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El Paso Board of County Commissioners, March 20 and 27: Preparation for wildfires urged; The Beach at Woodmoor approved
By Helen Walklett and Lisa Hatfield
At its March 20 meeting, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) received an update on the Fort Carson/Midway fire. The commissioners took the opportunity to warn citizens of the danger of wildfires this season and to urge them to be prepared. Commissioner Stan VanderWerf said, "It seems obvious to me. We are headed for a really difficult fire season unless something changes in the weather here soon. I would encourage everybody to do what they can to prepare their homes and to be ready to evacuate just in case that would be necessary."
He pointed out that there is a lot of information and resources on the county website to help citizens. Encouraging everyone to do what they can to reduce fire risk at their homes, he said, "It might save your house. It might save your life." For ideas, see http://www.elpasoco.com and search "wildfire."
The unincorporated areas of the county were put under Stage 1 fire restrictions by Deputy Fire Warden John Padgett on March 16. The action was in response to the continued dry conditions and the National Weather Service forecast for continued dry and warmer than normal conditions, resulting in very high to extreme fire danger ratings. The restrictions prohibit the following:
• Open burning, except for fires and campfires within permanently constructed fire grates in developed campgrounds and picnic grounds’ charcoal grills and wood burning stoves at private residences in areas cleared of all flammable materials.
• The sale or use of fireworks.
• Public prescribed burning/burn permits.
• Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
The Stage 1 restrictions will remain in effect until it is deemed safe to remove them. Should the situation worsen, Stage 2 burn fire restrictions can be implemented that prohibit most outdoor burning.
The Beach at Woodmoor single-family homes approved
At its March 27 meeting, the commissioners approved two applications related to The Beach at Woodmoor, which will include 35 single-family homes costing $450,000 to $600,000 along Lake Woodmoor Drive, said Andrea Barlow of NES Inc.
See also related El Paso County Planning Commission article on page 3 with more background and a vicinity map on page 4.
County staff reports indicated that this development would not significantly impact traffic problems. Raimere Fitzpatrick, Project Manager/Planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, said that the bulk of traffic was due to offsite impacts, including "user choices" creating "inflated traffic" around the school that was hard for traffic engineers to account for, since instead of students riding the bus or walking, more of them were arriving in private cars. He said, "We know there are traffic issues in the area, however this development was originally approved (in 1972) at a much higher density (82 townhomes), so the roads were built to accommodate that then. This project is lessening the overall potential impact, not exacerbating it."
The commissioners empathized with area residents about deterioration of infrastructure and overall increases in traffic in the vicinity of the intersection of Woodmoor Drive and Lake Woodmoor Drive. Commissioner Peggy Littleton said she hoped the neighbors were happy the parcel was not being developed with townhomes at 10 dwelling units per acre (du/ac) as had been originally planned, but instead at 2.8 du/ac single family homes.
BOCC President Darryl Glenn said 80 percent of the complaints he receives as the resident commissioner are about the intersections and the deterioration of infrastructure in this area. He did not agree with staff that the development met the criteria to "not overburden the capacity of existing planned roadways."
Commissioner Stan VanderWerf said since this specific area receives so many complaints about the roads, he wanted to hear more about the county’s strategic plans to improve overall traffic flows there. The consensus was to direct staff to report back to the BOCC on this question.
Barlow explained that the development was now including room for a 20-foot right of way along Lake Woodmoor Drive in case that road is widened in the future. Also, the Woodmoor Improvement Association has received a $350,000 grant to create pedestrian walkways in a loop around Lake Woodmoor as part of the Woodmoor trail network, including a bridge crossing the spillway, to increase safe pedestrian access to schools.
Senior Assistant County Attorney Cole Emmons verified that the state engineer had confirmed the water sufficiency to be provided by Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, according to "paper water rights, what is decreed by the courts."
Fitzpatrick said the final plat would be subject to park fees, school fees, drainage fees, and transportation and road impact fees.
During the public hearing, no residents spoke in favor of the project. Sharon (Sam) Schafer spoke against it.
The commissioners voted 4-1 to approve both the Planned Unit Development/Preliminary Plan and the Final Plat for The Beach at Woodmoor. President Darryl Glenn voted no.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jim Kendrick
On March 15, General Manager Kip Petersen briefed the Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) board on planned proposals by the Colorado Springs Utilities’ Utility Policy Advisory Committee (CSU UPAC) and groundwater storage rules that will be discussed by the state Groundwater Commission in May.
Director Bob Denny was unanimously excused from the meeting.
Petersen gave a brief overview of the UPAC’s draft whitepaper’s recommendations that were finalized at the March 7 CSU UPAC meeting and then presented as a discussion item on March 21 to the CSU Utility Board, which is the Colorado Springs City Council.
The 73-page March 7 UPAC meeting packet included a document titled Regional Collaboration Assignment Draft Recommendations that listed the tasks that were assigned for UPAC study by the Utility Board:
• Assignment scope
• Stakeholder input
• Key findings
• Regional collaboration benefits and considerations
• Contract pricing recommendations
• Policy recommendations
• Recommended changes to city code
• Recommendations for outside-city contract implementation
Petersen said that CSU’s current multiplier for charges to customers outside the CSU/city service area, like Donala, is 1.5, or 50 percent more than CSU customers currently pay. He noted that UPAC would be recommending that the drinking water multiplier for outside entities be reduced to 1.2 (only 20 percent more), and the corresponding multiplier for wastewater treatment would be reduced to 1.1 (only 10 percent more.)
Petersen added that the model that UPAC had recommended to the CSU Utility Board is very much like the existing intergovernmental agreement between CSU and DWSD for treating Donala’s renewable surface water.
This ranch water comes from Donala’s Willow Creek Ranch water right near Leadville, is stored in Pueblo Reservoir, and then is pumped north through the CSU Southern Delivery System pipeline to a CSU potable water treatment plant. CSU then pumps Donala’s treated water farther north in an existing CSU distribution pipeline to an interconnection with the DWSD distribution system for direct distribution to DWSD’s potable water taps.
Petersen reported that CSU prefers that water entities provide their own raw water for transport, treatment, and distribution, as Donala currently does, over sales of CSU’s own renewable water to separate regional water entities outside of the CSU service area. Currently, the only Tri-Lakes region water entities that own renewable surface water rights for this kind of regional collaboration are DWSD, Triview Metropolitan District, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD), and the Town of Monument. Only DWSD and WWSD own storage rights for renewable surface water, in Pueblo Reservoir and Lake Woodmoor, respectively. Only Donala has an existing collaboration contract with CSU.
After contract pricing and policy recommendations are finalized by the Utility Board, several substantial changes by the City Council to the City Code will be required to implement CSU’s regional collaboration initiative, with possible implementation as early as 2019. Petersen said he would continue to update the board on this initiative.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on April 19 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 Helen Walklett
At its March 6 meeting, the El Paso County Planning Commission voted 5 to 2 to recommend approval of The Beach at Woodmoor development. This would see 35 single-family residential lots built on two parcels of land to the north and south side of Lake Woodmoor Drive between Lower Lake Road and the Lake Woodmoor spillway. See the vicinity map on page 4.
Discussion surrounded the density of the proposed development and concerns that the additional homes would worsen existing traffic congestion in the area.
The applicant, Lake Woodmoor Holdings LLC, was also responsible for The Dunes development in Woodmoor. The Beach consists of two parcels of land totalling just over 12 acres. Part of the applicant’s request involved the rezoning of the larger of the two parcels from R-4 (planned development), a now obsolete zoning, to RR-5 (Residential Rural). There had been an approved R-4 development plan in place for this parcel of land that authorized the development of 82 townhomes and condominium units that were never built. The applicant also requested the approval of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) development plan as a preliminary plan and the approval of a final plat.
Representing the applicant, Andrea Barlow of consultants NES told the commission that the main issues raised at a neighborhood meeting held in June 2017 were density, the impact on property prices, school capacity concerns, and traffic congestion. Barlow argued that the proposed density of the development was in keeping with the surrounding area where there is a mix of densities, saying, "We feel we are right in the middle of what’s been previously approved in the area."
She told the commissioners that there had been ongoing discussions with the school district, which has plans for two new elementary schools (in the Forest Lakes and Bear Creek areas), and that the developer would be paying cash fees in lieu of land to the district. The developer had also provided some land to the district’s "Safe Route to School" program to facilitate pedestrian access to the nearby Lewis-Palmer Elementary School. It also helped procure $350,000 in grant money to facilitate building additional pedestrian routes around Lake Woodmoor, Barlow said.
Barlow said that traffic studies had shown that the 35 homes would not result in that much additional traffic on the streets. Challenging her on the traffic issue, Commissioner Kevin Mastin said that 15 letters of objection had been received from people living in the neighborhood and that most of them "talk about how horrible the traffic is prior to these 35 homes being built." He also raised concerns about the density, asking if it were really necessary to have 35 homes versus working with the neighbors to reach a happy medium.
Responding, Barlow said, "We had a neighborhood meeting. We listened to their concerns … and we maintain that we think this density and this number of lots is appropriate for the site." She continued, "Regarding traffic, I think we hear that at every single project we present that the neighbors’ perception of traffic is … quite frequently out of proportion to what the circumstances are on the ground. The degree to which there is an existing traffic problem is, I think, a perception issue rather than a reality issue."
No member of the public spoke in support of the application. Sharon (Sam) Schafer spoke against, raising concerns about the existing traffic situation and the impact of the proposed 35 homes. She said, "They can do all of their traffic studies, but they’re not seeing it like we do every day."
Responding, Barlow said, "Regarding the traffic issues that were raised, these are primarily the offsite traffic issues that really are not related to this project."
Ahead of the vote, Commissioner Tony Gioia said, "I plan to vote in favor of this. I certainly hear the impassioned plea for the issues surrounding the traffic in the area, but I tend to agree with the applicant that this is not really their fault or their requirement to fix as it’s a much larger problem." Commissioner Brian Risley, while stating that he understood the concerns, was also in favor and said, "I think this as an infill project is actually a good way of dealing with the growth that we know is coming and has been coming to northern El Paso County.… I, for one, support this because it is an infill project which is being done with a lot of sensitivity for the surrounding neighbors in terms of density and housing type."
Commissioner Mastin said, "I’m going to vote against it, and the reason is that I have to give the neighbors a voice." Also voting against, Commissioner Joan Lucia-Treese commented, "I am concerned that it is not compatible with the area. Traffic, density, the number of letters of objection are of concern to me. I think that there could have been a better job done. It’s just kind of hitting me as railroading over the residents and for that reason I vote against it."
The application went to the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) with a recommendation for approval. It was scheduled to be heard at the BOCC meeting on March 27. See the related BOCC article on page 1 for those results.
Captioin: The borders of The Beach at Woodmoor are shown in red. The Lewis-Palmer Elementary School pedestrian access is shown by the dotted line. The development was approved by the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on March 27. Graphic courtesy of the BOCC live-stream video.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
The mail ballot election for Pinon Pines District No. 1 (associated with the Forest Lakes development) is currently proceeding for the May 8 election. Pinon Pines Metropolitan District 1 currently has only two four-year terms available on the Board of Directors (James Boulton’s current position and one vacancy), so there are four candidates running for two positions. The candidates and ballot order for the four-year terms are as follows:
• Mike Slavick
• Steven Schlosser
• Mike Hitchcock
• James Boulton
The Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) is a resource for election proceedings and requirements. The 2018 transparency notices with pertinent and required information for all the Pinon Districts were posted to both the Special District Association website and the DOLA portal and transmitted out as required pursuant to Section 32-1-809, Colorado Revised Statutes. These can be found respectively at http://www.sdaco.org/transparency/ and https://dola.colorado.gov/lgis/.
Megan A. Holmberg of Spencer Fane LLP is the designated election official.
By James Howald
At its March 8 meeting, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation (WWSD) board canceled the election scheduled for May 8. The board also answered questions concerning the Woodmoor Ranch (previously known as the JV Ranch) and discussed plans to address problems with the augmentation station on the Chilcott Ditch that delivers water to ditch shareholders, including WWSD.
Board election canceled
District attorney Erin Smith reported to the board that since there were two candidates for the three available seats on the board, Election Officer Wynter Wells had canceled the election, as state law allows. The two self-nominated candidates are Jim Taylor, currently serving as the president of the board, and resident Lee Hanson; both candidates are declared elected by acclamation, Smith said, adding that their terms would begin on May 8.
One vacant seat on the board would remain, Smith said, as there was no third candidate.
Neighbors ask about future of ranch
Robert and Sylvia Bryson, who live near the district’s Woodmoor Ranch, asked the board about its plans for the ranch. District Manager Jessie Shaffer explained that the district purchased the ranch 10 years ago, primarily to acquire rights to the ranch’s water, and that the district is currently revegetating the portion of the ranch that was historically irrigated with native grasses, to prevent soil erosion. Shaffer said the revegetation effort and irrigation of the ranch should be completed by 2024.
In response to a question from the Brysons about the impact of the district’s plans on their well, Shaffer advised them to seek professional advice.
Shaffer said the district is considering leasing 500 acres of the ranch to a solar power company, which would use the land to install a large-scale solar array.
Augmentation station threatened by erosion
In his report to the board on the Chilcott Ditch, Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette said the district’s augmentation station on the ditch was being undermined by erosion, and that he had met with Matrix Design to develop plans to keep the station operational. Gillette said if the augmentation station were lost to erosion, the district would be in danger of losing the Chilcott Ditch as well.
Matrix Design developed two remediation plans, Gillette said, the first adequate for a 10-year storm and costing $150,000, and the second adequate for a 100-year storm and costing $600,000. Gillette said both plans would be presented to the Chilcott Ditch board in a week.
Shaffer and Gillette said it was possible that Colorado Springs and other regional governmental agencies might assist with the funding, since the erosion is partially a Fountain Creek issue. Shaffer said a special assessment for the Chilcott Ditch’s shareholders might be required to fund the work. WWSD is the largest shareholder, according to Shaffer.
The board authorized Shaffer and Gillette to focus on the more expensive and durable of the two approaches.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 12 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) volunteered to participate in the state nutrient incentive program. It also decided to step up its biological oxygen demand sampling measures, as a protective measure, on March 13.
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: WWSD board Director at Large Rich Strom, president; MSD board Chairman Ed DeLaney, vice president; and PLSD board Director Pat Smith, treasurer/secretary. Other board and staff members of the three owner districts also attended, including MSD District Manager Mike Wicklund, PLSD District Manager Becky Orcutt, and WWSD Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette.
Facility manager will research BOD limit for facility
Facility Manager Bill Burks summarized the discharge monitoring report (DMR) for January by saying, "This plant is performing top notch right now…. We have a lot of organisms out there doing all the work."
Burks sent the following four letters to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in March:
• Voluntary Nutrient Reduction Incentive Program Letter of Intent: This letter immediately initiates TLWWTF’s attempt to earn running time credit toward an extended compliance schedule for plant expansion to comply with future tighter state nitrogen and phosphorus discharge limits that have not yet been defined. TLWWTF’s incentive program plan is to meet a rolling annual median total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) discharge limit of 7 mg/l and a rolling annual median total phosphorus (TP) discharge limit of 0.7 mg/l, both less than the current existing rolling annual median discharge permit limits of 15 mg/l and 1 mg/l, respectively.
• Letter reporting that TLWWTF’s October 2017 30-day average of daily influent BOD flows exceeded 80 percent of its daily rated treatment capacity of 5,600 per day for influent solid wastes: The facility reported average daily influent BOD flow of 5,057 pounds per day in its October 2017 Discharge Monitoring Report. These DMRs are submitted to both CDPHE and the EPA. This particular average flow was the first time the plant’s BOD influent exceeded 80 percent of the plant’s influent solid waste rated design capacity of 5,600 pounds biological oxygen demand (BOD) per day—which is 4,480 pounds per day of net organic solid waste loading.
