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Vol. 9 No. 9 - September 5, 2009


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

the PDF file. This is a 13.7 Mbyte file and will take about 83 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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Chautauqua makes successful return

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Below: Aug. 9, James and Debra Faulkner, act the parts of the Count and Countess Murat (early Colorado pioneers) in a Chautauqua presentation about them. The Faulkners are standing in front of a vintage Ford Model T Hack (Taxi). Countess Murat was known as the first white woman to enter Colorado and is the only Colorado "Countess." She was born in Baden-Baden on the Rhine. The Faulkners hail from Thornton, Colorado. See the Chautauqua section below for more photos and more information on Chautauqua. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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Beacon Lite Rd. meeting, Sept. 22

El Paso County Commissioner Wayne Williams and the county Public Services Department will host a community meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, in Monument to discuss options for future improvements to the dirt road portion of Beacon Lite Road, from Wakonda Way north to County Line Road.

Beacon Lite Road runs roughly parallel to I-25 on the west side. Traffic volume has increased, indicating a need for upgrades. Williams, whose district encompasses northern El Paso County including Monument, will be joined by County Engineer Andre Brackin to discuss options and alternatives, answer questions and gather input from area residents, businesses, and other concerned citizens.

The meeting will be held at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Interested citizens are encouraged to attend the meeting to learn more about potential upgrades to this road.

Contact the county Public Services Department at 520-6874 for more information.

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Monument Sanitation District board, Aug. 20: District approved for $2.4 million in stimulus loans

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 20, Dave Frisch of engineering consultant firm GMS Inc. briefed the Monument Sanitation District board during a public hearing on the key features of the final drafts of two loan applications for up to $2.418 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) "stimulus" funding from the EPA for completing the final two phases of installation of the district’s "shovel ready" Wakonda Hills sanitary sewer collection system project.

One application is for a $2 million interest-free loan with "forgivable" principal, which does not need to be repaid and is, in effect, a grant. The other application is for an interest-free loan of up to $418,000 to be repaid in equal installments for 20 years. The loans closed on Sept. 1.

Frisch had additional good news for the board from the public bidding process. The winning base bid for the 17 sealed bids that were opened on Aug. 18 was $1,575,849 from Brannan Construction Co. Other project expenses that have already been committed to date are about $324,000, for a total base project cost of about $1.9 million. The total uncommitted reserve for the maximum approved stimulus loan package of $2.418 million is about $518,000. If the second loan of $418,000 does not have to be used, the available reserve for contingencies from the $2 million forgivable loan is about $100,000, or 5 percent.

Frisch said Brannan has been issued a notice of award of the pending contract. The actual award of the contract could not occur until the loan closed on Sept. 1. Brannan, however, was able to begin the processing of their performance and payment bonds and insurance certificates based on the notice of award. After the construction contract has been awarded and signed, the district will issue a notice to Brannan to proceed. The contractor is required to begin construction before the end of September, which is the end of the federal fiscal year.

At the conclusion of the public hearing, the board unanimously approved a resolution to sign the final loan application documents on Aug. 21. The board also unanimously approved the formal award of the construction contract to Brannan Construction contingent upon final closing of the stimulus loans.

After the Aug. 20 meeting, Gov. Bill Ritter notified the EPA and district by letter on Aug. 25 that he had formally approved all the state’s wastewater and drinking water stimulus loans, and the money would be available from the state to pay project invoices beginning after the loan closing on Sept. 1.

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

$3.50 per month fee increase rescinded

Background: In early July, the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority had conducted an analysis of the enterprise fund portion of the district’s budget. This analysis initially stated that current district fees are not high enough to produce 110 percent of the district’s current operating expenses, a basic requirement for any loan administered by the State Revolving Fund loan financed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The authority’s analysis stated that the district would have to raise rates by $3.28 per month to make up the operating revenue shortfall, for a total loan of $2.418 million.

The amount required to finance the Wakonda Hills project in excess of $2 million would be financed by a separate State Revolving Fund loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority at no interest for 20 years.

However, after the July 16 board meeting, the authority agreed to the district’s request to take future Wakonda Hills tap fees, all other district income, and the district’s financial reserves of about $500,000 into account. The new analysis determined that the district’s user fee does not have to be increased at this time to obtain the second authority loan. As a result, on Aug. 20 the board unanimously rescinded the fee increase of $3.50 that was previously approved on July 16.

If the district has to use all or a portion of the $418,000 loan, the authority will conduct an enterprise fund analysis after each annual district audit is completed to determine if the district’s monthly service fees and other sources of income are still high enough to meet the 110 percent requirement.

2009 budget and appropriation amended

A public hearing was held to amend the 2009 budget and 2009 appropriation to reflect the stimulus loans and Brannan contract. The eligibility of the Wakonda Hills project for stimulus funding was not known until after the 2009 budget was approved last year, so the figures were not included.

The revised budget and appropriation also include $338,000 from district reserves to pay for two lift stations that will also be part of the construction. The lift stations were not eligible for stimulus financing because the administrative process of getting them approved by the state could never have been completed in time for all the various ARRA application deadlines. The changes in the 2009 budget and appropriation account for the worst-case total project cost of $2.756 million, though it already appears that the actual final cost will likely be at least $500,000 less than that.

The changes in the 2009 budget are:

  • District Capital Improvements increases from $40,000 to $2,769,000
  • New Construction decreases from $20,000 to $15,000
  • Total Capital Improvements increases from $85,000 to $2,809,000
  • Contingency expenses decreases from $100,000 to $55,000
  • Total net capital improvements and other income changes from -$75,000 to -$326,000
  • Net income changes from -$74,175 to -$325,175
  • Ending balance changes from $260,877 to $9,877

The total 2009 appropriation increased from $629,791 to $3,332,701.

Another high copper reading at treatment facility

Director Chuck Robinove, the district’s alternate representative, attended the Aug. 11 Joint Use Committee (JUC) because Director Lowell Morgan was out of town. Robinove reported that the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District had an unusually high copper concentration of 196 parts per billion (ppb) in one test of the wastewater its northern interceptor delivered to the Tri-Lakes facility in June. In the past, Monument Sanitation District has typically had the highest copper concentrations in the wastewater delivered to the facility from its southern interceptor. Monument’s highest copper concentration in June was 127 ppb.

The amount of copper in the facility’s treated wastewater was 8.8 ppb, which is higher than the average amount currently allowed by the facility’s discharge permit—8.0 ppb. However, the facility currently has a waiver that allows an average value of 24.8 ppb, but that waiver expires at the end of 2009, though the waiver may be extended for another year.

The national average concentration for copper in wastewater is 200 ppb. However, in July 2008 Monument Creek was reclassified as a stream, where anti-degradation rules apply, and that has resulted in the much tighter copper restriction in the Tri-Lakes facility’s discharge permit. Were it not for the facility’s temporary copper concentration waiver, the facility would have frequently been in violation of its discharge permit.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the EPA can levy fines of up to $10,000 per day for violations of copper discharge permit maximum limits. The cost for building tertiary treatment facilities to be able to meet the copper limits has been estimated to be $30 million to $50 million, with additional operating costs of up to $1 million a year that would have to be paid by about 5,000 customers. The value of the Tri-Lakes facility is about $6 million.

Copper sulfate removed from Home Depot shelves again

There was some speculation by JUC members that this aberrantly high reading may have been caused by the use of copper sulfate. District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that the Monument Marketplace store had gone back to selling two-pound jars of copper sulfate for killing tree roots, even though the national headquarters had agreed to stop selling the product in Monument two years ago. Wicklund said he talked with the store’s management, and the store had once again removed it from shelves.

Wicklund noted that copper sulfate is a legal product sold nationwide by Home Depot, so it is part of the store’s automatic inventory software. If Marketplace Home Depot employees forget to actively intervene and tell the shelf-restocking program not to order ZEP Root Kill II, which is 99.1 percent copper sulfate pentahydrate, the product will automatically show up on the delivery dock and probably end up on the shelves again due to a minor, if regrettable, oversight.

The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility normally treats and removes about 16 pounds of copper per year. The normal application of Zep Root Kill II is two two-pound jars – about one-fourth of the 16 pounds treated by the plant each year – for a single root treatment. The cause of tree roots in individual service lines and collection lines is a failure in pipe joint or tap seals. Zep kills the roots only temporarily and does not repair the pipe seals. Also people often misuse Zep to try to treat grease blockages, which is ineffective.

Wicklund noted that if the state Health Department were to become upset about excess copper in the treated wastewater that the Tri-Lakes facility discharges to Monument Creek, the JUC, the wastewater districts, and the town of Monument have a solid record of dealing with the copper problem. Monument has banned the use of copper water pipes in any new homes and in repairs of "grandfathered" plumbing systems.

Monument and Woodmoor treat their drinking water with caustic soda, which coats the inside of copper pipes to prevent the region’s aggressive water from leaching copper from the inside surface of the pipes. The caustic soda prevents pinhole leaks that develop over time as the walls of the copper pipe dissolve, which is often evidenced by a bluish tinge on bathroom tile and porcelain fixtures.

The Monument, Woodmoor, and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts have all banned the use of copper sulfate, as has Triview Metropolitan District. However, the risk remains very high that a few unthinking individuals using Zep Root Kill II could cause a violation that would be very expensive for every household in the region for a very long time.

The districts have agreed to place notices in monthly bills regarding the ban on the use of Zep. Burks asked the Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor district boards to consider fines of up to $10,000 per incident for copper sulfate violations.

Treasurer’s report

Wicklund noted that the payment of $138,392.43 to GMS listed in the monthly cash summary finance report is part of the $324,000 commitment to the Wakonda Hills project noted above. This payment to GMS will be reimbursed to the district’s general fund from the ARRA loans.

Wicklund said non-recurring large payments for the previous month included $7,950 to Bauerle & Co. P.C. for the 2008 audit and $10,662 to Parker Ag Services for the district’s share of sludge removal from the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility sludge lagoon. He added that the district sets aside $10,000 per year in a sludge removal fund for this purpose.

Wicklund said Facility Manager Bill Burks had stated at the Aug. 11 JUC meeting that the next sludge removal may be scheduled for three years from now rather than in 27 months to give the lagoon more time to treat and improve the quality of the sludge. The longer interval should reduce the volatility, or strength, from 64 percent to the previous average of 53 percent.

The longer interval also should increase the sludge density in the lagoon from the current 3 to 4.5 percent back up to the previous average density of 12 percent. This would make it easier to remove water from the sludge that is pumped from the lagoon and would reduce the number of truckloads that have to be hauled away by Parker Ag and lower transportation costs for the trucks to deliver the sludge to area agricultural fields, where it is used as fertilizer.

Tap fee received

Wicklund noted that the district had received a $3,000 tap fee from the Coffee Cup restaurant for its expansion, bringing the total tap fees collected in 2009 to $30,000. A grease interceptor has been installed under the adjacent parking lot to handle the additional waste from the restaurant’s expansion.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

**********

The next meeting is at 7 p.m. on Sept. 17 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Rancher offers land for new fire station

By Jim Kendrick

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

The Wescott board had planned to purchase the 28.75-acre Foti property at 14560 Highway 83 for $1.14 million on Aug. 31 from Dominic and Claire Foti, as a temporary third station until a new fire station could be built on the property at a later date. The Foti property is adjacent to Shamrock Ranch to the west, just south of Kaessner Lane.

After a 90-minute executive session to discuss real estate transactions and receive advice from the district’s attorney, Tim Schutz, the board returned to open session and voted unanimously to seek a 60-day extension on the Aug. 31 closing to provide time to investigate the new option proposed by Wismer.

There had been no formal discussions of any specific land purchase options or related negotiations in open sessions at previous Wescott board meetings. For most of this year, the board and chiefs have been discussing their desire to build a station on the east side of the district to fill a gap between Wescott’s two existing stations, located on the northwest boundary and in the center of the district, and those of the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District to the east. The board has held monthly executive sessions in regular and occasional special meetings on real estate matters.

Board appeared to have made final decision on the third station

Planning Commission hearing

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

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

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

Conditions

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

Notations

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

The county Development Services staff report also stated that the Wescott location plan complies with the public safety services goals in the:

  • County Land Development Code
  • County Policy Plan
  • Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan
  • County Major Transportation Corridor Plan
  • County Master Plan for Mineral Extraction

The Foti property was created in June 1968. It was initially zoned A-4 (Farming) and a subsequent code amendment redesignated the zone to RR-5. All the adjacent properties are also zoned RR-5. There were no written responses from the 11 adjoining property owners that Development Services notified of the Aug. 18 hearing.

The staff report noted that Wescott had submitted a site development plan for concurrent staff review that proposes using the existing residence, garage, barn, and carport that are about 1,200 feet west of Highway 105 as a temporary fire station and residence for volunteer firefighters until a new fire station can be completed at a later date.

Wescott vehicles would use the existing asphalt residential driveway. There are no erosion or floodplain issues. There is an existing wooded area that screens the existing structures from Highway 83.

The proposed location for the new fire station is the clearing between the screening trees and Highway 105 that spans the entire frontage.

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

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

Public comments at the Wescott meeting

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

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

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

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

"My only condition for this gift would be that it would not cost me money beyond the gift. There’s a saying, no good deed shall go unpunished and sometimes things happen that are unintended. The gift is for the land so that you can save the million dollars that you would otherwise spend on the Foti property and you will save the taxpayers the money of going out to raise the money to build the fire station, to be able to get in the ground using the million dollars that you would otherwise pay to Foti and actually put it into the fire station itself." He concluded, "That’s my offer."

Board President Brian Gould said, "Thank you."

Delroy Johnson, owner of the 28-acre property adjacent to the Foti property to the south, noted that he was also in favor of building a new Wescott station in this area—"It’s needed"—and that he had attended the Planning Commission hearing on Aug. 18.

Johnson stated that the board should reconsider two adjacent parcels totaling 26.76 acres less than a mile to the north of the Foti property on the west side of Highway 83 that could also serve as the site for a temporary station and have room for constructing a new station as well. These two properties belong to New Life Church and are for sale for $975,000. Johnson added that each of these two properties has a domestic well and that the existing house on the northern lot could also serve as a temporary fire station. The northern lot is 8.35 acres with a "pretty nice house" of 2,400 square feet and is available for $500,000 or less, about half the price of the Foti property.

Johnson stated, "I’m amazed that you guys would consider" the Foti property, which is on a 6 percent slope that he said creates a traffic hazard for 18-wheelers doing 60 mph downhill on southbound Highway 83. "Those trucks coming down there are not going to be able to stop, even if it’s a clear day on a clear pavement, they’re not going to be able to stop. Certainly not when it’s when it’s wet and nasty. Anyway, I’m amazed that site was chosen."

Johnson then noted the free land just offered by Wismer. "What’s going on here? This really seems strange. I mean, with free land you can build your fire station with that money, you can have everything, where with the Foti property you’ve got nothing, you’ve got the land and the house—no fire station, possibly for years."

