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By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education approved a conditional charter renewal for Monument Academy and discussed graduation guidelines, calendar adjustments, and exceptional student services at its Feb. 18 meeting.
Monument Academy contract update
The board approved a motion to conditionally approve the charter of Monument Academy for five years.
Superintendent Karen Brofft explained that the motion determines the time frame for renewal of the charter, allowing time for attorneys from both parties to review it. The procedure is for the district and the Academy to hold discussions before involving legal counsel.
Graduation guidelines update
Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton reported that her department had conducted discussions with focus groups including staff, Building Accountability Advisory Committees, the District Accountability Advisory Committee, the Special Education Advisory Council, the Gifted Education Leadership Team, Lions, Kiwanis, and Business Advisory Committee regarding graduation requirements within the district compared to those required by the state.
All agreed that Lewis-Palmer should have more rigorous requirements than those of the Colorado Department of Education. After compiling the comments from all sources, five main themes dominated:
• Emphasize technological skills
• Add math requirement
• Require study of a world language or world culture
• Offer PE credit for participation in team or club sports
• Require a class in personal financial literacy
Benton said that 25 credits would continue to be required and that technological capability and financial literacy could be embedded in the curriculum.
The next step will be to evaluate the cost of adding these requirements, staffing requirements, and the logistics of the PE credit change. The concept of a differentiated diploma will also be discussed, as for those students who are concurrently registered in the district and a college or university at the same time.
Exceptional Student Services update
Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Anne Fleury reported on developments in her department upon completion of the December count of those receiving services.
The December count revealed that 531 students are now receiving services. Resources are available in each building and the majority of students are receiving services for a specific learning disability. The number of staff in each building varies due to need.
Some services, such as audiology, are contracted out and there is a consultant for dual diagnosis and augmented communication.
The department was found to have met all state requirements.
Fleury briefly explained plans for professional development. She also outlined the activities of the Special Education Advisory Council.
As a result of Palmer Lake Elementary School receiving a Title I award, the growth gap between students with IEPs and mainstream students has shrunk considerably.
Director of Instructional and Informational Technology Liz Walhof reported on activities in her department in devising three- and five-year plans to reduce reliance on state funding to achieve goals. There will be a new survey distributed in March in order to continue to enable data-driven decision-making.
Recent activities have included a Techpalooza training event for staff, EdCamps to address specific technology, and classified training in Google apps.
Walhof also mentioned progress on the new district website and teacher webpages.
Director Sarah Sampayo said that parents have expressed concern about screen time among the students and questioned whether this would add to it. She was concerned that screen time has been shown to increase ADD and ADHD and adds to parental responsibility in having to monitor it. She asked whether there should there be a distinction between educational and gaming screen time.
Walhof said that she was glad to hear of the parents’ concern. She does not want students always to use technology as the lazy way to find information and says that she wants to tell parents that if they don’t wish to have technology used in the home, they do not have to have it.
Adjustments to 2015-16 district calendar
Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster explained that, due to recent snows, the district will need to add one day each to the middle school and elementary schools’ calendars for this year. The board approved the change.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman gave a brief history of state funding of education and the difficulties caused by the negative factor, resulting from the state’s inability to keep up with constitutionally mandated funding for K-12 education. The negative factor is now 12.1 percent.
Wangeman pointed out that, as the state’s population ages, the portion of the state budget devoted to Medicaid will grow and education will continue to suffer.
Local property taxes have declined, resulting in the state paying a larger portion of education funding. Regardless of the rebound in property values since the recession, TABOR prevents funding from increasing quickly.
Consequently, the district is looking at new ways to provide services without relying entirely on the state.
In a brief review of the 2016-17 budget, Wangeman said that she expects to see an increase in student count of 70 to 100 and that the district will be able to maintain certain class sizes by staffing accordingly.
The cost of PERA (Public Employee Retirement Association) is expected to be lower next year.
Wangeman said there is expected to be an increase in revenues next year due to an increase in student count and inflation. Expenses are expected to include $220,000 to cover additional teachers needed to serve the increased number of students.
Board President Mark Pfoff said that although cuts may not be necessary in 2016-17, they are expected to be necessary the following year. He suggested a board work session to discuss the issue.
Sampayo said that there would be increased costs in security due to recent legislation triggered by a school shooting in Littleton last year.
Wangeman commented that there are a number of new building developments underway in the area. She said that her department will do long-range facilities planning including analysis of demographics. Wangeman also said that the department is developing a prioritized list of uses for the Capital Reserves. This list is being prepared with the aid of the Operations Advisory Council.
Among the uses proposed for Capital Reserves:
• Purchase three more buses, replace one truck.
• Replace 8-year-old computers with Chrome books which can be used in classroom as well as for testing. This can be done because Chrome books can use an app for testing rather than having to be reformatted.
• Update Disaster Recovery Center at Palmer Ridge and update general infrastructure.
• Wangeman said that she hopes that asbestos removal and new roof at Palmer Lake Elementary can be achieved with the help of a BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) grant.
Staff benefits update
Foster reported that benefits are reviewed annually by a large committee of district staff and community members. There will be a 3.5 percent increase in general benefits over last year, 15 percent for dental and none for vision. The district pays for coverage for each employee and singles will pay less than last year.
Plan basics will remain the same. Working as part of a pool of districts saves money.
Brofft pointed out that in some surrounding districts a single individual may have to pay $400 for coverage. In District 38 they pay $61. District 38 is one of two districts offering no cost plans for individuals.
Wangeman reported that many security trainings are being offered to security staff, front office staff, and maintenance and grounds staff. Evacuation and reunification procedures for elementary schools are being formulated.
She expressed concern that the district has no security director.
Brofft said that many people working together have come up with a good system, but a single director would be more focused on the subject. The district needs focus and expertise in one person. As a result of the Claire Davis Act, there will likely be a checklist of requirements to ensure that the district can maintain legal immunity in the event of a violent incident and prove a high standard of care on its part.
Sampayo said that she spoke with a member of the security committee and was impressed with the credentials of the committee regarding their outside experience and credentials.
Brofft reiterated that the district needs an individual in charge, reminding the board that the School Resource Officer is an employee of the Sheriff’s Office and can be called away at any time. When asked whether creation of the position is doable, Brofft said that half a full-time employee is now being used.
Foster led discussion of policy BAAR, involving consequences if a board member acts counter to policy. Also discussed was policy BE, in which it is stated that official communication should be hand delivered. Brofft suggested that it should be hand delivered or delivered electronically during a specific time frame.
A number of citizens took the opportunity to address the board. Among them:
• Former Principal Caryn Collette commended the district for its preparation of students for college and the workforce and listed honors received by the district and its teachers.
• Former Superintendent Ted Bauman spoke of the Lewis-Palmer Hall of Fame and its upcoming nomination process.
• Denise Wilson of the Lewis-Palmer Education Association spoke of a recent fundraiser to help individuals pay utility bills in the area.
• James Howald commented that, despite recent comments suggesting a lack of trust of the board, all incumbent board members were re-elected last November. He wished to tell the board that those who make comments in meetings speak only for themselves and not for the community. He also applauded the three-year contract for Brofft.
• Jennica Mabe, Carry Block, and Amy Senkowski spoke about the goals of the middle school and praised the Path2Empathy program.
• One individual spoke of the search for a new principal at Kilmer and expressed disappointment that it was not as open or well-publicized as the search for the superintendent.
• Substitute teacher Deborah Goth also praised the Path2Empathy program, having attended the assemblies. She doesn’t understand why some are still talking about Common Core when the district’s teachers do not teach to a test.
• Psychiatrist Larry Shores stressed that teachers must be unbiased in their teaching and remain neutral on such issues as gender identity. They should foster social acceptance. Schools should not be instruments of social change.
• Tammy John thanked Sarah Sampayo and Brofft for attending an awards program where Monument Academy accepted a School of Choice award.
• Near the end of the meeting, Derek Araje commented that the district has added many employees since the end of the recession and he did not see that the additional expense resulted in improved achievement.
• Nationally certified teacher Phyllis Robinette responded that the addition of instructional coaches at Palmer Lake Elementary resulted in the recent Title I award received by the school.
Caption: Two Kilmer Elementary School students placed in the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association writers contest. Pictured are Principal Chuck Stovall and Instructional Coach Vicki Nissen with fifth-grader Kylie Buchanan, who placed third. First-grader Sienna Pipes, not shown, placed second. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: Palmer Lake Elementary School sixth-grader Mackenzie Garcia was recognized for her efforts to collect and donate pajamas to families in need. Left to right are Mackenzie’s mom, Rachel Mackenzie, and Palmer Lake Elementary School Principal Peggy Griebenow. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer D-38 generally meets on the third Thursday of the month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. Due to scheduling conflicts, the next meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 15 at 6 p.m.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The District 38 District Accountability and Advisory Committee (DAAC) received reports on a number of subjects including the superintendent’s contract, curriculum and gifted and special education at its Feb. 9 meeting at Lewis-Palmer Middle School.
Board of Education update
In response to public inquiries, Board Liaison John Magerko explained the way in which compensation for the superintendent in her new contract was determined. Some community members questioned the amount of increase over the previous contract period. Magerko said that Superintendent Karen Brofft, when hired, accepted a lower compensation as the equivalent of the probationary period used for teachers.
Due to her superior performance, she received a significant increase upon renewal of her contract last year and this year was approved for a three-year contract.
Public objection arose due to the fact that the last three-year contract was signed with a superintendent whose contract was bought out after a short tenure. Magerko assured the committee that this will not happen again, due to a clause that would limit payout to no more than six months’ salary or the remainder of the individual’s term, whichever is shorter. Brofft also pays the same amount as other district employees for health benefits.
The amount of compensation was determined after consultation with neighboring districts and Magerko pointed out that Brofft’s new compensation is equal to that requested by another candidate at the time she was hired.
Regarding academic standards, Magerko said that some still object to the use of Common Core in curriculum, but he said the district can make them work and otherwise would have to revise curriculum extensively. The state will begin to review its standards in July. Beginning in March, the state will seek input from districts.
Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Sheila Beving reported that the district is exercising local control over its curriculum. Teachers write their own lesson plans and formulate assessments in keeping with state standards.
During the fall, the department reviewed fourth- to eighth-grade science curriculum and looked at resources available. In late February, a shorter list of resources would be considered.
During the winter, the department will listen to the opinions of focus groups regarding priorities and monitor teacher activity.
Other areas to review include social studies for sixth and seventh grades and civics textbooks. The kindergarten report card is also under review.
During the spring, kindergarten through third-grade science will be examined, plus eighth-grade math.
During the summer, technological competencies for students and teachers will be examined and training materials for staff will be developed.
Special education report
Special Education Parent Liaison Michelle Nay reported on activities of the Special Education Advisory Committee, which serves as a forum for parents, teachers, and community members. The group meets five times a year and is state mandated.
The group often hosts guest speakers and offers explanations and demonstrations of resources available in the community and in the schools and on how parents can advocate for their students within the system.
Gifted education update
Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton reported on activities of the Gifted Education Leadership Team (GELT) following a recent audit of its activities.
Benton said that the activities of the team are largely grant funded.
Explaining the gifted identification process, Benton said that the staff must offer a body of evidence supporting a student’s selection. This evidence includes observation of certain behaviors in addition to assessment results. A new area of concentration is development of processes to identify students gifted in the arts.
The team begins in the third grade to screen students and trains staff on identification of gifted behaviors.
In answer to a question, Benton said that younger students who are identified as gifted may undergo further observation. In some cases, such students may be in classes above their grade level in their areas of strength.
Benton also pointed out that there are students who may be receiving special education services and are also gifted in some areas. Among these students and English Language Learners the identification process may be more challenging.
Although active identification does not continue into high school, Benton emphasized that students are offered the opportunity to access outside resources in their area of strength, especially through schedule changes allowing them to participate in extra activities.
Each student is issued an Individualized Career and Academic Plan upon identification. Once identified as gifted, that identification remains in effect throughout the student’s time in the district. Parents may decline to receive services, but if they do receive services, assessments and monitoring are mandatory.
Lewis-Palmer Middle School Principal Seann O’Connor gave a brief introduction to his school, its students and activities.
The present building, completed in 1994, has been the district’s only middle school since 2010 when it was combined with Creekside Middle School.
