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By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education discussed the continued impact of the coronavirus on school practices, refinancing of bonds, district communications practice, and the future of the Grace Best Education Center site at its Oct. 26 meeting.
The meeting was held on Zoom due to the extreme weather and school closure on that day.
Superintendent Dr. K.C. Somers notified the board that there is now a COVID-19 dashboard on the district website (lewispalmer.org), to be found under COVID Resources on the left side of the home page. The dashboard reflects the number of positive cases of the virus at each location, the number of students and staff quarantined and the number in isolation.
Somers referred to a letter sent to the Colorado Springs Gazette by the Pikes Peak Area Superintendents Association, a group including 20 superintendents from the area who have been meeting regularly and sharing ideas since the spring. The group recommends that state-level standardized tests be suspended in the spring of 2021 due to logistical problems and doubtful value of the results due to the school shutdown in the spring. SAT and PSAT tests would remain. No formal decision was made, and the recommendation would require action at the state level.
Regarding instruction under the READ act (Reading to Ensure Academic Development, passed in 2012 to have all students reading at grade level by fourth grade), Somers said instruction will continue, but it is not possible to complete new training for staff at this time. The district is requesting an extension of the deadline to complete training and will try to embed the training within the program.
Somers said that the reopening of schools 100 percent in person is not recommended at this time due to problems with social distancing. Elementary students are attending full time, while secondary students are attending two days a week.
Due to increased case numbers of the virus, it would be unwise to open further at this time, but Fridays, which are now flex days, may offer an opportunity for more in-person time.
Somers said that the district is serious about the mental and emotional impact of distance learning. In answer to a question, Somers said that a student with concerns about mental health or emotional issues could contact Safe2Tell (877-524-7233). Any tips received are referred to the district, which will then implement an outreach. If parents have a concern, they can call the student’s teacher.
Board President Chris Taylor asked if there are any plans to offer testing for the virus, since it is known that individuals may have it but be asymptomatic.
Somers responded that there are no plans for testing in the schools but that the number of testing sites is increasing.
In keeping with goal 5 of the district’s Strategic Plan, to forge community relationships and foster effective communications with all stakeholders, board Secretary Tiffiney Upchurch and board Vice President Theresa Phillips offered a presentation. Upchurch said the goal is to distribute information, promote feedback from the community, and elicit suggestions from all stakeholders.
Phillips said she and Upchurch had many meetings with Information Officer Julie Stephen and Somers about current efforts to keep the community informed. A decision must be made about how to determine the effectiveness of programs. One suggestion was to create a printed document mailed to all stakeholders describing district activities and goals.
Taylor commented that he wished that some of the communications would be forward looking rather than historic in character, describing whether the district is on track to achieve specific goals.
Phillips said that this is a good time to work on the communications policy, because there is not a ballot issue at stake.
Board Treasurer Ron Schwarz said he wanted Upchurch and Phillips to assign each board member a task and give deadlines.
Chief Financial Officer Shanna Seelye presented the board with an updated budget for the year, reporting that preliminary enrollment numbers indicate 6,487 students. The original budget was based on a count of 6,481. The per pupil revenues for this year are $7,762.
One major change is the expenditure of an additional $66,000 for unemployment claims in the pandemic. The Transportation Department stands to lose revenue from ridership fees.
Seelye also said the board had requested the possibility of giving staff a one-time lump sum in November to partially offset the freeze on salaries.
The board approved the budget.
Schwarz reported that the district could refinance bonds from 2012 and see a savings of $1.7 million in interest as the current bonds are at 3.5% and the current interest rate is 1.5%.
Taxpayers would see a reduction in their property taxes in the spring were the refinancing to be approved.
After discussion, the board agreed that refinancing is a prudent action.
Grace Best future
Somers briefly reported on recommendations for the Grace Best property on Jefferson Street.
Some parts of the building are 60 years old and a large portable on the lot has outlived its usefulness, with no heating or plumbing and cracks in the ceiling and floors.
He listed the current uses of the building itself, including the Homeschool Enrichment Academy, storage for science kits, Bearbotics (robotic program from Palmer Ridge), and parts of the Transitions program. Some parts, such as the gymnasium, are also rented for community use.
Somers recommended that a request for proposals (RFP) be issued for an owner’s representative to explore the sale of the portable and potential actions on the main building.
Executive Director of Personnel and Operations Bob Foster, who would oversee the RFP, said the portable would probably be sold for private use.
Taylor also requested an update on the status of other portable classrooms in the district, many of which were leased in 2018. He requested a report at the December board meeting.
The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education usually meets on the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. Due to the pandemic, seating is extremely limited, but meetings may be viewed on the district’s Facebook page. Go to www.lewispalmer.org, board of education, meeting livestreams in the left-hand column. The next meeting will be on Nov. 16.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
During its regular meeting on Oct. 5, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved financing for the design of Jackson Creek Parkway improvements north of Higby Road. The board also approved the Falcon Commerce Center site plan and a newly formed Jackson Creek Metropolitan District.
Jackson Commercial Metropolitan District service plan
Town Manager Mike Foreman introduced a request for approval of a new Jackson Creek Metropolitan District (JCMD) that will collect 35 mills to create public improvements, such as streets, sewer, water, drainage, parks, and 10 mills for maintenance. The 100-acre development will be composed of 89 acres commercial property and the rest residential.
The district was approved to charge a total mill rate of up to 154.265 because it overlaps with numerous existing taxing districts. These include:
• District 38 schools, 41.430 mills
• Triview Metropolitan District, 32.000 mills
• Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, 18.400 mills
• El Paso County, 7.222 mills
• Town of Monument, 6.152 mills
• Pikes Peak Library District, 3.731 mills
• El Paso County-Monument Road and Bridge, .165 mills
• El Paso County Road and Bridge, .165 mills
• Jackson Creek Metro District, 45 mills
Mike Taylor of Creekside Developers said this mill levy, to be paid by the commercial properties, is in line with other local commercial developments and does not include any payments toward police services provided by the Monument Police Department.
Taylor presented the service plan, asking the board to authorize up to a maximum of $35 million the developer will bond, which includes no money from the town and a limited financial contribution from Triview.
JCMD will be divided into seven subdistricts, one of which will be on the northeastern side of Jackson Creek Parkway bordering Higby Road. These are:
• District 1—Owner’s tract
• District 2—Monument Marketplace North, an 11.8-acre parcel approved in 2019. See https://ocn.me/v19n8.htm#mbot.
• Districts 3, 4, 5,—The Village at Jackson Creek, mixed uses for residential and commercial.
• District 6—Planned Commercial Development (PCD)-zoned parcel north of Jackson Creek Parkway
• District 7—PCD/Planned Industrial Development-zoned parcel
Triview Metropolitan District’s board heard the request for the new metro district, which would become the fourth financing metropolitan district, at its Aug. 18 meeting. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#tvmd.
Trustee Jim Romanello said the plan is similar to the Village district plan. Before sitting on the BOT, Romanello was president of the Village HOA, which had to increase its mill levy to pay for public improvement maintenance after the town removed all commercial properties from the development. "It looks like you are going in the hole for five years, with no principal payment until 2028 and hopes of build-out and then play catch up," he noted.
Romanello urged the developer to provide the board more time to review the project after a fiscal study can be completed, but Taylor said this must be approved tonight or risk waiting another year for approval.
Taylor said the projected model is wholly driven by the market, with expected build-out in four to six years. It is based solely on the assessment rate and property valuation.
Trustee Mitch LaKind also expressed concern for the future residents if no businesses are present there to pay the high mill levy. He also noted there could be a call feature in future bonds that might jeopardize the residents’ ability to pay.
Taylor didn’t know the full percentage of commercial properties versus the 252-unit apartment complex, but said, "We absolutely have the mechanisms in place to service debt adequately, and facilities will be able to be maintained as well."
Resident Rick Griffin was concerned Triview residents might be required to pay back the debt. Taylor emphasized that no Triview residents would need to pay the mill levy, just those living in the apartment building if commercial development doesn’t meet expected occupancy.
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott asked about the board for the district. Taylor said it is customary for the developer to appoint the board.
Clark motioned for approval with only 35 mills total, but Romanello and LaKind said that wouldn’t be enough to service the debt. The motion failed 1-6 with only Trustee Jamie Unruh voting in favor.
Before the next vote, Foreman reminded the board how beneficial this development and the associated commercial property would be for the town.
A second vote was taken to approve the service plan and associated 45 mills that passed 5-2.
Jackson Creek Parkway improvements
The board approved an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the town and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for the design of Jackson Creek Parkway improvements along the one-mile section owned by the town. Triview Metropolitan District completed roadway improvements from Higby Road south to Baptist Road. At that time, the town was unable to finance improvements for the road section from Higby Road north to Highway 105.
In the IGA, CDOT has agreed to pay $800,000 toward project design. The town will match with $166,000, which Foreman said is in the 2021 budget.
Planning Director Larry Manning will oversee the project.
The request was approved with a vote of 6-1. Trustee Laurie Clark voted no with no reason given.
Falcon Commerce Center planned development site plan approved
Falcon Commerce Center sits south of Baptist Road and west of I-25. The 49-acre site owned by Forest Lakes LLC will be commercially developed and accessible via Baptist Road at the existing entrance to Pilot Flying W, the forthcoming Terrazo Road entrance and along Woodcarver Road. According to the associated traffic study, no traffic signaling will be warranted until 2025. A secondary entrance will be created at Woodcarver Road. Foreman said this portion of land may be annexed into the town to create a public right of way.
During public comment, a representative of Bob Delacroix told the board there should be a formal easement for clarity. Resident Duncan Brimmer also emphasized Delacroix should have access.
The Planning Commission approved the site plan during its Sept. 23 meeting, with the caveat that current landowner Delacroix be provided an easement to access his land from Woodcarver Road. The commission also expressed concerns over the 100-foot building height allowed in this development. Planner Debbie Flynn told the planning board all their concerns regarding the height restrictions would be included in the memo included in the BOT packet. Because they did not see a legal way to include this as a condition of approval, Flynn said she would bring their concerns to the BOT. The BOT was not made aware of this concern and it was never discussed. See https://ocn.me/v20n10.htm#mpc.
The board expressed the desire to ensure Delacroix has access from his property to Baptist Road, although Andrea Barlow of NES requested that the board remove the consideration wholly because her client intends to fully comply.
Ultimately, the board approved a motion to amend the ordinance, removing the condition placed by the Planning Commission. The motion passed 6-1 with Clark voting no without questions or clarification as to why.
COVID-19 constraints harming businesses and government meeting attendance
Clark said she has received a lot of complaints from residents expressing their unhappiness that local businesses remain closed. Foreman was directed to bring a list to the next meeting of businesses that are fully closed due to the pandemic.
Mayor Don Wilson attempted to remove the 10-person limit for board meetings, but Foreman insisted that number must be maintained. Wilson was concerned at the lack of public presence during their meetings.
Wilson is disappointed the COVID-19 case count for the town’s ZIP code, 80132, includes many more people than live in the town. See page eight of the dashboard https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/covid19data-dashboard.
The board agreed that Clark should present their concerns to Gov. Jared Polis to request an exemption from the current Safer at Home phase one restrictions.
The meeting adjourned 8:41 pm.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: As COVID-19 numbers increased at a concerning rate, county, city, and public health officials issued a call to action and warned of potential restrictions on Oct. 19. Dr. Robin Johnson, El Paso County Public Health medical director, said, "We know that reducing the size and frequency of social gatherings is one of the best ways to stem the tide of COVID-19. As temperatures cool and people head indoors, wearing a mask and staying home when sick will become even more critical." On Oct. 28, the Public Health Department opened a drive-through COVID-19 test site at the corner of Lincoln and Jefferson in Monument. Community Emergency Reponses Training (CERT) volunteers assisted with traffic control. Tests are free, and no insurance or doctor referrals are required. For hours, see www.elpasocountyhealth.org/covid-19-testing-information. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held its regular board meeting on Oct. 8 in the Orchestra Room at the East Campus and a subsequent Zoom meeting on Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. to follow up on reviewing learning options. Ahead of the Oct. 8 meeting, the board met for training. At the regular meeting, the board accepted a resignation, discussed additional training requirements, asked to consider allocating funds for a holiday bonus, heard concerns about lunch seating, and discussed synchronous and asynchronous learning options.
A special meeting was held on Oct. 15 to further the discussion of learning options.
Board resignation and committee reorganization
The board announced it had received a resignation letter from member Susan Byrd; it voted to accept the resignation and to remain a five-person board until the June board election. They also reorganized the board, naming Misty McCuen as board secretary.
Board member Ryan Graham expressed the need for a policy committee comprising two board members, a teacher, a parent, and an administrator. Graham and board President Melanie Strop volunteered for the committee. They were unanimously accepted. The board discussed who else might be on the committee. Chief Operating Officer Christianna Herrera suggested that the HR director, Sherry Buzzell, would be an asset to the committee because she has been reviewing polices for the principals, and many HR policies overlap with board policies. Herrera said that depending on the policy, they might want to bring in other staff. She said that MA needs to keep aware of what is happening legislatively that may impact polices.
The board reverted back to one each of the School Advisory and Accountability Committee (SAAC) and Curriculum Committee, with Chris Dole and Megghan St. Aubyn as board liaisons.
The MA board met for two hours of Colorado Department of Education-required board training led by board lawyer Brad Miller. The training included a discussion of roles and responsibilities, leading by policy, student achievement, and community relations and engagement. Miller advised the board to keep high-level minutes and not to set a precedent of recording meetings and making them available to the public. He stressed that when a board member talked to a teacher or another parent outside of a board meeting, they were to act only as individuals and encourage the person to bring their concern to a board meeting or to the appropriate staff member. The board discussed additional training they wanted, who should provide it, and what it might cost.
Additional training for the board is required because MA is the recipient of a Colorado Charter Schools Program (CCSP) grant. The CCSP grant provides money and technical assistance for up to three years for new and expanding charter schools. There are two trainings per month, and all board members may participate. Strop suggested each board member attend one training, many of which are virtual, and report out at each board meeting to check progress and hold themselves accountable. This training needs to be completed by June or July.
Discussion of staff bonus
Graham requested the board consider directing Herrera and Chief Financial Officer Marc Brockleurst to allocate funds for a holiday bonus for staff from the general fund. Strop said that teachers deserve a bonus but suggested caution given the budget challenges. Herrera affirmed that MA had wanted raises and recognizes that a lot is being asked but that she expects budget cuts. She said MA must revise the budget based on the October count, which is lower than anticipated.
The board also discussed asking parents to contribute around $10 per student to raise matching funds for this bonus. Tanja Curtis, east campus Parent-Teacher Organization president, said they could set up stockings for parents to fill with their contribution. By having the non-profit PTO manage this, it would avoid the need for taxes. The board unanimously voted to direct MA administration to see what funds might be available in the general fund and to set up a subcommittee to explore asking parents to contribute via the PTO.
Lunch seating and quarantine risk
Herrera noted that there is a risk of having to quarantine from 50% to 75% of a grade level if they have a positive case due to lunch seating. One solution might be to provide greater distancing for the students. However, they might need to buy more tables and/or lunch equipment for which they don’t have the budget. Also, they could assign seats and lunch mates but feel that socialization is vitally important to mental health. The board discussed how lunch cohorting might work, what constitutes a true contact, and the impact of changing mandates. The current state represents the original approved plan and risk acceptance. If the board decides it is no longer comfortable with the risk, it will have to weigh in on any changes.
At the Oct. 15 special meeting, Principal Julie Seymour also expressed concern about lunch and quarantine. McCuen said she didn’t think a seating chart would provide sufficient benefits and that parents would be upset. Seymour said they have divided the commons into five spaces for lunch and they are capped at the number of people they have for supervisions unless they ask teachers to miss lunch and have kids sit in their rooms. St. Aubyn said in her opinion the school is doing a good job and that the quarantine might be bigger but that the school is equipped to go online. She thought the school should stay the course.
Reconsidering learning options
At the Oct. 8 meeting, Strop asked if the board could reconsider asynchronous and synchronous learning, having heard feedback that it is a burden for teachers. She asked if it is required, and Herrera replied that it was not a simple yes or no answer. She raised the concern that parent visitors in an online environment are very different than parent visitors at school with expectations and rule enforcement being difficult to manage. She offered to work with the principals to learn where there were burdens. Teacher representative Christin Patterson reported that things are settling down and everyone is getting used to the process. She said that having Zoom automatically load the class into Canvas has taken a huge headache out of the process. The board agreed to hold a special meeting on Oct. 15 to discuss this further.