After noting that he is chief financial officer for one of the largest land development companies in Colorodo Springs, Johnson added, "Dominic (Foti) and I are friends. You know I’m kind of sad to do this because I wish he would get the sale, but it’s the wrong thing to do. So I would ask you to go to him—I understand the contract and the Aug. 31 deadline and all that. Get a 90-day extension to go out and do your due diligence on both sites"—the New Life site and the Wismer site.

In his conclusion, Johnson said the available line of sight time to the north of the Foti driveway is 11 seconds for southbound trucks traveling at 60 mph. The line of sight at the driveways for the New Life properties is unrestricted to the north and about the same to the south, but those trucks are coming uphill, reducing the traffic hazard.

Contract extension sought

After the executive session, Director Greg Gent said Wismer’s deal is attractive and the offer of the New Life property "is new to us." He stated that the board should ask for an extension on the Foti contract so that the board could begin negotiations with the other two parties. He also noted that the district’s real estate agents "were still unaware" of these two new proposals and needed to be notified as soon as possible so they could start negotiating for an extension for the Foti purchase.

Director Bill Lowes agreed on asking for an extension on the Foti contract to pursue the Wismer property to "provide the best service for our constituents in the most fiscally responsible manner." There would not be a temporary station on the Wismer property, but it would be easier to get access to Highway 105 from CDOT, and a county planner is opposed to a new road cut on the Foti property.

Gould said there was due diligence over the past three months on selecting the Foti property. The Planning Commission hearing has inspired two new situations "that are damned good ones" to consider. The proposed Wismer gift is a serious alternative that the board must pursue during an extension of the Foti closing. Gould said the New Life properties did not make as much sense from an operational standpoint based on advice from Chief Jeff Edwards and Assistant Chief Vinny Burns.

Director Scott Campbell noted that the board had been evaluating a new station for all of 2009 with numerous executive sessions to fully explore the issue to increase community safety, increase service capacity, and decrease response time. The incurred costs to date can only be considered a sunk cost, given a new option that is "better than we’d ever hoped for."

Director Dennis Feltz said, "It’s a very large risk we’re taking with Wismer. We’ll see if we can get Foti to work with us."

The district made a $30,000 deposit on the Foti property and has spent about $15,000 for surveys and inspection fees.

The board unanimously approved a three-part motion to:

  • Inform Foti and his real estate agent that the district would not be closing on Aug. 31.
  • Seek an extension of up to 60 days on the Foti property closing, with Gould and Feltz to be the negotiators on the extension.
  • Terminate the contract if Foti will not agree with an extension and complete negotiations with Wismer within 60 days.

Insurance cost declines

VFIS insurance agent Jeff Cunningham told the board that the cost for the next annual renewal of the district’s property and casualty insurance policy is $18,225, down a net $384 from $18,609 for the current policy, which expired on Sept. 1. The annual cost of workers’ compensation coverage increased from $25,108 to $25,600 on Sept. 1.

Cunningham noted that Wescott Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall had found bills that were still being paid for $10,000 term life insurance policies for staff members who had retired or resigned, which resulted in a premium refund of about $5,698. Cunningham stated that the premiums for these life insurance policies had not been listed in the district’s budget for several years. VFIS, not Marshall, was at fault for billing the district for them, he said.

The board unanimously approved renewal of both policies for four months, through the end of 2009, on a prorated basis for these quoted rates. The policy will be renewed again for a full year on Jan. 1 so that the policy date corresponds with the district’s calendar year 2010 budget and thereafter.

Other matters

Run report: Chief Edwards reported that there were 129 runs in July for a total so far this year of 782, a 1 percent decrease from 2008. There were no firefighter injuries in July.

Back pay issue discussed: Assistant Chief Burns noted that the Department of Labor had reviewed the district’s compliance with recent revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding firefighter pay. The department has advised the board of the new pay scale that will go into effect with the next paycheck. Burns said that there had not been a final determination of how much additional back pay will have to be paid out to the firefighters. Marshall said the preliminary estimate of total Wescott back pay that will be owed for the past few years is about $35,000.

This is a national issue that has arisen for several regional fire districts, which comes from confusion over the revised federal standard of 53 hours per week—212 hours per 28-day pay period—versus the long-standing previous standard of 56 hours per week before weekly overtime pay begins to accrue. For more information on the policy, see www.flsa.com/fire.html.  

Pension study completed: Edwards reported that the Fire and Police Pension Association completed its actuarial study for Wescott to analyze continuing solvency of the retired volunteer firefighter pension fund. The study showed that funding has increased from 74 to 108 percent of the requirement in the past two years, a surplus of about $38,000. Should Wescott and Black Forest combine in some manner in the future, the two district pension funds must be similar in benefits. The Wescott fund would need an additional $294,000 to immediately increase Wescott’s benefit from $300 to $500 per month to match the Black Forest benefit. The current annual funding level of the Wescott fund is increasing the pension fund balance at a rate that would allow the benefit to increase to $500 per month goal by the end of 2011.

Merger subcommittee talks begin: Lowes reported that the merger subcommittees of the Wescott and Black Forest boards have begun to meet on the second Wednesday of the month to review issues that will need to be presented to constituents prior to a vote. Currently, consolidation appears preferable to formation of a fire authority. Wescott will examine whether it could finance its increased levels of operations at Black Forest’s mill levy of about 5 mills rather than Wescott’s mill levy of 7 mills.

Health insurance coverage expanded to cover employees’ family members: The board approved adding medical care for employees’ dependents to the employee benefits package. The district will pay 100 percent of the additional coverage. Edwards presented the top three proposals from Kaiser, Aetna, and Rocky Mountain. The goal was to reduce costs without reducing employee benefits. He also proposed an option for adding 100-percent coverage of a full family dental plan.

The firefighters currently have the option of including family members, with the member and district each paying 50 percent of the additional cost for family medical coverage.

There was a lengthy discussion of the complicated rules for individual visits and total annual co-payment maximums in the various programs offered by several insurance companies, as well as the various options offered in each program. Edwards said the district should budget about $110,000 for 2010 for 100 percent family coverage that includes full dental coverage for all family members.

Campbell and Gould noted that Edwards’ recommendation would only require an increase of $3,000 for 2010 from $107,000 for the current plan with no dental coverage and 50 percent match by the employees for family member coverage.

Gent noted that the 2009 budget for employee health care benefits is $125,000, which is already more than enough to provide the better benefits.

Feltz said the firefighters should continue to pay 50 percent of their family members’ coverage. Some firefighters said if this option was continued by the board, they would rather have a higher deductible for hospitalization so their take home pay would increase by about $200 per month. He expressed concern about the district’s future ability to pay for new equipment and apparatus.

The motion to approve Edwards’ recommendation for the program that would increase family benefits to include dental benefits with 100 percent coverage by the district at an additional cost of $3,000 in 2010 passed 4-1, with Feltz opposed.

**********

The board adjourned at 10:26 p.m. The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 16—a week earlier than normal due to board attendance at the annual Colorado Special District Association Conference. Regular board meetings are normally held at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Information: 488-8680. Please call this number before attending the meeting to determine if the date, time, or location changes before then.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Aug. 26: Board gets update on arrested firefighter

Below: Shane Hayden.

By Susan Hindman

On Aug. 7, Shane Hayden, a firefighter with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, was arrested in Parker on charges of Internet luring of a child, which is a felony. Hayden, 33, had contacted a juvenile female in Parker online, and the chats turned sexual in nature. They arranged to meet, and when they did, he was taken into custody.

Chief Robert Denboske "brought the board up to speed" regarding the issue in executive session.

Hayden was hired Feb. 10, 2008. He was terminated on Aug. 11, Denboske said later, "for violation of district policy regarding off-duty conduct; use of district electronic media; and careless, neglect, or misuse of district property and improper use of district equipment."

"The district doesn’t condone what took place," Denboske said. "We’ve cooperated with the police department and continue to cooperate. The staff is pretty disgusted by what took place."

The hardest thing, he said, is that because Hayden is associated with the district, "the district suffers."

"It caught everybody by surprise," Denboske said. "He’d sit in his chair with his laptop, and no one picked up on what he was doing."

Other matters

  • The district’s auditor, Bondi and Co., gave an audit presentation, which "came back good" and the board approved it.
  • The district had to add on a performance bond of $4,500 to cover additional costs for a new fire truck. The truck’s original cost was $820,000; it’s now $824,500. The board approved the additional amount.
  • The board decided not to attend the Special District Association’s annual conference—held in Keystone in September and usually attended—because it did not seem to offer much of interest to the district compared to the costs involved.

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The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. The next meeting is Sept. 23. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 266-3367.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 3: Kaiser appointed to vacant trustee seat

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Photos by Jim Kendrick.

Below: Town Clerk Scott Meszaros formally swore in Jackson Creek resident Jeff Kaiser to the Monument Board of Trustees on Aug. 3 to fill the vacant seat created by the resignation of Mayor Byron Glenn on July 6. Kaiser’s appointment as a trustee lasts until the next town election in April 2010. 

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Below: Former Monument Planning Commissioner Tom Martin was presented a certificate of appreciation for his three years of service by Mayor Travis Easton during the Aug. 3. Board of Trustees meeting in Town Hall. 

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Below: Kandi Buckland, director of the El Paso County Department of Public Health and Environment, briefed the Board of Trustees on Aug. 3 regarding the county’s plans for dealing with the H1N1 (formerly “swine flu”) virus. 

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By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 3, the Monument Board of Trustees appointed Jackson Creek resident Jeff Kaiser from three volunteers to fill the vacant seat created by the resignation of Mayor Byron Glenn on July 6. Trustee Travis Easton was selected by the trustees as the new mayor on July 6. The other volunteers were Planning Commissioner Becki Tooley and resident Stan Gingrich.

Town Clerk Scott Meszaros formally swore in Kaiser. Kaiser’s appointment as a trustee lasts until the next town election in April 2010.

Trustees Rafael Dominguez and Tim Miller were absent from the meeting.

Easton presented a certificate of appreciation to former Planning Commissioner Tom Martin for his three years of service to the town. Town Manager Cathy Green reviewed Martin’s contributions as a planning commissioner and member of the White Paper Committee that drafted the town’s new downtown design standards ordinance.

Note: On Aug. 17, the board appointed Gingrich to fill Martin’s empty seat on the Planning Commission.

Higby Road intersection improvements scheduled

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported that improvements to the intersection of Higby Road and Jackson Creek Parkway would be completed before the school year began for the adjacent Lewis-Palmer High School.

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) closed Struthers Road between Higby and Baptist Roads to build the new dual-lane northbound on-ramp for the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. The closure of Struthers led to the closure of the westernmost portion of Higby Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and Struthers Road. The expansion of the Higby Road-Jackson Creek Parkway intersection will improve traffic flow during peak opening and closing periods on school days. Prior to the expansion, southbound vehicles making left turns from the parkway to Higby Road blocked vehicles proceeding straight ahead on southbound Jackson Creek Parkway toward the Monument Marketplace because there was only a single lane.

BRRTA will pay about $41,000 to Jacobs Engineering for installation of an additional southbound lane to Jackson Creek Parkway between the YMCA traffic signal and Higby Road. The existing southbound lane is now a dedicated left-turn lane for eastbound Higby Road. The new right-hand lane is dedicated to southbound traffic.

The town will pay to eliminate the dips in the parkway at the Higby Road intersection, restriping the intersection, and installing new traffic signs to reflect the change in traffic flow. Kassawara said he expected that the town’s cost would be no more than $15,000. This is a "design-build" contract without a fixed contract price. The final price will not be known until all work is completed, but should be less than the original BRRTA budget of $70,000.

Health department prepares for H1N1

Kandi Buckland, director of the El Paso County Department of Public Health and Environment, gave a 20-minute briefing on the county’s plans for the H1N1 (formerly "swine flu") virus for residents of all ages. This information is available at www.elpasocountyhealth.org/pages/default.aspx. More information on prevention and treatment of the illness is also available at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

Town demolition permits now required

The board unanimously approved a new section of the town code that requires a permit for the demolition of any structure substantial enough to require a building permit. The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department also requires a demolition permit, primarily for technical and toxic matters. The state may require a demolition permit as well.

Kassawara noted that the town ordinance requires actions not required or enforced by Regional Building, such as ensuring that:

  • Dust, trash, and debris are managed properly
  • Safety fences are erected when required
  • Necessary traffic control is provided on public streets
  • Portable toilets are provided on site if required
  • Existing trees are better protected on demolition sites

Also, the new town ordinance requires a photograph of each side of any building over 50 years old that is to be demolished, to provide documentation of historic buildings. The applicant will also have to provide any known information about the uses and history of the structure.

A $50 per hour fee will be initially charged by the town staff for the cost of reviewing the demolition plan and inspecting the site for compliance. As with the new computer links for building permits, Regional Building will not issue its demolition permit until the applicant has applied and paid for a town demolition permit.

Open carry of firearms in town buildings prohibited

The board unanimously approved a new ordinance to prohibit the open carrying of firearms in a building owned or leased by the town. The town is required by the state to post signs regarding this new open carry prohibition on its buildings.

The new ordinance also deleted portions of the town code regarding concealed carry of handguns to be in compliance with state statutes, which prohibit local governments from regulating concealed carry.

Liquor licenses approved

The board unanimously approved:

  • A new liquor license for the Gourmet Far East Restaurant at 15910 Jackson Creek Parkway in the Monument Marketplace.
  • An annual renewal of the liquor license for the Jackson Creek Chinese Restaurant at 1054 W. Baptist Road in the King Soopers shopping center.

St. Peter Church bonding request

Green advised the board that St. Peter Church is asking the town to act as the "pass through" municipal bonding agent for tax free " special limited obligation" bonds to help pay for the church’s ongoing school expansion. In acting as the bond agent for the nonprofit school and church, the town would incur no liability or financial indebtedness. She said the formal proposal would be added to a future agenda item.

Concert won’t be rescheduled

Trustee Tommie Plank noted that the last of the summer concerts in Limbach Park had been rained out and would not be rescheduled. Green added that Woody Woodworth, the evening’s performer, was out of town and the start of a contract for installing new sod in the park prevents rescheduling. Plank also noted that the last Art Hop of the year will take place in the downtown shopping area on Sept. 17, 5 to 8 p.m.

Staff reports

Green noted the new Lucite town logo sign that had been mounted behind the center of the trustees’ dais. She added that the zoning and aerial photographic maps Trustee Tim Miller had requested would be mounted on either side of the logo sign.

Green said that the required signs had been installed on July 31 to begin the 21-day transition period for railroad engineers to adapt to the new quiet zone imposed on the Second Street crossing at the Mitchell Avenue intersection.

Construction of the senior living facility on Highway 105 east of Knollwood Drive has been delayed by the water agreement that provides for the Town of Monument to sell surplus water rights to Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, which in turn will sell water to the senior facility’s property owners. The lawyers for Woodmoor and the senior facility have not yet returned the contract to the town for signature by the board.