Now serving 811 students, the school offers several sports in six-week sessions and has many afternoon enrichment offerings including underwater robotics, Lego robotics, Student Council, WEB (sponsored by Kiwanis, similar to Key Club for high school) and free YMCA memberships for seventh-graders, who travel to the facility by bus after school.
The school’s motto is PRIDE, standing for persistence, responsibility, initiative, dependability and empathy.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets on the second Tuesday of the month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be on April 12 in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. There will be no meeting in March.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
Academy Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 17: Sewer rates raised; voters could reduce the amount of future increases
By Lisa Hatfield
At the Feb. 17 meeting, the board members of the Academy Water and Sanitation District (AWSD) explained unavoidable future expenses due to stricter government regulations on wastewater treatment. The board voted to raise sewer rates, and rates will go up more again in the near future. However, if district residents approve the May ballot measure asking to remove TABOR restrictions, this would ultimately save money for the residents by allowing the district to receive and spend federal grant money that could pay for up to half of the required upgrades.
Election law requires that now that the AWSD board has approved the ballot language, the "official" board position may only present "balanced" discussions of the issue and it cannot solicit invitations to speak on the topic. However, if individuals or groups invite them to share information, board members would be allowed to do that, Paul Murphy, the district’s attorney, said.
AWSD is a special district providing water and sewage services to about 300 residences in the Pleasant View neighborhood and the closely surrounding area (but not including the Air Force Academy or Gleneagle). Most members of the district have both water and sewage service, although some have an existing septic tank and use water services only.
Sewer rates increased $20 per month
The board unanimously approved an increase in wastewater rates of $20/month, to take effect in March. It did this as an incremental step to start building a reserve fund toward the anticipated 30-year loan for the joint wastewater connection project with Donala Water and Sanitation District, under an approved intergovernmental agreement. See related Donala Water and Sanitation District article on page 14.
The district has initiated this $3.1 million Donala project in order to take advantage of economies of scale in wastewater treatment as government regulations require stricter tolerances for specific nutrients in effluent. The federal Clean Water Act is the problem, Director and Designated Election Official Ron Curry said. Monthly wastewater fees might have to go as high as $100, he said. More will be known when the exact amount of the loan is determined and when they find out how much grant money has been awarded the district.
Curry said he hoped AWSD can pay for half of the Donala connection project using federal grant money, "as long as the TABOR measure is approved by voters." Recent plans to also apply for state and local grants have stopped now due to complications in the TABOR law as it applies to enterprise funds, he said.
By making sure current wastewater rates are reasonable and not too low, it makes it more likely the district could receive federal grant money, he said.
The existing AWSD wastewater lagoon treatment facility will be decommissioned after the connection to Donala is completed in 2018. If the district did not connect with Donala, it would have to rebuild its current treatment facility instead, which would be much more expensive. District Manager Anthony Pastorello said, "We are looking for the cheapest and best way (for district residents), but if the state takes over, they will (make us meet the new requirements) however they want."
User fees different than construction costs
The board members explained to a district resident attending the meeting that since Donala homeowners already pay taxes for use of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF), but AWSD homeowners do not, once the connection to Donala is complete in 2018, AWSD wastewater customers will pay a monthly user fee of about $45 to Donala as part of their AWSD bill.
Curry emphasized that the cost of wastewater service would be more expensive if the district had to rebuild its own treatment plant to meet stricter requirements instead of teaming up with Donala. And since it is a big unknown whether the EPA will impose even more requirements in the future, it would be better to "be among 3,300 Donala homeowners sharing costs for any new upgrades required," instead of just 300 AWSD homeowners, Curry said.
Election could help reduce costs to residents
The board members stressed the importance of the May 3 election. Curry told the board that it needed to have just one ballot question in May, not three as he previously thought.
Curry said, "If we don’t get voter approval, we can’t spend the (grant) money or build this new system connecting us to Donala, and then the state is probably going to shut us down. We have to do this one way or the other! We don’t have a choice."
President Richard DuPont told the visiting resident that all the board members are district residents and that they have spent the last three years evaluating the most efficient and affordable options to meet the new EPA requirements.
Do you know where your curb stop is?
Pastorello asked the board to set aside money to hire contractors to help dig out curb stops, or emergency water shutoff boxes, that residents have inadvertently buried in their landscaping or paved over. Curb stops are owned by the district and are usually located behind the water meter near the street and would be used by the manager to shut off water in an emergency situation such as frozen water pipes, Pastorello said. See photo of a curb stop on the right.
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 or see the district website at www.colorado.gov/pacific/awsd/general-info for lots of information.
Would you like to help Our Community News report on the Academy Water and Sanitation District? Please contact Lisa Hatfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
At the Feb. 9 meeting of the Triview Metropolitan District, the directors discussed action to take on missing corrected tax revenue statements from Monument, as well as the snowplowing policy and standards documents, the anticipated roads study, and the end-of year financial statements. They also listened to payment concerns from Doug Stimple, CEO of Classic Homes.
Director Marco Fiorito was absent. One visitor was a high school student who attended the meeting to fulfill some community service hours for his civics class.
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.
Monument still owes Triview corrected tax statements
District Manager Valerie Remington asked the board for direction on how to get the town of Monument to deliver corrected tax revenue reporting statements for 2015 before the district auditor requests those records. She had mentioned this problem at the January meeting and said she has reached out to the town but that Town Treasurer Pamela Smith "gave the normal ‘we have done it,’ … and (Town Manager Chris Lowe) did not appear very interested in following up."
Note: The town of Monument is the legal entity that collects and distributes Triview’s share of revenue payments for sales tax, motor vehicle tax, and regional building sales tax. Monthly check amounts from the town to Triview are usually at least $100,000.
Remington’s comments included:
• (Smith) sent three different versions of the statement for January 2015. Which one do I believe? These are what need to be corrected.
• Reporting revenue incorrectly can and will be a problem on the district audit and you might not get a certification, and that could put you in default with your bonds.
• The payments come almost a month after they are approved by the Monument Board of Trustees.
• The town approves an "up to" (or "not to exceed") amount which requires correcting later.
• There was enough concern when the statements were not correct. It raises an issue (about whether what they are depositing is accurate).
President Robert Fisher said the district should make a very clear request of the town manager for a specific amount of unredacted original state data. "The court says we have the right to it and we should request it."
Note: Water attorney Chris Cummins of Monson, Cummins & Shohet LLC explained after the meeting that the court order referred to was issued in August 1999, when the district was formed, and remains open now (in case of inclusions, for example). The court "does hereby order that the Town of Monument henceforth release any and all information with regard to sales tax collections to Triview Metropolitan District with the further order that Triview Metropolitan District is to protect the confidentiality of said information."
Cummins said this order was referenced in the context of Triview’s ongoing attempts to not only obtain reconciled statements from the town as to sales tax payments approved/made to Triview so as to facilitate Triview’s audit, but further to obtain the base/raw tax data provided to the town by the state, for further reconciliation purposes.
Fisher said in the long run he hoped to get relationships established so the managers were actually dealing with this and defining the process flow in a modern way instead of how it has been done. "The bad news behind it is that is how they have done it for 25 years, and it is just failing miserably at this point," he said.
The board also had consensus to ask Cummins to contact the state, mentioning the court order, to see if Triview could get the raw data directly. Fisher said if the state would give the district all 20 years of data, "We’ll take it." Director Bob Eskridge added, "Please ask! We have been fighting this battle forever." See www.ocn.me/v16n2.htm#tmd0112.
Concerns from Classic Homes CEO
Stimple presented his concerns to the board about a check for $990,000 he was expecting from the district on Feb. 10. "I found out today it is not coming. It is sitting in your escrow account, and it is my money." Classic Homes is the developer in both Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe.
Stimple said as soon as he became aware of the problem on Feb. 9, he asked Remington to add him to the agenda for the Feb. 9 meeting. She did not, so he spoke during public comments instead and was therefore limited to three minutes. Stimple said, "It is an agreement that was validated by this board, and we are executing it."
"I have not heard from staff on this subject at all and I can’t real-time this without prior knowledge," Fisher said. "It is our intent to be good business partners." He directed Stimple not to wait for an answer that night but said he would "get some direction on it from staff." Stimple then requested that he not be put off until the March 8 meeting, and Fisher said that was fair.
Snowplowing services revisited
A resident who lives on Kansas-Pacific Court in Promontory Point spoke during public comments with his concerns that it takes up to 72 hours for Triview to plow even one lane open on his cul-de-sac after a storm, that it took them a week to plow out the mailbox areas, and that delivery services and emergency services have trouble accessing his whole street.
Later in the meeting, the board discussed drafts of the winter roads standards, for residents’ information about service expectations during different storm intensities, and the winter roads policy, which will outline for operations staff how the standards should be executed.
Vice President Reid Bolander volunteered to work on the sections about school bus routes and Triview-maintained sidewalks in the common areas. He planned to send an updated draft to Remington soon so she could ask for the staff’s input before the next board meeting.
Roads study update
Bolander asked for an update on the report that Monument Public Works Director Tom Tharnish created for the district. Remington said she wanted a chance to respond to it, because it was not entirely accurate. See www.ocn.me/v15n12.htm#tmd-1110.
Fisher said road maintenance needed to be on the agenda for an upcoming meeting. "There’s a big knowledge gap (in the district) with regards to road maintenance practices related to regular maintenance and not failures or patching."
Director Mark Melville mentioned that the board had directed Remington to work with John McGinn of JDS-Hydro to develop a long-term comprehensive plan with a baseline study that looks at the age and conditions of the road and curbs.
The board unanimously approved one check over $5,000 to Kempton Construction for $104,823 for the Sanctuary Pointe transmission line. However, they did not approve the cash balance figures associated with this check, since it seemed to Bolander that they "were too high." With consensus from the board, Remington said she would investigate, since it was possible that Community Resources Services (CRS) might have "booked something to the wrong account."
Unaudited 2015 finances as of Dec. 31 included:
• General fund revenue – 107 percent
• General fund operations expenditures (salaries, streets, lighting, signage, traffic control, drainage and erosion control, parks landscape and open space) – 66 percent
• Water enterprise fund revenue – 112 percent
• Water enterprise fund expenditures – 96 percent
• Capital projects fund revenue – 118 percent
• District capital expenditures – 24 percent (spent 21 percent of $500,000 budgeted for street improvements)
• Enterprise capital – 186 percent (spent 251 percent of $500,000 for water improvements and purchases)
• Capital fund total expenditures – 120 percent
Accountant, billing, water operator
Remington said that Cathy Fromm, the district’s accountant, has left CRS and started a new company called Special District Solutions, which provides accounting, budgeting, payroll, and retirement plan administration services. Fromm presented a proposal to the board that she would continue to do business with the district under this new company. Fisher asked that the discussion be continued in the executive session portion of the meeting.
The directors discussed the district’s utility billing process again. They are trying to decide whether and how to outsource billing. Melville and Bolander volunteered to talk with more potential vendors. Meanwhile, Remington said she would probably extend an offer to one of the part-time office support applicants by Feb. 12.
Fisher reminded the board that the district still has not hired a full-time water supervisor.
The meeting went into executive session at 6:45 p.m. to consult with attorneys regarding legal advice on specific legal questions concerning contract negotiations and potential litigation. After the meeting, Remington told OCN that the board voted to execute the termination clause with CRS pursuant to the terms of the contract. No other action was taken.
The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on March 8 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 email@example.com.
Caption: This photo, taken Feb. 10, one week after the end of the early February blizzard, shows the problem faced by Triview residents and operations staff. President Robert Fisher said that during significant storms, Triview may only keep one lane open on a residential road, but they should come back to widen it and clean it when time permits. If Triview did push snow all the way off the street, it would then cover the sidewalks in many stretches, restricting pedestrian access. According to town ordinance 12.04.020, "It shall be the duty of all owners of every premises within the town to keep the sidewalks, gutters, curbs, culverts and other drainage structures in front of and adjacent to their property free and clear of snow, ice, mud, dirt, debris, rubbish and filth." Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Monument Academy School Board, Feb. 11: MA board sets policy for holding students back; PTO asks for matching funds for field
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) school board met with Principal Lis Richard and Executive Director Don Griffin to discuss a policy on student retention, Green4Green fundraiser fund matching, and charter renewal among other topics.
Monument Academy (MA) is a charter school founded in 1996 in the Lewis-Palmer School District (LPSD). MA is governed by a six-member board that is elected by the parents of MA students and staff. MA is a publicly funded, tuition-free school with its own budget and financing mechanisms. It is in the process of renegotiating its five-year charter contract with LPSD.
