitan District Water Attorney Bill Tourtilett
  • Acting Triview District Manager Ron Simpson
  • Triview Director Robert Fisher

Glenn said the town has "a plan for moving forward" to present at the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority meeting on Feb. 18. (See the article on the March 2 Board of Trustees meeting and PPRWA article for more details on the town’s offer to purchase water shares from Sugar City.)

Glenn noted that the Colorado Department of Transportation is now more likely to try to give away sections of state roads such as Highway 105.

Glenn said that during the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments meeting, Palmer Lake Mayor John Cressman "had very gracious words to say about Chief Shirk" and the camaraderie between the towns’ police departments.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, March 2: Arbor Mountain site plan approved

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Below: These artist sketches of the proposed 57-apartment Arbor Mountain Senior Living Apartments were presented to the Monument Board of Trustees at the March 2 hearing on the preliminary/final planned development site plan. The board unanimously approved the site plan. The 4-acre lot that the Town of Monument donated to this project is located on Highway 105, east of the Knollwood Drive traffic signal. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in mid-summer.

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the PDF file of the elevation drawings. This is a 2.1 Mbyte file and will take about 12 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

Unlike most Board of Trustees meetings during the construction lull, the March 2 meeting featured comments by several citizens on three agenda items. Seniors were pleased to speak in favor of the Arbor Mountain preliminary/final site plan. Two members of the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee spoke in favor of a town donation for the annual Fourth of July show. A land planner/surveyor spoke in favor of extensive changes in the downtown zoning code. Two Access Construction employees spoke in favor of a proclamation of Women in Construction Week. All were apparently persuasive, and the board unanimously approved each of the agenda items.

The board unanimously approved the addition of an agenda item for an executive session for negotiations on an intergovernmental agreement with Triview Metropolitan District.

All board members were present.

Arbor Mountain approved

Tim Irish, the developer of the Arbor Mountain Senior Living Apartments, took a major step toward the start of construction as its proposed preliminary/final planned development (PD) site plan was unanimously approved. However, there were an exceptionally high number of conditions to the approval due to the town’s long-term investment in the project. The town donated the lot to Arbor Mountain in return for a guarantee that six of the 57 apartments would always have reduced rates and be made available to low-income residents. The specific use and density could not be changed without approval by the Board of Trustees, even if the property is sold.

The presentations by the staff and representatives of Arbor Mountain LLC were essentially the same as those presented to the Planning Commission on Feb. 11. The citizens who expressed support to the board during public comments were the same people who had previously made similar comments to the Planning Commission. The trustees asked questions similar to those asked by the commissioners about the recommended conditions of approval, site plan specifics, and facility operations. The responses for these questions from the staff and developer spokespersons were identical. See the Planning Commission article for a report on these presentations.

Some of the additional issues raised at this meeting were:

  • Trustee Steve Samuels said the "labeled irrigation plan is not an irrigation plan," because it would not adequately support the initial growth of the proposed native grasses once they are seeded—Kassawara said he would have the full landscaping plan amended prior to recordation.
  • Irish assured resident Ann Krill that she was an activities associate for a Colorado Springs senior living facility and a theater educator, and that there would be a movie theater and stage area with flexible seating for performances, dancing, and singing.
  • The contractor running the clinic, Peak Vista, accepts Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Town Attorney Gary Shupp assured Trustee Tim Miller that all the necessary legal language to ensure continuity of the board’s desired results are included in the conditions of approval.
  • The developer is willing to increase the number of handicapped parking spaces, but more regular spaces would be lost than handicapped spaces gained. "We want the parking lot as open and flat as possible," Irish said. There are no RV parking spots.
  • Most of the residents will likely take their walks around the flat parking lots and sidewalks or "mall walk" within the halls of the facility.
  • The county standard for affordable housing will be used in all contractual matters between town and Arbor Mountain staffs.

The next step for the Arbor Mountain owners and partners is to satisfy all the conditions of the site plan approval, buy water rights for the facility, secure financing, and gain approval of all construction plans from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. When all these conditions are met and actions are completed, the town will issue a building permit. Current plans are to begin construction in mid-summer.

Committee receives fireworks donation

Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee members Carol Deblois and Della Gray gave a very brief overview of plans for financing the annual Fourth of July fireworks event. The board unanimously approved the annual $5,000 donation. There was a discussion of whether it might be simpler to donate $2,000 and $3,000 worth of in-kind overtime Police Department support for crowd and traffic control.

Gray noted that the committee writes a check to the town, which returns most of the $5,000 donation. Monument Police perform support duties on the payroll as overtime, rather than as volunteers, to minimize liability issues. There was consensus that it is easier to donate a single check and get reimbursed after filing an invoice for actual overtime expenses than try to predict the amount to the penny ahead of time.

Downtown zoning amended to reflect new goals for development

Three ordinances were unanimously approved to update and modify the downtown residential and commercial zoning code and enable changes as requested by the Board of Trustees on Nov. 3. Mayor Byron Glenn asked that an "overlay," which is new boundaries created inside and outside the existing core downtown zone, be developed to show where the new rules and old rules on lot sizes, widths, and setbacks would apply, since they will now be different for the high-density core of downtown in some ways than those for the lower-density edge of downtown.

Minor changes were made in the inner R-1 and R-2 zones to allow for accessory, or "mother-in-law," type apartments. The owner of the primary residence must occupy it as well. The maximum height was increased to 28 feet for mother-in-law apartments built over a garage, whether attached or detached.

In the outer portion of the residential overlay, just north and south of the core downtown area, minimum lot size for R-1 (single-family) dropped from 15,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet. Minimum lot width drops from 90 to 50 feet. The side setback minimum drops from 10 feet to 5 feet. The front setback minimum remains at 25 feet, but the rear setback minimum drops from 25 to 20 feet.

Minimums for R-2 (single-family) dropped to 7,000 square feet for lot size, 50 feet for lot width, 5 feet for side setbacks, and 20 feet for rear setback. The front setback minimum remains at 25 feet in R-2.

The lot size minimums for R-3 (multi-family) dropped from 15,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet for the first dwelling unit. Each additional dwelling now requires an additional 2,000 square feet, instead of 3,630 square feet. Minimum lot width drops from 100 to 60 feet with 5-foot minimum side yards. The maximum of 40 percent for building coverage on the lot is eliminated. The requirement for a minimum of 20 percent open space remains unchanged.

A separate ordinance that was unanimously approved defines the new boundaries for R-1, R-2, and R-3 in the new overlay.

A third ordinance, also unanimously approved, allows for some new uses and restrictions that are consistent with national urban planning guidelines for a style that is commonly called traditional neighborhood development or form-based development. These guidelines were described in a white paper prepared by an ad hoc architectural guidelines committee. The planning commissioners and board asked the staff to codify them in an ordinance amending the town code.

Jerry Hannigan of Hannigan and Associates, a Monument land planner and surveyor, said that overlays are an effective way of promoting development in downtown areas. "It’s a good solution."

"Women in Construction Week" proclaimed

Maxine Cordell and Bonnie Morgan of Access Construction, representing the National Association of Women in Construction Chapter 356 in Colorado Springs, asked the board to approve a proclamation declaring March 1-7 "Women in Construction Week." The board unanimously approved the proclamation, and Glenn read it aloud. Access Construction is located in south Palmer Lake on Highway 105.

Drainage plan change order controversial

The board narrowly approved Change Order 7 with Nolte Associates Inc. for the Third Street Improvements project. Nolte would design an option to redirect some Third Street drainage to the south down Front Street to Dirty Woman Creek instead of the original plan to have it all flow under the railroad tracks at the west end of Third Street to Monument Lake. The proposed cost for the project of $24,958 was reduced to $17,038 by halving the number of construction inspections performed for the change order.

The current existing flows that go under the railroad tracks would remain about the same, with the new Front Street drainage taking some of the heavier flows that occur in big thunderstorms. The new flow path runs from Third and Front Streets to Lincoln Avenue, then to a detention pond in the south end of Limbach Park, and then to an outfall structure on Dirty Woman Creek. There was a lengthy discussion of the history of the Third Street project and the problems that have arisen. There was concern about how long it would be before the trench cap patching for the new stormwater pipes to be buried in Front Street is covered with street-wide repaving, and about tearing up the brand new asphalt and curbs along the east side of Limbach Park, along with a number of technical concerns expressed on finding and connecting to existing buried pipes.

The vote to approve the change order was 4-2-1 with Glenn and Trustee Gail Drumm opposed and Trustee Travis Easton recused. Easton is a civil engineer employee of Nolte.

Fund balance higher than expected

Treasurer Pamela Smith discussed the 2008 Annual Summary of the finances of the town. Although actual revenues were 6.5 percent less than the amount budgeted, the end of year general fund balance was $689,159 higher than projected. In general, all the individual funds also had higher end-of-year balances than projected. Sales tax revenue was below the expected amount for eight months of 2008 and total collections were $172,822 less than projected, but still 5.6 percent higher, $194,804, than the total received in 2007.

The board unanimously approved the purchase of four shares of Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co. for $126,000. Twin Lakes is a water collection system originally designed to collect water from the Roaring Fork River on the West Slope and release it into the Arkansas River to be pulled out by sugar beet farmers in Crowley County, just east of Pueblo County. Since then the water has been converted through water court and is now fully consumable for municipal use. Each share represents about 1.1 acre-feet of water per year.

The town’s water broker, Gary Barber, said this water would "provide a place at the table" in negotiating with Colorado Springs Utilities for delivery and would not have to go through years of water court litigation to be useful. Town Manager Cathy Green noted that Monument’s water attorney, Bob Krassa, has long recommended this type of purchase and that Triview Metropolitan District might be willing to pay for one or two of the four shares.

The board approved the proposal to close the purchase of the four shares. A resolution will be prepared for the next board meeting to proceed to closing if the town’s offer is accepted.

Trustees’ comments

Glenn said that the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority is starting to work well together. The first phase of an interconnection project for local water districts is underway. He added that water rates will inevitably go up significantly because obtaining alternative water sources "is a costly thing to do." Fremont County has approved the second choice for routing construction of the Southern Delivery System, though Colorado Springs Utilities and the authority still prefer the less costly routing through Pueblo County.

Drumm observed that Monument Sanitation District was increasing its "rates 32 percent for fees." Drumm asked Director of Public Works Rich Landreth to "check" on district expenditures in Wakonda Hills.

However Drumm’s statement is in error. On April 1, Monument Sanitation District’s residential fee goes up 10 percent, from $20 to $22 per month, an increase of $2. The incremental rate for heavy commercial users goes up 10 percent on that date as well, from $3.84 per 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons to $4.23 per 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons. The base commercial fee for light commercial users drops from $25 per month to $22 per month, a drop of $3 which is a 12 percent reduction.

Landreth replied that industrial and heavy commercial water use had dropped off, the district’s revenues have dropped, and that he didn’t know about Wakonda Hills. Glenn suggested that Drumm attend a district board meeting "to make your views known."

Triview discussion

Glenn observed that negotiations for an intergovernmental agreement with the Triview Metropolitan District board to have the town take over operations of the district were moving very slowly. The town will present its view of the benefits of that arrangement on April 20 at a town hall meeting. The town could save Triview about $500,000, and the Triview board has yet to prove that this figure is wrong, Glenn said.

"There are trust issues on both sides," Glenn said. "If the two boards got together and had an honest conversation about everything, I think it could be a good deal for everybody. … There’s a lot of history and a lot of problems in Triview, and I’m tired of paying the taxes I’m paying, and I haven’t seen any answers in the 10 years I’ve lived there."

Glenn added, "The roads are falling apart, the curbs are crud, the sidewalks are sinking, they’re paying an inspector $150,000 a year, and utilities are falling apart, and it’s a joke. It’s a very poorly managed district and I’m tired of paying for it. It’s time for change but it’s their board. They’re elected and they have to decide whether to work with us or not. If they don’t, it’s a shame." He noted that any savings could be applied to paying off Triview’s debt sooner.

Glenn also said there have been serious difficulties with Jackson Creek landowner Tim Phelan showing any ownership of sufficient quantities of water to allow any further development. No plats or site plans will receive town hearings until the water ownership issue is resolved.

Samuels agreed that there are savings in pulling together to resolve Triview’s debt and avoiding double payments for administrative support for Jackson Creek residents.

Drumm said his frustration was the very high Triview indebtedness for each household.

Glenn asked Triview Director Steve Cox if he had any comments to make in public before attending the executive session. Cox declined public comment.

The board went into executive session at 8:35 p.m. to discuss negotiations with Triview’s board. Cox attended the executive session. According to state statutes, the legal purpose of the executive session is to prepare for negotiations rather than to conduct negotiations in secret.

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The next board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 16 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, Feb. 11: Downtown Walgreens final plat and Arbor Mountain site plan approved

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: Architect Larry McChesney describes the features of the new Arbor Mountain Senior Living Apartments building to the Planning Commission in Monument Town Hall on Feb. 11. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

After continuing the final plat hearing for the new downtown Walgreens in December and January to allow for additional negotiations between the affected adjoining property owners, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved the Walgreens final plat on Feb. 11.

The landowner and developer of the Walgreens property, NLD Holdings IV LLC of Minneapolis, plans to demolish the two vacant commercial buildings between the Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center and 7-Eleven buildings on the west side of Highway 105, just north of the Second Street intersection. This new Walgreens store will be similar in design to the Monument Ridge Walgreens on Baptist Road, opposite the King Soopers center.

The town staff will separately approve the final site plan for the new Walgreens building. The land that Walgreens has purchased is already zoned commercial. The Planning Commission and Board of Trustees do not review new commercial site plans that comply with town regulations for land where appropriate commercial zoning already exists. (See the originally proposed site plan provided to OCN at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n2.htm#monpc )

The board also unanimously approved the preliminary/final planned development site plan for the long-delayed Arbor Mountain senior living facility on Gold Canyon Drive, which is on the south side of Highway 105 east of Knollwood Drive.

Commissioners David Gwisdalla, Tom Martin, and Glenda Smith were absent.

Commission approves several vacations

Before approving the Walgreens plat, the commission unanimously approved the landowner’s request to vacate:

  • several existing property lines for the 10 lots in Block B of the Mountain View Subdivision, bounded by Third Street to the north, Highway 105 to the east and Rocky Mountain Oil Change to the southeast.
  • most of the existing public alley behind the four existing buildings on this block.
  • the town’s 58-foot-wide right-of-way for Ada Street.
  • an existing utility easement.

There are 10 lots and a single tract in the original plat for Block B. Block B will be re-platted into three lots.

The vacant unplatted L-shaped parcel between Block B and Sally Beck’s storage unit business to the west is also owned by Beck. She had not concluded her negotiations with NLD Holdings before this hearing.

The original Lot 1, on the southeast corner of Highway 105 and Third Street, and the north half of the adjacent Lot 2 to the south will be combined into a single lot for the building that is currently leased to a 7-Eleven franchisee. This combination will be called Lot 1 in the replat of Block B. The east half of the adjacent vacated alley will be added to the rear of the new Lot 1 in Block B.

The original Tract A, which is the south end of the existing alley and the primary access to the oil change bays and car wash entrances of Rocky Mountain Oil Change, is already owned by the town and will remain unchanged.

The original Lot 7 and a small sliver of the adjacent Lot 6 to the north comprise the north half of the land occupied by the Rocky Mountain Oil Change that was previously replatted under the name Lot 1 of the Savage Subdivision. However, the original lot lines were not eliminated in the previous replat but are now eliminated in this proposed replat.

Lots 7, 8, and 9 comprise the west half of Block B and are bounded by a barbed-wire fence. These three lots comprise the "top" of the T-shaped Walgreens property. The store will be built in the bottom of the "T" that fronts on Highway 105.

All the other original lot lines within the Walgreens parcel are being eliminated to create a new Lot 1 and Tract A. Walgreens will be built on Lot 1, which is 2.69 acres. Tract A is .29 acre behind the 7-Eleven, which will become a green space for now, still zoned commercial for future development. It includes the west half of the adjacent portion of the existing alley that will be vacated.

Most of the existing 20-foot-wide public alley that runs south from Third Street to Second Street will be vacated – specifically the portion behind the 7-Eleven, the adjacent multi-story "shoppette" building, the former Broiler Room restaurant, and the northwest corner of the oil change facility. Tract A, the remaining portion of the existing public alley behind Rocky Mountain Oil Change, will be widened to 22 feet with a donation of right-of-way by owner John Savage.

A new access easement that is 24 to 30 feet wide will run from the north end of Tract A directly to the Third Street post office access, converting that to a four-way intersection. This access easement will be paved. A driveway easement will be granted to the 7-Eleven building, south of Tract A, so that vehicles can access the existing on-site rear parking and dumpster from the new access road. An access easement to the vacant Beck property to the west is depicted about 50 feet south of Third Street.

Ada Street was never built in the platted right-of-way on both sides of Third Street. Ada Street, as originally platted, is parallel to Highway 105 and crosses Third Street at the location of the primary eastern access to the post office. The portion of Ada Street being vacated in this replat runs along the western boundary of lots 8, 9, and 10 in Mountain View Subdivision.

Several existing utility easements in the vacated portion of the alley will be replaced by new utility easements as they are relocated. There are also new utility, drainage, and improvement easements depicted around the entire perimeter of the Walgreens parcel. A separate document will later donate the new easement required by Monument Sanitation District.