Green, who also serves as the district manager for the Triview Metropolitan District, said the Triview board has chosen to begin evaluation of an offer from Wells Fargo bank. The board received proposals from four companies for replacing the current weekly renewable short-term bonds that are financing over $47 million in district bond debt with 30-year fixed-rate bonds. She added that Wells Fargo provided the financing for the new Town Hall and Police Department building.

The re-drilling of town well 7 has been slowed due to the unexpected discovery of bedrock at about 1,400 feet. The well will be 1,800 feet deep.

The meeting adjourned at 7:48 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 17: Gingrich appointed to vacant Planning Commission seat

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Below: Town Clerk Scott Meszaros formally swore in Santa Fe Trails resident Stan Gingrich as a Planning Commissioner during the the Monument Board of Trustees meeting on Aug. 17. Gingrich's appointment runs through January 2011. Photo by Jim Kendrick. 

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By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 17, the Monument Board of Trustees appointed Santa Fe Trails resident Stan Gingrich to fill the vacant seat created by the resignation of former commissioner Tom Martin. His appointment runs through January 2011.

Citizen Police Academy announced

Police Chief Jake Shirk announced that the department will host its third Citizen Police Academy starting on Sept. 15 and meeting every Tuesday night until Nov. 10. Attendance is free and is open to all who reside or conduct business in the Tri-Lakes area—an opportunity for citizens to understand and see firsthand what law enforcement is all about. The academy is designed to increase understanding between citizens and the police through education. It also gives the police officers another opportunity to interact positively with the community, which is a fundamental base of Community Policing, Shirk said.

During the nine-week academy, participants will learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, crime scene investigation, use of force, communications, E911, and community policing, as well as have the opportunity to fire a variety of police weapons and much more.

Classes will be held from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Tuesdays at the Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Road. If you are interested in attending, please go to the department’s Web site at www.monumentpd.org and click on the Community Services button to see more about the program and to download an application. Or you can stop by the Police Department to pick up an application. For questions or more information, please call the department at 719-481-3253.

Palmer Lake begins search for chief

Shirk, who also is serving as Palmer Lake’s interim police chief, announced that Palmer Lake is seeking a chief of police for its department of four sworn full-time officers, five part-time officers, and one civilian. The salary range is $45,000 to $55,000 depending upon qualifications. The benefits package includes medical insurance, Firefighter and Police Association Pension Plan, paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave.

A full-time position for administrative assistant/records technician/receptionist in the Palmer Lake Police Building is also open. Some of the technical aspects of this job include transcribing and entering case reports into the records management system, fingerprinting, receiving and storing property as evidence custodian, processing background checks, and submitting reports to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Applications and the job announcements may be found at www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us or obtained from the Town of Palmer Lake located at 42 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake. Applications are due no later than 5 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2009.

Mail confidential resume with e-mail address, cover letter, application, a list of three (3) professional references, and resume to: Palmer Lake Police Department, PO Box 208, Palmer Lake, CO 80133, ATTN: Police Commissioner Reynolds.

Trustees’ comments

Mayor Travis Easton noted that Deputy Town Clerk Claudia Whitney had graduated from the Colorado Institute for Municipal Clerks and is now fully certified, as is Town Clerk Scott Meszaros.

Easton asked Town Manager Cathy Green for an update on the Arbor Mountain Senior Living Facility. Green noted that the private facility will be built on land donated to the developer by the town. The excess water needed for the high-density facility is being subsidized by the town from its excess water rights. The excess water is transferred to Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, which will then provide water and wastewater services to the facility lot after construction. A draft agreement for the water exchange is being reviewed by attorneys for the town, district, and facility owner. No construction plans for the facility have been submitted to the town staff for review and approval.

Easton asked Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, if there was a final cost for widening Jackson Creek Parkway at the Higby Road intersection. Kassawara said he had not received an invoice from Jacobs Engineering, the contract manager for the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, for the work performed by Lawrence Construction, the general contractor for expanding the I-25 Baptist Road interchange.

Trustee Gail Drumm reported that total county housing starts are down 31 percent from this time last year, and the rate of starts is down 61 percent from the average for the past three years. Commercial starts are down 50 percent from the average.

Trustee Tommie Plank noted that the last Art Hop of the year will take place in the downtown shopping area on Sept. 17, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Trustee Rafael Dominguez said that information had been passed out regarding mission and value statements for the board members to read and discuss on Sept. 7.

Trustee Tim Miller noted that the added paving installed at the Higby Road and Jackson Creek Parkway has improved traffic flow at that intersection. He thanked Kassawara and Landreth for coordinating the installation.

Liquor licenses approved

The board unanimously approved a special-event liquor permit requested by the Historic Monument Merchants Association for the annual Chili Cook-off to be held on Sept. 19. The alcohol control area where liquor will be served is the northeast corner of Second and Front Streets.

The board also unanimously approved an annual liquor license renewal for the Safeway store, 624 Highway 105.

Financial reports

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

  • $79,421 to Triview Metropolitan District for June sales tax ($72,360) and July motor vehicle tax revenues ($7,061)
  • $60,468 to Pioneer Sand Co. Inc. for Third Street improvements
  • $5,406 to Lytle Water Solutions LLC for engineering services for re-drilling well 7 on Highway 105 at the Santa Fe Trail crossing

Monthly statement reviewed

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith reported that most of the town’s accounts through the end of June, except for the water enterprise fund, had revenues in excess of the 2009 budget, and expenses were less than those budgeted. Some of the points she made regarding the first half of the year were:

  • General Fund revenues were about 4.9 percent or $177,000 more than expected.
  • General Fund expenditures were about 18.4 percent or $305,000 less than expected.
  • The General Fund balance was about 13.3 percent or $482,000 more than expected.
  • Water Fund revenues were less than budgeted by about 15.3 percent or $210,000.
  • Water Fund expenditures were about 12.5 percent or $168,000 less than expected.
  • The Water Fund balance was about 2.8 percent or $42,000 less than expected.
  • Water billing revenues were about 10 percent less than budgeted, primarily due to the unusually wet summer that reduced landscaping irrigation.
  • Sales tax revenues received through June were about 1 percent or $10,559 higher than last year.
  • Sales taxes collected through August were about 13.6 percent or $257,430 higher than last year.
  • An adjustment of about $42,000 was required to correct a sales tax overpayment in 2008 by a major retailer.
  • The town has received about 92 percent of its property tax revenue.

Restatement issues discussed

Smith presented a summary of factors for the board to consider for the 2009 budget restatement. The new numbers reflect the final figures for fund balances rolled over in the recently approved 2008 audit, changes in revenue and expenditures during the first half of 2009, and changes in ongoing capital projects. Smith stated that the amendment allows the town to expend an additional $757,518 in the General Fund, $862,888 in the Water Fund, $1,968,360 in the Capital Projects Building Fund, and $193,625 in the supplemental funds. Most of this money was to have been spent in 2008.

The restatement will also lower Development Services Department revenues by $50,000, Water Enterprise revenues by $172,000, and interest earnings by $37,000. The budgeted hiring of an additional full-time information technology employee has been postponed until 2010.

Smith will present her proposed restatement to the board in September.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp stated that there have been no complaints about the increase in municipal court fines or court fees.

Kassawara reported that two land use permits were issued in July—one to the St. Peter Catholic Church for its new addition and three for new single-family homes (one in the Triview Metropolitan District). A total of 24 town land use permits have been issued for new homes in 2009.

Construction on the Misty Creek Park project began on July 27. Lawrence Construction has completed all paving at the intersection of Higby Road and Jackson Creek Parkway, including the new southbound through lane between the YMCA traffic signal and Higby Road. Installation of new traffic flow signs and new striping will be completed soon, Kassawara said.

The railroad has granted the town a right-of-entry agreement that will permit Pioneer Sand to work on drainage improvements next to the tracks at the west end of Third Street.

Rich Landreth, director of Public Works, reported that the required signage has been installed near the Second Street railroad crossing quiet zone. An Eagle Scout project has moved the climbing rock in Limbach Park. The drilling for well 7 has been completed. Town water technicians are operating the Forest Lakes water treatment plant to provide water to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility and augmentation water to the Air Force Academy.

Trustee Rick Squires asked Landreth and Kassawara to develop a plan for having volunteers create a gravel walking path along the west side of Beacon Lite Road if sufficient right-of-way is available. Kassawara said that he hoped that Beacon Lite Road would be the town’s next capital improvement project. After new stormwater pipes are installed and covered with earth, there will be more room for a sidewalk between the new Town Hall building and Lavallet Park.

Easton and Green led a lengthy discussion about rotating the assignments of the trustees to various town, county, and regional committees as the town’s primary or alternate representative to rotate the opportunity to gain experience. The trustees currently assigned to the committees discussed the purpose and primary issues of the committees and the value of having town representation at the committee meetings.

Green suggested that the board invite Sam Mamet of the Colorado Municipal League to educate the board and staff on the issues regarding a new home rule charter and election initiative.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:13 p.m.

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The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 7 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission, Aug. 12: Extensive changes to fence regulations approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 12, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved amendments to two town ordinances to update regulations on fences and encroachments in the public right-of-way.

Amendments to fence regulations

Principal Planner Karen Griffith reviewed the three amended sections of the code on fences:

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

Some of the revisions regarding safety, aesthetics, and proper installation that Griffith reported on were:

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

Griffith also noted that the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department requires permits only for fences taller than 72 inches.

Commissioner Bill Baker and Griffith had a lengthy discussion on the need for property owners to be responsible for having clear knowledge of their actual property boundaries when applying for authorization to build or move a fence, noting that the improvement location certificates usually provided at real estate closings are not accurate enough for verifying the location of surveyor markers (usually lengths of rebar with yellow or orange plastic caps) that mark the corners of a lot boundary.

Baker said he was not advocating that land surveys be required for any new fence but was concerned about the potential for town liability if a permitted fence was in fact installed outside of the applicant’s property. He also discussed the need for new property owners to locate the markers that identify the corners of their property, re-install missing markers, or move the markers if they are in the wrong location.

Baker noted that though he owns and operates a licensed surveying business, he hasn’t done business within Monument since joining the Planning Commission and would not personally benefit from any increase in requests for lot surveys that might result from the new fence regulation amendments.

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

Some of the concerns Williams addressed were:

  • Why is there a tighter requirement for permits than the 72-inch limit used by Regional Building?
  • Will there be staff available for a quick turn of the permit application, which should require no more than 10-20 minutes in normal construction years where 100-125 permits may be processed?
  • If there must be a fee, it should be minimal to reflect the 10-20-minute time requirement for a staff review.
  • He asked that the association have an opportunity to work with staff to provide more clarity to the new requirement that new fences be "aesthetically pleasing."

Williams supported Baker’s concerns regarding not using an improving location certificate for verifying the location of property pins. The association endorses homebuilders specifically showing new home purchasers where their new property pins are during the closing inspection.

Griffith noted that most covenants specify approved fencing materials but are only enforceable by the homeowner association as a civil matter. Public regulations cannot override more restrictive covenant regulations.

The commission unanimously approved the three fence amendments with the condition that the staff and town attorney craft additional wording that states that the town is not responsible of liable for any fences installed by a property owner outside of their property.

Right-of-way encroachments

Griffith advised the commissioners that the staff had drafted a new regulation (Chapter 12.36) to address encroachments in the public right-of-way or public easements. The new regulation establishes a process for revocable land use permits, short-term leases, or long-term leases for anyone who needs to install an encroachment in town-owned public streets, rights-of-way, or easements.

Some of the features of the new regulation Griffith reported on were:

  • The main purpose is to ensure safety and to ensure that the owner of the improvement has a minimum of $100,000 of proper liability insurance for each incident for damage to persons or property.
  • The town manager or designee has the authority to adjust the amount of insurance provided to the town based on the potential liability of the improvement, up to $1 million. The town manager or designee also has the authority to waive or reduce the required amount of liability insurance.
  • Examples of encroachments that Griffith noted were projecting signs and awnings over public sidewalks, privately owned mailboxes (not used by the U.S. Postal Service), bicycle racks, and outdoor seating for sidewalk cafes. Projecting signs also require a separate revocable sign permit.
  • The individuals or contractors who install the encroachments must be licensed and insured.
  • The new regulation establishes a process for revocable land use permits for anyone who needs to install an encroachment in town-owned public streets, rights-of-way, or easements.
  • If the encroachment permit or lease is revoked or expires, the town will notify the owner to promptly remove it. If the owner fails to remove the encroachment, the town will have it removed and charge the owner the cost plus up to 15 percent of the cost as an administrative fee, which can become a lien, as well as file criminal charges if appropriate.
  • Cornices that project into a public right-of-way or easement, up to a maximum of three feet, may be approved as a long-term air rights lease.
  • Any sidewalk seating must leave a minimum of seven feet of walkable clearance between trees, flower beds, bike racks, or other vertical structures.

Baker again raised the issue of who is responsible for knowing where the edges of public rights-of-way and easements are. He also asked for the addition of similar language that clearly states there would be no town responsibility or liability for any permitted encroachments.

Commissioner Kathy Spence asked how temporary "sandwich" signs are treated. Griffith said the recently approved sign code does require a revocable permit for temporary signs that are not attached to a building, but they are not covered under this new regulation on permanent encroachments.

The new regulation was unanimously approved with the condition that the staff and town attorney craft additional words that state that the town has no responsibility or liability for privately owned encroachments and address temporary sandwich signs in public rights-of-way if required.

The meeting adjourned at 7:32 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday night of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Aug. 6: Search begins for new police chief and admin assistant

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 6 the Palmer Lake Town Council first met as the Liquor Licensing Authority, and then held a combined workshop and regular council meeting. Mayor John Cressman’s absence from the meeting was excused. Mayor Pro-tem Nikki McDonald presided.

Search for new police chief announced

The council authorized Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk, who also is serving as Palmer Lake’s interim police chief, to announce that Palmer Lake is seeking a chief of police for its department of four sworn full-time officers, five part-time officers, and one civilian. The council decided not to include any "public safety chief" responsibilities for operational aspects of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department in the advertisement and job description. Shirk said he had already had three inquiries for the police chief position assuming there were no public safety responsibilities.

The police chief search announcement was released on Aug. 17. It states that the salary range for the position is $45,000 to $55,000 depending upon qualifications. The benefits package includes medical insurance, Firefighter and Police Pension Association Pension Plan, paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave.

A full-time position for administrative assistant/records technician/receptionist in the Palmer Lake Police Building is also open. Some of the technical aspects of this job include transcribing and entering case reports into the records management system, fingerprinting, receiving and storing property as evidence custodian, processing background checks, and submitting reports to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

The two job announcements were finalized at a special Town Council meeting held in Monument’s Town Hall on Aug. 15. Applications and the job announcements may be found at www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us or obtained from the Town of Palmer Lake located at 42 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake. Applications are due no later than 5 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2009.

Mail confidential resume with an e-mail address, cover letter, application, a list of three professional references, and resume to: Palmer Lake Police Department, PO Box 208
Palmer Lake, Co. 80133, ATTN: Police Commissioner Reynolds.

