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By Bernard L. Minetti
On Oct. 8, Battalion Chief Bryan Jack, election officer for ballot issue 5C, told the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board that the notice for the district’s tax increase proposal had been omitted from the county election information sheet. He said county officials stated that it was a vendor problem and that the vendor would have to correct it.
"Statutorily, I don’t know where that’s going to fall, or what the secretary of state is going to do about it, if he gets involved, or where it will end up ….," Jack said.
Director John Hildebrandt said, "Since this is a TABOR issue, there are specific criteria we’re supposed to meet … we’ve met ‘em … but the county, which is our surrogate to the voters, did not meet it if we have a deadline that we are supposed to meet. I wonder what that deadline’s going to be."
Jack said the deadline to mail ballot issue notices to residents outside of the county was Oct. 6. "I don’t know if that’s the same statutory deadline for residents in the county."
Hildebrandt said he would hate to have the issue pass and then be challenged on a technicality. Jack said the county sent an email admitting that its vendor had made the error. He added that it was important to have a news conference to inform voters that the corrected issue, when it is issued, was in fact a corrected issue and to not throw it away. Jack noted that on the county website, the ballot issue is printed correctly.
Local 4319 firefighters’ union representative Mike Keough said that the members were going door to door to inform residents how the district budget works because "there are not a lot of people that understand that." He said union members have gotten "a pretty good reception so far." He said they had spoken to businesses and had posters placed in many places supporting the ballot issue.
Two budgets proposed
In discussing the 2013 budget, Jack explained that there were now two proposed budgets, one that covered a mill levy passage with 11.5 mills and one that covered an 8.5 mill levy should passage not occur. He indicated that no capital improvements were expected for 2013, so that was not a factor to be considered.
Jack anticipated that the budgets would be signed at the Dec. 5 regular meeting of the district board. "The budget message summary, again, would be rather short this year. It’s gonna say our budget is relatively unchanged if the mill levy doesn’t pass, operations-wise, no anticipated capital purchases, in the budget message summary. If we do pass the mill levy, we will have to include into there such items as capital and the SAFER grant … but those are ready to go and we can present those at your November meeting."
Jack said that as of Aug. 31, the district’s checking account balance was $331,429 and the savings account balance was $844,648. The monthly expenditures were about $300,000. He also stated that the district had received 98 percent of its budgeted property tax revenue. These funds had already been allocated for the last quarter’s operations. He also noted that the beginning fund balance for 2013 would be $427,188.
The account balance sheets—containing checking, savings, and impact fee balances—were not made available to the press. It was the second time this year that access had been denied to that public written information.
Jack suggested that a bridge loan would be needed in the first quarter to pay bills, even if the mill levy passes. He discussed some of the future expenses and the areas where there were possible cuts. He noted that the lease payments for the fire trucks were not reflected because the payments were made from the impact fees last year. Estimated lease payments totaled $281,000 and the impact fee balance was $169,000.
Jack said the mill levy failure option does not include the chief’s salary. A district reorganization has been discussed to make the money available. It was noted that if the mill levy passed, the reorganization would be unnecessary.
Jack noted that routine preventive maintenance in the district was minimal. He also mentioned that the doors on the fire stations were not insulated and that there were significant costs due to heat loss. He indicated that if the mill levy passed, the district would return to preventive maintenance routines and would increase that line item by $5,000 for each fire station.
He said the district also had to look at the exhaust ventilation systems at all three stations and that there was no method for budgeting exhaust ventilation systems. A mold mitigation issue at Station 2 should be addressed, he said.
Aging communications equipment
Firefighter Elliot Link advised the board that the district’s communications equipment was being operated well beyond its serviceable life. As an example, the XPS-3000 equipment was supposed to be utilized for seven years according to Motorola’s standards, but the district has been using it for 14 years.
Link recommended that the district go to a dual band radio. He suggested a replacement program that with an additional charge (about $1,000 per unit) would allow the units to be upgraded as needed. The drawback was that all batteries would require replacement upon return to the district. Also, different charging units would be needed. He cautioned that, "We are bordering on being in trouble."
When asked how many replacements would be needed, Link replied, "A conservative estimate would be 22 handhelds." He said this would cost about $128,000. He said it would be more expensive to phase in a replacement schedule for this equipment, noting it would be better to start with a completely "fresh system." He said, "It is an unfortunate reality."
Jack said there was no amount listed under the communications section of the budget for 2013, but if the mill levy passes, they would restore $622,000 in the capital expenditure section for equipment replacement. The expenditure, Jack stated, would not be scheduled until 2014. Jack stated that they would also explore grants for funding.
Battalion Chief Lovato said cardiac monitors would cost $5,000 to $8,000 to replace to the newer standards. He added that the lifespan of equipment is generally five to seven years and it is expensive to replace. He added that some things would have to be looked at right away as capital items.
Jack noted that district employees’ salaries were frozen in the 2013 budget except for items that are legally required. He said, "Are the employees happy … no." He stated that the amount in the line item for part-time and overtime pay would be the same. He also indicated that if the mill levy increase passes, the district would look at restoring two paramedic positions. He noted that the uniform replacement budget line item for 2013 remains at $12,000 and that the program continues to be reactive—uniforms are replaced as required due to wearing out or an event that makes uniform replacement necessary.
Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk was sworn in as a district board member at the meeting.
The board concluded the open session and went into executive session for "determining positions relative to negotiations."
Bernard Minetti can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bernard L. Minetti
At the Oct. 24 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, Battalion Chief Bryan Jack proposed modifying the district’s use of the Kelly Shift Schedule, an operating guide used by fire departments and emergency services agencies.
Essentially, the Kelly schedule uses three teams, or platoons, and three shifts to provide 24/7 coverage. It consists of a nine-day cycle where each team works one 24-hour shift, followed by 24 hours off duty, then works another 24-hour shift, followed by 24 hours off duty, and then works a final 24-hour shift, followed by four consecutive days off duty.
Personnel work an average of 56 hours per week, or 112 hours per two-week pay period, and work the same day of the week for three weeks in a row and then have that day off for nine weeks in a row. Jack stated that he and the other battalion chiefs would like to try a 48-hour per week and 96 hours per two-week pay period in a one-year trial. At this point, there were no indications that any increase in pay totals would result.
When asked why he wanted to do this, Jack replied, "We can talk about agency benefits first …." He then turned to union representative Mike Keough to explain the proposed changes. Directors Roger Lance and Jake Shirk asked similar questions about why this was presented to the board, because they considered it an internal administrative function controlled by the battalion chiefs.
Jack discussed the present overtime schedule and how it would be affected and a possible cost reduction with the new schedule. He said it would provide benefits to the employees.
"Let’s face it," Jack said. "We have not done COLA, (cost of living adjustment), we have not kept up with inflation; the last raise that was above COLA was in 2007 .…" But at the Nov. 15, 2010, board meeting, a 3 percent pay increase was passed and was effective in 2011. No federal COLA was enacted in either 2010 or 2011. Inflation was 0 percent for those two years as far as the COLA process was concerned.
Jack spoke about the few pay raises that did occur but were below inflation levels. He said, "What this does is puts money back in the pockets of our people." He continued, "We know we can’t do anything financially for our employees … we know we haven’t kept up their wages with inflation … this is a direct benefit to them." He did not mention that adjusting schedules can be considered as an administrative way of affecting pay schedules.
Keogh talked about some of the proposed changes that were detailed in packets given to board members. The press was not provided with the information in the board packets until several days later.
Keough said three policies required board attention. One was "Working Conditions." He noted that Policies 2.1 Working Conditions and 2.2 Pay Periods would have to be revised. In 2.1 in part, the number of shifts would be reduced and in 2.2, the pay cycle would be paid twice in a 24-day work cycle as opposed to the present 27-day work cycle.
Treasurer John Hildebrandt began the financial report by correcting an error in the amount received through September from county property taxes. The correct figure of $2,883,688 represented 98.41 percent of the annual expected revenue. The district had received $208,219 or 83.5 percent of the budgeted specific ownership taxes revenues.
Hildebrandt said ambulance revenues were $371,295 or 67.51 percent of the budgeted revenue. He noted that receipts were 7.49 percent under budget. Office Manager Jennifer Martin said Medicare ambulance payments had not been received since June 1. She noted that the Medicare system was in the process of changing procedures. There was no mention of when the Medicare system would resume payments for ambulance services.
Hildebrandt added that overall expenses were at 74.71 percent of the budget or 0.29 percent under budget through September.
Hildebrandt also said the administrative legal fees of the district, which were over 200 percent of the budgeted amount, were the result of the investigation that was done earlier this year. Board President Bill Ingram said that there were "… additional legal fees coming in, shortly." He did not mention the reason for the additional legal expenses. Hildebrandt stated that the administrative costs always will be higher than budgeted estimates because insurance costs are paid in a lump sum early in the year and "normalize" as the year proceeds.
Martin mentioned that there was a $10,000 to $12,000 election payment included in the "general expenses." Hildebrandt concluded that the excess of budgeted administrative expenses was due to the election and the investigation.
Jack stated that the next two meetings are open to the public to attend and express their comments concerning the budget. The budget will be voted on at the December regular district board meeting.
Ingram complimented the union on the signs and amount of money being spent to advocate passage of measure 5C, which would increase the mill levy to 11.5 mills per taxable residence, if passed. Keough stated that the union effort included the distribution of 4,000 flyers, 300 yard signs, and 200 man-hours talking to residents.
Payroll limit increase proposed
Hildebrandt discussed Martin’s suggestion that the limit for transferring funds between accounts for payroll purposes be increased to $90,000 from the present $75,000. The district’s bookkeeper, Linda Ousnamer of The Pencil Pusher Inc., corrected Hildebrandt by stating that the problem was not transferring funds between accounts. She stated that the problem was with the district imposed statutory limit for payrolls per pay period, which is $75,000. The recent payroll exceeded the limit at $88,000. Ways had to be found around that limit to pay the employees, Ousnamer said.
Martin added that because the payroll rose to $88,000 and required approval, there could be a delay in paying the employees. She added that she did not like delaying employees’ payments and essentially that was why she recommended the increased limit. Ousnamer recommended that the payroll be split next time. This would lower the payroll amount and bypass the statutory limit.
Hildebrandt also suggested that besides himself, Jack be given authority to approve the over-limit amount so that his absence would not hold up the payroll. Jack said that if the tax-increase initiative passes, increasing the number of SAFER employees, the payroll would be much higher. Hildebrandt then suggested that the board delay changing the statutory payroll limitation. No mention was made of addressing the apparent loophole in the statutory limit rule that was mentioned by Ousnamer.
It should be noted that the problem this time had to do with the all the extra pay earned by the deployed firefighters who went to out of state locations to assist in those wildfires.
Fire chief hiring methods
In an update to the hiring of a new fire chief, Jack stated that the district had found related marketing material. He said a decision would be necessary, if the tax-increase proposal passes, on whether the board was going to "hire" a fire chief or "recruit one." These are two different processes. In recruiting, aptitude qualifications for the position must be listed. The hiring process defines the certain attributes desired. Jack mentioned that the option of using firerescue.com to advertise was available for the hiring process. He also mentioned that the Colorado Fire Chief’s website, among others, might be an option.
Jack also described the line of credit process, a common financial procedure used to bridge a temporary income delay and pay bills. In the district’s situation, temporary funds are needed to bridge the January-February time frame when no property tax revenue is available. The district will be short whether the tax increase issue passes or not, and the funds are needed to pay expenses. Jack stated that he and Ousnamer were working on the credit application.
