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By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
At the Sept. 12 meeting, the Palmer Lake Town Council heard a presentation from an organization of concerned citizens. The council also presented the results of its examination of how funds intended for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) have actually been spent.
At the Sept. 24 meeting, the council heard an update on the pedestrian bridge project, decided to seek bids to move a water pipeline that was found to lie under the bridge, and heard details about the parks master plan and recent work in Glen Park.
Complaints about town leadership, website, and police presented
Karen Stuth, speaking on behalf of Citizens for a Better Palmer Lake (CBPL), detailed for the council the results of a survey taken by the group. The survey addressed satisfaction, or lack of it, with the town’s administrative office, the town’s website, the Town Council meetings, the Police Department, and the Fire Department. According to the printed information presented by Stuth, the goal of the survey was to assess what town needs are most important to residents.
A total of 118 surveys were collected, some at a CBPL meeting in August and others collected online using Nextdoor and Facebook. (The population of Palmer Lake is 2,500 according to town staff.) The survey contained five questions, some open-ended.
The survey questions addressing the town’s administration evidenced concerns with the following issues:
• Water bills.
• Requests for information about the town, the town budget, and use of funds.
• Requests for safer roads.
• Planning for sewer capacity and lack of taps.
• Job performance of the town administrator.
The survey indicated dissatisfaction with Town Council meetings, including:
• Openness to citizen comments.
• Derisive attitude on the part of council members and the mayor toward citizens and their comments.
• Lack of interest and engagement on the part of the mayor.
• How well-informed the council is about town issues.
• Domination of meetings by a small group of citizens.
• Lack of attention on the part of council members.
• Competence of the town administrator and administrative staff.
Concerns with the town website included:
• Difficulty searching for information.
• Website does not represent the town or local businesses adequately.
The questions about the Police Department indicated satisfaction with:
• The department’s concern for safety and welfare.
• The officers’ training, respect for residents, and willingness to help.
• Responsiveness of police chief.
The survey indicated concerns with police staffing and round-the-clock coverage, but also indicated residents did not want to receive policing from the Town of Monument.
Survey results showed a high degree of satisfaction with the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
Other survey results indicated residents wanted all funds from the 2A ballot initiative, which allocated 10 mills of tax revenue to the Fire Department, to be provided only to the department, and also that residents consider water quality and availability a high priority.
The council took no action based on the presentation of the survey results.
Town administrator documents allocation of Fire Department funds
Town Administrator Valerie Remington reported the results of the town’s investigation into how funds from the ballot initiative passed in 2015 that specified 10 mills of the town’s tax revenue would go to PLVFD. Remington pointed out that the ballot initiative became effective in 2016 and the funds became available in 2017.
During the 2017 audit, the town consolidated assets of the General Fund at the recommendation of the town’s auditor, Remington said. In the 2018 audit, PLVFD received $307,000, according to Remington.
The 2019 audit is not complete, Remington told the council. As of June 30, the town has $295,197 in the PLVFD budget, she said, adding the PLVFD funds were in the General Fund, which has a balance of $1.8 million. The PLVFD funds can be spent at any time, Remington pointed out.
Summarizing how the funds had been raised and used, Remington said that in 2017, the 10-mill allocation had generated $303,000, and PLVFD spent $227,000 or 91.6 percent of the revenue from the allocation. That grew PLVFD reserves by $64,000. PLVFD spent $25,000 less than its budgeted amount in 2017. Remington said her figures showed PLVFD actually received more than the revenue generated by the 10-mill allocation.
In 2018, Remington found a similar situation. The 10 mills generated $326,000 and PLVFD spent $307,000, increasing reserves by $57,000. Once again, PLVFD spent less than its budget allowed by $19,000.
Trustee Paul Banta said PLVFD had $149,205 in reserves. He pointed out that PLVFD had actually received 110 percent of the 10-mill allocation in 2017 and 112 percent in 2018, creating the reserve mentioned.
Remington said some amount of money in reserve was a requirement to address emergencies.
After the meeting, Banta built a spreadsheet that confirms the figures presented by Remington.
Resident Trish Flake admonished the council for considering shutting down PLVFD when reserve funds were available. She also questioned how funds from the Vaile House had been used.
Pedestrian bridge planning takes a step forward
At the Sept. 24 meeting, Jeff Hulsmann told the council a pre-construction meeting had been scheduled with SEMA, the company that will install the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks. Attendees will include representatives from both railroads, the town engineer, and representatives of Awake the Lake. The bridge is targeted for completion at the end of October or early November, Hulsmann said.
The board unanimously approved a check from Great Outdoors of Colorado funds to be written to Awake the Lake for $102,000 for work on the bridge.
Estimate to move water pipeline sought
In a previous meeting, it was reported that a water pipeline serving some Palmer Lake businesses is under the approach to the pedestrian bridge, making future repairs difficult to perform. The council voted unanimously to use money from the General Fund to seek estimates to move the pipeline so that it can be more easily maintained in future.
Parks master plan presented; land swap proposed
Reid Weicks, on behalf of the Parks Committee, reviewed the current state of the parks master plan. The committee was asked to produce a master plan to aid budgeting for parks projects. The committee used plans for other communities as a starting point to produce its plan.
The plan focuses on Glen Park as a starting point; other parks will be added later. The committee created a spreadsheet of items needing attention and prioritized them. The list includes a permanent bathroom at Glen Park and lighting along Lovers Lane. The Parks Committee has recently removed a dangerous slide, installed playground equipment, and done landscaping in Glen Park, Wiecks said.
Resident Dean Couture proposed to the council that he would purchase four lots adjacent to the tennis courts at Glen Park and exchange that land for land the town owns adjacent to property he owns elsewhere in town. Wiecks expressed support for Couture’s offer, however, Remington noted that the town’s land includes water rights for an alluvial well. The town decided to engage its water lawyer to decide if the town could retain the water rights if it goes forward with the proposed exchange of land.
The council is scheduled to hold meetings on Oct. 10 and 24 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, with the second meeting organized as a working session. Information: 481-2953.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met Sept. 12 to provide an update on its planned secondary school, discuss strategy for hiring administrative positions, and introduce their new school resource officer. Board member Megghan St. Aubyn was absent.
No YMCA; no new middle school seats
Board President Mark McWilliams announced that the 5,500 square feet that had been designated for potential use by the YMCA were reallocated for art and music as well as space for special education and exceptional student services. MA will reinitiate discussions with the YMCA during the planning for phase two, which they hope to bring online by 2022.
Kurt Connelly, MA’s builders’ representative, said regular weekly meetings are being held between the owners, architects, and contractors. He asked for an MA representative to attend the meetings, walk the site, and make sure decisions are right for the school. Connelly introduced the project manager and project engineer who indicated there are 15 weather days built into the schedule, which they hope to complete by Aug. 4, 2020. They said that utilities are through the Walden corporation, and MA cannot occupy the building until roads and utilities are ready.
After the meeting was adjourned, the audience asked questions and made comments about:
• Adequate classroom space in sixth through 10th grade.
• Importance of an academic officer given the short time frame for eighth-grade commitments.
• Stage space for performances.
• Number of seats in the new school and whether there would be new middle school seats.
• Secure entry from school interior to the office area.
• Confusion about MA purchasing land that was supposed to be donated and multiple deeds between various entities.
McWilliams answered that space has been looked at carefully, curriculum is key, and the new school will move 350 middle schoolers to the secondary school and add ninth grade and 60 10th-grade seats. He said there would be 350 elementary seats available but there is not an existing wait-list. He said there would be 450 new seats in K-12, with a total of 800 by the time the project is completed through phase two.
McWilliams emphatically stated that he never said there would be new middle school seats and that space problems at Lewis-Palmer Middle School were not MA’s concern. Regarding the land, he indicated that there were a lot of conversations and things were still in flux—he offered that people could meet with the title company to better understand the deeds. While there is no formal stage, MA expects to be able to use risers in a room open to the gym.
Administrative hiring strategies
The board discussed whether to hire a chief operating officer (COO) or chief academic officer (CAO) first. McWilliams said the deans requested the board focus first on the COO in order to get the new school completed. Parents suggested that an academic officer was needed soon so that eighth-graders could make decisions about continuing with the school. After considering whether one person could fulfill both roles, the board unanimously agreed to begin the process of hiring a COO, immediately followed by a CAO. Two board members will look at all the applications and bring them forward to the nominating committee, which comprises the deans, teachers’ representatives, two parents, and a board member.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Teachers Joy Maddox and Cristin Patterson were elected to be teachers’ representatives to the board.
• New school resource officer Josie Haag was introduced to attendees. She will begin at the school in October after recovering from shoulder surgery and looks forward to being a mentor to the kids.
• The board unanimously approved appointing Melanie Strop in place of Nancy Tive on the Monument Academy Foundation, which holds the bond note for the new secondary school.
• The Colorado Measure of Academic Results findings have been released. Dean Charlie Richardson asked that people reserve judgment and noted that the school received a performance rating.
• Auditor Kevin Kimball summarized the report as having a clean audit opinion.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, Oct. 10 at the Monument Academy library at 1150 Village Ridge Point. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committee and finances can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OCN received an unprecedented number of letters to the editor this month. There are over 7,000 words of letters on pages 18 to 24. As a result, many articles and columns have been shortened or entirely omitted from this issue. To prevent similar situations in the future, depending on the space available, OCN’S editorial board may limit the number of letters published per issue to the first 12 received. See page 31 for a statement of OCN’s policies regarding letters to the editor. Direct questions or comments to John Heiser, Publisher, at email@example.com or (719) 488-3455.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education passed two resolutions to forward to the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) legislative session, designated five strategic goals for the year, and recognized two community groups for their contributions to the district at its meetings in September.
Following its resolution in August objecting to HB-1032, which detailed a curriculum in human sexuality to be taught in Colorado schools (see www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#d38), the board passed a new resolution asking CASB to oppose the legislative requirements in HB-1032 and any current or future legislation that required local school boards or their districts "to follow or adopt specific instructional text or content in violation of the fundamental principle of local control embodied in the Colorado Constitution."
Board President Matthew Clawson said that he would prefer not to involve the judicial branch in the process because that would require a lawsuit. He said that he requested names of all members of CASB to seek support from other districts but was denied that information.
Due to a short deadline for submission, Clawson recommended creating a draft resolution with the district’s counsel and having a special meeting on Sept. 12 to pass it.
Board Vice President and CASB Liaison Tiffiney Upchurch suggested having two resolutions, one of which would advocate lobbying.
This resolution will be taken to the CASB Fall Regional Convention and Fall Delegate Convention in October and proposed to be added to CASB’s legislative proposals for the 2020 legislative session.
On Sept. 10 and 16, the board discussed five strategic goals for the coming school year: academic achievement and growth, district culture of collaboration and core values of community, financial well-being to include a long-term facilities master plan, enhancing staff recognition and appreciation, and extension of community relations.
The board discussed the timeline and manner of superintendent evaluation. Superintendent K.C. Somers commented that, with a new board to be seated in November, this subject will need to be revisited. He suggested having staff and student input in the process.
Clawson said that he favors a quarterly report for the board’s review.
Somers said that not all ratings will be made public.
The board agreed on a schedule for work sessions, regular meetings, and peripheral events such as CASB events. They discussed work sessions and regular meetings and what should be involved in each, with board Secretary Chris Taylor suggesting that a report from the work session could be delivered at the regular meeting.
The board briefly discussed the placement of members’ comments on the agenda. At present, the comments follow the public comments, before other business.
Taylor suggested that an opportunity for comment later in the agenda would be welcome. He said this could offer the opportunity to interact with the public.
Director Mark Pfoff said the comments are an opportunity for board members to report on their activities since the previous meeting and to report primarily to other members of the board.
At its regular meeting on Sept. 16, Pfoff and Taylor urged the public to attend town hall meetings regarding the bond. These meetings, held at the Monument Town Hall, were independently planned and run by Pfoff and Taylor and would involve the architects and engineers for the new elementary school in addition to financial experts.
Board Secretary Theresa Phillips said that she had visited the bus barn and was impressed with the professionalism of the Transportation Department. She also encouraged the public to invite board members to home gatherings and other venues to discuss the bond.
Upchurch reported that the state had approved 60 preschool slots for the district this year, up from 45 last year. These are the students who are required to be offered preschool free of charge because of a number of factors such as qualifying for special education services due to identification through Child Find.
In his enrollment dashboard report, Somers said that, as of Sept. 3, enrollment is 120 less than last year due to a large graduating class. He reminded the board that the October student count affects funding the most.
The board considered a report on hiring and termination of staff for this year. There was about 12% in turnover between individuals leaving the district, moving away, and retiring. Of the new hires, there were 70 teachers from many districts including D20, D11, and Falcon and many from out of state.
Somers reported that the district was once again Accredited with Distinction, the highest level within the Colorado Department of Education.
The board recognized the Palmer Lake Art Group, represented by Vice President Bonnie Sands, for its support through scholarships, and the Ascent Church, represented by Pastor Dr. Rusty Hayes, for its annual Run 4 Hope to support Sources of Strength and other programs to fight teen suicide.
The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Oct. 28 due to a conflict with the CASB conference date.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) had a packed house Sept. 16 when the Home Place Ranch development ordinance failed due to lack of a motion. The board did approve new platting in Sanctuary Pointe and architectural designs for an eventual Public Works building.
Home Place Ranch development hits a wall
Senior Planner Jennifer Jones began the presentation of Home Place Ranch’s preliminary/final PD site plan and was followed by the developer’s representatives. Phase 1 of the development was proposed to encompass 130 acres with a total of 300 single-family homes. The first filing includes 64 clustered villas targeted to the 55-and-older community.
Most of the seven BOT members had questions relating to emergency access points for homeowners. Drainage issues were also troublesome with regard to the slope of the property and the methods used to move water, possibly funneling it into the Homestead at Jackson Creek development to the south and west.
During a four-hour special Planning Commission meeting the PD site plan was passed, but with a number of emergency access requirements signed by Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. See https://www.ocn.me/v19n8.htm#mpc.
Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein said he had heard a lot about traffic and access points, but not once was safety mentioned. "What is the game plan?" he asked, expressing concern that people couldn’t get out of the development if there was an emergency.
Trustee Greg Coopman asked about the large number of cul-de-sacs in the development, all connecting to two main thoroughfares. Although Phil Stuepfert, HR Green planner, said the 110 feet of fall through the development requires grading the cul-de-sacs, Coopman considered them one of the primary concerns for safety and evacuation. There is currently no formal evacuation plan, but HR Green engineer Gregory Panza said, "this is something we can take a look at."
Panza said they had created an emergency access point through to Sabre Creek after the July 25 Planning Commission meeting. During public comments, residents on the roadway said the easement isn’t wide enough for vehicles to pass through since there is an electrical box in the center of it.
Trustee Laurie Clark was also concerned about evacuation, and asked "What would it take to have an emergency access" for these 55 and older to get out? Panza said all the trees and brush are to the east and north, so they will need to travel west, but there are no emergency exits in that direction.
Residents Ann Howe and Larry Adams said they wanted clarification on the Sabre Creek emergency access point, wondering aloud how people would get out and emergency vehicles could get in. Although Stuepfert initially said all four emergency accesses are rated for emergency equipment and they wouldn’t let cars onto the accesses, he later said, "I guess there could be cars in an emergency situation."
Stuepfert said "If we could have connected to Sabre Creek … once or twice, we would have." He said the easement is the best they could do and agreed the development really needs another access point in there.
Clark asked about French drains, which Panza said will be installed for all homes, but the homeowners will need to put in a sump pump if their property is flooded. She also wondered about water moving into the nearby development, to which Stuepfert said, "It’s a pretty bad situation for sure," but confirmed they are working to fix the drainage issues.
Sabre Creek resident Bill Miller said, "These guys are in a pipe dream about this water," while resident Tim Boyle said they had received a 100-year rain five times since 2001.
Mayor Don Wilson said the plan failed due to lack of a motion.
Sanctuary Pointe platting approved
The board unanimously approved almost 28 acres, including 59 residential lots that range in size from 9,000 to over 30,000 square feet for Sanctuary Pointe. According to the conditions of approval for Phase 2, the connection from Sanctuary Rim Drive to Gleneagle Drive (Old Post Road or Ranch Point Road as it was intended in 2006) must be completed before 40 land use permits can be pulled through the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. Because there is no restriction on the number of lots that can be platted, the request was unanimously approved.
Public Works building design moving along
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish asked the board to approve a contract with D2C Architects to provide design suggestions for a new Public Works building. The board approved $300,000 for designs this year, although the actual building has not yet been approved and the location has not been decided. Tonight, Tharnish asked the board to approve building on land owned by the town at the corner of Mitchell and Synthes Avenues that was purchased using 2A water fund money, which was established for the acquisition of water rights, storage, and delivery of any newly acquired water.
During the board’s budget workshop held Sept. 9, Finance Director Bill Wengert said the town might be able to use Water Enterprise money to fund the new building, depending upon the ultimate purpose of the building. Coopman vehemently disagreed, saying he would question the legality of spending water-related money for this project. "I anticipated something like this would happen." said Coopman.
To avoid a delay in the design of the building, the architect said this process wouldn’t be land dependent, and could provide designs and costs without knowing the specific location of the building. The resolution was passed without site-specific language.
July financials good, thanks to leases
Wengert said the town’s financials are in good shape overall. He said General Fund revenues are exceeding 2018 by $526,000 year to date due to a number of fluctuations and the town receiving $346,000 of equipment leases from NBH Banks.
General fund expenses for 2019 have increased 7% over last year due to personnel cost increases and increased spending in Public Works for salt/sand, fuel and hail-damage-related vehicle repairs.
Wengert said the Water Fund operating revenue is exceeding 2018 by 3% due to water tap fee increases associated with continuing development. However, operating expenditures have increased 4% due to increased utility costs and administrative fees, as well as repair and maintenance costs associated with water main break repairs.
Town manager’s report
Town Manager Mike Foreman provided the board a lengthy bi-annual report in review of this year that included the following:
• The Finance Department has restructured the town’s purchasing policy, including an approval form to document purchases, both to be approved at a later meeting. The department also wrote standard operating procedures, streamlined banking processes, and provided training to staff on general accounting.
• The Police Department hired new officers Tim Johnson, Mark Knolmayer, Michael Sammarcelli, and Ryan Sebastian.
• The I.T. department has been working to bring the Police Department up to Criminal Justice Information System compliance, an FBI-level security standard for law enforcement agencies.
• The records manager is actively working to get sex offender registrations up to date.
The meeting adjourned at 10:16 pm.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Oct. 7.
Call 719-884-8014 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.
By Allison Robenstein
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board held a special meeting Sept. 4 to select a new board member to fill the seat left open by Gary Rusnak when he moved out of the district. During the meeting on the 17th, Chief Vinny Burns presented the 2020 preliminary budget to the board, and they heard from the pension board.
Board Chairman William "Bo" McAllister attended the special meeting via conference call on Sept. 4 and was absent for the meeting on the 17th. Director Larry Schwartz was excused from the special meeting. Assistant Chief Scott Ridings was excused for both meetings.
Board fills empty seat
During the board’s special meeting on Sept. 4, Duane Garrett was selected from the pool of five candidates to fill the open position. Board Secretary Mark Gunderman said he was basing his decision on whether a candidate had attended previous Wescott meetings and is aware of how the board has made previous decisions. He also wanted someone who can dedicate time to the board since it is more than just coming to a meeting once per month.
District Counsel Matt Court said all Colorado-based special districts including DWFPD are now required to administer the oath of office and file paperwork with the local clerk and recorder before the new member can be formally seated. Garrett was administered the oath by Burns ahead of the meeting on Sept. 17.
2020 budget presented
The board reviewed a preliminary 2020 budget. Burns said the district should expect a significant increase in revenues, possibly as high as $350,000 in extra income, because property tax levels were increased. Court commended Burns for presenting the budget so early, since it isn’t due to the board until Oct. 15 by statute. Burns was appointed budget officer, and included the following in this preliminary budget:
• For 2020, the AMR line item of the budget will be zero because the company has not yet signed a contract with the district.
• Burns said he would like to increase salaries that didn’t get increased in 2019, but Gunderman said, "I don’t want to chase Tri-Lakes" Monument Fire Protection District, with regard to their salaries.
• Funding for education is "paramount in the fire service," Burns said.
• The chief asked the board to consider either purchasing a new tender at a cost of about $300,000 or building an addition onto Station 1 for $150,000 in 2020.
Pension board requests increase in retirement payments
Pension board representatives Lt. Bryan Ackerman and Lt. Tim Hampton asked the board to raise the monthly payout that their 13 retirees receive from $400 to $450 after an actuarial study showed an annual increase of $6,583 paid annually would keep the fund 105% funded. The board discussed the suggestion but didn’t take a vote.
• Following a new law, the board voted to only post their meeting notices online at www.wescott.org.
• Wescott will hold an open house on Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to celebrate Fire Prevention Week.
The next Donald Wescott fire district meeting is scheduled for Oct. 15 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. There will be promotions ahead of the meeting on the 15th, starting at 6 p.m. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) board meeting on Sept. 25, the board approved an updated fiscal policy and learned about the expedited search for a replacement staff member.
Director Jim Abendshan was excused.
Executive session conclusion
After the Aug. 20 board meeting, firefighter/EMT Larry Bell elected to have an open public executive session to discuss personnel matters with his attorney present and with BFFRPD staff and board members in attendance. Bell’s family and friends were also present during the discussion. He resigned from BFFRPD three days after the executive session. See www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#bffrpd.
Interim Chief PJ Langmaid said that because of Bell’s resignation, a full-time career position had become available. Three have applied, and it is Langmaid’s goal to hire all three eventually with one applicant receiving a full-time offer in October.
Policy Manual update
The board voted 4-0 to approve Treasurer Jack Hinton’s Policy 910, which includes the following policy changes:
• BFFRPD will always set aside a minimum of $550,000 in its General Fund at the end of the fiscal year to offset income versus expenditures for the first quarter of the following year.
• TABOR Fund—the board will provide an emergency reserve fund equal to at least 3% of the fiscal year spending for 2019, as defined under TABOR.
• The BFFRPD board has set aside $200,000 in reserve funds to be used in an emergency, as directed by a majority of the board.
• The TABOR Fund and Emergency Fund will be held in savings accounts separate from the General Operations Fund and will be adjusted by the treasurer as required by law or a majority vote of the board.
Note: At the end of the fiscal year any overages will be transferred into the General Fund. See www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#bffrpd.
2018 audit accepted
Hinton requested the board accept the 2018 audit report after confirming all board members had read the report that was presented by Dawn Schilling of Schilling & Co. Inc. Certified Public Accountants at the August board meeting.
The 2018 audit report was accepted 4-0 for filing with the state.
Langmaid said the following:
• Newly purchased extrication equipment is now in service.
• Headsets are now installed on all rigs to improve communications during calls.
• New bunker/turnout gear has been received and will be issued after the live fire training.
• The Plymovent exhaust system refit at both stations is now complete.
Deputy Chief James Rebitski said, "BFFRPD is 100% fully operational."
Langmaid said a tremendous amount of training is occurring, with some staff attending the following courses:
• Hazmat Technician School.
• Firemanship Conference in Portland, Ore.
• Echelon Front leadership development class.
• Live fire training for all shifts with TLMFPD and Wescott at the Air Force Academy.
Note: Live fire training in the field is a critical part of the instruction and certification process for firefighters. It teaches them how to safely and effectively fight fires in a controlled setting under supervision.
Colorado Special District Association update
Rebitski and Director Nate Dowden attended the Colorado Special District Association Annual Conference in Keystone on Sept. 18-20 and reported the following:
• Labor law updates for 2020 would not affect special districts, but a proposed statewide minimum wage increase to $15 per hour could mean BFFRPD personnel deployed to another area, i.e., Denver, could see a temporary wage increase. BFFRPD staff are salaried by position and are eligible for overtime.
• BFFRPD is doing a good job in recruitment and retention, which is an ongoing problem for most special districts.
Website provider switch
Rebitski said he and Administrative Assistant Melissa Bottorff had consulted with Streamline Web Design to create a more user-friendly website with a potential cost saving of up to $1,400 per year.
An email and text signup would also be available for resident notification.
Langmaid said BFFRPD has two chaplains that check in regularly with staff members, but they do not accompany staff when they are responding to calls.
Donations and thank you notes received
The annual High Forest Ranch neighborhood picnic collects and donates annually to both BFFRPD and Donald Wescott Fire Protection District in recognition of the exceptional protection provided to homeowners during the 2013 Black Forest Fire. Jeanette Bachmann of High Forest Ranch homeowners’ association sent a note of thanks to BFFRPD with a check for $1,460. The BFFRPD board and staff thanked the High Forest Ranch residents for their generous donation.
The meeting adjourned at 7:49 p.m.
Meetings are usually held at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at BFFRPD Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. However, the next regular board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 23. See www.bffire.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board meeting on Sept. 25, the board, staff, and community residents bid farewell to former Town of Monument Police Chief and TLMFPD board President Jacob Shirk, and the board re-assigned the positions of the existing board members. The board also heard and discussed the draft 2020 budget proposal.
Treasurer John Hildebrandt attended via telephone conference.
Chief Chris Truty thanked Shirk for shaping a previously challenged department into a highly professional organization over the last seven years. He wished him all the best for the future and presented Shirk with multiple plaques of recognition for his outstanding service to the TLMFPD board. Shirk said he was grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the great men and women of the department. Hildebrandt said Shirk epitomizes the core attributes of excellence, integrity, loyalty, respect, and service to the community.
Board positions re-assigned
Hildebrandt was nominated for president by Vice President Roger Lance after Lance himself had turned the position down. Hildebrandt said it would be an honor to take on the role of board president. Secretary Michael Smaldino nominated Director Jason Buckingham for the position of board treasurer after Smaldino turned down the nomination. Buckingham accepted the nomination of treasurer.
A director vacancy exists on the TLMFPD board. Applications will be accepted until Oct. 11 at the district administration office. Interviews will be conducted in public at the Oct. 23 board meeting before the board elects a candidate. The required qualifications are listed at http://tlmfire.org/board.
Deputy Chief Randy Trost said a replacement for the recently vacated position of Firefighter/EMT is underway. Background checks for two applicants are being completed and one out of five candidates has passed the oral board. Firefighter/EMT Ryan Olmos resigned and moved to Boulder in August, creating the vacancy.
2020 budget draft proposal
Battalion Chief of Administration/Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner presented the preliminary 2020 budget proposing the following considerations:
• Capital Fleet replacement Fund—Bumgarner suggested they begin contributing $325,000 annually for replacement vehicles every five years over the next 15 years.
• General Capital Expenditure Fund—Bumgarner suggested they begin contributing $150,000 annually for next 15 years to maintain equipment.
• Attract and retain personnel—by evaluating competitive wage increases and benefits.
• Station 1 remodel for $1.5 million, of which $750,000 was previously allocated.
• Maintenance of emergency services—due to the 2017 mill levy increase, shortfalls resulting from the 2019 Gallagher amendment reduction have been absorbed without cutting any other levels of funding.
Bumgarner said TLMFPD is projected to receive $10.1 million in revenue, which is up $350,000 from EMS Medicare/Medicaid revenue supplements from the state. Truty said expenses for 2020 are budgeted for $11.135 million, with a net reserve allocation of $190,096, for a total of $11.325 million.
Smaldino suggested consideration be made to forgo allocating excess funds at the end of the year for one-time large ticket items and instead allocating left-over large sums into a fund for a fourth station. Truty said an unusual revenue increase this year will likely leave $800,000 in reserve, allowing increased savings toward a future fourth station.
Truty asked the board to consider a 2019 budget amendment proposal for unforeseen expenditures that that occurred in early 2019. He also thanked the community for the 2017 mill levy increase and said, "We continue to make significant progress on enhancing and stabilizing our services, including the development of some long-term projects."
Truty gave the following updates:
• An investment policy to allow greater returns is still being developed and will be presented to the board in October.
