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By Volunteer Red Cross Shelter Manager John Hartling
This was truly the most gratifying of all the deployments I have been on. The clients were amazing and pitched in to cook sausage and pancakes for 155 people, put their own cots together, roll out the wrestling mats (took 12 men), bring cots and blankets in from the trailer in three feet of snow, drive people back to abandoned cars, shovel paths for fire trucks to get closer to the shelter, help clean up the facility, and put cots and blankets back in the trailer. We got a standing ovation on three occasions. I got worn out with folks constantly wanting to hug me.
We literally saved one young woman’s life when her car got stuck, and she tried to walk to the shelter but could not find us because of the whiteout. She lay down in a snow bank and covered herself with a blanket. Fortunately, she had a cell phone and let us know approximately where she was. Our ham radio operator Jeremy Schwartz used his Jeep to look for her. After about 30 minutes, he found her about one block from the facility. She was also about 10 feet from a 75-year-old Uber driver who had been missing for 11 hours. They were both very cold. She broke down in hysterics when she realized how close she was to expiring.
The most frustrating part was trying to get people back to their vehicles. Some of of them did not know where their vehicles were.
Special kudos to Red Cross team members Carl Allen, Patti Hettler, Ed Hettler, and Rob Hoette. They stayed awake for as many as 38 hours to get the shelter set up, register newcomers, feed the crowds, and keep it running through the storm, even at 4 a.m. as stranded people kept coming in.
More thanks to these volunteers: Schwartz, the ham operator who was up all night doing whatever was needed including rescuing the girl; Abe Johnson, a client who drove numerous people back to their cars and was up all night helping as needed; Peggy at McDonald’s who whipped up 300 sausage sandwiches for breakfast on short notice; Nathan Shumway, a pediatric doctor who helped with several medical issues and overly stressed clients, including a pregnant lady; and Father Gregory and St. Peter for use of their facility and all the supplies and food. Father Gregory would not accept reimbursement from me or the Red Cross.
And thanks to those who responded to my NextDoor.com plea for help and to the Knights of Columbus who helped folks return to their cars on Thursday afternoon. Not only did they drive, they also helped dig cars out of ditches full of wet snow.
Caption: U.S. Army Spc. Jacob Nguyen from Fort Carson was one of 155 people sheltering at St. Peter Church in Monument, where he took this photo during the bomb cyclone. Red Cross volunteers opened emergency shelters at St. Peter and Kilmer Elementary School. Stranded travelers could find shelters using www.redcross.org/shelter, 1-800-REDCROSS, or text SHELTER and ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA). The Tri-Lakes Red Cross Shelter Team needs more volunteers to become trained for "next time" to share this very rewarding work among more people. Please contact John Hartling at (719) 338-9552 or LCDRJOHN@yahoo.com for information. Photo by Jacob Nguyen.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board meetings held on Feb. 27 and March 27, board members heard about the bomb cyclone after a storm report from Chief Chris Truty and received a presentation on a possible Master Plan.
District had action plan before the storm
Truty recapped the events of the rare hurricane-level storm that began on March 13, saying that rescue crews were stretched to the extreme. Fortunately, TLMFPD was not caught off guard due to the creation of an Incident Action Plan (IAP) two days prior, which doubled staffing levels, carried out extra checks of all vehicles, and allowed TLMFPD to move its command center to the Monument Town Hall, which has a working generator, when the power went out.
TLMFPD were able to respond to 126 calls over the course of 48 hours, the majority of which were from stranded motorists. The 1987 Sno-Cat logged 85 miles over 18 hours, assisting with awkward rescues when firefighter crews had to proceed on foot.
Throughout the storm, TLMFPD, the Monument Police Department, the Town of Monument, Monument Public Works and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Red Cross worked together closely at the Emergency Operations Center at Monument Town Hall to ensure that 162 people were rescued and brought to shelters at St. Peter Catholic Church or Kilmer Elementary School.
The effort from everybody involved was excellent and TLMFPD is grateful for all the assistance that Monument’s staff and work crews provided, said Truty.
Deputy Chief Randy Trost said vehicle damage incurred during the blizzard included door hinge damage, frozen water pumps on the brush trucks, chain replacements needed for various reasons, and bumper damage to ambulance 81.
It is expected that the TLMFPD expenses from the storm, to include overtime, could approach $50,000. Expenses may be absorbed into the annual budget, indicated Truty.
District Master Plan recommendations
Dan Qualman, senior consultant for Emergency Services Consultants International (ESCI), presented a more focused fire station location Master Plan for TLMFPD. ESCI looked at 1,700 potential sites for optimal stations, taking into account that roads are likely to change. Qualman recommended:
• Growth will dictate a fourth station to maintain response times.
• A possible move to the east for Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive as development increases in rural areas.
• Keep Station 1 in the current location on Highway 105.
• A third medic to handle the increased EMS calls with a higher aging population in the area within the next 10 years.
• An agreement with Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD).
• A community paramedicine program will relieve some burden from EMS.
• A regional training facility.
The board voted 5-0 to accept the TLMFPD Master Plan document as provided by ESCI.
Financial report and excess funds
Treasurer John Hildebrandt presented updates to the board on the current financial position. Overall, yearly expenses were under budget by 14.53 percent through February 2019.
Truty discussed the $925,890 in surplus funds at the end of 2018, of which $400,000 had been allocated to the Station 1 living quarters remodel and $178,000 in other budgeted expenditures, none of which has occurred yet. Another $400,000 came from unexpectedly high Special Ownership Tax revenue. Truty suggested the board consider:
• Recommending $35,000 for immediate Station 2 upgrades.
• An additional $350,000 for the Station 1 remodel to encompass a kitchen and day areas.
• Save for a property purchase for a future station.
• Save extra capital for equipment reserves.
The board suggested that TLMFPD command staff and the labor union should be involved in the decision-making process for the allocation of the remainder of the one-time surplus funds.
The board unanimously approved the non-budgeted expenditure of $35,000 for short-term maintenance, equipment, and upgrades at Station 2.
Station 1 remodel
A total of $1.2 million over three years, or roughly $400,000 per station, was allocated last year in response to the successful mill levy campaign in 2017. Money is still earmarked for all three stations, but due to the recommendations in the Master Plan the current station locations will need to be reviewed.
Truty suggested adding an additional $350,000 to enhance the remodel of Station 1, for a total of $750,000, since it had the least likelihood of being moved. The board agreed that Station 1 should be enhanced now for the firefighters based on the recommendation from ESCI, though a specific plan has not been determined. Some future projects to upgrade Station 2 and 3 will still go ahead to make conditions more livable, since any relocations will take years to accomplish, Truty said.
The board voted 6-0 to approve an additional $350,000 from the 2018 windfall for the remodeling of Fire Station 1.
Wescott merger update
On Feb. 27, the board moved into executive session to instruct negotiators on a possible future arrangement with DWFPD and to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations. The board returned to the regular meeting at 9:07 p.m.; no further decisions or discussions occurred.
Truty said on March 27 that the next meeting of the chiefs and the committee regarding the possible merger with DWFPD is scheduled for April 4.
On March 18, TLMFPD board held a special meeting with an executive session pursuant to CRS 24-46-402 (4) (b) for discussion of specific legal questions with the attorney for the district on pending litigation.
When the board returned to the regular meeting, a motion was unanimously approved "that we authorize the fire chief to sign a settlement agreement with (previous TLMFPD Fire Marshal) John Vincent to settle the current litigation between the district and Mr. Vincent in a form to be approved by the attorney for the district and conditioned on the district expending no more than $15,000 in funds as part of that settlement agreement, which amount shall be reimbursed to the district by the district’s insurer."
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 24 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, contact Office Administrator/HR Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011. For upcoming agendas, see http://tlmfire.org/board.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
During the March 19 meeting, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board discussed the district’s response to the blizzard and heard updates on the possible merger with Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD). The board asked Chief Vinny Burns to decide how to use the 2018 wildland revenues to benefit the firefighters and furthered their discussion on creating board bylaws started at their February meeting.
Treasurer Joyce Hartung was absent.
Blizzard planning paid off
Assistant Chief Scott Ridings updated the board on the department’s response to the recent blizzard, and Burns congratulated the whole team for a "very professional" job. Ridings said the incident action plan he prepared ahead of the storm outlined goals they would try to meet, and they succeeded in doing so. The team of extra staffers took 49 calls for service over the storm’s 48 hours. The department dug cars out of the snow and took people to the hospital. Ridings indicated one person might have lost their life without the actions of the firefighters.
He was also proud that Wescott was able to swiftly provide road condition and power line damage assessments to the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management (EOC) so they could deal with issues more efficiently. "I have a feeling this was more information than other districts sent in," he said.
In all, 16 staff members were on duty during the 48 hours of the storm. No mutual aid requests were made by Wescott, but they did provide "pretty critical" aid to other departments. Ridings is preparing the final after-action report reviewing changes that need to be made for next time.
TLMFPD merger discussion
DWFPD Chairman William "Bo" McAllister told the board he had spoken with TLMFPD President Jake Shirk, telling him the Wescott board was not interested in a possible "contract for takeover" he was told TLMFPD was writing. Shirk asked if talks were closed, and McAllister said they should continue to discuss options other than a contract for service.
At its February meeting, DWFPD board members learned of the contract and were puzzled as to why the TLMFPD board authorized Chief Chris Truty to write it, since earlier discussions had been about types of possible mergers. Although the DWFPD unification committee made up of Director Larry Schwarz and Hartung had said they would meet with Truty before the next meeting to continue the flow of information between the two departments, McAllister said the last meeting had occurred "before the holidays." See https://ocn.me/v19n3.htm#dwfpd.
Ridings said a meeting has been set up between the chiefs and directors but did not specify a date.
Budget decision-making unclear
During the February financials review, Director Gary Rusnak indicated the board had already decided to gift the firefighters a portion of wildland fire revenue earned last year. The money would not be salary but neither would it be considered just offsetting expenses. He did not specify when this decision was made, but the chiefs said they would consider how to best use the funds "to support the troops," as Rusnak put it. He suggested the extra $120,000-$130,000 should be considered for some kind of project.
Station 2 updates
The developer of Flying Horse North has asked for an easement from the department in order to put up a sign near Station 2 on Highway 83. In return, the developer agreed to provide land back to the department. The district’s attorney, Matt Court, didn’t have any updates for the board during the public meeting, but the board did go into executive session to discuss the easement paperwork in more detail.
According to Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich, upon returning to open meeting, the board unanimously authorized legal counsel to negotiate and finalize the Sign Easement Agreement, Temporary Grading Easement Agreement, Construction Easement Agreement, and property conveyance documents for the Station 2 property project. See https://ocn.me/v18n12.htm.
District consolidation election debate
Rusnak has been asking the board to consider consolidating the district and subdistrict into one for efficiency of governing. Currently, the entire district, which includes a small island of land south of Old Ranch Road, has an overall mill levy of 7.00 mills. The sub-district, which covers the northern sub-district, has an additional mill levy of 14.90 mills. See http://wescottfire.org/about-wescott-fire/.
Tonight, Rusnak asked Court if he could share election text he had crafted as a generic initiative for the voters to approve in an attempt to have the same taxation throughout the department’s coverage area.
Court cautioned Rusnak that the question has to be as specific as possible so voters know exactly what they are voting on. Schwarz said this discussion should continue so they can simplify the government entity but also provide the same service to everyone in the district. "We provide little or no services to" the southern portion of the district "so they shouldn’t pay the same," said McAllister.
The next Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 16 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. A volunteer pension meeting will be held before the meeting, starting at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: Ronald Henrikson volunteered with Our Community News from 2001 right up until he helped us mail our March 2019 issue, and he was proud to support independent journalism. His son Erik said, "Dad never did anything halfway." This was true of his career as a pediatrician and commander in the Air Force, Boy Scout leader and guide, spinning class instructor, supporter of the arts, long-distance cyclist, and encourager and teacher to his wife, children, and grandchildren. "Why you do something is as important as what you do," he said. It is well with his soul, but we will miss him. Photo courtesy of Ronald’s daughter, Sonja Beaudoin.
By Lisa Hatfield
The directors of the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) met on March 20 to discuss the aftermath of the bomb cyclone, staffing issues at Station 2, why fire districts should be able to collect impact fees from new development, and more.
Fire Chief Bryan Jack and Lt. Rick Robirds described the district’s response to the March 13 storm. Six firefighters, including some part-timers and volunteers, were on duty that day and worked to rescue stranded motorists until well after midnight.
About 40 people, including 10 children and one elderly lady using an oxygen concentrator, sheltered overnight at Station 1, where staff provided blankets, pillows, and some food. Some district vehicles out on the roads could not move because they were surrounded by so many cars buried in snow drifts. "Black Forest Road was a parking lot," said Robirds.
President PJ Langmaid, Director Rick Nearhoof, Treasurer Jack Hinton, Vice President Rick McMorran, and Director David Hoffpauir had many specific questions about things they had heard happened.
Problems that will be investigated in more detail in the after-action report included pre-storm preparations about the district’s vehicles and communication with local churches and the Red Cross.
Nearhoof emphasized the point that BFFRPD residents recently approved a mill levy, and he wanted to be sure they knew they were being cared for when their "whole neighborhood was hammered" by the storm. Hinton wondered "if we might have ramped up and been more prepared" as a small community fire department trying to help its residents.
Langmaid said, "The community thanks you for all the hard work you did! But we as an agency can further grow and develop standards and professionalism.… If you need more equipment or training, you need to let the board know."
Jack will share the official after-action report with the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management and the BFFRPD board in April.
Station 2 staffing
Station 2 is at 16465 Ridge Run Dr., southeast of Hodgen and Black Forest Roads. In the financial report, Hinton said the only area of concern through the end of February was above-budgeted overtime pay in an attempt to keep Station 2 staffed more days of each month, which the board had made a priority last year.
Jack said it was staffed 25 of a possible 28 days in February, but it would not be staffed that frequently in March. The problem is when part-time staff (who may be full-time with another district) sign up for a shift but then cancel right before that shift. Volunteers are required to work a certain number of hours per month too, but these can be in half-day shifts.
Langmaid said volatility in staffing did not meet the needs of the community, and while he didn’t want the board to get involved in day-to-day operations, the board might need to consider making a staffing policy.
Flying Horse North impact fee example
Jack said fire chiefs from all over El Paso County have petitioned the county for a way to collect impact fees from new developments as they are being built so that fire districts can hire more staff and buy equipment to cover increased costs. However, in June 2017, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) withdrew the resolution to adopt the El Paso County Fire and Emergency Services Impact Fee Policy.See www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#epcbocc.
Hinton met recently with County Commissioner Holly Williams to renew the impact fee discussion. She took notes and said she would get back to the district.
The board discussed the example of the Flying Horse North development underway now, which has been investigating the possibility of adding a 45-foot-tall clubhouse and a 200-room hotel. If that were to be approved by the county, it would mean BFFRPD would need to buy a ladder truck just to serve that new development. "That is what impact fees are for," Hinton and Langmaid said. Jack said the Elizabeth Fire Protection District in Elbert County approved wording for impact fees and he would share that with Williams and the BOCC.
The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.
Meetings are usually held at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at BFFRPD Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. However, the next meeting will be April 24. See www.bffire.org.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
On March 20, board members of Academy Water and Sanitation District (AWSD) heard that efforts to regain power in the district had been noticeably slow and could have had environmental repercussions during the widespread Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) power outage that affected thousands across the region during the March 13 winter storm.
The board heard a detailed account from Anthony Pastorello, operations manager for AWSD. Considering the numerous events that occurred during the recent power outage that affected the district for 2 1/2 days, he said:
• The new lift station pumping AWSD wastewater over the hill to Donala Water and Sanitation District’s collection system couldn’t operate for 2 1/2 days due to the power outage. The wastewater collected in AWSD’s lagoon instead.
• He contacted MVEA during the storm to explain that the facility would overflow hazardous waste into the creek if the power could not be restored.
• Donala brought its portable generator to AWSD’s lift station during the power outage, plowing the long steep driveway in the process, only to find that the connector plugs were not compatible.
• By the time power returned, the wastewater lagoon was three-quarters full and had half a day’s worth of capacity left before a spill.
• Had Donala lost power for a longer period, its generator would not have been available to lend.
Pastorello said if overflow occurred and if the creek were contaminated, AWSD would face liability issues with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Residents also faced the possibility of an extended period without any drinking water. Pastorello explained that before all storms of any nature, he pumps water to fill the potable water tank. This time, there were about 1 1/2 days left of water in the tank when the power was restored. Director Ron Curry said he posted a web notice for residents to cut back on water use, but he didn’t hear any comments from residents.
Board members expressed their dismay that MVEA gave a lower priority to AWSD than the surrounding neighborhoods whose power was restored in as little as four hours.
Mark Morton of GMS Consulting Engineers said research is underway to explore the possibility of switching the generator plugs at the station to ensure compatibility with Donala’s generator.