At the special meeting held by Zoom on Oct. 15, Herrera started by reminding the board that they had approved a plan including livestream so that kids who need to be at home would not miss out on their education. MA did not want to contract with an external firm for this. She said that the CDE requires a plan for distance learning as part of funding requirements. A total of 10% of the student population are distance learners in one of the learning options. Distance Learning Specialist Janyse Skalla reported that families have different levels of comfort with COVID-19 and that they are fluid and changing between options on a daily basis.
Elementary Educational Technology Coordinator Elizabeth Weber reported that every week it gets a little better. Children are very flexible and enjoy seeing their classmates and teachers. She hasn’t heard a lot of negative feedback from parents and finds it comforting that, if and when MA has to quarantine, everyone will be ready because they’ve practiced it. Weber says that at this point 95% of staff are comfortable. Herrera agreed that, despite early issues, MA was getting into the groove. She said the only thing that remains is the need for more paraprofessionals to help but that the budget cuts prevented hiring more. Strop asked if the elementary team was comfortable continuing with this plan. Elementary Principal Charlie Richardson said that everyone has worked hard to get this right and that to take options away now would be a huge mistake.
For the secondary school, Seymour said it had been an easier switch because older kids have more experience with technology. She said that teachers choose to do synchronous because otherwise they would have to do a separate lesson plan and recording. She said the biggest obstacle has been consistency of where to find things and what the front page of Canvas looks like. They have created a document explaining what to do if you are at home. A teacher came to discuss whether asynchronous might be better and Seymour suggested she ask her students. The students unanimously preferred to be live, which speaks to their socio-emotional needs being met.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Herrera said that MA has established a COVID-19 task force to assess how to handle positive and multi-symptom cases.
• MA is seeking an extension of its childcare license to offer before and after care at a comparable cost to other options, which have closed.
• St. Peter Catholic Church has offered MA the opportunity to purchase a school bus for $4,000. Costs would include insurance and salary for an experienced bus driver. MA anticipates being able to break even by charging $1.50 per day for a morning and afternoon shuttle.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Meetings are held in-person and via Zoom, which will be streamed to the MA YouTube channel. For more information on how to join the meeting in person or virtually or to submit a public comment, see https://bit.ly/ma-boe.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D38 District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) reviewed the impact of the coronavirus on district procedures, updated its bylaws, and adopted its annual schedule at its Oct. 13 virtual meeting. All meetings during the 2020-21 school year will be held virtually.
Superintendent K. C. Somers said that staff and students were adapting to the new realities of having to wear masks (ages 11 and up) and maintaining social distancing during the school day. Special attention is being paid to social/emotional factors of the new situation.
Somers announced that a new COVID-19 dashboard can be found on the district website (www.lewispalmer.org) under the COVID Resources page. The dashboard lists the number of active cases (including those who tested positive or are symptomatic) and the number of quarantined students and staff.
Somers briefly outlined the district’s strategic plan and explained that subjects discussed by the Board of Education would be framed with reference to its five points. They are:
• Cultivate a safe, healthy, and welcoming school environment.
• Ensure high-quality instruction and relevant educational experiences for students.
• Deepen professional learning culture and shared commitment to continuous growth.
• Ensure effective asset management and efficient use of resources.
• Forge strong community relationships and foster effective communication with all stakeholders.
Somers explained that the first goal includes not only physical security, but reaction to the pandemic and developing a holistic approach to health and wellness.
Under asset management, Somers said that the state of future use of the Grace Best Education Center is now under discussion.
The community relationship goal includes creating partnerships within the community and ensuring that the district’s actions are clearly communicated to the community.
When asked about compensation for teachers, Somers said the district cannot fundraise to increase compensation but could perhaps reallocate funds from elsewhere in the budget. He acknowledged that Colorado is ranked 49th of the 50 states regarding teacher compensation. He feels it should be a priority to make the community aware of this and the limitations imposed by the current economy.
Board of Education Liaison Tiffiney Upchurch also mentioned the strategic plan and said the board has received a quantity of feedback about it. Specific staff and board members were assigned to each goal and will report back to the board.
Regarding legislation, Upchurch reported that the Legislature’s education and budget committees met in September. At this time, 11 issues involving education are under consideration.
Upchurch also showed a brief video about the Gallagher Amendment, which sets property tax rates for commercial and residential property. There was a ballot issue this year to repeal the amendment, as the rate of increase of residential property is growing so fast that the rate of taxation continues to fall to maintain the ratio of 45% residential to 55% commercial.
The committee reviewed its bylaws and voted to discontinue the Parent/Community Technology Committee because district administration is now handling it.
Executive Director of Personnel and Operations Bob Foster explained that, due to the suspension of in-person classes in March, it was determined that it was difficult to score teacher effectiveness. There will be a one-year hold on evaluations as a result. It is hard to speculate on how student assessments will go this year, he said.
In response to a question, Chief Academic Officer Lori Benton said that, due to the closure of schools in the spring, PSAT and SAT tests that were to be administered in the spring and summer were not held. Scores from these tests are often required by colleges as part of the admission process.
She suggested that parents with concerns about the lack of scores should consult with the specific colleges and universities to which they applied.
The committee approved a schedule of meetings for the school year. All will be virtual.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets five times a year, usually on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. The next meeting will be on Nov. 10.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate Pangelinan
The Oct. 14 Monument Planning Commission (MPC) meeting was a short one, with a single agenda item and a couple speakers during scheduled public comment sessions. Commission Chairman Daniel Ours was present at the meeting, along with Vice Chair Chris Wilhelmi and Commissioners Bill Lewis, Steve King, and Sean White. A presentation was provided by Planner Debbie Flynn.
Further information about all projects discussed by the MPC can be found in the meeting packets located at www.monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com. This site is also a good resource for accessing approved meeting minutes, as well as the agendas for upcoming meetings. This latest PC meeting, along with many older ones, can be found recorded on the Town of Monument’s YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/channel/UCdFLo8UcqZfFdkio5jT6GDA. Citizens may find it easier to search for "Town of Monument" or "Monument Planning Commission" in YouTube’s search bar.
Willow Springs Ranch Filing No. 1 Plat
Some facts about the Willow Springs Ranch Filing No. 1 Plat project, referring to Flynn’s presentation, meeting discussion and the online packet:
• The property is west of I-25, north of Baptist Road—it is composed of just over 109 acres, divided into 372 lots, 38 tracts, and 16 streets.
• Gross density for these lots is expected to be at 1.83 dwelling units per acre.
• The applicant is listed in the meeting packet as Drexel, Barrell & Co., and the property owner is Willow Springs Ranch LLC.
• At the moment, there is a guarantee that the town can provide enough water for 335 lots. This leaves 37 unprovided lots. If enough water can’t be procured, the building agreement won’t be signed. There is a well site on the development.
Tim McConnell represented the applicant, in order to address any questions. Some of the MPC’s questions/discussion points included:
• A question about what the setbacks would be for the lots—it was answered that the setbacks should be 20 feet.
• There was concern about whether there are expected to be homeowners association (HOA) guidelines for street parking, and whether or not people will be made to use their garages as parking. It was answered that there are not anticipated to be any parking restrictions, as long as cars aren’t blocking residents’ driveways. It was suggested that guest parking can be considered in the future.
• It was established that tract "KK" was expanded by 20 feet to the south to provide enough space for a lift station.
• Two-bedroom and potentially three-bedroom homes are expected to be available on this property’s smaller lots. The end product was described as contemporary, with pitched roofs and substantial backyards. Examples of similar homes can be found on the Richmond Homes website.
Concerns about the look and appeal of the project were expressed by a citizen during public comment, followed by questions about parking, including whether the HOA rules about parking are likely to be different at night. It was established that no restrictions for parking at night are expected at this time, and the roads will be full public right-of-way with the exception of one that wouldn’t allow for street parking anyway.
Before voting on this proposal, the MPC discussed how it would like to go forward with other future developments. Some members believe that this project came back to them without addressing or bringing up any previous concerns, and wanted it "on record" that ideally "more appealing" proposals would be brought before them in the future in regard to lot size and fencing. The idea was to re-emphasize feelings previously expressed during other meetings.
In the end, White moved to approve the proposal, with the following condition: that the developer consider design elements for fencing and parking accommodations to enhance street appeal for the development. The vote passed 4-1, with Wilhelmi voting against.
Other public comments
A citizen expressed concern about water availability, stating that nearby lakes are being destroyed and the water cycle is being affected by human involvement. The hope is that Monument doesn’t run out of water. It was also noted by a different citizen that finding information about water districts can be difficult for new residents; the resident in question was encouraged to look up the metro district serving their area’s website. Once somebody knows their metro district, they’ll be able to contact a representative. See www.ocn.me/maps.htm for maps of metropolitan districts and water districts.
Due to Veterans Day, the next MPC meeting is scheduled for Nov. 12 instead of Nov. 11. MPC meetings will be held online over the next few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A limited number of participants are allowed inside the meeting room due to COVID-19 restrictions, though other attendees can view the proceedings from the hallway. Information: 719-884-8017 or http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
At the Oct. 19 Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, the board agreed to maintain a reserve of unrestricted funds rather than fund all supplemental budget requests. Board members also heard an update on the I-25 Gap project and witnessed two new police officers being sworn in.
Board agrees to reserve portion of 2021 budget funds
The board has held three budget workshops this year, discussing both necessary projects and those requested per department as supplements to their budget.
Treasurer Rosa Ooms said this approach was designed to provide a target number for each department not to exceed representing their historical costs less a 2% decrease in the 2020 allowance.
Anything over that amount was sent separately as a supplemental request. There is a total of $2.35 million in supplemental requests.
Ooms said revenue has been higher than expected, but Town Manager Mike Foreman asked the board to use the October estimate of $650,000 for unrestricted reserves.
Trustee Ron Stephens said, "With regard to the reserves, last year we made a decision to have a lower reserve due to desperate needs, I’d like to see us begin to build up our reserves."
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott has been concerned that before board members can decide how much to keep back in reserves, they need to know the criticality of the staff’s needs. She said the board must spend money on what’s reasonable, saving the most money possible. "I don’t want to randomly pick a percent," she said. Elliott repeatedly asked for the staff’s priority list before deciding on a percentage split.
Ooms and Foreman offered options for splitting the unrestricted $650,000 in reserve. Trustee Jim Romanello and Mayor Don Wilson were in favor of a 40% reserve and 60% spent on supplemental items. Trustee Laurie Clark suggested a 50/50 split.
Trustee Ron Stephens suggested picking the reserved dollar amount first and then select supplemental projects with the leftover money. He said the supplemental budget should include at least two of the four police officers the department is requesting and one of the vehicles to be shared between the two. He also suggested a $10,000 request for supplemental police insurance be included in the supplementals as well, bringing the total to be spent to $230,000. Chief Sean Hemingway said SB-217 has put officers in a position of higher liability with the new bill, and they could be charged up to $25,000 civilly without the insurance.
Wilson said this directs too much money to the Police Department, especially if the ballot question is approved asking for a .5% tax increase to be used solely for police budget needs. See https://ocn.me/v20n9.htm#mbot. "The safety of our people is one of the foremost issues," said Stephens.
Stephens said some of the other higher priorities are not "big-ticket items" and provide efficiencies, including:
• Clerk’s Office request for records management consulting, $3,600.
• Finance Department’s request for time-keeping software, $2,500.
The board decided on a 40%/60% split of reserves. This means there will be $450,000 to fund supplemental requests.
Gap project update
Paul Nieman, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) I-25 south Gap project manager, gave the board a presentation on the progress of the Gap project. The project won’t be completed until 2022.
So far, crews have installed almost 9,600 feet of fiber-optic cable and 350,000 of the 850,000 tons of asphalt that will be paved on the full 18-mile project.
The five-mile northern section from just south of Castle Rock to Sky View Lane will be done next month. No express lanes will be tolled until the entire 18-mile project is complete.
The middle section of the project, from Sky View Lane to Greenland Road, includes three bridges and one wildlife crossing.
The seven-mile stretch between Greenland Road and Monument Hill will have a truck acceleration lane in addition to the two driving lanes and one express lane. No tolling will occur in El Paso County, just through the Douglas County section starting at County Line Road up to Plum Creek Parkway.
A noise study was conducted for the section of roadway from exit 161 north up Monument Hill. Only sites 500 feet from the roadway were analyzed for noise higher than 66 decibels. Any residences farther than this distance were not measured, although some locations were noted to have higher than normal decibel counts. Noise walls might be constructed for certain locations along the highway.
Wilson asked if Nieman can tell the difference between accidents with construction versus pre-construction. CDOT only has data for 2018 and before that showed 1,500 accidents recorded. Nieman said there has been a total of 3,000 incidents, but those could include requests for the courtesy patrol tow trucks.
Oaths of office
Chief Sean Hemingway and Commander Jonathon Hudson, as well as the full board, welcomed officers Keith Fisher and James Wader. Fisher comes from Parker County Sheriff’s Office in Texas. He served in the Army as a military police officer and was deployed for three tours in Iraq. Wader previously worked at the City of Golden Police Department. He served in the Air Force for 10 years, serving as a security police officer and canine handler and deployed for five tours of duty.
Hemingway said both men are of outstanding character, sound judgment and have already committed much of their adult lives to this profession.
The meeting adjourned at 7:49 p.m.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 pm on the first and third Monday of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. A special meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 9 and a regular meeting on Nov. 16. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Oct. 1, Mike Taylor from Creekside Developers Inc. hosted an online community meeting to explain ideas and accept input from neighbors concerning a 165-acre project owned by Jackson Creek Land Co. between Higby Road and Remington Hill.
The property has been zoned for residential development since August 1997, and the current residential zoning was established in the Regency Park Sixth Amended Development and Rezoning Plan approved by the Monument Board of Trustees on March 16, 2015. See www.ocn.me/v15n4.htm#mbot0316.
About 65 acres of the development site is zoned Regency Park Planned Residential District— Single Family (PRD-4, quarter-acre lots), and the remaining approximate 100 acres is zoned Regency Park Planned Residential District—Estate (PRD-2, half-acre lots).
Triview Metropolitan District has stated it has ample water to serve this development. Triview will also be responsible for road maintenance in this area, which is within the town of Monument. The town is researching annexing Higby Road from El Paso County.
• Extending Cloverleaf Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and Higby Road.
• Single-lane roundabouts at two intersections on Cloverleaf Road.
• Extending Harness Road north from the Remington Hill subdivision. However, Triview Metropolitan District’s traffic engineer has recommended that Harness Road not be extended north to an intersection with Higby Road.
• 34 acres (20+%) will be dedicated as open space tracts.
• Includes a 10-acre "natural" park site.
• 390 lots are proposed, though 460 lots are allowable in current zoning.
The Webex platform did not show how many people attended the meeting, but about 22 neighbors asked questions about trails, sidewalks, open space, traffic, and schools.
Caption: A community meeting on Jackson Creek North Filings 3-6 proposal took place Oct. 1. The proposal is for a mixture of half-acre and quarter-acre lots for the 165-acre property. Map courtesy of the Town of Monument.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at email@example.com
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees (PLBOT) met on Oct. 8 and Oct. 22. At the first meeting, the board discussed a design for parking at the reservoir trailhead. The board also reviewed the ordinance governing the keeping of goats and chickens, repealed an ordinance vacating a right of way, and heard updates on the progress of two projects, the first to rebuild the ramp to the library and the second to temporarily shore up the Town Hall in preparation for snow.
The town’s new deputy town clerk was introduced, and the board authorized Mayor John Cressman to sign the Pikes Peak Regional Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (PPRMHMP). The board heard suggestions from Town Administrator and Clerk Dawn Collins about how to improve the governing structure of the town. Finally, the board approved two business licenses.
Parking design for trailhead takes shape
The board has debated how to manage the trail to the town’s reservoirs, including how to address the parking adjacent to the trailhead on Old Carriage Road, for several months. At present, the trail to the reservoirs is closed due to the danger of fire during El Paso County’s Stage 2 fire alert. During the trail closure, the town has worked on a design for the parking adjacent to the trailhead that addresses the increased use of the trail, the desires of local residents, and the need for emergency vehicles to use Old Carriage Road to reach homes in the Glen, among other issues.