There was no mention of the use of this process in previous years. Jack stated the target goal was to have the credit line in place and available by Dec. 1. Interest was expected to be 6 percent. The credit line would be used for a month and a half. At this, Ingram stated, "We hope, we hope."
The fire code problem
Jack stated that the district had adopted the 2009 International Fire Code (IFC), but the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) had not yet recognized the 2009 IFC. He mentioned that the Town of Monument had adopted the 2009 code after the district did and that they want "to stick with that."
Jack stated that Fire Marshal John Vincent recommends rescinding the 2009 IFC and functioning under the 2003 IFC until the various districts complete the amendment process and the BOCC adopts the 2009 IFC. He explained that Vincent can’t enforce the 2009 IFC because the BOCC has not adopted it. But Vincent said, "There is no way we can go back to the ‘03 because the builders have already been operating under the ‘09 …." This appeared to contradict what Jack had just said that Vincent had recommended.
Jack told the board that the fire marshal fee schedule lacked a fee for site plan reviews. He recommended that $25 be assigned to that line item. After a short discussion, the board adopted the $25 fee for site plan reviews.
Training Officer Mike Keough provided information concerning certifications. No report on training hours was provided. Jack had said it was too difficult to obtain and had terminated the report several meetings ago. At this meeting, OCN asked that that report be reinstated because it provides a window for taxpayers to observe the intensity of the training effort.
Jack said Office Manager Martin was collecting $1,530 to purchase the Sparky the Fire Dog costume. The Monument Hill Kiwanis Club had provided $1,000 toward that end. Martin and the board extended their heartfelt thanks to the Kiwanis for their generosity. It was also reported that 1,200 District 38 students had received fire safety talks since the last meeting.
Jack said that the proposed 2013 budget was available at Fire Stations 1 and 3 and the District Administration Building for review by the public. He also noted that at the next regular meeting on Nov. 5, the board would also read and review the proposed budget. The discussion of the hiring of a fire chief would be put off until after the election, and the election of board officers would occur at the December board meeting along with the final reading and adoption of the 2013 budget.
The board entered an executive session to discuss "negotiations" and "personnel." All personnel not authorized to be there by the board were required to leave the room.
The next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.
Bernard Minetti can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Jim Kendrick
On Oct. 16, volunteer firefighter Aron Nonko was sworn in by Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board President Scott Campbell. Before his grandmother, Rea Danzl, pinned his new badge on, his mother Denise Nonko noted that Aron was the great-grandson of a Melrose, Minn., who became a volunteer firefighter in 1924. He lived a block from the fire station and was "naturally the first one to arrive" for a fire call and "always had the truck out and ready to go when the others got there."
Denise Nonko also said, "He would be so proud of you today as you follow in his footsteps." She added, "You too are one of the designated few who will put your life on the line, to risk it for others, to help others, and to create a safer community for us all. May God bless you, Aron, and keep you safe always. I love you."
Also attending Nonko’s swearing in ceremony were his sister Kaitlin Nonko and his aunt and uncle Brenda and Jim Budnella. Campbell asked Nonko to make a "short 15, 20 minute speech" but he demurred.
The board excused the absence of board Treasurer Joyce Hartung.
2013 budget details finalized
The Wescott board approved the final draft of its 2013 budget and scheduled a public hearing for final approval on Nov. 20. No significant changes had been made since the previous board meeting on Sept. 18.
Chief Vinny Burns and Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall reviewed the specific figures for items of specific interest to some board members. The operations and administration portions of the budget are very similar to those in the 2012 budget and well within estimated property tax revenues that are expected to increase about $14,000 in 2013. The most significant change is a small increase in the amounts allocated for apparatus maintenance and repair and for fuel costs.
Marshall also briefed the new separate 2013 budget and database for the district’s volunteer pension fund that district auditor Tom Sistare had endorsed during the Sept. 18 board meeting.
Marshall stated that about 83 percent of the 2012 budget had been spent through September and "we’re right on track for the remainder of the year" with more than a sufficient amount of appropriated funds still available. Fuel costs may exceed the amount budgeted due to unexpectedly high fuel prices.
Marshall presented a wildfire spreadsheet estimate that conservatively estimated that the district had earned about $126,924 of "profit" from aggressively volunteering for eight federal wildfire deployments throughout 2012. Reimbursements had been received for only two of these deployments, the Lower North Fork and Whitewater Baldy fires.
Marshall, Burns, and Assistant Chief Scott Ridings gave a lengthy technical explanation of how various fees and rates apply in filling out the numerous reimbursement forms she had filed to date in response to numerous board questions. At the end of the discussion, there was consensus that the financial benefit from wildfire participation might actually be a higher amount. Marshall said she would continue to update the board at regular meetings until all eight reimbursement amounts have been finalized.
Burns noted that the fire engine that the district had purchased primarily for wildland firefighting with a straight cash payment may pay for itself through wildfire reimbursements in just two years. Ridings described the additional workload and interruptions to staff family life necessary for Wescott to be able to constantly commit immediately to two-week deployment requests. A deployable crew and assigned apparatus is always on call for a two-week deployment with only a few hours of notice.
Also, Wescott’s deployed crews have earned a reputation for both responsiveness and wildfire success that now leads to annual by-name requests by some states. All this extra work has created a far more experienced staff for emergencies like the Waldo Canyon Fire, as well as providing extra revenue.
Marshall advised the board that she had received permission from Hartung to move $400,000 from the district’s Colotrust Fund cash reserve account to the Colorado Peak Fund interest-bearing account to help generate a little extra revenue. The funds will be returned to the Colotrust account once the tax revenue stream is restored in the spring.
The district will continue to have ample cash reserves to pay its bills through the first few months of 2013 until the first property tax revenues are forwarded by the state, and will not have to borrow money to sustain operations this winter.
Ridings reported 179 calls in September, which was 43 percent higher than 125 calls in 2011. The year-to-date total was 1,430 calls, 22 percent higher than 1,173 calls through September in 2011.
Burns reported a structure fire call at an auto garage with five bays where a car had caught fire after closing.
Burns passed around a certificate of appreciation from the Sioux Tribe’s Standing Rock Reservation for Wescott’s help during the McIntosh wildfire deployment from Aug. 25 through Sept. 10.
The meeting adjourned at 8:08 p.m.
The next meeting will be held on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.
Jim Kendrick can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
On Oct. 18, the Monument Sanitation District board discussed options on fee increases to ensure that it has enough revenue to cover increased costs for treatment of total phosphorus demanded by the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. District Manager Mike Wicklund said a basic fee increase of $5 per month––to $30––is required to prevent district reserves from dropping any lower and to pay the district’s share of the 2013 budget for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility budget of $945,000, up from $632,000 in 2011 and $796,000 in 2012.
Wicklund noted that $30 per month is still not enough to meet long-term requirements of regulation 31.17 that will necessitate a monthly fee of at least $35 per month, nor would it significantly help meet long-term capital costs of $1 million or more in the next decade.
Wicklund noted that the final 2013 draft budget for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility had been approved for a public hearing on Nov. 13. See the Oct. 9 JUC article on page 8 for other details regarding the Tri-Lakes Facility’s Joint Use Committee meeting.
All members of the board and staff were present for the meeting.
2013 budget discussion
Wicklund offered three options for general board review and discussion for 2013 regarding an increase of the current basic fee of $25 per month and $4.50 per each 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons for commercial/industrial customers:
There was a lengthy discussion of all the new future operational and capital expenses that are being driven by the state Water Quality Control Commission and Division as well as far more restrictive and expensive requirements being demanded by the EPA. Some of the items noted by Wicklund and some board members were:
Lift station pump update
Wicklund updated the board on the recent pump lifespan problems with the positive displacement pumps in the Wakonda Hills lift stations. He explained that the district’s engineering consultant, GMS Inc., and Mike Nussbaum, of supplier Keen Pump Co., had recommended changing from the current positive displacement pump to an equivalent centrifugal pump to increase the pump lifespan. There are four pumps in the lift stations and two spares. The installed positive displacement pumps would be replaced one at a time when their individual useful life has ended. The spare pumps would be exchanged immediately. Keen has offered a 50 percent rebate on the purchase of the first six new pumps.
The district’s attorney, Jim Kin, attended the meeting to give legal advice regarding negotiations and issues concerning the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of any district property interest during a 40-minute executive session. No board votes were taken during or after the executive session regarding these negotiation discussions.
The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the district conference room at 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jim Kendrick
On Oct. 9, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) approved the expenditure of $55,000 in 2013 for a 10-year master plan to be conducted by engineering consultant firm Tetra Tech. The JUC postponed the previously approved $52,000 phosphorus removal pilot plant study for a second time to help pay for the new cost of the master plan.
The pilot plant had already been deferred by the JUC earlier this year, from 2012 to 2013. Other proposed cost increases such as a staff pay increase of 2.6 percent, engineering services, and electrical power resulted in the final Tri-Lakes 2013 budget total rising from $932,271 to $945,086.
The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards:
Typically, several other district board members, including the JUC alternate representatives and district managers from each of the three owner districts, also attend JUC meetings to ensure continuity of facility operations and in-depth knowledge on the district boards.
Facility Manager Bill Burks discussed his final draft of the facility’s 2013 budget. He reviewed the proposed option for having engineering firm Tetra Tech perform a long-term capital improvement plan in 2013. The purpose of the engineering design study is to determine the options available to solve future permit issues such as the biotic ligand model for determining an appropriate copper standard for the upper segment of Monument Creek. The Tri-Lakes plant will have difficulty meeting the current copper limits in the facility’s discharge permit after the copper temporary modification expires.
The study would also determine the effect of a more detailed aquatic life characterization for this sandy bottom stream segment of Monument Creek. The upper segment of Monument Creek will most likely never meet the proposed interim values for aquatic life multimetric index readings, much less the long-term standards the state Water Quality Control Division is seeking. The current naturally occurring multimetric index scores for aquatic life in Monument Creek from Palmer Lake to Baptist Road are only about half of the minimum score required by the new Regulation 31.17 approved by the Water Quality Control Commission in March.
Burks stated that he had deleted the separate line item for the total phosphorus removal pilot plant that will be operated for three months to finalize the design requirements for the full-scale removal plant that will be required for the next discharge permit. There is no technical uncertainty regarding the design of the plant. The purpose of the pilot study is verify the design parameters, chemical feed rates, and increased sludge production rate necessary to meet the new discharge limit of 1.0 milligram per liter in new state Control Regulation 85 that will be imposed on the Tri-Lakes facility with its next five-year discharge permit in January, 2017.
An even tighter limit will be imposed beginning in 2022 under new state Regulation 31.17. Similar new restrictions are being imposed by these two regulations for total nitrogen as well, but no plant modifications will be required to meet the Control Regulation 85 limit of 15 mg/l in 2017 because of the existing plant’s exceptional efficiency, Burks said.
Because the long-term state and federal standards for copper, nutrients, and aquatic life are unobtainable, the Tri-Lakes facility will have to obtain perpetual discharger specific variances for each of these every three years. The facility owners will have to pay engineering, environmental, and legal consultants to prove that all these limits are still unattainable every three years during the recurring Arkansas River Basin standards hearings and every five years when the facility’s discharge permits expire.
The JUC unanimously approved postponing operations of the total phosphorus removal pilot plant for a second year to save about $52,000 for construction and operating costs, including chemicals, because there is no technical uncertainty regarding the design of the plant. The JUC unanimously approved reallocating this $52,000 to pay for the Tetra Tech master plan study, which will cost between $50,000 and $60,000. The amount budgeted for the master plan study was $55,000. There is a separate $10,000 miscellaneous engineering line that the facility could use to pay any overage if the study’s cost exceeds $55,000.