Pastorello recommended exploring the possible purchase of a 150 kW three-phase portable generator for the facility to keep the lift station running to prevent overflow issues and operate the deep well in future power outages. The board consensus was that buying a used generator would be more practical than trying to rent one. They also agreed that the kind of storm recently experienced on March 13 had not occurred often in the past 25 years.
Deep well exploration
Pastorello explained the findings of the deep well analysis that showed it was losing 50 percent of the expected pumping volume. Diagnostics showed the motor could be in bad shape or that the casing is damaged. A camera check is scheduled to reveal the condition of the pipe and find a solution to the problem.
Lagoon project progress
Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF), which is run by Donala, is equipped to meet current state standards for ammonia, phosphorus, and nitrogen. ASWD’s current lagoon treatment system could no longer meet these standards, so it has been decommissioned, and the old lagoons are being pumped clean. Morton said once the lagoons are fully thawed, pumping will begin in coordination with Terri Ladouceur, chief waste plant operator at UMCRWWTF. See www.ocn.me/v15n9.htm#awsd0728 and www.ocn.me/v15n11.htm3awsd1027.
A search continues for an attorney for the district who understands real estate and special district requirements and is also able to negotiate. Two potential candidates are being considered and the aim is to stay local to keep the fees down.
The board moved into executive session at 6:46 p.m. to discuss personnel issues. After the board returned to open session, members approved 4-0 a $1,500 bonus for Pastorello for his exceptional efforts during the three-day power outage.
The Academy Water and Sanitation District board meets at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday each month at the Donald Westcott Fire Station, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Contact Operations Manager Anthony Pastorello at 481-0711 or see the district website www.colorado.gov/pacific/awsd.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
At its March 11 meeting, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board approved a request from The Cove Homeowners Association to be granted an easement allowing its tenants to have limited access to property that belongs to WWSD. The board also heard operational reports from staff.
Board allows access for residents of the Cove
District Manager Jessie Shaffer presented to the board a request from the Cove Homeowners Association to allow residents to make use of a portion of the district’s property where Well 5 is located for access to the Cove’s property and for parking,
The Cove is a multi-family housing complex at 1655 Deer Creek Road, just north of Woodmoor Lake.
Shaffer told the board that the easement would be revocable. The board voted unanimously to grant the easement.
Highlights of operational reports
• Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette reported that the work being done to armor the district’s augmentation station on Fountain Creek had been successfully completed. The project was undertaken to protect the station from erosion to ensure the district can divert its share of water from Fountain Creek and deliver it as contracted to the shareholders of the Chilcott Ditch company.
• Gillette told the board that a new ditch rider had been hired. The ditch rider is responsible for maintaining the Chilcott Ditch in proper working order. The district plans to hire an additional ditch rider, Gillette said.
• Gillette told the board that the Monument Creek exchange was once again pumping water from Monument Creek into Woodmoor Lake after a temporary shutdown required by low flows in the creek.
• Shaffer told the board the district had awarded a contract for $738,000 to Velocity Constructors to complete all outstanding work on the district’s newest well, Well 21. The pipeline and the landscaping were not included in this contract, Shaffer said. Well 21 is in the Misty Acres neighborhood.
• About 130 feet of sewer line remain to be completed on the Monument Hill Road project, according to Shaffer. Excavating had been more difficult than expected near the box culvert adjacent to the weighing station, Shaffer said, due to groundwater issues. The project was expected to be completed before the end of March, according to Shaffer.
• The Beach at Woodmoor is resolving some issues with grading at the site that are delaying the project, Shaffer told the board.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 8 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) and Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts (PPMD) 1, 2 and 3 joint special board meeting on March 12, directors discussed future participation in the planned North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) and regionalization of water and wastewater utilities. The directors also applauded the completion of the FLMD surface water treatment plant, which will provide drinking water from Bristlecone Lake for residents’ use.
North Monument Creek Interceptor resolution approved
Ann Nichols, FLMD manager, gave a brief backstory to the board on the proposed NMCI pipeline for future regionalization of water and wastewater utilities using the J.D. Phillips Water Resource Recovery Facility at 4205 Mark Dabling Blvd., Colorado Springs. The facility was originally sized to handle 20 million gallons per day with a possible expansion to 50 million gallons per day if needed. However, water use was not as high as anticipated over the past 20 years and the plant currently handles only 12 million gallons of wastewater per day. In comparison, Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWTF) handles 1.75 million gallons per day for FLMD, Triview Metropolitan District, and Donala Water and Sanitation District customers.
The U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), plans to construct a visitor center and hotel complex using the NMCI pipeline to enable the elimination of three costly lift stations in the process. Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) approached the northern entities six months ago with a view to extending the pipeline to the northern wastewater districts so they could take advantage of a more efficient unit cost for wastewater treatment, bypassing the UMCRWWTF and Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) that serve Palmer Lake Sanitation District, Monument Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. Note: CSU is working to obtain all the legal permissions that would be required to work on Air Force Academy land.
Connecting to the JD Phillips Water Resource Recovery Facility is a good regional approach to prevent rates from escalating due to increased state-required nutrient compliance standards, Nichols said. The FLMD infrastructure cost share would be about $750,000 with an estimated operating cost savings over 10-15 years of 20 percent. FLMD would then be out of the wastewater treatment business, avoiding required costly upgrades, liability issues, and restrictions, said Nichols.
Doug Stimple, FLMD assistant secretary and treasurer, and CEO of Classic Homes, stated:
• CSU already has the necessary upgrades in place to meet anticipated stricter standards, and future costs would be divided over 500,000 customers.
• In contrast, smaller sanitation districts are at greater capital risk because they would face increasing standards of treatment and have a much smaller customer base to pay for them.
• CSU has a 100-year track record of reliability and charging affordable rates to its customers.
• The long-term goal would be for CSU to return the valuable "return flow" water to the northern water districts who have water rights to it via a pipeline along Highway 83, Hodgen Road, and Baptist Road.
Nichols recommended the board accept the resolution to continue discussions and cooperate with CSU with the final intention of signing an agreement to join the NMCI later in 2019. The board approved the resolution, 4-0.
Director Mike Hitchcock said having "no downstream liability in the future would be huge!"
Resident Lee Arnett voiced concern about losing local control of rates. However, Nichols and Stimple explained again that they did not see a downside.
New surface water treatment plant reduces demand on aquifers
Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital reported the following:
• Distribution of treated Bristlecone Lake water commenced on March 7.
• The water tasted great!
• Full completion will happen within 45 days after a few minor details have been straightened out.
Stimple and Nichols congratulated Blunk for "shepherding the project," which will allow the district to use renewable lake water instead of aquifer well water.
The new Arapahoe well is drilled and expected to be connected to the water system in late summer; any water used from that well would need to be blended with lake water, Stimple said. Water to residents has been previously sourced from the non-renewable Dillon well and will still be available if needed during a drought.
A drought policy is included in homeowner packets, and water restrictions will be monitored by John McGinn from JDS Hydro. McGinn is FLMD’s water consultant tasked to figure out how to handle drought conditions if it becomes necessary. See https://ocn.me/v18n5.htm#flmd.
Resident Lee Arnett asked the board many questions during public comments. Stimple’s answers included:
• The primary water source for FLMD is now Bristlecone Lake, which is the district’s only renewable water source.
• The new Arapahoe Well would be the secondary source, which would be used based on drought conditions.
• Currently, 188 homes are being billed with an estimated use of .35 acre-feet.
Nichols also answered:
• It is more expensive to treat the lake water because it is a more involved operation.
• The surface water treatment plant has just come on line and assessment of rates over the next 5-6 months will likely reveal water rates are too low.
• FLMD currently has the lowest water rates in Northern El Paso County.
• The physical reality of Bristlecone Lake dictates that the level of water must reach the spillway in order to deposit any water into Pinon Lake.
• We expect that both lakes will be full with the spring runoff this year if it keeps snowing on the Rampart Range.
Resident Michael Davidson described the presence of noxious weeds in the landscaping around the lakes, and that they were spreading into well-maintained private property. Nichols said usually they hear about weeds in a letter from El Paso County, but FLMD is responsible for the eradication of weeds in the landscaping and they would take care of the problem.
Home construction update
Nichols said she had previously budgeted for 50 additional homes in 2019 for a total of 240 homes. FLMD Secretary James Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes, confirmed about 30 lots are available in the current filing.
Stimple updated the board, stating:
• The long-term development process for the west portion of the development is in the hands of the El Paso County Planning Commission and may be approved on April 2. See and www.epcdevplanreview.com. Search for Forest Lakes Phase II PUD (Planned Urban Development) Preliminary Plan Amendment.
• Approval from the Board of County Commissioners would then be sought in May.
• A nine-month build time for road and infrastructure would be completed late 2020.
• Lot sales would not begin until 2020.
• Sales are anticipated to be slow due to the expense of the lots and potential slowing of the economy.
The proposed estimated build-out of 180 lots on the westerly-north side of the creek is 3-4 years.
Public improvement fee collection
Russel W. Dykstra, district counsel, explained that since the Pilot Station opened in PPMD 3, the public improvement fees (PIF) for Arby’s restaurant had not been collected. This was due in part to a change of ownership and a failure to report. Dykstra and Blunk both recommended to the board a waiver of penalties and interest on the due PIF, stating that the first owner had paid all due fees and the second owner was in the process of paying the due PIF. Total PIF collected for PPMD 3 is about $159,000 so far. The board voted 3-0 to approve a waiver for the penalties and interest incurred by both current and previous Arby’s restaurant owners.
At 11:12 a.m. FLMD board moved into executive session to discuss developing a strategy for instructions to negotiations regarding return flow issues for North Monument Creek pursuant to CRS 24-6-402(4)(e)(I). No action was taken after the executive session.
PPMD 1 meetings, followed by joint meetings of FLMD and PPMD 2 and 3, are usually scheduled for 10 a.m. the first Monday of each month in the Classic Homes office at 6385 Corporate Drive, Suite 200, Colorado Springs. Official meeting notices are posted on the district website at http://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com and at the Forest Lakes mailbox notice board. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at 719-327-5810 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors met March 19 to consider actions to extend road life in certain neighborhoods and continue a current water lease. Staff and directors conducted a recap of the district’s response to the March 13 blizzard.
All directors were present. The March 19 board meeting packet is available online at https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2019/BoardPacket_2019-03-19_pt1.pdf.
First steps taken in exploring drinking water pipeline
District Manager Jim McGrady reported that four northern water districts—Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD), Donala Water and Sanitation District, Triview, and the Town of Monument (TOM)—have agreed to fund a routing study to determine the feasibility of installing a potable water return flow pipeline from the Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) J.D. Phillips Water Resource Reclamation Facility to the participating districts. See the board packet pp. 19 and 20 for the routing study RFP and Scope of Services.
Background: In spring 2018, CSU indicated interest in developing a regional pipeline to transport wastewater from northern El Paso County wastewater districts, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the Academy’s visitor center complex, and treat the wastewater at its reclamation facility. With the possibility of this regional wastewater infrastructure—also known as the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI)—districts have expressed interest in also installing a pipeline for delivering currently inaccessible potable water, also known as return flows. The return flows would provide districts with an alternate, renewable source of drinking water and reduce their reliance on non-renewable sources such as aquifers.
In a related move, Triview directors approved a lease with the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association (AGUA). Since 2012, Triview has leased up to 240 acre-feet of its treated wastewater (also known as effluent water) per year to AGUA and has received revenue from the arrangement. The modified lease, extended through 2030, provides Triview with the flexibility to use its return flows if a CSU water pipeline materializes. See board packet pp. 43 through 48 for the AGUA lease agreement.
Board votes to extend road life
Andale Construction Regional Pavement Coordinator John Wood presented information regarding a paving material called HA-5. The two-coat, ultra-violet protectant is applied to extend the life of roads before they begin to show significant deterioration. McGrady promoted use of the material to preserve the relatively new roads in the Promontory Pointe and Remington Hills subdivisions. Asphalt quality declines steeply if upkeep is not a priority, he added, and discussed a 20-year lifespan goal for district roads.
Estimated cost for applying HA-5 to the designated road surfaces is $205,000, an expense that would fall below the approximate $500,000 savings that remain from the 2018 road rehabilitation project, McGrady commented. The board voted to approve the HA-5 recommendation. See board packet pp. 37 through 42 for the HA-5 proposal.
District’s operations during blizzard evaluated
The snowstorm—or bomb cyclone—on March 13 presented multiple challenges for the district. Rain that fell just before the blizzard created a thick layer of ice beneath the snow and hampered the effectiveness of the plows. Plow drivers faced limited locations for directing excess snow and an obstacle course of parked and abandoned vehicles. Parks and Open Space Superintendent Jay Bateman informed OCN after the meeting that, at one point, three 18-wheel trucks were stuck along Jackson Creek Parkway.
Directors expressed appreciation for the hard work and extra efforts made by the road crews and district staff. Bateman stated that he or another team member kept in close contact with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District to ensure that residents with medical needs would be accessible to emergency responders. McGrady acknowledged the significant benefit of Lewis-Palmer School District’s decision to cancel school in advance of the storm; an action that likely decreased the number of vehicles on the road.
The informal after-action analysis led the group to develop a list of steps to implement for the next big storm. One such action would be to engage the use of a front-loader—which can scoop and dump snow into out-of-the-way spaces—earlier in the plowing process to prevent the accumulation of large snow piles, especially at intersections. Bateman added that he is developing a snow map to identify locations where excess snow can be directed. Another step would be to arrange advance overnight accommodations for staff, especially plow drivers, who may get stranded due to road closures.
McGrady and support staff provided progress reports regarding current Triview projects that included:
• Martin Marietta estimated an April 15 start time for Triview’s 2019 road rehabilitation work. The contractor anticipated reaching substantial completion by mid-June.
• The Jackson Creek Parkway widening Request for Qualifications deadline was extended to April 8 to accommodate the number and size of projects besieging construction companies in the region. See New Projects, Jackson Creek Parkway Widening on the home page at www.triviewmetro.com.
• Goodwin Knight, developer of Home Place Ranch, has mapped a serpentine route to extend Gleneagle Road through Home Place Ranch and connect with Higby Road near the Higby Road-Fairplay Drive intersection. However, Higby Road is owned by El Paso County, and construction of the Gleneagle Road extension is contingent upon substantial improvements deemed necessary by the county.
• Installation of pipeline before the expansion work on Jackson Creek Parkway is underway. The 12-inch water main will extend from slightly north of the Leather Chaps-Jackson Creek Parkway intersection to the Jackson Creek Parkway-Higby Road intersection.
• McGrady met with County Commissioner Holly Williams, District 1, and discussed "hot button" issues such as the county’s 1041 permit process and responsibilities regarding Higby Road. He expressed confidence in Williams’ knowledge of water and wastewater operations and commented that Williams has been meeting with other districts in the area.
• Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton and Bateman reported on recent operational activities and plans to address landscaping and increased water demands with the approach of summer, respectively.
The meeting ended at 7:21 p.m. After a brief break, directors entered executive session §24-6-402(4)(b)(e) Legal Advice, Negotiations.
McGrady confirmed later that the board made no additional decisions nor votes following the executive session.
The next Triview board meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. April 16. Board meetings are generally scheduled on the third Tuesday of the month at the district office, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument. Information: 488-6868 or visit www.triviewmetro.com. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook, or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Donala Water and Sanitation District board hosted El Paso County Commissioner Holly Williams, District 1, at its March 21 meeting. Directors voted to adopt a resolution pertaining to Donala’s participation in the proposed regional wastewater treatment pipeline and award a bid on the Gleneagle water main replacement project. District Manager Kip Petersen presented a position on the care and security of Donala-owned Willow Creek Ranch.
Commissioner listens to district concerns
Petersen and the directors welcomed Williams and invited her to participate in the meeting, noting that she was the first commissioner to establish a rapport with the district. Williams stated that commissioners have limited authority regarding water since it’s regulated by the state but wanted to check on districts and see how they’re doing. Having communicated with county engineer, Jennifer Irvine, Williams stated that she is aware of some Donala projects that require coordination with the county Department of Planning and Community Development.
Petersen and GMS Inc. engineer David Frisch summarized their concerns as timing and communication. Petersen emphasized that the construction season is short, so delays created by poor communication, or the often-cumbersome 1041 permit process, generally boil down to added expense. Williams acknowledged that inadequate staffing at the department was part of the problem but added that more effective and efficient communication needed to be explored.
Petersen and the directors also voiced their concerns regarding the county’s proposed roundabout for the Struthers-Gleneagle intersection. Pedestrian safety, stalled traffic on connecting streets, and increased traffic on "back roads" were some of the concerns cited. Adding to the roundabout conversation, Williams mentioned that a "high-speed, double roundabout" at the Highway 83 and County Line Road juncture is being considered. This roundabout would purportedly be suitable for large semi-trucks to navigate.
