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Our Community News - Home Vol. 11 No. 1 - January 8, 2011

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77th Yule Log Ceremony and hunt welcome holiday season

Below: After the sound of a trumpet announcing the start of the 77th Yule Log hunt Dec. 12, more than 240 hunters searched a section of the Glen for the well-hidden log. Right: Ten-year old Will Bryant of Palmer Lake, seated on the log, discovered the Yule Log in a thicket. For finding the log, Bryant had the pleasure of riding it back to the Town Hall. Photos by David Futey. See page 29 for more photos and information on this annual event.

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Life of Town Clerk/Treasurer Della Gray honored

Photo provided by Swan-Law Funeral Directors of Colorado Springs, www.swan-law.com

By Jim Kendrick

A Celebration of Life for Palmer Lake Town Clerk and Treasurer Della Gray was held at the Pine Crest Chapel in Palmer Lake on Jan. 3, followed by a reception in the events center for family, co-workers from the town staff and Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD), and friends. Gray, 59, passed away in her sleep at her home in Colorado Springs on Dec. 26.

Palmer Lake Mayor John Cressman led the celebration that was attended by over 220 people. He said, "It’s been an honor to know this woman and work with her, and be mothered by her." Cressman noted that Gray and her family had moved from a 10-acre farm on Puget Sound, where she started teaching her children a love of nature, to Palmer Lake in 1989. Cressman stated that while her four children were attending school and graduating from Lewis-Palmer High School, she had also been the "surrogate mother" for at least seven local children and anyone else who needed help.

Cressman said Gray "gave her heart and soul to the town of Palmer Lake," spending countless invaluable hours for 17 years to make sure numerous special events were successful. She coordinated the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Association’s annual chili supper and star lighting ceremony, tirelessly headed the Palmer Lake Fourth of July Committee fund-raising—performing all the duties no one else would tackle and leading the Fifth of July cleanup—and she coordinated the Winterfest Celebration and Columbine Festival.

Cressman said that Gray also scheduled and served as the administrative recorder and record keeper for all Town Council meetings unselfishly for the past 13 years as town treasurer and clerk. He noted that Gray had a continuing thirst for knowledge, a dry sense of humor, and a love of sharing her knowledge and experience with others. He added that her family and the town would "have quite a challenge to carry on without her."

Members of Gray’s family read some of her favorite poems and verses and emphasized that they all wanted people to enjoy the "fond memories of the sunniest" experiences that they had from knowing Della, that she was a very genuine person of faith, and that she was a non-judgmental rock for her family who inspired their courage, independence, creativity, and individuality.

One of her many "foster children," Emily, said Gray was "an intensely private person" with a dry sense of humor, an inspiration "who made the world seem like a more simple place in one ironic sentence," and "the Mother Teresa for all the rejected teenagers of our town. She loved all of us even when the rest of the world didn’t, and for that I thank her family for sharing her."

Current Trustee and former Mayor Nikki McDonald explained how Gray had helped her in 1993, when Gray was the new town receptionist and McDonald was a new trustee. They attended numerous classes together to learn as much as possible about their new town jobs. McDonald said Gray earned the nickname of "Cinder-Della" from co-worker Mary Russelavage because Della would do anything for anybody to help in any way that she could. After Gray took over as town clerk/treasurer in 1997, Gray was invaluable to McDonald as mayor during Town Council meetings by protecting McDonald from "the angry masses," as well as reporting on all the various county and regional government meetings she attended as Palmer Lake’s representative.

After echoing Cressman’s remarks about all the town special events Gray "tirelessly" coordinated, McDonald concluded, "Yes folks, she was a precious gem to our community and I believe all of us who worked with her and knew her will miss her laugh and her steady calm demeanor. She gave her heart and soul to this community. Rest in peace, my dear friend. The pain is over."

Palmer Lake Police Chief Kieth Moreland and Palmer Lake Fire Chief Shana Ball formally presented a flag to Gray’s mother, Annie Margaret Chadwick. The flag had been flown at Town Hall earlier in the day during a private Fire Department flag-lowering ceremony for Gray’s family.

Pipe Major Sam Swancutt of the Pikes Peak Highlanders played Auld Lang Syne on his bagpipes at the conclusion of the celebration.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Dec. 14: 2011 budget approved with revenue shortfall

By Timothy Dorman and Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 14, the Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously approved the 2011 budget. No action was taken to cut staff and add additional responsibilities to employees retained as had been proposed at the Nov. 11 council meeting by Trustee Bryan Jack. This meeting had been postponed from Dec. 9 to ensure a quorum of at least four trustees.

About 20 members of the public attended. The absences of Trustees Jack, Nikki McDonald, and Joe Polonsky were unanimously excused.

2011 budget, appropriation, and mill levy approved

A resolution certifying the town property tax mill levy was unanimously approved so that it could be submitted by the Dec. 15 state deadline. Town Clerk and Treasurer Della Gray stated that the budget and appropriation could be submitted separately by the end of the month.

The proposed 2011 budget did not include any of the changes Jack had proposed at the Nov. 11 council meeting or the special meeting for public comments on the 2011 budget on Nov. 13. See www.ocn.me/v10n12.htm#pltc1113 for OCN’s report on that meeting.

Gray stated that the 2011 budget was still not balanced due to a revenue shortfall of about $16,000.

Gray also reported that there was not enough money in the budget line item for the Safe Routes to School project. Deputy Town Clerk Tara Berreth reported that $75,121 had been paid to consultant firm Tetra Tech Engineering for engineering design. Construction costs of about $76,000 had been previously paid. Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich noted that about $40,000 remains to be paid on the sidewalk project. Gray said this $40,000 must come out of the roads supplemental budget. Mayor John Cressman asked Radosevich to meet with him to determine the final cost of Tetra Tech contract services and the total town cost that is not covered by grants for this project.

Gray agreed to meet with Jack to discuss using the balance remaining in the Lucy Owens fund, about $8,000, that could be used to help pay the cost of repairing the town building that is rented to the Pikes Peak Library District.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance for the 2011 budget as proposed. Based on the legal recommendation of Town Attorney Larry Gaddis, the council unanimously approved an amendment to the proposed 2011 appropriation ordinance for the transfer of $29,000 from the fire truck general town fund to the roads supplemental fund to correct an accounting error that occurred in 2008. The council unanimously approved the 2011 appropriation ordinance as amended.

Committee reports

Cressman commented on the success of the Yule Log events and the lighting of the town star.

Parks, Recreation, and Economic Development Committee Trustee Gary Coleman announced that Susan Adams would be resigning as director of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. He suggested that people consider buying gift certificates from town businesses as Christmas presents. There was also a discussion about complaints regarding the time that the Palmer Lake star is turned on each evening. The goal is to have the firefighter that is contracted be on duty on weekdays at the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) to turn on the star manually at 5 p.m. However, there may be times when the contract firefighter is performing emergency duties that may delay turn-on. Coleman added that the cost for having an automatic timer turn on the star at 5 p.m. had been judged to be too high in the past in previous council meetings.

In the absence of Fire Trustee Jack, Cressman read the fire report. He stated that PLVFD responded to 20 calls in November. There were four mandatory training meetings and two other training sessions with other emergency agencies. The Firefighter II training class at the Fort Carson Fire Training Center has been concluded. Volunteer firefighters contributed 1,586 hours of service, including 186 volunteer hours by Chief Shana Ball. PLVFD volunteer firefighters and members of the separate Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Association served 467 people in Town Hall at the annual Thanksgiving Chili Supper fundraiser for operation and maintenance of the town’s star.

The written fire report noted that the PLVFD Association had decided to drop negotiations with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District for having a paid firefighter on duty on a 24-hour basis in the PLVFD station, as Jack had suggested at the Nov. 11 council meeting. Currently there is a town contract that provides for a paid firefighter to be on duty Monday through Friday during the work day when the volunteer firefighters are at work at their own jobs. Currently four contracted firefighters and Chief Ball work at the station under this contract.

The written report also noted that two of the four contract firefighters declined the option to work for Tri-Lakes Monument under the proposed 24-hour contract and the other two firefighters were rejected by Tri-Lakes Monument. The report further stated that Chief Ball believed she would appear to have a conflict of interest if she worked for Tri-Lakes under the proposed contract.

In the absence of Police Trustee McDonald, Cressman read the police report and stated that there were 18 traffic summons for various traffic violations and one DUI arrest in November.

Water Trustee Max Stafford noted the town’s daily use of water was 0.3 acre-feet, about average for winter months. He said the state Health Department had not completed its review and approval of the engineering design for the town’s water treatment plant expansion.

Gray said that the temporary $6.54 per month fee that had previously been added to town water bills to meet a Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority requirement would no longer be needed after 2010. The authority had required that the town increase the amount of cash reserves in the town’s water enterprise reserve fund by about $65,000 to qualify for the authority’s low-interest loan that will be used to pay for the town water treatment plant expansion. Now that the reserve fund has been increased to the authority’s minimum requirement, the town’s monthly water bills, starting with those for January water use, will no longer include this $6.54 fee.

See www.ocn.me/v9n12.htm#pltc and www.ocn.me/v10n1.htm#pltc1203 for more information on this fee and the separate permanent $11.51 monthly rate increase that was also approved to pay for the $2 million loan. Both increases were approved during a special council meeting held on Dec. 3, 2009.

Roads Trustee Dennis Stern stated that a repair was needed for the town sanding unit. On Nov. 17, the town’s Roads Committee approved a repair for Clarence Street.

Public comment was sought for three separate agenda items.

Medical marijuana amendment

The council discussed an amendment to the town’s new medical marijuana ordinance. Stern said he had participated in a "lively discussion" at the final task force meeting on this subject that was attended by three citizens, two trustees, one planning commissioner, and one dispensary owner. Stern said the task force had recommended that the council update the medical marijuana laws by a 6-1 vote.

Stern said an update was necessary to conform to the new state law that requires that a facility cultivate at least 70 percent of its medical marijuana products on its own property. The original Palmer Lake ordinance was unanimously approved by the council in April and was based on a preliminary draft that the state Legislature did not approve. The proposed change would eliminate the current town restriction approved in April that no more than 20 percent of a dispensary can be used for cultivation and that no more than 30 plants can be grown. Stern said there would not be any change to existing town zoning restrictions on where marijuana can be cultivated.

Palmer Lake resident Richard Allen asked if there had been any incidents, legal problems, arrests, break-ins, or pot parties on facility premises. Allen also asked if Palmer Lake’s ordinance had been affected by El Paso County ordinances. Stern said that there had been no incidents or legal problems. The county November ballot question that proposed banning all county medical marijuana facilities failed. There are no other existing county medical marijuana rules or restrictions.

Gaddis said he would prepare a draft ordinance amendment to be discussed at a future town council workshop and council meeting.

Requests for proposals for services

The second discussion agenda item concerned plans to publish separate requests for proposals (RFP) from legal, auditing, accounting and engineering services companies. Gray said that the solicitations would be published by the Colorado Municipal League.

County resident Jeff Hulsmann, the owner of O’Malley’s Pub, said he was representing the Palmer Lake Restaurant Group. Some of the group’s positions Hulsmann stated were:

  • State law requires the town to issue an RFP for any contract for services costing $5,000 or more.
  • The Restaurant Group is suggesting that it should review any town RFP before it is published.
  • The Restaurant Group should know who is writing, reviewing, screening, and making decisions on town RFPs.
  • The town should let the Restaurant Group put together citizen screening committees composed of qualified professionals.
  • There needs to be more transparency in town contract costs with specific line items for each service contract.
  • The Economic Development Committee trustee needs to be more proactive in meeting business owners and learning about the owners’ concerns.
  • The Restaurant Group should be more involved in town affairs.
  • The town is not deriving enough income from the sales tax that is being collected.
  • The town should hire a forensic accountant to find possible areas of savings in town operations.
  • There is inadequate notice of town events such as the Chili Supper and the Yule Log Hunt.

Cressman cautioned Hulsmann on the group’s recommendation to hire a "forensic accountant" because it implies criminal activity. He asked Hulsmann, "You think there’s been a crime?" Hulsmann said the Restaurant Group just wants to see where the money goes. Allen said the word forensic is not necessarily related to a crime and can just mean to question. See www.ocn.me/v9n5.htm#pltc402 and www.ocn.me/v9n5.htm#pltc409 for some of Cressman’s previous comments on this type of recommendation from Allen.

Note: Forensic accounting generally refers to an investigation and accounting analysis that is suitable to a court as the basis for discussion, debate, and dispute resolution for existing or pending litigation. Investigative accounting usually involves employee theft, securities fraud, insurance fraud, kickbacks, and proceeds of crime investigations. For more information see www.forensicaccounting.com/ 

PLVFD firefighter Jane Garrabant said that she had stuffed fliers for town events in with town water bills that are mailed to all the businesses in the town. She also said that a large sign would be constructed that would advertise local events.

Gray said that she was working on upgrading the town’s software to better streamline the accounting and bookkeeping jobs. Other citizens expressed opinions on accounting software.

There was consensus among the council members to create three task forces for researching legal, accounting-auditing, and engineering RFP recommendations for creation of cleaner, more transparent reports. Cressman and Gray stated that examples of other towns’ successful RFPs should be obtained. Gaddis noted that adding any requirements for forensic accounting work or a non-standard government audit would substantially increase the costs of the proposals submitted by consultants. Cressman assigned Hulsmann and Trustee Jack to help him organize the three task forces.

Proposed government restructuring

The final discussion item on the agenda was a proposal for restructuring the government of the Town of Palmer Lake. Cressman opened up this brief discussion by clarifying that the restructuring to which he referred included cutting some town positions while increasing the responsibilities of other positions to save some overhead. Cressman said he wanted to do this in a transparent way, but he also recognized that this would be a "painful" issue to address because people’s jobs and livelihoods were at stake. "It is a business and businesses make hard decisions." It will be a continuing agenda item.

Hulsmann asked about construction of a water line behind the downtown business properties along the east side of Highway 105. Stafford responded that the town had installed nearly 900 feet of new water line. Gray said the new line cost about $69,000. Berreth said the property owners were "tickled pink" at no longer losing water service due to freezing of the lines.

