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By Jackie Burhans
On Jan. 9, the El Paso County Office of Emergency Management participated in Operation "Deep Freeze 16" to practice emergency response and recovery processes during a major blizzard scenario across northern El Paso County. Multiple agencies participated including local fire protection districts, El Paso County Search and Rescue, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, American Medical Response and St. Francis Medical Center. Four hundred people were involved, including 100 actors portraying stranded and/or injured motorists. Volunteers were coordinated by the South Central Region Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster.
Jackie Burhans can be contacted at email@example.com
Caption: Nurse Paula Cox and critical care technician Chris Rail attend to a volunteer "victim" of Operation "Deep Freeze 16." See additional photos on page 22. Photo by Jackie Burhans
By Lisa Hatfield
At the Jan. 19 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees approved revisions to a town ordinance regarding the personal cultivation of marijuana. The intent of the ordinance was to "reduce the likelihood that Monument would be targeted by organized criminal organizations that are renting homes to grow large quantities of marijuana and sell it on the black market," Police Chief Jake Shirk reported.
Then, as he had at the Jan. 4 meeting, Town Manager Chris Lowe explained the need for higher water rates for Monument water customers, since the town has been selling water for less than it costs to produce. He said, "This utility is in dire need of an adjustment to its rates. The March 2013 adjustment was just a tiny band aid." In addition to trustee comments, Monument business owners and a representative from the Home Builders Association weighed in too.
Lowe said the current proposed base rates are where Monument would already be now if the town had been steadily increasing water rates 3 percent each year since 1996 to keep up with operating costs. He said, "It is not that complicated. It just hasn’t been done here correctly." The board discussed the proposal for an hour and a half and then decided to again continue the discussion to the next regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Marijuana ordinance narrowed down
The trustees unanimously approved an ordinance adopting regulations regarding the growing or processing of marijuana plants for personal use and/or as a patient or caregiver. When Monument’s original marijuana ordinances were approved January 2013, there was consensus that they might have to be modified as time went on. See www.ocn.me/v13n2.htm#bot0107.
Shirk told the trustees that organized criminal groups have been using rental houses in Monument, and all over El Paso County, to grow marijuana in huge quantities. State law authorizes the growing or processing of marijuana plants for use by patients, caregivers, or for personal medical or recreational consumption. However, criminals are taking advantage of the wording of the law to grow up to 500 plants in one house, with the intent of selling the marijuana on the black market, Shirk said.
He mentioned public safety issues generated by huge marijuana "grow operations," including:
• Unlicensed and unsafe modifications to structural, electrical and plumbing systems
• Noxious odors
• Excessive water consumption
• Unsafe storage and disposal of pesticides and chemicals
• Undue traffic generated in neighborhoods
• Very high remediation costs to clean residences after grow operation leaves
• Dangers of explosions from volatile solvents
Shirk said that since what the "grow houses" were doing was not technically illegal, Monument police "could not do anything" when neighbors complained. However, when the revised town ordinance takes effect Feb. 19, that will change, he warned.
Aspects of the ordinance include:
• No more than 12 marijuana plants can be grown in a single primary residence, with half or fewer being mature, regardless of the number of patients, caregivers, or persons over 21 years old.
• Marijuana growing cannot be perceptible from outside the home or made evident by signs, noxious odors, excessive lighting, or undue vehicle traffic.
• No volatile solvents may be used in the extraction of THC or other cannabinoids.
• Monument Municipal Court now has the authority to issue a search warrant.
Lowe: The days of cheap water are gone
As they had two weeks before, town staff explained how both water base rates and volumetric rates must increase so that the town’s water enterprise fund can become solvent again. See related Jan. 4 Board of Trustees article on page 1 for that iteration of financial details.
Lowe said that Tharnish told him the last substantial water rates increase was in 1996. However, when OCN reported on the Feb. 19, 2013 board meeting, Tharnish stated that the last Town of Monument water rate increase before 2013 was in 1998. In 2013, he also said that the town’s water enterprise fund was not self-sufficient and that the new water rates he was proposing were probably high enough to restore the fund’s self-sufficiency for up to three years. See www.ocn.me/v13n3.htm#bot0219.
One month later, on March 11, 2013, Tharnish advised the board that the proposed water rates increase would not create enough additional revenue to cover all 2013 town water enterprise fund expenses because implementation had been delayed past the original planned starting date. He told the trustees that rates would need to be revisited "in about two to 2-1/2 years." Tharnish added that the costs of infrastructure issues might shorten that interval. See www.ocn.me/v13n4.htm#bot0311.
It was in 2013 that the town started to transfer money from the general fund to the water enterprise fund, Town Treasurer Pamela Smith told the board on Jan. 19. About $400,000 has been transferred since 2013. Lowe’s back-of-the-envelope estimate was that the water enterprise fund was "leaking a minimum of $100,000 a year," in the last few years.
Note: Past Monument town managers have included: Rick Sonnenburg, about 2001 to 2005; Cathy Green, 2005 to January 2013. Pamela Smith, February 2013 to October 2015; Chris Lowe, 2015 - present. Smith has also been town treasurer since 2005.
Lowe’s comments included:
• The town went 20 years without substantially adjusting utility rates. This is not fair, equitable, or responsible, provides nothing for renewable water, and does nothing for encouraging water conservation.
• The board has been questioning me severely and significantly since the first of these rate structures was rolled out in October. I like that!
• This is an equitable rate structure. It is as benign as we can make it for those in the most vulnerable positions such as those on fixed incomes.
• We are not selling water to make money. Our profits are reinvested in our public utility and our community.
• One project that cannot be slowed down is the $12 million water reuse plan built into this rate structure in the capital improvement plan. We lose money right now as water we own goes over the dam.
• The new base rates will cover 32 percent of operations costs the first year. The other 68 percent will be covered, hopefully, by the tiered volumetric rates on water people use.
• We will look it again every year to re-evaluate and readjust. This is how I run a utility.
The trustees made many comments and asked questions, including:
• Jeff Bornstein: I don’t think the website is always a solution. It should be posted some other way within the town. A lot of residents still don’t understand this.
• Becki Tooley: I have gotten a lot of emails, and I have told them to go to the website and call Chris Lowe.
• Jeff Smith: Failure to communicate seems to plague us. Tom (Tharnish) and Will (Koger) did not give us complete enough (financial) information on Jan. 4.
• J. Smith: You have a town water enterprise fund that only serves a portion of the town but is paid for by all taxpayers in Monument in some form (through recent the general fund revenue transfers).
• J. Smith: If we were just a water board, you would get one notice that there was consideration for a rate increase … so I think we have done the responsible thing here already.
• John Howe: I want to hear more about the reuse plan that we approved in (October 2014). See www.ocn.me/v14n11.htm#mbot1006.
• Howe: There’s no question a great increase in revenue is needed.
• Howe: The 8 percent per annum increase was not evident until two days after the Jan. 4 board meeting. Note: It said, "Rates will increase 8% annually 2016-2021" at bottom of charts showing proposed new base rates, but detailed calculations out to 2021 were not shown there.
• Howe: this increase will affect not just fixed income people but small businesses. It is sad to try to pick up (the base rate) so suddenly in five or six years.
Lowe said that no informational flier had been included in residents’ water bills since no action was requested by the board. However, Tharnish said there was a short note at the bottom of each bill telling residents the water rates topic was under discussion, with a contact number, and about 10 calls a week came in with minor questions about water bills.
During public comment, two people spoke against the increases, and one said they were not high enough. Their comments included:
• AB Tellez, Rosie’s Diner: My bill does not say how many gallons I am using. For this month it just says "Usage: 81" (Tharnish said this means 81,000 gallons a month.)
• Tellez: My base rate now is $10/month. It is going to go up to $160/month? And with compounded interest, it goes from $160/month to $235/month by the sixth year. That is a $900/year increase. It’s a significant hit.
• Tellez: The site plan for Rosie’s from 2000 required all this landscaping, grass, and trees. My water bill doubles in the summer when we are running the sprinkler system for this required landscaping. Do I have to get permission from the town to take out the grass and trees and go to rocks?
• Steve Marks, Monument Plaza: You’re going to hurt all of these businesses. I would have to double the cost per load at the laundromat. If this rate increase happens, that little business is going to go away.
• Charlie Williams, Home Builders Association: The new $40/month base rate is not even high enough. It does not cover costs of $1.8 million for one year of operations with 875 residential and 128 commercial customers. This will make impact fees be raised even higher when you do consider them in the near future.
• Williams: The chart on the town website does not include current 2015 rates. It is hard for people to determine their current rates to compare to the new rates. Not enough information about calculations was provided in the Jan. 4 board packet.
Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Kaiser asked Koger to clarify why the increase in base rates for the larger tap sizes base rates was so much greater than for the smaller taps. Koger explained that the current base rates were not taking into account the higher pumping demands for the larger tap sizes to maintain the higher flow rate and to achieve instantaneous pressure over a larger diameter pipe.
Tellez asked about the "exorbitant tap fees we paid to begin with" and why they did not cover these costs. Koger said the initial tap fees pay for initial infrastructure connections to town water service and that monthly operations expenses were a different piece of the puzzle.
Lowe reiterated that the estimated 68 percent of costs for monthly operations not covered by the new base rates would be paid for from the revenue from volumetric water use by residents and businesses, not by impact fees from new development.
The board consensus was to continue the water rates discussion to the next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16. (The Feb. 1 Board of Trustees meeting was canceled.)
Bulk fill station relocation contract approved
The trustees voted unanimously to approve a contract for $66,438 with Global Underground Corp. to move the existing bulk water station on Wagon Gap Trail, a residential neighborhood, to a commercial location between Conoco and Arby’s on Highway 105.
Resident Tammy Barber thanked the board for continuing to listen to the residents and resolve their neighborhood’s concerns about traffic and noise. See www.ocn.me/v14n8.htm#mbot0721 and www.ocn.me/v15n4.htm#mbot0316 for some background.
Checks over $5,000
• Triview Metro District, Sales and Motor Vehicle tax − $163,053
• CIRSA Insurance, first-quarter workers’ comp − $14,238
• CIRSA Insurance, first-quarter liability insurance − $14,238
• Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce − $5,000
• Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber Schreck LLP, land use attorney through November 2015 − $5,263
• Wildcat Construction, water line loop project from 2015 − $76,807
Pamela Smith’s report said that sales tax revenues were running slightly ahead of 2015. For many details included in her report in the board packet, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
The meeting adjourned at 8:38 p.m.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 16. Call 884-8017 or see www.townofmonument.org for information.
To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the Monument Board of Trustees, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk at the Monument Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 19, Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Caption: On Jan. 19, the Monument Board of Trustees discussed a new town ordinance regarding the personal cultivation of marijuana and the need for higher water rates for Monument water customers, since the town has been selling water for less than it costs to produce. The board continued the water rates discussion to the next regular board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16, since the Feb. 1 meeting was canceled. Pictured left to right: Trustees John Howe and Jeff Smith, Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Kaiser, Mayor Dominguez, Trustees Becki Tooley, Kelly Elliott, and Jeff Bornstein, PRHS student council representative Kailee Tharnish, Town Attorney Gary Shupp, and Town Manager Chris Lowe. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Caption: On Jan. 19, Trustee Jeff Bornstein presented Community Liaison Madeline VanDenHoek with a thank you award from the Monument Board of Trustees for her work, including organizing the myriad events that happen outside the regular work day. Bornstein said, "It’s such a commitment. Thank you for what you do. It does not go unnoticed." Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
By Lisa Hatfield
The trustees heard a revised water rates increase proposal from Town Manager Chris Lowe at the Jan. 4 Monument Board of Trustees meeting. It replaced the previously proposed water rates schedule presented Oct. 5 that both the trustees and Lowe, in his first meeting with the board, asked for more time to analyze. The new Jan. 4 proposal would include a smaller but still very noticeable initial jump in base rates, higher volumetric rate increases, and higher bulk water rates than in the Oct. 5 proposal. Both plans would have increased rates by 8 percent each year, but the new plan calls for six years of increases, compared to four years in the earlier proposal.
Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Kaiser was excused.
Water rates increase needed for solvency of water fund
Lowe, Public Works Director Tom Tharnish, and water engineer Will Koger of Forsgren Associates presented the trustees with a new proposed water rates schedule for Town of Monument residential and commercial water customers west of I-25. Note: Monument residents east of I-25 do not buy water from the town but instead from Triview Metropolitan District or Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.
The town’s water enterprise fund is losing money, Lowe, Tharnish, and Koger have explained. "We have to be an individual utility that is self-sustaining, but it is not right now; it is hemorrhaging money because of the failure to raise rates over last 15 years," Lowe said.
A substantial increase in rates is needed to cover operations and maintenance costs on aging infrastructure, build water reuse and regional water infrastructure to rely less on well water pumped from non-renewable aquifers, and save money for future emergencies, Koger said.
The current base rate for a three-quarter-inch tap, the typical size for residential use, is $8.80/month. Larger taps tend to be for commercial businesses; for example, a 1 1/2-inch tap currently pays a $10/month base rate. In addition, all residential and commercial customers pay for the volume of water they use, based on a tiered rate system in increments of 1,000 gallons. It now costs $4.99/thousand gallons for the first 6,000 gallons each month. As more water is used, the price per 1,000 gallons increases in the higher tiers, so for example it costs $7.99/1,000 gallons for any gallons over 24,000/month.