At the Oct. 8 meeting, the board examined a design by the town’s administrative staff that would provide 23 parking spaces and one handicapped parking space on Old Carriage Road near the trailhead. The design provides 10 parking spaces on the north side of Old Carriage Road and 13 spaces plus one handicapped space on the south side. All spaces are 25 feet long, large enough to accommodate a large pickup truck.
Parks Commission member Reid Wiecks compared the town’s situation with parking at the trailhead to Manitou Springs’ situation with parking for the Incline, pointing out that Manitou Springs uses a reservation system and a shuttle bus to the Incline trailhead. Trustee Paul Banta said he was not in favor of a shuttle bus in Palmer Lake, arguing that it would not be consistent with keeping Palmer Lake a small, quiet town.
In discussions at previous meetings, the board has debated whether the parking at the trailhead should be restricted to town residents only, or open to visitors as well. At the Oct. 8 meeting, Wiecks said parking should be open to all and could be a source of revenue for the town.
Trustee Susan Miner, who has been working on the town’s Master Plan, said residents of the Glen might want the parking at the trailhead restricted to residents only, and in that case the Planning Commission should incorporate that into its decisions. She said the decision to keep the parking open to all might be challenged in the future.
The consensus of the board was to move forward with the design as it was presented.
Ordinance governing chickens and goats discussed
At both October meetings, the ordinance governing chickens and goats received extensive discussion. The town’s municipal code currently allows for goats on properties zoned Residential Agricultural (RA)—that zoning also specifies the properties must be at least five acres. Goats are not allowed within town limits. The code also limits the number of chickens to six per residence.
Trustee Glant Havenar spoke in favor of relaxing the restriction on goats and increasing the number of chickens allowed to 20. Havenar read a letter from resident Lindsey Leiker urging goats be allowed within the town boundaries since they make good pets, eat noxious weeds such as poison ivy, help with fire mitigation, and provide emotional support. Havenar said the events of 2020 had led her to place a higher value on self-sufficiency and said she wanted to rethink the number of acres required to keep goats
Trustee Miner pointed out that goats don’t bark.
Trustee Mark Schuler agreed with Havenar that keeping chickens helps the town to be prepared for the unexpected, adding that he would like to see a "no nuisance" clause added to the updated ordinance.
At the Oct. 8 meeting, most of the trustees expressed support for allowing more chickens and goats, with the stipulation that the amount of square feet per goats needed to be defined.
At the Oct. 22 meeting, the issue reappeared on the agenda. Town Administrator Dawn Collins proposed that the annual charge of $21 per chicken be removed from the updated ordinance, since it was never collected.
The issue of how much space to require for each chicken or goat came up for debate again, with many suggestions offered by trustees. In the end, the board elected to review the final draft of the ordinance at their next meeting and to make a final decision at that time.
Ordinance vacating town right of way repealed
At a meeting in July, the board passed Ordinance 10-2020 vacating a town right of way, on the condition that the landowner remove the internal lot lines on their property so that only one residence would be built on the lot, instead of three residences.
The landowner decided not to remove the internal lots lines, invalidating the agreement with the town.
At the Oct. 22 meeting, the board unanimously passed Ordinance 15-2020, which repeals the previous ordinance and retains the town’s right of way.
Board hears updates on library ramp and Town Hall work
At the Oct. 8 meeting, Interim Town Manager Bob Radosevich told the board that he had received no bids on the construction of a new ramp at the library that would comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), because the construction companies wanted to see a design from which to bid.
At the Oct. 22 meeting Radosevich said he was working with a company to design the ramp so that the bidding process on construction could continue.
At the Oct. 8 meeting, Radosevich told the board he had received four bids for the project to temporarily shore up the collapsing north side of the Town Hall. The bids ranged from $7,260 to $34,255. Asked by Havenar why the variation in bids was so large, Radosevich replied the difference was due to small companies competing with larger ones. Trustee Schuler said the temporary shoring up was needed due to the weight of snow on the building’s roof, the shoring materials would be removed in the spring, and he expected insurance to pay for the work. Radosevich added that the insurance company would lean toward the low bid.
At the Oct. 22 meeting, Radosevich told the board that the company that submitted the low bid to shore up Town Hall had declined the job. The next lowest bid was for $15,688, Radosevich said, and the company that submitted that bid had accepted the job.
The board voted unanimously to accept the bid.
New deputy town clerk introduced
Julia Stambaugh, the new deputy town clerk, told the board that she had previously worked for the Colorado Springs Fire Department, beginning in 2000 in its training division. Four years later she moved to the finance office, where she worked for 16 years until her retirement. She told the board she had 30 years of accounting experience and that she hoped to apply that experience to the town’s administration. Stambaugh said she is married with three children and five grandchildren.
Mayor authorized to sign Pikes Peak Regional Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan
Radosevich told the board that in April, the county began to update its plan to address disasters such as wildfire, hail, flood, drought, winter storms, earthquake, landslide, extreme acts of violence, pandemic, or hazardous material spills. Radosevich said he reviewed the PPRMHMP with Palmer Lake’s Police Department, Fire Department and Water Department, and then made minor edits to the document. The county wants a memo agreeing to the plan, and the board voted unanimously to authorize Cressman to sign such a memo.
Collins asks board for direction on redesigning town’s governing structure
At the Oct. 8 meeting, Collins asked the board for its approval to allow her to bring her experience with town administration to bear on the task of organizing the various departments, committees, and volunteer groups that govern the town. She said this work would affect the re-writing of the town’s municipal code, which has been underway for some time. She made the following suggestions and observations:
• Administrative staff, which currently reports to the town manager, should report to a supervisor instead.
• Job descriptions should be added to the municipal code.
• Overlap between departments should be eliminated, and lines of reporting should be clear.
• There are too many citizens’ groups, and some have nothing in writing.
• The Fire Committee was formed verbally to explore Fire Department issues and has no clear line of communication.
• The Planning Commission is well-designed.
• The Board of Adjustment is well-designed by statute.
• Temporary committees should be formed to address issues and then dissolved when their work is done
• There should be an advisory parks committee with five voting members that works with the town’s departments.
Cressman said he liked the suggestions, and a voice from outside is valuable. Schuler suggested waiting until the new board is seated to make the suggested changes. He added that Collins was hired to do this and didn’t need the approval of the board to move forward. Miner said it would be a gift to the new board to give them a clear structure.
The consensus of the board was that Collins proceed with the suggested changes.
Two business licenses approved
At the Oct. 8 meeting, Hector and Erika DeAlmeida told the board about their business, The Drum Set Coach Academy at 790 Highway 105, Suite C. The business will offer drum lessons taught by their lead instructor Dennis Sanderson, the DeAlmeidas said. The board voted unanimously to approve their license.
At the Oct. 22 meeting, Shelton Segrest requested a business license for The Perfectly Elevated Café and Gallery, which will move into unused space at 11 Primrose St., the location of Wild Bills Buffalo Wings Too and The Ugly Mug. Segrest said his plan was to roast his own beans and provide a range of coffee drinks. He is also considering adding a drive through.
Caption: On Oct. 8, ahead of the Palmer Lake Board of Trustees meeting, the town held a flag-raising ceremony for newly purchased United States and Colorado state flags. Members of the Palmer Lake Fire Department and Palmer Lake Police Department participated along with Fire Chief Christopher McCarthy and Police Chief Jason Vanderpool. They marched with folded flags to the town flagpole and saluted while a police officer and a firefighter raised the new flags. The ceremony was attended by town residents along with members of the Board of Trustees, who performed the Pledge of Allegiance to the new flags before entering Town Hall for the Board of Trustees meeting. Photos by James Howald.
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold one meeting in November, on Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
By James Howald
An unusually high number of residents attended the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board’s October meeting. The residents, many of them from The Dunes at Woodmoor, wanted to give the board their feedback on its recent decision to close the trails that surround Lake Woodmoor to walkers, hikers, and others. JVA Engineering gave the board an update on the district’s capital improvement projects, and the board discussed a draft of the budget for 2021. Finally, the board heard operational reports.
Many ask board to reconsider closing trails
Shortly before the October meeting, the board began enforcing a ban on use of the trails encircling Lake Woodmoor. The trails are on private property owned by WWSD, but have been used, without permission, for recreation by residents for some time.
Bob Fryling, who moved to the community about two years ago, was the first to address the board, pointing out that the trail on the west side of the lake was especially useful to seniors because it is level and easy to walk. Fryling said he and his wife had been walking by the lake when a WWSD employee approached them and said they were not allowed to walk on the trail. Fryling told the employee his family had used the trail for two years and pointed out that signs by the trail indicated walking was permitted.
Fryling said he called District Manager Jessie Shaffer, who told him that the change in policy had been prompted by the district’s participation in the Safe Routes to School project that will build trails allowing elementary and middle school students to walk to their neighborhood schools, by complaints of trespassing that had been brought to the attention of the district by homeowners on the east side of the lake, and by concerns about legal liability for the district.
Fryling gave his reasons for asking the board to change its policy: the trail is a wonderful place to walk, especially for seniors and mothers with children; the trail is especially valuable now due to COVID-19 concerns; the trail is a good place to commune with wildlife; and access to the trail is great public relations for the district.
Fryling went on to propose signs on the east side of the trail forbidding pedestrians, so that homeowners on that side of the lake would not be subject to people trespassing on their property to reach the lake, and to propose that the board rescind its recent policy decision.
Fryling concluded by saying he and his neighbors didn’t understand the reason for the change in policy.
In response to Fryling, board President Brian Bush pointed out that the trail was not maintained by the district and was in fact just a portion of the district’s property.
Shaffer showed the attendees a map indicating the property owned by the district, which encircles the lake, and the property owned by homeowners, which surrounds the district’s land on the east side of the lake. He pointed out that when the lake is full, some of the water is on private property. Shaffer went on to say the trails on the west side of the lake were in fact service roads used by district maintenance vehicles.
Bob Pimberton, who introduced himself as the president of the Dunes at Woodmoor homeowners association, seconded Fryling’s remarks, adding that a social trail at the south end of the lake leading to the library had grown up over the last several years, indicating the frequency of use.
Several more residents asked the board to keep the trails on the west side of the lake accessible to residents, making the following points:
• The trails are a great resource for parents who want their children to have a place to exercise while COVID-19 restrictions are in place and are reducing the availability of sports programs.
• Local schools use the trail for cross-country practice.
• Access to the trails was used as a selling point in the promotional material for The Dunes at Woodmoor.
• Woodmoor has no sidewalks, so there are few places to walk that are safe from traffic.
• Some are reluctant to walk near Mountain Springs Recovery, a rehabilitation facility on Woodmoor Drive.
• The community should have a chance to discuss the future of the trails.
• Some residents moved to the community because of the access to the trails.
• Residents who walk on the trails provide some stewardship of the trails and the lake and help to enforce policies against fishing and swimming.
Bush said he had spoken with WWSD staff about the issue before the board meeting and had heard concerns from them about safety of district equipment, about the quality of the district’s drinking water, and about liability. Some of the property owners on the east side had recently complained about people trespassing on their property to reach the lake, Bush said, adding that the district had agreed to post signs on the east side of the lake discouraging people from crossing private property to reach the lake.
Bush said the board was not ready to reach a final decision and that he would recommend the issue be on the agenda for the board’s next meeting on Nov. 16. In the interim, Bush said, he would instruct the staff not to enforce any restrictions on use of the trails.
The discussion concluded with a statement from a homeowner on the east side of the lake, who said that short-term rental properties on the east side were contributing to the frustration of homeowners, because the renters frequently used the lake for recreation. In response to her concerns, Bush said that the Woodmoor Improvement Association was working with the owner of the rental property to address the behavior of the renters.
Key component of South Water Treatment Plant needs replacing
In what has become a regular feature of the district’s meetings, Richard Hood of JVA Engineering reported to the board on recent developments with the projects on which the district is working, focusing on the need to replace the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) in the South Water Treatment Plant (SWTP). Hood described the PLC as "the brains" of the plant, which interprets a flow signal and adjusts the plant’s valves to accomplish the work of treating the water being processed at the plant.
Hood said the PLC currently in place is 20 years old and prone to failure. It is no longer manufactured and replacement parts are hard to obtain—in the past year the district has had to cannibalize PLC parts from other plants and use eBay to locate parts, according to Hood. Cost for the replacement parts is high, Hood said.
The scope of work to replace the PLC will involve replacing the PLC components with newer hardware from ControlLogix, reconnecting and mapping the wires that connect the PLC to the other components of the plant, translating the programming of the current PLC to the language of the replacement hardware, and testing the new PLC before it goes into production. The Human Machine Interface (HMI) will also be upgraded, Hood said.
The cost estimate from Stanek Constructors is $121,055, which includes a $50,000 credit back to the district for not having to improve the existing PLC, Hood said. The estimate does not include necessary Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) programming, Hood said, because the company that does that work could not complete an estimate before the board’s October meeting. Hood estimated the PLC replacement would be complete by April 2021.
Hood asked the board to authorize Shaffer to approve two change orders: the first of up to $150,000 to complete the PLC replacement, and the second of $42,000 to begin the acquisition process for WesTech filtration hardware needed at the Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP).
The board voted unanimously to authorize Shaffer to approve the expenditures.
Draft budget for 2021 delivered
Shaffer provided the board with a draft of the district’s 2021 budget.
In brief remarks on the draft budget, Shaffer said the district’s Renewable Water Investment Fee would likely be reduced by $1 per month to $39 per month per customer. He also pointed out that in 2021 some of the district’s bonds would be eligible for a tax-exempt refunding, which would entail the payment of about $300,000 in fees. Refinancing would lower the district’s interest rates, Shaffer said.
The board scheduled a budget workshop for Oct. 26 at 3 p.m.
The board also decided to move its next board meeting from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16 at 1 p.m., and to schedule the public hearing on the budget at that that meeting.
Highlights of operational reports
• Operations at the Woodmoor Ranch are winding down for the year.
• The Chilcott Ditch is scheduled for cleaning between Nov.1 and Thanksgiving Day.
• The augmentation station on Fountain Creek has been shut down for the year.
• Demand for water is down from August due to cooler weather.
• There were two water service line failures.
• Backlot cleaning is expected to be complete by the end of October, with a total of 80,000 feet of sewer line cleaned.
• Mountain Springs Recovery has submitted plans to open its third building.
• Monument Commercial Storage, at Deer Creek Road and Monument Hill Road, is nearing completion.
The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m., but the November meeting was scheduled for a week later to allow the board to prepare for the budget hearing. Meetings are currently held at the Woodmoor Barn Community Center rather than the district office; please see www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times and locations.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) met on Oct. 13 to review facility operations.
TLWWTF is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD).
The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: WWSD board Director Lee Hanson, JUC president; PLSD board member Reid Wiecks, JUC vice president; and MSD Treasurer John Howe, JUC secretary/treasurer. The meeting was held at TLWWTF, with several in attendance in person while others attended via Zoom.
District managers’ reports
Howe said that he had expected MSD Board President Dan Hamilton to also attend this meeting, and he reported that MSD is without a manager since Interim Manager Erin Krueger has been gone. GMS Inc. consulting engineers is helping MSD operate the district, do engineering and utility locates, and continue operations. See www.ocn.me/v20n10.htm#msd.
Howe said as board treasurer he was working with MSD board member Laura Kronick to create a district budget for 2021. He said he hoped that MSD will have hired an Operator in Responsible Charge (ORC) by its meeting Oct. 21. See related MSD article on page 16.
WWSD Manager Jessie Shaffer stated that MSD is contracting ORC services through GMS for the moment.
Neither Shaffer nor PLSD District Manager Becky Orcutt had anything else to report about their districts. Later in the meeting, Facility Manager Bill Burks said that a flume used to measure influent flows from PLSD to TLWWTF had been malfunctioning. Flows from PLSD had to be estimated for a few days. He and his staff had solved the miscalculations by removing debris that was wedged in the PLSD flume.
Financial report and 2021 budget
Burks told WWSD and MSD that they needed to "move a little faster" getting monthly invoice checks to him, because TLWWTF’s checking account was running low. He emailed invoices on Sept. 30, but he had not received checks from either district as of the morning of Oct. 13. "I expect it sooner," he said.
Regarding the 2021 draft TLWWTF budget, none of the three owner district boards or two current district managers had any comments or questions about Burks’ proposed budget. The public hearing on the TLWWTF budget will be Nov. 10.
Plant manager’s report
Burks reviewed the continued good results of regular required and voluntary AF CURE baseline sampling. He said he would investigate one surprising baseline sample showing a spike in total recoverable iron at one location upstream of TLWWTF in August to see if it correlated with non-point source runoff from a rain event.