There was also a discussion about the town possibly receiving $30,000 from the state Clean & Green Home Improvement Grant program. The town may be able to offer up to $1,000 to help with repairs and improvements that help the environment. The council noted that no decisions could be made at this time regarding awarding of these funds to Palmer Lake citizens. Some of this money may be used in the future to help seniors living on limited fixed incomes.

Two new business licenses approved

The board unanimously approved two new business licenses for Gehu Gonzales’ home-based handyman business and the relocation of the Glass Guru business, operated by DJ’s Home Improvements to 835 Highway 105 #B. The two new business licenses had been previously approved by the council at the Dec. 2 Town Council Workshop.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.


Note: Gray, who had been on sick leave from the Nov. 11 meeting until this meeting, died on Dec. 26. See article on page 1 for details of the memorial service held for Gray on Jan. 3.

The next regular council meeting will be held on Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us or call 481-2953.

Timothy Dorman can be reached at timdorman@ocn.me. Jim Kendrick can be contacted at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, Dec. 8 and 16: Board fine-tunes superintendent search, celebrates awards

Below: The Colorado Department of Education’s ceremony Dec. 9 to honor school districts accredited with distinction. Governor Ritter spoke as did Commissioner of Education, Dwight Jones. Pictured (L to R) Dr. Mark Hatchell, Supt., Academy School District 20; Dwight Jones, Colorado Commissioner of Education; Ted Bauman Supt., Lewis-Palmer School District 38; Dr. Walt Cooper, Supt., Cheyenne Mountain School District 12. Photo provided by D38

Below: Lewis-Palmer district principals display their certificates announcing Accreditation with Distinction. In the back row, left to right, are Interim Superintendent John Borman, Gary Gabel, Lois Skaggs, Aileen Finnegan, Peggy Parsley, and Chuck Stovall. In the front row, left to right, are Julie Jadomski, Nancy Tive (representing Monument Academy, not the principal), and Caryn Collette. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Participating in the Poland exchange program are, left to right, Lewis-Palmer High School teacher Karen Kennedy, John Coats, Kourtney Guetlein, Josef LeBeau, Haley Midzor, Shane Mobley, and Lewis-Palmer Principal John Borman. Photo by Harriet Halbig

Below: Following presentation of awards from the Lewis-Palmer Education Foundation, (L to R) Foundation Vice President Tonya Bjurstrom, Lewis-Palmer High School Principal John Borman, Palmer Ridge High School Principal Gary Gabel, Foundation Secretary/Treasurer Dodi Ferrante, Palmer Ridge High School teacher Amy Gammell, and Lewis-Palmer Middle School Principal Caryn Collette. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer Board of Education held a special meeting on Dec. 8 to examine the process for selecting a new permanent superintendent early in 2011.

Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) representative Bob Cito was present to answer any detailed questions about the process. Cito said that he had already received application materials from three people, and a number of attendees at the CASB conference the previous weekend approached him to discuss the opportunity.

The application period closes in mid-January and screening will begin Jan. 22, with interviews held on Feb. 11 and 12. Cito suggested that the board interview three or four candidates.

Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman will take the finalists on a tour of the facilities before the interviews. Candidates could also speak with staff and administrators on that day. Bauman will not be involved in the interviews but could learn from their questions and report to the board.

Cito said that if the board elects to include others in the process, such as staff and community members, the others should attend a training session on interview procedures. In this way, they can formulate their own questions to get the information they desire. He said that anyone involved in the process should have a vote in the outcome. Each candidate would spend about 1½ hours with each panel, and the interviewers would only compare notes when the interviewing was complete. Cito said that state law requires that the interviews be open.

Names of candidates would remain confidential through the screening process, with the finalists made public after background checks had been completed. If there are out-of-state finalists, Cito would contact school board association officials in their home location for references and other background information.

Cito suggested that an open forum be held on the evening of the interview day, allowing the community to interact with the finalists. He said that the board would prefer a multiyear contract with the selected candidate. The final selection will be announced on Feb. 17.

Awards and grants celebrated

At its regular meeting on Dec. 16, the board recognized a number of achievements by the district.

Superintendent Bauman said that he had attended a ceremony at the Colorado Department of Education earlier that week to receive the accreditation with distinction plaque earned by the district this year. He said that only 17 of the over 140 districts in the state reach that level, and that Lewis-Palmer scored in the top 3. He presented to the principals of each school a framed certificate indicating the accreditation.

In addition, Bauman presented to each board member a sweatshirt made by Deborah Goth featuring the colors of both high schools.

The Lewis-Palmer Education Foundation presented a grant of over $9,000 in support of 11 projects in the district, involving eight schools. The foundation is an independent, nonprofit group organized by parents and students in the district who recognize the need for greater support for the classroom efforts of students and teachers.

Teachers were required to submit applications for the grant, describing their project, the number of students impacted, and the criteria used to evaluate the results. Grants would be applied to equipment, books, PE equipment, scholarships, and other items.

Georgina Gittins, a parent from Bear Creek Elementary and chairperson of the Adopt a Class program, acknowledged a donation by the foundation to her program. For a detailed list of the awards or to make a tax-deductible donation or volunteer, please go to lpsdef.org.

Five students and a teacher from Lewis-Palmer High School have been selected to participate in the U.S.-Poland Parliamentary Youth Leadership Exchange Program, sponsored by the American Councils for International Education. The program is administered by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the State Department. Travel for the students is provided and students will stay with host families during the visit.

Participants will attend presentations about their host country, participate in a community service project utilizing small grants in Poland, explore careers through internships, take cultural excursions, and attend a joint summer camp in Krakow to develop ties and bonds between themselves and participants from other American schools. Students will spend the month of June in Poland. Polish participants will spend February in the U.S.

Planning Task Force update

Steve Stephenson, facilitator of the district’s Planning Task Force, said that the group consists of about 20 people, including eight community members and some district staff. The task force has been divided into three work groups, addressing:

  • Ways and ideas to save money without reducing staff
  • Ideas to save money without reducing instructional staff
  • Ways in which the district can generate revenue
  • Ways to restructure if faced with $2 million in budget cuts

The task force has spoken with counterparts in Douglas County and School Districts 20 and 49 about their procedures. The task force will now analyze the impact of decisions on the district and quality of education. Stephenson said that the task force has received all the information it asked of Bauman and will make a presentation on Feb. 3.

Other items

The board approved the audit of Monument Academy, commenting that the financial dealings of the academy have improved annually.

The board approved the hiring of Lori Wagner, assistant principal at Lewis-Palmer High School, as the new director of Assessment and Student Achievement, effective July 1. She will be replaced by a dean.

Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster reported that the district has been working with the Department of Human Services and local law enforcement to develop a document detailing legal requirements and procedures. There is now an official point of contact at each location.

Board member Mark Pfoff pointed out that teachers are mandatory reporters in case of suspected abuse of children. He also said that members of the district’s staff would not tolerate misbehavior by other staff. Training and background checks for volunteers have been increased.

Foster said that the district’s School Resource Officer (SRO) is doing his job well, being visible at all locations and interacting with parents and students. He is also coaching at the high school level.

The board also approved several routine items such as minutes of past meetings, ratification of delayed starts and closures due to weather and water main breaks, appointment and resignation of staff, lists of substitute teachers and staff, and the Monument Academy revised budget.


The Lewis-Palmer Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s administration building, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The next meeting will be held on Jan. 20.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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Monument Academy Board, Dec. 3: Monument Academy names executive director

By Candice Hitt

On Dec. 3, the Monument Academy Board of Directors announced the hiring of Dr. Don Griffin as the school’s executive director as of Dec. 1. Since July 2010, Griffin had been serving as the school’s interim executive director.

Board President Tim Reiman stated, "We felt Don was the right person at the right time to help our school reach the next level."

Griffin has over 25 years of senior management experience. Since 2006, he had served as CEO and president of the Schuck Foundation in Colorado Springs. He also is the author of a business novel, "High Velocity."

Monument Academy is a public school of choice and is the only charter school in Lewis-Palmer School District 38. The school was founded in 1996 as a publicly funded, tuition-free school with the purpose of providing small class sizes and high academic standards and promoting respect and responsibility.


The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 13. The Monument Academy board generally meets on the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the school library, 1150 Village Ridge Point, Monument. For information go to www.monumentacademy.net or call 481-1950.

Candice Hitt can be reached at candicehitt@ocn.me

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Future of Regional Transit Steering Committee, Dec. 3: Committee explores regional public transit concepts

Below: Scott Baker, AECOM representative, standing, explains the study findings on funding and governance to the steering committee. In the rear, from left, are committee participants United Way representative J.D. Dallagher, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments representative Craig Casper, Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. representative Jennifer Taylor, El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey, and steering committee leader Marc Snyder. On the far right sitting in the rear and to the right of Baker is Metro Transit Study Project Manager Andy Garton. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

Before the official start of the Dec. 3 meeting of the Future of Regional Transit Steering Committee, Lisa Bachman of the Lisa Bachman P.R. Group reviewed the events leading up to the meeting. She stated that the Colorado Springs City Council had commissioned this steering committee and consultant firm AECOM to explore the future of public transportation needs in the Pikes Peak region.

Bachman said that considerations include environmental benefits, economical feasibility, financial advantages, personal opportunities, fuel savings, and the reduction of the carbon footprint of public types of transportation. She emphasized that the goals of the nine-month project were to determine the role that the citizens want for public transportation, to determine a more stable local funding source or sources, and to devise a better aligned and comprehensive governance and funding platform for the Pikes Peak region.

At this meeting of the committee, the primary subject was future concepts concerning governing and funding. Leading the steering committee is Marc Snyder, a member of the Manitou Springs City Council. After the preliminary pro forma agenda, Snyder reminded the public that the committee meets at various sites throughout the area on an intermittent basis to gather local input and to familiarize committee members with the various localities and their transportation interfaces in the Pikes Peak region.

Consultant presents transit findings

Scott Baker of AECOM presented his firm’s findings through a PowerPoint presentation concerning the attributes and alternatives of the governance and funding of future regional transportation. The mission statement for this section is, "Develop recommendations for a transparent sustainable funding source and representative governance model for an accountable, affordable, efficient, effective, innovative, and inclusive regional transit network."

Based on this statement, Baker further defined governance by stating that it consisted of transportation modalities and their relationships to other government agencies, and the composition of any transportation board and its relationship to the public. He further explained the concept for overall funding of the proposed agency related to its economic features, tax policy considerations, and the overall practical feasibility of any proposed authority. The governance entity or board must be transit-centric, independent, and must sustain its own continuity through grants, contracts, etc., he said.

Baker said that the composition of the board should be small enough to be effective and must be representative of taxpayers, transit riders, and the constituent jurisdictions it oversees. It must be fully accountable to the public; it must be transparent and entirely representative of the public. Members may be nonpolitical, appointed by an elected authority, or they may be directly elected by the constituents.

Baker stressed that funding must be adequate for the desired level of service and must have reasonable protection from inflation, and the cash flow must be sustainable (funding will match the changing needs of transit service in the Pikes Peak region), stable, (funding will not be susceptible to economic downturns), and will not create negative economic impacts.

Presently, Colorado Springs controls the transit operations. Baker suggested the possibility of a division of the county, a division of the Pikes Peak Regional Transit Authority, a new and independent agency or a new and independent governing board to become the apex of the regional public transit issues and operations.

Snyder stated that more of the public are asked to become involved so that thoughts and ideas may be absorbed by the steering committee representatives from the various jurisdictions, municipalities, key stakeholders, and communities at large. He reminded everyone that a time is always reserved for public input.

The next meeting will be on Jan. 7 in Falcon. Further information concerning the steering committee may be found at www.FutureofRegionalTransit.com. February’s meeting will be on Friday, Feb. 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Fountain/Widefield area.

Public transit poll

As a follow-up to the meeting, on Dec. 8 hundreds of citizens from across the Pikes Peak region took part in a discussion about the role of public transit services in the region and whether a new dedicated funding and governance model is needed. A telephone town hall was conducted by the Future of Regional Transit study team. A random sample of 40,000 residents was called with more than 3,900 responses/participants and more than 400 active participants

Craig Blewitt, director of Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT), and Ray Krueger, vice chair of the study steering committee, led the telephone discussion by providing information about the study and answering pertinent questions. Local radio reporter Mark Goldberg, of Citadel Broadcasting, moderated the discussion.

Topics discussed by the panel during the telephone town hall included the need for public transit service in the region, how current service is funded and governed, and the need for possible change to ensure transit services are available in the future. Four questions were posed to participants who responded through their touch-tone phones. Responding to the survey questions was optional.

Survey Results

Question 1: Does the Pikes Peak region need an improved public transit system? (213 participants voted) 84% voted yes.

Question 2: Do we need a more stable funding source to ensure public transit services are responsible to regional transportation needs? (149 participants voted) 85% voted yes.

Question 3: In addition to the support of farebox and advertising revenues, how should the region fund transit? (137 participants voted) 26% said sales tax should fund transit, 13% said property tax should fund transit, 6% said payroll tax should fund transit, 55% said should be funded by "other" means

Question 4: There are a number of governance structures being discussed. Which of the following would you most support? (112 participants voted) 19% picked the City of Colorado Springs—the current governance model, 11% picked a division of the county, 36% picked a division of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, 34% picked an independent governing board.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 6: Public hearing held on 2011 budget, but final vote delayed

By Jim Kendrick

Because Mayor Travis Easton and Trustees Gail Drumm and Rick Squires were not in attendance at the Dec. 6 Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Rafael Dominguez recommended that the final board vote at the end of the scheduled public hearing on the 2011 budget and appropriation be continued until the next meeting on Dec. 20.

Dominguez also recommended that the agenda item for discussion of the proposal by the Pastimes homeowners association to sell 10 acres of Preble’s mouse habitat to the town for $50,000 be continued until Drumm, a member of the Pastimes HOA, was in attendance. The board unanimously approved the proposed delays.

