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Monument Board of Trustees, June 4:Town manager fired in unanimous vote
By Allison Robenstein
After a three-hour executive session, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) fired the town manager during its June 4 meeting. Trustees also appointed a town clerk, brought the town attorney and treasurer back from administrative leave, and voted to hold a Nov. 6 election to fill the vacant trustee position. Financing was approved for three public works projects as well.
Unresolved debate about legality of May 16 special meeting
Trustee Greg Coopman moved that the consent agenda be amended to remove the minutes of the "unauthorized" May 16 special meeting. He appeared incensed that the meeting had happened at all since neither he nor Trustees Jeffrey Bornstein or Laurie Clark attended. He claimed opening a meeting cannot occur without a quorum, nor can any actions be taken, such as the call to order. He also objected to the occurrence of the discussion about town business after the meeting was adjourned in what he called "villainizing" public comment.
Note: Colorado statute 24-6-402, known as Colorado’s open meeting Sunshine law, states, "all meetings of a quorum or three or more members of any local public body, whichever is fewer … are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times." Mayor Don Wilson, Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott, and Trustee Ron Stephens did open and attend the May 16 meeting, but Wilson said no official business could be conducted then since a majority, or four of six trustees, was not present. See www.ocn.me/v18n6.htm#mbot-cx.
A vote to amend the consent agenda to remove the May 16 minutes failed 3-3, with Wilson, Elliott, and Stephens voting no. Elliott then moved to approve the consent agenda as it stood, but this also failed in a tie, with Bornstein, Clark, and Coopman voting no. Next, Coopman asked for a second vote on his original motion, but Town Clerk Laura Hogan and Clark stopped the discussion—identifying this as identical to his first motion. Finally, Coopman asked to continue the consent agenda approval until June 18 when they could receive legal advice, which passed unanimously.
Town manager fired; town clerk appointed
After a three-hour executive session to receive legal advice related to the investigation of Town Manager Chris Lowe, the board unanimously agreed to terminate Lowe’s employment and contract. The investigation had been going on since Feb. 5 when the board directed Town Attorney Alicia Corley to use the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) to set up an independent attorney to investigate allegations brought by Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk. When the BOT returned from executive session, the trustees did not share any of the details of their discussion, since it was a personnel issue, but ended Lowe’s employment as the first order of business in a unanimous vote.
The board also appointed Hogan as town clerk in a 5-1 vote with Clark voting no. Smith, as acting town manager, had put Hogan, Town Treasurer Pamela Smith, and Town Attorney Alicia Corley on administrative leave May 16 until it could be determined how their employment was affected in the absence of an appointment within the 30-day period after the board election as set forth in Colorado statute. This was Hogan’s first return to regular meetings since May 16. Corley has not attended any regular meetings since May 16. Smith has been attending meetings only as acting town manager. See www.ocn.me/v18n6.htm#mbot.
Linda Michow was retained by CIRSA to provide answers to employment questions that have beleaguered the board since this situation occurred. Based on the Colorado constitution, Article 12, § 1, Michow stated in a memo, "The expiration of an appointed official’s term does not necessarily or automatically oust the individual holding the appointive office from that position. Absent provisions to the contrary, the public interest requires that public offices should be filled at all times without interruption."
Michow said the three positions are insured and bonded even if they have not been appointed.
At the end of the meeting during board comments, Wilson also requested that, per Michow’s memo, the treasurer and attorney should return from administrative leave by June 6 to their previous positions. No board members commented on this action.
Trustee will be elected not appointed
Because Wilson was elected mayor, his trustee position needs to be filled, either by appointment by the trustees or by ordering an election. On April 16, the board decided to reach out to the community to find applicants to appoint. Colorado statutes authorize the board to fill vacancies through appointment 60 days after the mayor took the oath of office, which would have been June 15. Candidates James Romanello, Kenneth W. Kimple, and Laura Kronick applied. Elliott made a motion to appoint Romanello at the May 21 meeting, but it failed in a tie with Clark, Coopman and Bornstein voting no. See www.ocn.me/v18n6.htm#mbot0521.
On June 4, Elliott again nominated Romanello for appointment, but this failed in the same tie. Wilson then nominated Kimple, but the vote failed 2-4, with Bornstein, Clark, Coopman and Stephens voting no.
The board then unanimously voted to hold an election to fill the vacant trustee position in conjunction with El Paso County elections on Nov. 6. Although the costs to the town will be less than the $11,000 spent on the previous election, the county could not provide a cost estimate until the number of municipalities who participate and the number of issues and questions on the ballot are determined.
Note: To find out if you live within the town boundaries, see www.townofmonument.org/DocumentCenter/View/293/Town-of-Monument-Boundaries-Information-PDF.
Tax-exempt financing obligations approved
Smith presented tax-exempt financing as an annual resolution for financial approval for three municipal projects. The three public works projects—the well 4 and 5 treatment plant upgrade; the booster station upgrade, and the site plan design and engineering for the property on Mitchell Avenue—were approved in January pending the approved financing. The estimated total cost of these projects is $1.8 million. The motion passed 5-1 with Clark dissenting with no reason stated.
Pilot J Travel Center liquor license approved
The new Pilot Travel Center being built on the corner of Baptist Road and I-25 applied for a 3.2 percent off-premise liquor license. The public hearing was held May 21, and Pilot did not have a representative at that meeting. The board cannot consider any new comments, so it did not matter that Pilot’s representation was present on June 4, but they had to leave before the long executive session was over.
A motion to approve the liquor license passed unanimously.
Nancy Swearengin said Coopman, Clark, and Bornstein had brought the town to a screeching halt by choosing not to attend the May 16 special meeting where they were expected to be and by not appointing a new trustee now, forcing this to a November election.
Six public remarks were positive comments reflecting favorably on Shirk and asked for budgeting for more officers. Shirk’s daughter Shawna Arrington encouraged the trustees to find common ground in their decision making.
Similarly, five people expressed appreciation to the board for what they do but reminded them "to do their job." Cassie Olgren reminded the trustees of their obligation to do what is right and not just always vote in opposition to their opponents. "We are all your constituents now."
During board comments, Coopman said he is hopeful that the board can progress forward and work together.
Smith asked that the board review the staff hiring policy and procedures at the next regular meeting. As acting town manager, she is trying to define hiring responsibilities and policies. The board scheduled a water workshop for June 25. Shirk will make a police presentation at the July 16 meeting. The town auditor will be at the June 18 meeting to present the 2017 audit. The BOT unanimously agreed to Wilson’s request for the Institute for Excellence in Governance to give a class for the elected officials.
Checks over $5,000
These items were approved as part of the consent agenda:
• Common Knowledge Technology, software licensing—$16,060
• Rocky Mountain Com Systems Inc., new and used police radio equipment—$7,227. This was not a 2018 budgeted item, so this expense was taken from Tactical Equipment fund.
The meeting adjourned at 9:50 p.m.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
Palmer Lake Town Council, June 14:Mayor announces effort to consolidate fire departments
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Town Council met once last month, on June 14. The meeting ended on a note of controversy when Mayor John Cressman told those attending that he and Trustee Mitchell Davis were beginning a discussion about possibly consolidating the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD). The council also decided to cancel the Fourth of July fireworks due to the current Stage 2 fire alert, and heard presentations from the Awake the Lake committee, from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) and from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. In addition, Palmer Lake’s enforcement of its own regulations was reviewed.
Cressman and Davis open discussion on future of PLVFD
Although the topic was not on the agenda for discussion, in his comments at the end of the meeting Cressman told those present that he and Davis were planning to discuss merging PLVFD, the town’s fire department, with the much larger TLMFPD on June 27.
PLVFD serves the town of Palmer Lake and receives all its funding from the town. TLMFPD serves a much larger area east of Palmer Lake and Rampart Range, north of the Air Force Academy, Baptist Road and Hodgen Road, west of Black Forest Road, and south of County Line Road.
Note: Palmer Lake voters approved a ballot initiative in 2015 to increase their taxes by 10 mills to better fund the PLVFD.
"This is hard," Cressman said, acknowledging the dedication of PLVFD and the many contributions it has made to Palmer Lake. Cressman went on to point out that PLVFD did not have a paramedic on its staff, did not have a fire chief, had a deteriorating firehouse, and had inadequate equipment. "God bless these kids trying to do their best, but we need a lot more than that, and it’s going to cost money," Cressman said.
Trustee Paul Banta recalled the ballot initiative passed in 2015 and said at that time many believed the PLVFD would require a larger increase in tax revenues to be properly funded, but that the conclusion was the voters were unlikely to approve an increase larger than 10 mills. "I’m in favor of keeping it (PLVFD), but it’s going to cost a lot more than 10 mills," Banta said. Banta also said Cressman and Mitchell were starting a discussion to understand how much funding would be needed, and that any tax increase would need to go to the voters for approval. "It’s not enough to keep it going," Banta said.
Trustee Bob Mutu recalled that he had voted against merging PLVFD with TLMFPD in the past, but that now there should be an effort to see how much it would cost to buy everything PLVFD needs. "Wait until you hear how much it is going to cost," Mutu said,
One attendee, Meredith Bromfield, raised a number of objections against merging the two fire departments. Bromfield said she had served on the committee that worked on the issue in 2015, and that she recalled the tax increase approved by the voters at that time was supposed to fund a paramedic position for the department. Bromfield asked several times how the funds from the 2015 tax increase had been used, clearly suggesting she felt the funds had been misused. She said she felt if the two departments merged, Palmer Lake would be "a stepchild," and that when this was last discussed she felt the Palmer Lake Fire Department was likely to be shut down, leaving the TLMFPD station on Highway 105 as the closest fire station.
Bromfield also said that TLMFPD had increased its mill levies three times recently, and that Palmer Lake taxpayers would need to meet those increases.
Cressman ended the discussion by saying the meeting needed to move on, but that he wanted to be clear that the discussion with TLMFPD would begin soon.
Fourth of July fireworks canceled due to fire danger
The council voted unanimously to cancel the fireworks display planned for the town’s Fourth of July celebration, citing the Stage 2 fire alert currently in place for El Paso County. Jennifer Coopman, one of the event’s planners, said that the money raised for the 2018 display would be carried over and used next year.
Awake the Lake committee gives update on bridge construction
Jeff Hulsmann, speaking on behalf of the Awake the Lake committee, told the council that the committee had received a bid from a local construction company to build the bridge between the town of Palmer Lake and the Palmer Lake Recreation Area. The bridge over the railroad tracks will provide a safe way for pedestrians to get back and forth between the town and the lake.
Hulsmann said the committee needed about $555,000 to complete the bridge. Hulsmann said the committee had $280,000 left from the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant, $60,000 in the Awake Palmer Lake fund, and a $50,000 commitment from the town, and that the committee would continue to raise funds with events like the .5K race it has sponsored in the past.
Cressman said the town had received an unsolicited offer to purchase a piece of its land, and he thought the proceeds of the sale might be enough to pay for the bridge’s completion. Cressman said the idea to sell the land to pay for the bridge was the idea of Trustee Glant Havenar. "We’ll be the laughingstock of North El Paso County if we don’t finish this bridge," Cressman said, adding that the project had already received two extension from GOCO.
Banta again raised his concerns about the aesthetics of using containers to construct the bridge.
Board hears presentations from two county organizations
Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) Executive Director Andy Gunning told the board that PPACG’s missions were to assist communities with senior care, transportation planning, and long-range planning. He said it was rare to see a representative from Palmer Lake at PPACG meetings, and asked for the town’s participation going forward.
Environmental planning concerning air and water quality were also on PPACG’s agenda, Dunning said.
Trustee Gary Faust volunteered to be the liaison between PPACG and the town.
The council also heard from Roger Lovell of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. Lovell told the council about his organization’s adoption of a newly-revised building code that makes no administrative changes, or changes to fees and penalties, but that makes changes to construction methods and requirements. The new code creates consistency across El Paso County, Colorado Springs, Fountain, Monument, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls, and Palmer Lake, Lovell said.
The council voted unanimously to accept the updated construction codes.
Town plans more enforcement of municipal codes
Cressman and Police Chief Jason Vanderpool told the council about Vanderpool’s efforts to enforce violations of the town’s codes relative to trash, abandoned vehicles, and fire hazards on private property in the town. Several properties on Shady Lane, Upper Glenway, and other locations were discussed.
Alleged violations of the town’s lighting ordinances were also discussed. There was general agreement between the council and Vanderpool that this type of violation would receive more attention from the town’s police officers.
In the article on the Palmer Lake Town Council published in the June issue of Our Community News, it was incorrectly reported that only Trustee Gary Faust voted in favor of the updated town ordinance governing outdoor fires. In fact, Mayor Cressman and Trustee Davis also voted in favor of updating the ordinance.
The two meetings for July will be at 6 p.m. on July 12 and July 29 at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monument Board of Trustees, June 13, 18, and 21:Board gets advice on town manager selection process
By Allison Robenstein
The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) met June 18 to discuss the process for hiring a new town manager. They also heard a presentation from Triview Metro District and approved a liquor license for a new restaurant in town.
Town manager selection process
Background: On Feb 15, the board unanimously approved Pamela Smith as acting town manager after Town Manager Chris Lowe was put on an extended administrative leave. See www.ocn.me/v18n3.htm#mbot. During the June 4 meeting, Smith asked that the board discuss the town staff hiring policy and procedure after Lowe was fired at that meeting. See related article on page 1.
The BOT attended a workshop on June 13 to learn about the town manager selection process. Sam Mamet, executive director of Colorado Municipal League (CML), and Clay Brown, Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), offered suggestions on the process.
On June 18, Trustee Laurie Clark made a motion to add a board authorization item for a presentation by executive search firm H.R. Green to assist the board with staff augmentation, organization, and communications assessments. This failed in a 3-3 tie in which Mayor Don Wilson, Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott and Trustee Ron Stephens voted no.
Trustee Greg Coopman then asked that a discussion on the June 13 information about options for hiring a new town manager be added to the agenda, and to table the discussion on town staff hiring policies and procedures, removing it from the June 18 agenda because, "We currently don’t have a town manager" who would be doing that hiring. This motion passed 5-1 with Wilson voting no.
During the June 18 meeting, members who attended the workshop updated those who couldn’t be present. Wilson said there is no ordinance requiring the town to have a manager but said Mamet and Brown encouraged them to determine the skills they are looking for in a professional manager. The town’s council/board-manager form of local government allows local government operations to be separate from political considerations, i.e., town staff work for the manager and not the board. It is basically a corporation and the trustees are the directors. Just as most directors don’t involve themselves in the day-to-day business of a company, so this board should not do so, the DOLA advisors said.
The board was presented three options in conducting a manager search:
• Conduct the search in-house using internal staff.
• Hire an executive search firm to conduct the search.
• Hire an outside party to help the governing body or staff conduct the search.
Elliott said they could either allow Smith to remain in her position until a permanent administrator can be hired or hire a temporary, interim town manager who could help to determine the traits that are most important in a permanent manager. Some towns hire an external interim manager, someone familiar with local government operations, when an organization can’t add on to an internal staff person’s existing job duties as they have with Smith, who is also town treasurer. In either case, someone taking over managerial duties will ensure stability in everyday operations. Mamet and Brown said the board needs to determine if it will perform an internal, staff-led search or use an external search firm. This latter option could be pricey, costing $10,000 to $20,000, but would be a good temporary fix if there are internal issues. The board was encouraged to seek community involvement as focus groups only, with no decision-making capabilities. The overall process could take three to six months.
There seemed to be disagreement between the trustees about the hiring responsibilities of an acting town manager versus those of an interim town manager. Coopman said we don’t currently have an interim, which can be detrimental moving forward. He claimed the liability the town faces from the lack of a formal interim manager versus an acting administrator scares him. Elliott thanked Smith for her work as interim town manager, but Clark was quick to clarify that Smith is "acting, not interim," town manager. Elliott was unsure the town faces any liability. Coopman also argued that there is a difference between an interim versus an acting manager’s powers, including hiring and firing of personnel. When Wilson asked Town Attorney Alicia Corley if this is a liability to the town, she responded, "I would prefer to discuss any liabilities in an executive session or provide my legal opinion off the record," but assured the board they would have her answer before any future work session.