Student Retention Policy
Principal Richard led the discussion of Student Retention Policy 1527, which covers when students are held back a grade. The goal is to spell out exactly how retention is handled, who is involved, what kind of measures are used, and what options parents have during the process.
The focus is on mastery of reading, writing, and math as determined by various measures including state, national, and standardized assessments, grades, observations, etc. MA is adopting a written policy outlining the process for a parent or guardian to exercise their choice concerning their child’s enrollment when student retention has been determined.
The student must have been on a documented plan of intervention and parents should be notified by the end of the third quarter if their child will be held back. If the parent agrees with the recommendation, they sign a form. If not, they must put together an academic plan for the summer months in conjunction with the principal. Parents must pay for the summer program, provide proof of attendance, and documentation of subject proficiency. MA may choose to further test the student. The principal will make the final decision. Richard noted that the parent may always choose to enroll the student in another school. She estimates this will impact between three and five kids in K or first grade. The policy has been reviewed by legal and by the policy committee.
The school board unanimously approved this policy, which can be read it its entirety at http://www.monumentacademy.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/1527-Student-Retention-Policy.pdf.
Fundraiser for field
During the citizen comment portion of the meeting, MA PTO President Lance Goraczkowski gave an update on the March 5 Green4Green auction fundraiser raising money to install artificial turf on the playground. The turf, which is phase 1 of a multi-phase project, is projected to cost $150,000. Goraczkowski asked that the board all attend the event and challenge them to bring friends and family. The PTO has received over $60,000 in donations for the auction. He also asked the board to help sell tickets and to consider a dollar-for-dollar match.
Board member Mario Ciabarra commented the team has done a tremendous job and wanted to see more outreach outside the school via advertising, etc. Goraczkowski noted that they have done a lot of advertising in the local newspapers, website, social media, and emails to parents and alumni. Ciabarra noted that the board will do all they can and will consider the request for matching in a special meeting. Ciabarra prefers to see this as a board commitment to building a playground rather than contributing to a fundraiser. The money would come from the reserve funds.
Board report highlights
• The teacher intent surveys show 114 out of 119 intend to return. This rate is better than the 25 percent attrition rate that is typical for U.S. charter schools.
• Reading assessments show growth year on year using diagnostic tests. Teachers have focused on reading comprehension.
• For the first year, MA is differentiating math all the way to first grade.
• Executive Director Griffin has been meeting with project managers about the Highway 105 improvement plan and posted links on the school’s web site.
• Charter renewal discussions continue with really good sessions. MA proposed a new way of calculating special education expenses.
• The twice yearly financial met ric review shows that MA is in the blue (exceeded) on the new metrics agreed to in the revised strategic plan. These reflect the new covenants under the refinanced bonds.
• The budget under discussion is relatively flat. MA expects a 1.4 percent increase in per pupil revenue along with an increase in health care and retirt expenses. The state may increase reimbursement for full-day kindergarten and is looking at the impact of TABOR on tax revenues.
The Monument Academy usually meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month in the school library at 1150 Village Ridge Point, Monument. The next meeting will be on March 10. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committee, and finances can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Feb. 9: Disagreement over need for resolution tabling Phases 2 and 3
By Lisa Hatfield
The Feb. 9 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) included a tense discussion regarding a proposed resolution concerning the future of Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the total phosphorus (TP) treatment expansion construction. It also included a construction report on Phase 1 of the TP expansion project, discussion about the access easement to the construction site, and news about regional and state water quality issues.
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 Chairman of the Board Mark Bruce, who filled in for 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, WWSD Manager Jessie Shaffer, and WWSD Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette.
Debate precedes approval of resolution to table TP Phases 2 and 3
Smith introduced a resolution saying that the JUC would table consideration of Tetra Tech’s proposed Phase 2 and Phase 3 contained in the 2014 nutrient engineering report (NER) "until regulatory and technology issues become more certain and the JUC has the benefit of a second opinion from independent qualified professional engineering firm(s) as to the options available to TLWWTF for dealing with future regulatory requirements related to the removal of nitrogen and further tertiary treatment of phosphorus." The resolution said it was unclear whether Tetra Tech’s proposed Phase 2 or Phase 3 would be either "required or effective in meeting future regulatory requirements."
Fifty minutes of heated discussion ensued, including references to the current lawsuits in progress. The discussion culminated in a 2-1 vote to approve the resolution. Strom was "strongly opposed" to the resolution. the current lawsuits in progress. The discussion culminated in a 2-1 vote to approve the resolution. Strom was "strongly opposed" to the resolution.
Note: WWSD filed a lawsuit against MSD and PLSD in April 2015 over how the cost of construction of the new TP chemical tertiary clarifier and new supporting infrastructure would be shared. See http://ocn.me/v15n5.htm#tlfjuc0414.
Note: "Reg. 31" referred to below is Regulation 31–The Basic Standards and Methodologies for Surface Water, (Colorado Water Quality Control Act, 5 CCR 1002-31)
Smith’s comments included:
• This resolution will put my mind at ease. I want the JUC to make it official and to say we have not approved anything for Phase 2 and 3 and that we are not going to until we have more data.
• I want a second opinion besides Tetra Tech’s before spending $32 million.
• I want to know what the standards are before we build something we don’t need to build. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has not yet determined a nitrogen and phosphorus discharge limit for TLWWTF. They will use nutrient stream data collected over the next several years as required by Reg. 85.
• I know we need a vehicle to meet Reg. 31. Maybe we will need a Ferrari or maybe a bicycle. We don’t know.
• I’m sorry we don’t see eye to eye. I don’t like this kind of meeting; I don’t like confrontation. Some things just have to be done.
• We now … have made a few lawyers rich. That’s a bunch of baloney.
Strom’s comments included:
• Reg. 31 is not going to go away.
• I don’t know if I have my board and constituents behind me so I am not prepared to sign this today.
Wicklund’s comments included:
• I like Jessie’s analogy of a car, because the 2014 engineering report has us planning on a Ferrari. We would have to start raising our rates to meet that $20-30-40 million goal based on a report we have planning for a Ferrari when we might just need a bicycle after Phase 1 is done. We might not need a vehicle at all.
• We are showing no harm to stream. Phosphorus is down to below 1 mg/l and nitrogen below 2 mg/l. We are not seeing nitrification of the stream. We are not seeing an enormous amount of algae. The fish are not dying. The aquatic life is good. It may be that in the future the state will look at this plant as a model plant for nitrogen and phosphorus treatment.
• In 2022, the next stream triennial review, the state will take Reg. 85 data that AF CURE has gathered up. The state may not decide any of these limits until even 2027 or 2030, but here we are already racking our brains about Phase 2 and 3.
• It is frightening for us to be moving forward in this. We would have to charge over $100 a month just for sewer rates.
• The town is already looking at increasing water rates 60 percent and it’s blowing our public’s mind in Monument.
• The NER is from 2014. An engineering report shelf life is six months maybe.
• Instead of the Tetra Tech’s planning estimates of $12 million for Phase 2 and $7 million for Phase 3, we are looking at $20 million to $40 million (if the same cost overrun percentages occurred as those on Phase 1).
Note: Tetra Tech’s first estimate for Phase 1 was $1 million, which matched the state nutrient construction grant of $1 million that was awarded to the Tri-Lakes facility in July 2013. (See http://ocn.me/v13n8.htm#grant.) The lowest construction bid was $3.059 million for the total phosphorus expansion, exceeding the Tetra Tech engineer’s planning estimate by about 60 percent. (See http://ocn.me/v15n5.htm#tlfjuc0414.)
Shaffer’s comments included:
• You’re going to need a vehicle to meet Reg. 31. We don’t know yet if it will require a tank or a Volvo or Ferrari.
• We tell our constituents that the JUC has not authorized permitting and design of Phase 2 at all yet; it is a concept plan.
• We need to be able to put money into a capital improvement plan that rolls over into our rates and cost of service analysis.
• We know there is some level of nebulous out there.
• What is the urgency? Would you be willing to bring this resolution in front of the committee in six months?
• We are going through a dispute. We all know what has been filed at county court. We have two summary judgments, one from Monument and one from Woodmoor, and the language of this resolution sounds a lot like the language in Monument’s summary judgment motion.
• You are setting stage for the judge or the jury or whoever is looking at it to "not rule" on the type of project as it relates to cost apportionment. You are telling the judge not to consider phases 2 and 3 since they are speculative and uncertain. You want to leave (the) door open to fight and litigate again.
• The Woodmoor summary judgment motion is exactly the opposite of that; we want certainty. We are asking the judge to rule on the type of project. We are not asking him rule on the fact that you guys need to split cost a certain way.
• I don’t know how you can vote on this. It has the appearance that it is collusive and it looks like trying to manufacture some data in support of your case.
Gillette’s comments included:
• We always get preliminary estimates to get (an) idea of possible project scope and costs, but we never obligate ourselves to those studies, it is just information.
• This NER report was an investment we thought we needed. If information comes back and says we will be below Reg. 31 standards, nobody has to do anything, we get to take a sigh of relief and say we dodged a bullet, and ‘thank you EPA for coming to your senses.’
Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks said that construction on Phase 1 of the total phosphorous (TP) chemical removal clarifier expansion project was progressing well and the project was close to 75 percent complete and ahead of schedule. Current work included applying block fill, pouring the base of the effluent channel, applying epoxy-based paint to the interior, doing rebar inspections, and installing sludge collection equipment and windows.
Easement dispute costs grow
During the financial report, Burks said that in January, there were two line items related to the unresolved access easement for the TP expansion. TLWWTF has now paid $1,250 for surveying and $2,553 for easement consulting. He did not report what costs had been incurred so far for services of TLWWTF attorney Mike Cucullu on this issue.
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, but neither offer was accepted. Burks said that now, Cucullu is the only TLWWTF representative who can speak with the neighboring property owner, and Cucullu will convey any communication to Burks. See www.ocn.me/v15n12.htm#tljuc-1110, www.ocn.me/v16n1.htm#tljuc1208, and www.ocn.me/v16n2.htm#tlfjuc0112.
Colorado Wastewater Utility Council report
MSD environmental compliance coordinator Jim Kendrick reported on three topics from the Jan. 13 Wastewater Utility Council (CWWUC) meeting.
He said a contract for $23,000 for GEI Consulting was approved by the CWWUC. GEI is doing additional data analysis and working with the staff of the Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) of the CDPHE to help them create a final version of wastewater discharge temperature standards modifications for the June 13 Water Quality Control Commission rulemaking hearing on the triennial update of Regulation 31, "The Basic Standards and Methodologies for Surface Water" and Regulation 61, "Colorado Discharge Permit System Regulations." (www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/1601_LRS.pdf)
At issue is the EPA’s assertion that streams across Colorado should always be below 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit) during winter trout breeding season, despite the fact that there are always warmer days in winter and the fact that there are substantial elevation changes across the state’s transition zones that both affect stream temperature far more than effluent temperature does. Kendrick said it was worth the expense to have GEI’s help to present the reams of available instream and air temperature data to the WQCD and hopefully avoid a WQCD-imposed use attainability analysis followed by a temperature total maximum daily load (TMDL) allocation study that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (when the TLWWTF effluent is always cooler than the water quality standard for the segment of Monument Creek that TLLWTF discharges its treated effluent into.)
Second, Kendrick said WQCD Director Patrick Pfaltzgraff talked about financial and staffing shortages in the division. He said the best guess is that the division has a funding deficit of at least $2 million. In addition, new accounting system problems have caused the division to not be sure where it actually stands with regard to both last year’s and this year’s annual budget. Also, the division has 193 full-time employees (FTEs) positions but the revenue shortfall induced a hiring freeze that has resulted in the division staff being short 17 FTEs.
Kendrick noted that Pfaltzgraff said there is no division employee in the staff’s water reuse position at this time. And the division plans to create a new separate fifth staff area of responsibility for municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS-4s), but it is unclear how they will monitor this area without being able to staff it. In the OCN coverage area, the town of Monument, the town of Palmer Lake, and El Paso County are responsible for compliance with state stormwater regulations.
The effect of continuing division understaffing for all wastewater and stormwater discharge stakeholders is the likelihood that all these state discharge permit holders will not have their five-year permits renewed on schedule. Actual permit renewals will most likely continue to be pushed back to seven years, Kendrick said. In addition, this makes it more vital that the two towns should be encouraged to participate as MS-4 members of the Arkansas Fountain Coalition for Urban and River Evaluation (AF CURE) in collecting E. coli and other storm surge flow runoff data due to future stormwater concerns.