The proposed schedule presented Jan. 4 was developed after Lowe and several trustees asked for more time to consider water rates. (On Oct. 5, the board had considered, but not voted on, a different water rates increase proposal. It had included a 78 percent increase in the proposed water rates and fees for some customers. It started with a minimum $60.24 per month base fee that would have automatically included the first 6,000 gallons of water for all customers whether they used that much or not. It would have included an 8 percent rates increase compounded annually for the next four years. See www.ocn.me/v15n11.htm#mbot1005.)
Lowe said the proposed Jan. 4 increased base rates would only cover 32 percent of 2016 operating costs, and therefore both base rates and volumetric rates for residential and commercial customers would then increase 8 percent each year for the next six years to 2021. The town would re-evaluate the financial progress toward solvency of the water fund along the way, he said.
The Jan. 4 proposal would introduce a minimum $40/month base rate for three-quarter-inch taps that includes the first 3,000 gallons of water per month, and this would increase to $58.77/month by the time the 8 percent annual increase is compounded each year to 2021. A 1 1/2-inch tap would now start with a $160/month base rate and increase to $235/month by 2021, for example.
By 2021, volumetric costs would be $8.82/thousand gallons in the 3,000-6,000 gallons per month tier. As more water is used, the price per 1,000 gallons increases in the higher tiers, so it would cost $18/1,000 gallons for any gallons over 24,000/month then.
Bulk water customers cannot be charged a monthly base rate based on tap size since they have to pick up their own water at the bulk fill water station instead of having it piped to their homes or construction sites. Therefore, they would continue to be charged a higher volumetric rate than residential and commercial customers.
The projections planned for 3 percent inflation each year as well as a 3 percent growth in population of the district.
Impact fees paid by developers would only help pay for growth-related projects, not operations, and those fees are not part of the current water rates discussion, Lowe said
Koger’s comments included:
• Recent audits indicated insufficient funds; $400,000 needed to be transferred from the town’s general fund to the water fund over the last several years for operations.
• The 2013 water rates increase was minimal, and the last substantive water rates increase was in the 1990s.
• The town needs to improve system reliability and address aging infrastructure.
• The town needs to diversify its water portfolio away from nonrenewable water pumped from aquifers.
• They need to add renewable water supplies, including building a reuse water system and regional water system to bring renewable water from as far as the Arkansas River.
• They need to rebuild the water capital reserve fund.
The town "certainly has some catching up to do," Koger said. But even after the proposed increases, the town’s water rates would still be "in the ballpark" with other water providers in the area, he said. Koger and Trustee Jeff Smith agreed it is difficult to compare rates among districts due to differences in how each district produces its water, does its capital improvements, and plans for future water supply to its customers.
Lowe’s answers to trustee questions included:
• This has nothing to do with economic development and more to do with the solvency of the residential water system.
• We don’t want to make ourselves non-competitive.
• Through 2020, the water fund would still be in the red, but by 2021 it would have a $700,000 balance to put in either the reserve fund or transfer back to the general fund.
• Transferring the $400,000 back to the general fund is up to the discretion of the board but not required.
• This plan factors in the need for infrastructure improvements and maintenance outlined in the water master plan approved by the trustees in October 2014. (See www.ocn.me/v14n10.htm#MBoT0902.)
• Tri-Lakes Cares suggested using an opt-in "round-up" system as a way for residents who want to help their neighbors with lower incomes pay for water.
• This change just includes residential and commercial base rates and volumetric rates.
• We won’t be doing the impact fee discussion for a few months.
• The new proposed schedule was posted on the town website.
Trustees’ comments included:
• Jeff Bornstein: We can’t give away free water.
• Mayor Rafael Dominguez: The reserve fund is more of a concern than the transfer back to the general fund.
• Becki Tooley: We can re-evaluate this annually before 2021 to see if any changes are needed.
• Jeff Smith: the "residential rates comparison" chart comparing Monument with other municipalities is misleading since it doesn’t compare apples to apples.
• Bornstein: I don’t know how this sat from the ‘90s until today. I hope we don’t have other sleeping skeletons in closets on other key issues in this town. This is very embarrassing that it sat for this long, and our board has to deal with this. I appreciate (Lowe) being on board. I can be corrected, but I think you’re the first true, real town manager professional by title, so thank you for what you are doing.
Public comments included:
• Rod Wilson: I am a minimal water user. This year I paid a total of $265 for water. With this rate change I would pay $480 a year for the same amount of water. This will be a shock to people on fixed incomes.
• Cheri Hysell: What suffered on the general fund side when you took out the $400,000 to put in the water enterprise fund? What was in the plan that didn’t get done?
The consensus of the trustees was to vote on the proposed water rates increase at the Tuesday, Jan. 19 meeting.
• Dominguez: The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) met with a CDOT representative on Dec. 28. It looks like $12.51 million to pay for all I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion construction costs may be paid to BRRTA in early 2016. (See www.ocn.me/v16n1.htm#brrta1228.)
• Becki Tooley: Keep your ears open for the "Hip to Be Square" walking campaign.
• Tooley: We need election judges, planning commissioners, and trustee candidates for the election coming up.
Checks over $5,000
The trustees unanimously approved the consent agenda, which included the following disbursements over $5,000:
• Triview Metro District, October and November sales tax earned, November motor vehicle tax − $152,125
• Forsgren Associates Inc., chlorination upgrades − $5,861
• Forsgren Associates Inc., Second and Front Street Redesign − $13,323
The meeting went into executive session at 8 p.m. to conference with an attorney for the public entity for the purposes of receiving legal advice on specific legal questions including a land use attorney and also potential litigation. Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman said no announcements were made after the meeting, which adjourned around 9 p.m.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com
Caption: At the Jan. 4 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees considered a new water rates increase proposal. These tables show the proposed increases in base rates and volumetric rates for residential and commercial customers in Monument west of I-25. "We have to be an individual utility that is self-sustaining, but it is not right now; it is hemorrhaging money because of the failure to raise rates over last 15 years," Town Manager Chris Lowe said. Charts courtesy of Town of Monument board packet and website information.
*SFE is "single-family home equivalent"
2016 proposed base and volumetric rates would then increase 8 percent per year through 2021. Tap fees are not addressed in this proposal but are to be discussed soon.
By James Howald
In 2016, Palmer Lake Town Council meetings will move to new dates and times, and will be subject to some new rules. Meetings will be held on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, and will begin 30 minutes later, at 6:30 p.m. Meetings will continue to be held at the same location, the Town Hall at 42 Valley Crescent St. Details about the scheduled meetings can be found on the town’s redesigned website (www.townofpalmerlake.com).
On Jan. 28, the Town Council met to update two ordinances, to hear a presentation from White Mountain Technology and Consulting about the town’s implementation of its accounting software, to hear a request for funding from Palmer Divide Productions, and to listen to a suggestion from Jim Bergeron of American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11.
Board passes ordinances to allow voting and to transfer land
Ordinance 1, 2016, which the board passed unanimously, repealed a previous ordinance that disallowed voting at "working sessions." Now both monthly meetings will be voting meetings, which will eliminate the need to wait until the next voting meeting before decisions can be made, according to Town Administrator Kathy Green-Sinnard. The board retains the option to table motions and vote on them at a later meeting if more study is required, Green-Sinnard said.
Ordinance 2, 2016 authorized the transfer of land owned by the town to United Congregational Church. The church sought the land to allow the construction of a road to be used for fire prevention and mitigation, according to Economic Development Trustee Judith Harrington. The church provided fire mitigation work to the town in exchange for the land, Harrington said.
Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster asked why the church sought ownership of the land, rather than an easement to use it. Green-Sinnard said ownership of the land provided the church a more permanent solution. The board voted unanimously to transfer the land.
White Mountain accounting software yields benefits and savings
Ken Rogge of White Mountain Technology and Consulting LLC gave the board a report on the town’s switch to accounting software from the company, which has been underway for more than a year. The transition has brought the town a number of process improvements and other benefits, Rogge said.
According to Rogge, the town’s ledger balances every month, and all expenses now have a complete audit trail, so they can be tracked from invoice through payment. In addition, a "two-touch protocol" is now in place that requires a minimum of two people to be involved with every transaction, expenditure, and revenue stream. The town’s accounting complies with Governmental Accounting Standards Board policies, Rogge said. Management of records has also improved, according to Rogge.
As a result, the town can expect a much less expensive and more timely audit this year, Rogge said. He estimated that the town had lowered costs for financial services by about $17,000.
Film on Palmer Lake Star seeks funding
Jim Sawatzki of Palmer Divide Productions told the board about his efforts to produce a film documenting the history of the star at Palmer Lake. The film has already been shot, but Sawatzki asked the board to provide $1,500 to complete editing. Sawatzki expects the film to be shown on public television, and offered the town a chance to publicize the town on the film’s packaging and credits in return for the financing.
Green-Sinnard said she would present the board with suggestions for how to find the requested funds in the 2016 budget at a future board meeting.
American Legion post seeks to honor "hometown heroes"
Jim Bergeron of American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11 asked the board to give the post permission to hang posters honoring town residents from lamp posts. All costs would be borne by the post, Bergeron said. The board voted unanimously to allow the post to proceed with the project.
The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.
The two meetings for February will be at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 and Feb. 25 at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Jan.12 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) included a report on the current total phosphorus (TP) treatment expansion construction, news about possible delays in tighter state nutrient water quality restrictions, and discussion about the access easement to the construction site for the expansion project.
Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks summarized plant operations saying, "We have got such a nice plant. It performs really well."
TLWWTF operates as a separate joint venture public utility and is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD). The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: MSD board Treasurer Don Smith, who is also the JUC president, PLSD Board Secretary/Treasurer Ken Smith, and WWSD Board Director at Large Rich Strom. Other board and staff members of the three owner districts also attended, including MSD District Manager Mike Wicklund, PLSD District Manager Becky Orcutt, and WWSD Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette.
Report on construction
Burks reported that construction was moving ahead on the TP chemical removal clarifier expansion project. Note: The expansion will allow TLWWTF, which currently has no designed TP treatment capacity, to comply with the state’s Control Regulation 85 TP discharge effluent limit of 1 milligram per liter (mg/l) by Nov. 1, 2019 in accordance with the compliance schedule in the facility’s May 1, 2015 five-year discharge permit. The existing plant’s nitrification-denitrification process already complies with the Reg. 85 total inorganic nitrogen discharge limit of 15 mg/l.
Burks said recent progress included work on the roof, electrical system, sludge piping, sprinkler system, and backfilling around the structure to bring it up to grade. He said a change order of $2,500 had been completed to add necessary seals that were "overlooked" on top of each of the slide gates. This item will be paid from the expansion’s 10 percent construction budget contingency line item.
Note: This TP clarifier expansion of the existing $6 million activated sludge facility was first estimated by Tetra Tech to cost $1.08 million. However, Tetra Tech’s estimate soon grew to $4.312 million. The total approved budget for the expansion contract awarded by the JUC on May 12, 2015, after eliminating all the proposed Tetra Tech options, was $3.642 million as of July 2015. (See contract details at www.ocn.me/v15n3.htm#tlfjuc0210 and www.ocn.me/v15n6.htm#tljuc0512.)
Regional water quality control report
Wicklund said that at the Jan. 5 meeting of Arkansas and Fountain Coalition for Urban River Evaluation (AF CURE), Sarah Reeves of engineering consultant Brown and Caldwell reported that the future Reg. 31.17 total nitrogen (TN) interim value might be less restrictive than the current 2.01 mg/l. Wicklund said a new engineering study by the City of Boulder showed that an average of 4 mg/l of TN below Boulder’s wastewater discharge point was sufficient treatment to eliminate any harmful downstream algal blooms and that TP is the real problem for algae and periphyton growing in streams. Wicklund and Burks both said, "This helps us immensely." Wicklund said TLWWTF already has some of the lowest TN discharges in the state and all the TN is essentially gone in Monument Creek by the time the flows get to the Air Force Academy. "If we get our phosphorus really in control, they may not care about that nitrogen."
MSD environmental compliance coordinator Jim Kendrick added information on this TN treatment issue from the two-day state Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) meeting held in Denver in December. He reported that Mindi May, of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (http://cpw.state.co.us/) reversed her previous position on TN at the Jan. 11 WQCC meeting after this study. May stated that a lakes and reservoirs water quality interim value of 4 mg/l for TN would likely be sufficient for all Colorado recreational and aquatic life uses rather than the 2.01 mg/l interim value currently contained in section 31.17 of the Basic Standards and Methodologies for Surface Water, Regulation 31 (5 CCR 1002-31). Kendrick added that May also stated on Jan. 11 that the biggest water quality issue was storage of phosphate in the bottom of reservoirs over the decades and TP treatment should be the primary WQCC focus for the near term.
This turnaround was remarkable. The new TP and TN limits of the state’s new Control Regulation 85 and new Regulation 31.17 have been of concern for TLWWTF since they were formally approved in June 2012. (See www.ocn.me/v12n7.htm#juc) For example, Wicklund described the very expensive nutrient removal compliance requirements in Control Regulation 85 for total inorganic nitrogen and the far more expensive and unattainable compliance requirements for total nitrogen in state water quality Regulation 31.17. He said in August 2015 that the state’s cost-benefit study sections on Monument Creek for Control Regulation 85 were not accurate or valid enough to justify the $30 million expense for new total nitrogen removal equipment construction for the existing $6 million plant. See www.ocn.me/v15n8.htm#tlfjuc0714 and www.ocn.me/v14n5.htm#juc0408. Kendrick said this Boulder study validated MSD’s position that Tetra Tech’s long-term proposal for additional TN treatment for TLWWTF would likely not be needed now.