2011 budget/appropriation public hearings

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith stated that all changes had been incorporated in the final balanced 2011 budget she was presenting. She noted that the budget must be voted on at the next meeting on Dec. 20 in order for it to be presented to the state before the Dec. 31 deadline. Some of the budget assumptions Smith noted for 2011 were:

  • General fund revenues will increase by 1.8 percent
  • General fund expenditures will decrease by 1.24 percent
  • There will be no cost of living increases for salaries and benefits
  • Adjusted the increase in employee health insurance policy cost from 20 percent to 15 percent
  • Per the board’s request, $33,500 was added for purchase of a police car and $30,000 added for a new bucket truck
  • Adjusted the road maintenance budget to $60,000 for asphalt repairs and $50,000 for Old Denver Highway maintenance
  • Added $18,000 for Transit Loss Model measurements for Monument Creek water exchanges
  • Added $23,000 for solar heat modifications for the town water tank
  • Adjusted workers comp and property liability insurance payments to recent actual premium amounts
  • Cut 20 percent from the town donation budget

There were no comments from citizens during these two public hearings. The board unanimously approved continuation of the votes on these two ordinances to Dec. 20.

The board unanimously approved a resolution for certifying the town’s property tax mill levy at the current 6.289 mills in 2011, which produce $712,987 in revenues, an annual increase of $13,922. Under the TABOR amendment, the town would be allowed to increase the mill levy to 6.742 mills to raise $764,322. However, any increase in the tax rate would have to be approved by the voters before being put into effect.

Amendment to temporary use ordinance approved

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, proposed an amendment to the town code regarding temporary uses and improvements to update the existing language, add an intent statement, remove the public hearing requirements for a kiosk-oriented business and replace it with an administrative review process, create a permit process, and add approval criteria. This amendment does not affect current regulations regarding farmer’s markets or address fireworks sales.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved this proposed amendment on Nov. 10. For more info, see www.ocn.me/v10n12.htm#monpc

Some of the changes added to the code were:

  • Sections describing temporary use permits and the permit process
  • A section with an intent statement
  • A section with approval criteria
  • Sections with specific information on permit conditions, expirations, renewals, and revocations
  • Sections on abandonment, exempt activities, prohibited uses and activities, natural disasters and emergencies, and other uses

A section of the code that outlined the public hearing process and requirements for a business operating in a parking area was removed.

The administrative staff review process for temporary use permit applications will now assess:

  • Conformance with the zoning code and other town codes
  • Compatibility with surrounding properties and neighborhoods
  • Drainage, erosion control, and weed control
  • Vehicular and pedestrian circulation
  • Provision of necessary services such as electricity, sanitary facilities, and refuse disposal
  • Assessment of excessive noise, light pollution, glare, or traffic congestion
  • Whether the applicant has a business license, if required
  • Significant impacts to wildlife, natural vegetation, existing landscaping, and scenic, historic, or geologic features
  • Provisions for site cleanup, restoration, and collection of a deposit if necessary

There were no comments from citizens during the public hearing. The board unanimously approved the proposed amendment.

Fee amendment approved

Rich Landreth, director of Public Works, proposed some changes to existing water fees including:

  • An increase in the water rate for bulk water users of $1 per 1,000 gallons
  • A change to the deposit for construction meters that allow the town to retain $50 from each deposit to help fund the replacement of the meters
  • The addition of a lien fee ($100)
  • The deletion of duplicate fees for meter checks

Jake Shirk, chief of police, proposed changes to Police Department fees, including:

  • The deletion of fees for services no longer offered
  • The addition of a fee for records searches with copies to cover redaction costs
  • Adding a fee for local background checks ($20 per hour)

These proposed fee changes were unanimously approved.

Staff reports

Smith reviewed the financial statements through Oct. 31, 2010.

General fund revenues exceeded the budgeted amount by 1.1 percent, or $32,668. General fund expenditures were less than budgeted by 3.7 percent, or $111,308. The general fund exceeded the budgeted amount by about $144,000, which is down about $237,000 from September. This decrease is due to loan payments made in October.

Water fund revenues topped the budgeted amount by 11.3 percent, or $104,356. Water fund expenditures were less than the budgeted amount by 14.3 percent, or $151,377. The water fund exceeded the budget by $255,734, which is up about $36,000 from September. Tap fees have already exceeded the 2010 budget by $18,000 due to more development than projected.

The ancillary funds are within budgeted ranges.

Executive session

The board went into executive session at 7:32 pm to discuss real estate negotiations.

The meeting was adjourned immediately after the conclusion of the executive session at 7:55 p.m.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 20: 2011 budget approved

Below: About 20 members of the town staff attended the Dec. 20 Monument Board of Trustees meeting to see if Trustee Rafael Dominguez would formally propose that the board eliminate the town match of employee contributions to their 401K accounts. The town currently matches the employee contribution up to 5 percent of the employee’s gross salary. Dominguez did not propose the retirement benefit cut. Staff pay and benefits remained unchanged for another year. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 20, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved ordinances for the 2011 budget and appropriation that had been continued from the previous meeting on Dec. 6. The board also considered and then declined a proposal from the Pastimes homeowner’s association to sell 10 acres of Preble’s mouse habitat it owns within this development to the town for $50,000. This proposal had been continued due to the absence of Trustee Gail Drumm, secretary of the Pastimes HOA, on Dec. 6.

2011 budget/appropriation public hearings

Pamela Smith, town treasurer, provided a revised final budget to board members that included new information on revenues and the costs of employee benefits from the past two weeks. About 20 employees were present to observe whether the board would take action on a previous proposal by Trustee Rafael Dominguez to eliminate a town retirement benefit that matches an employee contribution to 401K accounts up to 5 percent of the employee’s gross salary. However, Dominguez did not formally propose a reduction in this benefit at this meeting.

After a short technical discussion on details regarding specific line items, the board unanimously approved the ordinance for the 2011 budget and the ordinance for the 2011 appropriation. There were no public comments on either ordinance.

Pastimes’ offer of mouse habitat declined

Catherine Green, town manager, provided a brief history regarding a piece of vacant property within the Pastimes development that has been designated as Preble’s mouse habitat and is owned by the homeowners association. The Pastimes HOA first offered the acreage to the town in 2006. Town Attorney Gary Shupp reviewed the proposal, but the board never voted on it. Green said that the 2007 and 2008 budgets had a funded line item for the proposed $50,000 offering price for this land because it was a good price. This line item was not funded in the 2009 or 2010 budgets. There have been three potential buyers for this Pastimes mouse habitat over the past four years.

The town was initially interested in owning the land as potential substitute mouse habitat to replace mouse habitat needed to expand the Baptist Road interchange and extend Mitchell Avenue south to Baptist Road. The interchange was completed using other substitute habitat and the Mitchell Avenue extension has never been funded by the developers of the Willow Springs Ranch and Forest Lakes. Also, the town does not have a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 wetlands permit, which is needed to "bank" mouse habitat. The town does not need to own the 10 acres in Pastimes to ensure that it remains open space as required by the town code.

Green noted that the Triview Metropolitan District does have a need for more mouse habitat and does hold a 404 permit. There are plans to start construction on mouse habitat on the east side of Jackson Creek Parkway opposite the O’Reilly parts store on the southeast corner of the Monument Marketplace. However, Triview is currently in negotiations to receive a donation of a different, larger piece of habitat so Triview is now less interested in purchasing the Pastimes habitat.

Green added that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) always has a need to obtain additional mouse habitat and is ready to make the purchase from the Pastimes HOA because of continuous construction of new roads. As a general rule, each acre of undeveloped habitat used for road construction has to be replaced by 2 to 2.5 acres of substitute habitat.

After Green answered several questions by various trustees, there was consensus that the town should not buy this Pastimes open space for $50,000 at this time.

Financial reports

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

  • $114,216 to Triview Metropolitan District for October sales tax ($108,439), November motor vehicle tax ($5,672), and Regional Building sales tax ($105)
  • $29,315 to Dellenbach Motors for a new Chevrolet Tahoe for the Police Department
  • $12,544 to LAWS and Astral Communications for outfitting the new Chevrolet Tahoe with police lighting, radios, etc.

Trustees’ comments

Mayor Travis Easton stated that the Colorado Department of Transportation had just announced that it is repaying $3 million of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority debt of $21 million for the widening of Baptist Road and the I-25 Exit 158 interchange. He also encouraged board and staff members and the public to meet with new District 1 County Commissioner-elect Darryl Glenn at a question and answer open house in Monument Town Hall on Jan. 15 at noon.

Easton reported that state Department of Local Affairs officials had inspected the completed Third Street project and sent a letter to the town reporting that all phases of work met their standards. The letter also thanked Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara for his assistance and expertise in establishing an administrative system that made it easy for them to monitor the project.

Easton announced that the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) would be setting up the first website in the state for active-duty military and veterans as a single point of information for local, state, and national sources of assistance.

Staff reports

Rich Landreth, director of Public Works, discussed the Water Conservation Plan development grant awarded to the town, Triview, and the Town of Palmer Lake to create a state-approved joint water conservation plan. Approval of the completed conservation plan may lead to eligibility for other water grants in the future.

Landreth stated that the Triview’s A4 well, located on Jackson Creek Parkway near the electrical substation north of Ent Federal Credit Union, had been repaired and is now back in service. Triview water consumption has remained abnormally high after the summer peak due to dry warm weather during October and November.

The contractor who is supposed to be removing the old Police Department modular buildings on Washington Street has had equipment problems that have delayed project completion.

Police Chief Jake Shirk detailed the success of his Santa on Patrol event on Dec. 18. He said that the community had poured out its support. Santa gave away 18 bicycles (donated by Dominguez), numerous other gifts, and gift cards to hundreds of kids. See the Santa on Patrol photos on page 29.

Shirk noted that a new online system will be installed that allows citizens to download their traffic accident reports through the Internet.

Green reported that Triview has hired Mark Carmel as its new district manager. Carmel will be attending an upcoming BOT meeting. She stated that "We are confident that Mark will help create a strong partnership between our two entities" as town staff department heads begin to shift some of their Triview workload to Carmel. Green added that she will be working on having town and Triview water billing systems use the same computer software, billing rates, payment envelopes, and increased rates that penalize those who use a lot of water.

Green said that El Paso County is looking for matches for a Great Outdoors Colorado Grant to purchase the entire Willow Springs Ranch parcel and turn it into a regional park. The developer went bankrupt and one of the two banks that foreclosed on the property has been taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Kassawara reported that the town has issued 48 residential land use permits this year; 31 of these permits are in Triview. He noted the list of administrative updates to various parts of the town code that he is completing.

Kassawara said he has also been working with a landscape architect on a streetscape conceptual design for Second Street between Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road, including a design for a traffic circle at the Beacon Lite intersection. There is not enough room to plant trees in the existing easements on the north side of Beacon Lite due to the narrow right of way along a portion of this roadway. The town is attempting to contact the adjacent property’s owner to obtain a new landscaping easement for trees to be planted along the entire length of this block.

Green noted that there are no plans to install curb, gutter, and sidewalk on the south side of Second Street, "just a wall of trees that we can light up in the winter" that will "lead somebody down that dead space until you get to downtown." Kassawara said that the cost of trees, irrigation, and electricity for this block would be about $75,000. Green added that the town would apply for inclusion of this project in the PPACG 2035 Regional Transportation Plan to be eligible to apply for future grants through the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan.

Kassawara said there are no plans for the town to take ownership of any portion of Highway 105 because CDOT has already given away all the funding that was part of its transfer of ownership program. The town had agreed to take over the downtown portion of the highway if CDOT gave the town $850,000. The state also has no money to pay for any curb, gutter, or sidewalk improvements along Highway 105 but will provide easements if the town pays for them. However, the town has very little money for capital improvements.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:27 p.m.


The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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El Paso County Water Authority, Dec. 1: Authority prepares revision to its governing document

By John Heiser

At its regular monthly meeting Dec. 1, the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) gave guidance to Assistant County Attorney Cole Emmons in drafting a revised establishing contract for the water authority to complete the merging of the functions of the existing Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) into the EPCWA. Emmons noted that since the founding of the EPCWA in 1996, the contract was revised once, in 2007.

The members of the existing 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, the Triview Metropolitan District, the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

All the members of the existing PPRWA are also members of the EPCWA. Additional members of the EPCWA are El Paso County, the Colorado Centre Metropolitan District, the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, the Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co., the Security Water and Sanitation District, the Stratmoor Hills Water and Sanitation District, the Sunset Metropolitan District, and the Widefield Water and Sanitation District.

Some points covered during the discussion:

  • The name change to Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority is included in the revision to the establishing contract.
  • The existing provision in the contract for revising the contract requires approval by 80 percent of the boards of the member entities. Changes to the amendment, powers, and termination, withdrawal, and expulsion paragraphs currently require unanimous approval. Emmons recommended revising that to a simple majority of the boards of the member entities for all changes. The EPCWA decided to require approval by the boards of two-thirds of the member entities.
  • Mark Carmel, recently appointed manager of the Triview Metropolitan District, expressed concern that actions by the EPCWA could financially obligate his district unless his district withdraws from the authority. Emmons told Carmel that his district would be obligated to pay for everything approved up to the day of withdrawal. Emmons added that financial obligations for EPCWA projects would be determined by the terms of the associated project participation agreements.
  • The EPCWA decided that one year of non-payment of the annual dues by a member would result in automatic withdrawal by the member.
  • It was noted that the existing PPRWA must approve transfer of its existing projects to the EPCWA prior to Dec. 31. The EPCWA anticipates accepting that transfer at its Jan. 5 meeting.