After the Sept. 11 JUC meeting, the Woodmoor board approved its share of the $85,296 cost in the 2013 budget to build a new storage building for the facility. This construction was postponed in 2012 at the request of Monument. All three district boards also approved the master plan study expense after the Sept. 11 meeting. Burks said the storage building construction would not begin until the study was completed in case the study showed a need to alter the previously approved building design.
The total 2013 expense budget rose from the $932,271 figure in the first two drafts to $945,086 in the third draft. The JUC unanimously approved the third draft and scheduled a public hearing on the final budget for Nov. 13.
Plant manager’s report
Burks noted that the plant was operating efficiently with no problems since the Sept. 11 meeting The JUC unanimously approved a motion to reduce the current sampling schedule at four locations four times each month to twice a month. The facility’s new discharge permit increased the copper sampling rate for effluent discharge from once a month to twice a month. The districts have been having their influent copper sampled by Burks’ staff to have data for seeking temporary modifications or discharger specific variances in future discharge permits and any new capital equipment requirements for removing additional amounts of dissolved copper by the plant.
District manager reports
Wicklund noted that pumps at the Wakonda Hills lift stations were still setting off alarms and the problems were being analyzed by supplier Keen Pumps.
Palmer Lake District Manager Duane Hanson gave his final report, stating that all the planned collection line cleaning and videoing had been completed for the year. Hanson retired on Oct. 19. Hanson has been replaced by former Palmer Lake Office Manager Becky Orcutt.
Jim Kendrick, Operations, Monument Sanitation District, gave a brief overview of the various new stakeholder work group meetings that he would be attending in October and November. These various stakeholder groups have been formed to resolve issues in publishing new policy and guidance documents for implementation of Control Regulation 85 limits by June 30, 2013, and statewide nutrient monitoring by March. The number of Water Quality Forum work groups has jumped from six to 13 because of the new regulatory workload created by these new regulations.
The meeting adjourned at 10:42 a.m.
The next JUC meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Nov. 13 at the Tri-Lakes facility’s conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
On Oct. 9, Triview Metropolitan District Board President Bob Fisher noted that there will now be a new agenda item: "Approval of Consent Agenda." He said it typically will include "status-type items" such as the staff operations report, which won’t be discussed during the meeting. Directors were urged to read these staff reports before board meetings.
"If there’s a month that comes up where there’s something on there you absolutely want to be discussed in the public session, then you would ask for it to be moved off the consent agenda onto the regular agenda," Fisher said. "Just about all that stuff in there is stuff you could call staff (about) any day of the week to discuss outside of the meeting."
The board also had a lengthy technical discussion with President Joe Loidolt of Classic Homes about a lot he owns in Sanctuary Pointe. Loidolt proposed building a new home for himself on this lot, after de-annexing his lot from the town of Monument. He also proposed temporarily using water from an existing nearby town well on the Sanctuary Pointe parcel for his new home in El Paso County until Triview can provide water to his de-annexed lot.
All five directors were present.
Consent agenda procedural issue raised
Director Steve Cox asked Fisher if he considered the 27-page agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) regarding the widening of I-25 and relocation of a Triview manhole a consent agenda item that should not be discussed by the board. Fisher replied, "All you have to do is request to have it moved off the consent agenda." District Manager Valerie Remington said a decision was needed by the middle of November.
Operations Manager Nick Harris said the staff did not expect a board decision on the CDOT agreement until the Nov. 13 board meeting. Cox said he wanted to discuss this item. Cox and Director Steve Hurd then asked staff members some questions, but said they did not need the answers until the next board meeting. The CDOT agreement was not discussed further.
Fisher asked each board member to email individual feedback and their questions on the proposed CDOT agreement to the staff before the next board meeting. He said he didn’t want a discussion of the matter at this meeting because it wasn’t on the regular agenda as a decision item. He reiterated that "asking of questions does not have to occur at a meeting." There should be no discussion of the agreement because it was not explicitly listed on the agenda as a decision item on a formal agreement.
Triview attorney Gary Shupp said if there was a published and noticed consent calendar with a formal list of consent items, any of the consent items could be moved to the regular calendar by any director. He said the CDOT I-25 utility agreement should have been explicitly listed on the regular agenda as an information item so that it had received sufficient public notice and could be discussed. Fisher said the CDOT agreement would be on the regular Nov. 13 agenda for approval.
Sanctuary Pointe agenda item dropped
Remington noted that she had mistakenly posted the wrong resolution document for public notice regarding an agenda item on an amendment of "the order of inclusion of the district concerning Sanctuary Pointe." Shupp said that would be a problem, because there was no publication of this agreement in the public meeting notification. Fisher said he would strike this agenda item.
Triview water attorney Chris Cummins added that he had not heard back from Classic Homes CEO Doug Stimpel about whether Classic had approved the proposed revisions to the resolution that was to be discussed at this meeting. Cummins said this agenda item should be rescheduled for the November board meeting for this reason as well. Classic Homes owns the land in both the Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe subdivisions.
Classic Homes President proposes de-annexation of his Sanctuary Pointe lot
Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Companies Inc., asked for clarification of the removal of his agenda item and what he needed to bring to the Nov. 13 meeting. Cummins said the board "approved a resolution as to form" at the previous board meeting and Loidolt was bringing back a list of changes that he’d prefer for discussion with the board.
Background: At the Aug.14 Triview board meeting, the board unanimously approved a motion to allow Loidolt to use a well and septic system for a home he wants to build on an individual lot in Sanctuary Pointe until Triview provides water and sanitary sewer services to the area where he will be building. Loidolt would have to pay the applicable tap fees when Triview water and wastewater services become available and connect to the new Triview infrastructure. The board unanimously approved a motion on Aug. 14 to have Remington execute the proposed inclusion agreement for this temporary use once all the other parties had approved it.
Cummins discussed Loidolt’s new issues and the changes he had planned to ask for during the Oct. 9 discussion of his cancelled agenda item. Some of the items Cummins noted were:
Under the conditions of the currently approved Sanctuary Pointe sketch planned development site plan approved by Monument and the conditions in Classic’s existing water rights agreement with Triview, all water rights for Sanctuary Pointe must be deeded to Triview if any portion of the Sanctuary Pointe development becomes subject to a final town plat. In his original proposal, Loidolt would have had to obtain town approval for a final plat of his lot so he could construct his new home. The town plat approval would have required Classic to deed all its Sanctuary Pointe water rights to Triview.
Cummins noted that these existing agreements presumed Loidolt’s lot would stay in the town of Monument when developed rather than his new proposal to de-annex his lot back to the unincorporated county.
Note: Since the Aug. 14 meeting, Loidolt and Cummins had learned that a recent revision to the town code now prohibits Loidolt from temporarily using water from a well on a different town lot for his proposed house. Loidolt said that Classic wanted the revised agreement’s prompt deeding of Classic’s Sanctuary Pointe water to Triview to act as a motivator to allow Loidolt to use water for his new house from the existing well on the town lot next to Loidolt’s lot. The exempt well would remain in the town of Monument. By staying in Triview, Loidolt would provide a revenue incentive of a future tap fee and water and wastewater monthly fees for the new house.
Cummins said he had prepared two revisions for the Triview board to choose from regarding Loidolt’s new request. One revision specifies that the county’s final plat approval for Loidolt’s lot, assuming the lot is de-annexed by the town, would trigger deeding of Classic’s water rights to Triview. The other revision states that Triview accepts that final plat approval by the county meets the spirit of the existing current requirement for town approval of Loidolt’s final plat, and county plat approval would be a sufficient trigger to require Classic to deed its water to Triview even though the existing legal language does not specify such a procedure for this de-annexation contingency.
The expansion of Loidolt’s lot to the south, if approved by Triview, would also create a new southern boundary that is contiguous with the county. Enlarging the lot to 5 acres would also make it easier for Loidolt to have the county rezone it for his proposed residential use while temporarily using town water from an existing "grandfathered" off-lot town well and a new septic system. Loidolt said putting in a new well on a new property would require a change to a modern county zone, a more difficult process under current county zoning rules. He said this type of zoning would also make things more difficult for a future property owner. "It would be easier to just de-annex."
As currently platted by the county, Loidolt’s 3.4-acre lot would have had no contiguous boundary with the county, making it ineligible for de-annexation from the town because it would have been completely surrounded by town properties. Cummins characterized Loidolt’s proposed new lot as a chip in the town’s south boundary rather than a hole within the town.
Loidolt said he has already obtained an access easement to a driveway that his proposed driveway will connect to. This driveway connects to a dirt road in the original Baptist Camp plat. This dirt road connects to the north end of Kingswood Drive at the current boundary between the county and the town. Kingswood Drive has a southern access on Baptist Road. Loidolt needs access from his lot to Baptist Road via Kingswood Drive in order for emergency vehicles to have access to his expanded lot.
Cummins stated that Triview has never before provided services to properties that had not already been annexed into the town before being included by Triview. He asserted that there is no existing legal language in the Triview intergovernmental agreements, the Triview annexation documents, or the county-approved service plan for Triview’s formation that bars Triview from providing services to a lot that remains included in the district after it has been de-annexed from the town, as Loidolt is now proposing.
In Loidolt’s proposed revised agreement, he still agrees to keep his now 5-acre lot included in Triview. Loidolt said he would not be proposing to have his lot annexed back into the town after he connects his new home to a future Triview water distribution system and wastewater collection system.
Director Steve Hurd expressed a concern about a Monument well that would now be serving a de-annexed Triview property if Triview agreed to the revised proposal. Cummins said that was a town question, not a Triview question. Cummins said some town staff members think that making an exception for Loidolt may be hard to undo, and that Loidolt’s proposed exception would become the rule in the future.
Monument Treasurer Pamela Smith, who was also serving as Triview treasurer until Oct. 31, asked if Triview would still get property taxes from Loidolt. Hurd said, "But we would not get the Monument share that Monument gives us." Smith said the town currently evenly splits Triview sales tax, motor vehicle tax, Regional Building use tax for construction materials, and 6.289 mills of property tax. Monument collects all of this tax revenue and then writes Triview checks for its half. Fisher said this loophole needed to be closed with a mechanism that would be equivalent and fair.
Shupp stated that the board would be discriminating against a specific property with a tax policy that was not uniform if Loidolt’s proposal was accepted. "I’m not sure I know the answer to that," he said.
An offer to pay a higher tax
Loidolt offered to pay about 38 mills instead of the regular Triview 35 mill levy.
Smith said, "You can’t do that." Cummins said he and Shupp would have to do some research to determine if Loidolt’s new mill levy proposal to pay an additional fee equal to Triview’s tax loss from the town was "technically legal or not" in order to comply with the law and not create a preferential tax rate.
Loidolt said the Triview board should consider that he would be paying 35 mills of property taxes to Triview now instead of him not building anything on the lot for the next five to eight years.
Smith said that Loidolt would have to pay a fee to the Town of Monument to make up for the town’s loss of property tax if the town allowed it to de-annexed, as well as require future owners of Loidolt’s lot to pay a fee. "Who’s going to pay that when you’re gone?" She added that others would say his proposed compensating fee is actually a tax.
Loidolt said there should only be a one-time inclusion fee.
Fisher said the time value of the property tax Loidolt would pay Triview for his new house and his offer to pay an additional fee was a good input.
Hurd asked whether a company like McDonald’s could use Loidolt’s requested exception as a precedent for requesting a de-annexing from the town. Cummins said he would have to research that issue.