Kendrick said he hoped the total nitrogen treatment topic would be discussed on Jan. 13 at the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council, but that probably no decision would be made until 2027.
Burks reported that at the Jan. 5 meeting of AF CURE, Brown and Caldwell suggested adding a new monthly sampling site in Dirty Woman Creek just east of Old Denver Road. Burks said these additional AF CURE stream samples (for about 30 wastewater treatment constituents of concern) will also be tested in-house at TLWWTF like the rest of the monthly AF CURE stream samples currently being collected by the TLWWTF staff at Monument Lake Road, Arnold Avenue, and Baptist Road.
Burks said the coalition unanimously approved a division of total 2017 AF CURE fees among its 11 members by design flow capacities instead of the current equal shares. Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) would see the biggest increase in its share of 2017 costs. TLWWTF will pay the new 4 to 10 million gallons per day fee for an increase of about $1,800 per year. Wicklund said this was the best of the three options for cost sharing for all AF CURE members and that CSU already spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on data collection, which it shares with AF CURE. Burks said, "It’s great to have them in the group. It’s a big benefit to us."
Kendrick said at the two-day December WQCC hearing, AF CURE’s environmental attorney, Gabe Racz of Vranish & Raisch LLP, was able to secure a provisional listing on temperature and metals impairment instead of the Water Quality Control Division’s recommendation for an impaired listing for Monument Creek. He said this provisional listing was upheld at the Jan. 11 WQCC final approval hearing, so Tri-Lakes WWTF and Upper Monument Creek Regional WWTF will not be required to perform a very expensive immediate use attainability analysis and total maximum daily load study at Monument Creek north of the Northgate Road Exit 156 of I-25 to prevent this part of the creek from becoming an impaired stream segment. Kendrick said the membership in AF CURE was "good money spent" because of access to monthly sampling data for the entire Monument/Fountain Creek watershed as well as Racz’s AF CURE legal representation.
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) were another topic of concern at the Jan. 11 WQCC meeting, Kendrick said. HABs contain microcystins, Cylindrospermopsin (a type of cyanobacterial toxin), and cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae). HABs are formed by imbalances of pH, light, temperature, and nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace metals. The good news for Tri-Lakes residents is that HABs do not exist in streams, lakes, and reservoirs in the Fountain Creek watershed, which includes Monument Creek. However, HABs do exist in the Cherry Creek, DeWeese, and Stagecoach Reservoirs, restricting recreational access.
Kendrick reported that an unusually high $1.8 million in 2015 mining fines had been assessed by the WQCC in Colorado. This annual fine revenue has always funded state Clean Water Act grants at an average rate of $600,000 per year. However, he said, the state Legislature has proposed that $1.2 million of the 2015 fines be re-allocated to the Water Quality Control Division general fund to offset a like-sized cut in EPA Performance Partnership Agreement subsidies of Division staff payroll starting in July 2016 to pay for otherwise unfunded Division staff positions. Division fees will have to be raised by the Legislature in the July 2017 to June 2018 state fiscal year to cover the loss of these EPA subsidies, he said.
Easement issue still pending
At the Dec. 8 meeting, the JUC had voted unanimously to have Wicklund present the facility’s two standard access easement options to the private property owner immediately adjacent to the TLWWTF TP expansion within the Monument Sanitation District service area: $500 in cash or an MSD residential sewer tap for the property. A prescriptive easement is already in place for this long-existing access to the Tri-Lakes facility, Wicklund said.
Wicklund reported on Jan. 12 that he had talked with the property owner, but they were not able to come to an agreement on an access easement that both could use.
Orcutt asked if Tetra Tech, the facility’s construction engineering firm, would be held accountable for not doing its "due diligence" by verifying the property lines and easements before construction started in spring 2015. Orcutt also mentioned that Tetra Tech’s engineering plans had not included a ventilation fan for the TP chemical storage building required by the fire marshal; a change order of about $50,000 was required before a final building permit was issued by Pikes Peak Regional Building for the TP clarifier expansion. See www.ocn.me/v15n11.htm#tkfjuc1013.
After 70 minutes of discussion, the JUC consensus was to have Burks consult with TLWWTF attorney Mike Cucullu before the Feb. 9 JUC meeting to receive legal advice on how to proceed regarding the access easement for the TP expansion. The JUC also agreed that Burks would report their concerns about easement accountability to Tetra Tech.
The meeting adjourned at 12:06 p.m.
The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Feb. 9 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings throughout 2016 will normally be held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public. For information, call Bill Burks at (719) 481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Jan. 12, the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors discussed the need for volunteers to run for four director’s positions in the May election. The fact that expenditures were under budget for the year through November, including landscaping and streets, generated some comments, as did the fact that Monument had not yet delivered a corrected revenue statement for 2015.
Vice President Reid Bolander chaired the meeting in the absence of President Robert Fisher.
Triview is a Title 32 special district within the town of Monument that provides roads maintenance, open space maintenance, water, and sanitation services to the residents of Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Pointe.
Four positions need to be filled
Triview’s Board of Directors consists of five publicly elected board members. Regular elections are held every two years in a staggered sequence of two and three openings, to ensure that the board will not entirely consist of new members, and normally the board members serve four-year terms.
However, three of the current directors were appointed and must be re-elected to their positions. Fisher is term-limited and not eligible to run again this election. The result is that two two-year and two four-year positions are open.
Self-nomination forms are due to designated election official Sue Blair by Feb. 26. District residents who are interested in running should call the district at 719-488-6868.
Areas of resident concern under budget
District Manager Valerie Remington presented the financial report as of November 2015. Several line items for the district general fund, water enterprise fund, and capital projects fund were under budget.
Bolander said it was good that the district did not overspend, except in areas of resident concern this year such as landscaping, which spent only 46 percent of the budgeted amount. Remington said there was a landscaping plan in place, but "some projects just didn’t happen," since there was a lack of manpower that was finally resolved this fall with the hiring of a new operations staff member.
Streets maintenance expenditures were only 60 percent of the $500,000 budgeted. Remington said that engineer John McGinn of JDS Hydro would be working with her on planning the scope of a road assessment study and interviewing engineers to do the study. Bolander said he hoped that they would help the district develop a five-to-10-year plan for roads maintenance.
Corrected revenue statement needed
Remington said the district still had not received corrected revenue reporting from the town of Monument after a mistake was made in early 2015. She said the corrected statement was needed before the district is audited this spring. Board consensus was that Bolander would talk to President Fisher to see what progress he had made in discussing this issue with Monument Mayor Rafael Dominguez.
Meanwhile, Triview’s water attorney, Chris Cummins of Felt, Monson & Culichia LLC, would work on following up with Monument Town Treasurer Pamela Smith. Remington said Attorney Gary Shupp could not do this task since he is also the lawyer for town of Monument, so there is a conflict of interest.
Note: The town of Monument collects and distributes Triview’s share of revenue payments for sales tax, motor vehicle tax, regional building sales tax, etc. See www.ocn.me/v15n9.htm#tvmd0811 for background.
Staffing decision re-evaluated
The directors revisited last month’s decision to hire a part-time office assistant. Bolander asked if other external vendors had been asked for quotes to do Triview’s billing, besides the one that the board agreed was "too expensive." He wanted to analyze the current billing process to evaluate efficiency, too. Director Bob Eskridge said that the board had looked at all these variables in the past, the number of accounts is only increasing, and he hoped the hiring process would be started already. See www.ocn.me/v16n1.htm#tvmd1208.
Remington said she would now post the position that the board agreed to in December. If a new staff person is hired, office space would eventually be reconfigured, and the Triview board meetings might move to a new location, which would be posted.
Upcoming elections discussed
Shupp said the board needed to decide when to hold a district election regarding TABOR. Voter approval would allow the district to receive and spend money above limitations set by the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment. Board consensus was that the next district election, in May, was too soon for this issue, but it might be done in November 2016, or possibly November 2017.
Board consensus was that in 2016, the district would also discuss increases in tap fees and construction bulk water fees. They asked Remington to move ahead on collecting data in those areas.
The board went into executive session at 6:26 p.m. to consult with its attorney about potential litigation. Shupp said he did not expect the board would make any announcements afterward.
The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Feb. 9 at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.
Would you like to help Our Community News report on the Triview Metropolitan District? Please contact Lisa Hatfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
At the Jan. 20 meeting of the Academy Water and Sanitation District (AWSD), board members discussed ways of educating residents about the importance of their "yes" votes on several related ballot measures in the May 2016 election. Approval would allow the district to receive and spend money above limitations set by the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment. The district will be applying for federal and state monies to help pay for the debt incurred as it works to meet new mandated state standards for sewage treatment. But in order to keep and use state monies, district residents must vote to remove TABOR restrictions.
Last year, AWSD’s board determined that connecting with Donala Water and Sanitation District’s wastewater system made the most financial sense for the district and its 300 homes. (See www.ocn.me/v15n9.htm#awsd0728 and www.ocn.me/v15n11.htm#awsd1027.)
The district is searching for grant money that might pay for some the $3.1 million in connection costs. However, if AWSD is awarded that grant money, it will appear as "income" on the books; this is a problem since current TABOR law restricts the amount of grants the district general fund, water enterprise fund, and sewer enterprise fund can receive and spend.
The May 3 election, which will be done by mail-in ballot, will ask the district’s 625 eligible voters, who reside in Pleasant View, to allow AWSD to keep that grant money to help pay for this required project. (See www.colorado.gov/pacific/awsd/state-compliance for more information.)
In addition, four director positions are up for a vote—two for two-year positions, and two for four-year positions. A call for nominations will be published in the Gazette later this month. If no other district residents step forward to run for a board position by sometime in March, then the current directors will stay in their positions and their names will not appear on the ballot.
Engineering progress review
Engineer Dave Frisch of GMS gave a status report on the project compliance schedule for connecting AWSD to Donala. He said the bulk of site surveying is complete, and the engineering design process is starting. He has begun the 1041 regulation submittal process and the site development plan required by El Paso County Development Services. Discussions about interim financing (to pay GMS) have begun, too, Treasurer Walter Reiss said.
Frisch said AWSD’s water rights attorney Gib Marchand was talking to Donala about details of that district’s transit loss agreement with AWSD. After the sewer connection to Donala is complete, AWSD’s effluent will be going out of Donala’s point of entry, and both districts have to account for that water to comply with state regulations through separate augmentation plans. Frisch also said that Marchand had not heard of any statements of opposition to AWSD’s updated augmentation plan.
District manager’s report
District Manager Anthony Pastorello’s report included:
• District operations are running smoothly.
• He will replace the meter at the water tank’s booster station. This will help to be more accurate with distribution loss calculations, which are reported as a percentage of the total amount of potable water that entered the system.
Rate increase review Feb. 17
President Richard DuPont said that a water and/or sewer service rate increase will be considered at the Feb. 17 meeting. The public is welcome to attend, express opinions, and ask questions.
New vice president position
The board has not had a vice president—only a president, secretary, and treasurer—and Director Ron Curry felt that there should be one. He nominated Director Steve Callicott, and the board voted unanimously to appoint him vice president.
Meeting dates changed again
As of Jan. 20, regular board meetings for AWSD will be at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Donald Wescott Fire Station, 15415 Gleneagle Dr.
The meeting adjourned at 7:27 p.m.
The Academy Water and Sanitation District board meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month at the Donald Wescott Fire Station, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Contact District Manager Anthony Pastorello at 481-0711 for information.
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By James Howald
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board met on Jan. 14 to begin planning for an update to the process they use to accept customer payments, to discuss relocating a tap at the Country Club at Woodmoor, to decide some details about the upcoming board election, to hear a proposal to change the structure of sewage billing fees from a customer, and to review operational reports from staff.
Customers will have an easier, cheaper time paying online
District Manager Jessie Shaffer updated the board on his work to add Xpress Bill Pay software to the software tools currently used by the district to allow customers to pay for their water and sanitation services. Xpress Bill Pay will facilitate payment online using credit cards, and will provide a paperless process, Shaffer said.
According to Shaffer, Xpress Bill Pal will let customers log into a secure account to pay their bills, and will also let them review their transactions, which the current process does not allow. The $15,000 in operating costs required have already been planned for in the 2016 budget, Shaffer said. The implementation of Xpress Bill Pay will also require the district to switch to a different online credit card processor, and Chase Paymentech is the preferred vendor, according to Shaffer.
The new software would mean that customers would no longer pay a "convenience fee" for settling their bills online, Shaffer said.
The board voted unanimously to authorize Shaffer to sign an agreement with the software companies once district lawyer Erin Smith completes a legal review.
Board approves request from The Country Club at Woodmoor
The Country Club at Woodmoor asked the board to approve the relocation of a non-potable water tap that was connected to a shed at the end of fairway one. According to Shaffer, the shed has been demolished, and the club wants to move the tap to lot 20. Current policies require the board to vote on the request, Shaffer said.
President Barrie A. Town pointed out that the board had approved many similar requests, and the board voted unanimously to approve the request.
District office will be polling place for upcoming board election
The district’s office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive, located behind the fire station, will serve as a polling place if an election is required to fill two positions on the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s board. It is not yet certain an election will be needed, Shaffer said.