Kendrick said that AF CURE’s environmental attorney, Gabe Racz of Vranish & Raisch LLP, was able to obtain a provisional satisfactory rating for temperature for Monument Creek, which is Segment 6 of Fountain Creek, deferring any requirement for use attainability or TMDL analysis expenses for now. See www.ocn.me/v16n2.htm#tlfjuc0112/.
Plant manager’s report
Burks presented the discharge monitoring report for December and said that there were no surprises with it nor with the annual metals report. The facility also passed the quarterly whole effluent toxicity test.
Burks and Wicklund said that property owners should never use root killer that contains copper sulfate, because it causes spikes in copper levels in effluent.
Burks reported the total phosphorus average contributions for 2015 for each district. These are averages based on once-monthly samples:
• MSD – 33.4 percent, 26.2 pounds per day (ppd)
• PLSD – 14.8 percent, 11.4 ppd
• WWSD – 51.6 percent, 39.1 ppd
Burks and Wicklund said that effluent sampling data collected by TLWWTF and other entities "all the way down to the Arkansas" has contributed to the data sharing networking that will allow the state to have consistent data with which they could make informed decisions. "We were just guessing before," Burks said.
Burks said that he would match the El Paso County Health Department’s cost for E. coli testing in order to encourage the town of Monument to resume E. coli testing. It is important that the town have clear data showing how stormwater runoff in the town compares to what is contributed by sources in unincorporated El Paso County. The future costs of treatment of stormwater might be in the balance.
Burks also got consensus from the JUC members to encourage the town of Monument to join AF CURE, which encompasses the south Front Range Monument Creek and Fountain Creek watershed. Kendrick wants to explain to them why the EPA’s approach of "one simplified table value standards" does not work, and how AF CURE helps collect data and advocate for natural variability in stream conditions. (Similarly, South Platte CURE covers the northern Front Range, and the Colorado Monitoring Framework is a statewide collaboration of water and wastewater utilities.)
Since TLWWTF is so far upstream, Burks said the facility is the first point-source discharger of nutrients into Monument Creek. The facility is "not really a contributor to E. coli levels" in the stream. "We are doing great on that. We are less than everybody else," he said.
Wicklund said that point-source dischargers like wastewater facilities are not the source of most phosphorus and nitrogen nutrient pollution, which comes from fertilizers from cities, farms, and ranches. But since the latter are non-point-source contributors, they do not have any discharge permit levels to worry about. Burks said since a lot of other treatment facilities have agriculture above them contributing nitrogen and phosphorus, there is less of an overall impact when the effluent also has nitrogen and phosphorus in it, even at the very low (permitted) levels that TLWWTF has.
The meeting adjourned at 12:10 p.m.
The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on March 8 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 all members of the public. For information, call Bill Burks at (719) 481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jim Kendrick
On Feb. 18, General Manager Kip Petersen recommended board approval of an amendment to the Oct. 15, 2015 intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the Donala and Academy Water and Sanitation Districts to have Donala transport Academy’s sanitary sewer flows through its collection system to Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility for treatment under Donala’s owned facility treatment capacity. The IGA amendment created a pro rata cost sharing formula for splitting transit loss model costs between the two districts. It was unanimously approved. (http://ocn.me/v15n11.htm#dwsd1015)
Petersen also discussed a possible IGA to provide contract services to Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. Forest Lakes is a co-owner with Donala and Triview Metropolitan District of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Homebuilding in Forest Lakes has begun now that the new West Baptist Road Bridge over the railroad tracks has been opened.
The board also answered questions from Joe Gray, of the Donala Club Villas Townhomes HOA (http://www.nepco.org/clubvillas/index.php), about the board’s conditional approval for providing water and wastewater service to 56 new homes proposed for construction on parts of the closed Gleneagle golf course. These townhomes are adjacent to the north of the golf course clubhouse on Mission Hill Way. For more information, see http://ocn.me/v16n2.htm#dwsd0121. Petersen said an update would be provided with in the Donala newsletter mailed in March.
The absence of director Bill Nance was unanimously excused.
Petersen reported that the January revenues and expenditures were all as expected, including all January annual one-time payments for both the water and wastewater operations. The average amount of water being drawn from Donala’s renewable surface water storage in the Pueblo Reservoir is about 30 acre-feet per month. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons.
Petersen stated that Academy had successfully filed for state water court approval for a new water augmentation plan now that Academy will be discharging its wastewater to Monument Creek via Donala’s collection system and the Upper Monument Creek facility and that Academy will no longer be discharging to Smith Creek. Donala will begin treating Academy’s wastewater in the fall of 2017.
Petersen noted that GMS, the district’s engineering firm, had briefed the board on the district’s capital projects schedule and the impacts of changing environmental standards on Upper Monument Creek treatment processes, capital costs, and operating costs during the annual board planning workshop held on Feb. 12. Donala’s water attorney, Rick Fendel, had also briefed the board at the meeting on the status of Donala’s 1041 permit application for transporting Donala’s renewable surface water from Pueblo Reservoir to the district using the soon to be operational Colorado Springs Utilities’ Southern Delivery System. Donala’s environmental engineer, Katie Fendel, reported to the board on development of a long-term Pueblo Reservoir renewable surface water storage contract with the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Some of the other workgroup discussion items were purchase of new additional renewable water rights, board communications with Donala customers, and creation of new additional Donala water storage facilities.
Petersen gave a review of state Legislature activities, including a second rain barrel water collection bill that would authorize property owners to collect up to 110 gallons of rooftop rain water, but no other precipitation, for outdoor irrigation and gardening use. Donala is represented at legislative sessions by Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority legislative liaison Dick Brown.
Petersen presented a proposed agreement for contract operations services wherein Donala would provide operational, administrative, and maintenance services to Forest Lakes Metropolitan District for all Forest Lakes water and wastewater infrastructure. The agreement was unanimously approved, subject to final review and approval by Donala’s attorney.
Petersen noted that all district infrastructure was operating well with higher than average precipitation forecast to continue through the spring. A drier summer and fall than in 2015 is currently forecast.
The meeting adjourned at 2:56 p.m.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on March 17, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
At the Feb. 16 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees extended the temporary moratorium on clinics another 90 days and then voted to continue the water rates increase discussion to the March 7 meeting, when a vote will be taken. A public workshop to solicit final input on the proposed water rates increase was scheduled for Feb. 22. See related photo on page 22.
The Feb. 1 regular board meeting was canceled.
Moratorium on "new clinics" gets 90 extra days
Town Manager Chris Lowe presented an emergency ordinance to extend the moratorium imposed on the opening of "clinics" in Monument’s B and C zoning classifications. No public comments were made, and the ordinance was approved unanimously by the trustees.
Lowe said that since the board imposed a six-month moratorium on "clinics" on Aug. 24 in order to further study the legal requirements applicable to the regulation of certain types of clinics, the town has "looked day and night for what we are doing on the attack on the town of Monument by Colonial Management Group (CMG)." He said the town’s land use attorney, Carolynne White of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, has come up with opinions and strategies to offer to the board, but the analysis is not quite complete. See www.ocn.me/v15n9.htm#mbot0824.
Background: CMG has been trying since spring 2015 to open a methadone clinic at 192 Front St., adjacent to Limbach Park. At first it was granted administrative approval by town staff, since the treatment center had sought its land use and building permit approvals as a "clinic," but this decision was appealed by Jamie Fenley, a Monument resident who has described herself as having been previously addicted to heroin for seven years and who opposed having a methadone clinic located there.
By granting Fenley’s appeal on Aug. 10, the Monument Board of Adjustment reversed the decision of the town’s staff and prevented CMG from proceeding with its original plan. CMG then filed a lawsuit in El Paso County District Court naming the Town of Monument and all the members of the Monument Board of Trustees and Monument Board of Adjustment both as individuals and as official members of those boards. See www.ocn.me/v15n6.htm#mbot0601, www.ocn.me/v15n9.htm#mboa0810, and www.ocn.me/v15n10.htm#mbot0908 or search www.ocn.me.
Lowe’s memo explained that the current moratorium does not directly address any issues related to the litigation with CMG, which is still pending. But the town is examining its regulatory framework for clinics, the existing municipal code, and the purpose of the 2003 Comprehensive Plan.
Water rates increase vote continued to March 7
Lowe said that he had received a lot of comments about the proposed water rates increase he introduced Jan, but the town could do more to make sure it is "tweaked just right" for people in the lower part of the price structure. "There is no way to fix it that is perfect, but we certainly are going to try and do our best job of fixing 15 years of indifference to a good and smart rate structure," Lowe said. See www.ocn.me/v16n2.htm#mbot0104, www.ocn.me/v16n2.htm#mbot0119.
Lowe also said that there was nothing inappropriate about the approximately $435,000 in interfund transfers from the general fund to the water enterprise fund and that there had not been any project of the general fund that was not accomplished because of the borrowing during the last several years.
Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Kaiser’s comments included:
• Monument had 6,000 residents in last census, and 70-80 percent of them get their water not from the town but from Triview and Woodmoor at greatly increased rates.
• The general fund is supplementing the struggling water district.
• We have no real cash reserves right now for the water fund.
• This proposal solves the issues, but it does so at a price detrimental to many of our citizens and businesses.
• I propose that we have an open house just on this item for public input and counter-proposals. I just want one last chance for vetting all the opinions.
Mayor Rafael Dominguez’s comments included:
• Rates will go up. Unfortunately, it will have an impact on the residents of this community.
• The town in doing its due diligence collaborating with different organizations and reaching out to the public.
• I do not want to be like the federal government that racked up $19 trillion in debt because they did not have the backbone to do what needed to be done.
• I concur that we cannot continue to discuss it beyond the next board meeting. We will be voting on March 7.
During the public comments section, business owners A. B. Tellez and John Dominowski agreed with the idea of the public workshop, which was scheduled for Feb. 22. Dominowski asked about what happened to the revenue collected from the 1 percent sales tax approved by voters in 2005 and why that money was not going to assist the water enterprise fund.
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish and Town Treasurer Pamela Smith explained that the 2A funds were specifically used both for the acquisition, storage, and delivery (ASD) of new water rights, and in addition, from 2009-2016, 35 percent of the water sales tax revenue went to cover $4.4 million for the new police and town hall building. It will be paid off in 2016. See www.ocn.me/v5n12.htm#bot1107, www.ocn.me/v9n4.htm#monbot.
The board voted unanimously to continue the water rates discussion and its related public hearing to the March 7 meeting. The trustees also agreed to hold a public workshop in the interim, which was then scheduled for Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m.
Senior living facilities coming
Dominguez said he has been working closely with the president of Bethesda Senior Living Communities and hopes that groundbreaking for a new facility on Beacon Lite Road will happen in April or May. He said a public meeting would be coming up with the president and senior citizens in community. ( www.bethesdaseniorliving.com/)
He also said that another senior living developer is investigating building in Monument. "It’s very preliminary, but it is getting the attention that it needs," Dominguez said.
Reduce fuels around home to reduce fire risk
"Continue to mitigate for wildfire prevention," said Fire Marshal John Vincent of Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. He said although the Tri-Lakes area has had "two years off" from wildfires, each homeowner should continue working on reducing the amount of fuels that could lead a fire toward their home.
"Mitigation is a lifestyle," he said. If you are not already working to remove flammable bushes and trees from near your home, especially scrub oak and junipers, "you need to start," he said. See www.ocn.me/v14n12.htm#cwmp1101.
Note: May 7 will be Community Firewise Day, with several events happening in the Tri-Lakes area. Mark your calendar and watch for more information to learn more about what needs to be done to reduce the risk that a wildfire will destroy your home.
Checks over $5,000
The consent agenda was approved unanimously, including the following checks over $5,000:
• Triview Metro District: sales tax, December 2015; motor vehicle tax "not to exceed" $10,000; regional building sales tax, January 2016, $131 – total "not to exceed" $174,153
• Global Underground, distribution line repair and maintenance − $15,177
The meeting adjourned at 7:19 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 March 7. Call 884-8014 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 email@example.com.