Wilson will invite Mamet and Brown back for another workshop to help the board decide on steps moving forward. Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein, who could not attend the June 13 workshop, said the representatives from CML and DOLA sounded somewhat credible, and agreed the board should define the process.
Smith included a memo in the board packet stating the town manager is the chief administrative officer and thus can hire and fire all staff. This is not explicitly written into the Monument municipal code. The only specific hiring practices noted in the code are for the town manager to hire and fire the chief of police. In Monument’s municipal code, the town manager reports to the board, and all staff report to the manager. Chapter 2.04 of the code states the Board of Trustees has the authority to appoint officers, define their duties, and agree on their compensation. See https://library.municode.com/co/monument/codes/codeofordinances.
On June 21, the board held a special meeting where it approved a resolution "to approve the release with Chris Lowe and authorize the Mayor to execute the release on behalf of the Town" by a 5-1 vote, with Clark voting no.
Triview Metropolitan District update
Triview District Manager James McGrady and President Mark Melville presented an update to the board.
• 2018 road maintenance has included 5½ miles of paving.
• Two catch basin dips originally built into Jackson Creek Parkway will be eliminated altogether.
• Jackson Creek Parkway will be restriped.
• The district is pricing the resurface of the northbound lane of Jackson Creek Parkway from Baptist Road to Lyons Tail.
• The 2019 road maintenance plan is being prepared now.
• The district has hired H.R. Green to redesign Jackson Creek Parkway from where it tapers to two lanes all the way to the north side of Higby Road. McGrady asked the town to partner in the design process, since the town owns Jackson Creek Parkway north of Higby, but did not get a firm commitment from the board. The 60 percent preliminary design will cost $220,000; Triview will hire a construction manager-general contractor to write a request for quotations for the rest.
• Triview purchased 131 more shares of Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. renewable water. The 646 total shares will yield town ownership of annual water rights for about 850 acre-feet of renewable water.
• Colorado Spring Utilities is finalizing a regional water and wastewater plan for areas outside the corporate limits of Colorado Springs.
• The western interceptor wastewater line cost-share agreement is being finalized.
• A new 12-inch pipeline will be installed from Jackson Creek Parkway to the Old Denver Road to provide utility service to Triview’s customers on the west side of I-25. It will require two bores under I-25.
See related Triview article on page 16.
New business liquor license
Jarrito Loco, a new restaurant in the Safeway shopping center, was awarded a liquor license by a unanimous vote. The business is using the Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPs) program to train staff on proper alcohol service. This is a program endorsed by the town to prevent intoxication, drunken driving and underage drinking. See https://www.tipsalcohol.com.
Town manager’s report
• The town has many upcoming summer events that can be found on its website https://townofmonument.org/132/Community-Events.
• Special Events kicked off the Summer Movie Night Series with a showing of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at the clocktower.
• Community Development is planning an Arts Month event in cooperation with the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and preparing for next year’s 140th town anniversary.
Public Works and Water Department:
• Road "mastic" program to seal cracks.
• Irrigation "startup" and maintenance.
The report included a note that it has put out a request for proposal for a Public Works site plan for existing land at Synthes and Mitchell. Note: The debate over how and when to build a new Public Works facility was last mentioned in January, when the formation of a Public Works facility committee was discussed. See www.ocn.me/v18n2.htm#mbot.
Checks over $5,000
The following checks were approved in the consent agenda:
• Triview Metro District—$172,206, including sales tax due for April 2018, motor vehicle sales tax for May 2018 and regional building use tax for May 2018.
• Dissco—$5,501. Invoices for Craftco Mastic One materials.
The Town of Monument held a Water 101 workshop for the board on Monday, June 25.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:32 pm.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for July 16. 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.
Town of Monument press release, June 22:Lowe "resolution" approved
At a special meeting held June 21, which lasted just one minute, the Monument Board of Trustees voted 5 to 1 to approve "a resolution approving the release with Chris Lowe," and the next day the town distributed this press release:
"Resolution Regarding Town Manager
The Town of Monument and Town Manager Chris Lowe announced today that they have reached a resolution of Mr. Lowe’s employment contract terms.
Under Mr. Lowe’s contract, the Town’s vote on June 4, 2018 to terminate the contract without the inclusion of any finding of cause triggers payment to Mr. Lowe.
The parties believe that the quick resolution of this contractual requirement is in the best interests of the citizens of Monument.
The decision today allows both parties to move forward in a positive direction."
Monument Planning Commission, June 13:Sanctuary Pointe plat changes approved
By Kate Pangelinan
The June 13 Monument Planning Commission meeting saw discussion of Sanctuary Pointe Filing Number 3A’s Final Plat, which provided some slight alterations to an already-approved plat. These changes were approved for recommendation unanimously, with Chairman Ed Delaney and Commissioners David Gwisdalla, Melanie Strop, and Jim Fitzpatrick voting in favor.
The meeting lasted just under 50 minutes and is available to watch on the Town of Monument’s government YouTube channel at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PeTXOqvWlh4. Archived packets and other meeting information are also available on the town’s website at https://townofmonument.org/263/Planning-Commission.
The area involved in Sanctuary Pointe Filing Number 3A’s Final Plat comprises about 12.4 acres within Phase One of Sanctuary Pointe. It was previously platted under the name "The Carriages at Sanctuary Pointe Filing No. 2." The Sanctuary Pointe development itself is just north of Baptist Road, to the west of Fox Run Regional Park. This proposed plat is intended to replace the approved "Carriages" plat, and provides two specific alterations to the plan:
• This new plat would change the proposed single-family attached homes to single- family detached homes.
• 46 dwelling units would now be built instead of 48, lowering the community’s housing density.
Andrea Barlow of NES Inc. continued to represent Classic Homes in presenting this project.
A citizen expressed concerns about the housing development at the meeting, dealing with such issues as neighboring properties losing some of their value and the potential height differences between these proposed two-story houses and the previously-expected ranch-style homes. This citizen requested that eight of the houses either be removed from the plat or merged into four larger homes, and described dissatisfaction felt by other Monument residents living near the development.
Barlow said that the current discussion dealt only with specific alterations and that Classic Homes did not intend to alter the number of dwelling units near this citizen’s property. The project’s previous plat has already been approved with even more dwelling units than this new plat is proposing, along with a height restriction that would allow for two-story houses. She also said that two-story homes are not significantly taller than ranch-style homes as it is commonly thought, and that the financial effect on adjacent residences is not a factor used to determine whether a project legally warrants approval.
This plat was unanimously approved for recommendation to the Monument Board of Trustees.
The next Monument Planning Commission meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017 or http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, June 19:Audit report "clean"; budget session planned
By Jennifer Kaylor
A quorum of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board met June 19 for a regular meeting. Thomas Sistare of Hoelting and Co. Inc. Certified Public Accountants presented the district’s 2017 audit. Directors’ financial questions led to plans for a budget work session before the July board meeting. Chief Vinny Burns and Assistant Chief Scott Ridings reported on community involvement and fire station activities that included the board’s social gathering with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board.
Director Joyce Hartung was absent.
Legal Counsel Matt Court recommended that the board amend the agenda to include an executive session to receive legal counsel regarding the Gallagher Amendment and a potential November 2018 election. The board approved the amended agenda.
Audit confirms good standing
Sistare reported that, "Financial statements are fairly presented in all material respects," and the auditors "issued an unmodified or clean opinion." Cash increased while fire, emergency medical services, administrative and personnel expenses decreased due to saving measures initiated before the November 2017 mill levy election. Property tax and special ownership tax revenue increased. Wildland revenue and grant funds added $196,000 and $16,000, respectively, to revenue. Sistare acknowledged that Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich’s status as "a one-woman shop" with regard to the district’s financial accounting creates less than ideal segregation of duties, but the situation is common in organizations the size of Wescott.
The board voted to approve the 2017 audit as presented. The 2017 audit report and previous year audits are available online at http://wescottfire.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2017-Annual_Audit.pdf.
Finance report generates questions, budget work session
Popovich reported that the district’s combined bank balances increased by $275,850 to $1.6 million. During the financial review, Director Gary Rusnak questioned the accounting of treasurer’s fees for the tax revenue and the board approved new engine with an estimated cost of $150,000. Popovich explained that tax revenue received from the El Paso County Assessor’s Office is net of treasurer’s fees—the fees are deducted from the revenue paid from the county to Wescott and never part of the revenue—thus they are not reflected in Wescott’s financial statements. The treasurer’s fees listed in the budget refer to those associated with the district’s bank loan. Popovich committed to review her records for the $150,000 engine purchase and make appropriate adjustments. Consequently, May financials will be re-presented for approval at the July board meeting.
Rusnak expressed discomfort with the budget’s presentation, additional personnel expenses, and treatment of reserves. Ridings suggested scheduling a public budget work session The directors and staff agreed and resolved to have the work session prior to the July board meeting.
Rusnak reiterated his intention to pursue equal taxation of the district’s two sections by raising taxes in the district’s smaller section that straddles Voyager Parkway south of Old Ranch Road from 7 mills to 21 mills to match the northern sub-district’s current mill levy. He also endorsed combining the district and sub-district to simplify matters. Burns and Ridings emphasized that the lower portion of Wescott’s service area was not included in the mill levy increase since the distance from Wescott’s fire stations to the area precludes quick response times. Wescott has a mutual aid agreement with Colorado Springs in that the city provides medical and fire response and Wescott supports the city’s fire services with tender operations. Ridings stressed the need to thoroughly assess the benefits and drawbacks of making taxation and district changes.
Note: For the district’s boundaries, see http://wescottfire.org/about-wescott-fire/.
Social gathering with Tri-Lakes Monument district discussed
Director Larry Schwarz characterized the social gathering with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board of Directors as an important opportunity to get to know one another, share concerns and challenges, and discuss operations to better ensure safety of citizens, firefighters, and property. Chair Bo McAllister emphasized that the fire districts are essentially exploring their options while keeping in mind what is best for each district and its respective taxpayers—there are no commitments.
Community activities noted
Burns acknowledged Lt. Bryan Ackerman’s efforts in organizing Wescott’s participation in the firefighter chili cook-off at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb scheduled for Friday, June 22. The cook-off raises money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The Gleneagle North homeowners association acknowledged Wescott with a donation for helping with its annual mitigation project. Wescott’s chipper, along with firefighter training and assistance, is regularly used for neighborhood mitigation efforts.
Burns reminded the public that El Paso County is operating under Stage II fire restrictions. Restrictions prohibit campfires, the sale or use of fireworks, outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, public prescribed burning/burn permits, outdoor cooking and/or fires on private property and barbecue grilling in county parks. Propane/gas grills on private property are allowed.
Station activities reported
Ridings provided the call statistics for May. The district’s two stations responded to a total of 70 calls, one of which was a building fire, and there was zero fire loss. One resident was doing unauthorized outside burning during a Stage II fire ban. He added that staff is evaluating response plans, engine and ambulance needs, and types of calls. They have also established wildland quadrants and corresponding personnel and equipment needs.
The regular board meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m. The board went into executive session pursuant to CRS 24-6-402(4)(b) to receive advice of legal counsel regarding the potential impacts of the Gallagher Amendment to the district’s revenue stream and possible actions the board may take to address the impacts. Popovich confirmed with OCN that no vote was taken after the executive session.
Caption: From left, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Directors Gary Rusnak, Larry Schwarz, and Mark Gunderman review the May 2018 financial statements at the June 20 board meeting. A public work session will be scheduled to provide the directors clarity on the district’s internal financial controls and budgetary reconciliation. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor.
The next DWFPD Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 17 at 7 p.m. and 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.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at email@example.com.
Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, June 27:Palmer Lake asks district to explore serving town; Wescott and TLMFPD will investigate options
By Allison Robenstein
At its June 27 meeting, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board heard a presentation from the Town of Palmer Lake about its volunteer fire department, discussed a possible consolidation with Wescott, heard an audit presentation, and approved the purchase of a used ambulance.
President Jake Shirk and Secretary Michael Smaldino were absent.
Palmer Lake asks TLMFPD for help
Palmer Lake Mayor John Cressman and Trustee Mitchell Davis formally requested assistance from TLMFPD to take over fire and emergency medical services from the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD). The men are concerned about the future of the PLVFD, saying the department is under-funded, their building is decrepit, and equipment is deteriorating.
"It’s not a good situation. I think you could help us," Cressman said, if the voters of Palmer Lake agree to whatever plan is drafted. "We would need to sell this to our constituents; they are so proud of our firefighters, but none of it has to do with public safety. I want great service. We need to be objective about our deficiencies."
TLMFPD Chief Chris Truty said he wanted board approval before moving forward with investigating a transition plan that would be presented to TLMFPD and to the Town of Palmer Lake.
Vice President Roger Lance said this change could increase standards of service for Palmer Lake residents. Treasurer John Hildebrandt said, "We’re here to be neighborly." He wants to create a win-win situation for both communities.
Everyone agreed the Palmer Lake staff is very capable. Battalion Chief Mike Keough echoed these sentiments, saying the PLVFD staff is very professional and does a great job considering the situation.
Davis said the PLVFD building isn’t up to fire code, and if it had to be closed there could be a crisis for the Palmer Lake community. It has been a concern since at least 2015 when then Fire Chief Margo Humes brought it to the attention of her board while asking for a consolidation with TLMFPD. Palmer Lake voters approved a 10-mill levy increase in 2015 to support the PLVFD. See www.ocn.me/v15n8.htm#pltc.
In 2015, PLVFD signed a mutual response agreement with Tri-Lakes for firefighting. PLVFD staff manually call for aid on medical calls if needed for advanced life support. See www.ocn.me/v15n2.htm#pltc0122. However, they rely on Wescott’s AMR ambulance for their emergency medical services (EMS) calls, which are 95 percent of total calls for service, Davis said. The long travel distance adds vital minutes to response times. TLMFPD Administrator Jen Martin, longtime Palmer Lake resident and wife of a firefighter, said she worries that these inefficiencies will lead to a serious mistake.
Davis asked if this board would consider an intergovernmental agreement in the short-term to cover any crisis that might occur, with a vote of the citizens at a later date for a permanent solution. It would take a $10 million ballot initiative to bring PLVFD up to the standards of TLMFPD, he said. Davis said he would like to see a ballot initiative this November, but the mayor felt the town would resist such a quick change. "It’s going to be controversial. We will have lots of public comment and clarification."
The board unanimously approved Truty creating an exploratory transition plan to provide EMS and fire protection services to PLVFD’s service area. It will be presented sometime in the fall, leading to a possible ballot measure in Palmer Lake later. Everyone wants a transparent process, so discussions will become a monthly TLMFPD agenda item.
Note: For more information, see related Palmer Lake Town Council article on page 1.
Possible TLMFPD-Wescott consolidation
Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) held a publicly posted social meeting with TLMFPD on June 13, where they discussed a possible consolidation between the two agencies. The districts will create a bilateral working group composed of members of both boards, administration, and staff to explore the feasibility of a merger, consolidation, fire authority, or other option bringing the two districts together, Lance said.
TLMFPD Director and Town of Monument Public Works Director Tom Tharnish said the benefits to district residents must be at the forefront of their discovery process.
Truty said these exploratory discussions must be methodical to highlight commonalities and differences in operations between the two organizations. Budget, mill levies, debt, training, and operational differences between the two districts will be topics of discussion.
Martin asked why Wescott initiated discussions now. Hildebrandt said new Wescott board members are interested in the change, and DWFPD Chief Vinny Burns also had several reasons for pursuing it. According to Hildebrandt and Truty, the Wescott board voted June 19 to consider bringing the districts together.
Note: The DWFPD board discussion about the "relationship building" social gathering did not include a formal vote but gave informal direction. See related Wescott article on page 9.