Water transport progress
Directors reviewed and discussed a resolution for Donala to cooperate and participate in CSU’s proposed regional wastewater pipeline. The North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) would be constructed from the J.D. Phillips Water Resource Reclamation Facility in Colorado Springs to the U.S Air Force Academy’s proposed visitor center complex west of I-25 at the Northgate Boulevard interchange. Although this is a wastewater pipeline, many of the northern districts, including Donala, place high priority on developing infrastructure, an exchange system, or other means to receive reusable wastewater return flows. The return flows provide a renewable source of drinking water. In response to this potential benefit to NMCI participants, Donala’s board adopted the NMCI and Regionalization of Water and Water Utilities resolution with the caveat that CSU’s cost and return flow demands must fall within Donala’s parameters.
Addressing a related water transport issue, Petersen reported that he had received the proposed settlement agreement that is part of Donala’s 1041 permit request from Pueblo County. Progress on this permit brings the district close to completing a long-term contract—most likely 20 years—with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to transport the Willow Creek Ranch surface water that will be stored at the Pueblo Reservoir through CSU’s Southern Delivery System pipeline to the CSU-Donala interconnect at Northgate Road and on to customers via Donala’s drinking water infrastructure. Currently, CSU and Donala function under an out-of-service-area arrangement that charges the district 50 percent more than in-service-area customers. A long-term agreement has the potential to lower this cost.
Manager resuscitates ranch rules
Petersen crafted a position paper in response to a board suggestion that access to the Willow Creek Ranch be restricted to water operations only. This action would eliminate staff recreation such as camping, hunting, and other activities on the property. Petersen’s position was that "restricting access to the property, in the manner suggested, will be detrimental to our facilities there." Acknowledging an awkward situation whereby an area was "not in a presentable condition" during a board tour of the ranch last fall, Petersen reinforced his commitment to monitor the property more stringently.
Anyone hunting on the property must not only be licensed to do so but sign a release and waiver and be issued a letter of authorization through Petersen. "Safety of the people hunting, as well as our neighbors, is paramount, and our restrictions reflect that," he wrote.
Without district funds to provide full-time land management, Petersen relies on good neighbor relations and his personal visits to the ranch. Neighbors have alerted Petersen to potential trespassers and blocked water flumes. He attested to the invaluable nature of these relationships.
He confirmed that all district staff show great pride in the ranch and view access as a privilege, not a right, and the previous mistakes would not be repeated.
• The directors lauded the foresight and dedication of Chief Waste Plant Operator Terri Ladouceur and Waste Plant Operator Thom Waite who willingly manned the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility throughout the day-and-a-half-long March 13 bomb cyclone.
• The bomb cyclone cancelled the March 13 Arkansas River Basin Roundtable. Petersen and directors Ken Judd, Ed Houle, and Wayne Vandershuere plan to attend the April roundtable and conference that will be held in Pueblo.
• The district’s revamped website became active in early March. Easier navigation was a priority. Board directors’ photos and biographical information will be added.
• Petersen reported that he and the staff had increased financial security measures due to additional fraudulent attempts against the district.
• The board awarded the phase two Gleneagle Road water main replacement project to Beers Construction LLC for $1.1 million, which was $200,000 lower than the next lowest bid.
The meeting adjourned at 3:20 p.m.
The next board meeting will be held April 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the district office located at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs. The directors meet in the district office conference room. Board meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. More information is available by calling (719)488-3603 or accessing www.donalawater.org.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
At its March 4 special meeting, the Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education confirmed the hiring of new principals for Prairie Winds Elementary School and Palmer Ridge High School. They were introduced at the March 18 regular meeting of the board.
On March 4, Secretary Mark Pfoff and Treasurer Chris Taylor reported on their work to develop the bond issue for the November election. They reported meeting with the architect, engineers, and financial advisors to create an offering that would use district reserves to avoid an increase in taxes for residential property owners. Reserves would cover the cost of converting Bear Creek Elementary back into a middle school. Avoiding an accelerated building schedule would also decrease costs.
The board assigned research into such issues as staff morale, overcrowding, history of the district, and financing. The intent is that all members of the board will have the same information with which to inform the community about the need for action.
Superintendent Karen Brofft suggested that board members attend various community meetings to speak and learn of the community’s opinions.
The board selected three finalists for the position of superintendent.
Regular meeting, March 18
The board was unable to confirm the selection of a new superintendent as interviews were scratched because of the previous week’s blizzard. Interviews will now be on April 2 and 3.
In her comments, Superintendent Brofft reported that the information on the cost of the modular classrooms is still not accurate. Information received from CRP Architects had underestimated the utility costs involved with installing the modular.
She also reported on proposed legislation in support of free full-day kindergarten for all. If the legislation passes, all districts must offer it. Currently, half-day kindergarten is free and full-day kindergarten requires tuition. The district would either have to offer full-day kindergarten for free (and receive a full-day per pupil revenue for each student) or not offer full-day at all.
Brofft also reported that the open enrollment period had closed, with 235 applications received, 35 of them new to the district. Only siblings of those already attending district schools and families of staff were accepted, mostly at the high school level. All K through 8 positions were otherwise closed.
Treasurer Taylor commented that stopping open enrollment hurts revenue.
Pfoff and Taylor presented a report on their progress in addressing middle school overcrowding. Taylor reported that the cost of the bond can be decreased due to a change in the construction schedule from accelerated to a normal 13-month span and by covering the cost of conversion of Bear Creek back into a middle school through reserves.
In the course of their report, Pfoff and Taylor also said they responded to public comments by simplifying the wording of the bond (for example, by replacing "to include but not limited to" with "solely for"), ensuring that there be a positive argument in the voter information guide for the bond, and limiting the bond to one use only.
Brofft commented that the change in schedule saved enough money that the district was able to add back to the school some features that would add to its durability and longevity.
Taylor also reminded the board that the investment in the design of the building was worthwhile because it would be used again.
There was a brief discussion about the wisdom of using reserves in this way.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman said the district maintains enough in reserve to cover two months of operating expenses.
Board President Matthew Clawson asked whether the district could cover all expenses in the event of a financial downturn. Wangeman responded that, should one appear to be approaching, the district would plan accordingly.
Clawson also inquired about unfunded mandates from the state such as free full-day kindergarten and paid family leave. Brofft responded that a greater concern would be the passage of a uniform mill levy across all districts, but otherwise the district could only wait to see what passes.
In her enrollment update, Wangeman reported that the population of the district has grown by 34 since the Oct. 1 count, with Bear Creek and Kilmer elementaries growing the most. She said forecasting for the following year usually begins in April.
The board announced the following recognitions:
• New Prairie Winds Principal Alicia Welch and new Palmer Ridge High School Principal Dr. Terry Bramschreiber were introduced.
• Lewis-Palmer High School Baseball program volunteer Meg Shuger was recognized for founding Wreaths Across America to place wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers and for her book drive to benefit the new Children’s Hospital Colorado.
• The state 4A Basketball champion Lewis-Palmer High School Rangers were recognized with coach Bill Benton.
• Gary Long of the Palmer Ridge Boys Gold Team was recognized as Gazette Prep Boys Golf Coach of the Year.
• Mallory Cuccio, coach of the Palmer Ridge field hockey team, was recognized as Gazette Preps Field Hockey Coach of the Year (Cuccio was not in attendance).
• Lewis-Palmer Swim and Dive coach Alan Arata was recognized as NFHS National Coach of the Year by the Colorado High School Athletic Association. He was previously recognized as Colorado State Coach of the Year and Region 6 Coach of the Year.
• Palmer Ridge marketing and business teacher Courtney Bushnell was recognized as Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) New Coach of the Year.
• Lewis-Palmer High School journalism teacher Carrie Hendrix was awarded special recognition as one of the Advisers of the Year by the Journalism Education Association.
Instrumental music students from Bear Creek Elementary performed patriotic music, and students from Bear Creek Elementary and other schools spoke of their involvement with Kiwanis from grade 4 through high school. The youngest participants are K-Kids, and the high school group is Key Club.
Caption: State 4A basketball champions, the Lewis-Palmer High School Rangers, are shown with their coaches, board Director Theresa Phillips, board Secretary Mark Pfoff, top, Superintendent Karen Brofft, center, and board President Matthew Clawson, right. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
The next regular meeting of the Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education will be at 6 p.m. Monday, April 8 at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The date was changed from the 15th due to a scheduling conflict.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The District 38 District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) discussed the coming year’s budget, growth and the proposed bond issue, Unified Improvement Plans (UIP) for individual schools and the district, and crowding at Bear Creek during its March 12 meeting at Lewis-Palmer Middle School.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman explained the proposed budget for the 2019-20 school year, referring committee members to the district website www.lewispalmer.org.) for details.
She said this year’s (2018-19) budget included half the cost of converting Bear Creek Elementary into a middle school. The bond on last year’s ballot did not pass, so some of these funds were used toward installation of modular classrooms.
Wangeman said the state government is proposing free full-day kindergarten for all. Currently, students attend half-day kindergarten at no cost, and tuition is charged for full-day attendance. Currently, those who attend half days are funded by the state at the rate of 58 percent of full time. If full-day kindergarten is required to be offered, they would be funded as full-time students, but there may be a problem with space.
If full-day kindergarten is required, the district would no longer be allowed to charge tuition for any students.
Wangeman explained the process of on-site budgeting, whereby each school determines the use of its funds. The administration decides on the total funding, based on per pupil revenue. The school then apportions the use of those funds as they wish. If there are funds left over, the individual school may carry them over to the next year. This is a new policy to allow more flexibility for schools.
Wangeman also explained that there will be increased expenses in the coming year.
• The cost of insurance will rise because this area is at high risk for hailstorms. The district is participating in an insurance pool with other districts.
• Rental of modulars is a new expense.
• Special education costs are rising.
• Curriculum needs to be updated and is behind schedule due to the recession.
• The district plans to fund staff cost increases for such items as health insurance.
• The district plans to fund compensation increases at the rate of inflation.
One question was how the committee could educate the community about the budget. Wangeman said that there was recently a good half-page article in the Tri-Lakes Tribune on the subject.
An overarching priority in spending is to spend current revenues on current students.
Growth and the proposed bond issue
Board of Education liaison Tiffiney Upchurch reported on the hiring of new principals for Prairie Winds Elementary and Palmer Ridge High School, saying they would attend the board meeting the following week.
Upchurch summarized board Secretary Mark Pfoff’s presentation on planning for district growth and the proposed bond issue. She said halting open enrollment for grades K through 8 is not a long-term solution but necessary to alleviate crowding.
She said Pfoff and board Treasurer Chris Taylor are striving to create a plan in which the passage of a bond would not increase the tax burden for residential property owners. To do this, the district will pay some of the expenses involved in converting Bear Creek into a middle school. An additional cost savings will be realized by building the new school in a traditional 13-month schedule rather than the previously proposed accelerated schedule. The use of modulars will alleviate overcrowding in the meantime.
Taylor commented that all future reporting about the budget to the board will follow information on the Colorado Department of Education site. In this way the district may monitor its priorities in comparison with other districts.
Taylor also said many people commented that this was a bad year for a bond due to the election of potentially three new board members and hiring of a new superintendent. His response was that current Superintendent Karen Brofft has committed to helping the board with the bond, and the board is now fully committed to its passage.
Unified Improvement Plans
The committee divided into groups to hear principals report on each UIP. These plans explain in detail the strengths and challenges of each school and plans to improve performance.
Executive Director of Learning Services Lori Benton reported that the entire plans may be viewed online in May at http://CDE.state.co.us/schoolview.
Regarding the district UIP, Benton said the district continues to be accredited with distinction despite low participation in standardized assessments. Although the district does not meet federal standards for participation, it is not penalized by the state.
Increased professional development is planned to correct deficiencies.
The district continues to stress to parents that participation in assessments is valuable as it can help identify weaknesses at an early stage. Such data are vital.
Lewis-Palmer Middle School
Principal Seann O’Connor conducted a tour of Lewis-Palmer Middle School before the meeting and answered questions during the meeting. He said that the current population of the school is 894, composed of eight teams, each with four teachers (science, math, language arts, and social studies) and special education teachers.
O’Connor said that the new modular classrooms will allow some spaces, such as a staff lounge and restroom on the second floor, to revert to their original uses.
He explained the complexities of having several lunch periods and organized movement of students during passing periods.
O’Connor was asked several questions about the new modulars. He said that they will most likely be located in the front of the building due to proximity of outside doors. They also would most likely be used for elective classes.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets six times a year. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16 in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.
In the March 2 issue of OCN, it was reported that, of the 661 students who qualify for special education services, 80 are severely disabled and need to be transported to other locations for services. That number should be 8. We regret the error.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met on March 21 to hear the school’s Unified Improvement Plan (UIP), approve an engagement with D.A. Davison as their bond underwriter, and receive a letter from concerned parents.
Unified Improvement Plan
Principal Elizabeth Davis provided highlights from MA’s draft UIP to the board. The UIP, which is a two-year strategic academic plan, analyzes performance data, determines root cause analysis, identifies strategies to address performance challenges, and monitors progress. More information about the UIP is available at https://www.cde.state.co.us/uip.
Davis said the UIP was written with the input of deans, the director of literacy and intervention, and the School Accountability Advisory Committee. The draft plan was presented to the District Accountability Advisory Committee on March 12 by first-grade teacher Laura Barrette, who is working on her administrator’s license.
Davis noted that since MA has a low participation rate on the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) testing in the spring, it makes the data tough to work with. The state requires use of CMAS data as the primary data and allows schools to backfill with other data. MA uses data from Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) assessments and the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBEL) tests that are given throughout the year.
While the full UIP covers reading, teacher ability to use data driven instruction, communication with parents regarding assessments, and developing a curriculum framework for Math and Language Arts, Davis focused only on reading growth for her report to the board. The goal is to make more than a year’s growth in a year’s time as demonstrated by assessments.
MA is specifically focused on early learners, in kindergarten and first and second grades, to make at a very minimum the state-expected median growth percentile for all students coming into MA identified as having significant reading deficiency. This will be done via interventions with a focused pull-out program where kids are getting a minimum of two hours of extra reading instruction per week.
Davis is working with Dr. Lori Benton, executive director of Learning Services at D38, to ensure the data are reported consistently with the district. Davis responded to a question on the report’s breadth by noting that MA had pulled data from up to seven years back to look at trend analysis, which was tricky given the low participation rate and privacy rules.
The following website will show the completed UIP and can be used to see prior years’ UIP reports: www.cde.state.co.us/schoolview/performance.
Bond underwriter approved to seek financing
Don Griffin reported that MA’s financial advisor Russ Caldwell advised against traditional funding in favor of bond financing to get better interest rates. MA has a series of bonds that can and will mature to the point of refinancing in 2024, so having this bond financing would give MA an advantage. The recommendation is to engage D.A. Davidson as their bond underwriter to drive the process as they did several years ago when they refinanced their bonds. Davidson will use a national legal firm out of Salt Lake City along with other parties who helped last time, including bond counsel Kutak Rock. The bond underwriting process would all be under D.A. Davidson Vice President Eric Duran’s purview. Board members Mark McWilliams and Melanie Strop moved and seconded the motion to sign the engagement letter, which was unanimously passed.
A meeting attendee named Victoria said she had been talking to other parents who recruited her to deliver a letter on their behalf. She asked if she should read it or simply hand it to them and was directed by Don Griffin to hand the board the letter. She handed one copy to board President Patrick Hall and one to board member Melanie Strop, who glanced at the letter but made no comment and took no action.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• All staff members who go through teacher licensure renewals must have a culturally and linguistically diverse stamp on their certificates. MA is working on approval for an online/hybrid course for that requirement to be done in an online/hybrid learning management system along with other required mandatory training hours.
• MA has seen 43 flu cases versus 18 in the previous year.
• Board elections are coming up, with applications due by April 25, a candidate forum on May 15, and actual elections happening on May 16 and 17 via SurveyMonkey.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, April 11 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 except for July and December. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committee and finances can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
There were some surprises at the March 4 Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting when the town treasurer was put on leave pending an investigation and Trustee Laurie Clark made motions concerning trustees’ code of conduct as well as their ability to litigate against the town. She also asked the board to vote to remove Trustee Jim Romanello from his seat. During the meeting, two officers were recognized for their outstanding service to the community and there were presentations from Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) and School District 38.
Mayor Pro Tem Kelley Elliott and Trustee Romanello were noted absent.
Treasurer put on leave amid investigation
At the beginning of the meeting, Trustee Greg Coopman made a motion to remove the January 2019 Financial Report and the Finance Department Annual Report from the evening’s meeting agenda, which was unanimously approved. Town Treasurer Pamela Smith was at the meeting to make these presentations.
At the very end of the meeting, Interim Town Manager Mike Foreman asked the board to approve paid administrative leave for Smith pending the outcome of an ongoing criminal investigation by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Background: At the Dec. 3 BOT meeting, the board finally appointed Smith as treasurer after postponing her reappointment throughout 2018. The board was made aware of the investigation at the same meeting after receiving a letter from the Sheriff’s Office asking that financial records be retained as part of an investigation. See https://ocn.me/v19n1.htm#mbot.
Foreman noted there were no specific charges or findings associated with the investigation. No members of the public spoke during this public hearing item, and the board unanimously approved Smith’s administrative leave.