Customer proposes change to sewer fees
District customer Germar Schäfer questioned the board concerning how sewer fees are calculated, and suggested that sewer fees should be consumption-based. Schäfer showed the board a bill he had received covering a month he had been out of town, showing charges of $1.17 for water and $14.32 for sewer, to illustrate his concern. Schäfer argued that if the amount of water consumed was small, that should be reflected in the sewer charge.
Shaffer pointed out that the district has a "snow bird" policy that reduces sewer charges for customers who use less than 500 gallons of water. Wastewater is not metered, Shaffer said.
Town said that since it had been two years since sewer rates had been reviewed, the board should review the sewer rate structure as part of the preparation for the 2017 budget.
Work crews commended in manager’s report
In his report to the board, Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette noted that the district had only 6 percent of water unaccounted for, and that this low rate of water loss was mainly due to the hard work and responsiveness of work crews in addressing line breaks.
To illustrate his point, Gillette mentioned a recent break on Indian Summer Lane, which was reported at 7 p.m. and was repaired by 3:30 a.m. the next day. The crew worked all night, and made the repair despite low temperatures and frozen ground, Gillette said, and affected customers came into the office to recognize the crew for their efforts.
The board went into executive session at 2:10 p.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 17. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
On Jan. 21, General Manager Kip Petersen advised the Donala Water and Sanitation District board that the district had completed 2015 with a balanced budget despite significant water revenue decreases from irrigation during a wet year.
Donala offered free use of its renovated conference room to Triview Metropolitan District for Triview meetings.
Note: Triview is considering providing room for additional administrative staff in its Jackson Creek Commerce Center office by converting its conference room. Triview, Donala, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District are co-owners of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. See Triview article on page 11 for information on additional staffing in the Triview administrative office.
The board rescheduled its strategic planning workshop for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 12. The board approved 11 regular meetings at 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month for January to October and on Dec. 8, in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. An annual 9 a.m. workshop will also be held on Nov. 17 in the district conference room.
District General Manager Kip Petersen reported that 2015 total district operating revenues were $5.78 million, 17.56 percent less than the $7.01 million budgeted. Total district expenditures and capital projects were $5.06 million, 21.92 percent less than the $6.48 million budgeted. He noted that about $600,000 for capital projects was deferred to 2016. The budgeted total is $1.8 million for 2016 capital projects. There were also about $100,000 in unplanned 2015 expenses for two groundwater well capital repairs.
The Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility 2015 total operating revenues were $1.02 million, 24.25 percent less than the $1.34 million budgeted. Total facility expenditures and projects were $1.07 million, 17.78 percent less than the $1.30 million budgeted. He noted that some facility capital projects were also deferred to 2016.
Water service for 56 homes conditionally approved
Petersen discussed a proposal from Scott Gratrix, representing Westbrook Capital Holdings and G&S Development, regarding the vacant portions of defunct Gleneagle golf course property, to redevelop the property with 41 single-family home sites with access to both existing roads and direct access to all other required utilities now that the previously approved townhome project has been abandoned. (http://ocn.me/v8n3.htm#gleneagle, http://ocn.me/v9n8.htm#bocc)
Petersen said that Donala’s policy is that there are 25 acre-feet of potable water available that were previously allocated to the golf course for watering the greens, clubhouse use, and pool use. Gratrix hoped to take over use of the 17 acre-feet of water Donala had previously committed to allocate to the townhome project in 2009. Gratrix added a request to add 15 additional residential lots on vacant land not approved by the county to be part of the prior townhome project for a total of 56 homes. Gratrix said Westbrook would provide road access and whatever utility easements are necessary within these new home lots. In return Westbrook would deed the rest of the vacant golf course open space to the Gleneagle Civic Association for its use or convert the vacant space to a conservation easement that might be taken over by the county or some other entity.
Kevin Deardorff, president of the Gleneagle Civic Association, (www.gleneaglehoa.org) said that the consensus of six of the seven board members who attended the regular January Board of Directors meeting was to "not contest" Westbrook adding 15 similar home lots to the basic Westbrook 41-home proposal, rather than keeping it unusable while hoping for an un-guaranteed conservation easement with the added risk of some future buyer rezoning the land again to "cookie cutter homes."
Petersen asked the board to consider some safeguards for all involved, if the board was willing to consider approval of Donala service for these proposed homes, should the Gleneagle association discover it can’t afford to own and maintain the rest of the vacant golf course land as open space.
During a lengthy discussion, some of the Donala directors expressed concerns about public trust if Donala agreed to allocate more water than the amount publicly announced for the previous townhome project, 17 acre-feet, which is enough for only 41 homes. There are only about 20 other vacant single-family home lots left in Donala’s service area. Also discussed were the three separate parcels of undeveloped golf course vacant land not being contiguous and the need to rezone the land to county RS-6000 to get a tax break for subsequent conversion to a conservation easement.
The board approved a motion (4-1) to conditionally allocate 17 acre-feet of potable water for availability of service for 41 single-home Westbrook lots on as yet un-replatted vacant golf course land. Donala would also conditionally allocate an additional 8 acre-feet for another 15 lots of vacant golf land on the condition that the remainder of the vacant golf course land is deeded to the Gleneagle Civic Association. Director Bob Denny was opposed.
Petersen noted that regular meetings of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority had resumed in January due to the state Legislature being back in session. Petersen said he will also continue to attend Arkansas Basin Roundtable meetings. He said the Roundtable’s state subsidy had been cut in half due to TABOR, Gallagher, and mandated public school funding restrictions, which will halve its funding for water projects.
Petersen praised Donala staff members Robert Hull, Mark Parker, Troy Vialpando, and Aaron Tolman for their prompt repair of a saddle failure water leak due to rusted-out bolts, with no water main splitting, from 4 p.m. to midnight on a very cold New Year’s Day. Retired Air Force General and Donala customer Mal Wakin wrote a thank you letter praising their dedication, professionalism, and unselfish concern for the community immediately after he reported violent pipe shaking in his home to the Donala answering service.
The meeting went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter at 4 p.m. No votes were taken after coming out of executive session to adjourn.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 21, in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. Information: 488-3603 or www.donalawater.org. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Green-Lanchoney
Two positions are up for re-election on the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board, the board announced at its Jan. 16 meeting. Incumbents Bo McAllister and John Fredell are expected to run again. Self-nominations and Acceptance Forms will be available at Station 1 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Feb. 1-18. For more information on self-nomination, contact Stacey Popovich, Wescott administrative assistant and designated election official, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2016 budget is available on the district website at http://wescottfire.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2016ApprovedBudget.pdf. Fire Chief Vinny Burns and Popovich provided a draft budget at the last board meeting. During the Jan. 16 meeting, Popovich provided updated numbers showing that the planned budget will result in a surplus for Wescott at the end of 2016. Income from the specific ownership tax was expected to be $175,000 in the proposed budget, but when actual numbers were presented the tax came in at $204,029. The station also earned about $41,000 from wildland firefighting income in 2015, according to Popovich. Burns and Popovich planned the budget to cover the stations’ salary increase and an increased focus on training opportunities.
The December financial end-of-year bank statement totaled $948,887. The financial statements for both November and December were unanimously approved by the board.
Assistant Chief Scott Ridings gave an end of year review on the 2015 run report. In 2014 there were 2217 total calls, in 2015 there were 2,956 total calls, which is an increase of 33 percent. Ridings also stated that the call volume was evenly divided between Station 1 and Station 2. In 2015 Wescott firefighters were called out to three structure fires totaling $45,400 in fire loss.
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors’ next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Please call 488-8680, a non-emergency number, for more information, or visit www.wescottfire.org. The district is also on Facebook.
Jennifer Green-Lanchoney can be contacted at Jenlanchoney@ocn.me.
Would you like to help Our Community News report on the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District? Please contact Lisa Hatfield at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
The directors of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) reviewed the year’s finances and discussed the need for volunteers from the community at the Jan. 28 meeting.
President Jake Shirk, Secretary Mike Smaldino, and Director Larry Smith were excused. Vice President Roger Lance presided over the meeting.
Year-end financial report
Treasurer John Hildebrandt presented the financial report as of Dec. 31, which included:
• Property tax revenue received − $4.1 million or 99.9 percent of budget
• Specific ownership taxes − $500,331 or 117.7 percent
• Ambulance revenues − $529,616 or 97.2 percent
• Impact fees − $240,758 or 96 percent
• Total revenue for 2015 including impact fees − $5.6 million or 104 percent.
• $98,000 of the excess 2014 fund balance was also allocated toward operational expenses.
• Total operating expenses − $5.32 million or 101.5 percent of budget
Note: After the executive session at the end of the Dec. 8 meeting, the board voted unanimously to remove the impact fee from the 2016 District Fee Schedule.
Public involvement needed
Resident Derek Araje said he had met with Shirk and Chief Chris Truty to find out more about the district and its operations. Araje said he thought people would pay more for fire services if they realized how critical those services were, including medical services. He volunteered to help get the word out to people and recruit members to the citizens’ advisory committee, which will provide direction to the district regarding a possible mill or bond levy vote.
Truty said long-term funding to stabilize existing services would require an additional $20 million over the next five years. He asked community members interested in volunteering to call him at 719-648-4148 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Truty’s comments included:
• Residents interested in running for TLMFPD board need to turn in paperwork by Feb. 26.
• Work on Station 1’s new well has started.
• The district fielded 150 calls in four hours to support the Operation Deep Freeze blizzard emergency responder simulation on Jan. 9.
• Status of Assistance to Firefighters Grant will be known by summer. It could help pay $375,000 to upgrade obsolete radio system.
• The saga continues with George K. Baum consultant for mill or bond levy election.
• Office Administrator Jennifer Martin is collecting data to try to recover missing ambulance revenue after the ambulance billing company system crashed in August. Some accounts might go to collections.
• "Community paramedicine" legislation is moving forward and might allow outside health care providers to do post-hospital checkups.
• Truty has been appointed to the county e911 board to help determine funding for dispatching.
The meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Feb. 24 in the Monument Town Hall at 645 Beacon Lite Road. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.
Would you like to help Our Community News report on the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District? Please contact Lisa Hatfield at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education received a number of reports on district activities, recognized student and staff accomplishments and had a lengthy discussion of board member conduct and treatment of staff during its Jan. 21 meeting.
Monument Academy Charter School Operations Report
Executive Director Don Griffin of Monument Academy (MA) appeared at the meeting to report on activities at the school.
MA now has 952 students, or 15 percent of the district, experiencing a 7 percent increase in the past year.
Eighty percent of the population is retained each year and the turnover rate for staff is low, Griffin said. All staff is classified as highly qualified by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the school is a John Irwin School of Excellence.
New policies passed by the MA board include a limit to class sizes and a longevity bonus for staff. The board is made up of parents.
The school began accepting special education students five years ago and is considered a model for charter schools in this area, Griffin said. There are now 60 students on Individual Education Plans. In addition, students are assessed for giftedness.
Home School Enrichment Academy update
Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton reported that the Home School Enrichment Academy was founded four years ago to offer enrichment services to home-schooling families at no cost. Enrollments are accepted from families inside and outside the district.
The academy uses the gym, cafeteria and upper floor of Grace Best. Beginning with 56 students, it now has 102 enrolled in grades K through 8.
Subjects offered include music, drama, physical education, scientific exploration, and cultural studies for grades K through 5 and writing, yoga, history, murals, music, and performing arts for grades 6 through 8.
Funding is provided by the state as students are considered part-time students of the district and through grants.
Gifted education audit
Benton reported that the CDE requires a review of gifted education programs every four years.
The Lewis-Palmer program was judged as strong in language arts and math with a good website and a good leadership team. High school course offerings are a draw to those from outside the district to "choice in." The district is also willing to invest far more funding than the state provides, Benton said.
A future goal is to improve the system by which students are identified as gifted.
Twenty percent of high school students are identified as gifted. Students never leave the program once identified.
The district has policy whereby a student entering the district having been identified as gifted in their former district will automatically be included in the program.
School readiness assessment waiver
Director of Curriculum Sheila Beving reported on the continued discussion to request a waiver from the use of TS Gold as a tool in assessing readiness for kindergarten in the district. This subject was discussed at the December meeting of the board and the January meeting of the District Accountability Advisory Committee.
The district desires a waiver in order to exert local control and use the district’s report cards as a means of determining readiness. A public hearing was held the previous week and parents expressed confidence in the district’s teachers and their knowledge of their students. Teachers said that they feel confident in the use of locally created assessments. In addition, teachers said that use of the TS Gold system required time out of the classroom.
The board passed a resolution to apply to CDE for a waiver regarding the administration of assessments to kindergarten students.
English Learner update
English Language Learner (ELL) Coordinator Stephanie Johnson reported on her program. Co-presenter was Nick Lee of Lewis-Palmer High School, who moved from China in 2012.
The participants in the program are assessed on the basis of proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Once a student is identified as eligible for the program, parents have the right to opt out of services if they wish. If a student participates, he or she is monitored and assessed on a regular basis. Once considered proficient, the student may exit the program but is monitored in high school due to complex new vocabulary in science and math.
Students are evaluated to determine adequate growth, and the state goal is for students to exit the system at the rate of 12 percent a year. In this district, students exit at the rate of 30 percent per year. The goal is for a graduation rate of 50 percent and in this district the graduation rate is in the 90s.
In answer to a question, Johnson said that students who enter the program late in high school may continue to access it until age 21. Forty-two languages are now included and funding is based on the number of students at each level.