At the time of this hearing, the negotiations regarding access and parking between NLD Holdings, the owner of the 7-Eleven building and the 7-Eleven lessee had not been completed. The south end of the awning over the 7-Eleven gas pumps hangs over the northern boundary of the Walgreens property. A perimeter curb depicted on the original Walgreens site plan that would severely hamper access to the gas pumps and to Highway 105 was the subject of ongoing private access negotiations. Specific details of regular and emergency vehicle access across Walgreens private property to the rear of the 7-Eleven were still being negotiated at the time of this hearing.

Allison Kern of Net Lease Development briefed the commissioners on the details of the replat. She noted that:

  • The south end of Ada Street in Sally Beck’s property next to Second Street had already been vacated.
  • All movement of utilities would be at NLD’s expense.
  • There will be a new separate private access agreement creating a 30–by-75-foot common access to Highway 105.
  • This added common access will be at the southeast corner of the 7-Eleven property and the northeast corner of the Walgreens property.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith gave a report explaining how the application conforms to the town’s comprehensive plan and the town’s general provisions and purpose of the subdivision regulations. She noted that safety will be improved by the installation of new sidewalks on Third Street and Highway 105. The private cross access agreement between the 7-Eleven and Walgreens parking lots was recommended by the Colorado Department of Transportation, which owns Highway 105. All of Walgreens’ new access requirements are being handled with private agreements, so no new land dedications to the town are required.

Griffith recommended that the vacations be approved with two conditions:

  1. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made by the applicant and approved by the staff prior to recordation of the replat.
  2. A temporary easement for electric facilities shall be dedicated to Mountain View Electric Association for existing electric facilities until they are moved into the new easements from the vacated existing easements.

Griffith then recommended that the replat be approved with two conditions:

  1. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made by the applicant and approved by the staff prior to recordation of the replat.
  2. All easements and right of way necessary to provide utility services and access to the replat and the adjacent property, as shown on the exhibits submitted to Town of Monument Staff on Jan. 20, including the private driveway access for the parking and dumpster west of the 7-Eleven, and a 30-by-75-foot permanent access easement across the northeast corner of the Walgreens property for access to the 7-Eleven property, shall be dedicated prior to or concurrent with the recordation of the replat. Walgreens shall not construct any barriers that will impede the use of the access easement in the northeast corner of the property.

During the public hearing, Woodmoor resident Dave Overcast asked if there would be any new traffic signals installed due to higher traffic after the opening of the Walgreens. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said that the accesses on Second and Third Streets are too close to the intersections on Highway 105. Aligning the intersection on Third Street with the post office access will increase safety.

Michael Chaussee, owner of the 7-Eleven property, said he wanted to eliminate Walgreens’ permanent barriers and retaining walls at the south end of his front parking lot as well as a permanent rather than temporary access easement. These plans were provided by NLD Holdings just before this hearing. Chaussee said the original site plan would have forced customers to back into the gas pump area.

He said the renter that operates the 7-Eleven business had concerns that it will now be hard for gasoline trucks to get in and out of the property but was not aware of this new permanent easement agreement. There is also an encroachment issue regarding the awning over the gas pumps and the air conditioning unit at the rear of the building. Chaussee noted that both of these pieces of equipment were 27 years old and hoped he would not have to sue NLD Holdings to take adverse possession of the land under the equipment.

In Colorado, 18 years of adverse possession is conclusive evidence of absolute ownership. Adverse possession is using property you think is your own without objection from the actual owner.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that these were private matters between Chaussee and NLD Holdings and were not factors for the commissioners to consider.

The commissioners unanimously approved the vacations and replat with the two conditions proposed for each.

Arbor Mountain site plan approved

Arbor Mountain LLC spokesman Tim Irish said he was inspired to develop the Arbor Mountain Senior Living Facility by former Monument resident George Kruze, who was the town’s strongest advocate for a local senior living center. Irish said that Kruze picked the name Arbor Mountain. A George Kruze Garden Trail is included on the property to honor Kruze’s contribution to the town and the project. Irish also noted the continuing support and cooperation of several seniors groups, the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, and future residents.

Architect Larry McChesney gave an overview of the proposed preliminary/final Planned Development (PD) site plan. An artist’s depiction is shown above.

Some of the points McChesney discussed in his presentation were:

  • The building is three stories, 52 feet high, 105,000 square feet, with 57 one- and two-bedroom apartments with large balconies and overhanging roofs.
  • The apartments range from 850 square feet to 1,300 square feet.
  • There are six low-income apartments.
  • There are 86 parking places (only 69 required) and two elevators.
  • The downstairs medical clinic is 2,406 square feet and is served by its own elevator.
  • The other elevator provides access to the 57 apartments.
  • The center of the building houses the kitchen, dining room, craft and activity rooms, and support areas.
  • The 4.07-acre property was donated to the Town of Monument as open space by the subdivision developer.
  • A separate application has been made to the town staff to replat this property as a multi-family and medical clinic development – the surrounding property is residential.
  • Half the site, 49 percent, is open space with extensive landscaping that will include sidewalks, walking paths, an outdoor patio, a garden area, and benches.
  • The donated town lot falls 35 feet from the southeast corner to the northwest corner.
  • The next reviews of the site plan are with the Board of Trustees and the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.
  • Construction will likely start in the middle of the summer.
  • There are far fewer islands in the parking lot than normally required by town standards to improve access for seniors driving through the lots and walking to the building entrances.

Griffith described how the building meets all the town’s criteria for initial and final PD site plans and recommended approval of the site plan with the following nine conditions:

  1. The applicant must satisfactorily resolve all referral agency comments, including but not limited to Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District and Monument Public Works comments.
  2. Technical corrections shall be made and approved by staff. This shall include but not be limited to items listed in the staff comment letter of January 23, 2009.
  3. A note shall be provided on the cover sheet stating that the materials and colors shown in the elevation sheets and the landscaping requirements shown on the landscape plan constitute the PD Design Standards for the project.
  4. A note shall be provided on the cover sheet stating that 57 senior apartments and a 2,406-square-foot medical clinic are the approved uses and the maximum development allowed. Any increase in density or square footage would require a site plan amendment to be approved by the Board of Trustees.
  5. The photometric plan shall be revised to conform to the Town of Monument lighting standards that the average-to-minimum uniformity ratio shall not exceed 10:1. The lighting plan shall also specify that all fixtures shall be full cutoff, that wall-mounted fixtures shall have full shields, and that the plan conforms to the town’s illumination standards.
  6. A "will serve" letter shall be provided by Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District documenting that there is adequate water supply for the development in conformance with state statutes.
  7. The applicant shall submit documentation on the first year rents that will be charged for the "affordable units" in accordance with the contribution agreement between the applicant and the town. After initial plan approval, annual documentation shall be submitted to the town staff by Jan. 31 of each year sufficient to document that a minimum of six affordable units are being charged reduced rents such that they are affordable to low-income residents and in accordance with the original agreement between the applicant and the town. This will include verification of the residents’ income for those receiving reduced rents and copies of the leases for the market rate and below market rate units.
  8. The site plan shall not become effective and recorded until the replat of Tract A has been approved, a site plan improvements agreement has been executed, and a Town of Monument land use permit has been approved and fees paid, including payment of water tap fees and acquisition of water rights.
  9. The applicant shall provide verification of financing.

Griffith noted that there are more conditions than is typical for a site plan because the town is donating the land for this project and to ensure that the facility continues to meet the standards set as part of the land donation. The replat listed in condition 8 is tentatively scheduled for a Planning Commission hearing in March.

During public comment, John Ottino, Chuck Roberts, Chuck Brooks, Byron "Red" Stephens, and Debby French expressed ardent support for Kruze’s dream and the most expeditious completion of the project possible.

During the commissioners’ question and answer period, some of the additional points noted by Kassawara and co-owner and co-developer Greg Wallace were:

  • The developer of the Village Center @ Woodmoor donated no water for the lot.
  • Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District has no excess water available in Village Center.
  • The town cannot provide water directly to the facility – it is located outside of the town’s water service area.
  • The town donated some of its surplus water rights to Woodmoor, which can then sell them to Arbor Mountain LLC at Woodmoor’s standard rate.
  • When the paperwork for transferring water rights from the town to Woodmoor is completed and Arbor Mountain has paid for the water, Woodmoor will provide the "will serve" letter that is required for a town building permit.
  • The levels of service available to seniors are independent living, assisted living, and skilled care, so seniors can remain in the facility in nearly all cases after moving in.
  • Senior couples can "stay put" and "stay together," avoiding traumatic moves from building to building, as Arbor Mountain staff brings care to the residents when there is a disparity of health between them. An exception would be severe Alzheimer’s for both residents.
  • There will be a barber shop and a small "honor system" store for incidental items in the facility to provide for bad weather or unexpected drop-in visits and the like.
  • Outlets, dishwashers, washers, and dryers are elevated.
  • Sinks and stoves can be lowered for residents in wheelchairs.
  • There are no shower thresholds to allow for wheelchair entry.
  • Key fobs are issued instead of keys.
  • Residents can rent or acquire equity in their apartment but not in the project’s land.
  • All the conditions must be met before a building permit is issued.

The site plan was unanimously approved with the nine proposed conditions.

Griffith and Kassawara gave a brief overview of potential development proposals that might come before the Planning Commission over the next four months.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:57 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 11 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Feb. 12: Police chief Ferrin resigns

By David Futey

On Feb. 12, the Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously accepted the resignation of Palmer Lake Police Chief Eugene Ferrin and provided him with severance pay of $11,839. No additional details were made available due to the council’s settlement agreement with Ferrin.

On Jan. 27, OCN was notified that Mayor John Cressman had placed Ferrin on administrative leave pending further action—no criminal activity was involved in this matter.

Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk was appointed to be Palmer Lake’s interim chief. Shirk was also a member of the screening committee that selected Ferrin as chief. The council unanimously appointed Ferrin on May 8, 2008, and he started work on May 16.

Town Clerk Della Gray reported that the Palmer Lake Police Department was $71,000 over budget in 2008. This was due to a number of factors, including the death of the previous chief and associated expenses, vehicle repairs, increased fuel costs, officer training, and legal and unemployment benefits.

Gray had previously advised the council of the Police Department’s growing deficit at monthly meetings throughout 2008 and had asked the council to pass an ordinance to transfer funds from other accounts to cover the excess spending. The majority of the Police Department budget overage occurred prior to Chief Ferrin’s arrival. The department’s expenditures exceeded its budget in several preceding years as well. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n11.htm#pltc for details.)

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman was excused from the meeting.

Committee reports

Mayor John Cressman reported on attending the Pikes Peaks Area Council of Governments (PPACG) ( www.ppacg.org ) meeting. He noted that pending state legislation dominated the discussion and that Palmer Lake could send a citizen for representation on the council’s Community Advisory Committee. Cressman also said he had spoken with Monument Mayor Byron Glenn about Chief Shirk providing interim police chief support following the resignation of Ferrin.

Parks and Recreation Trustee Jan Bristol and Economic/Community Development Trustee Nikki McDonald reported that they met with the Fireworks Committee to discuss this year’s Fourth of July event and the distribution of firecrackers and bracelets. They also held preliminary discussions with Judith Berquist, Colorado Center for Community Development, regarding possible projects including an update to the Streetscape plan.

Bristol and McDonald also noted that they received a "generous check" from the American Legion. The funds will be used for maintenance on the Bill Crawford Memorial. Cressman asked how the American Legion funds would be used. Bristol responded that they are looking for low maintenance plants that would provide the memorial with a "nice and finished look."

In the absence of Fire Trustee Gary Coleman, Police Trustee Dan Reynolds provided the summary of Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) activities. Reynolds, who is also the chief of the PLVFD, thanked the Tri-Lakes Monument, Donald Wescott, and Larkspur Fire Protection Districts along with Roads Trustee Bryan Jack, who is also a Tri-Lakes fire battalion chief, for the assistance they all provided in extinguishing a structural fire on South Valley Road in Palmer Lake. The fire occurred in early January.

Reynolds added that a verbal agreement with Tri-Lakes had been reached on providing ambulance service for Palmer Lake to replace the previous agreement with Larkspur. He is waiting on a document with signatures from the Tri-Lakes board president and chief before the agreement can be officially finalized by the Town Council.

Through a matching 2008 Wildland Grant, the PLVFD was able to procure a GPS for use in the national forest, a drip torch to set back fires, and other items. Reynolds also encouraged residents to install or check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detection devices. Staff of the PLVFD will come to homes and help with assessing needs for both devices.

Roads Trustee Jack reported that the Highway User Tax Fund report was completed. This report is sent to the state and contains information on the condition of town roads along with the amount of state funds received for repairs. Last year the town received $55,000. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) appears on the verge of accepting the town’s Safe Routes to School plan by the end of February.

Jack noted that the Roads Department is eager to start on the streetscape project and that he wants to meet with Trustee Bristol soon to discuss details. Jack said he was pleased to report that signs for two deer crossings are in place. The sign installations came at the recommendation from schoolchildren at a previous council meeting.

Water Trustee Max Stafford presented his 2008 end-of-year report. The Water Department produced nearly 250 acre-feet for the year, equating to slightly over 81 million gallons. Overall the department’s operational income exceeded expenditures by approximately $7,000. This did not factor in capital improvement income and expenditures.

His report also reiterated the issues brought up during the year: maintenance of the present water treatment equipment, increasing electricity costs due to greater reliance on pumping from the wells, and the council’s approval of an increase in water rates to keep the water enterprise fund solvent and be able to address capital improvements.

Stafford said he attended the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority meeting regarding the formation of a Title 32 special district for the management and conservation of the Monument and Fountain Creek watershed and the related floodplain and wetlands.

Reynolds reported that the new Eforce software has improved the Police Department’s record collection and enabled it to create detailed reports. Reynolds noted that Chief Gene Ferrin was placed on administrative leave and that Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk accepted an interim role as chief.

Bob Miner, the Town of Palmer Lake representative to the Fountain Creek Watershed Study, reported that the Fountain Creek Visioning Task Force (www.fountain-crk.org) held a meeting last month that closed out the nearly five years taken for the study. An interim board for the watershed special district was announced. Miner recommended that the council support the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) and stated that "We are included in it." This statement reflected on previously expressed concerns by Miner and council that the town and northern part of county had been overlooked in the process and the IGA.

Gray also reported that the tree grant submission was not successful. Keith Woods will be working with her next year on a follow-up grant submission.

Fountain Creek Watershed IGA accepted

By a vote of 5 to 1, with Bristol opposing, the council approved acceptance of the Fountain Creek Watershed District IGA. Bristol indicated that she did not like districts being legislated. Prior to the vote, the council heard from County Commissioner Sallie Clark, who attended the council meeting to address any lingering concerns and seek council’s approval. Clark is the current treasurer of the PPACG. She noted that the legislation had passed the Colorado Senate’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee by a vote of 7-0. Clark stated that she felt the town’s concerns of water rights, land use authority, drainage issues, and control of town projects had been addressed and that (as of this council meeting) Pueblo and Palmer Lake were the last municipalities to vote in the IGA approval process.

Stafford stated that concerns regarding water rights and drainage issues from the last council meeting had been resolved. Stafford also offered to volunteer for the Fountain Creek Governing Board Committee. By unanimous decision, the council gave Stafford permission to apply for the governing board, and Clark indicated the committee would accept his application.

McDonald asked Clark if an opt-out option was available in the IGA. Clark said that option is available. Jack indicated that the district will be created, given the recent state Senate vote, and "Whether we vote in or out, the citizens will be in it no matter what." Citizens within the district will have a right to vote on any tax initiative should the district pursue one.

Warranty deed approved

With Mayor Cressman recusing himself from the vote because he may do work for Living Word Chapel, the council unanimously approved a warranty deed that transferred title of a parcel of land from the chapel to the town. The deed had been reviewed by Town Attorney Larry Gaddis.

Reynolds asked for clarification on the deed in regard to the surveyed road and adjacent river. Reynolds asked how this change affects issues with Fountain Creek, which runs along the road, and the possibility of related issues such as flooding. Gaddis said he did not know who owns the creek but that the creek is not on the plat. Gaddis stated that the deed would not affect ownership of the creek, only the property adjacent to it.

Business licenses approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved two business license requests that were discussed during the council workshop on Feb. 5:

  • Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance Thrift Store will be located at 755 Highway 105, Unit 9. The business will collect and sell household items, toys, books, tools, and small appliances.
  • Twyla Velasquez’s Vintage Eleven Studio will be located at 790 Highway 105, Unit C. This business will be a photography studio.

Sertoma Freedom Week

Since 1974, the Monument Hill Sertoma Club has held the "What Freedom Means to Me" contest. Sertoma representative Benny Nasser presented Sophie Capp, a student at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, as this year’s winner. Capp read her award-winning entry, "Filling Up the White Space," to the council. Following the reading, Mayor Cressman read the Town of Palmer Lake’s Proclamation for Sertoma Freedom Week, designated for Feb.15-21. Nasser then presented the mayor and the town with a plaque inscribed with the Pledge of Allegiance.

The council went into executive session to address a personnel matter at 7:52 p.m. Following the conclusion of the executive session, the board announced the resignation of Ferrin and the severance payment, then adjourned.