• The Station 1 remodel planning design is almost complete with ground-breaking in January 2020. Concerns over staffing moving out during the remodel will likely create a phased approach.
• Station 1 annexation into the Town of Monument is going ahead.
• TLMFPD, Fountain, and Security will not continue sending ambulances to Colorado Springs in support of AMR until Colorado Springs Fire Department ambulances have been utilized.
• The De-Gallagher ballot question is going forward with issue 6A for the blue book on the November election.
Director of Public Works Town of Monument (TOM)/Director Tom Tharnish said the proposed fleet maintenance facility is still in the design phase with the TOM senior staff and architects, but bays for the Fire Department are not yet included. The project is likely to break ground in late 2020, more likely early 2021. Truty said the maintenance facility is part of the 15-year master plan and money could be allocated for some type of contribution to the town in the 2021 budget. See www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#tlmfpd and www.ocn.me/v19n7.htm#tlmfpd.
Fire marshal update
Bumgarner said that so far, the chipper has been used a total of three days and the next scheduled chipping event will be for the residents of the Fox Ridge/Baptist Road homeowners’ association.
Buckingham thanked TLMFPD for sending its Tower truck 2231 to participate in the Colorado Springs Annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial on Sept. 21 at Memorial Park. Thousands attended the memorial service commemorating the 250 firefighters nationwide who died in the line of duty this year.
Colorado Estates resident Becky Zitterich thanked TLMFPD for its support during her HOA’s recent chip and slash day. Zitterich said her neighborhood had 75% participation and the event was highly necessary to prevent a future devastating blaze like the Black Forest Fire of 2013.
Lance also thanked TLMFPD on behalf of the Timbers HOA with a contribution of $200 to the firefighters welfare/morale fund.
The meeting adjourned at 8:28 p.m.
Caption: Outgoing TLMFPD board President Jacob Shirk receives a plaque and a thank you from Chief Chris Truty on behalf of the district staff and the board members for his dedication to service at TLMFPD. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, contact Office Administrator/HR Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011. For upcoming agendas, see www.tlmfire.org/board.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
On Sept. 9, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board heard comments by District Manager Jessie Shaffer on measures being taken to address concerns about radium. The board also heard operational reports.
Radium testing underway
In response to a question from board Secretary Brian Bush, Shaffer told the board that radium testing was underway at all wells that supply water to the central treatment facility. Shaffer said the treatment of water for iron and manganese in use currently would also remove some radionuclides and send them into the wastewater stream.
Shaffer said that blending water might not be sufficient to address the concerns about radium. Well 21, the district’s newest well, which is not yet in production, might have to be shut down if other wells go offline to avoid problems with an excess of radium, Shaffer said. The goal is to have Well 21 ready for peak water season next year as a resource when water demand is especially high.
Wastewater testing will also be needed, according to Shaffer, and that will be timed to follow the testing of water headed into the central treatment facility.
Shaffer said water from Well 21 might be moved to Lake Woodmoor to create a blend of water that contains less radium. Shaffer also mentioned the possibility that the central treatment facility might need to be upgraded to treat surface water in addition to well water.
Highlights from operational reports
• Woodmoor Ranch is irrigating as part of its revegetation efforts.
• WWSD is meeting the requirements of all Chilcott Ditch shareholders.
• 94 percent of the district’s water is accounted for, indicating the system has few leaks.
• Progress has been made in the pump house for Well 21—the foundation has been poured, the walls are complete, Mountain View Electric Association is working on the transformer enclosure, and completion of the well house is expected by mid-October.
The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 14 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.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) met on Sept. 10 to discuss the first draft of the 2020 budget and talk more about accomplishing important baseline testing for radium.
TLWWTF 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: PLSD Vice Chairman Patricia Smith, JUC vice president, who ran this meeting; MSD Director John Howe substituted for MSD board Chairman Ed DeLaney, JUC president; and WWSD board President Jim Taylor substituted for WWSD board Director Lee Hanson, 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 District Manager Jessie Shaffer.
2020 budget draft
Facility Manager Bill Burks presented the JUC with his ideas for the 2020 budget, which included:
• Purchasing a $62,000 real-time phosphorus analyzer, which would reduce chemical costs and could pay for itself in savings in about four years.
• Sandblasting and re-coating all three clarifiers for $75,000.
• Replacing exterior light fixtures to accept more heat-efficient bulbs.
• A 2% increase for plant operators and a step increase as operators advance.
Oct. 8 will be the public hearing for the 2020 budget.
Baseline radium testing in wastewater
Last month, WWSD Assistant Manager Randy Gillette brought up questions about TENORM (technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials). See related WWSD article on page 12.
This month, Wicklund asked Burks if the JUC had ever gotten the baseline data on radium that it had requested from him in 2017 and 2018. See www.ocn.me/v17n4.htm#tlwfjuc, www.ocn.me/v18n4.htm#tlwtfjuc , www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#tlwtf.
Burks said he had reported to the JUC last year that radium levels in the sludge were in the normal range. However, he said he did not collect baseline radium data on wastewater influent from all three districts in 2018.
Wicklund said state Senate Bill 18-245, concerning the disposal of natural occurring radioactive materials (NORM), was approved in 2018. It required that TLWWTF complete a baseline survey by Dec. 7, 2018 on whether it tested for TENORM in any of its processes, if it currently accepted water treatment plant residuals, and if it had identified any of a specific list of radionuclides in its biosolids or residuals.
Burks said he thought he had sent the survey answers to the state but would check his records. "We are still trying to determine if we even have a problem." He said since last month’s discussion, he had coordinated timing of influent sampling with the town of Monument backwashing its potable water production filters. He is still talking to Shaffer about when to coordinate the same testing with WWSD’s filter backwashing.
State regulations on TENORM are being written this year and, depending on the limits they set, could be very expensive for both water and wastewater treatment facilities. One concern is the possibility that TLWWTF might have to get special licensing to deal with TENORM in its system, Wicklund said.
Shaffer said all Denver and Arapahoe wells have some level of radionuclides and that when groundwater is treated to remove iron and manganese, naturally occurring radioactive materials come along and are concentrated in the backwash, creating TENORM. "If plants do this informational survey and find they will have a real issue with disposal (of sludge or discharge), they need to speak up, or say they won’t accept backwash from water treatment facilities, and put it back on water treatment operators to come up with some sort of a disposal mechanism," he said.
Wicklund emphasized that TLWWTF JUC has not decided yet on whether or not it will accept TENORM in the future.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 8 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 from all three owner-districts. For information, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District met Sept. 10 to receive a progress report on the Jackson Creek Parkway (JCP) widening project. Staff provided operational updates.
This meeting date was changed to ensure a quorum. Due to a director’s educational commitment, future board meetings are expected to change occasionally. Meetings are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month for the remainder of 2019.
Director Marco Fiorito was excused.
Triview is a Title 32 special district within Monument that provides road, landscaping, and open space maintenance, and water and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas.
The Sept. 10 board packet may be accessed via www.triviewmetro.com/boardDocuments.
New lanes coming in October
Kiewit Project Manager Joe Houtz said milling and repaving of the south segment of Jackson Creek Parkway (JCP), from Baptist Road to Leather Chaps Drive, would be complete by Sept. 20. Temporary striping would be employed while the pavement "set up" for about a week. Permanent striping, including bike lanes, would follow in October.
Houtz said curb and gutter installation and paving continue on the north section’s new lanes, from north of Leather Chaps Drive to Higby Road. He anticipated that traffic would be switched to the new lanes by the first, possibly second, week of October. Completing the paving as soon as possible helps avoid quality issues that can sometimes occur with colder temperatures, he explained. The sidewalk along the east side will be installed soon, too.
Kiewit is also working with Triview’s Parks and Open Space Superintendent Jay Bateman to revamp the medians along JCP. In his operations update, Bateman confirmed that sleeving, backflows, meters, and regulators had been installed for irrigation of the new plantings planned for spring 2020.
The project is being completed faster than the initial estimate of an early-December end date, which will reduce the timeframe that "traffic control" affects residents.
Several directors and District Manager Jim McGrady expressed appreciation for Town of Monument’s Planning Department Engineering Assistant Tom Martinez for his help with the widening project.
Discussion addresses water leaks and sales tax "leaks"
Triview faces an unusual situation with Monument Marketplace, the shopping center where Walmart is located. Although the district conducts leak detection tests on the water infrastructure and repairs fire hydrants at the shopping center, it doesn’t own the pipes, said McGrady. This puts Triview in a difficult position with respect to addressing potential leaks somewhere inside the shopping center. The situation of multiple, private ownership of infrastructure is asking for trouble, since a main break has the potential to be "valved off" in a manner that the "looped flow" for fire flow requirements is disrupted.
McGrady recommended that the district work to obtain easements to take over ownership and official maintenance of the mains; however, the appropriate contact person with whom Triview would start such a discussion remains a mystery.
In response to the district manager’s report on public relations, the board discussed sales tax "leakage," the loss of sales tax revenue when residents buy online or purchase from businesses outside of district boundaries. This is of great concern because the sales tax revenue, which is the sole funding source for parks, open space, and road maintenance, must keep pace with the demands placed on the district by recent and future development; more houses mean more roads to maintain and repair, as well as more parks and open space to irrigate and manage.
McGrady confirmed that Triview and the Town of Monument are in the initial stages of deciphering whether they are capturing the full extent of online sales tax allowable. See www.ocn.me/v19n6.htm#tvmd.
Referring to Triview’s developing plan to attract commercial enterprises, President Mark Melville proposed that the district market its lifestyle amenities to tele-commuting professionals and their families. Director Anthony Sexton recommended that the district include small, family-owned businesses in its marketing focus.
McGrady reported on recent activities and other items:
• Installation of the 12-inch drinking water pipeline west of I-25 and east of Old Denver Road was completed and ready to be used. "This is a big deal," he remarked.
• The current total number of Triview-owned Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. renewable water shares is 1,057.
• Triview and Classic Homes combined efforts to plan a location for installing two wells in a new park that is planned to be built near Sanctuary Rim Drive. The park—with an estimated size of about 5 acres—would feature a dual-purpose building to house—and hide—the wells’ metering controls and provide restroom facilities.
• Triview and Goodwin-Knight are working on an infrastructure agreement for Home Place Ranch, the new development planned for the south side of Higby Road and north of Promontory Pointe. Both entities expected to attend the Sept. 16 Monument Board of Trustees meeting to apply for final plats of the 294 lots in Phase 1.
• Note: The ordinance regarding the Preliminary/Final PD Site Plan for Home Place Ranch Phase 1 at the Sept. 16 Monument BOT failed due to lack of a motion. See related Sept. 16 Monument BOT article on page 6.
• Work on the 2020 budget has begun.
Public works staff provide updates
Bateman’s comments included:
• Meters on the district’s lawnmowers revealed that mowing patterns and an established maintenance schedule were resulting in very efficient turf maintenance.
• Fourteen trees and 27 shrubs were replaced by district staff as opposed to a contractor, saving several thousand dollars. Director Sexton suggested that some locations are not conducive to certain vegetation and should be assessed prior to tree or shrub replacement.
• Winter road crews were preparing snowplow equipment for a dry run to ensure proper functioning prior to the first snowfall.
Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton stated:
• Water consumption in August 2019 was lower than consumption in August 2018 despite the addition of homes to the district and significantly expanded irrigation of the Preble’s jumping mouse habitat on the west side of JCP. Sexton surmised that improvements to the district-wide lawn irrigation system reduced Triview’s water consumption.
• GPS mapping of the district’s infrastructure should be complete by November.
• Staff continued to update the backflow prevention commercial inspection program and FOG (fats, oils, and grease) compliance. The district’s backflow prevention must be 100% compliant by December.
• The Water Department purchased a dump truck for utility projects and snowplowing.
At 6:36 p.m., the board entered executive session §24-6-402(4)(b)(e) legal advice, negotiations. OCN confirmed that no actions were taken nor decisions made following the executive session.
The next Triview board meetings are expected to be held at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16, Nov. 20, and Dec. 18. Check the district’s event calendar at www.triviewmetro.com/home or call 488-6868 for up-to-date meeting dates and times. Board meetings are held at the district office, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook, or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on Sept. 25 to discuss enforcement of a covenant policy on tall grass and to vote on a new policy for the employee handbook. Board member Bert Jean was absent.
Tall grass notices
Covenants director Tom Smith reported that WIA has delivered 175 "friendly" notices to residents whose property has tall grass and/or weeds. The board is trying to ensure that residents mow their properties so the grass does not become a danger when it dries out. Board members also noted that it improves appearances. Smith said the response has been generally amicable, and most properties have been bought into compliance. Those whose properties have not will receive a formal violation notice that will go through the normal covenant process. The next covenant hearing will be held on Oct. 16.
Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Chief Kevin Nielsen said the WPS officers who delivered the "friendly" notices found 85% of recipients to be receptive to the request. WIA received several calls, primarily from those who were not home when the notice was delivered. President Brian Bush commended residents for maintaining their property, noting that WIA cares about the appearance of the community.
Employee handbook updated
Safety Director Brad Gleason made a motion to adopt a new employee policy regarding reporting requirements for arrests, convictions, and other infractions. For example, if an employee is charged with a felony misdemeanor, they must notify the employer within 24 hours. An employer should be notified as soon as possible if an employee is involved in a traffic accident. The board unanimously passed this change to the employee handbook.
• Board member Lee Hanson reported that WIA is in good financial shape and is starting the 2020 budget process, and he asked for resident input. He noted that liens have been filed on 20 residents who have not paid their dues.
• Board member Tom Smith said that covenant violations are up 100% to 43; staff is working on addressing the violations.
• This reporter answered board questions on the upcoming 4A school bond issue.
• The deadline for nominating WIA board members is Nov. 30.
• The Safe Routes to School met on Sept. 27.
• The new addition for WPS should be complete for move-in toward the end of October.
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 Oct. 23.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
If you thought September was warm, you were right. In fact, the month broke several records including the warmest average September on record, supported by several daily record highs and a new all-time monthly record of 91 degrees on the 2nd. Not surprisingly given the warmth, the month was also drier than normal overall.