Other matters

  • The EPCWA approved its 2011 budget based on the following four-tiered annual dues structure:
    0-700 taps: $1,300
    701-2000 taps: $2,950
    2001-5000 taps: $3,700
    5000+ taps: $4,450
    Associate memberships: $650
  • Some of the larger amounts in the 2011 budget include income of $102,250 and expenses of $102,219 budgeted for administration of the Transit Loss Model (TLM), income of $49,700 from membership dues, $20,000 budgeted to pay for the EPCWA manager of which $2,000 is allocated for administration of the TLM, $15,000 budgeted for legal services, and $10,000 budgeted for legislative consulting. The beginning fund balance as of Jan. 1 was projected to be $83,964. The ending fund balance as of Dec. 31, 2011, was projected to be $76,995.
  • EPCWA manager Gary Barber reported that Peter Nichols, attorney for the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District and the Super Ditch Company, is reportedly developing legislation that could simplify conversion for municipal use of water made available through rotating fallowing of farmland.
  • Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala Water and Sanitation District, reported that the Colorado River Water Availability Study produced by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) has received 700 rebuttals. The CWCB report concluded that, depending on which climate change model is picked, there are between zero and 900,000 acre-feet of water available in the Colorado River. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. If there is no water available, that would put a stop to investigations into bringing water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in northwestern Colorado to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir, a 70,000 acre-foot facility being constructed 3 miles southwest of downtown Parker.
  • Barber said that the Flaming Gorge assessment task force within the Arkansas Basin Roundtable is developing a list of questions and plans to meet March 3.
  • Barber said he would send a request for information to candidate law firms to see who is interested in providing legal representation to the EPCWA. Emmons suggested that expertise is needed in water law and law covering governmental entities.
  • Barber also said he and legislative liaison Dick Brown would submit proposals to provide services during 2011.
  • A nominating committee was formed to develop a slate of officers for 2011.


The El Paso County Water Authority normally meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. at the El Paso County Board Room in the County Office Building, 27 E Vermijo St., Colorado Springs. The next meeting will be held Feb. 2. The meetings are usually broadcast through the El Paso County website at www.elpasoco.com

The PPRWA website is www.pprwa.com

The EPCWA website is www.epcwa.com

John Heiser can be reached at johnheiser@ocn.me

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Dec. 15: Water authority dissolves

Below: The last meeting of the original PPRWA. Pictured (L to R): Attorney Rick Fendel, Cherokee Metropolitan District interim manager Sean Chambers, legislative consultant Dick Brown, Town of Palmer Lake representative Max Stafford, Triview Metropolitan District manager Mark Carmel, Donala Water and Sanitation District manager Dana Duthie, City of Fountain representative Curtis Mitchell, Town of Monument representative Rich Landreth, PPRWA Manager Gary Barber, Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District manager Larry Bishop, and City of Fountain Utility Director Larry Patterson. Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District manager Jesse Shafer arrived after the photo was taken. Photo by John Heiser.

Below: (L to R): City of Fountain representative Curtis Mitchell, Donala Water and Sanitation District manager Dana Duthie, and Town of Monument representative Rich Landreth express their appreciation to PPRWA Manager Gary Barber (standing) for his work on behalf of the authority. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the final monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) on Dec. 15, the members unanimously voted to complete the merger of the PPRWA into the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) and to dissolve the PPRWA as of Dec. 31.

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, the Triview Metropolitan District, the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

All the PPRWA members are also members of the EPCWA. Additional members of the EPCWA are El Paso County, the Colorado Centre Metropolitan District, the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, the Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co., the Security Water and Sanitation District, the Stratmoor Hills Water and Sanitation District, the Sunset Metropolitan District, and the Widefield Water and Sanitation District.


In 2011, the EPCWA will take over the existing PPRWA projects and change its name to the PPRWA.

Donala General Manager Dana Duthie, who is also the treasurer for the current PPRWA, said any remaining PPRWA funds at the end of the year will be refunded to the PPRWA members in proportion to dues paid. As of Nov. 30, the fund balance stood at $24,851.

Dick Brown, the current PPRWA’s legislative liaison, will apply to become the EPCWA’s legislative liaison.

Gary Barber, manager of the current PPRWA and EPCWA, will continue as the manager of the EPCWA.

Rick Fendel, PPRWA’s attorney, reported that he is preparing participation agreements for the PPRWA projects that are being transitioned to the EPCWA.

The PPRWA unanimously voted to fund Fendel’s work to complete the transition of the two projects to the EPCWA.

Manager’s report

Barber reported that Peter Nichols, attorney for the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District and the Super Ditch Company (SDC), is reportedly developing legislation that could simplify conversion for municipal use of water made available through rotating fallowing of farmland.

Fendel noted that the approved non-binding term sheet between the existing PPRWA and the SDC anticipated that the SDC would pursue conversion of water rights through water court. He said, "We need to talk to them about that."

Fendel added that the proposed changes in the law could "make it so easy to lease water to municipalities, that is what everyone will want to do."

Duthie said the purpose would be to stop farmers from selling their land and water rights to municipalities.

Barber said it is important to discuss it with SDC representatives. He encouraged them to "treat the SDC as partners, not adversaries."

Barber distributed copies of slides from a Dec. 9 presentation by Jason Mumm, founder and president of StepWise Utility Advisors. Some highlights from those slides:

  • Price exploitation was rampant in early monopoly enterprises, like railroads and utilities.
  • Businesses carried out under the authority of a public grant of privileges, such as railroads and utilities, are "affected with a public interest," which was established as a legal criteria for government regulation in 1877.
  • Court cases established the standard of a fair return on the value of the property used at the time it is being used to render the service. Fees charged by utilities must be reasonably related to the costs, rationally based, consistently applied, fairly calculated, and without extraordinary concessions.

Barber said that, based on those principles, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) is not allowed to be arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable in setting the rates it charges for use of its infrastructure, including the Southern Delivery System (SDS) that is scheduled to be completed in 2016. He cited as problematic the 50 percent rate surcharge suggested by CSU. He added that Tri-Lakes area ratepayers might challenge the costs being passed through to them.

Mark Carmel, recently appointed manager of the Triview Metropolitan District, expressed concern with the costs associated with the proposed use of SDS. He also said he was concerned that Triview will be asked to trade its present water rights for a temporary annual supply.

Barber, who is also the interim executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control, and Greenway District, reported that, based on his recommendation, the Fountain Creek district has decided to look for a full-time executive director. Currently, the Fountain Creek district can afford at most $60,000 for the position. When SDS is completed, the district will receive the bulk of the $50 million pledged by Colorado Springs as part of its SDS agreement with Pueblo County.

Barber also reported that the Fountain Creek district is looking at a $37,500 proposal from Summit Economics, headed by David Bamberger, to develop a report identifying El Paso County stormwater issues and ways to address those issues. Colorado Springs has committed to cover $20,000 of the cost. Sources for the remainder of the cost are being sought.


The El Paso County Water Authority normally meets on the first Wednesday of each month. The next regular monthly meeting of the EPCWA will be held Jan. 5 at 9 a.m. at the El Paso County Board Room in the County Office Building, 27 E Vermijo St., Colorado Springs. The meetings are usually broadcast through the El Paso County website at www.elpasoco.com

The PPRWA website is www.pprwa.com

The EPCWA website is www.epcwa.com

John Heiser can be reached at johnheiser@ocn.me

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board, Dec. 9: Water conservation plan studied

By Candice Hitt

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board of Directors discussed a water conservation plan at the Dec. 9 regular board meeting. Long aware of the need to use water resources wisely, the district is drafting a formal conservation plan with the assistance of Rocky Wiley of Tetratech.

Wiley gave a presentation of the conservation plan to board members. While the Colorado Conservation Board does not require a formal plan, the district would like to have one in place. When complete, the plan will be reviewed by board members and made available to the public for feedback prior to adoption by the district.

The board also has met with Bill Ray, the district’s public relations consultant, to develop a community outreach strategy. With a goal of educating citizens about water use and conservation methods, the board is planning to launch a public outreach program in early 2011.

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette emphasized the need to educate consumers on conservation and conservation techniques, stressing consumer-accessible conservation plans and development of a booklet for new customers illustrating the district’s efforts to conserve. The water district’s website will change to include the outreach program along with consumer water conservation tips. No final decisions have been made on the plan.


The next Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board meeting will be held on Jan.13 at 1 p.m.

Candice Hitt can be reached at candicehitt@ocn.me

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Dec. 14: Treatment plant budget rises for 2011

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 14, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) held a public hearing and then approved the facility’s 2011 budget and appropriation.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by the Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner boards.

Total budgeted expenditures are expected to increase from $695,000 for 2010 to $892,765 in 2011. However, the actual 2010 facility budget now estimates that total expenditures for 2010 will only be $632,525. The total facility costs for each district in the 2011 budget are: $216,682 for Monument, $184,903 for Palmer Lake, and $491,180 for Woodmoor.

Some of the projects that the 2011 budget funds are:

  • Research and administration for a new five-year discharge permit
  • Pilot study for phosphorus removal technology
  • Construction of a new storage building
  • Removal of 450 dry tons of biosolids from the facility’s sludge lagoon
  • Jet rod cleaning of inlet lines between the district metering vaults and the facility

See www.ocn.me/v10n11.htm#juc for more details of the approved 2011 budget.

District manager reports

Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund reported that a directional drilling firm was installing new Qwest fiber-optic lines from downtown Monument under the railroad tracks and along Mitchell Avenue to the Synthes plant. The new fiber-optic communications conduit and cable will cross all three owner district and Tri-Lakes facility collection lines in four places. Wicklund will be personally observing the progress of the contractor’s installation and require potholing at each location where any sewer lines are crossed to make sure the boring head does not get deflected downward to damage or penetrate the crossed sewer lines.

Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette briefly discussed an unprecedented occurrence of a very high concentration of organic waste products in the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s collected wastewater. There was a lengthy technical discussion of possible causes of the individual concentrations that spiked to a level eight to nine times higher than average in certain collection lines and recommendations regarding the analysis of the flow’s organic content. There has been no recurrence of this episode of very strong, highly concentrated organic waste.

Once the probable cause and source of the anomalously high concentrations of waste have been identified, a process of public education will be initiated. Repeat occurrences of a discharge event that could cause the facility’s biologic nutrient removal and associated waste treatment processes to shut down if not detected promptly could lead to a significant environmental spill of hazardous materials. Wicklund noted that the Tri-Lakes facility will have to impose substantial fines on the person or entity causing such a potentially dangerous wastewater discharge.

Plant manager report

Some of the monthly items Burks discussed were:

  • None of the November monthly effluent test results reported to the state was close to any discharge permit limit as a result of the wastewater concentration spike incident.
  • He had received a state matching grant reimbursement of $622 for installation of the recent addition to the facility’s security system.
  • The November copper concentration in the facility’s effluent was 5.9 parts per billion (ppb), less than the proposed average permit limit of 8 ppb and the individual test limit of 11.7 ppb.

Some of the items Burks reported regarding 2010 plant operations were:

  • There were no discharge permit violations.
  • The plant will treat about 455 million gallons of wastewater.
  • The plant will remove about 836,000 pounds of 848,000 pounds of biologic oxygen demand waste, an efficiency of 98.7 percent. The discharge permit limit is 85 percent.
  • The plant will remove about 934,000 pounds of 955,000 pounds of total suspended solids, an efficiency of 97.8 percent. The discharge permit limit is 85 percent.
  • In contrast, the plant will remove about 144 pounds of only 172 pounds of potentially dissolved copper, an efficiency of 83.7 percent. There is no percentage limit for copper.

The meeting adjourned at 11:17 a.m.


The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 11 at the Tri-Lakes facility lab building, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Monument Sanitation District, Dec. 16: Wakonda Hills collection system completed

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 16, Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that installation of all the new sanitary sewer collection lines in Wakonda Hills had been completed and that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sign had been taken down on Dec. 14. The only remaining item for this part of the project was some reseeding that will be done in the spring. There will be one more payment to Brannan Corp., with the district paying about $8,000 of it that is not covered by the $2 million in federal stimulus funding.

Wicklund also stated that the two new Wakonda Hills lift stations had been completed and placed in operation. He noted that the district would soon receive an invoice for about $180,000 from T. Lowell Construction for installation work. Wicklund said there would be one more invoice from T. Lowell for about $40,000. Some trees will not be planted at the lift stations until this spring.

Wicklund received a round of applause from the board for managing construction of these two projects, totaling about $2.4 million, to completion on time at the estimated cost.

Wicklund also noted that total tap fees for 2010 through Dec. 16 were $96,100. Synthes North America will be paying a tap fee of about $42,000 for expansion of its new production facility, though the payment may not be received by Dec. 31. The amount budgeted for 2010 tap fees was considerably less—$50,000.

2011 budget approved

The board unanimously approved resolutions for adopting the 2011 budget and 2011 appropriation. The district has no debt, so there was no resolution to approve for certifying a mill levy for 2011. Budgeted operating costs are expected to increase from $480,319 in 2010 to $499,092 in 2011. Budgeted operating income is expected to rise from $473,950 to $494,558. The district’s budgeted total year-end balance will drop from $219,319 to $142,523, due mostly to much higher than expected costs for sludge removal at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility.

Wicklund said that the Joint Use Committee had approved the 2011 budget for the Tri-Lakes facility on Dec. 14, including the amount the district will have to pay for facility operations. The district’s finalized share of Tri-Lakes facility costs is listed as an expense in the district’s 2011 budget.

The board also approved a resolution to continue holding its meetings at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month.

JUC report

Wicklund reported a problem noted by the Tri-Lakes facility staff that resulted in a very high biological oxygen demand from very strong waste delivered by the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. He noted that Facility Manager Bill Burks had said that Woodmoor’s average waste concentration nearly doubled over a three-day period, requiring continuous blower operation to allow the aerobic bacteria to consume the waste, which was about as concentrated as blood or milk. Without continuous blower operation to speed up digestion of this added waste, the plant could have had a major upset due to the additional mass of waste smothering the facility’s aerobic bacteria. The prompt expert response of the facility staff to rapidly rising ammonia concentrations ensured that there was never a concern about exceeding any discharge permit limits.

Burks and Woodmoor operators are investigating the cause of the incident.

Nutrient regulation changes may be delayed

On Dec. 15, the district was notified that the state’s Water Quality Control Division director recommended that the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission approve a nine-month delay for its previously scheduled June hearing on setting tightened state phosphorus and nitrogen limits for wastewater treatment facility discharge permits. This hearing delay will allow for further studies on the relative cost effectiveness of various types of treatment by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, which administers state loans to Colorado water and wastewater utilities.

The authority asked for the delay at the Dec. 13 commission meeting so that it could complete its study in order to learn how to evaluate capital plant expansion proposals from districts seeking low-cost state loans.

The authority study, which will cost about $400,000, will try to determine a scientific basis for evaluating which streams are most in need of treatment and which technologies work best in the state’s eight geographic regions. Current capital cost estimates from consultant Tetra Tech Engineering for expansion of the Tri-Lakes facility range up to $50 million for different types of currently feasible additional tertiary phosphorus/nitrogen treatment equipment. However, none of these proposed feasible expansion options will satisfy current EPA demands on the state Health Department for increased total phosphorus/nitrogen removal.