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The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 12 at Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Check the town’s Web site ( www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/index.shtml ) or call 481-2953 to confirm that the meeting date has not changed.

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Feb 18: Proposed Fountain Creek district raises concerns for wastewater plant operators

By John Heiser

At the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority’s (PPRWA) regular monthly meeting Feb. 18, the authority discussed proposed Colorado Senate Bill (SB) 09-141 that would create a special district for the preservation and improvement of the Fountain Creek Watershed. The district, modeled on the Denver Urban Drainage District, would cover all of Pueblo and El Paso Counties.

Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala District, noted that attorney Tad Foster has raised concerns that SB09-141, as currently written, contains language that could lead to significant negative impacts for operators of wastewater plants. Those impacts could come in the form of additional regulations on stream standards and discharge limits and fees similar to the controversial stormwater fees implemented in Colorado Springs. Duthie said, "It could get real ugly for those of us who operate wastewater plants."

Following the executive session at the end of the meeting, Gary Barber, PPRWA manager, was directed to pursue getting changes made to SB09-141. Duthie was tasked to ask Foster to present to those involved in the legislation his concerns about the potential negative consequences of the present bill for wastewater treatment plant operators.

Green River/Flaming Gorge project update

Barber reported that Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, 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 the project, which would involve constructing 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.

Barber said that Million received the same letter from Sherman but reportedly does not have a letter from the Wyoming Department of Natural Resources.

Jaeger is asking those who want to be part of the effort to pay a $10,000 contribution as a sign of interest.

Barber recommended that the PPRWA put up the $10,000.

Barber noted that the Black Squirrel alluvial aquifer should be considered for storage of the Green River water. He said there is 200,000 acre-feet of storage available there.

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

Other matters

  • Rick Fendel, the PPRWA’s attorney, reported that rights to water from the Columbine Ditch have been won by the developer of a private ski resort near Vail.
  • The Northern Infrastructure Committee, which last month was formally recognized and authorized to refine earlier engineering estimates of the cost to interconnect the local districts, has made little progress. The committee is also charged to 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 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 and may be a sticking point in proceeding.
  • Monument Mayor Byron Glenn cited the declining level in the Arapahoe aquifer and said the towns and districts need to tell their customers about the severity of the problem. He added, "The authority needs to come together on the integration of infrastructure. We have to be a team. We have to trust each other."
  • Kip Petersen, manager of the Cherokee Metro District and president of the PPRWA, said that the members have to face the prospect of shortages and acknowledge the time it takes to address the issue. He added, "10 years is a short time in water."

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

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held March 18 at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Hall, 166 Second St. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com.

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Monument Sanitation District special board meeting, Feb. 6: Board to consider fee increase amid revenue dip

By Jim Kendrick

At a special meeting held at 4:15 p.m. on Feb. 6, District Manager Mike Wicklund advised the Monument Sanitation District board that commercial user fee revenue would be significantly lower than the amount projected in the 2009 budget the board approved on Nov. 20. Wicklund suggested some options for fee increases to cover the shortfall.

Board members discussed the various options and agreed to review the various options prior to formally considering a rate increase at the regularly scheduled board meeting on Feb. 19.

All five board members were present for this special meeting.

Background

Commercial users pay Monument Sanitation District for wastewater treatment in arrears, paying for the previous year’s treatment of wastewater in equal monthly payments during the following year. A commercial customer’s monthly sanitary sewer user fee is based on the total amount of water used by the customer in the previous year.

During annual budget preparation each fall, the projected total amount of water to be consumed through the end of December is calculated for each commercial user based on trends in the user’s total annual consumption in previous years. This projected total consumption for the current year is divided by 12 to determine the monthly sanitary sewer fee that will be charged beginning in January of the following year. The projected total revenue is then listed in the next year’s annual budget to be approved by the board and submitted to the state by mid-December.

When the town provides the consumption amounts for the previous year to the district in the following year, the district’s staff reviews these figures and compares them to the projected amount used in budget preparation. The average monthly commercial user fees are then adjusted as necessary for the rest of the year. Fees go up when use was higher than projected or down when use was lower than projected.

 

2009 budget revenue projection: When the 2009 district budget was being prepared in the fall of 2008, the district staff used historical data from the town staff for 2007 and previous years to project the total water consumption by each commercial user through the end of 2008 and the projected commercial fees for 2009. The 2009 budget was approved at the regular board meeting on Nov. 20 and forwarded to the state before the mid-December deadline. The total projected user fee revenue from commercial and residential users in the 2009 budget is $408,000.

Lower district water use discovered

Wicklund advised the board that the amount of water used by the district’s heavy commercial customers throughout 2008 was unexpectedly lower than the amount projected in the 2009 budget. The district’s user fees will be about $386,500.

Some of the points Wicklund made during his presentation on current billing rates and rate increase options to cover this revenue shortfall were:

  • Residential fees have not been raised in 15 years.
  • Residential fees were reduced from $25 to $20 per month in 1997.
  • Average residential use is about 4,000 gallons per month
  • Residential users pay about $5 per 1,000 gallons.
  • Currently, light and heavy commercial customers pay a base fee of $25 for the first 10,000 gallons.
  • The commercial base fee was reduced from $32 to $25 in 2001.
  • Heavy commercial customers currently pay $3.84 for each additional 1,000 gallons over 10,000 gallons.
  • Commercial wastewater user fee revenue has declined from about 50 percent of the district’s total user fee revenue.
  • Heavy commercial user revenue was $136,600 in 2006, $134,600 in 2007, and $127,300 in 2008
  • However, commercial user revenue will drop to $102,800 in 2009 if rates remain the same.
  • Commercial water usage may be down due to the increase in the number of restaurants outside the district in Jackson Creek and Woodmoor.
  • Palmer Lake has fewer heavy commercial customers and charges $28.50 per month for the first 6,000 gallons and $4.48 per each additional 1,000 gallons
  • Woodmoor has only a few heavy commercial users and charges $22.60 per month for the first 6,000 gallons and $2.80 per each additional 1,000 gallons

Director Lowell Morgan suggested increasing the commercial rate to a flat $5 per 1,000 gallons to make commercial fees more comparable to residential rates. Wicklund replied that most light commercial users’ wastewater is not as strong as the wastewater from heavy users and suggested a lower base fee such as $20 for the first 5,000 gallons.

Director Chuck Robinove said that the residential fee should also be adjusted upward at the same time as a hedge against a continued reduction in heavy commercial user fee revenues. Wicklund noted that there has also been a rise in the district’s share of costs for operating the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility due to recently adding a third full-time facility operator to the staff. There have been new costs for environmental attorney fees, environmental scientific studies, and engineering consultant fees to deal with tighter permit restrictions on copper concentrations in the facility’s effluent and renewing the facility’s discharge permit for another five years at the end of 2009.

After further discussion, the board asked Wicklund to provide specific data for options to raise rates effective April 1 at the regular meeting on Feb. 19. The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.

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Monument Sanitation District board, Feb. 19: Board approves user fee increases

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 19, the Monument Sanitation District board approved increases in the flat residential user fee, the base commercial fee, and the rate paid by heavy commercial users for additional wastewater treatment by a 3-1 vote. The fee increases affect all district property owners. They will go into effect on April 1 and will show up in the May 1 billing.

Director Lowell Morgan was absent from the meeting.

The district’s residential fee will increase $2 per month, from the current flat rate of $20 to $22, a 10 percent rise. The district’s residential customers use up to 5,000 gallons per month.

The current monthly base rate for light commercial users will drop $3, from the current flat rate of $25 for up to 10,000 gallons to $22 for up to 5,000 gallons. The monthly rate for heavy commercial users will increase from $3.84 for each additional 1,000 gallons over 10,000 gallons to $4.23 for each additional 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons. The residential and commercial flat fees are now the same rate.

The increases will cover the shortfall in projected user fee revenue that was discovered after the district staff received the annual water use figures for 2008 from the Town of Monument that showed substantial declines in commercial water use. District Manager Mike Wicklund had previously briefed the board about the town’s unexpected water figures and the resultant decreases in 2009 revenue at a special meeting on Feb. 6. (See the related article on the Feb. 6 meeting for an explanation of this issue.)

Several fee revision options considered

Wicklund provided the board specific revenue figures for several options for increasing total revenue that would result if put into effect at the end of the first quarter. The board approved changes in the residential and commercial fee structure by a vote of 3-1, with Director Chuck Robinove opposed. Robinove stated that the rate increase on heavy commercial use over 5,000 gallons per month was not high enough to make that rate comparable to the effective residential and light commercial rate, and the board would have to start increasing one or more of the three fees every year.

The district last raised the residential user fee in 1994, to $25 per month. The fee was later reduced to $20 per month in 1997. The base flat commercial fee was reduced from $32 for the first 10,000 gallons to $25 in 2001. The district has historically given user fee credits in years when more revenue was generated than was needed to operate the district.

More clay pipe collection repairs completed

Wicklund noted that another four service connections to the district’s aging original vitreous clay collection lines in "Old Town" Monument had been repaired by contractor J&K Excavating since the Jan. 15 board meeting. Fortunately, only two excavations were required, which reduced the total cost of the repairs. In each case, two of the failing taps were adjacent to each other, reducing the volume of dirt that had to be removed, re-installed, and re-compacted.

These repairs eliminated large tree root intrusions into the district’s collection line where the seal between the tap and line had failed. These intrusions could cause significant system backups and overflows if not corrected promptly. Numerous other connections to these aging vitreous clay lines were repaired by J&K in "Old Town" Monument throughout 2008 as well. Eliminating these tree root intrusions reduces the likelihood of customers illegally using copper sulfate to temporarily remove them and creating spikes in the district’s copper concentrations at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Wicklund noted that the district has been relining these vitreous clay pipes with a cured-in-place sleeve from Insituform Technologies Inc. for several years and will continue the program until all the clay pipes have been rehabilitated. In addition to inhibiting tree root intrusion, the Insituform lining also greatly reduces the amount of ground and storm water that infiltrates into the district’s collection lines, significantly reducing the total volume of Monument wastewater that has to be treated by the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Even though the number of district users has grown substantially, the volume of district wastewater delivered to the Tri-Lakes facility for treatment has remained fairly constant over the past decade due to the sharp reduction of storm and ground water infiltration offsetting the increase in wastewater from new customers.

Wakonda Hills grant update discussed

Wicklund noted that engineering consultant GMS Inc. is preparing an engineering study and grant application for a portion of the $35 million in new federal stimulus money given to the state for "shovel ready" wastewater facility improvements. The district’s remaining costs for building collection lines and two lift stations in Wakonda Hills is about $3 million. Wicklund added that he thought the state would expeditiously approve the lift stations because of the priority being given by the state and county Health Departments to have the district replace the failing septic systems on the 1-acre lots throughout Wakonda Hills.

Wicklund stated that the board could vote to increase user fees to pay for a revenue bond to cover the district’s matching contribution for this federal grant if it is awarded. The fee increase would be about $5 per customer for about 20 years to complete the Wakonda Hills system expansion. "We are ready to go, but it is going to be a burden on the entire district if we’re borrowing $1.5 million. We’re all going to have to pitch in to get this community well, but that’s what we do."

The new sewer system will protect the environment, prevent contamination of the Wakonda Hills water table, and preclude the need for the development to be annexed by the town in order to obtain municipal water to replace the spoiled well water.

Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee report

Wicklund noted that the Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee assigned him to prepare expanded glossary and definitions sections for the Amended Joint Use Agreement, which governs the joint operation of the Tri-Lakes facility. The committee also unanimously approved a motion to authorize Facility Manager Bill Burks to sign checks over $2,000 to pay for the monthly cost of facility employee benefits in addition to the previously approved exception for monthly utility bills.

Robinove, who is the alternate district representative to this committee, discussed the changes he thinks should be made following his review of the Amended Joint Use Agreement and the Policies, Practices, and Procedures document. He said that most of the changes he suggested were for noting that Burks has taken over the duties previously performed by retired Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Manager Phil Steininger as the facility’s executive support agent. Robinove also suggested an increase of the minimum dollar amount for equal sharing of capital costs by the three districts that own the facility from $2,500 to $10,000.

Wicklund noted that the committee expressed interest in installing a windmill for supplementary electric power generation on the northeast corner of the facility.

Robinove added that he advocated initiating a contract for bringing emergency generators to the facility in the event of catastrophic loss of electric service from Mountain View Electric Association. Director Ed Delaney noted that new hardware would have to be installed at the facility to safely connect an external emergency generator that would be driven in.

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

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 19 at the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Feb. 10: Revisions to policy document approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 10, the Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility unanimously approved Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund’s proposed revisions of outdated paragraphs in the Policies, Practices, and Procedures document regarding check writing by the facility manager. The revisions reflected motions that the JUC had previously approved for these policy changes in 2006 and 2007.

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 at the meeting: 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.

The JUC also unanimously approved an exception to the Policies, Practices, and Procedures document’s $2,000 maximum limit on routine monthly operating expense checks that Facility Manager Bill Burks can sign by himself. The exception will allow Burks to sign a monthly check that pays for all facility employee benefits, about $2,500. The exception was required because of the recent addition of a third full-time operator to the facility staff.

The JUC can amend this document by majority vote of the three members. However, additional amendments of the Amended Joint Use Agreement require unanimous approval by the five-member boards of all three of the owning districts.

Wicklund volunteered to draft an expansion of the glossary and definitions sections of the Amended Joint Use Agreement. The JUC representatives agreed to have their boards perform a review of the first four sections of the agreement and provide a list of suggested revisions for a future JUC meeting. The JUC intends to have a list of all proposed revisions to the agreement completed in time for a vote at the next annual JUC meeting in December.

Reports

Discharge monitoring report: Some of the January testing results that Burks discussed were:

  • Potentially dissolved copper was 11.2 parts per billion (ppb) – the average limit is 24.8 ppb
  • Ammonia levels dropped to an "optimum" average of 1.5 parts per million (ppm) with a maximum of only 2.2 ppm, due in part to warmer temperatures in January than in December
  • Average wastewater flow was 1.10 million gallons per day (MGD) with a maximum flow of 1.17 MGD
  • Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) removal, which measures total waste removal, was 99 percent – the standard is at least 85 percent removal
  • Average BOD loading was 2,508 pounds per day, with a daily peak of 2,624 pounds
  • Suspended solids removal was 98 percent – the standard is at least 85 percent removal

Flow and BOD analysis: Burks noted that Woodmoor had the highest average BOD, 1,311 pounds per day. Monument had the highest average BOD concentration, 2,799 pounds per million gallons. North Woodmoor had the highest influent BOD loading in January – 21,403 pounds – while South Woodmoor had the highest monthly flow – 9.773 million gallons.

Copper report: The average total copper concentration for the wastewater treated by the facility was 55.9 ppb. South Monument’s influent flow had the highest average copper concentration, 101.5 ppb, and the highest peak concentration, 122 ppb. The national average for total copper concentration in wastewater is 200 ppb.

Woodmoor’s alternate representative, Jim Whitelaw, added that he had taken a tour of the facility with Burks. "I came away knowing a lot more than I knew before, and I thought I knew a lot." Nasser asked Whitelaw "if this new knowledge would affect your participation in meetings?" to much laughter. Whitelaw has worked in the wastewater industry for over 40 years.

Facility tour leads to discussion of comparisons: Wicklund noted that he had taken a tour of the expanded Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. This tour preceded the Jan. 28 Donala Water and Sanitation District board meeting. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n2.htm#dwsd for details.)

Wicklund observed that the Tri-Lakes facility is simpler than Upper Monument Creek, cost only $4 million to build, and $1.7 million to expand in 1988-89. This expansion increased the Tri-Lakes capacity from 2.8 MGD to 4.2 MGD. The Upper Monument Creek facility, which is owned by Donala and the Triview and Forest Lakes Metropolitan Districts, was just expanded to increase capacity from 1.3 MGD to 2.8 MGD at a cost of $16.3 million.

Wicklund said that the high cost was due to Upper Monument Creek being surrounded by Preble’s mouse habitat and the railroad track. New construction was complicated, because it had to be stacked on top of the existing facility. The Tri-Lakes facility had plenty of open land for adding a new aeration basin 20 years ago and uses gravity flow for most of its operations. In contrast, the surrounding terrain of Monument Creek and the mouse habitat force Forest Lakes’ wastewater to be delivered to the site’s lowest elevation after it is piped under Monument Creek. Then it has to be pumped uphill to start treatment in the new sequencing batch reactors, increasing electrical and mechanical costs.

Burks added that the stop and start operation of the batch reactors – fill/treat/drain – also requires a large equalization basin to hold the surge flows that occur when the reactor’s treated wastewater is released every few hours. The equalization basin is drained at a much slower rate to provide a steady flow through the new ultraviolet disinfection facility. The new ultraviolet facility has replaced the previous chlorination/dechlorination disinfection process, which also used methanol.

The water in the equalization basin also has to be aerated by positive displacement blowers, another additional cost dictated by the surrounding mouse habitat. Burks said Upper Monument Creek has five operators to run the plant, and its new automated controls for the sequencing "are incredible."