Shupp added that someone else requesting to come into Triview in the future without being annexed into Monument would use the Loidolt exception as a precedent. He added that it would be hard to calculate an inclusion fee.
Loidolt said Classic had owned the 460 acres of Sanctuary Pointe since 2006 and "I’d like to build a house on it." Loidolt offered to deed the water rights for his lot to Triview right away. Cummins said this would not resolve the differential tax rate problem.
Cox asked if the board could take a couple of weeks and resolve the issue by email. After further discussion, Fisher said the staff should research this issue and bring their recommendations back to the board at the next board meeting as a review and approval agenda item.
In other matters, Smith presented a preliminary 2013 budget for the board’s review and comment, meeting the state requirement to have a budget proposed at a public meeting by Oct. 15.
Remington presented a proposal from Community Resource Services of Colorado LLC to provide financial and consulting services for district financial management, which was unanimously approved. A proposal from Stockman Kast Ryan & Co LLC to provide accounting services was also unanimously approved.
The board went into executive session at 7:51 p.m. for a "Conference with attorney for advice on specific legal questions."
The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 13 in Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Candice Hitt
Director Tommy Schwab provided an update on identifying wildfire defensive zones at the Oct. 11 Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board meeting. These zones will protect the water supply in the event of a wildfire.
Schwab stated he had met with the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) about identifying sites in Woodmoor. Volunteers for WIA have been assessing sites and properties and offering recommendations to residents on mitigation. The service is strictly voluntary and offered free to Woodmoor residents. WIA can also give permission to residents to cut down trees, eliminating the need for permits.
The draft 2013 budget was issued to the board for review, and a budget workshop was scheduled for Oct. 25.
District Manager Jessie Shaffer proposed the adoption of Resolution 12-06, which will establish policies regarding personal financial information. This resolution gives authorization to the front desk staff at the district office to provide tenants’ bills to landlords when tenants move out and leave unpaid balances to the district. The unpaid balances are due from the property owners. The resolution was unanimously approved.
Operations and construction update
Assistant Manager Randy Gillette said Well 5 was down, but still in the ground with no status yet and Well 6 needed cleaning. Request for bids were out to contractors.
Shaffer said the first draft of the district’s Long Range Plan (LRP) was received and changes will be submitted. Then a second draft will be submitted for review to the board in mid-October. The goal is to adopt the final LRP at the November board meeting.
The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. For information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com.
Candice Hitt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
Board President Bill George honored Tanja Smith, accounts receivable, as Employee of the Quarter at the Oct. 18 Donala Water and Sanitation District board meeting. Smith is also Donala’s receptionist. District Manager Dana Duthie lauded Smith for "the great job she does with all the wrath and grief she takes over the phone" after OCN publishes its Donala meeting articles, to much applause and laughter from the directors and the other staff members in attendance.
All the directors were present. Phil Book and Tim Wheeler, Donala residents, and Rick Evelo of the Gleneagle Golf Course also attended.
Director Ken Judd noted that he had attended the annual Special District Association conference in Breckenridge for the district and could not attend the preceding board meeting on Sept. 20. Duthie said the minutes for that meeting would be amended to note his SDA attendance, and they were unanimously approved as amended.
Willow Creek Ranch update
Duthie noted that he and federal Bureau of Reclamation officials have not yet decided whether to have a third party contractor help complete the permanent storage contract for Donala’s use of Pueblo Reservoir for storage of its Willow Creek Ranch renewable water. An initial payment of $30,000 has been made to the bureau. The next payment will be $15,000, but no due date has been set. Donala is using renewable one-year storage contracts with the bureau at this time.
The required National Environmental Policy Act and Environmental Protection Agency environmental impact study and permanent storage contract must be completed by 2015 to ensure compliance with Colorado Springs Utilities agreements with Pueblo County regarding Utilities’ 1041 permit. The permit will allow use of the Southern Delivery System to transport stored water between the reservoir and Colorado Springs. Consultant firm Leonard Rice Engineers is representing Donala in this matter.
Monument Creek monitoring update
Duthie said that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was still asking for discharge permit arsenic limits of 0.02 micrograms per liter (µg/l) and fish flesh limits of 3.0 µg/l. However, the EPA wants a fish flesh limit of 2.0 µg/l. Neither set of limits is technically or economically feasible for the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, nor the neighboring Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility or the Academy Water and Sanitation District lagoon system.
Groundwater sampling is being conducted by Donala and Triview at all well heads, water treatment plant distribution points and backwash points, and the connection to Utilities’ supply of potable water. Donala and Triview are also sampling their wastewater influent vaults, effluent, reuse water, and sludge.
The arsenic limits for human drinking water consumption are 10 times more lenient than stream water limits for fish that may be eaten by humans.
The regional wastewater monitoring group being formed by engineering consultant firm Brown and Caldwell to perform sampling in Monument Creek and Fountain Creek has a deadline of March 2013 to initiate coordinated stream monitoring, regarding sampling points, frequencies, and parameters, throughout the watershed to meet new Control Regulation 85 nutrient limits.
New stakeholder workgroup meetings are now being held regarding discharger specific variances, the new listing methodology procedures for designating impaired stream segments, and nutrient data sampling methodology.
Triview paid Donala for nine new taps in August and one new tap in September. This money is used to pay off Donala’s loan to Triview for expansion of the Upper Monument treatment plant.
Operational projects status
The contractor has pulled out the pump heads for the Jessie and Latrobe pump stations for sand-blasting and epoxy coatings. This work should be completed in early November.
The Baptist Road pipeline installation has been completed. Some seeding and other landscaping cleanup will be completed soon.
Work has begun on the design of the higher capacity pipelines for Jessie and Latrobe pump stations to pump more water from Pueblo and Colorado Springs uphill, as it becomes available, to the water treatment plant.
The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Mountain View Electric Association have announced that they will be cancelling the "power partner" cost-saving program. During peak power demands, Donala’s water treatment plant and the Upper Monument Creek plant have been switching to internal emergency electric generators to provide electricity to avoid paying much higher peak demand rates, saving about $30,000 a year. The power partner program cancellation will cause Mountain View power costs to increase about 63 percent for the wastewater plant and about 31 percent for the water treatment plant.
Planned installation of power correction factor equipment that would improve the efficiency of the district’s electrical equipment during peak power demands has been placed on hold to determine how much savings the equipment can produce under the new Mountain View power supply rates.
Duthie noted that a new EPA air quality rule will require exhaust gas scrubbers to be installed at a cost of about $170,000 per diesel generator, an amount that exceeds the cost of Donala’s new generator. The EPA has also set a new maximum limit on diesel-powered emergency generator operation of 150 hours per year. If emergency generators are used less than 150 hours, an alternative cheaper scrubber may be used, but the EPA has not issued any information about requirements and specifications for emergency generator. Under the power partner program, Donala operated its generators about 170 hours per year.
The wastewater plant blowers have been adjusted by a consultant electrician to reduce the number of times they trip off line when switching between Mountain View and the emergency generators. If the district’s generators are used less often in the future due to the cancellation of the power partner program, this tripping problem should also be reduced.
The re-bid from Rocky Mountain Cummins for the district’s standby generators was lower but specification issues still have not yet been resolved.
New, much lower bids have been received for capital upgrades to the wastewater plant’s sludge press. Engineering consultant GMS is working with the contractors to determine final total costs, including installation, for each bid. Once this information becomes available, the district can determine whether to include the construction in the 2013 budget. The current low bid is about $23,000. The new design will allow the sludge conveyor belt to swing back and forth, eliminating the need to physically shift the large sludge collection dumpsters.
Duthie reported that Donala had exceeded its annual record for water production (2011) on Oct. 13. There were 25 customers that used more than 40,000 gallons in September, bringing the total number of billings for more than 40,000 gallons up to 435 for the year. Most of these are for habitual high users. Donala produced 41 million gallons of water in September, 7 million more than in September 2011.
Three customers were selected as winners in the first annual Donala xeriscape contest based on water savings and aesthetics. Susan McLean, the district’s conservation/landscape manager, provided OCN with this information and the photos shown on pages 1 and 29:
Duthie discussed a table of how operational water depths over the pumps vary for various Donala wells. The information will be finalized and posted on the Donala website. As some of the deeper wells become slower to recharge, lower pumping rates have to be used. Pumps designed to pump 500 gallons per minute are not as efficient if slowed to pump at lower rates. The time it takes for a static well recovery after high pumping rates is increasing. The recovery time required to resume pumping after operational depths decrease too much also is increasing. Two wells recently shut down automatically because the depth over the pump dropped too low.
Leonard-Rice is providing the district’s hydrology services. The state water engineer is publishing similar well data showing the same reduced ability for utility wells to recharge.
Donala is supplementing its groundwater production with renewable water from the Willow Creek Ranch, Pueblo Board of Water Works, and Colorado Springs Utilities, but this water is more expensive than treating Donala’s own well water. While Donala would prefer to use all 280 acre-feet of its annual Willow Creek adjudicated water rights, it was only able to use 123 acre-feet.
2013 budget review
Duthie gave an in-depth presentation very similar to his Sept. 20 board meeting presentation on his 2013 budget and his 10-year projection of needed for water and wastewater rate increases. He spoke to the citizens in attendance and answered all their questions on assumptions and choices made to increase rates. This information is available in the OCN article on the Sept. 20 meeting.
Duthie and several board members had a discussion with Evelo regarding fee increases in 2013 for the Gleneagle Golf Course, which uses about 9 percent of Donala’s water production.
The board unanimously approved the draft 2013 budget for presentation at a public hearing during the next board meeting on Dec. 6.
The board went into executive session for personnel and negotiating strategies at 2:45 p.m.
The next meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month; however, no meeting will be held in November. Information: 488-3603.
The district’s website is at www.donalawater.org.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
On Oct. 18, the Lewis-Palmer Board of Education expressed its appreciation to the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club for $18,623 in awards made to the district. The awards were selected in May and were to be spent by September.
Projects supported by the awards included the purchase of an equine therapy program for the Adapted Physical Education Department, various technology and sports equipment, and new stage curtains for Lewis-Palmer Elementary.
Superintendent John Borman formally thanked the club for its support and commended it as a prime example of community involvement and support for the schools.
Board President Jeff Ferguson presented a plaque to the grants chairperson and officers of the club, and recipients of the awards were also present.
Nutritional Services update
Katie Dubois, manager of the district’s Nutritional Services Department, gave an update on the progress of the department’s participation in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program, which was substantially changed at the end of the 2011-12 school year. Dubois said that food service revenues for the department exceeded those of last year for the first three months of the school year and that there are significant sales of a la carte items. Students may have as many fruits and vegetables as they wish, but servings of proteins and starches are restricted, as is sodium content.
When asked by the board what the consequences would be for not participating in the federal program, Dubois said that the district would lose its funding for free and reduced-cost lunches and several thousand dollars worth of commodities. The number of students participating in the free/reduced-cost lunch program continues to grow. She therefore recommended that the district continue with the program. The department is continuously creating new recipes and tracking their appeal to students.
The department also sponsored a visit by Foodplay, a national award-winning theater production to teach students about healthy eating and the importance of an active lifestyle. The production was offered to all elementary students, Monument Academy, homeschoolers, and the St. Peter Catholic School students.
Community Relations Manager Robin Adair reported that there have been a number of developments during the past month regarding community communication in preparation for a possible mill levy override proposal on the November 2013 ballot.
The Board of Education held a work session the previous week with principals of all district schools to discuss priorities and a consistent message for all schools to present to parents and other members of the community.