MSD’s Environmental Compliance Coordinator Jim Kendrick conveyed good news from this morning’s Water Quality Control Commission information hearing and administrative action hearing on policy 17.1. Commission staff members made a decision that would benefit TLWWTF through its participation in the voluntary nutrient reduction incentive program. This program has drastically reduced nitrates and phosphorus in Colorado waterways.
Kendrick said this was positive feedback for Burks and his early application for the state’s Voluntary Incentive Program, and the low phosphorus and nitrogen numbers over the last few months were very positive. "Hurray for the new (chemical total phosphorus removal tertiary) clarifier and the guys at TLWWTF," he said. See www.ocn.me/v18n1.htm#tlwtf.
Burks described a problem with the "muffin monster grinder" that grinds up non-biodegradable "rags," such as mis-named flushable wipes, for disposal in a landfill. The spare grinder on his shelf for use in emergencies was not ready for use, as it turned out. He got help from a company in California to reconfigure the incorrect grinder repair part. This way his staff didn’t have to keep hauling trucks full of "rags" to the neighboring Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility for disposal.
TLWWTF has replaced all 1,980 air injection diffusers in the aeration basins, and Burks is already noticing a reduction in the facility’s electric bill.
The meeting adjourned 10:51 a.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 10 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public from all three owner-districts. For information on virtual meeting access, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
Directors and staff celebrated Donala Water and Sanitation’s savings achieved by the district’s recent efforts to refinance loans. Financial planning for 2021 and potential support of a neighboring sanitation district received consideration at the Oct. 15 board meeting.
AA- rating reaps financial gains
For a third consecutive month, Nate Eckloff of underwriter Piper Sandler and Co. returned to provide updates on financial market activity and its impact on Donala’s recent steps taken to refinance three of its loans. Because of the district’s strong historical financial performance, it received a Standard and Poor’s AA- credit rating, a low bond rating insurance premium from Build America Mutual, and green bond qualification. Because of the positive ratings and favorable marketplace conditions, the bond issue was well received and generated robust demand.
As a result, the net interest costs on the taxable bonds, which mature in 2035, fell to 2.24% and the net interest costs on the 2040-maturing tax-exempt bonds dropped to 2.54%. When combined, the overall net interest costs equal 2.41%. The Laughlin Ditch loan, which originally carried a more-than-$3 million balloon payment due March 2021, incurred a $60,000 present value expense to extend the loan an additional 18 years. This expense reflects the additional interest the district will pay because of the longer term of the loan. At the August board meeting, Eckloff estimated that the Laughlin loan’s present value expense would be more than double the $60,000 cost. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n09.htm#dwsd.
Ultimately, after accounting for the various savings, an expenditure of about $1 million from the district’s debt reserve fund, and expenses, Eckloff calculated that the district’s move to reissue the bonds would save about $1.29 million and reduce the maximum annual debt service from over $800,000 to $751,900. He characterized the savings as "phenomenal."
Before Eckloff’s presentation, the directors unanimously approved two resolutions pertaining to the bond issuance. Resolution 2020-06 authorized General Manager Jeff Hodge and President Ed Houle to officiate repayment of the respective loans with the Colorado Water Resources Power and Development Authority. The second resolution, 2020-07, authorized the issuance of the revenue bonds to refinance the district’s outstanding obligations at lower interest rates.
Because of the parameters resolution that was passed at the district’s September meeting, the district’s final step was to authorize the bond purchase agreement with Piper Sandler. Closing for the transaction was scheduled for Oct. 27.
2021 budget presented
Houle opened the public hearing for the 2021 budget and Hodge reviewed various line items for the water and wastewater funds. Overall, the district’s 2020 fund balance of $16.9 million would decrease to an estimated 2021 fund balance of about $15.9 million due to the use of debt reserve funds in the bond reissuance. Overall, the budget reflected conservative revenue estimates and adjustments for inflation as well as an additional capital project expense. Hodge proposed hiring a contractor to complete the districtwide meter replacement project. Under the current system, the meter replacements would take an estimated three or four years. By spending the drafted $470,000—half of what Hodge originally expected—to hire an outside company to install the meters, it would reduce meter-related questions and empower residents to monitor their own water consumption.
Hodge discussed his goal to create a more detailed budget. Superintendent of Water Operations Mark Parker expressed appreciation for the inclusion of operational staff in drafting the budget.
Directors asked questions and provided comments throughout the budget review. The board will discuss the budget at its November workshop and present it for approval at the December board meeting.
ORC services requested
Hodge informed the board that the Monument Sanitation District was in transition and had submitted a request for operator in responsible charge (ORC) services from Donala. Parker added that the request solely pertained to providing a licensed operator to monitor and manage the wastewater collection system and complete recordkeeping requirements. The request did not include treatment of MSD’s wastewater. After discussing staff availability, potential risks, and revenue expectations, the board directed Hodge to pursue additional information for consideration at Donala’s November meeting.
• Progress on the 2020 and 2021 capital projects continued, reported Parker. The 2020 water main replacement was about 65% complete. Parker planned to schedule meetings with the two homeowners associations affected by the 2021 infrastructure project and confirmed completion of preliminary drawings and a roughly estimated budget.
• Hodge provided the most recent drought report that had been released Oct. 1. The majority of Colorado was experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions with small pockets listed under the abnormally dry, moderate drought, and exceptional drought categories. See https://www.drought.gov/drought/states/colorado for more current drought information.
• Parker informed directors that he had been communicating with a compliance specialist from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) about rising radium levels in drinking water. The specialist hypothesized that drought conditions were subsequently creating greater demand on wells and thus many water districts in Teller and El Paso Counties were testing higher for radium. Parker expressed confidence that by working with CDPHE, Donala would maintain its radium compliance.
• Hodge commented on the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI). Discussions among the two entities appeared to favor diverting wastewater return flows from NMCI participants—which include Donala—to water storage located along Williams Creek, preferably within El Paso County.
• During public comment, resident Steve Hrin asked if the public could suggest agenda items. The board responded "yes" but with final approval of the directors.
At 2:44 p.m. directors moved into executive session §24-6-402(4)(a), C.R.S. – Potential water right purchase(s) two tenders and interim wastewater conveyance and treatment agreement with Colorado Springs Utilities and Triview. Hodge confirmed later that the directors moved to authorize himself and Houle to negotiate the border for acquisition of water rights following the executive session.
The next board meeting may be held in person and/or an online video meeting depending on the status of coronavirus restrictions; call (719)488-3603 or access www.donalawater.org to receive up-to-date meeting information. In-person meetings are held in the district office conference room on the third Thursday of the month. The next board meeting will include a workshop and is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 19. The district office is located at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs. See https://www.donalawater.org to access the current board packet, prior meeting minutes, and the 2020 meeting calendar.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Monument Sanitation District (MSD) board met on Oct. 21 to discuss confusion about the timing of a rates and fees announcement, district cash flow questions, and contracting with a licensed operator in responsible charge (ORC).
A budget workshop preceding the regular meeting had to be cut short due to technical difficulties. Amy Femery of Haynie & Company Certified Public Accountants and Management Consultants answered some questions of the directors about the 2020 budget and 2021 draft budget.
Background: On July 20, MSD District Manager Mike Wicklund left the district. Erin Krueger was appointed interim district manager July 22 and terminated Sept. 12. See www.ocn.me/v20n10.htm#msd.
The board members present for the Oct. 21 meeting in person were Chairman Dan Hamilton, Treasurer John Howe, Secretary Marylee Reisig, Directors Laura Kronick and Katie Sauceda, and MSD Special District Attorney Joan Fritsche of Fritsche Law. The regular conflict of interest disclosures noted that Reisig’s business is a tenant in the MSD building and Hamilton’s company provides internet and phone service to the district.
Jim Kendrick, MSD’s Environmental/Regulatory Compliance advisor, attended the regular meeting via Zoom but was unable to join the budget workshop due to technical difficulties. Accounts Administrator Cheran Allsup joined the meeting as needed to answer questions.
Legal requirement to mail the rates and fees notice
Kronick, Reisig, and other board members felt "blindsided" that they didn’t know about a notice about a November discussion of rates went out to customers with their bills.
Fritsche explained to the board again, as she had in an email to all of them dated Sept. 28, that MSD was not considering a rate change in November. However, it was required by state statute to notify its customers when they will be talking at all about any rate fee or charge penalty. Since revenue from rates and fees are part of the annual budget, for transparency Fritsche included that notice as part of the official notification about the 2021 budget hearing in November. The district is not planning on a rate or fee increase yet.
However, after January, when GMS Inc. Consulting Engineers is expected to announce the results of its rate and fee study, the board might decide to discuss rates or fees with the intention of changing them. Hamilton said tap fees for MSD were the main reason for asking for the rate study in the first place this summer. See www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#msd.
Fritsche explained to the board that a rate study will provide the information that justifies the capital needs for improvements in the future. Tap fees have to be sufficient to cover those costs of new development. She emphasized that neither rates nor tap fees can be decided by looking at those of neighboring districts but must be derived from MSD’s needs.
Kronick said the mailed insert could have been worded better since it mentioned rate increases and she didn’t know how to answer her neighbors’ barrage of questions. "We are dealing with perceptions."
Several financial questions to answer
Items covered included:
• Board consensus to direct Femery to point out any questions she has each month when sending the monthly financial report to the board.
• Certifying a list of delinquent sanitation service accounts and charges totaling $4,500 to the El Paso County treasurer for collections.
• Confirming that Allsup is the only person with a district credit card now.
MSD’s $8,000 check, part of its October invoice to the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) was delivered late and only after a phone call from TLWWTF manager Bill Burks. See related TLWWTF JUC article on page 14.
In the past, Wicklund or Krueger handled these monthly payments, while all the board members also got a copy of the invoice email from Burks. However, after Wicklund and Krueger left, no one added Allsup’s name to Burks’ distribution list, and none of the board members noticed the omission.
Compounding the problem for TLWWTF, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) also didn’t get its $28,000 check to Burks on time, causing a cash flow crisis at the treatment facility. Hamilton said it was illogical that TLWWTF didn’t have more of a buffer for monthly operating expenses.
Kendrick said short turnaround time was the policy of the Joint Use Committee (JUC) and that JUC members (MSD, WWSD, and Palmer Lake Sanitation District) approved the early payment on the first day of the month. He suggested that the board invite Burks to MSD to explain how cash flow at JUC works.
Hamilton had another issue to "bring to light." The board just found out that the former district manager allowed a tenant to pay in gift cards instead of cash for money it owed the district as its landlord. "Obviously, we can’t let that happen anymore."
He asked Fritsche what to do with the $1,276 in gift cards they had. Reisig suggested the MSD holiday party might be catered by the Black Forest Deli, which issued the gift cards. Howe said he and Kronick used one of the cards to have lunch while doing board work in the MSD office. The issue will be discussed again at the December meeting.
Finally, on the cash flow summary, Fritsche asked the board why "legal" was the only line item that had a year-to-date (YTD) total as well as a monthly total. Hamilton said it was because there was "more going on in legal recently." Fritsche Law invoiced $10,830 from Sept. 16 to Oct. 20. Board consensus was to have YTD totals for all the categories included from now on.
Engineer’s report and ORC tasks list
Dave Frisch of GMS submitted his monthly status report with details about all the work he’s doing as the district’s engineer and as its temporary licensed operator in responsible charge (ORC) in the absence of a licensed district manager for MSD.
The report noted that on Sept. 29 Frisch and Hamilton met with Wicklund to create a list of ongoing responsibilities on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. The document they compiled should help with understanding MSD’s expectations for a contract ORC in the future.
Frisch stated that MSD could consider hiring Wicklund back as a contractor to do certain tasks, but those specific needs would be clearer after the district contracts with an ORC.
Possible ORC contractor found
Donala Water and Sanitation District’s new General Manager Jeff Hodge visited the meeting to present a proposal to MSD wherein Donala might contract as MSD’s ORC. Several of Donala’s employees have the appropriate licensing and could be available on short notice if there is an alarm from MSD’s monitoring system.
Donala also provides the ORC and does wastewater billing for Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, which shares a wastewater treatment plant with Donala and Triview Metropolitan District.
Donala also works with GMS already, and, "Hopefully we can work out mutual interests," Hodge said.
Later in the meeting, the board directed her to move forward with discussions with Donala.
Fritsche said it would also be necessary to hire a "knowledgeable point person on the management side," perhaps on a part-time basis, to handle any issues not included in the licensed operator ORC task list.
Fritsche’s comments included:
• MSD needs to include proportionate design costs for the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) in the 2021 budget, and she will talk to Howe, the appointed budget officer, about that. See www.ocn.me/v18n12.htm#msd.
• NMCI is moving at a glacial pace due to water return flow issues among water districts, but that doesn’t involve MSD.
• A second draft of the new personnel manual needs to be reviewed by the employment lawyer with changes to vacation and sick pay before going to the board.
She referred to "an email that went out about the Dan and Joan show" and said she’s been forwarding emails to the board as quickly as possible. She encouraged all the board members to ask questions between meetings if they had concerns. Reisig and Howe said it was hard to get in touch with Hamilton.
Monument Sanitation District meetings are normally held at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month in the district conference room at 130 Second St., Monument. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 9 a.m. See https://colorado.gov/msd. For a district service map, see https://colorado.gov/pacific/msd/district-map-0. Information: 481-4886.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District met for a remote Oct. 6 special meeting and a regular Oct. 22 Board of Directors meeting. Among the regular reports presented and topics discussed, directors voiced concerns about potentially fraudulent water meter visits to district residents.
All board directors and water attorney Chris Cummins attended the two meetings either remotely or in person. District counsel Gary Shupp attended the Oct. 22 meeting in person.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, landscaping, and parks and open space maintenance, and water and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas. See https://triviewmetro.com/districtMap for a map of district boundaries.
The two-part Oct. 22 board packet may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2020/BoardPacket_RegularMeeting_Part_1_2020-10-22.pdf and https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2020/BoardPacket_RegularMeeting_Part_2_2020-10-22.pdf
Signs of an authentic Triview visit
Director Marco Fiorito expressed concern that a water meter scam may be in operation throughout the district. A social media post indicated that someone had made a "cold call" to a resident’s home asking about water meters. Fiorito surmised that the potential scammer might be attempting to canvass homes for future theft.
District Manager Jim McGrady emphasized that Triview personnel will always make an appointment, always wear a Triview uniform, and always be driving a Triview truck. Director James Otis indicated that the Monument Police Department aggressively pursues scamming activity. Monument Police may be reached at 719-481-3253. If residents suspect fraudulent activity, they should also inform Triview at 719-488-6868, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or https://triviewmetro.com/contact/1.
District prepares to finance water and wastewater improvements
The Oct. 6 special meeting initiated steps to fund Triview’s anticipated participation in improvements such as the potential regional wastewater pipeline known as the North Monument Creek Interceptor and a regional water delivery project.
Resolution 2020-12 established parameters for a taxable bond deal that would allow the district to finance improvements when there’s a "cash call" and prevent it from having to seek financing in an uncertain market. Parameters included a maximum interest rate of 4.5%, a prepayment penalty of not more than 3% premium, a purchase price of not less than 99%, a principal amount no greater than $12.75 million, a maximum annual payment of $700,000, a maximum total of $21 million, and a final maturity date of Dec. 31, 2050. Directors voted to approve the resolution.
At the Oct. 22 meeting, McGrady presented resolution 2020-15, which essentially converted the previous 2020-12 resolution from a taxable bond issuance to a tax-exempt bond issuance with all other parameters remaining the same. McGrady confirmed that, after consultation with attorney Kim Crawford of Butler Snow and Nate Eckloff of underwriter Piper Sandler and Co., the intended projects qualified for tax-exempt financing. Two IRS requirements of the tax-exempt status stipulate that the proceeds must be spent on governmental purposes and within three years of receipt.
Eckloff provided an appraisal of potential market expectations. He confirmed that a tax-exempt issuance would drive down costs of the financing because taxable rates were rising more quickly than tax-exempt rates. Estimates for what the district could potentially achieve included a Aaa Moody’s rating, Bank of America bond insurance, green bond qualification, a true interest cost of or near 2.96%, and annual debt service of about $625,000 after 2022. The resolution maintained its 30-year financing and the $12.75 million cap with the district’s goal to keep proceeds at or under $12.5 million. Eckloff suggested that the financing gives the district a good sum of money at a very low interest cost for the variety of tax-exempt projects it expects to fund over the next few years.