H1N1 flu briefing presented

Dan Martindale, director of Health Promotion for the El Paso County Department of Health, gave a presentation on the H1N1 virus (formerly "swine flu virus"). County Health Department information is available at www.elpasocountyhealth.org/pages/default.aspx/

Federal information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding prevention and treatment for the illness is also available at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

County Line Road overlay project

Roads Trustee Bryan Jack noted that the town could not pay $285,000 to overlay County Line Road. Instead, $40,000 was spent to mill the roadway, then seal the millings to create a foundation for a future overlay installation. The town had recently received an estimate of $114,000 to put down a two-inch overlay over the current base, but this amount is still too high for the town. A second bid of $73,000 has just been received from Schmidt Construction Co. Roads Superintendent Bob Radosevich estimated that the overlay would last five to eight years if he skimmed and patched the existing rough spots in the foundation and Schmidt applies 100 tons of patchwork. Restriping will cost an additional $5,000.

There is enough money in the budget for the project. The council’s consensus was for Radosevich to move forward with the Schmidt contract.

Other matters

Fire Department report: Fire Trustee Gary Coleman reported on Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department activities.

Coleman introduced part-time emergency medical technician Shana Ball, who recently passed all her qualifications exams to become a paramedic.

The department responded to 24 calls in July, bringing the total up to 147 calls to date. The department wishes to thank the Tri-Lakes, Larkspur, and Donald Wescott fire districts for their continuing support of department activities, in particular the town’s Fourth of July celebration.

On July 19, the department conducted a joint training activity with Larkspur fire district. A Douglas County home that was scheduled for demolition was used for ventilation training, then burned for fire training. On July 20, the department conducted vehicle extrication training at the town yard with vehicles donated for this event. Coleman added, "Tearing cars apart with heavy tools is always a popular event."

The department is looking for a 5- to 6-year-old Chevy Suburban to become the new rescue vehicle, due to engine failure in the current 1986 Suburban. Curt Reese of Monument Motors is helping in the search for the replacement to sell to the department at a wholesale price of $12,000 to $15,000. An additional $2,000 will be required to equip it with emergency lighting, radios, and department logos. In the interim, the department is temporarily using a "reclaimed" 2000 Chevy Blazer that had been "retired" by the Palmer Lake Police Department.

The heater unit in the fire station will be replaced soon. Additional protective gear for firefighters will also be purchased in the near term.

Police Department report: Trustee Dan Reynolds thanked the Monument Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado Mounted Rangers, Regional Response Team, Canon City Police Department, and Fremont County Sheriff’s for their support of the town’s Fourth of July activities.

Officer Phillip Donnor received the 2009 Outstanding Law Enforcement Service Award on July 26 from the Centurion Daylight Lodge in Monument. Donnor was nominated by Sgt. Nikki Tezak for his dedication, professionalism, and contributions to the Palmer Lake Police Department and the surrounding communities.

Also on July 26, Officer Donnor investigated a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of the Palmer Lake Recreational Area and Santa Fe Trailhead. The vehicle appeared to be abandoned, with "fictitious license plates." Donnor discovered methamphetamines, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and an illegal or dangerous weapon within the vehicle. A suspect has been identified in this case.

Roads Department report: Jack said the Roads Department’s Ford F-550 truck broke down again. Repairs over the past two years have totaled about $10,000. Pothole repairs have been completed on Greeley Boulevard. Eisenhower Drive has been rebuilt using 500 tons of road base and 1,000 gallons of magnesium chloride. A bulldozer was rented for two days to begin shaping the parking lot for the streetscape on Highway 105 opposite O’Malley’s Pub.

Radosevich discussed two Safe Routes to Schools updates. The final positions for relocation of electrical power poles on Upper and Middle Glenway have been determined. Temporary and permanent easements and right-of-way negotiations with Colorado Department of Transportation have been completed for sidewalks and drainage work to begin on Highway 105. The next step is for the town to receive a notice to proceed with construction.

Water Department report: Water Trustee Max Stafford reported on water production and revenues, which are peaking over the summer.

Clerk’s report: Town Clerk Della Gray reported that the 2008 audit has been completed. The state’s Fire and Police Pension Association has asked the town to makes its annual payment of $6,051 as soon as possible, rather than in December, to maintain the solvency of the retiree pension payments of $100 per month. The state’s share, $5,445, will not be received until December. The council’s consensus was for Gray to make both payments early.

Public comments

Three residents asked the council to research the process used by the Town of Monument to create a quiet zone at the Second Street railroad crossing so that the council could determine how to create a quiet zone for the County Line Road crossing at the north end of town.

The meeting adjourned at 8:58 p.m.

Liquor Licensing Authority meeting

Before the council meeting, the liquor board unanimously approved a special-event liquor license for American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 911 at 224 Highway 105. The applicant, Alicia Gatti, said she would hold the post’s annual pig roast fund-raising event in her home from noon to 4 p.m. to raise money for the Legion post. She will be serving beer.

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The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Workshops are normally held on the first Thursday of the month. Regular meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. The meetings are often combined, so call ahead before attending to be sure of the correct date. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/index.shtml or call 481-2953.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board, Aug. 13: Budget bumps balance out

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District discussed the state of the budget and other matters on Aug. 13.

In his manager’s report, District Manager Jessie Shaffer reported that, although revenues from sale of water were down significantly due to the season’s above-average rain, the district will avoid altering the annual budget. Additional shortfalls were caused by lower than anticipated interest income from investments. However, favorable bids on some district construction projects and the cancellation of others have compensated for these losses.

In other reports, Director Jim Whitelaw said that the Joint Use Committee (JUC) noted at its meeting that there had been a spike in the level of copper in Woodmoor’s wastewater system, due to the use of copper sulfate in drains to discourage root growth. The committee found that Home Depot is selling the product. He said that the Home Depot store is not in the Woodmoor water district, but that the store management has been notified of the problem. (See the Monument Sanitation District article for more details on the JUC meeting.)

Director Barrie Town expressed concern about taking a legal product off the shelf of a retailer. He was told that the Town of Monument has written letters to the retailer about the problem.

Board President Benny Nasser said that the JUC is continuing its review and revision of the Joint Use Agreement and that he will no longer attend the committee’s meetings when the revision is completed.

In his operations report, Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette reported that the district is now beginning to use water from the lake, because its level is high and the creek is running lower. He said there are no water quality issues and that the district continues to work with National Meter regarding metering issues. Several meters have been removed and sent to the manufacturer for adjustment.

Regarding construction, Gillette reported that the White Fawn Drive/Deer Creek project will begin construction in late August. He said that meetings with the contractor have gone smoothly and that he anticipates no problems.

Shaffer asked the board if it would be possible to change the date of the September meeting to allow him to attend the Colorado Springs Utilities Water Tour. He said that the tour is a team-building opportunity for members of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and that it would be advantageous for the district to be represented.

Because Director Whitelaw and Treasurer Jim Wyss will be away during the second week of September, the board voted to meet on Sept. 3 in order to ensure that a quorum would be present.

The board went into executive session at 1:45 p.m. to discuss water rights negotiations, insurance claims, and other legal issues.

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The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board meets at 1 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at the conference room at 1855 Woodmoor Drive. Because of the schedule change to a Sept. 3 meeting date noted above, the next meeting will be on Oct. 8. For further information, call 488-2525 or check www.woodmoorwater.com

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Aug. 19: Authority decides to continue one more year; plans second presentation to CSU

By John Heiser

Following an executive session at the beginning of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority’s (PPRWA) regular monthly meeting Aug. 19, the members decided to continue the authority for another year and to retain the current dues structure under which districts serving or with the potential to serve 1,200 or more single family equivalents (SFE) would pay $15,000 per year, and districts with fewer than 1,200 SFE actual or potential customers would pay $5,000 per year.

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

Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala district, characterized the feelings of the group as a willingness to press on based on the developing relationship with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU). Duthie stressed the importance of recruiting additional PPRWA members.

Kip Petersen, manager of the Cherokee district and president of the PPRWA, was tasked with sending letters inviting additional special districts to join.

Discussions with CSU

Petersen, who is also president of the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA), made a presentation July 1 to CSU’s Utility Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC). The UPAC makes recommendations to the Colorado Springs Utilities Board (UB).

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

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

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

Petersen’s July 1 presentation to the UPAC covered the membership, purposes, and accomplishments of the EPCWA and the PPRWA. For several of the members, he highlighted their current number of taps, anticipated growth, conservation efforts, and needs. UPAC members asked for additional information on PPRWA members and their needs.

Duthie prepared notes on the Aug. 5 UPAC meeting. Some highlights:

  • Fred Crowley, economic analyst, who was expected to reinforce Colorado Springs’ past position that development outside the city reduces city revenues, seemed unprepared and refused to provide a copy of the 2007 report on the topic he prepared for the city. He said he did not have authorization to release the report to the UPAC.
  • CSU water attorney David Robbins cited the Southern Nevada Water Authority and Orange County, California, as good examples of regional cooperation. He stressed that the decision to use access to water as an instrument to control growth is a political decision and utilities should not be involved. In response to a question about the city’s possible obligation to continue to provide water to areas outside the city if it were to offer that service, Robbins said that legally the city could terminate the service but it would be politically difficult.
  • Mike Kazmierski, chairman of the Regional Economic Development Council, made a presentation supporting regional cooperation and focusing on bringing jobs to the region. He noted that 80 to 85 percent of the new companies locate within the city, but their workers live throughout the region.
  • Dave Munger, head of the Council of Neighborhood Organizations, said that partnerships and cooperation are important but the needs of city residents should take precedence. He expressed concern that as residents conserve water, water providers raise rates so that they can maintain sufficient revenue. He said the water providers need to find a way to reward people for conserving.
  • Denver Water, represented by CEO Chips Berry, attorney Patty Wells, and planner Dave Little, described the structure and policies of Denver Water. The governor appoints the six-member board, which does not answer to the Denver City Council. In 1959, Denver Water’s charter was changed to allow service to regional partners as a way to obtain revenue needed to pay for the Dillon Reservoir. Denver Water currently has 75 contracts with water providers outside the city. Those contracts represent 55 percent of Denver Water’s customer base. Denver Water has a policy that it cannot completely shut off a customer in the event of drought or other emergency. The contract customers have no representation on the board and have no ownership in the water rights or infrastructure but are not required to deed water rights to Denver Water. The rates charged the contract customers are based on the cost of the service plus a return on investment of 7.4 to 8.2 percent.

To address UPAC concerns about developments outside the city negatively affecting city tax revenues, the PPRWA approved $3,900 for Summit Economics, headed by David Bamberger, to develop a report and make a presentation to UPAC on Sept. 2. Bamberger prepared a report for the PPRWA in 2006 that found that northern county areas contributed significantly more to the city’s economy than it costs in lost tax revenues.

Other matters

  • Gary Barber, PPRWA manager, was tasked with drafting a letter for Petersen’s signature notifying the Colorado-Wyoming coalition of water providers headed by Frank Jaeger that the PPRWA is currently postponing a decision on joining that effort while it focuses on negotiations with CSU.
  • A meeting is scheduled for Aug. 31 with representatives of the Super Ditch group to negotiate a contract with the PPRWA. Issues include covering the legal costs for obtaining a water court ruling to change the use of the water from agricultural to municipal, obtaining water storage rights in the Pueblo reservoir, and including a guarantee that there will be sufficient water available.
  • Since he had received no input from the other members, Duthie withdrew his offer to combine the various inputs to create a PPRWA conservation plan.
  • Palmer Lake water trustee Max Stafford, who is a member of the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control, and Greenway District board, reported that the board is meeting regularly and is developing its bylaws. He added that Colorado Springs will be funding the district for the first two years.
  • Petersen reported that many state agencies are increasing fees to offset the declines in tax revenues. He said, "The fees for my wastewater plant so far are about $100,000." He added that he expects perhaps another $100,000 in fees from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held Sept. 16 at 8:30 a.m. at the City of Fountain town hall, 166 S. Main 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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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Aug. 19: District closer to a water deal with Colorado Springs

By John Heiser

Following the executive session near the end of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting Aug. 19, the board approved finalizing an agreement for short-term water service with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU). Dana Duthie, the district’s general manager, said the lawyers are working out the details, which he said are expected to be similar to the terms of the agreement the Cherokee Metropolitan District is negotiating with CSU. The connection with CSU’s pipes would be near Northgate Road. The district plans to mail a special newsletter to district residents early in September explaining the project and the district’s relationship with CSU.

Duthie reported that the board also decided to call for bids to build a road using the access easement across a property near the district’s recently purchased Mount Massive Ranch. The ranch is in Lake County about seven miles southwest of Leadville. The access easement is the subject of a legal action. The property owner who brought the legal action claims the easement was specifically designated for the use of several adjacent properties but not the Mount Massive ranch. The district has offered the property owner $1,500 to resolve the matter.

Good access to the property is needed for the required engineering and dry-up mitigations and would be critical if the district decides to sell it or a portion of it to a developer.

The board also approved buying out the grazing lease held by Ronald Strich, the ranch’s previous owner, in order to keep cattle off the ditch work the district has been doing and to simplify access to the property.

Strich has expressed interest in buying back from the district 90 acres adjacent to his remaining 70-acre property so he can obtain hunting privileges on the land.

Strich has an ongoing lawsuit against Lake County regarding access across his property. According to Rick Fendel, the district’s attorney, Strich recently filed to move that suit to federal court and add defendants, including the U.S. Forest Service and Federal Bureau of Land Management.

Water court case update

Fendel reported that 18 objectors have filed with the water court 16 statements of objections regarding the district’s proposal to convert the Mount Massive Ranch water for district use. Fendel characterized that as "a lot" of objectors, although he said it is "not as bad as it could have been." He noted that the objectors are "a formidable crowd" that includes the Arkansas River Water Conservation District, the Southeast Water Conservation District, the City of Aurora, the City of Buena Vista, the City of Salida, the City of Colorado Springs, the Fort Lyons Ditch Co., the Hitchcock Ditch Co., and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The district will need to seek resolution with each of the objectors prior to the trial next year.

Duthie said, "A couple (of the objectors) are very vehement and indicating that they will not cooperate to settle by the court date next summer."

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

In the course of preparing the water court case, Fendel discovered that a water court ruling issued in 2000 regarding the ranch contains a clerical error that must be corrected. Given the amount of time that has elapsed, the only way to correct the error is to file for another ruling. This will delay the process by about a month and give additional objectors time to file their objections.

Fendel added that the district will have to conduct tours next year for those objectors who want to see the property.