The program also offers such activities as an annual international dinner, adult literacy classes, a summer bookmobile, summer school, and homework clubs.
Director of Institutional and Educational Technology Liz Walhof reported on the use of a program called Seesaw where students can enter drawings and writings and store them so teachers can keep the work and absent relatives are also able to view the students’ work. The work is deleted at the end of the school year, but parents may save some if they wish.
Walhof also said that she is conducting mini-conferences to train staff in the use of Google software.
She reassured the board that Google Apps for Education offers sufficient security for student activity, as the contract forbids Google from using student input in a commercial fashion.
Superintendent evaluation rating and contract extension
The board’s evaluation of Superintendent Karen Brofft was read by Board Vice President Sherri Hawkins.
Board President Mark Pfoff said that he had discussed salaries with representatives of comparable districts and has received positive feedback from parents and teachers. He stressed the desirability of consistency in the position and that he wished Brofft to stay on for a long time.
After a brief discussion and praise from all members of the board, a resolution was passed to extend Brofft’s contract through June 30, 2018.
Board member conduct and treatment of staff
Pfoff initiated a discussion on the subject of board member conduct, stressing that the board is an entity that must speak with one voice. He said that this issue must be revisited when the composition of the board changes.
He explained that the community elects the five members of the board and the board is influenced by the community and other inputs in the form of feedback. The board then meets in public and votes to make decisions that set the direction of the district. Single members of the board should not exert influence.
The board as a group may instruct the superintendent to take action, but individual members may not instruct the superintendent or any other staff.
Pfoff said that the public does not have a vote on each decision but assumes that the board is well informed on the matters they discuss. He expressed frustration that many members of the community seem to form their opinions on the basis of rumor.
Director Sarah Sampayo said that the public should be able to review all background materials in order to make comments before a vote.
Pfoff said that releasing information before the vote may generate additional concerns.
Board Treasurer John Magerko commented that decisions are often altered in the future.
Sampayo asked, when visiting the state Legislature, whether she would be speaking on behalf of herself or the board. Pfoff said that the board could tell her what to say on their behalf.
Director of Student Services and Personnel Bob Foster discussed revisions to several board policies involving notification of board meetings, and public conduct on school property. The board voted to approve the revisions, with the exception of Sampayo who opposed.
The board passed a consent agenda including minutes of past meetings, personnel items, a budget summary and various other items.
Mike Burnett, Derek Araje, Tracy Burnett, Melanie Strop, Melinda Zark, and Tammy John expressed opinions on such issues as data privacy and local control. Members of the Lewis-Palmer High School Student Council thanked the board for its service by providing spirit bags to each member.
The board went into executive session at midnight to discuss matters involving negotiations.
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education 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 Feb. 18.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: Monument Academy Executive Director Don Griffin, right, congratulates school nurse Janice Latendresse, who received a National Association of School Nurses scholarship for $2,500 to continue her education. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: The Palmer Ridge High School Cheer Team won the 4A state championship last month. On the far right is coach Jess Maynard. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: Palmer Ridge Athletic Director Jimmy Porter, right, congratulates football coach Tom Pulford for being named the Gazette Big Schools Football Coach of the Year. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee discussed state and district graduation requirements, the district safety and security process, assessment results and other subjects at its Jan. 12 meeting.
Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton presented an explanation of state requirements for graduation and compared them with the requirements for entrance in state colleges.
The state Board of Education developed a list of competencies considered necessary for success in college and the workforce. These competencies must be demonstrated before a diploma is issued. Benton said that the competencies could be proven in various ways, including a predetermined score on an advanced placement test, concurrent enrollment in a community college or similar program, an industry certificate, and scores on the ACT or SAT in the areas of English or math.
Explaining that Lewis-Palmer students generally take a more rigorous set of classes than required by the state, Benton asked committee members whether they would suggest any further competencies to improve the students’ foundation for life after high school.
For example, although the state does not require competency in a foreign language, 70 percent of district students take at least one year of foreign language. Students also exceed the state requirement in math (four instead of two credits), science (four instead of two credits) and English (four instead of three credits).
Committee members made the following suggestions:
• Instead of requiring 1.5 physical education credits, students who participate in sports should get credit for that participation. Another member said that this should include club sports. Benton said that the requirement was developed to promote wellness.
• Should the district have a competency requirement in technology? Benton said that technology is now embedded in the curriculum in grades k through 12.
• Should online credits be offered?
• Humanities and the arts should be included among the requirements.
Benton said that this same discussion will be had with several focus groups in the district.
Safety and security update
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman reviewed district activity in the area of safety and security.
She explained that there are several groups focusing on this concern. These include school crisis teams, the district safety committee, the district core team (representatives from schools, maintenance, school resource officer) and the citizen’s safety and security council (community volunteers with expertise in law enforcement and other specialties).
Among their achievements in the past year are the addition of a gate at the stadium, the development of standard announcements for use in the case of emergency, and addition of barriers on some properties.
All physical facilities have been reviewed with regard to cameras, door monitors, availability of radios for communication within and between facilities, and staff training in the use of all devices.
Community relationships in the area of safety and security include the use of Grace Best, Lewis-Palmer High School, and Palmer Ridge High school as Red Cross Shelters, partnerships with the Monument and Palmer Lake Police and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tri-Lakes Fire Department. Lewis-Palmer Schools are also certified as inoculation sites in the event of the need for widespread immunization due to a new pathogen.
Goals for this year include review of crisis plans, improvement of cell service, acquisition of radios, and plans for evacuation and reunification.
Community Family Partnership update
Special Education Parent Liaison Michelle Nay reported on the Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) family-school-community partnership program, which stresses the collaboration of families, schools, and communities in collaboration to improve classroom, school, district, and state outcomes.
The program encourages families to become involved by supporting students in their efforts, in communicating effectively with teachers and other professionals and in maintaining a two-way communication at all times. The program is implemented in a multi-tiered fashion, understanding that education is a shared responsibility and student success is always the focus of the activity.
Initial steps are to create a welcome climate in the school, including volunteer opportunities and a family friendly atmosphere and the development of a respectful, inclusive community by removing economic obstacles to participation and instilling a respect for all families. Families are encouraged to understand how the school system works and are empowered to advocate for students, and families should share in decision making regarding their children. Interaction with the community is also encouraged.
District data update
Benton reported on data regarding student performance in last spring’s PARCC tests.
She compared the district’s performance with those of districts having at least 100 students participating per grade level.
As in the past, at each level, a majority of participants were rated as meeting or exceeding expectations in the areas of elementary math, middle school math, and high school math, and elementary, middle and high school English language arts. In addition, there is a significant percentage (20 to 32 percent) who are rated as approaching expectations. This group could reach the level of meeting expectations with additional special attention.
Viewing the group of schools selected for comparison, Lewis-Palmer students rated anywhere from first to ninth place in the state depending on the grade and subject. The weakest area was in ninth-grade English. The strongest were in algebra, geometry and algebra 2.
Additional data can be found at www.schoolview.org/dish/dashboard.asp.
Board of Education update
Board of Education Liaison John Magerko reported that the state, which has used the ACT as the standard test for high school juniors since 2001, has decided to change to the SAT beginning in 2017. The decision is reviewed every five years. Sophomores will take the PSAT this year and juniors the ACT. Beginning next spring, juniors will take the SAT.
Superintendents from throughout the state rallied recently in Denver to protest cutting school funding.
Magerko also mentioned the creation of the Path2Empathy anti-bullying program at the middle school.
Magerko said that board coffees held at the administration building and at schools have been useful as a communication tool, but stressed that the board is not in a position to task anyone in response to a request as the superintendent is the only employee of the board.
Negotiations continue on the five-year contract with Monument Academy.
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. Locations vary. The Feb. 9 meeting will take place at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, 1776 Woodmoor Drive, Monument.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) Vice President Erik Stensland chaired the annual meeting Jan. 25 where the board election was held, and the 2015 recap and 2016 goals were discussed.
Three residents put in their names to be candidates for the WIA board: Robert Benjamin, Brian Bush, and Per Suhr. There were no nominations from the floor. Ballots were mailed out to residents on Dec. 30 and could be returned by mail or at the annual meeting. Ballots were received by representatives from the League of Women Voters who counted and provided results on Jan. 26. All candidates were elected to the board.
Guest speaker from Sheriff’s Office
Commander Jeff Kramer, a 19-year veteran of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, was the guest speaker at the annual event. He spoke of the services offered throughout the county, including providing the only jail and staffing patrols throughout the districts. Kramer noted that the Sheriff’s Office must be structured and have the assets to provide an active helping role for events like the active shooter situation at Planned Parenthood. He affirmed that Sheriff Elder is committed to making sure they establish good relationships with local communities
Stensland reviewed the past year, noting that it was the sixth year with a balanced budget and a new website has been rolled out that is already being used for forestry, vacation checks, covenant violation reports and updating owner contact information. There were numerous common area improvements at the Barn, including a new pavilion to be ready in the spring that will be finished with new benches and a barbecue pit as part of an Eagle Scout project. The parking lot outside the barn has been repaved and paved parking has been added to The Marsh.
Board members Jim Hale (past president) and Tom Schoemaker (past treasurer) have retired and were thanked for their service. The Dunes project between the fire station and the Moorwood development has been approved and construction will ramp up as the weather improves. Due to concerted efforts, WIA has reduced the number of outstanding accounts from 62 to 40. Finally, a community outreach director position was filled to keep the community aware of what is happening in nearby locales and communities.
Stenslend then reviewed the income and expenses for 2015 and provided year-end summaries of covenant violations, architectural control requests, and forestry.
Firewise is always a priority and mitigation work is ongoing. The board is working with the water district to move the water line and meter from the street to the building. The board plans to improve the parking at Toboggan Hill by paving and increasing the size. The Covenants and Rules & Regulations documents will be revised. The goal is to bring these 40-year-old documents up to date. Any changes must be approved by 66 percent of the lot owners.
The board continues to digitize WIA files so they can be backed up offsite in case of a fire. Community events such as Slash Days, an Aspen Tree seminar, and other educational and fun activities will be planned. The board also intends to remain involved with the Country Club at Woodmoor to keep informed on any plans that may impact the community.
Vincent Elorie and other awards
Woodmoor Public Safety chief Kevin Nielsen recounted the history of Vincent Elorie, an outstanding citizen and former member of the Woodmoor Police Department. The WIA Board of Directors created an outstanding citizen award in 1995 and Elorie was the first recipient. The hand-painted statue is given each year to an outstanding citizen who is nominated by the community. This year’s nominee was Amy Smith, who moved to Woodmoor in 2000 and has had a long involvement with the WIA, recently redesigning its new website.
Also, the Best Christmas Lights and Good Neighbor Awards were announced and raffle prizes from local vendors were given to attendees.
The WIA annual meeting is held each year in January at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. The WIA calendar can be found at: https://www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at: https://www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: Board member Erik Stensland presents the Vincent Elorie award for outstanding citizen to Amy Smith. The hand painted statue honors Elorie who was Woodmoor Police Chief from the late 70s to mid-80s. Smith, a former Forestry director moved to Woodmoor in 2000, programmed the WIA/WPS database, and designed the new WIA website (www.woodmoor.org), which has received numerous compliments. Photo by Jackie Burhans..
By Jackie Burhans
In the first 2016 regular meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board Jan. 27, positions were assigned to each member of the board.
New board positions set
The following board positions were assigned:
• Erik Stensland – President
• Peter Bille – Vice President
• Jennifer Cunningham – Secretary/Community Outreach
• Brian Bush – Treasurer
• Mark Ponti – Director of Architectural Control Committee
• Rich Wretschko – Director of Common Areas
• Alan Bassett – Director of Covenants
• Robert Benjamin – Director of Forestry
• Per Suhr – Director of Public Safety
Residents urged to sign up for email
With the new website operational, the board recommends that residents sign up for email announcements. This will let residents get important announcements and keep in touch with important information. Even if you have previously signed up, it would be good to re-confirm your email. After you sign up, don’t forget to confirm your subscription through the link sent to your email.
Residents will receive emails on security concerns, Woodmoor Public Safety dispatch reports, WIA annual board elections, educational events on fire mitigation and growing aspen trees, the annual Woodmoor Garage Sale, and more.
Board report highlights
• There is a revitalized Tri-Lakes Land Use Committee that is forming to make sure the communities voice is heard in the various organizations that decide on area development. For more information, contact Jerry Hannigan at email@example.com. The next meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 8 at the Chamber of Commerce building at 166 Second St. in Monument.
• The Palmer Lake Cowboy Chili Cookoff will be held on Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall. This event is free to the entire Tri-Lakes community. Get to know your neighbors offline. Prizes for best cowboy/cowgirl costume and, of course, best chili trophy. For more information, see http://www.palmerlakechili.org.
• Chief Kevin Nielsen has updated the Woodmoor Public Safety Standard Operating Procedure document and Training Manual for review. Nielsen will bring it to the board for approval next month.
