Jackson Creek Community Garage Sale, Friday June 26 and Saturday, June 27, 8-3pm. For more information go to TriLakesRetailEstateInc.com, communities tab, Jackson creek tab and sign up to hold your own sale or get more information.
This page contains only the text of the articles and columns in this issue. To see the photos and captions including the Snapshots of Our Community section, view the on-line version above or download the PDFs whose links follow this table of contents.
the PDF file. This is a 63 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.
By Harriet Halbig
Monument Academy (MA) board President Mark McWilliams reported on the construction of MA’s new middle/high school under construction at the intersection of Highways 105 and 83 during the May 19 meeting of the Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education. The board also discussed budget decisions in this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
Aimee Clode, project manager for the school, said that despite bad weather and the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, construction is on schedule and under budget. She said that activity now includes elevator installation, drywall installation, painting, and other finishing activities. The lockers will soon be installed.
Clode said that sufficient funding from the contingency fund could allow for additional outdoor purchases such as basketball hoops and landscaping.
McWilliams encouraged members of the board to visit the site two at a time due to COVID restrictions
McWilliams also reported that MA is working with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to finalize plans for ingress and egress from the site.
Board Treasurer Ron Schwarz asked what the schedule would be for teachers and students to enter the new facility.
Chief Operating Officer Christianna Herrera replied that teacher training would be held at the current campus on Highway 105 until the certificate of occupancy is obtained to allow staff into the new structure. She said that storage containers will be rented for the furniture for the new building so that it may be moved in quickly.
Herrera said that the two facilities would allow for MA to maintain sufficient social distancing once school is in session. She said she hopes not to need to use modular classrooms if the certificate is delayed.
The MA calendar calls for an opening date of Aug. 29 and it is hoped that the property will be turned over to the school two weeks prior.
Herrera also reported that there is currently a hiring freeze on all new assistant principals and some other administrative personnel to maintain the budget.
Many middle school teachers are also qualified to teach high school classes. Middle School Principal Julie Seymour will teach in the fall in addition to Herrera herself. A Latin and history teacher has been hired for the high school.
Currently, 1,028 students are enrolled. Herrera reported that MA has open seats and a waitlist of 196. The waitlist consists of families which have submitted a letter of intent. These families will not necessarily leave their current schools. In the event that the seats are filled, remaining students will be selected by a lottery. Interviews are ongoing.
Board President Matthew Clawson said he had heard that the new school would open with only a ninth-grade class and not ninth and tenth as anticipated. Herrera confirmed that there were not enough students to support two classes.
Herrera said that MA is making the best decisions possible under the unprecedented circumstances and appreciates the support of the district.
2020-21 preliminary budget discussion
State law requires that the district approve and submit a budget by the end of June. Due to the extended closure and fluid conditions at the state and federal levels, this year’s budget will be more challenging than before.
Executive Director of Financial Services David Crews provided the board with a draft budget.
Among the new features of this year’s revenue are a number of contributions allowed by recent legislation. The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed by the federal government on March 27 serves to cover such contingencies as paid sick leave, insurance coverage of virus testing, and nutritional support. The state received $121 million from this act, and the district is likely to receive a projected $228,000. This money can be used for educational technology (such as that needed for distance learning during the closure), training and supplies for sanitation, mental health support, and continuation of employment of existing staff.
Superintendent K.C. Somers said that the funds will be distributed on a per-pupil basis and must be spent by the end of 2020.
The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) is expected to provide $44 million statewide, with an unknown amount coming to District 38.
There has been a significant decline in tax revenue and consequently a shortfall in revenue at the state level. Although the district is floor funded—receiving the lowest amount per pupil in the state—this shortfall could result in a further decline in per-pupil revenue in the coming year because the state budget must be balanced.
Crews was therefore asked to provide a range of budget proposals reflecting anything from a 5% to 15% cut in expenditures.
Crews stated that at least $5.96 million will need to be cut from the budget, while also considering that the state could provide 14% less funding in the coming year.
Clawson remarked that this may not be a worst-case scenario, because the state may also demand rescissions to compensate for shortfalls during the year.
Somers said that he has been advised to prepare for the worst and that the virus pandemic is likely to have a multi-year impact. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding a ripple effect.
Board Secretary Tiffiney Upchurch asked whether the proposed budget included salary cuts or a salary freeze. Crews responded that the salaries will remain the same, but increased health insurance and retirement contributions (to the Public Employees Retirement Association) will result in a net loss of income.