Wicklund noted that Upper Monument Creek’s waste goes directly to a digester and then a filter press, where it is de-watered and hauled off to a landfill. A second on-site filter press is required now. Burks added that the other facility’s sludge is hauled away every few days to a landfill. In contrast, Tri-Lakes’ removed waste is treated passively in a sludge lagoon for 27 months, then de-watered in a portable filter press and hauled off in trucks to be applied as fertilizer on nearby farms.

The Upper Monument Creek facility load will continue to grow due to new construction in Triview and Forest Lakes. Donala and Forest Lakes now own enough capacity to handle all of their planned growth with this expansion. Triview will have to arrange for additional future financing to pay for another facility expansion in the future to handle its planned growth. The expanded Tri-Lakes facility is currently operating at 23 percent of capacity. (See the Donala article for other details on Upper Monument Creek facility issues.)

Backup generator options discussed

Wicklund also noted that Upper Monument Creek has backup electrical power generation because of the facility’s large number of pumps. There was a lengthy discussion of backup generators and solar- or wind-powered supplementary electrical generators.

Burks stated that Mountain View Electric Association’s electrical power supply from the adjacent substation is reliable and clean enough that on-site backup generators aren’t necessary. Backups would be very expensive to purchase, install, and maintain in comparison to renting portable generators. The Tri-Lakes facility’s three aeration basins could be operated in parallel as a lagoon system with manual screening of raw sewage for several days in an electrical emergency.

Alternate Monument representative Chuck Robinove suggested that the JUC sign a contingency contract for emergency backup electrical generators that would be driven to the Tri-Lakes facility in the event of a catastrophic Mountain View Electric failure. Burks said he would research the availability of a standby contract, as an addition to the 2010 budget, for renting mobile emergency generators and the potential engineering, design, and equipment costs to safely connect a portable generator to the facility’s electrical network.

Morgan volunteered to research options for constructing a windmill on the northeast corner of the site, by the intersection of Mitchell and Arnold Avenues.

The meeting adjourned at 10:58 a.m.

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board, Feb. 12: Water main breaks boost expenses

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District met on Feb. 12 at 1 p.m., with President Benny Nasser presiding. All board members were present with the exception of Barry Town.

Treasurer James Wyss reported that salaries and overtime expenses were elevated during January due to 15 main breaks since Dec. 24. He said the statistics on capital outlay were not yet up to date.

Nasser reported on the recent meeting of the Joint Use Committee of the Tri-Lakes Water Treatment Facility. The plant is running very well, and the group has begun review of the agreement creating the committee. The group is reviewing the policies and procedures first to ensure that it describes the way the committee now operates. He said that each member of the board would receive a section to review.

Nasser said the committee discussed electric power generation and how long the plant could operate in the event of a power outage. During the discussion of this, they considered the idea of putting up a windmill or solar collectors to generate additional power to sell back to the grid. The committee considered that funding for such improvements may come from the environmental section of the federal economic stimulus package.

District Manager Jessie Shaffer delivered the manager’s report. He said that the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) is still pursuing grant money allocated by the Legislature but never actually distributed. He said there should be a further update next month.

Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette gave the operations report. He said that the district can still reliably account for 90 percent of the water distributed, but that there were a number of leaks in the system during January and that a shortfall may result from two house fires during February.

Gillette said the Well 11 pump had been repaired and was being lowered back into place when a cable broke and the mechanism fell. The pump has since been shipped to Wyoming to determine the damage done. Damage within the well shaft will be videotaped within the next week.

The refilling of the lake continues on schedule.

No new construction was reported within the district and no further contact has been made with Arbor Mountain, the proposed senior residence on Highway 105.

Roni Sperling reported on water rights issues, saying that the district is using some effluent credits from Donala and Triview in refilling Lake Woodmoor.

A draft of the Woodmoor Water Newsletter was discussed, showing the refrigerator magnet that will be mailed with it to customers. The magnet bears information on the proper disposal of medications and personal care products. Shaffer commented that the firm that mails the district’s bills would mail only one insert per year with the bills, so this would be a separate mailing. He said the amount of pharmaceuticals in the district’s water is still in trace quantities, but he felt that education of the public is still worthwhile.

Board member Elizabeth Hacker suggested that the newsletter should contain specific information on how to apply for rebates for water-saving devices in the home. She also suggested that the newsletter stress that homeowners can use insurance to defray the cost of damages due to main breaks.

A report was given by a representative of Bishop-Brogden Associates regarding an analysis of lawn irrigation return flows. This study discussed water credits the district could realize as a result of water that returns to streams after use by the district.

The attorney’s report recommended passage of a resolution to direct that all changes in the rules and regulations of the boards since 2006 be incorporated into the 2009 regulations. The resolution was passed.

The public segment of the meeting adjourned at 2 p.m., followed by an executive session to discuss legal and engineering matters.The board adjourned following executive session with no further action.

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The next meeting will be held at 1 p.m. March 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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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 18: District collecting data for Mt. Massive Ranch water court case

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting Feb. 18, the board received an update on the district’s plans for Mt. Massive Ranch.

The ranch is approximately 711 acres and is about seven miles southwest of Leadville. Purchasing the ranch is expected to give the district water rights to at least 225 acre-feet per year of surface water rights. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons, and 225 acre-feet represents about 20 percent of the district’s yearly total water use.

A water court ruling will be needed to convert the water rights from agricultural uses to district use. Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, said that in preparation for the water court case, Layne Western has completed installation of eight monitoring wells. Duthie later added that if the water court case is filed in May 2009, the monitoring well data must be submitted in November 2009, and the case would likely come before the court in August 2010.

Duthie noted that issues of access to the ranch property through an adjacent property are being worked out.

He reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said that, as a public entity, the district cannot be involved in awarding hunting vouchers for the ranch property.

Board President Dennis Daugherty presided at the Feb. 18 meeting. Board members Dick Durham, Tim Murphy, and Dale Schendzielos were present. William George’s absence was excused.

Other matters

  • During the three months from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, the district’s $4.86 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 2.52 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.66 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 2.8 months.
  • Duthie reported that at its Feb. 4 meeting, the El Paso County Water Authority voted to support House Bill 09-1129, sponsored by state Rep. Marsha Looper, which would, if passed, direct the Colorado Water Conservation Board to select the sponsors of up to 10 new residential or mixed-use developments that would 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. Duthie noted that a new amendment to the bill requires that during the 10-year study, all of the water gathered would be required to be replaced from other sources. Duthie said he doubted that many developers would be interested in participating under those conditions.
  • Duthie also reported on the Feb. 18 Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority meeting. See the PPRWA article.
  • Duthie said that the expanded wastewater treatment plant is "performing very well." He added that the capacity of the Trojan open-channel ultraviolet disinfection treatment system was miscalculated. Trojan reported that the engineering firm it used made miscalculations in the designs for about 300 plants worldwide, including this one. Trojan will cover the cost of correcting the problem.
  • Duthie reported that Rich Landreth, Monument’s Public Works director, is representing Triview at the wastewater plant operations and construction management meetings. Duthie added that all the major construction decisions have been made and that every effort is being made to cap the cost of the wastewater plant expansion at $16.3 million. He said that he expects to receive "any time now" the stream discharge permit for the expanded plant. He noted that the Monument Creek water quality standards are up for review next year. The governmental agencies responsible for those standards are tightening the limits for effluent discharged into the creek. For more information, see the Joint Use Committee article.
  • Duthie said the district is working with Waste Management to address the radiology problem with the sludge from the wastewater plant. If this cannot be resolved, it could result in an additional cost of about $96,000 per year.
  • Duthie reported that the district had the lowest volume of January water sales in five years. Various cost-cutting measures are being considered, including using e-mail for billing and for distributing the district newsletter. Those two measures could save about $17,000 per year. Customers without e-mail would continue to receive mailings. Other measures being considered include a salary freeze that could save about $7,500 per year; sale of one of the district’s trucks and not replacing it, which would yield a one-time savings of about $26,000; and operational changes at the wastewater treatment plant that could save about $20,000 per year.

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

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on March 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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Triview Metropolitan District Board, Feb. 25: Board extends employment of district manager and administrator

By Jim Kendrick

After a lengthy discussion between the Triview Metropolitan District Board and Monument Town Manager Cathy Green on Feb. 25 about how to negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a transition of operations from acting Triview District Manager Ron Simpson and District Administrator Dale Hill to Green and Town Treasurer Pamela Smith, there was consensus to have a committee of two Triview directors and two town trustees meet to create a draft.

Because the negotiations for the town takeover had fallen behind the original transition timeline, the Triview board then opted to extend the employment of Simpson and Hill another month to the end of April, even though the 2009 budget called for Simpson’s and Hill’s employment to end on March 31. This decision was made after the district’s investment banker, Sam Sharp of D.A. Davidson, reported that Triview was saving about $80,000 per month due to interest and administrative costs for the district’s $47.6 million in bond debt being much lower than expected. The interest rates for the seven-day short-term variable rate bonds currently in use have been less than 1 percent.

No short-term changes in bond financing expected: Triview had switched Oct. 29 from annual variable rate bonds issued on a letter of credit from Compass Bank to weekly variable rate bonds based on the district’s new A- credit rating. Triview had never qualified for a credit rating before. The variable rate bonds are paid for by Triview’s 35 mill property tax. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n12.htm#tmd for details of this decision.)

At the Feb. 2 Triview board meeting, Sharp had restated that the board had planned to convert to 30-year fixed-rate bonds at the Oct. 29 meeting but the sudden turbulence of the banking industry during the last week in October suddenly made this option prohibitively expensive. Sharp recommended weekly or monthly variable rate bonds until the fixed rate dropped to about 6 percent at that time.

On Feb. 25, Sharp told the board that the fixed rate for A- bonds was still above 7 percent and recommended against locking in at that rate.

Sharp also reported that the specific terms in an interim offer of a "swap" refinancing arrangement from Compass Bank that was discussed and "approved in concept" by the board at the Feb. 2 Triview meeting had not been firmly defined in a formal offer sheet as promised. Initially the term for the swap proposal had been for a 15-year term. After the Feb. 2 meeting, Compass dropped the maximum term to 10 years, then seven years.

Compass subsequently "pulled back" similar swap term sheets proposed to several other D.A. Davidson clients. Sharp noted the parent company of Compass Bank is BBVA Compass in Madrid, Spain, and not subject to current federal banking stimulus programs and TARP directives.

Sharp also said he continues to recommend against a long-term rate much above about 5.75 percent. This rate is still not available, however. Sharp said he’d advise the board if rates shift and schedule a presentation to the board at that time. By consensus, the board chose to continue issuing weekly variable rate bonds.

Little progress on takeover of Triview operations

Green listed her concerns regarding unresolved differences in the two staff’s procedures as the March 31 transition deadline approaches. She suggested biweekly subcommittee meetings to address transition issues to define a process for having town staff take over.

Director Robert Fisher said the subcommittee should focus in issues that could be resolved by April 1.

Director Steve Remington said, "I’m pretty disappointed how it’s gone. I’m disappointed in the communications the town has put out. I’m disappointed in the communications coming in e-mails." He added, "I think until we get some written details, I think we ought to stop the process and not move anymore to the town until we some written understanding. We’re going to have another bad agreement like our last bad one."

Director Julie Glenn said, "I haven’t seen any written communication coming from our end."

Board President Bob Eskridge said, "This is just the first hack, it’s not really the agreement."

Remington said the town put out inaccurate information to residents on the size of the savings, and that it would go to debt payments and capital projects without any agreement with the Triview. After a lengthy discussion, Remington remained unsatisfied about not having a finalized agreement.

Simpson said he and Green could not decide policy issues or define the transition procedure. Eskridge agreed and said the subcommittee would start with the first draft of the MOU that was on the table. No comments were available from Triview on the draft MOU at this meeting.

It was decided that Triview’s directors on the subcommittee would be Steve Remington and Robert Fisher. Green suggested Trustee Rafael Dominguez and Mayor Byron Glenn as the town’s members. She added that meetings on the second and fourth Mondays of the month—two hours each for about two months—should be enough to work out a draft MOU.

Director Steve Cox agreed to represent Triview in discussing joint water purchases with the town. However, the Triview board remained divided on having the town take over operations, much less take over on the previously agreed upon date of April 1.

A board-to-board meeting was scheduled for March 9 in Town Hall.

While the board changed its position to keep Simpson and Hill on board, the board re-confirmed the decision made in finalizing the 2009 district budget to switch the district’s attorney, Pete Susemihl, to standby status after March 31. The district board will rely primarily on Town Attorney Gary Shupp beginning in April. Susemihl suggested that Shupp could save time and money for Triview by calling him for information rather than Shupp researching Triview issues independently.

After taking care of routine bill-paying and maintenance issues, the board adjourned at 6:57 p.m.

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The next Triview meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on March 25 at 174 N. Washington St. Meetings are normally held at 5 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Feb. 25: Battalion chief recounts difficult night at house fire

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By Susan Hindman 

"It was certainly a horrific experience for everybody," said Battalion Chief Greg Lovato, about the Feb. 8 fire at the Sharp family home on True Vista Circle. He recounted the incident at the Feb. 25 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board.

The first one on the scene at 2:50 a.m., Lovato said, "We had a real difficult situation." The home was engulfed in flames, but worse, four of the five family members were lying on the ground, in back of the house, having jumped from the second-story window. They were injured and covered in soot. Firefighters readied them for transport by ambulance and helicopter to the hospital.

Because of the cold temperatures, water froze as it was used. "Just about every one of us slipped and fell a couple times," Lovato said. One firefighter was taken to the hospital after a fall, but was released shortly after.

Compounding the difficulties was "a very significant communication problem," he said. "Shortly after we got there, we realized we didn’t have very solid radio communications." He said the radios only worked if firefighters were about 20 to 30 feet away and within sight of each other.

In addition, he said, at one point, "We were getting a distress signal from one of the firefighter’s radios." Lovato wasn’t sure if the firefighter was inside the burning house. "My heart sank for a minute or so," until the firefighter reappeared from behind the house. They don’t know what caused the signal to go off accidentally.

Chief Robert Denboske called the radio system "junk" and said the same problem came up a week earlier. "We paid a lot of money into that system," he said. "We were told by the county that we had to go on that system. We need to get it corrected."

Lovato said he has seen the family of five since their release from the hospital. "They’re coming around," he said. "I’ve been trying to help them get back some of their identity, because they did lose everything."

A clothing and furnishings drive was held at the high school that the older daughter attends, and a fund was set up at Integrity Bank by Monument Academy, where the boy goes to school. A homeowner in Kings Deer had a vacant house that was offered to them. Lovato said he hopes to bring the family to the fire station for ice cream sundaes and maybe a ride on the truck for the kids.

Denboske said that KRDO-TV had reported it took firefighters more than 30 minutes to respond. He said it took 8 minutes 14 seconds from the time the call came in until the first truck was on scene. The television station did correct the error, he said.

In all, around six or seven emergency vehicles were on scene, and 21 to 23 personnel, he said, not including the ambulances and helicopter. While early reports said the fire was caused by a dryer, Lovato didn’t know if that had been ruled out. Though he hadn’t gotten any more feedback on it, "I think it will ultimately wind up being deemed accidental," he said.

Board Director Roger Lance said, "We as a board and the community here can take a lot of pride in the quality and professionalism of our fire department. You guys demonstrated it. Thank you."

End-of-year report

Denboske handed out reports to the board about all the activity the fire department had seen in 2008. Among other things, the district:

  • Responded to 1,741 calls for service, out of 1,980 (12 percent were not dispatched). This is down 42 calls from 2007.
  • Conducted 259 fire inspections.
  • Attended at least 72 public events (fire prevention week, block parties, bonfires, public classes, etc.).
  • Hosted 47 station events (birthday parties, Scout visits, tours, etc.).
  • Taught fire safety education to at least 242 students.

He also noted the downtime for vehicles caused by the need for repairs (not scheduled maintenance). The ladder truck was the biggest problem: It was down 41 percent of the time for repairs.

Palmer Lake ambulance service

Denboske said everyone has agreed on the final contract authorizing Tri-Lakes to provide ambulance service to Palmer Lake. He recommended that board President Tim Miller sign the contract.

SAFER grant

In 2005, the district won a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), which helped bring on seven new firefighter-EMTs. Over the course of five years, the grant money received from the government goes down, while the district’s required contribution goes up.

Denboske reported that he is going to apply for another SAFER grant. However, the terms of the grant have changed for 2009 and 2010: The government is waiving the requirement that districts provide matching money for five years and instead will pay the entire amount. Denboske said he’d like to earmark the money for more employees, but Director Charlie Pocock said the district has to consider how those employees will be paid once the grant runs out.

Station needs new water source

Station 1, on Highway 105, sits in El Paso County, with Palmer Lake at its back and Monument at its front. Water for the station is provided by a well owned by Great Divide Water Co.

"The last time we had any work done on the well was in 1998," Denboske said. That was until this past month, when $12,000 was spent on repairs to a leak in the water line leading to the station.

Now Great Divide, "wants us off the well," Denboske said. He asked for some time to explore new sources of water, including connecting to the Town of Monument. The issue will continue to be explored.

Great Divide uses this well to provide augmentation water to several local homeowners associations.

**********

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. The next meeting is March 25. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 266-3367.