Jim Kendrick, Operations, explained the current technical and procedural aspects of each of the various discharge permit issues. The Tri-Lakes facility will have to significantly expand the number and types of tests it performs on its effluent and on Monument Creek water above and below the facility’s effluent discharge location. This information is necessary to have a sufficient database of current year-round ecological information for future commission stream impairment hearings.

Kendrick noted that the data that will be collected will scientifically document that the lack of "ripple and cobble" in the sandy bottom of Monument Creek and the rip-rap stormwater control installations along the creek bank that displace normal vegetation are the real cause of lack of invertebrate aquatic life in the scoured bottom of Monument Creek. Without this data, the Water Quality Control Division and/or EPA may come to a false conclusion based on the creek’s current "substandard" multi-metric index that "pollution" from the Tri-Lakes facility is causing aquatic life impairment, when in fact the creek bottom has been scoured clean by natural recurring stormwater events and the creek banks have been intentionally defoliated by another government agency to install rip-rap rock reinforcement to limit flood damage.

Kendrick also noted that the Water Quality Control Commission accepted all the recommendations made by environmental statistics expert Tim Moore regarding the methods to be used for multi-metric indexing of various disparate aquatic life statistics throughout the state. This is the third time in a single year that all of Moore’s recommendations have been completely accepted by the state Health Department. Wicklund noted that the hiring of Moore was money well spent by the district and Tri-Lakes facility for ensuring that sound science will be used in the future to set discharge permit limits.

Wicklund noted that Monument is still the only small district represented at the eight to 10 Health Department work group meetings held in Denver each month and that Kendrick has been effective in getting the Water Quality Control Commission to acknowledge the profound economic and technical challenges small districts face in responding to hearings, much less meeting proposed tighter EPA and state discharge restrictions.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.


The next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 20 at the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Dec. 1: 2011 budget approved; Chief Edwards resigns

By Jim Kendrick

The final Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting of 2010 was held on Dec. 1. The board unanimously approved the 2011 budget and mill levy. Director Dennis Feltz did not attend the meeting.

Chief Jeff Edwards submitted a letter of resignation as of Dec. 31, based on being declared 100 percent disabled for military service by the Veterans Administration due to incurable Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He recommended that Assistant Chief Vinny Burns be appointed to replace him.

Edwards thanked the board for its continuing support for him and his family throughout his treatment. Board President Scott Campbell reluctantly accepted his letter, saying he will continue to be a part of the district, "We just can’t pay you." Edwards said he cannot receive any pay as a condition of his 100 percent military disability status.

2011 mill levy, budget, and appropriation

The board unanimously certified the district mill levy of 7.0 mills, which will generate $1,846,482 in property tax revenue, an increase of about $30,000 from 2010. The board also unanimously approved the 2011 budget, as finalized at the Nov. 17 board meeting.

The 2010 end of year fund balance that will be rolled over as the starting balance for 2011 is budgeted at $916,035, down from $1,511,121 at the end of 2009. Total 2011 expenditures are estimated at $1,783,892. Total revenue in 2011 is expected to be $2,018,582, down about $60,000 from 2010.

The 2011 budget maintains current staffing levels and funds for operation of the new Station 3 on Highway 83 at Stagecoach Road during the final quarter of 2011, the new maintenance agreement for professional maintenance of the district’s IT equipment, and the new staff pay scale that is based on merit and education.

Chief’s report

Edwards reported:

  • The district had 116 runs in November, including a call for a grass fire in Black Forest. There were no firefighter injuries.
  • Five Wescott firefighters were to attend the annual leadership conference in Keystone.
  • The district received a state matching contribution of $90,000 for the Wescott volunteer firefighter pension fund.
  • The district sent a check for $90,000 to Central States Fire Apparatus of Lyons, S.D., a division of Rosenbauer America, to reserve the chassis for the new type 3 pumper that was recently purchased from Max Fire Apparatus of Castle Rock.
  • The district has received all the new computer hardware purchased to upgrade the district’s information technology systems. It will be installed by the end of December.
  • Campbell added that there are no plans to resume consolidation discussions with Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District at the present time due to that district’s financial problems with meeting full-time staffing expenses.

The board went into executive session at 7:30 p.m. to discuss personnel matters and negotiations with the City of Colorado Springs.

After the executive session, the board unanimously approved Burns as Edwards’ replacement.


The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 26 at 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at Station 1. For more information, call 488-8680.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board, Dec. 8: Directors approve slightly smaller 2011 budget

Below: Board members at the final meeting of 2010 (L - R): John Hildebrandt, Rod Wilson, Bill Ingram, Charlie Pocock, Barbara Kelly, Roger Lance, and Bruce Fritzsche. In the foreground (L - R): bookkeeper Linda Ousnamer, Fire Chief Robert Denboske, Battalion Chief Mike Dooley, and Administrative Assistant Jennifer Martin. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

At the Dec. 8 meeting, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board of Directors reviewed and approved the proposed 2011 district budget. During the review, Treasurer John Hildebrandt mentioned some of the items of interest. He indicated that the total budgeted operating revenue for 2011 would be $4,012,985 as opposed to $4,062,684 for the 2010 budget. This is a reduction of $49,699 from 2010.

Some of the reduced line items include fire inspection revenue with an $8,000 reduction, specific ownership taxes with a $46,903 reduction, and interest on deposits with a $9,000 reduction due to lower interest rates. Ambulance revenue is forecast to increase $30,000, and property tax revenue is expected to increase by $7,204.

Hildebrandt noted that the 2011 budgeted expenses of $4,155,861 exceed budgeted income of $4,012,985 by $49,699. He said that the difference would come from reserve funds. The board then approved the budget.

Hildebrandt said that the mill levy remained at 8.5 mills. The board subsequently approved this levy. Additionally, the treasurer requested approval of a 5 percent increase on ambulance revenues, which the board approved. He also reported that as of November, the district had received 91.66 percent of the budgeted property tax revenues, 85.65 percent of the budgeted specific ownership taxes, and 113.63 percent of the budgeted ambulance revenues. Total revenues for the year to date were 99.26 percent of the budgeted amount. The salary overage was reduced from 5.27 percent and 7.99 percent in September and October to only 4.44 percent in November. All equipment lease payments for the year were paid. Overall expenses were 1.31 percent over budget.

Fire Chief Robert Denboske presented the 2011 board meeting schedule and the meeting location change to the board for approval. The schedule and the new meeting location were approved by the board. The scheduled meetings will be held in the district’s administration center at 166 Second Street in Monument instead of at Fire Station 1. The meetings for January through October of 2011 will take place on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The last two meetings will be on Nov. 16 and Dec. 7. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.

The training hours for the district consisted of 20 total class/training sessions. Total training hours were 58.5, with 361 personnel training hours accumulated for the month. Of those personnel training hours, 232 were Fire/All Hazard Specific, 106 were EMS specific personnel training hours, and the remaining 23 personnel hours were physical training sessions.

Fire sprinkler lesson No. 2

Board President Charlie Pocock read lesson No. 2 of the fire sprinkler series into the record and for media publication:

"Home Fire Sprinklers or no Sprinklers - Article 2

Before addressing the advantages and disadvantages of home sprinkler systems we should define the type of systems being considered, and how they may differ from systems installed in commercial applications.

Each home sprinkler head is activated by a rise in temperature, not by a central alarm or smoke detector. Generally, one sprinkler head is sufficient for each room, with the intent of allowing occupants time to escape. In 90 percent of the tests, one sprinkler head was sufficient to extinguish the fire. Also in most tests, less than 250 gallons of water was discharged compared to over 800 gallons usually discharged by responding fire departments. Inadvertent sprinkler discharge is always a possibility and we’ll discuss this later when we talk about insurance costs and savings.

In El Paso County, plastic pipes are okay for home sprinkler systems. Back-flow preventers and over-pressure preventers are subject to local code requirements and how the system is installed. No periodic testing or maintenance should be required. Sprinkler systems would only be required in inhabited spaces and not required in attics, garages, crawl spaces or unfinished basements. The sprinkler system is not required to be tied into smoke detectors, fire alarm systems or have outside flashing lights or alarms.

The sprinkler system must be capable of operating for 10 minutes. This is not a problem if the home is serviced by a public water system, but it is a problem if the home is serviced by a well, but most well systems use a pressure accumulator, which can provide 10 minutes of pressurized water flow. In our area, anti-freeze protection is a problem that still needs good resolution; several methods are currently under study.

Presently new home construction costs average between $115 and $140 per square foot and a sprinkler system is estimated to add about $1.61 per square foot or about $4,025 for an average home of 2,500 square feet."

The board adjourned its open meeting and entered into executive session to discuss personnel matters.


The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 26, at the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Fire District Administrative Assistant Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Be safe when using your fireplace

Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District has provided the following information on fireplace safety:

The winter cold is here, and it’s time to think about you and your family’s safety in using your fireplace. The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) latest U.S. home heating fire report says that wood-burning stoves and fireplaces caused an estimated 15,200 creosote fires, resulting in four civilian deaths, 17 civilian injuries, and $33 million in direct property damage on average each year from 2004-08.

Chimney sweeping, cracks, faults, and structural damage are not visible from the outside. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year by a certified professional chimney sweep company. During a chimney sweep, creosote and obstructions are removed, such as leaves, branches, or bird nests, and they also look for any other problems within the system.

Safety tips: Keep anything that burns at least three feet from the fireplace or wood-burning stove. Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room or logs from rolling out onto the floor. Make sure you have a cap with screen installed at the top of the chimney to prevent debris or animals from blocking the chimney. Never leave a fire unattended. Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every floor. Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on every floor. Maintain smoke alarms and CO alarms; change the batteries at least once a year, preferably twice a year. Never place hot ashes in a combustible container, always place ashes in a non-combustible container with a tightly fitting lid and place away from the home.

Additional information may be obtained from the NFPA website at www.NFPA.org and from the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association at www.HPBA.org

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, Dec. 15: Board discusses improvements to common areas, upcoming election

By Harriet Halbig

Director W. Lee Murray, director of Common Areas, reported to the Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors on Dec. 15 that all approved repairs and replacements of signs for the common areas and entrances to Woodmoor had been completed. He said that a number of people had contacted him to request more trails in the community.

Vice President Jim Hale reported that he and the nominating committee had met and discussed the printing of ballots and envelopes for the January election. He said that due to a schedule conflict, the League of Women Voters will be unable to serve as the agents to oversee the election and count the ballots.

The League was requested to serve in that capacity at last year’s election due to the controversy involved. The board agreed, however, that it would be wise to continue to have individuals from outside the community count the ballots. Directors discussed the possibility of involving an accounting firm or other local business. Hale offered to consult the association’s attorney for advice.

President Chuck Maher said that the board has made progress in reviewing the association’s legal documents and hopes to present them at the annual membership meeting in January.

Maher reported that new hardware and software had been installed in the association office, but that the telephone system remains a problem. Bids have been sought for a new system.

New budget to be posted on website

Treasurer Nick Oakley said that the association remains below budget for the year. He said that the 2011 budget presented and approved at this meeting would be posted on the website immediately. The dues for each lot will increase by $6 for 2011.

Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that all officers have now completed their weapons training and that two are now certified as trainers. He said that the officers are preparing a 2006 Jeep for sale so that it may be replaced. The board approved a motion to advertise the vehicle on Craigslist and specified a minimum acceptable bid.

Director of Architectural Control Anne Stevens-Gountanis reported that 23 projects were initiated in November. One involved the installation of a new type of steel roof with a rubber membrane. She said the roof was approved as a one-time experiment. It is a 50-year roof as required by the association, but the committee wishes to see how it ages before adding it to the list of approved materials.

Forestry Liaison Carolyn Streit-Carey reported that the FireWise organization said Woodmoor exceeded its requirements for membership in 2010. These requirements included offering a free risk-reduction event (a chipping day) and spending more than $2 per resident on the program. She also reported that caps and badges have been ordered for forestry volunteers.

Maher reported that the association has been contacted by Qwest for permission to install underground lines along the median of Fairplay from Higby Road to Caribou. He is waiting for further details. Stevens-Gountanis suggested that the association ask Qwest to put down gravel in the median so that a walkway can be created. Maher said that repeated requests by the association for such a walkway have been refused by the county.


The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting will be on Jan. 26 at the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at HarrietHalbig@ocn.me

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December Weather Wrap

Below: After two days of icy fog, the morning sun on Dec, 23 shows off the frosty covering on trees and illuminates the moon just above the Front Range. Photo by David Futey

By Bill Kappel

The pattern of dry and mild conditions continued in December around the region, as once again temperatures averaged well above normal and precipitation was well below normal. This was the warmest December in the last nine years, with a monthly average temperature just below freezing. Only one major outbreak of cold air and snow affected the region, occurring on the last two days of the month.

However, although we have been very dry and mild along the Front Range and Eastern Plains of Colorado, it has been a different story in the mountains, where a persistent westerly flow has brought high levels of moisture and heavy snow. In fact, snowpack in the mountains of Colorado ranged from 104 to 158 percent of normal as of Dec. 31—good news for those who depend on a nice spring snowmelt runoff for water supply or those who enjoy the various snow sports (current snowpack information can be found at www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/snow/index.html).

The first week of December started off dry and mild, with no snow from the 1st through the 5th. Temperatures started the month in the low 50s, then soared to near record high territory on the afternoon of the 3rd, hitting the low 60s. Cooler weather did work back in the next day behind a dry cold front, and highs only managed to hit the low 30s on the 4th and low 40s on the 5th.

More dry and mild conditions returned to the area during the second week of the month, with highs above normal most days and only a few hints of moisture. The week started off with the first measurable snow of the month, but it was barely more than a trace, as just a 1/10th of an inch fell in the morning, barely enough to notice. There was some cooler air behind this quick-moving system, with highs only reaching the upper 30s. That’s right at normal for this time of the year.