Surprise motions will be discussed at next meeting
During board comments, Clark made several motions with the intention of asking the board to vote on the spot. Trustee Ron Stephens asked Clark why she hadn’t made these requests during board authorizations or as a planned agenda item as is the norm, but Clark said she was told board comments were where such requests should be made. She asked how items are placed on the agenda.
The board consensus was to review any motions before voting. Town Attorney Joseph Rivera also asked to review the motions before the next meeting to ensure they are legally sound, asking Clark to forward her requests. See related March 18 BOT meeting on page 17.
Note: In 2016, the BOT permanently added the "board authorization items" section to the agenda so that board consensus could be reached about what items to put on future agendas. See www.ocn.me/v16n7.htm#mbot-0620.
Clark made the following motions to discuss:
• Rescinding resolution 12-2018 establishing board standards of conduct. The resolution was approved unanimously at the March 18, 2018 meeting and is based on a resolution originally approved in 2017. See www.ocn.me/v18n4.htm#mbot0319.
• Rescinding town municipal code 2-04-020 section C which reads, "No elected or appointed official shall be engaged in any form of litigation against the town." Clark said this is in direct conflict with state law, since it is the trustees’ fiduciary duty to bring possible misconduct to the attention of the town.
• Removing Romanello, saying he violated town municipal code 02-04-020 Section A. Clark claimed Romanello had not lived in Monument 12 months prior to the election and further alleged he is no longer a town resident, which would cause him to lose his seat.
The board voted unanimously to discuss these items at its next meeting. Rivera asked Clark to provide documentation for all her requests so he could review them before the next meeting.
Police recognize officers
Monument police Cpl. Michael Case and Officer Bob Steine were recognized by Chief Jacob Shirk for their dedication to the town’s safety. Case was officially promoted to corporal after scoring highest on the department’s recent test for the rank. Foreman said he was happy to see the chief promote from within. Steine received the chief’s commendation for his dedication and tireless efforts to improve the department.
St. Peter requests zoning change and replat
St. Peter the Rock Chapel and Ministry Center requested a zoning change for its northern parking lot and the adjoining lot at 155 Jefferson St. In order to combine multiple lots, they all must be the same zoning. Currently the parking lot is zoned R-2 or single-family residential, and they would like it to be zoned as B-business to match the chapel building that had formerly been a toy shop.
The Monument Planning Commission heard this request at its Feb. 13 meeting and unanimously approved it, as did the BOT. See www.ocn.me/v19n3.htm#mpc.
Presentation of NMCI project
CSU Project Engineer Jenny Bishop, senior program engineer for the Northern Monument Creek Interceptor Project (NMCIP) provided an overview of the project. Public Works Director Tom Tharnish and Foreman have been attending meetings to learn more about the project, which is being developed by CSU to support the City for Champions U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) Gateway Visitor Center, which will require wastewater treatment assistance.
Because of this, CSU is working to get a utility easement through Air Force property to build a gravity-fed sewer line to J.D. Phillips Water Resource Reclamation Facility, eliminating up to three electricity-hungry sewage lift stations as well as the current USAFA treatment plant.
Six northern sanitation districts and two local wastewater treatment facilities could also be affected by this project, which could save residents money by avoiding the need to further upgrade local plants to meet expensive anticipated future regulations, which CSU’s facilities can already meet. Monument Sanitation District (MSD) approved being a partner in the project in November. Triview Metropolitan District also signed an agreement to join in December, while other districts in the area are still in discussions with their respective boards and regional entities. See www.ocn.me/v18n12.htm#msd, www.ocn.me/v19n1.htm#tvmd.
Bishop said the overall project cost is $35 million to $42 million as far north as the Academy, with about $11 million to be split among the smaller northern sanitation districts if they choose to participate. Additional costs will include extending lines from their districts to the NMCI and charges for wastewater treatment.
Bishop said a reasonable completion date for the pipeline from the Visitor Center to CSU’s treatment facility would be 2021. To learn more about the Visitor Center, see www.cityforchampions.com/project/gateway-at-falcon-stadium-visitors-center/.
She said one of the still unanswered questions is how regional drinking water providers would receive their valuable "return flows" in cases where they own water rights but can’t currently use them. Donala Water and Sanitation District already has a return pipe in place from CSU that could be used for these extensions. The largest obstacle could be completion of complicated water rights negotiations and intergovernmental agreements. Reusing water would minimize the need to pull water from the aquifers, slowing their depletion.
Tharnish made sure the board knows the town is only interested in the water return flows aspect, not any sewage treatment components, since MSD is a separate Title 32 entity from the town’s water system. The consensus of the trustees was that this was an exciting project to have under consideration.
District 38 planning for growth
Lewis Palmer School District 38 Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman presented short- and mid-term plans for facilities and growth. This came as a result of the board being asked to reconsider annexing the Willow Springs development and how the new homes would affect the school district. See https://ocn.me/v19n3.htm#mbot.
Wangeman said she would be leaving the district this spring, just as Superintendent Karen Brofft is retiring. See https://ocn.me/v19n2.htm#d38.
Templeton Demographics (TD) provides the district with demographic analysis of area housing trends. Wangeman noted annual house closings in the area have been highest for the Kilmer and Bear Creek elementary school districts. According to TD, there are almost 2,800 planned future lots over the next 10 years, with the highest number in the Bear Creek elementary area. Of the 10 future subdivisions, Home Place Ranch, Forest Lakes, Monument Heights, Wagons West, Jackson Creek, and Sanctuary Pointe plan over 1,500 homes altogether and all are in the current Bear Creek school designation.
Because the district’s two revenue-producing ballot initiatives failed last year, Wangeman said they have had to identify short-term solutions to overcrowding in the middle and elementary schools. See https://ocn.me/v18n12.htm#d38.
The district plans to use modular units as classrooms at Lewis-Palmer middle school and three elementary schools—Bear Creek, Lewis Palmer and Kilmer—at a cost of $708,800. All units will have security installed, as well as A/C, heat, carpeting and restrooms so that students taught within the modular are not at a learning disadvantage. Students will still come into the main school for lunch, for gym, and to access the library.
Wangeman mentioned that some school boundary changes are being considered and described how the Grace Best facility is being used. She also educated the board on requirements for preschools in elementary schools and how it changes the space equations. No new K-8 students will be accepted for open enrollment from outside the district during the 2019-20 school year, she said.
The board asked how to improve communication between the trustees and the school board. Wangeman suggested Foreman and the soon-to-be-named new superintendent should meet quarterly, and both boards should meet as they did in the past. See related Lewis-Palmer Board of Education article.
Rivera’s six-page invoice for January included color coding to differentiate among costs associated with Trustee Clark’s attorney, including a litigation hold letter she filed and her claims against the town; resident Howe’s questions about Romanello’s residency; as well as questions from the Board of Trustees, and town departments. The Murry, Dahl, Beery & Renaud LLP, town attorney fees totaled $9,956. Note: A litigation hold letter may threaten or cause a lawsuit to be filed and typically requests evidence to be saved possibly to be used in a suit. See https://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com for the complete March 4 board packet.
The board went into executive session at 8:02 p.m. to discuss the Forest Lakes Phase II planned unit development as it relates to the town’s subsurface water rights and its ability to acquire the water. This issue came to the board’s attention at the last meeting when Rivera said he had to quickly object to the development moving forward until the reservation of water rights was accomplished. This is the second executive session the board has held on this topic. See https://ocn.me/v19n3.htm#mbot0219. According to Town Clerk Laura Hogan, no votes were taken and the meeting was adjourned immediately after the session concluded.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) moved to hire interim town manager Mike Foreman as the permanent town manager on March 18. Trustees also voted unanimously to comply with an ongoing El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPCSO) investigation, working in association with the FBI and the IRS, and authorized Town Attorney Joseph Rivera to do the same. They also spent an hour discussing and arguing over proposed changes to existing resolutions and ordinances started at the last meeting by Trustee Laurie Clark.
Permanent town manager job offered to Foreman
After an executive session in which the board discussed the interim town manager position, they came back to open session to approve offering Foreman the job permanently and head into contract negotiations with him. The vote was 6-1, with Trustee Greg Coopman voting against and saying he did not agree with the current process but did not elaborate further.
Investigation into town finances moves forward
Another executive session was held to receive legal advice from Rivera regarding an ongoing investigation by the EPCSO. Upon returning to open meeting, Trustee Jim Romanello made a motion to comply with the investigation with the assistance of both the FBI and IRS, authorizing Rivera to proceed. The motion passed unanimously. See https://ocn.me/v19n1.htim#mbot and related March 4 BOT article on page 16.
Discussion of residency ordinance and enforcement
At the March 4 BOT meeting, Clark had made three motions for votes concerning existing resolutions and ordinances she wanted to change. They concerned removal of a public official, whether elected officials can litigate the town, and standards of conduct for trustees. No one had been apprised of the requested changes before the meeting, including Rivera, so they agreed to discuss all three at tonight’s meeting so they would have time to review her suggestions.
However, on March 18 it appeared none of the other trustees nor Rivera had received the final language they requested from Clark at the March 4 meeting, and none of the lengthy statements she made on March 18 were included in the board packet. She said her personal attorney had subsequently recommended that she not provide a legal opinion or draft resolution. See related March 4 BOT article on page 16.
Clark asserted fellow trustee Jim Romanello is in violation of town ordinance 2.04.020 section A regarding residency in the town. She also questioned the legality and enforceability of the wording of that town ordinance. "I really feel that this is smoke and mirrors. I don’t even know that there is a problem."
Citing evidence she claimed to have received from constituents, including Romanello’s mortgage history, certified letter receipts, and photos of Romanello at his rental property in Colorado Springs, Clark listed reasons she said proved he had moved out of Monument and should vacate his seat on the board. Clark and resident Ann Howe have been asking for clarification with regard to Romanello’s residency for several months. See www.ocn.me/v19n2.htm#mbot.
When Clark said she had Romanello’s mortgage history, Trustee Ron Stephens asked her, incredulous, "You pulled his mortgage history?" Clark reiterated she wasn’t responsible for getting any of the information. None of the other board members said they had received any comments from Monument constituents regarding this matter. Mayor Don Wilson argued that he had not seen a legal opinion that supported anything she just presented and that someone signing for a certified letter does not constitute residency.
Tonight, Rivera said Clark’s only recourse with regard to her residency questions was to follow Colorado statute 31-10-1302 in bringing the matter in front of district court. Clark said she would let her constituents know the process.
Later, during public comments, Howe repeated the residency accusations she has been making for months and accused the trustees of not following the rule of law or doing their duty. Resident and previous BOT member John Howe, who is not related to Ann Howe, said if someone was consistently being followed to his home after the meetings, it is illegal, and the police should check into it. Resident Fred Freuh encouraged the board to initiate a recall, if it comes to that point, rather than decide Romanello’s future themselves.
During trustees’ comments, Romanello said he has been stalked by Ann Howe, who has followed him home from meetings and photographed him going about his life. Until this meeting, he had stayed silent during residency discussions and accusations, but tonight he said he lived in Village Center, where he was homeowners’ association president for four years. "I can spend time where I want to! The board knows my address." He also said he felt this accusation to be politically motivated; Ann Howe ran for the seat that Romanello ultimately won in the November election.
Ban on trustees suing town revisited
The board discussed town ordinance 02-04-020 section C, which Clark has asked to be revoked. The ordinance reads, in part, "No elected or appointed official shall be engaged in any form of litigation against the town."
Reading from another prepared statement, Clark told board members she believes they have a duty to point out fiduciary or other misconduct by another elected official, but did not specify Colorado law. Stephens thought this would be a conflict of interest if someone on the board was part of the both the defense and the plaintiff sides of a case. Rivera added that executive sessions and attorney-client privilege would be impossible if a trustee brought a lawsuit against the town that they represented.
Rivera suggested not voting now, citing the requirement to have a public hearing for an ordinance change. The board voted 4-3 to direct Rivera to review the legality of the ordinance forbidding litigation and make suggestions for improvement. Elliott, Stephens, and Romanello voted no, but did not give reasons.
Standards of conduct for trustees discussed
At Clark’s request, the board reassessed the trustee standards of conduct resolution approved at the March 2018 meeting. Reading a third statement, Clark found the resolution to be arbitrary and capricious with regard to its requirements to remove a trustee based on actions different from Colorado state statute. The board agreed collectively to direct Rivera to review the ordinance for legal fitness and report back at some point in the future.
Public Works employees recognized
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish recognized employees who worked on the marathon water main breaks over the March 2 weekend. Tharnish said many of the workers were inside the 9-foot hole that appeared behind Columbine Gardens Chinese restaurant, some for up to 31 hours working to fix the leak. They had to clear underground power lines, telecommunication lines, and fiber. See photos on page 27.
A second water main break found after the town’s tank quickly lost 3 feet of water was located on Mitchell Avenue. The 3-foot-long crack was much more difficult to repair. Tharnish said Foreman went door-to-door talking to homeowners in the area to ensure they knew of the break and had an adequate supply of drinking water during the outage.
Willow Springs proposed annexation discussion
At the Feb. 4 BOT meeting, the board approved Planning Director Larry Manning’s request for this March 18 hearing to decide annexation and zoning for two phases of Willow Springs, also known as Monument Creek Ranch. See https://ocn.me/v19n3.htm#mbot.
Originally, the board’s agenda included votes on two ordinances associated with Willow Springs. The trustees voted to pull those hearing items from the March 18 agenda, and they will most likely come back to the board in May, said Manning.
Instead, the board unanimously approved a resolution "setting forth findings of fact and conclusions concerning the proposed annexation" which Manning presented and states the following:
• The town has found the annexation to be in compliance with state law.
• Not less than one-sixth of the perimeter of the area being annexed is contiguous with the town boundary.
• No other municipality is attempting to annex the land.
The land in question is a 219-acre parcel north of Forest Lakes Drive and south of Synthes and Mitchell Avenues. The proposed development would include residential attached and detached homes and 104 acres of open space.
New Monument police officers sworn in
Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk swore in two new officers. Rachael Braaten and Joshua Marks took the oath in front of many family and friends. Marks’ wife pinned on his badge and Bratten’s dad pinned on hers.
Shirk said Braaten has degrees in criminal justice and psychology, and Marks is a military veteran.
Two new police programs in the works
Shirk presented two new programs to the board, asking it for direction. Monument police intends to hold its first citizen’s academy soon. The goals are twofold: to create an opportunity for community involvement and to free officers from jobs like traffic control, waiting for a tow truck after an accident occurs, attending Neighborhood Watch meetings, doing vacation checks, and conducting online research, so officers can be available for calls for service.
The Citizens on Patrol program will follow many other similar volunteer programs taught by police nationally. Trainees will receive 40 hours of in-class training and the same number of hours training in the field. Although they will have a radio, they will not carry guns. For more information see https://townofmonument.org/194/Citizens-Academy.
The second program is an option for a code enforcement and special operations officer. Foreman, who has 18 years of code enforcement experience, worked with Shirk to create this new position. Other than code enforcement, with enforcement training from Susie Ellis on a contract basis, the officer would be responsible for managing the citizens on patrol once they graduate from training, which would be supervised by the current special operations sergeant.
Background: The town has been without a code enforcement officer since the board failed to renew Ellis’ contract on Aug. 6. On Sept. 4, the trustees put these responsibilities on the Police Department. Four additional police officers plus a code enforcement officer were requested but not funded in the 2019 budget. See www.ocn.me/v18n9.htm#mbot, www.ocn.me/v18n10.htm#mbot, www.ocn.me/v19n1.htm#mbot.
Tonight, Foreman said the 2019 budget includes $15,000 for a contract code enforcement officer, but Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein felt since there’s enough revenues coming in, they should approve the budget for this staff position, which would cost $64,000 annually including benefits. Shirk was directed to email a job description to the board and proceed with searching for the right candidate.
I-25 MyWay website can personalize your commuting options
The I-25 "Gap" is 18 miles of construction that’s causing safety and stress issues. Cathy Bird, outreach specialist with the Denver Regional Council of Governments, presented a partnership they have undertaken with the Colorado Department of Transportation to offer commuting solutions and a variety of options to reduce the overall vehicle volume through that corridor. Options can include carpools, van pools, and the Bustang South Line.
See https://i25myway.org/ and enter starting and ending ZIP codes for personalized commuting solutions and savings estimates. The website will help you arrange the details and create free test commutes. The site will run through the end of construction in 2022, Bird said.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for April 15. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
This article covers two Palmer Lake Town Council work sessions. The first, on Feb. 28, was held too late in the month to be included in the March issue of OCN. In March, the council canceled the first of the two scheduled meetings due to snow. The work session for March was held as planned on March 28.
At the February work session, the council heard a report from a consultant hired to help the town set its rates for water service. At the March work session, the council took up several resolutions concerning conditional use permits requested by residents.
Also at the February work session, Town Administrator Cathy Green-Sinnard announced her retirement, and a request for a transfer of a liquor license was tabled for further investigation.