Somers commented that he did not feel comfortable addressing salary cuts at this stage of the planning.
Clawson asked Crews whether Nutritional Services is the only cost-neutral program in the district. Crews confirmed that it is.
Clawson speculated whether it could be possible to make other aspects of the district cost neutral, perhaps through increased fees, as this is an affluent community. In this way the families of students could contribute.
Schwarz commented that he was aware that a number of stakeholders were attending the virtual meeting and wished to assure them that all was being taken into account as these decisions are being made.
Upchurch said that she also wants it understood that some revenues such as the Colorado Preschool Program, which is state funded, would not be cut from the budget.
Director Chris Taylor commented that the recent shutdown will have a depressing effect of unknown duration after three years of a booming economy. He discouraged spending a large portion of reserves in one year in case the impact is long-lasting. He said that this also suggests the importance of having a multi-year budget plan.
Upchurch said she would wish all cuts be kept away from the classroom to the extent that is possible. She suggested cutting funding for conference attendance and expenses for board members.
Taylor asked whether Somers would conduct a survey of teachers regarding the acceptability of furloughs. Somers said that he wished to postpone that until further along in the process.
Taylor pointed out that many people are now losing their jobs and the district compensated two years ago for the cuts made during the recession.
The board approved changes to two policies regarding discipline, which were required by legislation.
Somers said he continues to meet with a consortium of regional superintendents regarding plans for reopening, and he announced approved plans for graduations on June 11 and 12 at UCHealth Park, where the Rocky Mountain Vibes play. Only staff and students will be allowed to attend.
The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Monday of the month at 6 p.m.; however, the June meeting will be held June 22 rather than June 15. All meetings are now conducted virtually. Please see the website at www.lewispalmer.org for details.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held its regular board meeting on May 6 online to approve a preliminary budget, plan for next year, and hear an update from the School Accountability and Advisory Committee (SAAC.)
2020-21 budget cuts
MA Chief Operating Officer Christianna Herrera shared communication from D38 Superintendent Dr. KC Somers regarding state funding for education. She said there were discussions ranging from a 1% to 10% or even up to a 20% decrease. The state is projecting a $3 billion deficit in its budget; education is a large part of the state budget so there will be deep cuts. Herrera said that voting for an MA budget with a 10% decrease would be the conservative vote and that MA will need to dip into reserves but wants to maintain enough reserves for at least two years.
She noted that a 10% decrease would mean a hiring freeze and no salary increases but would avoid salary decreases or loss of employment. She said the budget would have to be amended at some point in the future. Herrera noted that MA is in a better position than some schools because it has a rainy-day fund.
Herrera returned to the previous meeting’s questions on bailout money, state funding, and stimulus money. She noted that MA’s preschool doesn’t qualify but hoped that a future package might help. Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds were distributed to each district based on Title 1 percentages. D38 gets $288,000, of which $40,000 goes to MA. This is $41 per student and doesn’t go far in shoring up the budget shortfall. She noted that D49 received more ESSER funds because it serves more military and low-income students. Other hopes for funding have fallen through.
Later in the meeting, board members addressed the proposed budget. Finance Director Marc Brocklehurst noted that the state was likely to cut $41 billion from the education budget. He recommended going with the 10% reduction scenario. There would not be a decrease in salaries, but it would require the use of $400,000 from reserves.
Board member Megghan St. Aubyn asked if there were additional cuts beyond the use of reserves. Brocklehurst said there were cuts in professional education services, supplies, and building repairs. This includes technical services, gifted and talented services, exceptional student services and marketing services. Supplies would include curriculum, art supplies, and band supplies. Board member Melanie Strop indicated parents could help with supplies but asked how cuts in professional education services would affect kids. Strop said this budget is hard but gave kudos for keeping teachers. President Mark McWilliams noted that MA will have to take a hard look at a lot of things and reach out to the community for help. McWilliams confirmed that previously approved pay raises and bonuses were canceled. Strop told teachers that this in no way reflected on their worth to the board.
The MA board unanimously approved the proposed 2020-21 budget with a 10% decrease.