The TLMFPD board voted unanimously for Truty to evaluate possible effects of consolidation with DWFPD.
2017 audit presentation
Mitch Downs of Osborne, Parsons & Rosacker LLP presented the results of the 2017 audit and gave it an unqualified or "clean" opinion. He mentioned that he noted only two adjustments, compared to 27 adjustments two years ago. Truty thanked district CPA Becky Weese and bookkeeper Jenny Bilbrey for the work they do for TLMFPD.
Used ambulance purchase
The board approved the purchase of a used ambulance from the Castle Rock Fire and Rescue Department to replace TLMFPD’s reserve vehicle, which is not reliable. Although the vehicle is likely worth more, TLMFPD’s offer of $30,000 was accepted.
The new ambulance that was approved in the 2018 budget will not arrive until later this year.
The money will come from either excess Specific Ownership Tax revenues projected to be ahead of budget or from the fleet replacement fund. Converting the vehicle with TLMFPD radios and signage is expected to cost less than $10,000.
As at recent meetings, Truty explained the Gallagher Amendment to the board. The amendment, a provision of the state constitution, was designed to maintain a constant ratio in property tax revenue, with 45 percent coming from residential property and 55 percent from business property.
Due to Colorado’s population growth and statewide increases in residential property values, the assessment rate will decrease. Tri-Lakes Monument depends on property tax revenue for about 88 percent of its total revenue. However, by 2020, it is expected the assessment rate will be reduced from 7.2 percent to about 6.11 percent, which would cause a 23 percent reduction in property tax revenue in three years, Truty said.
Fire districts and other special districts are working to find a balance between the potential lost revenues and the mill levy by increasing local mill levy rates equal to the revenue lost from the rate reduction. This is a "revenue-neutral" procedure known as "de-Gallaghering." The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires certain ballot procedures and language to raise tax and mill levy rates. However, no one is sure whether de-Gallaghering violates TABOR. See www.ocn.me/v18n4.htm#tlmfpd, www.ocn.me/v18n6.htm#tlmfpd, www.tlmfire.org/board.
Truty’s report included the following:
• The collective bargaining agreement discussion introduced this winter will continue at the July 25 meeting. See www.ocn.me/v18n4.htm#tlmfpd.
• Lt. Kevin Richmond was named firefighter of the year by the Masonic Lodge.
• Truty is working with Emergency Services Consulting International to create a master plan and strategic five-year plan.
• Battalion Chief Jamey Bumgarner said he’s had 60 requests for mitigation inspections, especially in Red Rock Ranch which is doing needed wildfire risk reduction work.
Tharnish said Bethesda Gardens visitors are giving the town a lot of trouble with illegal parking along Beacon Lite Road.
Caption: Five new firefighters were sworn in June 27 at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. Pictured left to right are firefighters Tyler Brickell, Dak Damour, Robert Horne, Eliza Normen, and Christian Schmidt. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Above:Palmer Lake Mayor John Cressman, left, and Trustee Mitchell Davis at the June 27 Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District meeting. They expressed concern for the future of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and asked TLMFPD to consider expanding its service area to include Palmer Lake if Palmer Lakes voters agreed to the stipulations. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 25 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at (719) 484-9011. For upcoming agendas, see http://tlmfire.org/board.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, June 18:Board installs new member, finalizes funding requests for November ballot
By Harriet Halbig
The June 18 meeting of the Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education consisted of a budget work session, an opportunity for public comments on the proposed budget, and a regular business meeting. During the regular meeting, board President Matthew Clawson administered an oath of office to new board member Theresa Phillips, and the board approved ballot requests for a $33 million bond issue for a new school and a $1 million mill levy override (MLO) to fund security personnel.
Superintendent reports on polling results
Superintendent Karen Brofft reported on the results of polling by Hill Research Consultants regarding the request for a bond issue in November. Her presentation included detailed information on responses of 302 voters. The poll was designed to reach all demographics in the district regarding income, education, and whether or not the individual had family members in school.
Some general impressions were:
• Individuals gave high marks to the district as a whole.
• People did not seem to view a bond as a tax burden and felt that the district should keep up with growth but not overshoot that goal.
• Support for a new school at the Bear Creek location and centralized preschool services were not as strongly favored as anticipated.
• Security polled very favorably.
• 70 percent of respondents agreed that good schools help the local economy.
• 72 percent feel that the district should build for current enrollment.
• Respondents felt that if a bond should pass, there should be an oversight committee that would report quarterly on administration of the funds.
Brofft said that the pollsters recommended not mentioning Bear Creek as the site of the new school in the wording of the ballot measure. The pollsters also said that many respondents didn’t seem to be aware of a capacity problem.
Regarding an MLO for security, 76 percent of respondents favored more staff including mental health staff.
Treasurer Chris Taylor asked Brofft’s general opinion of the responses. She said that the bond polled less than the anticipated 60 percent positive, while the MLO polled more positively. The pollster recommended that if the district requests both, both may fail, and if the district proposed only the MLO it would most likely succeed.
Clawson asked about the appropriate next action.
Taylor said that the middle school is currently at capacity and action must be taken. Security is also important.
Brofft commented that bond funds cannot be spent on personnel and therefore the MLO would be necessary.
Director Phillips agreed that action must be taken to address the growth situation and asked whether it would be best to jump one large hurdle now or several smaller ones over the next several years.
Brofft said that if a new school were built in Jackson Creek, all K-5 students at Bear Creek would not fit, and parents object to the idea of putting fifth-graders in the middle school at that location (Bear Creek Elementary would be re-converted into Creekside Middle School). Redistricting may be necessary.
When asked about consideration of the use of Grace Best to solve capacity, architect Brian Risley said that his firm is finalizing the costs of demolition versus remodeling. He estimated that eight or nine preschool classrooms could be accommodated at the site.
Clawson said that a new school is needed as soon as possible and perhaps the district could sell other of its properties to help fund the construction.
Board Secretary Mark Pfoff said that, by putting both a bond and an MLO on the ballot, the public is given the right to decide on priorities. The board’s role is to package what it considers appropriate. He said that the bond is for a building and it should include safety and security improvements at all school locations.
Brofft reminded the board that final ballot wording was not to be determined at that meeting, but the amount of funding should be determined.
Pfoff suggested asking for $29.5 million for a school at Jackson Creek. If money is left over, it can be put in to the capital reserve fund to help with deferred maintenance and other issues.
Regarding the need for mental health professionals to be funded by an MLO, Brofft said that such professionals are in short supply and perhaps we should view it as a priority to have additional people who could interact one on one with students.
Pfoff suggested that we refer to such professionals as wellness counselors rather than mental health professionals due to the possible stigma.
Phillips said that such a stigma is not as prominent as it once was.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman gave a presentation on the proposed 2018-19 district budget. She said that the funding is based on a projected increase of 81 students, a conservative estimate. She said that the student count may increase by as many as 200. The proposed budget includes partial funding for staff at a new middle school such as janitors and nurses, and also for utilities.
When voting to approve the budget, Taylor objected to the fact that the district has about $50 million in deferred maintenance and yet is only budgeting $1.26 million for that purpose. He suggested requesting an additional bond or MLO to cover the expense.
Brofft said that 80 percent of the district budget is for personnel, so there is little room for adjustment.
Taylor speculated that perhaps D-38 could cooperate with other districts in a shared service center to help with administrative costs. Brofft responded that larger districts do not wish to collaborate.
Pfoff said that when he came on the board, the deferred maintenance figure was $50 million, so it has not grown over the years. He also pointed out that the number of administrative staff in the district is much lower than it was 10 years ago.
Taylor also pointed out that benefits for employees are a large portion of the budget (23 percent according to Wangeman) and that they should be reminded that these are part of their compensation.
The budget was approved, with Taylor and Vice President Tiffiney Upchurch voting no.
The board passed a motion to request a bond for $33 million, including $29.5 million for a new elementary, $1 million to convert Bear Creek Elementary into Creekside Middle School, and the remainder to improve security at the other schools.
The board passed a motion to request an MLO in November for $1 million to pay for personnel and equipment for security for all schools in the district. Upchurch voted no.
Safety and Security Chief Dennis Coates showed the board a mock-up of a proposed sign indicating that the schools have armed security.
In her superintendent comments, Brofft said that the only staff member who is armed is Coates. Schools are still designated as gun-free zones by federal law. Any future armed employees will have no classroom responsibilities, must have law enforcement or military training, and their guns would not be visible. The individuals will be anonymous otherwise.
The board passed a motion to declare its intention to participate in the November election.
The board went into executive session at 9 p.m. to discuss lease or sell of real property.
Caption: D-38 Board of Education members are, left to right, President Matthew Clawson, Director Theresa Phillips, Vice President Tiffiney Upchurch, Secretary Mark Pfoff, and Treasurer Chris Taylor. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer District 38 meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month except July at its Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Aug. 20.
Harriet Halbig can be contacted at email@example.com.
Monument Academy School Board, June 21:Parents speak on controversial new hire
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met on June 21 to hear parents’ concerns about a newly hired teacher, swear in new board members, vote on board policies, and hear a summary of the End-of-Year Parent Survey from the School Accountability Advisory Committee (SAAC).
Principal Elizabeth Davis was absent. MA lawyer Brad Miller attended the meeting and subsequent executive session on personnel matters.
Parents speak on
Anticipating citizen comments on the hiring of English teacher Chris Jeub, board President Scott Saunders started by reading a statement on behalf of the board indicating that "The board is fully aware of various expressions of concern from our community related to an employment matter. The issue has been comprehensively reviewed by the administration and legal counsel and the board will engage with the findings at an executive session later on at tonight’s board meeting. We are confident that our administration has thoughtfully considered the expressions of concern and has done extensive work to distinguish between fact and rumor."
Saunders also read the following statement ahead of comments:
"The board welcomes and appreciates comments on school operations and programs. The board will not engage in dialog with speakers but may direct the administration to follow up on items raised during public comment. Speakers are asked to make comments in a respectful and orderly manner. Personal complaints against any individuals connected with the school are prohibited. Please be aware that personnel matters, and especially issues related to statutorily protected classes and behaviors such as private family issues and religion, may not be a topic of public comment and should be addressed solely through our family conflict resolution process found in policy 1518B."
He then called on the first speaker, Kerry Foreman, who was not present but provided a written statement to be read by another parent, Lori Halenkamp. The board did not allow the statement to be read but accepted the written statement. Halenkamp then read her own statement expressing concern, as a mandatory reporter who is required to report on cases of suspected abuse, over the hiring of Jeub. She stated that she had read statements from the Jeubs’ daughter about growing up in the family. Miller interjected, "Excuse me, no personal attacks." Halenkamp disputed that it was a personal attack, stating it was what she easily found online and asked to be allowed to continue her statement. After meeting with the Jeubs, she felt it was not her job to decide the truth but felt she needed to pay attention to red flags. She also expressed concern over the already tenuous relationship MA has with the district and community and believes the decision to hire such a controversial public figure as a teacher would do more harm than good.
Parent Laurie Strahan then spoke, saying she fully supported Jeub working at MA as a personal family friend of six years. She stated that she had no reason to believe he had done anything unethical or wrong. Her daughter had him as a substitute teacher at the end of last year and indicated that he gave good instructions and graded in a timely matter, teaching her note taking and writing skills. She felt that Jeub, who is certified to teach and has written Institute of Excellence curriculum, was well qualified. She is excited that he will start a debate team, which she felt was a needed skill. While she acknowledged that he is considered controversial to some, she pointed out that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement, and women’s voting were considered controversial and it shouldn’t be a criteria to be used when hiring.
New board members sworn in
The board unanimously appointed J.W. Boyles to serve out the remainder of former board member Matt Dunston’s term. Boyles’ term began immediately and will continue until June 30, 2019. Boyles, along with two other new board members, Dwayne Cook and Melanie Strop, were administered the oath of office. Cook and Strop will begin their three-year terms on July 1. Board member Patrick Hall recognized outgoing members Saunders, who served as president, and Julie Galusky, whose terms end on June 30.
After hearing two parents reiterate concerns about the new uniform policy requiring shoes to be one color, the board unanimously approved revisions to policies 1501 ES and 1501 MS to allow the athletic shoes to be black or white while the shoe itself and the laces must be all black or all white. A parent involved with the uniform swap committee noted they would add shoes to the yearly swap event.
The board discussed and unanimously approved policy 1529, Administration of Non-smokable Medical Marijuana on School Grounds, which allows a parent or a licensed medical professional to bring and administer prescribed non-smokeable marijuana. The marijuana must be brought to the school, administered, and then removed from school grounds.
Tanja Curtis presented highlights from the School Advisory Accountability Committee annual end-of-year survey that saw 180 families respond with over 80 percent saying they would recommend Monument Academy to others. In middle school, kids were included in the survey. Highlights include:
• Pre-school parents would like teacher conferences and a return of the music program.
• Only 35 percent of families use Infinite Campus for communication; teachers respond via email.
• The No. 1 issue is the uniform policies on shoes and hoodies due to costs.
• Fifth-grade parents would like to see study hall in the elementary grades.
• Parents would like to see increased visibility of specials.
• The Canvas system isn’t being utilized and needs to be more user friendly.
• Eighty percent of kids liked their teachers; there is concern about teacher turnover in middle school.
• Less than half of kids feel they are being challenged; parents say it’s too challenging.
• The overall perspective from kids on the house system is positive.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Executive Director Don Griffin announced that MA has been able to restore the National Junior Honor Society and is working out the needed resources, bylaws changes, and the notification of parents of seventh-graders.
• MA has arranged for its choirs to do scheduled performances throughout the year at Jackson Creek Senior Living Center.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, July 19 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, committees, and finances can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forest Lakes Metropolitan District and Pinon Pines Metro Districts 1, 2, and 3, June 4:Differences between Forest Lakes and Pinon Pines Metro Districts discussed
By Lisa Hatfield
On June 4, two new board members joined Pinon Pines Metro District 1 (PPMD 1), and they learned more about the differences between PPMD 1, 2, and 3, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD).
FLMD is the half-acre operating district that owns and is responsible for the public infrastructure, water, wastewater, storm drainage, parks and trails, landscaping, and streetlight services for the residents of PPMD 1 and PPMD 2, the residential districts, which are in unincorporated El Paso County, and PPMD 3, the commercial section, which lies mostly within the southwest town limits of Monument. "The Pinons" are financing districts and provide no services except to collect property taxes, District Manager Ann Nichols and attorney Russell Dykstra explained on June 4.
Board members for FLMD, PPMD 2, and PPMD 3 are President George Lenz, executive vice president of finance of Classic Homes; Secretary James Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes; Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Doug Stimple, CEO of Classic Homes; and Assistant Secretary Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes. One board member vacancy exists in each.
PPMD 1 is now made up of Lenz, Stimple, Loidolt, and newly-elected members Mike Hitchcock and Mike Slavick.
Ann Nichols is the manager for all four districts.
New PPMD 1 board members learn how statutes affect the district
No traditional swearing-in ceremony was performed for the two new members, but Hitchcock read his oath of office aloud to the group, and Slavick had already had his signature on the oath notarized before the meeting.
Slavick said he was shocked at how his property taxes increased when he moved into Forest Lakes from Woodmoor. Hitchcock agreed that his reason for running for the board was because of his high tax bill in Forest Lakes and because he "questioned how things were being done."
Dykstra reviewed Special District Association facts including:
• All district business can only be discussed and decided at posted public meetings, not in group emails or side meetings, to avoid violating the Colorado Sunshine Law.
• Metropolitan (special) districts are formed so that development will pay its own way to build new infrastructure.
• Special districts are governed by CRS Title 32, especially sections 100-1002.
• Board members must fulfill fiduciary duty to the district.
• The district manager, attorney, and accounting advisors provide guiderails for the board.
• Property tax mill levies and fees are the only funding sources for the district.
• Debt mill levy for infrastructure built already is set in stone with bonds and capped at roughly 50 mills.
• Mill levy for general operations costs can fluctuate each year and are capped at roughly 10 mills. See www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#flmd.