The number of individuals on the district’s Key Communicators list is now 150.
Superintendent Borman is also involving students in the communication process. He was contacted by the Palmer Ridge High School Student Council to learn how they may participate in the effort.
Adair also reported that she attended a meeting with a group of realtors from the Pikes Peak area. D-38 was one of five districts that attended. She said that it was encouraging that the realtors acknowledge the value of a good school system in supporting property values.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman said that the Oct. 1 student count showed the district to be short of the expected number by slightly more than 11 students. However, she anticipates that the goal will be reached when the partial funding for part-time students such as those in the Home School Academy and the Transitions program are added to the total.
Palmer Ridge High School presentation
Principal Gary Gabel introduced Brianna Downs and Eric Sabelstrom, who gave a presentation on the activities of the Palmer Ridge High School Student Council. They described the structure of the council and its contributions to the school and the community through fundraising, teacher appreciation, community service, and school spirit.
Some of the activities supported by the council are the homecoming dance, Snow Ball, prom, and tailgate parties. These events are all well attended and raise funds for the school.
Examples of teacher support are teacher breakfasts and the provision of free babysitting so that teachers can have a night out or participate in back-to-school nights or teacher/parent conferences.
Charities supported by the council include the Make a Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, and such original activities as the Ninjas who support random acts of kindness such as leaving a flower and a card of support on windshields in parking lots.
Palmer Ridge will host a meeting of the Colorado High School Activities Association on Oct. 19-20. There will be representatives of 65 schools from throughout the state.
Borman reported that he would be present at Palmer Ridge High School the following day to welcome the delegates to the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Parent conferences were conducted during the previous week.
Lewis-Palmer High School participated in the Cool Science Festival at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs the previous weekend.
Borman also enumerated recent athletic achievements by district teams.
The board also discussed and approved the charge for the District Accountability Advisory Committee and approved the contract for superintendent for the 2013-14 school year. This motion extended Borman’s contract until June 30, 2014, and increases his salary by 2 percent. Members of the board commended Borman’s achievements and said that they made a smart choice when they selected him for the job.
Board member John Magerko said that he would attend the meeting of the Colorado Association of School Boards on Oct. 19-20. He said that he has spoken with Gail Wilson, his predecessor, regarding activities of the group. The conference produces a list of proposals to be presented to the state Legislature on such issues as term limits for board members and adjustment of salaries to expedite filling difficult positions.
In their final comments, board members said that they continued to be impressed by the district’s staff.
Board Vice President Mark Pfoff commented that he opposes Amendment 64 on the state ballot. This amendment would legalize the sale of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. He said he was particularly offended that proponents of the amendment use the fact that tax revenues would support education in the state.
Ferguson said that he was very impressed with the presentation by the Palmer Ridge students.
Magerko said that a result of the previous week’s work session was to strive to pay teachers and other employees well enough so that financial concerns do not distract them from their jobs.
The board approved a number of routine matters such as minutes of previous meetings, resignations and retirements, lists of substitute teachers and other staff, special education contracts, a new high school course request, and a monthly budget summary.
The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Nov. 15.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
Kilmer Elementary School Principal Chuck Stovall presented a profile of his school at the Oct. 9 meeting of the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC).
Kilmer has a student population of almost 400, with two sections at each grade level except for third grade. Teachers at the school average over 10 years of experience in their profession, with more than half holding master’s degrees.
Seven to 10 percent of the students at Kilmer are in the Gifted Education program, and there is a growing population of students on the free and reduced-cost lunch program.
Kilmer houses a program for students with significant support needs. There are 10 students in this program, and they also are in the cafeteria and classes at the school.
Regarding the school’s Unified Improvement Plan, Kilmer exceeds in academic achievement and meets academic growth and academic growth gaps, Stovall said. School administrators will submit a performance plan to solidify and improve their performance.
Weakness in the growth gap area is primarily in math among those on free and reduced-cost lunch and those students needing to catch up (those with unsatisfactory or partially proficient scores). The math curriculum is being updated for all students.
Stovall said the goal of the school is to have 90 percent proficient or advanced ratings in all areas for the third through sixth grades.
Other strengths of Kilmer Elementary are its strong music, art, and physical education programs and an extensive list of enrichment classes offered before and after school, Stovall said. The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) sponsors a fall festival, a spring fling, and talent show in addition to a Hands on Science Night held before the science fair to give students ideas on projects they might try.
The PTO has also funded the replacement of many of the school’s older computers.
District performance framework
Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton spoke about the district’s performance framework. She said that the information will be available to the public on schoolview.com in the near future. The results are based on testing held during last spring.
Benton said the district is in the top 10 percentile and accredited with distinction. This rating includes Monument Academy’s performance. Areas evaluated include academic achievement based on TCAP scores, academic growth for those students who have been tested for two consecutive years, academic growth gaps, and post-secondary and workforce preparedness. The final category involves ACT scores, graduation rates, and dropout rates.
Adequate yearly progress is no longer involved.
The ratings are "does not meet," "approaching," "meets," and "exceeds."
English Language Learners are now evaluated on their ability to read, write, and speak the language.
Students with disabilities do not qualify for extra help if they are performing at grade level. These students are improving in terms of writing and reading, and Benton said she hopes that another year will bring many of them up to grade level.
Compared to the previous year (2010-11), scores at the middle school level show more "approaching" scores and fewer "does not meet" scores in the growth gap area. Academic achievement exceeds requirements.
At the high school level, postsecondary and workforce readiness enter consideration. Those in growth gap categories should graduate at 80 percent or higher, including students in the Transitions program for those ages 18 to 21 with active Individual Education Plans (IEP).
Committee for Political Achievement
Committee for Political Achievement Chair Cori Tanner reported that citizens have recently received the blue book explaining state initiatives and a newsprint mailing describing city and county initiatives in the mail.
Tanner said that the deadline for voter registration was fast approaching and urged all those present to register if they had not already done so. She stressed that it is important to be an informed voter and that DAAC members should not try to tell others how to vote.
Board liaison report
Board of Education Liaison John Magerko said that a work session would be held regarding planning a mill levy override ballot initiative for 2013. This work session would include principals as well as members of the board.
Magerko also said that he will attend Colorado Association of School Board (CASB) functions, as had Gail Wilson, his predecessor. He said that CASB wishes to retain local control over school administration and will also consider such issues as salaries and licensure.
He said that he has made contact with the CASB representative from District 12 to get a better understanding of the place of a district the size of District 38 in the state context.
Community Relations Manager Robin Adair presented the 2012-13 draft calendar to the committee. School will start on Aug. 21, 2013, with an additional snow day included in the secondary calendar.
She encouraged members with questions to contact her.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be held Nov. 13 at Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Rd.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
Mary Anne Fleury, School District 38’s director of Exceptional Student Services, offered a broad overview of the district’s programs at the committee’s Oct. 3 meeting.
Fleury said that former Superintendent Ray Blanch tried to define the mission of special education by consulting the District Accountability Advisory Committee, the various Building Advisory Committees, the Board of Education, parents, teachers, and the community to determine what the goals of the program should be. At that time, a three-year plan was created, which would end with the 2013-14 year.
The state of Colorado’s education system is locally controlled, meaning that each district determines its own values and solutions.
Fleury serves on a statewide committee called Special Education Reinvented. The group was formed to improve performance by special education students, only 25 percent of whom are proficient in reading and other skills. She said the group will start anew to create an innovative program.
Some of the group’s goals are to make Individual Education Plans (IEPs) more cognizant of a student’s strengths, changing teacher training methods to make inclusiveness in the general education classroom more of a priority, and creating individual learning plans for the entire student population. At present, special education students, English Language Learners and Gifted Education students have individual plans.
New survey developed
Fleury said that a new survey will soon be sent to parents of special education students, teachers, and administrators asking them what they believe the focus of the district’s program should be.
The Transitions program for those ages 18 to 21 with active IEPs was originally developed for students with severe disabilities. At present, it serves students with a spectrum of abilities. Some attend college and then return to the program for help with homework. Others are involved with vocational training. Students leave the program at the end of the semester in which they turn 21. Colorado Department of Education representatives have praised the effectiveness of this program.
Fleury explained the various support centers within the district, such as the Significant Support Needs Center at the middle school and the Dual Diagnosis Program at Prairie Winds Elementary, which works with students on the autism spectrum who are high in cognitive function but have emotional disabilities.
She also explained the work of the district’s child find coordinator, who evaluates children under 3 to determine whether they qualify for inclusion in special education at the preschool level.
Fleury supervises the specialists such as the occupational and physical therapists and the alternative physical education specialist. All teachers and paraprofessionals report to their principals. Fleury reports to Superintendent John Borman.
Fleury may move teachers from one location to another based on caseloads. She has developed a new system to evaluate caseloads based on the amount of time devoted to each student on a weekly basis. She is reviewing the caseloads for the coming year.
There are monthly meetings of the teacher leadership team, which offers training in areas including behavioral support, technological assistance, crisis prevention intervention, and training of paraprofessionals.
A parent at the meeting said she would welcome the opportunity to attend training on crisis prevention. Fleury said such training might be made available to parents at some time, perhaps offered by one of the district’s psychologists.
There was a brief discussion of the goal of inclusiveness in the general education classroom for students with disabilities.
Fleury said that she and Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton plan to discuss inclusiveness with teachers in the near future. She said that with the recent passage of Senate Bill 191, which bases a large part of teacher evaluation on the achievement of students, teachers are under pressure to emphasize the year-to-year growth of each individual. This results in reluctance on the part of some teachers to increase inclusiveness in the general education classroom, Fleury said.
Committee Chair Suzanne Faber said studies have shown that some districts have successfully included special education students in the classroom and that test scores have improved as a result. She agreed to provide some documentation at the next meeting.
Fleury said that there will be a change in labels for those with disabilities in the next few years. One major change will be that those with conduct disorders will no longer be eligible for special education services.
She also announced that the district has received a three-year grant for Response to Intervention program at Palmer Lake Elementary School and Lewis Palmer High school. This grant includes funds to pay substitutes so that teachers may attend training.
The Special Education Advisory Committee meets at 6:30 on the second Wednesday of each month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Nov. 14.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
On Oct. 15, the Monument Board of Trustees and Police Department honored Officer Kevin Swenson for his 34 years of service to the Town of Monument at a retirement ceremony at the start of the Board of Trustees meeting. Swenson joined the department in January 1978.
Mayor Travis Easton announced that he had received a letter of resignation from Trustee Rick Squires. Easton noted that applications for appointment as a replacement trustee are available at the town website: www.townofmonument.net/BOTVacancy.html. The minimum town residence requirement is one year.
Chief Jake Shirk and Lt. Steve Burk presented Swenson with an impressive shadow box and a plaque to commemorate his retirement. Some of the comments Shirk made to Swenson were:
Some of Swenson’s remarks were:
The board recessed for a reception for Swenson, his family, friends, and colleagues.
Palmer Ridge High School student Brianna McCuen of the Palmer Ridge Student Council said she would participate in this board meeting as a nonvoting member because her alternate, Palmer Ridge student Eric Marter, was unable to attend this meeting. McCuen and Marter were selected to attend Board of Trustees meetings throughout the Palmer Ridge school year to provide a student perspective on local matters. Marter is the primary representative in the fall and McCuen the primary in the spring.
Trustee Jeff Kaiser noted to Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara that some new Monument residents had expressed concerns about stormwater drainage near their new homes in Promontory Pointe and would pass their paperwork and contact information to him after the meeting so Kassawara could provide a town response.
Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District firefighter Mike Keough, representing the Monument Firefighters Association, gave a briefing on the 3-mill tax increase initiative the district placed on the November ballot as question 5C. Raising the current property tax mill levy from 8.5 mills to 11.5 mills would be a 35.3 percent tax increase.
Some of Keough’s presentation remarks, summarized, were:
Town Manager Cathy Green said that the rent charged by the town for the district’s use of the Second Street Town Hall building as an administrative building is $1 per year so that the district could save money for its own building. However, the district has not been able to save any money.
2013 budget presented
Town Treasurer Pamela Smith formally presented a preliminary draft 2013 budget to meet the Oct. 15 deadline requirement of state statutes. She said the board would discuss the draft in a budget workshop after the regular board meeting adjourned. She noted that the board must approve the town’s 2013 mill levy certification, budget, and appropriation resolution and forward them to the state by Dec. 15.
The board unanimously approved a change of manager for the Chili’s Bar and Grill liquor license, contingent upon a positive background check by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The board unanimously approved two payments over $5,000:
Smith presented the August sales tax report, noting that August revenue exceeded the amount budgeted by $154,000 or 9.3 percent.
The board approved a motion by a 5-1 vote (Trustee Stan Gingrich was opposed) to not decorate the new trees being installed on Second Street between Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road with Christmas lights. There was some consensus that the money might be better used to offer employees bonuses, since no pay raise is likely for 2013.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m. The board recessed before starting the 2013 budget workshop.
The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Bernard L. Minetti
El Paso County Development Service Division Director Max Rothschild updated OCN Oct. 30 on the visibility hazard at the Brookmoor Estates entrance. "The developer’s (Michael Brennan) engineer submitted a report that was not approved by the county engineer, as it was not done correctly," Rothschild said.
"We are waiting for a corrected report that will indicate the length of wall to be removed, including landscaping adjustment," he said. "The developer is responsible to make the modifications. If the work is not done in a timely manner, the Development Services Department will request the Board of County Commissioners to take action on the violation."
County Commissioner Darryl Glenn uncovered this violation. The violation against Brookmoor Estates concerning the construction of the wall on the north side of the community without amending the development plan was addressed in an email.
The wall extends east and west of the main entry/exit gate that accesses the community. The wall, by its position and construction, blocks a large part of the sight visibility for exiting vehicles. It also limits vehicles on Lake Woodmoor Drive from having a clear view of vehicles exiting from Brookmoor Estates.
According to the violation notice, the construction of the wall occurred in 2005. Code Enforcement Officer Gayle Jackson stated that Brennan was the Brookmoor developer and the constructor of the wall. Brennan is a board member of the Brookmoor Homeowners Association. He owns several lots in Brookmoor Estates through Mountain Desert Investments.
Bernard Minetti can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
As is so often the case during October in the Tri-Lakes region, we quickly transitioned from summer to winter and back a few times during the month. Overall, the month was drier than average, continuing the trend we have seen since last March. Temperatures averaged slightly cooler than normal for the month. Let’s hope this winter and next spring bring some significant snows so we can make up for some of the water shortages experienced over the last year.
This winter is a weak El Nino to neutral ENSO pattern, which often will result in an average to slightly above average snow season for us. To follow the ENSO pattern and learn about its effects on our weather, check out this link from the Denver NWS office, www.crh.noaa.gov/images/bou/showimages/AUGUST-OCTOBER_2012_Outlook-Baker.pdf.
We experienced a little bit of everything during the first week October. The morning of the 1st started off with low clouds and fog, then sunshine returned by afternoon. Highs were a little below normal, only hitting the mid-60s. Mild and sunny weather quickly moved in the next two days, ahead of a cold front. This cold front brought a dramatic change to our weather pattern starting on the afternoon of the 3rd, with temperatures falling from the upper 70s that afternoon to freezing by midnight.
Cold air stuck around the next few days, as another reinforcing shot of cold air moved in. Highs were stuck in the 40s on the 4th with low clouds and fog at times, then were held in the 30s on the 5th and 6th. In addition, our first hard freeze of the season occurred by the morning of the 4th, with low 20s common thorough the region.
The next morning saw our first snow of the season when a dusting to a half inch fell just before sunrise on the 5th. The fog, low clouds, and freezing temperatures also left a nice coating of ice on exposed surface that day and again on the 6th, as high temperatures barely made it above freezing. Over the two-day period, we picked up a little more than 0.1 inch of precipitation. Sunshine returned with abundance to end the first weekend of the month, but temperatures were still 10 to 15° cooler than normal, in the upper 40s to low 50s on the 7th.
The second week of October was mostly quiet and dry, with the exception of one area of low pressure that moved through late in the week. Temperatures were near to slightly above normal for the first few days of the week, with mid- to upper 60s on the 8th, then about 10° cooler on the 9th, and back to the mid- and upper 60s on the 10th and 11th. We remained dry through that time as well, with plenty of sunshine. But an area of low pressure moving through Southern California and into Arizona, Nevada, and Utah began to affect the region late on the 11th.
Clouds and scattered showers greeted us on the 12th as the first portion of the storm moved through. The cold, unsettled portion of the low moved over us the next day, and some wrap-around moisture hit the region during the afternoon of the 13th. This brought some cold rain and penetrating winds that afternoon. The storm moved out quickly that evening and the weekend ended sunny and dry, with seasonal temperatures in the upper 50s and low 60s.
The next week was dry as temperatures fluctuated from slightly below normal to slightly above normal. High temperatures ranged from the low 7s on the 15th, 16th, and 20th to the mid- and upper 50s on the 17th and 18th. The dry air and long, clear nights allowed overnight lows to dip into the 20s and 30s every morning, with some chilly upper teens on the morning of the 18th. A couple weak pushes of cooler air moved into the area, one early on the 17th and another late on the 20th. A quick-moving disturbance associated with a storm moving just to our north also brought some showers during the early hours of the 17th, but unless you were awake around 2 a.m., you probably didn’t even notice.
Our first good snow of the season occurred during the third week of October, pretty much right on schedule for the region. The week started off quiet enough, with temperatures in the 60s to low 70s on the 22nd and 23rd. This mild air was ahead of a developing storm system about to move through the area out of the Pacific Northwest. Winds kicked up pretty well ahead of this storm, with the cold front pushing through during the mid-afternoon of the 24th. Clouds quickly filled in and by 7 p.m., snow was falling for most of us. Snow continued at a pretty good clip through the evening, with blowing snow overnight as well.
By the time the snow tapered off the next morning, 4 to 8 inches had accumulated. Another quick-moving storm followed and produced another round of snow from the afternoon through just before midnight on the 25th. This produced another inch or so of snow and reinforced the cold air across the region. Overall, this stormy period brought a nice shot of much needed moisture to the area, with around a half inch of liquid equivalent accumulating.
Temperatures stayed at or just below freezing for highs on both the 25th and 26th, making for a couple of pretty raw days. Sunshine returned by the afternoon of the 26th and continued over the weekend. Temperatures struggled to reach the low 40s even with all the sunshine on the 27th, then broke into the 50s on Sunday the 28th.
Sunshine returned for the remainder of the month, providing beautiful weather for the last few days of the month and perfect weather for trick-or-treaters during Halloween.
A look ahead
November is generally dry and cool around the region. We usually get several light snowfalls interspersed with sunny skies. Gusty winds commonly develop on a couple of days as the jet stream becomes more active and more directly affects Colorado. Our first subzero morning low temperatures occur during the month as well. High temperatures average in the upper 40s early in the month to low 40s by the end with overnight lows often dipping into the teens and single digits.
October 2012 Weather Statistics
Average High 58.7° (-0.5) 100-year return frequency value max 67.7°
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community should not be interpreted as the view of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer.
In 2004, voters passed a one-cent sales tax to fund the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA). Funding from PPRTA has completed numerous beneficial road projects in the Pikes Peak region and specifically in the Tri-Lakes area, the Baptist Road/Hodgen Road connection, the Baptist Road/Struthers Road connection, and the widening of Baptist Road.
Now, ballot measure 5A asks voters to extend the capital projects portion of the PPRTA one-cent tax for another 10 years. The one-cent tax is broken out as follows: 55 percent for a specific list of capital projects, 35 percent for maintenance projects, and 10 percent for metro transit. Even if 5A is voted down, the 45 percent for maintenance projects and metro transit will still continue. According to the PPRTA website, the entire one-cent tax costs the average household approximately 42 cents per day.
This is an important issue for the entire Pikes Peak region, but especially to the Tri-Lakes area. Monument Hill Road is the only access to Palmer Ridge High School, and it has absolutely no shoulder, let alone a bike lane. This road has long been identified as needing safety improvements, but the issue is funding. If 5A passes, 4-foot shoulders will be added to Monument Hill Road, making the trip to school much safer for bikers, pedestrians, and car drivers alike. Additionally, Deer Creek Road from Monument Hill Road to Woodmoor Drive, Beacon Lite Road from Highway 105 to County Line Road, and Highway 105 from I-25 to Highway 83 are all slated for improvements if 5A passes.
Tax increase 5C is a 3 mill property tax increase that will cost the average Tri-Lakes household almost $1,000 per year. If we don’t pay, we are told the fire district will have to close a fire station and lay off three firemen, but the midyear financial assessment from July shows the fire district funding and spending is running as expected. In fact, the fire district’s own 2013 property tax income projections are higher than 2012, without the tax increase. Yes, the district projects greater income next year and still wants more from your property taxes.
If approved, 5C would increase taxes to the fire department 33 percent indefinitely. We are told the district would be able to hire six more firefighters using a federal grant at zero cost for the next two years. Then we must either find another way to pay for them or lay them off. We would be back in the same position we currently find ourselves, as it is not popular to lay off firefighters.
To understand whether our county is providing similar levels of fire station coverage comparable to other areas of Colorado, we can count the fire stations. According to the fire department directory, El Paso County has the most fire stations of any Colorado county. If the only solution to account for the perceived budget problems is for Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District is to close a station, another is only 4 miles away.
The fear from fires this summer has made the burden of this tax increase seem acceptable to protect your home from fire. However, it is your homeowner’s insurance fire protection that protects the value of your home; the Fire Department minimizes the damage and keeps the fire from spreading. For these reasons, I will be voting no on Tax Increase 5C.
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify a few issues presented in the Oct. 6 edition of OCN regarding the recent award of federal funds to the Town of Monument for the construction of sidewalks and a traffic circle in the downtown area.
In the article covering the Sept. 17 Monument Board of Trustees meeting ("Water rate increase options proposed"), under Staff Reports, it mentions that I "praised Bob Torres, the engineering consultant who prepared the complicated proposal documentation" that led to the funding we received for the Downtown Sidewalks project. This is not an accurate representation of what was stated at the meeting, since my staff and I prepared the application entirely in-house.
Once we received the notification of the award, Mr. Torres’ firm, Jacobs Engineering, was selected to be the consulting engineer for the project. Jacobs is one of the town’s "on-call" engineering consultants. They were chosen for the design portion of this project not only because of their prior excellent work on several town projects, but because of Bob’s familiarity with the CDOT funding mechanism and with the process for using the federal dollars we have been awarded. Bob was formerly the CDOT Region 2 director, so he has worked for decades with this type of funding and knows the "ins and outs" of the process as well as anyone. Since this is our first time experiencing this process, Jacobs was the logical choice for this assignment.
Also, the article mentioned that the town’s matching funds would come from stormwater impact fees. The town’s required 20 percent match for this project is not necessarily being taken from this account. This line item is a possibility for partial funding, since there will be some positive drainage impacts in the downtown area with the installation of the associated curbing to channel water to existing drainage facilities. However, the installation of sidewalks is not solely a stormwater project, so these impact fees cannot be the only source of the town’s matching funds.
