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Our Community News - Home Vol. 19 No. 12 - December 7, 2019

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Corrections:

The article, Citizens for a Better Palmer Lake, Nov. 20: Members vote on next steps, should have identified the woman in the photo as Christie Ramshur, not Christie Rancher. OCN reported that Ramshur "stressed the need for the trustees to return to serving the citizens." Ramshur corrected the statement to reflect her belief that "every trustee agreed to serve as a trustee in an effort to serve the citizens" and never indicated that they need to return to serving. We apologize for any confusion this error might have caused.

The article, Palmer Lake Town Council, Nov. 14: Council hears update on bridge, should have identified the person speaking on behalf of Awake the Lake as Darin Dawson, not Derek Austin. We apologize for any confusion this error might have caused.

Contents

This page contains only the text of the articles and columns in this issue. To see the photos and captions including the Snapshots of Our Community section, view the on-line version above or download the PDFs whose links follow this table of contents.

the PDF file. This is a 39 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.

individual pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

Monument Board of Trustees, Nov 18: Separation agreement for Treasurer, Home Place Ranch approved, All Kratom sales banned

By Allison Robenstein

The board agreed to separate employment with Treasurer Pamela Smith. No reasons were given publicly for the separation agreement. The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved a strongly contested development and banned all Kratom sales at their Nov. 18 meeting. New Finance Director Rosa Ooms was introduced during a budget workshop that preceded the regular meeting.

Treasurer dismissed

After a lengthy executive session that followed the regular meeting, the board voted 5-1 to instruct Town Manager Mike Foreman to draw up a separation agreement for Smith. Trustee Laurie Clark voted against the motion.

Smith was put on administrative leave at the Mar 4 board meeting when Foreman acknowledged an ongoing El Paso County Sheriff’s Office investigation. See www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#mbot. Then, during the Mar. 18 board meeting, Town Attorney Joseph Rivera advised the board both the FBI and IRS were working on the same investigation. See www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#mbot0318.

Home Place Ranch continuation ends in approval

At the Sept 16 BOT meeting, Home Place Ranch developers requested approval of the Preliminary/Final PD Site plan for Phase 1 of the 130-acre, 300-home development (see vicinity map on page 3). The trustees asked many questions of the developer indicating several areas of concern with the project as proposed. No trustees made a motion on the proposal, so it failed due to lack of a vote. See http://ocn.me/v19n10.htm#mbot.

Then, during the Oct. 7 meeting Rivera asked the board to continue the hearing after he explained town municipal code 2.04.030 requires the board to make clear the reason they are rendering decisions. He said they should either approve the request, approve it with conditions or deny it.

The board has been concerned about emergency access points and drainage. Although tonight’s discussions didn’t yield much new information, the developers brought additional diagrams to aid in their arguments for approval of the request.

Bryan Kniep, Goodwin Knight vice president of planning and community development, said they had confirmed the emergency access points were sufficiently safe as per the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner said the configuration of regular residential access points and emergency access points would create a loop around the community that he said was sufficient.

During the July 25 planning commission meeting, Phase 1 was approved with conditions. See http://ocn.me/v19n8.htm#mpc.

Three emergency access routes have been identified, including:

• An emergency access route from the proposed roundabout where Gleneagle Drive and Sanctuary Rim Drive meet, out to Higby Road, to be completed with Filing 1. The access road will follow the existing ranch road.

• An additional emergency access route will be constructed from the western cul-de-sac on Sanctuary Rim Drive connecting to Saber Creek Drive through Tract H of the Homestead at Jackson Creek Filing No. 1. This access will be completed with Filing 2.

• The access route from the northern cul-de-sac of Filing 4 (Road K) back to Road L and Gleneagle Drive will be completed with Filing 4.

Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein noted Bumgarner said this wasn’t the ideal situation because he would prefer a permanent road from the development to Higby Road. El Paso county owns Higby and does not plan to improve it as needed before additional traffic could travel over it.

Triview Metropolitan District Manager Jim McGrady attended the meeting and announced the county might be willing to transfer ownership of Higby Road to the town. He also told the board a permanent road through the western part of the development might be possible if his team could create a new habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. Because most of the west side of the development is a mouse habitat, a road through there has not been possible previously. McGrady said this process could take only 3-4 months to complete.

During public comments, five people spoke against the project, most of whom were concerned that the Homestead Jackson Creek, Filing 1 easement between lots 31 and 32 was not approved for vehicular use. They also worried there would not be any maintenance done by Triview to the easement since the home owners have had to maintain the land.

Resident Christine Muster spoke in favor of the development saying the complaints by residents, "kind of make me laugh" because the number of emergency access points offered should be sufficient.

Trustee Greg Coopman has been concerned from the beginning with the development’s design which includes numerous cul-de-sacs of homes all accessing one road. During public comments, one resident of Sabre Creek Drive said the design means headlights will be coming into their bedroom windows at night.

With regard to emergency access, Coopman has previously asked for an evacuation plan for board review. HR Green Planner Phil Stuepfert said, "That’s not a requirement," of the zoning codes, and asked if any other developers were made to provide such a plan. Coopman said, "No, that’s a request," saying municipal code 17 is intended to keep the community safe and although evacuation plans are not included, it is permissible to make the request.

Home Place Ranch will sit on a slope with most of the stormwater running from east to west, ultimately flowing south toward Jackson Creek development. Tonight, the developer said they’ve identified a way to convey 36% of total stormwater along Sanctuary Rim extension into a detention pond. Swales will carry the other 64% of water through the buffer between Home Place Ranch and Jackson Creek developments, with shallow basins along the downhill water flow to act as temporary holding areas for water.

McGrady also announced Goodwin Knight has water available for 242 of the 294 homes and intends to reimburse Triview $130,000 for the shortfall. They are willing to pay for two new wells that Triview will build providing redundancy for all Triview water users.

One point of contention was a note from McGrady that the developer was supposed to have paid $588,000 of their portion of the Western Interceptor, a wastewater link for the western and northern part of the district that extends under I-25, but reneged on the deal. Instead, Triview had to foot the bill. McGrady said he was confident the developer would pay the district back. Coopman said "that’s a red flag for me."

Bornstein said we are right back where we were before, but Trustee Jim Romanello said his development, Village Center, has the same swales and basins for water and it’s worked out fine. Loren Moreland, vice president of Classic Homes, spoke during public comments saying as a resident of Monument, he wants a "local, hometown developer to see the project through" like Goodwin Knight who has "made a number of responsible concessions."

Finally, the request was approved 6-1 with Coopman voting against. The board included loosely worded verbiage to encourage the developer to assist with the town annexing Higby Road in order to get Phase 2 approved in the future.

Kratom moratorium extended ahead of eventual ban

During the Sept 16 meeting, Acting Police Commander Sergeant Jonathon Hudson asked the board to continue a 180-day moratorium on Kratom sales in the town they had previously passed.

Background: During the May 20 BOT meeting, the board approved a 180-day moratorium on the sale of Kratom at the request of then Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk. The original moratorium expired on Nov. 15.

Kratom is an herb grown in Asia that comes into contact with the same opioid brain receptors that are affected by morphine. Hudson wrote in the board packet, "There are no FDA-approved uses for Kratom."

Tonight, Acting Police Chief Lee Birk looked on while Hudson asked the board to ban the retail sale of Kratom for human consumption. He cited numerous FDA news releases which include warnings of the serious risks involved with taking Kratom. The FDA further indicated cases of contamination of Kratom products with salmonella and heavy metals that have resulted in illnesses. In a June 25, 2019 note, the FDA said some components of Kratom "have opioiod properties and expose users to risks of addiction."

A Tri-County Health Department memorandum which was used as the basis for the town of Parker, Colorado to fully ban the sale of Kratom was also cited by Hudson.

One person spoke during public comment. Resident John Marshall said taking the herb has helped him function through degenerative disk disease. He said the ban will not prevent him from accessing the herb and continuing to use it. Trustee Ron Stephens said the board’s ban doesn’t stop someone from seeking legitimate use, but would send a message to our youth and families that it is not appropriate for consumption. Mayor Don Wilson said, "So we’re telling parents how to raise their kids now?" Stephens said no, they are simply helping parents make decisions by setting a standard.

Hudson had asked for the ordinance to be an emergency, making it active as soon as the board approves it, but Stephens said they should give the current sellers of Kratom time to get it off their shelves. Coopman made a motion to strike the words "human consumption" from the ordinance which was unanimously approved. The final vote on the ordinance, which bans the sale of all Kratom products and substances, was approved 5-2 with Clark and Wilson both voting no.

Caption: Amanda Charlick, the town of Monument employee of the month for October, is recognized by Town Manager Mike Foreman. Charlick has worked for the town for over seven years and is currently an accounting specialist in the finance department. Photo by Allison Robenstein.

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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 December 16, and there will be a budget workshop held on Mon. Dec 9 at 5:30 p.m.

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 allisonrobenstein@ocn.me.

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Nov. 5 Election Results

Final Official Results updated November 21.
Winning votes are shown in boldface type.

Lewis-Palmer Consolidated School District 38 - District 2

Theresa Phillips 10,361 (100%)

Lewis-Palmer Consolidated School District 38 - District 4

Ryan Graham 6,146 (48.24%)

Ron Schwarz 6,594 (51.76%)

Lewis-Palmer Consolidated School District 38 - District 5

Matthew Clawson 7,275 (55.47%)

Adam Cupp 5,841 (44.53%)

Proposition CC (Statutory): (Remove state revenue limit)

Yes/For 67,979 (38.20%)

No/Against 109,999 (61.80%)

Proposition DD (Statutory): (Sports betting)

Yes/For 82,533 (46.54%)

No/Against 94,789 (53.46%)

Lewis-Palmer Consolidated School District 38 Ballot Issue 4A: (Bond issue)

Yes/For 6,998 (45.06%)

No/Against 8,532 (54.94%)

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Ballot Issue 6A: (Adjust mill levy to maintain tax revenue)

Yes/For 7,414 (56.89%)

No/Against 5,618 (43.11%)

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Monument Planning Commission, November 13: Commissioners to depart MPC, Triview Final Plat and Comprehensive Plan Resolution approved, town code revision open houses to come

By Kate Pangelinan

At the Nov. 13 Monument Planning Commission meeting, the upcoming departure of four members was discussed, and a Final Plat for Triview Metropolitan District A-Yard Filing 1 was approved along with a Resolution Amending the Comprehensive Plan Regarding the Annexation Plan which Serves as the Town’s Three Mile Plan.

The meeting was followed by a public workshop with updates from the consultants hired to review the town’s land development code led by Plan Tools LLC of Loveland, Colorado.

Commissioners Kenneth Kimple and Jeremy Lushnat, as well as Chairperson Michelle Glover and Vice Chair John Dick, are not expected to serve on the commission in 2020. Lushnat explained that he loves Monument, but a transition of employment will mean he’s less available. He said his goodbyes near the beginning of the meeting and was given a certificate in thanks for his service. The other departing commissioners were recognized later in the session. Dick in particular was applauded as the longest-serving current member of the commission.

This was also the final commission meeting for Senior Planner Jennifer Jones, who is taking a post in a different community after over three years in Monument. Deborah Flynn was welcomed as a part-time Planner.

Due to these upcoming changes in the commission’s lineup, alternate commissioners are expected to become regular members. There will still be three positions open, including one regular seat and two alternates. Applications for these positions are available on the Town of Monument’s website at http://townofmonument.org/DocumentCenter/View/1002/Planning-CommissionBoard-of-Adjustment-Application.

Lushnat was in the audience at the beginning of the meeting but had to leave after addressing the commission and did not vote. Commissioner Chris Wilhelmi was also absent.

Final Plat for Triview A-Yard Filing 1

This motion concerns a 1.27-acre property with access from Jackson Creek Parkway, one-half mile south of Higby Road. It currently contains a well site and equipment storage area. Triview Metropolitan District, the owners of the property, intend to plat it in case they decide to develop it in the future. The proposed plat consolidates two unplatted parcels into one lot. The proposal was unanimously approved by the commission without public comment.

Comprehensive Plan amendment makes way to annex fire station parcel

The goal of this resolution is to update the Annexation Plan/Growth Area map in the town’s 2017 Comprehensive Plan to include land that is available for annexation but may not be annexed until it is included in the town’s Three Mile Plan. This update would not entail a commitment to annex the property, it just makes it eligible. For the Annexation Plan map, see page 49 of the 2017 Comprehensive Plan at www.townofmonument.org.

The parcel of land in question is the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Station #1 site at 18650 W. Highway 105, an existing Fire Station surrounded on the north and east by Monument town limits and on the west by the Town of Palmer Lake.

This motion was approved unanimously and without public comment. The Board of Trustees approved it as a public hearing item at their Nov. 18 meeting.

Rewrite of the town’s land development regulations

Some notable points regarding the town code update session:

• The process is currently in Phase 1 – code diagnosis phase.

• The goal is to consolidate blocks of text into user-friendly tables and charts.

• Public workshops and open houses will be held to discuss this process. The first one is expected to be in January 2020.

Citizens are encouraged to check online for updates. Further information for this project is available from the town’s website www.townofmonument.org/478/Land-Development-Code-Project.

Meeting information, including an in-depth packet, can be found at http://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com/. All commission meetings are recorded. Recordings are available on the town’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCdFLo8UcqZfFdkio5jT6GDA.

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Commission meetings are generally held at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. For more information: call 884-8017 or go to www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.

Kate Pangelinan can be reached at katepangelinan@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, November 14: Council hears update on bridge

By James Howald and Jackie Burhans

The Palmer Lake Town council met once in November. The December work session was cancelled in light of the Thanksgiving holiday.

On Nov. 14, the council heard an update from Awake the Lake on the status of the pedestrian bridge, voted on a potential land donation that could affect the town’s water rights, held a public hearing on the town’s 2020 budget, and, acting as the Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority, granted a liquor license to a new local restaurant.

Bridge project advances

Speaking on behalf of the Awake the Lake (ATL) committee, Derek Austin gave the council an update covering tax issues ATL had recently addressed, progress made to complete the pedestrian bridge installation, and a fundraising effort to raise money to complete the installation.

Austin said an issue with the committee’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) had been resolved. The committee’s taxes for 2018 have been submitted under a new EIN, he said, and the committee would also use that new EIN for its 2019 tax filing. The committee’s status as a non-profit was also confirmed, he said.

Austin told the council that delivery of the bridge was expected on Nov. 16 and work was being done to prepare for the bridge’s installation. He said the railroad had not yet granted a right of way for the bridge, but that was expected to be resolved soon. Town Manager Valerie Remington said the town’s engineer gave the delivery date of the bridge as Nov. 20.

Austin outlined a fundraising effort that would let donors buy an image of a train car—an engine, tanker, or caboose—inscribed with their business or family name, which would then be attached to the inside of the enclosed bridge walkway. The train cars would be made by Monument artist Jody Bliss, Austin said, and would range from $2,000 to $2,500 to purchase. The money raised through these purchases would be used to finance the bridge, he said.

Proposed land donation voted down

At a town council meeting in September, resident Dean Couture proposed exchanging four lots he would purchase for a piece of land owned by the town adjacent to his property. The land Couture would provide to the town would become part of Glen Park. This exchange was also discussed at the town council meeting in October.

The town council’s examination of the proposed exchange brought to light some issues related to the town’s water rights, as the land Couture would take ownership of included water rights for an alluvial well. The well has not yet been drilled.

At the November meeting, Steve Jeffers, the town’s water attorney, told the council that to move the well location more than 200 feet, which might be required by the proposed land exchange, would mean the town would have to open its water decree and go to water court, both costly undertakings. Jeffers recommended not moving the well location. Steve Orcutt, the town’s water engineer, expressed concern that the land exchange might lead to an abandonment of a portion of the town’s water rights.

Couture said he was willing to give the town an easement so that, if the town chose to drill the well in to future, the needed access would be in place. He also offered to install a walking rail in the land he would acquire from the town.

Council member Glant Havenar felt the land added to Glen Park made the exchange desirable. Council member Mark Shuler pointed to the potential risk to the town’s water rights.

The council voted not to move forward with the land exchange.

Budget meeting held

As required each year, a public hearing on the town’s proposed budget was held at the November meeting.

Town Manager Valerie Remington reviewed the budget process for the town council. A budget workshop was held, she said, and the adjustments made in that discussion were incorporated in the proposed budget before the council at the November meeting. The proposed budget assumed an overall five percent increase in revenue, Remington said.

Remington said the proposed budget included a five percent pay increase for the police in 2020 and an additional five percent in 2021. The police chief would receive a pay increase that would put his salary in the lower 10th percentile, Remington said.

Remington estimated the Town Clerk salary would be $75,000.

Council Members Peggy Mettler, Mark Shuler and Paul Banta all argued for salary increases for town employees.

The council voted unanimously to close the public meeting and to vote on the proposed budget in December after Remington had a chance to make the requested changes.

Charrito’s House granted liquor license

The council voted unanimously to transfer an existing liquor license to Francisco Morales, the owner of Charrito’s House, which opened at 292 Highway 105, in the space previously used by The Stube. Morales told the council he has been in the restaurant business for 35 years, and currently has another restaurant in Larkspur.

Caption: The pedestrian bridge for Palmer Lake arrived on November 20 in two pieces. Workers and cranes positioned the parts to be ready for installation. The supports are being installed while the town waits for the railroad’s permission to finish the project. The group hoped to have the bridge up by Thanksgiving or Christmas. Awake Palmer Lake raised over $35,000 for the bridge with the .5k event. The group is responsible for achieving the Go Colorado (GoCo) 50% matching grant and they still have much fundraising to do. The town is responsible for administering the funds. GOCO is funded by lotto ticket sales, 50% of sales support GOCO projects. To support the project, contact them at http://awakepalmerlake.org or call (719) 924-5332. Photo by Janet Sellers

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The council is scheduled to hold only one meeting this month, on December 12 at 6:00 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. For more information call: 481-2953.

James Howald can be reached at jameshowald@ocn.me.

Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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Citizens for a Better Palmer Lake, Nov. 20: Members vote on next steps

By Allison Robenstein

The Citizens for a Better Palmer Lake (CFABPL) group held a meeting to review 2019 accomplishments and decide on the next move forward. Trish Flake identified four options at the Nov 20 meeting. Palmer Lake Mayor John Cressman attended the meeting, but did not speak.

So far, the group has asked the town for information under the Colorado Open Records Act, requested policy and procedure changes, and called for a forensic audit on the fire mill levy collected specifically for fire department operations. Flake said, "We’re still struggling" with regard to seeing positive actions from the Board of Trustees.

Trish Flake identified four possible objectives to accomplish next. They include:

• Continue in the same manner bringing concerns to the board during regular meetings.

• Recall the mayor or the entire board. This would require residents’ signatures to force a ballot measure in the next election.

• Ask the district attorney to begin an investigation into the town.