• Letter describing TLWWTF’s Revised Discharge Monitoring Report influent BOD measurement calculation method: This letter was requested by CDPHE Senior Field Engineer Paul Hanson due to a 2015 change in the state’s BOD reporting regulations. The original calculation of the percentage amount of rated daily TLWWTF BOD treatment capacity used in December 2017 was 78 percent of TLWWTF’s rated BOD treatment capacity of 5,600 pounds of BOD per day. This 78 percent calculation was listed in the TLWWTF December 2017 DMR. After using the changed procedure from 2015 for a re-calculation, as Hanson requested, only 75 percent of rated TLWWTF’s rated BOD treatment capacity was used. The 75 percent figure was reported to the state and EPA in a revised TLWWTF December 2017 DMR.
• Letter describing TLWWTF’s Revised Discharge Monitoring Report influent BOD calculations for May 2015 through November 2017: Hanson suggested that Burks submit corrected DMRs for this period using the same new 2015 formula for calculating the percentage of rated BOD treatment capacity used. Burks performed all these recalculations and submitted revised monthly TLWWTF DMRs for each month from May 2015 through November 2017 with the adjusted percentages. See www.ocn.me/v18n3.htm#tlwtf.
Sampling rate increased
After a discussion, the JUC unanimously directed Burks to increase the plant influent BOD sampling frequency to four times a month, so that if any spikes occurred in a single sample in the future, Burks could show the state that this single sample was anomalous and not a trend that would trigger a state requirement that TLWWTF start designing an expansion for new additional rated BOD treatment capacity. Strom and Gillette reiterated that they would prefer eight samples a month but agreed that the increasing the sample size to four samples per month would be helpful.
The JUC also directed Burks to ask for help from Tetra Tech, whose engineers designed the plant, and from TLWWTF’s environmental attorney, Gabe Racz of Vranish & Raisch LLP. With that background information, Burks would then be dealing with the state to find out why TLWWTF’s permit, which originally rated TLWWTF at 9,600 pounds of BOD per day, had been reduced to 5,600 pounds per day.
Burks said he did not think 5,600 pounds per day was a reasonable number, since TLWWTF was "not like other facilities." He said he thought they had proven right now that the facility can do this with minimal blower input. "And look at our effluent quality!"
The consensus was that Burks would report back to the JUC on the progress about this discharge permit rated BOD capacity question in April.
TENORM and arsenic regulations in flux
Gillette, Burks, and Wicklund discussed Colorado HB-1215, a bill concerning greater protections regarding the disposal of both naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) and technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials (TENORM) that is going through the state Legislature now. The intention of this bill is to require CDPHE to adopt rules for appropriate disposal of both NORM and TENORM, which can be contained in the waste products from the oil and gas exploration and production industry. Regular public wastewater treatment facilities such as TLWWTF were also originally included in this bill, but it’s not clear if wastewater treatment facilities will be removed now as it goes through the Legislature, Burks said.
Wicklund said this bill could affect TLWWTF if TENORM ended up in TLWWTF’s sludge after the Town of Monument removes naturally occurring radium from its drinking water. This proposed removal process creates concentrated TENORM in specialized radium removal filters, then backwashes these radium filters into the MSD sanitary sewer collection system where the TENORM filtrates would become part of the MSD influent to TLWWTF. These Town of Monument TENORM biosolids would be collected and pumped to the TLWWTF sludge lagoon for about two years of storage. Currently, TLWWTF sludge is dredged out of the lagoon every two years, dewatered, loaded into 18-wheel tractor-trailers, then transported to farms and applied to farmland as re-use fertilizer. If this constructive method of Class B sludge re-use as safe agricultural fertilizer was no longer possible, the sludge would have to be sent to a hazardous materials waste dump for radioactive materials instead, a method of disposal that will be extremely more expensive and difficult.
Gillette said the bill is just an effort to develop some kind of state standard, since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not developed a federal standard yet for the oil and gas industry, and "I think we are on right track as long as we are doing proactive sampling for baseline."
Burks said that TLWWTF still intends to do a baseline influent radium sample in 2018. The JUC had already directed Burks to get this done in 2017, but neither the February or May 2017 influent grab sampling attempts were successful. They need to be done when the town notifies him that its Public Works Department drinking water operators are pumping backwash water from the town’s Well 9 sand filter into the MSD collection system. See www.ocn.me/v17n4.htm#tlwfjuc.
Burks said MSD Environmental Compliance Coordinator Jim Kendrick has been attending many meetings and talking with Racz and Justine Beckstrom of Vranish and Raisch to prepare for the upcoming state regulations hearing that could affect TLWWTF in a variety of ways.
One new topic of concern is that the Water Quality Control Division might reduce TLWWTF arsenic limits from 10 micrograms per liter (μg/l) for the state rivers and streams wastewater standard to 0.02 μg/l for the state’s Monument Creek drinking water standard. Burks said TLWWTF puts out 2 μg/l now in its effluent. Wicklund said that the new $3.6 million total phosphorus chemical clarifier removal system that TLWWTF just built could also help remove more arsenic by changing the types of chemicals used from alum to ferric chloride, but it would still be very difficult to reduce it to 0.02 μg/l.
Kendrick and Burks also continue to participate in monthly meetings of the Arkansas River/ Fountain Creek Coalition for Urban/Rural River Evaluation (AF CURE), which is collecting data and doing studies in the watershed to be able to demonstrate to the CDPHE how effective current wastewater treatment efforts already are.
Wicklund and Burks mentioned that, in an ironic twist, the state might start requiring drinking water treatment facilities to add "ortho phosphorus" to treat "aggressive waters" with high pH levels, to keep metals from leaching out of copper and lead pipes. However, this would increase the amount of dissolved phosphorus that is already in the drinking water. This phosphorus would become a tightly regulated nutrient in influent heading to wastewater treatment facilities after household use. Racz and Beckman will help the facility advocate with the state to limit the requirement for ortho phosphorus in areas with no lead pipes and few copper pipes, Kendrick mentioned in an email to the JUC before the meeting.
New generation of workers needed
Burks said that replacing Baby Boomers retiring from the wastewater treatment industry was a big concern at the recent national operator conference he attended in San Antonio. As more experienced operators retire, there is a wealth of information that needs to be transferred to a new generation, but there is a shortage of new applicants for entry-level jobs.
Skills that are required in new trainees include good record keeping and documentation, data collection, understanding of state regulations, and mechanical/equipment maintenance interest and abilities, Burks said. As Kendrick has said before, this is an industry that will always have jobs.
At 11:33 a.m., the meeting went into executive session to discuss personnel issues. Burks told OCN that no announcements or votes had been made when the meeting returned to open session.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 10 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public. For information, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District directors discussed newly developing options for water and wastewater cooperation and regionalization, the status of the rate study, election cancellation, preparations for board transition, spring landscaping, and road repair at the March 13 board meeting.
Director James Otis participated via conference call.
Triview is a Colorado Title 32 special district, completely within Monument’s town boundaries, on the east side of I-25. Triview provides roads, parks, and drainage maintenance, and water and sanitation utility services, to the residents and businesses in the district roughly bordered by Old Denver Road, Higby Road, and Baptist Road. Triview’s water system is wholly independent of Monument’s Public Works water system located on the west side of I-25. Residents of Triview should call the district directly when they have questions about these items. For a map, see www.townofmonument.org/230/Triview-Metropolitan-District-Map.
The Town of Monument (organized under Colorado Revised Statutes Title 30) provides land use planning, police, and general governance for property owners in the whole town, which includes Triview. Residents of Triview should call the town with questions on those topics.
Election cancelled; board undergoes transition
Because there were not more candidates for director than offices to be filled, the election that would have been held May 8 was cancelled. Directors Mark Melville and James Barnhart will return for four-year terms, Directors Marco Fiorito and James Otis will complete their four-year terms by serving the next two years, and new Director Anthony Sexton will join the board for a four-year term. The new board will be sworn in at the May board meeting.
Cooperation sparks innovative thinking on water and wastewater
Triview Interim District Manager Jim McGrady reported that CSI, Challenger Homes, and Triview recently agreed to bring the northern half of the Home Place Ranch subdivision into the west interceptor sewer line according to a plan previously proposed by JDS-Hydro Consultants Inc. Civil Engineer John McGinn. Triview serves as project manager for the west interceptor. Because this agreement increases the number of single-family equivalents (SFEs), it reduces the proportionate cost for all participants and the engineering plan avoids unnecessary upheaval and expense.
McGrady added that the developer working on the west side of I-25 invited Triview to include a water connection to his project while installing the west interceptor sewer line. District Water Attorney Chris Cummins of Monson, Cummins and Shohet LLC is drafting an agreement for the water and multiple-parcel wastewater connection, McGrady said. This line would run from about the Jackson Creek senior center, west under I-25, and parallel to the west interceptor, which will create a looping effect. The board brainstormed a bigger, more regional perspective that would involve a large-capacity "backbone" and spurs for emergency connections to places like Monument and Woodmoor. McGrady remarked that this is similar to the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency Partnership (WISE) in Douglas County. See www.southmetrowater.org for more information on WISE.
Dovetailing off this discussion, Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton added that the district is continuing to look at reconfiguring the use of the A and B plants. A reconfiguration has the potential to increase water flow capacity, allow the district to rotate use of current wells, and ultimately, avoid drilling a new well.
Potential for regional conversations alters planning
The Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Board directed the Utilities Policy Advisory Committee to study regional collaboration and, as a result, focuses on water and wastewater expansion. This unexpected invitation to proactively collaborate and plan for growth regionally changes how metropolitan districts—such as Triview—plan for the short- and long-term. McGrady expressed an interest in slowing capital planning on the rate study for a month or two to "let the dust settle, because I think it really does significantly change the way we’ve been looking at things." Triview hired Raftelis Financial Consultants Inc. to conduct the rate study to better inform long-term planning, tie cost-to-service with revenue, determine major projects, and evaluate costs, payments, and debt service. He anticipated that the rate study conclusions would still be available for the May board meeting but emphasized the need to consider the impact of a more "global" perspective on the rate model.
Road rehabilitation scheduled to begin soon
McGrady reported that he and Schmidt Construction Co. Project Manager Jim Stewart were scheduled to finalize decisions on whether some district roads will receive a full mill and overlay or an edge mill. By edge milling, the district maximizes the number of lane miles paved while remaining under a $1.5 million spending cap. McGrady added that the materials would be sourced from Castle Rock—instead of competing with Colorado Springs construction projects—and that Triview would be Schmidt’s first project for the summer. If weather cooperates, a six-week completion time frame is possible, he said.
Landscape irrigation moving along
Installation of the central control system for landscape irrigation has been steady, McGrady said. Sixty percent of the clocks have been installed, and fertilization has been scheduled for April 19. Aeration has been completed in many areas, but some areas were covered in thatch and will require a second pass when the soil has softened.
Fiorito questioned if there was a plan for landscaping. McGrady commented that Evan Miles’ experience from working with the central control system would guide the crews regarding which plants to purchase and how and where to plant them.
Home Place Ranch expected to add thousands of vehicle trips
President Reid Bolander reported that he and McGrady had met casually with a few Public Works individuals to brainstorm ideas for widening Jackson Creek Parkway. In addition to considering various funding sources, including those outside of the district, McGrady emphasized that the priority is to work with the Town of Monument and focus on meeting projected traffic needs. With Home Place Ranch adding an estimated 600 homes and a rule of thumb that each home generates nine car trips per day, the new development has the potential to add 4,500 cars per day to area roads. The bulk of that traffic will likely access the Jackson Creek Parkway collector (See related photo about a March 23 Home Place Ranch neighborhood meeting on page 27).
Director James Otis and Fiorito expressed support for initiating first steps. Otis promoted planning to mitigate congestion during construction, and Fiorito emphasized planning for a bike lane and foot trail on the west side of the parkway.
Financials and disbursements reviewed and approved
The directors reviewed the February financials and asked questions of the few items over budget. McGrady said that an insurance audit showed areas of underinsurance for which the district is playing catch-up, and an information technology expense was high due to a software conversion. Disbursements over $5,000 included:
• Monson, Cummins and Shohet LLC—$5,860
• Walker Schooler—$13,000
• Golder Associates Inc.—$22,766
• Conservative Waters LLC—$30,000
Additional reports and decisions made
Throughout the meeting, various updates were reported and decisions were approved that included:
• The board approved signs to deter overnight parking at Promontory Pointe parks.
• A recent cleaning and inspection of the B-plant water storage tank revealed that it will need a liner replacement sometime in the fall or later.
• Installation of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system continued. A-Plant is expected to be completely "blanketed" in one to two months. New instrumentation will be installed at B-Plant in anticipation of improvements scheduled for the fall.
• The new flow meter was utilized to gauge water loss. Sexton estimated a preliminary loss of 1 percent—an excellent result.
• McGrady anticipated that the district’s new website, upgraded to be more user-friendly, was scheduled to be up and running March 14. The new website is located at www.triviewmetro.com. The mailing date for the district’s first newsletter was scheduled for March 16. Fiorito recommended including an educational item in each newsletter.
• The board approved a memorandum of understanding between the district and the Town of Monument for the construction of up to 300 feet of block wall along the outer perimeter of the Public Works A-yard with the caveat that the district would not pay a use tax.
• McGrady presented the board a new budget format that separates revenue and expenses for Public Works, and parks and open space. This generated discussion of options for when and if a profit is realized.
The board adjourned at 6:57 p.m. and went into executive session for §24-6-402(4)(b)(e)(f) legal advice, negotiations and personnel.
After the executive session, McGrady announced that the board voted unanimously to retain water attorney Steve Sims of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP to assist Triview with a water court proceeding involving recently purchased shares in the Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. Triview water attorney Chris Cummins had a possible conflict as it relates to this case. Sims has years of legal experience working for a number of municipal clients in Northern Colorado and across the western half of the United States. See https://www.bhfs.com/people/attorneys/p-s/ssims for more information on Sims’ professional history.
The next Triview meeting will be held April 10 at 5 p.m. at the Fairfield Inn, Mt. Herman Conference Room, 15275 Struthers Road, Colorado Springs. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868 or see www.triviewmetro.com. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook, or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board met for a long-range planning work group on March 15. At the regular monthly board meeting on March 20, the directors voted to pay off the balance of the $1 million construction loan on Shamrock Station 2 and order a new wildland fire brush truck.
Attorney Matt Court of Ireland Stapleton attended the meeting.
March 15 work group: Where are we going …?
Accounting for current financial and material resources, using the district’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) assessment, factoring in the area’s rapid growth, and being guided by the mission statement, DWFPD staff developed short- and long-term goals based on the question, "Where are we going and what can we expect in the next 10 years?"
Chief Vinny Burns and Assistant Chief Scott Ridings established the goal to reduce call response times to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard of 5 minutes 90 percent of the time, to improve the district’s ISO rating from the current 3. Lowering its ISO rating to a 1 or 2 may lead to lower homeowner insurance rates for district residents and potentially provide the district with leverage in merger talks.
Another goal is to build on the strong, long-held community rapport by eventually hiring a community risk reduction officer (CRRO) to manage community programs, assess training needs, and provide planning support. Working in cooperation with other fire districts to create a regional training center surfaced as a high priority in addition to collaborating with appropriate county entities to improve dispatch communications. Burns and Ridings expressed their objective to support paid staff with competitive pay and benefits and volunteer staff with expanded opportunities for growth and training. The chiefs developed a list of anticipated equipment and project needs, which was discussed in greater detail at the March 20 board meeting and is listed below.