Council ponders future of water rates
Carl Brown, of Getting Great Rates LLC, detailed for the council the conclusions he reached in his analysis of the rates the town is charging residents for water service.
In his printed report, Brown said, "The town is on the right track in many respects concerning rates. You recently increased debt service payments and got very close to fully funding the longer-term needs of the utility. You already have a conservation rates structure, which I commonly recommend in situations like yours."
Brown went on to point out that rates would need to be increased to fully fund the cost of water service. In his executive summary, he wrote, "Analysis determined that to pay for current and soon to be incurred costs and maintain a positive water fund balance, overall, water rate revenues need to go up by 41.2 percent, as compared to the last year’s rates. However, the town raised rates last year, so bill increases for most customers will be 21 percent or less. The bigger issue is rate structure fairness."
Brown told the council "the basic minimum charge is nearly high enough, but unit charges are too low." Rates for small meter customers should rise slightly, Brown said, and larger meter customers’ bills should rise more.
Brown also recommended lowering the tiers at which conservation rates apply. The first conservation rate tier starts at 15,000 gallons, he said, and most customers do not exceed that amount, which makes the conservation rate less effective.
Brown documented the rates the town is currently using as follows:
• From zero to 14,999 gallons, the rate is $3.85 per 1,000 gallons.
• From 15,000 to 19,999 gallons, the rate is $6.36.
• For 20,000 or more gallons, the rate is $7.35.
Brown recommended the first rate apply only to the first 5,000 gallons; the second rate should apply after 10,000 gallons are used.
Brown also recommended a minimum monthly fee of $62.27.
At the February work session, the council took no action on Brown’s report. At the March work session, Brown’s recommendations about rate increases were formalized as Resolution No. 4 of 2019, and the council tabled a vote on this resolution until its April meeting.
Conditional use permits reviewed
At the March work session, the council heard three requests for conditional use permits, which took the form of resolutions.
The first, Resolution No. 5 of 2019, was a request by Sylvia Amos, the owner of the property at 56 Highway 105, the previous location of Dex’s Dogs, to be allowed to build a three-story building that would combine commercial spaces on the ground floor and eight studio and four two-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors. The building would be 3,800 square feet, she said. Amos already owns the required taps, she told the council.
Council members expressed several concerns to Amos about her proposal. Mayor John Cressman commented that he believed the lot in question was too small to provide adequate parking. Council member Paul Banta was uncertain about combining commercial and residential applications on the same property. Other council members felt that a three-story building would be out of place in Palmer Lake.
Town Administrator Cathy Green-Sinnard pointed out to the council that approving a conditional use permit would not give Amos permission to build anything that violated town codes.
The council voted unanimously to approve the conditional use permit, with three additional conditions: that the building not exceed two stories, that the council approve the preliminary site plan, and that it also approve the architectural plan.
Resolution No. 6 of 2019 was a request from Richard Willian for a conditional permit to build a single-family residence on property at 256 Spring St., which is currently zoned for General Business and Commercial purposes. Green-Sinnard commented that she felt the property was improperly zoned as commercial and that she was going to request that it be rezoned for residential use.
The council voted unanimously to approve Willian’s request.
Finally, Resolution No. 7 of 2019 was a request from Maria Arefieva for a conditional use permit that would allow her to open a daycare establishment at 279 Walnut Ave. The council approved the request with conditions requiring the yard to be fenced and proper signs to be placed, and with the stipulation that two complaints about the daycare center would require Arefieva to return to the council for re-approval.
Administrator Green-Sinnard to retire
Cressman asked the council to appoint Valerie Remington, who currently serves as the town’s financial officer and HR director, to replace the retiring Green-Sinnard on an interim basis. His motion was unanimously approved.
Liquor license transfer tabled
At the February work session, Gregory Duncan, owner of Dex’s Depot, asked that the liquor license belonging to the restaurant that occupied the building before he took it over be transferred to his business. The council deferred action on this request at both the February and the March work sessions.
The council is scheduled to hold two meetings in April, on April 11 and 25 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, with the second meeting organized as a working session. Information: 481-2953.
By Helen Walklett
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) accepted an annexation request from the Town of Monument at its March 26 meeting. It appointed members to the county Master Plan Advisory Committee at its March 12 meeting and received a presentation from the plan’s consultants immediately after its regular meeting on March 19. The BOCC also approved the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Black Forest Slash and Mulch Committee (SAMCOM) at the end of February.
Willow Springs annexation request
At the March 26 BOCC meeting, the commissioners approved a request from the Town of Monument for acceptance of an annexation impact report. The proposed annexation relates to property currently within the county on the north side of West Baptist Road, to the west of the intersection of West Baptist Road, Old Denver Road, and Woodcarver Road. The property consists of three parcels of land that total about 219 acres.
The proposed development would involve the construction of up to 396 residential dwellings, which may include multi-family units, associated roadways, parks and open space, and landscaping. Access would be from Synthes Avenue on the north side with a through connection to Baptist Road/Forest Lakes Drive.
The Monument Board of Trustees was expected to hold an annexation hearing and consider the sketch plan for the development at its March 18 hearing, but the items were pulled from the agenda and are now expected to come before the board in May. See related March 18 Monument Board of Trustees article on page 17.
The board voted against annexing the same properties in October 2018. At that time, there were concerns that potential water shortages might not allow the town to provide adequate water to all the proposed homes. See www.ocn.me/v18n11.htm#mbot1015.
County Master Plan Advisory Committee appointed
At its March 12 meeting, the BOCC approved the appointment of nine members to the Master Plan Advisory Committee. Members come from a range of backgrounds and from across the county and include a member of the El Paso County Planning Commission, one from the Fountain City Council, a planning consultant, a homebuilder, and a business owner from Black Forest. The BOCC also approved bylaws for the new committee.
Craig Dossey, executive director of the Planning and Community Development Department, described the committee as "an over-arching, countywide group that’s going to look at the master plan holistically" but explained that subgroups would look in detail at land use in their individual areas, meaning that the people who actually live and do business in specific areas of the county would have more of a say as to how future planning would develop there.
Commissioner Holly Williams commented, "I do know I have two active groups in my area, the Black Forest Land Use Committee and NEPCO (the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations), and so, as we go through this planning process, they are going to be involved in the subcommittees and so we will be keeping an eye on that to make sure certain aspects of the preservation plan, especially for Black Forest, are addressed."
Directly after the March 19 meeting, the commissioners received a presentation from the master plan’s consultants, Houseal-Lavigne Associates, which outlined the scope of the project and the steps involved in developing the plan over the next two years.
Black Forest slash and mulch program
Kathy Andrew, Environmental Division manager, Community Services Department, gave the 2018 end-of-season report to the BOCC meeting on Feb. 28 ahead of the commissioners voting unanimously to approve the 2019 MOU with SAMCOM.
The program, which began in 1994, accepts slash (tree debris including branches, leaves, needles, etc.) from residents that is ground into mulch that is available free of charge to the public.
Describing the program as "an incredible partnership," Andrew explained that under the MOU, the county contributes $35,000 toward grinder expenses and SAMCOM provides $10,000 toward the costs. If the costs exceed this $45,000, the two parties divide any additional costs equally between them. The county coordinates the contract for the grinder and holds the lease for the site.
The site, at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads, will open for the 2019 season for slash drop-off on May 4. Normal business hours will be Saturdays 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m.
The last date for slash drop-off is Sept. 15. There is a $2 drop-off fee for slash. Free mulch will be available for self-loading from May 18 through Sept. 21. For large quantities of mulch, an end loader is available on Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., charging $5 for two cubic yards.
For more information visit www.bfslash.org or call Carolyn, 495-3127, Chuck, 495-8675, Jeff, 495-8024, or the county Environmental Division, 520-7878. Anyone wanting to volunteer to work a shift can do so via the website.
Transfer of developers’ fees to school districts
At its March 21 meeting, the BOCC voted unanimously to approve the transfer of subdivision plan and plat fees to the appropriate county school districts. $10,780 went to Lewis-Palmer School District 38, where the funds are to go toward the cost of installing HVAC systems at the elementary and high schools. Academy School District 20 received $80,622 to accommodate enrollment trends and facility needs.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
At its March 19 meeting, the El Paso County Planning Commission recommended for approval applications relating to two developments within the Black Forest Preservation Plan area. The first was an application for a preliminary plan and final plat for The High Plains development north of Hodgen Road. The second was a final plat application for the Settlers View subdivision, again situated north of Hodgen Road. Ahead of regular business on March 19, the commissioners participated in a workshop with the county master plan consultants, Houseal-Lavigne Associates, to identify issues of importance and to outline the process and scope of work for developing the new plan.
High Plains proposed development
At its March 19 meeting, the Planning Commission recommended for approval applications by Savage Development Inc. for a preliminary plan and final plat for a 39.40-acre lot zoned RR-5 (rural residential) to create seven single-family residential lots and a right-of-way. The property is located half a mile west of Black Forest Road, on the north side of Hodgen Road.
Commissioner Sharon Friedman had questions about a deviation request made by the applicant to allow one of the lots direct access onto Hodgen Road, which is typically not permitted. County had approved the deviation with the condition that the lot provide adequate turnaround space so that vehicles do not have to reverse out onto Hodgen Road.
Friedman noted that the Black Forest Land Use Committee, when notified of the applications, had responded with support for the overall development but was concerned about lot 4 having this access. It had stated that, "We feel that lot 4 should access the cul-de-sac on a flag and not access Hodgen Road directly. This is a busy road at a busy intersection, and it is not safe to add a private driveway at this point on Hodgen." Friedman said, "With my knowledge of Hodgen Road and the statement that was in here [the packet] from the Black Forest people, I kind of agree with their point of view that we don’t need any more people coming out onto Hodgen Road in that area at really low speeds."
County staff explained that the deviation was granted because the driveway access would be at a crest location, allowing clear sight lines in both directions, and said that the county engineer was satisfied. The land is split by a large floodplain that separates lot 4 from the other lots and there is a 20-foot difference in elevation between the two parts. Owner Jordan Savage told the commissioners that, "Because of the drainage that our site has, there is really no way to access lot 4 any other way. That 20-foot difference in elevation … makes it impossible to do that and if you were to try to connect it somehow, it would cost a fortune."
Friedman asked what ability the Planning Commission might have to override decisions such as that of the county engineer and was told by Cole Emmons, senior assistant county attorney, that its role was to weigh the evidence before it.
The Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend the two applications for approval. Friedman voted no. The applications are now expected to be heard at the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on April 9.
Settlers View subdivision
Also at the March 19 meeting, the commissioners recommended for approval a request by Gary and Brenda Brinkman for approval of a final plat for the Settlers View subdivision for the development of 14 single-family lots and a right-of-way. The 40.61-acre parcel is zoned RR-2.5 (residential rural) and is north of Hodgen Road, south of Silver Nell Drive, and east of the Walden development. The application is consistent with the preliminary plan, which was approved in April 2018.
The lot sizes are a minimum of 2.5 acres, with 3-acre lots located at the northeastern boundary. Access is via a dedicated right of way through the Grandview and Walden Preserve developments.
The owners’ representative, Jerome Hannigan of Jerome Hannigan and Associates, told the commissioners that he was not happy with condition 11 of the application, specifically with the calculation of the sum to be placed in an escrow as the developer’s contribution toward the design and future paving of Steppler Road north of Silver Nell Drive and south of Walker Road. Hannigan said that there was some question in his mind as to whether the percentage used was correct. He said he was happy to pay the right amount. County had calculated the Settlers View subdivision’s fair share contribution at $32,970, which corresponded to a roughly 6.7 percent proportionate impact in the short term. Hannigan pointed out that the county’s study also includes a 3.9 percent proportionate impact, the lower percentage representing a long-term impact based on anticipated growth.
The Planning Commission decided to vote on the application as it stood rather than continue the item, and this was also Hannigan’s preferred outcome. County engineers will now meet with Hannigan to try to reach a resolution.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend the application for approval, and it is expected to be heard at the BOCC on April 9.
Developing the new county master plan
At the beginning of the March 5 meeting, Commissioner Kevin Curry reminded everyone that under state law it is the duty of the Planning Commission to make and adopt the master plan. He said, " I’ve … been personally uncomfortable with the way some of the sub-elements have been presented to us in the past such as the major transportation corridors plan, the parks plan, and the water master plan because they are presented to us after the fact as a fait accompli and I don’t want to see us surprised again by substantive recommendations such as density waivers and possible revisions to the 300-year rule … when it’s too late to debate those and shape them as might be appropriate."
Curry continued, "I think it important that this commission be involved upfront, throughout the process, and that when this commission provides input whether it’s through Ms. Friedman or on the record during one of our meetings, those should be taken as guidance, not suggestions, to that steering committee. I would like to make sure this committee has the opportunity to shape the plan, the substance, the overall direction rather than have somebody do that for us and present it to us later."
Ahead of its regular meeting on March 19, the master plan’s consultants, Houseal-Lavigne Associates, held a work session with the Planning Commission to outline the process and scope of work for developing the new plan. The commissioners were prompted to provide issues or concerns they felt were confronting the county and to identify its strengths and weaknesses. Aging infrastructure, the management of growth, water availability and management, and managing the interface between rural parts of the county and urban development were all raised as issues. Commissioners spoke to the county’s strengths including a good quality of life, a skilled workforce, great natural resources, and a diverse economy.
Commissioner Jim Egbert said he felt there needed to be greater coordination of plans with the City of Colorado Springs, which has just completed its own plan. Commissioner Brian Risley called for consistency among policies, stating that the local area plans currently do not relate to one another.
The consultants held a series of presentations and work sessions with different groups during their three-day visit to the county. Opportunities for input from the public, business, and other interested parties will be forthcoming as the project moves on from this first phase.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The March 9 general membership meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) featured three presentations that culminated in one central message: Being a good neighbor is the foundation to safety and quality of life. El Paso County Environmental Technician Brian Welding discussed noxious weeds and the need for successful weed management. John Rickman, information officer for the Emergency Preparedness Group (EPG) of Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church (TLUMC), discussed EPG’s program for organizing neighborhood fire mitigation projects. Community Preparedness and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Coordinator Robin Adair encouraged NEPCO members to organize and enroll their neighborhoods in the county’s free CERT classes.
Noxious or obnoxious?
Welding cited the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s (CDA) definition of a noxious weed as a non-native plant species that meets one or more of four criteria: It aggressively invades or is detrimental to economic crops or native plant communities; it is poisonous to livestock; it is a carrier of detrimental insects, diseases, or parasites; or it is detrimental, directly or indirectly, to the environmentally sound management of natural or agricultural ecosystems. Noxious weeds threaten a healthy ecosystem plus everything and everyone who depends on that ecosystem. Dandelions, Welding professed, are simply obnoxious.
Environmental Division staff monitor public and private properties annually through Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to establish management and public education priorities. Prevention is the most effective means of weed management, but once a weed is established staff notify property owners and work with them in determining how to best eradicate, contain, or control a weed species. From a noxious weed perspective, being a good neighbor means addressing weeds on one’s property to prevent their spread to adjacent properties.
A guide to Colorado’s noxious weeds is available at https://communityservices.elpasoco.com/wp-content/uploads/Environmental-Division-Picture/Noxious-Weeds/Noxious-Weed-Control-Book.pdf
Neighborhood wildfire mitigation encouraged
EPG’s wildfire mitigation training program arose from a desire to the help those who had been devastated by the Black Forest Fire, Rickman explained. Through experience and collaboration with similar organizations, EPG recognized the efficacy of working with neighborhoods as opposed to individual homeowners and developed a program to share its mitigation knowledge. He stressed that a mitigated property is likely to survive a wildfire nearly unscathed, but only if nearby properties are also similarly protected. Rickman cited Cathedral Pines as a community-wide mitigation effort that suffered relatively little damage from the Black Forest Fire.
The free, four-phase EPG training includes classroom instruction, site assessments, a neighborhood project with EPG oversight, and an independent neighborhood project. The group seeks additional neighborhoods to train. Rickman assured listeners that EPG provides ongoing assistance and support once training is complete. The next phase of training begins in April on the fourth Saturdays. Contact email@example.com or access the website, http://tlumc.org/outreach/epg, for more information.
You are the help before help arrives
In 95 percent of emergencies, bystanders are the first to provide help, Adair stated. Whether a blizzard, flood, wildfire, earthquake, landslide, hazardous material spill, or other major disaster, emergency responders are likely to be overwhelmed. People who are equipped to provide basic medical care or organize an evacuation, or who know specific medical needs of individuals in a community, become a significant support and resource in disasters.
CERT is a community emergency response team training program offered free to neighborhoods throughout the year. "By training as a neighborhood, people are practicing drills with the people they would likely be working with in an actual disaster," said Adair. Neighborhood trainings encourage participants to coordinate information about residents’ skills, equipment resources, phone lists, etc. The regular 20-hour program covers basic medical care, light search and rescue, how to organize helpers, psychological first aid, terrorism awareness, and related topics, and is appropriate for participants 14 years of age or older. CERT can also be tailored to the requests or needs of a neighborhood or community organization.