Plans for next year
Herrera is focused on preparing for next year. She said MA is looking at various scenarios, from a full return, to online at home, or something in between. She said that some parents won’t want kids exposed, so MA will have to consider how to deal with some students at home and some in the building. She said she is glad the middle school and high school enrollment is small, so they can deliver individual learning plans for each student. She said MA does have extra space in the secondary school, so it can implement social distancing. There is also extra space in the elementary school slated for labs, gifted and talented, and a tech lab that could be used for social distancing as well.
She noted that next year’s enrollment is 943 full-time equivalent (FTE). MA has lost some students and gained some via enrollment and disenrollment. MA is tracking disenrollments due to relocation, job loss, moving, and concern about kids going to school. There are three students whose Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are being reviewed to see if MA has the right resources. There are 71 students on a list who have expressed interest but have not yet accepted a seat. There are open seats in all grades except kindergarten. Parents who are making decisions cannot tour, meet teachers, or see classrooms at this time so are delaying their decisions.
Board member Chris Dole reported that the School Accountability and Advisory Committee (SAAC) has been busy catching up on delayed meetings. Two meetings were held in April covering four major items:
• The mid-year survey was forwarded to the board for informational purposes only. The participation rate was low but showed a positive response to the school’s character emphasis as well as communication from teachers and outstanding teachers/staff. Concerns included food choices, limiting tech time, and whether middle school would get lost in the opening of the new campus.
• The Family-School-Community Partnership review was completed and looks at the school on six different standards: welcoming families, communicating effectively, supporting students’ success, speaking for every child, sharing power, and collaborating with the community. Scores, which include ratings of emerging, progressing and excelling, were provided to the deans.
• The Uniform Improvement Plan (UIP) is submitted every two years and updated in between. The UIP shows some plateaus in fourth-grade reading. Assessment Coordinator Marty Venticinque helps the SAAC and teachers understand how to read the data and explains what tools are available to create a learning plan for each student.
• The SAAC initially hoped to add questions to the End-of-Year Survey on eLearning but did not do so. The questions were the same as in the previous year and closed on May 11. The next meeting was held on May 18, and results will be presented to the board in June.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Strop reported that construction on the new secondary school was on schedule to hit the mid-August date.
• The Northwestern Evaluation Association (NWEA) results for fifth grade were very strong.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, June 9 at 6 p.m. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month.
Email email@example.com to get a Zoom invitation to the next board meeting and/or to submit comments or ask questions. See http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board for the latest information.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For up to date information on this changing situation, see https://covid19.colorado.gov/blog/safer-at-home. The goal is still for the general public to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out. Certain businesses may open now but with strict precautions. It’s a new level of safety that still includes keeping your distance, wearing a mask when in public, and limiting size of gatherings to less than ten people. The El Paso County Public Health Department still wants you to be Safer at Home.
For daily Colorado COVID-19 updates and other information, see https://covid19.colorado.gov/case-data. El Paso County’s data is at www.elpasocountyhealth.org/services/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.
Community resources: dial 2-1-1 or visit 211Colorado.org and www.elpasocountyhealth.org/community-resources-0. Health info: 719-575-8888.
Almost all local events have been canceled, suspended, or are being conducted on-line or by conference call. See pages 28-31 for details.
The unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation presents scheduling challenges for 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.
Dates are shown for events 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.
By Harriet Halbig
The District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) is composed of teachers and parents from each of the district’s schools and members of the administration, including a liaison from the Board of Education.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all district meetings are being held online.
Board and legislative update
Board liaison Tiffiney Upchurch reported that, due to the pandemic, the state Legislature suspended its session in March. As a result, many issues have been tabled until next year, including most bills involving education
Upchurch then spoke of the board’s strategic plan, including the following goals:
• Providing a safe, healthy, welcoming environment for students.
• Providing a quality education.
• Offering a deep professional culture for staff.
• Providing effective asset management.
• Forging strong community relationships.
Each of these initiatives has been assigned to two individuals on the board or in the administration.
Upchurch also said D38 was one of the largest participants in distance learning in the state. She said Superintendent K.C. Somers is beginning to plan for various options for fall.
Executive Director of Financial Services David Crews presented information on the 2020-21 budget. For details, please see the Board of Education article on page 1 of this issue.
DAAC’s charter includes the requirement that it review and advise on the district’s budget priorities. The budget must be submitted to the state before June 30. The board will meet in a work session on June 2 to discuss details of necessary cuts.