Finally, the $895,000 award amount quoted in the article is incorrect. We have been allocated $780,000 for the Sidewalks project (with our 20 percent match, the total estimated cost for the project is $975,000). The breakdown for the Traffic Circle project is $220,000 in federal funds with a $55,000 local match—for a total project budget of $275,000. Thus, the total federal funding amount we have been promised is $1 million for the two projects.
Tom Kassawara, P.E.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
One of the best gifts anyone can give young children is to instill in them a love of books and reading. Following are some new volumes that rapidly become favorites through beautiful and clever illustrations, catchy stories, and surprising special touches.
Time Out for Monsters!
This delightful book begins with a typical child who spends a lot of time in a certain corner of his home. When he decides the corner needs a little fixing up his imagination goes wild, and everything from dragons and monsters to cupcakes and ice cream appears in living color, and he’s sure Mom will love it.
Dig Dig Digging
Trucks and tractors, fire engines, and helicopters—they all like to work hard. But after a long day of beep-beeping and vroom-vrooming, even the busiest engines need to rest. This bright, bouncy, noise-filled book brings together the vehicles that children adore.
I Say, You Say: Animal Sounds!
I say "Reading!" You say "Fun!" This colorful, playful book encourages young children to explore the world of noisy animals with eight lift-the-flaps. They can call out animal names and noises, practice new words, and learn while having fun.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Down in the big construction site, tough trucks work with all their might. But now it’s time to say goodnight. Even the roughest, toughest readers will want to turn off their engines, rest their wheels, and drift to sleep with this sweet and soothing story. Vibrant, playful illustrations and gentle, rhyming text make this a surefire bedtime favorite for truck-crazy kids everywhere.
One morning, Lily saw something wonderful in her garden. It had four legs, a tail, and a big, wet nose … and Lily had always wanted one! Lily’s "doggy" turns out to be something else, and her adventures with him are chronicled through whimsical illustrations. This book is sure to appeal to any child who has a pet, or has ever wished for one.
"Just make a mark and see where it takes you." The words of Vashti’s teacher are a gentle invitation to self-expression. But Vashti can’t draw—she’s no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper, leaving an unremarkable, angry dot. That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery. That one little dot marks the beginning of this delicate fable about the creative spirit in all of us.
Andrew Drew and Drew
If you love to draw, if you love to imagine, you will love Andrew. Follow him as he doodles his way through the flaps and folds of an unusual book. This Caldecott Medal winner will entertain children and adults alike.
Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure
Explore the characters, droids, creatures, planets, vehicles, and galactic adventures in this brand-new guide to the galaxy. With over 25 amazing pop-ups and a light-saber that changes color, this extraordinary three-dimensional journey into the Star Wars universe will excite fans of all ages.
Illusionology: The Secret Science of Magic
From optical illusions and card tricks to Harry Houdini’s magical straitjacket escapes and the science of mind reading, this clever book explores the history, science, and magic of illusions. Readers are advised that while various tricks are presented for practical presentation, on no account should some illusions be tried at home. For the older child or adult who has always loved impossible deeds, this beautiful volume is packed with information.
Birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s, or any day, will be special for the child in your life if he or she has a delightful new book in hand. And some books bring out the child in all of us.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures Bookstore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below: Painting by Elizabeth Hacker of a golden eagle rising on thermal currents from the Greenland Ranch.
By Elizabeth Hacker
Winter is bearing down on the Palmer Divide, and fall migration for songbirds is over. While migration for passerines has passed, later migrants including hawks and waterfowl are still arriving.
Why do hawks migrate?
Many species of hawks and falcons that breed in northern climates tend to move to warmer climates while those that live in more temperate climates rarely migrate long distances. Within the same population, some raptors migrate while others do not. The reasons for this behavioral variation are unclear, but it is thought that environmental and genetic factors play a major role in raptor migration.
Genetic variation might include the ability to tolerate colder temperatures, adapt to dietary variations, and find suitable shelter. Some birds are able to adapt to environmental and dietary changes that occur within a region while others, even within the same species, are not.
Environmental conditions are generally linked to type and availability of food, and for birds, this means going to or following the food supply. When the weather turns cold, the summer food supply of mice, songbirds, and reptiles dwindles while the winter food supply of mammals, rodents, fish, and waterfowl increases.
Raptors that hunt waterfowl do well in Colorado because many ducks migrate here. Golden eagles hunt animals like skunks and foxes that are in healthy supply during winter months. Kestrels, on the other hand, depend on large insects and small rodents and do not tolerate harsh winter conditions, so it is more likely that they will move from the Palmer Divide to lower elevations.
When do hawks migrate?
Each fall, thousands of hawks, eagles, osprey, and falcons leave their summer nesting sites and fly south. Hawk migration begins in late August and extends into early December. Bigger hawks generally migrate later than the smaller ones.
How do hawks migrate?
Hawks rely on updrafts to take off and fly to their destination by soaring on warm air currents. They are attracted to landscapes with ridges and avoid large bodies of water. Migrating hawks generally follow well-established routes as they move south. The primary raptor route in the United States occurs inland from the East Coast. Places like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware Bay attract hawk watchers from around the world.
But there is good news for birders who don’t want to travel that far to see migrating hawks. Many hawks migrate along secondary routes that include numerous river corridors. Years ago, while working on a design project in Duluth, Minn., I had the opportunity to observe hundreds of large hawks taking off from the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. In mid-September, many species of hawks lift off en masse from the base of this ridge. For a birder, standing eyeball to eyeball with these powerful birds as they soared along the top of a ridge is a memorable experience.
Hawks that migrate to or through Colorado fly solo or in small groups. To survive, raptors need large hunting territories. Even hawks that form lifelong pair bonds must separate during the winter months to hunt for food. Finding migrating hawks may be difficult, but they are here and knowing when and where to look is the key to finding them.
When and where can raptors be found?
The optimal time of day to see raptors is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when thermals air currents warm and rise.
Raptors are found in places where they lift off and that have food they like to eat. The red-tailed hawk, a buteo, is not particularly shy, will eat just about anything, and can readily be found on any given day perched on top of the light poles along I-25.
The red-tailed hawk is an exception because most hawks are secretive and thus difficult to spot. When looking for a raptor, a good place to start is to look for places where they can lift off and soar. One location I’ve observed golden eagles and other hawks is on the Greenland Ranch Open Space while hiking or driving along a back road. One winter day while counting bluebirds, I spotted a golden eagle lunching on a fox. It didn’t move until I was about 100 feet away, and I was able to watch it for several minutes before it flew into the trees. I never know what I’ll find from one day to the next, but on many occasions I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Spruce Mountain is a unique outcropping that juts out perpendicular from the Rampart Range. Rising thermal air currents along Highway 105 between Palmer Lake and Spruce Mountain provide a good place to find hawks. Other places include Castlewood Canyon and Cheyenne Mountain State Parks. But remember, hawks tend to stay close to their food, so finding a fish-eating bird like a bald eagle or osprey away from water is highly unlikely.
What raptors are found on the Palmer Divide?
It seems that every year I add a raptor to my bird list. The ones most common to this area include the turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, prairie and peregrine falcons, and the kestrel, which is a small falcon. I’ve written about each of these birds in articles that are available on OCN’s website, www.ocn.me.
Other raptors that are here but harder to find include the golden and bald eagles, Swainson’s hawk, sharp shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk, ferruginous hawk, northern goshawk, northern harrier, osprey, and merlin, which is a small falcon similar to the kestrel but more aggressive.
Hawk watching on the Palmer Divide is a little like a treasure hunt where spotting a raptor in its winter habitat is the prize. A good way to learn more about hawks is to contact the Aiken Audubon Society or attend one of their meetings (www.aikenaudubon.com).
Elizabeth Hacker is a writer and artist. Email her at email@example.com to share bird pictures and stories.
By Janet Sellers
"It’s that first step—getting out the door—that’s the toughest. If you can do that, you’ve already won." — Mary J. Blige
Even artists have to make time to enjoy art. Our local art venues create fun outings for all of us to share their good stuff. Most art lovers go to the events to enjoy that, and believe it or not, artists have to make the time to go to the events as well. Not true with most professions. While not unheard of, can you imagine an attorney, surgeon, or other professional planning to spend a few hours of work-related time on their day off just for pure amusement?
Visiting art galleries and art venues such as artists’ studios keeps us connected with our creative community on many levels. For artists, it reminds us that we can relate to our peers in a professional way and appreciate their work and keep our creative juices flowing—also known as the "Qi field" of creative energy. For art lovers of all types, going out to the venues reminds us of that creative spark we all share through art appreciation, and you don’t have to be an artist to really reap the optimal benefits of arts enrichment in our town. We have some choice events for you this month in the Tri-Lakes area.
Irmi Knoth will be the featured artist at Bella Art and Frame for November. The show opens Nov. 1, and the artist reception will coincide with the Second Fridays Art Night on Nov. 9 from 5 to 8 p.m. Knoth, who was born and grew up in Europe, studied with a variety of established artists both in Europe and the United States. She has a teaching studio in Monument, Heritage Studio, where she is the primary instructor. She has exhibited her art, and has collectors, all over the world.
Knoth told me that this show at Bella comprises recent paintings, most of them completed in 2012, and also includes some of her bronze sculptures. Her locally famous Dirty Woman sculpture is her rendition of a local character known as "Dirty Woman," for whom "Dirty Woman Creek" was named. Knoth surmises that the woman was likely a laundress, known for hanging up endless amounts of laundry to dry, but that local children referred to her with the amusing nickname.
Apparently, the woman always had lots of pets and animals with her, and that is how she is remembered today. I suppose in those days, people did not have house pets as we do now, so she may have been unusual in that regard, or perhaps she was downright eccentric and had all her animal friends in the house. Whatever the story, we now have "Dirty Woman Park" at her homestead, and we like to think of it as one of the more memorable in our amusing mix of "Monument-al" characters in Tri-Lakes history.
I recently heard some news about another local sculptor of bronze works. Ronnie Walker, who frequently teaches sculpting in clay at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) as well as showing her artworks throughout Colorado, recently won the "People’s Choice" award at the Sculpture on the Blue, the 2012 Breckenridge Public Art sculpture exhibition. The annual summer exhibit had the work on display from June 1 through Oct. 12. Walker’s bronze sculpture of note here in our area is the historical-themed frieze Monument 1879 at the Monument Town Hall. Next time you are in town, stop by the Town Hall and enjoy a look at it.
Art events around town
On Nov. 3 and 4 the public is invited to the Southwinds Gallery art show and sale. Its member artists will host the group art event featuring scratchboard artist Leo Huff. Huff is the new director of Southwinds Fine Arts and Gallery, located at 16575 Roller Coaster Road, on the northeast corner of the intersection with Baptist Road. A wide variety of art and wearable art by member artists will be for sale.
Nov, 9 is Second Fridays Art Nite and will feature the venues of Bella Art and Frame and the TCLA for the monthly event, which goes from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Bella Gallery presents the aforementioned exhibit of paintings and bronzes by Irmi Knoth, who will give a lecture and demo on the art of lost wax casting for bronze works that evening at 6:30 p.m., in the special exhibits area. The ongoing exhibits of other artists’ works will be on view, but in other areas of the gallery.