Adair confirmed that "Things You Should Think About"—a 45-minute class—is often presented to homeowners associations’ annual meetings, and an information booth is available for events such as neighborhood block parties. CERT trainings are scheduled throughout the year; see www.EPCCERT.org for more information. EPG will host CERT classes at TLUMC on Tue.-Thu., and Sat., Sept. 24-26, and 28. Also, see https://ocn.me/pdf/v19n2%2027.pdf
Adair ended her presentation by encouraging everyone to register their cell phones with the free "Reverse 911" system. This is especially important for people who rely solely on cell phones for telephone service. Go to http://elpasoteller911.org/246/Emergency-Notification-System to register phone numbers.
The next NEPCO meeting is May 18. Meetings are generally scheduled on the second Saturday of the month, but the May meeting is scheduled on the third Saturday to avoid Mother’s Day weekend. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Monument Town Hall conference room, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. off Highway 105. See www.nepco.org for additional information.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on Feb. 27 and Mar. 27 to award the Vincent Elorie statue, discuss the bathroom addition, and discuss director highlights.
Vincent Elorie Award
Lisa Hatfield received a replica of the Vincent Elorie statue for her outstanding citizen award recognizing her role as managing editor of Our Community News, her involvement with the Firewise program in Woodmoor, and her work on the Black Forest Fire recovery effort. The original statue, donated by Michael Garman, will have her name added to the list of recipients. In 1995, WIA created the award to honor Vincent Elorie, a former chief of Woodmoor Police, for his outstanding citizenship.
Bathroom project completed
The board noted that the new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant bathroom project has been completed on the main level of The Barn. This bathroom will be more convenient for all guests attending events at The Barn and is large enough to accommodate a wheelchair. The project cost $14,300, which was less than the original budget of $15,000.
• Vice President Peter Bille noted that the county assessor is working on re-appraising property and will host a number of meet-and-greet events. WIA is working with the appraiser to try to host a meeting in the Tri-Lakes area, perhaps in coordination with other organizations, at a venue large enough to hold interested residents.
• Community Outreach Director Bert Jean is looking for input from residents on what WIA can do to foster a sense of community.
• Public Safety Director Brad Gleason noted that warmer weather leads to kids biking and playing near the roadways and urged residents to watch for them.
• WIA is working with D38 to schedule chipping days for residents to drop off slash at no cost, using the parking lots of the middle school and Lewis-Palmer High School.
• Forestry Director Ed Miller noted that one instance of mountain pine beetle infestation had been found. A 75-foot ponderosa pine in a WIA open space was lost during the bomb cyclone event.
• WIA is working to get plans approved for an extension to The Barn that will house Woodmoor Public Safety.
Caption: Lisa Hatfield receives a replica of a Michael Garman statue for her Vincent Elorie outstanding citizen award from Vice President Peter Bille. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. at The Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next regular meeting will be on April 24. The WIA calendar can be found at https://www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at https://www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
March is usually one of our most active weather months as winter transitions to spring. This intense change between seasons often results in strong storms and large swings in temperatures. This year was no different and in fact produced the strongest storm on record in terms of central pressure over the region. This "bomb cyclone" was unique in many ways (more on that later). For the month overall, temperatures were below normal and precipitation was above normal, continuing the trend we’ve seen most of the winter. Of course, getting lots of moisture in March is very important as we head into spring as well, so that is good news.
The month started off with a record, the first signs of which were associated with a cold front that moved through around 2:30 p.m. on the 1st. This was accompanied by a brief graupel shower and snow showers that afternoon. Fog and low clouds filled in behind the front and stayed in place on the 2nd. This held high temperatures below freezing the entire day, with highs reaching only the upper 20s that afternoon. In fact, reinforcing cold air continued to filter in over the next few days, keeping temperatures below freezing from 3 p.m. on the1st through the early morning hours of the 6th. This was very unusual for March, as temperatures not exceeding the freezing mark for more than four consecutive days have rarely been observed.
During this period, an Arctic air mass moved in during the afternoon of the 2nd and brought with it record cold air. Temperatures dropped to the low single digits by the evening of the 2nd with light snow. Light snow continued the next day as well, with temperatures barely recovering as highs only made it to the mid-single digits. Overnight lows dropped well below zero on both the 3rd and 4th, setting some records in the region. During this cold period, generally 3-6 inches of new snow accumulated.
However, as is the case in March, once the cold air retreated and the sun returned, temperatures warmed quickly. Highs reached the mid-50s from the 6th through the 8th as the snow melted quickly. Slightly cooler air worked in from the 9th through the 11th, with a few snow showers at times. This happened as the atmosphere was loading up for what would turn out to be a historic storm event.
The first signs of this were noted during the 12th as mild southerly winds allowed temperatures to warm into the upper 50s and more importantly drew in very moist air. This was noted by rain showers occurring that evening and a few thunderstorms over Elbert County. Rain continued overnight as the warm, moist air continued to stream into the region ahead of an area of low pressure that was developing over southeast Colorado. As this low continued to develop, northerly winds began to form on the backside, drawing colder air down the Front Range. This changed the rain to snow around 5 a.m. But the fun was just starting.
As the low continued to strengthen, cold air continued to rush in at the same time significant moisture and upward atmospheric motion were in place. This allowed heavy snow to form and strong winds to develop. With the cold air and high pressure to the north and strengthening low pressure to the southeast, the pressure gradient became extremely tight and hurricane-force winds developed. This produced blizzard conditions starting around 10 a.m. on the 13th. The storm continued to strengthen and move slowly over from southeast Colorado to the east/northeast into western Kansas. This allowed the blizzard conditions to continue through late evening.
Snow piled up and caused major problems throughout the region, producing drifts several feet high and making travel impossible. Several factors of this storm were unique, including several observation stations over eastern and southeastern Colorado setting all-time record low pressure readings and a new all-time high wind gust of 96 mph recorded at the Colorado Springs airport. Most areas picked up around a foot of wind-driven snow, although this was very difficult to measure accurately. The Pueblo National Weather Service has put together an excellent writeup of the meteorology behind this storm at https://www.weather.gov/pub/Bombogenesis_20190313. Keep in mind that it is very unlikely any of us will see a storm this strong again in our lifetime around the Palmer Divide.
The good news is the weather pattern quieted down over the next week, with cool and dry conditions. Highs were in the low 20s on the 14th, then 30s and 40s from the 15th through 21st.
Unfortunately, we weren’t done with our wintry weather for the month as another unsettled pattern moved back in. This started with another strong low-pressure system developing over southern Colorado on the 22nd. This produced another round of snow and wind from the early evening of the 22nd through the early morning of the 23rd. But just as quickly as this storm developed, warm air moved in as it departed. High temperatures jumped into the 50s and 60s from the 24th through the 28th. In fact, temperatures reached record levels on the 27th, nearly touching 70 degrees.
But as is the case in March, cold air quickly returned with a final round of unsettled weather returning to end the month. This started with some low clouds, fog, and drizzle starting late on the 27th and the morning of the 28th. The atmosphere continued to destabilize as an area of low pressure moved into the area from the west. "Thundersnow" even formed with this event just after 6 p.m. on the 29th, signifying just how unstable the atmosphere was. Snow fell that evening and into the next morning and combined with some gusty winds to cause blowing snow at times. Cool conditions and some light snow provided a fitting end to the month as well. During the period, 3-5 inches of new snow accumulated, bringing our monthly total to nearly 30 inches in some locations.
A look ahead
April is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region and is on average our snowiest month of the year. We can see 70-degree temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Several recent years have seen over 50 inches of snow accumulate during the month. Of course, it also melts very quickly, often adding beneficial moisture to the soil and helping the vegetation, which is just getting started.
March 2019 Weather Statistics
Average High 43.7° (-6.5°)
100-year return frequency value max 57.9° min 38.0°
Average Low 19.4° (-1.8°)
100-year return frequency value max 27.0° min 12.0°
Highest Temperature 69° on the 27th
Lowest Temperature -6° on the 4th
Monthly Precipitation 2.62" (+1.03", 58% above normal)
100-year return frequency value max 4.29" min 0.22"
Monthly Snowfall 27.1" (+6.8", 30% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 124.1" (+33.2", 28% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 9.31" (+2.97", 25% above normal) (the precip season is from Oct 1 to Sept 30)
Heating Degree Days 1036 (+123)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Caption: The ad hoc Synchronized Snowblower and Shovel Team cleared multiple 4-foot drifts and dug out four stranded cars on Harness Road the day after the bomb cyclone, making the road somewhat passable more than one day before El Paso County crews were freed up from clearing Priority One and Two roads to plow this Priority Three road. See https://publicworks.elpasoco.com/road-bridge/snow-plowing/ to find out El Paso County road snow plowing classifications. Or, if you live within the Town of Monument, Town of Palmer Lake, or a "metropolitan district" with road plowing responsibilities, check with them directly. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
When will we learn?
In a study published on March 25 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the use of retail marijuana was once again questioned. The article highlighted the rise in Denver-area hospital emergency room visits and three deaths tied to marijuana use since legalization.
Sure, Colorado sees a fair amount of tax revenue from the sale of retail marijuana, but the medical, law enforcement, and social costs continue to rise as well as there has been a 600 percent increase in emergency room visits tied to marijuana use since legalization, 90 percent Colorado residents.
How many kids will experience lifelong effects from the permanent reduction in their mental acuity from using retail marijuana? You can say they aren’t supposed to have access in their parents’ homes, but what do you really think happens?
You can read about these effects on www.calmpalmerlake.org. There are reasons marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and LSD, even after a recent review by the Obama administration in August 2016. There is no valid medical research which indicates any medical benefit, and it is permanently hurting our residents. Is the increased tax revenue, which is only a very small portion of the state budget, worth it?
If our new state administration wants to really help Coloradans, there is still time to take a further look at state law concerning retail marijuana. If Colorado wants to remain an avant garde state, we can be the first to remove the legalization of retail marijuana statewide. Or, we can continue to keep our head in the sand. Call Gov. Polis at (303) 866-2471 or write him at 136 State Capitol Bldg., Denver, CO 80203. Let your voice be heard.
We are fast approaching the one-year anniversary of the resignation of a District 38 conservative school board member. She stepped down claiming the board majority had been using executive sessions to hold improper discussions behind closed doors that included bullying and intimidation, in clear violation of Sunshine Laws. Her resignation letter stated that the meetings didn’t stay specific to executive session purposes. Instead, certain board members went beyond specific topics allowed to be discussed, which invalidated the privilege of privacy for the meetings. Moreover, at a subsequent board meeting, those board members themselves violated executive session confidentiality by publicly discussing what was discussed in those closed-door meetings.
The most recent Thought Exchange asked the community: "What are some important ways Lewis-Palmer School District 38 can build trust and ensure confidence?" Since this board claims to stand up against bullying, they need to release these executive session tapes to the public. The four current board members who were present during the Jan. 18 and Jan. 30 executive sessions in question all claimed that they have no problem with releasing the tapes but decided not to release them due to "legalities." No legalities are involved. The power lies solely with the board to release the aforementioned tapes [CRS 24-6-402 (D)].
Releasing the tapes would be a good faith gesture on behalf of the board as a first step towards rebuilding the community’s trust.
This community needs to return this board seat to a conservative. To do this, we need someone to step up from the surrounding Jackson Creek area and run for this seat in District 2. Please join the Facebook page Lewis-Palmer D38 LP Parents to learn if you live in the right area to qualify as a candidate and inquire what you need to do to run for this seat.
Our Community News continues biased reporting on school board and upcoming school bond election
I wrote to you just before the last election to complain that your newspaper appears to be biased towards the D-38 Board of Education, school board. The editor published my letter, but also used it to state that you were not biased, in his editorial.
I still think you are biased, using the latest edition, issue No. 217, March 2, 2019, as an example. The amount of first page and upfront pages devoted to the school board and the upcoming election is amazing, and points to a larger agenda.
On page 1 you quote Mark Pfoff and a board resolution that basically states that in the last election, November 2018, the residents of Monument were too stupid to understand the ... "ballot language and unclear financing." I contend the measure was defeated because the voters fully understood what the board was trying to push on them, and the unclear language had been written on purpose. I did not see any push back to these questionable statements by Our Community News.
Also, I am sure that your "independent letter writer" Terry Miller will come out at any time—after all his "research" to support the upcoming bond measures. See Letters to Editor, p. 22. I have seen this tactic used in other elections.
There are other concerns with this issue and the school board, but I am at the 300-word limit, so they will have to wait.
In summary, I don’t know the exact reason(s), but it appears your paper is in the pocket of the D38 Board of Education, and they are using you to set up an "out of cycle" election this year to push their questionable agenda.
Paul J. Lambert
OCN’s policy as published on page 31 of each issue: "Unlike papers that try to figure out what the ‘story’ is and then get quotes on each side to presumably lead the reader to conclude what the ‘truth’ is, OCN’s role is to report in detail on public meetings of local governmental entities. We report what was talked about and what was decided. By reading OCN, you can find out what you might have learned if you had attended those public meetings. In this context, ‘truth’ is that the articles accurately represent what transpired at the meetings." The order articles appear in the paper is decided by the OCN editorial board based on newsworthiness. Last month, D38 articles appeared on the front page. This month, it is fire districts.
In December, I submitted a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request to D38 asking for the removed comments from their December Thought Exchange, an online survey for community feedback. Instead of questioning the reasoning behind this, a local reporter (for this very publication) felt the need to CORA the name of the individual who made such a request of the district. Instead of holding district administration accountable for removing comments, a long-serving board member posted false comments about me making personal "attacks" on his Facebook page. And, instead of apologizing to the community for censoring and removing mostly negative comments about the school district, the district leadership put out an email saying how deeply saddened they were that the original CORA happened and that they would have to release those removed comments for all to see.
My CORA intentions were done simply to provide transparency and ensure all comments were made available for the community to view and decide for themselves. What is unfortunate is that citizens, like myself, feel the only way to receive accurate and timely information from D38 is through a CORA request. As a parent, former teacher, and taxpaying citizen, I will continue to ask the district’s leadership to provide full transparency and honesty to their community for whom they work. What deeply saddens me is that parents and community members coming forth with concerns and suggestions are labeled as district haters and teacher haters. Their voice is then publicly shamed and humiliated by the district leadership. We all want what is best for our children but may differ on the path. However, when utilizing taxpayers’ money, we have a right to demand transparency in order to make educated decisions on how the money is spent.
D38 needs another school
Because I wanted to know for myself, I went to Lewis-Palmer Middle School one day. Before school started, I watched the traffic. I saw students waiting in front of the building by 6:45 a.m. (the office opens at 7). By 6:53, there was an uninterrupted flow of traffic, including buses, until the last students were dropped off at 7:22. School starts at 7:23 a.m.
I observed the last students in the cafeteria have between one and five minutes to eat lunch. Adding more time to the lunches is not a good fix. Lunch times now start at 10:40 and end at 12:50. By adding just five minutes per lunch, kids might eat as early as 10:20 (and won’t get home until five to six hours later) or begin lunch as late as 1:20 (nearly six hours after school starts). If you have (or had) a middle-school-aged child, you know that won’t work! They have voracious appetites! And, as kids get hungry, brain-based research will tell you they don’t learn as well.
I don’t expect you to take my word for anything. Go observe LPMS in the morning. Check out the research regarding how kids learn (especially middle school kids) and see what practices work best to help them learn. There is a lot of information available, and it all says the same thing. Schools today do things with intent. The reasons are based on what the best practices are for kids. Some people are committed to doing things cheaply and don’t care about what is best for kids. Should I mention how ridiculous it is to have an elementary school with nearly 900 kids? D38 needs to reopen Bear Creek/Creekside as a middle school and build another elementary. It is what is right for kids and for teachers.
A word of thanks
Our family just wanted to share a word of appreciation about Monument Academy. When we first moved to Monument, we searched for a school that offered a great education and aligned with our family values. Our son’s first school, in a neighboring district, wasn’t the best fit for him, so we put him on the wait-list for MA. This was the best decision for him. Due to the teachers, fellow parents, and respectful environment, our son has thrived there. Soon, a new job will be taking our family out of state. We will always be grateful to the wonderful staff at MA and we hope our son’s experience at his next school will be just as positive.
James and Patty Vandyke
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"I decided very early that I wanted to write. But I didn’t think of it as a career. I didn’t even think of it as a profession. It was the most exciting thing, the most powerful thing, the most wonderful thing to do with my life."—Mary Oliver
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Oliver died Jan. 17 at age 83. Penguin Press will publish an authorized biography, but as yet there is no title or release date.
April is National Poetry Month, inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Children and adults are naturally drawn to humor, rhyme, and rhythm found in poetry. Poetry can motivate kids to read and be a tool to build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. Here are some collections for adults, teens, and children:
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
By Mary Oliver (Penguin Press) $30
Throughout her celebrated career, Oliver touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. This is a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last 50 years. These 200-plus poems, arranged by Oliver herself, feature her work from her very first book of poetry published in 1963 at age 28 through her most recent collection published in 2015.