Crews said the draft budget does not include any cuts in salaries or layoffs but represents a 12% to 14% decrease in revenue due to the pandemic’s impact on state and federal revenue.
When asked for comment from the committee, one member said that after meeting with other teachers, it was agreed that they would prefer to remain employed even with a pay reduction rather than be laid off.
Somers said that the number of activities would not be reduced, but fees may be increased, including the transportation fee. Some vacant positions may not be filled.
Executive Director of Learning Services Lori Benton said the district could begin to do things that had previously been contracted out, such as printing, professional development, and compilation of kits for science classes.
Multiple pathways presentation
Benton presented information on alternatives to traditional post-secondary pathways.
She said that 20% of students were not having their needs met through traditional classroom education and that there are many alternatives to a traditional four-year college education.
Among those is career and technical education, which provides a background in such areas as biomedicine, marketing, information technology, salon and spa careers, and journalism. In this program, students can pursue career training during their high school years and graduate with the ability to make a good living, Benton said. Funding comes from grants.
In Concurrent Enrollment, high school students can enroll in post-secondary courses and earn college credit during their high school years. Students attend classes at Pikes Peak Community College or the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs during their regular school day. Tuition is paid through the state-provided per pupil revenue. Some teachers have also been certified to teach college-level courses at D38 schools for college credit.
The ASCENT program (Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment) allows students who complete 12 postsecondary credits before the end of 12th grade to extend their high school graduation for one year. Students are required to apply for state funding, and do not need remedial courses. Textbooks and fees are the responsibility of the students. They are not eligible for federal financial aid but may use private scholarships.
The district also offers a number of alternatives in online learning. Part-time, full-time, and single online courses are offered. One advantage of the online learning offerings is that students who came into the district after their freshman year in high school can take courses required by the state without attending summer school. Others can take online courses to compensate for the fact they are unable to take required courses due to time conflicts with sports or other activities.
Benton responded to a question by saying that students may not use the online option to take more than a full schedule of academic classes in order to hasten graduation.
Somers reported on his first year in the district, including periods of listening and learning, the election season, post-election debriefing, and dealing with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
Goals include creating and solidifying the strategic plan for the district and developing an effective relationship between the superintendent and the board.
The philosophy behind all decisions is to place the students first by creating a welcoming environment and a rigorous and relevant education by meeting students on their level and meeting their individual needs.
A second goal is to have a high-performance staff that is provided with professional development and compensated competitively to promote retention.
A third goal is to have financial stability and community engagement by developing partnerships within the community and encouraging trust and transparency.
Because of these initiatives, regional demand to attend D38 schools should continue and increase, Somers said.
Somers thanked the members of DAAC for their support and contributions.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee will have no further meetings this school year.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
The Pinon Pines Metropolitan District 1 (PPMD 1) board met via teleconference for 15 minutes on May 11 to appoint new board members. However, due to a failure to officially post the meeting on the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) website and the absence of a district counsel, the board meeting was rescheduled via teleconference for May 18, at which time the new board directors were appointed and district matters were discussed.
PPMD 1 is one of three taxation/financing districts within FLMD, which is the operating district. PPMD 1 has a different set of board members than FLMD, PPMD 2, and PPMD 3. As of May 18, all PPMD 1 board members are also residents of Forest Lakes. See www.ocn.me/v20n5.htm#flmd.
Acceptance of board positions
At the May 11 meeting, District Manager Ann Nichols asked the two current PPMD 1 board directors to accept specific positions on the board before appointing the new board members. Director Mike Hitchcock volunteered to take the position of board president, Director Mike Slavick accepted the position of vice president, and Chris Paulene volunteered to be secretary. The board accepted the board positions at the May 18 board meeting, 4-0.
Paulene was locked out of the May 18 teleconference for the first 19 minutes because Nichols had inadvertently locked the meeting to more attendees and could not unlock it. Resident Michael Davidson solved the problem when he left his home to invite Paulene to join the call at the Davidson home.
New directors on board
On May 18, the PPMD 1 board met to confirm that the newly appointed directors AJ Slavick, Ashley Franklin, and Paulene had signed their oaths previously in the presence of Mike Slavick after the May 5 board election. Nichols confirmed that seven candidates applied for the PPMD 1 board and four willingly withdrew their applications to avoid election costs.
District counsel Russell A. Dykstra gave the newly appointed directors a succinct overview of the strict Special District Association of Colorado (SDACO) board member rules and procedures.