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Tri-Lakes gets a look at Red Cross emergency vehicle

Click here or on the photos to zoom in

 Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Dennis Burdick, Logistics Manager for the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross, brought the The Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV) to the Tri-Lakes area for familiarization and qualification by the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) Communications Auxiliary personnel. 

Click on the photo to zoom in

Below: (L to R) Elliot Linke briefs Paul Swanson on the operation of the control center of the ECRV. Both are volunteers in the TLMFPD Communications Auxiliary. The ECRV is the latest in technology for the American Red Cross and their commitment to facilitate emergency communications in a disaster environment.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Bernard L. Minetti

In early February, the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross brought a Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV) to the Tri-Lakes Firehouse for training, familiarization, and qualification by those who might be called upon to operate it.

Dennis Burdick, the Colorado Springs logistics manager for the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross, provided the background information for this vehicle. He also arranged for the vehicle’s visit to the Tri-Lakes area.

The ECRV was designed to provide emergency communications anywhere in the United States. There are 12 of these vehicles stationed in secure locations throughout the country. The ECRV provides communications linkage between disaster relief operations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the internal coordination facility of the American Red Cross, and disaster organizations such as the local fire and police agencies. They can link into the Internet and the IP phone service as well as public and private telephone networks. They are able to link directly to satellites, and some are equipped with systems that find and link to these satellites automatically.

This particular vehicle is housed in the Federal Center in Denver. It may be dispatched anywhere in 48 states on four hours notice. Volunteers operate and man these vehicles as necessary. The vehicles and volunteers have been used in Hurricanes Ike and Katrina.

Nine of the vehicles are on a Ford chassis and donated by the Ford Motor Co. The remaining three were manufactured on a Chevrolet chassis and were paid for by Raytheon Corp. The internal electronic and associated equipment were provided for in part by grants and Red Cross funding. Each completed vehicle costs about $300,000.

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Feb. 10: Panel discusses behavior survey, Palmer Ridge goals

By Harriet Halbig

Dr. Marie Revak, the School District 38 director of assessment, gave a presentation Feb. 10 to the District Accountability Advisory Committee about the 40 Assets Behavior Survey administered to grades 6 to 12 last year in some of the district’s schools.

The surveys were anonymous, with 3,000 distributed. The plan of the school board is to examine the data from the surveys, identify problems within the district, verify the causes of the problems, generate solutions, and implement and monitor a plan to solve the problems.

During the meeting, Revak displayed bar charts to indicate the results of the survey. She said that a difference of more than 5 percent between genders or grades was worthy of concern.

Questions in the survey addressed many areas. One of these was to assess the relationship between the student and his/her parents (help with schoolwork, talks about progress, attendance at school meetings, parents encourage child to be best he/she can be).

A second section addressed the student’s relationships with adults at school (feel that teachers care, get encouragement from adults, teachers encourage student to be best he/she can be).

Other subjects involved where a student goes after school (organized activities, relationships with mentors, to friend’s house, hang out in the mall, participation in sports or arts activity).

Finally, the survey addressed the student’s sense of safety at home and in school, and his/her access to health services including classes about alcohol, drugs, nutrition, and sexuality.

Revak stated in closing that the more assets a student can claim, the fewer risks they are likely to take and the more likely they are to be successful.

Shirley Trees, School District 38 Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning, asked anyone interested in participating in assessing and acting on the survey to contact her. Later in the year, the school board plans to have a town meeting, including school members, community leaders, parents, and neighbors, to address the issues and seek solutions.

Many of those at the meeting had general comments on the survey. They felt it would be an advantage for students to get involved with helping others. According to the survey, although many students were involved in activities outside of school, few of these activities involved volunteering or service.

One parent expressed concern that there are not many opportunities for students in our community to do service. Perhaps it would help to consider peer and multigenerational service.

One parent commented that at Creekside Middle School students are told that community service benefits not only the community but the world, and every child there had participated in some sort of service. In response, another parent commented that there is a distinction between service on a student’s own time and on school time.

Another parent commented that there is a formal program in the high schools that pairs general population students with those with special needs. It is a credit-bearing class, sort of a buddy system rather than a peer counselor system. She said that it helps the self- confidence of the general education student and the special needs student.

Palmer Ridge High School School Improvement Plan

Rick Stevens of Palmer Ridge High School gave a presentation on the School Improvement Plan at his school.

Regarding the Whole Child segment of the plan, he said that the population of Palmer Ridge will increase 20 percent by 2010 and a goal is to develop and support student leadership skills as the population grows. Other goals are to improve student input to improve the climate at the school and to create a sense of school community (evidence of success in this area would be increased participation in extracurricular activities and encouragement for older students to work with younger ones).

In the area of achievement, Palmer Ridge is emphasizing improvement in writing skills. The goal for 2011 is to improve writing overall and narrow the gap between males, females, and those students with IEPs (Individual Education Plans).

Stevens said that writing is essential for all individuals. According to employers, writing is a threshold skill. He said that 80 percent of companies assess writing skills during the hiring process. He also said that college instructors say that half of high school graduates are not prepared for college-level writing. Based on the 2008 CSAP results, 18-32 percent of females are not proficient; 38-56 percent of males are not proficient, and 85 percent of those with IEPs are not proficient when tested in the ninth grade.

The goal is to develop the ability to write and speak for audiences of all disciplines using conventional grammar, sentence structure, capitalization, and spelling. To achieve this, teachers must be trained to teach writing in their various disciplines.

Board of Education President Dee Dee Eaton asked if it is better to teach students to write on computers rather than longhand. Stevens said that he prefers to write longhand, but in class students are trained to type as they go.

Trees commented that children should be taught to compose on the computer in grade school rather than to write a draft first. Access to computers seems to help close the gender gap, because boys have fewer fine motor skills at an early age.

Stevens said there is also a program to analyze the gap between general education and special education students and train teachers to teach writing. Federal funding is available for this on the secondary level, and the program will begin in late February.

No closures in sight

Eaton pointed out that the school board is continuing to receive calls from parents worried about school closures. She praised OCN for prominently featuring a story on the subject and asked attendees to reassure their friends and neighbors that no schools will be closed next year.

When asked about the percentage of schools’ capacity, she responded that all are over 68-70 percent, while they would need to be below 60 percent for any action to be taken. She also commented that other factors must be taken into consideration, such as the fact that the construction of a number of new homes in the area has been approved, but development has been put on hold due to the present economic situation.

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

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Lewis Palmer School District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee, Feb. 11: SEAC discusses Resource Fair, school staffing

By Harriet Halbig

District 38’s Special Education Advisory Committee met on February 11 at 6 p.m. Amy Wasson presided. She reported on the status of the special education program for the 2009-10 school year. Of the approximately 500 students involved with the program, 45.4 percent have learning disabilities, 28.4 percent require help with language, 4.1 percent have a significant limited intellectual capacity, 14.8 percent have a significant emotional disability and 7.4 percent have autism. These percentages represent the population with individual education programs (IEP). For those students with more than one disability, the predominant disability determines their category.

Wasson explained the allocation of staffing among the schools for last year and this year, pointing out that the number of staff did not change significantly, but the location of the staff varied according to need, following students as they progressed through the system. Staffing includes teachers and other professionals and paraprofessionals at each location, some of whom travel between schools in the course of the week.

he said there is a special education teacher at each preschool site, including the site at Palmer Ridge high school where children can stay all day, from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Students with IEPs attend preschool without fees, while others are charged tuition.

asson then mentioned a memo received by district Special Education Director Julie O’Brien from Dan Johnson of Zach’s Place. Zach’s Place is a facility-based respite, after-school and school break program for children, usually those with developmental disabilities. The facility is a non-profit with a sliding scale of fees for services.

Johnson said that he and his colleagues are passionate about the need for respite and have repeatedly seen the effects on parents and the kids when respite is available, even if only for an hour or two after school so the parents can get errands done or spend time alone with another child. He said that although the support offered by Zach’s Place may appear basic and simple it can benefit the basic family unit and friends and the child’s teachers and peers.

Brochures about the facility were made available along with contact information (phone 201-7056). Zach’s Place is located on E. Cache le Poudre in Colorado Springs.

Committee Secretary Ilanit Bennaim updated information on the resource fair to be held April 4 in the Education Center. She said she e-mailed all participants in the previous fair and received a number of responses. There will be no table fee for participants and the fair will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

She asked that anyone who knows business people or other professionals who offer services to the developmentally disabled contact her about participating.

Bennaim also showed a copy of the certificate used in the former Someone Who Cares program which rewards those who play a significant positive role in the lives of special education students—whether a teacher, a peer, or a school staff member who takes the time to chat and share experiences with a student.

It was agreed that presenting the award at a school staff meeting might be the most useful, as it would encourage others to be more active in mentoring those in the special education program.

The certificate will give the name of the recipient, the name of the person recognized, and the reason for recognition. It was also suggested that the school’s principal be notified.

The meeting then proceeded to general discussion.

One parent expressed frustration at the fact that students in the special education program often do not achieve grade level in high school, and asked whether it is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that the goal is met or whether further outside help must be sought.

A teacher in attendance said that the consideration is more based on the amount of progress the student makes in the course of the year than the student’s ability to achieve grade level skills.

Chris Amenson commented that the Palmer Ridge Planning and Course Guide does not mention IEPs and is of limited help in planning course registration for those entering high school.

Wasson responded that a student’s 8th grade course manger should be consulted in selecting coursework.

It was also pointed out that special education students often have to give up electives in order to be able to have extra time to take tests. The issue is whether the school should be required to make the accommodations necessary rather than requiring the student to sacrifice choices in his or her schedule.

Wasson pointed out that transition meetings for those entering high school will be held in April and if changes must be made in schedules that will be possible. She suggested an open forum with high school principals and special education teachers for help in choosing courses.

Amenson announced that Brent Byrnes had volunteered to serve as chairman of the committee for the remainder of the year.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

**********

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. The next meeting will be held Mar. 11. Parent support events are held on the fourth Wednesday.

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Special-education panel hears behavior analyst

By Harriet Halbig

The District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee sponsored a program by Sam Towers of Towers Behavior Services on Feb. 25.

Towers introduced himself as a behavior analyst and former special-education teacher with four adopted sons, each with developmental disorders. He said that he specializes in the science of human behavior and has treated people in ages from 2 years to over 60.

Towers hoped to educate the parents present in how to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention, saying that many unfounded interventions have been sold to the public. He said that it is critical to use interventions that have a basis in research and can be quantified.

Because the layperson may have difficulty analyzing research, he/she must trust professionals and the data they produce, Towers said. Often the data can be used to alter an intervention in terms of frequency or focus.

Interventions must be designed to set measurable goals and then measure progress. If progress is not monitored, the intervention is destined to fail.

Towers said that objectives must be made measurable by targeting specific social skills. For example, the child should ask for help appropriately over a specific period and in a specific manner. In this way, the results are easily quantified. In addition, the conditions under which the behaviors (skills) are demonstrated must be specified and criteria for specific performance must be stated.

Using the above example, when asking for help (condition), a student will say, "Help, please" (the behavior) for at least 80 percent of his requests over a period of 10 days, with at least four requests being made each day (the criteria). The reason for the length of time is to ensure that the skill has been mastered and that there were sufficient opportunities to monitor progress.

Towers said that a frequent problem in assessing interventions is that teachers do not record progress with enough frequency. Depending on the desired behavioral result, data can sometimes be recorded as seldom as once a week, but must be recorded in a consistent manner.

Defining adequate progress is a value judgment of sorts, Towers said. If a child is exceeding his/her goals to a great extent, sometimes a tougher objective is needed. If progress is not made, perhaps there are not enough opportunities to practice the behavior, or perhaps there is a prerequisite skill that is absent.

One parent expressed concern that treatment for autism, to be successful, requires 25-40 hours a week, according to studies, but the school environment offers only two hours a week of intervention. Towers replied that the 25-40 hours a week includes training in the real world regarding socialization and other skills. Once parents are properly trained to take advantage of everyday opportunities, progress should improve. He stressed that interventions are not always academic but also can be social.

Towers also said that, when considering behaviors, one must consider triggers. For example, an individual may behave differently when tired or ill, and autistic individuals tend to have a strong desire for routine. The example he used was one of an autistic student who arrived at school late due to the bus arriving late at her home. The staff at the school intervened immediately, offering the student certain privileges (choice of lunch, deciding in which order to do things in class) to head off bad behavior before it began.

A parent in the audience said that her child has four behaviors that need intervention. She asked if it were preferable to have each behavior addressed by a different person, or each behavior addressed by all persons. Towers said it is preferable for all four individuals to address a single behavior. In this way, one can ensure that the student learns to apply a given behavior regardless of the person present.

As one parent observed, the ultimate goal is to allow the individual to be happy and as independent as possible, because everyone wants to be accepted.

Towers agreed, saying that ideally the individual will be able to set his/her own goals and keep track of his/her own progress through charting. They also must learn to self-reinforce, realizing that they should feel satisfaction for progress.

When asked if progress through intervention will be reflected in a report card, Towers said that would not necessarily be the case, but he encouraged saving work from the beginning of the school year and comparing it with later work to show physical evidence of improvement.

Towers offered a number of handouts with articles and a bibliography for further information. He can be reached at (303) 803-0045 or sam@towersbehavior.com

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Feb. 13: Increase in number of road use fee categories discussed

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 13, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) discussed possible changes to its road use fee structure but deferred a decision until the April meeting. The rest of the meeting was devoted to more routine construction reports and payment approvals for the rapidly progressing expansion of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange.

Monument Trustee Travis Easton presided. County Commissioners Amy Lathen and Dennis Hisey also attended. Commissioner Wayne Williams and Trustee Rafael Dominguez were absent.

Fee structure decision postponed

BRRTA’s attorney, Jim Hunsaker of Grimshaw and Harring in Denver, briefed the board on a road use fee study performed by Fellsberg, Holt, & Ullevig and public comments received on the consultant’s first draft of a new fee structure with an increased number of fee categories – from four to 25.

Jackson Creek Hotel Holdings LLLP, the owner of the Fairfield Inn being built in the Monument Ridge center, objected to the use of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) land use category of "hotel" for the Inn. Jackson Creek Hotel Holdings asked BRRTA to add the ITE categories "business hotel" and/or "motel" which would lower its BRRTA impact fee and more accurately reflect the inn’s planned use. The hotel rate is 7.27 trips per room, while the business hotel rate is 5.63 trips. Jackson Creek paid $183,311 under the old BRRTA fee structure last year. As a hotel under the proposed structure, the fee would drop to $108,885, or to about $82,000 as a business hotel. BRRTA has agreed to a refund of the difference in road use fees, if the inn’s new fee would be less under a new fee structure.

There was a lengthy question-and-answer discussion between the board staff and Dennis Menchow of Forest Lakes LLC on whether the new fee structure would raise more revenue, and if so, how the extra revenue would be used.

Hunsaker reviewed the timetable for formally amending a fee structure. No decisions were made on the final amounts of the fees or the number of additional categories.

Construction update

County Engineer Andre Brackin said that he had authorized a "substantial completion letter" for the Baptist Road widening project. The sidewalks on Leather Chaps Drive, between Baptist and Lyons Tail Roads, should be completed by the end of March. There should be about $40,000 left for other final cleanup items.

Screen issue lingers

There was a lengthy discussion about the sign to be erected on the southeast corner of the new intersection of Leather Chaps Drive and the frontage road BRRTA built that runs west to Family of Christ Lutheran Church. Hunsaker said that although there is no obligation, the board had elected to try to build a visual screen that would block headlight glare that sweeps across the adjacent house on the southwest corner of this intersection as cars turn right onto the frontage road from southbound Leather Chaps Drive. Hunsaker also said no promises were made on how BRRTA would visually screen this house.

The homeowner has asked for trees to be installed as a landscape screen. However, there is no available irrigation at that location. The tree roots would eventually damage the curb, gutter, and asphalt.

Brackin said that the county could arrange a license agreement for some entity other than the county to be responsible for maintaining 20-foot wing walls/fences on either side of the 10-foot-wide church sign. There is no long-term county funding source for maintenance of either the proposed trees or the wing walls/fences. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n7.htm#brrta for a picture of Brackin’s design and other details of his proposed solution.)

However, the church is only willing to maintain its sign. The sign is not large enough by itself to provide complete screening.

Hunsaker suggested offering the homeowner a license to plant and water trees in the county sign easement. Brackin said 3-inch caliper evergreens would be required for adequate screening, such as 5- to 6-foot Rocky Mountain junipers with three trees on each side of the fence. They would have to be planted, then maintained in a way that they did not extend over the frontage road.

Interchange report

Contract manager Bob Torres of Jacobs Engineering reported significant progress by Lawrence Construction on the I-25 Baptist Road interchange, including:

  • Installation of the water and sanitary sewer line to the Valero truck stop on the northwest corner.
  • New ramp construction.
  • Sediment pond construction.
  • Bridge support columns.

Torres said there have "already been a lot of significant challenges" in crafting "workarounds" to utility delays by Qwest and Comcast. Mountain View Electric Association had done no work on site at the time of this meeting. Easements for the west side of the interchange have not been donated by Forest Lakes, Valero, and Phoenix Bell. The deadline for disturbing soil in the protected Preble’s mouse habitat there is April 30.