March 20 board meeting: Expenses prioritized and purchases approved
Burns provided a list of roughly estimated equipment and project expenses spanning the next 10 years to give the board "food for thought." The list reflected discussion generated from the March 15 work group session. Anticipated expenses for 2018 included:
• Type 6 Wildland Engine (commonly called a brush truck), $170,000
• Personal protective equipment, $70,000
• Wildland protective equipment, clothing, gear bags, etc., $10,000
• Communication/station alerting, $75,000
• Command vehicle, $70,000
• Water filtration system for Station 2, $5,000
• Electronic signs at both stations, $16,000
• Flagpole lights for Stations 1 and 2, $5,000
• Maintenance projects (to begin in 2018), $13,000
Additional expenses for 2019 and after included:
• 3,500-gallon tender (to serve homes without fire hydrants), $250,000
• Remodel Station 1 to reconfigure medical treatment room, kitchen, and bathrooms, $50,000
• HVAC system, $10,000
• Technology, i.e., drones, computers, $30,000
• New door installation to improve ingress and egress of Station 2, $5,000
• Wall enclosure for fire pump at Station 2, $2,000
• Boiler to heat coils under cement pads at Station 2, $15,000
• Classroom/community building, $250,000
• Truck exhaust system for Stations 1 and 2 (grant possibility), $60,000
• Engine, $750,000
Ridings added that Wescott has been successful in receiving grant funds in the past and will continue to apply for grant support when applicable. Board Chair Greg Gent recommended that the expenses be itemized in the budget.
Burns addressed the topic of paying off the loan on Station 2, which Director Harland Baker had suggested at the February meeting. Burns stated that the current interest incurred is about $6,000 per month, and a payoff at this time would save about $350,000 over the life of the loan. Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich stated that she received confirmation from the bank that the district would save on interest if the loan were to be paid off early. The board approved the immediate Station 2 loan payoff of $1.12 million from the reserve fund. Station 2 was built in 2012. See www.ocn.me/v12n5.htm#dwfpd.
Ridings and Lt. Curt Leonhardt presented information about the Type 6 Wildland Engine proposed by Burns. Ridings explained that the truck has a smaller cabin chassis (550/5500) and is equipped with a smaller pump that can go to wildland and grassland fires. The district is seeking to replace a 1999 Ford 550 truck that has experienced transmission and other mechanical issues over the past few deployments. A special committee was formed to research the purchase and submitted requests for proposal from two companies. Ridings commented that the truck meets the district’s needs and would not just be used for deployments. Leonhardt estimated a six-to-nine month wait for the truck to be built. "There is really no end to the fire season anymore," Ridings commented.
Director Harland Baker pointed out that the truck would be a revenue generator for the district because the federal government pays for deployments. The board discussed the pros and cons of selling or donating the old brush truck. After further discussion, the board voted to approve the purchase of the Type 6 Engine for an estimated $170,000.
Baker asked Burns to provide the directors with an updated budget next month, so they could see the new balances after all these very large capital outlays were made.
District prepares for May 8 polling place election
Popovich remarked that ballots for residents who qualified under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) had been mailed and provided a timeline of activities prior to the May 8 election.
All other district residents who wish to vote must personally visit the Wescott polling place at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 90821. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 8.
Election candidates for the four-year terms are: Gary Rusnak, Duane Garrett, Greg Gent, Mark Gunderman, and Joyce Hartung. Candidates for the two-year term are: Rachel Dunn and write-in candidate Larry Schwarz.
See related DWFPD candidate statements on page 13.
Caution to community about fire season and restrictions
Burns discussed recent El Paso County wildland fires in which Wescott firefighters assisted and noted that the fires are becoming bigger and more frequent. Due to dry weather conditions, Burns cautioned that the community remains under a stage one fire restriction. "The last round of snow we had was not enough to make a difference" in the fire danger, he said.
Burns announced that as of March 28, the district would staff Station 2 on Highway 83, which was not staffed at all last year due to budget constraints. He also confirmed the intention of the DWFPD and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) boards to schedule a social event after the May election.
Burns reported that Wescott received a donated home that the district was using for a wide variety of training drills before demolition.
Ridings provided statistics for February’s response activity. Wescott firefighters responded to 39 EMS and 29 fire-related incidents. The district provided automatic aid in 12 calls and received aid from other districts in four calls. One fire incurred a $115 loss, which was "a few bales of hay."
Residents speak and board listens
Resident and Gleneagle North Homeowners’ Association (HOA) Treasurer Gary Rusnak provided the board documentation of his budget analysis. Using 2017 actual income and expense figures provided in the 2018 approved budget, Rusnak critiqued the district’s itemization of various expenses and noted mathematical inaccuracies. Gent thanked him for presenting these questions and said the board would definitely look at all of them.
During final public comments and after board approval of the Station 2 payoff and Type 6 Wildland Engine, Rusnak argued that the board’s comments regarding wildland deployment income offsetting the Type 6 Wildland Engine expense repudiated Ridings’ previous written comment in September that the district does not profit from wildland deployments.
Resident Dennis Feltz expressed his concern that Station 2 would be staffed again, stating that this was a different operational plan from the one presented prior to the November 2017 election to increase the mill levy. Feltz explained, "With staff at both stations, there will never be a four-man engine crew staffed with paid firefighters and I am concerned for the safety of my family and our community."
The board went into executive session at 8 p.m. to consult with its attorney about the Colorado Open Meetings Act. Popovich told OCN that the board did not take any votes or make any announcements when the meeting returned to open session.
Caption: Family and friends showed support for George Laugesen at his swearing in as a career firefighter for the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District at the March 20 board meeting. Front row from left: Luke Fallentine, Huey Laugesen, Walter Laugesen, Tachiana Hernandez, G. Roy Laugesen, Caedyn Fallentine, and Fred Laugesen. Back row from left: Wayne Laugesen, Dede Laugesen, Oscar Laugesen, Sheri Fallentine, and George Laugesen.
Caption: girlfriend Hernandez pins the firefighters’ badge on Laugesen. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor.
The next DWFPD Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. and will be preceded by the Volunteer Pension Board meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Please call (719) 488-8680, a non-emergency number, for more information, or visit www.wescottfire.org. Wescott is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Belated thanks to Natalie Barszcz, Lisa Hatfield, and John Howe for recording, documenting, and photographing the Feb. 20 board meeting reported in the March issue of OCN.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at email@example.com.
On May 8, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District will hold a polling place election. Wescott’s polling place is Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 90821. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You must go to the polling place to cast your vote in person. This is not a mailed ballot.
Three directors will be elected to serve a term of four years, and one director will be elected to serve for a term of two years.
Question: In no more than 150 words, describe the specific skills, knowledge, and perspective that qualify you to make informed decisions for the future of the fire district.
Rachel Dunn (two-year term)
My name is Rachel Dunn and I am currently serving as a director for the Wescott Fire Protection District. Before joining the board, I served as the director of girls’ soccer for the North Olmsted Soccer Organization and registrar for the Tri-Lakes Little League. I spend numerous hours volunteering at Antelope Trails both in the classroom and with the PTO. During the past year, I have taken part in Special District Associations trainings and attending classes through the Colorado Wildland Academy.
As directors, we have a fiduciary responsibility to the community with the money you have entrusted with us. We need to plan for the financial future of the district and ensure our community maintains a superior level of service. I am running for re-election because I firmly believe you should be active in the community and give back in whatever way you can.
Duane Garrett (four-year term)
Having served over 24 years of active duty service to our nation, I have had the distinct honor of leading and managing small and large organizations of our nation’s finest professionals. Now, as an aspiring leader for this community, I feel that my experience can provide the leadership and fiduciary prowess required to be an effective member of the Donald Wescott Fire District Board of Directors. Having been a part of a firefighter family for over 22 years, I understand the challenges that communities and fire departments face, and the budgetary constraints that force them to make difficult decisions. As a strong supporter of the recent mill levy referendum, I feel a real sense of obligation to meet the needs of both firefighters and the community to which they serve. With your support, I hope to live up to that challenge through thoughtful consideration and sound budgetary decision-making. Thank you.
Greg Gent (four-year term)
During my time on the Donald Wescott Fire Board, we have made great progress towards making the district stronger and better equipped to handle the changing needs of our district. When I came to Wescott, there was no long-term planning strategy to negotiate with Colorado Springs. Firefighters were underpaid and benefits were sparse, the volunteer pension fund was under funded, Station 3 (which was built by previous boards without permits) was unsafe, budget process was unorganized, and the district was underserved. Since I have been on the board, we have negotiated the exit from the City of Colorado Springs in a gradual process so we could plan for a smooth transition that would keep our district viable. We built Station 2 so we could better serve our east half of the district. The firefighters are better paid and have a future at a fire district that they love serving.
Mark R. Gunderman (four-year term)
I relocated to Gleneagle from California in 2009. In California I was a level 1 reserve deputy sheriff for 20 years and also an instructor at the police academy. I have worked for AAA Insurance for 24 years and I am currently a senior manager leading a department of 130 people. My background gives me a unique perspective on the public safety profession. While I have a tremendous amount of respect for our first responders, I know the board has an obligation to the taxpayers to make sure the department is run with the financial oversight and efficiency seen in the private sector.
Our community deserves the very best in public safety, and that starts with an efficiently run Fire Department that has the people, equipment, and training needed to keep us safe.
Joyce Hartung (four-year term)
Prior to serving on the Wescott Board, I was a director on several other boards for many years and acquired skills to focus on specific issues without distractions. This was important as Wescott first faced challenges to expand to meet rapid growth in the district, which included construction of a second fire station, acquiring an additional truck, and other essential resources.
These efforts were subsequently impacted by a takeover of a major portion of the district by the City of Colorado Springs with an associated loss of tax revenue. Significant downsizing was required. We put into place actions to accommodate the changes including a successful bid for a mill increase. I believe continuity on the board is essential to meet additional challenges the district faces. My continued participation on the board would contribute to such continuity. This is essential to maintain an excellent firehouse with exceptional firefighters and staff.
Gary Rusnak (four-year term)
I’ve been a resident of the community for over 20 years. I have over 40 years’ experience in financial management in and for the Air Force. I’ve served as the treasurer of the Gleneagle North HOA for 15 years. I’ve established a partnership with county government agencies, directly resulting in numerous projects that have minimized the financial burden to our residents and enhanced our property values.
I provided oversight and sound, factual financial analysis attempting to limit the 200 percent tax increase proposed in the 2017 election. Today, the 2018 budget Wescott budget recently approved by the current BOD contained over $1.500 million in unallocated funds, and did not include an additional $400,000 of revenue inadvertently missing.
My financial management expertise, building partnerships with local governing officials, makes me uniquely qualified to move the Wescott Fire Protection Distrust into the future while serving the citizens and keeping an open line of communication.
Larry Schwarz (two-year term)
My name is Larry Schwarz and I am a retired battalion chief from the Colorado Springs Fire Department. I have lived in Gleneagle for over 18 years. My daughter and son-in-law are raising their family in this community as well.
I have worked side by side with members of Wescott Fire and our regional fire departments. My 30 years’ fire experience and 19 years of leadership have provided me with a valuable perspective of what is needed in emergency services. As a board member, I will listen and consider ideas from both residents and our firefighters to ensure fiscal responsibility while maintaining a high standard of emergency services. I am convinced that together we have an opportunity to enhance the emergency services for our community and northern El Paso County. I am asking for your support as a board member for the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Feb. 28 and March 28 Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board meetings, the directors approved a plan to work on a "collaborative working agreement" with the local firefighters’ union, heard concerns about future funding and forecasts for the 2018 wildfire season, and talked about the May 8 TLMFPD polling place election.
Collective bargaining discussion
Chief Chris Truty said the Local 4319 of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) inquired about the possibility of creating a formal collective bargaining agreement. TLMFPD would be the first fire district in El Paso County to have a collective bargaining agreement if the board approves it. He wished to know if the board agreed in general principal to the idea before he spent a lot of time coming up with a document for its consideration. "We have never done this before, and we don’t know what the content is going to be," he said. See www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/LaborRelations.
Lt. Franz Hankins, president of Monument Professional Firefighters Association, presented the union’s perspective to the board on the possibility of creating a "collaborative working agreement" to maintain the status quo within TLMFPD. In effect, it would serve to "solidify current practices we have worked so hard to create," even if there are changes to the board or if the chief retires. He referred to SB 13-025, the Colorado Firefighter Safety Act. See http://extras.denverpost.com/app/bill-tracker/bills/2013a/sb_13-025/.
After much deliberation about the potential content of the draft agreement and its timeline, the board approved this motion by a 6-0 vote: to direct the fire chief and Local 4319 to work collaboratively on an agreement that would address such items as working conditions, health and safety issues, salary, and benefits for all ranks through captain, with a target date for implementation by Aug. 1, 2018, with monthly updates to the board and with the opportunity for extensions.
Gallagher could affect revenue
Truty reported on a call to action he received from the Colorado State Fire Chiefs group regarding the 1982 Gallagher amendment and the anticipated drop in the residential tax rate for calendar year 2020 from 7.2 percent to 6.11 percent. Effectively, that could be a drop in revenue of 25 percent over the next four years.
Truty stated that a return to a recession would also have a dramatic effect on special district funding statewide if property values decline. Funding could continue to go down, "with no chance of it ever going back up," he said. He hoped legislators would consider a four-year moratorium on decreases.
Note: The 1997 TABOR amendment prevents the residential tax assessment rate from increasing again unless voters approve it in a statewide vote.
Truty will meet with NEPCO, the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations Inc., in May to inform them of this potential decrease in funding. For a further explanation, visit the link "3/2/18 Gallagher update from the Colorado State Fire Chiefs" in the center of the district home page at http://tlmfire.org.
Colorado forecasting "significant wildfire season"
Truty stated that TLMFPD has recently been involved with many large fires in the local area, including the recent Fort Carson training area fire, and this has been contributing to a higher amount of overtime than was expected so early in the year. Wildfire season is earlier than usual and will likely continue.
Fire chiefs have improved the way they coordinate and are continuing to make progress in establishing a funding agreement. New changes have been implemented to the previous expenditure limits on fighting wildland fires.
Truty said incident commanders were now authorized by the state to do "an aggressive initial attack" on a large wildland fire and bring in whatever resources were needed, without needing to slow down to get pre-authorization on expenditure limits. "Just get in there and put it out," and the state will pick up the cost. "That is a tremendous step in the right direction," he said.
One fire occurred in February off Jackson Creek Parkway. It occurred in a hay/sheep shed where a homeless person was living. The cause of the fire has not yet been officially determined, Fire Marshal/Administrative Battalion Chief Jamey Bumgarner said.
Vice President Roger Lance commended TLMFPD firefighters on their excellent efforts assisting in the Fort Carson training area fire in March.
Fire Mitigation grant received
Bumgarner reported that TLMFPD received a Fire Mitigation grant from the Colorado State Forest Service to start a local wildfire mitigation program. TLMFPD has received a $51,000 matching grant to purchase a neighborhood chipper and towing vehicle. New volunteers in the TLMFPD service area, including neighborhoods such as Red Rock Ranch and Woodmoor, could be trained to utilize this much-needed new equipment in a partnership with other trained volunteers.
Bumgarner said TLMFPD plans to host a Wildfire Day on May 12 at Station 1 on Highway 105 "with a theme of ‘wildfire danger’." TLMFPD hopes to get the community back on track with mitigation efforts by removing flammable fuels close to their homes. "Colorado is on track for a potential ‘banner wildfire season’" due to the extremely low moisture levels so far, he warned. A significant wildfire season is projected through mid-July if moisture levels do not increase. Bumgarner stated, "if you see the source of the fire call 911 immediately."