• The director of the Colorado HOA Forum (http://www.coloradohoaforum.com) visited WIA to discuss the organization and its upcoming event. The Colorado HOA Forum is an organization consisting of HOA homeowners from Colorado Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs), property managers, and others dedicated to improving Colorado HOA governance and living. They are working on legislation for transparency of HOA transfer fees. The board is considering having a couple of people attend an upcoming town hall meeting on Feb. 13.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be on Feb. 24. The WIA calendar can be found at: https://www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at: https://www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: The newly formed 2016 Woodmoor Improvement Association board meets in the first regular meeting of the year. From left to right: Richard Wretschko, Mark Ponti, Robert Benjamin, Brian Bush, Jennifer Cunningham, Erik Stensland, Peter Bille, Alan Bassett, Per Suhr along with WPS Chief Kevin Nielsen and HOA Administrator Denise Cagliaro. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
By Jim Kendrick
At a special 1 p.m. meeting on Jan. 8, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) board unanimously approved a resolution for Amendment 2 to intergovernmental Contract #08 HA200049, Project IM 025341, eBRRTA and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for a final CDOT payment of $12.51 million to complete full state reimbursement of all direct I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion construction contract costs of $15.5 million. The BRRTA directors unanimously approved the size of this second CDOT reimbursement payment on Dec. 28, 2015.
BRRTA voters approved a $21.5 million sales tax revenue bond issue financed by a temporary 20-year one-cent sales tax within the BRRTA service area in the Nov. 6, 2006 election. CDOT previously made one other reimbursement of $3 million with Amendment 1 in May 2011, which BRRTA used to redeem some of these BRRTA revenue bonds early. This $12.51 million CDOT reimbursement coupled with BRRTA’s existing debt service fund balance of about $2.38 million is large enough to pay for all costs for early redemption of all remaining revenue bonds. The timing and final total costs for principal, interest, and administrative costs for early redemption have not been determined. For more details see http://ocn.me/v16n1.htm#brrta1228.
The board postponed the Feb. 12 BRRTA quarterly meeting to March 18 to ensure having all required 2015 budget and audit information available.
The meeting adjourned at 1:17 p.m.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for March 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the Academy Conference Room of Citizen Service Center, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Friday of the second month of the quarter. Information: 520-5547 or 520-6386.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
Temperatures were slightly cooler than normal and precipitation was right at normal for January. Overnight lows were generally not that cold, with only a couple of nights falling below zero. However, we never really had a "January thaw" with only two days during the month managing to reach the low 50s and winds generally well behaved.
January started off cool and quiet, which is normal for this time of the year. Temperatures were below freezing on New Year’s Day, with lows just below zero and highs reaching the upper 20s. Plenty of sunshine from that afternoon through the 6th allowed temperatures to slowly moderate through the period. Highs reached the mid-30s on the 2nd, then low 40s from the 3rd through the 6th. Not much snow melted over the period, as cold nights and a weak sun angle combined with generally light winds to keep the snow around.
A series of weak storm systems moving from the Pacific Northwest and Southern California traversed the region from late on the 6th through the 9th. These mainly affected the mountains but enough energy and moisture did make it into the Front Range to produce low clouds, fog, and snow at times. Most areas picked up 3-6 inches of snow on the 7th and 8th, causing some travel problems at times. The heaviest snow occurred along and west of I-25. Highs were cooler during the period as well, with highs only hitting the low 30s on the 7th and mid to upper 20s on the 8th and 9th.
Quiet and seasonably cool weather continued during the second week of January. Highs were in the low 30s on the 11th, a little below average, then "warmed" up to the low to mid-40s on the 12th and 13th. Plenty of sunshine occurred each day, but it had a hard time melting much of the snowpack as winds remained light. Temperatures cooled slightly on the 14th and 15th as a series of quick-moving systems moved over the region from the west. These storms left most of their moisture in the mountains, but slightly cooler air and a few flurries did work into the region. Highs were slightly below normal, only reaching the 30s each afternoon. The weekend saw more of the same, cooler temperatures and scattered clouds. The coldest day was Saturday the 16th, as highs only reached the upper 20s with a few flurries early. Temperatures warmed to the upper 30s on Sunday, as we ended the weekend with sunshine.
It was a mixed bag of weather conditions during the week of Jan. 18, with a few quick shots of light snow interspersed with clear and mild conditions. Highs hit the mid- to upper 40s on the 18th, with some mountain wave clouds around. This was ahead of a quick-moving storm that dropped around an inch of windblown snow the next morning. This storm was moisture starved and never really produced upslope winds, therefore there wasn’t much to it. A couple weak surges of cool air did continue to affect the region over the next couple of days, putting us back and forth between cool air and mild air. Highs reached 40°F on the 20th, then only managed to touch freezing on the 21st. High pressure built in from the west over the next couple of days, bringing mild and dry air with it. Highs jumped into the upper 40s and low 50s on the 22nd and 23rd, making for a quiet and mild weekend. Another cold front made an appearance during the early afternoon on Sunday, with some light snow developing during the evening, but holding off until after the Broncos’ big win.
The last week of January started cold, then got mild and windy before the first parts of a major storm began to affect the region. Highs were slightly below freezing on Monday the 25th as a quick-moving storm left behind a little fresh snow and cold temperatures. About an inch accumulated that afternoon through early evening, making for some slippery roads. Temperatures remained below normal for the next afternoon, only reaching the low to mid-30s. However, high pressure began to build in from the west over the next couple of days. This brought in a mild and dry air mass, and allowed winds to kick up from the west/southwest.
Temperatures rebounded into the mid- and upper 40s from the 27th through the 29th, with mountain wave clouds at times. Temperatures peaked in the low 50s on Saturday the 30th just before the first effects of the big storm began to hit the region. After highs in the 50s, cooler air began to work into the area by late that afternoon. Light snow developed late that evening, with a dusting accumulating before midnight. Snow continued overnight and the next day, with 3-5 inches of snow accumulating through Sunday.
A look ahead
February is often a dry and cold month for the region as we move toward the snowy and unsettled conditions of March and April. Precipitation averages less than an inch, with average high temperatures in the 30s. It can get very cold in February with Arctic air making strong pushes into the region. However, days begin to get a little longer, which leads to some nice, sunny days and snow melts faster.
January 2016 Weather Statistics
Average High 38.4° (-1.9°)
100-year return frequency value max 48.4° min 30.8°
Average Low 13.8° (+1.3°)
100-year return frequency value max 26.6° min 6.6°
Highest Temperature 53° on the 23rd and 30th
Lowest Temperature -3° on the 1st
Monthly Precipitation 0.71" (0.0" normal)
100-year return frequency value max 1.56" min 0.01"
Monthly Snowfall 11.0" (-2.5", 19% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 64.1" (+9.9", 19% above normal)
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 11.91" (-0.16", 2% below normal)
(the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1206 (+16)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidelines for letters to the editor are on page 27.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer
Monument Hill Foundation thanks Tri-Lakes community
On behalf of the Monument Hill Foundation, I would like to thank the Tri-Lakes community for their generous support of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club and Foundation. Because of our mission to support the youth and community of the local area, donations have been distributed to local organizations and charities.
As the granting arm of the Kiwanis Club, MHF is pleased to announce that approximately $50,000 will be distributed this year. Currently, some of the organizations receiving grant support are: The Resource Exchange, Emily Griffith Centers for Children, Palmer Divide Blanket Brigade, Big Brothers and Sisters, Children’s Literacy Center, Soap Box Derby, Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Conference, Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, Children’s Advocacy Center, and Aspen Camp for the Hearing impaired. Also receiving grant support are School District 38 activities, such as D-38 Robotics Team, Options 38 Career Starter Scholarships, Preschool Programs, Library Media Centers, Adaptive Equestrian Program, and Special Needs Hearing Program. This year, the Ronald McDonald House mobile clinic and Special Kids, Special Families will also receive support. Monument Hill Kiwanis Club also raised over $45,000 through the Salvation Army bell ringing activities at the local King Soopers, Safeway, and Walmart stores. In addition, the Monument Hill Kiwanis-sponsored Empty Bowl Soup Supper raised over $21,000 for Tri-Lakes Cares.
A complete list of recipients, information, and applications for the granting process, and how to donate can be found on the MHF website at www.monumenthillfoundation.org. Thank you for your generous support of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club and Monument Hill Foundation as you continue to participate in our fundraising efforts each year.
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Monument Academy deserves kudos
At the recent D-38 school board meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to see Lis Richard, principal, and Don Griffin, executive director of Monument Academy Charter School present about the school’s status and achievements. This year, Monument Academy celebrates 20 years in existence as the only charter school in D-38, yet according to Richard this is the first time they have been invited to present their report in person at a regular school board meeting. Too often in the past, Monument Academy was treated like the proverbial red-haired stepchild by D-38 administration, board members, and staff alike. I sincerely hope those days are behind us.
This school has been awarded the John Irwin School of Excellence award for 12 consecutive years and in spite of receiving less funding than other public schools, has $2 million in reserve and does an excellent job educating children in grades pre-K-8. No school is without its challenges, but the stability of leadership, high teacher retention rates, high parental involvement (including many serving three-year terms on the school’s board), and the fact the school has grown by over 400 students in the last few years indicate that this excellent school is a school of choice of which we should all be proud.
Unfortunately, incorrect information about the school persists in the community. Recently, I heard of someone who still believes Monument Academy charges tuition and is a private school that only takes the best students. None of that is accurate. Monument Academy educates all children who want to learn there, including those needing special education programs and English language learners. As a community, let’s celebrate 20 years of school choice in our district, and give Monument Academy the kudos they deserve.
Trust and transparency
Since last year’s school board election, I have attended several D-38 school board meetings to learn and to communicate my concerns and requests. On Jan. 21, the D-38 meeting kicked off with citizens’ comments. Parents respectfully expressed their concerns about Common Core, students’ data privacy, parents’ rights, and trust and transparency.
I could not stay for the whole meeting, so I watched the rest via the recorded video later in the week. The meeting went on until midnight. At about 10:30 p.m., the board discussed the superintendent’s contract renewal. It caught my attention because the board president announced there was a typo. Instead of voting on a one-year contract as published on the printed agenda, the board was to vote on a three-year contract with a salary increase. This agenda item was also posted online for the public to view. I double checked to make sure it still said 2017—it did.
If you google "D38 superintendent severance," you will quickly find that our small community has suffered greatly in the recent past from superintendent turnovers and substantial severance payouts. It continues to be an area of concern for me. The proper action would have been to table the issue, correct the official record, allow for public comment, and vote at the next regularly scheduled meeting. Perhaps the superintendent deserves the extension and the raise, but delaying the vote would certainly help with transparency and move towards improving trust. The bottom line: The more transparent our D-38 board is, the more trust our community will have. As a reminder, the board works for us.
Mill levy override questioned
Last year, Yogi Berra, the beloved New York Yankee who lived a full life for 90 years, died of natural causes. His Yogi-isms promise to live on for many, many more years. Remember "It’s like déjà vu all over again"? The taxpayers living in Lewis-Palmer School District 38 (D-38) can relate to this one!
Less than two months after our last school board election, the new D-38 Board is already talking about another mill levy override (MLO)—a tax hike for Tri-lakes’ residential and commercial property owners. D-38 must believe they can win this time, since 2016 is a presidential election year and people are riled up to vote.
D-38 says Colorado’s school funding formula is unfair and we are the lowest funded school district on the totem pole. Yet—we still graduate the best and the brightest in all of Colorado. They say they’ve balanced the budget, have plenty of money in the bank, and got rid of their debt. So tell me—why do they need more money? They say we’re heading for a fiscal cliff in 2017. Hmmm… Then why does central admin keep growing—three new high paid bureaucrats in the last year? Breaking News: The Board just renewed the superintendent’s contract for three years. A 22 percent pay hike for a first-time superintendent, all on the taxpayer dime. Didn’t they learn their lesson after a trail of D-38 superintendents left with hefty severance packages? Does all this spending buy us more transparency—more trust? I haven’t seen it!
As Yogi would say, "You can learn a lot by watching!" The times we live in call for prudent leadership. One final Yogi comment, "We made too many wrong mistakes" is especially worth remembering as the D38 BOE asks once again for more money.
The Grinch and D-38 Common Core
Before the recent 2015 election, every elected D-38 school board member looked you right in the eye and told you they opposed Common Core. Each pointed to their resolutions and campaign statements to Stop Common Core, and promised if you vote for them in November, they will work to remove expensive Common Core intrusions on our schools, kids and families.
Reading the January OCN coverage on the last School Board meeting, I see a complete turn back to D-38 support for Common Core. It now is too expensive to remove Common Core, it is too complex a task, will take too long, the State of Colorado will change it anyway, D-38 parents and teachers really love Common Core, and D-38 wants everyone to relax, Common Core isn’t really that bad. Apparently, it only took the Grinch from the November election promises to just before Christmas to steal the D-38 School Board honesty and integrity out from under you. Merry Christmas everyone.
Our Community News—what and who
This letter is being written to provide readers of OCN an insight into the paper’s background, staff, and mission. The letter closes with a personal assessment.
The following words are borrowed from ocn.me, the paper’s website:
Background—This all-volunteer newspaper written by and for Tri-Lakes area residents was launched in June 2001 by a group of Tri-Lakes area residents after concerns arose regarding the coverage of Tri-Lakes area news. Residents only heard about major decisions after the meetings had been held. The paper’s originators concluded that there was an urgent need to provide residents the information they needed to become involved in the public process of addressing the significant challenges facing the Tri-Lakes area.
Who—OCN is produced entirely by volunteers who contribute their time and talents to help keep residents of the Tri-Lakes region informed. Many of the volunteers have been with the paper for many years, at least one of whom has been on staff since the paper’s inception.