Note: For more background, see www.colorado.gov/pacific/dola/special-districts-0.
Dykstra said it was to the advantage of residential development PPMD 1 and 2 to have commercial development such as PPMD 3 also paying property taxes to FLMD, since it pays a tax rate of 29 percent while residential taxes are assessed at 7.2 percent now. See www.ocn.me/maps.htm.
Nichols summarized that the Bristlecone and Pinon reservoirs were built in 1987, and interest has been accumulating on that loan since then. She said the multiple districts were formed to limit risk to developers. Triview and Donala were also both started as developer districts like FLMD, but eventually residents will be making up the boards and will provide services to about 500 residences.
Dispute about Bristlecone Lake water use continues
Stimple argued that residents’ assertions were "factually inaccurate" when they claimed that that the Classic Homes sales staff told potential buyers that Bristlecone Lake would only be a secondary source of drinking water.
In fact, it has always been the plan that FLMD’s primary source of drinking water would be the reservoir, once the $8 million surface water treatment plant is completed in December, Stimple said, and at that point the aquifer well water would become a secondary source. See www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#flmd.
Hitchcock and Slavick vehemently disagreed, saying, "I guess there is mass hypnosis going on," and that the sales offices of both Classic Homes and Goetzmann Homes misrepresented this information to dozens of buyers. "We were told one thing, but the reality is something else," Slavick said.
Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital represents Forest Lakes LLC and Forest Lakes Residential Development. He reminded the board that Forest Lakes will be a combination of renewable surface water and aquifer well water rights, which "is the best system you can have, instead of relying only on one deep well, which is common in this area." See www.ocn.me/v18n5.htm#flmd.
The next PPMD 1 meeting, followed by the next joint meeting of FLMD and PPMD 2 and 3, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 6 in the Classic Homes office at 6385 Corporate Drive, Suite 200, Colorado Springs. Official meeting notices are posted on the district website http://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com, at 3625 Mesa Top Drive, Monument, and at the Forest Lakes mailbox kiosk. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at 719-327-5810 or at email@example.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, June 12:Education for customers; wins at rulemaking hearing
By Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) met on June 12 and discussed an upward trend in biosolids loading and how the Arkansas River/Fountain Creek Coalition for Urban/Rural River Evaluation (AF CURE) was victorious in three key decisions at the Reg. 42 Rulemaking hearing on June 12.
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, and the JUC members voted these new positions on June 12: MSD board Chairman Ed DeLaney is JUC president; PLSD Vice Chairman Patricia Smith is JUC vice president, and new WWSD board Director Lee Hanson is JUC secretary/treasurer.
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.
Great overall plant efficiency, but biosolids trend upward
Facility Manager Bill Burks said the plant continues to perform well in all monitored aspects. "I like to share this with everybody so you can brag about it to your community."
The one aberration he mentioned was an unexpected increase in the biological oxygen demand (BOD), or the strength of the wastewater. The plant can handle it, consistently achieving 99 percent removal of BOD through the facility. It is consistently operating at only 28 percent of its 4.2 million gallons per day designed hydraulic flow capacity. However, while in January it was at 60 percent of its 5,600 pounds per day of BOD capacity, by May it reached 65 percent of BOD loading. If the plant reaches 80 percent of its designed BOD capacity, the state requires that engineering design work get under way.
WWSD’s BOD loading was "unbelievably high" in the north half of its system in May, Burks said. Burks and Wicklund were concerned that a business in the northern Woodmoor collection system might recently have changed its disposal procedures or have untrained employees, and this might be to blame. Gillette said he would look into possible sources among the few commercial businesses in north Woodmoor.
WWSD President Jim Taylor asked about the cost of removal of the BOD versus removing sludge, but Burks, Wicklund, and Kendrick listed several reasons to not release a lesser-quality effluent just to save some money.
Kendrick said state Water Quality Control Division Engineer Bret Icenogle said on May 8 that the procedure to add just one new blower would require the same process and bureaucratic expense as it took for the whole new $3.6 million chemical total phosphorus (TP) removal tertiary clarifier expansion. Ironically, TLWWTF used to be rated at 9,800 pounds, but in 1998, when an expansion increased the hydraulic capacity, the state de-rated the BOD capacity, Burks said. See www.ocn.me/v14n11.htm#tlfjuc1014, www.ocn.me/v15n6.htm#tljuc0512.
The consensus was to include the additional blower in the 2019 budget and bring it on site, and then when TLWWTF’s permit was due to be opened and renewed anyway, in 2020, to combine a request to increase the BOD capacity rating with the site permit renewal application.
Businesses and residences can help reduce costs
The sewer system is not a trash dump, and fats, oils, and grease should not be put into the sewer system, because this increase costs, Burks said.
Wicklund said businesses that need to dispose of expired dairy products and food should have a grease interceptor, or have unusable food hauled away to a landfill, instead of grinding it and dumping it down the drain, because of the extra BOD load that these materials put on the system at TLWWTF, where a delicate balance of bacteria works to break down all the biological waste in the influent.
Wins on major initiatives at rulemaking hearing
AF CURE was victorious in three key decisions at the state Water Quality Control Commission five-year-review rulemaking hearing for Regulation 32, Arkansas River Basin, on June 12. MSD Regulatory and Environmental Compliance Coordinator Jim Kendrick, who is also vice chairman of the AF CURE, said he had just received a text message from Brown & Caldwell Environmental Engineer Andrew Neuhart that at the June hearing on Site-Specific Water Quality Classifications and Standards for Ground Water, "AF CURE won" on the three areas for which it had been most concerned.
Wicklund said, "All the work that AF CURE has done (collecting data about the real state of this watershed) has been a success!" Burks said another benefit of AF CURE was that 11 local facilities collaborated on common issues for the benefit of all the participants, which constitute one-ninth of Colorado. See www.ocn.me/v18n5.htm#tlwfjuc.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 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.
Triview Metropolitan District, June 12:District seeks collaboration on water, wastewater
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors met June 12 to discuss regionalization and its potential impact on the western interceptor and water and wastewater rates, heard residents’ concerns and opinions about traffic and trespassing, received a proposal for loan refinance options, authorized forward movement on a water shares purchase and improvements to Jackson Creek Parkway, and staff provided operational and administrative updates.
Director James Barnhart was absent. District General Counsel Gary Shupp and district Water Attorney Chris Cummins attended.
Note: The June 12 board meeting packet is posted on the district’s website at https://triviewmetro.com/boardDocuments.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, landscaping, and open space maintenance, and water and sanitation services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas. The Town of Monument (organized under Colorado Revised Statutes Title 30) provides land use planning, police, and general governance for Triview’s property owners.
Water and wastewater cooperative possibilities hold promise, stall action
Planning for water and wastewater continues to hinge on the opportunity for regionalization with Colorado Springs Utilities; see www.ocn.me/v18n4.htm#tvmd. Triview faces multi-million-dollar plant expansion expenses to meet short- and long-term regulatory standards pertaining to the removal of arsenic, nitrates, phosphorous, and other nutrients, and a constrained plant site that complicates the expansion. Regional collaboration on a new plant and pipeline may provide cost and regulatory solutions for Triview as well as several Upper Monument Creek municipal service providers.
Participants in the western interceptor—a water and sewer link for western and northern development for which Triview serves as the project manager and funds administrator—have completed an agreement and are negotiating an easement with El Paso County. A portion of the interceptor extends south into the county’s jurisdiction on the west side of Interstate 25, thus requiring the easement with the county. The western interceptor stands to be a major piece of the aforementioned pipeline if a partnership were to develop. If regionalization develops, decisions regarding the western interceptor might be significantly affected.
Water and wastewater rates could also be affected by regionalization. Raftelis representatives who recently completed a rate study are scheduled to present their preliminary findings and financial recommendations at the district’s July 10 board meeting, at which time rates will be discussed in greater detail.
McGrady indicated that some preliminary meetings to gauge interest have occurred and, if regionalization is supported, a next step is to request time from state authorities to develop a plan.
Traffic concerns presented and addressed
In response to speeding complaints in Promontory Pointe, Triview contracted with HR Green to conduct a traffic study at the Kansas Pacific Drive and Ann Arbor Way Drive intersections along Gleneagle Drive. The study performed two directional traffic counts taken for 24 continuous hours during the midweek. HR Green determined that the speed limit should remain at 30 miles per hour and recommended pedestrian warning signs in crosswalks, rumble strips, and other costlier alternatives.
Promontory Pointe resident Adrian Limon acknowledged the value of the HR Green speed study but added that speed determinations must also consider factors such as topography, landscaping, houses, and other obstructions. Limon stated that he would address his concerns with Planning Director Larry Manning but would also continue work on his petition.
During public comments, Lisa Hatfield, an El Paso County resident, promoted Baptist Road as a more viable alternative to Higby Road as a route for the Home Place Ranch development construction traffic, citing Baptist Road’s traffic lights, turning lanes, sidewalks, gentler grades, and easier access to Interstate 25.
The directors also received an HR Green proposal to complete original design plans for Jackson Creek Parkway north of Leather Chaps Drive through the intersection at Higby Road. The plans included a four-lane divided highway with two 12-foot lanes in each direction, 2-foot paved shoulders with curb and gutter, and a 21-foot barrier median from Lyons Tail Road to SH 105. Triview amended the plan to include a 4-foot bike lane in each direction and a narrower median, and to coordinate completion of Jackson Creek Parkway from Higby Road to SH 105 with the Town of Monument.
McGrady confirmed that the structure of the district’s recent road rehabilitation project provides financing for the design expense. The board approved the start of a 60 percent design phase and contract, and expenditures of about $220,000.
Solutions sought for mouse habitat trespassing
During public comments, resident Rob Urban, representing a corps of homeowners in the Creekside neighborhood of Jackson Creek whose homes abut the protected Preble’s jumping mouse habitat, reported a significant increase in habitat trespassers who create various disturbances, including building campfires and a shack, dirt biking, and partying. Urban requested that Triview post signs or install a fence because his complaints to Monument police have produced disappointing results. Due to lack of district authority, Director James Otis stated that the best course of action may be to contact Town of Monument Code Enforcement, 303-422-4473.
Loan refinancing pursued
Senior Vice President Brandon DeBenedet of D.A. Davidson and Co., an investment firm, presented an overview of financing options for the board to consider in response to tax reform. DeBenedet identified lowering annual debt service, removing covenants such as no additional debt provisions, and removing balloon maturity as goals for the district to pursue. The benefits of refinancing have the potential to reduce annual debt service from $900,000 to about $600,000, increase cash flow, improve flexibility with future loan needs, and avoid balloon payments, but would incur a loan interest rate of 4.03 percent. The directors instructed McGrady to proceed in negotiating new loan terms to prepare for future financial opportunities.
Additional updates included:
• The 2018 road rehabilitation project is complete except for minor striping and crack milling. Resident Sue Pepin collected photos and other documentation of road repair needs in her neighborhood, Homestead Ranch. McGrady assured Pepin that the 2019 budget will include additional road repairs and that the recent project followed a "worst first" policy.
• The landscape irrigation system continues to present problems. Crews are working to fix wiring problems, correct electrical grounding issues, and accurately document watering zones. The district is prioritizing specific areas to maintain throughout the summer.
• Utilities for May revealed a larger than anticipated discrepancy between water pumped versus water sold. Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton speculated that the irrigation system is involved.
• Water attorney Chris Cummins reviewed the district’s purchase and sale agreement for up to 131 additional water shares in the Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. from Comanche Resources totaling $1.7 million. The board approved the water share purchase.
• Directors and staff will work with Ground Floor Media to create a communications plan.
Financials and checks approved
The directors reviewed the May financial statements and checks over $5,000 and approved them as presented. Checks included:
• Schmidt Construction Co. $1.29 million
• Velocity Plant Services $24,129
• Timber Line Electric and Control $14,484
• Front Range Winwater Works Co. $7,612
• HR Green $6,626
• Shamrock Water Services $5,672
• American Conservation and Billing Solutions $5,099
The meeting adjourned at 7:59 p.m., after which the board met for an executive session for §24-6-402(4)(b)(e) legal advice, negotiations.
No additional decisions or actions were announced following the executive session.
The next Triview meeting will be held July 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.
Thanks to Natalie Barszcz and Lisa Hatfield for recording and taking notes at the meeting.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, June 18:Board vacancy filled; retirement plan and 2017 audit addressed
By James Howald
In June, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board filled an empty seat on the board through an appointment, updated the district’s retirement plan, heard the results of the district’s financial audit, and voted to move the monthly board meetings to the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. The board also heard operational reports from district staff.
New director sworn in
The board voted unanimously to appoint Tom Roddam to the vacant seat on the WWSD board. Roddam had expressed his interest in the position at a previous board meeting. District Secretary Marsha Howland administered the oath of office to Roddam.
Roddam will serve on the board until May 2020 and was added as a signatory to the district’s bank accounts.
District’s retirement plan earns more favorable terms
The board heard a presentation from Chad Alevras of Gregory and Associates concerning the district’s 457(b) retirement plan and voted to switch to a new platform provided by Gregory and Associates that will give district employees new choices for their retirement savings and will reduce the fees paid by the district for the plan.
District Manager Jessie Shaffer told the board Gregory and Associates has managed the district’s retirement plan since 1993. It is responsible for keeping the plan documents, required by law, up to date.
The district qualifies for the lower fees provided by the new platform because it now has $1 million in retirement funds under management by Gregory and Associates, Shaffer said. With that amount in its account, the district will pay nothing for the maintenance of required documents and will be able to offer full-time employees a Roth IRA in addition to the current set of retirement choices, according to Shaffer. The Roth IRA will not include matching funds from the district, Shaffer said.
Alevras told the board that the transition to the new platform would take 30 days, that the interface used by employees would not change, but that new types of investments would be available to them. Employees would have new options but could also choose to maintain their current investments if they wished to do so, Alevras said. A training class will be provided to employees.
District’s financial audit shows finances are sound
John Cutler of Cutler and Associates, who has been the district’s financial auditor for the last seven years, gave the board a summary of the results of his firm’s audit for 2017. Annual financial audits are required by the state.
Cutler told the board the audit showed the district is "in good shape" financially, and that there are no unresolved issues discovered in the course of the audit. The district received an "unmodified report," Cutler said, adding that both the district’s available cash and its net position are up since the last audit.
The board voted unanimously to accept the audit report and to send it on to the state as required.
Schedule for board meetings to change in July
The board voted unanimously to hold future meetings on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m.
Highlights from operational reports
• In his financial report, Director Jim Wyss said the district received no tap fees in May and had received only one in June. Tap fees were received at much higher rates in previous months, he said.
• District Assistant Manager Randy Gillette said that biochemical oxygen demand, a measure of pollution, was higher than usual in May. Gillette did not know the reason and said the testing schedule would be changed to try to understand the cause. See related Tri-Lakes Wastewater Joint Use Facility article on page 16.
• Gillette said that the augmentation station on the Chilcott Ditch was shut down temporarily due to problems with erosion. The board voted in an earlier meeting to approve a project to protect the station from erosion, but that work is not yet complete, Gillette said.
• Work on the district’s new Well 21 is on hold due to difficulty acquiring a special gravel that is required for the project.
The next meeting is scheduled for July 9 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Monday 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 email@example.com.
Donala Water and Sanitation District, June 28:Three capital construction contracts awarded
By Jim Kendrick
On June 28, the Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) board unanimously approved the bids of three contractors for three parts of a $2.6 million project to replace the water line between the district’s Jessie Drive pump station and Donala’s R. Hull Water Treatment Plant and the Gleneagle Drive water main. The board approved a 40-year water carriage agreement with Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. and accepted the 2017 draft district audit as proposed by Hoelting and Co.
Director Bob Denny’s absence was unanimously excused.
Water system improvement awards approved
Donala’ consultant engineering firm GMS Inc. of Colorado Springs carried out the bid request, submission, and selection process for each of the district’s three proposed schedules of project work. District General Manager Kip Petersen briefed the board using a GMS spreadsheet containing each statement of work line item required for the entire project and a GMS recommendation letter to the Donala board from GMS co-owner Dave Frisch. Five companies submitted bids.