In a related move, McGrady presented a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that expressed an intention to support and participate in the design of the Northern Water Delivery System as well as acquisition of an El Paso County1041 permit. Taking the role of project sponsor, Triview would circulate the MOU for signatures from the remaining water districts—the Town of Monument, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation, the Town of Palmer Lake, Donala Water and Sanitation District, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District—to communicate general expectations and demonstrate a collaborative attitude among the entities to the county. Cummins explained that the agreement did not commit any districts or any money.
The board approved resolution 2020-15 and authorized McGrady to sign the MOU.
A-yard building progress
New bids to restart construction of a steel building in the district’s A-yard located along Jackson Creek Parkway (JCP) fell slightly above the million-dollar range, indicated McGrady. Forgoing the traditional approach, McGrady explained his plan to "value engineer" the construction by hiring a construction manager to direct the project. His most recent estimate of the building’s prefabricated steel frame combined with the expense of grading the site, building the foundation, installing utilities, and paying the project manager, reached $860,000.
The building, outfitted with six bays and personnel amenities, is intended to garage the district’s vehicles plus snowplow and mowing equipment, shelter staff who repair and maintain equipment, and provide administrative space. McGrady proposed that the expenses be split between the remaining 2020 budget capital project funds and the funds designated in the draft 2021 budget.
Directors supported completion of the building and asked if the current plan was sufficient for the public works and parks and open space crews’ needs. McGrady confirmed that the current size design satisfied their needs, and expansion to the west was possible if necessary.
The board directed McGrady to proceed with the construction of the building.
Additional reports and actions:
• The district recognized Ben Garcia as a new utility staff member. McGrady praised Garcia’s knowledge and experience and welcomed him as a valuable addition to Triview.
• Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton expressed kudos for Rob Lewis in achieving 100% compliance on the district’s backflow prevention requirements.
• McGrady confirmed that the final payment for the JCP construction would be paid soon. A combination of credit and savings under the guaranteed maximum price contract reduced the final payment from $396,000 to $345,000.
• Features of the 2021 budget forecast included completing the mill and overlay of Leather Chaps Drive and a potential further reduction of tax property mills collected by the district. During 2020, Triview collected 32 of its 35-mill cap.
• McGrady reported that the district’s website would be upgraded to improve searchability and user friendliness.
• At the Oct. 6 meeting, directors authorized McGrady to explore moving the Triview office to a larger space in its current Old Forest Point building.
• Directors approved two additional resolutions. Resolution 2020-14 updated the district’s records retention policy to reflect the 2008 Colorado Special Districts retention schedule. Resolution 2020-16 established a policy pertaining to the rare occasion when a homeowner must connect to Triview’s wastewater infrastructure with a privately owned lift station.
• Triview was scheduled to participate in a Nov. 6 interagency discussion about the Pueblo Reservoir excess capacity agreement. Bureau of Reclamation representatives would also attend. McGrady asserted the crucial aspect of ensuring that all of the district’s water storage needs from various water sources and potential environmental impacts are addressed.
• McGrady expressed confidence that the well house in Sanctuary Pointe would be complete by the end of November, weather permitting. The next steps would be to complete interior work and connect the wells to the district’s B plant for water treatment.
At 7:11 p.m., the board entered executive session §24-6-402(4)(a)(b) and (e) legal advice and negotiations regarding the general topics settlement discussions in pending FMIC Change Case No. 16CW3010; negotiations associated with water delivery infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure, and water storage on the Arkansas River and its tributaries; negotiations with potential contractors and miners concerning the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex; and negotiations regarding acquisition of renewable water resources. OCN later confirmed that the board did not take actions nor make decisions following the executive session.
The next Triview board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 19 and will include a public hearing for the 2021 budget. Due to state’s the budgeting deadline, the meeting to review and adopt the budget will be held Dec. 10. The board will resume meeting on the third Thursday of the month in 2021. Check the district’s event calendar at https://triviewmetro.com/home or call 488-6868 for meeting schedule updates and to confirm if the meeting will be in-person or via conference call. In-person board meetings are held at the district office, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Chief Vinny Burns said on Oct. 20 that all COVID-19 standard operating guidelines remain in place. To date, the fire district has spent $50,000 related to the pandemic. Because of Wescott’s financial stability, it is less likely to be considered for state grants. "We don’t meet the financial burden that other fire departments do," said Burns. According the state, the district should be using money in its reserves to pay for any outlying expenses.
Wildland fire deployments
Burns said members of Wescott have been to 11 wildland fires. For some of these, it has sent multiple resources and crew swaps. The district has submitted $480,000 for wildland fire reimbursements, but so far has only received $139,000. Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich said typically the money spent will be reimbursed six to seven weeks after returning from deployment. Resident Steve Simpson thanked the members of the district for their contributions to wildland fire prevention.
Other announcements and updates
• In September, the district had 94 calls for service, a 19% increase from the same month in 2019. There was no loss of property due to fire during the month.
• A new volunteer class started Sept. 27, bringing the total number of volunteers to 23. The new class has been brought up to speed on general station safety. The group ranges in age from 20 to 40 years old. Some are active or retired military, or "just general citizens just looking to start a career in the fire service." They are beginning their phase I probation that must be completed in four months.
• The power unit for the only auto extrication kit has stopped working. Battalion Chief Shannon Balvanz said they are working to get it fixed and secure a loaner. Director Larry Schwarz asked, "Should we discuss in the 2021 budget process?"
• The board will hold a public hearing at its Nov. 17 meeting to present the draft 2021 budget.
• Balvanz said the station exhaust project is moving forward. The required environmental health plan was submitted to the state and approved. The next step is to meet with the Denver-based Federal Emergency Management Agency group.
The meeting adjourned at 5:04 p.m.
The next Donald Wescott fire district meeting is scheduled for Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. If the meeting is held in person, it will be at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. For a virtual meeting, the phone number is 669-900-9128, and the meeting code is 980 378 2073. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be contacted at email@example.com
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) board meeting on Oct. 21, the board discussed a lack of cooperation from the El Paso County government causing the district problems, met with a candidate for County Commissioner District 2; and reviewed the first proposed draft of the 2021 budget.
Director Jim Abendschan was excused.
Chairman Rick Nearhoof introduced Carrie Geitner, candidate for county commissioner, District 2, representing Falcon, Peyton, and part of Black Forest. For a district map, see https://bocc.elpasoco.com/#1518019269958-b15cd39a-1cb9.
Treasurer Jack Hinton, a former president of the Home Builder’s Association (HBA), highlighted some of the problems facing BFFRPD and the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and said the following:
• The district has a sizable amount of residential growth, but the commissioners do not want to discuss impact fees to support fire districts. See www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#epcbocc.
• BOCC consistently ignores fire codes. Classic Homes has constructed a clubhouse at Flying Horse North that is well above the permitted height restrictions. See www.ocn.me/v20n2.htm#bffire.
• BFFRPD had an agreement with Classic Homes to collect an impact fee of $400 per home. However, impact fees and fire codes have been "blown out" by the county commissioners.
Hinton said the goal of the district is to protect citizens and it is of the utmost importance for firefighters to go home to their families and be best equipped to protect lives and property.
Geitner said that of course firefighter safety and fire protection are important to everyone and if elected, her goal would be to problem-solve the issues and bring all the stakeholders to the table. However, she could not make any promises for the district but would coordinate a meeting for all parties in an effort to move the conversation forward.
Nearhoof said that listening would be a step in the right direction since District 1 County Commissioner Holly Williams has not returned BFFRPD phone calls and 13,000 residents in Black Forest need someone to fight for them.
Geitner said she was already building relationships with City Council members and county commissioners, and it would be no problem if she disagreed with certain policies and will stand up for what she believes is right, and even if nothing can be accomplished, it is important to move neighborhoods forward.
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid said a lack of cooperation and zero accountability with multiple county departments has created a multitude of challenges for the district, however, it’s not the boots on the ground. He hopes that reasonable solutions can be found with regard to land development issues, the Sheriff’s Office, impact fees, and sourcing water for fire protection.
A state law went into effect specifically after the Black Forest Fire to mandate developers install 30,000-gallon firefighting water cisterns for developments of five or more homes/parcels, but the law is being ignored by the BOCC, Langmaid said. See www.bffire.org/files/641a7ddae/2020+Guidance+document+water+supply+v.2.pdf.
Nothing comes for free and the growth northeast of Colorado Springs will continue and bring property taxes. However, there is no way for everyone to get everything they want, but we should be talking about the lack of water, said Geitner.
2021 proposed budget
Langmaid said the following:
• The draft 2021 budget is almost complete and the board received electronic copies on Oct. 15 for review.
• The budget is zero-based, showing where every dollar is going and is not as simple as adding 3% on every column; each line item is reviewed individually.
• Economists cannot predict what will happen to the economy over the next 18-36 months due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Although Colorado is seeing 7% growth, Denver residents are leaving urban areas and the district is facing its number one threat of loss of territory due to continued annexation of the district by the City of Colorado Springs. That will play a part in available revenue and the long-term sustainability of fire service within the district.
• The district is waiting for the final 2020 projections before making a few minor final adjustments.
Hinton said the draft 2021 budget has an estimated expenditure of $4.31 million and is based on 14.5 mills as opposed to the previous 12.1 mills. Should Amendment B fail, then measures to prevent future revenue loss from the Gallagher Residential Assessment Rate drop will need to be implemented. See www.ocn.me/v20n10.htm#bffrpd.
The proposed 2021 budget will be open for public comment at the Nov. 18 regular board meeting.
Two engines and a tender sought
Langmaid requested the board approve the publication of two Request for Proposals (RFPs) for two engines and one tender on the district website. See www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#bffrpd.
Hinton said that although he is not a big fan of lease-purchase agreements, at this point it is a way to get what the district needs. The fire chief is being diligent during the COVID-19 pandemic in protecting district assets, and we have an optimistic proposed budget.
Langmaid said the following:
• If the quotes received are perceived outrageous, a request for a retrofit of the existing apparatus has also been requested.
• Engines 712 and 763 could potentially be sold for a combined total of about $440,000.
• Engine 712 does not fit into the district’s standardized apparatus operational response model and would better suit a mountain department for its value and capability.
• Minor injuries have occurred due to the unnecessary height of Engine 712, which was placed into service in 2019, thus resulting in an increase of workers compensation.
A motion to publish the RFPs on the district website was approved, 4-0.
Fire chief’s report
Langmaid gave the following updates:
• Calls for service, specifically EMS calls, have been lower than normal but there has been a noted increase in positive COVID-19 patients within the Black Forest community.
• Firefighter/EMTs Dustin Courter, Ky Emmons, Derrick Forn, KM Kuhlman, and Chris Oldham have recently joined BFFRPD to fill the vacant career positions.
• The orientation of volunteer EMS staff members has begun. It will assist with daily staffing and make career firefighters available for firefighting tasks.
• BFFRPD has been rotating crews on deployments to assist the state with the Cameron Peak Fire.
• The district responded to a couple of brush fires during October, and radio communications were successful.
• The Sheriff’s Office is investigating possible arson and requires fire districts to perform origin and cause investigations. The new approach is in development in coordination with the area’s fire investigators and local law enforcement.
Langmaid said crews are often contacted via the paging system with a reported "Structure Fire" as part of unannounced fire training. Crews are notified to respond non-emergent, and then realistic challenging scenarios are thrown at them in the community. Crews have continued training in water supply and wildland firefighting, and multi-agency drills will commence in November.
SHIELD616 goal met
Langmaid said the SHIELD616 fundraiser in conjunction with KOAA had been successful in meeting its goal of raising $48,500 to provide each staff member with a $2,200 full armor package, which includes a protective vest. SHIELD616 will present BFFRPD with the equipment in November.
The board moved into executive session at 9:09 p.m. to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations, developing strategy for negotiations, and instructing negotiators. No comments or actions were made when the board returned to the regular session.
The meeting adjourned at 10 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. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. For updates and minutes, visit www.bffire.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Oct. 28: 2021 budget changes presented; fire chief search progressing
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board meeting on Oct. 28, the board met via Zoom teleconference and in person to discuss the draft 2021 budget, which will be available for viewing on the district website at www.tlmfire.org. The public hearing of the 2021 budget will be held at the Nov. 18 regular board meeting. The board also received an update on the progress of the fire chief search.
Treasurer Jason Buckingham was excused.
Draft 2021 budget discussion
Fire Chief Christopher Truty noted the following changes to the draft 2021 budget:
• Due to COVID-19 and the state of the economy, the projected property tax revenue assessment has dropped about $6,000 and the EMS Supplement has increased by $25,000 for a total increase of about $20,000, bringing the total revenue to $11.43 million.
• Operational expenses decreased by $20,637 from $9.13 million to $9.11 million.
• Capital outlay remains at $2.70 million.
• Specific Ownership Tax revenue is conservatively projected to be about $900,000 but could be 5% above the previous year and up to $925,000.
Truty said with the purchase of the property next to Station 1, the district has gone back to the drawing board on the remodel/addition. The development of the site plan would include initial surface work and storage to the rear of Station 1 and is budgeted for $95,000, which would be part of the full site plan. In addition, a four-bay apparatus apron repair at Station 1 is budgeted for $100,000, and it’s possible that could be wrapped into the remodeling project. The total budgeted for the Station 1 remodel is $1.9 million for 2021. See www.ocn.me/v19n10.htm#tlmfpd.
Station 3 is budgeted at $200,000 for a day room/kitchen remodel after the discovery of water damage to the outside walls of the kitchen. In addition, $100,000 is budgeted for Station 3 concrete driveway repair and the addition of an asphalt turn-around lane north of the station.
Truty said $165,000 is budgeted to replace brush truck 2242 with a wildland-capable model and that $150,000 had already been budgeted for 2020 and was postponed due to COVID-19. The district will use the same specifications as El Paso County Wildland Fire Management.
A replacement ambulance is budgeted for $225,000 from the General replacement plan for the fourth quarter of 2021 due to the high mileage on an existing ambulance. To maintain a positive balance in this fund through 2032, $150,000 is budgeted annually, with vehicle purchases staggered.
The district has also designed a 15-year Capital fleet replacement plan through 2037 that proposes budgeting $325,000 per year for the next 10 years. The plan includes a 10-year lease-purchase plan for a replacement tower ladder truck in 2023. Any additions to the plan would require a greater contribution to achieve the goal, and if the Amendment B de-Gallagherization fails, the district would also need to revise the funding for the capital improvement fund. See www.ocn.me/v220n10.htm#tlmfpd .
Further revision would be needed should another organization merge with TLMFPD, said Truty.
Truty said that in anticipation of the El Paso/Teller 911 Authority installing station alerting systems on all fire stations in both counties, the district is budgeting $70,000 for station alerting.
The district is budgeting $335,000 to replace the district’s entire stock of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) equipment.
Truty said an unopposed 2% increase in wages is still being proposed with no change in rank differentials. However, the union is requesting additional compensated time off, which would be discussed in executive session.
Truty proposed the department migrate to a new fire department management system called ESO. ESO is a system that would allow incident and EMS reporting to be combined and would interface with the hospital patient management system allowing better access for the district’s EMS billing company. The initial cost would increase the budget by $25,000, which includes training and transition costs that would not be in subsequent budgets.
Amended 2020 budget
President John Hildebrandt opened the public hearing on the amended 2020 budget and hearing no public comment for or against, moved to close the hearing. In a roll call vote the board approved the amended 2020 budget as presented, 6-0. See www.ocn.me/v20n10.htm#tlmfpd.
Staffing for Advanced Life Support
Truty said that two years ago the district was struggling to hire EMS/Paramedics and the decision to train existing staff was made. The district currently has three firefighters that are just finishing with Paramedic Training School, and next year, two EMS/Paramedics will train to be firefighters, giving the department five more firefighter/paramedics. The goal is to have enough EMS/Paramedics for 24/7 Advanced Life Support.
Fire Chief Search Committee
Hildebrandt gave the following update:
• Prothman Consultant Mark Risen received 37 applications for the fire chief position and is narrowing down the applications.
• A meeting via Zoom teleconference will be conducted with the Fire Chief Search Committee on Nov. 12 to narrow the field and recommend five to seven finalists. This meeting will not be held in public.
• Finalists will be announced at the Nov. 18 board meeting.
• Interviews for the final candidates will be conducted at TLMFPD with the board and the Fire Chief Search Committee with Risen in early December.
Truty said that if the timelines are met, a decision could be made by mid-December.