Classic Homes asked to resolve drainage problems
Paulene asked if Classic Homes Inc. would resolve the continuing drainage issues that persist across individual residential lots. He said Classic had responded via email asserting that everything was working well, but "water is still running across our lots" and Classic is not working the problem through.
Nichols suggested Paulene contact Jerry Richardson, the vice president of Classic Homes, once again to check how the landscaping was done and find a resolution to the drainage problems through the homebuilder.
FLMD can only resolve problems with the landscaping in common area open spaces, tracts that they have assumed management of, she said. "The open space is owned by FLMD, and if there is an issue whether the hill berm got adequately landscaped, the FLMD board could deal with that. But, if the issue is that the designed way drainage is supposed to go around the houses, FLMD wouldn’t have much authority on that," said Nichols.
Dykstra said residents could request formal action via FLMD if all other alternative avenues fail.
Nichols said that Classic Homes CEO Douglas Stimple and Vice President/Project Manager James Boulton are aware of the drainage problems, and if it remains unresolved she would add the discussion point to the next Forest Lakes Metropolitan District meeting agenda.
Note: Board members for FLMD and PPMD 2 and 3 are: President George Lenz, executive vice president of finance of Classic Homes; Secretary Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes; Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Stimple; and Assistant Secretary Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes. One board member vacancy exists in all three of these districts.
Southern trail update
Franklin asked when the southern walking trail would be completed.
Nichols said that in the interest of public safety, the trail located across the Pinon Lake spillway and along Bristlecone Lake, and connecting to the county trail near the Pikes Peak National Forest, would not be available to the residents for at least another year or until the western section of PPMD 2 is closer to build-out.
Classic Homes will build the trail, after which the district will maintain the trail.
Nichols give an update on the PPMD 1 March financial statement citing the following minimal expenses:
• Property tax and Special Ownership Tax revenues are right on schedule for 2020.
• $115,000 will be debited later in the year to FLMD for the Operation & Management mill levy to cover expenses for PPMD 1.
• The paying agent fee for the trustees for the bonds remains unpaid for 2020.
• SDACO dues of $382 are paid annually, which allows access to its general liability insurance program for a cost of $2,015 annually in January. The insurance covers any lawsuit that may be brought against board members.
• The El Paso County treasurer charges a 2% fee on property taxes, and $790 has been collected through March.
Nichols described the two funds in PPMD 1, the General Fund for everything except expenses for the bonds, and the Debt Service Fund. About $134,000 is currently held in the General Fund, and $62,911 will be paid from the General Fund to the Debt Service Fund. The 2016 bond ordinance is now fully funded, but the reserve fund and the surplus funds are still very constrained as to how the funds can be used, she said.
Nichols said a "full blown" audit is required annually, and the 2019 audit is currently being conducted by Hoelting & Co. It is expected to be completed in July. An interim payment of $2,300 will be made to Hoelting & Co. for the 2019 audit.
The financial statement was accepted as presented 5-0.
Note: FLMD is the operating district, so its budget is considerably more substantial.
The meeting adjourned at 5:02 p.m.
PPMD 1 meetings, followed by joint meetings of FLMD and PPMD 2 AND 3, have typically been scheduled once a quarter at 4 p.m. when all four boards were made up of the same people. The next scheduled special meeting for PPMD 1 is July 13 at 4 p.m. Please check the website for the location and/or joining instructions for all of these four meetings, which may or may not be held on the same day. Official meeting notices are posted on the district website at www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at (719) 327-5810 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) met on May 12. The only people present were the three JUC members, Facility Manager Bill Burks, and JUC Recorder Susanne Wielgopolan. The April 14 meeting was canceled.
TLWWTF is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD).
The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: MSD board Chairman Ed DeLaney, JUC president; PLSD board member Reid Wiecks, JUC vice president, and WWSD board Director Lee Hanson, JUC secretary/treasurer.
Burks described some issues related to COVID-19 pandemic, including:
A TLWWTF employee was exposed to someone who may have had COVID-19. Burks’ opinion, and JUC consensus, was to send him home for up to 14 days of quarantine with pay until the results were known.
He instituted special scheduling from March 23 to April 27 so fewer staff members would be on site at the same time.
Wiecks said a local co-op has helped make 10,000 fabric face masks. Burks’ wife made NFL-themed cloth masks for the TLWWTF staff.