Torres stated that access and right-of-way donation issues with THF Realty for the former hardware store property have been resolved. Hunsaker added that ADK Monument Developers LLC, the owners of the Timbers at Monument property that surrounds the THF hardware store parcel, is now the problem in resolving access issues. The old Struthers frontage road has been closed and the THF parcel is temporarily landlocked.

Torres suggested coordinating a solution to obtain an access easement for THF across the ADK property from the Blevins Buckle entrance on the southeast corner of the Monument Marketplace. Hunsaker concurred and noted that THF Realty had "reserved the right to sue BRRTA" for access as a condition of donating needed right-of-way along Baptist Road. He said that an easement from Blevins Buckle would be "reasonable access" even though it would be a long way around compared to the gate on the abandoned Struthers Road. Torres added that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has never lost a case on "circuity of access" issues.

Torres said THF and ADK don’t appear to be talking to each other. ADK has not provided the utility easements along Baptist Road as promised. ADK’s failure to develop its area adjacent to Baptist Road has led to steeper slopes in the easements by the north side of the new lanes of Baptist Road. Retaining walls may now be required along the right lane of westbound Baptist Road.

The Federal Highway Administration signed a clearance that will allow removal of the crumbling concrete remaining from the original Denver Highway to the west of the Valero station. The Lawrence change order for demolition of this concrete road and construction of a new road to the northwest corner of the Valero property is about $554,000. The existing Valero driveway will be permanently closed for the addition of a westbound lane on Baptist Road between the southbound off-ramp and Old Denver Highway.

Lawrence has spent $1.93 million of the $12.6 million contract during the first 21 percent of the contract period. It has spent 15 percent of its projected payments. Torres reiterated that the "scary part" is the Mountain View Electric power line relocations.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara suggested a solution for upgrading the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Higby Road:

  • Jacobs will repave the southbound lane of Jackson Creek Parkway at the Higby Road intersection, but Torres said the paving could not be done until late March.
  • The county will do the traffic signal relocation and timing changes.
  • The town’s Public Works will do the lane restriping, and BRRTA will do the paving through a change order with Lawrence.
  • The center lane will be a left-only lane for turns to eastbound Higby Road. Westbound Higby will be restriped for dead-end right-turn only and left-turn only.
  • The total cost should be about $10,000.

All these actions will be ratified at the next BRRTA meeting on April 10.

District manager’s report

District Manager Denise Denslow of R.S. Wells LLC noted that PBS&J will be doing some additional design work and acting as CDOT’s observation agent on site, under new Task Order 7. CDOT will forgo its fee of $200,000 so that BRRTA pay PBS&J for this work. The board unanimously approved a payment of $82,231 to PBS&J.

Six checks were approved:

  • $750 to American National Bank for bank fees
  • $9,025 to traffic consultant Felsberg Holt & Ullevig for engineering expenses
  • $4,174 to Grimshaw & Harring for legal services
  • $7,199 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management services
  • $16.45 to the Tri-Lakes Tribune for advertisement
  • $2,930 to Grimshaw & Harring for legal services

Five requisitions were ratified:

  • Requisition 4 from engineering firm PBS&J for $37,476
  • Requisition 5 from interchange construction manager Jacobs Engineering Group for $79,066
  • Requisition 6 from Jacobs for $71,713
  • Requisition 7 from PBS&J for $3,457
  • Requisition 8 from Lawrence Construction for $747,027

Two requisitions were reviewed and approved:

  • Requisition 9 from Jacobs for $112,542
  • Requisition 10 from Lawrence Construction for $808,247

Denslow reported that there are still a few startup problems with collecting and receiving the BRRTA sales tax revenue, but they are being worked on.

The meeting adjourned at 4 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on April 10 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held at 2:30 p.m. every other month. Information: 884-8017.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Feb. 11: Barn will get new wood floor, sign

By Chris Pollard

With the mold remediation complete, work is proceeding well on the repair and remodeling of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) offices in the Woodmoor Barn, said Director of Common Areas Gary Marner. Plans were made to move Woodmoor Public Safety and the WIA back in at the end of February.

In addition to remodeling the offices, the main meeting room was going to be repainted. At the meeting, the board decided to go ahead with resurfacing the Barn floor with wide oak-strip flooring. The decision to go with oak was based on the better longevity and lower overall costs for cleanup and repair. A number of the events held in the Barn result in liquid spills, and this had been a problem with the old carpet, but it could also be troublesome for some tile and laminate products. Oak was also considered to be less noisy than some of the other proposed materials.

The cost of the flooring was estimated to be around $14,000, and the work would be started in March. No definite date was given for the reopening because of the expected curing time for the floor surface treatment.

It was noted that around $2,000 was spent on some additional minor repairs during the remodeling. The board was also going ahead with a plan to install a lighted sign adjacent to Woodmoor Drive to indicate the entrance to the Barn. A number of visitors have had difficulty locating the Barn at night. The sign is projected to cost $4,000.

Public Safety report

Unusually, calls about suspicious vehicles were the most common reports to Woodmoor Public Safety in January. Kevin Nielsen said that along with the usual calls related to alarms and open doors, there were a number of animal complaints again, mostly relating to dogs.

Nielsen also reported that Woodmoor Public Safety was the first group on the scene at the recent house fire on True Vista Circle adjacent to North Woodmoor.

He also noted that he was planning a new session on firearms for members of WPS to make sure everybody is proficient. This training has been held at the Isaac Walton range, but he was looking into finding a new range. WPS is also looking at working with the county Sheriff’s Office on its citizens patrol program. Volunteer citizens are trained to take over some of the more straightforward duties of the office, like vehicle ID verification.

Other business

Bill Walters gave a report on his progress to identify a new company to audit WIA accounts.

George McFadden, president of the WIA, appointed Mari Rollins, treasurer, and Jim Wilson, director at large, to put together a new questionnaire for WIA residents. All directors would be asked to contribute questions and suggestions for this effort. Bill Brendemuhl, vice president, suggested that a resident volunteer be included in the effort.

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The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 11 at the Barn. Readers are advised to check the WIA Web site ( www.woodmoor.org ) to confirm the time and place and to read the planned agenda.

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February Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

As has been the case most of the 2008-09 winter in the region, temperatures were above normal and precipitation was below normal in February. Most of the month was dry and sunny.

The low amounts of snow during the month, while unusual, is not too significant since February is normally one of the driest months of the year. Hopefully, March and April will be more "normal," which would mean plenty of snow to get things green for spring.

The first full week of February was dry and mild with sunshine and temperatures in the 40s and 50s from Monday the 2nd through Saturday the 6th. A quick but powerful storm system then moved through the region on Sunday the 7th. However, this storm moved through so quickly that winds were never able to turn upslope long enough to bring any substantial moisture. Instead we got a quick shot of snow on Sunday the 6th, cooler temperatures, and strong winds.

This pattern is typical for a La Nina year, which we are experiencing right now, and it creates a powerful polar jet stream. This in turn races out of the Gulf of Alaska, drags cold air from Canada, and hammers the central and eastern United States. So far this winter, many places from the upper Midwest through the Southeast and East Coast have experienced record snow and record cold. We course have been right on the edge of all this, with the action staying just to our east.

Active weather affected the region during the second week of February as several strong Pacific storms moved through the region. However, because the origin of the storms was from the west/northwest, the mountains were the main beneficiary of the moisture, and we received light amounts of snow and brief intrusions of cold air. During the week, most of us picked up 2-4 inches of fresh snow, mainly on the 10th and the 13th. Most of this quickly melted in areas that received sunshine.

Temperatures were held to slightly below average levels for the week, with highs in the 30s and low 40s. The coldest day of the week was the 13th with highs holding in the 20’s with 1-2 inches of snow falling during the early morning hours.

Quiet, dry, and mild weather continued from the 16th through the 22nd, with one quick shot of cool weather and light snow during the evening of the 20th. Temperatures overall were above average, with highs in the 40s and 50s through the week. Skies were mostly sunny for the beginning of the week and to start the weekend, with plenty of high and mid-level clouds on Sunday.

The month ended with weather that was a microcosm of the month, with several days of sunny and dry weather interrupted by a quick-moving cold front on the 27th, which dropped a little less than an inch of snow.

A look ahead

March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003 when we received 30-50 inches of snow that shut down the region. February 2005 was very similar to this year, warm and dry, then March and April picked up over 70 inches of snow. Kind of makes you wonder what we’ll see this spring. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

February 2009 Weather Statistics

Average High 45.6° (+5.6°)
Average Low 18.5° (+4.7°)
Highest Temperature 62° on the 24th
Lowest Temperature 5° on the 15th and 21st
Monthly Precipitation 0.23" (-0.47" 67% below normal)
Monthly Snowfall 4.4" (-8.2" 65% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 56.0" (-27.0" 27% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 14.25" (+0.85" 6% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 915 (-115) 
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

Dog mauled by coyotes

In January, Maggie, a little long-haired Snoopy Dog, was mauled by three coyotes. She is 12 years old, remarkably faithful and belongs to our grandchildren. The day it happened was warm and sunny. It was 3 in the afternoon, and our daughter let her go outside as our small grandson napped.

Jennifer opened the slider and went into the kitchen. Seconds later, she heard a strange sound. Curious, she went outside to investigate. She screamed as she saw three coyotes drag Maggie into the trees. The sudden distraction was enough for Maggie to tear away from her would-be captors. As she ran back toward Jennifer, it was plain to see in the snow that the three predators had hidden underneath the upper wooden deck and jumped poor Maggie as she reached the bottom step of the stairs.

Jim and I arrived just as the older children came in from school, and just in time to stop the bleeding from Maggie’s neck. We were able to stop the bleeding there, but couldn’t really see the other damage done because of her long fur. She was yelping in pain every time we touched her, especially around her sides and middle.

All year long our baby Jake had run up and down those same steps. At 3 years old, he would have never survived such a terrible attack. It almost seemed like Maggie had taken Jake’s place. Ordinarily, he would have run down ahead of her that time of day.

As a family, we are much more cautious now, and no one goes outside without a buddy and a stick. We would like to warn people. Coyotes are bolder than ever here in the Rocky Mountains. We live in Monument. Coyotes do run in packs in the winter and early spring when they have their pups. They are also capable of jumping high fences. There have been some reports this year of attacks on humans as well.

We are pleased to write that six weeks after the incident, Maggie is going to live. She required two surgeries and daily treatment over a four-week period from the vet. We can’t express enough gratitude to Dr. Kristen Huston and her staff at Woodmoor Vet Hospital. They saved Maggie’s life.

Paulette Harris

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Is there an electric car in your future?

Click here or on the photos to zoom in

Below: The ZENN, the ZAP, and the GEM. These three Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) were available for test drives before the Feb. 17 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp. Photos by Harriet Halbig

Click on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Harriet Halbig

Three electric vehicles were available for test driving before the Feb. 17 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp.

Provided by the local dealer, Perkins Dodge, the vehicles offered a glimpse into the possible future of transportation in the area.

A representative of Perkins pointed out that the three vehicles, known as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs), vary in many ways, each having been manufactured by a different company and each serving slightly different purposes.

The first vehicle, the GEM (Global Electric Motorcar), is manufactured in Fargo, N.D., and has been available since 1998. It is available in several configurations, seating two to six passengers. On the exterior behind the passenger compartment, there are a variety of options for transportation of cargo, from an open flat bed to a locking storage container.

The GEM is available with hard doors, canvas doors, or no doors, making it adaptable to many climates. The cost ranges from $8,000 to $12,000, with a four-passenger vehicle suited to our climate costing about $11,000.

GEM was awarded the 2007 Blue Sky Merit Award from WestStart-CALSTART ( www.calstart.org ) for outstanding contributions to clean air, energy efficiency, and advanced transportation. GEM is a Chrysler product.

The second vehicle, the ZENN (Zero Emission No Noise) is manufactured in Canada. More conventional in appearance, it seats four and has cargo space behind the rear seat. The ZENN was awarded Best Urban Vehicle at the 2006 Michelin Bibendum Challenge Design Contest and performed well in all categories.

The third vehicle, the ZAP, is a more utilitarian, cargo-oriented vehicle being tested by Colorado College for efficiency and economy.

All of these vehicles are rated street legal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on public roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less. Each has a top speed of 25 mph, enforced by a governor.

They all offer safety glass windshields, windshield wipers, rear-view mirrors, three-point safety belts, headlights, backup lights, and horns.

The Perkins Dodge representative said the dealership has sold a number of GEMs to residents of Aspen and hotels in that area, as the speed limit there is appropriate, no one needs to travel far in a single trip, and parking in town is free for these vehicles.

Locally, the vehicles have been purchased by companies with large corporate campuses and for use in parks, he said.

All the vehicles can travel up to 50 miles on a single charge.

Co-sponsors of the demonstration were American Electric Vehicles Inc. (a local business manufacturing such items as battery packs), the Economic Development Corp. and NAVSYS Corp., a company that is involved with GPS services for the Department of Defense.

At a future meeting, the Economic Development Corp. will discuss promoting these vehicles to the community for use in local travel to and from school and on other errands.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Low-budget vacations

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Are you thinking of skipping your spring or summer vacation because money is tight? Delaying a visit to an exotic, once-in-a-lifetime destination may be disappointing, but this could be the year to explore some out-of-the-way places close to home that the whole family will enjoy.

Discover Native America
By Tish Minear and Janet Limon (Hippocrene Books Inc.), $24.95

This newly expanded edition of a popular travel guide highlights the prehistoric cultures of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, as well as the modern tribes—including the Navajo, Apache, Ute, Tohono O’odham, Pueblo, and Hopi—that now live in these spectacular Four Corners states. The guide includes: tips on visiting reservations; places to stay, eat, and shop; the history of each state’s indigenous peoples; calendar of tribal ceremonies; maps and photos; and a glossary of useful words and phrases in several Native American languages. Much more than your typical travel book, Discover Native America is an invaluable guide for those wishing to learn more about this beautiful and richly historical area. (Minear is a local resident.)

Rambling Colorado
By Eric Peterson (speck press), $19

A wanderer’s guide to offbeat, overlooked and outrageous places, Peterson’s book is definitely a unique look at our state. He includes unusual places, such as the graves of famous dogs, Lyons Classic Pinball, and the Starr Kempf Kinetic Sculptures in Colorado Springs. With the author’s humorous approach, even ordinary places like Aspen and Cripple Creek take on a new look. Peterson’s graphic description of his first days on skis is a section skiers will relate to with a chuckle. Color photographs illustrate every section, and there are tips on travel as well as places to stay and best budget eateries. If you think you’ve seen most of Colorado and you’re into the outrageous, this may be just the book for you. It is probably not a guide for conservative travelers. (Peterson grew up in Monument. He still calls Colorado home, and is a freelance writer. He has contributed to numerous Frommer’s guides covering the American West as well as such publications as ColoradoBiz, Delta Sky, and New York’s Daily News.)

Colorado’s Hidden Wonders
By Grant Collier (Collier Publishing), $19.95

Colorado is well-known for its national parks and iconic locations, such as the Great Sand Dunes, Maroon Bells, and Rocky Mountain National Park. However, it also harbors many scenic wonders that are little known and seldom visited. There are colorful, mushroom-shaped rocks on the eastern plains; white, serrated volcanic rocks in the southern mountains; and a large number of natural arches along the Western Slope. Collier has spent several years along strenuous hiking trails and difficult jeep roads in search of these landscapes. The 95 images he captured during these excursions have produced a portrait of Colorado that few knew existed and even fewer have experienced.

Through the Years at Monument, Colorado
By Lucille Lavelett (Palmer Lake Historical Society), $12

The story of our own community of Monument takes on new life through the eyes of the late Lucille Lavelett, a history buff whose family homesteaded the area in 1860. Beginning with the days when land was $1.25 an acre and Black Forest was called The Pineries, Lavelett traces the first hundred years of local history through the families who settled here, the buildings erected, and the daily life, which centered around the churches, the schools, the businesses, the lake, and the railroad. Complete with over 130 historic photos and illustrations, this book is the perfect companion for the Historic Monument Walking Tour, which highlights 27 local landmarks. Tour pamphlets are available from most merchants in historic downtown Monument.

Ghost Towns of Colorado
Text by Philip Varney; photographs by John Drew (Voyageur Press), $21.95

Varney and Drew bring Colorado’s most fascinating historic mining camps and ghost towns to life in this comprehensive, pictorial guide, which includes more than 90 towns and sites—from Cripple Creek to Leadville; from Silverton to Georgetown and Crested Butte. Chapters are arranged geographically by regions, and Varney provides precise directions and mileage to sites, plus information on what roads can be reached via car, truck, or four-wheel drive. A glossary of mining terms is included.

Exploring our own back yard on foot or by car can provide an affordable getaway for the whole family that broadens horizons and lifts the spirits without depleting the wallet. Until next month, happy reading.

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Local couple has enjoyed a lifetime of public service

By Jim Kendrick

A warm and loving couple, Claudia Whitney and Kevin Swenson have been serving the public all of their careers.

Whitney worked for 7 years in a drug-alcohol program and opening the first Wyoming women’s prison in the town of Evanston; served 11 years working in a state Medicaid program as a domestic violence magistrate judge at a Navajo reservation in Coconino County, AZ; six years at the Colorado Boys Ranch in La Junta, before beginning work at the Monument Police Department in 1998. After a 2-year hiatus working for the town of Larkspur, she returned to work in Public Works and now Town Hall as Deputy Town Clerk.