Over the next few days, we warmed back up to the low and mid-50s through the middle of the week under mostly clear to partly cloudy skies. A dry cold front rolled through late on the 10th and kept temperatures chilly on the 11th. But all the moisture with this system stayed in the mountains, then skipped over the Front Range and hammered most of the country east of Colorado with heavy snow and wind. We jumped back into the 50s on Sunday to end the weekend under clear skies.

Winter made a brief visit to the region during the week of the 13th with several days of below-normal temperatures and light snow. The week started off on the mild side, with high temperatures above normal, reaching into the mid- and upper 50s on the 13th and 14th. Breezy conditions from the west/southwest along with high level clouds led to the mild temperatures and bouts of mountain wave clouds. This also helped produce some spectacular sunsets as the setting sun produced some amazing patterns on the undersides of the mountain wave clouds.

Cold air finally made an intrusion into the area during the mid-afternoon hours of the 15th with light snow developing. However, only minimal amounts of snow managed to accumulate because moisture was lacking, and once again the snow decided to skip over Colorado and hammer the Midwest. We did continue to see light snow and flurries off and on over the next several days, with anywhere from 1-3 inches accumulating around the region. High temperatures were below average for a few days as well, only reaching to the low and mid-20s on the afternoon of the 16th and 17th. Quiet and seasonal weather then returned for the weekend, with mostly sunny skies.

Strong winds started off the week of the 20th as a strong jet stream moved over the region. The fast, high-level winds were able to push down to the surface, especially along and west of the I-25 corridor where gusts as high as 80 mph were recorded around the Air Force Academy and the Broadmoor area. These gusty winds also kept temperatures mild through the day, with highs hitting the upper 50s.

Cooler air moved in behind this system, but once again most of the moisture stayed in the mountains. Highs only reached into the mid-20s on the 22nd. Strong upslope flow in the low levels of the atmosphere also produced widespread dense fog, rime ice, and flurries. This made for a beautiful wintry scene around the area, with all exposed areas covered in ice. However, by the afternoon of the 23rd sunshine had returned and melted all the fun. Christmas weekend was seasonably cool, with plenty of sunshine as high temperatures moved from the upper 30s and low 40s on Christmas Eve to the low 50s on Sunday the 26th.

December ended with some cold air and snow as a strong cold front blasted through during the mid-morning hours of the 30th. Temperatures fell from the mid-30s just ahead of the front to below zero by midnight. Temperatures continued to plummet, with some places around the region as low as minus 20 F. This was accompanied by snow and wind, making for a nice wintry scene but also some hazardous driving conditions. With the cold air and fresh snow, highs struggled to reach the single digits on the 31st.

A look ahead

January sees the coldest average temperatures of the year, but precipitation is on the low side, with amounts generally less than an inch. The month experiences numerous sunny and windy days, with quick shots of snow in between. The last few Januarys have generally been warmer than normal, with near normal precipitation and snow. January 2006 received more snow than normal, and last year was right about average. The official monthly forecast for January 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for better than average chances of above normal temperatures and equal chances of above or below normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

December 2010 Weather Statistics

Average High 43.6° (+5.2°) 100-year return frequency value max 50.5° min 32.6°
Average Low 17.3° (+4.7) 100-year return frequency value max 22.4° min 5.4°
Highest Temperature 62° on the 3rd 
Lowest Temperature -12° on the 31st
Monthly Precipitation 0.42" (-0.62" 60% below normal) 100-year return frequency value max 2.82" min 0.00"
Monthly Snowfall 7.5" (-4.1", 33% below normal) 
Season to Date Snow 16.6" (-30.0", 64% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 6.76" (-5.11", 43% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1072 (-146)
Cooling Degree Days 0

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

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident

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Letters to Our Community

Red Kettle Campaign raises record amount

Through the incredible generosity of the Tri-Lakes community, the 2010 Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign at Safeway, King Soopers, and Walmart—sponsored by Monument Hill Kiwanis—brought in a record $40,074.45. Monument Hill Kiwanis and the Salvation Army thank all of you for your donations. One hundred percent of the monies contributed to the kettles will be given to those in need in El Paso County.

The 29 days of bell ringing were provided by Monument Hill Kiwanis club members, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Kiwanis Key Clubs, Builders Club, and Boy Scout Troop 17.

Again, thank you!

Mike Wicklund
Chairman, Monument Hill Kiwanis Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: What about those resolutions?

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Are you making some formal resolutions for this new year? Maybe you’re simply promising yourself you’ll lose some weight, exercise more, eat healthier, think more positively, or just spend more time laughing with your children or grandchildren. Here are some books to help make those resolutions or promises easier to keep.

The 12 Second Sequence
By Jorge Cruise (Three Rivers Press) $15.95

Get into the best shape of your life with Cruise’s revolutionary new method to sculpt your waistline. In just two 20-minute workouts each week, you’ll reconfigure your metabolism to maximize the "after burn," your body’s ability to burn hundreds of calories at rest. The method focuses on quality, not quantity, and compresses two hours of gym time into just 20 minutes.

The Mayo Clinic Diet
By Donald Hensrud, M.D., medical editor-in-chief (Good Books) $25.99

This diet book puts you in charge of reshaping your body and improving your health for a lifetime. Section 1, "Lose It!" is a two-week quick-start program designed to help you lose 6 to 10 pounds in a safe and healthy way. Section 2, "Live It!" is a long-term plan in which you reach your goal and then maintain your healthy weight for life. Section 3, "All the Extra Stuff," includes meal planners, recipes, and other tips.

Take Time for Your Life
By Cheryl Richardson (Broadway Books) $13.95

Packed with useful exercises, checklists, personal stories, and a wealth of resources, Richardson’s program will show you how to make conscious decisions about the future you’d like to create. Step 1 begins with the premise that "selfish" is not a dirty word. If you learn to practice extreme self-care and put yourself at the top of the list, she says, everyone else will benefit. The other six steps show you how to take time for your life and begin to live a life that you love.

The Easy Way to Stop Smoking
By Allen Carr (Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.) $14.95

Allen Carr, a former chain smoker, has updated his book, which has helped millions of people around the world kick the habit for good. Using his Easyway method, Carr insists that smokers will not need willpower, gain weight, feel deprived, need gimmicks or substitutes, or suffer serious withdrawal pangs. Instead, he suggests, former smokers will immediately enjoy the freedoms of being a nonsmoker.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
By John M. Gottman, Ph.D. and Nan Silver (Three Rivers Press) $14.95

Gottman has revolutionalized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years. His work culminated in seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Packed with practical questionnaires and exercises, this is a definitive guide for anyone who wants his or her relationship to attain its highest potential.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive
By J. Canfield, et. al. (Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing LLC) $14.95

Everyone needs a little attitude adjustment once in awhile, and a new year is the perfect time to do just that. With 101 inspirational stories to enjoy, you may find yourself counting your blessings and regaining or reinforcing your positive attitude about life.

Where the Sidewalk Ends
By Shel Silverstein (Harper Collins) $18.99

Where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. You’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set and a girl who eats a whale. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist. This masterful collection of poems and drawings is at once outrageously funny and profound—and crying to be read aloud. Whether you enjoy the poems with your children or grandchildren, or read them by yourself, it’s the perfect way to bring more laughter into your world in 2011.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this time of new beginnings. If you get stuck on a resolution or a promise, grab a helpful book and have a Happy New Year. Until next month—and next year—happy reading! 

The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at books@ocn.me

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: LBJs (little brown jobs)

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: This winter resident is one LBJ that frequents our feeders, can you guess what it is? It has fluffed it’s feathers to keep warm. Its a dark-eyed junco. Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

"Oh, it’s only a sparrow!" I once said this about little brown birds. But since I now take birding more seriously, I refer to those little brown birds that fly away before I can identify them as LBJs or more specifically, "little brown jobs." Now I find identifying these drab little fellows an interesting challenge.

I often spend New Year’s Day studying the birds that migrate along the Front Range Flyway and making a list of the ones I would like to find. I study their habitat and identify locations where they might be found. During the spring migration months (March through May), I look for transient migratory birds. The best time is before or after a storm. Some birds such as the yellow-headed blackbird seem to sense bad weather and find shelter before it hits. Other birds, such as the American tree sparrow, simply get blown out of the sky during a big weather event and, if I’m lucky, a few of them will find their way to our feeders. I often get e-mails from fellow birders who share their rare finds right before a storm or in its aftermath.

I should explain that there are four different groups of seasonal migratory behavior. The birds that we see all year but may move about within a region are referred to as "permanent residents." My favorite resident bird is the Stellar’s jay, because it is beautiful and such a character! But did you know that robins are permanent residents here? They form flocks and are less colorful but they roam around the region.

Another seasonal group is the "winter residents." While walking the Santa Fe Trail, I often see white-throated sparrows. This is one of the more than 100 species of sparrows that are often referred to as LBJs, and it’s one of the birds we birders look for here in winter. Many waterfowl species, including mergansers, golden eyes, and other colorful ducks, fall into this group and can be seen in lakes and rivers along the Front Range.

"Summer residents" are those songbirds that fly to the Palmer Divide to nest. There are too many to list, but among my favorites are the western and mountain bluebirds, the western tanager, and a variety of warblers.

"Transient" migratory birds make up the fourth group. These are birds that fly over the Palmer Divide and may make brief stops but don’t stay long. I’ve written about a few of the bigger transients like the sandhill crane and American white pelican. But there are many more, and it’s the drab LBJs that are on my list for 2011.

It is well known that the reason birds migrate is for food. It seems fairly obvious that when food supplies dwindle, birds must find habitat with an abundant supply of insects, fruits, seeds, and nuts. While this is a compelling reason and makes sense, why don’t birds simply stay in the tropics all year? Certainly there isn’t a lack of insects or food in these locations. Why do birds fly north to nest? Research indicates that many birds leave warmer climates to escape insects that will literally devour their hatchlings.

Ornithologists who study migration are still researching migration and have found that with changes in the length of days during each calendar year, many bird species experience profound hormonal changes that prepare them for migration. At the end of summer when light begins to dwindle, birds begin to store fat in preparation for migration. Fat contains the energy birds need during migration, when they spend more time flying than foraging. The same hormonal changes happen in fall and spring equinox cycles. They also have found that caged migratory birds will all perch facing the same direction (even in separate cages) and become agitated when it is time to migrate.

During migration, birds briefly stop to forage, and in an effort to attract them, we plant shrubs with seeds or berries that birds look for and keep our feeders filled all year. From time to time, we do attract a few transients but we haven’t been as successful at attracting unusual birds as people who live next to the Rampart Range west of I-25. Last year we had a small flock of American tree sparrows that stayed grounded near our finch feeder for several days, waiting out a spring storm cell. We also attract evening grosbeaks, but fellow birders west of I-25 report many more species. That is why after a storm, I head west to the Air Force Academy and Pike National Forest to look for transient birds.

Watching bird migration is one of the more rewarding aspects of birding. In spring the birds are easier to see because many trees haven’t leafed out and the birds are vocal and more colorful as they prepare to attract a mate. In fall it is more difficult to find them because the foliage hasn’t dropped to the ground and birds are quiet and more drab after a summer of raising a family. Immature birds generally do not develop mature plumage for the first season and all look like LBJs. Having said that, I seem to find more rare birds during fall migration.

Elizabeth Hacker is a writer and artist. Prints of the birds she writes about are available on her website, www.ElizabethHackerArt.com, with proceeds benefiting habitat preservation. E-mail her at elizabethhacker@ocn.me or call her at 719-510-5918 to share bird stories.

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Art Matters: A new year, new directions for local venues

By Janet Sellers

Happy New Year, everyone! A new year, a new canvas for life, I always say. With the weather turning cold and snowy—again—we can look forward to stimulating pursuits indoors through art exhibits, art classes, and studio work.

I know many artists relish their indoor winter time for getting the most focus for their art work and plans for the year ahead. It’s a good time to hunker down and get the inner workings in order and ready for powering up for the outdoor art and events come springtime.

It’s also a time for changes in personal and public directions in thinking, and that means in art and art venues, too. With that in mind, I tried to find the hottest news for these cold days ahead.

So much excitement is happening in January at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TCLA) that I decided to focus on all this grand news for my January column. Besides people changes, there is a plethora of events as well.

A new and very different art exhibit cluster will open at TCLA on Friday, Jan. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. It sounds like quite a departure for the center, and also sounds very compelling.

The two new shows will be open through Jan. 29. In the main gallery is "The Soaring of Our Minds," where TCLA promises "some dynamite, fun artists." I saw some photos of some of the artist’s works that will be there (since we had to go to print before the opening). Juel Grant is exhibiting works in 3-D that are vibrantly painted and elegantly shaped.

Audrey Gray says of her work, "My primary medium is sand and dirt gathered from different places, usually in the southwestern United States. I collect different colors and use both oil and acrylic media to fix them to canvas or panels. Mica, other rocks, sticks, seeds, and even bones become major elements of some pieces."

Ken and Tina Risterer will be exhibiting some of their famous hand-painted ceramics (the images are of the human figure); Diane Vulcan includes her vibrant watercolors, and artist Paula Triplett will round out the show.

The show in the Lucy Owens Gallery takes on a new trend for the TCLA, that of using the facility on occasion to put an eye to social issues.

Nanci Ricks, photographer, has brought us her candid personal view on human trafficking and slavery. The show is titled, "To Love the Slumdog" and includes 18 photographs with narratives. Ricks has addressed Congress on the issue of human trafficking, and has appeared on national television regarding these issues. Ricks will also be signing her book, To Love the Slumdog: My Journey Serving the Untouchables – the Dalit at the reception.

Guitar virtuoso Wayne Hammerstadt will be performing classical compositions at this reception.

In the realm of moving pictures, on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m., Bob Garner, longtime Disney producer, presents his national "Connect the Dots" seminar for film aficionados, aspiring screen writers, actors, etc. Bob will be showing clips from many of the TV shows and films with which he has been associated. He will also host a question-and-answer session with the audience. Cost is $6 for TLCA members and $8 for nonmembers.

Hello and goodbye at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

Susan Adams led the TLCA the past two years and was instrumental in repositioning the center in the local and regional arts community. Under her boundless enthusiasm the membership, events, classes and visibility all saw significant growth—culminating in TLCA being awarded Non-Profit of the Year by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce. These are amazing accomplishments. However, with a desire for more family time with a new grandbaby, Susan decided it was time to retire.