Beginning in November, the TLCA will have the work of about 40 of its member artists on view for the annual TLCA members’ art show. The show will offer items including jewelry, photography, paintings, and sculpture as well as pottery. Exhibition dates are Nov. 6 through Dec. 8, with the artists’ reception coinciding with the Second Fridays Art Nite on Nov. 9, and the reception hours will be 6 to 8 p.m.
Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter and sculptor of public art who works in paint, metal, and concrete. Sellers lives and teaches art in Woodmoor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The intergenerational tea at the Palmer Lake Town Hall was attended by almost 50 elegantly dressed ladies of all ages. They enjoyed a story about a names quilt and participated in making a signature quilt to commemorate the day. Lovely live harp music provided a soothing background.
All Pikes Peak Reads drew to a close at the end of October. Several of the related programs at the library were well attended, including the teen discussion of The Unthinkable coupled with the viewing of the Surviving Disaster film and the teen crafts program making survival bracelets. We thank all those who participated in this year’s activities.
Children’s programs for November
The Lego club will meet on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 10:30 until noon. Bring your creativity and we’ll provide the Legos. Bring your camera to record your creation—all pieces used to make projects remain the property of the Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD).
Fabulous Friday Fun will be on Friday, Nov. 30, from 4 to 5:30.
The Crafty Teens program will feature Phlash Plastic on Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 3:30 to 5. Recycle bubble wrap into nifty jewelry and other projects. Register online or at the desk, 488-2370.
The Book-Eaters teen book club will meet on Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 4 to 5:30 to discuss Stravaganza: City of Stars by Mary Hoffman. Come enjoy snacks with your friends and you’ll have a chance to win a book! No registration required, for teens grades 7 and up.
Learn how to use free PPLD databases to take your organization to the next step with Minding Your Non-Profit Organization. We will show you how to identify trends and outlooks, find similar organizations, identify target markets, create mailing lists, and research individual and corporate donors. The program will be on Friday, Nov. 9, from 8:30 to 10.
Meet Monument’s best-selling author Kevin Anderson on Sunday, Nov. 11, from 2 to 4 p.m. Anderson is the author of more than 120 books, including Star Wars, Dune, X-Files, Batman, Superman, Star Trek and his new bestseller Clockwork Angels based on the new album by the rock group Rush and his new humous horror stories featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie PI.
Anderson will talk about growing up in a small town and wanting to be a writer. Copies of his novels will be available at the event, with a portion of the proceeds going to the library.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, Nov. 16, to discuss Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.
The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 1 to 5 p.m. This is a driver refresher course for drivers ages 50 and over, and participants may present their course completion certificates to insurance agents for a discount. Cost of the four-hour course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Class size is limited and registration is required.
New math tutoring available
Free math tutoring for all ages will be offered at the Monument Library each Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. beginning Nov. 5 and ending Dec. 17. Tutoring is available for students and for those adults who need a brush up before a GED or GRE exam. No appointment is necessary.
November is National Novel Writing Month. Come to our meeting room on Saturday, Nov. 10, from 10 until 3 and plan to write as long as you like. Open to all ages. No registration required.
On the wall during November will be The Great Outdoors, photography by Paul Pease. In the display case will be homemade cards by Charlotte Miller.
Palmer Lake Library events
Research has shown that children’s reading fluency improves when they practice reading to a calm and patient audience. Read with Misty, the tiny Sheltie on Thursday, Nov. 4, from 4:30 to 5:50. Read with Misty and select a prize.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, at 10:30, meet the poet laureate for the Pikes Peak Region, Price Strobridge, who will present an intergenerational poetry activity. All ages welcome!
The Palmer Lake Knitting group meets each Wednesday from 10 until noon. Bring your project and enjoy the company of other knitters of all skill levels. No registration is required.
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. New members are welcome. Please call 481-2587 for the current selection.
Enjoy nature photography by local artist Claudia Godec. On display in the Children’s Room will be works by Palmer Lake Elementary School students.
All Pikes Peak Library facilities will close at 6 p.m. on Nov. 21 and remain closed on Nov. 22 for Thanksgiving. Facilities will reopen for regular hours on the Nov. 23.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at email@example.com.
By Bernard L. Minetti
Speaking on Oct. 18 to about 100 railroad history buffs and Palmer Lake Historical Society members, Mel McFarland, engineer and chief conductor for the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, presented a history of the various railroads that occupied the local area. While the early railroads were responsible for the growth of a number of local towns and commercial industries, specifically on the Palmer Divide, most are gone now, he said.
While towns like Monument and Palmer Lake grew, others, like Husted in the vicinity of the North Gate at the Air Force Academy, have faded into memory. The same can be said about industries such as the timber, potato, and ice industries. The early railroads moved large amounts of lumber, ice, and agricultural goods from the area. However, as some of the railroads faded into history, so did the local industries they supported.
McFarland said the area was mostly settled by folks who came by train, including his parents, and that the railroads were mainly responsible for the population growth of the region. He noted that Gen. William Jackson Palmer built the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, which originated in Denver and came through the Palmer Lake area.
During the building of the railroad, the town now known as Palmer Lake was called Divide. The town now known as Divide, which is west of Manitou Springs, took that name when Palmer Lake took its current name. McFarland also noted that Gen. Palmer was responsible for surveying and laying out the town of Colorado Springs.
McFarland noted that Colorado Springs was in existence for 16 years before the railroad was convinced to build a station building there.
He showed a photo of a station building and the adjacent tracks. Noting that there were three rails instead of two, he explained that this was done to accommodate both narrow gauge and standard railcars on one set of tracks. He added that the narrow gauge system through Colorado Springs was eliminated just over 100 years ago.
Originally, McFarland noted, the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe railroads each ran its own trains on its own tracks through the area. The federal government at that time wanted to enhance efficiency and directed that the tracks be consolidated so that the trains could move faster. To illustrate, he noted that at that time there were two sets of tracks going through Palmer Lake. The one on the west side was for southbound trains and on the one on the east side was for northbound trains.
During the early times of the building of rail systems, the towns where trains were routed insisted that the stations be built of stone. That was to preclude the moving of the station building at some later time.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The public is invited to attend. The title of the presentation is, "Pioneer Weapons." Jerry Wlodarek and Johnny Mulligan will display and discuss some of the weapons used by the early inhabitants and settlers for hunting and protection.
Bernard Minetti can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red
Nov. 7–Chicken Dijon over rice and salad
Rolls and butter are served with each meal except sandwiches. Dessert is also provided.
Senior Lunch is an activity of Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership. Meals are provided by Pinecrest Catering, Palmer Lake; Nikki McDonald, executive chef, 481-3307.
Apply by Nov. 16 for Community Development Advisory Board
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking a community-minded citizen volunteer from Commissioner District 1 to serve on the Community Development Advisory Board (CDAB). Applications for the open position are due by Nov. 16. Members are appointed to the CDAB for five-year terms and are limited to serving two consecutive five-year terms. Applicants should reside in Commissioner District 1, which includes the northwest portion of the county north of the U.S. Air Force Academy, including the areas of Monument, Palmer Lake, and Black Forest. 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.
Coat drive at Wescott Fire Department through Dec. 10
Donate your extra coats to Coats for Colorado Springs and El Paso County. You may drop off new or clean gently used coats at Wescott Fire Department, 15415 Gleneagle Dr., through Dec. 10. Coats will be distributed to those in need through the support of Partners in Housing and the Salvation Army. For more information, contact Fire Marshal Margo Humes, 488-8680 or e-mail email@example.com.
Singers and musicians needed for Christmas production
Tri-Lakes Music Association seeks singers, orchestra musicians, and anyone who would like to help in any way. Be a part of this exciting Tri-Lakes Christmas tradition. Performances will be at Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Rd., Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 22 at 2 and 7 p.m. All proceeds from the show go to Tri-Lakes Cares and two $500 college scholarships. For information contact Bob Manning, 232-4114, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Western Museum of Mining wins award
The Western Museum of Mining and Industry was recently awarded 3rd Place for Cultural Attraction/Museum in the Colorado Springs Independent newspaper’s Best of Colorado Springs 2012 readers’ poll. The museum is located at 225 North Gate Blvd. (I-25 Exit 156 A) in Colorado Springs. For more information, call 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org.
Mountain View Electric Association scholarships, apply by Jan. 15
Graduating high school seniors might be eligible for one of the 14 $1,000 scholarships offered by the Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA). Requirements and applications are available at an MVEA office, high school counselors’ offices, or online at www.mvea.coop. Info: 719-494-2670.
New service offered for BOCC records
Access to resolutions approved by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is now available through the county website at www.elpasoco.com. The board acts on governance matters through a resolution process at the weekly BOCC meetings. The minutes of the meetings are recorded and posted on the county website. Anyone visiting the site can choose the date of the meeting, read the minutes, and click the link of the resolution in which they are interested. The link opens the recorded resolution document. BOCC meeting minutes on the web are for the years 2012 and archived years 2005-11. The meeting information is located on the county website at http://bcc2.elpasoco.com/bocc/agenda.asp. Also included is the audio record of BOCC meetings for those who wish to hear the proceedings and discussion of the topics. This new service will assist people who wish to research resolutions brought before the commissioners in past years. The departmental staff may be contacted for assistance at 520-6430.
With the heightened concern for fire danger along the Front Range, many people want to sign up their home or cell phone for reverse emergency notification. The El Paso-Teller E-911 Authority Emergency Notification System is used to notify residents of any potential emergencies in their neighborhood. To sign up, go to https://elptc911.onthealert.com.
Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District seeks board members
Do you love your local library? Would you like to help preserve and promote the Pikes Peak Library District? The Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District is looking for new Board of Directors members. To apply, go to www.friendsppld.org and click on the Board of Directors application. For more information, call 531-6333, x1008.
Important information for 17-year-olds who want to vote
Teens who will be 18 on or before Election Day are encouraged to register in advance of this year’s elections to be eligible to vote. They must be registered 29 days prior to the election even if they will not be 18 until Election Day, Nov. 6. Colorado law allows for pre-registration for individuals who are 17 years old a year prior to the election in which they want to cast a ballot. Here are two ways to register to vote:
Multiple sclerosis support group
Get volunteer help for your nonprofit
Due to popular demand, the Lewis-Palmer School District is adding a list of volunteer opportunities to its Youth Activities Directory online. Many students are required to participate in community projects for credit and others are just looking for ways to serve. If your nonprofit has a need for volunteers for a one-time project or an ongoing effort and can use volunteers under age 18, obtain a directory listing form at http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101174229838-940/YAS+directory+form.pdf. Nonprofits may list their volunteer needs in the directory free of charge. For more information, contact Robin Adair, P.O. Box 40, Monument, CO 80132; call 785-4223 or email email@example.com.
Volunteer drivers needed for seniors transportation service
Mountain Community Transportation for Seniors is a nonprofit, grant-funded organization that provides free transportation to Tri-Lakes seniors 60 years old and over. It is the only transportation service in the Tri-Lakes area to take seniors to medical appointments, the grocery store or pharmacy, the bank, legal appointments, senior lunches, shopping, and to the many activities offered through the senior center and our community. The program is in need of additional volunteer drivers. Volunteers are provided with an orientation after criminal and driving records have been screened. Mileage is reimbursed if volunteers use their own vehicle. The program operates Monday-Thursday and is flexible; volunteers can be involved as much as they choose to be. For more information or to request brochures, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mary Ketels, 481-2470, or Faye Brenneman, 481-2527, or leave a message with the dispatcher, 488-0076.
Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center has fun programs!
The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open 1-4 p.m., Monday through Friday 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.; 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.
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 articles and notices of events geared toward senior citizens. To subscribe to the free newsletter, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesHAP.org.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
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