Mission—Provide to Tri-Lakes area residents (1) accurate, objective community-based and area-wide news to help them reach sound conclusions and contribute to a successful future for the area, (2) a forum for the free exchange of ideas and opportunities that may impact residents’ daily lives; and (3) a forum for supporting local businesses by providing a guide to Tri-Lakes area shopping through inexpensive advertising.
For further information, such as advertising, letters to the editor, and gaining access to archived editions, see http://ocn.me.
A personal perspective. I recently became an OCN volunteer. While my interactions with the staff have been limited, it’s obvious to me that they consist of caring and talented people, folks who donate their time and energy to producing the paper. Young to old, the staff represents a cross section of our community. While they bring years of experience and loads of enthusiasm, they leave their personal views at the front door.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
One of the greatest gifts you can give to the children in your life is to teach them to love books. Research shows that to succeed in school and in life, children need to read on grade level by the third grade, so start early with read-aloud books. Children who associate books and reading with the soothing voice and warm lap of a caring adult are likely to continue enjoying books as they learn to read.
Penguin and Pinecone: a friendship story
By Salina Yoon (Walker and Co.), $15.89
When curious little Penguin finds a lost pinecone in the snow, their friendship grows into something extraordinary. But when Grandpa tells Penguin it’s too cold for Pinecone to live with them, Penguin has a tough decision to make.
By Jenny Offill & Chris Appelhan (Schwartz & Wade Books) $16.99
Sparky, the sloth, seemed like the perfect pet, because he didn’t need to be walked, or bathed, or fed. But teaching him tricks was another story when all he wanted to do was sleep.
Use Your Imagination (But be careful what you wish for!)
By Nicola O’Byrne (Harper Collins) $17.99
One day when Rabbit was bored, Wolf offered to help him create a story using his imagination. But when the story turned into Wolf chasing Rabbit through the trees, it was time for Rabbit to think quickly. He discovered that using your imagination is a wonderful thing, and you never know where it might lead you.
The Nonsense Show
By Eric Carle (Philomel Books), $18.99
Nonsense lies at the heart of many beloved nursery rhymes. Children readily accept odd statements like "the cow jumped over the moon." In this book, nonsense and surrealism combine to spark creativity and imagination. What’s true? What’s impossible? What’s absolutely absurd?
Nancy Clancy: Secret of the Silver Key
By Jane O’Connor; Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (Harper) $4.99
In this fourth book of the Nancy Clancy series, Nancy and her best friend are off to solve another mystery—but this time it involves going back in time! When the girls set off to unlock the secret of the silver key found in an old desk, they learn there are some things that remain timeless forever.
Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure!
By Jeff Brown (Harper) $4.99
Stanley was an ordinary boy until the night his bulletin board fell off the wall and flattened him. All of a sudden, Stanley can slide under doors, mail himself across the country in an envelope, and fly like a kite! But flatness has its serious side, too, and Stanley ends up being the only one who can try to stop thieves from stealing paintings from the museum. Will he succeed?
DK Adventures: Antarctic Expedition
By Katy Lennon (Penguin Random House) $5.99
Discover what it takes to be a scientist on an expedition to Antarctica to drill ice cores for research. Experience the harsh conditions of this polar landscape, learn how to survive, and find out about the intrepid explorers from the past who set out to reach the South Pole.
By Katie Cotton; illustrated by Stephen Walton (Candlewick Press) $22
Exquisite charcoal drawings introduce 10 threatened species—lions, gorillas, giraffes, tigers, elephants, wolves, penguins, turtles, macaws, and zebras in astonishing detail. Poetic text notes each creature’s particular qualities and behavior, while providing a quiet counting exercise. Further notes about the animals and suggestions for additional reading put the finishing touches on a volume that will be cherished by the entire family for years to come.
Magic Tree House #49: Stallion by Starlight
By Mary Pope Osborne (Random House) $4.99
Jack and Annie must find four secrets of greatness for Merlin the magician. To start, they travel back in time to meet Alexander the Great. But young Alexander is bossy, vain, and not great at all! How can they learn from him? It’s going to take a wild black stallion, magic from Merlin, and a lot of bravery to succeed. Are Jack and Annie clever and bold enough to complete their mission?
"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." —Emilie Buchwald
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures Bookstore can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Monument Library is initiating some new programs in February, including a monthly adult craft program on the second Thursday and a First Saturday Teen Movie. See below for details.
The Family Fun program for February will be I Heart…Family Fun at 2:30 on Saturday, Feb. 13. All ages are invited to create a variety of heart crafts, cards, pictures of what or who you love, and make a set of your very own "From the Heart" coupons. No registration required.
The Legos Club will meet on Saturday, Feb. 20 from 10 to 11:30. You bring your creativity and we will provide the Legos.
Looking forward to March, join the Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Group and the Monument Library to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday on Wednesday, March 2 from 3 to 5. Enjoy birthday cake, Dr. Seuss stories, crafts, and then choose a Dr. Seuss book to take home.
Each Monday from 3:30 to 7, come in for free math tutoring with AfterMath. Students of all ages are welcome and no appointment is necessary. Bring your homework and get some extra help from experienced tutors.
In honor of Black History Month, the First Saturday Teen Movie will be Akeelah and the Bee. The program will be on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 1 to 3. Snacks and refreshments are provided, no registration needed.
Join us for the first session of Second Thursday Craft on Thursday, Feb. 11 from 2 to 4. This month’s craft is wood burning. We will provide wood burning equipment, stencils, and some wood for practicing. If you’d like, bring a wooden spoon or other wooden item to customize. Please register online, call 488-2370, or see a staff member.
Every second Friday there is a Computer Help Lab at the library from 9 until 10. This is an informal session devoted to questions and answers to help you navigate computer use. Please register online, call 488-2370 or see a staff member. The Lab in February will be on Feb. 12.
Meet local author Robert Liparulo on Sunday, Feb. 14 from 2 to 3:30. Liparulo has written several popular thrillers for young adults and adults and will discuss the writing life, pursuing your passion, and other writing topics. No registration required.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, Feb. 19 to discuss The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.
On the walls and in the display cabinet during February will be works by Lewis-Palmer High School artists.
Palmer Lake Library programs
The Family Fun program for February will be Leapin’ Leap Year on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 10:30. It’s Leap Year and we will celebrate with a "froggy" theme. Enjoy stories, crafts, and some jumping games. All ages welcome.
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. New members are welcome. Call 481-2587 for the current selection.
Artwork from Palmer Lake Elementary School will be featured in the library during February.
Please note that all Pikes Peak Library District facilities will be closed on Monday, Feb. 15 in observance of Presidents Day.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Al Walter
On Jan. 21, members of the Tri-Lakes Community joined members of the Palmer Lake Historical Society for its annual pot luck dinner and membership meeting at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Outgoing President Al Walter discussed the major accomplishments of the Historical Society during 2015, among them the award as the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit of the Year and the Tour of Estemere attended by almost 800 members of the community.
Walter also mentioned several initiatives the Board of Directors will be pursuing in 2016, one examining the possibility of awarding annual scholarships to a student at both Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High Schools.
During the business portion of the evening, the membership elected the slate of officers for 2016. Those nominated and elected to serve a one-year term were: president, Tom Baker; vice president, Pat McCarthy; secretary, Mike Walker; and treasurer, Barbara Arbuthnot. Following the election, Walter turned the meeting over to Baker to say a few words and chair the remainder of the program.
At the conclusion of the business meeting, those assembled joined in an old-fashioned potluck dinner complete with plenty of baked ham, rolls, and an abundance of food and desserts brought by the community members. In the spirit of community, the members of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, who helped set up and take down the tables and chairs, were invited to participate in the dinner.
Local historian and re-enactor Don Moon appeared as Jonathan Tumbler, an early mayor of Old Colorado City. Moon gave a lively and fact-filled history of the area, including the beginnings and early days of Colorado City and some early and not-well-known history of El Paso County.
The next program in the Historical Society’s monthly History Series will be on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake. Local historian Benny Nasser will present a program on "Young Boys Who Fought in the Civil War." More than 100,000 boys less than 16 years old were part of the Union and Confederate Armies during the war. Many of these young boys joined because they wanted to fight alongside their fathers and brothers, or were runaways or orphans.
This event is free to the public. For more information, visit www.palmerdividehistory.org or call 719-559-0837.
Caption: The Historical Society’s 2016 board members are, first row from left, Su Ketchmark, Treasurer Barbara Arbuthnot, and Museum Director Rogers Davis. Second row, Community Liaison Phyllis Bonser and Melissa Robohn. Third row: Vice President Pat McCarthy, Rodger Voelker, President Tom Baker, and Secretary Mike Walker. Photo courtesy of Anastasia Borner.
By Janet Sellers
I was last year and again recently this year privileged to talk with John W. Anderson about the local Ute prayer trees. They are breathtaking, live ponderosa pine trees that were transformed to mystical shapes by the Ute tribe of Native Americans on their journeys to the Pikes Peak region to their revered mountain, Tava (we call it Pikes Peak), their word for sun, and the tribe name, Tabeguache, means "people of Sun Mountain." I had first seen the trees on a walk at Fox Run Park when Anderson gave a talk and walk last summer to educate the current people of our area about the trees and help save them from land use destruction.
This time it was my turn to offer a view of local art, and I gave author and former sheriff Anderson a tour of the local outdoor art around town and in the Monument Sculpture Park on Second Street. We talked about the different sculptures and the variety of mediums represented there, on the large grassy areas surrounded by centuries-old ponderosa pines. The grounds had been made over a few years ago from a scraggly dirt patch to the lush park with eight large, outdoor sculptures, via the efforts of Tri-Lakes Views, the Town of Monument and School District 38. The grand ponderosas seemed to hold up the sky for the much smaller, relatively recent art works there.
Anderson told me about how the Ute tribe had made the bent trees of our region, requiring the task from generation to generation, creating living outdoor art with the ponderosa trees being created into meaningful shapes over many hundreds of years—it is art that takes hundreds of years to make—and the fact that our local area has many, many of these trees but that they need to be protected. Some people have them on their property and think they are malformed or diseased, when they actually are carefully made to a meaningful form.
The Ute tribe had a number of specific meanings for the tree shapes and placement, and I am still learning about them. I now drive the region in search of the bent trees, many visible from the road, and in areas such as Elephant Rock, Roller Coaster Road environs, and Fox Run Park they abound.
I encourage you to discover these precious works of art embodied in the trees with a human history and in some mysterious way that only art can provide, meet the hearts of the people who made them, and find meaning in them for yourself. We can bring friends and visitors to enjoy them as well.
It is vital to spread the word to protect them. It is a special, if not sacred, endeavor to hold dear, truly a part of our home and heart for our beautiful natural living here. Anderson’s book, Ute Indian Prayer Trees of the Pikes Peak Region, has many references to the location of the trees in addition to the extensive history of our region and the Ute people. The book is available at Covered Treasures and online at www.JWander.com (his website), and our local library has some copies. He also gives presentations for an honorarium.
Thanks for Wisdom Tea House
I would like to thank, on behalf of all the artists and art lovers who enjoyed their time at Wisdom Tea House, Tom and Diane Wisdom for their kindness and goodness in creating our beloved Wisdom Tea House for community, art and convivial pursuits, and making a beautiful and joyful place for us all to share. While the Wisdoms joyfully go on to their next adventure, we will miss the special place they created for us to enjoy art, tea, and community, and we thank them wholeheartedly for that place and time in our lives. For eight wonderful years, it was a small town dream come true.
Artsites 2016 call for artists
Submit entries for this local yearlong outdoor public art exhibit. The juried exhibit accepts entries until March 30 and artwork is installed each June. Selected artists receive a $300 honorarium. For details, visit www.TriLakesViews.org or contact Dr. Betty Konarski at email@example.com. Email entries accepted.
Art on view around town
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) exhibits: Feb. 2-27, TLCA, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Lucy Owens gallery: member artists exhibit, Dreamers and Realists. Main Gallery: Palmer Lake Art Group Winter show and sale supports scholarships to our local high school seniors.
Bella Art and Frame Gallery: Artworks of member artists are currently on exhibit. 2016 Miniature art show call for entries form available now at www.bellaartandframe.com. 183 Washington St., Monument.
Janet Sellers is a Colorado artist and art teacher; her paintings and public art sculptures are in exhibitions in city and museum outdoor venues in Colorado, and of course, the Tri-Lakes area. Sellers can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me.
Caption: In this photo from last summer’s Ute prayer tree hike series at Fox Run Park, John Wesley Anderson, retired El Paso County sheriff, historian, artist, and author (Ute Indian Prayer Trees of the Pikes Peak Region), relates the history and meanings of the Ute prayer trees. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Legacy Sertoma supports non-profits
Caption: Legacy Sertoma Treasurer Dave Cooper, right, recently presented the club’s holiday-time checks to Haley Chapin (left), director of Tri-Lakes Cares, and Bob Trethway, executive director of Christmas Unlimited (not pictured). Legacy Sertoma has supported Tri-Lakes Cares since the club’s inception, and Christmas Unlimited for the last four years. The work done by both organizations has earned widespread support from other Sertoma clubs as well. Photo courtesy of Legacy Sertoma.