Hot conditions were the rule for the first five days of the month, with highs in the 80s each afternoon, peaking with the new monthly high of 91 on the 2nd. Most locations along the Front Range set record highs and monthly record highs on both of these days. The warmth also helped to prime the atmosphere with plenty of energy. This combined with late season monsoonal moisture to produce some brief heavy rainfall on several afternoons.
The strongest storms produced over a half inch in less than an hour during the midafternoon of the 4th. Brief thunderstorms produced areas of rainfall during the late afternoon of the 5th, then higher levels of moisture produced severe weather on the afternoon and early evening of the 6th. These storms produced more than an inch of rainfall in a short period, especially for areas along and west of I-25. The runoff from this rainfall was even more efficient because the rainfall during the previous days had saturated the ground. This meant significant street flooding and even some minor damage in some drainages. The next two afternoons continued to see rounds of thunderstorms and brief rainfall, then the pattern changed back to warm and dry.
No significant rainfall accumulated for the remainder of the month after the 9th. Temperatures were above normal almost every day, generally fluctuating between the 70s and low 80s. There were a few exceptions. Notably, a cold front moved through during the early evening hours on the 21st. Clear skies, a longer night, and a cooler air mass resulted in our first frost of the season on the morning of the 22nd. Low temperatures reached the low 30s in most locations just in time to start off fall. Another brief break in the record warmth occurred behind a weak cold front that switched winds around from the east/southeast. This allowed low clouds and fog to develop during the evening of the 27th. Temperatures were held down to the low 60s on the 28th as temperatures were slow to warm after morning low clouds and fog.
However, temperatures quickly warmed on the 29th and 30th, with highs back to record levels on the last day of the months, reaching the low 80s. The warm airmass was enhanced by strong southwesterly winds. This also helped exacerbate the fire weather conditions, and not surprisingly a fire broke out south of Salida. The southwest winds then brought the smoke plume right over our region during the afternoon and evening of the 30th. This provided us with a spectacular sunset to end the month.
A look ahead
October can be an active weather month for the region with our first snowy conditions often experienced. Most years, we seem to get a good snowfall around Halloween, and after a warm and dry September, we could use a wet and cold storm this year. Snow can be heavy at times during any part of October as when over 20 inches of snow fell Oct. 9-10 in 2005, and 2006 saw over 24 inches of snow fall in less than 24 hours on Oct. 26. Of course, the big storm some of us remember occurred during October 1997, when nearly 4 feet of snow and blizzard conditions shut everything down for several days. But we are just as likely to get mild and sunny conditions, so enjoy those sunny days when you can.
September 2019 Weather Statistics
Average High 77.8° (+6.9)
100-year return frequency value max 77.5° min 63.5°
Average Low 47.4° (+6.2)
100-year return frequency value max 46.7° min 36.1°
Monthly Precipitation 1.25" (-0.55")
100-year return frequency value max 4.34"min 0.40"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0" (-0.5")
Highest Temperature 91° on the 2nd
Lowest Temperature 33° on the 22nd
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (-0.5", 100% below normal)
Season to Date Precip. 8.55" (+0.48", 6% above normal)
Heating Degree Days 99 (-54)
Cooling Degree Days 28 (+40)
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
The El Paso County Planning Commission recommended for approval a preliminary plan request for the Abert Ranch subdivision in Black Forest at its Sept. 17 meeting. The commissioners also heard a presentation from Judy von Ahlefeldt about her proposal for a Prairie Necklace to connect areas of ungraded prairie in Colorado Springs and El Paso County.
Abert Ranch subdivision
The Planning Commission unanimously recommended for approval a preliminary plan request for the Abert Ranch subdivision. The 40.4-acre property, zoned RR-2.5 (residential rural), is located north of Hodgen Road, south of Silver Nell Drive, west of Steppler Road, and east of the Walden development. It is within the Northern Grasslands portion of the Black Forest Preservation Plan area. Once approved, the plan would authorize the development of 10 single-family lots and 3.85 acres of right of way.
The lots will be a minimum of 2.5 acres, with those at the eastern boundary being a minimum of 5 acres.
Access to the development will be through the Grandview and Settlers View developments. Emergency access is proposed to the south through the Settlers Ranch development with the expectation that this would become a county-owned and -maintained right-of-way in the future. Steppler Road north of Silver Nell Drive is currently a gravel road that has exceeded its designed capacity. County has determined that the addition of the Abert Ranch, Settlers View, and Settlers Ranch developments warrant this part of Steppler Road being upgraded to pavement. The Abert Ranch developer’s share of this cost is $24,605.
Water will be provided by individual wells and there will be individual onsite wastewater treatment systems. The State Engineer’s Office made a finding of water adequacy and the County Attorney’s Office recommended a finding of sufficiency for water quality and dependability.
The request is the first preliminary plan application the commissioners have heard since amendments to the county’s Land Development Code, most notably the subdivision regulations, came into effect on Sept. 1. The changes allow the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to delegate final plat approval to the executive director of Planning and Community Development, meaning such requests would be approved administratively rather than through the public hearing process. This can only happen if there have been findings for water sufficiency and adequate public improvements at the preliminary plan stage.
Earlier in the Sept. 17 meeting, Craig Dossey, executive director of Planning and Community Development, told the commissioners, "I expect you will see a lot more water sufficiency requests at the preliminary plan stage simply in the interest of trying to save time and money on the final plats. [It] cannot be stated enough that two hearings essentially on the final plat [are] costly, not only from a time perspective but also from the financial perspective of the developer for having to have their consultants at both hearings." He reassured the commissioners that if there were issues with a final plat request then it would not be resolved administratively but would go through the public hearing process.
The preliminary plan application is now due to be heard at the BOCC meeting on Oct. 8.
Prairie Necklace proposal
Von Ahfeldt, a landscape ecologist and long-time resident of Black Forest, presented her vision for A Prairie Necklace. She proposed joining disconnected patches of ungraded native prairie grassland to soften the urban-rural interface of the city and county to gently transition development into permanent open space to serve "for the movement of animals, for people to enjoy, for snow to drift, and just to help define borders." Noting that Colorado Springs has been creeping closer to Black Forest over time, von Ahlefeldt said, "It looks to me that there’s a necklace of prairie around Black Forest. The forest is a gem sitting in its own setting and so I think we’re at a critical time right now with the planning that’s been going on. … I think this is our last chance to do something." Although it would be a long-term project, she feels action needs to be taken now to save key pieces of land in developing areas. The necklace would then grow over time as areas are connected as development progresses.
She stressed that this could be achieved only by the city and county’s Planning Commissions, Planning Departments and the development community working together, and she urged for this to happen. Ahlefeldt can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
County master plan
Residents who wish to advocate for the Black Forest area may want to attend the Black Forest Area’s Master Plan Advisory Committee meeting, Oct. 9, 1 p.m., Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, 2880 International Circle, Ste. 110, Colorado Springs.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community are the responsibility of the letter writers and should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer.
See also the message to readers.
The letters this month are arranged in alphabetical order by the submitter’s last name.
It’s all about the kids!
Or is it? In the Feb. 3, 2018 issue of OCN (page 7), D38 board President Matthew Clawson reportedly said that after seeing the interior of Grace Best, he would not want his children attending there. And "bringing it up to code would be very expensive." Then why is the Grace Best School building being used for programs such as the Homeschool Academy, special needs transition students, the Robotics Club, farmers markets, etc.? What has our board president done, over the past four years, to ensure that Grace Best is safe for all community members utilizing the facility if it’s not up to code? Was President Clawson more interested in getting plans to build a new school than getting plans to fix up Grace Best for a fraction of the cost?
Is this really proven conservative leadership we trust?
Vote "yes" on question 4A
Question 4A is clearly stated. By voting for the Lewis-Palmer District 38 proposed bond, you will vote for constructing and equipping a new elementary school in the Jackson Creek subdivision. Due to the growing population, overcrowding in schools is the single issue for this bond election. The need to expand school facilities has increased. A bond for a new elementary school will enable District 38 to continue to maintain its high levels of educational programming. District 38 has long been known for its pursuit of excellence in serving students and community in safe and aesthetically pleasing facilities which also utilize form that enhances student curiosity, engaging activities, and intellectually stimulating curriculum and instruction. As patrons and voters in this community, we have an opportunity, if not a civic duty, to future generations to support this pursuit of excellence. Please join me and vote yes on Question 4A for the construction and equipping of a new elementary school in Jackson Creek.
Dwight (Ted) Bauman
On teacher compensation and Bond Issue 4A
To address a concern raised by the community, I am writing about teacher compensation in relation to voting yes on 4A, the bond to open a new elementary school in Jackson Creek and reopen Creekside Middle School. Yes, it is correct that a bond does not address the issue of competitive teacher compensation in D38. That issue resulted from dropping funding at the state level and can only be solved locally through a mill levy override, which is not in front of us right now. Teachers in D38 know they can make more in neighboring districts but also know this to be true: We’re not demanding more compensation at this time. What we want is two middle schools, to properly utilize the building now called Bear Creek Elementary, to properly utilize Lewis-Palmer Middle School, and to return to the 6-8 grade middle school model. So, if you truly want to support teachers as claimed in every other editorial, then vote "yes" on 4A.
LPSD 38 needs Matthew Clawson
We strongly support Matthew Clawson’s re-election to the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 school board due to his conservative and principled leadership, great support for students and teachers, perspective on advancing the district, and his work to move the district forward in accommodating needs created by growth in the Tri-Lakes area.
He is vested in maintaining our schools at the high levels of performance they currently enjoy. As a Monument resident for the past 10 years and a D-38 parent himself, Matt personally knows the value of our excellent LPSD schools and is committed to working with all stakeholders to continue the district’s stellar legacy. His integrity, work ethic, and legal background present a perfect skill set for ensuring the district gets its bang for our taxpayer dollars.
Since being elected, he has created a balanced budget, prioritized teacher compensation, responded to community input, hired the new superintendent, and championed LPSD through its successes and challenges. Our district needs his continued leadership.
Please join us in voting for Matthew Clawson for LPSD 38 School Board on the November ballot!
Chris and Shyrlene Brooks
Matt Clawson for school board
When we moved to the Springs area 19 years ago, our number one consideration in purchasing a home was the quality of the schools our children would attend, and District 38 was an easy decision. Our children have received a first-rate education due to the outstanding schools and teachers in this district. We believe that to sustain this quality of education there is once more a clear decision—supporting Matt Clawson for school board. As a teacher now myself in the trenches of D38, I have seen firsthand the importance of strong school board leadership who will rise above political acrimony and put students first. Matt Clawson has succeeded very well at this. He is a calm, data-driven, effective, and highly ethical professional, and will provide the leadership necessary to keep our neighborhood schools, charter school, and homeschool academy strong. We strongly endorse Matt Clawson as the best candidate for keeping District 38 as a leading light in Colorado education.
Kara and Bill Busath
The unmeasured costs of an overcrowded middle school
When discussing bond issue 4A, it must be noted that not all costs can be measured in dollars. After soliciting responses from teachers, here is a sample of those costs that can’t be measured:
• We may have to go to one-way halls by the end of the year for safety. The halls just are not big enough.
• The lines for bathrooms and water fountains are so long that teachers are taking learning time to ensure students meet their basic needs.
• There is not enough room at dismissal. Students have to swim to the other sides of the building to get everything they need. Most exit doors cannot be used due to the modulars.
• There are so many kids that our arts and athletics programs cannot properly serve them all.
• Learning at the middle school directly affects a student’s success in high school and beyond. 34-plus kids in a class means, despite best efforts, not every kid will get the attention they need or deserve.
• 18 Lewis-Palmer Middle School staff left at the end of last year. They did not leave with only their expertise but also their knowledge of the community and kids. It takes years to build familiarity—it can’t just be replaced. There are already concerns we will experience it again this year if another middle school is not opened in Jackson Creek.
The bottom line is that opposition to the passage of this bond is literally telling students that their education and preparation for life are not important. That their experience in their most formative years is nothing compared to saving money. We are telling kids, "You just aren’t worth the cost." If you need to know more, ask a teacher.
Vote Matthew Clawson for school board
Our school district is amazing! Last month, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 received another award: Accredited with Distinction by the State of Colorado, which is equivalent to an A-plus performance. This success and others are tied to our community support, parents, and dedicated teachers/staff and team members. It’s been my honor to serve our community as board director/president while achieving our goals of creating top-notch student education and managing district resources judiciously. I plan on continuing this tradition of excellence upon re-election by delivering the following:
Top-notch education—Strong schools create strong communities and successful individuals. We must continue to prioritize what our kids need to succeed in the classroom and after graduation.
Accountable to you—Stakeholders should have a say and know how their money is spent. We should focus our dollars on teachers and classrooms, not bureaucracy and administration. We’ve balanced the budget for four years and paid off all operational debt. We must invest in the future by focusing on high student achievement with available resources.
Support our teachers—Teachers are central to student achievement and growth. Our kids must be the focus of district policies, decisions, and programs. Teacher compensation should be a continued top priority.
Retain local control—Increased local control ensures citizens in our community decide what our students are taught, not someone from outside our district. Our curriculum should be based on the values of our community, not those of another jurisdiction.
Seek community and parent input—My goal is the continued success of LPSD38! This requires listening to parent, student, teacher/administrative, and taxpayer communities. An ongoing engagement process ensures these community voices are reflected in policy-level deliberations.
As board director, I bring my business, technology, and legal expertise to bear in the policy development process. It would be my honor to continue to serve this community.
Listen to our teachers
With the continued growth in our area, we are now at a crossroads where we must decide how to support our school district with bond measure 4A. By voting yes for the bond, we can fund the building of a much-needed elementary school in Jackson Creek, allowing the current Bear Creek Elementary to be reconverted back to a middle school.