May election slate set
On May 8, TLMFPD will hold a polling place election. Its polling place is at the district office, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 103, Monument 80132. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You must go to the polling place in person. This is not a mail-in ballot election.
The following five candidates are running for three four-year positions in the May 8 election: Donald Bigham, John Hildebrandt, Mike Smaldino, Jake Shirk, and Tanner Ward.
See related TLMFPD candidate statements below.
Training updates including active shooter scenarios
Battalion Chief of Training Jonathan Bradley reported that a pilot sharing program is being developed that will include Black Forest, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, and more resources. Provisional approval was received on March 27 from the City of Colorado Springs to conduct regional EMS training and issue their own certificates. This does not change the relationship they have with Penrose Hospital, but this will give them more leeway with training for the Northern Group.
Bradley also gave an update on completed training:
• All three shifts completed an ice rescue technicians course in late January and February.
• Wildland fire refresher training completed late February.
• Seven participants from TLMFPD have completed a state-approved fire structure course. Five additional participants will attend the April training.
An Active Threat training event in conjunction with Monument Police Department took place on March 30 at Bear Creek Elementary School. Training continues between these two departments, and an operation plan will be created to coordinate potential events. President Jake Shirk, who is also the Monument police chief, described a new concept, "The Warm Zone," that is designed to save lives by allowing the fire services to work with law enforcement during a situation that might include critically injured victims.
Bumgarner said a school consortium from El Paso County and other agencies to include TLMFPD and D38, met in February to discuss the initiation of fire alarms with regard to the recent school shootings. "We will be gathering all the facts out of Florida before we rush to judgment and change any protocols."
Peer Support Program
Deputy Chief Randy Trost and Office Administrator Jennifer Martin announced that they had recently met with Dr. Judith Long of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Select personnel will be trained to identify and recognize signs of PTSD, stress, and relationship and financial issues. This is part of an effort to establish a Peer Support Program while maintaining confidentiality. Chief Truty stated that current data shows suicide deaths among firefighters are more prevalent today than any other common cause of death.
The regular March 28 meeting adjourned at 8:55 p.m., and the board went into executive session for the purpose of legal advice with a counsel for the district on an employment-related agreement pursuant to section 24-6-402(4). Martin said afterward that no votes or announcements were made.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 25 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at 484-9011. For upcoming agendas, see http://tlmfire.org/board.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 8, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District will hold a polling place election. Tri-Lakes Monument’s polling place is at the district office, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 103, Monument. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You must go to the polling place to cast your vote in person. This is not a mailed ballot.
Five candidates are running for three four-year positions.
Question: In no more than 150 words, describe the specific skills, knowledge, and perspective that qualify you to make informed decisions for the future of the fire district.
I am a retired full-time firefighter. I served 32 years for a fire protection district in the suburban Chicago area. During those years my duties ranged from EMT on an ambulance, as well as the usual firefighting duties to shift engineer (fire apparatus driver/operator) and shift commander. I was also apparatus mechanic for many years. On and off, I was president of our local firefighters union chapter. Being in all of these various fire service positions gives me experiences and a thorough understanding of a fire district that most residents will not have.
I ask all Tri-Lakes Monument FPD voters to give me your support for this position. My interest is to serve the community and the TLMFPD to the best of my ability, utilizing my 30-plus years of experience in the fire service.
My wife Bonnie and I have been residents of the Tri-Lakes area since 1984 where we have raised our two children and been active members of the community. In my spare time I am an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Colorado Springs.
I am currently the treasurer of the Fire District and have held that position since 1997. The district has gone through many positive changes over the last 20-plus years, and I am happy to have been instrumental in those changes. I am thankful the residents of the district voted for the recent mill levy increase, giving well-needed financial support to the department and individual firefighters. The future plans for the district are promising and I would like to have the opportunity to continue to be instrumental in directing the district, to provide ongoing and improved services to the community.
I have over 42 years of active service in law enforcement and am currently employed as a chief of police. I have served as an elected official on the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District for the last six years. I have a Master of Arts in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources and have been an adjunct professor at Colorado Technical College. I also, on a free basis, train faith-based organizations on safety and security, an unfortunate reality in today’s world. I have been married for 41 years and have been blessed with four children and 11 grandchildren.
Being involved in both law enforcement and fire service, I have had the unique opportunity to have some influence in keeping our community safe through enhancing responses to critical incidences as well as to train both services on a coordinated response to active shooter scenarios. Public safety has been my life.
During the past four years serving on the board, I have watched this district make great strides to serve our citizens better. Recently, our community passed a new mill levy, and I feel as though our board was transparent with how your money would be spent and what the future plans are for the district. I am proud to say that I voted to not use the entire mill levy rate increase and chose to work within the chief’s budget to ensure we did not have to collect more money from you, our taxpayers. This community is my home and I believe in providing the highest level of safety and fire protection possible. I support our firefighters wholeheartedly and feel as though my actions over the past four years reflect that. The Monument Professional Firefighters have endorsed me and I hope to have your support in this election.
As a longtime Tri-Lakes resident, LPHS graduate, and former volunteer firefighter with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, it is my goal as a board member to help the district prosper through accountability and key decision making. The recent mill levy increase has helped our Fire Department become competitive in hiring and retaining quality personnel and will allow for replacement of outdated equipment, much of which was in use when I was a member of the department nearly 20 years ago. If elected, I will work closely with the other board members and the Office of the Fire Chief to implement and maintain fiscally responsible programs to benefit the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and the taxpayers.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education discussed a number of issues at its special meeting on Feb. 27. Among these were school security in the wake of the recent school shooting in Florida, details about the alternatives of the design/build process for two proposed elementary schools, and goals for the board in the coming year.
Secretary Sarah Sampayo attended the meeting by phone. All others were present.
Superintendent Karen Brofft distributed information to the board regarding several alternative methods of designing and constructing two new elementary schools. The first of these, design/bid/build, involves selection and hiring of an architectural firm first, developing preliminary designs, and then hiring a contractor to execute the design. The advantage of this method is that the contractor and architect are under separate contracts and thereby have a checks-and-balances relationship. If one detects a problem, they would report it to the client (the district) or the client’s representative. This process is favored when the client requires a fixed cost before commencement of construction.
In this process, the district would decide whether to complete the design process before the bond was passed, requiring 75 percent of the architectural and engineering fees to be available by the time of a November election.
The district requires a cost estimate on which to base its ballot request for a bond.
The second process would involve the hiring of a construction manager who would act on the owner’s behalf and manage construction costs by selecting appropriate subcontractors. In this method, 40 percent of architecture and engineering fees would need to be available prior to November, and 35 percent of design documents should be available for use in selecting the construction manager.
In either case, were the bond to pass in November, construction should be completed by summer 2020.
Details of the alternatives will be presented at the board’s April meeting.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman distributed information on architectural firms, saying that the district will have to issue a request for proposals (RFP) and the board would interview the three finalists in the process. She said that the district has already been approached by several firms.
Asked what level of involvement the board would like, board President Matthew Clawson said he would like to be involved in all phases.
Brofft said it would be fine if the board wished to act with the audit committee.
Director Mark Pfoff asked whether the district could benefit from funds from the sale of marijuana in the state, which was intended to support education.
Wangeman responded that the BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) grant representative was in town to determine whether grant money could be used at Grace Best or Monument Academy. She said that the district would most likely be able to use such grants for safety and security expenses such as cameras and radios.
Brofft said that some additional decisions must be made. Among these are the amount the district wants to devote to deferred maintenance and safety, and whether to somehow connect the two buildings on the Bear Creek campus, the elementary and middle schools, with a breezeway or other device.
Treasurer Chris Taylor said he would like more detailed explanations on how enrollment figures are forecast and that he would like to build the second school based on data. He encouraged building a model and said that things can change quickly.
Brofft said development is happening quickly, and the district must carefully consider locations and boundaries in its deliberations.
Pfoff said he wanted the board to have an extended conversation about school safety at its next meeting.
Because increased security would most likely involve the hiring of additional security staff, Pfoff suggested that the district might propose a Mill Levy Override (MLO) exclusively to cover salaries of these additional staff. Bond funds can only be used for capital expenses, not salaries.
Brofft suggested a community engagement event on the subject. There will be a public deliberation event on April 16.
Clawson said that District 20 has security personnel at each of its campuses.
Pfoff suggested forming a committee overseen by Safety and Security Chief Dennis Coates.
Brofft said that there is already a committee on this subject and perhaps Pfoff should be the board liaison to that group. She suggested that the committee be configured similar to the District Accountability Advisory Committee with representatives from all campuses.
Wangeman suggested that the committee should consider actions to be taken before the bond, such as the construction of "man traps" at each campus, whereby any person wishing to enter a building must first be buzzed through by a staff member.
Board goal conversation
Taylor referred to the binder received by all board members, detailing board duties and responsibilities in such areas as community engagement, learning, attention to the whole child, and engagement in planning.
He suggested that the board examine itself in this context and decide how to measure its success. Particularly, he wished to determine how well board members are representing those who elected them. He wants the board, administration, and community to share a similar vision.
Taylor also said that he wants to improve communications and the compatibility and unity of the board. If all board members do not want to host board coffees, those who wish to may do so.
Pfoff said that he would prefer to use other ways of interacting with the community, such as via Facebook or by phone.
The board went into executive session at 7:30 to discuss sale or lease of real property and negotiations.
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. This was a special meeting.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met on March 8 to review partnerships and review and discuss a number of board policies. Board members Matt Dunston and Julie Galusky were absent.
Principal Elizabeth Davis reported on a number of partnerships engaged in by MA. It is hosting a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs psychology master’s student as an intern to help with social and emotional development. MA also has an eighth-grade social studies teacher who has an initial teacher’s license and regularly meets with a mentor from the Pikes Peak Board of Cooperative Educational Services. There are also three student teachers in the elementary level from the University of Northern Colorado. Davis also said that MA partners with the community in raising at least $25,000 for the American Heart Association.
Executive Director Don Griffin noted that, as part of best practices, policies should be reviewed every three to four years, though they may not need to be changed. The following policies were discussed and unanimously approved by the board:
• 1513 – Staff File Access Policy – Reviewed, no change.
• 1517 – Internet Use Policy – Note that use of devices not connected to the MA network cannot be filtered.
• 1519 – Advertising Policy – Revised for clarity and noted that the policy applies to gym banners, the yearbook, and Lynx advertising.
• 1520 – Public Comment to the Board – Reviewed, no change.
• 1528 – Homebound Instruction Policy (new) – MA previously used D38 guidelines but wanted its own policy. Homebound Instruction is for a student with a medical illness, surgery, or trauma who cannot come to school. Guidelines are designed to help students meet their requirements. MA must pay for a tutor under state law and wants to make sure an adult is present at home, or tutoring happens at a public location. This policy only covers core courses, and a quarterly evaluation with an estimated return date is required.
Board polices can be read at http://bit.ly/ma-bd-policies.
• Board elections will be scheduled for May; two people have expressed interest.
• In April the board will do a self-assessment survey.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, April 12 at the Monument Academy library at 1150 Village Ridge Point. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. 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.
By Harriet Halbig
The District Accountability Advisory Committee of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 held a special presentation on district safety and security in addition to regular reports at its March 13 meeting at Bear Creek Elementary School.
Chief of Safety and Security Dennis Coates and Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman briefed the committee about safety measures being considered by the district due to heightened concern caused by a recent school shooting in Florida.
Coates and Wangeman addressed concerns about mental health care for troubled youths in El Paso County and the need for additional social workers and counselors in the schools. Due to lack of funding for the hiring of such specialists, the district will concentrate on physical safeguards.
A goal of the Safety and Security department is to have one armed security individual at each elementary school, two at the middle school, and three at each high school. These individuals would have no classroom responsibilities. A current request is being made to upgrade three secondary campus supervisor positions to armed security and add two more armed campus supervisors.
Cameras and intercoms are also needed in many locations. Cameras at the middle school, the high schools, and Kilmer Elementary are funded with carryover funds from last year. No funding is available for cameras at other elementaries.
Other physical precautions would include construction of security vestibules at all locations, and 3M film for windows near entrances to make breaking glass more difficult. Funding for these precautions is not available.
Coates said that fixed metal detectors are impractical because they would slow the process of entering a school and would require staff to deal with anyone found to be carrying dangerous items. Instead, he suggested the use of dogs trained to sniff out odors connected with firearms. These dogs could sweep through a building several times a day. He recommended one for each secondary school. They could also be used at special events.
Other suggestions were increased exterior lighting around schools, keeping vehicles farther from schools, new fire alarms, and improved event security.
Also mentioned was a Watchdog program of community volunteers who would be available on playgrounds and around the buses at the beginning and end of the day to watch for such things as strangers nearby and unlocked or open doors or windows. These individuals would not have a supervisory role, but simply provide an extra set of eyes. This program is being tested at Palmer Lake Elementary.
Another suggestion is to have each student issued a badge to be scanned as they enter their school. Students found to be dangerous can have their badge deactivated so they are denied access.
Committee Co-chair Anne-Marie Hasstedt encouraged committee members to attend the community engagement event on the subject on April 16 at Lewis-Palmer High School.
Bear Creek Principal Peggy Parsley provided information on her school and its history. The current population is 959 for grades K through 6. There are also preschool classes in the building and before and after school care are provided.
She explained before and after school activities and praised parents and families for their active participation in the school’s activities.
Gifted Education, assessment, and curriculum report
Executive Director of Learning Services Lori Benton explained the activities of the Gifted Education Leadership Team, the process of curriculum development, assessments, and goals for the department.
Benton said that the department strives to offer students many paths to graduation, including a conventional education, part-time online education, concurrent enrollment in the high school and a college to earn college credit, and a growing number of training opportunities leading to careers in such areas as healthcare and manufacturing without a four-year college diploma. Soon, paid and unpaid internships will also be introduced.
She stressed that such certificates in areas such as cybersecurity could lead to lucrative careers without a four-year college degree.
Benton said that in current times, individuals will normally have several careers during their working life, and the schools should prepare them for the first of these.
At present, the state does not recognize military service as a continuing source of training. She hopes that this will change soon.
Benton mentioned the members of the Gifted Education Leadership Team and spoke of their responsibilities. These responsibilities include curriculum coordination, assessment, gifted coordination, instructional technology, and system analysis.
Benton explained that curriculum is a three-year process from recommending a class through choosing instructional materials and training staff to offer the class. She stressed that teachers are heavily involved in selection of instructional materials and sometimes are unable to find appropriate texts on the first try.
The gifted education program is audited every four years, and beginning next year, there will be an addendum to the district unified improvement plan to describe the achievements of the program.
Enrollment and maintenance report
Wangeman presented a report on projected enrollment figures for the next few years and the ability of the district to accommodate the additional students.
She said that the high schools are expected to have enough space for the next few years because a number of students are off campus at community colleges or other locations and some are working online.
The middle school and Monument Academy are at capacity, but a conference room in the middle school will be divided into four offices, and a storeroom will be converted into a yoga room.
Projections for the elementary schools vary. Prairie Winds and Kilmer both have large sixth-grade classes that will move on. Thirty percent of Prairie Winds students took advantage of open enrollment, and therefore the school could control its population by limiting the number of students from outside.
A favored plan to increase space at Lewis-Palmer Elementary and Bear Creek Elementary is to centralize preschool students, opening classrooms at the schools to accommodate a larger number of older students.
Regarding maintenance and capital expenses, Wangeman said the district would need $1 million a year for 10 years to catch up on deferred maintenance. The district is on target for roofs and boilers, partially thanks to state BEST grants.