TreeCycle, Jan. 10
Caption: On Sunday, Jan. 10, the Lewis-Palmer Lacrosse Team manned the TreeCycle drop-off location at Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway. For a suggested donation of $5, community residents could ensure that their live trees were recycled into mulch the first two weekends after Christmas. Team members Peyton Miller, left, and Chris Brandts unload a decoration-free tree and toss it onto the pile to be mulched. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Tri-Lakes Land Use Committee, Jan. 10
Caption: The revived Tri-Lakes Land Use Committee met on Jan. 10 at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce meeting room. This was the second meeting of the revived group, who discussed the 2000 Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan, interest in neighborhood sub-areas and topical sub-committees, and more. From left are Chair Jerry Hannigan, Rich Nitzberg, Matt Harris, Lindsay Aho, Donna Wood, Susan Davies, and James Howald. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Operation "Deep Freeze 16", Jan. 9
Caption: The American Red Cross shelter in the tent at New Life Church is ready to receive and care for rescued actors during the Deep Freeze exercises.
Caption: From left, Michelle Idle, Stephen Brewton, Eileen Hartman, and Jan Jones are ready to admit rescued volunteers into the Red Cross shelter in the tent at New Life Church.
Caption: Adam Welch of the Army and nurse Deborah Lentest attend to volunteer Barbara Matheson of Black Forest Together at St. Francis Medical Center. Photos by Jackie Burhans.
Human Trafficking Series started, Jan. 31
Caption: In spite of a cold and snowy Sunday morning, Benet Hill welcomed over 40 participants to its Human Trafficking Series at the monastery. Fred and Erika Reichert, shown here, listened to Betty Edward, founder of the Human Trafficking Task Force for Southern Colorado, who presented the first programs, laying the foundation for three consecutive presentations on Feb. 8, 15, and 22. The presentations will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The series is free and open to the public. Detectives from the Colorado Springs Police Department will present information on what law enforcement is doing to eradicate this crime in our community. On Feb. 15, a survivor’s story will be presented. Photo courtesy of Sister Rose Ann Barmann.
By Janet Sellers
Is it time to do some gardening? Oh, yes it is! The Earth may seem asleep in February under the ice and snow here, but for us HANG gardeners, we can use our indoor warmth to start the process.
HANG springtime is generally snow time and soil microbes won’t get the garden growing outdoors until late May or early June, so we get our own proper start indoors.
Many gardeners are dutifully saving and crushing eggshells to add minerals for the garden—and potted plants in sunny windows. My test plants with basalt dust (also called Paramagnetic soil) sprinkled into the pot soil are thriving beyond expectation. With amendments to the organic potting soil, my plants and seeds are all doing great in sunny windows.
Last fall, I had grabbed the growing tomatoes and chard out of my hugelkultur bed with some of its rich soil, potted them, and hoped for the best. They are thriving. Even the marigold seed head I recently put in the chard pot has sprouted fully, and sprouts are 3 inches high already. With many seedlings being a fail for me in decades of high altitude gardening effort, I am curious if putting rich soil with live plants and adding seeds played a part, as the microbes were already working there when I placed the seeds, and soil-free seed starter has no microbes yet. Anyhow, they seem to like each other.
I’ve had a few gnats show up, but they quickly disappear when I add a tiny bit of mild soap to the watering. I use Basic H, which I like best. I suspect detergents or soaps with any additives are bad for soils. We are, after all, trying to create optimal soil microbiology. I may find a more catchy garden name than "soil microbiology" for the organisms and their thriving chain of events in the soil. Years ago when I was studying in Japan and working with nature farming methods and learning about optimizing natural soil microbiology, the old farmers just called it "spirit of soil."
For easy access to information, check here for a variety of how-to articles and videos I am posting for our community on the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MonumentCommunityGarden. We have a great Tri-Lakes Gardening Community (TLGC) page link there as well. TLGC is a bunch of friendly local gardeners with endless tips and frequent ad hoc talks and walkabouts to local gardens.
Janet Sellers is an avid HANG newbie, and welcomes your tips and handy hints to share with others here at our high altitude. She can be reached at
Roundabout artwork Caption: Illustration of the planned sculptures for the Roundabout at Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway by Reven-Marie Swansen. The concept for Aspen Grove is four groupings of three arched "trees" standing 20 feet above the ground, thus visible from a distance. They will be lighted at night. The county’s engineers have positioned each tree in the roundabout to best fit the site. Sponsorship of a tree is $3,500. For more information, contact fundraising Chair Dr. Betty Konarski at (719) 481-2769 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sky Hall at (719) 491-3638 (email@example.com). Drawing provided by Dr. Konarski.
By Judy Barnes, Events Editor
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 information number for that event.
Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red
Feb. 10: Raspberry chipotle pork, roasted potatoes, vegetable medley
Feb. 17: Chicken Caesar salad with garlic bread
Feb. 24: Bratwurst with sauerkraut, coleslaw, chips
Rolls and butter are served with each meal except sandwiches. Dessert is also provided.
Lunch is at 11:30 a.m. at 146 Jefferson St., Monument (the School District 38 Administration Building). $3 voluntary donation. Entertainment follows lunch. For more information, call Judy, 487-9067. An activity of Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership. Meals are provided by Pinecrest Catering, Palmer Lake; Nikki McDonald, executive chef, 481-3307.
Make sure furnace vent pipes are clear
Snow drifts can block side wall ventilation pipes critical for safe operations of modern gas appliances. Residents with modern high efficiency furnaces in their homes and businesses should make sure the outside vent pipes for those appliances are not blocked by snow and ice.
High efficiency furnaces are not installed using the old style metal vent pipes that extend through the roof. Instead, they use shorter PVC pipes typically vented through a side wall near the ground. While these installations offer great efficiency, the side vent pipes can be covered by snow drifts or clogged by snow and ice, leaves, animal nests or other debris. Obstructed vent pipes can result in the furnace shutting itself down, or in the worst scenario, deadly carbon monoxide could be released into to your home or business. Side wall vent kits that provide added protection against vent obstructions are readily available through local HVAC contractors and online suppliers. But even with a vent kit in place it’s a good idea to check to make sure that snow has not drifted up against the outside wall where the vent pipes come out.
Monument election judges needed
The Town of Monument Municipal Election will be held April 5 via mail ballot. Election judges are needed for this election. To qualify, an applicant must be 18 years or older, a registered voter in El Paso County, able to attend a training class, and be available and willing to work a long day. Judges will be compensated $100 total for a full day or $50 total for a half day. A basic breakfast, lunch, and dinner will also be provided. Applications are available at the town’s website, www.townofmonument.org, or at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., Monument.
Volunteers needed for county’s Board of Adjustment, apply by Feb. 12
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Board of Adjustment. Applications are due by Feb. 12. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436 or visit www.elpasoco.com.
Winter mailbox access
Help your mail carriers deliver the mail by clearing snow and ice from mailboxes and walkways. If you receive delivery of mail to a rural-type post mailbox, please clear around the box to allow your carrier to drive up to the box, deposit mail and drive away. If your mail is delivered at your residence or business, please keep the path to your mail box or slot clear of snow and ice. Delivery personnel, meter readers, friends, and family will also benefit from a safe and convenient path to your door.
Free income tax help
Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Pikes Peak United Way, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), provides free income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of $52,000 a year or less. To find out if you qualify or to schedule an appointment, call 2-1-1 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; or visit www.ppunitedway.org/vitaeitc.html.
Register for Tri-Lakes Y youth Spring sports
Practices begin March 28 for Outdoor Soccer, Spring Volleyball, and Flag Football; April 9 for Indoor Soccer Clinic and Indoor Soccer. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Monument.
Enroll for preschool and kindergarten
Lewis-Palmer School District preschool and kindergarten registration for the 2016-17 school year has begun. Please contact your neighborhood school or the district registrar at 488-4700 for detailed information. Registration packets are available now at all preschools, elementary schools, and the Administration Building, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Registration packets are also available online at www.lewispalmer.org.
St. Peter Catholic School enrolling
The school offers full and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class sizes, Christ-centered education, athletics, and more. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org.
Black Forest Road repair
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has given its approval to county plans for the replacement of failed culverts on Black Forest Road at Kettle Creek. Construction could begin in March. Black Forest Road was closed last October for safety reasons because the culverts under the road had failed and continuing erosion could lead to collapse. Heavy rain in the spring and summer, combined with added runoff due to the area burn scar, accelerated the failure of the culverts. The closure is about 0.6 miles north of the intersection of Black Forest Road and Shoup Road.
Property tax exemption
El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker reminds residents that Colorado Constitution establishes a property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled veterans. For those who qualify, 50 percent of the first $200,000 in actual value of the primary residence is exempted from property tax. The State of Colorado pays the property taxes on the exempted value. The application deadline for disabled vets is July 1, and for seniors is July 15. For an application or a brochure that explains the exemptions or for questions regarding the exemptions, please call the assessor’s office at 520-6600, email ASRWEB@elpasoco.com, or visit www.elpasoco.com and click on "News Releases."
Grow Smart Monument group forming
Grow Smart Monument is dedicated to preserving open space and trails, recreational opportunities, natural resources, and community character. Across the U.S., access to parks and open spaces has become a measure of community wealth; a tool for attracting businesses and residents by guaranteeing quality of life and economic health. This group invites collaboration with developers and civic organizations in creating a path to smart growth in our beautiful town. For more information, see the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/groups/growsmartmonument/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tri-Lakes men’s a cappella singing group
Singers are wanted for a unique men’s singing group that will feature close harmony, a cappella singing, somewhat in the style of the Four Freshmen and Vocal Majority. For more information, call John Hobson at 368-7833, or Phil Zara, 481-3197.
LEAP—Help for heating bills
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs through April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
Recycle all empty plastic bottles, cans, and paper. Keep foods and liquids out of the recycling. Keep plastic bags out of the recycling. These three steps have a big impact on getting the right things in the recycling bin. Did you know that plastic bags can shut down an entire recycling plant? So keep plastic bags out of the recycling and when in doubt, leave it out. For more information, visit www.recycleoftenrecycleright.com.
Save your sewer system!
Grease from cooking, gravy, cooking oil, and sauces may look harmless as a liquid, but when it cools it gets thick and sticky. That means if you pour grease down your drain, it sticks to pipes and eventually can cause clogs and messy overflows. Prevent backups in your home by pouring all grease from bacon, fried chicken, and other cooking grease into a can, putting in the freezer, then tossing it in the trash.
SafeCare Colorado services
Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (LFS) now provides SafeCare Colorado Services in El Paso County. SafeCare Colorado offers proactive in-home, voluntary services that support at-risk families in understanding the health, development, and safety needs of young children. LFS home visitors will deliver the SafeCare curriculum to parents through weekly visits over a four- to five-month period. The curriculum covers: Infant and Child Health, Home Safety, and Parent/Child Interaction. The goal of SafeCare is to build parental skills and consistently reinforce positive communication and problem-solving skills—helping to prevent child abuse. For more information, contact 303-217-5854, www.lfsrm.org.
Volunteer drivers needed
Help transport cancer patients to and from medical treatments. The American Cancer Society provides free rides through its Road to Recovery program. For information about the Road to Recovery program or to volunteer, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.
Bustang & Park-n-Ride
Bustang, the new interregional express bus service from the Colorado Department of Transportation now offers seven round trips per day, Mon. to Fri., from Colorado Springs to Denver, with a stop at I-25/Monument Park-and-Ride. Single ride tickets from Monument to Denver’s Union Station cost only $9, $7.50 for seniors. Each coach is equipped with restrooms, bike racks, free Wi-Fi, power outlets and USB ports. Parking lot improvements include new shelters equipped with lighting and infrared heating units. For information or to buy tickets online, visit www.ridebustang.com, or phone 800-900-3011.
Become a CASA volunteer
Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). CASA offers a volunteer opportunity like no other. As appointed representatives of the court, CASA volunteers are empowered to make a lifelong difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. Learn more at http://www.casappr.org/volunteer-colorado-springs/ or contact Kelly at 447-9898, ext. 1033 or email@example.com.
HAP needs volunteers
The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that serves and supports seniors in our community. HAP currently needs volunteers, three hours a week; and active board members, eight to 10 hours a month. For more information, call HAP board president, Dave Betzler, at 205-7651.
Emergency Notification System
If you registered for the Emergency Notification System (reverse 911) prior to July 2013, you may need to create a new account. Go to www.elpasoteller911.org and select "sign up" on the registration page. If you are able to log in using your existing user name and password, no further action is needed. If you get an error message indicating your email or password is invalid, press the sign-up button and create a new account. If you need assistance, dial 785-1971 and a staff member will return your call.
Free transportation and safety services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and safety services to Tri-Lakes seniors. If you need a ride to a medical appointment, grocery shopping, or the local senior lunches, a volunteer driver will be happy to help you. Call 488-0076 to leave a message for the dispatcher. If you are in need of grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call Cindy Rush, 488-0076, and leave a message. For more information, visit www.TriLakes-mcts-sshs.org.
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. The program needs additional volunteer drivers. For information, email MCSS at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the MCSS dispatch hotline at 488-0076.
Donate live trees for Black Forest burn area
If you are doing wildfire mitigation, you might have good live trees to donate to Black Forest burned-out areas. The Black Forest Together (BFT) Tree Donor Program is accepting live trees to be either transplanted in the Black Forest burn area or sold to support the cost of this program. Trees up to 12 inches in diameter (or up to 38 inches around) are ideal. The size of trees is measured at ground level. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center
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., Tue.-Fri., and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include bridge, pinochle, National Mah-jongg, line dancing, tea time, bingo, and more. Ping-pong, Wii video games, puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table are also available. For information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
Senior Beat newsletter
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. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesHAP.org.
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor
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.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
All libraries close Feb. 15 for President’s Day
WEEKLY AND MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
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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