Frisch’s letter said Bid Schedule One was for directional drilling at a depth of 5.5 feet to 60 feet for installation of 2,554 lineal feet of 12-inch high density polyethylene distribution pipe between Donala’s R. Hull Water Treatment Plant and the district’s Jessie Drive Pump Station.
Global Underground Corp.’s winning bid for Schedule One was for $918,458.
The letter said Bid Schedule Two was for replacement of existing 10-inch and 12-inch distribution water mains within Gleneagle Drive right-of-way from Westchester Drive to Sun Hills Drive that have reached the end of their service life with 1,700 lineal feet of new 12-inch transmission line. Donala asked that Schedule Two bids include the possibility of extending this installation farther to Mission Hill Way at the same per unit price, when $280,000 in additional capital funds from an existing district Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority loans can be reallocated to 2018 for this project later this summer.
Pate Construction Co.’s winning bid for Schedule Two was $1.17 million.
The letter said Bid Schedule Three was for installation of 1,015 lineal feet of 1-inch pipe and installation of new fixtures and bedding for 28 potable water service taps. They are being installed where the corrosive soil has compromised the integrity of the existing lines. This replacement project eliminates future distribution system maintenance issues.
Beers Construction Co.’s winning bid for Schedule Three was $136,605.
Frisch’s letter to the board also noted that all three companies’ key people had a long history of doing excellent work. The board unanimously approved each of the three bid awards individually. These three lowest responsible bids totaled $2.57 million. The amount budgeted is $2.6 million.
There will be a Donala open house from 6 to 8 p.m. July 10 for the property owners affected by this construction. Construction is expected to start the week of July 16. Phase One should take about 30 days. Phases Two and Three should be completed by mid-October.
In a separate June 20 exemption letter, GMS informed Craig Dossey, manager of the El Paso County Development Services Department, that a county 1041 permit is not required for any of these three schedules, which will provide a system with higher reliability, lower maintenance costs, and adequate fire flow. The letter gave several details on why the county 1041 regulation does not apply. Electronic copies of the project plans were also forwarded to Dossey. The GMS letter also noted that the bid opening for these three schedules was to be held on June 21.
Some of the items in the GMS 1041 exemption letter were:
• Bid Schedule One work is exempt since it is a replacement of an existing transmission line for transporting water from a lower pressure zone to a higher pressure zone. Due to the pressures and the bury depth of 5.5 feet to 60 feet, the replacement pipe selected for this design has a very thick wall. The inside diameter of the replacement 12-inch pipe is only 10.3 inches to provide the necessary strength required to handle the loads of this transmission line. There are no service taps on this transmission line. The directional drilling will be within an existing 20-foot-wide utility easement.
• Bid Schedule Two work is a replacement of an existing 10-inch distribution main that is the backbone of the entire distribution system, as well as a replacement of an existing 1,700-foot, 12-inch transmission line. Both will be replaced with 12-inch lines concurrently. Both installations are replacements in the existing Gleneagle Drive right-of-way and are exempt under county 1041 Regulation Chapter 3 – Efficient Utilization of Municipal and Industrial Water Projects.
• Bid Schedule Three work is only for the replacement of service lines and saddle taps where the soil corrosivity has compromised the integrity of the existing equipment. This is strictly to eliminate maintenance issues in the distribution system and, therefore, not subject to the 1041 Regulation.
• There are no water treatment components in these improvements. All work is for water distribution. The improvements only replace existing aging pipes and are not considered an extension. Where new distribution pipes are being installed, the new service lines connections are to existing customers and are not an extension.
There was consensus that there were no technical or financial issues. The board unanimously approved separate individual motions for each of the three contract awards.
Background note: The Board of County Commissioners approved a proposal on June 6, 2013 to create a new 1041 environmental permit process for county utilities, railroads, highways, and stormwater. County approval has to be sought for any new plant construction or modifications in addition to the current 208 Plan approval process run by Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. At the request of Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Donala water attorney Rick Fendel, and several wastewater district representatives, the threshold for county 1041 review was changed at this hearing to any improvement involving more than 250 homes, rather than 25 residents. The county now has total discretion in the amount it charges for a county 1041 review, and there is no appeal process beyond the Board of County Commissioners to a district court for any county Development Services Department administrative decision or costs charged. See www.ocn.me/v13n7.htm#juc.
Note: For more El Paso County 1041 regulation information, see https://planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com/resources-and-references/.
Irrigation Co. proposal
Petersen and Fendel discussed a proposed 40-year water carriage agreement with Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. (FMIC) to have FMIC measure Donala’s Laughlin Water Right renewable surface flows in order to lease this water to the Arkansas Basin Ground Water Users Association (AGWA) while the district moves through a multi-year water court process. This AGWA lease would provide revenue from the right but requires a change to the water right’s place of use to a location within Donala’s service area. Petersen said he expects the AGWA lease to produce about $40,000 in revenue this year. The FMIC agreement can be reviewed for conditions every 10 years.
Donala’s Laughlin Water Right is for 324 acre-feet per year. There is a one-time buy-in fee of $11,757 for use of the FMIC facilities—$2,500 plus $22 per acre-foot for 324 acre-feet. FMIC’s estimated current annual rate is $44 per acre-foot, which would total $14,256. Donala would also be assessed for its proportionate share of FMIC capital costs and extraordinary maintenance or repair costs for each year.
Donala formally closed on its purchase of the Laughlin renewable surface water right on May 23, 2017. This purchase increases Donala’s surface water right portfolio up to roughly 70 percent of Donala’s potable water demand at build-out. For more information, see www.ocn.me/v17n5.htm#dwsd.
The board unanimously approved the FMIC Carriage Agreement as presented. Petersen said, "This is a big step forward."
Draft 2017 audit accepted by board
Tom Sistare of accounting firm Hoelting and Co. gave Donala a clean/unmodified opinion, adding that Hoelting had found no management or internal controls findings or any other items of concern. Sistare praised the leadership of Donala accountant Christina Hawker in providing all the information needed by Hoelting to help this audit go very smoothly. Petersen echoed Sistare, and the board gave Hawker a round of applause for her superb work. Hoelting will now forward the final 2017 audit to the state.
Triview water transmission
Petersen said he has had continuing discussions with Triview Metropolitan District Manager Jim McGrady and several managers of other nearby water and sanitation districts about the potential for a regional water system. He has also talked with McGrady about Donala’s potential ability to transport Triview’s roughly 400 acre-feet of renewable FMIC surface water right shares between the Donala-Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) water interconnection at the intersection of Struthers Road and Northgate Boulevard to the Donala-Triview water interconnection at the intersection of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive. Currently this is the only practical transport method available to Triview to be able to use Triview’s FMIC shares of renewable surface water rights.
Petersen said that each utility must give highest priority to serving its own customers first. Each of the three utilities must perform engineering analyses regarding its own internal peak demands and capabilities before connecting to an external water distribution system under periods of peak supply, pipeline, and pumping capacity demands, which will most likely be simultaneous for all three during a summer drought or wildfire situation. Other analyses of capital upgrade, water tank storage capacity, operations, and maintenance costs and how costs would be shared under new system demands are also required. Once these technical requirements are determined, a financial analysis of cost-sharing requirements and methods is required. Triview will reimburse Donala for its water transport studies. Triview will be installing water meters at both Donala-Triview interconnections at Triview’s expense.
Currently only Triview has an interconnection with Forest Lakes Metropolitan District.
The board unanimously approved a motion for Petersen to begin these conceptual studies and preliminary negotiations with Triview for a notional agreement for non-emergency water transport of Triview-owned potable water through Donala’s transmission lines. Petersen will investigate holding a board-to-board meeting with Triview directors in November.
Petersen and the board concluded that overall revenues and expenses are on track to date. Water sales revenues will go up dramatically now due to the very dry weather that is forecast for the summer.
Status of operations
Both of Donala’s water treatment plants and the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility are all operational and running well as the drought continues. The planned installation of the new Upper Monument headworks screen unit and the water tank catwalk are underway.
The county is still under a stage 2 fire ban. These United States Drought Monitor maps are also available to all OCN readers for their download in JPG and PDF format at:
Academy Gateway center construction is continuing at the intersection of Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive. The My Place Hotel and Starbucks are now open. The new 7-Eleven and the new office building on the east side of Struthers to the north of the Community Banks Building at this intersection are both still under review by the county Developmental Services Department. The adjacent Loaf and Jug has been converted to a fitness gym.
The county will start construction of the roundabout at this intersection in July.
The board unanimously approved a motion to go into executive session under CRS 24-6-402(b) conference with an attorney for the district to receive legal advice on specific policy questions at 3:56 p.m. After the board came out of this executive session, it immediately adjourned with no further votes or actions taken.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on July 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.
Pinon Pines Metropolitan District 1, July 2:Forest Lakes residents asked to reduce irrigation
By Lisa Hatfield
On July 2, the board of Pinon Pines Metropolitan District 1 (PPMD 1) in Forest Lakes met to accept the 2017 audit report and talk about watering restrictions.
PPMD 1 is a taxing district located within the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD). FLMD is a Title 32 service district in El Paso County and is the half-acre operating district that is responsible for the public infrastructure for the residents of PPMD 1 and PPMD 2, which are in unincorporated El Paso County, and PPMD 3, the commercial section, which lies mostly within the southwest town limits of Monument. For background, see www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#flmd.
PPMD 1’s board is President George Lenz, executive vice president of finance of Classic Homes; Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Doug Stimple, CEO of Classic Homes; Assistant Secretary Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes, and newly-elected board members Mike Hitchcock and Mike Slavick.
Meanwhile, the members of concurrent boards of FLMD, PPMD 2, and PPMD 3 were all present. They are Lenz, Stimple, Loidolt, and Secretary James Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes. There is one vacancy on each board. Those boards did not hold an official meeting on July 2.
Water rationing begins
District Manager Ann Nichols said she has directed FLMD to cut back on irrigation of the public parks and landscaping, "because we are under stress right now to keep enough water in the tank. It’s an incredibly difficult period right now." On top of the drought, FLMD is first legally obligated to provide eight acre-feet of augmentation water, which is stressing the Dillon well that currently provides all of the district’s water.
She encouraged residents to stick to the suggested three-day-a-week schedule to conserve water. She predicted that if precipitation does not pick up soon, the 0.17 cubic feet per second of flow in Beaver Creek could dwindle to zero. The Bristlecone reservoir cannot be used as a water source until the surface water treatment plant is completed this winter, which will then become the primary source of water and will provide treated drinking water to the irrigation system as well as to residents. She said FLMD had begun plans to use untreated lake water for public landscape irrigation, but those plans were on hold due to an extra $200,000 it would have cost.
The consensus was that FLMD might have to post and hold a special meeting sometime before the scheduled Aug. 6 meeting in case mandatory three-day-per-week watering restrictions for FLMD residents needed to be imposed.
2017 audit accepted
Nichols presented the 2017 audit, which was performed by Hoelting & Co. She said the auditor presented a clean, unmodified opinion. The board voted unanimously to accept the 2017 audit as presented.
Hitchcock and Slavick learned that the $8.3 million debt service requirement of PPMD 1 is to continue paying interest-only until 2020, when it will then start paying some principal too. A total of about $9.4 million in interest will be paid by 2046 when the debt is paid off. This debt was incurred starting in 1987 to build public district infrastructure including water and wastewater pipelines, parks, and Forest Lakes Drive. Stimple said that Forest Lakes LLC forgave $2 million in interest that had accrued, and that this situation predated Classic Homes’ involvement in the project.
Nichols presented PPMD 1’s financial report for May for the general fund and bond debt service, explaining that it had no activity in its capital projects fund. The report was accepted unanimously.
The next joint meeting of FLMD and PPMD 1, 2, and 3 is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 6 in the Classic Homes office at 6385 Corporate Drive, Suite 200, Colorado Springs. Meetings are usually held the first Monday of each month. Official meeting notices are posted on the district website http://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com, at 3625 Mesa Top Drive, Monument and at the Forest Lakes mailbox kiosk. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at 719-327-5810 or at email@example.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
El Paso Board of County Commissioners May 29, June 7, 12, and 28:New Academy Village lot approved; I-25 toll opposed
By Helen Walklett
In June, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the vacation of lot 4 at Academy Village on Struthers Road, where the Community Banks of Colorado is located, and a replat to create two separate lots. The commissioners have also submitted a formal comment letter on the I-25 Gap, setting out their joint position on the project.
Academy Village replat
At the June 12 meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved a request by Peoples National Bank Colorado, now known as Community Banks of Colorado, for a vacation of one commercial lot in the Academy Village Filing No. 2 and a replat to create two separate lots. The 2.93-acre property is located along Struthers Road immediately north of the intersection with Gleneagle Drive. The existing bank building and associated landscaping and parking will be retained on lot 1. Covington Properties LLC intends to purchase the newly-created lot from the bank and build an office space on it.
A concept plan for the original lot included plans for a second building, but only the bank was built. Covington could have built the office building on the vacant portion of the lot without the replat, but it would have had to lease the land from the bank. Following the replat, Covington will be able to purchase the land from the bank.
Addressing the commissioners, Kari Parsons, project manager/planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, said the county had sent out notifications to 39 adjacent property owners and that, in general, objections raised concerned view obstructions, increased traffic, the potential impact to property values, and drainage issues specific to the Paradise Villas Grove townhome development. Parsons said that although the county Planning Commission sympathized with the neighbors regarding the view at its hearing on May 15, it had acknowledged that that was not a reason for denial. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to send the request to the BOCC with a recommendation for approval.
Developer Ron Covington of Covington Properties said he had had a lot of feedback from adjacent neighbors concerning traffic, views, and drainage. He said that the traffic study had shown the impact of the development would be negligible. To address concerns from Paradise Villas residents about views of the back of the office and mountains, the building would be positioned as far away from the townhomes as possible, with its entrance facing them. Forty percent of the building would be single story. A drainage pond is to be installed by the applicant on the southwest part of the property to improve the drainage system to address flooding concerns.
The county plans to build a roundabout at the intersection of Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive, and Covington Properties will contribute $12,375 to this project. A right-of-way dedication across the corner of the lot where the bank is located is also required for the roundabout project. This will involve the bank moving its sign.
At the time the original lot was approved in 1999, a waiver of the 300-year finding of water quantity sufficiency was granted. The waiver remains valid for this replat.
Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez said, "I have always commented before when they’ve had the exemptions for the 300-year rule. In this case it’s already in place, but I do continue to have issues with developments that have these water issues. But everything else looks really good. I am very appreciative of a developer who takes into consideration the neighbors."
Toll lane opposed in I-25 Gap Project
At their May 29 meeting, the commissioners passed a resolution to approve their formal comment on the I-25 Gap Project’s environmental assessment prepared by state and federal bodies.
The commissioners’ comment stresses the urgent need to complete the third lane expansion from Monument to Castle Rock and states that it should be a general-purpose, non-tolled traffic lane matching the highway configuration at both ends of the gap. It points out that, during a series of neighborhood meetings and two larger public hearings, citizens overwhelmingly voiced objections to the configuration of the third lane as a toll-managed express lane.
While commending the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) engineers and planners for acknowledging the urgency of the project, the commissioners’ statement urges CDOT staff to recognize that constructing the third lane as a toll-managed express lane is a poor fit for this particular segment of the highway, stating that it fails to recognize that three general purpose lanes are already in place at both ends of the gap so a third lane is simply completing a project started years ago. It also states that it fails to recognize continued growth along the Front Range that will very soon dictate the need for a fourth lane in each direction. It ends by saying "The Board of El Paso County Commissioners recognizes this is the highest priority transportation project in Colorado and urges CDOT planners to carefully weigh all of the options as they determine the final design for this critical and urgent project."