Cameras are needed to improve security, $150,000 is needed to replace classroom computers, and the track at Palmer Ridge needs to be replaced.
Wangeman said that 10 architectural firms have come to tour the Bear Creek Elementary site in preparation for proposals to build an elementary at that site.
Board of Education liaison Tiffiney Upchurch reported on board activities and pending legislation, encouraging members to consider testifying in support of improved funding.
The next meeting of the District Accountability Advisory Committee will be at 7 p.m. on April 17 at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer District 38 celebrated recognition by the state Department of Education, discussed safety and security in the schools, and approved a contract with Monument Academy on March 15.
Superintendent Karen Brofft announced that the district has once again been accredited with distinction by the Colorado Department of Education.
Also, the John Irwin School of Excellence award went to three district schools—Prairie Winds Elementary, Lewis-Palmer High School, and Ray Kilmer Elementary. These schools exceeded expectations in math, English language arts, and science. Lewis-Palmer High School was awarded the Inez Lewis Award for academic growth for increasing overall student growth by 10 percentage points.
Brofft also recognized the Challenger Learning Center for sponsoring summer boot camps for students. In the past these camps have been held at the Air Force Academy and Bear Creek Elementary, but representatives from the Learning Center said that a larger facility is under construction and will enable more students to participate. The Mikkelson Foundation was also recognized for grants to purchase materials at Bear Creek.
Brofft reported that the district has come to an agreement with Monument Academy for a new contract and that the academy has declined the use of Grace Best at this time.
She explained a proposal for revising support for the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) that would increase the employee contribution by 3 percent and the district’s contribution by 2 percent, adding that the district also pays the employees’ portion. This 5 percent increase is too large, she said.
Brofft also announced that Palmer Ridge is participating in the national concert band festival.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman reported that nine architectural firms have expressed interest in designing the proposed two elementary schools in the district.
Safety and Security update
Chief of Safety and Security Dennis Coates and Wangeman offered a presentation on proposed actions to improve safety and security in the district. (Please see the article on the District Accountability Advisory Committee on page 17 of this issue for details on the presentation.)
The district hopes to purchase cameras that can be accessed remotely for use by law enforcement agencies. Some changes are proposed to limit the number of entrances to each facility and put alarms on those not in use, while allowing all those inside to get out.
Coates says that he encourages law enforcement agencies to conduct training in the district’s buildings, allowing them to become familiar with the facilities.
He also described the Watchdog program in which parents and other community members act as volunteers to monitor playgrounds and bus areas for suspicious activity. These individuals do not act in a supervisory capacity and are not armed, but simply offer additional eyes. Training will be provided for these volunteers. The program is now in use at Palmer Lake Elementary.
Brofft said that the district is sharing information with law enforcement agencies and continually doing threat assessments. The information shared includes disciplinary information on students.
As part of threat assessments, Coates says, it is important to interview individuals who complain of bullying behavior and to determine how bullying is defined. Find out the exact behaviors involved, because individual perceptions vary, he said.
In response to Coates’ proposal for security dogs (which would identify scents related to guns) or portable metal detectors, Secretary Sarah Sampayo suggested that community members could "sponsor" the purchase of such equipment as they can now sponsor a classroom.
Board Treasurer Chris Taylor reported on an analysis of the growth projections provided by RTA to the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee. He determined the rate of growth to be 2.2 percent per year, confirming the necessity for new elementary schools.
He proposed a motion for Brofft to engage a data analyst for the next four years to monitor actual population growth.
The motion passed. Brofft estimated the cost of initiating the study at $15,000.
Managing growth discussion
Please see the District Accountability Advisory Committee article on page 17 of this issue for details on Wangeman’s presentation regarding capacity at the various schools and proposals for accommodating growth over the next few years.
Regarding the elementary schools, Wangeman said that two will have lower student counts next year due to large sixth-grade classes, but a solution to capacity issues at others would be to consolidate preschool services into a central location, freeing up classrooms for older students. Also, some rooms in schools could be subdivided or repurposed to alleviate crowding.
Brofft said that the consolidation of preschool services likely wouldn’t happen until 2020.
Board Vice President Tiffiney Upchurch offered to serve on a committee to study this consolidation process.
Monument Academy contract
The board passed a resolution to accept a new contract with Monument Academy for a period of 10 years beginning July 1, 2018.
The previous contract, which went into effect on 2016, did not include the expansion of the academy to include a high school.
To view the contract in full, please see Boarddocs on the district website (www.lewispalmer.org), the Board of Education, meetings, and meeting agendas.
The board approved policies on meeting and conferring (GCBDA), suspension, and expulsion (JKD, JKE).
There was a first reading on a policy involving students in foster care, and proposed revisions to several policies as recommended by the Colorado Association of School Boards.
Executive Director of Learning Services Lori Benton proposed the following curricula at the February meeting of the board and requested the purchase of materials for them: first- and second-grade science, kindergarten social studies, sixth- and eighth-grade social studies, AP calculus, personal financial literacy (a free, web-based program), and commonsense media citizenship.
The board approved the purchase of the materials.
Homeschool Enrichment Academy
Administrator Chuck Stovall gave a presentation on the offerings of the Home School Enrichment Academy, located at Grace Best.
The academy currently serves 89 students in grades K through eight and offers standardized testing and field trips in addition to academic subjects, art, theater, and science. Classes are held on Thursdays and funded by the state.
Stovall said that many students of the academy later attend D-38 schools and that those enrolled live in and outside the district.
Board President Clawson suggested that, in future meetings, citizens should not be required to state their address, but just to state whether they live within district boundaries.
A number of citizens commented on the value of the public deliberation process, the value of Superintendent Brofft to the district as an excellent administrator and coach, the urgency of educating the public about a bond proposal for the November ballot, and inconsistent special education services for students transitioning from one school to another.
Michelle Glover of Bear Creek Elementary School read a letter from the secretaries of the Navy, Air Force, and Army to the National Governors Association asking that the quality of local schools should be a major consideration in decisions on locating military facilities. The letter said that this is particularly important because students often must relocate during a school year.
The letter also suggested that military spouses in careers requiring licensure would benefit from reciprocity from one state to another.
The board went into executive session at 8:45 to discuss lease or sale of real property.
Caption: From left, Lewis-Palmer High School Principal Tony Karr, board President Matthew Clawson, former Colorado Teacher of the Year Kathy Thirkell, and Assistant Principal Bridget O’Connor listen as Brofft recognizes the high school for receiving the John Irwin School of Excellence and Inez Lewis Awards. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein and Lisa Hatfield
During the March 5 meeting, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) heard a report by Triview Metropolitan District, listened to public comments on the Village Center Metro District service plan, and approved an ordinance adopting new regional building codes.
Mayor Jeffrey Kaiser was absent.
Triview presentation on district project status
Triview Metropolitan District Interim Manager Jim McGrady and board President Reid Bolander discussed five updates on projects happening within Triview’s territory, which is inside the Monument town limits, mostly east of I-25. Bolander said he looked forward to telling the BOT about the work going on in the district, "continuing on the foundation that (former District Manager) Valerie Remington laid for us."
February 2017 was the last time Triview presented to the BOT, when Remington and Bolander visited. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#mbot0117. McGrady said he did not realize that Triview was supposed to be a standing agenda item at the BOT, and the consensus was that he would come back on a quarterly basis.
Note: Triview’s monthly public board meetings provide detailed updates on all their projects, and OCN covers them regularly. See this month’s related Triview article on page 9.
First, McGrady talked about 2017 and 2018 road maintenance projects. Last year, three streets, including all of Jackson Creek Parkway, were overlaid with mastic to plug cracks. This year, 18 roads, including 142,944 square yards of asphalt in the older, southern part of the district, totaling $1.2 million, should be complete by the end of June. See www.ocn.me/v17n12.htm#tvmd.
Next, McGrady said the Western Interceptor—a water and sewer link for the western and northern part of the district, in the area of Jackson Creek Parkway—has been bid for 2018 construction. The $2.5 million project is a joint effort of five or six project participants that are finalizing the cost-sharing agreement now, and construction should begin in June.
Development plans including the new senior center and future residential and commercial projects south of Higby Road required Triview to extend a wastewater line across and under the interstate and along the Santa Fe Trail to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. This includes a significant bore under I-25, which will now be enlarged to include a drinking water connection in addition to the waste line. Trustee Dennis Murphy applauded this news because the town has been searching for a way to build an emergency water interconnection with other water providers. Triview and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District also have an emergency water connection at another site near the Valero station. See www.ocn.me/v18n3.htm?zoom_highlight=%22western+interceptor%22 == and www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#tvmd.
McGrady also discussed the new irrigation control system being installed to quell issues they have had previously with leaks and poorly irrigated and maintained open spaces. The $116,000 irrigation control system has been purchased, and parts, such as clocks and pedestals, are being ordered now for 2018 installation.
Note: In December 2017, an audit revealed 75 percent to 90 percent of Triview’s water consumption comes from landscaping irrigation. At that time, the district also realized 58 percent of the clocks that ran the district’s irrigation were malfunctioning, and a cloud-based smart irrigation system was approved this winter. See www.ocn.me/v17n12.htm#tvmd.
The district purchased 500 shares of renewable water from Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. in December 2016, and then purchased an additional 13 shares this January. McGrady said this is the equivalent of 360 acre-feet (AF) of water, and since the water can be reused "to extinction," it is closer to 700 AF. The water could be brought to the district "by exchange," he said. In answer to Mayor Pro Tem Don Wilson, McGrady said district demand is currently 750-800 AF per year. See www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#tvmd, www.ocn.me/v18n2.htm#tvmd.
Note: "Renewable water" comes from surface water replenished by precipitation, as opposed to "groundwater" that comes from wells drilled into the aquifers that are being depleted. Water shares purchased are subject to "water rights" that prioritize who gets to use the water first.
Finally, McGrady told the BOT they were bidding an extension of the block wall that goes around the Triview well and the Mountain View Electric substation on Jackson Creek Parkway.
Service Plan Amendment considered for Village Center Metro District
Representatives of the Village Center Metro District (VCMD) and their associated homeowners’ association (HOA) addressed the BOT again over its request to change the service plan for VCMD.
Note: In 2004, the 140-acre Wahlborg property along Highway 105 east of Knollwood Drive was annexed into the Town of Monument and became Village Center. In October and November of 2014, the town Planning Commission and BOT changed the zoning in 300,000 square feet of Village Center’s vacant land from commercial to residential, thereby reducing property tax revenue by a factor of four (29 percent to 7 percent).
VCMD President Jim Romanello has explained that VCMD would like to increase its mill levy from 35 to 50 mills because it isn’t producing enough revenue to make its full debt service payment and cannot fund any operations for street, storm, sewer, and landscaping maintenance because all of the current VCMD mill levy revenues are restricted to construction bond repayment. "We residents just want security," he said.
Note: Because of its current financial restrictions, VCMD only pays for snow removal when four or more inches of snow fall and can’t afford to do road maintenance.
Town Attorney Alicia Corley presented VCMD’s newest petition, which included three parts:
• To increase its mill levy from 35 to 50 mills, setting a debt mill levy cap at 35 mills
• A request that the town take over its snow removal, maintenance, and repair of public streets.
• Asked for a 10-year IGA between the district and the town to allow VCMD to assist in offsetting 50 percent of the maintenance costs.
Trustee Shea Medlicott wondered aloud why VCMD wouldn’t come back after 10 years, with a 50-mill levy, to decrease the levy on its residents if its commitment to maintenance was relieved by the town. Trustee Greg Coopman said if after eight or so years the funds from the increased mill levy aren’t being used in a responsible way, the town should be able to suggest ways to improve. He said increasing the mill levy is the first step toward improving the situation.
Medlicott agreed the district is "in a predicament" but was bothered by the permanence of the service plan with regard to the town’s financial commitment. He pushed for the ability to negotiate on both sides with an IGA separate from the service plan. Coopman seconded the notion of a separate IGA, stating his biggest concern is that after 10 years, VCMD’s financial obligation would be over, and the town would take on all maintenance costs.
Ten Village Center residents spoke during the public hearing on this resolution, and all were in favor of the proposed service plan changes. Many of those who spoke are on the VCMD board or the HOA. Several residents who spoke stated that none of the financial issues were presented to them as potential home buyers.
Mike Kozlarek said although this fiasco did not happen on the current BOT’s watch, the residents need the board’s help. Les Rosario agreed with that sentiment and said the homeowners are depending on the board.
Several residents said, "we didn’t make it wrong," asserting that the BOT’s change of zoning from commercial to residential significantly decreased the tax revenue collected for road maintenance. Matt Dickens requested that the board not push back again in two weeks when the final decision on the petition is expected. Forrest Hindley said there had been no income revenue since June since the whole of the mill levy is going toward paying back the bond loan, and the had HOA enacted a $50 per month per lot to residents to create a landscape maintenance budget. Sam Hastings, HOA vice president, felt the town has some ownership in the failure of holding developers accountable, and hopes for a good compromise to the situation.
Medlicott and Trustee Kelly Elliott agreed to meet with Romanello on March 9 to discuss the petition further. Corley and Public Works Director Tom Tharnish also agreed to meet with the VCMD board, since Town Manager Chris Lowe is on administrative leave and Interim Town Manager Pamela Smith is not available, and Corley will write up an amended IGA. Colorado statutes require that the board act within 20 days of the date of the public hearing, so at the March 19 meeting the Board of Trustees would have to approve, conditionally approve, or deny the Amendment to the Service Plan. See related March 19 Board of Trustees article.
Ordinance adopting new regional building codes
Roger Lovell of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department requested the adoption of the newest building codes for the Town of Monument. The changes, updates really, to the codes are designed to improve the safety of everyone involved. The codes constitute 2017 updates and were passed unanimously by the board.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Rosie’s Diner owner A.B. Tellez came forward to ask the board to build a rapport with small businesses. He said the water rate increase in late 2015 significantly increased his water bill to the point that he had to let all his landscaping die around the restaurant. See www.ocn.me/v16n2.htm. After that vote, and his comments at the February 2016 BOT meeting, no one from the town came to talk with him about the water issues.
Also, Tellez expressed concern about Town Manager Chris Lowe’s unprofessional behavior in the past. Finally, Tellez said he is "not confident about Monument’s future."
Joseph Whitman then demanded to know whether Chief Jake Shirk and his crew are back to work. Corley responded that they were back to work. Next, Whitman asked if the town manager is back to work, but Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson said during public comments, the board did not respond but just received community input. Whitman then addressed the audience, who said that the town manager is on paid administrative leave. He said to the trustees, "What is the solution? I don’t like paying somebody’s paycheck who is not at work." During board comments later in the meeting, Coopman said he felt there should be ways to provide transparency to the community from the board.
Vanessa Shirk thanked the trustees for all that they do to be leaders. She corrected a statement made by Town Manager Chris Lowe in a (March 7 Tribune) article that misstated several key dates pertaining to her husband Chief Jacob Shirk’s evaluation, adding that Lowe did not follow proper procedure with the evaluation. She also stated that several BOT members were aware of the complaint in December, and she did not know why her husband did not pursue the complaint with Lowe then. Later, Coopman referenced recent media articles and cautioned town residents to thoroughly review media coverage.
The meeting adjourned at 7:59 p.m.
Caption: Seated from the left at the table: Triview Metropolitan District Interim District Manager Jim McGrady and Triview board President Reid Bolander presented a quarterly update to the Monument Board of Trustees on March 5. See related Triview article on page 9. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 pm on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for April 16, because the April 2 meeting was canceled due to the election. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein and Lisa Hatfield
Sanctuary Pointe Phase 2 and the Village Center Metropolitan District service plan amendment were the two main action items at the March 19 Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting. The trustees also approved a resolution called Standards of Conduct for Elected Officials in the Town of Monument, said goodbye to Trustee Dennis Murphy, and appointed two citizens to the Board of Adjustment.