A Thousand Mornings: Poems
By Mary Oliver (Penguin Press) $17
In this collection of poems, Oliver shares the wonder of dawn, the grace of animals, and the transformative power of attention. Whether studying the leaves of a tree or mourning her adored dog, Percy, she was ever patient in her observations and open to the teachings contained in the smallest of moments. A chronicler of physical landscape, she opens our eyes to the nature within, to its wild and its quiet. With clarity, humor, and kindness these poems explore the mysteries of our daily experience.
Love Poems (for Married People)
By John Kenney (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) $15
Based on his popular New Yorker piece, Thurber Prize-winner John Kenney presents a hilarious collection of love poems for married people. This collection captures the reality of life once the spark of a relationship has settled. With brand new pieces that cover all areas of married life.
The Zen of Mountains and Climbing: Wit, Wisdom, and Inspiration
Edited by Katharine Wroth (Skipstone) $12.95
The Zen series explores the peace, tranquility, and sense of adventure that many people discover while scrambling up mountains. This book includes inspirational poems and quotes from a variety of well-known and lesser-known people and includes flipbook art of climbing.
Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Poems from WritersCorps
By WritersCorps (Harper Teen) $8.99
This collection of poems is by teens who have taken part in writing programs run by a national nonprofit organization called WritersCorps. It includes writing prompts where readers may write their own thoughts and poems, a foreword by acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni, an essay from Kevin Powell, and writing tips from WritersCorps instructors.
The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems
Selected by Paul B. Janeczko (Candlewick Press) $17.99
This beautifully illustrated collection of poetry for children features several authors. Poets from Kwame Alexander to Pat Mora to Allan Wolf share the way to play hard, to love nature, and to be grateful.
A Light in the Attic: Special Edition with 12 Extra Poems
By Shel Silverstein (Harper Collins) $19.99
This classic delights with remarkable characters and hilariously profound poems in a collection readers will return to again and again. Here in the attic you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will find out what happens when Somebody steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, and a Mountain snores.
April 18 is Poem in Your Pocket Day. People celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can find more than 30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month at the Academy of American Poets website: www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home.
Until next month, happy reading.
The Covered Treasures staff can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
Welcome spring at the library with Easter crafts, a no-sew tote bag, and a visit from the library district’s maker in residence.
The Winter Adult Reading Program ended March 31 with 281 participants at the Monument Library.
Regularly occurring children’s programs include Story Time at 10:30 and 11:15 each Tuesday for children 3 and up, Toddler Time for 1- and 2-year-olds each Thursday at 9:30 and 10:30, Book Break (a short read-aloud session for preschoolers) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 to 11, and Paws to Read (children reading to dogs) on Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 5.
Celebrate the anniversary of publication of Apollo the Misguided Missile with a reading by the author, a craft, and cake. This program, on Saturday, April 13 from 10:30 to 11:30, is suggested for ages 5 and up.
Come to the library on Friday, April 18 from 2 to 3:15 to make some fun Easter crafts—a bunny headband, a bunny magnet and a sand-filled egg necklace. Registration is required.
Coloring for Everyone will be held on Friday, April 12 from 4 to 5:30. Join us as we color themed coloring sheets at all skill levels. Coloring tools are provided, and you are welcome to bring your own as well.
All Ages Knitting meets in the study room each Wednesday from 3 to 5. Practice materials are provided, or bring your own project.
Lego Build will meet from 10 to 11:30 on Saturday, April 20. Take advantage of our large selection of Legos and build to your heart’s content.
Teen and Tween programs
See above for descriptions of Coloring for Everyone, All Ages Knitting, and Lego Build.
Join other gamers on Wednesday, April 10 from 4:30 to 5:30 to explore the world of classic video games on the Nintendo and Super Nintendo Classic Consoles. Snacks provided.
Is math a challenge for you? Each Monday from 3:30 to 7 the library offers free tutoring by experienced adult tutors. No appointment is necessary and help is available for all levels of math. AfterMath is on the D-38 calendar and will not meet when schools are closed.
Members of the Palmer Lake Art Group will offer a free drawing class from 1:30 to 3:30 on Thursday, April 18. Bring your own paper, but pencils and erasers will be provided. Open to teens 16 and up and adults. Registration is recommended.
The Paper Tigers Origami Club will meet from 4:15 to 5:30 on Friday, April 19. This group, open to teens and adults of all skill levels, will learn two new designs each month. All materials are provided and you need not have attended previous classes. Registration is preferred but not required.
The Teen Arts and Crafts project for the month is paper bead jewelry. The class will meet from 4 to 5:30 on Wednesday, April 24. Make your own custom beads out of paper and craft them into keychains, necklaces, and bracelets. All supplies will be provided and registration is required.
The Monument Library Anime Club will meet from 5 to 6:30 on Thursday, April 25. Share anime with others who love it too! We will watch videos (nothing rated above T-14) and enjoy snacks.
The Teen Creative Writing Club meets in the study room on the first Tuesday of the month from 6 to 7:30. This group, ages 12 to 18, shares ideas, does writing exercises, and enjoys snacks.
Regularly occurring adult programs include Senior Chats on Wednesdays from 10 to noon and Yoga on Thursdays from noon to 1.
See above for descriptions of Coloring for Everyone, All Ages Knitting, Paper Tiger Origami and Palmer Lake Art Group drawing classes.
The Life Circles writing group meets on the first and third Monday of each month (April 1 and 15) to write about memories of life experiences. No registration required.
A program on Retirement: Managing Savings and Investments will be offered from 1 to 2:30 on Monday, April 8. This workshop offers unbiased information about managing your finances before and during retirement. The class is taught by Melanie Wehrie, older adult librarian for the Pikes Peak Library District, who has a background in accounting. Registration is required.
The Monumental Bookworms will meet from 7 to 8:30 on Tuesday, April 9 to discuss The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. No registration is necessary.
A class will be offered on Monotype Printing, unique prints made without a press and using various types of plates and paints. Experiment with stencils, masking, colors, and pressure. Registration is required for this class, scheduled for Thursday, April 11 from 2 to 4.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, April 19 to discuss Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. All are welcome to attend and no registration required.
Create a beautiful yet sturdy, no-sew tote bag with faux leather handles on Monday, April 22 from 1 to 2:30. This bag is perfect for groceries, books, or the gym. Registration required.
The History Buffs will meet from 1:30 to 3:30 on Wednesday, April 24 to discuss the origins of modern Europe. All are welcome to attend.
The spinning group will meet from 1:30 to 3:45 on Thursday, April 25.
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.
Family Story Time is at 10:30 on Wednesdays, and Toddler Time is on Fridays at 10:30.
Lego Build at the Palmer Lake Library will be at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 18.
Please note that all Pikes Peak Library Facilities will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 21.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sigi Walker
On March 21, the Palmer Lake Historical Society heard the story of the Rock Island Railroad in the Pikes Peak area, including the history of the railroad’s construction, its early days, its ups and downs, some unusual firsts, and finally the operation of the unique AB6 locomotive that brought the Rocky Mountain Rocket from Limon to Colorado Springs.
Inspiration for the program was drawn from the work done by the late Steve Pelles, who had extensive knowledge of the Rock Island. His legacy is the Roswell Rock Island Museum, housed inside a railroad baggage car on the grounds of the Pikes Peak Trolley Museum. Many of the displays are from Pelles’ personal collection. Making it a special evening was the presence of Steve’s sons, Ken and Terry.
In October 1888, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad began operations into and out of Roswell (later annexed to Colorado Springs); the last train was in March 1980. Facilities included a roundhouse (now only four stalls but still in use by the Pikes Peak Trolley Museum), turntable, water tower, coaling tower, coach repair shop, and stockyards. A company town, Roswell was built to support this western terminus of the railroad. Ups and downs in the U.S. economy, two world wars, labor strikes, changes in technology, and the advent of the automobile impacted all railroads. But two local events, a flood in 1935 and a runaway freight in 1938, had significant impact on Roswell.
In the early days of operation, under a trackage agreement with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG), the Rock Island regularly ran through Palmer Lake. It also shared the depot in Colorado Springs with the D&RG, which became, until recently, Giuseppe’s Restaurant. The most unusual sight to be seen at the depot was the AB6 locomotive, used to bring the train from Limon to Colorado Springs. There was no other like it in the world, built for the Rock Island to accommodate the "Limon Shuffle"—where the Rocky Mountain Rocket split into two trains, one to Denver and the other to Colorado Springs.
Caption: The AB6 locomotive is shown in Colorado Springs in 1943. Photo by Joseph Schick, courtesy of Mel McFarland.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 18, when the Palmer Lake Historical Society Monthly History Series will present Katherine Scott Sturdevant, professor of history at Pikes Peak Community College, telling the story of Emma F. Langdon in Hidden Hero of the Printing Press. The setting is the 1904 miners’ strike in Victor. Langdon is among noted women working with miners’ rights in the early 1900s. The venue is the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Palmer Lake Historical Society events and programs are free and open to all.
By Janet Sellers
Our home gardens might become more than a hobby this year due to the bomb cyclone effects on Nebraska and American farming. Historic losses faced by Nebraska farms will impact food on every table. Farmers have already suffered over $1 billion in corn and livestock losses, with additional economic losses expected. Infrastructures of rail lines and roads have been washed away, with no way to transport food. And farmers can’t haul their grain to the ethanol plants; even cattle feeders can’t pick up feed.
Home gardens to our rescue! I have hundreds of little kale, parsley, beets, romaine, tomatoes, and beans started in window boxes. We prepped Monument Community Garden last fall with aged "alpaca beans" manure for spring planting. Local wisdom says, "start seeds in April, plant after Mother’s Day" so plant windowsill seedlings now and seed cold crop greens in garden beds to grow at their own rate under pine straw mulch. Heavy mulching protects the plants, and organic soil is smart—the seeds and microbes know when the soil is ready for growing.
Clean food changeover
Costco, Walmart, and Whole Foods have become the top organic food providers, nixing GMO food, and joining most of Europe and much of Asia in clean food production and sales. Might be a good time to switch to non-toxic farming for a lot of places including Nebraska, which must start over. The devastating blizzard and floods that hit Nebraska hard will translate into vast shortages of food that Nebraska provides to the United States and the world, causing spikes in food and energy prices.
It took moxie to make this healthier food happen. American wallets voted, so big-box retailers are changing over from harmful products to safe, organic ones nationwide. We can encourage everyone locally to do the same for landscaping—protecting our pollinators, yards, and pets. Organic dandelions as spring’s first plants and flowers offer amazing nourishment for pollinators, people, and all kinds of creatures, but disappear soon enough. I’ll put up my trusty paper bag yellow jacket defenders on each side of the house now for a safe, wasp-free summer. Wasp queens avoid the brown paper nest look-a-likes.
Bluebird and hummingbird scouts are already here looking for good places to nest near food, water, and protection. As spring hums along, out come the bird feeders, sugar nectar, and suet. Remember to keep feeders in a shady area with water and flowering plants nearby so the scouts will identify your place as one worth visiting. To get things going now, have flowering plants in pots and feeders outside by day, bringing them in at night for bear-proofing.
Janet Sellers is a writer, artist and ethno ecologist posing as a nature-led lazy gardener. She offers talks and hands-on organic gardening workshops for success in local mountain/forest climes. email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
"To the general public, you artists are the people who ran away to join the circus!"—Anonymous
Do you ever think about what attracts you the most about art? As an artist, I enjoy the "thinking drawings" that artists make as they grope for what they want to share. Seeing the artist’s imagination at work even in failures, such heartfelt drawings can be more satisfying than finished paintings, which can be missing the impetus and thrust of brilliant ideas that rocketed through the universe to Earth through the artist’s heart and hands.
Learning fundamentals in art through art classes with dedicated practice is a powerful beginning and helps to fulfill ideas and dreams in art. The exploration in the beginning efforts has a very special power to it, aiding not only making art but also appreciating beyond the art more fully what we perceive in other areas of our lives.
In all my years of looking at art and especially looking at so-called amateur artists’ efforts, I know that there must be thousands if not millions of artists who are not professionals but make art for the love of it. That love stays right there in the artwork. The moniker of "amateur" is a misnomer; many people are capable of making truly beautiful, thought-provoking works that reach the hearts of others. We have a lot of great art and through it great minds that we can visit in our area.
My students and I had a wonderful time with our art class field trips over spring break. We went to local forests and Garden of the Gods to be in nature. I also met my students (ages 11 to well over 39) at the Broadmoor Hotel and grounds where we saw an extraordinary collection of Western art.
These annual field trips began years ago with my children and students enjoying these paintings and sculptures by Charles Russell, Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington, Maxfield Parrish, and trompe l’oeil (optical illusion) murals. We examined the east wing architectural drawings with the old school penciling of trees and buildings, then went outdoors lakeside. While sketching the swans and restored 1800s Italian architecture, we enjoyed the warm sunny weather—truly restorative.
Perhaps we aren’t around art enough in our daily lives, the genuine kind of art that is heartfelt and even bumbling and struggling, created with great effort. The heart of the person and their labor is right there in the art, showing they struggled to portray something and finally worked through that exertion to a completed artwork loaded with emotion and effort. This is exemplified in the Western art of the 1800s. Historic artists reach out to us from long ago with authenticity, sending us that power of nature and the immediacy of their experiences, immortalized.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, and teacher, offering local art and photo classes and bucket list world travels. 2019: You can join her in Bordeaux and see the earliest art in the world, the caves near the village of Montignac in southwestern France. Sellers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visions of Light
Caption: The parking lot was packed for the opening reception of the 2019 Visions of Light show at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake on March 1. Thirty-six photographers entered over 70 photographs for the juried show. Wendy Gedack, a Colorado Springs-based photographer, judged the show that was sponsored by the Palmer Divide Photography group. Photographers were challenged to use light as a way to define their image and invoke the emotions they wish to convey to the audience. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Palmer Divide Photographers
Caption: Guest speaker Ken Childress, right, and host Lynn Roth are pictured at the Palmer Divide Photographers Group monthly event March 11. Childress, a nature photographer, offered important tips and information on photography for global bucket list locations to a standing-room-only crowd. He is a partner at American Photo Treks with Dave Soldano, Dave Maynor, and Lars Leber. Palmer Divide Photographers meets on the second Monday each month hosting guest professionals to educate and elucidate the enjoyment of fine art photography. Guests are always welcome to join the Monday night meetings. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Meet & Greet at PWES
Caption: From left are current Prairie Winds Elementary School (PWES) Principal Aileen Finnegan, parents, students and future Principal Alicia Welch on March 5. After 13 years as principal at PWES, Finnegan will retire in the local area at the end of the 2018-19 school year. Incoming Principal Welch joins District 38 for school year 2019-20 with over 20 years of experience in education. Welch has served as principal of Global Village Academy in Colorado Springs since 2013 and believes "that an educator’s mission is to make school enjoyable and exciting—if students look forward to attending school, they will want to learn." Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Meet & Greet at PRHS
Caption: From left are Dr. Lori Benton, executive director of Learning Services, incoming Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) Principal Dr. Terry Bramschreiber, and Cathy Wilcox, District 38 grant writer. On March 6, parents and students of Palmer Ridge had the opportunity to meet Bramschreiber during spring conferences. Since 2009, Bramschreiber has served as assistant principal at Discovery Canyon Campus High School in District 20. He values "helping multiple stakeholders come to consensus about new ideas and strategies while preserving the culture" that makes a school unique. Bramschreiber will take the reins for the 2019-20 school year with 25 years of experience in education. Outgoing Principal Gary Gable is set to retire at the end of the 2018-19 school year. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Strong D38 Community hosts discussion of rapid Tri-Lakes area growth
Caption: On March 20, Strong D38 Community hosted a community meeting with Tom Vierzba to discuss the approved and planned residential developments coming to the Tri-Lakes area. Vierzba is with NEPCO, the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations, a coalition of 40 homeowners’ associations and residential areas not officially formed, representing more than 17,000 voting residents. NEPCO’s Land Use Committee has been doing in-depth reviews of county planning proposals such as rezoning or new development plans since its formation in 2000. Vierzba’s presentation included an overview of each planned and approved development within D38 boundaries. View his slides and a video of the presentation, including questions and answers, at http://bit.ly/tl-growth. Learn more about Strong D38 Community at www.strongd38.com and at www.facebook.com/strongd38. Photo by Amy Shertzer.
Monument water line break repaired
Caption: Late in the evening on March 1, a 10-inch water line cracked on Mitchell Avenue in Monument and thousands of gallons of water poured forth until it was repaired on March 4. Tom Martinez, left, and Steve Sheffield of Monument Public Works oversaw the work of Global Underground Corp. Three homes were affected. Public Works employees were exhausted after working 31 hours over the weekend on a waterline break behind Columbine Gardens. Public Works Director Tom Tharnish encouraged the Board of Trustees to approve annual replacements to the aging water system one block at a time. One trustee asked how much it would cost to replace the whole system at once and Tharnish said it would be more than the town’s entire budget. Photo above by John Howe. Photo on right from the Town’s website.