Thank you, Susan, for a job well done and the endless hours of dedication you gave to our community in the arts. You will be missed, but hopefully we’ll see you at our local art events. We wish you and your family well. Happy grandbaby to you, what a great joy.

The TLCA is again marching boldly into a new year. Please help the community welcome Dr. Michael Maddox to the TLCA as interim executive director at a welcome breakfast on Jan. 8 at 9 a.m. This TCLA Members and Artists Breakfast is open to the public.

You can hear Dr. Maddox share the 2011 vision for the center. Admission is free and includes a continental breakfast. There will be opportunities for Q&A with TCLA board members. Attendees can also meet the TCLA committee leaders, meet art instructors, and even sign up for the 2011 classes.

So again, let me encourage everybody to take up your pencils and draw wonderful good things into the new year. I know I will be grabbing mine and putting them to new visions, too. Join me, for this 2011 art adventure truly matters!

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter and sculptor who works in paint, metal and concrete. Sellers lives in Woodmoor, Colorado. She can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me

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Snapshots of Our Community

Big fun at Monument’s Small Town Christmas, Dec. 4

Photos by David Futey.

Below: At the Old Monument Town Hall, children created a variety of holiday crafts during the Small Town Christmas. 

Below: Attendees enjoyed a hayride around the Monument downtown area. 

Below: Santa Claus (Nick Primavera) and Mrs. Claus (Claudia Whitney) are assisted by Lewis-Palmer Middle School elves Preston Bille, left, and Travis Hannon as children share their Christmas wishes. Oliver, left, and Jamie Wadge were among the many children who visited with Santa at La Casa Fiesta during the Monument Small Town Christmas. 

By David Futey

On Dec. 4, the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA) sponsored the Monument Small Town Christmas. Throughout the afternoon, attendees had their choice among a number of activities as many of the downtown Monument businesses opened their doors and offered holiday refreshments, arts and craft activities, and discounts on merchandise. Attendees could also visit with reindeer and miniature donkeys, take a hay ride, and hear carolers.

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Free RMMA concert, Dec. 4

Below: Dr. Michael Baron, piano; Jerllyn Jorgensen, violin; Margaret Miller, viola; and Katherine Knight, cello performed works by Schumann, Mozart, and Beethoven at the Rocky Mountain Music Alliance’s well-attended Dec. 4 concert. The last concert in the series of free concerts will be held Feb. 12. For information and reservations, visit www.rmmaonline.com or call 646-2791. Photo by Tim Dorman.

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Craft show benefits charities

Below: The North Pole Craft Show, sponsored by the Monument Hill Kiwanis, was held at Lewis-Palmer Middle School on Dec. 4 and 5. This was the fifth year for the event to raise money for local charities. Food and cash donations were accepted as admission to the event and were given to local charities. Thirty-seven vendors from throughout the state participated with a variety of crafts available for purchase at their booths. Bill Healy of the Monument Hill Kiwanis said, "The craft show has been good for raising money for local charities." The event usually sees a turnout of 300 to 400 people and has grown each year. The Kiwanis hope to expand the event next year and continue to support charities in the Tri-Lakes area. Santa visited on Saturday and Sunday. Student volunteers from Lewis-Palmer High School were also present and helped in taking donations for the Gift Tree in support of Tri-Lakes Cares. Photo by Candice Hitt

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Dec. 7 dinner sets stage for Yule Log Hunt

Right: Victoria Bowman and Kyah Voelkra help with the preparations. Photo by Tim Dorman.

By Candice Hitt and Tim Dorman

The Yule log tradition has been a part of Palmer Lake history for 77 years. On Dec, 7, about 30 community members gathered at the Palmer Lake Town Hall for a potluck dinner in preparation of the Yule Log Hunt held on Sunday, Dec. 12.

Attendees made souvenir Yule logs that would be handed out to participants at the hunt. These miniature Yule logs are carved from local willow branches and have the calendar year stamped on them to commemorate this historical event.

Patricia Atkins, the event coordinator, stated that she had attended the event for the past 20 years. She had with her a large scrapbook filled with pictures and articles of past Yule Log events.

The event is coordinated by community members and is representative of the spirit of the season and goodwill toward fellow citizens. Dozens of people take part in the Yule Log Hunt each year.

Originating in Europe, the Yule log ceremony was brought to Palmer Lake by resident Lucretia Vaile in 1934 after attending a Yule log hunt in Lake Placid, N.Y. Yule log splinters have been sent to many parts of the world to communities wishing to start their own Yule log tradition.

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HAP receives $5,000 check from MVEA

 Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: From left, retired Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic Chief and Pearl Harbor veteran Charles Richard and his wife Betty stand next to HAP President Mark Ennis and Dave Betzler, a member of the HAP board of directors. To Betzler’s right are Tri-Lakes Methodist Church volunteers Judy and Ken Keller.

Below: From left are HAP President Mark Ennis with retired Air Force Lt. Col. and now FedEx pilot Joe Dowdy, who found the errant $5,000 grant check in the parking lot of the Monument Air Academy Credit Union.

By Bernard L. Minetti

At the Dec. 8 luncheon for seniors at the D-38 administration building in Monument, Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) presented a $5,000 check to Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP). The check was designated specifically for use by the senior lunch program.

The check took a while to reach its destination. During an office move, the check, which had been lying on the desk of HAP President Mark Ennis, was taken by a gust of wind onto the Air Academy Credit Union’s parking lot. A passerby, retired Air Force Lt. Col. and now FedEx pilot Joe Dowdy, saw the check and picked it up. He found MVEA’s phone number on the check and returned it to them. It subsequently found its way back to HAP.

HAP is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) volunteer-run organization serving the needs of citizens in the communities of northern El Paso County. It provides and coordinates services and support that encompass programs, projects, community education, and awareness efforts. Tri-Lakes HAP has two major program areas: Senior services and support and community health and wellness.

HAP’s Seniors Program is a portfolio of services and support for Tri-Lakes area senior citizens. These services focus on the needs and interests of seniors, including daily operation of a Seniors Center at Lewis-Palmer High School, provision for senior meals, regular senior day trips, and assistance on senior health and well-being. Scheduled activities may be found in the events section of this newspaper. Additional information may be found at www.trilakeshap.org

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Concert for the Children, Dec. 10

Below: The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and the Palmer Lake Historical Society presented an evening of Native American song, dance, and culture featuring actor, musician, and native spokesperson Moses Brings Plenty and his band, which includes local musicians. The event was a benefit for the children living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, one of the poorest in the country. Pictured (L to R) Brad Bearsheart on traditional drum, Samon Rajabnik on lead guitar, Mo Brings Plenty lead vocals and traditional drum, Thirza Defoe hoop dancer, and Nathaniel Bearsheart grass dancer. Photos by Stacey Paxson.

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Blues benefit

Below: On Dec. 11, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts hosted a night of music and fund-raising based on "two." Two bands, Blues Rambler, with harmonica player Lee Tibbets pictured, and Hammerstadt, provided the music for the Merry Blues Christmas benefit. Along with paying a nominal admission, attendees of the concert were asked to bring two cans of food. The food donations were provided to Tri-Lakes Cares for its food pantry. TLCA Interim Executive Director Michael Maddox said the TLCA "appreciated the community support and goodwill expressed" by those who attended and made the food donations. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.

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Nealon honored

Below: On Dec. 16, Legacy Sertoma President Joe Montoya presented the new club’s first Service to Mankind Award to Margaret H. (Maggie) Nealon for her many years of volunteer work to better the community. Photo provided by Legacy Sertoma.

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Little Log Church celebrates renovation

Photos by David Futey

Below: As part of the renovation inside the sanctuary, a drop ceiling was removed to reveal the wood ceiling, and the logs and other wood were refinished.

Below: On the exterior of the church, the logs were refinished and the chinking replaced.

Below: Pastor Bill Story, at center at the lectern, is surrounded by some of the Little Log Church’s congregation inside the newly renovated sanctuary. 

By David Futey

On Dec. 11, the congregation of Palmer Lake’s Little Log Church celebrated the renovation of its church building with an open house. The Palmer Lake Friends Community Church organized on May 12, 1924, but did not have a building to hold services. That changed in August 1925 when two log houses were purchased and converted into a sanctuary and parsonage. Those two structures, along with various additions over the years, have served its congregation for 85 years.

Time, taking its toll on the log structures, and other factors led to the need for the renovation. Pastor Bill Story said there was an interest in doing a "facelift of the entire property" and to "brighten and make the church more inviting." Among the items addressed in the internal and external building renovation were the logs, a combination of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine, that were refinished along with replacement of the chinking—the mortar between the logs.

Regarding the church’s historic mission, Story said, "It is our desire to be a resource and an integral part of the community."

The church has evolved over time to assist the community in a variety of ways and the tradition continues in 2011. The church will sponsor a marriage conference in April, will be engaged in the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua, and will host a Dallas Holm concert in September. The church also provides assistance to Tri-Lakes Cares and offers an after-school program for children at Palmer Lake Elementary School on Thursdays.

Virgil Watkins, a member since 1963, said many of his fellow townspeople have been attracted to it. "It’s a local church that serves the needs of local people," he said. Watkins is among the 80 to 90 current church members and about 120 who regularly attend services.

As part of the open house festivities, materials for a time capsule were assembled. Items placed in the storage box used as the capsule included newspaper clippings about the church and the open house, a guest book signed by those who attended the open house, and a book containing drawings about the church done by children who attended the open house. Information about the Little Log Church is at www.littlelogchurch.net

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me

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Polar Express in Palmer Lake

Below: (R-L) Palmer Lake Trustee Gary Coleman and his son Travis show a visitor one of the many features of their Polar Express display. This is the fifth year that the Colemans have set up a train display during the Holiday Season as a fundraiser for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD). This year’s display included a thirty-foot, O Scale version of the Polar Express with dioramas, a G Scale version of the Polar Express, and an N Scale layout depicting Palmer Lake. With a donation, the donor received a coupon for a free hot chocolate at The Depot Restaurant. Photo by David Futey.

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Scrooge finds wisdom

Below: For three performances during the weekend of Dec. 17, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) hosted the Castle Rock-based Front Range Theatre Company’s (FRTC) production of The Education of Mr. Scrooge. The play is an original adaptation by William J. Anderson based on the Charles Dickens book, A Christmas Carol. Pictured: Ebenezer Scrooge (Jamie LaRue), center, is visited by three ghosts, from left, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Annie McGhee Stinson), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Wes Whatley), and the Ghost of Christmas Past (Dorothy Shapland). Following the Dickens’ story, the ghosts provide Scrooge with various perspectives on his life and the impact he has on those around him. This insight educates Scrooge on how he can change his outlook on life. Information on the FRTC is at www.crplayers.org. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.

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77th Yule Log Ceremony and hunt welcome holiday season

Photos by David Futey.

Below: Yule Log hunters select their red and green caps in preparation for the hunt. 

Below: From left, Jane, Emma, and Julia Keer of Monument model their hunting capes prior to the Yule Log Hunt. This was Jane’s seventh hunt. 

Below: The Yule Log hunters make their way from the Palmer Lake Town Hall down to the Glen, where the log had been carefully hidden the previous evening. 

Below: The hunters join in to pull the log from the Glen back up to the Town Hall area. Children and adults took turns riding on the log. 

Below: After finding the log in the Glen, Will Bryant, right, is assisted by Tim Watkins in the cutting of the log. Part of the log was burned with a portion of last year’s Yule Log, and the remaining portion will be burned with the 2011 Yule Log. 

Below: A portion of the Yule Log is brought into the Palmer Lake Town Hall. This log was burned in the fireplace with the remainder of last year’s Yule Log to carry on the tradition. 

By David Futey

On Dec. 12, Palmer Lake and other Tri-Lakes-area communities celebrated the 77th Yule Log Ceremony. The ceremony started in 1933 and has occurred every year since that time except during war years. This ceremony, along with the lighting of the Christmas Star on Sundance Mountain, is an expression of goodwill from the Tri-Lakes area to the Pikes Peak region.

Led by Master of Ceremonies Naill Byrne with assistance from a number of volunteers, the Yule Log Ceremony included music and singing by participants at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, the drinking of wassail, and, of course, the hunt for the Yule Log in the Palmer Lake Glen.

The log had been hidden the previous evening by Kurt Voelker, Tim Watkins, and Rick and Josh Bowman. The date the log gets hidden depends on snow coverage and other factors, with the actual spot scouted out a week in advance.

Hunters came as far away as Pennsylvania. Ten-year old Will Bryant of Palmer Lake discovered the log this year. For his discovery, he enjoyed the first ride on the log and the first taste of wassail.

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me

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Santa and Mrs. Claus visit the Tri-Lakes area, Dec. 18

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: From left, Aiden, Adam, and Jayson Aubain talk with Santa at the YMCA. 

Below: Emma, left, and Maria Shockey talk with Mrs. Claus during her visit to the Monument YMCA. Santa and Mrs. Claus are occasionally also known as Police Chief Jake Shirk and Vanessa Shirk. 

Below: Santa and Mrs. Claus give toys to a willing recipient during Santa on Patrol. 

Below: Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department Administrative Assistant Jennifer Martin, left, and district Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman, both assistant Santas, stand with a fraction of the toys and gifts that were donated for distribution to Tri-Lakes families and children during Santa on Patrol. 

Below: Fire elves helped Santa distribute toys. 

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December and January library events

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Program Coordinator Sue Kana (L) presents a gift to Paula Primavera, the longest-serving volunteer in the Children’s Literacy Center (CLC) program at the Monument Library. CLC is a free, one-on-one tutoring program for children who read below grade level. This photo was taken during a graduation party in mid-December. To participate as a student or tutor, contact Sue Kana at 488-2370. The next 12-week session begins in February.  

Below: Hayden and Keira Griffin get ready to decorate some Colossal Cookies at the Palmer Lake Library.

By Harriet Halbig

December was a delightful month at the library, with anticipation in the air and patrons and staff all in festive moods. We thank you for your warm wishes during this joyful season.

In addition to a place for excitement and cookie decorating, the library’s harp concert and story times offered a break from the bustle of holiday preparations.