This letter is a plea to the community to take advantage of efforts by our local leaders to educate us about 4A. After reviewing growth data from experts, our school board voted 5-0 to put this bond on the ballot. Two of our duly elected board members have organized sessions where community members can learn and ask questions about the bond and its financing. Strong D38 Community, which consists of named volunteers, runs a website which provides additional information (www.strongd38.com). Our teachers are speaking out on how the growth impacts their classrooms. Check out tltalks.com/lp-educators/ to hear podcasts from them, or even better ask a teacher directly. If you look to these sources, you will receive accurate data that has been sourced and reviewed, and where authorship is known.
In contrast, you may find information from those opposed to easing the overcrowding in our schools that is unsourced, anonymous, and written to create a strong emotional reaction—in other words, propaganda. One example is the misleading ad that came out in last month’s OCN. There were various statements presented as facts without acknowledgement of where the data came from or who wrote or funded the ad. Our community encountered similar tactics last year when anonymous signs, websites, and handouts were distributed.
As a community, we need to ignore these divisive tactics that sow doubt and discord. Let’s listen to the experts—most importantly, our teachers—and vote yes on 4A.
Karin De Angelis
The right man for the job
I first want to establish my credentials as a School District 38 stakeholder! I have had eight kids graduate from District 38 schools, and still have five currently enrolled. My kids attended all D-38 schools, except for Prairie Winds, to include Monument Academy, some home schooling, and SPED programs. I taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy, was a soccer coach, and have lived in our community since 1988. I know that throughout the years school board members were instrumental in guiding D-38 towards academic excellence.
I also believe that this tradition of achieving the best for our kids would be continued with Adam Cupp as a school board member! Like a ship being steered through stormy seas and crashing waves, we need someone steady and calm at the helm. Adam is the father of three young children and is a devoted husband. He is an aerospace engineer who has done the logistics and long-term cost planning for multimillion-dollar projects impacting our country’s security. He is cool, calm, and focused. More importantly, he knows how to work as a member of a team, building consensus and striving for positive outcomes in challenging situations. He sees the best in people and his bottle is always half full and never half empty. He’s a great listener. As the man who married my daughter, I know Adam to make good life choices! He is punctual, reliable, patient, and honest. Best of all—in these times of serious faces and negative political dialogue—he has a wonderful sense of humor that keeps a consistent smile on his face. Adam Cupp is right for the D-38 school board and our academic community.
Matt Clawson for re-election
I am writing to encourage our community to vote for Matthew Clawson for re-election to the school board. I served with Mr. Clawson for two years. In our time together, I found Mr. Clawson to be genuine, honest, and thorough. Before making decisions, Mr. Clawson would seek input from the community as well as from those who the decision would impact the most. He recognizes the challenges we face and, after having been on the board for four years, he understands the board’s role in tackling these challenges. With the unfunded requirements that come from the state to the growth our community is seeing, Mr. Clawson is a proven leader and has strategies he can use with the board to meet these demands.
Moms for Matt Clawson
As a mom of four current students in D38, I stand behind Matt Clawson for the D38 Board of Education. I am deeply concerned with policies that are passed that now do or can affect our kids. I am very grateful that D38 is one of the districts, if not the only district, that has passed a resolution opposing House Bill 19-1032 Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education, as it violates the Colorado Constitution by usurping local control over curriculum. Whether you agree with this bill or not, the point is we, as members of D38, should have control over our kids’ curriculum instead of the state forcing us to adopt their vision. I know that Matt Clawson is dedicated, invested, and willing to continue to protect and fight for the interests and values of our community, and I believe every mom wants that!
Why does my education tax rate keep decreasing?
D38’s tax rate has decreased annually since 2012, including this year’s reduction of 0.624 to 43.985 (23.164 operating mills + 7.789 MLO rate + 13.032 bond redemption). For comparison, Cheyenne Mountain D12’s rate was 55.0 (25% higher than ours). During this same period local metro districts, water districts, and towns have increased or maintained constant rates (resources 1 and 2 below).
The rate we pay has decreased because D38’s operating mills are set by the state and constant at 23.164, but as the Tri-Lakes population grows, more residents pay toward the MLO and bond redemption, reducing the rate we each pay individually. The result is that our rate decreases and we pay toward education at a much lower rate than comparable districts. Maybe that’s surprising. It amazed me given the rhetoric often directed at the district.
Understanding the context of these numbers matters because our area is growing. A bond vote this fall proposes to build a school while keeping the D38 tax rate virtually the same next year (projected at 44.289), after which the rate again decreases in following years (resource 3).
If you’re wondering about property taxes, estimate next year’s tax by multiplying: 2019 property value by 0.0715 residential assessment rate by 0.044289. The rate effectively is unchanged due to the residential assessment rate decrease to 7.15%. (For commercial property, use 29% assessment rate—no change from this year.)
This fall’s bond vote is our opportunity to support students, educators, and our community with minimal impact to each of us individually. As a community we can do this by supporting the bond when we get our ballots this month.
1. County Mill Rates 2015-2019: https://bit.ly/2m7pTm4
2. D38 Mill Certification 2019 (slide 23): https://bit.ly/2m5qk0A
3. D38 Bond Payoff https://bit.ly/2krb9hy
Why this teacher supports Matt Clawson
We have known Matthew Clawson for almost 10 years. He has been wonderful member of the school board who has watched out for our students and teachers. I feel like he is well-connected to the community and strives to build positive relationships with people. He listens and cares about what stakeholders have to say about the school system. He is truly present in each conversation that he has with each person. He makes sacrifices on a consistent basis to ensure that he is giving the school district the time and energy it needs to be successful. He is open-minded and willing to listen to new ideas. He wants to see each student succeed. Our community would greatly benefit from his continued dedicated service on the school board.
"Yes" on 4A for a strong community
I don’t have any children attending Lewis-Palmer District 38 schools, but I strongly support 4A as a taxpayer, homeowner, community member, and retired educator. The proposed bond won’t substantially increase our taxes but will build a much-needed new elementary school. This will reduce overcrowding in our existing schools, allowing for low student-teacher ratios and creating safer school environments. Strong, safe, quality schools mean higher property values. And, of course, quality education is the foundation for engaged and productive citizens. Voting "yes" on 4A is a vote for a strong community!
D38 still not listening: Vote "no" on school bond
D38 once again is attempting to waste taxpayer dollars by passing a school bond that was soundly rejected only last year. It’s not that the language was confusing or you didn’t provide an explanation, taxpaying homeowners simply don’t believe it’s necessary.
How about forcing local builders to pay more of the eventual costs (new schools) of their continued homebuilding? Their current minimal fees leave longtime residents the burden of paying for any increased infrastructure. In addition to community growth, the other reason accounting for student growth is the Colorado law allowing open enrollment.
D38 can close enrollment to children outside the district if there is no space, which they did this year. Building a new school will provide more seats and enrollment will then be reopened. "If you build it, they will come." But why should homeowners of D38 continually underwrite the costs of education for outsiders, whose parents pay nothing for that quality education?
And to claim a $29 million bond is "cost neutral" is outright deceit. Santa Claus is not funding this school. The bond is structured with miniscule payments in early years and huge payments at the end. Additionally, it does not include salaries or operating costs. What D38 also forgets to mention is if the bond fails, your taxes would decrease substantially because two prior bonds are being paid off. This is exactly why it should not pass again. We don’t trust you when you don’t tell the full story.
I’m sure the D38 board members mean well in their attempts to advance the education of our children. But taking the easy way out by unnecessarily extending taxes is not going to cut it. Find another way or step aside and allow someone else who will. No one is anti-education, only pro-fiscal efficiency.
Patrick J. Kiernan
Why I support Matthew Clawson
I am writing this letter in support of candidate Matthew Clawson for Board of Education president. I have had the pleasure of working with Mr. Clawson’s daughter and have had the chance to get to know the Clawsons personally as parents, as well as community members.
As a teacher who lives and works in our beautiful community, I have heard the heartfelt concerns of my friends, neighbors, and co-workers. These concerns hold deep meaning for me and directly affect my students, my livelihood, and my community, so I do not endorse candidates lightly nor am I politically motivated!
I believe Mr. Clawson will continue to utilize his knowledge and experience as a parent, community leader, and businessman to best serve our children and our community. We need a leader who has the foresight and integrity to face the issues and do what’s best for our children. I know Matt Clawson is that visionary leader who has demonstrated that he truly cares for all of us and has the best interests of our children, teachers, and community at heart!
Matt Clawson has my vote and I hope that others will join me in re-electing him as our BOE president once more!
Here we go again
After getting soundly defeated in the election last year, the Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education is trying to push a lame bond issue down our throats again. I guess they think that no one will be watching in an "off-year election."
So, I need to ask again, why would anyone in their right mind give these people a blank check? Their history of waste is clear to those who look at the history of this board. They appear to be at the beck and call of the teachers union. We should concentrate on replacing this school board—and starting over.
Paul J. Lambert
Matthew Clawson, qualified to serve kids and community
I am writing in support of Matthew Clawson to serve another term on the School Board.
In a time when fiscal and ethical accountability seem lacking in society at large, at least on the political spectrum, we are fortunate to have someone in our community willing to share his talents and abilities and demonstrate his integrity in our behalf. Matt has helped guide the district in fiscal matters, local control, and increased transparency. He has not succumbed to the pressure from the state’s overreach in mandating curriculum to our district. We as members of our district should be able to determine the needs of our students and teach curriculum that best fits those needs. I have known Matt for many years and am personally grateful for his willingness to serve us, to listen and to act in our behalf. He has the support of teachers, staff, and many parents and is very qualified to lead us in these trying times. Please join me in voting for Matt Clawson to serve on our School Board.
Critical thinking and dreams
We ask our youth to be critical thinkers and yet we rarely provide them with real-life examples. In understanding what the upcoming school bond is about, we all need to be thinking critically. First, it would be useful to go to original sources like those found on the district and state websites. Second, it would be useful to consult multiple sources for differing opinions. Regarding the second, please keep in mind that those who differ with the district’s proposal have frequently changed their positions.
Simply put, some will oppose anything that the school district proposes. Originally some opposed the idea of building two new elementary schools, though projections indicate we will need them. When the board conservatively voted to pursue building one elementary and returning Bear Creek to a middle school, the opposition retorted that we should be building two elementary schools and by the way, they don’t like the way the bond is structured.
Let’s be clear. Our elected board members are volunteers who live in our district, pay property taxes here and in most cases have children who attend school here. Why would board members do anything to harm their own interests? Where is the logic in that?
Finally, we should all recall what adding a second high school did for our community. There are now two full arts programs, athletic programs, and a wider variety of academic courses. We have doubled a student’s chances to dream of being the star quarterback or the lead soloist. The outcome has been state championships and accomplished, well-rounded students at both schools. Let’s do our best to help our elementary and middle school students have the finest school experience that we as a community can provide. Please vote for 4A.
Vote for Clawson and for 4A
I will be voting to re-elect Matt Clawson to the D38 Board of Education. Currently serving as board president, Matt’s vast experience and mature leadership have led the district well for the past four years. The Colorado Department of Education continues to rank D38 among the top districts in Colorado for educating kids, and I’d like to see that continue. A strong advocate for school choice and for all kids in the district, Matt is the perfect choice to lead District 38 as it continues on this path to success.
I will also vote "yes" on Issue 4A to approve a specific, single-purpose bond to build a District 38 elementary school in the Jackson Creek community. Building this elementary will enable the district to convert Bear Creek back to a middle school. This would complete the long-held plan to return to a two-middle school configuration. It will also alleviate the overcrowding that plagues the district and currently mandates the use of modular classrooms. While modulars may provide an adequate teaching environment, they are not hardened like our school buildings are. Thus, they do not provide the protection for students and staff that is, unfortunately, necessary in today’s reality. 4A will allow D38 to provide a safer and more secure educational environment for all students and staff.
District 38 has a long and treasured history of leading the state in educational excellence. It has turned out top-notch students and citizens for decades. Let’s keep it that way!
Join me and vote for Matt Clawson, and vote "yes" on 4A.
Advancing the excellence of Monument Academy
Monument Academy, D38’s public charter school, has been a gift for my family.
My oldest child enrolled in 2009 when the current building was 1 year old. I chose MA for the curriculum, including Cursive First, Saxon Math, and Core Knowledge. I am most grateful for the opportunity to have a choice in my children’s public-school education in Lewis-Palmer District 38. A choice that has enabled my children to learn from highly dedicated, involved, and amazing teachers across every grade level at Monument Academy.
The current board of parent volunteers and administration at MA are working tirelessly on our new school campus, opening August 2020. MA is fortunate to have strong leadership during this period of growth and opportunity. I am excited for this new campus with its stunning and accessible location. Our community and school district will benefit from this new school. Our area needs solutions from many avenues to address our growth. I am fully confident our MA school board and administration will lead responsibly as the charter school does its part to help this community grow.
D38 bond and school board election
Eight months ago, I said I wanted to find out the truth about D38. What I found is that anyone can go to the Lewis-Palmer D38 website and click on "2019 Bond Info" and see factual information for themselves regarding the proposed bond, Grace Best concerns, student enrollment, how much the proposed bond would affect your property taxes, and many more questions you might have. I encourage you to be informed and go to this site.
I have attended D38 and MA school board meetings, and I have also met personally with Adam Cupp. Adam’s campaign manager made it clear to me this was a political race to them. I can say without a doubt I support Matt Clawson to be re-elected to the board. Matt runs meetings in a professional manner but never forgets it really is all about the kids. I also support Ron Schwarz. Ron is from this community. If you "follow the money," Ron gets donations for his campaign from voters in D38. Ryan Graham has received substantial donations from people who do not live in the district. Why? It makes me wonder.
Personally, I have walked through Lewis-Palmer Middle School and seen the issues there, met with people I agree with as well as people who have different perspectives from mine, and viewed the information on the D38 website. I have done my homework. As a senior citizen, retired, and living on a fixed income, I choose to support the D38 bond this fall. Additionally, I choose to support Matt Clawson and Ron Schwarz. As someone who has spent the time to learn the truth, I can tell you that voting yes on 4A is exactly the right thing to do for kids and this community.
Why I continue to support Matthew Clawson
I want to take a few moments to explain why I am continuing to lend my personal and professional support for the re-election of former D38 President Mr. Matthew Clawson to the Lewis-Palmer District 38 school board.