Swenson served 6 ½ years in the Air Force as a mechanic at Shaw AFB and the Air Force Academy before beginning his 31-year police career in Monument as Chief Al Karn’s only officer in January 1978. Swenson initiated the use of radar guns, "Operation Shadow" computerized record/report generation, "Intoxiler" testing for DUI arrests, and dashboard TV cameras for recording traffic stops. He is most proud of: walking to work as the only town resident on the force until last year; meeting other residents as the department’s Neighborhood Watch officer, giving out letters for free child helmets as the bicycle safety coordinator; adding thank you letters for his extraordinary aid to stranded travelers to his four-inch-thick scrapbook; and greeting new residents with a phone book, a local map, and his business card when he sees a moving van to let them know they already have a good friend in Monument.

Both have also served as foster parents for troubled teenagers.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Western scrub jay

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of Western Scrub Jays by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Signs of spring are in the air! This is the season that resident songbirds begin their annual courtship rituals.

As I write this column, I can hear a spotted towhee scratching the ground, a pygmy nuthatch hammering holes in our wood siding, and a dark-eyed junco happily singing. But perhaps the most telling sign of spring is waking to the sound of a northern flicker hammering on a metal chimney flue to attract a female.

Recently we have observed jays gathering material to build nests, and in a few more weeks, the first wave of migrant birds will appear. The best time to see the spring songbird migration is before the deciduous leaves have fully developed on the cottonwoods and scrub oaks, usually between the middle of March and the end of May.

The subtle changes that signal the arrival of spring are exciting, but for now I continue to enjoy watching winter birds. One bird that winters here is the western scrub jay, a medium-size songbird characterized by blue feathers on the top of its body, a white eyebrow and throat, a pale gray spotted underside, and a band of gray-brown on the back and behind the eyes. Its bill, legs, and feet are black. Unlike its cousins the Steller’s jay and blue jay, the western scrub jay’s head is smooth and crestless.

The western scrub jay is a member of the Corvidae family that includes crows, ravens and magpies. Like its fellow corvids, the western scrub jay is highly intelligent, has a loud voice, and is opportunistic.

This jay is found in open grassy areas with large stands of scrub oak—thus the name, which in my opinion is unbefitting of the graceful bird. It flies with a steady wing beat and effortlessly hops between the branches of a tree or shrub.

Western scrub jays are omnivores with a diet that changes by season. In the winter it is primarily a vegetarian subsisting on acorns, seeds, and juniper berries. It will frequent a feeder and reportedly favors oily black sunflower seeds, but it is opportunistic and eats what is available. In late spring and summer, its diet changes from vegetation to the high protein foods necessary to maintain stamina during the breeding season and to feed its rapidly growing nestlings.

The jay has earned a bad reputation for eating the eggs and young of other birds. While it is true that jays will eat chicks and eggs, recent studies indicate that jays consume more insects, spiders, reptiles, and amphibians, than other bird species. Does this vindicate the villainous jay? Certainly not! It is also the bandito that steals acorns stored in caches of unsuspecting woodpeckers.

Western scrub jays are monogamous during the mating season. The pair works together to build a cup-shaped nest, but the female does most of the work while the male stands guard. The thick walls of the nest are constructed of grass, twigs, moss, and, if available, fabric fibers. Some readers have said that they tie old knitted scarves to trees and shrubs and have observed birds pulling out the threads. The nest is lined with soft rootlets and hair and well hidden in an oak thicket. To distract potential predators, jays rarely approach the nest from the same direction.

Between March and May, the female lays three to six brown-spotted gray eggs. She alone incubates the eggs for about 17 days while the male brings her food. Once the chicks hatch, both adults feed the young until they fledge the nest, about 18 days after hatching. Typically, the pair raises only one brood each year, but it may take more than one try before the pair is successful. Once the nestlings fledge and the breeding has ended, flocks will form again.

Jays do not migrate but move about within a range. This begs the question, why do some birds migrate long distances while others do not? Basic to all birds’ survival are food, water, protective cover, and a safe place to nest. Changing seasons can transform a comfortable environment into a harsh place. As conditions become more inhospitable, the competition with other animals increases, and if a species is to survive, it must move. Of the approximately 9,000 bird species, more than half migrate regularly. Some species migrate in flocks, while others fly solo. Migration can be as short and local as a biannual trek up and down a mountainside or it can be as long as a yearly intercontinental journey.

It is estimated that about 80 percent of songbird species that summer along the Front Range migrate south to Mexico, Central America, or the Gulf Coast for the winter. Migratory patterns vary greatly, and behavior continues to evolve based on a changing environment. Recently it was reported that flocks of the American robin now winter along the Front Range, and I’ve noticed more this year than ever before. Soon many songbirds will return. To welcome them back, I’m ordering food and cleaning all our bird houses and feeders!

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and her limited edition bird prints are available at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. Proceeds from sale of her prints benefit the center and habitat preservation. She welcomes comments and questions: www.ElizabethHackerArt.com 

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Reflections: Meeting Lorna: first lessons in sign language

By Donna Hartley

Will Shakespeare must have had someone like Lorna in mind when he wrote about the forest fairies in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." Lorna is an ageless sprite with bright, mischievous eyes and a pixie grin. She embraces me and does my first sentence in sign language, which translates to: "I’m so pleased to meet you."

While she signs and speaks at our first meeting, she notices the confusion in my face, because I wouldn’t have guessed she was deaf. She reads my lips and facial expressions, immediately explaining that she is indeed deaf and is lip reading as we talk.

Some weeks earlier, I was sitting in the R & R Café in Black Forest when I happened to glance at the bulletin board. "Sign language classes on Wednesday evenings for $5," it read. I flew out of the chair because I had wanted to learn sign for several years, and, approaching the counter, I declared that "I need that class." Rob, who is the half-owner and baker at R & R, came out to talk and tell me that his wife, Lorna, would be arriving soon. Sure enough, she stepped into the cafe and struck up an immediate conversation upon our introduction.

It is impossible not to be drawn to Lorna’s personality. In the coming days, encouragement, funny anecdotes, laughter, and learning meld together in the hours that reflect Lorna’s consistent upbeat attitude and her slender, lightning fingers. The other students, like me, never take their eyes off of this talented lady who makes it look so easy.

One of the things we learn is that many "mute" people have the ability to talk but haven’t learned or have had the sad experience of being chided for their odd-sounding speech. As Lorna said, "We sound funny because we can’t hear ourselves, so it’s hard to learn ordinary speech inflections." Consequently many deaf people are shy or totally avoid talking. The speaking ability is there, but sadly the desire may have evaporated because of thoughtless people embarrassing them over their speech.

We also learn that sign began in France and has spread worldwide, although now Spain is claiming to have started sign also. Some American Indian gestures have been added to and imbedded in this language. Just as there are local dialects in the United States, Eastern and Western word signs may differ, and Lorna accepts both.

With a pleasant and slight tendency to over-pronounce for clarity, Lorna’s speech races along as fast as a hearing person’s. It adds to her charm and when she steps into the café, she’s immediately the hub of attention. Some of us are her students; others are new and want to ask questions about books and materials. Today a young man is here who wants to become a police officer, knowing his profession will be enhanced with this added skill.

I’m now on lesson five and wonder if my sign will ever be as fast as a deaf person’s, but Lorna constantly puts me at ease with encouragement. I work hard to review at times.

Two friends have already followed me to the classes, and one has called me to tell me that the instructor is "pure fun."

Lorna’s world is one of a gifted teacher who is joyous in sharing her skills, and her enthusiasm carries the class along on a merry outing with each and every session. One day I step into a Red Hat luncheon and glance across the room at the Red Hat Queen, who is a fellow student. She signs hello and I respond, both of us being infected with the eagerness to practice. And so, class continues.

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Art Matters: Fiber art stars in Tri-Lakes

Below: (L to R) Yvonne (student), Liz Kettle, and Elaine Teevens check out the beads for embellishing Liz’ fabric/metal mixed media art jewelry. Teevens’ store, The Bead Shop, sells beads, jewelry parts (findings), and also runs a program to offer work skills and jewelry creation work for developmentally disabled workers. Proceeds from the workers’ jewelry sold at the shop fund special programs for more workers to become "able" in this field. Photo by Janet Sellers.

By Janet Sellers

When my friend, Liz Kettle, first began her fiber arts career in sewing and quilting as a child, little did she know that her love of fabric would take her career on to that of an artist, author, presenter, creative ambassador, and traveling master teacher. Her forays into the wide, wide world of color, texture, and sculptural expressive forms have become the basis of several of her books on fiber art. The books are lavishly illustrated with her inimitable art-in-fiber style and witty writings, and she has a new one coming out this year that she and several of the instructors at Heather Thomas’ Wild Heather Quilt Shop have literally pieced together, step-by-step.

As her life involving creativity went on, her quilts were not just for warm winter blankets anymore. The colors got brighter, the fibers got wilder, and the embellishments began to dance off the quilts and into the dimensions of sculpture based in fabric and fibers. Technically for fiber art, at least the base is fabric, but the structure is more often than not a wall-dependent art hanging more than a blanket of colors hidden away in the boudoir. Liz’ fiber art career is indicative of the fiber art world of the moment, the most contemporary art possible. Their colors and dynamic designs belie their youthful origin.

Fiber and the textile arts have been with us since ancient times. Each of us is involved with fabric and fiber for all of our lives. We wear it, we sleep in it, we walk on it, we ride in car seats on it, we use it in our home and career lives and more. It is a material that is so familiar and so common that it is often taken for granted and dismissed as merely utilitarian. In its art incarnation, it is beautiful, sensuous, and just plain fun to look at and to make.

Liz explained that her love and fascination with fabric and fiber is generated from her wish to not only see the color, but to use more of the senses in enjoying the works than is possible with other art forms. The works are tactile, and surface texture plays such an important role in the art experience that, often enough, fiber artists allow patrons and visitors to touch their art as well as look at it. In the case of beading and embellishments, there is also sound and movement. Some book artists use fiber and/or fabric in their book art pieces. In some instances, the most delicate artwork is always protected in a glass case, or gloves are made available so one can touch those works safely and do no harm while exploring the dimensions.

In her Tri-Lakes area gatherings for the now popular Artist Trading Cards swap, Liz imparts a sort of magical party atmosphere that energizes the newcomers and regulars as they show and tell—and swap—their mini-creations. An artist trading card is a work of art in miniature, often showcasing a special technique or idea that the artist has developed and would like to share. Each artist makes a dozen of the same type of artwork in a specific format. Typically, the mini-artworks are business card or 3-by-5 card size: small enough to make multiples of but large enough to frame, enjoy, or put into an art album. The free monthly event is open to all, and also open to just look and see what is going on. So far the artist trading card swaps have been held at Wild Heather Designs, our resident Tri-Lakes fiber art shop and gallery.

We are fortunate to have many talented fiber artists working and exhibiting in our area as well as in their national and international exhibitions. They could easily skip town and show off their talents elsewhere, but luckily for us in Tri-Lakes, they have made great efforts to share their imagination, creativity, and talents in our neighborhood. Our local fiber artists are a superb source of information, education, and networking in this tidal wave of creative endeavors in this medium. What centuries of fine artists’ efforts did for the world of art in paintings in oils, watercolor on paper, and photography, fiber fine artists are now doing for the fiber and textile industry.

You don’t have to be just a spectator in fiber art, either. You can join local classes and enjoy the realm of fiber art for yourself or give a class as a gift. The artists that I met at the current quilt shop and gallery shows offer the make-it-and-take-it type of classes in our area while they are here in town, and across the nation in their travels. Some meet weekly, some monthly. So, it is a beautiful effort with certain art success.

Keep an eye on the following Tri-Lakes venues for fiber art shows. Some venues have show information, books, supplies, and/or fiber art classes. Some shows are ongoing, some are just offered from time to time.

This month, the Monument Library is exhibiting the fiber art of the Palmer Divide Quilters from the walls way up to the rafters. The quilts are numbered, and there will be a key to the artists and quilts at the main circulation desk so you can take a self-guided tour of the show.

Places in Tri-Lakes to view and enjoy fiber artists and their art:

  • Wild Heather Designs, 341 Front St. at Third Street, Monument (Ongoing fiber art exhibits, classes, and state-of-the-art materials, kits, and instruction.
  • Second Street Art Market, 366 Second St., corner of Second and Beacon Lite Road, Monument.
  • Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake.
  • Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive in the Woodmoor Center.

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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Whitworth fills TLCA with sounds of Southern bluegrass

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Below: (L-R) Shannon Whitworth shares a humorous moment with the audience and members of The Refugees, Jake Hopping on standup bass and Jon Stickley on guitar. Photo by David Futey.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By David Futey

About midway through her first set on Feb. 15 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA), bluegrass singer-songwriter Shannon Whitworth shared a humorous anecdote with the audience. With her ukulele in hand and in one of those had-to-be-there moments, Whitworth described how she likes to play it at the beach.

In most instances this would not be advisable, but Whitworth described how she does not have to worry about her ukulele warping while playing it against her body in the heat of the sun. The reason is that the ukulele has a plastic back instead of the usual wooden one, which not only mitigates the warping issue but creates a different sound. After an appropriately timed pause upon the finish of her somewhat lengthy story, she brought out a laugh from the audience after stating, "I’m so full of it sometimes."

By this time in the performance, the audience knew she was indeed full of it, a full and captivating voice drawn from her Southern roots and a full sound with her skillful guitar, banjo, and ukulele playing and backing by skillful musicians of nearly unequaled caliber for this genre of music.

After performing at the 2008 Four Corners Folk Festival in the fall, Whitworth and two of the four members of her accompanying band, The Refugees, found themselves back in Colorado for a brief tour, which fortunately included the TLCA. With Jon Stickley on acoustic and electric guitar and Jake Hopping on standup bass and guitar, the trio performed songs written by Whitworth from her 2007 release, No Expectations, along with tracks from a yet-to-be-named CD to be released later this year. They also performed a few of Stickley’s songs, along with a cover or two that included a soulful rendition of James Taylor’s You Can Close Your Eyes.

Songwriting seems to be not just something Whitworth does but is part of who she is. Her songwriting comes out of a need. As Whitworth stated in her pre-concert interview, "If I wasn’t writing (a song) I would need to be writing," because "it’s what I need to do to feel a sense of accomplishment for the day." Whitworth draws her inspiration from her family background and the "symbiotic relationship" she has with Stickley, Hopping, and the other musicians in The Refugees.

Whitworth has been surrounded by the importance and sounds of music her entire life. Her father taught English through music by teaching grammar and metaphors through songs that captured the attention of his students. Whitworth recalled how she watched and heard older brothers playing the banjo and mandolin while growing up. During the interview, Whitworth mentioned how her band mates provide inspiration for her songwriting by virtue of their musical talents, to which Hopping replied, "So, you write so we don’t get bored?"

Whitworth and The Refugees are looking forward to another return to Colorado in late July and in the fall. They will have the full band with the addition of Matt Smith on the pedal steel and Seth Kauffman on drums. Given what the trio offered this evening, be sure to catch the full band’s performance, as it is highly unlikely that you will be bored either.

Information on Shannon Whitworth can be found at www.myspace.com/shannonwhitworth. Information regarding the TLCA, upcoming events, and to assist with its capital campaign can be found at www.trilakesarts.org

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Snapshots of Our Community

Governor visits PRHS, Feb. 11, praises geothermal system

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Photos by Robin Adair.

Below:  Student reporter for Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) Ridgeline Television Mikayla Wilder interviews Governor Ritter about energy conservation and education issues.  

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Below: Ritter presents student council officers Ben Mortensen and Kelsey Engelhardt with the "Harnessing the Earth’s Energy" award from the Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, to commend the school for energy conservation.

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2009 Sertoma Freedom Essay winners

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Below: Monument Hill Sertoma Club 2009 8th Grade Freedom Essay Winners: (L to R) Michelle Chan, 1st place Creekside Middle School (CSMS); Laura Bush, 3rd place CSMS; Sophia Capp, 1st place Lewis-Palmer Middle School (LMS); Anna Amenson, 2nd place LPMS; Sara Kivela, 2nd place CSMS; Emily Gorder, 3rd place LPMS; Brendan Monogue, 2nd place Monument Academy (MA); Daniel Padrnos, 3rd place MA; Grant Ellis, 1st place MA. Photo by Warren Gerig.

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RMMA Concert, Feb. 14

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Below: On February 14, Dr. Michael Baron, at the piano, is accompanied by (L-R) Sarah Balian on the oboe and Alejandro Vieira on the bassoon during a performance of Franci Poulenc’s "Andante con moto" at the Rocky Mountain Music Alliance concert. Over 140 people attended the the concert, which was held at the Forestgate Presbyterian Church. Photo by David Futey.

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Ewaste event, Feb. 14

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Below: Tri-Lakes Cares teamed with Guaranteed Recycling Xperts (GRX) to dispose of electronic waste such as computers and TVs. Net proceeds from the event held Feb. 14 were donated to Tri Lakes Cares. The event brought in more than 6000 pounds of equipment. (L to R) Doug and Nancy Gulick donated electronic items to recycle; Larry and Sandy Bauers of Tri-Lakes Cares. Waste will be de-manufactured and recycled. Photo by Janet Sellers.