Caption: After the Feb. 16 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, KOAA News 5 anchor Zach Thaxton interviewed Mayor Rafael Dominguez about his thoughts on the proposed water rates increase for town of Monument water customers. The board scheduled a special meeting for public input on Feb. 22 and planned to finally vote on the proposal March 7. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Four Monument Board of Trustee positions are open for re-election. Ballots will be mailed around March 21 and will be due by April 5 to the dropbox inside Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. (Do not use the dropbox outside Town Hall). Call 884-8014 for information. The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce will host a Monument candidate forum on Wednesday, March 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at "Big Red" District 38 Administration Building, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.
I was born and raised in Riverton, a small city outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. As a youth, I enjoyed music, scouting (Eagle rank), and many sports. I attended Brigham Young University and earned a B.S. in Computer Science. While there, I met and married my wonderful wife, Jenny. After graduation, we moved to Houston, Texas, where I started working for Lockheed Martin contracting to NASA at the Johnson Space Center. In 2003, we came to Colorado. Still working for Lockheed Martin, today I lead a team of software developers in building a super-cool space radar named Space Fence.
Jenny and I have five incredible children. We love rock climbing, hiking, biking, basketball, soccer, and ultimate Frisbee.
I’m fiscally conservative and strongly against methadone clinics in our Town of Monument.
We are at a very critical place and time with key issues on the horizon. Solutions need to be determined and implemented for our water requirements. A comprehensive plan needs to be written in order to define and protect our community. Transparent communication needs to be established between Town Hall and our residents. It is imperative that our city develop strategies that allow the town to operate in a proactive rather than reactive state. This will require a five-year strategy that is realistic, manageable, and supported by the community.
My actions have always been based solely on the needs of our residents and businesses. I ask that you please vote for me in the upcoming election. I promise no matter how difficult or political the issue, my decisions will always be determined and based on your individual needs along with the best interest of the community both short and long term.
Over the past year our community has faced many challenges. A methadone dispensary in the heart of downtown. An absurd water rate increase proposed to make up for decades of irresponsibility and neglect. Development and growth proposals that challenge the very reasons many of us chose to call this community home. Our community is growing, and will continue to be challenged. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we have a board in place that is strong and representative of the residents, not just of themselves. Our board must be willing to direct and guide the town’s paid staff, not be guided and directed by the paid staff.
Through each of the challenges noted above, I have fought for our community, and will continue to fight for the residents of this entire community once elected as trustee. Protect your community and way of life. Please vote. www.Facebook.com/gregcoopmanfortrustee
My 10 years in Monument, four as town trustee, have given me an appreciation of the people, the history, the values, and hopes for the future. Never having been directly involved in politics, this experience has been an education as to how government operates so differently than private business. Within the past four years, I have learned much about the likes and dislikes of the community regarding governing decisions made not only by the Board of Trustees but other entities in Monument and the Tri-Lakes.
Yes, we must go forward, which sometimes is painful. I am not one who always likes change but understand the necessity. As is said: "... change is inevitable."
If I am re-elected, I will continue to try to be a voice for the Tri-Lakes community as well as the Town of Monument and do my best to keep the people informed with clarity of decisions affecting all of us.
In the past few months our community has faced many challenges, not the least of which has been the nearly successful placement of a drug treatment facility downtown and a proposed doubling of our water rate. These issues, and those like it, have the potential to directly impact our safety and the future of our beautiful town. I running for the board because I wish to protect our community and maintain the quality of life that we have come to expect. I believe that good government should be transparent, fiscally responsible and proactive in its communication with those that it serves. With your support, I hope to bring these qualities and viewpoint to the board this April 5.
I am a family-oriented Christian man striving to do my part in society and to provide my family with a safe, beautiful place to live. I want to help Monument remain a town where small businesses thrive and families can expect a high quality of life. I believe in protecting our homes, churches, parks, and schools from influences that would damage the value and reputation of our town.
I expect people to treat each other with respect and fairness, to take responsibility for their actions, and to consider what is best for the entire community, even when this is difficult for individuals. When we do this together, I know that we can make the right decisions, regardless of our different backgrounds and opinions.
We, the citizens of Monument, are the town’s greatest resource, and I know we can succeed together at making Monument a better place!
Monument is the heart and soul of the Tri-Lakes region, in my opinion. I believe the role of trustee is to be an advocate for our families and to facilitate Monument town improvements that support those families. There are several issues facing our region that I hear about from local businesses and constituents, but the top two issues are water and the improvement of parks and open space. The timing is right to come together as a community to implement a plan to address these issues.
The role of trustee should be to bring all the local municipalities, residents, and businesses together to reach our common goals. I humbly ask for your vote so that I can work hard for you to set those action items, continue to keep an active dialogue with all parties and nurture our community for future generations. Thank you.
I was raised in Littleton and am a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. My wife, son, and I moved to Monument about two years ago. Immediately, we fell in love with our friendly neighbors, the special events, and the small town feel.
As I experience and learn more about the town, I have taken a great interest in the politics of Monument. I am running for town trustee to make a difference. I want the residents of Monument to have a say in what is going on in their town. I want them to be informed while things are happening, not after the fact. When things have to be changed immediately and drastically overnight it is costly and painful to the community. I feel the public should be able to have options and answers, without having to search for the questions first. ■
By James Howald
The Palmer Lake Town Council met on Feb. 11 and cancelled their second meeting, originally scheduled for Feb. 25.
The Town Council swore in new chiefs for the fire and police departments, updated a pair of ordinances, reviewed the budget reserves, and heard presentations from County Commissioner Sallie Clark and Deputy Chief of Operations for Emergency Management R.C. Smith.
Brent Newton and Jason Vanderpool take oaths of office
Brent Newton was sworn in as the town’s new fire chief, and Jason Vanderpool was sworn in as the town’s new police chief. Vanderpool served as the town’s acting police chief for a year before becoming the police chief, according to Deputy Clerk Bob Radosevich.
Chicken discussion continues
The board debated proposed Ordinance 3 of 2016, which would allow chickens and ducks to be kept as pets in areas zoned for residential use. The ordinance as debated would allow up to six hens to be kept as pets. Roosters would not be allowed. Also, the ordinance specifies the chickens must be kept in a clean enclosure at least six feet from the property line. If the enclosure has wire sides, they must be buried at least 12 inches underground. The ordinance allows for mobile coops to be used. The ordinance also requires a $21 annual fee, and prohibits the selling of eggs.
Parks and Recreation Trustee Paul Banta expressed concern about allowing six chickens to be kept.
The proposed ordinance was tabled until the meeting to be held on March 10.
Recovery Village to expand
According to Town Administrator Kathy Green-Sinnard, Ordinance 4 of 2015 would permit Recovery Village to expand its operation by building on foundations that already exist on the property. Because the buildings were originally approved as part of the Inn at Palmer Divide and the use for the buildings will change, the amendment to the original Planned Unit Development must be approved by the council, Green-Sinnard said.
Al Fritz, representing Recovery Village, said that 400 clients have been served at the facility since its opening, and demand is growing, leading the business to seek to add 52 beds in three new buildings. A swimming pool and outdoor courts would also be part of the expansion, according to Fritz.
No changes to outside lighting or parking would be needed, Fritz said. The new buildings and pool will increase Recovery Village’s annual water use by 8 to 10 acre-feet, Fritz said, adding that the water will come from wells owned by Mission Training International.
In response to a question from Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster, Fritz explained that staff would be added to maintain the current ratio of patients to staff, even during the evening and night hours.
The board voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.
Budget reserves explained
Green-Sinnard gave the board a presentation on the town’s budget reserves, focusing on what they are, how much they contain, and what they might be used for.
The general fund reserves consist of operating reserves, the Lucy Owen donation, the fire truck payment reserve, the general fund, and the road maintenance reserve, Green-Sinnard said. Operating reserves provide cash flow for the town and have a balance of $326,890, according to Green-Sinnard. The Lucy Owen donation is committed to building repairs and upgrades, and has a balance of $24,258. The fire truck payment reserve has been set aside to pay for past fire truck loans, and has a balance of $3,298. The general fund is unrestricted and has a balance of $381. The road maintenance reserve comes from the sales tax dedicated to roads, and has a balance of $178,485. Altogether, the general fund reserves have a balance of $533,312, according to Green-Sinnard.
The water enterprise fund reserves derive from water revenues, and have a combined balance of $1.56 million, Green-Sinnard said. These reserves include $640,948 reserved for the construction of a new water tank and $574,740 for operating reserves. $241,505 for capital improvement projects and $108,428 for water loan repayment are also part of the water enterprise fund reserves, according to Green-Sinnard.
The total of all reserves is $2.09 million, Green-Sinnard said.
Green-Sinnard recommended that the Lucy Owen donation be moved to operating reserves, the fire truck payment be moved to the general fund, and the road maintenance reserve be moved to a new capital improvement fund. She also recommended that a new fund be set up to meet the required TABOR reserve amount. Green-Sinnard also proposed that the board consider creating a capital improvement fund from dedicated roads revenues, grants, and 2 percent of annual revenues.
In the area of water revenues, Green-Sinnard recommended moving capital reserves for water and water capital project reserves to the proposed capital improvement fund.
Creating a capital improvement fund will help the board and town staff plan and appropriate money, Green-Sinnard said.
Clark seeks funds to purchase land for park
County Commissioner Sallie Clark began her remarks by congratulating the town on revitalizing Palmer Lake.
Clark told the board that the county was working on purchasing a 63-acre property adjacent to Elephant Rock, to be used as a park. The asking price for the property, which has a conservation easement, is $330,000, Clark said. El Paso County Ballot question 1A will provide $150,000 toward the purchase, and the Regional Park Fee fund will provide another $150,000, according to Clark. In addition, Catriona Cellars has committed $4,000 to the purchase, The Front Range Environmental Resource Coalition has committed $3,000, and the Trust for Community Parks has committed $1,000, Clark said.
According to Clark, the remainder of the purchase price will have to be raised from other donors.
Emergency Response Team now under County Commissioners
In his presentation, R.C. Smith pointed out that his Emergency Response Team, which is responsible for plans that mitigate the impact of emergencies, no longer reports to the Sheriff’s Office, but is overseen by the county commissioners, as of Jan. 1, 2015.
The meeting adjourned at 9:01 p.m.
The two meetings for March will be at 6:30 p.m. on March 10 and March 24, 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.
Caption: (left) New Fire Chief Brent Newton takes the oath of office. (right) New Police Chief Jason Vanderpool takes the oath of office. Photos by James Howald.
By Lisa Hatfield
The chief’s report took the bulk of the Feb. 24 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board. Topics discussed included board elections, employee retention, impact fees, and vehicle replacement.
The TLMFPD public election for Board of Directors will be conducted on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. See www.tlmfire.org to read statements from each of the board candidates. At least six people are running for four open positions. Call the district with any questions.
Employee retention discussed
Three employees have left the district recently, most recently a firefighter/paramedic named Elliot Linke who specialized in communications, and Truty said the issue of retaining employees needed to be examined. In answer to Secretary Mike Smaldino’s questions, he said exit interviews indicated that they "had aspirations for something more than the district could provide for them," including the wages and benefits packages they could get elsewhere. "No one has given the impression if we had done something different it would have changed their mind about going," Truty said.
President Jake Shirk, who is also the Monument police chief, said that Linke would be receiving a police chief’s commendation at the March 7 Monument Board of Trustees meeting for his contributions to the Police Department.
Deputy Chief Randy Trost has been working with union members on a six-member hiring committee since January, he said. Issues they are discussing include the difficulty of hiring trained firefighter/paramedics and how to run future training academies.
Truty said that the crew did an "outstanding job" on a garage fire on Feb. 18 on McShane Place. "That amount of fire usually extends into the house," but he said the crew confined it to the garage "with very little extension."
Truty mentioned Colorado HB 16-1088, Fire Protection District Impact Fee On New Development, which is of interest to the district since the Tri-Lakes area anticipates so much growth in the next five years. The board voted in December to remove impact fees. The consensus of the directors was that the district needed to be ready to document why any impact fees they did require in the future were justified, whether the proposed legislation passed or not.
Truty presented the directors with a draft vehicle replacement planning chart and asked for their comments. It listed the expected life span of each vehicle, current replacement cost, and how much the district should be setting aside to replace each one according to a set schedule in the future, paying cash and avoiding interest payments. The district should already have set aside $2.9 million in order to be preparing for these future vehicle replacements, he said, but nothing was being set aside right now because of the budget.