Other matters

  • During the three months from May 1 through July 31, the district’s $4.9 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 1.17 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.23 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 4.7 months.
  • Although the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) has suspended its meetings so members can attend the Colorado Springs Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC) meetings, representative of the Town of Monument, Donala, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District met to discuss funding for the transit loss model being administered by the EPCWA. The transit loss model measures and records the amount of non-native Fountain Creek watershed stream flows owned by several municipalities and water districts. The amount of this water added to native stream flows by external sources, such as effluent from wastewater treatment facilities, can be exchanged or reused. The model calculates how much of the added water is lost. The three entities that met are reportedly getting little or no benefit from the model in selling effluent downstream and are considering stopping their participation in the project. Donala is paying about $12,000 per year toward the cost of administering the model.
  • Duthie distributed copies of his notes from the Aug. 5 UPAC meeting. Some highlights are included in the PPRWA article.
  • The new permit for the expanded wastewater plant has been received, and Duthie said he expects it to take effect Nov.1. The permit calls for additional testing and reporting, including tests for metals and tests for whole effluent toxicity to see if specific species of minnows and fleas survive exposure to the effluent. The metals tests include tests for copper. Duthie said that much of the copper that has become a problem in wastewater plant effluent in recent years is leached from residential plumbing. He noted that Donala, Monument, and Woodmoor add caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) to the water supply to reduce the acidity and slow the leaching of copper from the pipes. Triview is not currently adding caustic soda. Duthie added that despite the ban on copper water pipes in new construction in Monument, he has seen houses under construction in Jackson Creek that have them.
  • Donala is currently financing $750,000 in the Triview Metropolitan District’s 65 percent share of the cost of the wastewater treatment plant. Duthie said he expects that figure to grow to about $1 million as the last of the bills for the plant are paid.
  • Thanks to the rain this summer, water use this July was about 40 percent less than water use during the same period last year. A large part of that savings has been in reduced golf course irrigation. Even so, Duthie reported that during July, 40 customers used 40,000 gallons or more and one empty house for sale used over 100,000 gallons, resulting in a water bill of $698. The district worked with the realtor to adjust the irrigation controller to reduce the water use.
  • The irrigation-rationing program was in place through Sept. 1. The district has sent 42 first-warning letters for violations and four second-warning letters. So far, no fines have been levied this year. Additional information, including the schedule for commercial and multi-unit buildings, is posted at www.donalawater.org/Rationing.html

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

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Sept. 16 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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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Sept. 2: Preventing water source contamination focus of presentation

By Susan Hindman

At the Academy Water and Sanitation District board meeting Sept. 2, representatives from the Colorado Rural Water Association gave a presentation about the benefits of having a Source Water Protection Plan, a statewide program for public water systems geared to preventing contamination. The association is contracted through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "It’s cheaper to prevent contamination (of source water) than to treat it," said Kimberly Mihelich, who gave the presentation.

A $5,000 grant would be available for funding the effort, which would involve creating a steering committee of stakeholders who would identify issues of concern, create a list of best management practices, and develop and implement a contingency plan. The contingency plan would be a strategy for supplying safe water in the event of contamination or disruption of service.

The board did not make a decision on whether to work with the association on such a plan.

Violation complication

In late 2008, the district received a "cease and desist order" because of the number of times it had been out of compliance with its carbonaceous biological oxygen demand numbers earlier that year. The district has been required to address a number of issues, and Ladd International Inc., the district’s engineer, had been assisting with this. However, there had been no follow-up on issues concerning certain paragraphs in the state’s evaluation addressing the biosolids monitoring plan. In addition, July’s progress report had never been submitted, according to Anthony Pastorello, the district’s operator. This resulted in the district being put in violation of the cease-and-desist order.

As a result, the district has "ceased using the services" of Ladd International. GMS Inc. is now the district’s engineer.

Lightning knocks out well

A lightning strike July 2 damaged the "brand-new" motor in well 2, the district’s deep well. Pastorello learned of the outage at midnight, and contractors had the well back in working order the next day. Insurance covered almost the entire $9,000 bill.

Things were back to normal until the last week of August, when the soft-start control system began disengaging and reengaging. Pastorello called an electrician and found out the circuit board was malfunctioning. He contacted two board members and authorized $6,600 for the electrician to fix it because of the potential damage to the new motor.

High copper levels

After water in four homes was found to be high in copper in a June sample, Pastorello said the district is in what’s called an "action level" until the numbers are lower. "It’s not an emergency," he said. Two factors may have caused the corrosive water issue: not enough soda ash, which is used for corrosion control; and the increase of calcium hypochlorite chlorine disinfectant, which was increased because of the groundwater rules for inactivation of viruses, he said. Pastorello began taking action on the problem when he got the test results back in July, enen before the state issued a letter to the district about the action level.

After the latest sampling showed an increase in corrosion, Pastorello talked to a state representative and then adjusted testing levels per a suggestion he received. He retested the water and is now awaiting results. He will continue to adjust and monitor the corrosion control parameters and increase sampling until the issue is resolved.

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

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board, Aug. 20: Board hears support for private instruction

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Education heard two district residents’ impassioned requests to reinstate private instruction in school facilities during school hours. The practice of offering private instruction at parents’ expense was recently discontinued by District 38. Craig Ketels, former band instructor at Lewis-Palmer High School, said that this change is especially harmful to those in the district’s band program, because there is no district-funded instructor for some instruments in the band.

Ketels said that offering private instruction during the school day and in school facilities is a win-win situation. It provides a convenient service for the student and allows the district to continue to have award-winning ensembles, benefiting the district’s reputation.

Board President Dee Dee Eaton said that, beginning this year, the board would comment immediately on community concerns. Superintendent Ray Blanch said that it is not in the best interests of students to have one-on-one instruction in a school room. It is a public institution, and taxpayers might question why this is happening. He said that he sought legal counsel and discussed the policy with other superintendents when the practice was changed.

Blanch said that there are two alternative solutions to the problem. The first, preferable solution would be for the district to have the resources to hire the needed instructors. The second would be for the instructors to volunteer their time for this service.

Director Gail Wilson commented that, if music instructors were allowed to charge for their services in the schools, parents may then demand private contractors to come in and work with their children in other disciplines, such as foreign languages or gifted programs.

Eaton commented that she understands how the instruction benefits the students, but that the use of public funds for the facilities is a concern.

Blanch commented that when additional coaches were required for athletic teams, the various booster clubs raised the funds to compensate them. This might be an option for the music groups.

Following the board’s comments, a parent of a student who is in college on a full music scholarship and a high school student involved in the music program said that her college student was able to earn awards and grants largely because of the availability of private instruction in the schools. She said that she would not have been able to take her children to lessons outside the schools. She suggested that parents be able to sign liability forms, if that is a concern.

Blanch commented that the district is committed to equal access to services for all students. He reiterated that the best case would be for the district to be able to hire additional music instructors.

Director Mark Pfoff commented that he felt that the district should not allow special opportunities for music students exclusively. He said that the quality of instruction is not the issue.

After the meeting, a District 38 spokesperson clarified that private instruction will continue to be available before and after school hours. She said that the availability of instruction was not a formal policy, but a practice that evolved over time. The decision to discontinue instruction during the school day was part of an ongoing review of liability and procedures by the district’s administration.

On another subject, a parent of several students at Grace Best Elementary said that she has been very pleased with her experiences there until this year, when her kindergarten student, who had registered for an afternoon-only program, was placed in a full-day class. She said that 11 children had requested an afternoon class, and the group was divided between two full-day groups. She said that her son does not have the sense of class—a group of students who arrive and leave together—that she thinks is important and that he felt he was missing important experiences when he heard of what the group did before he arrived. She has enrolled him in the full-day program to solve the problem, but wanted the board to know of the situation and to hear their comments.

Blanch said that this same issue has arisen at other campuses within the district and that this, like many other issues, is a matter of resources. He agreed that communication with parents could be improved, however, so that the parents’ expectations are more in line with the classroom situation. He said that the district will try harder to use e-mail as a prompt way to communicate with parents.

The board discussed financial activity policy within the district. It was suggested that clubs and other entities should be monitored to ensure that they remain in the black.

District Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman said that a few of the groups may be slightly in the red and that many have their own checking accounts, as do several of the PTO and PTA groups. She said this can be a concern because most of the groups use the district’s tax number for their accounts. She said she is trying to communicate with all groups to bring them into compliance with a single procedure.

The board passed a resolution to approve an intergovernmental agreement for the Nov. 3, 2009, coordinated election. Eaton said that the board has until Sept. 1 to cancel participation in the election should there not be more than one candidate for any of the open positions on the board. She suggested scheduling a special meeting of the board should there be a need to review ballot content.

Blanch’s contract extended

The board approved an extension of Blanch’s contract, to continue through June 30, 2010.

Eaton commented that Blanch has worked very well with all administrative staff during a very difficult time. He opened Palmer Ridge High School on time and under budget and has just opened the senior center on the campus of Lewis-Palmer High School.

Wilson thanked him for stabilizing the district.

Blanch thanked the board for its support and said that his time here has been exciting and challenging. He said that overcoming obstacles has been good for the confidence of all involved.

Annual audit

Wangeman reported that the Monument Academy underwent its annual audit the previous week and that it went smoothly. She said that the district’s audit would occur the week following the meeting.

Collaboration with the community

Regarding community collaborations, Wilson commented that many organizations and individuals welcome the opportunity to be involved with the schools. She said that a Monument town councilman told her that the town and school board should collaborate to achieve the common goal of making Monument an attractive place to live. She suggested that the board form a team to meet with town officials on an ongoing basis.

Blanch agreed that there are untapped opportunities on both sides of this issue.

Director Robb Pike said that the board’s energy should be focused on options first and then procedures to realize them. He suggested that town officials be invited to the September meeting of the board.

Superintendent’s report

In his superintendent’s report, Blanch said that the district’s staff is energized and that the athletic and music departments are at work planning the semester’s activities.

He said that the administrative staff recently attended a suicide risk assessment program with counselors and psychologists and that training will be provided to other levels of staff.

He said the Safe 2 Tell program is still being reinforced.

Blanch said that a new focus this year is to look at interconnecting disciplines within programs. This year the focus is on ethics—having the students define them, communicate them, and then track progress in practicing them.

Regarding the budget for the coming year, he said that the district’s budget was based on 137 fewer students than last year. At present the enrollment is higher than anticipated. He cautioned that Oct. 1 is the pivotal date when students are counted. He said that the district must also be aware that the state may call for rescission of some funds during the year. The administration is striving to maintain a conservative, balanced budget.

Blanch said that some classes are larger than desired, but suggested waiting a month or so before reconfiguring them. He said that numbers are deceptive at the start of the school year because students may later be pulled out for special education or other individual instruction. At the middle school and high school levels, class configuration can change between semesters. School principals are the final arbiters of these decisions.

Members of the board commented that they agree there was good energy in the schools in the first few weeks. They said that everything started smoothly and complimented Blanch and his facilities staff.

The board approved routine matters concerning approval of minutes of previous meetings, resignations and appointments of staff, requests for leave, a list of substitute teachers and staff, bank accounts, land use requests, and the monthly budget summary.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The next meeting of the board will be held on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m., with a reception at 5:30 p.m.

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Senior center opens in Monument

More than 120 people attended the grand opening of the new Tri-Lakes Senior Citizens Center on Aug. 12. The facility is located in a modular building next to the Lewis-Palmer High School stadium in Monument.

Participating in the official opening were Palmer Lake Mayor John Cressman, Monument Mayor Travis Easton, Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dave Van Ness, District 38 Superintendent Ray Blanch, and Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) Board President Mark Ennis.

The center contains a lounge, lending library, kitchen, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. There are quiet reading areas, computers with Internet connections, televisions in each room with cable connections, board games, card games, a bridge club, arts and crafts, Wii video games with a large screen TV, and much more. The center is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and 1 to 4 p.m. other weekdays.

The center is the culmination of generous contributions from many businesses, organizations, and individuals, combined with the hard work of volunteers. Chuck Roberts of HAP was recognized as having the vision for creating the center and for pulling together the resources to make it a reality.

HAP spearheaded the initiative to create a senior citizens center, and Lewis-Palmer School District 38 donated the modular building that houses the center. Other significant contributors to the project included Access Construction, Black Hills Energy, R Rock Yard, and Recycled Aggregate Products Co.

The center is operated by community volunteers. A list of volunteer positions is available at the center’s Web site, www.TriLakesSeniors.org. Or you can call 481-8728. Visit the Web site for more information about programs for seniors.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Aug. 14: 2008 audit accepted

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 14, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) unanimously accepted the 2008 audit prepared by Dawn Schilling of Schilling and Co. Schilling emphasized that there were no problems and no findings in her "clean" audit. Schilling will file the final audit with the state.

County Commissioner Amy Lathen was absent from the meeting.

Financial report unanimously approved

New authority accountant Carrie Bartow of Clifton Gunderson presented her first financial statement for the first half of 2009. BRRTA changed accountants at the end of 2008. BKD LLC had provided accounting services in prior years. The board unanimously accepted Bartow’s report without discussion.

Baptist Road widening update

County Engineer Andre Brackin advised the board that he had no new information on cost estimates for improving the appearance of the new Baptist Road median between Jackson Creek Parkway and Desiree Drive. Brackin noted that the county Transportation Department was closing out the rest of the widening project paperwork as all other tasks are almost completed. Previously obtained cost estimates for paving the median with pavers or concrete were determined to be far in excess of the amount of cash remaining for the project.

Patterned concrete paving that matches the Struthers Road median would cost about $681,000. Landscaping matching that on Jackson Creek Parkway would not be significantly cheaper and would require tearing up the new asphalt to add irrigation, adding a water tap from Triview Metropolitan District, and perpetual county funding of irrigation water and landscape maintenance. The board determined that neither option was affordable.

Tom Kassawara, Monument’s director of Development Services, said he had not yet received an estimate from Jackson Creek developer Colorado Structures Inc. for installing rock and landscaping in the new Baptist Road median that is comparable to what they installed in the Jackson Creek Parkway median. He expected to have an estimate from CSI before the next BRRTA meeting in September.

The Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority has budgeted $1 million for widening Baptist Road west of the I-25 interchange in 2014, the 10th and last year of the authority’s existence. There has been no development planning activity to date in that area that would prompt construction.

Interchange expansion update

Contract manager Bob Torres of Jacobs Engineering reported that Lawrence Construction continues to make excellent progress on most aspects of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion. However, Lawrence continues to have problems at the Valero truck stop on the northwest corner of the interchange.

Valero has not connected the station to water and wastewater lines provided by the Town of Monument. Diamond Shamrock’s long-failed septic system has to be removed before Lawrence can install paving for the new westbound Baptist Road lanes that connect the interchange to Old Denver Highway.

Valero and the developer of Forest Lakes still have not provided access and easements to Mountain View Electric Association and Qwest on the west side of the interchange. Torres said that negotiations are entering the final phase, but delays continue. Lawrence has written a letter to the BRRTA board listing each of the unmoved Mountain View and Qwest utilities and the long-term effect each will have on the current construction schedule if not moved promptly. Lawrence continues "to work around" the poles that are blocking efficient construction.

Qwest now has the easements it requires to begin moving its lines on the northwest corner of the intersection of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. The board has approved Qwest’s cost of $47,786 for this work.

Torres reported that once it obtains new easements for its power lines, it will still take another 75 to 90 days to complete the pole relocations after the work is finally scheduled.

Lawrence has submitted two change orders for a total of $644,336 that will increase the construction contract cost from $12,614,738 to $13,159,074. Lawrence has earned $9,799,154 to date.