Sanctuary Pointe Phase 2 Preliminary/Final PD site plan approved
Sanctuary Pointe is being built in three phases, the first of which is in progress on the east end of the development. Phase 2 will be broken into seven subphases and includes 273 residential lots. Phase 3 will come last and is planned to include about 70 larger lots, for a total of 600 lots for all of Sanctuary Pointe, said Andrea Barlow of NES Inc. The principal park for Sanctuary Pointe will be an 8-acre park in subphase G of Phase 2. Also, there will be 22 acres of natural open space on the north side of Phase 2 and a trail system.
A different version of this Phase 2 preliminary/final PD site plan proposal was approved by a 3-2 vote at the Feb. 14 Monument Planning Commission (MPC) meeting. See ocn.me/v18n3.htm#mpc and map at www.ocn.me/pdf/v18n3%207.pdf.
As recently as the MPC meeting, Sanctuary Pointe developer Classic Homes had proposed to connect Sanctuary Rim Drive to county road Kingswood Drive as a secondary access route. Kingswood residents vehemently opposed this idea because the road is not structurally able to withstand additional traffic and there are no plans by the county to improve the road. After many recent meetings with neighborhood groups, Classic Homes turned an about-face and agreed to extend Sanctuary Rim Drive all the way to the west and connect it to Gleneagle Drive now, instead of down the road, so that Kingswood Drive would not be used as an egress for the development at all. See www.ocn.me/v18n2.htm#road.
Gleneagle Drive currently extends north through Promontory Pointe but terminates at its northern boundary; it will eventually connect with Higby Road, Town Planner Jennifer Jones said. North of Promontory Pointe is Home Place Ranch, an undeveloped property whose owners are being represented by Goodwin Knight LLC. The extensions of both Gleneagle Drive and Sanctuary Rim Drive would go through Home Place Ranch. Bryan Kniep, Goodwin Knight director of planning, supported the project to extend the roads and said they remained committed to working closely with Classic Homes. Jones confirmed that "it took a long time to get here," but that Goodwin Knight, the new owners of Home Place Ranch, had agreed to either build the connection to Gleneagle Drive or to grant an easement for Classic Homes to build it if they "get there first."
During the public hearing (see photo on page 27), Kingswood resident Mike Wermuth was obviously relieved at this change of plans, and he said, "Tonight is a major milestone" in a process that started in 2006 when the area was annexed and the sketch plan was approved. Triview Metropolitan District Board President Reid Bolander said it sounded like Classic Homes had come up with a pretty accommodating agreement.
Tom Olson, a resident of Promontory Pointe, spoke in opposition, since he was told when he bought his home that Gleneagle Drive would not be a through street but now speeding traffic would be multiplied.
Trustees Greg Coopman and Dennis Murphy and Mayor Jeff Kaiser all thanked Classic Homes and applauded the collaboration resulting in the win-win for both groups. As a condition of approval for the BOT, Classic asked to be able to pull 40 building permits for subphase C homes prior to completing the road extension. The trustees agreed to this condition and unanimously approved the ordinance.
Village Center Metro District amended service plan approved
Village Center Metro District (VCMD) met recently with Trustees Shea Medlicott and Kelly Elliott to finalize amendments to the service plan for the district, and to construct an intergovernmental agreement (IGA).
Note: Because of changes to VCMD’s zoning in 2014 from commercial to residential, its property tax revenue was reduced by a factor of four (29 percent to 7 percent). The current mill levy is wholly used to pay off debt totaling $8 million, leaving VCMD no money for road maintenance or snow removal.
The two groups agreed to change the service plan and create an IGA in which:
• The mill levy on residents will increase from 35 to 50 mills, setting a debt mill levy cap at 35 mills.
• The Town of Monument will take over snow removal for all roads in VCMD and maintain roads in Filings 1 and 2 only, for the next 10 years.
• VCMD will pay 50 percent of the maintenance costs, or $26,500 annually, to the town for 10 years.
• VCMD and Monument Public Works will update the trustees every two years on roads maintenance.
• The town will meet with VCMD every two years to review costs and spending.
• The service plan will be reviewed in 2028 by the BOT to see if the financial situation of VCMD has changed.
The resolution to amend the VCMD service plan and create the IGA was approved unanimously by the trustees and was accompanied by cheers from Village Center residents at the meeting.
BOT code of conduct
The BOT unanimously approved a resolution spelling out a code of conduct for members of the board to follow. The document discusses the general scope of authority, personal conduct, information sharing among trustees and town staff, and consequences for violation of this code. The trustees have been discussing, and in some cases arguing over, the creation of this document since 2016, when the current board was seated.
Trustee Shea Medlicott was glad to get this document finalized in time for the new board that will be seated in April.
This was the last meeting for Trustee Dennis Murphy, who has been asking for "equality of information" for all the trustees for several years, and he said even with this code, accountability has not been achieved. He said it was not in the best interest of the board for any individual trustees to have regular one-on-one meetings with the town manager or the directors. "We should all get the same information at the same time." Trustee Greg Coopman echoed Murphy’s sentiment.
Trustee Kelly Elliott countered that sometimes it was necessary to ask questions of town staff about board packet items in order to prepare for a board meeting, saying, "I’m all about transparency but not micromanagement."
The consensus was that the incoming board would create a more detailed rules and procedures document pertaining to communication issues after the April elections.
Murphy says farewell
Murphy said it was a great privilege to serve on the board for the last two years. He said, "I want to make it clear to those who think I am disgruntled, everybody is trying to do what they believe is right, even if I don’t agree with them." He encouraged the community to continue its involvement in board meetings. "Don’t back off! Show up at these meetings. Make sure the board hears what you think."
Board of Adjustment appointments
Jones also asked the board to appoint three new members to the Board of Adjustments. Planning Commissioner Kenneth Kimple and residents Christopher Wilhelmi and Michael DeMarco will serve on the board, joining current appointed member Trustee Jeff Bornstein, but more applications are needed to fill one more vacancy. If you are interested in the position, please see https://townofmonument.org/265/Board-of-Adjustment for more information.
Initial annexation discussion of Willow Springs area
Jones brought a petition regarding possible annexation of Willow Springs No. 1 and No. 2 to the board as preparation for due process. Willow Springs is 224 acres north of Baptist Road/Forest Lakes Drive, west of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.
The trustees voted unanimously to approve the resolution to hold the eligibility hearing for the property on May 7, but a vote on actual annexation would not occur until after that date.
Jen Owens raised concerns about how the Monument Police Department will support all of the population growth happening within the town limits. She said often there is just one officer on duty, "with no backup for miles."
Checks over $5,000
The BOT approved the consent agenda unanimously. It included the following checks over $5,000:
• Triview Metro District sales, motor vehicle and regional building use tax - $158,885
• Space Farmer Productions, outdoor movie night equipment for movie nights - $15,345
• Forsgren Associates, Monument-DWC drainage RPT assessment - $6,503
• Forsgren Associates, Monument wells 4 and 5 treatment plant - $6,652
• Velocity Construction Inc., Wells 4 and 5 upgrade - $20,074, remaining budget $900,261
• Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, annual dues, operation and maintenance, member share - $7,396
Upcoming events in Monument
The town manager’s report included in the board packet reminded people that summer event planning is under way in the town. Upcoming special events will include:
• Great American Cleanup, April 21
• Memorial Day Ceremony, May 28
• Movie nights, June - August
• Fourth of July Parade and Street Fair, July 4
• Pickin’ on the Divide, Aug. 18
Also, several community development activities are in the works, including "Telling the Monument Story"—an event to gather stories from longtime residents, collect ideas about creating a vision for historic downtown, and more.
National Libraries Week
Drew Hart of the Monument Branch Library said that National Libraries Week is April 8-14. The American Library Association sponsors the event annually as a way to promote library use.
The April 2 meeting was canceled, and the next regular BOT meeting is scheduled for April 16. The BOT usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonuent.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unofficial results as of April 3
The unofficial results for Palmer Lake were sent to OCN by Palmer Lake Town Clerk Verla Bruner.
Town of Monument
Mayor (One open position for a four-year term)
Don Wilson 794
Jeff Bornstein 462
Trustees (Three open positions for four-year terms)
Laurie Clark 786
Kelly Elliott 686
Ron Stephens 666
Jeff Lampman 601
Shea Medlicott 584
Monument has 5,583 registered voters, and 1,268 ballots were received. Monument Town Clerk Laura Hogan said official results will be available after the completion of the canvass on April 12, allowing for the counting of additional qualified ballots under CRS 31-10-102.8 and 31-10-910.3.
Town of Palmer Lake
Mayor (One open position for a two-year term)
John Cressman 205
Alexander Farr 109
Ken Dickinson 78
Trustees (Four open positions for four-year terms)
Gary Faust 247
Glant Havenar 222
Mitchell Davis 218
Bob Mutu 212
Mike Elliot (withdrew from the race) 157
Lawrence Nagle 139
Ballot issue: Commencing in 2020, shall the town regular election date be changed from the first Tuesday in April each even-numbered year to the Tuesday on which the general statewide election is held in November of each even-numbered year to allow the town to save election costs and participate in elections coordinated by the county?
By James Howald
The Palmer Lake Town Council voted March 8 to raise water fees to meet a requirement imposed by the financing for the town’s second water tank. The council heard requests from the Awake the Lake committee for assistance with insurance costs and for approval of a junior home run derby event. A representative of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department updated the council on changes to the building codes being made at the county level. The council also discussed changes to the town’s codes concerning recreational vehicle parking and storage, and firearms.
Water bills to rise $6.25 per month
Town Administrator Cathy Green-Sinnard told the council that the lender who is financing the town’s second water tank requires proof that the town can cover 110 percent of the loan payment. At current rates, the town can only cover 101 percent of the payment, Green-Sinnard said, adding that the water tank loan imposed a deadline of March 16 on the proof required. Amending the budget to meet this requirement could not be done by the March 16 deadline, Green-Sinnard said. She suggested that the council vote to add an additional $6.25 to the existing $11.51 loan payment portion of monthly water bills.
Town Attorney Maureen Juran told the council both an ordinance and a resolution would need to be changed to add the additional funding.
The council voted unanimously to raise the water base rate fee by $6.25 per month, and not raise tap fees or use rates.
Awake the Lake makes two requests
Speaking on behalf of Awake the Lake (ATL), Jeff Hulsmann told the council that ATL had been "tagged pretty good" with insurances costs, and asked the council for help with those costs, arguing that ATL had been covered by the town in the past. Council member Bob Mutu said the simplest way to accomplish this would be to have ATL serve as a subcommittee to the town’s Parks Committee.
Town Attorney Maureen Juran said she would have to research exactly what the town’s insurance policy, which is obtained through Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), specified on this issue.
The consensus of the council was that it would approve the request if CIRSA did not object.
Hulsmann also asked the council to approve a junior home run derby ATL is organizing. Planned for April 28 and 29, the event will make use of pitching machines and give prizes. The council voted unanimously to approve the event, providing it is covered by CIRSA.
Building codes updated
Jay Eenhuis, P.E., told the council about changes recently made to the regional building codes. The changes simplify construction while preserving safety, he said. Many of the changes concerned energy conservation, according to Eenhuis.
These revisions of the building code generated the most public comments ever, have already been approved in other counties, and will be voted on in El Paso County soon, Eenhuis said.
Council discusses RVs and guns
As part of a larger effort to update the town’s ordinances, the council discussed recreational vehicles and firearms at the March meeting. Votes on these topics were not taken to allow the public time to comment at upcoming meetings.
Juran told the council that the town currently does not regulate parking for recreational vehicles and commercial vehicles at all. She presented the council with a draft ordinance that specifies no recreational vehicle or trailer shall be parked in the street for more than 48 hours, and all recreational vehicles must be parked adjacent to the property of the vehicle owner. The draft also forbids obstructing the sidewalk in any manner.
Mayor John Cressman commented that on many streets in the town, parking a recreational vehicle could impede emergency vehicles.
On the topic of guns, Green-Sinnard pointed out that the town’s current ordinance was written in 1978 and prohibits concealed weapons altogether, which at present conflicts with other laws. The discussion of this topic was wide-ranging, touching on concealed carry, discharge of firearms within town limits, and whether BB guns and pellet guns should be included.
The two meetings for April will be at 7 p.m. on April 12 and 26 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 email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
Weather conditions were pretty quiet for most of the month compared to what can happen in March. Temperatures ended up a little warmer than normal, and precipitation was again below average. The below-normal precipitation is the same pattern we’ve seen for several months in a row. However, April is most important for the region as we head into the heart of the growing season. A dry winter isn’t nearly as important as a wet spring for our region.
The entire first two weeks of March were dry and generally mild. High temperatures fluctuated between mild and cool as a series of shallow cold fronts crossed over the region. But as has been the case for most of the winter, the moisture with the storms stayed just to our north and east. Temperatures reached near record levels early in the month, topping out in the mid-60s on the 3rd as strong westerly winds helped an already warm air mass warm even more. Temperatures were warm again on the 4th, but a cold front moved through that evening, dropping temperatures back below normal from the 5th through the 7th.
Dry and mild conditions again returned from the 8th through the 15th, with temperatures again reaching the low to mid-60s on the 14th and 15th as a similar pattern developed. Mild and dry westerly winds developed ahead of an approaching storm. As this storm moved into the region, temperatures were initially warm enough that the first showers were in the form of rain during the late afternoon of the 15th. As colder air continued to work in, light snow developed, with 1-2 inches accumulating by the morning of the 16th. After a brief break and return to sunshine on the 16th, the next storm moved into the region.
This storm finally brought enough moisture to make a little difference, with 3-6 inches of snow accumulating. The blowing snow also caused some travel issues in the area, especially because some of the initial snow melted and re-froze on the roadways. Temperatures were well below normal on the on the 19th and 20th as the cold air behind the storm stuck around for a few days.
Mild and windy conditions again returned for the first few days of spring, with temperatures climbing from the 50s to the mid-60s from the 21st through the 25th. However, another round of unsettled conditions returned later on the 26th through the 29th. This pattern produced another 3-6 inches of snow and more much-needed moisture, with around a half inch of liquid equivalent accumulating during the period. Sunshine again returned for the last few days of the month, and temperatures returned to normal with dry conditions.
A look ahead
April is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region and is on average our snowiest month of the year. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Several recent years have seen over 50 inches of snow accumulate during the month. Of course, it also melts very quickly, often adding very beneficial moisture to the soil and helping the vegetation, which is just getting started. We can hope this year will bring abundant moisture and make up for some of the dry conditions we’ve experienced over the last year.
March 2018 Weather Statistics
Average High 51.8° (+1.6°)
100-year return frequency value max 57.9° min 38.0°
Average Low 23.9° (+2.8°)
100-year return frequency value max 27.0° min 12.0°
Highest Temperature 65° on the 3rd, 15th, 22nd
Lowest Temperature 9° on the 7th
Monthly Precipitation 1.21" (-0.38", 24% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 4.29" min 0.22"
Monthly Snowfall 13.2" (-7.1", 35% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 44.3" (-45.7", 51% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 3.31" (-3.46", 50% below normal) (the precip season is from Oct 1 to Sept 30)
Heating Degree Days 848 (-65)
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.