As a former high school educator, I currently hold a Colorado Teacher License, working with a five-year substitute authorization, as a substitute teacher for D38. Over the past four years, I have had several opportunities to speak with Mr. Clawson, regarding some of my professional concerns. He treats me with the utmost respect, listening patiently, taking my professional concerns to heart and then following through with an encouraging and proactive response. I am happy to report that there have been multiple increases in daily pay for substitutes over the past four years, finally bringing it over minimum wage.
As a parent of five children (two are LPHS graduates), I wholeheartedly support Mr. Clawson’s desire to keep control of the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 on a local level, especially when it comes to supporting school choice and Monument Academy. Balancing the budget and controlling the operational debt, all while maintaining the high educational standards of our district, is an impressive record—one that speaks for itself. To date, Mr. Matthew Clawson has done a fabulous job for our D38 teachers and students, and I would appreciate being able to see his work continue for another term.
Matthew Clawson is my choice for D38
I am supporting Matthew Clawson in the upcoming school board election. As a D38 teacher, parent, and member of the community, I know we need someone who has experience with the rigor this position requires and understands the complexity of our community and the varying positions and opinions that are part of us. Matthew has proven himself a calming force while serving our community as a school board member since 2015. He is intelligent, genuine, and works tirelessly for our schools.
Matthew is passionate about the children in our community and wants to see D38 continue to deliver the high level of education it is known for. For Matt it is "All About the Kids." He has worked to make sure teachers as well as parents and students feel like they have a voice and he has accomplished this by listening and gathering input about what works as well as what does not work for our district.
I hope you will join me in giving Matt your vote on Nov. 5, 2019.
Why our kids and community need Matthew Clawson
I have had the honor of teaching as well as raising three children in District 38 over 15 years. During this time, I have witnessed students receiving an exceptional education. District 38 is a top-performing school district in the state because of committed board members, educators, community members, and families who hold education in the highest regard. The considerable value we place on our children’s education reflects who we are as a community. Successful school districts are led by individuals with a selfless commitment of educating our students and preparing them for life. I have been fortunate to know Matt not only as a board member but as a parent. Matt is a devoted father, an accomplished attorney, and a strong youth advocate. Serving on the school board since 2015, Matt has been a sound decision-maker in a complex system. Matt Clawson has a proven track record in which he has been paramount in making sure Lewis-Palmer remains one of the top school districts in Colorado. Our kids and community need Matt’s experience as a D38 school board member. I believe Matt will continue to empower school leaders, advocate for teachers, and serve our community while relentlessly supporting our students.
D38 student estimates wrong
The D38 School Board seems befuddled on their bad estimates of student numbers for 2019.
The State of Colorado budgets over $8,100 per student to school districts.
The D38 2019 budget estimate for student enrollment seems higher than actual enrollment by 138 students, as of their data of Sept. 9.
The D38 budget left to our school district with the departure of our old superintendent and chief financial officer seems at this time over $1 million in shortfall, not just for State of Colorado funding, but also more shortfalls TBD per student funds, from other government sources.
What is very worrisome is that our current D38 School Board seems to not be providing the expected and required oversight to preclude such large errors in student and associated funding.
In fact, it calls into question the fiscal oversight capabilities of every D38 School Board director to successfully do the job they were elected to perform.
Our financial future is at risk from a lack of oversight of current D38 elected directors.
Lewis-Palmer School District and your property taxes
How will property taxes change if District 38 builds a new elementary school? If history is an indicator, taxes will stay about the same. We moved into our home in Woodmoor in 1996 (a new build). Here’s what I found with my analysis of our property taxes from 1996-2018:
• Property value increased 89%
• Total property tax increased 7%
• D38 General tax increased 15%
• D38 Bond tax decreased 19%
• Total D38 school tax (Gen plus Bond) increased 2%
Much of the property tax increase was due to the increased fire protection approved by voters in 2017.
During the same time period (1996-2018), District 38 built Prairie Winds Elementary, Creekside Middle, and Palmer Ridge High School. The district also built a bus barn and renovated the administration building.
Property taxes remained low because old bonds are often paid off when new bonds start. As the district grows, there are more property taxes being collected. The sole purpose of the new $28.985 million bond is to build and equip an elementary school in Jackson Creek on land that the district already owns. The district’s reserve funds were used to build the bus barn and update Big Red. Reserve funds will be used to convert Bear Creek Elementary back to a middle school if the voters pass the bond.
There’s no denying that our district continues to grow. Pupil count has increased by 552 students since the 2015-16 school year, and 578 new homes were built in 2016 and 2017. Almost 500 vacant lots zoned for homes remain. Schools are crowded, class sizes have grown, and three schools installed portable classrooms over the summer.
Examine your taxes, gather the facts, and vote "yes" for a new elementary school—we can’t wait.
Marie Revak, Ph.D.
Vote for change
The conservative community with a liberal board—"How is that working out?" That’s what someone asked me in the halls of the Golden Dome of Denver years ago. Yet many continue to follow the advice of the certain beloved members of our community in choosing our School Board representatives. And the result? A board that makes decisions that don’t reflect the values of this community. A board this community is not willing to put its money behind because it can’t be trusted. A board that is willing to spend our taxpayer money to hide, subvert, and cover up rather than be transparent and honest about district mistakes and would rather ask us for money than exercise conservative values in its financial decision making. (Modulars are not lawn ornaments, they must have kids in them to justify a bond/MLO!) We learned just having one conservative on the board was not enough—we need three. We thought we did that last election; we now know the kind of representation and decision making we get with Clawson’s and Pfoff’s picks (local control should not mean controlling the locals!)
It’s time for a change. My vote is for Adam Cupp and Ryan Graham. It’s a good thing our school board elections are non-partisan, because voting along party lines could get you candidates that don’t represent traditional conservative values! I have seen what happens behind closed doors—there is a reason they won’t release the tapes. Your only hope is in your vote. It’s your choice! Reward this behavior? Or vote for change?
MA’s new school provides new seats in D38
Monument Academy (MA) is building a secondary school for 800-plus middle school/high school students. This new school will quickly and cost-effectively solve capacity challenges as Phase 1 is complete in 10 months!
MA’s two schools will alleviate seating challenges locally. How? With 800-plus new seats, there will be room for hundreds more District 38 students. Further, the added capacity will free up over 300-plus elementary seats at the current MA school.
Here is the math: 300-plus new elementary plus new 500-plus middle/high school seats = 800-plus brand new school seats.
By freeing up 300-plus new elementary seats, local parents who want their children in MA will now have that option. 300-plus new elementary seats also free up elementary seats at other District 38 schools. MA’s 800-seat secondary school plus an added 300-plus new elementary seats at the current MA school provide an immediate cost-effective and high-quality education solution.
The cost in new property taxes is zero. Let that sink in. 800-plus new seats and no property tax increase.
The total cost for 4A is $45 million, including debt and interest. 4A adds only 650 new seats. $45 million divided by 650 seats = $70,000/seat. Taxpayers know paying zero in new taxes for 800-plus new seats is a much better deal than $70,000/seat. Why does District 38 falsely claim their plan is not a tax increase? Of course, $45 million in new debt (which has a 350% increase in payments starting year 11 and going forward and $9 million in excessive interest) requires new taxes. 4A reduces the number of elementary seats from 950 down to 650—a 300-seat loss of elementary capacity!
MA’s new school continues educational excellence and maintains property values. The 4A bond unnecessarily increases debt/taxes and hurts local businesses, homeowners, working families, and retirees.
Scott R. Saunders
Schwarz announces candidacy
I’m writing you this letter to announce my candidacy for the District 38 Board of Education during this November’s election.
After being asked by several members of the community to seek this position, I embarked on face-to-face meetings with: four former D38 superintendents, two D38 high school principals, student body teams from each high school, and dozens of teachers and members of the community. Following this process, I determined that I could make an impact and deliver lasting results in solving some of the challenges D38 faces. This decision was not taken lightly as it is a significant time commitment for a volunteer position.
The bottom line is to keep doing what works well, fix what isn’t, and to build and execute a plan that gives the district the capacity to be successful well into the future. As we know the students’ success is our future.
Quality graduates = quality contributors to our community and country.
I am a 27-year Monument resident with two adult children and have been active in community service, youth sports, scouting and the USAFA Cadet Sponsor Program (20-plus years). I have over three decades of corporate experience and have managed large teams with accountability in excess of $200 million. Building consensus and unity from diverse factions is a skill I can bring to the board. Currently, I’m a leader of a local veterans’ nonprofit called VSAV. I plan to use my skills to build teams that get things done and my values of integrity and excellence to help our district generate lasting student success.
I look forward to serving the students of our community so they can become quality citizens of and contributors to our country.
2019 Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Bond—a "pro" statement
Before the Nov. 5 deadline, registered voters within the bounds of LPSD 38 will have an opportunity to cast a vote "for" or "against" 4A—the LPSD 38 bond. It is a privilege each of us should be grateful for as we seek enough understanding before casting our individual vote. As stated in my previous letters to the editor of OCN, the LPSD 38 Board of Education ("Board") provides construction and bond cost estimates on the LPSD 38 website: https://www.lewispalmer.org/domain/1470. Please view it from a critical-thinking perspective as you determine your support for the 2019 bond.
Today, I want to share some personal perspectives gained as I have served as the treasurer of the board during the previous two years. The 2019 bond, which will fund the construction and furnishing of a new elementary school in Jackson Creek, is modeled on fiscally conservative financial principles. As proposed, the 2019 bond will not increase the mill levy on assessed property values and will be paid off in 15 years.
The new elementary school proposed at Jackson Creek was included in the 2001 long-range plan. It should have been approved for construction two years ago, which would have prevented the expense of adding modular units for the current school year. However, there are voices in our community that use highly charged rhetoric to convince voters to not support the public-school system in LPSD 38. As a result, we have overcrowding at the middle school, which places undue constraints and stress on staff, students, and teachers.
Please set aside any personal partisanship as you study the information presented to inform your vote this year. I plead with this community to support its public-school system by voting "for" the 2019 bond. Thanks for your interest!
Adam Cupp: D38 School Board candidate and man of integrity
I would like to take a moment to talk to you about Mr. Adam Cupp, who is running for the District 38 School Board in November 2019. Mr. Cupp is a truthful, honest, and hard-working man who loves God and loves his family. He is a man of integrity and is one of the most honest people that I know. I am a co-worker of Mr. Cupp’s and can testify that he is a man of good morals, integrity, and character, and has an excellent work ethic. To have people like him on the School Board would be a wonderful addition to the board and a wonderful addition to the community.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Books + friendship = book club."—Kristin Hannah
Book clubs are busy this year reading some great books. Here are just a few:
The Secrets We Kept
By Lara Prescott (Knopf Publishing Group) $26.95
Inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda but with the book Doctor Zhivago; this is a thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, of sacrifice, and of the power of the written word. At the height of the Cold War, two CIA secretaries are given the mission to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dares publish it, and help make its way into print around the world. It combines the longtime affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya—who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago’s heroine, Lara—with the narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk.
The Red Address Book
By Sofia Lundberg (Mariner Books) $15.99
Ninety-six-year-old Doris writes down memories of her eventful life as she pages through her decades-old address book. But the most profound moment of her life is still to come. In writing down the stories of her colorful past—working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of World War II—can she help Jenny unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? A charming novel that prompts reflection on the stories we all should carry to the next generation, and the surprises in life that can await even the oldest among us.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
By Taylor Jenkins Reid (Simon & Schuster) $17
Aging, reclusive legendary film actress Evelyn Hugo is ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. She chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job. Monique listens in fascination as Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel real connection to Evelyn, but as the story nears its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter
By Hazel Gaynor (William Morrow & Co.) $16.99
Inspired by true events, this sweeping historical novel explores how our past shapes our present and what it truly means to be courageous. Taking place in 1838 with Grace Darling and in 1938 with Matilda Emmerson, two women living a century apart will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.
A Place for Us
By Fatima Farheen Mirza (Sjp for Hogarth) $17
As an Indian wedding gathers a family together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their three children have made. What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.
By John Williams (New York Review of Books) $14.95
William Stoner, born at the end of the 19th century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family, sent to the state university, falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. He emerges not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.
The Little French Bistro
By Nina George (Broadway Books) $16
Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After 41 years, she decides to leave her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, known as "the end of the world." She meets a cast of colorful, unforgettable locals, who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life’s small moments. This is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.
"Books don’t just go with you; they take you where you’ve never been."—Anonymous
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff of Covered Treasures can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
All Pikes Peak Reads for 2019 has begun, featuring books exploring the themes of crossings, peace, multiculturalism, identity, friendship, and memory. The featured title for adults is TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. The title for children and teens is Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh. An additional title is the poetry collection Citizen Illegal by Jose Olivarez. All authors will visit the district during October and November, and many book clubs will be discussing the books as well. Stop by the library to pick up a list of events.
Regularly occurring children’s programs include Book Break on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 to 11, Story Time on Tuesdays from 10:30 to 11:15, and Toddler Time on Thursdays at 9:30 and 10:30. Paws to Read is on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 5.
There will be two programs for home-school families in October. From 1:30 to 2:30 on Oct. 14 is Colorado’s Migration Story, exploring the movement of people across the state from prehistory until 1870. These people include various native groups, miners, and Hispanics, among others. Recommended for ages 6 to 12, the program includes artifacts, photographs, and maps.
The second, from 1:30 to 2:30 on Oct. 28, is Candy Chemistry. Try fun experiments with Skittles, try to sink a marshmallow, and find out why Pop Rocks pop. Recommended for ages 7 to 12.
LEGO Build will be on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 10 to 11:30. Come build to your heart’s content with our large collection.
In anticipation of Halloween, come to the library on Saturday, Oct. 26 from 10:30 to 11:30 to decorate baby pumpkins with paint and glue. Pumpkins are provided.
Teen and Tween programs
Each Wednesday from 3 to 5 in the study room, all are welcome to share in All Ages Knitting. Practice materials are provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own projects.
Teens and Tweens are invited to Study Break Bingo on Tuesday, Oct. 8 from 3:30 to 4:30. There will be snacks and prizes! No registration needed, just drop in and bring your friends!