President Shirk said, "We don’t have that money… Maybe it would be better to instead do leases at low interest rates and keep cash intact for emergencies." Truty said the district is currently paying $290,000 a year for leases. Smaldino said it was good to try to project up to 10 years in the future, because having so many big costs coming all at one time "is not working."
Other topics covered included:
• The possibility of sharing the costs of fleet maintenance with neighboring fire districts by hiring a properly certified mechanic and writing an intergovernmental agreement.
• Potential bond and mill levy consultant George K. Baum & Co. thinks a mill levy ballot measure would be a better plan for TLMFPD than a bond levy, but the firm has said it will not charge the district for their advice unless they run a bond levy election. Truty is working on Plan B.
• Office Administrator Jennifer Martin reported that the new ambulance billing company is performing more efficiently than the old one.
Trost summarized many issues that need attention, including:
• The fleet continues with preventive maintenance.
• The new battalion chief vehicle has been delivered. It displays the new gold scroll-work "TLM" logo which eventually will be used on all district vehicles as they are replaced.
• The new brush truck is close to being delivered.
• The emergency flashing lights on the older vehicles are not as visible as the new vehicles’ LED lights and may be a safety hazard even though when they were purchased they conformed with regulations. Updating lights on three engines and the tower ladder could cost up to $25,000.
• Ice and drainage problems are causing leaks in roofs, gutters, and downspouts at Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3.
• The roof at Station 1 allows snow chunks to fall that could hit pedestrians.
• Various lighting problems at Station 1, Station 2 have not been fixed yet.
• New exhaust venting system for the fire houses is being installed soon.
The meeting adjourned at 7:51 p.m.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., March 23 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 Jim Kendrick
At a special noon meeting on Feb. 19, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) board unanimously approved the final settlement amount for Amendment 2 to intergovernmental Contract 08 HA200049, Project IM 025341, between BRRTA and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for a final CDOT payment that was $2,940.57 less than the amount of the resolution approved on Jan. 8, due to the loss of some receipts and documentation. CDOT previously made one other reimbursement of $3 million with Amendment 1 in May 2011. (www.ocn.me/v16n2.htm#brrta0108)
The absences of El Paso County Commissioners Darryl Glenn and Dennis Hisey were unanimously excused.
Elaine Johnsen, funding optimization manager of Administration & Financial Services, El Paso County, said that she had negotiated this justifiable amount with Debbie Carillo of the CDOT business office. This $12.51 million settlement completes the state’s reimbursement of all verifiable direct I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion construction contract costs of $15.5 million. The BRRTA directors had unanimously approved the slightly higher approximate amount of this second CDOT reimbursement payment on Dec. 28, 2015. (www.ocn.me/v16n1.htm#brrta1228 )
Johnsen recommended that she be authorized to prepare and submit a BRRTA invoice for the negotiated final reimbursement of $12,511,228.43, the amount that can be substantiated by any future audit, and also prepare, sign, and submit a cover letter to CDOT for this invoice to close this matter. She noted that this second CDOT reimbursement coupled with BRRTA’s existing debt service fund reserves, about $2.38 million, is large enough to "fully repay" all costs for early redemption of all remaining BRRTA revenue bonds. Senior Assistant County Attorney Lori Seago said that the board should formally approve the amended, slightly lower final CDOT contract repayment. The board unanimously approved Johnsen’s and Seago’s recommendations.
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. The timing and final total costs for principal, interest, and administrative costs for early redemption have not been determined.
The meeting adjourned at 12:07 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board discussed plans for wildfire preparedness education and plans for homes on the Gleneagle Golf Course at its Feb. 24 meeting.
Country Club support
Vice President Peter Bille noted concern over a recent report on plans to build 56 homes on the Gleneagle Golf Course. He affirmed the WIA board’s commitment to maintaining good relations with The Country Club at Woodmoor and to their success.
Forestry Director Robert Benjamin announced plans for a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 7 to be held at a local church. Detailed information will be announced. Fire Marshal John Vincent of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) suggested that it might be nice to coordinate activities with Palmer Lake, which is having a similar event in the same timeframe. Vincent further commented that there are four Firewise communities in his area with 45 to go. He would like to see communities coordinate and become one big Firewise community and then start looking at the next step, which is a Fire Adapted community. See http://www.fireadapted.org for more information.
Board report highlights
• A discussion on www.Nextdoor.com reported numerous thefts that included six cases of fraud calls about the IRS, the U.S. Treasury, or law enforcement in addition to fake calls about grandchildren being arrested. Always verify with the appropriate agency.
• The security camera installation at the Barn is complete.
• There will be a focus on getting more information out to the community via Nextdoor and Facebook.
• The board unanimously approved the Woodmoor Public Safety Standard Operating Procedures and Training Manual.
• The board unanimously approved renewing Architectural Control Committee administrator Bob Pearsall’s authority to approve common projects. Last year, 85 percent of all projects were approved on the spot by Pearsall.
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 March 23. 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 email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
February was mainly a dry and mild month, interrupted by a couple snowfalls and brief intrusions of cold air. Temperatures for the month ended up about 5°F above normal, one of the warmer Februarys around the region in the last 100 years. The three storms that did bring snow to the area managed to accumulate enough moisture to bring the monthly totals above normal.
Winter made a strong appearance to start February as a major snowstorm hammered the region. Snow had begun just before January ended, but really got going on the 1st. Snow, heavy at times, combined with gusty winds to produce hazardous conditions around the region. This continued into the morning of the 2nd, before all the snow finally came to an end by that evening. One unique characteristic of this storm was the time it continued to affect the region and the duration of the heavy snowfall. From late on Jan. 30 through the evening of Feb. 2, most of us received 16-24 inches of snowfall. Of course, this was on top of a pretty good snowpack that has been around since mid-November.
The heavy snow caused lots of travel problems, with schools closed an unusual three days in a row. Temperatures were held down quite a bit during and immediately after the storm, as the deep snowpack acts to cool the air near the ground and reflects of lot of the energy from the sun. Highs were below freezing from the evening of Jan. 30 through the afternoon of the 6th, a long stretch for us. Low temperatures also plummeted with the fresh snow and clearing skies, reaching well below zero on the 3rd and 4th.
Colorado blue skies returned quickly on the 3rd as the storm departed, but a quick-moving storm followed on its heels. The next system didn’t seem like much compared to the 1-2 feet from a few days before, but it did drop another 2 inches and provided a reinforcing shot of cold air. Behind this last storm, high pressure quickly moved in from the west. This brought with it a warmer and dry air mass. Even with all the fresh snow, temperatures managed to climb into the 30s and 40s on the 6th and 7th.
After a snowy, cold start to the month, our "January thaw" came during the second week of February. Temperatures started the week of the 8th a little cooler than normal as we had a lot of fresh snow on the ground to melt. However, high pressure continued to build in from the west and the air mass continued to warm. Eventually, that warm air was able to overcome the energy needed to melt the snow and temperatures warmed considerably. Highs reached the low to mid-50s from the 10th through the 13th, but would have been much warmer had the snow not been around. In addition, no weather systems moved through, so it was dry for the entire week. We did see plenty of high and mid-level clouds at times and some gusty winds, but otherwise quiet conditions.
It was a warm, dry week around the region from the 15th through the 21st. High pressure was in control of our weather pattern during the entire period, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s. High temperatures were about 10 degrees warmer than normal on the 15th and 16th, in the upper 40s, then warmed even more over the next few days. Highs reached the upper 50s on the 18th and 20th, reaching record high levels for many locations. Our temperatures were held down a little because of the snow on the ground, but in areas along the Front Range and Eastern Plains where snow had already melted, highs reached into the 70s. A push of cooler air finally arrived on Sunday the 21st, with temperatures returning to normal levels, upper 30s and low 40s.
A final storm brought a quick shot of 2-4 inches of snow from the afternoon of the 22nd through the morning of the 23rd. But like much of the month, dry and mild conditions quickly returned behind this departing storm. Highs were held below freezing on the 23rd, then remained right around normal on the 24th and 25th, before jumping back to well above normal levels to end the month. Highs reached into the mid-50s and low 60s from the 26th through the 29th. This mild, windy, and dry weather also helped to melt most of the snow that had hung around since November. But remember, winter isn’t over for us, as we still have our snowiest time of the year ahead (mid-March through mid-April), so enjoy the nice weather while you can.
A look ahead
March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003 when we received 30-50 inches of snowfall that shut down the region. However, snow that does fall begins to melt quickly this time of the year, providing beneficial moisture for our plants and limited inconvenience for us.
February 2016 Weather Statistics
Average High 44.9° (+4.9°)
100-year return frequency value max 51.9° min 32.8°
Average Low 17.9° (+4.9°)
100-year return frequency value max 21.9° min 3.7°
Highest Temperature 60° on the 27th
Lowest Temperature -12° on the 3rd
Monthly Precipitation 1.13" (+0.21" 20% above normal)
100-year return frequency value max 2.10" min 0.02"
Monthly Snowfall 23.4" (+6.1", 26% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 87.5" (+17.9", 20% above normal)
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 13.04" (+.05", 1% above normal)
(the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 974 (-123)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Let’s continue to fight Common Core
As a parent of children in D38, I’m vehemently opposed to Common Core, now rebranded: College and Career-Ready and Next Generation. Three short months ago, all D38’s school board candidates voiced their strong opposition to Common Core. Soon after the election, the D38 superintendent advised the board to wait. At last month’s board meeting, a D38 employee chastised parents for continuing to speak out. Be assured—this conversation will continue until this federal mandate—Common Core—is rejected.
Common Core has infiltrated our schools through testing, curriculum, and surveys that require children to reveal personal information regarding their beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and values. Accredited with distinction, D38 has now decided to align its graduation requirements with Common Core. Why?
As a local control state, Colorado is uniquely equipped to reject Common Core. State Rep. Paul Lundeen and D38 Director Sarah Sampayo continue to remind us that parents are primary in directing their children’s education. Thanks to our well-researched, vocal and engaged parents, D38 successfully waived the invasive Healthy Kids Colorado Survey and data-mining TS Gold assessments.
As parents, we have a voice—we are empowered. One way to make your voice heard is to refuse your students’ participation in any and all assessments, testing (PARCC, CMAS), surveys (Naviance, ICAP), programs, and classes with which you are not comfortable. Download a refusal form to submit to your school principal. Refer to "Refusal to Test and Privacy Protection Form" on the homepage of www.stopcommoncorecolorado.webs.com. To avoid confusion, please work with your school officials so they understand your desires. The Colorado Department of Education confirms there are no penalties to the district or to students for refusing to test. Colorado has acknowledged the parents’ fundamental right to refuse.
Special thanks to D38 Director Sampayo for allowing "all voices to be respected and heard."
By the staff at Covered Treasures
Small presses are usually considered those publishing fewer than 10 titles per year, with annual sales below $50,000. Many of them specialize in genre fiction or poetry, limited edition books or magazines, while others focus on nonfiction markets. Following are some of the gems that come from these publishers—intriguing volumes that may never have had a chance with the large companies.
Ute Indian Prayer Trees of the Pikes Peak Region By John Wesley Anderson (Old Colorado City Historical Society) $39.99
Ute Tribal Elders say that at the beginning of time the Creator placed the Ute in the Shining Mountains. They knew Pikes Peak by the name Tava, the Sun Mountain. This is a story about the Ute, the People of Sun Mountain and their sacred prayer trees, many of which can be found in the Tri-Lakes area.
Rocky Mountain Getting Started Garden Guide By John Cretti (Cool Spring Press) $24.99
Whether you are a beginning gardener, a newcomer to the area, or an old hand who is looking for some new ideas, this guide covers over 180 of the top plants recommended for the Rocky Mountains, including every type of plant from flowers and groundcovers to trees and shrubs. Cretti also gives design tips, advice on planting, growing and care, and includes large color photographs of each plant.
Cooking for the Birds By Adele Porter (AdventureKeen Publications) $9.95
Why not invite "everybirdy" to your yard with a banquet of nutritious, home-cooked foods? This colorfully illustrated little book features 26 simple recipes, perfect to tackle alone or with the whole family. These fun-to-make treats will attract 74 backyard birds, including orioles, hummingbirds and more.
Make: Making Simple Robots By Kathy Ceceri (MakerMedia), $24.99
Written in language that non-engineers can understand, this book helps beginners move beyond basic craft skills and materials to the latest products and tools being used by artists and inventors. Find out how to animate folded paper origami, design a versatile robot wheel-leg for 3D printing, or program a rag doll to blink its cyborg eye. Each project includes step-by-step directions as well as clear diagrams and photographs. These are robots for anyone, made from anything.