Security funds available
February’s tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shook the nation. And it has turned District 38’s attention to safety and security. District officials have been hosting elaborate presentations on measures they believe are necessary to better protect students from an active shooter. What they never present, however, are any plans to reprioritize their spending to pay for the most pressing security needs. They simply present building renovations, safety equipment purchases, and security staff increases to parent audiences and then lament that they don’t have the funds to pay for them.
Last year the technology department spent $1.9 million on tech supports, salaries, and equipment, including laptops for staff district-wide. Next year’s budget—without the cost of new laptops—increases the tech budget to $2.1 million. Does a district this size need to spend $2 million on technology—at the cost of neglecting students’ safety? D38 spent $200,000 on advertising and "branding" to attract out-of-district students while expressing concerns about overcrowding. Their budget also includes a recent explosion of Central Admin to 86 positions—not including paid volunteers—and sufficient reserves to address what it calls "critical items." Is student safety not a critical item?
D38 leaders often assert that they prefer a pro-active, data-driven approach. If so, they should recognize that they could afford quite a few of their safety measures by reallocating within their own budget—something American families do regularly. Reducing technology and administrator excesses and wasteful marketing efforts would free up funds for some of the most urgent security improvements and enable D38 to protect students immediately.
The district is hosting a community input meeting on safety and security at LPHS on April 16 at 6 p.m.
To the D38 school board
Can someone please tell me what’s going on with D38’s school board meetings? Why have the last six meetings included an executive session—so that the public can’t hear or see what’s happening?
I thought we elected new conservatives who value transparency and accountability. Everyone knows that secrecy breeds distrust. I think we deserve better.
Four times, over the past year, I have asked the D38 school board to please follow their policies KB and KCB, along with their mission statement and strategic vision, which all focus on the importance of partnering with parents and the community and state that such partnerships are "essential" to student achievement. My request was to bring back the community coffees, and I even volunteered to bring cookies.
Now that we have a few new school board members, I am hopeful that the coffees will be reinstated soon. I don’t consider deliberative discussions with facilitated predetermined outcomes, as with the district’s long-range planning, the best approach to truly include all voices and ideas from the community. I am asking, once more, for the D38 board to please bring back the community coffees so two-way discussions can be had where all stakeholders can work together with the best interests of our kids in mind. I would think that such conversations would be welcomed. And, yes, my offer to bring cookies still stands!
Outside money, insider influence
You are most likely aware of Monument’s mayoral and trustee election. You are also probably aware of the nasty mailers sent out regarding three people running for office. I received three of these things. All ugly lies and what the law calls "rhetorical hyperbole," something so outrageous no reasonable person would believe it, thus skirting libel laws.
But the people behind this are still trying to influence your vote. And they are using out-of-town money to do this. The sole contributor to the nonprofit "Right Leadership Matters" who is funding this nasty campaign is the Housing and Builders Association of Colorado Springs. Why are Colorado Springs developers trying to influence a Monument town election?
And one of our very neighbors is participating in this nasty campaign. Windover Media, owned by Monument’s own Dede Laugesen, provided the printing services. MSI, Mailing Services Inc. of Colorado Springs, addressed the mailers and provided postage services (their postage permit number is on each card). And the "Right Leadership Matters" group has a PO Box in the Postal Annex, right off Jackson Creek Parkway (also listed on the mailers). The bank handling these funds is the Bank of Colorado, out of Colorado Springs. Who is making the decisions? Ask any one of these businesses or the responsible agent, Katie Kennedy.
It appears the costs will exceed $5,000. All this to influence an election for seats that pay $0.00. Then why do it? Well, Monument is ripe for development. And guess who makes decisions about development? Yes. The Monument mayor and the Board of Trustees.
It is too late for this election. But be aware of decisions that are made by these people. Attend the Board of Trustees meeting. Hold people accountable. And if it looks as though there is some outside influence affecting decisions, take action.
National Poetry Month
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood."—T.S. Eliot
April is National Poetry Month, inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Children and adults are naturally drawn to humor, rhyme, and rhythm, and these are all found in poetry. Poetry can motivate kids to read and be a tool to build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. Here are some collections for your consideration for both adults and children:
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
By Mary Oliver (Penguin Press) $30
Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. Identified as "far and away, this country’s best-selling poet" by Dwight Garner, she now returns with a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last 50 years. These 200 plus poems, arranged by Oliver herself, feature her work from her very first book of poetry published in 1963 at the age of 28, through her most recent collection published in 2015.
The Expanse of All Things
By James Scott Smith (Homebound Publications) $16.95
Local author James Scott Smith’s newest book is a collection of poems that runs the seam between culture and nature with an aching hunger for experience transformed. In the spirit of coyote guidance through the borderland of liminal space, Smith offers one exquisite cairn after another to the soul wandering but not lost. The Expanse of All Things is a testament of the journey from form to faith, and of the love for tradition as long as it serves the evolution of consciousness.
By Gary Schroeder (Folded Word Press) $14
This is local author Gary Schroeder’s newest and fifth book of poetry; his second collection of haiku. In translating his observations into sensory-rich poems, Schroeder has granted us access to his private library of the domestic and the wild, the celestial and the terrestrial, the rare and the mundane. To leaf through this subtly elegant collection is to be transported to new microcosms, each with its own sense of time.
By John Blase (Bright Coppers Press) $9.99
John Blase is a pastor’s son, writer, poet, collaborator, and editor. His writing is intensely personal, filtered through a brass-knuckled optimism, the perspective of a first-born, and the gratefulness of a strange thing called grace. The Jubilee is his newest book and debut book of poetry.
A Mother’s Book of Blessings: A Treasury of Wisdom for Life’s Greatest Moments
By Natasha Tabori Fried and Lena Tabori (National Geographic Society) $24.99
Curated especially for mothers, this beautifully illustrated keepsake contains more than 100 blessings from around the world to celebrate life’s special moments and encourage reflection for the whole family. Illustrated with exquisite vintage art, it’s filled with time-honored proverbs, enriching parables, uplifting quotes, and inspiring poetry that encourage readers to contemplate and celebrate life’s milestones.
Runny Babbit Returns: Another Billy Sook
By Shel Silverstein (Harper Collins) $19.99
This collection of 41 never-before-published poems and drawings features the playful Runny Babbit and many other favorite characters who speak a topsy-turvy language all their own. This carefully compiled work from the Silverstein archives is filled with spoonerism poems that are both playful and poignant.
Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures
By Kwame Alexander (National Geographic Society) $15.99
A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird; pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world. Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature’s markings, textures, and attributes in stunning detail. These images are part of Sartore’s lifelong project to photograph every animal in the world.
April 26 is Poem in Your Pocket Day. People celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can find more than 30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month at the Academy of American Poets website: www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home.
Until next month, happy reading.
The Covered Treasures staff can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
As we welcome spring, there are a number of opportunities for all ages at the library. Children can meet the STEM fairy to learn about botany and tree rings. Teens and tweens can make duct-tape wallets, and the Palmer Lake Art Group will continue its adult drawing classes. See below for details!
Coloring for Everyone is offered on the first Friday of each month from 4 to 5:30. All ages are welcome. Colored pencils, markers, and gel pens are provided, and you are welcome to bring your own as well. Drop in and stay as long as you like!
The Family Fun @ Mo program for April is That Science Fairy: STEM and the trees. On Saturday, April 14 from 2:30 to 3:30, come to this presentation with hands-on activities for budding botanists. Learn about tree-ring math, breathing-hole making, twig branching, and leaf classification.
The Lego Build club will meet from 10 to 11:30 on Saturday, April 21. Build to your heart’s content with other enthusiasts.
Teen and Tween programs
See above for details about Coloring for Everyone.
Having trouble with math? Come to the library on Mondays from 3:30 to 7 to consult an experienced adult tutor for free. All ages and levels of math are welcome, and no appointment is necessary. This AfterMath program follows the D-38 schedule. AfterMath is not held on days when schools are closed.
Interested in giving knitting a try? Every Wednesday from 3 to 4:30, an intergenerational group of knitters meets in the study room from 3 to 4:30. Practice materials are available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own materials and projects. Some instruction is provided for those new to the craft.
The Teen Advisory Board will meet on Saturday, April 7 from 2 to 3. If you’re interested in earning volunteer hours, planning teen activities, or decorating the teen area, this group is for you! Come to the study room for this meeting and meet like-minded teens.
Teens and Tweens are welcome to make colorful duct tape wallets on Friday, April 20 from 3:30 to 4:30. All supplies provided. This class is open to ages 9 to 18.
On Wednesday, April 25, teens are invited to design their own T-shirt. We’ll be doing simple photo transfers. Bring an image or create one with us, print it onto transfer paper, and iron it onto your shirt. We will provide some shirts, but if you have a cotton shirt of your own that you would rather use, feel free to bring it. Registration is required at 488-2370.
The Monument Library Anime Club will meet from 5 to 6:30. Share anime with others who love it. Enjoy exotic snacks and watch videos. This program is recommended for ages 14 and up.
See above for descriptions of Coloring for Everyone and Intergenerational Knitting.
On Thursdays, April 5 and 19, members of the Palmer Lake Art Group will continue its series of drawing classes for adults. The classes, held from 1 to 3 in the afternoon, are for beginning and intermediate artists. Some materials are provided, but bring paper, pencils, and erasers if you have them. Space is limited and registration is required. Additional sessions are coming in May.
Come to a quick class about smoothie bowls on Saturday April 7 from 11 to noon. You can create pretty much any combination of flavors that you want and top it with your favorite goodies. Experience the easiest and healthiest way to turn a smoothie into a meal.
The library’s evening book club, the Monumental Bookworms, will meet from 7 to 8:30 on Tuesday, April 10 to discuss People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. All are welcome to attend and no registration is required.
The Second Thursday Craft for April is Alcohol Inks. This month we will be experimenting with alcohol inks. Registration is required and opens one week before the craft day of April 12. All materials will be provided.
Can’t make yourself throw away an old book? Upcycle it. On Wednesday, April 18 from 3 to 4, join us to make a book safe. We will hollow out old books to create a hidden compartment. Your book could become a jewelry box, a change jar, or anything you’d like! Materials will be provided, but feel free to bring your own book to transform. Registration is required.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, April 20 to discuss The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott. All are welcome to attend this monthly book group, and no registration is required.
The Monument Library Spinning Group will meet from 10 to 3:45 on Thursday, April 26 to explore the craft of hand spinning.
If you are interested in joining one of our discussion groups or working with others on writing your life story, come to the library for information.
On the walls of the library and in the display case will be art by students of Lewis-Palmer Middle School.
Palmer Lake Library events
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month.
Toddler Time is each Friday at 10:30, Story Times are on Wednesdays at 10:30, and the Lego Build event is the first Saturday of each month at 10:30. We provide the Legos, you bring your imagination! Duplos are provided for young builders.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sigi Walker
The Palmer Lake Historical Society drew a very appreciative standing-room-only crowd March 15 to hear Eric Swab present the history of the Mt. Manitou & Incline Railway. He told the story of the building of a rudimentary cable car system to transport materials to construct a pipeline from Ruxton Creek at the top of Mt. Manitou to the Pikes Peak Hydro-Electric Power Plant (still in operation today) at the base of the mountain. It began operation on Feb. 15, 1905.
Once built, it was thought the cable car system could be adapted to a tourist attraction, Swab said. Spurred by Dr. Newton Brumback, new track was laid and the road bed prepared; an upper station and power house were built at the top and a lower station at the bottom. The "Incline" opened for business on June 28, 1908, "but not many would venture to ride" that Sunday before the Fourth of July. "They were afraid," said Claude McKesson. "Then on July 4th we put on an ‘excursion’ and reduced the fare from $1 to 50 cents. We had all the people we could carry. It was evident the people would risk their lives for 50 cents who would not do it for $1."
This was the beginning of an 82-year history of one of the most beloved attractions in the Pikes Peak region, offering an unparalleled view of the town and Eastern plains from the top.
Swab described the "concessions" that served the tourists at the top of the Incline: a restaurant, gift shop, and photography concession. The "Burro Line" took people from the top of the Incline to the top of Pikes Peak. When a 1990 rock slide washed away 500 feet of ties and railbed, it was decided to close the Incline. There were petitions opposing the closure from people in the area but to no avail. And so, the tracks were taken up and buildings torn down.
The Incline then attracted hikers, who loved the extreme physical challenge of a one-mile climb that rises 2,000 feet in elevation. It was illegal to hike portions of the trail until spring 2013, when the Intergovernmental Agreement and Incline Plan were adopted.
Caption: From left are presenter Eric Swab, Historical Society audio/visual Director Peter Blaney, and Historical Society President Tom Baker. Photo by Doris Baker.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 19, when Victoria Miller of the Steelworks Museum of the West in Pueblo will host the film Forging the West. The story of Pueblo’s Colorado Fuel and Iron Co., the film reveals the human side of an epic American story about the steel mill that fueled the development of the West—its railroads, people, politics, and to a large degree, its character. This program is free and open to all. The venue is the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7. Light refreshments are served after the presentation.
By Janet Sellers
The ancient polyculture method, aka lazy gardening, copies nature’s forest culture, uses "chop and drop" in fall, with limited tilling and close planting. Polyculture optimizes planting support of soil, plants, and pollinators, maximizing solar access and friendly interspecies growth vs. monoculture that grows only one large crop.
Lazy gardening also takes heed to protect wild native plants and those mistaken for weeds that actually help the habitat and soil in many ways—it’s vital to learn about them. Local native plants bring native pollinators and keep our local forests and wildlife thriving. Common dandelions bring nutrients topside via tap roots, build soil, make extraordinary health food, and are the vital first food available for our pollinators. Here’s a local secret: Ponderosa pine needles as mulch keep weeds off garden paths and garden beds and hold moisture for the seeds we drop in the soil under them.
As promised, companion planting besties:
• Lettuce loves beets, corn, cukes, onions, peas, radishes, spinach, strawberries.
• Sunflowers love lettuce, cukes, corn.
• Beans love beets, carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, peas, radishes, squash, strawberries, tomatoes.
• Basil loves peppers, radishes, tomatoes.
• Plant spearmint, (short) marigolds, and lavender to deter pests; nasturtium and dill, cosmos and yarrow attract good bugs.
Organic produce zombies
You can regrow organic produce. Using the rooty end, keep the bottom 3-4 inches of organic purchased veggies—celery, scallions, bok choy, romaine, garlic (separate cloves, rootlet intact)—and place in an inch of clean, cool water, and in a few days you should see some growth in the center. Upon sturdy roots in 2-3 weeks, plant in a pot, keep watered.
Slice of life garden
Take a 1-2-inch slice of tomato, melon or other ripe, seed-filled produce, seeds intact, and put it into the loose, fluffy compost soil of a pot or garden bed. It will grow well that way, likely due to the protection of the fruit part intact—it makes its own soil prep on the spot. Thin and transplant when plants are strong, usually 6-10 inches tall.
Find my local garden tips, movies, and more on the Monument Community Garden Facebook page.
Caption: Volunteer gardeners Donna Wood, left, and Kimberly Rivera help prepare the soil at Monument Community Garden in early March, turning compost and marking out square-foot gardening aka highly prolific polyculture areas for planting in early April. The 2018 garden will demonstrate techniques including square-foot, vertical, and straw bale gardening, and using drought-resistant Olla watering systems. The public is invited to volunteer to help out or just enjoy watching the garden grow. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an avid "lazy gardener" champion of ethnoecology, aka accessing Mother Nature’s wisdom to grow a high-altitude garden that includes flowers and food while protecting our vital forest habitat. Send your favorite tips to email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
"And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in every thing."—in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, 1599.