• Provide letters of no confidence to the board for Trustee Gary Faust and Cressman and for Town Attorney Maureen Juran. These letters would identify issues the group has with each individual, putting the burden on the board to take action.

CFABPL claims Faust and Cressman have ignored their fiduciary duties, including a lack of budget oversight, have co-mingled funds with regard to the 10-mill fire bond, and attempted to disband the fire department in favor of a merger with Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. Members of the Volunteers for the Public Safety Committee say Faust went behind their backs to create a public survey. Cressman is also accused of profiting personally from work done for the town.

The group claims Juran named town manager Valerie Remington the town CEO and contends she’s been working on tasks without first getting board approval. Resident Meredith "Kit" Bromfield said she had seen the attorney’s contract with the town, but the name on it was Jill M. Hassman, not Maureen Juran. The attorney’s contract expires in January of 2020, so the group is hoping she will be replaced.

Trustee Bob Mutu said the board needs time to get organized. "Give us a chance," he said.

Ultimately, the group voted to send letters of no confidence to the board for Faust, Cressman, and Juran. It was also agreed the group’s representatives would meet with the district attorney for advice only.

Caption: Christie Rancher spoke to the Citizens For A Better Palmer Lake group saying she is thankful for this assembly of residents and looks forward to positive changes with regard to the trustees. She stressed the need for the trustees to return to serving the citizens. Rancher said town residents and the board are on the same side, but she’s noticed social media "frenzy" of taking sides and calling one another names. Photo by Allison Robenstein

Allison Robenstein can be reached at allisonrobenstein@ocn.me.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Nov 19: Budget 2020 begins with battalion chief additions

By Allison Robenstein

Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) Chief Vinny Burns presented the 2020 budget to the board and asked for an appropriation of $300,000 of 2019 funding to purchase a new vehicle. Board Secretary Mark Gunderman led the Nov. 19 meeting. Attorney Michelle Ferguson filled in for the district’s attorney Matt Court.

2020 budget presented

Burns asked the board to consider approving a new staffing plan for 2020. If approved, he would continue as chief but add three full-time battalion chiefs, eliminating the assistant chief position and all captain positions. Assistant Chief Scott Ridings would be the senior battalion chief and two internal staff members would be appointed to the other positions.

The battalion chiefs would take on some of the current chief’s work including Insurance Services Office planning and some of the training requirements. The chiefs would be in charge from day to day and arrive at calls prior to the other vehicles. That way, they could determine command needs for each call based on manpower. Director Larry Schwarz asked if that would be top-heavy, but Burns said this way "we can keep eyes on each other."

Burns also requested $250,000 in the 2020 budget for a new diesel generator. During the March 2019 bomb cyclone, the chiefs were surprised to find that the Station 1 generator only functioned in the southern portion of the building that houses the main office, kitchen and sleeping quarters.

The northern addition, built in 2005, acts as the emergency command post and houses stranded travelers if they aren’t able to get home, so it needs to be put onto a generator. Because the current generator isn’t sufficient to cover the entire station’s electrical needs, the chiefs suggested moving the newer Station 2 generator here. It runs on natural gas and is able to operate 95% of the secondary station located along highway 83. Ridings said they are asking to replace it with a diesel generator in 2020.

It appears the district may be closer to contracting with American Medical Response for their ambulance services, so Burns suggested including $25,000 for 2020. He said Wescott has had to assign three firefighters from Wescott to AMR and hopes to regain those employees to supplement staffing on rigs in the following year.

Burns asked the board to consider pulling tuition costs for specialized schooling and for higher education classes to be placed into the reserved budget.

The chief asked for $300,000 from 2019 reserved funding to purchase a new Tender. The truck, also called a tanker, will hold 3,500 gallons of water that can be hauled to rural parts of the district that lack fire hydrants. Director Duane Garrett asked how many developments are lacking hydrants, to which Burns said half the geographic area of the district and roughly 1,000 homes.

Director Larry Schwarz said he isn’t opposed to the purchase as long as three people are assigned per rig before this additional truck is put into the rotation. Citing National Fire Protection Association standard 1710, Schwarz said engines, rescue and aerial vehicles each require three people per rig, for a total of 14 firefighters on scene for a typical 2,000 square-foot residential structure fire.

Schwarz also asked the chiefs to consider adding requirements for a Tender to their mutual aid agreements with local agencies that have the apparatus. Burns said Wescott could "knock down a fire" using the existing 1,500-gallon Tender, but waiting for automatic aid to arrive on scene is too long, sometimes as long as 15 minutes. He said his teams "should have the tools we need" to do their jobs.

Ferguson asked about obtaining bids for the project, to which Burns said his intention is to have multiple companies bid for the vehicle. The board unanimously approved his request.

Chief’s Report

• Ridings said DWFPD had 70 calls for service in October and there has been a 35% increase in call volume for this year over 2018.

• Please drop off new, unwrapped toys to Station 1 for Toys Unlimited.

• The captains and chiefs are working to create a week-long officer training program in conjunction with the two-year leadership program through Colorado State Fire Chiefs Fire Leadership Challenge. Burns said the in-house school will allow everyone "to get the same message at the same time," regarding fire safety practices.

• Santa Claus will join the Wescott crew on Saturday, Dec. 21 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. He’ll be riding atop the ladder truck through the neighborhood. For a map of Santa’s run, go to http://wescottfire.org/2019-wescott-santa-patrol-map/. See the notice on page 28 requesting toy donations by Dec. 20.

Caption: Volunteer firefighter Anthony Mayes was promoted to a full-time position during the Nov. 19 Wescott board meeting. Board Secretary Mark Gunderman swore him in while board members looked on. Photo by Allison Robenstein

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Donald Westcott Fire Protection District meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. However, the next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 3 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 488-8680. Or, you can go to www.wescottfire.org.

Allison Robenstein can be reached at allisonrobenstein@ocn.me.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Nov. 20: Voters approve 6A; CDOT’s I-25 weather closure plans discussed; 2020 Budget reviewed

By Natalie Barszcz

At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board meeting on Nov. 20, Chief Chris Truty thanked the community for "de-Gallagherizing" the district, the board learned of CDOT’s new highway closure rules for inclement weather, and they held a final review of the proposed 2020 budget.

Secretary Michael Smaldino and Director Terri Hayes were excused.

Voters approve 6A to "de-Gallagherize"

Truty expressed his gratitude to the community for their support on ballot question 6A, to "de-Gallagher" TLMFPD. "We appreciate the respect and trust the community has for us and this is certainly not something where automatically the board can decide to raise taxes, and hopefully we will never have to use that element except in a worst-case scenario," he said.

This will allow TLMFPD to counteract the effects of a drop in the residential property tax assessment rate -from 21% to about 7% since the Gallagher Amendment was approved statewide in 1982. A comprehensive explanation of the 6A ballot measure can be found on the district’s website at http://tlmfire.org/issue-6a.

Gap project will change highway closure criteria

Deputy Chief Randy Trost said the following:

• Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will use a proactive philosophy of closing I-25 sooner during adverse weather conditions to keep motorists safe.

• Closures would be imminent once chain laws are in effect for Monument Hill.

• Highway motorists would not be able to divert to County Line Road and Hwy. 83 to travel northbound, since those peripheral roads would likely be in worse shape.

• Traffic could be turned back to the south at Woodmen Road where there are more traveler resources. Baptist Road could also provide resources at the westside truck stops to keep truckers from taking peripheral roads.

• Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Douglas County OEM are in discussion with CDOT and the Red Cross about communications, shelter locations, etc.

• Tri-Lakes area shelters are located at St. Peter Catholic Church and Ray Kilmer Elementary School.

Truty said we need our own separate resource list without having to go through the OEM for adverse weather conditions since more often the Tri-Lakes area experiences adverse weather conditions and nothing is happening in Briargate or elsewhere in the county.

Text: I25GAP to 21000 to get text messages pertaining to the Gap project.

2020 proposed budget

TLMFPD board President John Hildebrandt opened the public hearing of the 2020 proposed budget and there were no comments for or against the budget from the public.

Truty notified the board of a few revisions that had been made since October to the proposed 2020 budget regarding healthcare and workers’ compensation.

Truty said an executive staff meeting took place after the October meeting and the administrative staff unanimously agreed that the hiring process for the proposed two new administrative positions should be fielded both internally and externally. Truty recommended that the Division Chief position be filled first, followed by the EMS Captain position and he asked the board to consider the third revised budget draft for the Dec. 4 board meeting.

Truty said the county assessor will provide the final tax assessment by Dec. 1 in time for approval of the proposed 2020 budget.

2019 budget amended

Hildebrandt proposed the board approve Resolution 2019-05 to amend the 2019 budget, as Truty outlined in September, to reflect the increased revenue from the sale of Engine 3 and the reallocation of reserve funds. The resolution was accepted, 5-0. See www.ocn.me/v19n10.htm#tlmfpd.

Financial report

Treasurer Jason Buckingham read the financial report noting that property taxes, Specific Ownership Taxes and ambulance revenues are ahead of estimated budget numbers for 2019. However, impact fees could potentially fall below budgeted expectations. All expenses except building expenses are below budget as of Oct. 31.

New EMS/Paramedic

Hildebrandt welcomed EMS/Paramedic Johnathan Hoeh and thanked his former colleagues of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District for supporting Hoeh’s transition to TLMFPD. Truty also welcomed Hoeh and said, "Wescott would be sad to see him leave but, we are lucky to have someone who knows us, and he will be a good fit and a positive asset to our organization." Hildebrandt swore in Hoeh during the ceremony.

Chief’s Report

Truty and Trost’s comments included:

• American Medical Response (AMR) is still in the process of negotiating a contract with Colorado Springs and a county contract could result. TLMFPD is more than happy to provide mutual aid services, but will not be a secondary provider to help AMR fulfill its contract obligations without compensation.

• Station 1 remodel: construction drawings are being finalized incorporating ideas from firefighters and the annexation process is on schedule. The project is expected to break ground in March.

• Construction access to the property at Station 1 is pending approval from the adjacent property owner.

• Station 2 and 3’s new cosmetic upgrades are complete.

New engine was not perfect

Trost said the oil leak on the second new engine has been resolved, however, oil and coolant samples are being analyzed by a third party and the results are still pending. Detroit Diesel has agreed to provide an extended warranty on the engine component for an additional two years. Truty said, "Before we accept delivery of the second new engine, it is critical that everything is right and that nothing will shorten the life of the new engine."

Fire Marshal report includes Home Place Ranch

Fire Marshal/Battalion Chief Jamey Bumgarner said the Home Place Ranch development has now been approved for 300 homes in Phase 1 with two additional phases planned. Eventually, Gleneagle Drive will connect through to Higby Road. Truty said, "The connection will be a major thoroughfare, which will definitely improve connections from the south and the north and could affect future station placement." See related Nov. 18 Monument Board of Trustees article on page 1.

Bumgarner also commented:

• Crews delivered 21 different Fire Prevention Month programs to over 1,214 students in Lewis-Palmer schools.

• Station Alerting was approved in the El Paso-Teller 911 budget and a request for a proposal will be made at the beginning of January. This will allow crews at TLMFPD to only be alerted to calls pertinent to them instead of all calls in the area.

• The federal government might require TLMFPD to switch website domain names from .org to .gov to ensure a secure domain name. An application to change the web address will be made to the state. Should the application be accepted by the state, the change will be implemented slowly beginning in January.

Training update

Battalion Chief of Training Jonathan Bradley provided the following update:

• A difficult airway/EMS class was held at Wescott.

• Three employees have been accepted to Paramedic School.

• As part of an ongoing effort to hire as many firefighter/paramedics as possible, three current paramedics will be attending firefighter training.

• Paramedic Jay Bruchis has created an EMS boot camp.

• Firefighter Matt Evans has completed a Driver Operator Aerial Apparatus training course.

• Battalion Chief Kris Mola and Lieutenant Micah Coyle have completed a week-long instructor training course.

• A local property owner has generously donated a derelict house to use for training purposes prior to its demolition.

Santa on Patrol

The Town of Monument Police Department will continue the tradition of Santa on Patrol in conjunction with Toys for Tots, El Paso County Sheriff, Shield 616, TLMFPD and Palmer Lake Fire Department and Emergency Incident Support on Saturday, Dec. 14. Toy donation drop-off sites are at the following locations: Monument Police Department, TLMFPD administration office at 16055 Old Forest Point, Walmart, YMCA & RAD, Lewis-Palmer High School, Palmer Ridge High School, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Family of Christ Lutheran Church and St. Peter Catholic Church. Toys must be dropped off by 3 p.m. on December 10th. See the notice on page 28.

The meeting adjourned at 7:34 p.m.

Caption: From left, Lt. Curt Leonhardt of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, President John Hildebrandt and EMS/Paramedic Johnathan Hoeh. Hildebrandt administered the oath to the constitution to TLMFPD’S new staff member on Nov. 20. Deputy Chief Randy Trost and Treasurer Jason Buckingham are pictured far left. Photo by Fire Marshal/Battalion Chief of Administration Jamey Bumgarner.

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Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. However, the next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4 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 nataliebarszcz@ocn.me.

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Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District, Nov. 20: County ignoring its own rules, chief warns

By Natalie Barszcz

At the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) board meeting on Nov. 20, the board heard about the lack of water cisterns and fire hydrants in Flying Horse North and how the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) asked the chief to "re-review" his position during the planning phase of the golf maintenance facility which is currently under construction.

Flying Horse North and county decision-making

The board reacted with dismay and disbelief when Interim Fire Chief PJ Langmaid’s comments included:

• The BOCC chose not to enforce their own code of firefighting water supply requirements for new developments during the approval phase of Flying Horse North. I asked them to install a fire pump in the reservoir, but the BOCC can overrule the fire chief.

• Several large commercial buildings and 258 homes have no plans to include fire hydrants or water cisterns for structural firefighting in Flying Horse North.

• A proposed 30,000 square-foot clubhouse would be above height restrictions and has no planned inclusion for the fire protection systems required for buildings with large capacity occupation.

• BFFRPD is not equipped to serve large commercial buildings like that.

• At some point during the last year, BFFRPD stopped receiving email notifications regarding all pending new developments, possibly due to a change in our own email system.

Langmaid explained that the county planners (or El Paso County Development Services) decided that cisterns were not necessary since they were not used during the Black Forest Fire. However, the main use of cisterns is to provide water to fight a single structure fire, not a wildland fire conflagration and cisterns were used during the second day of the Black Forest Fire at High Forest Ranch, a development north of Flying Horse North.

Langmaid continued that during each phase of Flying Horse North, Classic Homes, Inc., will be required to revisit the water supply issue with BFFRPD as part of the county review process, so the district will be more proactive then.

"Classic Homes have now quickly agreed to install a fire pump for the Golf House building and plans for a 200-room hotel are on hold at this time. This is going to turn into a big deal, folks," he said.

Langmaid said they are going to be forced to assume a more active role in planning and development of the district, to review residential, commercial, and fire water supply. The county doesn’t have a fire marshal and depends on the Pikes Peak Regional Building Inspectors. A BFFRPD Fire Marshal position will need to be created, he said. The district will be updating the rules on its website for developers who want to build within the BFFRPD boundaries. For background, see www.ocn.me/v19n11.htm#bffire.

Amendment to the 2019 budget

Treasurer Jack Hinton requested the board approve the proposed amendment to the 2019 budget. He made particular note of the additional funding needed to allow the district to fix the exhaust vent system and pay for two new ambulance chassis in the latter half of the fiscal year. The board had approved these expenditures in 2019 realizing money would need to come from district reserves.

The board approved 5-0 an increase of capital expenditure from $308,000 to $563,100 for the 2019 budget.

Public hearing on the proposed 2020 budget

BFFRPD operates on a zero-based budget, meaning 100% of tax revenue received has been allocated and is used for the operation of the district. The budget also allows for emergency funds, TABOR monies and a balance at the end of the year to pay for wages and benefits through the first quarter, which is when the district receives the first payment of property tax revenue. Payment of the balance for two new ambulances in 2020 is also included in the proposed budget.

Langmaid said he is working on creating a strategic plan through 2025 so the district can be more proactive.

The budget is scheduled for approval at the Dec. 11, board meeting.

Online banking approved

Hinton requested the board approve Resolution 2019-03 to grant authority for the chief and the finance director to access the district’s bank accounts for the purpose of making deposits and transferring funds between the district’s accounts as necessary to complete tasks assigned to the finance director by the chief. The board voted 5-0 to adopt the resolution.

Check signing emergency fund

Hinton proposed a resolution that all board members could access district bank accounts during an emergency, as directed by the board. After a discussion, Hinton agreed to present at the December meeting a corrected resolution that would state more clearly how a board member could only access accounts during an emergency.

Public comment

Black Forest resident, Linda Smith asked the board: How can BFFRPD spend more than they have? Hinton responded with the following:

• The district holds reserves and the budget is strictly the amount of taxes received from property taxes which are based on the mill levy.

• The property tax assessment is usually accurate, give or take $1,000.

• The new mill levy of 14.5 mills will be partially implemented in 2020 at 12.5528 mills.

• The amount of $550,000 was approved for the mill levy increase in 2020 for the budget in conjunction with the assessed property taxes.

Operational report

Langmaid said the following:

• A total of 107 responses were made in October, which is a significant increase in calls for service. It was expected with the population density increasing and we expect the calls to keep growing. Year-to-date calls have surpassed 1,040.

• American Medical Response (AMR) has requested meetings with BFFRPD and our neighboring partner agencies to build improved mutual aid agreements.

• Thanks to the board decision to hire extra EMS staff, Firefighter/Paramedics Brandon Johns and Amanda Earle have become the latest full-time staff members on November 10.

• Firefighter/Paramedic Daniel Grodman has resigned.

• Two Assistance to Life Service (ALS) ambulances are now in service in the district and the aim is to continue that model even though a Firefighter/Paramedic is leaving.

• An apparatus and equipment committee is being formed to identify needs in both areas for 2021 and 2022.

• Captain Chris Piepenburg has been working diligently with local and state partners regarding a more robust wildland program.

• BFFRPD is still looking at wildland fire deployments in 2020 and it will require some sacrifice and generate overtime.

• Training continues with Fire Officer and Firefighter Hazmat Technician courses.

Paramedic student contract

Langmaid requested the board approve the newly-drafted paramedic student contract requiring a three-year commitment from trainees since the district is paying for their training. The first year. the student would be required to reimburse the district 100 percent of the cost of training if they decided to leave BFFRPD, with a 75 percent reimbursement in the second year and 50 percent of the cost in the third year.

The board approved the Paramedic Student Contract, 5-0.

2019 property inclusions

Hinton requested the board approve Resolution 2019-06 to consider a petition of inclusion for three property owners for the provision of fire protection and emergency services. The board voted 5-0 to include all three properties.

The meeting adjourned at 7:57 p.m.