Truty gave the following updates:
• A grant of $20,000 has been received from the state for COVID-19 expenses, which includes waived sick leave. The department has not had any positive COVID-19 tests since testing began.
• The county is moving to Level 2—Safer at Home COVID-19 restrictions on Nov. 4 and could move to Levels 3 or 4 in the following weeks. See www.covid19.colorado.gov.
• The district offices are currently half-manned with the remaining chiefs working from home.
• The district is exploring options for a larger meeting area within the district for future board meetings during the increase of COVID-19 cases.
• The annexation of Station 1 is now completed and recorded with the county, and the well water also becomes part of the Town of Monument. The next step is to dissolve the boundaries between Station 1 and the adjacent 15-acre property purchased in May 2020. See www.ocn.me/v20n5.htm#tlmfpd.
• There has been some interest in the sale of surplus Suite 103, and one offer has been made. The district offices moved to Suites 102/104, 16055 Old Forest Point in September.
Truty thanked the following on behalf of the department:
• Tim Geitner, Colorado House representative for District 19, delivered a flag that has been flown over the Colorado State Capital Building in recognition of National First Responder Day on Nov. 28.
• The $1,000 "Ready, Set, Go!" grant donated by the National Fire Protection Agency to the Red Rock Ranch Home Owners Association (HOA) for fire mitigation has been donated directly to TLMFPD at the request of the HOA members.
• A plaque was awarded to Randy Estes and Darlene Johnson for the use of their home and property for firefighter training. TLMFPD and neighboring departments gained 200 hours of training due to the rare and generous donation before the building was demolished.
The regular board adjourned at 8:30 p.m. and moved into executive session.
The board moved into an executive session pursuant to CRS 24-6-402(4)(e) to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations; developing strategy for negotiations; and instructing negotiations.
Truty informed OCN after the board returned to the regular open session that no decisions or motions were made.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. The board abides by social distancing recommendations. For information on Zoom meeting joining instructions and upcoming agendas, contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011 or visit www.tlmfire.org/board.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
During October, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) heard proposals for the 2021 county budget. The commissioners also made decisions relating to various developments.
Preliminary balanced budget
The county Financial Services Department presented the preliminary balanced budget at the Oct. 6 meeting.
Nikki Simmons, county controller, told the commissioners, "This is a much better situation than any of us thought we were going to be in when we started looking at COVID in March, April, May, projecting for a severe economic downturn, reductions in county taxes." She continued, "Our revenue collections have continued to come in much better and closer to budget than we anticipated so this is a much better story that I’m about to tell you than I thought I was going to be here telling you five months ago." The county has seen stronger sales revenue than anticipated, due in part to online sales.
The approximate $403 million budget includes allocations for facility upgrades, public roads, public health programs, and other improvements. The proposal includes $3 million in match funding for the I-25 Gap Project.
As part of the budget setting process, county departments and offices presented their critical needs to the commissioners at the Oct. 20 and 22 BOCC meetings. A further budget meeting is scheduled for the Nov. 17 BOCC meeting and members of the public are encouraged to take this opportunity to express their views. The preliminary balanced budget and all supporting documentation can be viewed on the county website at https://admin.elpasoco.com/financial-services/budget-finance/county-budget/
The final budget vote will be held at the BOCC meeting on Dec. 8.
Special use approval for Black Forest property
At its Oct. 13 meeting, the BOCC approved a special use request for a detached accessory living quarters at a 29-acre Black Forest property on the west side of Herring Road, a quarter of a mile to the north of Shoup Road.
The request by property owner Craig McDermott was for a 1,773-square-foot accessory living space where 1,500 square feet is the maximum size allowed without approval from BOCC. The accessory living quarters will be located within a 4,983-square-foot building that has not yet been constructed. On lots of 2.5 acres or more, an accessory structure can be up to twice the size of the main building. The main house in this case is 2,077 square feet, which would allow for an accessory structure of up to 4,154 square feet. However, in June 2020 the applicant received administrative relief approval for the building to exceed this size. The living quarters part of the building will be occupied by extended family members; the rest of the building will be used as a garage and storage space.
The request was recommended for approval by the El Paso County Planning Commission at its hearing on Sept. 17. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n10.htm?zoom_highlight=mcdermott. The item was approved by the BOCC as a consent item, meaning there was no further discussion.
Waiver for Flying Horse North property approved
At their Oct. 27 meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a request by Douglas Stimple for a waiver of the section of the county’s land development code that requires a primary use to be established before an accessory use. Stimple requested that he be allowed to build a garage and accessory living quarters before constructing a primary residence at a 3-acre property on Longwall Drive in the Flying Horse North development. The request was also for a significant portion of the driveway to be constructed in advance.
The proposed 5,615-square-foot accessory building would have 1,825 square feet of habitable space and 4,690 square feet of garage/workshop. Stimple stated in his letter of intent that this building was already designed and ready for permit. The intention is to use it to store the materials needed to build the main house, the plans for which are still being developed and are anticipated to be complete by June 2021. The main house will take two years to build. The waiver is set to expire in October 2023 to ensure that the main house is constructed as proposed, although a one-year extension can be requested.
Oct. 27–approved an amendment to the county’s contract with Wilson & Co. to enable the company to continue to provide its civil engineering planning and design services for a drainage system for Gleneagle Drive, Struthers Road, and North Gate Boulevard.
Oct. 27–approved an agreement between county and Academy School District 20 to provide school resource officers for the year to June 30, 2021.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
At its Oct. 15 meeting, the El Paso County Planning Commission recommended for approval a rezoning and preliminary plan request for the proposed Grandwood Ranch development north of Higby Road. It also recommended for approval a waiver request associated with a forthcoming minor subdivision application off Highway 83.
Grandwood Ranch rezone and preliminary plan
The commissioners heard rezoning and preliminary plan applications for the Grandwood Ranch development at their Oct. 15 meeting. The 147-acre property is on the north side of Higby Road and about 1.5 miles northwest of the Baptist Road and Roller Coaster Road intersection. Access to the development will be at two points off Higby Road.
The owner, Sylvan Vista Inc., is requesting that the property be rezoned from RR-5 (residential rural) to RR-2.5 (residential rural). The concurrent preliminary plan application seeks approval for 48 single-family residential lots, with drainage tracts, rights-of-way, and two open space tracts. The applicant is also requesting approval for pre-development site grading. Water will be provided by individual wells.
The preliminary plan application does not include a request for a finding of water sufficiency and there are still details to be agreed upon between the county and the applicant concerning the extension of Furrow Road to Higby Road. The extension will be located within the proposed development and will be constructed by the developer. Therefore, the applicant is not requesting the administrative approval of final plats; these will be subject to the public hearing process before the Planning Commission and El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).
The county states that the proposed development is primarily surrounded by properties zoned RR-2.5, although some property to the north is zoned RR-5. During the public comment part of the hearing, John Mills, the owner of the RR-5-zoned lots, argued that the lots on the northern boundary of the proposed development should be larger to provide a better transition between it and his property. He stated he would like to see some type of compromise from the developer.
Responding, Gregory Shaner, executive associate at Matrix Design Group Inc., representing the developer, said the development would in fact provide a good transition between Mills’ property to the north and the proposed Town of Monument urban-level development, known as Home Place Ranch, to the south. He said, "We will provide a good buffer to future urban development."
Nina Ruiz, planning manager, Planning and Community Development, told the commissioners the county had suggested a deeper setback on the development’s northern boundary to help with transition but the applicant had decided not to go down this route. Shaner commented that the proposed lots are deep and there was no point in an additional setback as most people would instinctively want their house closer to the roadway to give a shorter driveway.
There are jurisdictional wetlands on the property and the applicant is in communication with the Army Corps of Engineers to determine if a separate permit or approval will be required. Ruiz told the commissioners that this determination had not yet been made but must occur before a final plat hearing could be scheduled. There is also a Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat on the property. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided a clearance letter stating that the development is not likely to adversely affect the species. Both the wetlands and the mouse habitat will be contained within the open space tracts to minimize disturbance.
Before the vote on the preliminary plan application, Commissioner Tom Bailey said, "I will say that the way this is coming forward without administrative changes in the future, for somebody that has concerns about this development, I believe that the process provides adequate safeguards so all of these issues, all of these concerns, are going to be addressed when it comes to the roadway, drainage, all those things.
"So, I just don’t want anyone to feel like we’re rushing into this and something is being pushed down your throat," he said. "The process is very effective and especially in this case where the developer recognizes that there are some of these issues. The final decision doesn’t reside here. It resides at the county commissioners, but it will come back to us and the commissioners again as we go further into the process."
The vote to recommend the applications for approval was unanimous. They will now be heard at the BOCC meeting on Nov. 10.
Johnson subdivision waiver
Also at the Oct. 15 meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to recommend for approval a request by Delroy and Janet Johnson for a waiver of certain subdivision regulations under county’s land development code to allow them to provide safe, private access to three proposed new lots on their property. If the waivers are granted, the Johnsons intend to file a minor subdivision application to enable them to create four lots on their 29-acre property on Highway 83, slightly north of its intersection with Old North Gate Road.
The subdivision would create three 5-acre lots, one for each of their sons. The Johnsons would remain in the existing residence on the fourth lot.
The first waiver requests that a private road be allowed to access four lots where normally it can only provide access to three. The second requests that this private driveway not be required to be constructed to county standards. This is because to do so would involve significant tree removal and land disturbance on the heavily forested property. The final waiver request asks for a reduction in the minimum frontage requirement because not all the lots would have direct frontage onto the highway.
Commissioner Brian Risley thanked the Johnsons for going through an extended or difficult process. He said, "I just wanted to extend my appreciation for you doing things in the right way and in the proper order."
This is now scheduled to be heard at the Nov. 10 BOCC meeting.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on Oct. 28 to approve replacing windows in The Barn, prepare for the 2021 budget, and respond to an inquiry for a property owner. Board Directors Per Suhr and Tom Smith were absent.
Bert Jean, director of Common Areas, announced that a bid was available for replacing some of the 25-year-old windows in the Barn. Jean motioned to approve an expense not to exceed $17,400 for replacing the four upper windows and three lower windows on the east side of the Barn. WIA is changing out casement windows for sash and slider style windows given the failure of the crank mechanism. The new windows will be Energy Star compliant with an R22 rating; per code the lower portion of the window will be tempered. The project is expected to cost less, but the request included a buffer in case of any overruns. The board unanimously approved the request.
2021 budget preparation
Director Connie Brown noted that she had received input for the 2021 budget, which will be discussed and approved at the next board meeting. The budget must be approved in November so that dues notices can go out by mid-December. The draft budget should be available ahead of that meeting at www.woodmoor.org under the Covenants section, at the bottom of the Board of Directors page.
During the owner comment portion of the meeting, the father of a resident in The Dunes said he was attending on behalf of his daughter, who was busy. He expressed concerns on her behalf about builders’ issues and security. He said her builder, Aspen Homes, hasn’t resolved complaints about a sump pump drain, a cracked driveway, and missing rebar.
President Brian Bush noted that The Dunes has its own sub-homeowners association under WIA but the gentleman said they had not been helpful. Administrator Bob Pearsall noted that WIA does monitor construction of new developments but doesn’t get involved in home defects. He said it sounded like a warranty issue and noted that homeowners have six years to take action against a builder. WIA, said Pearsall, doesn’t have specific authority in this case but offered to call some of his contacts to try to help.
The owner’s father also noted security concerns since his daughter lives right along Woodmoor Drive. He said she had had issues with people coming over her fence and vandalizing her home and asked if WIA allowed privacy walls or screens. Bush noted that WIA does not allow privacy fences but that the Architectural Control Committee would be willing to look at any other proposed solutions. He also offered that the Woodmoor Public Safety chief, Kevin Nielsen, would be able to discuss security issues.
• Forestry administrator Matthew Nelson reported that he is processing the fire mitigation grant targeting residents along the east-west portion of Woodmoor Drive. It is important that residents respond to be eligible for money to complete mitigation.
• Vice President Peter Bille said he would have information on the costs of replacing IT systems available for the next board meeting.
• Brown said that 37 liens had been filed against properties.
• Director Ed Miller reported that a $5,000 fine had been issued for an open fire during a stage 2 fire ban.
• Miller said there are a lot of residents warehousing trailers, recreational vehicles, and boats on their property, which is not allowed. Letters have been sent with minimal response, so the next step is to issue violations.
• WPS Chief Nielsen has been invited by the Lewis-Palmer school board to be recognized at the next board meeting for WPS’ partnership with the schools.
• The board reminds residents to secure trash cans and bring in bird food as bears are not expected to hibernate until the end of November.
• Seven new pet waste stations have been installed in Woodmoor open spaces; pet waste removal service is provided by The Scoop.
Caption: Construction is proceeding at The Beach at Woodmoor, between Lake Woodmoor and Lewis-Palmer Elementary School. For more information see www.ocn.me/v17n8.htm#wia. Photo by Allen Alchian.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting has been moved to Nov. 18 due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
October was very similar to September—mostly dry and warm interrupted by a powerful, record cold storm. With the exception of the record cold storm on the 25th and 26th, almost no measurable precipitation occurred, which is extremely unusual. This of course comes on the heels of below normal precipitation from July to September. The dry and warm weather from summer through fall is also one of the reasons we saw so many extreme fires continue so late in the season in the mountains.
And this was the story for the first week and a half of the month, as large fires in the northern mountains of Colorado resulted in daily occurrences of smoke-filled air. Some days were worse than others depending on the direction of the prevailing winds and how active a given fire was. Temperatures during the first few days of the month were right around normal, with 60s to low 70s for highs and overnight lows in the 30s.
Warmer air began to work into the region starting on the 5th, with highs jumping to the upper 70s and low 80s through the 10th. Record highs were set on the 7th and 8th around much the region as well. Temperatures cooled slightly from the 11-13th, with overnight lows dipping below freezing each morning. Temperatures jumped back to the upper 70s on the 14th ahead of a cold front that moved through that afternoon. This brought with it our first below-normal temperatures of the month, along with some fog, low clouds, and a little freezing drizzle. It was a subtle reminder that the dry, warm weather couldn’t last forever.
Highs were in the 40s on the 15th, upper 50s on the 16th, and low 70s on the 17th before another similar cold front moved through during the morning of the 18th. Again, this front was starved of moisture so all we got was some fog, low clouds, and freezing drizzle.
Warm air moved back in again over the next few days, with highs back in the 60s to low 70s from the 19th to the 22nd, when once again another shallow and dry cold front moved in during the midafternoon of the 22nd. Highs were held in the low to mid-20s on the 23rd, along with fog, low clouds, freezing drizzle, and flurries. But just like the previous cold fronts, there was no significant moisture and as the cold air retreated on the 24th, highs jumped right back into the 70s.
However, the next storm was knocking on our doorstep, and this one meant business. The initial cold front with this one moved through during the midafternoon of the 24th, with progressively colder air continuing to filter in during the evening and throughout the next day. Temperatures were in the mid-20’s as we crossed midnight, then continued to fall throughout the morning and afternoon. Daytime temperatures never got above 100F. Light snow developed just before sunrise that morning and continued throughout the day. The record cold temperature meant that the snow had no problem sticking to the roads as well, making for our first wintry driving day since last spring.
As the snow came to an end during the early evening hours of the 26th, skies began to clear out, and with the Arctic air mass still in place, temperatures tumbled to record low levels, reaching below zero in many locations by mid-evening. Fortunately for us, some light drainage winds kicked in during the overnight hours and helped "warm" temperatures through that evening and into the next morning. Our high temperature on the 26th was actually reached just before midnight when we hit 110F—very unusual. The storm dropped anywhere from 4-8 inches of snow for our region, with the heaviest snow falling to our south, where places like Walsenburg got over 2 feet!
Unfortunately, the air mass was so cold that the moisture content of the snow was very low, with only a quarter to a half inch of liquid equivalent falling, definitely not enough to get us out of drought conditions. The most extreme portion of the storm was the cold, with all-time monthly record low maximum temperatures set and record lows of below zero at many locations. We may have set an all-time record low for Colorado for the month of October when Hebron (in the North Park region near Walden) hit an amazing -330F!
Unfortunately, this storm moved out of the region the next day, bringing record snow and cold to New Mexico but dry weather for us. Temperatures began their slow climb through the 40s on the 27th and 28th, the upper 50s and low 60s as we ended the month.