THF Realty dispute remains unresolved

BRRTA’s attorney, Jim Hunsaker of Grimshaw and Harring, and District Manager Denise Denslow continue to negotiate access and easement issues with THF Realty regarding the hardware store property on the northeast corner of the interchange. Struthers Road has been closed between Baptist and Higby Roads, eliminating the primary access to the hardware store building.

BRRTA has proposed to build a temporary paved access road to the backside of the hardware building from the new Baptist Road curb cut in the vacant property between Jackson Creek Parkway and the THF property. THF has not agreed to the size and alignment of the temporary paving proposed by BRRTA because it would have to be removed before a permanent access road could be installed through the vacant property to the east. Hunsaker said that THF would provide a cost estimate for its permanent paving preference sometime in September.

In a letter dated July 27, BRRTA offered an alternative to give THF $200,000 to help pay for a more substantial road at a time of its choosing to resolve the access issue. Another option would be for THF to use the $200,000 as a credit against its total road use fee when it develops its property as a commercial shopping center. Hunsaker said THF did not respond to the letter. BRRTA President Wayne Williams noted that the letter also states that BRRTA’s offer would expire on Aug. 15.

Hunsaker distributed final copies of the revised road use fee schedule that was approved at the July 10 BRRTA meeting. The new fees went into effect on Sept. 1. The Fairfield Inn will receive a refund of about $95,000 based on the new fee created for smaller hotels.

Other matters

The board unanimously approved payment of three checks totaling $11,101:

  • $3,500 to Clifton Gunderson LLP for accounting fees
  • $2,701 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management expenses
  • $4,900 to El Paso County for engineering expenses for purchase of Preble’s mouse mitigation property

The board also unanimously approved four requisitions totaling $1,978,311:

  • $1,762 to PBS&J for engineering services
  • $99,247 to Jacobs Engineering for project management
  • $1,877,302 to Lawrence Construction for construction costs

Higby Road paving construction completed

Torres reported that Lawrence Construction had completed all paving work for adding an additional southbound lane to Jackson Creek Parkway between the YMCA traffic signal and Higby Road. The cost to BRRTA for this work is still estimated to be about $41,000.

The final cost to eliminate the dips and hump in the roadway within the Higby Road intersection, as requested by the Monument Board of Trustees, has still not been determined. Monument will have to pay for striping and regrading the intersection. Kassawara has estimated that the cost to the town will be about $15,000.

The meeting adjourned at 3:13 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held every other month at 2:30 p.m. on the second Friday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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August Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Temperatures for the month were right at normal. For most areas, precipitation was well below normal, with 1-3 inches in most areas. As usual, the isolated nature of the afternoon and evening convection meant some residents received heavy rain and others missed out. We finally hit the 90° mark on the 22nd and 23rd for the first time this year. This is a month later than normal, as our hottest week of the year is normally the third week of July.

It was a pretty quiet start to August, especially compared to most of July. Temperatures started the month right around normal in the upper 70s to mid-80s, and the lower levels of the atmosphere had dried out. This meant just isolated to scattered thunderstorms with limited areas of brief heavy rain. That doesn’t mean some of us completely missed out. There were a couple of afternoon and evenings when isolated strong to severe thunderstorms dropped heavy rain and hail. But overall, the first week of the month was mild and quiet. The first weekend was very pleasant with highs in the low 80s on Saturday and the upper 70s on Sunday. This, combined with plenty of sunshine and almost no thunderstorm activity, made for a great time to be outside.

It was a pretty average week around the region from the 10th to the 16th with highs fluctuating between the low 70s on the 14th and 16th to the mid-80s on the 12th and 13th. Scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms developed around the region on the 10th and 13th and at times over the weekend. Clear to mostly clear skies hung around for most of the 11th and 12th, giving us some quiet and mild midweek weather. A cold front did move through with some force late on the 15th and kept Sunday the 16th cool and breezy, with scattered thunderstorms. Behind this front, clear skies on the morning of the 16th also led to our first morning lows in the 30s this year, a sign of things to come.

The third week of the month started off cool and stormy, then ended hot and dry. Thunderstorms, some of which were severe with hail and heavy rain, developed on the 17th and 18th, but only affected isolated areas. Then a ridge of high pressure moved over the area for the rest of the week and into the weekend. This allowed warm and dry air to move in, scouring out much of the low-level moisture that has been so prevalent this summer. This drier air and light southwest-to-west winds under the center of the high pressure allowed temperatures to jump on the 22nd and 23rd. Highs managed to just touch the 90° mark on both afternoons, the only times this summer that we have managed to hit that level in areas above 7,000 feet.

Over the last week of the month, the area of high pressure moved out of the area and allowed cooler, more unsettled conditions to move back in. This produced areas of thunderstorms in the afternoons and evenings of the 24th through 26th. Conditions dried out over the last few days, but temperatures stayed at or below normal, with highs holding in the 70s to low 80s. Skies were mostly sunny through the period, with one exception. An area of low clouds and fog developed overnight on the 30th and held in for most of the day. This made for overcast conditions and held temperatures in the low 60s.

A new tool is available from the PRISM Web site, http://gisdev.nacse.org/prism/nn/, which allows the user to enter in a specific latitude and longitude and get precipitation and temperature data back to 1895 for that location. Using this data in relation to my weather station location, I have created the return frequency and average climatological values for precipitation and temperatures on a monthly and yearly scale. Hopefully, this will give you a better sense of how each month compares to weather during the last 100 or so years around here.

Every month in the weather statistics table below, I will list the 100-year value for the high and low temperatures, as well as the precipitation. This will let you see how these values compare to average and how they compare to more extreme values. (Remember that a 100-year return frequency value means that value has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year.)

A look ahead

September is a transition month for the region, with the last tastes of summer mixed in with our first morning freezes. Leaves begin to change by the end of the month as well, and three out of the last five Septembers have seen at least a trace of snow. The overall weather pattern is generally one of tranquility, with our chances for thunderstorms dwindling and blizzard conditions not quite ready for prime time. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant afternoons, with highs from the mid-70s early in the month to the mid-60s later in the month. Our first sub-freezing low temperatures usually occur during the second or third week, so prepare those tender plants. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

August 2009 Weather Statistics

Average High 78.5° (+0.2) 100-year return frequency value max 83.9° min 72.9°
Average Low 46.2 ° (-2.9) 100-year return frequency value max 55.2° min 46.8°
Monthly Precipitation 1.05" (-2.53") 100-year return frequency value max 6.07" min 0.94"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0" 
Highest Temperature 90° on 22nd & 23rd
Lowest Temperature 37° on 17th & 19th
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 5.56" (-1.31") (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 102 (+28)
Cooling Degree Days 26 (-14)

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

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Serteens at your service

Hoisting 100-pound cars onto tracks, setting up for antique shows, exploring rare gems and jewels, wild hair dyeing and fabulous face painting, and running for a touchdown in a lit (okay, but empty) football stadium are just some of the many adventures experienced by our community Serteens.

You see us around, but you may not know who we are! Serteen is a high school service club sponsored by the local Monument Hill Sertoma Club. Sertoma is an international nonprofit civic association whose efforts raise more than $20 million annually nationwide for local community service projects. You can better understand our organization when you consider the three words that comprise the name: Sertoma meaning SERvice TO MAnkind. Serteen is a spin-off, so to speak, meaning "service by teens." In our service, just as with the service done by Sertoma, we have lots of fun while seeking to build lifelong friendships.

During the last year your community Serteens have helped with such functions as the Soap Box Derby, Empty Bowl Dinner, Tri-Lakes Antique Show, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, and cleaning the football stadium after games. By participating in these events, we help raise funds for historical and environmental organizations, as well as those organizations providing necessary assistance and resources for people. We are a great resource for the community, as we are easy to access and have flexible schedules.

Serteen provides the opportunity for teenagers to develop into responsible adults, demonstrating compassion and accountability. Although Serteen can and does provide service hours to their club members when earned, that is not its primary purpose.

The Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge Serteen clubs recently split into individual but related organizations. During the 2008-09 school year, the high school clubs participated as one organization, working together to determine which representatives would participate in the various community projects. With the continued growth of Palmer Ridge, the decision was made to have the clubs work independently starting with the 2009-10 school year. Doing so, however, can create some confusion for those seeking our assistance.

A general guideline is that those events being held at Grace Best Elementary, Prairie Winds Elementary, Kilmer Elementary, or Creekside Middle School will be served by the Serteens at Lewis-Palmer High School. The faculty adviser for contact is Kendra Boone at kboone@lewispalmer.org. Please visit www.lpserteen.com and fill out the volunteer request form. Events at Lewis-Palmer Elementary, Palmer Lake Elementary, or Lewis-Palmer Middle School will be served by the Serteens at Palmer Ridge High School. The faculty advisers for contact are Sue Doyle at suedoyle@hotmail.com and Shayne Momber at smomber@lewispalmer.org

Both Serteen clubs are currently working on their calendars for the upcoming school year. Please contact your local Serteen club with a minimum notice, three weeks prior to your event, so we can be sure to be available!

Katie Adams
Publicity coordinator, LPHS Serteen

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Tri-Lakes Cares names Swanson Executive Director; holds events Sept. 19

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Below: Debbie Swanson. Photo by Kelly McGuire.

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By Kelly McGuire

Debbie Swanson has been named Executive Director of Tri-Lakes Cares. Debbie invites everyone to attend the upcoming Open House at the Tri-Lakes Cares center at 235 Jefferson St. as well as the Grand Opening of Hangers, Your Thrift Store, at 341 Front St. in Monument.

Although Tri-Lakes Cares is more than 20 years old, the center is celebrating its second anniversary in their new facility.

Hangers opened in June 2009 and offers quality used goods for sale. Revenues are used to fund the client services programs of the nonprofit.

The events will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19 in conjunction with the Chili Cook-off activities in downtown Monument.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Real lives, real people

By the staff at Covered Treasures

If truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, so, too, are real-life stories often more engrossing than fictional characters. Following are some examples of the fascinating real-life reading currently available.

A Reporter’s Life
By Walter Cronkite (Random House), $17

This entertaining and nostalgic book by the late Walter Cronkite is the story of a modest man who succeeded extravagantly by remaining mostly himself. His memoir is a short course on the flow of events in the second half of this century—events the world knows more about because of Walter Cronkite’s work.

Infidel
By Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Free Press), $15

Brave, inspiring and beautifully written, this memoir traces the author’s geographical journey from Mogadishu to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, and her desperate flight to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage. Ayaan Hirsi Ali made international headlines following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamite who threatened she would be next because of her outspoken views about the treatment of Islamic women. She made the news again when she was stripped of her citizenship and resigned from the Dutch Parliament. A celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali’s story tells how a bright little girl evolves out of dutiful obedience to become a pioneering freedom fighter.

Satchel
By Larry Tye (Random House), $26

This is the spellbindingly told story of athlete, showman, philosopher, and boundary breaker Leroy "Satchel" Paige. Few reliable records or news reports survive about players in the Negro Leagues, but Tye has tracked down the truth about this majestic and enigmatic pitcher, interviewing more than 200 Negro Leaguers and Major Leaguers. Tye reveals how Paige, hurt and angry when Jackie Robinson beat him to the Majors, emerged at the age of 42 to help propel the Cleveland Indians to the World Series.

Wildflower
By Mark Seal (Random House), $26

In 2006, Joan Root, a 69-year-old naturalist, Oscar-nominated wildlife filmmaker, and staunch conservationist, was murdered in her bedroom on the shore of Kenya’s beautiful Lake Naivasha. Was it a random robbery gone bad, or was it a cold-blooded contract killing carried out at the behest of enemies Root had made in her efforts to protect Kenya’s wildlife? Seal set out to investigate this gripping real-life murder mystery, and instead found an unforgettable story not only of a tragic death but also of the remarkable life that preceded it.

Franklin & Lucy
By Joseph E. Persico (Random House), $18

In exploring FDR’s romance with Lucy Rutherford, Persico tapped a revealing range of sources, including never before published letters and documents from Lucy Rutherford’s estate that attest to the intensity of the affair, which lasted much longer than was previously acknowledged. He also takes a penetrating look at the other women in FDR’s life. He shows more clearly how FDR’s infidelity contributed to Eleanor Roosevelt’s eventual transformation from a repressed Victorian to perhaps the greatest American woman of her century and how FDR’s strong-willed mother helped to strengthen his resolve in overcoming personal and public adversity.

Why not broaden your horizons this fall with a memoir or a biography that will entertain as well as inform? Until next month, happy reading!

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Black-crowned night heron

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Below: A drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of the Black-crowned night heron. 

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By Elizabeth Hacker

Herons are large, graceful birds with a long neck, long pencil-thin legs, and an oversized beak. The great blue heron and great egret were once hunted to near extinction for their feathers. Both birds are nationally recognized as symbols for the environmental movement.

The black-crowned night heron does not look like the aforementioned herons. It is a small, stocky bird with short legs; that is, short by heron standards. Its neck, which is about 18 inches long, is often protracted into its body, giving it a penguin-like appearance. The average adult is two feet in length and weighs two pounds. Male and female night herons look alike, although the male is slightly larger. "Sexually monomorphic plumage" is the scientific term for male and female birds that look the same.

Just because the night heron does not look like its larger cousin does not mean that it is not a beautiful bird. It has that "one of a kind" uniquely individual look that I find compelling. Its black cap with two or three trailing plumes and its tri-colored black, white, and gray feathered body are eye stopping. When I first spotted this bird I stopped in my tracks, wondering what on earth could it be. "Heron" did not come to mind until I opened "Sibley’s Guide to Birds." Through my binoculars I could see its red eyes and long black beak, which served to further enhance its rather uncommon appearance. Adults do not develop their beautiful plumage and eye color until three years of age. Juveniles have grayish brown and white feathers and yellow eyes, and seem a bit awkward.

As its name implies, this bird hunts at night from dusk to dawn while other herons are roosting. It is a slow-moving hunter, standing perfectly still in shallow water waiting for an unsuspecting frog or fish to come its way. It spears its prey by forcefully thrusting its neck, grasping it in a serrated beak, and vigorously shaking it before flipping it into the air and swallowing it head first and whole. Its diet consists primarily of fish but includes small mammals, birds, eggs, insects, and reptiles. Occasionally, large prey such as a large scaly fish or a bullfrog will get caught in the throat of an overly ambitions young bird, ending its life.

Reportedly, the night heron is the nemesis of other herons because it aggressively hosts night-time raids on "day" heron nests, taking the nestling. There is no love lost between the night and "day" herons. The day herons have a zero tolerance policy for the night herons. A day heron that sees a night heron will immediately attack the demon bird and try to spear it with its long, sharp beak. The night heron shrieks as it rapidly flees for its life and hides for much of the day.