During discussion at the meeting, Commissioner Stan Vanderwerf thanked CDOT for the other things they do for the community but said he had substantial reservations about the toll lane. Pointing out that in looking at multiple configuration options for the gap, CDOT has not done the simulation work for other choices, he said. "They have not actually simulated a three-lane highway where all three lanes are general purpose and they have not simulated the four-lane highway to determine which of their other options are the best choices and, in my opinion, they had made their decision already about what they wanted on this highway."
Commissioner Gonzalez said, "…with the additional funds allocated to CDOT by this year’s legislative session, I believe the state has sufficient funding to make the four-lane option each way, which is included in our recommendation, a reality."
Commissioner Peggy Littleton said, "We really encourage CDOT to go back, look at this again and do what’s right. Put in a fourth lane. Put in four lanes, make the third lane a lane that’s a general purpose lane."
• May 29 – approval of the final release of a $43,145 bond for grading and erosion control at the Starbucks on Gleneagle Gate View, which is part of the Academy Gateway project.
• June 7 – resolution to approve the transfer of subdivision plan and plat fees held by the BOCC to the appropriate school districts in the county. $5,852 went to Lewis-Palmer School District 38, where the funds are used in researching growth and development and also go toward the construction of a new school. Academy School District 20 received $15,300. These funds go to accommodate enrollment trends and facility needs.
• June 28 – establishment of the survey area and setting of Aug. 7 as the public hearing date on the application by Dhindsa3 Inc. and 7-Eleven Inc. for a 3.2 percent beer off-premises liquor license. This is for the premises currently under construction at Gleneagle Gate View on the corner of North Gate Boulevard and Struthers Road. This is part of the Academy Gateway project.
Please note that the summer schedule for the BOCC meetings is in effect during July and August when meetings are held on Tuesdays only. In September, the regular schedule resumes with meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, June 27:Board agrees to reconsider Hidden Pond, survey community
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on June 27 to consider options for Hidden Pond, hear reports from directors, and accept the resignation of Director Kayla Dixon.
Hidden Pond update
About 15 residents attended the June meeting to get an update on Hidden Pond, which was drained upon the request of the Colorado Division of Water Resources to do so or pay augmentation fees. President Brian Bush reported that the cost of augmentation for Hidden Pond at historical capacity would be more than $4,000 per year plus some additional costs. An alternative the board is considering would be to create a structure that would allow a lesser amount of water in the pond, which could lower the cost to $1,000 per year.
Common areas Administrator Bob Pearsall pointed out that WIA would have to pay the yearly augmentation fee for maximum capacity whether or not there was actually any water in the pond. Bush noted that this would have to be raised as a new request and WIA would have to go back to water court to get permission to allow the pond to retain water and pay an augmentation fee.
Residents expressed support for retaining water in Hidden Pond, asked if there had been an environmental impact study (EIS), and expressed dissatisfaction with the communication around this issue. The board answered these and other questions from residents and pointed out that this was not an issue specific to WIA but impacted anyone with a pond that retained water more than 72 hours, including the Air Force Academy and private landowners. Bush noted that the issue had been discussed in open board meetings, reported on in Our Community News, and that they had sent postcards to the 21 residents most directly affected.
Residents felt that the community should have been asked for input on a matter like this. Bush noted that it wasn’t too late and offered to put a survey out to the community to see what the response was. The survey will be emailed to the 1,400 people who have provided their email via the website at http://www.woodmoor.org. The board declined to mail the survey out to all residents because it would cost $6,000 to do so. Notice of the survey will be posted on the sign for Hidden Pond. The board is developing the survey questions and welcomes community input.
Board report highlights
• Board Director Kayla Dixon resigned from her board position as secretary and director of community outreach. Residents interested in serving should contact WIA.
• El Paso County is in a stage 2 fire ban, which means there is no outdoor smoking, no use or sale of fireworks (which are never allowed in Woodmoor), and outdoor cooking is banned except if done on a gas or propane grill on private property
• Additional chipping days will be held in July and August and are free to Woodmoor residents. See the website for more information.
• The board takes fire danger very seriously and sees it as their prime directive to protect the community.
• The board asks that residents take their trash cans out only on trash day and take them back in as soon as the trash is collected.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next regular meeting will be on July 25.
The WIA calendar can be found at www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June Weather Wrap
By Bill Kappel
June was another warm and relatively dry month. We did get more moisture than we have been seeing, but because it was June, some of that moisture was associated with severe weather, mainly large hail, at times. Overall, the month was warmer than normal by several degrees with precipitation coming in just below average.
The first two weeks of the month were generally dry, with barely any measurable precipitation occurring from the 1st through the 12th. Temperatures fluctuated between the mid-60s on the 3rd and the upper 80s from the 8th through the 10th.
A relatively unusual thunderstorm setup occurred late on the 12th through just after midnight of the 13th. During the afternoon and evening of the 12th, thunderstorms to the east of the region sent an outflow boundary into the region and up against the Front Range. An outflow boundary is an area of moist and cool air that descends from precipitation and cool air at the base of a thunderstorm and spreads out near the surface away from the originating thunderstorms. As this outflow boundary interacted with the terrain along the Front Range, it was forced upward. This extra lift helped initiate strong to severe thunderstorms starting just before midnight and continuing for a couple of hours.
Two separate areas of thunderstorms developed, one that moved over our region and the other that moved over the south side of Colorado Springs and into the Fountain area. The storms over the Black Forest region produced 1- to 2-inch hail for areas east of the I-25 corridor then northeastward from there. The severe thunderstorms over the south side of Colorado Springs and Fountain produced hail up to the size of a baseball (3 inches). These storms produced significant damage in that region, breaking windows, roofs, and siding.
Dry and quiet weather moved back in on the 14th and 15th before another disturbance moved through. This time, however, the moisture was associated with a remnant tropical system that moved through the Gulf of California. This wave of moisture produced significant rainfall during the evening hours of the 17th, with .50 to 1.50 inches accumulating. This was exactly the type of soaking rain that we needed.
From the 18th through the 23rd, a more typical pattern set in with quiet morning and scattered afternoon thunderstorms producing brief rain showers. Then on the 24th the thunderstorms were enhanced by a shortwave (area of lift and extra instability) that moved through during the morning to early afternoon. This helped spark several rounds of thunderstorms, starting first around 12:30 p.m., then again around 3 p.m. The first round of storms produced hail up to 1.50 inches, big enough to cause damage to trees. The next round produced smaller hail and more rain. Most areas received one-half to 1 inch of rain during the day.
The remainder of the month was generally quiet. Temperatures were cooler than normal on the 25th behind a cold front, then temperatures began to rise quickly. Highs reached the mid- to upper 80s from the 26th through the 30th.
A look ahead
July can be an active weather month around the region, as the southwest monsoon season gets going. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are a common occurrence, and when they tap into higher levels of moisture, flash flooding can result. Hot, stagnant weather can also take hold for a few days at time, with highs hitting well into the 90s.
June 2018 Weather Statistics
Average High 80.2° (+2.8°)
100-year return frequency value max 82.5° min 66.3°
Average Low 50.1° (+5.7°)
100-year return frequency value max 50.7° min 40.2°
Highest Temperature 89°F on the 15th
Lowest Temperature 42°F on the 20th
Monthly Precipitation 1.72"
(-0.23" 12% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.94" min 0.15"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0" (-0.1" 100% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 59.7" (-62.7" 52% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 7.73" (-3.27" 28% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 148 (+50)
Cooling Degree Days 56 (+28)
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Letters to Our Community
Guidelines for letters to the editor.
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.
D38 empire building at taxpayer expense
District 38 leaders have spent two years misleading the public to present a picture of a burgeoning student population that requires not one, but two new school buildings. While it’s true that new home construction is adding students to our district, we’re actually crawling out of a major student population collapse that hit years ago and left plenty of empty space in D38 schools.
To disguise the abundance of space, D38 has engaged in a parade of schemes that work against taxpayer interests: advertising in movie theaters to attract non-resident choice-in students. Running a district-wide preschool program that taxpayers are not required to provide. Closing Grace Best Elementary down and neglecting it so that administrators can later claim its 650-student capacity doesn’t count because it "isn’t worth" renovating and reopening.
Contrast that with Monument Academy Charter School, our area’s parent-controlled, anti-Common Core public school. MA genuinely needs another building to serve its waiting list of 200-plus K-8 kids and provide a high school for its current student body to attend. Its proposed school building would hold 900-plus students, and cost taxpayers $7 million.
D38 has no waiting list. But it plans to ask voters for $30 million to build a 650-student elementary school and change Bear Creek back into a middle school, while refusing to include MA’s fraction-of-the-cost school in the D38 bond. Eleven-year board member Mark Pfoff, visibly angered this month by the suggestion that Monument Academy would share in D38’s construction bond, retorted—incredibly—that "bonds are needs driven."
Why are voters even being asked to hand D38 $30 million to take care of 650 students when they can hand MA $7 million to take care of 900? D38 needs to stop working against taxpayer interests and help MA build its school.
Name withheld by request
I vote for Ross Meyer
I read Ross Meyer’s Letter to the Editor in the June 2 edition of OCN. My response and suggestion are that his letter (Have we become part of the problem?) should be published regularly and be required reading by all citizens. He has managed to accurately capture the essence of many of our public issues in but a few well-written, cogent words. If Ross is running for office, any office, I would vote for him, regardless of party affiliation; if not, he should take solace in knowing he has a fan base. Bravo and thank you for your positive approach to the overwhelming divisiveness!
Editor’s note: Ross Meyer is assistant managing editor of OCN.
CU regent candidate Wolusky talks tuition
I just finished a wonderful half marathon starting in Monument and Palmer Lake along the Santa Fe Trail through fields with mountain flowers, craggy mountain overlooks, all on a beautiful Saturday morning! It was a great visit with my neighbors here and a reminder of how running for office is connected with those you represent, if it is to be meaningful and effective.
I am running for University of Colorado regent for our area. The Board of Regents is the group that oversees the operations of the University of Colorado system, including the local campus of UCCS. Sadly, this "Board of Directors" has done nothing to reverse the crushing burden of tuition on our families, the primary reason people can’t go to any of the University of Colorado campuses.
New leadership is necessary, or nothing will change.
As a father with four daughters and a grandson, I know all too well one of the biggest reasons our children cannot attend these universities is the high cost of tuition and fees. Those of you who attended college in Colorado years ago and who have talked to me recently invariably relate the great education they had in the CU system and the reasonable cost of that education in those days.
As a college professor for the past 25 years, I naturally did some research and confirmed that in the 1970s, Colorado paid 70 percent of the cost of higher education, with students and their families paying 30 percent. This has totally reversed to the extent that a UCCS student pays 73 percent of the cost, with 7 percent coming from donations and only 20 percent from the state!
I am running for CU regent to fix this.
Thank you so much for the wonderful run this weekend!
Dr. G. Anthony Wolusky,
Candidate for CU regent, District 5
Between the Covers at Covered Treasures Bookstore:Celebrate 25 years!
By the staff at Covered Treasures
Covered Treasures opened its doors 25 years ago this month. The staff got together and selected their favorite books from these 25 years. Perhaps there’s one you haven’t read or a favorite you’d like to revisit.
People of the Book
By Geraldine Brooks (Penguin), $17
Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famous Sarajevo Haggadah, which was rescued during the Bosnian war. When Hanna discovers a series of tiny artifacts in the ancient book’s binding, she begins to unlock its mysteries.
The Rosie Project
By Graeme Simsion (Simon and Schuster), $15.99
Don Tillman embarks upon The Wife Project to find himself the perfect wife. Then he meets Rosie, who is everything he’s not looking for in a wife. An unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie, and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
By Rita Leganski (Harper), $15.99
A novel set in historic New Orleans that follows a mute boy whose gift of magical hearing reveals family secrets and forgotten voodoo lore, and exposes a murder. It’s about the lost art of listening and a wondrous boy who brings healing to the souls of all who love him.
News of the World
By Paulette Jiles (William Morrow), $15.99
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging news reader, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people. Their 400-mile journey proves difficult and at times dangerous. Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors form a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
Astrid & Veronika
By Linda Olsson (Penguin), $16
This well-crafted novel recounts the unusual and unexpected friendship that develops between two women. Set against a haunting Swedish landscape, it is a novel of love and loss, and a story that will remain with readers long after the characters’ secrets are revealed.
The Dog Stars
By Peter Heller (Vintage Contemporaries), $16
A riveting novel about a pilot living in a world filled with loss, and what he is willing to risk to rediscover love. Hig and his dog Jasper survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life exists.
By Kent Haruf (Vintage Contemporaries), $16
A story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of eastern Colorado. From the unsettled lives of three people emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together.
The Poisonwood Bible
By Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial), $18.99
Kingsolver’s national bestseller paints an intimate portrait of a crisis-ridden family amid the larger backdrop of an African nation in chaos. It is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. It is the story of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
By Ann Patchett (Harper Perennial), $17.99
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held. It is a perfect evening until a band of terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario evolves into something quite different as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds, and people from different continents become compatriots.
The Secret Life of Bees
By Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin), $16
Lily Owens’ life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, they escape to a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna.
Until next month, happy reading. And thank you for 25 Great Years in Monument!
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July Library Events:Summer Adventure party set for July 20
By Harriet Halbig
The library’s Summer Adventure program continues through July with hundreds of young patrons earning points and prizes and enjoying special programs. Our teen volunteers are helping patrons and staff to enter the achievements and keep the library running smoothly during this busy time.
It’s not too late to register and participate in the program and receive such prizes as book bags, snap bracelets, T-shirts for teens, and books for all.
Our end-of-summer reading party will be on Friday, July 20 on the Village Green in Palmer Lake from 10 to noon. Join us and bring the whole family!
Toddler Time continues at 9:30 and 10:15 each Thursday, and brief book break reading sessions will be offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10:30.
Tech Tuesdays for school-age children will be on each Tuesday from 3:30 to 4:45. Each program will be different and includes work with robotics and circuits.
Wednesdays, July 11 and 18 from 2:30 to 4 will be Crafts for Kids with a different craft each week.
7 Up Art for Kids classes will be held on Mondays from 2:30 to 4.
Tuesday, July 10 from 10:30 to 11:30 will be a special yoga story time for ages 7 to 11. This program incorporates yoga, stories, and music.
Lego Build will meet on Saturday, July 21 from 10 to 11:30.
On Tuesday, July 24 from 10:30 to 11:30 come hear the Singing Zoologist. Recommended for ages 5 to 11, this program features lessons about cheetahs, sharks, butterflies, wetlands, and more.
Every Wednesday from 3 to 4:30, teens are welcome to join an intergenerational knitting group in the study room. Practice supplies are available, but you are encouraged to bring your own projects.
On Wednesday, July 28 from 4 to 5:30, teens are invited to join us to create a miniature rock garden in honor of the Summer Adventure theme of Libraries Rock. Please register online or call 488-2370.
The Monument Library Anime Club will meet from 5 to 6:30 on Thursday, July 26. This program is recommended for ages 13 and up.
On Saturday, July 28 from 11 to noon, join us for a trip back in time to learn about the first man to reach the South Pole. No registration necessary.
See above for descriptions of intergenerational knitting and Antarctica programs.
The Monumental Bookworms will meet from 7 to 8:30 on Tuesday, July 10 to discuss The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. No registration is necessary and all are welcome to attend.
The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, July 20 from 10 to noon to discuss Honolulu by Alan Brennert. All are welcome to attend and no registration is necessary.
On the walls during July will be watercolors by Bernice Harris. In the display case will be dolls, clothes, and furniture by Faye Lamdin.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at email@example.com.
Palmer Lake Historical Society:Ice cream social, history program mark June activities
By Sigi Walker
June was a busy month for the Palmer Lake Historical Society. The annual Father’s Day Ice Cream Social on June 17 drew 285 people. In addition to enjoying pie from Village Inn-Monument and Rock House ice cream, attendees were entertained by troubadour Nick Davey for two hours. New this year was an antique car show, featuring Model A’s, Model T’s, Corvairs, and a rare Model S Ford Runabout.