Every Monday from 3:30 to 7, drop by for free math tutoring courtesy of AfterMath. Experienced adult tutors are available to help with all levels of math. AfterMath follows the D38 schedule.
At Teens Make Tuesday, on Oct. 15, you can use wire, fake flowers, cloth, and other supplies to make animal ears or flower crowns. Let the library help accessorize your costume! Registration required.
On Thursday, Oct. 17 we will have two sessions of Live Action Clue for ages 9 to 18. In this live version of the classic board game, participants will do their best to solve the mystery before their peers. The first session is from 4 to 5 and the second is from 5:30 to 6:30. Registration is required.
Ages 12 to 18 are invited to experience the Haunted High Escape Room on Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 4:30 to 5:30. In 1953, Haunted High School was forced to close its doors due to odd occurrences around the school. Upon later investigation, all of these events were linked to a strange box that randomly appeared in the home room of Eunice Lugosi. A similar box will be in your room today. Can you open the box and break the curse? Registration required.
The Paper Tigers Origami Club will meet on Friday, Oct. 25 from 4:15 to 5:30. Connie Stanton teaches this monthly class with new designs every month. Open to adults and teens of all skill levels. Registration is preferred but not required.
On Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 4 to 5:30, join El Paso County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly for a fascinating look at the science behind Forensic Pathology and how it is used to identify someone, determine a cause of death, and solve crimes. Dr. Kelly is one of only 500 forensic pathologists in the country.
See above for descriptions of All Ages Knitting and Paper Tigers Origami. Free beginning yoga classes are held each Thursday from noon to 1. Adults are also welcome to the Forensic Pathology program.
Seniors are invited each Wednesday from 10 to noon for Senior Chats. Share a cup of coffee and conversation in this casual group.
The Life Circles Writing Group will meet on from 9:30 to 11:30 Mondays, Oct. 7 and 21, to write memories of life experiences.
The Monumental Bookworms will meet from 7 to 8:30 on Tuesday, Oct. 8 to discuss Learning to See by Elise Hooper. No reservation is required to attend this monthly book club.
The Second Thursday craft on Oct. 10 from 2 to 4 is Faux Taxidermy Insects. Make a faux-taxidermy insect plaque using plastic insects, wooden plaques, and paint to create something beautifully creepy. Adults only; registration required.
Also Thursday, Oct. 10 from 4 to 5:30, come watch the Social Security 101 Webinar with us. This webinar, presented by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, will cover such matters as how age and work affect your benefit and how non-covered pensions such as PERA can affect your benefit. Registration is required.
Palmer Lake Library Events
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month.
Toddler Time at Palmer Lake is on Fridays at 10:30, and Family Story Time is on Wednesdays at 10:30.
The Homeschool @ Palmer Lake program on Friday, Oct. 11 at 1 p.m. is Library Quest. Recommended for ages 6 to 12, this program will teach about library resources and materials, show how libraries are organized, and engage in interactive library-related activities. Finally, put your knowledge to the test with a scavenger hunt.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at email@example.com.
By Sigi Walker
On Sept. 19, the Palmer Lake Historical Society welcomed Discovery Canyon High School sophomore Bethany Bonser’s presentation on her favorite subject: Outlaws and lawmen of the Wild West. The standing-room-only crowd in turn gave her a standing ovation. In the audience were her grandmother, Phyllis Bonser, and her history teacher, Shawn Mitchell.
Bethany concentrated on two individuals in particular: Doc Holliday and Kid Curry. Both are buried in Glenwood Springs’ Linwood Cemetery. But, while both had run-ins with the law, Doc was a flawed but basically good individual while the Kid had "not one good bone in his body."
Holliday: Born John Henry Holliday in 1851 into a well-to-do family in Georgia, he lost his mother to tuberculosis when he was 15. He was educated as a dentist, but unfortunately was diagnosed with tuberculosis at age 22, which he most likely caught from his mother. Holliday moved to the Southwest, first Texas then farther west to Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona. He had frequent brushes with the law and was even shot and injured. In Fort Griffin, Texas, he met Kate Horony, aka "Big Nose Kate." Together they went to Tombstone, Ariz., and joined Wyatt Earp and his brothers. There Doc was a participant in the now-famous Gunfight at the OK Corral in 1881. For the rest of his life, Holliday bounced between Western boomtowns, sometimes opening a dental practice, drinking and gambling until his health gave out. He died in Glenwood Springs in November 1887. Today, people decorate his grave on his birthday.
Curry: The "real American outlaw and gunman" was born Harvey Alexander Logan in Iowa in 1867 but moved to Missouri when he was 9 after his mother died. He and his three brothers worked as ranch hands in Texas, where they met George Curry and took his last name. From Texas, they rode to Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, getting into shootouts and robbing banks, post offices, and trains. They often killed lawmen to avoid capture. When caught and jailed, they escaped. After robbing a passenger train, they holed up at the hideout of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch at Hole-in-the-Wall, Wyoming. Following numerous other robberies and escapes, Kid Curry traveled to San Antonio, Texas, where he met Della Moore in a brothel and became romantically involved with her. His outlaw activities continued until he was wounded near Parachute, Colo., in June 1904. Unable to escape, he shot himself to avoid capture.
Caption: Bethany Bonser, presenter of the Sept. 19 Palmer Lake Historical Society program Outlaws and Lawmen of the Wild West stands with her grandmother, Phyllis Bonser. Photo by Mike Walker.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, Oct. 17, when the Palmer Lake Historical Society Monthly History Series will present well-known author and historian Jack Anthony telling the story of the Long Ago Communities of the AF Academy. Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, is the venue. Doors open at 6:30; the program begins at 7 p.m. Palmer Lake Historical Society events and programs are free and open to all.
Mike and Sigi Walker may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
Indigenous science/traditional use of mullein has benefited people throughout the ages. Some consider mullein an invasive weed, but it’s a good friend to have at home and a favorite of pollinators. It’s been used for thousands of years—even Western pharmacopoeia touts mullein’s myriad benefits.
Mullein’s polyphenol antioxidants clean the blood of free radicals (which are linked to aging and a host of diseases) and treat many health issues for colds (upper respiratory issues), digestion, and skin. A tea made with the flowers and leaves is fragrant, sweet, and flavorful. The leaves’ optimal flavor is in the pre-flowering stage, likely because the plant has its sugars focused in the leaves before sending its sugars to power up the flowers and seeds.
Scientists at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Swabi, Pakistan, published a research paper and wrote in the abstract, "The medicinal herb contains various chemical constituents like saponins, iridoid and phenylethanoid glycosides, flavonoids, vitamin C, and minerals. It is famous in various communities worldwide for the treatment of various disorders of both humans’ and animals’ ailments. A number of pharmacological activities such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antimicrobial, antiviral, antihepatotoxic and anti-hyperlipidemic activity have been ascribed to this plant. The plant is used to treat tuberculosis, also earache and bronchitis."
For tea, it’s traditionally steeped with a teaspoon of mullein leaf in a cup of water for five minutes. Obviously, we’d want to know as much as possible before trying it, only using organic mullein.
Most of us have some in the yard or close by; herbalists sell a pound of the wildcrafted dried leaves for about $30 to $50, while $10 buys a smudging wand (the smoke is medicinal) often combined with herbs such as wildcrafted mullein, pineapple weed (wild chamomile), and yarrow to eliminate airborne pathogens. With many applications for remedies, there are also many methods for using this herb as well.
Fall gardening reminders
Leaving some leaves and pine needles to overwinter in place will help protect the native pollinators and other living things requiring such habitat, including our beloved pine trees that need their needles to turn into mulch and soil. Over-grooming the garden, even chopping up the leaves for mulch, will destroy these most important friends of the garden—and our planet.
I’ve been collecting and drying the mullein lately. The white clover as planet saver really makes me smile. In Minnesota, the state pays up to $500 per home if they change to clover lawns.
Janet Sellers is an ethnoecologist and "lazy gardener" with an eye to Mother Nature’s ways for living with forest clime landscaping. Send her your nature and organic gardening tips: email@example.com.
Caption: Jokingly referred to as cowboy toilet paper, our local mullein plants have dozens of uses including: the stalk dipped in wax for a torch (aka miner’s candle) and old-timey remedy tea or smudge: antioxidant, analgesic for pain relief, suppress muscle spasms, prevent coughs, soothe mucous membranes, expectorant, heal wounds, cuts, and abrasions. Photo by Janet Sellers.
By Janet Sellers
October is Arts Month, a Pikes Peak region tradition each October that began over six years ago. The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPr) started Arts Month "as a way to elevate the visibility and importance of arts and culture in our community. The official call to action during Arts Month is to "have at least one new cultural experience with family or friends during the month of October!"
In that vein, I visited artist and gallerist Mary Welty at her ranch near Black Forest.
The historic ranch is named "Point of Rocks Ranch" with classic Colorado vistas that include hay fields, tree-lined streams and ponds, and rocky mesas covered in ponderosa pine and cedar. Herds of elk roam the land, as do cattle, horses, a couple of adopted llamas and, at one point, I spied a feral donkey down in the valley from the top of the mesa.
The day I visited, we rode all over the ranch to check out good locations for plein air painting for guest artists. I watched the process of cutting and baling hay into large, round bales on the gently terraced landscape. The sky seemed to go on forever, and standing on the top of one of the ranch’s mesas, we could see Black Forest and farther out to the Front Range and Pikes Peak.
All in all, we likely found a dozen prime locations for plein air painting and returned to the gallery for me to see Welty’s paintings, bronzes, and innovative wire sculptures. A fun addition to the gallery from her New Mexico days is the special collection of cowboy hats (truth be told, I didn’t recognize the famous hat brands) and Native American-made silver and turquoise jewelry. It would seem like a museum, there is so much to see, but it’s a classic art gallery tucked away in the great Colorado landscape she calls home.
There are so many events (hundreds!) in October for Arts Month, I will have to refer us all to the official Peak Radar online site (www.peakradar.com) to help choose things to do. My new experience is going to Mary Welty’s Ranch Gallery for the grand opening Oct. 12, and I hope to add many more events, too. The ranch address is 11875 County Line Road at Meridian Road, straddling El Paso and Elbert Counties.
Caption: Artist Mary Welty holds her painting of horses on one of the rocky mesa outcrops of her ranch. Just in time for October Arts Month, she is reopening her eclectic Colorado art gallery, this time on the ranch itself. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, and speaker who enjoys dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) on any given day and sharing visual culture every day. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Citizens for a Better Palmer Lake reviews survey, considers actions
Caption: Citizens for a Better Palmer Lake had its second meeting Sept. 5 to review a survey handed out at its previous meeting and provided online. Palmer Lake Town Council Trustee Mark Schuler joined 40 to 50 town citizens. Karen Stuth, co-owner of Satiama Publishing, (shown above) presented the survey results, including the following: (1) Respondents were favorable toward the Fire and Police Departments but reported poor experiences with Police Chief Jason Vanderpool. (2) Respondents have had overall poor experiences with the town staff, mayor, and council members. (3) 96.61% of the 118 respondents said they were not in favor of using 2A ballot funds passed in 2015 to pay for anything other than the Fire Department. (4) Local government could be improved through more transparency, especially regarding money, and should focus on water quality, roads, the volunteer Fire Department, and more sources of revenue. The group had been told they couldn’t speak at the last council meeting, so they decided to have several people attend the Sept. 12 meeting with the intent of presenting the survey results to the trustees and those in attendance. The group also discussed possible follow-up steps, including: (1) Consider civil and legal processes to oust the mayor and town manager. (2) Elect someone from the group as a councilmember. (3) Send several people to meet with the mayor to air differences. (4) Create a petition to hire a town clerk. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Caption: The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) began operating a traffic light along Highway 83 at County Line Road on Sept. 5. Karen Rowe, Region 2 transportation director for CDOT, said the light is temporary during the I-25 gap project as more drivers access Highway 83. CDOT Traffic Program Engineer Jason Nelson said field analyses indicated drivers were having difficulty making turns at this intersection. Nelson’s team reviewed the traffic data and realized the new light could prevent accidents. CDOT created protected turn lanes to improve safety. Rowe said this light was put in over a three-week period, but normally it takes six months to order all the poles and equipment. The light will remain at least until 2022. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Caption: The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) began operating a traffic light along Highway 83 at County Line Road on Sept. 5. Karen Rowe, Region 2 transportation director for CDOT, said the light is temporary during the I-25 gap project as more drivers access Highway 83. CDOT Traffic Program Engineer Jason Nelson said field analyses indicated drivers were having difficulty making turns at this intersection. Nelson’s team reviewed the traffic data and realized the new light could prevent accidents. CDOT created protected turn lanes to improve safety. Rowe said this light was put in over a three-week period, but normally it takes six months to order all the poles and equipment. The light will remain at least until 2022. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Family Day at WMMI, Sep. 7
Caption: On Sept. 7, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) hosted its annual Family Day devoted to history. Visitors were treated to a variety of historical portrayals. Kurt Skinner portrayed Theodore Roosevelt, who began his presidency in 1900. Through the portrayal, the audience learned Roosevelt traveled to Victor, Colo., during his campaign where he was harassed by "hooligan" mine workers and his Rough Riders beat them back. Other historical figures included Jimmy Burns, founder of a gold mine near Victor, and "Legendary Ladies" presented "Unconventional Women of the West." A platoon of soldiers demonstrated the evolution of infantry weapons used in World War II and their evolution from the original 1903 rifle used in WWI to the M1 used extensively in WWII. Reenactors also portrayed life as it might have been in a gold camp. Photo by Steve Pate.
Family Freedom Festival, Sep. 14
Caption: The Veterans of Foreign Wars 7829 MSgt William J. Crawford post hosted its annual Family Freedom Festival on Sept. 14. The festival entertains and educates families about services available to vets that included Victory Service Dogs—a service-dog-matching program to help veterans regain their independence, purpose, and dignity—and Freedom Hunters—a free outdoor adventure program for select active duty families and combat veterans. More information can be found at https://victorysd.org and https://freedomhunters.org, respectively. Retired Air Force Maj. Darby Kelly read the missing soldier tribute, explaining the elements on the table that was positioned prominently before the stage. The band Wild Blue Country, whose members include AIC Julie Keough-Mishler, AIC Dominic Sbrega, SrA Michael Colletti, TSgt Jesse Thompson, TSgt Paul McWhirter, and MSgt Jeff Valentine, energized the crowd. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor.