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Correction

In OCN’s November 2 edition, the BFFRPD article should have read: "The total compensation (wages and benefits) for employees is 59.75 percent of the entire budget, this is well under the national average of 71 percent of the budget." We apologize for the error.

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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 Wednesday, Dec. 11. See www.bffire.org.

Natalie Barszcz can be reached at nataliebarszcz@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education, Nov. 4: Board says farewell to Director Mark Pfoff, Palmer Ridge geothermal field suit settled

By Harriet Halbig

The October 28 board meeting was postponed to Nov. 4 due to weather.

A reception for Director Mark Pfoff was held prior to the meeting. The board thanked Pfoff for his 12 years of service. Treasurer Chris Taylor said he enjoyed working with Pfoff on creating the bond issue on the ballot. Former board President John Mann praised Pfoff for his work on the board despite having been the target of personal attacks. Secretary Theresa Phillips thanked Pfoff for his service and creative solutions. Other board members and Superintendent K.C. Somers also praised Pfoff for his service.

Vice President Tiffiney Upchurch urged all citizens to vote in the Nov. 5 election. She also reported that the resolution about local control submitted to the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) by the district has been accepted and made part of the list of proposals for the 2020 legislative session. For details about the resolution, see www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#38.

Among other issues approved were the addition of video cameras on school buses and vaping.

Board President Matthew Clawson thanked Upchurch for her leadership on legislative matters and thanked Pfoff for inspiring him to run for reelection. He also thanked other candidates for their willingness to serve. He thanked Taylor and Pfoff for arranging town hall meetings regarding the bond.

Somers said that the district had already used three snow days and thanked the transportation, grounds, and maintenance departments for their effort. Oct. 28 was to be First Responder Day districtwide, but due to the snow closure, each school will celebrate individually.

Board recognitions

The Board recognized individuals who were honored for the Lewis-Palmer Hall of Fame in October. For information, see p. 27 www.ocn.me/v19n11.htm#photos.

The board recognized athletes from Lewis-Palmer Middle School, all of whom enjoyed undefeated seasons.

The Board recognized Monument Hill Kiwanis for their ongoing support of the district and Tri-Lakes Cares for their long-standing partnership with the district.

Finally, the Board thanked Mark Pfoff for his service and awarded him with a brick from the remodeling of the administration building as a keepsake.

Settlement of civil lawsuit regarding Palmer Ridge geothermal field

Attorney Doug Stevens reported that the lawsuit regarding the geothermal field at Palmer Ridge High School had been settled in mediation for $1.95 million. A memorandum of understanding was drawn up between the school district and the project architect and contractors. Stevens said that the amount agreed upon should be sufficient to replace the geothermal field. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#d38-1011.

Approval of proposed easement

The board approved a proposal to accept $63,068.81 from Woodmoor Water and Sanitation for an easement at Palmer Ridge High School. This will allow them access to construct or reconstruct parts of their system that are underground with the understanding that they will restore the surface to its prior condition.

Enrollment and financial impact presentation

Somers and Executive Director of Finance David Crews offered a presentation regarding the shortfall in anticipated enrollment this year and the financial impact that it presents. He said there would be 131 fewer students than the number upon which the year’s budget was based.

Somers commented that the 2019 graduating class was very large with far fewer entering kindergarten causing an imbalance. He also said that closing choice to students in grades K-8 could have had an influence. In addition, an increasing number of students opt to study online.

Some possible solutions to the income shortfall could be limiting overtime, saving energy, and streamlining the procurement process. He suggested a goal of saving 5 % per month.

Clawson said that he welcomes any suggestions, but would oppose anything that impacts compensation.

Caption: The Board recognized retiring member Mark Pfoff for his 12 years of service. Pictured from left are President Matthew Clawson, Pfoff, Secretary Theresa Phillips, Vice President Tiffiney Upchurch, and Treasurer Chris Taylor. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month in the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Dec.16.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education Town Hall Meeting, Nov. 14: District 38 holds town hall meeting after failed bond issue

By Allison Robenstein

The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education arranged a town hall meeting after the single-purpose bond (4A) failed in the 2019 election. It was standing room only in the town hall meeting room for the Nov. 14 discussion.

Treasurer Chris Taylor kicked off the meeting by saying the board has had annual budget plans, but never a long-term comprehensive plan to follow. He wondered if that was one reason the bond request didn’t pass. This meeting was called to begin the process of developing such a plan and discuss other issues.

Background: Ballot issue 4A would have authorized a $28.985 million bond to fund a new elementary school and convert Bear Creek Elementary back to its original intent as a middle school. The issue failed with 55% voting against.

The full board attended the meeting, as well as newly-elected Ron Schwarz who will represent District 4.

Superintendent K.C. Somers said the town hall was intended to connect with stakeholders and gather new ideas. However, resident Ann Howe criticized the way the meeting was publicized, saying this isn’t a town hall. She also objected to the audience composition saying those who opposed the bond were not represented. At the meeting, this reporter didn’t see any public indication of how anyone had voted.

Meeting attendees were separated into groups and assigned to one of the many district administrators in attendance. The board asked each group to answer two questions. After an hour of discussion the groups came back together to discuss their findings.

The questions were:

• "What are some specific ideas or suggestions that can be implemented to maintain the values articulated by our community?"

• "What are some specific ideas or suggestions that can be implemented to address the challenges we face in D-38?"

Both ended up having common answers from the groups including:

• The idea of Grace Best Education Center being restored and used as a school should be "put to bed."

• Focus should be placed on staff, their morale, competitive wages and improved benefits.

• The development and growth of our children should be of primary concern.

• The community should be educated to better support our schools.

• The board and the town’s trustees should partner and consider increasing developer impact fees to pay for new schools.

Somers said the board planned to hold similar meetings to continue the process of gathering community input to develop the district’s comprehensive plan.

Caption: During a town hall meeting Nov. 14 called by D-38, attendees broke into groups to come up with new ideas for the board. Because of the recent failure of the bond issue (4A) the board is looking for answers. Photo by Allison Robenstein

Allison Robenstein can be reached at allisonrobenstein@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee, Nov. 12: Reports on Special Ed Advisory Committee, School Finance, and Legislative initiatives

By Harriet Halbig

The District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) held its Nov. 12 meeting at Lewis-Palmer High School. A campus tour was offered by Principal Bridget O’Connor before the meeting.

Business during the meeting included reports on the Colorado Association of School Boards’ (CASB) legislative initiatives, school finance, the Special Education Advisory Committee, and the Community Family Partnership initiative.

Principal Bridget O’Connor offered an introduction to her school and spoke of an emphasis on social and emotional wellness to reduce the stigma around mental health. This initiative began in August.

O’Connor also reported that programming in the school focuses on post-graduate life including Project Lead the Way with programs in engineering and biomedical fields and dual and concurrent enrollment options enabling students to earn college credit before graduation. Dual enrollment involves college-level courses taught on campus and concurrent enrollment involves students spending part of their day on college campuses.

Another option is to start offering associate degrees through work-based learning and internships.

The school offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities and athletic and arts activities.

Board of Education Liaison report

Board of Education liaison Tiffiney Upchurch reported on recent actions by CASB involving their legislative agenda. Each year CASB meets in October to arrive at a list of proposals to present to the legislature. This year there were 50 resolutions proposed of which 41 passed. One of these was proposed by D-38 and stated that the recent legislation regarding the teaching of human sexuality was unconstitutional as it robs districts of local control over their curricula. For information on the resolution, see the September issue of Our Community News.

Upchurch showed two brief videos on the subject of school financing. She said that the per- pupil revenue in 2019-20 will be $8,069.

Upchurch commented that since the proposed bond issue on the November ballot failed, the board has decided to continue to have town hall meetings to ensure that the community understands the urgency of building another school. She said the need for a second middle school is especially urgent. Another goal of the board is to create a long-term strategic plan.

Special Education Advisory Committee update

Executive Director of Exceptional Student Services Rick Frampton reported on his department’s ongoing efforts. The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) was formed to offer information and input regarding the practices of the district, advocacy for students receiving services, and an opportunity for parents and staff to meet and interact.

SEAC sponsors an annual questionnaire for parents. Twenty percent of parents responded to the questionnaire this year. It appears that the response increases if teachers encourage parents to fill out the questionnaire. SEAC will sponsor a resource fair in January to inform parents of services available to students after graduation.

Frampton reported that 693 students receive services. He said the population is growing at a faster rate than the entire district due to the district’s reputation.

Frampton also reported on the transitions program which serves students until the age of 21 and teaches life skills and also offers some community college classes. These students are funded like all others in the district, but the general fund covers more than half of the expenses.

Community Family Partnership Report

Parent Liaison Michelle Nay reported on the Family-School-Community Partnership initiative.

The purpose of this partnership is to offer a welcoming and respectful relationship between families, schools, and the community. Families are informed and included when decisions are made regarding their students and are encouraged to communicate directly with teachers when necessary.

Nay distributed a document describing ways in which such relationships can be maintained. Nay also said that she hosts a group during the day which offers the same benefits as SEAC and is always willing to meet with parents should they request it.

DAAC meets six times a year on the second Tuesday of the month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on January 14 at Bear Creek Elementary School, 1330 Creekside Dr., Monument.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Monument Academy School Board, Nov. 14: Board hears revised budget and first COO report

By Jackie Burhans

The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held a regular meeting on November 14 in an upstairs lab to accommodate the Thanksgiving program near the library. The board heard from the new Chief Operating Officer (COO) Christiana Herrera.

Revised Budget

Chief Financial Officer Marc Brocklehurst reported on the revised budget which was increased by 3.2 percent to $8,232,453. More information on the budget can be found at http://monumentacademy.net/financial-transparency.

Revenue is down because the actual student count in October was lower than what it was estimated to be in the budget. The October count of 890.92 was down from 904.98. This was due to lower enrollment in 1st, 5th, and 6th grades from the original budget. The per pupil revenue was increased to $8,069.64 per the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) website. Capital construction funds were also down per the CDE website. Additional revenue was added in for the mill levy override funding shared with D-38. Kindergarten tuition was removed due to the change in state funding for full-day kindergarten.

Expenditures saw increases in D-38 administrative fees, an additional Gifted and Talented (GT) teacher, a new marketing specialist and marketing funds. Brocklehurst also said expenses decreased due to not replacing the French teacher or the Technology director and reducing the budget for iPad refresh and computer replacements. The Special Education (SPED) budget was lowered due to an accounting reclassification. General administration expenses decreased due to the gap in senior level staff.

COO Initial Report

Herrera noted she had two weeks on the job so far and was gratified at the warm welcome she has felt while using coffees and parent meetings to listen and learn. She has participated in meetings on budgeting, strategizing, and marketing. She said they need to confirm who MA is, why it is different, and why students should come to the MA high school.

Herrera took a tour of Liberty Common charter school in Fort Collins, a K-12 school that has two campuses for K-6 and 7-12 grades. They have been doing this for a few years and have worked out some of the kinks. She looked at the natural transition between elementary and secondary schools and how it looks in the classroom. She noted that high school kids survived being in uniforms and found ways to express themselves creatively other than through clothes. She believes MA can handle expansion every two years responsibly.

She is planning additional meetings with the GT and SPED teams as well as Health Services.

Highlights

The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:

• The elementary school has 5.75 snow days left and middle school has 10.75 left after using 4 days. Since CDE now tracks contact time in hours, MA can adjust the hours by adding full days on Friday.

• Board member Chris Dole described the role of the School Accountability Advisory Committee (SAAC) as advisory rather than policy setting. The last SAAC meeting was on Oct. 14 and covered topics on revising the bi-annual survey process to improve participation and understanding student assessments.

• The secondary school construction is a little behind schedule due to snow. Additional tarps, tents, and heat have been put in place. The south end parking area has had a single layer of asphalt laid down, resulting in substantial savings.

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The next meeting will be on Monday, Dec. 9 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. The board does not normally meet in December. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committee and finances can be found at www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.

Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, Nov. 18: Post-election discussion, Somers’ Listening and Learning Tour

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education had an extensive discussion of the recent election and received a report on Superintendent K.C. Somers’ Listening and Learning Tour, which began during the summer with community members and continued with staff.

Somers introduced the new Director of Nutritional Services, Stacey Baker, who has a background with the department of health and restaurant inspection. With a degree in microbiology, she has extensive knowledge of food safety and regulatory compliance.

Board comments

Members of the board commented on their disappointment with the failure of the bond issue on the November ballot.

Treasurer Chris Taylor said that the divisions in the community need to be overcome before a bond can be successful. There is a strong voice in the community that does not support public education. At the board’s next work session in early December, he said he would like to hear about other options to fund a new school.

Taylor said that although the district has a great reputation in the state for academics and athletics that does not extend to the community. He said that the board will continue to sponsor town hall meetings to discuss the current situation and plans to go forward.

He was asked what the board will do when the community can’t grow anymore. He suggested that the board and others develop a long-term strategic plan which can be revisited and revised periodically to demonstrate that the district has a long-term view.

Secretary Theresa Phillips also expressed her disappointment. She thanked all who worked in favor of the bond. She agreed that it is important for all sides to listen to each other and encouraged members of the public to email and call her. She said future town hall meetings would be held at schools in an effort to reach the largest number of stakeholders.

Vice President Tiffiney Upchurch praised the staff who worked on the day after the election and said that she felt that the board received valuable feedback at the town hall meeting the previous week.

Upchurch said that she is willing to meet with anyone.

Board President Matthew Clawson said that the district needs to figure out how to support teachers and students and said that he would look at all options for funding to be discussed at the December work session.

Issue 4A was intended to build a new elementary school in Jackson Creek and convert Bear Creek Elementary into a middle school.

Listening and Learning Tour

Somers reported on his extensive Listening and Learning Tour, which began during the summer and will continue through the end of the year.

July and August were spent engaging members of the community through meetings in various locations such as the library and coffee shops.

Somers asked what values the community supports, what challenges the district faces, and what expectations they have for the administration.

Values included a positive learning environment, dedicated staff, parent involvement, community involvement, graduating students prepared for future success, focus on the whole child (physical, social, academic), and open communications.

Challenges included meeting the needs of all students, effective use of facilities, staff retention and morale, safety, security, mental health, civil conversation, relationship with Monument Academy, and dealing with growth.

Somers spoke with members of the staff during August through October.

He asked them about their values and what they would wish to change. They said that they would like more funding for compensation and materials, a possible change in school times, more emphasis on mental health, more staff such as paraprofessionals and bus drivers, more technology resources, and increased security.

Regarding their goals, they said they would do their best to support and represent the district, to serve as role models to students, to guide and support students, and build relationships among themselves and the community.

Somers said that going forward he would speak with students in November and December, engage stakeholders in collaborative conversations, define the goals and vision for the district, begin long-term facilities planning, and educate the community about school finance.

Taylor commented that he would like the board to consider how they may be more effective. He also said they failed when the bond failed.

The board then had a discussion about post-election goals. The town hall meeting of the previous week was divided into several small groups who then reported back on their conversations.

Taylor said that he enjoyed attending the town hall meeting and was glad to see such diversity in the participants. He said, however, that the board should have a goal in mind when conducting these meetings.

Phillips said that she was impressed with the diversity of ideas and that people engaged in conversation respectfully.

Upchurch said that she valued the open dialogue and said that personal interactions are important.

Somers said that the board must speak with a single voice, decide exactly what they want and how to get there. When a single subject, such as the use of Grace Best Education Center, comes up repeatedly, that must be addressed. He would like to see a framework for a strategic plan by March.

Taylor suggested that the district find a way to compare our teachers’ salaries to those in districts 12 and 20 and show this to the public in addition to problems with funding maintenance of district facilities.

Clawson said that the board should discuss its goals at the work session and include plans for community conversations showing the district budget in detail.

Mark Pfoff retired from the board at the Nov. 4 meeting. Newly elected Director Ron Schwarz was in attendance but cannot be officially sworn in until the election is certified in late November.

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The Lewis-Palmer D-38 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 Dec. 16.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Forest Lakes Metropolitan District and Pinon Pines Metro Districts 1, 2, and 3, Nov. 4: Rate increases proposed; preliminary 2020 budget discussed

By Natalie Barszcz

At the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) and Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts (PPMD) 1, 2, and 3 board meetings on November 4, the directors discussed proposed rate increases, the preliminary 2020 budget and changed future meeting times to 4 p.m.

Forest Lakes is a Title 32 service district in El Paso County. FLMD is the half-acre operating district that collects property taxes and is responsible for the public infrastructure for the residents of PPMD 1 and PPMD 2, which are in unincorporated El Paso County, and PPMD 3, the commercial section, which lies mostly within the southwest town limits of Monument.

Board members for FLMD, PPMD 2 and 3 are: President George Lenz, executive vice president of finance of Classic Homes; Secretary James Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes; Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Doug Stimple, CEO of Classic Homes; and Assistant Secretary Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes. One board member vacancy exists in all three of these districts.

PPMD 1 board Directors include FLMD residents Mike Hitchcock and Mike Slavick alongside Lenz, Stimple and Loidolt.

Ann Nichols is the manager for all four districts.

Note: One board director position remains vacant for FLMD, PPMD 2 and PPMD 3. PPMD 1 board Director Mike Slavic was excused.

Rate increases proposed

Nichols proposed the 2020 FLMD budget include rate increases due to a current need for ongoing subsidies from the development fees to pay for water, wastewater services, and common area landscaping and watering. She suggested a 12% increase in water and wastewater rates and increasing the common area landscaping maintenance fee by 20% to $13 a month. This would be part of a series of increases over the next few years. It still leaves deficits in 2020 but would be narrowing the gaps, she said.

Note: Nichols has consistently said that she would do cost-of-service analyses once the district actually included homes and began operating. See www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#flmd.

Nichols said in comparison to other neighboring districts "we are cheap" and we need to bear in mind that in 2020, FLMD will experience nine months with no new development fees and that will create a deficit in all areas. (See related EPC PC article on page 22) Also, the surface water treatment plant started operating four months ago, providing all the residents’ and districts’ water instead of using well water. She wants to analyze what it really costs to operate. Stimple added, "as long as we are not the highest, I don’t see how the residents can complain." The FLMD public hearing on rates will be held on Dec. 9.

The proposed rate increases for 2020 can be found at www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com.

Preliminary 2020 budget discussion

Director James Boulton said that all permits have now been pulled for PPMD 1 and that would need to be updated in the preliminary 2020 budget. The final two lots have now closed in filing 4. Director George Lenz said further amendments will need to be reflected in the final budget proposal scheduled to be presented at the next meeting.

Nichols proposed budgeting $40,000 for the irrigation of common area landscaping in 2020. Hitchcock said, that water irrigation of the common areas should be re-evaluated to reduce the regularity of watering in established landscaping so water is not wasted.

Financial reports

Nichols presented the August financial report for PPMD 1 and commented that facilities fees pledged to pay the bonds are lagging behind the original budgeted amount.

The PPMD 1 board directors accepted the August financials as presented, 4-0.

Board meeting time will be 4 p.m.