The Common Thread of Overcoming Adversity & Living Your Dreams By Jerry Gladstone (Morgan James) $16.95
This book gives you instant access to insights, wisdom and proven strategies from Academy Award winners, Super Bowl and World Series champions, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends, Olympians, UFC world class fighters, and even billionaires. Not based on theory, these stories prove there is indeed a Common Thread of how celebrities, such as Sylvester Stallone, Muhammad Ali, Ringo Starr, and Bill O’Reilly, reached the pinnacle of success.
Nothing Here but Stones By Nancy Oswald (Filter Press LLC) $8.95
Based on the Russian Jewish colony that settled in Cotopaxi, Colo., in 1882, this story features Emma, a middle child, outsider, dreamer, and risk taker. Her adventures based on the struggles of an actual colony of pioneers should capture the attention of "10 and up" readers.
Howl: Of Woman and Wolf By Susan Imhoff Bird (Torrey House Press) $15.95
Drawn to wolves’ inherent resilience, Bird sets out to understand the ecology and politics that drive wolf management and to get to know the people who love or hate the wolf. She traveled the Northern Rockies interviewing ranchers and hunters, wolf watchers and biologists and uncovered reactions, ranging from admiration and reverence to vitriol and anxiety. While also dealing with her own self-doubt and loss, Bird discovers that wolves, wild places, and a willingness to listen may lead, finally, to healing.
Bus Ride By Marianne Dubuc (Kids Can Press) $15.95
Clara is excited to be taking the bus to her grandmother’s house today. It’s the first time she’s going on her own, and little does she know that there will be a whole cast of interesting animal characters keeping her company. The ride just might be more of an adventure than she imagined!
Why not celebrate Small Press Month by picking up a unique book that may never make the bestseller list but could be the most interesting and/or thought-provoking book you’ve ever read?
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures Bookstore can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
Both the Monument and Palmer Lake libraries will offer special programs during spring break, in addition to special celebrations of Dr. Seuss.
March’s Family Fun program at Monument is a celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on Saturday, March 12 at 2:30. Think wacky, wild, and wonderful and you’ll be ready for our crazy and colorful party! All ages welcome.
Legos Club will meet from 10 to 11:30 on Saturday, March 19. We provide the Legos and you bring your imagination.
There will be a Spring Break Music Program on Monday, March 21 from 3 to 4. Eric West’s Music for Kids is an audience-involved musical adventure. He comes with a trunk full of homemade, ethnic and "found" instruments, dancing "limberjacks," and puppets. Along with his guitar, banjo and repurposed instruments, his original and traditional songs are sure to delight.
Tuesday, March 22 from 4 to 5 will be a Spring Break Puppet Program, the Reading Rocket presented by Rocky Mountain Puppets. Come for a space-age adventure of exploration, being transported to worlds of fantasy and fact aboard the spacecraft the UES Booklastic piloted by Commander Ray Mind.
Thursday, March 24 from 3 to 4, the Millibo Art Theatre presents Art Guffaw unraveling the mysteries of fine art in a magical studio were the easels speak, the drawings come to life, and the paintings dance. With a little help from Van Gogh and Picasso, master clown Jim Jackson creates a circus of art that inspires us to look at the world through the eyes of an artist.
Make a fabulous FuzzBuddy—a small, round, happy fleece creature during Tween Time, Friday, March 18 from 4 to 5:15. Registration is required.
Make a light saber that really lights on Friday, March 25 from 4 to 5. Registration is required.
Need extra help with math? Grab your homework and head to the library from 3:30 to 7 on Mondays for free help from experienced math tutors. No appointments necessary. AfterMath will not be available on March 21 due to spring break.
Join us for our new Coloring for Adults program, the first Friday of each month from 2 to 3:30. Coloring pages and utensils will be provided. Come enjoy a relaxing time with like-minded individuals.
Join Pikes Peak Library District’s first established yoga group at the Monument Library every Thursday from noon to 1. Classes are held following D-38’s calendar.
In honor of National Quilting Month, the second Thursday Craft on Thursday, March 10 from 2 to 4 will be English Paper Piecing. Learn the traditional craft of piecing quilts using accurately cut pieces of paper and fabric scraps. It’s a portable, habit-forming activity. We will make the traditional Grandmother’s Flower Garden block with hexagons and discuss other ideas and possibilities. All materials will be provided and no experience necessary. If you have small scissors, please bring them. Registration is required. See the sample at the library.
On the second Friday of each month from 9 to 10 a.m., come to the library for answers to your computer questions. Please register online, call 488-2370, or see a staff member.
The Muse: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Creative Fiction and Poetry is the introduction of a writing group for ages 16 and older. No registration is required for this meeting on Wednesday, March 16 from 6 to 8 p.m.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, March 18 to discuss The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg.
On the walls and in the display cases during March will be works by the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers.
Palmer Lake Library Events
The March Family Fun program on March 19 at 10:30 is Gardening. This program offers an opportunity for families to learn about gardening from an expert. Get your hands dirty and plant a seed to take home! This program is for all ages.
The Spring Break program on Wednesday, March 23 at 10:30 is a space-age puppet adventure of exploration. Be transported to worlds of fantasy and fact aboard the mind-altering universal spacecraft, the UES Booktastic, piloted by Commander Ray Mind. Hold on as he engages the after-learners. This program is presented by the Rocky Mountain Puppets.
Please note that all Pikes Peak Library District facilities will be closed on Easter Sunday, March 27.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sigi Walker
On Feb. 18, in the first program of the 2016 monthly History Series, members of the Palmer Lake Historical Society and guests gathered for a presentation on boys in the Civil War by local historian Benny Nasser. More than 100,000 boys less than 16 years old were part of the Union and Confederate Armies during the Civil War, Nasser said The youngest was only 9 years old. Many lied about their age and enlisted under assumed names. They joined because they wanted to fight alongside their fathers and brothers, or were runaways or orphans. They served as drummer boys, buglers, orderlies and hospital attendants, chaplain assistants, guards, flag bearers, grave diggers, stretcher bearers, water carriers, barbers, and mounted couriers or runners. Some died on the battlefield or were wounded. Almost 50 of these young boys received the Medal of Honor.
Nasser said that one young boy, Johnny Clem, after graduating from high school, returned to military duty to serve in the Army from 1871-1915. When he reached the mandatory retirement age of 64 on Aug. 13, 1915, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, as was customary for American Civil War veterans who retired at the rank of colonel, becoming the last veteran of the American Civil War to serve in the U.S. Army. On Aug. 29, 1916, he was promoted on the retired list to the rank of major general. He was 85 when he died in 1937 in San Antonio, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
During his presentation, Benny highlighted the personal experiences of some of these youngsters through photographs and biographical details. His interest in the Civil War is partially based on the fact that 13 of his relatives fought on the Union side. The photographs that Benny showed depicted small young boys in uniforms that were at least 1½ sizes too large or with drums that were almost as large as they were. They served in many of the major Civil War battles: Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Antietam, and today you can find battlefield memorials to those young boys who served.
The Civil War Trust is working to preserve this history. For more information, go to their website: http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/children-in-the-civil-war/children-on-the-battlefield.html
The next program in the Historical Society monthly History Series will be on Thursday, March 17 at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake. Dwight Haverkorn will present a program on "Early Automobiles of the Pikes Peak Region." Learn about the first gasoline-powered vehicle at Palmer Lake and the early autos in the Pikes Peak Region, including the early Colorado Springs traffic ordinances, traffic controls, and licensing of drivers and vehicles and information about a 1903 auto race from coast to coast that passed through Colorado Springs and Palmer Lake.
Monthly History Series programs are free to the public. Light refreshments are served. For more information, visit www.palmerdividehistory.org or call 719-559-0837.
By David Futey
On Feb. 11, Col. Gary Cornn Jr., commander of the 721st Mission Support Group and installation commander at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, spoke about the construction and infrastructure of the station at the Western Museum of Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI). First though, Cornn explained that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is now primarily housed at Peterson Air Force base, with only 30 percent of the station presently used by NORAD staff. There are 13 mission partners, such as the United States Strategic Command Launch, that occupy the remainder of the available space on a regular basis.
The station was built in the 1960s as response to the Cold War environment. Designed to withstand a nuclear blast from that era, the station is located under 2,200 feet of granite, was excavated using a smooth wall blasting technique and has 3-foot to 36-foot rock bolts used to hold the above rock in place. Protected behind 25-ton blast doors, the facility’s floor plan is designed to mitigate blast propagation. There are 15, three-story buildings that are separate from each other except for a connecting ramp. Each building has its own spring suspension system, with a 1 inch to 2600 pounds compression ratio, so that it could move independently should an earthquake or blast occur. For sustainability, there is a water reservoir along with a diesel fuel reservoir for backup generators.
In conjunction with Cornn’s lecture, station staff created an exhibit on the station in the museum’s changing exhibit area. The exhibit will be viewable until early June. There will also be another lecture related to the station in April. Go to the museum’s website (www.wmmi.org) for information on it and other upcoming events at the museum.
David Futey can be reached at email@example.com.
Right: Col. Gary Cornn Jr. and 1st Lt. Rachel James are shown in front of one of the many panels created for an exhibit on the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. The exhibit is located at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry and will be available for viewing until early June. Photo by David Futey.
By Janet Sellers
"You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved." ― Ansel Adams
Photography and film were my first true loves in art … I got my brown Bakelite Argus 75 camera when I was 6 years old. My art career began, truth be told, with photography. Maybe I was afraid of drawing (I was) or clumsiness, but with a camera in hand, I felt I had the power to create a powerful image. In college, I began with black and white photography and the stinky darkroom chemicals.
It was my good fortune to have as my first teacher John Sexton, who was an assistant to Ansel Adams. Sexton had gone on to be Adams’ photo assistant after graduating from Art Center College, and in my photo class with Sexton, we learned the zone system of Ansel Adams, using black to white in 10 gray zones for a photo. Thanks to Sexton, I was hooked on black and white photography and set my cap to go to Art Center years later.
Our class used mostly natural light—a great benefit since I had only a camera and film and no fancy lighting equipment—and learned to do special effects in the darkroom. Nowadays, most cell phones have those effects right in the palm of our hands. A quick click on the device gets a giclee print out of a jet printer’s box in rapid fire, but back then, the effects were hard earned by hours spent in a chemically laden lab and pricey enlarger equipment.
Even so, the soul of a photo is still closely tied to the soul of the photographer, and the heart of that photographer artist shows through the art work. That connection of imagination to the outside world is a great restorer of the heart and mind. It’s also a wonderful pastime that’s really good for us in other ways, too.
A 2015 Mayo Clinic study of 256 people in their mid- to late 80s showed just how art activities protected and strengthened cognitive function from middle age to old age. It also made connections to predict cognitive impairment during the final years of life. Many studies also link an active social life to better cognitive health, and combined with creative art, the power increases.
In a nutshell (no pun intended) as we attempt to learn to do art, particularly visual art, our efforts require activity and making attempts at new skills. For artists, the pursuit is lifelong since the artist is forever reaching to improve and refine their creative expression. New information and ideas connect with stored information and create works above and beyond what they’ve done before. For all the people in the study, the new art effort and acting on it are the main criteria for the phenomenal results.
The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) just opened a beautiful photography show this weekend, the artist reception was on March 4, and the show will be up the better part of this month, until March 25. I got to have a sneak peek as they were hanging the show, and it’s a show with a wide variety of photography works. This annual show is called "Visions of Light." I hope you can go see the show soon, and maybe purchase a vision of light for yourself.
Call for artists
TLCA call for artists to Abstract and Interpretation juried show, entry submission deadline is March 18. Sales will be a 60/40 split, with 60 percent going to the artist. Email photos of submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org preferred, more info: www.trilakesart.org.
Artsites 2016 is a local, year-long outdoor public art exhibit. The annual juried exhibit accepts entry submissions 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.
Janet Sellers is a local Colorado artist, photographer and art teacher; her public art sculptures are in exhibitions in city and museum venues in Colorado, and of course, the Tri-Lakes area. Sellers can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me.