We find such powerful communication and inspiration being out in our forests and nature, especially starting in springtime when it’s easier for artists going out into nature to paint. Plein air art, both painting and sculpture, is considered one of the most challenging—it demands the artist create entirely outdoors, requiring superb art skills and the ability to work with dispatch, as the light or subject can move so quickly as to virtually disappear, be it wild animals or the fleeting light of day. And there is little to no room for error, so the work must be done impeccably.
For plein air artists, being outdoors, hiking to the ideal spot, and setting up are among the most arduous but satisfying experiences. Many artists admit they simply cannot do this demanding yet beautiful work. Painting outdoors relies on natural light—either bright sunlight or on a cloudy day with diffused light—which allows one to experience true colors without harsh light and shade. Plein air painting also includes the night sky of moonlight, streetlights, and other night-time conditions. James M. Turner made nocturnes a legend in art, most famously with his nocturnes of fireworks and stars at night.
Local plein air art and classes will start up in April in our area. Keep an eye out for the local painters working in our beautiful scenery. I know I will be painting at Fox Run Park, Monument Preserve, Woodmoor scenic spots and Palmer Lake in good weather, so come out for the spring weather and stay for the art. Each weekend afternoon, weather permitting, I give a demonstration for the public at local scenic places. Check the OCN calendar for details. Looking forward to seeing you outdoors very soon!
April art events
Gallery 132 offers local artisan works, 251 Front St., No. 8, Monument.
Southwinds Fine Art Gallery, Second Weekends, the Champagne Tour, Susan Fowler art talk 7 p.m. April 13, Chinese artist Shiying Fang art demonstration 4-9 p.m. April 13 and 1-4 p.m. April 14, with artist Mariya Zvonkovich. 16575 Rollercoaster Rd.
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts exhibition, Abstraction from Reality, featuring Douglas Mann and Ethan Ahlstrom, March 27-May 25. 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.
Caption: Chinese artist Shi Ying Fang will exhibit and demonstrate her art form made with a pointillism etching technique on stone at Southwinds Fine Art Gallery April 13 and 14. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an artist and writer. She exhibits her paintings and public art sculptures in Colorado galleries and museums and teaches art and movie classes locally. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Palmer Lake Town Hall Easter Egg hunt
Caption: Children of all ages enjoyed the dash for Easter eggs on The Village Green for the Palmer Lake Town Hall Easter Egg hunt on Saturday, March 31. The event featured the outdoor egg hunt and hot drinks, donuts, and other treats indoors. The next day on Easter Sunday, the annual Easter Pancake Breakfast was held in the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Both events were sponsored by the Palmer Lake Fire Department. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Benet Hill Concert, Mar. 4
Caption: From left are Jacob Klock and Elisa Wicks on violins, Ingrid Rodgers on viola, and Pam Chaddon on cello. On March 4, the Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery hosted a concert of Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ. There are seven parts in total, echoing Jesus’ final hours on the cross. The hourlong musical performance was intermingled with poetry by Michael Dennis Browne. The songs open serenely, sweetly, but become turbulent and dissonant as Jesus is tested by His suffering. The violins play to Jesus’ feelings, while the viola and cello play quaking deep-toned bass to represent the pain of the scene. Throughout the concert, the disparity between Jesus the man and the Son of God is evident. As Jesus’ struggle ends, all four instruments play the same notes, quietly together quietly, as if too weak to continue. The final piece of the concert is violent as if the world shattered, as Haydn wondered at the cost to the world Jesus’ death caused. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
AZA at TLCA, Mar. 3
Caption: On March 3, AZA brought an international music flare to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. Band members Mohamed Aoualou, Fattah Abbou, and Brahim Fribgane used the guitar, banjo, and cajon respectively to bring the sounds and feel of their Moroccan homeland and Amazigh culture to the TLCA stage. Abbou described their sound as "very rich in rhythm and different scales" with its North African influences. He said the band hoped to "give a little picture of Morocco" and by "using folk music instruments as the guitar and banjo, connect with the audience and join the two cultures." Photo by David Futey.
Waterwise Gardening, Mar. 14
Caption: On March 14 at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Cassie Olgren from the Town of Monument presented a program on water-wise gardening, sometimes referred to as xeriscaping. About 30 people were in attendance to learn about the basic guidelines and challenges of landscaping with water conservation in mind. Olgren’s presentation included information on Tri-Lakes-area water sources and aquifers, the guiding principles of water-wise gardening, and suggestions for beautiful, hearty, and productive drought-tolerant and resistant plants. She also discussed common pitfalls and lessons learned from her own landscaping experiences. Olgren cited many resources for gardeners, including the Town of Monument website (www.townofmonument.org/384/Water-Conservation-and-Rebates), Colorado State Extension (www.extension.colostate.edu/garden/), and Colorado Water Wise (www.coloradowaterwise.org). Photo by Chrystie Hopkins.
Monument Candidate Forum
Caption: On March 12, the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce sponsored a forum for candidates running for Monument mayor or trustee. Questions were presented by Evan Pappas of KOAA news 5. Generally, all the candidates focused on water issues, infrastructure, and development. Frequent reference was made for the need to update the town’s Comprehensive Plan (which was updated in 2017—see www.townofmonument.org/DocumentCenter/View/681). Pappas is pictured standing, while seated from left are Jeff Bornstein, Don Wilson, Shea Medlicott, Kelly Elliott, Jeff Lampman, Ron Stephens, and Laurie Clark. Photo by John Howe.
Coffee with a Cop, Mar. 15
Wesley Owens Coffee and Café hosted Coffee With a Cop on March 16. Many people turned out to talk with the 15 or so Monument police officers and El Paso and Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies. Many of the police officers said they enjoyed being out in the community, talking with residents. People asked a variety of questions dealing with neighborhood speeding issues, jail population matters, and transients. Several children attended with their parents and asked how to become a police officer. Sheriff Bill Elder and Monument Chief of Police Jake Shirk spoke about their agencies working together, showing respect and admiration for one another. One of the El Paso County Sheriff’s chaplains, on the far left, speaks with a resident. On the far right, Sheriff Bill Elder talks with one of the boys representing Shield 616, which provides safety equipment to police officers. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Barlow at TLCA, Mar. 16
Caption: On March 16, Celtic fingerstyle guitarist Jerry Barlow ushered in St. Patrick’s Day weekend at the Tri-Lakes Center of the Arts (TLCA). Barlow’s combination of traditional Irish songs and other classics, along with storytelling related to Irish history, created an entertaining and engaging performance. Among the songs Barlow performed were Loch Lomond, regarding the Battle of Culloden (1746), Paddy’s Lamentation, about traveling across to America only to be enlisted in the Northern army during the Civil War, and Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore along with Drunken Sailor and the Last of the Mohicans theme song. Information on upcoming events at the nonprofit TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.
Palmer Lake Candidate Forum
Caption: The Town of Palmer Lake held a mayoral and trustee candidate forum on March 17 at Palmer Lake Town Hall. See unofficial town council election results on page 22. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Sanctuary Pointe hearing, Mar. 19
Caption: Andrea Barlow of NES speaks to the BOT about Sanctuary Pointe developer Classic Homes, her client. From left on the dais are Trustee Dennis Murphy, Mayor Pro Tem Don Wilson, Mayor Jeffrey Kaiser, and Trustees Kelly Elliott, Greg Coopman, and Jeffrey Bornstein. See article on page 21. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
RMMA Concert, Mar. 16
Caption: On March 16, Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church hosted the Rocky Mountain Music Alliance’s March concert. Pictured from left are Karine Garibova on violin, Mary Beth Barteau Shaffer on piano, and Scott Kluksdahl on cello. They played the music of Haydn, Brahms, and Schubert. Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 39 was written for an English woman he fell in love with during trips to London. The first two pieces are gentle and serene, but the third takes a faster tempo in the theme of intense Hungarian gypsy music. Brahms’ Piano Trio No.1 was one of his first chamber works to be published. His insecurity caused him to destroy many of his works, but this one endured. The piano introduces a beautiful cello solo to start off the 40-minute piece. Several themes emerge, some quiet and others bursting with exuberance. Finally, the trio played a Schubert piece written in 1827 but published posthumously. Photo by Allison Robenstein
Science Day at WMMI, Mar. 17
Caption: On March 17, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry hosted its annual Science Day. The event included an array of exhibitors including the Colorado Springs Rocket Society, the Pikes Peak Soaring Society, Colorado Springs Utilities, Chris Thompson and his Lego machines, and Ted Giem’s demonstrations on rock cutting and polishing. Throughout the day, attendees could operate a flight simulator, build a model rocket, and watch both a 3D printer in action and a demonstration on the principles of high voltage electricity, and other activities. Information on upcoming museum events is at www.wmmi.org. Photo by David Futey.
Home Place Ranch Meeting
Caption: On March 23, representatives of the Home Place Ranch developers held a community meeting at the Chamber of Commerce in Monument to a packed house of concerned citizens. People listened attentively, mostly waiting to hear about the traffic that will be affected in their area. The speakers said there will be another meeting. That meeting had not been posted as of publication day. Photo by John Howe.
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.
County issues Stage I Fire Restrictions
Continued dry conditions and the National Weather Service forecast for continued dry and warmer-than-normal conditions have resulted in very high to extreme fire danger ratings. Stage I Fire Restrictions are now in effect for all the unincorporated areas of El Paso County, effective immediately. See the article on page 1 for details of the restrictions.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month:CDOT study: 89 percent admit to driving distracted
Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in anything—texting, looking after children or pets, talking on the phone or to a passenger, watching videos, eating, or reading—that takes a driver’s focus away from the road. In Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) 2017 annual mail survey of Colorado drivers, 89 percent of participants reported driving distracted in the past seven days; 40 percent of drivers admitted to reading a message on their phones, 25 percent had sent a message while driving, 53 percent had talked on a handheld cell phone, and 54 percent had talked on a hands-free phone. In 2016, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 16 percent of all fatal and injury crashes in Colorado.
CDOT has joined in a national effort to recognize April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month to bring attention to the threat distracted drivers pose. To minimize distractions from cell phones, drivers can download a safe driving app that limits phone functions while driving. For more information about these apps and CDOT’s Drop The Distraction campaign, visit www.distraction.codot.gov.
Make sure your voter registration is up to date at www.govotecolorado.com. Also be aware that some local elections are polling place elections where no mailed ballots are sent out, except to overseas voters, and voters must go to those locations in person to cast a ballot. For example, on May 8 both Donald Wescott Fire Protection District and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District will hold polling place elections. For details, see related candidate summaries for both fire districts on pages 13 and 15.
Volunteers needed for Citizen Outreach Group, apply by April 9
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Citizen Outreach Group. Applications are due by April 9. 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.
Volunteers needed for Innovation and Technology Committee, apply by April 13
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Innovation and Technology Committee. Applications are due by April 13. 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.
Town of Monument Summer Youth Job Program, apply by April 13
Young people ages 16-21 can join the Public Works Department June 4-Aug. 3, 7 a.m.–3:30 p.m. The position involves work outside on erosion control, park improvements, trash pickup around town, storm water system maintenance, weed control, and fire mitigation projects. The pay rate will depend on experience. For more information, contact Steve Sheffield, 487-9291, or visit www.townofmonument.org/Jobs.aspx.
Free income tax help, ends April 17
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 $54,000 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 text VITANOW to 85511 for an appointment.
Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) available, comment by April 25
The EA evaluates the potential environmental impacts of the replacement of the Cadet Area 5 sewer line within an existing right-of-way and adjacent to an existing line, which will be abandoned in place at the U.S. Air Force Academy. See the draft EA online at www.usafa.af.mil/Units/Mission-Support-Group/Civil-Engineering-Squadron/Environmental-Management/ or view a hard copy at Monument Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument; or USAFA Base Library, 5136 Redtail Dr., Suite H103.
Lewis-Palmer School District Hall of Fame, nominations accepted through April 27
The community is invited to nominate a person who has made significant, ongoing contributions to the excellence of D-38 schools. More information and nomination forms are posted at www.lewispalmer.org under the Community tab. See ad on page 9.
Lillian’s Second Annual Cinderella Fairy Godmother Project, donate by April 30
Lillian’s of Monument will accept donations of gently-used, ready-to-wear prom dresses, shoes, and accessories (no more than 5 years old) to give to teen girls for prom. You may drop off your donations through April 30 at 251 Front St. Suite 4, Monument. For more information, phone 488-3550.
Monument Hill Foundation Call for Grants, apply by May 15
The Monument Hill Foundation is the granting arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. The foundation provides funds in support of the club’s mission to support youth and the community, with a focus on the Tri-Lakes community. Grants are awarded to charities as defined by the IRS, to various qualifying youth activities, and to schools for various educational activities and scholarships. Applications will be accepted until May 15. The grant application is available at www.monumenthillkiwanis.org/forms/mhf_grants.
Art gallery show seeks entries, due by May 19
Palmer Lake Art Group seeks new submissions for its upcoming Color Splash show at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. All artwork must be produced by exhibiting artists and not have been showcased at this gallery in the last two years. Entries must be submitted by May 19. For more information, email email@example.com or visit the website, www.palmerlakeartgroup.com.
Mountain View Electric Association board nominations now open
The board election will take place during the annual meeting June 7. If you are interested in being a candidate, find application details at www.mvea.coop. For more information, phone 719-494-2528 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See ad on page 14.
Slash-Mulch season begins May 5
The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch program will accept slash (tree and brush debris only) May 5-Sept. 9. Mulch will be available May 19-Sept. 8 or when mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost for slash is $2 per load. The mulch loader fee is $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone Carolyn, 495-3127; Chuck, 495-8675; Jeff, 495-8024; or the County Environmental Division, 520-7878.
Tri-Lakes Meals on Wheels needs drivers
Meals on Wheels in the Tri-Lakes area needs regular and substitute drivers to deliver meals Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. Volunteers will have to complete an application with Silver Key and then undergo a background check. For more information, phone Sue Cliatt, 481-3175.
Meals on Wheels by Silver Key
If you’re a homebound senior age 60 or older, you might qualify to receive meals delivered to your home through Silver Key. To register or volunteer, call 884-2370. See ad on page 5.
Free Services for Black Forest Seniors, FYI
Did you know that Silver Key will provide transportation to and from medical appointments for Black Forest area residents? Call 719-884-2380 for appointments. Did you know that Silver Key will provide Meals on Wheels to Black Forest area residents over age 60? Call 884-2370. Did you know that Silver Key will provide case management guidance and other services to residents in the Black Forest area? For more information about Silver Key and their services, visit www.silverkey.org or call 719-884-2350.
Host families needed
Become a host family for only one month this summer. Host a student from Europe in June/July. Family will receive a stipend to support activities. For more information, phone 481-4412 or visit www.xploreUSA.org. See ad on page 4.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Thrift Store needs volunteers
Volunteers are needed for various tasks. The store is located at 755 Highway 105, Suite N, in the West End Center and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. To volunteer, call 488-3495.
Air Force Academy construction project at South Gate Bridge, through June 2019
The New Santa Fe Regional Trail will remain open through the construction site; all trail users must use the metal connex box tunnel. All bicycle and horseback riders must dismount before entering the tunnel. Periodic trail closures at the South Gate Bridge will be scheduled and posted in advance. When a scheduled trail closure is in place, the trail will be blocked and closed only at the South Gate Bridge. Trail users are encouraged to check the Northgate Trailhead and Ice Lake Trailhead for information regarding construction and closure information and updates. For questions regarding the project and trail closures, contact Construction Superintendent Fred Langan, 719-213-1332 or Fred.langan@Tepa.com; or El Paso County Project Manager Jason Meyer, 520-6985 or email@example.com.
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
For additional information on library events, see the
library events column on page 24 and
WEEKLY & 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 February 02, 2022. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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