A look ahead
November is generally dry and cool around the region. We usually get several light snowfalls interspersed with sunny skies. Gusty winds commonly develop on a couple of days as the jet stream becomes more active and more directly affects Colorado. High temperatures average in the upper 40s early in the month to low 40s by the end with overnight lows often dipping into the teens and single digits.
October 2020 Weather Statistics
Average High 62.0° (+2.5°)
100-year return frequency value max 67.7° min 50.7°
Average Low 29.6° (+0.3°)
100-year return frequency value max 36.8° min 26.4°
Monthly Precipitation 0.27" (-1.46")
100-year return frequency value max 4.63" min 0.18"
Monthly Snowfall 4.5" (-6.5")
Highest Temperature 81° on the 8th
Lowest Temperature -1° on the 26th
Season to Date Snow 4.5" (-6.5") (the snow season, October 1 to September 30)
Season to Date Precip. 0.27" (-1.46") (the precip season, October 1 to September 30)
Heating Degree Days 595 (+67)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community are the responsibility of the letter writers and should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer.
Proud parents of first-generation seekers of college education
I read with interest the letter submitted in your newspaper’s Oct. 3, 2020 edition answering the question about Dems losing the non-college-educated white male vote.
I did not see the CNN report referenced in this letter to the community, but I have to say I believe quite a few American families for many generations now have viewed the opportunity to extend their children’s education past high school as a great gift one generation makes possible for the next. I know in my own family this was true. My mother’s parents both quit school after the eighth grade and went to work on the south side of Chicago. My grandpa was an auto mechanic. My grandparents were both determined that their son and daughter would be the first generation to go to college. They were so proud when this goal was achieved.
My mother had enormous respect for her parents, for the sacrifices they made, and for their steadfast belief in the American dream. They owned their own home, and they sent their kids to college.
Incidentally, on my father’s side the story is similar. My father’s mother, a widow trying to keep a farm in northwest Missouri through the Depression era, was determined her sons would not be farmers. They both went to West Point.
I don’t see any humiliation in these great American stories and can’t make the leap to Dems casting their votes based on a sense of victimhood. If young people today act entitled, if they treat their own non-college-educated parents as losers, then I have to wonder if that says more about parenting trends than it does politics.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"A book is a gift you can open again and again."—Garrison Keillor
The Silver Arrow
By Lev Grossman (Little Brown) $16.99
Kate’s humdrum life is transformed when her eccentric Uncle Herbert, whom she’s never met, surprises her with a colossal locomotive train, the Silver Arrow, for her 11th birthday. Soon Kate and her brother are on a mysterious quest to distant lands along magical rail lines in the company of an assortment of exotic animals who can talk. They just might end up saving the world.
Before the Ever After
By Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books) $17.99
For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of fans. But lately his dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time due to the head injuries he sustained during his career. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions.
Everything Sad is Untrue
By Daniel Nayeri (Levine Querido) $17.99
At the front of a middle school classroom in Oklahoma, a boy named Khosrou, whom everyone calls Daniel, is trying to tell a story. Khosrou’s stories, stretching back years, and decades, and centuries, are beautiful and terrifying, from the moment his family fled Iran, back to refugee camps of Italy, and even further back. Daniel has written an autobiographical novel, united by hope.
The Inheritance Games
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Little Brown) $17.99
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
What We’ll Build: Plans for Our Together Future
By Oliver Jeffers (Philomel Books) $19.99
A father and his young daughter gather their tools and begin building a future where love can be set aside until it is needed, enemies become friends, and exploration is key. A rare and enduring story about a parent’s boundless love, life’s endless opportunities, and all we need to build a together future.
Wreck This Picture Book
By Keri Smith (Dial Books) $17.99
Keri Smith has helped millions of people free their creativity and find their own voice with her interactive books, and now she brings that sensibility to children and the act of reading. Kids will discover that reading can engage all five senses and that what they bring to a book is an important contribution.
The Highlights Book of Things to Do: Discover, Explore, Create, and Do Great Things
By Highlights (Highlights Press) $24.99
Kids will find creativity and inspiration with hundreds of ways to build, play, experiment, craft, cook, dream, think. This highly visual, hands-on activity book shows kids some of the best ways to do great things as well as become caring, confident problem solvers who just might change the world.
How to Astronaut: An Insider’s Guide to Leaving Planet Earth
By Terry Virts (Workman Publishing) $27.95
Former NASA astronaut Terry Virts offers an insider’s guide to "astronauting." This behind-the-scenes look at the training, basic rules, lessons, and procedures of space travel, including how to deal with a dead body in space, what it’s like to film an IMAX movie in orbit, what to do when nature calls, and much more. He captures all the highs, lows, humor, and wonder of an experience few will ever know firsthand.
Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do about It
By Bob Goff (Thomas Nelson) $26.99
New York Times bestselling author Bob Goff is on a mission to help people recapture the version of their lives they dreamed about before fear started calling the shots. In this revealing yet practical book, Goff takes you on a life-proven journey to rediscover your dreams and turn them into reality.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The Monument Library continues to welcome our patrons into the library to use public computers and printing and copying services. Please note that computers must be booked at the circulation desk before use.
Please also feel free to browse our collection, but we request that you keep your visit brief because we are limiting the number of individuals in the building at any given time.
Our hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 to 5 on Friday and Saturday.
All programs including literacy and math tutoring are suspended for the remainder of the calendar year. This is due to the closure of meeting rooms and requirement of social distancing.
A few tables and chairs have ben reintroduced in the public area for those who wish to enjoy the newspaper or complete a task on a laptop. All tables and chairs are sanitized after use, as are computers and other devices.
Curbside service remains available to pick up your items on hold or print jobs. Please call 488-2370 ahead of time so that your items will be ready for you. Or, simply drop by and ring the doorbell on the table outside and we will come to you.
Please see our website (ppld.org) for a wide variety of virtual programs, including yoga, story time, and book groups. There is a new story time and a new toddler time each week. Earlier sessions are also available for viewing.
Returned materials are quarantined for 24 hours before being processed. Please place any returns in the outdoor book drop on the north side of the building or in the new indoor book drop near the entrance before entering the building. This includes donated books or magazines.
In keeping with state and county health department mandates, all patrons over age 2 are required to wear facial coverings while in the library.
The reopening of Maker Spaces at the East, Sand Creek, and Library 21c locations has been delayed due to the increase in coronavirus cases in the area.
The Palmer Lake library remains closed at this time but is visited by the Bookmobile on Mondays from 9 to 11 and Wednesdays from 2:15 to 4. The book drop remains available.
We hope to greet you soon at the library.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com
By Janet Sellers
People new to our area are often surprised we have so much sunny weather and relatively warm days in November, and sometimes in December as well. Wonderful, easy hikes in nature are right in our backyards, and we can enjoy those around home or venture into some of our forested areas. In past years, we have had Friends of Fox Run Park help collect fallen logs, putting logs on the side of the paths and free for the taking—which helps fire mitigate the forest—of good, winter firewood. Hopefully, we’ll be able to start that up again when we can assemble in volunteer groups. (Check the Friends Facebook page for ongoing updates).
November is the time that we can collect things around us like pinecones and spruce cones for holiday decorating. We have so much all around that it is easy to collect them, but we need to prepare them if they’re going to be inside. I usually put them in the oven at 150 degrees or 175 degrees for a couple of hours to ensure that there aren’t any bugs or eggs in them. It also makes the house smell heavenly because heating up the fir cones and pinecones helps release the piney essential oils that make them smell so good.
I often put a basket or bowl filled with pinecones as a natural and festive touch to a side table or the entry room. This year I sprinkled pinecones with lavender oil (so good for cold, stuffy noses), but I also use cinnamon or pumpkin spices on pinecones, which gives a fresh scent to any room.
Our late October freezing weather certainly did in most gardens for the year! The snow at least softened up the earth when it melted, and it was easy to put the metal hoops in the ground for the protective garden coverings and frost cloth preparation for gardens.
If we don’t get the hoops in soon, the ground will be frozen, and we’ll have to wait until May for that. With the hoop system, we can seed our gardens as early as February or March, and the plants come up in their own time with strong roots. Also, letting the fallen leaves and pine needles stay put until spring helps many garden organisms overwinter for a lush, healthy springtime garden. Sounds lazy, but that’s letting Mother Nature do the work for our success.
Janet Sellers is an avid ethnoecologist aka lazy gardener. Send your tips to: JanetSellers@ocn.me
By Janet Sellers
"Just look. Feel what you feel about the art."—
Our pandemic-caused safer-at-home life begs us for heartfelt, uplifting respites in our day as we—and especially our children—are impacted by isolation from friends and community. Shock, violence, and trauma are all around us, and we need infusions of good feelings and the ability to recover quickly from stress with resilience.
Most of us experience viewing art, particularly genuinely pleasant art, as a powerfully uplifting, sustaining (usually indoor) resource we can enjoy, especially in times like bad weather and current traumas of the pandemic’s social restrictions. Much of the scientific, academic lens cautiously leans on data, studies, and previous findings, yet, how valid is that outsider lens for our bouncing back? Thankfully, the role art plays is a new scientific aspect of inquiry for community, resilience, and all of us.
Scientific studies have proven that art appreciation improves our quality of life and makes us feel good. When we create art, we elevate our mood, we improve our ability to problem solve and open our minds to new ideas. According to Dr. Shelley Carson’s creativity, psychopathology, and resilience studies at Harvard, art’s ability to improve our mood broadens our attention, and making and viewing art increases open-mindedness so we see more possibilities—more options—as we solve problems of all sorts in our lives.
University College of London neurobiology professor Semir Zeki affirmed that when we stare at great art, our brain is stimulated as when we fall in love. Art brings increased levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that aids in controlling the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Zeki did brain scans of 30-some subjects looking at art, finding increased levels of dopamine and frontal cortex activity. He found that beautiful art triggered the same pleasure center activity as being in love and even recreational drug use.
In contrast, visually disturbing, "shock/horror" art (Bosch, Goya, Francis Bacon) showed less brain activity than, say, Botticelli’s Venus, the goddess of love. The National Academy of Sciences of America reports that dopamine is a neurotransmitter released throughout the brain to encode salience and facilitate the formation of associative memory. Dopamine release from the locus coeruleus to the dorsal hippocampus promotes spatial learning and memory.
Of course, visual art firsthand is most powerful. Seeing the colors, brushstrokes in a painting, textures in mixed media or sculptures in the round have immediate, visceral impact. Art discoveries in person with pencil and paints—or on screen with museums or individual artists via augmented reality—could be an uplifting adventure for well-being. We can make an art experience any time, any day, and benefit instantly. The possibilities for our creative resilience are endless!
Upcoming Neuro Bureau brain art competition
The Neuro Bureau is a forum and collaborative initiative that supports "open neuroscience"—embracing the ideas that data, methods, and ideas can be freely shared. Its annual Brain-Art Competition highlights aesthetically oriented aspects of the field. Contact www.Neurobureau.org for details.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, public speaker, and instructor. Her paintings and public art sculptures are exhibited on Earth. JanetSellers@ocn.me.
Monument Safe Trick or Treat
Caption: Monument Downtown hosted a safe trick-or-treat for community kids on Halloween. Sparky the Firehouse Dog was on hand with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department to greet kids with candy. Black Forest Deli gave out freshly baked cookies, Lollies ice cream shop shared cider and candy, while Covered Treasures Bookstore (pictured above) had a long line of happy celebrants in costume. Photo by Janet Sellers.
DWFPD’s new tender
Caption: The new $250,000 tender truck housed at Station 1 carries 3,500 gallons of water, pumping it at a rate of 500 gallons per minute. Training to drive the truck continues. Donald Wescott Chief Vinny Burns said although there is good baffling within the truck, driving a vehicle carrying water is complicated. Burns pointed out the money the district receives from the 2017 mill levy increase was used to purchase this vehicle. Photo courtesy of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District.
Creek Week in Palmer Lake
Caption: Members of the Palmer Lake Parks Commission participated in the seventh annual Fountain Creek Watershed Creek Week on Oct. 3. They invited the public and local high school students to help clean up around Palmer Lake. They collected deadwood and trash from the shoreline. Pictured are volunteers with commission members Michael Pietsch, kneeling, and Kirk Noll, second from left. Photo by Katherine Pietsch.
Lions upgrade playground
Caption: El Paso County Tri-Lakes Lions Club and the Town of Palmer Lake are working together as a team, to upgrade the lake recreation playground swing area. Lions are known as the Knights of Sight and are comprised of community service members supporting area improvement projects and vision challenged residents in need of assistance. In the center is Tri-Lakes Lions Club President Jim Naylor who presented a contribution totaling $2000.00 to (L-R), Dawn Collins Palmer Lake Town Manager, and Palmer Lake Parks Commission members, Reid Wiecks, Kirk Noll, and Michael Pietsch,. Our Lions Club is grateful for the guidance from Palmer Lake leaders on project needs, and we look forward to many future opportunities to help the Palmer Lake Star shine brighter every year. Lions motto is, WE SERVE. Photo and caption provided by Gordon Reichal.
Monument street improvements
Caption: On Oct. 1, street work was in progress at the intersection of Washington and Second Streets in downtown Monument. The project was designed to upgrade the four corners and improve the visibility for cars on the approach to Second Street from Washington. The project included sidewalk improvements, including making them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, adding curbside islands, and improving sight lines. Photo by David Futey.
Empty Bowls benefits TLC
Caption: On Oct. 3, the Annual Empty Bowls Event and Virtual Silent Auction, a fundraiser for Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) , was held as an outdoor drive-through venue at Lewis-Palmer High School. Sponsored by Monument Hill Kiwanis Club, it was organized and provided through the combined efforts of over 40 volunteers from the Kiwanians, TLC, Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High School Key Clubs, and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Circle K Club. Over $15,000 was raised by ticket sales of 300-plus soup bowls made by local potters and wood turners, cash donations and the Silent Auction. Since mid-March, TLC has averaged 20 new households per month who are seeking assistance. In September 2020, housing assistance services (rent/mortgage assistance) increased by 150% from September 2019. The holiday season is upon us; if you would like to help TLC with holiday food or gifts for youths and seniors, visit www.tri-lakescares.org and click on the links on the homepage. Pictured are Monument Hill Kiwanis volunteers and LPHS and PRHS Key Club volunteers. Photos by Sharon Williams.
St. Peter Holiday Craft Fair
Caption: On Oct. 3, St. Peter Catholic Church held its 10th Annual Holiday Boutique and Craft Fair. Darcy Schoening of the St. Peter Home and School Association said the community event brings people together and acts as a fundraiser for the church and school. It was moved outdoors for the first time to accommodate social distancing. Coinciding with the Monument Farmers Market, this event made for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon for those venturing to downtown Monument. Schoening said there were 37 vendors who offered an array of holiday inspired arts and crafts. Photos by David Futey.
WMMI Harvest Festival
Caption: On Oct. 3 and 4, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) held its annual Harvest Festival with a variety of activities. They included hayrides, a Hay Bale Maze, listening to spooky stories read by museum volunteers, apple cider press demonstrations, Olde West Cowboy re-enactments by the Gold Canyon Gunfighters, live musical entertainment by Wirewood Station, demonstrations of museum equipment and blacksmithing, and picking out a pumpkin from the Pumpkin Patch. Proceeds from the event helped support the museum’s ongoing renovations of the Reynolds Ranch House. Photos by David Futey.
Palmer Lake .5K "Race"
Caption: The sixth annual .5K "Race" in Palmer Lake this year was different from the previous five years’ races. On Oct. 4, participants arrived in vehicles at the starting line to pick up "race" packets, then "raced" the 273-ish yards to the rest stop for donuts, and then proceeded to the finish line for a coupon for a root beer at the Rock House or beer at O’Malley’s. The event raised over $16,000 with less than half the usual number of participants, about 340. Money from registrations, sponsorships, donations, and the sale of vintage T-shirts made up for the lower-than-normal participation level. Money raised by Awake the Lake volunteers will be used for maintaining and improving the lake and parks and to improve the Tri-Lakes Little League ball park area with a Great Outdoors Colorado grant being sought by the Palmer Lake Parks Commission. Photo by Steve Pate.
Eagle Scout’s memorial unveiled
Caption: On Oct. 3, Eagle Scout Michael Carlson (pictured) unveiled his Veterans Memorial to the Town of Monument at Monument Cemetery. The memorial cost more than $40,000, and Michael raised the whole amount for labor and materials. The ceremony took place around the memorial, which surrounds the flagpole. Chaplain Timothy S. Meador, LTC U.S. Army, summed it up very nicely: "I love it when a plan comes together." Photo by John Howe.