The members discussed how to conduct future JUC meetings so that district managers, other district board members, and members of the public could attend.
Hanson suggested that since WWSD has a Zoom video conference account, they could offer that as an option. The three voting JUC members will attend the meetings in person, and the public would be welcome to attend either way.
Wiecks and Burks mentioned a story on National Public Radio about wastewater plants’ ability to track concentrations of COVID-19. All Things Considered featured, “How What You Flush is Helping Track the Coronavirus.” In wastewater, non-infective remains of viruses can be measured. This real-time measurement could help cities in the future detect new waves of infections, even before the medical community can identify them. Similar testing has been used to identify polio outbreaks worldwide.
This testing is not being performed at TLWWTF. See www.npr.org/2020/05/07/852155076/how-what-you-flush-is-helping-track-coronavirus. “It was fascinating,” Wiecks said.
Plant manager’s report
Burks presented the February and March Discharge Monitoring Reports and details on the continued smooth operation of the facility. His comments included:
Trash cans are where to put so-called "flushable" wipes. Do not put them in the toilet, since they clog the pumps in the wastewater system.
The state-required chemical total phosphorus removal tertiary clarifier system continued to give the unexpected benefit of significantly reducing levels of metals and E. coli in the effluent.
TLWWTF pays $4,000 a month for phosphorus treatment chemicals, and Colorado Springs Utilities noticed a positive difference in the water quality in Monument Creek.
Radium plan for Woodmoor Water
Hanson mentioned that one sample of WWSD’s new Well 21 recently tested at 6 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of radium, when the maximum contaminant level allowed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is 5 pCi/L.
He said WWSD now plans to upgrade the central water plant and deal with the radium using a process of blending that water with water from other wells, but they will also need to add a special filtration process. This will allow WWSD to create finished water that can be distributed to customers.
Hanson asked Burks if the filter flushing would send “a bunch of radium” into the wastewater system and cause problems for TLWWTF, but Burks said no. Hanson said JVA Consulting Engineers also thought the effect on the wastewater system would be negligible.
Note: Well 21 was already tested and found high in radium last year. See www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#tlwtf, www.ocn.me/v19n10.htm#wwsd. The Town of Monument water service area is also dealing with radium. See www.ocn.me/v20n5.htm#mbot0406.
Goodbye and thank you
Hanson told the JUC members that WWSD Assistant Manager Randy Gillette has retired from the district.
This was President Ed DeLaney’s last JUC meeting. Due to term limitations, he must leave the MSD board. He has volunteered in numerous capacities for the community for 38 years and counting. He began serving on the Monument Planning Commission in 1981, joined the Landscape Committee in 1985, and served on the Monument Board of Trustees from 1989 to 2010, where he was mayor pro-tem for eight years. He took a year off and then returned to the Planning Commission until the end of 2018. He served on the MSD board since 1992 and has represented MSD on the JUC.
DeLaney told the JUC, “I appreciate and enjoyed my time here. Thank you very much. With that, we are adjourned.”
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 9 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
At the May 14 Donala Water and Sanitation District’s Board of Directors meeting, General Manager Kip Petersen presented his last manager’s report before his May 29 retirement. He outlined the spate of challenges facing the district’s management of summer water demand coupled with wastewater compliance. Donala’s new general manager, Jeff Hodge, attended the in-person meeting for staff and directors. Members of the public were eligible to connect as online participants.
Juggling water needs and wastewater compliance
Petersen explained that balancing the district’s upcoming summer water season with strict wastewater arsenic disposal regulations presented challenges because of coronavirus-related delays to the currently under-construction residual management facility. A key piece of equipment, a press, at the facility may not arrive until mid-July or August. The delayed functionality of the residual management facility postpones the district’s landfill alternative for disposing of arsenic, which is naturally present in groundwater. Currently, arsenic, and other substances such as iron and manganese, are removed in the process of "finishing" drinking water by Donala’s groundwater treatment plant. The treatment’s resulting waste is diverted to a wastewater collection system and then sent to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF), which discharges into Monument Creek. For more information, see https://www.ocn.me/v20n5.htm#dwsd.