This was not exactly what I observed at Fountain Creek Nature Reserve. Two night herons were perched on rocks near the shoreline in plain view of a great blue heron roosting in a nearby tree. I was in the park between 10 a.m. and noon on a cool morning when I observed the three birds perched for quite awhile. I don’t know if the day heron didn’t notice the night herons, but it was located where it could easily have seen them. The day heron didn’t immediately chase off the night herons, but eventually the great blue heron occupied the rock where one of the night herons had perched. The transition was fairly subdued, with no ruckus. I didn’t see the night herons again that day, but I did see them later in the week at dusk. The great blue heron was a juvenile and not a nesting bird, so perhaps the black-crowned herons didn’t pose an immediate threat.

Every year about this time I see a pair of night herons, and because they are not reported to be common in the Rocky Mountains, I assume that they stop here on their annual migration to rest and refuel rather than to nest. One interesting tidbit of information I learned while researching this bird is that its yellow legs turn pink when it is mating.

The black-crowned night heron breeds on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. In North America, some night herons migrate annually between Canada and the Gulf Coast while other colonies remain year-round residents in the open wetlands of coast communities.

The pair of night herons reminded me of a Chinese cultural exchange program I attended as a student at the University of Minnesota. The program featured dancers that emulated the movements of birds, including the night heron. It was a beautiful performance and indicated how different cultures celebrate these special creatures though unique artistic expression such as dance.

In the United States, bird artists such as John James Audubon, Roger Tory Peterson, and many others have created a tradition where limited-edition prints of their paintings and illustrations are collected and over time often increase in value. The annual bird stamp grew out of this tradition. OCN contributor Janet Sellers tells me that artists who win the bird stamp competition become instantly famous!

October is the month I enjoy writing about another nocturnal hunter: the owl. I thought I’d written about all of our local owls until I met Cyndee Henson, who showed me photographs of a screech owl she discovered in the back yard of her Palmer Lake home. Her story is fascinating, and I look forward to sharing it with OCN readers next month.

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

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Art Matters: Arts education lacking despite call for creativity

By Janet Sellers

New data reveal that Colorado public high schools offering more arts education have higher scores on state tests in reading, writing, and science—regardless of student ethnicity or socioeconomic status. They also have lower dropout rates.

A first-of-its-kind study of arts education in public schools by the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Council on the Arts shows that while most schools offer some formal arts education to a majority of students, an estimated 29,000 students attend public schools that do not offer any formal arts education.

At a time when employers are demanding a more creative work force, 53 percent of high school students are not taking any arts courses.

The Council on the Arts issued a report, stating, "Offering the arts is a choice for many public schools in Colorado. School leaders say time is the biggest barrier to providing more in-depth arts education to hone in-demand work force skills such as imagination, creativity, and innovation. Work is under way to increase access to arts education in Colorado’s public schools. A team led by Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien and Commissioner of Education Dwight Jones has begun a review of standards and assessments for arts education. The committee is also looking into professional development opportunities for educators who want to integrate arts into core subject areas."

The reader-friendly report includes tips on how parents, educators, policymakers and leaders of arts organizations can help. A press conference was held with O’Brien, Jones, and Elaine Mariner.

Even if public schools provide less than adequate arts training to develop and hone real-world art skills, we do have a wide variety of professional artists who have been offering a high level of expertise and mentoring in their art classes in our area for quite some time.

According to the tradition of our area, namely the Chautauqua events, art and cultural education in the Tri-Lakes area is a centuries-old practice. In fact, the Chautauqua events were initiated for that purpose. Since then, local schools notwithstanding, the people created their own arts education and nature-focused studies in our area by inviting professors from, say, the University of Denver and arts professionals of the region to talk and offer classes and study in their particular specialties.

We have so many professional artists in our immediate locale offering similar superb high-level classes and studies these days that I thought I would share what I have explored in the Tri-Lakes area in terms of arts education offerings, particularly in the private sector.

When I first came to the area, I offered art classes in schools, libraries, arts centers, and many other places in the Pikes Peak region. As many artists do, I eventually settled into offering a more exclusive and personal series of programs via my own studio, as I had done for many years before arriving in Colorado. For literally hundreds of years, the fine art traditions have been maintained and developed in the artists’ studios and among the artists’ community, wherever the artist may take up residence, and even where the artists take their holidays. So it is a natural fit for the artists to offer their expertise where they are at any given time, and the communities there reap the benefits of that relationship.

The studio setting proved to be quite a success, and I began to meet many other local arts professionals who offer this time-tested method of high-level instruction from their studios. Most have gone from a more public teaching venue to this traditional, private venue, and it has been fruitful for the arts professionals and the students. In Colorado Springs, the artists have a community relationship in the Cottonwood Artists Academy and an annual studio tour and sale each fall with other artists in their respective studios.

I have spoken with a number of art professionals in our area who have voiced interest in a similar annual or twice-a-year event of a "studio open house/open studio" event. I’ll keep you posted as soon as I know more, and feel free to contact me with upcoming events and ideas you may come upon in light of the studio visits. Besides the opportunity to see very good and interesting art, these studio visits are a window into the creative process and our local creative minds.

A number of our local artists have recently asked me to mention the fine artists’ studios as venues, and their private fine arts studio workshops and ongoing classes. These artists include: Joseph Bohler, watercolor; Sharon DeWeese, various media including drawing and watercolor; Liz Kettle, fiber arts and mixed media; Elizabeth Hacker, drawing, colored pencil, mixed media; Kathryn McMahon, plein air painting; and the Monument School of Fine Arts staff, offering digital photography and video media. I’ll add myself to the list: Janet Sellers, drawing, painting, and sculpture.

Most of these artists have a website, so Google the names that interest you and start your art and arts education this fall with our local arts professionals. And I surely welcome artists to contact me via OCN to tell us about their fine art offerings in workshops and classes as well. Fine art helps make a fine community!

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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Art Hop, Aug. 20

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Below: The Monument Art Hop Aug. 20 once again offered an array of artists and musicians. Outside Wisdom Tea House, Bob Gray was demonstrating the technique of Plein Air painting in watercolor. Gray had "a real job at Lockheed Martin" back in 1970 but was influenced by an older brother, who was an artist, and learned how to paint from him.

In case you missed this one, the next and final Art Hop for this year is September 17. Photos and caption by David Futey.

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Below: Second Street Art Market and Wine Bar featured musician and songwriter Andy Henningsen. Henningsen has a musical legacy in his family going back to his great-great-great-great grandfather, Franz Gruber, who wrote the music for Silent Night.

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Below: At Bella Art & Frame, Sherry Rogers displayed a variety of her oil paintings and mixed media works including Sunset on Poppies. Rogers once owned a floral shop in the Monument Shopping Plaza but had to sell the business after surviving a bout with cancer. She then pursued painting and has been featured at galleries and other locations in and outside Colorado.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Chautauqua makes successful return

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By Harriet Halbig

The 2009 Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Assembly, planned by the Palmer Lake Historical Society and sponsored by the Town of Palmer Lake, the Pikes Peak Library District, Monument Hill Sertoma, CertaPro Painting, and other local organizations, was a resounding success.

The event began on the evening of Aug. 7, with the arrival of President Theodore Roosevelt, who commented that the Palmer Lake Chautauqua was the first in the state of Colorado, and that during the decade of 1900-10, only 2 per cent of the population of the United States had a high school education. For this reason, many citizens attended Chautauqua assemblies throughout the country to learn of their natural environment and the history of their area, and to enjoy sports and entertainment, sometimes staying for several weeks.

This year’s assembly included a vaudeville program on Friday evening; a baseball game played by late 19th century rules, an ice cream social, dinner and a show on Saturday; and a Model A and Model T car show and a program of interpretations of such prominent Colorado personalities as Molly Brown, Buffalo Bill and Lucretia Vaile on Sunday. Early morning activities included a nature walk and a walking tour of historic structures in Palmer Lake.

All events were well attended, including those in the early hours of the morning. The dinner and show were sold out, so a second showing was scheduled the following afternoon.

Organizers say that they hope to stage a similar event next year during the second weekend in August.

Below: A partial display of some of the many vintage automobiles that were displayed at the Rocky Mountain 2009 Chautauqua Assembly. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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Below: Charla Fleming, who portrayed the Unsinkable Molly Brown in a presentation of the same name, stands next to a vintage Ford Fire Engine. Molly Brown reportedly survived a flood in her early years. She learned to play piano and sing in a Leadville saloon. Later she married Johnny Brown and then traveled to Europe alone so that she might mix with the continental high society types. She returned on and survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Fleming hails from Littelton, Colorado. Photo by Bernard Minetti

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Below: Volunteer actor, Don Moon, who is renowned for his dedication to the history and events surrounding the life of Teddy Roosevelt sitting in a 1908 Ford Model S Runabout. This car is powered by a 1.5 horsepower 4 cylinder engine. This is the second time Moon has presented a study on President Roosevelt to the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Assembly. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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Below: On the left Bonnie Allen, a member of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Committee and the Palmer Lake Historical Society, who was this year music director of the vaudeville presentation on the first night of the Assembly. Next to Allen is Dee Breitenfeld who hails from Woodland Park. Breitenfeld chairs the Pikes Peak Historic Museum group. On the right is Phyllis Bonser, President of the Palmer Lakes Historical Society. They are all standing beside a vintage Ford Model A. Photo by Bernard Minetti

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Below: The Tri-Lakes Swans posed for a group photo before playing the Colorado Territorial All Stars, a group from the Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association. (Kneeling, L to R) John "Reckless" Ramshur, Dave "Big Wave" Lahnert, Sean "Speedy" Kendrick, Steve "Dragonfly" Stephenson, Don "Killer" Kendrick. (Standing, L to R) Mar Far "Chicken" Nitzberg, Ed "Polish Hammer" Frelly, Bruce "Bruiser" Hoover, Dan "Chief" Reynolds, Steve, "Not Slow – Just Cautious" Plank, Paul "Ox" Engstrom, Carl "The Carnivore" Tillberry. Missing due to injury: Greg "Long Ball" Cook. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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Below: A Tri-Lakes Swan striker (batter) takes a rip at a baseball pitched underhand by a Colorado Territorial All-Star hurler (pitcher) during a baseball game held on August 8. The game was part of the weekend long Chautauqua sponsored by the Palmer Lake Historical Society. Photo by David Futey.

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Below: Sally Green and Mary Meyer of the Palmer Lake Historical Society enjoyed the ice cream social on Saturday. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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Below: Prominent Palmer Lake citizen Lucretia Vaile was portrayed by Cathleen Norman. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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Below: After protesting across the baseball field, disrupting the game between the Tri-Lakes Swans and the Colorado Territorial All-Stars, suffragettes Mary Meyer, Bonnie Allen, Cyndee Henson, Tracy Grotzinger, and Cathleen Norman continue their protest in the ‘stands.’ Colorado was the second state to give women the vote. Photo by David Futey.

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Below: The Black Forest Chorus provided a musical finale to the weekend. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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PLAG at WMMI, Aug. 7

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Below: Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) member John DeFrancesco demonstrates the process of Plein Air painting to fellow PLAG member Barbara Fraser during the opening reception for the group’s art display at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI). PLAG members painted various scenes from around the museum property in Plein Air style and displayed their efforts through the month of August in the museum’s changing exhibit area. Plein Air, which means ‘open air’ in French, is a form of painting started by the Impressionists in the late 1800’s as a way to study and capture sunlight at various times of the day. Photo by David Futey

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Smokey’s party, Aug. 8

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Below: At Smokey the Bear’s 65 Birthday Party, Heather Hawkins, age 3, is being taught by Ranger Ralph S. Bellah how to properly set up and extinguish a campfire. The event was held August 8 at Limbach Park, 2nd and Front streets in Monument. Activities included Junior Forest Ranger Camp (fun hands-on activities to get kids interested in the outdoors), local vendors, indoor/outdoor fire safety booths, drawings, various fire apparatus, birthday cake, and, of course, Smokey! Photos by Lora Lowry.

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Monument Open Chess tournament, Aug. 22-23

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Photos by Lora Lowry

Below: All 44 players in the final round are starting their games. 

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Below: (L to R) Hans Morrow from Utah and Jim Geary from Arizona are playing for 1st and 2nd place. 

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Siskind and Book at TLCA

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Below: August 30, Sarah Siskind had the glow of a rising star during her Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) concert. With her husband and Palmer Lake native Travis Book playing standup bass by her side, the Nashville-based Siskind performed selections that demonstrated the strength of her songwriting abilities. She performed a number of songs from her 2009 CD Say It Louder, including the title track that was recently selected as National Public Radio’s Song of the Day. Her songwriting has also drawn performers such as Randy Travis, April Verch, and Alison Krauss to record her songs. In fact, Krauss’s release of Siskind’s Simple Love was nominated for a Grammy in 2008. Information on Sarah Siskind can be found at www.sarahsiskind.com. Information on the TLCA and upcoming events is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.

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TLCA gift shop opening

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Below: With Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) artists and board members at her side, Gift Shop Coordinator Laurel Bedingfield cuts the ribbon to officially open the newly renovated TLCA gift shop. Prior to the ribbon cutting, TLCA Executive Director Susan Adams said the focus of the renovation was to "make the gift shop a destination." The numerous changes to the shop gives it a more inviting atmosphere and offers better presentation for the TLCA artists’ works that are on display and for sale. The opening occured during the Tri-Lakes Non-Profit Day hosted by the TLCA and Tri-Lakes Women’s Club on August 18. (See the article below). Photo by David Futey.

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August and September library events

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Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Children’s specialist Julie Simmons decorates for Dewey’s birthday. 

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Below: Dewey’s keeper, Sue Kana, got him ready for his big day.  

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Below: This festive cake served over 100 people. 

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Below: The Daytime Singers of the America Beautiful Chorus serenaded the library staff serving at the ice cream social.

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By Harriet Halbig

The Monument branch celebrated the birthday of one of its favorite residents, Dewey, our exotic, dark blue betta fish that resides on the circulation desk. The party, held in the closing days of July, attracted over 100 people who enjoyed fish-themed stories and crafts and a beautiful cake.

The Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library sponsored its annual Ice Cream Social at the Palmer Lake Town Hall during the Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Assembly held the second weekend of August. The event, attended by over 300 people, offered the chance to enjoy beautiful, breezy weather, a variety of ice cream from the Rock House, and the music of the Daytime Singers of the America the Beautiful Chorus.

Later in August, as school began and library materials returned to their shelves, regular activities resumed for all ages.

Looking forward to September, the Monument Branch will offer a number of special programs.

At 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11, the library will present a program for those wishing to be more effective in searching U.S. Census information through the library’s access to HeritageQuest. This is a useful skill for anyone interested in genealogy.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, the Challenger Learning Center Stellar Portal will come to the branch. An inflatable, portable planetarium, the portal will enable participants to experience the night sky regardless of the time of day. Constellations, moon phases, planets, seasons, and deep sky objects can be observed. The program begins at 1:30 p.m.

The Monumental Readers will discuss "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer on Friday, Sept. 18, at 10 a.m. New members are welcome.