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Discovery Canyon Campus Gala, Feb. 27

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Photos by Barbara Ball

Below: The Discovery Canyon Campus Gala was held at the USAFA Blue and Silver Club. 

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Below: One of the table displays where items were being auctioned. Right: Some projects done by students for the auction, 

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Art Group show, Feb. 27

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Below: (L-R) Jana Towery, Andy Borden, Joy Borden, Bob Towery, Suzanne Jenne, and Linda Roberts browse some of the works at the Palmer Lake Art Group’s 2009 Winter. The show, chaired by Craig Mildrexler, was held in the Lucy Owens Gallery of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and closed on February 27. Proceeds from sales went to the group’s scholarship fund to assist District 38 high school students who plan on continuing in art studies. Photo by David Futey.

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Mining Museum Gold Party, Feb. 6

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Below: On February 6, Winfield Scott Stratton, portrayed by Richard Marold, entertained attendees with his rags to riches story at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry’s (WMMI) Gold Party. Stratton’s life spanned that of an itinerant carpenter and prospector to multi-millionaire from the wealth accumulated from the Cripple Creek gold fields. Attendees of the Gold Party also participated in a whiskey tasting and a silent auction. Proceeds from the event benefited the museum and its operation. Photo by David Futey.

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February and March library events

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Sarah Connelly and Courtney Heffner show the valentines they made at the library. 

Below: Kathy Loidolt and Branch Assistant Becky Campbell at the Clean Green workshop. 

By Harriet Halbig

February at the Monument Branch featured a number of popular programs. The first of them, Clean Green, featured Kathy Loidolt, a local writer, who provided recipes for cleaning products made with such eco-friendly materials as glycerin, borax, essential oils, and baking soda. Participants were urged to bring containers so they could take home their creations.

On Valentine’s Day, the 14th, the Monart School of Art offered an opportunity for kids to make valentines for their parents, friends, and teachers. Over 30 youngsters made cards with various motifs, embellished with stickers and markers.

In addition to artwork by students of Lewis-Palmer High School, there was a display in the children’s area of artwork by the students at St. Peter school in Monument.

The library’s annual Winter Festival, Pikes Peak or Bust, was held on Feb. 28 in partnership with the Western Museum of Mining and Industry at the museum. A photo and a brief description of the event appear above.

March events should welcome thoughts of spring—and spring break.

On March 7 at 1:30, Woody and Catherine Woodworth of High Country Home and Garden will provide hints on high-altitude gardening in the Tri-Lakes Region.

On March 13 at the Monument Branch, there will be a genealogy workshop called Ancestry-Library Edition Basics. The program, presented by the library district’s Special Collections staff, will last from 10:30 a.m. until noon and will explore several of the databases available through the library. Registration is suggested at 531-6663, extension 2253.

In the afternoon of March 14, Home Depot will present a make-your-own-creation workshop at Monument. All materials will be provided, and each junior builder will receive a souvenir apron.

On March 14, after hours from 6:30 p.m. until 10 p.m., teens in the eighth through 10th grades are invited to an Epic Episode at the Monument Library, planned by teens with the branch’s teen specialist. The evening will feature dancing, music, pizza, and prizes. No registration is required.

The Monumental Readers will discuss The Road by Cormac McCarthy on March 20 at 10 a.m.

The AARP Driver’s Safety course will be offered on March 19 and 20 from 1 to 5 p.m. Cost of the course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Upon completion of the course, those in attendance receive a certificate that can earn discounts on auto insurance. Register on the Events Calendar at the Library’s Web site (PPLD.org) or call 488-2370.

The Monument Branch will offer a variety of entertainment during spring break.

On Monday the 23rd at 10:30 a.m., Patti Smithsonian will present "Hello Earth," a puppet show in which Little Red Riding Hood learns from the Wolf about recycling. Other tales with an eco-twist will include the "Three Little Pigs" and "The Ant and the Grasshopper."

On Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., Helen Trencher, "The Percussion Lady," will offer an interactive program for ages 2 through 92 involving song, story, and rhythm.

Also on Tuesday, at 2 p.m., Bob Aikens will present a puppet show demonstrating a number of styles of puppets.

Wednesday the 25th, Denise Gard will tell stories using the art of origami. This program, for ages 8 and older, requires registration at 488-2370. Those in attendance will learn to fold a samurai helmet. The program is at 2 p.m.

On display throughout the Monument Branch will be "Gorgeous Quilts" made by the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers. This show is an annual tradition in honor of National Quilting Month.

Palmer Lake Branch activities

The Palmer Lake Book Group will discuss Chris Bohjalian’s Skeletons at the Feast on April 3 at 9 a.m. Call the branch for information or to request a copy.

The newest Palmer Lake Paws to Read dog, a goldendoodle named Kringle, will make his debut on March 7 from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.

Palmer Lake’s Dr. Seuss celebration with Denise Gard will take place on March 21 at 10:30 a.m.

On March 25, award-winning autoharpist Bonnie Phipps will offer participatory songs and stories at 10:30 a.m.

On display on the branch’s walls during National Quilting Month will be a collection of small quilts by Harriet Halbig.

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Historical Society hears presentation on museum and mining

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Below: David Carroll presenting the subject "Mining History and Ore Processing." Carroll has 15 years experience in Museum Studies and has a graduate degree in that subject. He presently is involved with the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, which is the only Museum of mining accredited in the United States by the American Association of Museums. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

On Feb. 19, the Palmer Lake Historical Society was treated to a presentation by David Carroll of the Western Museum of Mining and Industry. He discussed the origin of the museum, which was started by Fred and Katherine Farrar. Fred Farrar had wanted to be a mining engineer and attended the Colorado School of Mines. After a short time at the school, it became apparent that he was not able to maintain the academic standards that the school required. Farrar then left the School of Mines and attended Denver University and became an attorney specializing in the mining industry.

During his time in this field, he collected many mining artifacts. His family began to ask what he intended to do with all this "junk." After a time, Farrar decided to establish a museum and placed all the artifacts in it. This is now known as the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, located at the I-25 and Gleneagle exit of Interstate 25.

Carroll also gave the attendees an interesting walk through the formation and evolution of the Gould Mining and Milling Co. It eventually evolved into the Gould Mining Co., which was located in Wyoming. He also mentioned that the ownership was varied and that the entrepreneurs were also involved in railroad ownership and development since the two industries depended on one another.

Phyllis Bonser, president of the Palmer Lake Historical Society, announced that the April meeting date has been changed to April 23. Tri-Lakes high school students will model historical clothing of the area in a Vintage Fashion Show. This will take place at the Palmer Lake Town Hall.

In addition, Bonser said school groups can take tours of the Lucretia Vaile Library and Museum in Palmer Lake. To make arrangements, please call her at 481-9245. The area’s history should be part of the education of all local youths, Bonser said.

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Join the Palmer Lake Historical Society on Thursday, Mar. 19, 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall for an informative and fun evening. Howard Noble will discuss the history of street railways in Colorado Springs, current efforts to preserve railway equipment, and future plans for a street railway in the Springs. Free refreshments will be provided. For more information, go to www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/plhs

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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.

After Prom fundraiser, March 13

Every year, the Lewis-Palmer After-Prom Committee works tirelessly to provide our teens with a safe, fun event that keeps them busy after their prom. In order to provide this awesome event while keeping the kids’ costs down, the committee is holding a fundraiser March 13, 6 p.m., at Pinz Bowling Center, 855 S. Highway 105, Palmer Lake. The event will feature the local band Monument Hill-High Altitude Rock, a fajita bar, dancing, bowling, and fun. Deadline for reservations is March 9. Please contact Michelle at 332-3838 or micagu2@comcast.net for tickets. Mail checks to19135 Royal Troon Drive, Monument, CO 80132.

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County Planning Commission volunteers needed. Apply by March 13

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Planning Commission. Associate members to serve one-year terms and regular members to serve three-year terms are needed. The Planning Commission reviews planning petitions and makes recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on land use requests, and prepares a master plan for unincorporated areas of the county. Applications for the open positions are due March 13.

The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. Send completed applications and letters of interest and/or résumés to: Board of County Commissioners, Attn: Frances St. Germain, County Administration Manager, 27 E. Vermijo Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903-2208.

Applications may also be faxed to: 719-520-6397 or emailed to: webmaster@elpasoco.com. For more information, call 520-6436.

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Outreach workshop for homeowners in foreclosure, March 14

A foreclosure workshop for homeowners in default will be held March 14, 10 a.m.-noon, at the Falcon Fire Station, Highway 24 and Meridian in Falcon. The workshop panel will include a volunteer attorney who will provide practical solutions and options to foreclosure. Also, a former mortgage banker experienced in loan modifications will show homeowners how to prepare a plan to negotiate a loan modification with their mortgage lender.

Homeowners Helpline is a nonprofit volunteer effort offering free workshops to provide objective, unbiased information to homeowners facing mortgage default. Homeowners Helpline is an all-volunteer effort and has no relationship with any lender, investment company, broker, or "foreclosure rescue company." For more information, visit homeownershelpline.org or call Joe Morgan, Program Coordinator, 495-4335, or e-mail jbmorgan@homeownershelpline.org.

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County Hazardous Materials Facility opens March 14

Beginning March 14, the El Paso County Hazardous Materials Collection Facility will be open for drop-offs the second Saturday of each month 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in addition to its regular weekday schedule, Monday-Thursday, from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. The facility accepts paint and paint-related products including latex, oil-based, and aerosol. It also accepts stains, strippers, solvents, thinners, lacquers and varnishes, lawn and garden chemicals, and household cleaners. It provides proper disposal of old batteries, fire extinguishers, fireworks, flares, and ammunition as well automotive products like antifreeze, motor oil, brake and transmission fluids and batteries. No tires, please.

You can bring in computers, printers, cell phones, digital cameras and televisions up to 19 inches diagonal. You can even trade in an old mercury thermometer and get a brand new digital thermometer free on a one-per-household basis. There is no fee, but a nonperishable food item donation for Care and Share is encouraged. The El Paso County Hazardous Materials Collection Facility is located at 3255 Akers Dr. Akers Drive runs north off Constitution Avenue just west of Marksheffel Road. For more information on the county’s Hazardous Materials Collection Facility and other environmental programs and services call 520-7878 or on the Web at http://adm.elpasoco.com/Environmental_Services/Solid_Waste_Management.

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Women in Mining, Mar. 14

Explore the life of women in pioneer and mining camp days at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) March 14, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The Augusta Tabor portrayal starts at 10 a.m. followed by an Edwardian tea, with another performance at 1 p.m. Displays include miniatures, pioneer kitchen accessories, quilting, and much more. Reservations are requested. This popular event fills fast so RSVP to 488-0880 soon. Admission is $8 adults, $7 military/AAA, $6 seniors and students, $4 children 3-12, free to children under 3 and museum members. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off of I-25 at the Gleneagle exit, #156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Info: phone 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org.

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

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will accept grant applications until March 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, March 16-19

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. Aspiring actors age 18-75 are welcome to audition. Audition scripts are available, and you may also perform a one-minute comedy monologue. Please call 488-0775 to schedule your audition time and to get character overviews and further information. Visit spotlightcommunitytheatre.com to find out more about this exciting local group.

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Blood drive, March 18

The second of six blood drives scheduled for the Tri-Lakes Community will be held March 18, 3-7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. For more information contact Jackie Sward, RN, 481-4864 ext. 23.

Monument Citizen Police Academy, March 19-May 14

The Monument Police Department will host its second Citizen Police Academy March 19-May 14. This is a great opportunity for the citizens in the Tri-Lakes area to see firsthand what law enforcement is all about. During the nine-week academy, participants will learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, CSI, use of force, communications, E911, and community policing, will have the opportunity to shoot a variety of police weapons, and much more.

The Citizens Police Academy is free of charge. Classes will be held Thursday evenings, 7-10 p.m., at the Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St, unless otherwise instructed. If you are interested in attending, visit www.monumentpd.org and click on the Community Services button to see more about the program and to download an application, or stop by the Monument Police Department, 154 N. Washington St., to pick up an application. For more information, please call the Monument Police Department, 481-3253.

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Finders & Youngberg Concert at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, March 21

Finders & Youngberg will perform at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) March 21. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. show. Finders & Youngberg are two married couples playing original bluegrass, country, and folk. 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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Display your art in library galleries, March 25

Pikes Peak Library District is seeking artists to exhibit work in library art galleries. Interested artists may bring five show-ready pieces of two- or three-dimensional art. Entries must be ready to hang on a gallery wall. Submissions will be accepted March 25 at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., 10 a.m.-noon. Pick up entries at the library the same day, 4:30-6 p.m. Art can include paintings, watercolor, weaving, drawings, photography, prints, quilts, masks, icons, collage, graphics, or mixed media. For more information, call 531-6333.

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Protect Our Wells annual meeting, March 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 March 30, 7-9 p.m., at Mountain Springs Church, 7345 East Woodmen 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 March 30 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 http://protectourwells.org/.

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Hiking for Hooters fundraiser, April 2

Come support Hiking for Hooters, a group of nine Monument moms walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. A special fundraising event is scheduled April 2, 4-7 p.m. at Wesley Owens Coffee, 1773 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument. All the food sales and tips and a portion of the beverage sales that evening will go toward their fundraising goal of $20,000. For more information, call Jen at 487-3075 or 337-2251.

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Heritage Lecture at the Mining Museum, April 2

Ed and Nancy Bathke will present rarely seen stereograph photos from Colorado’s gold rush era at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) April 2, 7 p.m. Many of the stereograph images that the Bathkes will show were produced by Edward Anthony who, along with his brother Henry, owned E. & H. T. Anthony, a photo supply photographic studio business in New York City. He was one of the key pioneers of early photography. Reservations are required; call 488-0880. Free to members, $5 non-members. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off of I-25 at the Gleneagle exit, #156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. For information or reservations, phone 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org.

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Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, April 3

Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble (CVAE) will perform "Voice, Verse and Vision, 2009—The Art of Storytelling" at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) April 3. Doors open at 7 for the 7:30 p.m. show. CVAE welcomes special guests, the Lewis-Palmer High School Chamber Singers and master storyteller John Stansfield. A concert and gallery show combined, this unique event celebrates the art of storytelling in song, visual imagery, and spoken word, drawing inspiration from myths, legends, folk tales, and stories from the sea. George Douthit will conduct.

Tickets are $12 for TLCA members and $15 for 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. Advance ticket purchase is encouraged. TLCA is located at 304 Colorado Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, visit the website at www.trilakesarts.org.

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D-38 Special Needs Community Resource Fair, April 4

Everyone is welcome to attend the Special Needs Community Resource Fair April 4, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The free fair is sponsored by D-38’s Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). Come find out about agencies, services, and resources for people with all ranges of disabilities. The Resource Exchange, The Listen Foundation, The International Dyslexia Association, The Hill Springs Learning Center, The ARC of the Pikes Peak Region, Special Kids Special Families, SOS-AD (Stomp Out the Silence of Autism & Disabilities), Sirius Kids’ Connection Inc., Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center, PEAK Parent Center, Celiac Sprue Association Pikes Peak Region, Cascade Investment Group-Special Needs Trusts, Autism Society of the Pikes Peak Region, Alpine Autism Center, Zach’s Place, and the YMCA are some of the organizations that will be at the fair.

Local organizations that support and provide resources to the special needs population are invited to have a table at the fair. RSVP to Ilanit Bennaim, SEAC secretary, at 325-6979 as soon as possible to reserve a table. If you would like to attend or can help at this symposium, call Ilanit Bennaim at 325-6979 or e-mail ilanit@kw.com.

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Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale, April 18-19

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will hold its 33rd annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale April 18, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and April 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. The popular show features collectibles and antiques including furniture, jewelry, glassware and pottery, and Native American items. Tickets are $5 (12 and under free) and are available at the door. The Country Café opens at 9 a.m. so you can enjoy cinnamon rolls and Serrano’s coffee before the show. Lunch will be available at 11 a.m., and steak soup is back along with an expanded menu.

A bake sale features homemade pies, cakes, candies, cookies, and dog treats. Saturday, local authors William Scott, John Stansfield, and Emily B. Warner will autograph their books purchased. Saturday and Sunday Kevin J. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta will be available to sign their books, even previously purchased ones. A crystal grinder will be available both days of the show, so bring in your scratched and damaged glass for an inexpensive repair. Sunday only, appraisers in several specialties will provide verbal appraisals for $5 per item with a three-item limit per person.

To date TLWC has awarded more than $541,000 in grants to local police and fire departments, public schools, and other nonprofit service organizations within the Tri-Lakes community. For more information about TLWC, its granting program/application, and the Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale, please visit www.tlwc.net

Lewis-Palmer High School is located on the east side of I-25 between Baptist Road (Exit 158) and the Monument exit (Exit 161). Follow the signs to the show. Parking is free. For more information, e-mail communityproj@tlwc.net.

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Low-Income Energy Assistance Program ends April 30

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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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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Senior discount Mondays at the Mining Museum

The Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) is offering a special admission rate on Mondays to adults age 60-plus through 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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Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance Thrift Store now open

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

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Senior Safety Program

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

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Library District’s new Kids Web

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

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

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Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

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

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IRS offers free e-newsletter for small businesses

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

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