By constructing the residual management facility, Donala would comfortably fall well below the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) regulations—effective as of October 2019—which strictly limit the amount of arsenic that can be discharged by wastewater treatment facilities. The facility is intended to act as a pretreatment process that removes arsenic for landfill disposal before the water heads to the finishing process. This means that most, if not all, of the groundwater’s arsenic would be captured and delivered to a landfill and not directed for discharge by the wastewater treatment facility. This pretreatment step would ease Donala’s CDPHE compliance concerns over the amount of arsenic-containing groundwater that is pumped from wells during the high-water-demand summer irrigation season. It also allows Donala to rely less heavily on its more expensive surface, or renewable, water from Willow Creek Ranch.
In response to these challenges, Petersen presented three options:
• Lease an additional 125 acre-feet of water from the Pueblo Board of Water Works (PBWW). This water would be arsenic-free since it would pass through Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) treatment process.
• Rent a steel "Baker" tank to store waste from finished water until the residual management facility is operational.
• Manage the wells to minimize the amount of arsenic generated.
Petersen indicated that the water lease option was the least desirable because it would likely be encumbered with expense—$376,796 in combined PBWW and CSU charges—and legal complications. However, Petersen requested and was granted board authorization to execute such a contract if it proved to be the only viable option. A $100,000 contingency line item in the 2020 budget would help pay for the additional water, but Petersen added that the district would also likely need to access budget reserves.
District staff anticipated that one of the wells in need of repair would be out of service for at least a month and the other may be irreparable. Petersen reported that Water Superintendent Mark Parker deemed 24-hour monitoring of the two functional wells as a possible alternative to avoid arsenic exceedance at the wastewater treatment facility.
Land donation considered
Petersen reported that Scott Gratrix of G&S Development is completing final matters in transforming the former Gleneagle Golf Course and proposed to donate a land parcel legally described as Tract A, Muirfield to Donala. The 7,800-square-foot parcel, outfitted with water, wastewater, reuse, storm drainage/outlet, gas, electric, and communication lines, is not a buildable lot. However, Petersen recommended obtaining the land to control activities that occur on the property and thus control the district’s associated utility lines. Petersen did not foresee making any improvements other than a fence to prevent onsite parking. Directors approved the donation and authorized Petersen to obtain title insurance on the parcel.
Exceptional performance recognized; directors inducted
Vice President Ed Houle crafted a resolution acknowledging the staff’s efforts to support customers and provide outstanding service during the pandemic. Petersen recited the resolution verbatim to acknowledge each staff person individually. The board approved the resolution unanimously.
In another portion of the meeting, Petersen praised Office Manager Tanja Smith for her designated election official work in successfully organizing the May 5 election for three open Board of Directors positions. He commended accounting staff Christina Hawker and Lindsay Beavers as well as poll watchers Ginnette Ritz and Leslie Cross for their support.
At the close of the meeting, outgoing President Ken Judd inducted the three recently elected directors who will begin three-year terms as of June 2020: Ed Houle, Kevin Deardorff, and Bill George. The board voted to name Ed Houle president, Wayne Vanderschuere vice president, and Kevin Deardorff secretary-treasurer.
PPRWA and CSU regionalization updates
In an update on the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Petersen informed the board that statewide revenue is expected to plummet for the upcoming fiscal year or longer due to the coronavirus pandemic. May 1 marked the official date for sports betting to be legal in Colorado, but the shut-down of sporting events in response to COVID-19 has rendered betting revenue nonexistent. A large percentage of any revenue generated by sports betting is earmarked to support Colorado’s Water Plan and some of those funds were expected to trickle down in support of individual water districts throughout the state.
Petersen commented on the potential regionalization of water and wastewater services with CSU. The Colorado Springs City Council, the board that oversees CSU, appears willing to consider regional provision of services under certain conditions. Petersen maintained that Donala’s return flows were a top priority and certain challenges needed to be resolved.
• Petersen announced that the water main replacement project was moving forward. Pate Construction was the low bidder at $1.05 million, which falls about $200,000 below the budgeted amount. The project was expected to begin shortly after Memorial Day and to address Candlewood Court, Hunting Beach Drive, and Mission Hill Way. Affected residents can expect to receive additional information in the mail.
• Maintenance work at Willow Creek Ranch—such as clearing beaver dams—was expected to occur mid-May. Petersen confirmed that his search for a trapper is ongoing.
• The district produced 16.97 million gallons of water in April versus 12.03 million gallons in March; a 30% increase and an indication that limited summer irrigation had begun. Petersen confirmed that 49% of the supply came from Willow Creek Ranch and 51% came from the district’s groundwater wells.