Nichols said a resident had raised concerns over the new timing of 4 p.m. for all future meetings. The time would still be awkward for many residents to attend due to it being during the work day. Director Mike Hitchcock said that residents are concerned with what is going on in their metro district and many want to have a voice in the decision-making since almost 50% of their taxes goes to this district. Much discussion ensued to decide an optimum time of day to hold meetings. PPMD 1 resident Michael Davidson suggested a dial-in conference call number for residents who are unable to attend. Nichols agreed to explore that avenue before the next meeting.

Note: After the meeting it was announced that the meetings will be available as a conference call. To attend call 1-408-418-9388 and enter PIN 621010488#.

Nichols requested the next board meeting be postponed one week to allow the rates to be made available to the public for 30 days prior to the next meeting. The board agreed 4-0 to meet at 4 p.m. on Dec. 9 for the next board meeting.

NMCI project update

Nichols talked about recent developments on the proposed North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) pipeline for future regionalization of water and wastewater utilities. See www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#flmd.

• Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) is behind schedule with the draft participation agreement for the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) approval process for the NMCI project. It goes through protected wildlife habitats and the Air Force Academy (AFA) to connect with the JD Philips wastewater reclamation facility in Colorado Springs.

• CSU has now taken over the lead role in obtaining NEPA approval since the planned Air Force Academy Visitor Center is now going ahead without joining the NCMI project at this time. Eventually, they may rejoin if the project is successful.

• The project could fall apart if return water flows to certain other northern districts cannot be delivered.

• FLMD is not interested in return water flows since it already has a renewable water resource: Beaver Creek flowing into Bristlecone Lake. It also has a future well access to the Arapahoe Aquifer along with a worst-case scenario, emergency interconnections with Donala and Triview water.

Hitchcock said 100 percent of the district’s water is coming from Bristlecone Lake, He said the level is looking low and a "security blanket" ought to be explored if "all hell breaks loose and the lake and well fail." Nichols said return flows are too expensive to consider and Stimple said, "We already have a pretty good system." See www.ocn.me/v19n8.htm#flmd.

Nichols voiced her concern that CSU is proposing incremental wastewater rate increases that would charge a higher-than-expected multiplier to "outside customers" such as Manitou Springs and the northern entities should the NMCI project go forward. The board directed Nichols to contact the Colorado Springs City Council about FLMD concerns over future rate increases with CSU.

Public comment on noxious weed watering

Davidson said despite his request at the Mar. 12 board meeting and subsequent email request to Nichols, noxious weeds, primarily thistle and mullein, had continued to be watered around Pinon Lake for almost 2 hours a day through fall until the sprinkler system was winterized in October. He also asked if the area could be cut once or twice throughout the summer to eliminate the weeds.

Nichols said the county had not mentioned that area when it contacted the district about noxious weeds and that she had asked All American Ground Maintenance to stop watering the natural vegetation areas to include Pinon Lake by July 1st. Nichols said the landscapers were going to attempt to mow and spray in the spring but "never ever" water what is supposed to be "native vegetation" areas.

The meeting adjourned at 11:16 a.m.

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Future PPMD 1 meetings, followed by joint meetings of FLMD and PPMD 2 and 3, are now scheduled for 4 p.m. the first Monday of the month in the Classic Homes office at 6385 Corporate Drive, Suite 200, Colorado Springs. However, the next scheduled meeting will be December 9 at 4 p.m. Meetings will be available as a conference call. To attend call 1-408-418-9388 and enter PIN 621010488#. Official meeting notices are posted on the district website at www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com and at the Forest Lakes mailbox notice board. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at (719) 327-5810 or at anicholsduffy@aol.com.

Natalie Barszcz can be reached at nataliebarszcz@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, November 12: Walters property developer requests water

By James Howald

At their November 12 meeting, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board heard a request to provide supplemental water service from the developer proposing to build houses on a parcel known as the Walters property. The board also held a preliminary discussion about rates and listened to a presentation about the revegetation work underway at the Woodmoor Ranch. Finally, a brief public hearing on the proposed 2020 budget was held, and the board heard operational reports.

Walters property development advances

District Manager Jessie Shaffer told the board that ProTerra Properties, LLC (PPL) had reached a tentative agreement with the Walters family and the Walters Open Space Committee that Shaffer believed was a win for all three parties. The three parties had been discussing how the Walters family could sell a portion of its land to PPL for development, and a portion to local homeowners whose lots border the parcel as extensions to their lots. The proposed agreement would also dedicate some of the land to remain as open space.

The agreement would sell a 37-acre portion and a three-acre portion to PPL for development, Shaffer said. The entire Walters property consists of 133 acres

According to a letter PPL submitted to WWSD requesting water service, they intend to develop 152 single-family lots on the 37-acre parcel, and three single-family lots on the three-acre parcel.

The land to be developed has no water rights, as the Walters family sold those in 2002, Shaffer said, and the future of the proposed deal depended on WWSD agreeing to provide 60.5 acre-feet of water to the developer annually.

The agreement will leave some land as open space, which will be maintained by Woodmoor Improvements Association (WIA), Shaffer said. PPL land will also be subject to WIA covenants, according to Shaffer.

Andrew J. Biggs and Joe DesJardin, both of PPL, attended the meeting to request that WWSD commit to providing water for their proposed development. They said the district’s commitment was key to PPL pursuing its development plan and they requested WWSD to give them an option to purchase 60.5 acre-feet of water in the future. That amount of water would include five acre-feet of water for contingency use.

Shaffer said district policy allowed the sale of an option for supplemental water service, which would cost PPL five percent of the value of the water each year the option was provided.

The board agreed to provide the requested option, contingent on a document from ProTerra Properties laying out the legal details.

Rate discussion proposes few changes

Andrew Rheem and Hannah Palmer-Dwore, of Raftelis Financial Consultants (RFC), attended the meeting to give a status report on the work RFC has been doing to advise the district on rates for water and sewer service. This analysis is done annually. Rheem and Palmer-Dwore told the board RFC was planning on using the "the same outlook as last year." Their goal is to determine rates that will recover the cost of service and maintain the long-term financial health of the district, they said. Funding for capital projects was a variable in their calculations, they told the board.

Some of the capital projects being considered by the district are construction of a pipeline to bring water from the Woodmoor Ranch to the district, drilling of an additional well and expanding the sewer treatment facilities.

Shaffer told the board that non-potable and bulk water customers were being subsidized by residential rate payers.

In the discussion, some rate increases were proposed for 2020, specifically, a five-percent increase on bulk water customers, a four-percent increase on irrigation customers, and a three-percent increase on non-residential customers. Bulk customers are typically schools and non-profits, Shaffer said.

Rheem and Palmer-Dwore said they would build the board’s direction on rates into their plans and return at a future meeting to present their recommendations.

Revegetation effort continues on Woodmoor Ranch

Paul Flack of Resource Based International, the company that is managing the revegetation work required by the conversion of Woodmoor Ranch land from agricultural to other uses, gave the board an update on progress to date.

Flack said the work is 60 percent complete with 1,330 acres complete and 120 acres seeded with native grasses, 202 acres under irrigation, and 1,620 acres receiving weed control.

Flack said in 2020 there would be a need to till some portions of the ranch to address weeds with deep roots.

Shaffer said the more difficult portions of the ranch would be addressed in 2020.

Public hearing on budget held

A preliminary budget was presented at the previous meeting in October. This budget received minor updates at the November meeting.

The public hearing on the proposed budget was held at the November meeting. There were no comments from the public.

The board kept the discussion open until the next meeting on December 9, to accommodate any comments from the public.

Highlights of operational reports

• Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette told the board that both the Chilcott Ditch and the augmentation station had been shut down for the year and were expected to be reopened in April of 2020.

• Well 15 is out of service

• The bid for construction of a pipeline to connect Well 21 to the processing station has been published

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Correction

The article on WWSD in the November OCN, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Oct. 14: Water line replacement planned, incorrectly identifies a water line replacement planned for Scrub Oak Way. The correct location is Scrub Oak Circle, which intersects Scrub Oak Way but is a different road. We apologize for any confusion this error might have caused.

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The next meeting is scheduled for December 9 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.

James Howald can be reached at jameshowald@ocn.me.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Nov. 12: Residents must allow utility easement access

By Lisa Hatfield

The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) met on November 12 to discuss infrastructure maintenance that must be done within utility easements on private property, plant operations which were negatively affected by possible chemical dumping, and the 2020 budget.

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: MSD board Chairman Ed DeLaney, JUC president; PLSD board Chairman Mark Bruce took the place of JUC and PLSD Vice Chairman Patricia Smith, who has resigned; 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 Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette.

Member districts need easement access to keep things running

The JUC and these owner districts want their property owner customers to understand that the easements that are owned by these three wastewater districts for repair and maintenance must be immediately available to district personnel and contractors to access manholes or buried sewer collection lines inside their property owner customers’ boundaries.

MSD, PLSD, and WWSD all perform regular inspections and maintenance on their sewer lines, and in an emergency would need access to these lines to prevent or contain a hazardous materials spill, using their rights-of-way within these legally defined easements.

Facility Manager Bill Burks said that he has had some stressful, negative interactions with certain residents when maintenance crews needed access to the collection line and manhole easements, which are documented on property plat maps filed with El Paso County. Utilities are not required to provide advance notification to property owners that have easements through their properties, but the managers do try to work with residents, Orcutt and Wicklund said.

Orcutt mentioned that her district is working near Mount Herman Road and Cloven Hoof Drive on the first phase of upgrades to its sewer lines to increase the flow capacity of certain collection lines that are nearing their limit. See www.ocn.me/v19n6.htm#plsd.

Dumping solvents disrupts the treatment process

Burks said the JUC and the owner districts want their customers to know the serious hazards of disposing volatile organic compounds and solvents into the MSD, PLSD, and WWSD sanitary sewer collection systems because they can kill the aerobic and anaerobic bacteria in the TLWWTF aeration basins and sludge lagoon. The bacteria must be able to treat the waste so it can be disposed of safely and healthfully.

In the TLWWTF September Discharge Monitoring Report submitted to the state and the EPA, Burks said he is still investigating facility nitrification issues that began in August and could be related to solvents being dumped into the owner districts’ collection systems instead of being disposed of separately as hazardous waste. The outcome is an increase in the ammonia level in the facility’s effluent discharged to Monument Creek and the facility’s sludge lagoon.

Residential hazardous waste can be disposed of safely; see http://communityservices.elpasoco.com/environmental-division/household-hazardous-waste/. Commercial businesses with hazardous waste disposal questions should contact their sanitation district.

Stakeholder meeting updates

Burks reported that the Arkansas River/ Fountain Creek Coalition for Urban/Rural River Evaluation (AF CURE) and the TLWWTF environmental attorney Gabe Racz of Vranesh & Raisch LLP are continuing to monitor developments with the Water Quality Control Division’s decision-making processes on a variety of new treatment issues and regulations that are currently being modified.

MSD Environmental Compliance Coordinator Jim Kendrick reported on the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council October meeting. He said stakeholders such as TLWWTF and AF CURE are frustrated with the lack of transparency and the inability to give substantive input on scientific decision-making to the regulators at the state level. He said the stakeholder process is too limited, too hurried, too undefined, and too impracticable. New rules will likely be added to TLWWTF discharge permits even though no treatment technologies are available to achieve the new tighter discharge limits. And, Racz said, "There is nothing we can do about it." Racz commented that no informational handouts for agenda items are available at the state meetings for members of the regulated community to read ahead of stakeholder meetings in order to provide useful comments to the state before the stakeholder meetings.

Kendrick summarized, "The stakeholder process is going to be blown up."

2020 budget approved

After a brief discussion about the final 2020 TLWWTF budget draft, the JUC voted unanimously to adopt the 2020 budget and appropriate the $1,297,834 in funds required.

Burks later said it was possible that TLWWTF would "come in below" the $1,131,916 it had budgeted for 2019 expenditures.

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The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 10 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public from all three owner-districts. For information, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053.

Lisa Hatfield can be reached at lisahatfield@ocn.me.

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Triview Metropolitan District, Nov. 20: October’s record snowfall and cold temperatures stall Jackson Creek Parkway progress

By Jennifer Kaylor

At the Nov. 20 board meeting, Kiewit Project Manager Joe Houtz gave the Triview Metropolitan District directors options for managing weather-related setbacks on the Jackson Creek Parkway (JCP) widening project. District Manager Jim McGrady reviewed the proposed 2020 budget.

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 Nov. 20 board packet may be accessed via www.triviewmetro.com/boardDocuments.

Quality a top priority for Kiewit and Triview

Houtz confirmed that the October 2019 snowfall and temperatures—the 5th coldest and snowiest on record for southeast Colorado—not only stalled Kiewit’s advanced schedule but created delays that may last into the spring. He proposed two options for completing what remains of the final stage of the project which is the mill and overlay of the northbound and southbound lanes from Leather Chaps Drive to Higby Road. Option one is to finish the work during the characteristically sporadic and short warmer days in December and January. Option two is to postpone the work until spring when temperatures that reach or rise above 40 degrees are more likely to be consistent. Emphasizing concerns for quality, Houtz recommended the spring postponement. In December and January, sufficiently warm temperatures generally last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. With this final mill and overlay requiring about seven consistently warm days for completion, the shorter windows of opportunity have the potential to create patchy asphalt quality as well as increased traffic disruption, he explained.

Postponement obviously translates to a longer wait for the parkway to be completed. It may also mean that expanding from the current single-open lane in each direction to double-open lanes (the lanes would be unfinished and therefore rough and uneven) would be weather-dependent. The board agreed to tentatively plan on a spring completion with a caveat; if a promising seven-day weather forecast came earlier, overlay work would begin. McGrady later confirmed the following timeline: four-lane traffic from Leather Chaps to Higby Road about the first week of January; substantial completion May 22; and final completion May 29.

Houtz discussed other work such as supplemental change orders, wiring for the 34 additional lights along the parkway, fortification of the right-turn lane at JCP and Higby Road, and an additional left-turn lane. After the executive session, McGrady confirmed the board’s vote to approve an amendment to the Kiewit contract authorizing the addition of a three-quarter left-turn lane from northbound JCP into the northern section of Monument Market Place. This lane will allow a left turn into the shopping plaza but not a left turn coming out of the plaza onto JCP. Triview will incur $50,000 of the estimated $163,000 cost to add the turn lane.

Budget reviewed

McGrady reviewed the district’s proposed 2020 budget which assumed a property tax levy of 35 mills and residential growth of 150 new homes. The district operates on two separate funds: a general fund which is divided into the Public Works/Streets Department and Parks and Open Space Department. The second fund, known as the enterprise fund, is likewise divided into a Water Department and Wastewater Department.

Because the property tax revenue must be used to pay principal and interest on debt service only, McGrady discussed the need for the general fund’s income stream to match increased expenses resulting from growth. Currently, various sales taxes and impact fees are the source of revenue for the general fund. Expressing a goal to use impact fees strictly for expansion and improvements, the district may need to consider alternate sources of income if sales tax revenue trends downward.

He emphasized the need for the water and wastewater service rates that are charged to customers to fully support daily operations and for the respective enterprise fees—paid by developers—to pay for major projects. The proposed budget now incorporates these fees into the capital projects fund.

Ultimately, the proposed 2020 budget reflects a philosophical move for the district to function primarily on a cash basis.

The Triview 2020 budget draft may be accessed at https://bit.ly/2OqCsVk.

Water and wastewater rates and budget hearing scheduled for December meeting

McGrady confirmed the next meeting, which will serve as the public hearing for a water and wastewater rate increase and the 2020 budget, will be Wednesday, Dec. 11. A copy of the proposed rates increase has been filed in the Triview office at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument, CO and is available for public inspection.

At 8:37 p.m., the board entered executive session §24-6-402(4)(b)(e) legal advice, negotiations.

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The next Triview board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11. This meeting has been changed to accommodate the state budget submission deadline of Dec. 15. Check the district’s event calendar at www.triviewmetro.com/home or call 488-6868 for meeting schedule updates. 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 jenniferkaylor@ocn.me.

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El Paso Board of County Commissioners, Nov 5, 12, and 14: Final direction for 2020 budget given; Struthers Road/ Gleneagle Drive intersection project progresses

By Helen Walklett

During November, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) gave final direction in the setting of the 2020 preliminary budget. The commissioners also made decisions relating to the intersection project at the junction of Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive and confirmed appointments to the El Paso County Planning Commission.

Preliminary balanced budget

At the Nov. 14 BOCC meeting, the commissioners gave their final direction on the preliminary balanced budget. Sherri Cassidy, the county’s chief financial officer, reported that sales tax had come in stronger than anticipated and therefore there was an increase in revenue of $355,000. Discussion on where best to assign this money centered on roads with the commissioners deciding to put $345,000 towards transportation improvements. The remaining $10,000 is being allocated to a rural marketing initiative for the upcoming census which had previously failed to secure grant funding.

Referring to the tight budget for 2020, Commissioner Mark Waller said, "There isn’t a department or agency out there that feels like they got all they need in order to accomplish the mission. But they certainly got everything we had to give them and I feel confident about every single one of those agencies’ abilities to continue and move forward with the allocation they got, as inadequate as it was."

Cassidy’s team will now prepare the final resolution documents and return with them to the BOCC on Dec. 10 for final approval. Information about the 2020 budget can be found on the county website at http://admin.elpasoco.com/financial-services/budget-finance/county-budget/.

Struthers Road/ Gleneagle Drive project

At their Nov. 5 meeting the commissioners approved a memorandum of agreement to approve and accept two non-exclusive permanent easements, two temporary construction easement agreements, and two social warranty deeds for the Struthers Road/Gleneagle Drive intersection project. The deeds and easements are coming from property owned by Academy Gateway II, LLC at a cost of $52,000.

The project, which will see a roundabout constructed in place of the current four-way stop, also includes drainage work and pedestrian improvements, both at the intersection and along the northeast side of Struthers Road. The county is funding the project. Work began in late June and the first phase is on schedule to be completed by the end of the year. The entire project is due to be completed sometime during the first quarter of 2020. The county says it cannot be more specific at this time.

Appointments to the Planning Commission

At the Nov. 5 meeting the commissioners unanimously approved the appointments of Thomas Greer and Eric Moraes as Associate Members to the El Paso County Planning Commission for a one-year term.

Caption: A pumping truck pours concrete as work continues on the Struthers/Gleneagle intersection project Photo courtesy of Crystal Peak Design

Helen Walklett can be reached at helenwalklett@ocn.me.

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El Paso County Planning Commission, Nov. 5 and 19: Amendments to Forest Lakes Phase II recommended for approval

By Helen Walklett

During November, the El Paso County Planning Commission recommended for approval an application for amendments to the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for Forest Lakes Phase II. The Commission also recommended for approval a variance of use to allow a vehicle rental business to operate from an existing property at Gleneagle Square.