WMMI Pumpkin Patch
Caption: Weekends and midweek through Oct. 31, the Colorado Pumpkin Patch offered acres of pumpkin-themed fun for crowds in Monument. Pumpkin smashing, hay slides, and more provided plenty to watch while waiting in line for the attractions. Photo by Janet Sellers.
TLWC donates cards and quilts
Caption: Members of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) have created holiday cards for troops and lap quilts for seniors. In early October, TLWC Garden Club members made over 120 cards unique to Colorado that will be included in care packages sent to troops. Troops can sign and send them to their loved ones. Eleven handmade quilts were also delivered to Jackson Creek Senior Living on Oct. 21. The quilts were made over the past year by the TLWC Stitch and Chat group. TLWC member Susan Klein, right, presents one of the quilts to Melinda Sukle, Jackson Creek Senior Living Life Enrichment director. Photos provided by Maureen Morgan.
Friends of Fox Run Park hike
Caption: Friends of Fox Run Park met at the Roller Coaster Trailhead of Fox Run Regional Park on Oct. 9 with other concerned citizens and avid hikers to try to support El Paso County employees by pinpointing areas of concern. Being that Fox Run is one of the most used parks in northern El Paso County with over 2,000 visitors on any given weekend, the trails have become worn and many trails have veered off into social trails. Social trails are made when hikers go off-trail again and again, and soon a new trail begins to be used by followers. Users of the park are asked to stay on the established trails and help keep the fragile vegetation growing for future hikers to enjoy. If you would like to learn how you can help and about any future projects put together by the Friends Group, email FriendsofFoxRunPark@gmail.com for more information. Photo by Marlene Brown.
PL firefighters collect slash
Caption: Palmer Lake Fire Department is at it again. Your Palmer Lake Volunteer Firefighters hosted a very successful slash collection operation supporting wildland fire mitigation efforts of citizens. On Oct. 7, the firefighters spent many hours trimming and chipping dead branches around the trailhead at Glen Park and chipping slash from private citizens who brought their slash to the station. This was done at no cost to the citizens and no additional cost to the town. Thank you Chief Christopher McCarthy (in yellow coat) and Capt. Weston Oesterreich (at left), and to all firefighters for mitigating fire danger in Palmer Lake and serving citizens. Photo by Mark Schuler.
Author and family visit bookstore
Caption: On Oct. 26, David Bugno was at Covered Treasures Bookstore for a signing of his book, Reich Child: A Lebensborn Life. Bugno entertained questions from customers about his and his family’s life in Germany during WWII. As Paula at Covered Treasures wrote: "This lesser-known part of Nazi history is full of intrigue and shock." From left are author David Bugno, Derik Bugno, Janine Bugno, and Jaclyn Bugno. Photo by John Howe.
TLWC awards grant to EIS
Caption: The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club awarded a $2,732 Community Grant to Emergency Incident Support, an all-volunteer service group that provides critical support services to local first responders. The grant will allow them to purchase lighting to illuminate response scenes, GPS devices, and a battery backup for a life-saving defibrillator. "The support from the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club allows EIS to better serve those who serve such as firemen, police, sheriffs, county officials, wildland fire, search and rescue operations and other first responders,’ said Gary Nelson, EIS volunteer and treasurer. "We are so appreciative for this support." See https://epceis.com/. Since 1973, the club has provided volunteer service and annual grantmaking to nonprofit, public service, and public educational programs in the Tri-Lakes area. In spite of fundraising challenges in 2020, TLWC was able to provide grants of over $23,000 to Tri-Lakes organizations. See tlwc.net. Photo courtesy of Tri-Lakes Women’s Club.
Hodgen Rd. wildfire, Oct. 12
Caption: At about 8:30 p.m. Oct. 12, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) crews were dispatched to a wildfire on Hodgen Road east of Highway 83. Crews arrived to find a wildfire burning about a half-acre and some isolated torching of trees. They were able to quickly contain and extinguish the fire. They are working with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office on the ongoing investigation into the cause. Please be cautious and prepared! This fire had been burning for less than 5 minutes when you see the picture taken by a bystander who had already called 911. Notice the embers flying through the air and dropping onto the grass that contributed to the fire spread. Caption by Jamey Bumgarner, TLMFPD fire marshal and division chief of Community Risk. A bystander called 911 first, then took this photo. Official information about Colorado wildfires can be found at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dfpc/wildfire-news-information.
Skate Park gets a makeover
Caption: The Monument Skate Park has two new murals on its west-facing walls. After numerous graffiti cleanings were required, skaters suggested to the town a mural might prevent the scrawl. Sarah Searle braves a freezing cold day to begin painting one of two murals at the park. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
NASTaP tree tour
Caption: NASTaP (Native American Sacred Trees and Places) is a local, statewide, national, and international organization that was started with local author John Anderson (pictured) as one of its founding members. Along with Heidi Wigand-Nicely, secretary of the board, they hosted their Oct. 24 board meeting by Zoom. Board members from Wyoming to the Four Corners discussed future projects and trips to living American Indian artifacts that have been identified, with distinctness of character, as Culturally Modified Trees (CMTs). Several CMTs have been identified in the Front Range area. Board members then joined other members of NASTaP on a Tree Tour in northern El Paso County and Douglas County. They started the tour at Spring Valley Cemetery, where there are known Native American burial sites and early pioneers buried there from the mid-1800s. For more information and or get involved with NASTaP, see its website www.nastap.org. Photo by Marlene Brown.
Trunk or Treat, Oct. 28
Caption: On Oct. 28, the Ascent Church, Awana, and Cathedral Rock Church jointly hosted a Trunk or Treat on the Ascent Church parking lot. There were 24 cars decorated in a variety of Halloween and festive themes to entice the Trunk or Treaters to stop by and receive a treat. Kathy Collins, Children’s Ministry director for the Ascent Church, said the event offered an outlet for "people seeking community" and it is "wonderful to see so many families out to enjoy the evening while maintaining social distancing." Collins said they were expecting 75-100 families attending in the hour-and-a-half event. The church asked attendees to bring a canned good for Tri-Lakes Cares. Photo above by Janet Sellers. Inset photo by David Futey.
Caption: On Nov. 3 at the Monument Town Hall polling place, 23-year old Marcus Smith wore a "VOTE" mask and handed out snacks and drinks to voters. He said he just wanted to put a smile on people’s faces and make them feel comfortable during this time of tension. Cara Yanez and her daughter Laika appreciated the gesture. He said, "It’s not about me. It’s just about getting people excited about voting." Smith is a Palmer Ridge High School graduate now working to become an EMT. Photo by Lisa Hatfield after a tip from poll worker Sarah McMullen.
Caption: Cooper and Zoey got dressed up on Oct. 20 to get ready for trick or treating. Photo by Haley Haneline with assistance from Josh Haneline, who held treats.
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.
Silver Key senior citizen luncheons and more
Connection Cafe’s "Grab and Go" meal clients will receive three frozen meals for the week; meals must be requested in advance for the following week. A $2.25 donation is requested. Please call 719-884-2300 to reserve your meal. Meals on Wheels and Home Delivered Meals will deliver frozen meals for the week to Monument on Wednesdays. If you qualify but are not yet enrolled for meals, phone 719-884-2300 or visit www.silverkey.org. The Food Pantry is implementing a "pick up only" model for clients. Mon.-Fri., noon-12:30 p.m., Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake. Reserve & Ride is temporarily limited to essential transportation needs only: strictly medical and food-related trips. Reservations are requested, phone 719-884-2300. For more information about senior services, visit www.silverkey.org.
Silver Key Calls of Reassurance are available for seniors
Extended social isolation and loneliness significantly impact the quality of life and health of older adults. The current public health crisis has increased the need for seniors to receive these critical calls and connection with others. Seniors who self-enroll can be called weekly (one to three times) to talk with a Silver Key volunteer. It offers two types of helpful calls. Social Calls are for seniors who wish to have a weekly, bright, and supportive connection with a well-trained VIP volunteer. Safety Checks are similar to Social Calls, but if the senior does not answer after three calls, emergency contacts (maintained on file) will be called, then the police if the emergency contacts cannot be reached. For more details, visit www.silverkey.org.
Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Silent Auction
Support the chamber’s fundraising and find bargains going for 50-75% of market value. See the impressive list of offerings at www.trilakeschamber/silent-auction.html. See ad on page 8.
Bingo is back, Nov. 18
Join the fun at the Silver Alliance Senior Center on Wed., Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. for an hour of bingo and prizes! You must RSVP to play in order to adhere to Colorado State COVID-19 mandates. Space is limited to 16 participants in two rooms, and masks are required. Please call Sue, 719-330-0241 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to play.
YMCA’s Virtual Turkey Trot 5K
Run your own Turkey Trot 5k wherever and whenever you want and sleep in on Thanksgiving! All participants receive a T-shirt, and dogs ($5) get a bandana and treat. Register online at www.ppymca.org/turkeytrot2020. See ad on page 6.
A new interchange and a ¾-mile section of state highway will soon connect I-25 to Voyager Parkway. The I-25 and Colorado Highway 21 (Powers Boulevard) interchange project is the first part of a two-part plan to eventually connect I-25 directly to Powers Boulevard at Colorado Highway 83 (Interquest Parkway). Completion is expected in summer 2021. The northbound I-25 left lane will be closed intermittently the week of Nov. 9 during daytime off-peak hours for guardrail installation and asphalt patching. Weekly traffic impact updates are available on the project website, www.i25powers.com.
LEAP—Help for heating bills
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs Nov. 1-April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
Sisters’ Thrift & Boutique
The Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery have a shop full of gently used treasures, including clothing and accessories, household items, and small furniture at 8674 N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs. Store hours are Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The phone number is 719-282-0316. The shop welcomes donations and volunteers. For more information about Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery visit www.benethillmonastery.org. See ad on page 11.
Small-business grants available
The Energize Colorado Gap Fund will provide more than $25 million in small-business loans and grants to boost small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Sole proprietors, businesses, and nonprofits with less than 25 full-time employees can apply for up to a $15,000 grant and a $20,000 loan for a possible combined total of $35,000 in financial assistance. For more information, visit https://energizecolorado.com.
Taste of Palmer Lake, through Feb. 28
This year, your ticket will get you free food or beverage offerings from all of our Palmer Lake restaurants. Purchase your ticket and receive a punch card for a one-time use for your free item anytime through Feb. 28, 2021. This is a limited time offer. Tickets are $25, available at all Palmer Lake restaurants, and all the money goes to this year’s downtown Christmas decorations. Help light up Palmer Lake. For details, visit www.awakepalmerlake.org.
Co-op Connections by MVEA
Mountain View Electric Association offers a free app to find discounts from local merchants. Help keep small businesses thriving. Save also on travel and on-line shopping. For more information and to download the app, visit www.connections.coop.
MVEA youth leadership trip contest, enter by Nov. 12
High school sophomores and juniors can win a summer trip. Apply at www.mvea.coop/essay-contest. Leadership trip availability may change due to COVID-19. For more information, contact Erica Meyer, 719-494-2654, email@example.com.
Stage I Fire Restrictions
Continued dry conditions and the National Weather Service forecast for continued dry and warmer-than-normal conditions have resulted in very high to extreme fire danger ratings. Stage I Fire Restrictions are now in effect for all the unincorporated areas of El Paso County. The following are prohibited:
• Open burning, excepting fires and campfires within permanently constructed fire grates in developed campgrounds and picnic grounds; charcoal grills and wood burning stoves at private residences in areas cleared of all flammable materials.
• The sale or use of fireworks.
• Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
Violations of Stage I Restrictions may result in a fine of up to $600. For more information, visit www.epcsheriffsoffice.com.
Tri-Lakes Cares is there for you
Do you need help as a result of COVID-19? Connect with Tri-Lakes Cares for assistance with groceries, rent or mortgage, utilities, car repair, and medical assistance at www.tri-lakescares.org/coronavirus. For more information, call 719-481-4864.
Volunteer for Tri-Lakes Cares
There are many areas within Tri-Lakes Cares that you can help serve. Volunteers interact with clients, stock the food pantry, distribute grocery orders, process donations, pack Snack Packs for local youth, and contribute in many other ways to the success of Tri-Lakes Cares. Becoming a volunteer is easy and fun. For details, contact Volunteer Coordinator Nichole Pettigrew, 719-481-4864 x113, VolunteerCoordinator@Tri-LakesCares.org; or visit https://tri-lakescares.org/volunteer/.
Tri-Lakes Cares needs us now more than ever
Tri-Lakes Cares is the only food pantry and human services organization located in and serving northern El Paso County through emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programs. The community-based, volunteer-supported center is a critical resource for our neighbors in need. The best way to help support Tri-Lakes Cares is to make a financial donation. For more information about Tri-Lakes Cares or how you can help, contact Brendan Rhoades, TLC’s Community Engagement Manager: 719-481-4864, ext. 111; firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.tri-lakescares.org.
MVEA Scholarships, enter by Jan. 18
Each year, MVEA awards $1,000 scholarships to 14 graduating high school seniors. Applications are due by Jan. 18, 2021. Apply online at www.mvea.coop/scholarships. For more information contact Erica Meyer, 719-494-2654, email@example.com.
Openings for Monument’s Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments
The Town of Monument has openings on its Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments. For more information, visit www.townofmonument.org.
Tri-Lakes Senior Center reopens, following state guidelines
Many of the senior activities have resumed. The senior center now has a temperature check station at the entrance and will follow all state guidelines to allow seniors to participate safely in various activities. The senior center is located in the portable building between Lewis-Palmer High School and Don Breese Stadium. For more information, contact 719-464-6873 or www.trilakesseniors.org.
County parks update
Park headquarters are open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Park restrooms have begun to reopen.
Fountain Creek and Bear Creek Nature Centers are open Tue.-Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Playgrounds are open for use with no more than 25 people at a time. Pavilions at Fox Run Regional Park are limited to 17 people at a time. Organized recreational youth or adult league sports may resume activities with no more than 25 players. Parents may attend youth sports activities but must remain 6 feet apart from non-household members. Spectators are strongly discouraged for adult sports. A permit is required through El Paso County Parks for organized sports.
The remainder of county parks, trails, and open spaces remain open. Park users are highly encouraged to practice social distancing (6 feet apart) and wear masks while enjoying the county park system. While on trails, warn other users of your presence as you pass, and step aside to let others pass. For more information, visit www.elpasoco.com/parks, email to Parks@elpasoco.com, or call 719-520-7529.
Mountain View Electric Association’s (MVEA) LED bulb rebate
MVEA’s Residential Lighting Rebates has been extended through 2020. Learn about MVEA’s Energy Efficiency Rebate Program at www.mvea.coop/rebates.
Free transportation and handyman services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and handyman services to Tri-Lakes seniors. Private transportation to medical appointments or a grocery store is now provided by Envida, 719-633-4677. If you need grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call Cindy Rush, 488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
Palmer Lake prohibits parking by visitors
The Town of Palmer Lake has issued an emergency ordinance prohibiting parking on all town streets, with the exception of Palmer Lake residents, and closing the parking area at the reservoir trailhead on Old Carriage Road during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jewish Family Service offers virtual counseling for all
Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Colorado’s virtual counseling services are available to anyone throughout the state who is feeling overwhelmed or in crisis at this time. JFS supports everyone, not just those of the Jewish faith. JFS accepts private insurance, self-pay, Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and offers a sliding-fee schedule for those with limited financial resources and will not turn away anyone in crisis. To find out more about virtual counseling and the various services JHS offers, phone 303-597-5000 or visit the website, www.jewishfamilyservice.org.
Can you volunteer today?
Links to local organizations with an immediate need for volunteers are listed on the county’s website, www.elpasocountyhealth.org/community-resources-0, for groups like Care and Share, Crossfire Ministries, Citizen’s Project (email firstname.lastname@example.org for virtual opportunities to help with Census 2020), blood donations, Early Connections (volunteer from home opportunity), foster an animal, Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County, Salvation Army, Silver Key, and United Way (ongoing opportunities).
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.
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.
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.
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.
The unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation presents scheduling challenges to area governance entities and other organizations. Because OCN is a monthly publication, readers should assume that information published in this issue is subject to change and event information should be confirmed a day or two before the event by calling the information number or checking the organization’s website.
Many entries show dates even though the event has been canceled or suspended. The date indicates when the event was planned to be held or when it would normally have been held.
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to email@example.com or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on September 04, 2020. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on September 04, 2020. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.