Coffee with a Cop at Buzz N’ Bagels
Caption: The new Buzz N’ Bagels in the Jackson Creek shopping center hosted Coffee with a Cop on March 15. Residents talk with members of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, including Undersheriff Pete Carey and deputy Courtney Norman, as well as Monument police detective Amanda Molnar. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Fox Run Park group advocated
Caption: On March 28, Aaron Rogers of the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) talked with interested neighbors near Fox Run Park at the Southwinds Fine Art Gallery to help start up a Friends of Fox Run Park group. TOSC supports efforts that include "helping craft the future for our public spaces, with our partners in government, other nonprofits and community groups, and our members and partners" and helps get volunteers in action, such as for Fox Run Park, which has the highest attendance rate in the county. But there is no volunteer friends group to advocate and help on issues for the park’s current and future needs. TOSC representatives attend every public meeting where policy, funding or planning for parks, trails and open spaces is discussed or decided—be it City Council, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners, Parks Advisory boards, master plan work sessions, the TOPS Working Committee, the Trails Team, Colorado Springs Utilities, etc.—and is a respected voice for our public spaces, weighing in on the issues and reporting back to the public regularly. The public is invited to the next Friends of Fox Run Park meeting at 5 p.m. April 25 at the Southwinds Fine Art Gallery upstairs meeting space, 16575 Roller Coaster Road. Contact Marlene Brown or Janet Sellers at JanetSellers@ocn.me for details. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Drumming at Yoga Pathways
Caption: The drumming group at Yoga Pathways met March 20. The group dedicated the evening to the first day of spring and the beauty of the "super" moon. Drumming night is free and open to all ages. Participants can bring any kind of drum or other hand percussion instrument. Drums or percussion instruments will be provided to those who don’t have one. Beginners are welcome. The group meets once a month on the third Wednesday of each month at Yoga Pathways and sometimes at local parks. See the calendar entry on page 30 for details. Photo by Janet Sellers.
AARP Driver Safety Course
Caption: From the podium, Stephen Blucher, AARP Driver Safety Course instructor, enlightens 24 attendees at the Black Forest Lutheran Church on March 21. On a chilly spring morning at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, attendees learned how to be a smart driver as they age. The course is open to anyone, AARP members and non-members, and offered in various locations. Black Forest AARP typically holds the course in March and October. Information on upcoming courses in your area can be found by calling 1-888-227-7669 or visiting www.aarp.org/drive . Bulcher can be reached at (719) 597-5683 or email: email@example.com. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Next solar cooking demo, Apr. 7
Caption: At the solar oven cooking demonstration at the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA), Mar. 25, Lisa Hatfield harnessed the power of the sun to cook brownies, eggs in the shell, and hot water for tea on three kinds of homemade and purchased solar ovens. Another solar demo will be held on April 7, 1-3 p.m. 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. Bring your own solar devices to share information and possibly solar cooking tips and sampling. Info on p30. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Caption: A backyard visitor just can’t say "no" to a free lunch. Photo by Dave Betzler.
Bill Nance Memorial blood drive
Caption: From left, Donna O’Bryant and Eric Emde give blood at the biannual Bill Nance Memorial Blood Drive held on March 26 at Antelope Trails Elementary School. Gleneagle Sertoma has sponsored the event since 2004 in memory of Bill Nance. Due to the severe storm on March 13, it is estimated that 900 blood donations were lost as 40 scheduled blood drives across the state were cancelled over a three-day period. Blood donations save 12,000 human lives a day worldwide, and donating is one of the easiest ways people can make a positive impact in their community. Help make up the deficit lost during the storm by donating at a location near you. For more information on where to donate, please visit http://vitalant.org or call 877-258-4825 or check Our Community Calendar monthly for upcoming local blood drives. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
OCN mailing day needs you
Caption: At OCN’s January 2019 annual meeting, the all-volunteer staff voted to expand the newspaper’s distribution to include over 1,600 mailboxes in Black Forest. The new delivery territory extends from Highway 83 to slightly east of Black Forest Road and from County Line Road/Palmer Divide Avenue to slightly south of Hodgen Road. Combining the new routes with the prior area from the County Line to Northgate Road and from Palmer Lake to Highway 83, OCN’s free circulation area now includes more than 20,000 mailboxes. Each month, the day before OCN’s "first Saturday" delivery, a small army of volunteers gathers to count, tub, and load papers onto a delivery truck bound for the Monument, Palmer Lake, and Briargate Post Offices—and enjoy a morning of camaraderie. Our next mailing day will be May 3. New volunteers are always welcome! If you would like to be a part of OCN’s mission to inform the public about local meetings and activities, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org. or (719) 339-7831. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
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.
Monument Hill Kiwanis grants, apply by May 15
The Monument Hill Foundation, the charitable arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club, has an annual granting program. Grants are awarded to charities as defined by the IRS, to various qualifying youth activities, and to schools for various educational activities and scholarships. Applications will be accepted through May 15. The grant application is available at www.monumenthillkiwanis.org/forms/mhf_grants. See ad on page 11.
Free income tax help, ends April 15
Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Pikes Peak United Way, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), provides free income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of $54,000 a year or less. To find out if you qualify or to schedule an appointment, call 2-1-1 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
There is now a website, www.TLtalks.com, for local articles, podcasts, and much more. www.TLtalks.com is dedicated to providing a platform where you can write about what is important to you and where the Tri-Lakes community can exchange ideas, thoughts, and information. Visit www.TLtalks.com to see the mission statement, submission guidelines, and terms and conditions. See ad on page 13.
Lewis-Palmer School District Hall of Fame, nominations accepted through April 19
The community is invited to nominate a person who has made significant, ongoing contributions to the excellence of D-38 schools. More information and nomination forms are posted at www.lewispalmer.org under the Community tab. See ad on page 15.
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club’s Spring into Vintage, April 28-29
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club began its popular Pine Forest Antique Show in 1977, bringing its annual bake sale into that event. The Pine Forest show grew so much that the event had to move from the middle school to the high school in 1986. In the late ‘90s, the club added the home and garden element, which began with the sale of geraniums only, and invited vendors offering additional items for the home that weren’t antiques. In 2015, it added an emphasis on artists. Last year, the club invited a couple of vintage vendors and quickly realized it was the future. So, in 2019, it is including more vintage items, calling the event Spring into Vintage. The show will be at Lewis-Palmer High School from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 28. Tickets are $6 at the door. All proceeds from the show benefit nonprofits and public schools in the Tri-Lakes area. The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club has given almost $1 million to aid local schools and charities. For more information on the club, go to www.tlwc.net.
Get help if your vehicle is stuck in town or in the mountains
4x4orce is an emergency notification network of 4x4 enthusiasts/good Samaritans ready and willing to respond when, where, and how they can. Sending a message to the Facebook 4X4orce Community Rescue & Recovery page is the best way currently to get assistance. However, you can also phone 719-286-9323. If Facebook is not working, you can email email@example.com. In case of a real emergency, dial 911.
MVEA board nominations open, apply by Apr. 29
The board election will take place during the annual meeting June 13. There is a vacancy in District 3, which includes a portion of Black Forest. If you are interested in being a candidate, find application details at www.mvea.coop. For more information, phone 719-494-2528 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See ad on page 14.
Clerk and Recorder’s Office warns of vehicle renewal website scam
The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office warns citizens of several imposter websites involving online vehicle renewals. Websites claiming to be authentic Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) sites are being used to obtain personal and credit card information in addition to charging a premium price or overcharging citizens for services promised. The State of Colorado has two official vehicle registration websites: http://mydmv.colorado.gov and http://colorado.gov/dmv. Those are the websites citizens should use for online motor vehicle services. The State DMV provides information about the unofficial, non-sanctioned websites at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dmv/unofficial-websites.
Slash-Mulch season begins May 4
The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch program will accept slash (tree and brush debris only) May 4-Sept. 15. Mulch will be available May 19-Sept. 21 or until mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost for slash is $2 per load. The mulch loader fee is $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone the County Environmental Division, 520-7878; Carolyn, 495-3127; Chuck, 495-8675; Jeff, 495-8024.
Art gallery show seeks entries by May 24
Palmer Lake Art Group seeks new submissions for its upcoming Color Splash show at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. All artwork must be produced by exhibiting artists and not have been showcased at this gallery in the last two years. Entries must be submitted by May 24 for the show that runs Jun. 4-28 at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. For more information, visit the website, www.palmerlakeartgroup.com.
Volunteers needed for new nature trail
Black Forest’s award-winning School in the Woods began work on an extensive nature trail system that will educate students and the community about the plants and animals found in Colorado’s higher-altitude life zones. One of the trails will be handicap-accessible and include signs with braille symbols. School in the Woods needs to obtain, plant, label, and care for plants throughout the trail system. Volunteers are needed to support the project through public relations, fundraising, donations, assisting on planting and maintenance days, and other resources. If you want to get involved, contact Jon Wuerth, school coordinator, at email@example.com or 719-234-4330.
Closure of Monument Hill Road continues
The El Paso County Department of Public Works continues improvements along the southern portion of Monument Hill Road. Transition to Phase II, expected to occur in April, will require closure of Monument Hill Road from the south entrance of Monument Hill Church to the south entrance of Palmer Ridge High School, eliminating access from Monument Hill Road to Deer Creek Road. Monument Hill Church will be accessible at its south entrance on Monument Hill Road. For Phase II, Woodmoor Drive, Furrow Road, and County Line Road will serve as the detour. For more information, visit www.elpasoco.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I-25 MyWay commuting options website
Visit www.i25myway.org and enter starting and ending ZIP codes for personalized I-25 commuting solutions and savings estimates. The website will help you arrange the details and free test commutes, including carpools, van pools, and the Bustang South Line. The site will run through the end of construction in 2022.
Free tutoring in reading at the library
Children’s Literacy Center offers free one-to-one tutoring for children reading below grade level. Tutors are volunteers from the community, 14 years of age and older. Tutoring is held every Tuesday and Thursday, 5:30-6:30 p.m., at the Monument Library. For more information, go to www.childrensliteracycenter.org, call 471-8672, or contact Liz Eden at Liz@childrensliteracycenter.org.
Free grief group forming
The Church at Woodmoor, 18125 Furrow Road, Monument, is forming a group for people who have struggled with grief for six months or more. This group will meet for six weeks with a trained leader who will provide a safe place to process the grief resulting from the loss of a loved one, or grief due to a change in health or finances. Participation is limited to 10 individuals on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact Rick Jackson, 488-3200, Rjackson.email@example.com.
County launches Citizen Connect
Citizen Connect is a new tool that allows citizens to report problems and put in service requests with the click of a mouse or touch of a button. Citizens can download this app, EPC Citizen Connect, for iPhone or Android phone. For more information, visit www.elpasoco.com/county-launches-citizen-connect.
Sign up for "Reverse 9-1-1" emergency notifications to your cell phones
The Emergency Notification System (powered by Everbridge), commonly referred to as Reverse 9-1-1, is a tool that can make rapid notifications to specific geographic areas to alert you to emergency situations including manmade disasters, evacuations, hazardous materials incidents, missing persons, and more. Reverse 9-1-1 is not the same as Amber Alerts, which are generated by a different system. You must register to receive emergency notifications on any phone other than your landline. You can list up to five locations and up to eight points of contact. Sign up at www.elpasoteller911.org.
Prescription drug secure drop box
Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Road, has a secure green drop box to safely dispose of medications so the drugs are not stolen, lost, or misused. The drop box is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Accepted items include prescription and over-the-counter drugs, opioid painkillers, tranquilizers, antidepressants, vitamins, heart medicine, liquid medications (sealed in original container), prescription patches, medicated ointments, and veterinary prescriptions. Labels can stay on the containers since all are incinerated. No chemo drugs, marijuana, illegal drugs, or sharps can be accepted. For more information, call the Monument Police, 481-3253, or visit http://Takemedsback.org.
County assessor launches enhanced website
The newly redesigned site with the Property Record Card and Citizen Comper (value comparisons) makes parcel and property searches more informative, easier to use, and accessible on mobile devices as well as desktops. Find the enhanced website at https://property.spatialest.com/co/elpaso/.
Happy birthday Monument
June 2, 2018, was Monument’s 139th anniversary of incorporation. In 2019, Monument will celebrate 140 years as a town. Volunteers are needed to help plan the main event on June 1, 2019, and for kids’ activities, historical walking tours, and reporters to collect stories from longtime residents. Please contact Madeline at 884-8013 for more information and to join a committee.
Resources on living with Tri-Lakes wildlife
In the Tri-Lakes area, we really do have rattlesnakes, bears, coyotes, mountain lions, skunks, porcupines, etc. in our very own backyards. We also have fawns that do not need rescuing; they are just waiting for their moms to return. Never feed any wildlife! See "Too Close for Comfort" at http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlife.aspx and more at http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlifeComfort2.aspx for many ways to educate ourselves. Learn how to react correctly when someone is bitten by a rattlesnake at www.wikihow.com/Treat-a-Rattlesnake-Bite.
Free services for Black Forest seniors
Did you know that Silver Key will provide transportation to and from medical appointments for Black Forest area residents? Call 884-2380 for appointments. Did you know that Silver Key will provide Meals on Wheels to Black Forest area residents over age 60? Call 884-2370. Did you know that Silver Key will provide case management guidance and other services to residents in the Black Forest area? For more information about Silver Key and its services, visit www.silverkey.org or call 884-2350.
Yoga classes at Woodmoor Barn
Raleigh Dove is now teaching three weekly yoga classes at the Woodmoor Barn. Classes are open to everyone, and each class is a different level. For more information, visit www.yogapathwaysstudio.com.
Residence vacation check
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will conduct vacation checks of homes of county residents who are on vacation. This is a great way to add security to your home when you’re away for multiple days. Either a deputy or trained volunteer will visit your home while you’re away and check it periodically. To add your home to their schedule, visit www.epcsheriffsoffice.com. Info: 520-7151.
Monument text alerts
Text "Monument" to 41411 to receive updates and news of meetings, weather alerts, openings and closings, as well as other important town information to your phone or personal mobile device.
Volunteer weather observers needed
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network is seeking volunteer weather observers in this area. The nationwide network is made up of volunteers who help measure and record precipitation in their areas. Learn more and sign up on the network’s web page at www.cocorahs.org.
County Planning and Development’s new website
The county’s new Electronic Development Application Review Program (EDARP) allows immediate access to documents and development application processing. This is part of an ongoing countywide effort to give residents easier access to data and improve transparency. EDARP is an internet-based platform that uses cloud storage through Microsoft Azure and allows users access to all county development applications dating back to 1947. The public, consultants, and developers can see and download electronic copies of applications for rezoning, subdivisions, and more. The program also allows electronic submittal of development-related applications, which will reduce costs to applicants and the county. For more information, visit http://epcdevplanreview.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.
El Paso County expands services to veterans
Three county agencies providing services to veterans now have satellite offices at the Mount Carmel Center of Excellence, 530 Communications Circle, Colorado Springs. The Veterans Service office at Mount Carmel is open Monday through, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and closes noon-1 p.m. for lunch. Call 667-3816 for an appointment. The Pikes Peak Workforce Center Mount Carmel office is open Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed for lunch noon-1 p.m.) and is staffed with two Workforce Center employees who help veterans with their employment needs. Call 667-3729 for an appointment. The county Department of Human Services also has a Mount Carmel office open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Help Black Forest Animal Sanctuary (BFAS) rescue animals
Southern Colorado Animal Rescue BFAS is an animal rescue and rehab farm that has been helping animals since 1994. The all-volunteer organization has rescued thousands of horses, farm animals, dogs, cats, and various small wild animals and birds. BFAS provides rescue operations, adoption programs, foster and sponsorship programs, a student/horse education program, service dogs to veterans, and local and national rescue efforts. They also work with local schools and scouts. Donations are needed for supplies, and volunteers are needed for day-to-day operations. To find out how you can help, call 494-0158, email BFASFarm@gmail.com, or visit www.bfasfarm.org.
County launches new community website
Check out all the interesting county data available for you at http://community.spatialest.com/co/elpaso/.
CSU Extension launches "Your Energy" website and blog
The Colorado State University Extension now has a "Your Energy" website to help Coloradans make more informed energy decisions. The site includes decision tools, fact sheets, and a blog. The decision tools can help you figure out energy savings from using more efficient lighting, low-flow showerheads, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, and more. Other tools can help you understand how much you spend on heating, cooling, and baseload electricity, and your bottom line if you install a wind turbine or solar array. Visit the site at http://yourenergy.extension.colostate.edu.
Free gun-lock kit
The Monument Police Department is offering free firearm safety kits to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe, the nationwide firearms safety education program. Each kit contains gun safety information and a cable-style gun lock that fits most types of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Police Department administrative offices at 645 Beacon Lite Road are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drop by during those times to pick up a free gun-lock kit. For information, phone 481-3253.
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on January 24, 2023. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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