Caption: Maryann Gunter, left, and Dr. Michael Maddox smile as they help set up the 2016 Visions of Light photography show at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). Both the main gallery and the Lucy Owens gallery are filled with the art of photography in large and small format works. Show runs through March 25. TLCA, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Legacy Sertoma honors essay winners
Under the guidance of their teacher, Jennifer Robinson, over 80 eighth-grade students at the Monument Academy participated in Legacy Sertoma’s "What Freedom Means to Me" essay contest.
On Jan. 28, the top three entrants were announced at a special presentation meeting of the club.
Caption: Pictured, from left, are Grace Gulig, first place; Shelby Wood, second place; and Peter Catalano, third place. Each winner received an engraved trophy and a monetary award. Grace Gulig and her essay advance to competition with entries from 13 other schools within the Sertoma Pikes Peak District.
Legacy Sertoma sincerely appreciates and thanks Robinson, the students, and the administrators of Monument Academy for their support and participation in this program.
Photo and information courtesy of Legacy Sertoma.
Emergency Preparedness Training, Feb. 4
Caption: In 95 percent of all emergencies, bystanders or victims provide the first immediate assistance on the scene. Do you know what to do? Citizen volunteers including Linda Lyons, left, Judy and John Rickman, Jerry and Donna Wagner, learned about "CERT" Community Emergency Response Training, free emergency preparedness training for groups or individuals age 14-plus. Disaster preparedness, neighborhood planning, fire safety and practice with real fire extinguishers, medical treatment basics, victim assessment and triage, light search and rescue, terrorism awareness, animals in disaster, and a final tabletop disaster scenario (set in downtown Monument!) were topics covered at the 16-hour class at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Emergency Preparedness Group on Feb. 4, 5, and 6 (firstname.lastname@example.org). More classes will be offered by El Paso County beginning March 17, April 13, and a teen session during spring break. See www.epccert.org or call (719) 575-8858 to sign up. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Chili Cook-off, Feb. 6
Caption: Christine Clark, left, Delinda Story, and Susan Bell served up the chili at the Palmer Lake Chili Cook-off, held Feb. 6 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Proceeds from the event benefit Helping Everyone Recover (HER). Through the HER free "store," those in need can begin to overcome adversity by choosing quality clothing and home goods. HER also assists community members in need of moral support. Photo by Caryn Collette.
TLC receives Walmart Grant, Feb. 19
Caption: On Feb. 19, Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) received a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program to assist with its Neighborhood Nurse Center and Medical Program, which includes doctor’s visits, diagnostic procedures, medical supplies and equipment, dental work, prescriptions, vision care and more for low-income clients. "Organizations such as Tri-Lakes Cares are essential to helping building stronger communities. They share our values and are committed to helping low-income individuals and families in need live better," said Jon Ball, Walmart market manager. Shown from left are Mike Blackmon, Walmart store manager (Monument); Haley Chapin, executive director of Tri-Lakes Cares; and Joe Dague, board member of Tri-Lakes Cares. TLC is a community-based, volunteer-supported resource center whose mission is to improve people’s lives through emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programs. TLC has served the Tri-Lakes region for 32 years, providing a food pantry, medical program, case management, housing and utility assistance, seasonal programs, and more to help people manage and overcome poverty. The Hangers to Hutches thrift shop at 245 N. Jefferson St. accepts donations of household goods, clothing, and furniture. Its income helps fund the mission of TLC and provides a resource for items that clients may need. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit http://giving.walmart.com/foundation. Contact Chapin at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 N. Jefferson St., Monument, (719) 481-4864 x101 or write to ExecutiveDirector@Tri-LakesCares.org. Photo courtesy of Tri-Lakes Cares.
RMMA Concert, Feb. 6
Caption: Before the Feb. 6 Rocky Mountain Music Alliance (RMMA) concert, Eric Wicks set up the transportable harpsicord as part of "Parish House Baroque: Of Lovers and Lasses," which also featured Elisa Wicks, Terri Moon, and Pam Chaddon. RMMA concerts are hosted at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church. For tickets and information about future concerts, see www.rmmaonline.org, or contact Coleen Abeyta, 630-8165, Coleen.Abeyta@gmail.com. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Red Kettle campaign record, Feb. 6
Caption: Monument Hill Kiwanis members are, from left, Jim Clemens, Larry Young, Billie Healy, Dave Humbert, Richard Larson (Salvation Army), Richard Couch, Barrie Town, RF Smith, and John Snyder. Record donations for Salvation Army Neither snow, nor sleet, nor cold kept a crew of volunteers in the Tri-Lakes Region from helping the Salvation Army set a record for donations during this year’s Red Kettle campaign. A check for $45,003 was delivered to Maj. Richard Larson of the Salvation Army at the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club meeting on Feb. 6 at the Monument Hill Country Club. Giving increased by $4,000 compared to 2014, and $7,500 versus 2013. The club with responsibility for just three of approximately 80 Salvation Army locations in the region produces a significant portion of the annual donations by the communities, more than 12 percent of the total net proceeds from the Red Kettle campaign. Photo courtesy of Warren Gerig.
Water rates workshop, Feb. 22
Caption: On Feb. 22, Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Kaiser facilitated a special two-hour Board of Trustees water rates workshop with the public, and Town Manager Chris Lowe, Public Works Director Tom Tharnish and water engineer Will Koger of Forsgren Associates provided financial and technical information. Since October, the town has been trying to restructure rates for town of Monument water system customers west of I-25 so that the water enterprise fund can become solvent again after rates were allowed to stagnate for 20 years. At the workshop, local business owners and residents suggested concrete alternatives to the proposed water rates increase. Kaiser kept the conversation productive by asking each contributor, "What is your proposal?" Town staff plans to evaluate the financial impact of the specific proposals and present them on March 7 when the trustees plan to vote on the water rates increase. Pictured above: Rosie’s Diner owner A.B. Tellez was one of the business owners who made suggestions at the workshop and was also interviewed by the KOAA News 5 crew. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
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
Mar 9: Chili, Fritos and salad
Mar 16: BBQ pork sandwich, beans and coleslaw
Mar 23: Hawaiian chicken over rice with broccoli
Mar 30: Tuna on a croissant with avocado
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.
Volunteers needed for City/County Drainage Board, apply by March 18
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on City/County Drainage Board. The Drainage Board is seeking two members, one citizen-at-large representative, and one developer representative. Applications are due by March 18. 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.
Pikes Peak SBDC seeks nominations of stellar small businesses, individuals
As part of Small Business Week 2016, the SBDC and BBB seek nominations in several categories to recognize accomplishments and efforts in the small-business community. There are five categories: Family-Owned Small Business of the Year, Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Small Business Champion of the Year, and Small Business Person of the Year. Nominations close April 1. For more information on Small Business Week in the Pikes Peak Region awards and to make a nomination, visit www.pikespeaksbdc.org/events/week.
Monument’s Citizens Police Academy
The Monument Police Department will host an eight-week Citizens Police Academy, beginning in April. There is no cost and it is open to all who live or work in the Tri-Lakes area and are at least 16 years old. Find out firsthand what law enforcement is all about and meet your local police officers. Learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, use of force, computer forensics, internal affairs, community policing, tactical considerations, and have the opportunity to shoot a variety of police weapons and much more. For more information and to apply for this program, call Andrea, 481-3253.
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.
The military also partners with the IRS to provide free tax assistance to military personnel and their families. The Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) consists of the tax program coordinators for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Volunteers are trained and equipped to address military specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits and the effect of the EITC guidelines. For more information, visit www.irs.gov/Individuals/Military.
Taxpayers who prefer to file their own tax returns electronically have the option of using IRS Free File. IRS Free File offers brand-name tax software to taxpayers who earned $62,000 or less in 2015 to file their returns for free. Taxpayers who earned more can use Free Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. IRS Free File is only available through the IRS website by visiting www.IRS.gov/freefile.
Tri-Lakes Y youth spring soccer, register now
Indoor Soccer Clinic, ages 3-4 years-old, April 9-May 14; Indoor Soccer, ages 5-6 years-old, April 9-May 14; Outdoor Soccer, ages 1st-6th grade, March 28-May 14; Spring Volleyball, ages 1st-8th grade, March 28-May 14; Flag Football, ages 1st-8th grade, March 28-May 14. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Monument.
Pikes Peak Soap Box Derby
This is the 13th consecutive year for the derby in the Springs. Fifty kids in their hand-built race cars will vie for the opportunity to represent Colorado Springs at the International Soap Box Derby held in Akron, Ohio, July 15, the greatest amateur racing event in the world. Three Tri-Lakes service organizations--Monument Hill Kiwanis, Gleneagle Sertoma, and Legacy Sertoma--contribute to the success of this annual event. The registration deadline is May 1. Practice day/inspection is June 5, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Race day is June 12, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., at the 400 block of East Costilla Street, between El Paso and Wahsatch. The public is welcome; there is no admission fee and food service will be available. For additional information, contact Duane Gritzmaker, 719-649-9220, email@example.com.
County approves quit claim deed with the Town of Monument
County commissioners voted 4-0 to approve a quit claim deed with the Town of Monument at the Feb. 18 board meeting. In January 2014, El Paso County deeded to the Town of Monument approximately two acres of land between Second and Third Streets, adjacent to the New Santa Fe Regional Trail. The town plans to expand the trailhead parking area adjacent to Third Street to the south and is considering the addition of a "par course" along this section of the trail for use by hikers and joggers. The county will continue to own and maintain the New Santa Fe Regional Trail that traverses through the property. The town will only be allowed to use the property for park and municipal purposes. The deed contains a reverter clause that includes the property being returned to El Paso County if the town no longer elects to use the property for the stated purposes.
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 for preschool-eighth grade
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.
Trees for Conservation Program, order by April 4
The Trees for Conservation Program through the Colorado State Forest Service Woodland Park District sells seedlings for conservation plantings to landowners at production cost. Foresters are available to answer questions about tree planting. The program is designed to encourage landowners to plant effective wind barriers to protect buildings, cropland and feedlots, help prevent erosion, enhance wildlife habitat, promote reforestation, and assist with the development of Christmas tree plantations. For more information about the program and to order seedlings online, visit www.csfs.colostate.edu/districts/woodland-park-district. The order form is updated for species that have sold out. The deadline for orders is April 4 and the pick-up point is in Woodland Park. For more information, call 719-687-2951.
County seeks citizen input on transportation
Residents throughout El Paso County are invited to participate in planning the county’s future transportation system by getting involved in the Major Transportation Corridors Plan (MTCP) Update. The last MTCP Update, completed in 2011, led to significant road improvement projects and better maintenance. It established priorities for funding through the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority and helped to preserve land for roads in anticipation of future development. This update will focus on connecting urban and rural areas of the county, planning for adequate funding to meet future needs, exploring options for accommodating non-motorized travel, and other issues established through community input. The MTCP also identifies long-term right-of-way needs in each roadway corridor. Sign up for project updates and/or submit a comment or question through the Contact Form at http://epcroadplan.com/contact-us/. Take the online survey at http://epcroadplan.com/how-to-participate/. Attend a Highway Advisory Committee meeting, the third Wednesday each month at 9 a.m. at Pikes Peak Regional Building 2880 International Circle Hearing Room. For more information, contact Victoria Chavez, VictoriaChavez@elpasoco.com, 520-6884.
Property tax exemption for qualifying senior citizens and disabled veterans
El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker reminds residents that the 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."
Postal Service asks for help with 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 mailbox 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.
Sheriff’s Office warns of phone scam
In this scam the suspects are claiming to be an employee of the Sheriff’s Office. They give a "badge" number and threaten the individual they are speaking with if they don’t follow directions to clear up a warrant, they will be arrested. In some of these cases, they use the name of an actual employee of the Sheriff’s Office. They take time trying to coax individuals into going to a grocery store to obtain green dot cards to clear up a warrant. The Sheriff’s Office reminds citizens that their office never calls to inform individuals they have an active warrant and never asks individuals to make payments to clear up a warrant. Also, they never call to ask for money for any reason. If you have information about, or have fallen victim to, this or any other scam, please contact 719-390-5555, and ask to have a deputy come out and take a report.
Carbon monoxide risk: make sure furnace vent pipes are clear of snow
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 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.
Singing group seeks singers
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bustang to Denver
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.
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 free 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.
Emergency Notification System update
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.
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
The Palmer Lake Library hours are Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 66 Lower Glenway. Info: 481-2587, www.ppld.org.
The Monument Branch Library hours are Mon.-Thu., 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun., 1-5 p.m. 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Info: 488-2370, www.ppld.org.
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.
This page was last modified on March 02, 2018. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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