Forest Lakes Phase II

At its Nov. 5 meeting, the Planning Commission heard an application for amendments to the PUD for Forest Lakes Phase II which was approved as a combined PUD and preliminary plan by the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in April 2019 (see www.ocn.me/v19n5.htm#epbocc). The development is located northwest of the intersection of I-25 and Baptist Road to the southwest of the Town of Monument. The amendments do not increase the number of lots previously approved. Those remain at 180.

Andrea Barlow, of NES Inc., on behalf of the applicant and developer, told the commissioners that the main reason for the amendment request was to ask for a finding of water sufficiency for quality, quantity and dependability with the preliminary plan. Under recent changes to the county’s Land Development Code, a finding for water sufficiency at the preliminary plan stage allows the executive director of planning and community development to approve all subsequent final plat requests administratively. Barlow said it was the applicant’s intention to request this if the BOCC approves the application.

Barlow described the other amendments as minor and as improvements to the original approval. They include the addition of a sixth tract for stormwater detention, relocation of the detention ponds out of the wetland areas in response to neighbors’ concerns, and the adjustment of lot lines. Planned culverts over the drainage way would be replaced by a bridge structure that would span the wetland area and retaining walls and a guard rail would be added to Mesa Drive for safety.

Kari Parsons, Planner III, Planning and Community Development Department, said the county had notified 28 adjoining property owners. Responses included concerns about density, traffic noise and light pollution, wildlife and environmental impacts, water and wastewater, the impact on native American history in the area, and issues concerning trail access and the emergency access road. Parsons said that matters such as density had already been set when the PUD was approved and that this hearing was only to consider the amendments.

The applicant also requested approval of pre-site grading with the preliminary plan. Barlow addressed concerns raised about this, particularly whether the necessary permits are in place. She told the commissioners that the plans had been reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers and that its conclusion was that no permit was needed if, as is the intention, the existing roads are used for access during the pre-grading process.

The commissioners had no questions for Barlow or county staff. No member of the public spoke in support. Three spoke in opposition. Miles Cottom, an attorney with Alpern Myers Stuart, LLC representing some of the neighbors, said that his clients believed permitting was required for the pre-grading work and urged the commissioners to delay their decision until that was in place. He said that the grading would directly abut the wetland area and that there would be runoff, albeit unintentional.

Judy von Ahlefeldt, a citizen, said that while she understood what was being considered had a very narrow focus, she had concerns about the apparent increasingly limited scope for public comment on wider matters. She was also concerned by the possibility that final plats could be approved administratively in the case of a development that had a history of controversy. Carol Johnson, a neighbor, said, "I know this has been approved but it needs to be read into the record that we are not happy with this. You should, as a board, know that we are banked up through the National Forest, that we’ve had three fires within the last 10 years and had to vacate and here you’re putting all this density up next to the mountain. And nobody cares about the wildlife, nobody cares about any of this. All you care about is ticking off what is in your requirements."

Responding to the criticism of the public hearing process, Commissioner Tom Bailey said, "I feel that the attacks on the process, the attacks on the people up here as not caring are more than a little unfair because this has been before the [Planning] Commission and the Board of County Commissioners several times as we saw over the years. All of these issues, everything that people have brought up today, have been debated and considered and it’s not that we don’t necessarily agree. It’s just that the concerns don’t rise to the level where we can legally stop a landowner from developing that property and that’s the reality of it." He continued, "We are trained. We get a lot of information. We get staff inputs. We’ve considered this much more than the hour or so that we’ve devoted to it today."

Parsons told the commissioners that while a finding of water sufficiency at the preliminary plan stage would allow the applicant to request administrative approval of final plat requests, both the BOCC and the executive director of planning and community development have the ability to elevate applications to a public hearing. She added that adjoining property owners would be notified of final plat requests and be able to comment ahead of this decision. Addressing the pre-site grading concerns, she outlined the county’s handling of the process from start to finish which included ongoing inspections described by the applicant’s engineer as "very robust."

The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the application for approval. It is now due to be heard at the BOCC meeting on Dec. 12.

Variance of use at Gleneagle Square

A request for a variance of use to allow a vehicle rental business to operate from the former Loaf ‘N Jug at Gleneagle Square was approved unanimously and without further discussion at the Planning Commission hearing on Nov. 19. The property is located slightly to the northeast of the Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive intersection. The request was made by Bucher Design Studio on behalf of the tenant, Nate Vaccari. If approved, the variance would allow the applicant to have a maximum of five employees serving approximately 30 customers per day with a total of 10 rental vehicles stored on the property at any time. It would also allow a private car wash bay on the property. The request will now be heard at the Dec. 12 BOCC meeting.

County Master Plan workshop

The public is invited to participate in the Master Plan visioning process. A meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11, 6 p.m. at 2880 International Circle, Colorado Springs, and will be hosted by the Master Plan Steering Committee.

Helen Walklett can be reached at helenwalklett@ocn.me.

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Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations Inc., Nov. 9: NEPCO holds annual elections, hosts county commissioners

By Marlene Brown

The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations Inc. Board (NEPCO) membership re-elected three board members: President Greg Lynd, Secretary Bob Swedenberg, and Director of Community Outreach Donna Dee, There are two remaining vacant positions available. Any NEPCO member interested in being involved should contact Lynd or Swedenberg,

Lynd reported that NEPCO voted in March to increase its membership boundaries and land use review to include more of Black Forest by expanding east to Meridian Road. The NEPCO Transportation and Land Use Committee reviewed 36 submissions for housing developments in 2019 compared to 2018 where there were 26 reviews. The rate of new homes and growth in the Tri-Lakes area is expected to increase 43 percent from 2017-2022 based on the plans that have been approved by the El Paso Board of County Commissioners and the town of Monument. The Lewis-Palmer School District D-38 boundary goes all the way to Meridian. El Paso County is asking for more input on new developments outside the current boundaries.

The Fire Mitigation and Wildfire Preparedness Committee reported that the Red Rock Ranch Home Owners Association was recognized as a "Site of Excellence" in a nationwide program. The committee said all HOAs in the Tri-Lakes area should continue to work with their members to bring their communities to the forefront of fire preparedness.

Commissioners update membership about El Paso County budget

County commissioners Holly Williams of District 1 and Stan VanderWerf of District 3 were the guest speakers who talked about the El Paso County budget including unfunded mandates from the state level and the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). Both commissioners said they think highly of TABOR. In 2017, voters approved a ballot measure that allowed the county to retain $10 million per year. Those funds have primarily been used to support transportation and purchase snowplows, a BOMAG road machine, and salt trucks.

High growth in this area is projected by the master plan for El Paso county. The current population of 730,000 is projected to be 1.2 million by the year 2050. The plan addresses rapid growth with shifting demographics to make the county a more conducive place to work and live. More information is available at http://elpaso-hlplanning.hub.arcgis.com.

Also discussed by the commissioners was the I-25 Gap Project. VanderWerf said he supports the four-lane-each-way option based on the economics and the technical rationale of the project. Responding to the question "what can we do?" he asked the membership to email Rocky Scott at commissioner.scott@state.co.us. For more information, go to www.codot.gov/about/transportation-commission/commissioners/rocky-scott.

Caption: County Commissioners Holly Williams of District 1, left, and Stan VanderWerf of District 3 discussed El Paso County’s budget and Master Plan at the Nov. 9 Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations Inc. meeting. Photo by Marlene Brown.

Caption: The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations Inc. expanded its borders east to Meridian and now includes more of the Black Forest area. Map courtesy NEPCO.

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NEPCO meets every other month on the second Saturday at the Monument Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Any officers or representative of an HOA in the NEPCO area are welcome to attend. The next general meeting will be Jan. 11, 2020.

Marlene Brown may be reached at marlenebrown@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, Nov. 20: Board approves budget, hears WPS updates

By Jackie Burhans

The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on November 20 to approve the budget and hear Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) updates.

Budget approval

The board voted to approve the 2020 budget. There will be a 1.6 percent increase in dues from $256 to $260 per year. This is the first increase in dues in three years. Annual dues pay for the WIA staff including Woodmoor Public Safety, maintenance of The Barn and nine common areas, Firewise and Forestry service, and architectural control to maintain property values. Budget statements can be viewed online at http://woodmoor.org/budget-statements.

WPS Updates

The addition to south end of The Barn has been completed and the officers have moved in. They are waiting for one final approval before programming the new radios for use.

WPS is working with El Paso County Public Works to get the flashing school zone lights re-installed in front of Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Since their removal, speeding through the school zone has increased above the 20 mile-per-hour limit when children are present.

Board highlights

• The board approved a motion to purchase an ARC/GIS system for no more than $2,000 to update maps, mark trails, and track work in common areas. The system may also be used by WPS for their annual road survey that they submit to El Paso County Public Works.

• WIA grant funding is available for mitigation work completed by Dec. 20 after an initial lot evaluation by WIA forestry personnel. The grant is a 50 percent matching grant up to $500, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

• Plans are underway to build a model in The Beach development on Lake Woodmoor Drive.

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The WIA Board of Directors usually meet at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting has been moved to December 18th due to the Christmas holiday.

The WIA calendar can be found at www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.

Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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November Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

For the second month in a row, we were blessed with excessive moisture courtesy of two large snowfalls during the month. The two-month total of nearly 55 inches of snowfall is well above normal for the October-November period and this was common from the Palmer divide northward. In fact, Boulder’s 55.3 inches during the period is the second largest total since snowfall records began there in the late 1800’s. Temperatures were slightly below normal with a mild first half of the month and a cool second half. November is typically our driest month of the year, with the period from November through February our driest stretch. Therefore, it’s always a bonus to get significant amounts of moisture in November and get us off to a good start from a moisture perspective heading into winter.

After a cold snowy end to October, November started off with clear skies but cooler than normal temperatures. Generally clear skies and seasonal temperatures continued through the early afternoon of the 6th. This stretch of quiet conditions was interrupted by a shallow layer of cold that moved in during the early afternoon of the 6th. Low clouds, fog, and some freezing drizzle moved in along with the shallow cold air. This resulted in some slippery conditions that evening and the next morning.

The cold air mass retreated to the east by late morning of the 7th allowing mild and dry air to move back in. Temperatures responded quickly with highs reaching the upper 50s on the 8th and touching daily record highs on the 9th with upper 60s to low 70s. The warm air stuck around on the 10th with mid-60s, but as usual this time of the year, a colder air mass was headed our way. This fast-moving cold front brought a quick drop in temperatures during the evening of the 10th with light snow and windy conditions during the early morning hours of the 11th. Temperatures remained below freezing with sunshine returning that afternoon.

Clear skies stuck around for the next few days and, combined with northwesterly winds, temperatures rebounded to the mid 50s. The mild conditions were briefly interrupted again by a weak cold front the afternoon of the 13th allowing some fog to develop that morning. Sunshine returned by midmorning with quiet conditions for the remainder of that afternoon. Westerly winds kicked in over the next few days, allowing for mild conditions to return as high temperature rebounded into the low 60s on the 18th and 19th. Mountain wave clouds were common as well, providing some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. After a mild start on the 20th, cooler air began to work into the region during the midafternoon with areas of fog and low clouds filling in. Light snow and flurries continued that evening and most of the 21st. Temperatures remained below freezing as well with highs only reaching the mid-to-upper 20s on the 21st. Moisture continued to increase late on the 21st and into the 22nd with heavier snow developing. Temperatures were again held below freezing on the 22nd as the snow came to an end that afternoon, but not before 6-8 inches of new snow had accumulated giving students an early start to the Thanksgiving break.

Clear skies and slowly warming temperatures returned for the start of the holiday weekend. Highs reached the upper 40s to mid-50s on the 23rd and 24th before the next, more powerful storm began to affect the region by the afternoon of the 25th. Snow began to develop that afternoon, with heavy, blowing snow filling in overnight and into the morning of the 26th. Travel was halted through most of the region through the east and north causing many headaches during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

Temperatures plummeted as well, with highs in the teens and low 20s on the 26th and 27th and low temperatures falling just below zero. The big story, of course, was the amount of snow, with 1-2 feet accumulating -- a major snowstorm for anytime of the year, but especially for November.

The overall stormy pattern continued to affect much of the western U.S. through the end of the month. However, the flow during the last few days of the month was from the southwest which is not conducive to cold and snow for us. This did bring plenty of snow to the mountains, but mainly partly cloudy skies for us. As the main piece of energy with this storm moved through the area during the afternoon of the 29th, a band of good old rain showers developed from 3:30-4 p.m. This is very unusual for November and was much more reminiscent of winter weather in the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures during the rain showers were in the mid 30’s, but the atmosphere was saturated meaning evaporative cooling did not help turn the rain into snow as it began to fall which usually happens this time of the year. As the area of low pressure associated with this system moved over Colorado and into Nebraska, very windy conditions developed across the region. This results in gusts over 70 mph west of I-25 overnight on the 29th and into the 30th. This also created hazardous travel conditions with blowing snow in the mountains and many areas along the Front Range north of the Palmer Divide into Wyoming and Nebraska. This storm continued to move away from the region with quiet conditions finally returning by the afternoon and evening of the 30th.

A Look Ahead

The month of December can be a cold one around the region, when daytime highs often stay below freezing and overnight lows can drop well below zero. The month is generally dry however, with several light, fluffy snowfalls. Gusty winds are also a common nuisance during the month, especially west of I-25. The chance for a white Christmas is fairly common for the area with either snow on the ground or snowfall on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.

 

November 2019 Weather Statistics

Average High 47.4° (-1.2°)

100-year return frequency value max 55.5° min 38.5°

Average Low 20.3° (+0.1°)

100-year return frequency value max 27.5° min 14.1°

Monthly Precipitation 1.68" (+0.99")

100-year return frequency value max 3.80" min 0.16"

Monthly Snowfall 28.0" (+18.8")

Highest Temperature 70° on the 9th

Lowest Temperature -2° on the 27th

Season to Date Snow 54.6" (+32.8") (the snow season is from Oct 1 to Sept 30)

Season to Date Precip. 3.33" (+0.91") (the precip season is from Oct 1 to Sept 30)

Heating Degree Days 933 (+67)

Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at billkappel@ocn.me.

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Letters to Our Community

Guidelines for letters.

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.

Note: The letters this month are arranged in alphabetical order by the submitter’s last name.

Tri Lakes, you were a fantastic chapter in my book of life!

I will be closing my chapter at the end of November 2019 with great appreciation and a sense of honor to this area which has been my home since August of 1981. I got to live in two places in historical Monument, two places in Palmer Lake and one place in Woodmoor. My two sons and I had super neighbors in each community to whom I am forever grateful.

My path started as a substitute teacher for District 38 elementary schools. It developed into middle school teaching, YMCA coaching of volleyball and baseball and being part of the first experiment of mainstreaming challenged students. Tangential paths included volunteering for parks and landscaping committees and Planning Commission.

Thanks to the many people with whom I created relationships during those years. I was supported in becoming the first massage therapist in the area in 1985. I am so thankful for every client who trusted my education and intuition through all these 35 years of change through touch. It has been a most powerful symbiotic relationship of growth and I wouldn’t be who I am today without you!

2003 began my career of yoga teaching. Every class has nudged me in developing my self-fulfilling potential as I hope each student felt the same nudging. Again, symbiosis wins!

Although I will continue giving massage treatments and offering private yoga sessions at my home in Colorado Springs, I am closing the Yoga For Health Studio and Massage For Health office with the fullness that comes from experiences covering such magnitude and variety that my heart is in a constant THANK YOU!

Sue Buell

Thank you!

The Palmer Lake Historical Society wishes to thank our presenters, calendar advertisers, volunteers, and program attendees for making 2019 a most successful year. Happy holidays to you and yours,

PLHS President Michele Lawrie-Munro

Thanks to Dr. Somers

November 14th, 2019 marked a turning point in D38 community interaction.

The Town Hall-What Next for D38 meeting was a success, the first in years, and I credit it to his leadership effectiveness. 70 citizens met with Dr. Somers and D-38 Admin to discuss the contentious 4A bond failure and where our community now stands in restoring a culture of trust. Most agreed there are growing community educational needs, and we must get past confrontational relations negating effective community support. I saw Thursday’s meeting as a very good start.

We have a new chance to grow wisely and to work together as an inclusive district proud of our past, working towards a better future meeting all educational needs, and finally having a leader worthy of our full community trust and confidence.

That long elusive better day for D-38 is here. What a great Christmas present we just received.

Gordon Reichal

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Between the Covers at Covered Treasures Bookstore: ‘Tis the Season for Great Books

By the staff at Covered Treasures

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."—Lemony Snicket

The holidays are bursting with exciting new books that make great gifts.

How Winston Delivered Christmas

By Alex T. Smith (Silver Dolphin Books) $17.99

When a mouse named Winston finds a lost letter addressed to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, he sets off on an unforgettable journey to personally deliver the letter to Santa. Children can read a chapter a day and each chapter is followed by a fun and festive holiday activity to complete. This illustrated advent story tells of the adventures of an adorable mouse and how a good deed can lead to a very happy ending.

The Little Snowplow Wishes for Snow

By Lora Koehler (Candlewick) $16.99

The little snowplow loves his job on the Mighty Mountain Road Crew, but the work he loves best is plowing snow. Throughout the year, he wishes for snow to come, but winter begins without a single flake in sight. As the weeks pass and the little snowplow’s birthday approaches, he starts to wonder whether it will snow at all. Will the little snowplow’s birthday dreams come true?

Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers

By Anna James (Philomel Books) $16.99

This enchanting story about the magic of books and the power of imagination is soon to be a major television series. Since her mother’s disappearance, 11-year-old Tilly Pages has found comfort in the stories at Pages & Co., her grandparents’ bookshop. But, when her favorite characters start showing up at the shop, Tilly discovers that not only can she follow them into their books, but she can bookwander into any story she chooses. Tilly’s new ability leads her to fun and exciting adventures, including looking for her mother. This charming and exciting story about a bookish young heroine, a mysterious librarian, and a magical bookshop will delight book lovers everywhere.

White Bird: A Wonder Story

By R.J. Palacio (Knopf Books for Young Readers) $24.99

R.J. Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with the heartrending story of Julian’s grandmother, Grandmère. It tells how she, a young Jewish girl, was hidden by a family in a Nazi-occupied French village during World War II, and how the boy she and her classmates once shunned became her savior and best friend. It’s the story of the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives.

All About Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice

By Molly Stevens (W.W. Norton & Company), $40

These are Molly Stevens’ delicious, time-tested recipes made from easy-to-find ingredients and collected for the first time. Each recipe is designed to impart solid kitchen skills while encouraging home cooks to expand their personal repertoires by mastering everyday favorites. It reminds us that dinner can be uncomplicated, packed with flavor, and a whole lot of fun.

Me

By Elton John (Henry Holt and Company) $30

In his first and only official autobiography, music icon Elton John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life, from his roller-coaster lifestyle to becoming a living legend. John also writes powerfully about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love and becoming a father. In a voice that is warm, humble, and open, this is John on his music and his relationships, his passions and his mistakes.