On Thursday, June 21, Mike and Sigi Walker provided the monthly history series program on Otto Kuhler, a multi-talented artist, industrial designer, and innovator, who at age 54 became a Colorado rancher. Illustrated with Kuhler’s sketches, drawings, paintings, and etchings, Kuhler’s unique life story unfolded—from his youth in the industrial town of Remscheid, Germany, to service as a railroader/soldier during WWI, and to his success after his arrival in America. The stock market crash in 1929 set him back significantly, but he persevered to become one of the foremost industrial designers of his time.
Without looking back, he left the East Coast "corporate world" to become a rancher. Otto and his wife Simonne bought a 460-acre ranch near Pine, Colo., adjoining the Pike National Forest, with hay meadows, a creek flowing through it, and Mount Rosalie nearby. The ranch house burned down, and the Kuhlers rebuilt it. Here Otto raised cattle, painted the West, and exhibited his work in museums. After two decades, they sold the ranch and moved to Santa Fe, returning to Denver shortly before he died at age 83.
His legacy of 250 etchings, innovative pencil drawings of monorails and dome cars, countless watercolors and oil paintings, is breathtaking, but probably the most haunting of his works is his series of 12 paintings in 1964 depicting the tragedy of the coal miners in Southern Colorado titled The Land of Lost Souls. It is on permanent display in the Denver Public Library.
Caption: Presenters Mike and Sigi Walker. Photo by Su Ketchmark.
Caption: Model S Ford Runabout. Photo provided by the Palmer Lake Historical Society.
Caption: The annual Father’s Day Ice Cream Social drew 285 attendees. Photo by Mike Walker.
Mark your calendars
Dan Blegen created his unique docu-concert format in 2012 with the premiere of Hard Travelin’: Woody Guthrie’s Life and Songs. On July 19, Blegen will present this story of the Oklahoma balladeer whose simple but evocative songs have enriched America’s musical landscape for generations. 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.
Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide:Great egret
By Elizabeth Hacker
It’s summer and songbirds are nesting. By now most chicks will be ready to fledge the nest. It’s a quiet time of the year when songbirds stop singing and become more secretive.
While it may not be the best time to look for songbirds, it’s a great time to see wading birds, including herons, bitterns, and white-faced ibis, that are found near wetlands, shallow lakes, and streams in Southern Colorado.
Herons common to this region include the great blue heron, black crowned night heron, green heron, and the white-faced ibis. Less common are the egrets, or the white herons, including the snowy and great egrets.
The snowy egret migrates through this region and nests along the Front Range and in eastern Colorado but is less common here. It is a medium-size heron about 2 feet tall with a 3.5-inch wingspan. It has snow-white plumage, a dark pointed beak, yellow eye lores, and long black legs with bright yellow feet. If I’m lucky, I may see them maybe three or four times during the summer or early fall. They are not all that common and I am always thrilled to see one.
The great egret is a large elegant white heron, just over 3 feet tall with a wingspan that approaches 5 feet. It has long black legs, black feet, blue eye lores, and a yellow beak.
Until recently, I had never seen the great egret here. It is commonly found along the Mississippi flyway and coastal areas. According to the guide books, there are a few areas in Colorado where they nest, and many years ago I observed a nesting pair among many great blue herons at the Chatfield Reservoir rookery.
A few weeks ago, I was checking a line of bluebird houses and thought I saw a white plastic bag lodged in the long grasses at the edge of a wetland. But a plastic bag doesn’t have flapping wings! To my surprise, it was a juvenile great egret. It seemed odd that it didn’t fly away when it saw me. I cautiously approached the bird, yet it still didn’t fly away. Something was amiss.
My first thought was that it had injured a wing, but it was flapping both wings. Could it be caught in fishing line or a trap? When I moved closer I saw a medium-size snapping turtle clamped on to the back of the egrets’ foot. Normally an egret could use its long neck and sharp beak to kill a turtle, but this turtle had the egret from behind, the only place the egret couldn’t reach it. This bird was in serious danger of becoming turtle food.
I have mixed feelings about interfering with wildlife and rarely intervene. Perhaps because I’d never seen a great egret here and it was a juvenile, I felt the need to help. I looked around for a long stick because I didn’t want to get within striking distance of that egret’s beak. An egret sharpens its beak by rubbing it along a rock or a smooth log, much like a chef sharpens knives. Egrets use their beak to spear fish and because this egret had no way knowing that I was trying to help, it might have speared me.
Once a snapper has something in its jaws, it doesn’t let go. I wasn’t sure if poking at the turtle would save the egret or hasten its demise. My first attempt at poking the turtle in the eye resulted in the turtle pulling the egret toward deeper water. I entered the water carefully just in case there was another snapper waiting to bite me. Again, I unsuccessfully poked at the turtle’s head while the egret flapped its wings. I was close enough to the egret to see terror in its eyes. On my third attempt, I poked while the egret desperately flapped with all its might and finally pulled free from the turtle’s jaws and the turtle swam away. The egret flew up to the top of the bank and, before flying away, it turned to look at me as if to say "thank you."
It’s unlikely the turtle would open its jaws to let go, so the egret may be missing a portion of its foot, but it should survive. While I feel good about helping the egret, I regret that the turtle lost its meal.
Life in the wild is tough and only the strong, healthy, and wise survive. In addition to predators, birds battle drought, storms, floods, and wildfires. This egret may have been out of its normal range due to a recent storm, or maybe changing climate conditions are causing the species to expand its range.
While I have traveled to many countries and logged more than 1,000 species of birds, I find birding locally with family and friends just as interesting. If you are looking for a fun and affordable hobby, birding offers a way to experience and learn about the world we share with wildlife.
Caption: The snowy egret is a medium-size wading bird with a dark beak, yellow eye lores, long black legs, and bright yellow feet. Photo by Terri Underhill.
Caption: The great egret is a large wading bird with a yellow beak, blue eye lores, long black legs, and black feet. Photo by Terri Underhill.
Caption: Snapping turtle. Photo by Westin Hacker.
Elizabeth Hacker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
High Altitude Nature and Gardening (HANG):Ponderosa pine needle compost; mid-summer garden tips
By Janet Sellers
Ponderosa forests and the "natural feel" of our area inspire settling here. Our iconic ponderosas are drought resistant, fire resistant, provide great habitat for wildlife, and make great lumber and attractive but very large landscape trees. Sadly, many people do not know the rich source of compost soil ponderosas can create.
Landscape focus for humans is plants, be they flowers, trees, crops, or forests. The focus for plant life is sun, soil, and water to create their life using their leafy, solar-powered pantry via photosynthesis. I have researched ethnobiology and ethnobotany regarding soil for decades, trying to learn ancient secrets for keeping up naturally thriving forests, farms, and gardens, perhaps with stewardship lessons from the ancients. So far, the most powerful idea is clear: Nature knows best, she can teach us. Her instruction comes in the form of her smallest helpers that generate great power in huge numbers—her microbiological helpers that create soil.
We don’t have homes that we can pack up and move to more optimal locations when nature makes her wildfires as our First Nations people knew to do. They stewarded the lands in ways that encouraged what they needed to grow near them, and optimally accessed the plentiful foods close by. When wildfires or other natural harms came their way, they also knew how to move on efficiently beyond those dangers to safe, well-understood, places to live. We live in "stick homes" and sometimes tragically lose our homes to the natural elements because ours are not mobile.
Our forests and landscapes need our help to thrive now; we’ve invaded them and we’re the current stewards. I always figured surely there is a better way to access the hidden secrets of the forest, especially pine needles, without throwing them all into the trash. I am concerned with forest growth and decay as a natural process to feed the forest at all its life levels of flora and fauna but feel conflicted regarding home safety and pine needles in the face of wildfires and fire mitigation. How to optimally steward our beloved forests amid human land development and commercial overpowering of natural ways with violent earth scraping and removal of natural elements and then adding lab chemicals?
I found one good answer via research at the Washington State University (WSU) Extension Forestry Stewardship program. The program reported making a garden-ready compost within six weeks to three months from ponderosa pine needles, experimenting with three specific treatments of pine needles. The issue with pine needles is that they have a cuticle, or covering, that is decay resistant, which is very good for the tree’s health and the forest floor, but which makes it slower to decay than other materials for use in compost.
For the WSU Extension Forestry Stewardship program, the three test versions of the ponderosa pine needles used were: fresh, whole needles from the current year (cuticle intact and protective), fresh needles that were shredded but also from the current year (and thereby somewhat open to microbial action), and aged, 1-year-old shredded ponderosa needles that were gathered from the previous year for the program (and thereby the cuticle was somewhat damaged and already open to microbes for decomposition).
The program replicated each of the three ponderosa needle versions four times in the recipe below, and all ingredients were the same except for the stated ponderosa pine needle differences. This is important to consider, because pine needles just lying around on the ground could, just like leaves, be flammable, so knowing the time frame for decay into benign soil is vital. For each compost test pile, they "... mixed 122 pounds of needles with 110 pounds of coffee grounds, 67 pounds of freshly cut grass and 23 pounds of dried leaves from hardwood trees ...." They took the temperatures of the compost piles, kept them moist, etc., and recorded those kinds of details for future use of the information for everyone. Obviously, the recipe can be cut in half or even tenths for small garden areas or container gardening.
The mixtures were placed in home-use GeoBins; in six to 12 weeks, all three treatments resulted in usable compost with a final pH level very close to neutral. The older, shredded needles "melted like butter" and were ready in six weeks, newer shredded needles reached higher composting temperatures and decomposed faster than whole needles, which also readied in a quick three months. Ingredients can be chosen based on local availability to homeowners, obviously in smaller proportions where needed.
Local blooms and crops for mid-summer
In July, we usually transplant our favorites as plants in the beds or containers: ornamentals, tomatoes, peppers (these nightshades need 120 days seed to harvest), and herbs. Our local growing season jumpstarts mid-June from cool to hot, but I just planted the sweet corn, beans, and squash (Native American "three sisters garden") utilizing the Olla watering system we placed in April.
Many flowers and most leafy greens can’t take summer heat, but sunflowers, cornflowers, cosmos, nasturtiums (yummy in salad) and marigolds from seed or plantlets are OK for a late summer bloom-fest.
Start deck or patio gardening
Here’s instant plantable soil for squashes, just wind the vine up a pole, and a friend reported this as her "three sisters garden container version": With drain holes low on sides, layer container with 3 inches each of shredded paper, leaves, kitchen scraps (1 inch only), top with pine needle straw or wood chips and water well. Add your squash seeds same day and the microbes will get to work making soil as the seeds grow. Keep an eye on watering—containers dry out fast.
Caption: This summer, Monument Community Garden volunteers hope to demonstrate square-foot gardening, vertical gardening, and use of the olla watering system, known and used worldwide by the ancients for thousands of years, to keep food gardens hydrated even in desert climates. The movement of the water across the olla wall is stimulated by the dryness of the soil underground, and nearby plant roots (within a 36-inch diameter of the pot) benefit underground from the soil’s draw of water. Here, in the three sisters garden bed, common terracotta pots are placed in holes in the soil, with rims even to the soil surface. The hole is plugged, and pots are then filled with water and topped off with a terracotta saucer. The hydration is usually good for several days up to a week or more depending on moisture factors in the soil related to rainy or dry conditions. Photos by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an avid lazy gardener, aka permaculture and Food Forest models, sharing traditional ethnoecology success methods for local ornamental and food gardening. email@example.com.
Art Matters:Confessions of topophilia
By Janet Sellers
Topophilia—From the Greek topos "place" and -philia "love of"
Topophilia—"placeness,"—is the affective bond between people and place—a strong sense of place—often mixed with the sense of cultural identity among a community. The fields of architecture and real estate use the idea for commercial gain, as it powerfully indicates the environment, people, and community as well as the ecology of a place to optimally create a community. The popularity of living in a place creates value, and value creates an increase in attention as well as dollars generated for commerce. Currently, cities and towns throughout the United States have come to realize that public art helps create this environment of topophilia as optimal living for a place to come home to, the love of a place to settle and make one’s life.
This love of place is something that is studied by national organizations such as the art giant Americans for the Arts, whose mission is to "build recognition and support for the extraordinary and dynamic value of the arts ... to ensure that every American has access to the transformative power of the arts."
Locally, our summers are filled with music, art, and laughter on summer evenings. We have our art galleries, concerts in the park, our Art Hop—a monthly festival of art and community—all amid the grandeur of the Colorado mountains and forests.
Next time you come into town, park your car or your bicycle and walk around. Enjoy the efforts that the community has made for you. See the flowers and the care and the interest that the shopkeepers and citizens have created. Enjoy the festivals and the walkability that is so rare nowadays. Walk through our small town, greet our shop owners and buy something there; smile at passers-by and lift your eyes to take in the extraordinary beauty and power of the Front Range embracing our community. This is a rare and wonderful place to live. Let’s get out and enjoy it every moment we can with our other our fellow community members, and love our place.
July art events
Bella Art and Frame July show, 183 Washington St., Monument
Bliss Studios and gallery, artwork and workshop of owner Jodi Bliss and guest artists. Art Hop monthly guest artists. Bliss Studios and gallery, 243 Washington St., Monument
Gallery 132, an artist co-op gallery for art and crafts, monthly events. 251 Front St., Monument
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Monochrome Photographic Exhibition, through July 23, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake
Jefferson Studios, the gallery features the work of owner Daryl Muncey and others. Located on the Alley (from the Chapala building of 212 Second St., Monument)
Janet sellers is an artist, writer, and public speaker for art, nature, and ethnoecology. She can be reached at Janetsellers@ocn.me.
Caption (left): Joe Beavers with his works at the Southwinds Gallery June 8. (center): During Art Hop June 21, art glass artist and photographer Gregory Hoff demonstrated his fire and glass technique for visitors to the courtyard at Santa Fe Trail Jewelry. Hoff creates small glass treasures that can be made into jewelry. (right): Artists Daryl Muncey, left, and Bob Karraker, seated, engage visitors and talk about the art at the new Jefferson Studios gallery on the alley, across from the Chapala building. Photos by Janet Sellers.
Snapshots of Our Community
Founders of Tri-Lakes Cares honored
Caption: The founder of Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC), Celia Snyder (center) and her husband the Rev. John Snyder are shown at a TLC client appreciation day on June 11 with Haley Chapin, TLC executive director, surrounded by Monument Community Presbyterian Church volunteers who helped set up the event to honor the couple for having been their clergy in the 1980s. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Civilian Police Academy, May 29
Caption: The Monument Civilian Police Academy graduated this group of 18 local citizens on May 29. Officer and Community Relations Officer Andrew Romano taught most of the classes, but he was reassigned to cover patrol responsibilities, and then Police Chief Jake Shirk took over. Student Buck Lansford said, "What struck us most was how undermanned the Monument Police Department (MPD) is.… Most nights, there is only one officer on patrol." The classes covered information on police procedures, training, the local crime situation, videos of actual police shootings and discussion of their full contexts, practicing with live tasers, and spending time on the Air Force Academy gun range. Pictured: Front row, from left: Faith Clay, Tami Adams, Karin Morley. Middle row: Jared Clay (standing), Lindsay Leite (kneeling), Bailey Finn, Holly Fal. Back row: John Lewis, Joe Staten, Robert Bertola, Humberto (Bert) Brocato, Michael Heredia, Robert Simpson, William Brouenburg, Brynn Lansford, Buck Lansford, Donald Burgess. Not shown: Dwayne Cooke. Photo courtesy of Buck Lansford.
Cirque du Monument, June 2
Caption: Downtown Monument merchants are working to bring fun, free pop-up events this summer to attract more downtown business. The first one was Cirque du Monument held on Saturday, June 2. The project is a continuing collaboration between the town, the Chamber of Commerce, and small and large businesses to build a stronger community and economic development program. People turned out to shop in local stores and to enjoy fun circus-related events such as aerial performances, pony rides, popcorn, and a lemonade stand. For more information, see the Downtown Monument Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/DowntownMonument/posts/?ref=page_internal. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
PLAG at TLCA
Caption: Exhibiting artist and ribbon winner M.M. Edwards smiles with her winning artwork at the Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) Color Splash art show reception in June 1. The show, which ran from May 29 through June 22, was held at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA), 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more information on PLAG, go to www.palmerlakeartgroup.com. For information on the TLCA and upcoming events, visit www.trilakearts.org. Photo by Irena Lazarova.