Phil Keaggy at TLCA, Sep. 6
Caption: On Sept. 6, renowned and influential guitarist Phil Keaggy returned to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) stage in front of a sold-out and appreciative audience. Keaggy said, "Playing here (TLCA) is a real treat as it has a wonderful vibe" and he wanted to "celebrate life in the moment" with the audience. And celebrate he did with songs from his three latest albums and previous recordings. The new albums are Cappadocia, containing a dreamlike quality through a myriad of sounds and guitar styles, the Christian rock album Illumination, and Bucket List, where he was joined by King Crimson bassist Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta. Keaggy sampled guitar riffs and other sounds, then played rhythms and lead overtop to deliver a full sound to songs from those albums along with his classics as Mercy, Thank You for Today, and What a Day. Photo by David Futey.
D38 bond open house, Sep. 10
Caption: Lewis-Palmer District 38 school board Directors Mark Pfoff and Chris Taylor are hosting a series of meetings at Monument Town Hall to discuss the bond for the new elementary school. The first meeting, held on Sept. 10, had 40 attendees. Pfoff did a brief presentation and then Taylor fielded community questions for over an hour. A second meeting on Sept. 26 included Hilltop Securities, the company that created the 4A bond structure. Two final meetings will be held in the same location on Oct. 8 and 17 from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. These Town Hall discussions are not school district-sanctioned events nor are they special meetings of the entire Board of Education. Three or more members of the board may be in attendance; however, no official school district business is discussed and no formal action is taken. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Palmer Lake Wine Festival, Sep. 14
Caption: On Sept. 14, the inaugural Palmer Lake Wine Festival provided the sold-out crowd opportunities to sample wines from 17 local and regional wineries. The Monument Jazz Trio provided straight-ahead jazz followed by vocalist/guitarist Miguel Dakota. This first annual event was fully funded by vendors and benefited Tri-Lakes Cares and the Palmer Lake Parks and Recreation Department. The festival was located in the Palmer Lake Recreation Area by the gazebo. Volunteers from Tri-Lakes Cares and others made this event successful. Photo by Steve Pate.
Short-term rental assessments
Caption: El Paso County Assessor Stephen Schleiker has been holding community meetings to explain his concerns about assessing properties used for some short-term rentals with regard to property taxes. On Sep. 10, Schleiker explained the Gallagher amendment, passed in 1982, requires commercial properties to pay a 29% tax rate, while the residential rate is set at 7.15%. Short-term rentals like Airbnb and Vrbo are not covered in the state’s property tax statutes. Some of Schleiker’s concerns with the changes to property tax rates include: (1) Some lenders, like Veterans Affairs, don’t lend for commercial property, so if a military property owner decided to change from residential to commercial, the lender could possibly call the note. (2) Americans With Disabilities Act compliance needs for commercial are much more difficult to attain than for personal property. To see Schleiker’s full presentation, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkJXZ7F8O4Q. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Sertoma Patriot Golf, Sep. 17
Caption: Pikes Peak region scenery surrounded golfers at Gleneagle Sertoma’s 18th annual Patriot Golf Tournament fundraiser Sept. 17 at Flying Horse golf course. Donations raised will help support injured Colorado Springs Police Officer Cem Duzel and the family of Pueblo Police Officer Jonathan Bell. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Somers at Outpourings, Sep. 17
Caption: Dr. KC Somers, Lewis-Palmer D38 superintendent, spoke about his vision for the district at a well-attended Outpouring event Sept. 17 at Pikes Peak Brewery. He described his background and the people who have influenced him in his leadership journey, sharing his Emergenetics profile and describing why, how, and what he does as a superintendent. He noted his goal to equip young people to answer the question: "What is life, and who am I in it?" Toward the end he answered audience questions on the 4A school bond. Outpouring talks are held on the third Tuesday of each month at Pikes Peak Brewing Company. More information on these talks can be found at http://tlumc.org/outreach/outpouring. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
New Christy Minstrels at TLCA
Caption: On Sept. 20, Randy Sparks and The New Christy Minstrels (NCM) performed at a sold-out show at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. Sparks started the group in 1961 after performing solo at places such as the Purple Onion Cafe in San Francisco and "working on my craft every day." There have been more than 300 group members over the years, with the 86-year-old Sparks providing the continuity. With Sparks noting that "music is more than something that vibrates your car," he opened with a few solo numbers and then with the band performed NCM hits such as Julianne and Mighty Mississippi and covers such as Across the Great Divide, Sixteen Tons, and Orange Blossom Special. Photo by David Futey.
RMMA Concert, Sep. 14
Caption: The Rocky Mountain Music Alliance (RMMA) held its first concert of the season at The Church at Woodmoor on Sept. 14. The performance featured Zahari Metchkov on piano, Alice Woo on cello, and Geoffrey Herd on violin, and highlighted music from women composers. German pianist and composer Clara Schumann’s pleasing Three Romances started with the piano and violin in harmony, each telling the same story. The violin asks the piano a question, and it answers back. The cello was delicate in Rebecca Clarke’s Passacaglia. In Shulamit Ran’s Soliloquy, the violin carried the Middle Eastern melody. During Emma Lou Diemer’s Toccatta, Metchkov reached into the piano to pluck the strings. All three instruments were played in Clarke’s three-part composition. From left are Geoffrey Herd, Zahari Metchkov and Alice Woo. For a schedule of concerts, see www.RMMAconcerts.org. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Flying Horse VIN Festival, Sep. 15
Caption: Attendees of the third annual VIN Festival hosted by The Club at Flying Horse on Sept. 15 sampled wine, craft beers, and local artisan products from over 26 vendors while watching Sunday afternoon football. Guests also enjoyed contemporary jazz from Colorado band Dotsero on the courtyard and tasted food truck fare. The charity event drew 300 guests in support of the Colorado Professional Firefighters Foundation. For more information, visit www.cpff.org. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Hope Restored in Black Forest
Caption: For the last seven years since the Black Forest Fire, the Hope Restored Disaster Relief ministry has been felling, limbing, and bucking huge pine trees killed in the fire. Now the volunteers are cutting and splitting the logs to donate to people who desperately need wood to heat their homes but are limited physically or by finances. This effort will also help some owners of burned-out Black Forest properties who still need help with clearing their devastated land. Much more work has yet to be done, and any community service groups who can offer a few hours of help on Wednesdays or Saturdays in October should contact Byron at email@example.com for work dates and locations. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Bines and Brews, Sep. 21
Caption: Rick Squires, founder of Bines and Brews, left, and Terri Hayes of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce lift their glasses at the annual brew and distillery fundraiser held Sept. 21 at Limbach Park, attended by a joyful crowd benefitting local charities. Photo by Janet Sellers.
TLMFPD Open House, Sep. 28
Caption: From left, firefighters Matt Edmunds and AJ Armstrong and Lt. Kevin Richmond demonstrate a simulated live extrication drill Sept. 28 at the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District’s annual Open House at Station 1. Many local residents turned out despite the wind and cooler temperatures to explore a variety of emergency rescue vehicles, equipment, and the 911 mobile learning lab. El Paso County Teller 911, the Sheriff’s Office Wildland Crew members, and Pikes Peak Regional OEM offered advice and information. Visitors watched the extrication demonstration after enjoying a hamburger/hotdog lunch provided and served by the Emergency Incident Support staff.
Caption: Engineer Adam Wakefield expertly lowers the tower truck ladder
Photos by Natalie Barszcz.
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.
Children’s Literacy Center needs volunteers
Children’s Literacy Center (CLC) provides free one-on-one tutoring to children reading below grade level in our community. If you are 14 years or older and are able to commit to a 12-week tutoring session, contact Children’s Literacy Center today to change a child’s life! Work with one child, two hours a week. All volunteers are trained to use CLC’s Peak Reader® curriculum; no background in education or prior experience in tutoring is required. CLC’s fall session runs from through Dec. 5. For more information on how to get involved or on how to sign your child up, visit http://childrensliteracycenter.org or call 719-471-8672.
Volunteers needed for Black Forest Community Center, Oct. 12-13 or 19-20
Black Forest Community Club has one last work project requiring volunteers to grind existing stumps to finish clearing the lot. This is a two-day project (Sat.-Sun.) as there are 350 to 400 stumps to grind. The following equipment and operators are needed:
• Two chain saws, to cut some stumps closer to ground level which will speed up the grinding
• Two teams of two/four individuals each day, six-hour shifts if possible
• A stump grinder operator (grinder provided)
If you can volunteer, please contact Don Root with your dates of availability and he will set a final date. RSVP & Info: Don Root, 719-495-4341 (H), 719-502-9571 (cell & text), firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Co-op Month at MVEA
Visit an MVEA office in October, Mon.-Thu., 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and enjoy a piece of pie. Our local MVEA office is at 15706 Jackson Creek Pkwy, Suite 100, Monument. For details, phone 719-495-2283. See ad on page 12
TLCA’s Annual Resident & Member Artists Exhibition, submit your artwork by Oct. 15
This annual show is open to all artists who have a current Artist Membership ($55 annual) and TLCA Resident Artists. Not a member? Join at trilakesarts.org/product/membership. For details on how to enter, visit http://trilakesarts.org/event/calling-all-artists.
Register for YMCA 5K Race Series and Kids Fun Runs
The three-race series includes the Creepy Crawl Oct. 26 on the Santa Fe Trail in Palmer Lake, Turkey Trot Nov. 28 at the Briargate YMCA, and the Jingle Bell Dec. 14 at Fountain Creek Regional Park. Sign up online at www.ppymca.org/raceseries.
Play It Forward Equipment Drive, ends Oct. 31
If you have any new or slightly used youth sports equipment, bicycles, games, toys, or winter clothing that you no longer need, you can drop them off at the Tri-Lakes Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy, or Tri-Lakes Chamber, 166 Second St., Monument. All donations will go to kids in need and veteran families. For more information, visit www.4kidzsports.org/events.
County seeks Master Plan input
El Paso County continues to seek citizen input in an online survey as it creates the new county master plan. To complete the survey, go online to www.planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com. For more information, phone 719-520-6300.
Sisters’ Thrift & Boutique
The Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery have a shop full of gently used treasures at 8674 N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs. Store hours are Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The phone number is 719-282-0316.
LEAP—Help for heating bills begins Nov. 1
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs Nov. 1-April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
MVEA essay contest, enter by Nov. 14
High school juniors can enter to win an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, or win a stay at the Colorado Electric Education Institute’s Youth Leadership Camp in Clark, Colo. Essays must be received by Nov. 14. Apply online at www.mvea.coop/essay-contest. Info: Erica, 719-494-2654, email@example.com.
MVEA Scholarships, apply by Jan. 15
Each year, MVEA awards $1,000 scholarships to 14 graduating high school seniors. Applications are due by Jan. 15, 2020. Apply online at www.mvea.coop/scholarships.
MVEA tree-trimming services
Tree trimming helps prevent storm-related power outages. For more information, call 800-388-9881 or 719-495-2283, or visit www.mvea.coop/tree-trimming.
Free services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and handyman services to Tri-Lakes seniors. If you need a ride to a medical appointment, grocery shopping, or the local senior lunches, a volunteer driver will be happy to help you. Call 488-0076 to leave a message for the dispatcher. If you need grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call Cindy Rush, 488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
Free Senior Beat newsletter
Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Monday through Friday at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center and senior-friendly library programs. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
Home-delivered meals by Silver Key
If you’re a homebound senior age 60 or older, you might qualify to receive meals delivered to your home through Silver Key. To register or volunteer, call 884-2370.
I-25 MyWay commuting options website
Visit www.i25myway.org and enter starting and ending ZIP codes for personalized I-25 commuting solutions and savings estimates. The website will help you arrange the details and free test commutes, including carpools, van pools, and the Bustang South Line. The site will run through the end of construction in 2022.
There is now a website, www.TLtalks.com, for local articles, podcasts, and much more. TLtalks.com is dedicated to providing a platform where you can write about what is important to you and where the Tri-Lakes community can exchange ideas, thoughts, and information. Visit www.TLtalks.com to see the mission statement, submission guidelines, and terms and conditions.
Get help if your vehicle is stuck in town or in the mountains
4x4orce is an emergency notification network of 4-by-4 enthusiasts/good Samaritans ready and willing to respond when, where, and how they can. Sending a message to the Facebook 4X4orce Community Rescue & Recovery page is the best way currently to get assistance. However, you can also phone 719-286-9323. If Facebook is not working, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for "Reverse 9-1-1" emergency notifications to your cell phones
The Emergency Notification System (powered by Everbridge), commonly referred to as Reverse 9-1-1, is a tool that can make rapid notifications to specific geographic areas to alert you to emergency situations including manmade disasters, evacuations, hazardous materials incidents, missing persons, and more. Reverse 9-1-1 is not the same as Amber Alerts, which are generated by a different system. You must register to receive emergency notifications on any phone other than your landline. You can list up to five locations and up to eight points of contact. Sign up at www.elpasoteller911.org.
County assessor launches enhanced website
The newly redesigned site with the Property Record Card and Citizen Comper (value comparisons) makes parcel and property searches more informative, easier to use, and accessible on mobile devices as well as desktops. Find the enhanced website at https://property.spatialest.com/co/elpaso/.
Residence vacation check
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will conduct vacation checks of homes of county residents who are on vacation. This is a great way to add security to your home when you’re away for multiple days. Either a deputy or trained volunteer will visit your home while you’re away and check it periodically. To add your home to their schedule, visit www.epcsheriffsoffice.com. Info: 520-7151.
Monument text alerts
Text "Monument" to 41411 to receive updates and news of meetings, weather alerts, openings and closings, as well as other important town information to your phone or personal mobile device.
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
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 email@example.com or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
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