Entering the new year, there will be a few changes in the weekly events schedule.

The Tuesday story times, with a simple craft for ages 3 and up with a favorite adult, will be at 10:15 and 11 a.m. each week, 15 minutes later than in the past.

Toddler Time, for 1- and 2-year old children with a favorite adult, will be at 10:15 and 10:45 on Thursdays.

Book Break, a short read-aloud session, will continue at 10:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Snuggle-up story time will continue on Thursday evenings at 7:30.

The Paws to Read dogs will be at the library on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 until 4:30 p.m.

January’s Family Fun Program on Saturday, the 8th at 1:30 p.m. features a snow program with Denise Gard, the magnificent Snow Queen and her puppet friends.

On Friday the 14th, kids ages 9 to 12 are invited to read a basic version of Romeo and Juliet and discuss it and the upcoming Disney movie, Gnomeo and Juliet. There will be crafts, snacks, and a chance to win a pass to see the movie. Register online or call 488-2370. The program will be from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m.

Adults and teens are invited to learn how to make meaningful and unique Valentine cards for special people in their lives on Saturday, Jan. 15, from 1 to 3 p.m. Local artist Charlotte Miller provides materials to teach each participant how to create a card during class. Students must be adults or in high school, and registration is required. Please call 488-2370 or register online.

The Monumental Readers will discuss Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel on Friday, Jan. 21, at 10 a.m. New members are welcome and no registration is required.

For high schoolers, Monument Library will kick off its Anime and Manga Club by offering a free anime art class on Friday, Jan. 28 from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. The Young Rembrandts art school will present the program. Attendance is limited to 15 participants, and registration is strongly encouraged. This will be a monthly event on the fourth Friday of each month.

We invite adults to join in one or more of our weekly and monthly groups at Monument:

  • The Tri-Lakes Knitters and Crafters, which meets on the first, third and fifth Fridays from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Bring your own project and work on it while enjoying company and conversation.
  • Senior Synergy, a casual discussion group each Wednesday at 10 a.m.
  • Socrates Café, an adult group discussing philosophy, religion, spirituality, and the common threads among humanity, each Tuesday at 1 p.m.
  • Life Circles, a writing group providing discipline, inspiration, and structure during the process of writing one’s memories or history, first and third Mondays at 10:30 a.m.
  • History Buffs, a monthly discussion group for history lovers. Each month the group chooses a period of history and participants read any book from that time period to be discussed at the following meeting. The next meeting will be on Jan. 26 at 1 p.m.

We hope to welcome you to one of these groups in 2011.

On the walls of the Monument Library will be works by art students from Palmer Ridge High School. In the display case will be detailed botanical illustrations from Leslie Miller.

Palmer Lake events

The Palmer Lake Book Group will discuss Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson on Friday, Feb. 4, at 9 a.m. New members are always welcome and no registration is required.

Paws to Read dog Misty, a tiny Sheltie, will be at the library on Jan. 20 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Gentle Kirby, a golden retriever, will be at the library from 11 a.m. until noon on Jan. 29. Come read to the dogs and select a prize.

Palmer Lake’s Family Fun event for January will be on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 10:30 a.m. Listen to and discuss the Caldecott Medal-winning book Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Martin with Palmer Lake Elementary School reading teacher Mrs. Phillips. The book is about Wilson Bentley and his obsession with photographing snowflakes. Make a special craft, too.

Please note that all Pikes Peak Library District locations will be closed on Jan. 17 in observance of Martin Luther King Day.

We hope to see you at the library!

Harriet Halbig can be reached at HarrietHalbig@ocn.me

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Greater Monument Area Branding Creative Committee, Dec. 13: Committee becomes "The Hill Development Group"

Photo by Bernard Minetti

Below: During the first meeting of The Hill Development Group, participants, from left, Mark Kirkland, Sunny Smaldino, Julie Bille, and Dave Van Ness brainstormed many ideas that could be seminal to the foundation of an effective marketing group. The concept is to sell the Tri-Lakes area to tourists, commercial enterprises, and residents. 

Below: The new logo that was adopted by The Hill Development Group.

By Bernard L. Minetti

At the Dec. 13 meeting of the Greater Monument Area Branding Creative Committee, merchants voted to permanently "brand" themselves. They were to decide upon a name that encompassed the logo and the vision for developing and marketing the Tri-Lakes area.

The name "The Hill Development Group" was suggested and adopted by the members present. Attendees at this Sundance Lodge event were Reese Rodriguez, lodge manager; Suzanne Mangino, marketer for the lodge; Mark Kirkland of Kirkland Photography and Design; Sunny Smaldino, representing the Ballandi Group of Colorado Springs; Julie Bille of bXpressed; Maggie Williamson of Bella Art & Frame; Anthony and Rhoda Archuleta of Secret Window; and Dave Van Ness of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce.

Kirkland discussed the nature of branding and its purpose. He defined the process and said that it is the creation of a new and adjectival name and/or symbol for something that already exists with the intention of differentiating from any other descriptors in the minds of the target receivers. Far from just a change of adjectival identity, branding must be part of an overall strategy for an area, product, or service.

This may involve adjustments to the brand’s logo, name, image, strategy, or advertising methodology. The primary reason for evolving a branding is to communicate a theme or notion for something that already exists.

Bille indicated that The Hill Development Group will be matriculating into an independent and privately funded organization made up of interested parties. Several of the participants noted that the enthusiasm displayed by those present at this initial meeting is destined to help make the effort a success. Funding was mentioned, but Bille stated that finances were to be discussed at later sessions.

The exploratory nature of the group began to resolve itself into a formulation of naming and producing a logo for a Tri-Lakes area brand.

Kirkland spearheaded the new ideas with Smaldino by citing the need for a simple yet effective name. He suggested "The Hill" would most describe the area, extracting the geographic, historic, and residential attractiveness attributed to the Monument Hill area and centering it in a new and simple descriptor. Smaldino then displayed a sample logo and a website that she had created centering on the new area marketing theme. Those present voted to accept the logo and website design as official.

There are two websites that will be the focus of information concerning The Hill. The website addresses are "experiencethehill.com" and "headforthehill.com." At present, the website URLs are inactive.

Bille suggested that future area events might be designed so that the focus of location is "The Hill." She suggested a potato festival. The Archuletas suggested art and craft fairs. Other attendees mentioned other events that might be appropriate.

At the next meeting, the group will try to refine details to make the organization an effective and powerful marketing tool. Anyone with an interest in participating in the development of the Tri-Lakes (The Hill) area is invited to participate.


The next meeting of the The Hill Development Group will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Mozaic on Highway 105 halfway between Palmer Lake and Monument, at The Inn at Palmer Divide. Further information may be obtained by contacting Bille at 719-338-0995.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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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.

Recycle your Christmas tree, Jan. 8-9

This weekend you can drop your natural-grown tree off at the Baptist Road Trailhead "Treecycle" site, Baptist Road at Old Denver Highway, Jan. 8-9, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please remove all lights and decorations first. Discarded trees will be ground into mulch, which will be given away free to El Paso County residents on a self-serve basis while supplies last. A suggested tax-deductible contribution of $5 supports El Pomar Youth Sports Programs throughout El Paso County. For more information, contact El Paso County Environmental Services, 520-7878; or visit the websites www.elpasoco.com or www.TreecycleCOS.org.

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Senior Mondays at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI)

Beginning in January and running each Monday through March, seniors will be admitted into the museum for just $2.50 (regularly $6). Come see the museum that works! Tours begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd (I-25 Exit 156 A). For more information, call 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org.

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant applications 2011

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will accept grant applications Jan. 15-March 15. Qualified organizations that provide significant services to residents within the geographic boundaries of School District 38 are encouraged to apply. Qualified organizations include 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public service organizations, and public schools serving primarily the District 38 area. Funding for special programs and projects will be considered. Grants will be awarded in late May.

Grant applications, instructions, and guidelines can be downloaded from the TLWC website, www.TLWC.net, or by sending a request with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to TLWC Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132.

The mission of the club is to support the Tri-Lakes community through charitable and educational endeavors. For more information, please e-mail Donna Wagner at donnamwagner@comcast.net.

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Tri-Lakes Community Blood Drive, Jan. 18

Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership will sponsor a community blood drive Jan. 18, 3-7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. No appointment is needed, just walk in. Donated blood goes to local Penrose-St. Francis Hospitals. For more information, call nurse Jackie Sward, 481-4864 x103.

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Volunteers needed for El Paso County Boards

Three county boards have open positions. The Community Corrections Board advises the Board of County Commissioners on community-based and community-oriented programs that provide supervision of offenders being diverted from prison and those transitioning back into the community after prison. The Citizen Review Panel provides a forum for the discussion of consumer concerns regarding the Department of Human Services, reviews and audits, quality issues and concerns with the department, and other issues. The Fair and Events Complex Advisory Board assists with the development, management, programming, and operation and maintenance of the Fair and Events Complex in Calhan. Applications for the positions are due by Feb. 4. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

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Clear snow and ice around mailboxes for letter carriers

Letter carriers are instructed to not deliver to mailboxes and locations that are too hazardous or difficult to access. Support your letter carrier in providing safe and timely delivery of your mail. Following snowstorms and bad weather conditions, please clear a safe path to your mailbox or business. If possible, do not park your vehicles in front of your mailbox. Combined with the snowy and icy conditions, this can make it very difficult for your letter carrier to access and deliver to your mailbox.

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Help for heating bills

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) helps residents struggling to pay their home heating bills. LEAP benefits provide assistance to help families with their heating bills but are not intended to pay the entire bill. Last winter, 15,999 households in El Paso County received help from the LEAP program. The eligibility period for LEAP runs through April 30. Applications are accepted each year during the eligibility period. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. For more information about LEAP benefits, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435).

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Donala’s Customer Assistance Program

The Donala Water and Sanitation District offers a customer assistance program in conjunction with Tri-Lakes Cares to help Donala customers in financial hardship, unable to pay their water and sewer bills. The Donala Customer Assistance Program (DCAP) will be funded from Donala customers who approve a donation of 50 cents to $1 per month on their monthly water bills. Applications for assistance can be picked up at the Donala office at 15850 Holbein Dr. in Gleneagle or at Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) in Monument. Donala will provide account history and TLC will determine assistance eligibility. Participation from the donor side is voluntary and can be cancelled by the donor at any time. For more information, call 488-3603.

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Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center has fun programs!

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open 1-4 p.m., Mon.-Fri. and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include pinochle, Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m.; Tai Chi for Health, Fridays, 10:30 a.m.; National Mah-jongg, Fridays, 1-4 p.m.; line dancing, first and second Wednesdays, 1-2 p.m.; bridge, second and fourth Thursdays, 1-4 p.m.; tea time, third Tuesday, 1-3 p.m.; bingo, third Wednesday, 12:30-3 p.m.; crafts, third Thursday, 1-3 p.m.; no-cash/no host poker, second and fourth Fridays, 1-4 p.m. Also available at the center are ping-pong, Wii video games, various puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table. For more information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.

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Tri-Lakes Cares Thrift Shop in Monument

Hangers—Your Thrift Shop is now open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 341 Front St., Monument. Shop for gently used clothing, books, and household items. Proceeds from Hangers will be used to promote the ongoing mission of Tri-Lakes Cares, a community-based nonprofit. For more information, call 488-2300 or visit the Tri-Lakes Cares website, www.trilakescares.org.

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Tri-Lakes HAP Thrift Store: new location

The new store is located at 790 Highway 105 #D in Palmer Lake. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weekly specials, books, antiques, clothing, and more! The thrift store is a project of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) 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 more information, to donate items, or to volunteer, call 488-3495.

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Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free!

Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in Monument. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center. There are also articles and notices of events geared toward senior citizens. To subscribe to the free newsletter, send an e-mail with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesHAP.org.

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Senior Safety Program

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District offers a free senior safety program to all Tri-Lakes seniors. The program includes smoke detector evaluations, home safety assessments, vial of life, and fire prevention. For more information, call 484-0911 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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County prescription discount program is a success

El Paso County’s prescription discount program saved residents $150,390 during its first year of availability at no additional taxpayer cost. People using the card saved an average of 22 percent. There are no eligibility requirements and no strings attached to receive the discounts. You can pick up a free Prescription Discount Card at most county government locations or you can download your own personalized prescription discount card on the county website (bottom of the front page) at www.elpasoco.com/

Any county resident without prescription coverage can use this program. Even if you have insurance for prescription medications, the discount card might save you money on prescription medications your existing plan does not cover. For more information, visit www.elpasoco.com/ or call 520-6337 (MEDS).

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Check out energy savings at local libraries

Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) recently started a program allowing consumers to check out "Kill-A-Watt" meters, plug-in energy meters, from local libraries and Book Mobiles in MVEA’s service territory. Kill-A-Watt meters can help consumers assess how efficient appliances really are. This program provides a free way to identify the real energy abusers and reduce energy use. People who have used the meters report unplugging appliances that weren’t being used to save energy. For more information, call MVEA, 1-800-388-9881, ext. 2602; or Monument Branch Library, 488-2370.

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Sheriff’s Office announces YouTube channel

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office now uses its own YouTube channel to share information on recent events and provide information on numerous office resources. The YouTube channel can be accessed from the front page of the Sheriff’s Office website, http://shr.elpasoco.com, or directly at www.youtube.com/EPCSheriff.

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Free gun-lock kit

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

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Parting Shots

A fond farewell

Below: After 8 years on the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority board, District 1 County Commissioner Wayne Williams attended his last BRRTA meeting at Monument Town Hall Dec. 10. The board unanimously approved the 2011 budget prepared by CPA Carrie Bartow of Clifton Gunderson LLP and then all those in attendance enjoyed a piece of the "going away" cake presented to Williams. In November, Williams was elected to become the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Give blood Jan. 18

Above: At the blood drive Dec. 15 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School (L-R) Teresa Fraire, donor Brad Birus, and Crystal Flores. Don’t miss the blood drive Jan. 18, 3-7 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St. in Monument. No appointment is needed, just walk in. Donated blood goes to local Penrose-St. Francis Hospitals. For information, call nurse Jackie Sward, 481-4864 x103. Photo by Frank Maiolo.

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