Concerts in the Park
Caption: Most of Monument seems to come out each Wednesday night for the downtown summer concert series. People bring their camp chairs, sit in the grass, or just boogie to music played in the Limbaugh park bandshell. Concerts are held most Wednesday nights in June and July. Each local group plays a different musical genre, such as pop, soul, classic rock, or bluegrass, but all of it is great to hear in our beautiful summer night air. There are usually a few food trucks available for food and drink, although some folks walked from local restaurants or brought a picnic. For more information, see www.facebook.com/groups/MonumentCOConcertsinthePark/about/. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Fishing Derby, June 2
Caption: Kids ages 4-14 enjoy the Fishing Derby in Palmer Lake on June 2, sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Lions Club and other local sponsors. The young anglers celebrated the Colorado free fishing event on the first weekend in June. Rods and reels were offered free to children from Bass Pro Shop, and various prizes were awarded to children based on age, fish specifications, and fun categories. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Fireworks fundraiser, June 2
Caption: The Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee hosted a fundraiser titled Hooked on Palmer Lake on June 2, which included a variety of games and bouncy houses as well as music by the Ashtonz and various artists and vendors. Here the artist known as "Matty the wood sculptor" created and sold sculptures of native wildlife exclusively using the fallen timber from the Black Forest fire to honor the Black Forest area and its citizens. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Watkins bike racks dedicated
Caption: Thank you one and all for rising early and joining the community in the dedication of the four bicycle racks to honor the memory of Tim Watkins on June 9. Tim was slain last September while cycling west of Monument. Mark Schuler (pictured above) gave an appropriately tender and inspirational speech, Ginger Chase added lovely sentiments, and Terri Hayes provided the perfect oversized ribbon and scissors. You all added respectful and often funny tales of life with Tim. Each rack will denote a "Tim-ism" and be engraved accordingly by summer’s end. Hop on your bikes and check out a book from the Palmer Lake Library or enjoy an ice cream from the Rock House, tying up your bike on one of the new racks, which are brown and green to celebrate the colors of the National Park Service. Funds were donated by three local bike shops and the Tri-Lakes community that Tim embraced. See www.ocn.me/pdf/v17n10%2027.pdf. Caption by Samantha Holmes. Photo by Terri Hayes.
5-year remembrance, June 10
Caption: The Black Forest community held a five-year remembrance of the devastating, life-changing fire on June 10. Black Forest Together (BFT) Planning Director Nancy Trosper explained to residents that besides continuing to organize volunteers to help people clean up scarred forest crossing their properties, BFT is expanding recovery efforts by starting the Trees 4 Tomorrow program, which uses a tree spade to transplant established trees that would be lost due to development or mitigation and plant them in the burn scar. BFT is searching for trees to transplant as well as volunteer groups to help plant small tree seedlings or pile up slash so it can be chipped up. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, call 719-495-2445, or see www.facebook.com/BlackForestTogether. Photo by Lisa Hatfield
Value-Up Tournament, June 15
Caption: On June 15, over 65 golfers supported the first Value-Up golf tournament at the Country Club at Woodmoor. Value-Up, a new nonprofit aimed at helping today’s students and educators, was co-founded by Craig Scott, who survived the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999 and witnessed firsthand the consequences of devaluing life. His sister Rachel Scott and 13 other people were shot and killed that day, and 24 more students and teachers were injured. Along with Mike Donahue, Scott has spoken to millions of teenagers across the country about valuing and respecting their own lives and all human lives. Scott and Donahue have devoted their own lives to helping students deal with their anger, social anxiety, fear, pain, and un-forgiveness. Funds raised will go to support Value-Up school programs, including middle and high schools in northern El Paso County. Please Contact Rachel Donahue at 719-301-9746 or Rachel@value-up.org, www.value-up.org, www.facebook.com/r5walk/. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Over $17,000 raised for Shield 616
Caption: A couple of recent community events have raised over $17,000 for the Shield 616 charity. Enough funds have been raised to equip all Monument and Palmer Lake police officers with advanced active shooter and crowd control gear because the standard issue uniforms and equipment are not strong enough to withstand today’s threats. On Monday, June 18 Living Word Chapel in Palmer Lake hosted the vest presentation ceremony, where all of the community police officers were presented with their new gear. The officers and the volunteers who raised the money are pictured together. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Tillis at TLCA, June 15
Caption: Pam Tillis, with accompanist Matthew Spicher, charmed a near-capacity audience June 15 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts with her two-hour acoustic set. As daughter of country music legend Mel Tillis, she grew up among the greats and colorful of that genre, such as Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. However, in the course of her three decades in the music industry, she developed her own musical style through band experiences from jazz to top 40 and a songwriting style that "captures a particular moment." Tillis entertained the audience with her vocal range in songs including a homage to the women of country music with Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight, to her father’s Detroit City, along with a variety of her songs including the 1991 hit Maybe It Was Memphis. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.
Tri-Lakes Views celebrates
Caption: Exhibiting artists and friends celebrated the newest installations for the Tri-Lakes area sponsored by Tri-Lakes Views 2018-19 public art sculptures May 30 at Bliss Studios and Gallery outdoor patio. From left are Alex DiFiore of Bliss; Jodie Bliss, gallery owner; Reven Swanson, owner, Reven Swanson Studios; Faith and Jim Moore, artists, Robert Mutch, associate with Reven Swanson Studios. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Al-Saadi at TLCA, June 22
Caption: During his performance June 22 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Laith Al-Saadi clearly demonstrated why he was a finalist on The Voice in 2016. Al-Saadi began performing at the age of 4 in his Ann Arbor, Mich. church choir, wrote songs and played in bands in his teens, and by his 20s was playing six to 10 gigs a week, which eventually led to performing with the Detroit Lions pep band among musical avenues. His vocal and guitar playing expertise that developed through those experiences became renowned with his appearance on The Voice. The breadth of his musical talent was readily apparent this evening given the range of his cover songs, including Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon, Traffic’s Mr. Fantasy, and Bob Seger’s Night Moves along with his intricate and vocally dynamic originals. Photo by David Futey.
TLMA Concert, July 1
Caption: The U.S. Air Force High Frontier Honor Guard presented the colors at the beginning of the Tri-Lakes Music Association (TLMA) concert on July 1 at Palmer Ridge High School. Music Director Rose Dunphey then led the wind ensemble, string orchestra, jazz band, and choir in a variety of pieces. The audience participated in a free-will offering during the performance, which was shared with Tri-Lakes Cares and to provide music scholarships for high school seniors. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Flags in Gleneagle for July 4
Caption: For the past 15 years, Gleneagle Sertoma members and other community volunteers line the 2½ miles of Gleneagle Drive with flags to recognize our national heritage of freedom and democracy. Before most residents of the neighborhood are up on the Fourth of July, 20 volunteers assemble in front of the home of Terry Galloway, "The Flag Lady," for directions on the flag planting procedure. Gleneagle Sertoma (SERvice TO MAnkind) has the primary mission of hearing health, but members also perform numerous "sweat equity" community service projects and support youth programs. See www.gleneaglesertoma.org, or call Jack Beuse at 719-332-6807, or Duane Gritzmaker at 719-649-9220. We can use your help and we will have fun in the process. Photo courtesy of Gleneagle Sertoma.
Barn dance, July 3
Caption: The Tri-Lakes area opened the Fourth of July festivities on July 3 with the annual Barn Dance. The dance was held at Sibell’s Barn as usual but, for the first time, was hosted by American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11. Janet Ferran, Legion member and volunteer organizer for the dance, said "the dance acts as a fundraiser for the post as we will use the proceeds to help fund a permanent home for the post." Post members presently meet at area restaurants and are now seeking a building. Besides food and drinks, attendees enjoyed music from the Kenny Brent Band followed by headliner Ronnie Davis and the Rocky Mountain Outlaws, which brought dancers to floor throughout the evening. Photo By David Futey.
Parade, July 4
Caption: Toryn and Landen Gessford can barely contain their excitement for participating in the Fourth of July children’s parade through downtown Monument. The parade was sponsored by the Monument Hill Kiwanis.
Caption: El Paso County Sheriff’s Wildland Fire team receives well deserved applause from attendees of the Fourth of July parade in downtown Monument. Photo by David Futey. OCN will have additional coverage of the July 4 festivities in our August 4th issue. Photos by David Futey.
Our Community Notices
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.
Slash-Mulch season continues
The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch program will accept slash (tree and brush debris only) until Sept. 9. Mulch will be available through 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.
Stage II Fire Restrictions issued for El Paso County
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 II Fire Restrictions are now in effect for all the unincorporated areas of El Paso County, effective immediately.
The following are prohibited:
2. The sale or use of fireworks
3. Outdoor smoking
4. Public prescribed burning/burn permits
5. Outdoor cooking and/or fires on private property Propane/gas grills on private property are allowed
Violations of Stage II Restrictions may result in a fine of up to $1,000. For more information, visit www.elpasoco.com/stage-ii-fire-restrictions/
Town of Monument water restrictions
For customers of Town of Monument Water, use restrictions are in place through Sept. 30. While restrictions are in place, please adhere to the following watering schedule:
• Even-numbered buildings: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
• Odd-numbered buildings: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
• There is no watering on Sundays.
• Watering is allowed only before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Sod permits are available by calling 884-8037.
If you do not reside within Monument, check with your water district about specific restrictions.
Town of Monument Board Openings
Want to be involved in your community? Apply for a position on the Board of Adjustment or Planning Commission. The Town of Monument is now accepting applications for volunteers to serve in these important roles. Find the application online at www.townofmonument.org. Info: 481-2954.
Register now for Tri-Lakes Y Swim Camps
For children 6-12 years old, Mon.-Thu. sessions through Aug. 2, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Financial assistance is available. For more information, call 481-8728, visit www.ppymca.org/locations/north/tri-lakes or stop by the YMCA, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Monument.
July events at Tri-Lakes Y, register now
Around the World in Plates, Mon.- Thu., Jul. 9-12, 1-4 p.m., ages 5-10; Fairy Garden Tea Party, Fri., Jul. 13, 5:30-7:30, ages 3-7; Baking Camp, Mon.-Thu., Jul. 23-26, noon-3 p.m., ages 8-12; Art Camp, Mon.-Thu., Jul. 30-Aug. 2, ages 9-11; Acrylics & Popsicle Sticks (family paint night), Fri., Aug. 3. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument. See the ad on page 6.
Tri-Lakes Tennis Club classes, Jul. 9-Aug. 3
The club offers one-hour group lessons twice per week Jul. 9-Aug. 3, ages 5 to adult, all levels. Private and family lessons also available. For more information, contact Leslie Scott, 310-1813, email@example.com. See the ad on page 5.
Volunteers needed for county Board of Adjustment, apply by Jul. 16
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners is seeking four community-minded citizen volunteers to serve as associate members on the Board of Adjustment. Applications are due by Jul. 16. 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.
Monument Hill Kiwanis annual peach sale
Fresh Colorado Palisades freestone large peaches, handpicked and specially delivered in two days, are still just $35 per 18-pound box. Get your prepaid order in by July 20. Pick up your peaches July 28, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. All net proceeds go back to the community through projects supported by the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. Order online at www.monumenthillkiwanis.org or phone Mark Zeiger, 488-5934. See the ad on page 15.
2018 Monochrome Photography Show Call to Artists, apply by July 23
The 2018 Monochrome Photography Show is sponsored by the Palmer Divide Photographers Group and the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. Entries for the juried show will be open through July 23. Entry forms, rules, and a complete calendar of events for the show can be found at www.pdphotographers.com.
National Night Out Aug. 7, register your neighborhood event
National Night Out (NNO) is an annual event on the first Tuesday of August that promotes crime prevention and drug prevention in communities across the country. Turn on porch lights and join neighbors outside to make a show of solidarity and strength, and send the message to criminals that we won’t tolerate crime in our neighborhoods. Plan a block party, barbecue, neighborhood walk, or other activity and let the Sheriff’s Office know about it. Sheriff’s Office employees will travel around the county to attend the neighborhood celebrations. Tips on planning your NNO event and the registration form can be found at www.natw.org. To register your event phone Brent Ambuehl, 719-208-5924, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free firewood in Black Forest
Help residents clear their land of thousands of cords of free firewood, dried out from the fire, already felled, limbed, bucked, and stacked. You need to haul it away, cut it to fireplace length, and split it. For more information, contact Byron, email@example.com.
Black Forest fire cleanup volunteers needed
Teens, adults, families, and volunteer groups looking for meaningful community service work? Black Forest Together is still looking for volunteers to help families restore their land after the 2013 Black Forest Fire. Also looking for chipper operators, truck driver volunteers, team leads, and administrative help. For more information, contact 495-2445 or email ResourceCenter@BlackForestTogether.org.
Got spare trees to share with Black Forest?
Do you have too many tree seedlings sprouting close together in your yard? Please consider donating them to www.Trees4Tomorrow.com, a new mission of Black Forest Together. Trees that would have been lost to development or mitigation can now be transplanted to devastated areas within the burn scar. For more information, contact 495-2445 or email ResourceCenter@BlackForestTogether.org.
Happy Birthday Monument
June 2, 2018 was Monument’s 139th anniversary of incorporation. In 2019, Monument will celebrate 140 years as a town. Volunteers are needed to help plan the main event on June 1, 2019 and for kids’ activities, historical walking tours, and reporters to collect stories from longtime residents. Please contact Madeline 719-884-8013 for more information and to join a committee.
Recycle old phones and tablets
Legacy Sertoma is collecting old smart phones and cell phones, and old iPads for recycling. Collection boxes are located at the Palmer Lake Post Office, Serrano’s Coffee Company, the Air Academy Federal Credit Union in Monument, and the Community Banks of Colorado (formerly Peoples) branches in Gleneagle and downtown Colorado Springs. This program is not only a fundraiser for Sertoma but is designed to keep all those rare-earth metals out of landfills. Call Denny Myers at 481-4189 for pick up.
County seeks nominations by Aug. 15 for Veteran of the Year
El Paso County is seeking nominations for the Second Annual Veteran of the Year Award. Nominees should have demonstrated exemplary military service, community service, and support for veterans in the community. Full nomination guidelines and forms can be found at www.elpasoco.com/county-seeks-nominations-veteran-year.
Perform with the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony, enter by Oct. 17
Pikes Peak Music Teachers Association (PPMTA) of Colorado Springs and Gary Nicholson, Colorado Springs Youth Symphony director, have created a new Piano Concerto Competition for students living in the Tri-Lakes, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo areas. The winner will perform with the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony in its Winter Concert in 2019 and may be eligible for a $500 summer camp scholarship to either Lamont School of Music, Denver, or the International Summer Academy of Music in Ochsenhausen, Germany. For more information, contact Barbara Taylor, competition chair, for entry forms, repertoire, and competition information at 648-3844, BarbaraTaylor.PPMTA.President@gmail.com, www.PPMTA.org.
Resources on Living with Tri-Lakes Wildlife
In the Tri-Lakes area, we really do have rattlesnakes, bears, coyotes, mountain lions, skunks, porcupines, etc. in our very own backyards. We also have fawns that do not need rescuing; they are just waiting for their moms to return. Never feed any wildlife! See Too Close for Comfort at http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlife.aspx and more at http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlifeComfort2.aspx for many ways to educate ourselves. Learn how to react correctly when someone is bitten by a rattlesnake at www.wikihow.com/Treat-a-Rattlesnake-Bite.
Our Community Calendar
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 information on library events, see the library events column and visit www.ppld.org.
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.
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This page was last modified on January 24, 2023. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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