The Pikes Peak Library District’s (PPLD) All Pikes Peak Reads program begins on Sept. 20 from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. with a party at America the Beautiful Park. Watch the local papers and other media for details. This year’s program is based on a space theme, with several books for all ages. For adults the titles are: "Rocket Boys"; "Have Space Suit Will Travel"; "Community: The Structure of Belonging"; "The Space Tourist’s Handbook"; and "Space Wars: The First Six Hours of WWIII."

This is the eighth year of the program sponsored by PPLD and 30 other entities. In addition to books, there will be movie screenings and theatrical events at various locations throughout the district. Pick up a copy of the September PPLD Happenings newsletter for detailed information, or check our Web site at ppld.org.

Sept. 21 brings the first meeting of Life Circles, a group devoted to writing about life experiences. For those interested in writing of their past and needing a little nudge and some organizational skills, this group will meet on the first and third Monday of each month at 10:30 a.m. Please call the branch to register, or sign up at the desk on your next visit.

The AARP Mature Driving Program will be offered on Sept. 24 and 25 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This refresher course, for drivers 50 and over, requires registration, because the class must have a minimum of 10 students. The cost is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members (participants must attend both days).

Artwork on the walls will be "Here Today Gone Tomorrow," a display of photographs by Randy Lindblad documenting the vanishing lifestyle of Colorado ranchers. In the display case will be a collection of handmade books of all shapes and sizes. The books are decorated with novelty art papers, paints, fabrics, and embroidery.

Palmer Lake events

At the Palmer Lake Branch, children are invited to read to Newfoundland Jax, who will be at the branch from 11 a.m. until noon on the first Saturday of the month

On Saturday, Sept. 12 at 10:30 a.m., the branch will offer a program by Master Gardener Leslie Holzmann, who will instruct patrons on how to prepare their gardens for the winter, including information on weeding, protecting tender plants, garden building projects, and other topics. This is a program for adults and requires registration. Please call the branch at 481-2587 to register.

On Sept. 19 there will be a free program for all ages titled "Which Gun Won the Old West?" Historian Roger Davis will compare the historical Remington and Colt pistols as he discusses this crucial weapon of the 1870s. Tour the Lucretia Vaile Museum to see artifacts and learn the history of the Palmer Divide area. The program begins at 10:30 p.m.

The Palmer Lake book group will meet on Friday, Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. to discuss the books that are part of the All Pikes Peak Reads program, mentioned above.

New members are welcome to the book group. If you have questions or wish to request a copy of one or more books, call the branch at 481-2587.

We hope to see you at the library!

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Everyone a winner at Tri-Lakes Non-Profit Day

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By David Futey

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) member Candyce Sylling (on stage in the photo) addresses representatives from 25 non-profit organizations and others who gathered for the Tri-Lakes Non-Profit Day held on August 18 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA).

The event, co-hosted by the TLWC and the TLCA, was associated with the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours event, which brings business leaders together at various venues throughout the year. This event was sponsored by the Chamber’s Non-Profit Council, which is co-chaired by Jim Wilson and Larry Lawrence.

Gail Wilson, president of the TLCA board, said the event was held at the TLCA because the "TLWC is always in need of a venue for events and they have been very supportive of the TLCA. Thus this seemed an ideal opportunity to host such an event and support the TLWC and the non-profit community." As part of their mission, the TLWC supports "the Tri-Lakes community through charitable and educational endeavors." Wilson also stated that given the economic climate and other factors "working together and partnering seem opportune at this time as everyone is looking for a win-win." Given the turnout for the event, there seemed to be any number of winners this evening.

Besides refreshments, door prizes, and the opportunity to meet others from a range of non-profit organizations, attendees could obtain information about organizations such as the Pikes Peak Library District, Tri-Lakes Business Incubator, Tri-Lakes Cares, Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, Monument Academy, and the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Aug. 20: Trombone quintet serenades Historical Society

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Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Doug Stroup, leader of the Castle Rock Trombone Ensemble, explains to the audience, where the various notes are located on his trombone.

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Below: (L to R) Rod Claasen, Tod Ellis, Larry Tallant, Dwight Hein and leader Doug Stroup as they prepare to play their concert at the August 20 Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

On Aug. 20, the Castle Rock Trombone Ensemble, which is loosely associated with the Castle Rock Band, presented a medley of pieces specifically orchestrated for the trombone quintet. They opened the evening with "The Star Spangled Banner" and performed seven additional pieces, including "Kensington Portraits" and "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The final piece was "When the Saints Meet Lassus Trombone Variations."

Doug Stroup, the group’s leader, is from the Tri-Lakes area. Rod Claassen and Dwight Hein are from Castle Rock, Tod Ellis hails from Colorado Springs, and Larry Tallant comes from Elizabeth. They have been together for approximately five years and play all their presentations pro bono.

Stroup taught music in Houston schools, and recently retired from teaching music for 20 years in Castle Rock. Claassen, who plays the valve trombone (they call it a trumpet on steroids), has been proficient in this instrument since high school. Ellis has been playing his tenor trombone most of his life. He bought the instrument for $50 in high school and recently was surprised to find out that it was worth more than $4,000. Tallant has worked for Lockheed Martin and three years ago obtained his doctorate in computer science. Tallant plays the bass trombone. Hein, who plays the tenor trombone, is a retired firefighter. He began playing the trombone when he was 10 years old.

September presentation

The Historical Society will present "High Drama in Colorado" at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at Palmer Lake Town Hall. The audience will hear about the significance of entertainment to America’s Western pioneers, and about many of the principal theaters in Colorado and the acting talents they showcased. Beth Barnett will be the presenter. She co-authored "High Drama: Colorado’s Historic Theatres" with Daniel Barnett. The presentation might be of particular interest to students of theatrical arts and to those interested in the history in the frontier West.

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Empty Bowl fundraiser returns Oct. 7

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Below: With a selection of pottery that will be available at 2009 Empty Bowl in the foreground, Anne Shimek holds newspaper articles reporting on the first Empty Bowl in 1992 and the eleventh in 2002. The 2009 Empty Bowl will be held Oct. 7, from 5-7 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School. Photo by David Futey.

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By David Futey

In 1992, a couple of good friends conceived a fundraiser to support a local charity in connection with the United Nations’ World Food Day. Their idea for assisting those in need in the Tri-Lakes community became the first Empty Bowl and raised $3,500 for Tri-Lakes Cares while also starting a highly anticipated annual community event. With the 19th annual Empty Bowl coming Oct. 7, Anne Shimek reflected on how it all got started.

"Linda Pankratz and I were inspired by events happening on the East Coast in regard to World Food Day. As we began talking about the idea, people jumped in to help, and that (community support) is what has made it a success throughout the years."

Just as this year’s event depends on Monument Hill Sertoma, Monument Serteens, School District 38, and many others, the first Empty Bowl happened only because of an array of volunteers. Members from local churches made the soup, friends of Shimek and Pankratz made the desserts, and local businesses helped by selling tickets. Selling the cost of the fundraiser to the community was another issue.

"You have to remember that back then (1992), $2 was the donation for a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the school and we were going to ask for $10, because each person would receive a bowl," Shimek recalled. To help advertise the event, Shimek made the rounds to various organizations to develop support for it and also show the community what they were getting for their $10 besides a dinner—a handcrafted piece of pottery made by a local artisan.

In 1992, 11 artisans made 340 soup bowls. As of the writing of this article, nearly 1,100 bowls have been made for the 2009 Empty Bowl. At the conclusion of the first Empty Bowl, Shimek and Pankratz thought their work had been done but the community wanted more. In recalling how it became an annual event, Shimek said, "Soon after the end of the first one, we were being asked, ‘You going to do it again?’, and we thought why not." The Tri-Lakes community and the many families and individuals who depend on support from Tri-Lakes Cares are glad they did.

The 2009 Empty Bowl will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at Lewis-Palmer High School. Tickets are a $20 donation and can be purchased at Covered Treasures Bookstore, High Country Home & Garden, Second Street Art Gallery, Tri-Lakes Printing in Monument, and the Rock House Ice Cream & More in Palmer Lake. One child under 12 will be admitted free with a purchased ticket. Besides the dinner, a silent auction will be conducted from donations received from local artists and businesses. Information about the event is available from Bonnie Briggs at (719) 651-1946.

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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.

Fill the boot for the MDA, to Sept. 7

Local 4319, Tri-Lakes and Wescott firefighters, and personnel from American Medical Response are participating in a "Fill the Boot" campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), Sept. 2-7. Last year, they raised more than $14,000 and they’ve set their sights on hitting over $20,000 this year. Please help the firefighters reach their goal as you see them out and about this week. They’ll be at Highway 105, at Safeway, Wal-Mart, King Soopers, Gleneagle and Baptist, Northgate and Struthers, and many other locations. People may also drop off donations to MDA at the fire stations. For more information, call Lindsey Shepard (MDA), 260-8777; Chris Keough (Tri-Lakes Fire Department), 200-3619; Val Marshall or Bryan Ackerman (Wescott Fire Department), 488-8680.

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Open House, Sept. 10

Find out about Tri-Lakes Women’s Club at the open house Sept. 10, 6-9 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 305 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Learn about the organization, its fundraising efforts, and its many contributions to the community. Ask about the interest groups such as Bunco, Bridge, Hiking, etc. Wine and light refreshments will be served. For more information, call 650-1397.

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Patriots Golf Tournament, Sept. 11

The Gleneagle Sertoma Club is holding its Eighth Annual Patriot Golf Tournament at the Gleneagle Golf Club Sept. 11. Sign-ins will begin at 6:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. Cost to play in the tournament is $65 per person, which includes green fees and cart, range balls, gross and net golf prizes, longest drive and closest to the pin contests, and tee gift bag. Proceeds will benefit hearing-related charities such as HEARS, a local organization that provides hearing exams and aids to people with financial difficulties. In addition, Gleneagle Sertoma donates to Tri-Lakes Cares, Pikes Peak Hospice, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Salvation Army, Boy Scouts, and Serteens (teenage Sertomans).

The tournament honors local patriots representing Peterson AFB, Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy, and local police and firefighters. Foursomes from each will participate in the tournament. Individuals or businesses can sponsor a patriot guest for $65 or a foursome for $260. For $100 you can buy your business a sign placed at one of the 18 tee boxes during the tournament. Donations of raffle prizes are welcome. For more information, contact Joe Gray, 559-4265, or e-mail jmgray1934@yahoo.com.

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Community Closet now open second and fourth Saturdays

The Tri-Lakes Church of Christ is offering free clothing on the second and fourth Saturday of each month (Sept. 12 and 26), 1-3 p.m. The church is located at 20450 Beacon Lite Rd. in Monument, at the southwest corner of Beacon Lite and County Line Roads west of I-25. Everyone is welcome to shop for free clothing items. Donations of clean clothing and shoes in good condition are appreciated. For more information, call program coordinators Bruce and Lyn Eatinger, 495-4137; or the church, 488-9613.

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Dakota Blonde returns to TLCA, Sept. 12

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) presents a concert featuring Dakota Blonde Sept. 12. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 7:30 show. This vibrant acoustic trio plays a unique combination of folk, bluegrass, and country—with a little Celtic tinge. The TLCA is located at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Tickets are $12 for TLCA members and $15 for non-members ($15 and $18 at the door) and are available at Covered Treasures Bookstore (481-2665) in Monument and The Wine Seller (481-3019) and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. For more information call 481-0475, or visit www.trilakesarts.org.

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Slash and Mulch season ends soon

There’s still time to take advantage of El Paso County’s Black Forest Slash and Mulch program! Slash (tree and shrub debris; no stumps) will be accepted until Sept. 13. Mulch will be available, while supplies last, until Sept. 26. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The loader fee is $4 per bucket, approximately 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area.

The program’s main purpose is to encourage residents to clear adequate defensible space surrounding their structures by thinning trees and shrubs to reduce the spread of fire. Spreading mulch on the forest floor holds moisture, delays the spread of weeds, and provides nutrients to the forest. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone 520-7878 or Jeff DeWitt, 495-8024.

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Monument Citizen Police Academy, Sept. 15

The Monument Police Department will host its third Citizens Police Academy Sept. 15 to Nov. 10. The nine-week academy is free and open to all who reside or conduct business in the Tri-Lakes area. The academy is a great opportunity to see first hand what law enforcement is all about. Participants will learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, CSI, use of force, communications, E911, community policing, and much more. Also, they will have the opportunity to shoot a variety of police weapons.

Classes will be held Tuesday evenings, 7-10 p.m., at the Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Visit the Web site, 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 and pick up an application. For more information, call the department, 481-3253.

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Annual Chili Cook-Off and Tasting, Sept. 19

Cook a pot of chili and enter the annual Historic Monument Merchants Association Chili Cook-off charity fundraiser held Sept. 19, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at the corner of Second and Front Streets in Historic Downtown Monument. The event is open to the public; there will be food vendors, music, and fun for the entire family! Entry fee for contestants is $35 per team. Call Vicki Mynhier at 460-4179 for a registration pack or more information.

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Beacon Lite Road Community Meeting, Sept. 22

Commissioner Wayne Williams and the El Paso County Public Services Department will host a community meeting in Monument to discuss options for future improvements to Beacon Lite Road from Wakonda Way to County Line Road. Increasing traffic volume indicates that upgrades are necessary. The meeting will be held Sept. 22, 7 p.m., at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. For more information, call the county public services department, 520-6874.

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Haunted Mines, Oct. 1-31

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

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Christmas Crafts Fair, Oct. 3-4

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

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

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

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

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Benefit for Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue, Oct. 4

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

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Empty Bowl 2009, Oct. 7

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

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Wine and Roses 2009, Oct. 23

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club presents Wine and Roses, a wine tasting event, Oct. 23, 6:30-10 p.m., at the Air Force Academy Blue & Silver Press Box. The evening features wines arranged by The Wine Seller, on-site chefs, a silent auction, and celebrity wine pourers. Proceeds benefit the Tri-Lakes community. The cost is $50 per person. For tickets, call 488-2124 or visit www.tlwc.net.

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

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

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County Prescription Discount Program now online

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

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

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Tri-Lakes Senior Citizens Center is now open

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

The center will be staffed entirely by area volunteers and is made possible by generous donations and contributions from Access Construction Co., Black Hills Energy Inc., Lewis- Palmer School District 38, Munsen Construction Co., R Rock Yard, and many individual donors.

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) was established in 1996 as a non-profit organization serving Monument, Palmer Lake, Woodmoor, Gleneagle, and unincorporated areas of northern El Paso County. The Tri-Lakes HAP mission is to improve the health and well-being of the Tri-Lakes community through community-based services and support. Information about Tri-Lakes HAP and its programs is available on its Web site, http://www.TriLakesHAP.org. Information about programs for seniors is available at http://www.TriLakesSeniors.org.

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Handbell ringers needed for holiday concert

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

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New thrift shop opens in Monument

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

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Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance Thrift Store in Palmer Lake

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

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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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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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Parting Shots

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Below: Tri-Lakes area resident Robert Fisher and his wife Tina. Robert had just finished the Leadville 100-mile race. All participants that finished the race in under 12 hours received a medal. Robert finished the race in 11 hours 16 min. Photo by Suzan Pepin.

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