The Winter Army

By Maurice Isserman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $28

This is the epic story of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, whose elite soldiers broke the last line of German defenses in Italy’s mountains in 1945, spearheading the Allied advance to the Alps and final victory. The U.S. Army developed a unique military fighting force, the 10th Mountain Division, drawn from the ranks of Ivy League students, park rangers, Olympic skiers, and European refugees. It formed the first specialized alpine fighting force in U.S. history. Ranging from the ski slopes of Colorado to the towering cliffs of the Italian Alps, this is a true saga of an unlikely band of soldiers forged in the heat of combat into a brotherhood whose legacy lives on in U.S. mountain fighters to this day.

"Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading."—Lena Dunham

Until next month (and next year!), happy reading.

The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at books@ocn.me.

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December Library Events: Enjoy puppet shows and make last-minute gifts at your library

By Harriet Halbig

Please note there are schedule changes during December due to school holidays.

Enjoy some time away from your holiday bustle to make a greeting card or last-minute gift!

Children’s programs

Regularly occurring children’s programs include Book Break on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:30, Story Time on Tuesdays from 10:30 to 11:15, Toddler Time on Thursdays at 9:30 and 10:30, and Paws to Read on Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 5.

There will be a Homeschool @ MO program from 1:30 to 2:30 on Monday, Dec. 9 about Coding with Bee Bots. Homeschoolers will create their own code, then test for accuracy by using Bee Bot and pressing Go. Several tasks and challenges at different levels will be offered. For ages 5 to 12. Registration required.

LEGO Build will meet on Saturday, Dec. 21 from 10 to 11:30. Use our large collection of LEGOs to build to your heart’s content. All ages welcome.

Teen and Tween programs

Every Wednesday from 3 to 5 an All Ages Knitting group meets in the study room. Practice materials are provided but attendees are encouraged to bring their own projects.

Play Study Break Bingo at the library from 3:30 to 4:30 on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Join us right after school for a quick game of B-I-N-G-O. There will be snacks and prizes! No registration needed.

On Mondays, Dec. 9 and 16, come to the library for free math tutoring at all levels taught by experienced adult tutors. No appointment needed. Not held on Monday Dec.23 or 30 due to school break.

The library district’s Artist in Residence will be at the library from 2 to 4 on Sunday, Dec. 15 to help with holiday card creations made of various upcycled materials such as paper bags, vintage paper and other materials. The class is open to those aged 16 and up. Registration required.

Teens Make Tuesday on December 17 from 4 to 5:30 will offer the chance to make last-minute gifts such as alcohol ink ornaments, hot chocolate reindeer, and gingerbread foot scrub. Open to ages 12 to 18. Registration is preferred.

The Paper Tigers Origami Club will meet from 4:15 to 5:30 on Friday, Dec. 20. Open to adults and teens of all skill levels, all materials are provided. No experience necessary and registration is preferred.

The Monument Library Anime Club, open to those 13 and older, will meet from 5 to 6:30 on Thursday, Dec. 26. Share anime with others who love it, eat snacks, and shape the club for the future. No registration required.

Adult Programs

See above for descriptions of All Ages Knitting, Paper Tigers Origami, and holiday card creations with PPLD’s Artist in Residence.

Regularly occurring adult programs include Senior Chats on Wednesdays from 10 to noon, yoga on Thursdays from noon to 1 and the Monument Spinning Group on the fourth Thursday of the month at 1:30. Yoga will not be held on Dec. 26.

The Monumental Bookworms will meet from 7 to 8:30 on Tuesday, Dec. 10 to discuss News of the World by Paulette Jiles. All are welcome to attend this monthly book group.

The Life Circles Writing Group, dedicated to writing memories of life experiences, will meet from 9:30 to 11:30 on Monday, Dec. 16. This supportive group will help provide the discipline and support to help reach your writing goals.

Palmer Lake Library Events

The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. Please call 481-2587 for the latest selection. All are welcome.

Homeschool @ PA from 1 to 2 on Friday, Dec. 13 is about Holidays Around the World, including craft, food, and ways countries celebrate. Visit Norway, China, and Mexico on this tour.

Family Story Times are at 10:30 each Wednesday. A special story time on Wednesday, Dec. 18 is Santa’s Missing Sleigh. Santa’s sleigh is missing. Will Sienna, Joey and Elf Denise find it in time, or will Christmas be canceled? Recommended for ages 2 to 10.

Toddler Time at Palmer Lake is on Fridays at 10:30.

Happy Holidays from your library!

Please note that all Pikes Peak Library District facilities will be closed all day on Dec. 24 and 25 and will close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 and remain closed on Jan. 1.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Nov. 21: Railroad historian and slides bring "Wildflower Excursion" train to life

By Sigi Walker

On November 21, the Palmer Lake Historical Society welcomed well-known railroad historian Mel MacFarland as the evening’s presenter. Cold and icy weather resulted in fewer attendees, who were treated to Mel’s slide show presentation of summer wildflowers. The use of his vintage slide projector is a hallmark of Mel’s presentations.

Mel told the history of the Colorado Midland Railway’s famous "Wildflower Excursion" train. The purpose originally was not to see wildflowers, but to inspect the condition of the track. The Colorado Midland subsequently operated these popular excursions from 1887 until 1918 with the ride going from Colorado Springs to South Park.

In his presentation, Mel included period photographs, many of which are posed commercial photos contracted by the railroad. But Mel continues to discover photos taken by people who rode the train to add them to his collection. Mel also explained that there are few wildflowers left along the Colorado Midland’s former route because so many of the flowers were picked there were not enough left to successfully reseed the following year’s crop.

The Colorado Midland Railway was the first standard gauge railroad in Colorado built over the Continental Divide. Construction began in 1886, building west from Colorado Springs (now Old Colorado City) through the mountains to New Castle. From there, the Midland had trackage rights over the Denver & Rio Grande RR to Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction. It hauled coal, livestock, hay, wool, lumber, produce, other goods, and passengers before service ended in 1918. It was possibly the largest rail abandonment in the world. The former roundhouse in Colorado Springs, over 130 years old, still stands at 21st and Hwy 24 and has been repurposed into a brew pub and other retail businesses.

There was also an announcement by museum director Roger Davis at the event. He informed the audience that the updated reprint of Palmer Lake, A Historical Narrative by Marian Sabin would be available for purchase around December 1 in the Vaile Museum.

Caption: Palmer Lake Historical Society Vice President Su Ketchmark and presenter Mel McFarland with vintage slide projector. Photo by John Haney.

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There will be no December PLHS program, but mark your calendars for Sun., Dec. 15 for the Palmer Lake annual Yule Log Hunt and Wassail Ceremony, a tradition dating from 1934. The hunt begins at 1 p.m. Participants should arrive at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent around 12:30 p.m. On Thurs., Jan. 16, PLHS will host its annual potluck and membership meeting at Palmer Lake Town Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; the program begins at 7 p.m. Bring a vegetable, salad or dessert to share. PLHS will provide baked ham, rolls, and beverages. Palmer Lake Historical Society events and programs are free and open to all,

Mike and Sigi Walker may be reached at mikensigi@comcast.net.

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High Altitude Nature and Gardening (HANG): Local trees: the heroes and villains

By Janet Sellers

Right now, it’s snowy and icy outside. It’s winter and our gardens have been put to bed for the season.

This is a good time to research and plan for next season. On volunteer day during Creek Week at Fox Run Regional Park, we learned that many plants and trees in our area are land and water heroes, but some are invasive villains. Our parks have installed boot brushing stations for hikers to clean their shoes at the trailhead, so they don’t bring invasive weed seeds that might be hiding in their boots into the parks.

Hero Trees

Willows are one of our hero trees. Native American tribes use willows for medicine, furniture, baskets, drums and meat-drying racks. Willow bark tea is the equivalent of aspirin and you can chew the bark to relieve headaches.

Our local peachleaf willow is native to southern Canada and the USA. It grows in riparian areas which act as a sponge for floodwater and can help improve water quality. It’s a small to medium-sized tree with one or more trunks and grows up to 40 feet tall. It provides food and shelter to many animals including rabbits, deer, beaver and birds.

Alamosa or cottonwood trees have many uses. Fun facts about our Eastern Plains cottonwood trees can be found in the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition. Native Americans taught the explorers how to make canoes by hollowing out the trunks of large trees. Cottonwood is found in floodplains, bordering streams, near springs and in moist woodland, but it is very vulnerable to fire. It’s one of the largest north American hardwoods, reaching up to 130 feet tall. It serves as food for caterpillars, moths and butterflies. The young trees, branches and twigs are food for deer, mice, beaver and grouse.

Villain trees

Siberian Elm was brought to the US in the 1860s to be used as wind breaks for houses and livestock and to control soil erosion. But while it thrives in harsh conditions, it competes with native trees and takes over and must be removed all the way down to the roots. It is now classified as a noxious weed. Fire resistant, it colonizes burned areas but crowds out cottonwood and box elders. One tree will use 80 to 120 gallons of water a day. Another villain is the Russian olive. It has been illegal to sell Russian olives in Colorado since 2003.

Woodsy and festive fun

It’s been dreary and cold outside. I’m collecting fallen pinecones from our beloved ponderosa and Colorado blue spruce to make festive decorations to cheer things up. By the way, the Friends of Fox Run Park are having a "wood cookie" ornament party at the warming hut by the lakes December 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. and everyone’s invited. Besides having fun making ornaments from ponderosa wood cookies and pinecones, we can learn more about our local plants and trees at the same time. Hope to see you and your family there.

Janet Sellers is an avid ethnoecologist and "lazy gardener." She is an artist, writer, and speaker on behalf of forests in Colorado. Send her your nature and garden tips: janetsellers@ocn.me.

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Art Matters: Collecting art to live with and love

By Janet Sellers

Allow Painters to Influence You. "I was learning something from the painting of Cézanne that made writing simple true sentences far from enough to make the stories have the dimensions that I was trying to put in them. I was learning very much from him but I was not articulate enough to explain it to anyone."

—Ernest Hemingway.

People have been putting art on cave walls and on their home walls since there have been people and walls. Visual communication has a powerful influence on our daily lives as a sort of visual diet and we should be very careful of what we consume. We may never know the history of the common person from an illiterate point of view, but we will indeed know it from a visual point of view. Artists make art in the moment and over time, which becomes a record of sorts; museums and collectors obtain art and some of the reasons they collect are that art is a marker of the culture, the civilization of the time.

Our online screen life has changed a lot of our perceptions, also changing the way we consume and support commerce. This made a huge shift in the art world’s way of doing things. The last three decades of boutique art gallery venues catered to competitive, elitist patrons buying "as investment." The venues had to have a consistent product, causing many artists to limit their exploration of creativity in order to sell work for a consistent living.

In most communities, especially ours, we have visual art available to us via art galleries, artist studios and, of course, art available to us online. As an artist, I’m constantly looking into where the art world is going on the global scale as well as our local area. These days, people from all purchase levels just want something nice to put on their walls at home and feel comfortable and happy.

Artnet, the leading online resource for the international art market, recently published the 2019 Intelligence Report on buying art. According to this excerpt, "Online art buyers overwhelmingly purchase art in order to live with it. Seventy-one percent of collectors surveyed said they buy art to decorate their home. Even for investment-minded collectors, this was the most frequently cited driver to buy art. The motivation here appears to be deeply personal in its origins: 67% of collectors—the second-largest group—reported buying art to provide a source of inspiration in their daily lives."

The report went on to say "Similarly, when asked about the biggest factors to consider when making a purchase, collectors reported aesthetics as the most important, cited by 78% of respondents—three times the number that cited an artwork’s potential to increase in value as a key motivating factor. "

Janet Sellers is an award-winning artist, writer and speaker, and enjoys sharing her love of art and nature. Send her your comments: JanetSellers@ocn.me.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Palmer Lake Chili Supper and Star Lighting

Caption: Every year since 1935, excluding the years during WWII, the star lighting has been a part of the holiday season in Palmer Lake. The idea inspired by B.E. Jack and Bert Sloan came to fruition through hard volunteer labor to dig post holes, hand-carry poles, cement, and cables up Sundance Mountain. That process took over three months in 1935. The latest rework in 2002, using a helicopter, took three hours to haul needed supplies uphill. This year the nearly 500-foot star was lit by Terri Hayes who won the drawing at the chili supper on Saturday, Nov. 30 where 60 gallons of chili were consumed by the enthusiastic crowd. The star is maintained by the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and the chili supper provides funds for supplies and repairs. The festivities included hayrides, raffles, and plenty of food and socializing. Photo by Steve Pate. The traditional annual Palmer Lake yule log hunt will take place on Sun., Dec. 15 at 1 p.m.

Black Forest Arts & Crafts Show

Caption: Falcon resident Stephen Kline shops the 55th Annual Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild (BFACG) Fall Show and Sale held at the Black Forest Community Center on November 1. The show is attended by thousands over four days attracting patrons from far and wide. Proceeds from the sale benefit the BFACG Scholarship Fund and the Black Forest Community. Since 2006, $18,900 in scholarships have been awarded to D20 and D38 students. Non-perishable donations were also welcomed at the show for Black Forest Cares. BFACG is a Colorado non-profit organization. For further information see www.BFACG.org. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.

TLC Harvest of Love, Nov. 7, 14

Caption: The annual Tri-Lakes Cares Harvest of Love food drive, coordinated by Kiwanis, gathered food donations from Lewis-Palmer School District 38 to help local families during the holidays. A total of 14,655 pounds of food and $6,871.67 in cash donations were collected on Nov. 7 and Nov. 14. Pictured are Monument Hill Kiwanis members, from left, Pete Peterson, Jim Murphy, and Larry Young. They, along with 25 other members, gathered food to support Tri-Lakes Cares families. Photo by Sharon Williams

Crawford House Vets, Nov. 1-3

Caption: On Nov. 1, 2, and 3, members of American Legion Post 9-11 and the St. Peter Catholic Church Respect Life Ministry were stationed at the entrances of Walmart collecting personal care donations for the veterans of the Crawford House-Colorado Veterans Resource Coalition. Nate Hartling, a member of the Sons of the American Legion (SAL), came up with the idea and enlisted the help of the Respect Life Ministry Coordinator Stephanie Kemp. Kemp and Hartling expressed gratitude for the community’s markedly generous response—four truckloads of donated items and $1,500 in Walmart gift cards. All donations support veterans who were forced to leave Crawford house when the 2019 spring bomb cyclone caused roof and water damage. From left, Sons of the American Legion Post 9-11 Nate Hartling and his father Sean, and St. Peter Catholic Church Respect Life Ministry Coordinator Stephanie Kemp. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor

PL Town Hall designated historic

Caption: On Nov. 5, Palmer Lake celebrated the Town Hall joining the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties. Pictured are key community members who participated in the research and nomination process. Front Row from left, Palmer Lake Town Hall Office Manager Tony Vega, Palmer Lake Historical Society Vice President Su Osgerby Ketchmark, and the leaders of research and nomination, Margo and Jack Anthony. Back Row from left, Board of Trustees member Glant Havanar and Colorado State Register of Historic Properties Board Director Amy Unger. Photo by Sharon Williams

PLPD gets new sign

Caption: A new sign of engraved stone was installed in November at the Palmer Lake Police Department building. The sign shows an artistic rendition of Sundance Mountain with the town’s famous star in the middle. The star and the mountain make up part of an abstract flag.Photo by Janet Sellers

MA Veterans Day, Nov. 11

Caption: Many hundreds attended Monument Academy’s Veterans Day celebration, "Honoring All Who Have Served," on Nov. 11. Gary Trevino, left, is a retired Infantry officer major who served 23 years in the U.S. Army, including several combat tours in Central America. His three children, who now attend Monument Academy, sang patriotic songs with the choirs. His fiancée Jenelle Lawrence, center, is proud that her son served in Iraq during his four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. His brother Steven Trevino’s son, right, served 20 years in the U.S. Army. Gary and Steven’s father served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, with several tours in Vietnam, and he flew on the same B-52 that is now displayed at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s north gate. The keynote speaker was Dr. Mary Kelly, Ph,D. CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.

Home composting, Nov. 14

Caption: On Nov. 14, Cassie Olgren, gardener for the Town of Monument, gave a two-hour presentation about composting in the home, be it indoor or out. Her handout said indoor composting can be a problem for some, so doing it in the garage can be a better option. The slideshow included the food waste and leaves. The compost could then be used in spring gardens. Photo by John Howe

Bettman & Halpin at TLCA, Nov. 15

Caption: On Nov. 15, the songwriting and instrumentalist duo of Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin brought their form of acoustic bluegrass and folk music to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). This was the second time at the TLCA in their 11 years of performing. Their harmonious vocals, Bettman’s jazz/bluegrass fusion fiddle playing, and Halpin’s mix of guitar, mandolin and fiddle playing made for a full sound. Their song list included a medley of old spirituals, a memorial song called Blue Stem about a Kansas farmer they met while on tour and Winter’s Waltz, an instrumental about encountering their first snowfall just after moving to Colorado from southern California. They also performed two songs, Diamond and A Million Hearts, that were inspired by the teens they met while volunteering their musical talents at Denver’s Tennyson House for Children. Information on the TLCA is at trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.

Blacksmithing at WMMI, Nov. 9

Caption: In an atmosphere smoky from the coal and coke-fired forge, attendees tried their hands, with gloves and tongs, at the blacksmithing maker space at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry on November 9. They learned about heating, pounding and turning steel rebar into useful items. Instructor Peter McCollum, clad in a smithy leather apron, taught the history of wild west blacksmithing methods including making carpentry nails, which were so valuable to settlers headed westward that they would burn down their old barns and take the nails with them. Photo by Janet Sellers

Plaque honors vets, Nov. 11

Caption: On Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, Lt. Col. Jim Faber unveiled a plaque (shown in the inset) dedicated to veterans who live and have lived at Jackson Creek Senior Living. The plaque can also accommodate future veterans. An appreciative audience, including almost 35 resident veterans, applauded the unveiling. Photo by John Howe

GWC arts and crafts show, Nov. 15

Caption: The Gleneagle Women’s Club held an arts and crafts fair to benefit the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District. The event, held Nov 15 at the Woodmoor Barn Community Center, included handmade crafts, jewelry and home décor. Dale Muldrow, president of the social club, said the group typically selects one charity every year to benefit. The group has many clubs to join including several gourmet cooking groups, book clubs, a hiking group and they even watch what Muldrow called "chick flicks" together. Pictured here is Tsilla Reyner with her holiday décor. Photo by Allison Robenstein

A busy November for the TLWC

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) offered its time, talent, and treasure throughout November. A group of 12 women traveled to East Dale Street in Colorado Springs to paint the interiors of two homes under construction by Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity on Nov. 9 (see http://pikespeakhabitat.org for more information about PPHfH. The following Wednesday, the TLWC garden group helped Jackson Creek Senior Living (JCSL) memory care residents plant two indoor herb gardens. Chefs at JCSL will use the mint, rosemary, thyme, basil, sage, and cilantro in their cooking and to flavor drinking water. On Friday, Nov. 15, the group hosted Maasai speakers Leonard Mpaayo and Nelly Lasoi who described life in the remote, poverty-stricken area of Amboseli Kenya. TLWC member Shari Young and Mpaayo are co-directors of the Amboseli Children’s Fund which directs 100% of donations to educating Amboseli children and breaking the cycle of poverty. An auction after the speakers’ presentations raised $670 (see www.AmboseliChildrensFund.com for more information).

Caption: TLWC Garden Group member Melanie Helton and JCSL resident Hildy Wade plant sage as part of the donated herb garden.

Caption: Leonard Mpaayo describes growing up as Maasai in hopeless poverty in an Amboseli region of Kenya. More information about TLWC is available at www.tlwc.net. Photos by Pamela Perry and Jennifer Kaylor.

Harley’s Hope, Nov. 17

Caption: On November 17, the Harley’s Hope Foundation held a fundraiser at Black Forest Community Center complete with homemade holiday treats for people and pets, gifts to buy and free live music. The purpose of Harley’s Hope Foundation is to ensure low income pet parents and their companions or service animals remain together when issues arise. The goal is to prevent at-risk animals from being surrendered or put to sleep for treatable conditions and behaviors. Photo by Janet Sellers

Friends of Fox Run Park, Nov. 16

Caption: On November 16, the groups Friends of Fox Run Park and Black Girls Hike Global joined for a mindful meditation walk to learn about forest health benefits, fire mitigation, the park’s winter forest ecology, and culturally modified trees (CMT). The Friends of Fox Run Park holds such walks as well as volunteer workdays for park fire mitigation and wood collection in strategic areas. The park asks all visitors to stay on trails to protect its fragile plant ecosystem. A plethora of historic CMT are visible from the official trails. Photo by Marlene Brown

Bomb threat at Wal-Mart, Dec. 5

Caption: On Dec. 5, a bomb threat was reported at the Monument Wal-Mart. A department manager told OCN they lost an estimated $75,000 in sales, not to mention the costs of bomb sniffing dogs and emergency services that searched the store for over three hours. The store and parking lot were evacuated during the investigation. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.

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Our Community Notices

By Judy Barnes, Events Editor

Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the information number for that event.

LEAP—Help for heating bills

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally-funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs 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.

Toy donations needed for Santa on Patrol, drop off by Dec. 10, 3 p.m.

Santa will team with the Monument Police Department, EPSO, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, and the Palmer Lake Police Department to deliver toys and good cheer to many children in the Tri-Lakes area from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 14. New, unwrapped toys and gift cards may be dropped off by Dec. 10, 3 p.m. For a list of drop-off locations, visit www.townofmonument.org. For more information, contact Officer Romano, 719-481-3253, aromano@tomgov.org.

Christmas Unlimited Toy Drive for Wescott’s Santa Patrol, drop off by Dec. 20

Santa and Wescott firefighters will deliver toys to their area Dec. 21, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. New, unwrapped toys may be dropped off by Dec. 20 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. For more information, phone 719-488-8680 or visit www.wescottfire.org (click on ALL NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS).

MVEA Christmas Light Roundup

Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) wants to help you make the energy efficiency switch this holiday season! Between now and Jan. 30, drop off your incandescent C7 and C9 light strands at an MVEA office and receive a $5 per strand bill credit. The Monument MVEA office is at 15706 Jackson Creek Parkway, Ste. 100. For more information, phone 800-388-9881. See ad on page 32.

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.

Kiwanis Holiday Bell Ringing volunteers needed, through Dec. 24

Look for Kiwanis members and volunteers ringing the holiday bell for Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. All proceeds go to Salvation Army in El Paso County. To volunteer or for more information about Kiwanis, visit www.MHKiwanis.org. See ad on page 11.

Christmas crafts at the Monastery, through Dec. 15

Shop holiday gifts through Dec. 15 at the Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery, 3190 Benet Lane, Colorado Springs. The hours are Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sundays after 10:15 mass. For more information, call 719-633-0655. See ad on page 10.

Call for artists, enter by Jan. 17

Palmer Lake Art Group’s winter show exhibition dates are Jan. 29–Feb. 22, at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. See eligibility criteria and terms of submission at www.palmerlakeartgroup.com.

Become a CASA volunteer

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) offers a volunteer opportunity like no other. As appointed representatives of the court, CASA volunteers are empowered to make a lifelong difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. To learn more, contact Uriko Stout, 447-9898 ext. 1060, urikos@casappr.org; or visit www.casappr.org.

Officiate high school basketball

Make the right call and become a high school basketball official. Email the Colorado Springs Basketball Officials Association, csboa.areadirector@gmail.com, for information on training and certification.

St. Peter Catholic School now enrolling

The school offers academics, athletics, and faith formation for preschool-eighth grade. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org. See ad on page 2.

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.

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.

County seeks citizen input: Master Plan Survey now online

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 http://planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com. For more information, phone 719-520-6300.

Volunteer drivers needed for seniors’ transportation service

Mountain Community Senior Services is a nonprofit, grant-funded organization that provides free transportation to Tri-Lakes seniors 60 and older. The program needs volunteer drivers. For more information, visit the website, http://coloradoseniorhelp.com, email info@coloradoseniorhelp.com, or call the hotline, 488-0076.

Thrift Store needs volunteers

Volunteers are needed for various tasks. The store is located at 755 Highway 105, Suite N, in the West End Center and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. To volunteer, call 488-3495.

Free transportation and handyman services

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.

Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free

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.

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Our Community Calendar

By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor

Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.

GOVERNMENTAL BODIES

  • Woodmoor Water & Sanitation District Board Meeting, Mon., Dec. 9, 1 p.m., 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Meets 2nd Mon. each month. Info: 488-2525, www.woodmoorwater.com.
  • Forest Lakes & Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts Board Meeting, Mon., Dec. 9, 4 p.m., 6385 Corporate Dr., Suite 200, Colo. Springs. See www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com to confirm meeting location/dates. Info: 327-5810. Meetings will be available as a conference call. To attend, call 1-408-418-9388 and enter PIN 621010488#.
  • El Paso Board of County Commissioners Meeting, Tue., Dec. 10, 9 a.m. Centennial Hall, 200 South Cascade Ave., Suite 150, Colo. Springs. Meets every Tue. and Thu. Info: 520-6430, www.agendasuite.org/iip/elpaso.
  • Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility Joint Use Committee Meeting, Tue., Dec. 10, 10 a.m., 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meets 2nd Tue. each month. Info: Bill Burks, 481-4053.
  • Palmer Lake Sanitation District Board Meeting, Wed., Dec. 11, 9 a.m., 120 Middle Glenway. Meets 2nd Wed. each month. Info: 481-2732. www.plsd.org.
  • El Paso County Park Advisory Board Meeting, Wed., Dec. 11, 1:30 p.m., Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade. Info: 520-7529.
  • Triview Metropolitan District Board Meeting, Wed., Dec. 11, 5:30 p.m., 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument. Normally meets 3rd Wed. each month. Info: 488-6868, www.triviewmetro.com.
  • El Paso County Master Plan Workshop, Wed., Dec. 11, 6-8 p.m., 2880 International Circle, Suite 110, Colo. Springs. Do you care about county roads, water, growth? The county seeks public input on the master plan. Info: Tracey Garcia, 719-520-7952.
  • Monument Planning Commission Meeting, Wed., Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m. Town Hall Board Room, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., Monument. Meets 2nd Wed. each month. Live-streamed at http://bit.ly/2uZxjfa. Info: 884-8017, www.townofmonument.org.
  • Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District Board Meeting, Wed., Dec. 11, 7 p.m., Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. Normally meets 3rd Wed. each month. Info: 495-4300.
  • Donala Water & Sanitation District Board Workshop, Thu., Dec. 12, 1:30 p.m., 15850 Holbein Dr. Workshop is open to the public. Normally meets 3rd Thu. each month. Info: 488-3603, www.donalawater.org.
  • Monument Academy School Board Meeting, Thu., Dec. 12, 6 p.m., school library, 1150 Village Ridge Point, Monument. Meets 2nd Thu. each month. Info: 481-1950, www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
  • Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, Thu., Dec. 12, 6 p.m., Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Meets 2nd Thu. each month. Info: 481-2953, www.townofpalmerlake.com.
  • Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board Meeting, Mon., Dec. 16, 6 p.m., Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Meets 3rd Mon. each month. Info: 719-867-8690, knameika@lewispalmer.org, www.lewispalmer.org.
  • Monument Board of Trustees Meeting, Mon., Dec. 16, 6:30 p.m., Town Hall Board Room, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., Monument. Meets 1st and 3rd Mon. each month. Info: 884-8017, www.townofmonument.org.
  • El Paso County Planning Commission Meeting, Tue., Dec. 17, 9 a.m., 2880 International Circle (off Union Blvd & Printers Pkwy). Meets 1st & 3rd Tue. (if required) each month. Find agendas: https://planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com/el-paso-county-planning-commission/2019-meetings/. Info: 520-6300.
  • Wescott Fire Protection District Board Meeting, Tue., Dec. 17, 7 p.m., Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Meets 3rd Tue. each month. Info: 488-8680.
  • Monument Sanitation District Board Meeting, Wed., Dec. 18, 9 a.m., 130 2nd St. Meets 3rd Wed. each month. Info: 481-4886.
  • Academy Water and Sanitation District Board Meeting, Wed., Dec. 18, 6 p.m., Wescott Fire Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Meets 3rd Wed. each month. Info: 481-0711.
  • Woodmoor Improvement Association Board Meeting, Wed., Dec. 18, 7 p.m., Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. Normally meets 4th Wed. each month. Info: 488-2693, www.woodmoor.org.

LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS

For information on library events, see the library events column and visit www.ppld.org. All Pikes Peak Library facilities will will be closed all day on Dec. 24 and 25 and will close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 and remain closed on Jan. 1.

  • The Palmer Lake Library hours are Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 66 Lower Glenway. Info: 481-2587, www.ppld.org.
  • The Monument Branch Library hours are Mon.-Thu., 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun., 1-5 p.m. 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Info: 488-2370, www.ppld.org.

WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS

  • Monument Hill Kiwanis Club Breakfast Meeting, every Sat., 7:30 a.m., D-38 Admin. Building, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Guests are welcome at weekly meetings featuring speakers on a variety of topics and a free continental breakfast. Memberships open to the public. Join the 150+ men & women of the Tri-Lakes area who work together to make a difference for youth and our community. Info: RF Smith, (719) 210-4987, www.MHKiwanis.org. See ad on page 11.
  • Aliyah Congregation, every Sat., 10 a.m., Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Visitors are welcome. Info: 330-2382, www.aliyahcongregation.com. See ad on page 31.
  • Neighborhood Net, every Sat., 10 a.m. Amateur radio operators practice for emergencies on weekly repeater nets so neighbors can help neighbors. Sign up at www.mereowx.org/neighborhood-net or contactus@mereowx.org.
  • The Wine Seller Free Wine Tastings, every Sat., 1-4 p.m., 2805 Roberts Dr., Monument. Info: 488-3019, www.thewineseller.net. See ad on page 3.
  • Bingo by the American Legion, every Sat., game sales start at 6 p.m., games start at 7 p.m., the Depot Restaurant, in Palmer Lake. Proceeds go to scholarships and other community support activities. Info: 481-8668, www.americanlegiontrilakespost911.com/bingo.htm.
  • Artful Outdoors: Weekly art and nature hikes, most Sat.-Sun., 1-3 p.m. and by appointment. Join Janet Sellers at local nature, cultural, and gallery spots. Info: 719-357-7454, www.StartMyArt.com.
  • Fuel Church Sunday Service, every Sun., 9:30 a.m. New hours, 9:15 a.m. & 11:15 a.m., kids service ages 4-11 @ 9:15 a.m. only, 14960 Woodcarver Rd. (just west of I-25 off Baptist Road). Non-denominational, spirit led. Info: info@fuel.org, www.fuelchurch.org. See ad on page 10.
  • Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Worship Hours, every Sun., traditional services 8 & 11 a.m., contemporary service 9:30 a.m., Sunday school, all ages, 9:30 a.m., 20256 Hunting Downs Way, Monument. Info: 488-1365, www.tlumc.org. See ad on page 3.
  • Black Forest Community Church Sunday Worship, every Sun., 10 a.m., 6845 Shoup Rd. All are welcome to the family friendly services. Info: www.blackforestcommunitychurch.org.
  • Cathedral Rock Church Sunday Service, every Sun., 10 a.m., Tri-Lakes YMCA, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy, Monument. Info: www.cathedralrockchurch.org. See ad on page 11.
  • Tai-Chi Class, every Mon., 10 a.m., Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Cost: $5. Drop-ins welcome. Info: 481-2953, www.townofpalmerlake.com.
  • Seniors Monday Movie Matinee, every Mon., 1-4 p.m., Silver Alliance Senior Center located on Lewis-Palmer High School campus. Free movies and snacks. See the schedule of films in Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Beat.
  • Artfully Speaking Toastmasters, every Mon., 5:45 p.m., 4452 North Chestnut St., room 252, Colo. Springs. Info: Glenn, 719-260-6551; www.artfullyspeaking.toastmastersclubs.org.
  • Women’s A.A. Step Study, every Mon., 6:30 p.m., Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 Baptist Rd. Park in west lot. Info: 360-4306.
  • Monument Life Recovery Group, every Mon., 6:30-8 p.m., The Ascent Church, 1750 Deer Creek Rd. This faith-based support group is for those seeking freedom from all hurts, habits, and hang ups. Find support seeking freedom from addictions and family members with practical tools for change. Daycare provided for children under age 11. Info: 481-3600.
  • Yin Yoga Classes, every Mon., 6:30-7:45 p.m., Yoga Pathways Studio, 755 Hwy 105, West End Center, Suite A (3⁄4 mile west of Safeway). A slow yoga practice; all levels welcome. First class always free. Info: Deb Harano, 338-8467; DimensionsYoga@gmail.com.
  • Monument Hill Kiwanis Bingo, every Mon., 7:30 p.m., Carefree Bingo, 3440 N. Carefree Circle, Colo. Springs. All proceeds benefit those in need in the Tri-Lakes Community. Info: mark.zeiger@gmail.com.
  • Blue Wave Taekwondo Club, every Mon. & Fri.; 4:30 p.m., Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. New members welcome. Cost: $15 ea. to cover rental, first class FREE! Info: Alex Ratcliff, TaekwondoBlueWave@gmail.com, 817-962-8044.
  • Senior Citizen Luncheons, every Mon.-Fri., 12-12:30 p.m., Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake. See the menu for the month in the Senior Beat newsletter. A $2.25 donation is requested. Stay for bingo the 2nd Thu. each month. Reservations are requested, phone 884-2304.
  • Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI), open Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 225 North Gate Blvd. (I-25 Exit 156 A). Free child admission with a paid adult during April. Daily guided tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Cost: $10 adults, $9 military/AAA, $8 seniors & students, $6 children 3-12, free to children under 3 & museum members. Info: 488-0880, info@wmmi.org, www.wmmi.org.
  • Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Thrift Store, open Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 755 Hwy 105, Suite N, in the West End Center. Seniors 62+ get a 20% discount on Wednesdays. Military & Teacher Appreciation Day, 20% off regular priced items on Saturdays. All proceeds support Tri-Lakes Senior Programs. To donate furniture, call 488-3495 for a pickup. Info: www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
  • Tri-Lakes YMCA Senior Coffee, every Tue., 9:30-11:30 a.m., 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy, Monument. Members and non-members are welcome. Socialize, have coffee and snacks in the front lobby. Free. Info: 630-2604, hbrandon@ppymca.org, www.ppymca.org.
  • Al-anon Meeting: Monument Serenity, every Tue., 7:30-8:30 p.m., Ascent Church (formerly the Tri-Lakes Chapel), 1750 Deer Creek Rd., Monument. Info: Kay, 481-9258.
  • Peak Reader Children’s Literacy Program, every Tue. & Thu., 5:30-6:30 p.m., Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Free one-to-one tutoring for children reading below grade level. To enroll your child or volunteer as a tutor, visit www.childrensliteracycenter.org or call 471-8672.
  • Tri-Lakes Church of Christ Wednesday Night Fellowship Meal (Free) & Classes, every Wed., 6-7:30 p.m., 20450 Beacon Lite Road, Monument (Corner of Beacon Lite & County Line Roads). Info: 488-9613, gregsmith@trilakeschurch.org, www.trilakeschurch.org.
  • Al-anon Meeting: Letting Go, every Thu., 9-10:10 a.m., Tri-Lakes Chapel, room 209, 1750 Deer Creek Rd., Monument. Info: Kay, 481-9258.
  • A.A. Big Book Study, every Thu., 7 p.m., Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 W. Baptist Rd. Info: 481-0431.
  • Overeaters Anonymous Big Book Study, every Thu., 7-8 p.m., Natural Grocers, 1216 W. Baptist Rd., Monument. Info: Beth, 773-682-1223; or Nancy, 640-3343.
  • Live Music at the Speedtrap, every Thu. open mic 7-9:30 p.m., musicians every Fri. & Sat., 8-11 p.m., 84 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake. Info: 488-2007, www.speedtrapbistro.com. For a list of featured musicians see ad on page 5.
  • Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS), every Fri., 8 a.m., Monument Chamber of Commerce, 166 2nd St., Monument. Info: Terry, 684-4912, or visit www.TOPS.org.
  • Pikes Peak Music Teachers Association Meeting and Holiday Potluck Brunch, Tue., Dec. 10, at the home of Dr. Joan Sawyer, 24 Polo Circle, Colo. Springs. Music teachers and students meet for coffee, a meeting, and presentation. Meets 2nd Tue. each month. Info: 307-760-6426, deemoody636@gmail.com, www.ppmta.org.
  • Chess Nuts, Tue., Dec. 10, 5-9 p.m., Silver Alliance Senior Center. Any age, any skill. Learners welcome. Drop in and leave when you want. Bring your own board and pieces if you have them. Meets 2nd & 4th Tue. each month. Info: www.TriLakesSeniors.org/chess.
  • Black Forest AARP Catered Christmas Meal and Music, Wed., Dec. 11, noon, 12455 Black Forest Rd. All ages welcome. Meets 2nd Wed. each month. RSVP & Info: Stan, 596-6787, www.aarpchapter1100blackforest.weebly.com.
  • Foot Care Clinic, Wed., Dec. 11, Silver Alliance Senior Center located across the street from the Tri-Lakes YMCA, on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus. A registered nurse examines your feet and provides foot care advice, toenail trimming. Cost: $30 for a 30-min. visit. Meets 2nd Wed. and last Fri. each month, by appointment only. Info & appointments: call the Visiting Nurse Association, 577-4448.
  • Senior Bingo, Thu., Dec. 12, Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake, after the senior lunch. Come for lunch at noon, then stay and play. Free! Prizes! Meets 2nd Thu. each month. Info: Maggie Nealon, 488-3037.
  • Bridge, Thu., Dec. 12, 1-4 p.m., Silver Alliance Senior Center, 1300 Higby Road, Monument. Meets 2nd Thu. each month, Sept.-June. Info: www.trilakesseniors.org/programs/events.html.
  • Tri-Lakes Chamber Monthly Education Series: Speed Networking, Thu., Dec. 12, 2:30-5 p.m., 166 Second St., Monument. Free. Register online, www.trilakeschamber.com/events-calendar.htm. Info: 481-3282.
  • Ben Lomond Gun Club, Tri-Lakes Chapter, Thu., Dec. 12, 7 p.m., Tri-Lakes Fire Station 1, 18650 Hwy 105 west of Monument near the bowling alley. Meets 2nd Thu. each month. Info: 481-3364.
  • Silver Center Book Club, Fri., Dec. 13, 11 a.m.-noon, Senior Center located across the street from the Tri-Lakes YMCA, on Lewis-Palmer High School campus. All are welcome. Meets 2nd Fri. each month. Coffee & snacks served. RSVP & Info: Sue, 330-0241.
  • La Leche League Meeting, Fri., Dec. 13, noon-1 p.m., Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Mothers, babies, and mothers-to-be are all invited. Meets 2nd Fri. each month. Info: Kelley, 440-2477, kdghorashi@gmail.com.
  • El Paso County Hazardous Materials & Recycling Collection Facility, Sat., Dec. 14, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., 3255 Akers Dr., Colorado Springs. Open the 2nd Sat. each month as well as Mon.-Thu., 7 a.m.-5 p.m., accepts porcelain fixtures, common recyclable items, household hazardous waste, various electronics, and TVs up to 19-inch diagonal. Bring a nonperishable food item for Care and Share. Info: 520-7878, http://adm.elpasoco.com/Environmental_Services/Solid_Waste_Management.
  • Palmer Lake Art Group, Sat., Dec. 14, 9 a.m., Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake. A variety of art programs are offered after the social gathering and business meeting. Guests welcome. Meets 2nd Sat. each month. Info: 487-1329, www.palmerlakeartgroup.com.
  • Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group, Sat., Dec. 14, 9:45-11:30 a.m., The First National Bank of Monument, 581 Hwy 105. Meets 2nd Sat. each month. Info: Gail, 481-3711.
  • Faithful Friends, Sat., Dec. 14, 3-4:30 p.m., Wesley Owens Coffee & Cafe, 1744 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument. The group’s new format is an open conversation with different thought-provoking topics. This month’s topic: "I hate the holidays, now what?" Meets 2nd Sat. each month. RSVP & Info: Ellen, 303-526-5000.
  • Friends of Fox Run Park, Sat., Dec. 14, 1-3 p.m., Warming Hut by the lakes in Fox Run Regional Park, 2110 Stella Dr. Kids and adults, make nature-inspired holiday ornaments. Free. Normally meets 4th Thu. each month. RSVP & Info: FriendsofFoxRunPark@gmail.com.
  • Amateur Radio WØTLM (Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association), No meeting in December. All amateur radio operators or those interested in becoming amateur radio operators are welcome. Normally meets 3rd Mon. Check the website for details. Info: Joyce Witte, 661-9824, Joycewitte@gmail.com; www.W0TLM.com.
  • Outpouring: TLUMC Supporting our Community, Tue., Dec. 17, 7 p.m., Pikes Peak Brewing Company, 1756 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Everyone is welcome. Meets 3rd Tue. each month. Info: LWeber1971@aol.com; for current speaker info go to http://tlumc.org/outreach/outpouring.
  • Gleneagle Sertoma Luncheon Meeting, Wed., Dec. 18, CANCELED. Interesting speakers and programs; all are welcome. The next meeting will be Jan. 15. Normally meets 1st & 3rd Wed. each month, location varies. Info: Garrett Barton, 433-5396; Duane Gritzmaker, 481-2424; www.gleneaglesertoma.org.
  • Senior Bingo, Wed., Dec. 18, 1-2 p.m., Silver Alliance Senior Center, Lewis-Palmer High School campus. Meets 3rd Wed. each month. Info: Sue Walker, 464-6873.
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7829, Wed., Dec. 18, 7 p.m., The Country Club at Woodmoor, 18945 Pebble Beach Way, Monument. New members welcome. Meets 3rd Wed. each month. Info: Post Commander Joe Carlson, 405-326-2588, jcarlson@vfw7829.org, www.vfw7829.org.
  • VFW Auxiliary to Post 7829, Wed., Dec. 18, 7 p.m., The Country Club at Woodmoor, 18945 Pebble Beach Way, Monument. New members welcome. If you are a male or female relative of a veteran who served on foreign soil during war or other military action, you may be eligible. Meets 3rd Wed. each month. Info: Kathy Carlson, 488-1902, carlsonmkc@aol.com.
  • Senior Tea, Thu., Dec. 19, 12-1:30 p.m., Silver Alliance Senior Center at Lewis-Palmer High School (across from the YMCA). Come early to socialize. Volunteers needed. Meets 3rd Thu. each month. Reservations required: contact Sue, 464-6873, sue@monumentalfitness.com.
  • Palmer Lake Historical Society, No meeting in Dec., Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. All are welcome. Normally meets 3rd Thu., 7 p.m., each month. PLHS will host its annual Potluck and Membership Meeting Jan. 16 at Palmer Lake Town Hall. Info: 559-0837, www.palmerdividehistory.org.
  • Gleneagle Women’s Club, Fri., Dec. 20. Come for lunch, book discussions, bridge, and more. Location for lunch varies. Meets every third Fri., Sept.-June. Info: Syble Krafft, 488-2669.
  • Foot Care Clinic, Fri., Dec. 20, Silver Alliance Senior Center located across the street from the Tri-Lakes YMCA, on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus. A registered nurse examines feet and provides foot care advice, toenail trimming. Cost: $35 for a 30-min. visit. Meets 2nd Wed., 3rd and last Fri. each month, by appointment only. Info & appointments: call the Visiting Nurse Association, 577-4448.
  • The Breakfast Club, Sat., Dec. 21, 8:30 a.m., The Ridge at Castle Pines North (Ridge Grill and Bar), 1414 Castle Pines Pkwy. Single people 50+ meet new friends and have fun. Meets 3rd Sat. each month. Info: 303-815-8428, www.TBC50plus.org.
  • Monument Hill Farmers Market Winter Indoor Market, Sat., Dec. 21, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Grace Best, 66 Jefferson St., Monument. Shop all your old favorites. Meets every 3rd Sat. through April. Info: 592-9420. See ad on page 5.
  • Tri-Lakes Parkinson’s Disease Support Group, Sat., Dec. 21, 10 a.m.-noon, Monument Community Presbyterian Church, 238 Third St, Monument. Come for socializing, discussions on Parkinson’s-related issues including available support, and occasional speakers. Meets 3rd Sat. each month. Info: Syble Krafft, 488-2669.
  • Chess Nuts, Tue., Dec. 24, 5-9 p.m., Silver Alliance Senior Center, across the street from the YMCA. Any age, any skill. Learners welcome. Drop in and leave when you want. Bring your own board and pieces if you have them. Meets 2nd & 4th Tue. each month. Info: www.TriLakesSeniors.org/chess.
  • Senior Social, no meeting in Dec., 12455 Black Forest Rd. Meets 4th Wed. each month except Nov. & Dec. Info: aarpchapter1100blackforest.weebly.com.
  • Foot Care Clinic, Fri., Dec. 27, Silver Alliance Senior Center located across the street from the Tri-Lakes YMCA, on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus. A registered nurse examines feet and provides foot care advice, toenail trimming. Cost: $35 for a 30-min. visit. Meets 2nd Wed., 3rd and last Fri. each month, by appointment only. Info & appointments: call the Visiting Nurse Association, 577-4448.
  • Tri-Lakes Lions Club Meeting, Thu., Jan. 2, 6:30-8 p.m., Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, 166 2nd St., Monument. Meets 1st Thu. each month. Info: 303-883-8329, jim1947n@comcast.net, www.trilakeslionsclub.org.
  • Palmer Divide Quiltmakers, Thu., Jan. 2, 6:45 p.m., Monument Hill Church, 18725 Monument Hill Rd., Unit 18, Monument. Meets 1st Thu. each month. Info: PDQ504@gmail.com.
  • Lupus Support Group. If you suffer with an autoimmune disease and want to connect with others, you are welcome to join this group. Info: dmbandle@hotmail.com.
  • Myasthenia Gravis Association of Colorado Support Group. Location varies. Info: Carolyn, 488-3620, www.4-mga.org, 303-360-7080, 4mga@4-mga.org.

SPECIAL EVENTS

  • The Hazel Miller Band Concert at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Fri., Dec. 6, 7 p.m., doors open 6 p.m., 304 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake. Tickets & Info: 481-0475, www.trilakesarts.org.
  • Christmas Concert at St. Peter Catholic Church: Peace on Earth, Fri., Dec. 6, 7-10 p.m., 55 Jefferson, Monument. Free. All are welcome for an evening of holiday music. A free-will offering will be collected to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares. Info: www.Petertherock.org.
  • Monument Hill Kiwanis Club’s 14th Annual North Pole at Tri-Lakes Arts and Crafts Fair, Sat., Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Grace Best Education Center, 66 Jefferson St., Monument. Browse hundreds of handcrafted items and Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Cookie Walk. Music throughout the day by D-38 choirs/bands & local talent, and Miguel Dakota, America’s Got Talent Season 9 finalist. Admission is free with nonperishable food item, toy, or cash for Tri-Lakes Cares; or used sporting goods for 4KidzSports. All proceeds go to help fund D-38 schools and Tri-Lakes Cares. Info: Bob Nissen, 304-8705, bob@mifigroup.com, www.MHKiwanis.org.
  • Downtown Monument’s Small Town Christmas, Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus and their reindeer, kids’ activities and crafts, hayrides, open houses, and more. Tree-lighting 5 p.m. at Limbach Park. Info: 481-2954.
  • Santa Fe Trail Jewelry Darlene Armstrong Show, Sat., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 106 2nd St., Unit A, Monument. Shop Small Town Christmas with one-of-a-kind jewelry that showcases the beauty and harmony of natural gemstones. Info: 481-0250. See ad on page 4.
  • Small Town Christmas at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Sat., Dec. 7, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 105 Second St., Monument. Carmela Lavigna Coyle will sign "Can Princesses Become Astronauts?" 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Nancy Oswald will sign "Ruby’s Christmas Gift," 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Margaret Mizushima will sign "Tracking Game, A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery," 1-3 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Info: 481-2665, www.coveredtreasures.com.
  • Holiday Market at Jackson Creek Senior Living, Sat., Dec. 7, 1-4 p.m., 16601 Jackson Creek Pkwy, Monument. Shop a variety of vendors, get a picture with Santa, enjoy holiday refreshments. Info: 259-0448, www.JacksonCreekSeniorLiving.com.
  • Celebration of the life of Barbara Cusack, Sat., Dec. 7, 2-4 p.m., O’Malley’s, 104 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake. All are invited to honor Barbara’s memory by having a beer or glass of wine, striking up a conversation with a stranger, or taking a walk in nature. Interment is scheduled for Dec. 20, 2 p.m., Cedar Hill Cemetery, Castle Rock. See obituary on page 18.
  • Monument Tree Lighting, Sat., Dec. 7, 3-6 p.m., tree lighting 5 p.m., Santa 5-6 p.m., Limbach Park, 151 Front St. Watch for more details. Please bring a canned food item for Tri-Lakes Cares or a new, unwrapped toy for Santa on Patrol. Info: Madeline, 884-8013, www.townofMonument.org.
  • Song Spinners Christmas Show at Jackson Creek Senior Living, Sun., Dec. 8, 1-2 p.m., 16601 Jackson Creek Pkwy, Monument. Free. RSVP & Info: Kathy Clinton, 719-725-6060, www.JacksonCreekSeniorLiving.com.
  • Black Forest Community Potluck & Tree Lighting, Sun., Dec. 8, 5:45 p.m., 12530 Black Forest Rd. Tree-lighting 5:45 p.m. at NE corner of the Log School Park, at the corner of Shoup and Black Forest Roads, followed by potluck dinner. Black Forest Players will perform a one-act play, music by Fusion from Pine Creek, and Christmas sing-a-long. Bring your favorite dish to share. Info: 719-495-2207.
  • El Paso County Master Plan Workshop, Wed., Dec. 11, 6-8 p.m., 2880 International Circle, Suite 110, Colo. Springs. Do you care about county roads, water, growth? The county seeks public input on the master plan. Info: Tracey Garcia, 719-520-7952.
  • Restyle your Fur at the Love Shop, Wed.-Thu., Dec. 11-12, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., 251 Front St., #13, Monument. Restyle your old fur to a vest, jacket, or Teddy bear. Info: 719-598-3348. See ad on page 11.
  • Black Rose Acoustic Society Holiday Show/Singalong Potluck with Dakota Blonde, Fri., Dec. 13, 7-9:30 p.m. Black Forest Community Center, 12530 Black Forest Rd. at Shoup Road. Last names A-Q, please bring appetizers; R-Z, please bring desserts. Cost: $10 general, $5 BRAS members, $5 nonmember students with ID. Info: Joe Maio, 528-6119, jrmtn@comcast.net, www.blackroseacoustic.org.
  • Cookies with Santa, Sat., Dec. 14, 8:30 a.m.-noon, The Church at Woodmoor, 18125 Furrow Rd, Monument. Ten minutes one-on-one visit with Santa for children with sensory sensitivities. Please call to reserve your time: 719-488-3200.
  • Monument’s Santa on Patrol, Sat., Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The Monument Police Department, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, and the Palmer Lake Police Department will team up to deliver toys and good cheer to many children in the Tri-Lakes area. Info: 481-3253.
  • Santa Fe Trail Jewelry Starborn Creations Show, Sat., Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 106 2nd St., Unit A, Monument. Shop one-of-a-kind jewelry. Info: 481-0250. See ad on page 4.
  • Wreaths Across America, Sat., Dec. 14, 10 a.m., Monument Cemetery, 800 Beacon Lite Rd, Monument. Remember and honor our veterans through the laying of remembrance wreaths on the graves of our fallen heroes and the act of saying the name of each veteran aloud. Info: www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/142960/overview.
  • Holiday Book Signing at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Sat., Dec. 14, noon-2 p.m., 105 Second St., Monument. Todd Caudle will sign his new title, "Natural Wonders of Colorado." Refreshments will be served. Info: 719-481-2665, www.coveredtreasures.com.
  • Oasis Band at Jackson Creek Senior Living, Sat., Dec. 14, 3-5 p.m., 16601 Jackson Creek Pkwy, Monument. Free. RSVP & Info: Kathy Clinton, 719-725-6060, www.JacksonCreekSeniorLiving.com.
  • Calhan Country Christmas Holiday Light Display & Bull Riding, Sat., Dec. 14, 5 p.m., El Paso County Fair & Events Center 366 10th St., Calhan. Free, except for bull riding. Hay rides, live nativity, live music plus carolers, Parade of Lights (7 p.m.), Santa (8 p.m.), and more. Info: Stacy Starr, 719-520-7880.
  • Christmas Handbell Concert, Sat., Dec. 14, 7 p.m., The Church at Woodmoor, 18125 Furrow Rd., Monument. Come and enjoy an evening of special Christmas music, including handbells/chimes and a recorder ensemble. Free, open to all; a free-will offering will be accepted. Info: Joyce, 719-481-3474. See ad on page 5.
  • Annual Palmer Lake Yule Log Hunt, Sun., Dec. 15, 1 p.m., Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Trek up the mountain in search of the Yule Log. Hunt participants should arrive 11 a.m.-noon. The winner will ride the Yule Log back to town and get the first cup of wassail. Non-hunters can stay warm indoors with carols and stories. Occurs 3rd Sun. in Dec. Info: 481-2953.
  • Brian Usher at Jackson Creek Senior Living, Thu., Dec. 19, 4-6 p.m., 16601 Jackson Creek Pkwy, Monument. A holiday-themed concert with sing-along to celebrate the first "birthday" of Jackson Creek Senior Living. Free, open to all. RSVP & Info: Kathy Clinton, 719-725-6060, www.JacksonCreekSeniorLiving.com.
  • Monument Hill Farmers Market Winter Indoor Market, Sat., Dec. 21, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Grace Best, 66 Jefferson St., Monument. Shop all your old favorites. Meets every 3rd Sat. through April. Info: 592-9420. See ad on page 5.
  • Wescott Fire Department Santa Patrol, Sat., Dec. 21, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Meet Santa on his fire truck with the Wescott firefighters. See the schedule map at www.wescottfire.org (click on ALL NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS). Info: 488-8680.
  • Tri-Lakes Music Association Choir and Orchestra Annual Christmas Concert, Fri.-Sat., Dec. 20-21, 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 22, 2 p.m., Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Rd., Monument. Joyful sounds of the season. Free; donations will be accepted to support Tri-Lakes Cares and student scholarships. Info: Rose Dunphey, 719-648-8283; trilakesmusic@gmail.com; www.trilakesmusic.org.
  • Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Christmas Eve Services, Tue., Dec. 24, 3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m., 20256 Hunting Downs Way, Monument. Nursery available for all services except 9 p.m. Info: 488-1365, www.tlumc.org. See ad on page 8.
  • Woodmen Valley Chapel Christmas Eve Services, Tue., Dec. 24, 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., Bear Creek Elementary School, 1330 Creekside Dr., Monument. Choose among five identical services, all fun for the whole family. Info: 719-533-6800, www.woodmenvalley.org/monument. See ad on page 13.
  • County’s Annual TreeCycle, Sat.-Sun., Dec. 28-29; Jan. 4-5, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Baptist Road trailhead, Baptist Road & Old Denver Hwy. Recycle your Christmas tree. Trees are ground into mulch that is given away free. Remove all decorations from your tree before dropping it off. Bring your own tools and containers for mulch. Cost: $5, benefits community youth sports programs. Info: 520-7878, www.TreeCycleCOS.org.
  • CASA Volunteer Informational Hour, Fri., Jan 10, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 418 South Weber St., Color. Springs. Find out how you can be the voice for a child who is involved in the court system due to abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. Light lunch included. RSVP & Info: 719-447-9898, urikos@casappr.org, www.casappr.org.
  • St. Peter School Open House, Sun., Jan. 26, 12:30-2:30 p.m., 124 First St., Monument. Find out about education for Preschool through 8th grade. Info: 481-1855; www.petertherock.org. See ad on page 2.

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 calendar@ocn.me or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.

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