The meeting adjourned at 2:47 p.m.
Caption: Newly hired General Manager Jeff Hodge and outgoing General Manager Kip Petersen take a moment to capture a photo and highlight their efforts in smoothly transitioning the leadership of the Donala Water and Sanitation District. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor, assisted by Kip Petersen.
Board meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. The next board meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 18. The meeting may be held as a conference call or online video meeting depending on the status of stay-at-home restrictions; call (719)488-3603 or access www.donalawater.org to receive up-to-date meeting information. The district office is located at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs. When the directors meet in person, meetings are held in the district office conference room. See https://www.donalawater.org to access prior meeting minutes and the 2020 meeting calendar.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
Triview Metropolitan District water attorney Chris Cummins summarized a potential water rights, water storage, and land purchase at the May 20 meeting of the Board of Directors. Nate Eckloff of underwriter Piper Sandler and Co. presented a status update on the district’s bond sale, which was initiated in an April resolution and is intended to fund the purchase. All directors attended the online meeting.
Triview is a Title 32 special district within Monument that provides road, landscaping, and open space maintenance, and water and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas. See https://triviewmetro.com/districtMap for a map of district boundaries.
The May board packet may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2020/BoardPacket_RegularMtg_2020-05-20.pdf.
Bonds attract strong response to fund major water investment
During Triview’s April board meeting, directors approved Resolution 2020-02, which authorized the issuance and sale of water and wastewater enterprise revenue bonds and established parameters on the amount, interest rate, and duration of the bonds, as well as other details. Upon the resolution’s approval, Eckloff stated that he worked with Triview counsel and law firm Butler Snow to craft an official statement to submit to rating agencies and market the bonds.
In his May summary, Eckloff reported that Moody’s rated the bonds A3 and identified Triview’s strengths as proactive water and financial management, strong debt service coverage, and good liquidity. The $16.14 million bonds will be insured by Build America Mutual Assurance Co., which is rated AA by Standard and Poor’s. The bonds received a green designation, which Eckloff indicated gathers more interest in the marketplace. The final true interest cost is 3.29% for a 30-year term with a net interest cost of 3.32%. The bonds also achieved an eight-year call allowing the district to potentially refinance or pay off the bonds after the eight-year anniversary without penalty. District Manager Jim McGrady confirmed later that the bonds fell comfortably within all parameters established by Resolution 2020-02. Eckloff expected to close the transaction on May 27.
Cummins then provided a detailed explanation of a water-related purchase that has been under consideration since January. If approved by the board, the district would acquire shares in a company called Stonewall Springs Reservoir Co. and, subsequently, 18,358 acre-feet of conditional water storage interests in the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex, which is partially constructed and located on the Arkansas River near Pueblo. The complex is designed to be a multi-vessel storage facility for Triview—and other municipal partners who wish to purchase storage from Triview—to park and maneuver renewable water supplies, as necessary. Included with the complex are 797 acres of land and mineral rights for the corresponding sand and gravel that must be removed for continued construction of the complex.
Final components of the purchase would include 1,341 shares of Excelsior Irrigating Co. senior surface water rights and a 2,050-acre-foot junior diversion water storage right from the Arkansas River into the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex. Cummins affirmed that the Excelsior shares have a decreed average annual yield of 568 annual acre-feet of a renewable water supply. The price tag for these assets would total $9.505 million.
The portion of the complex that has been constructed, known as the south reservoir, is expected to be fully operational in 2020 and estimated to hold 2,050 acre-feet of renewable water of which Triview will own about 850 acre-feet of storage. Cummins confirmed that, upon board approval of the purchase, Triview may put some of its water in the south reservoir this year.
Cummins acknowledged that the purchase begs the question, "What is a district of Triview’s size going to do with 18,000-plus acre feet of water storage?" He responded that Triview would seek partners who want to store water in the complex—of which he believes there are several—to help fund the operation and develop the project. It would be a partnership project for the foreseeable future.
Vice President Marco Fiorito voiced strong support for the purchase, stating it creates an avenue to encourage water regionalization. Director James Otis enthusiastically affirmed the deal as well. Cummins recommended closing on the opportunity.
McGrady confirmed that, following additional discussion in its executive session, the board voted to approve the purchase after returning to an open session.
Weather permits final work on JCP, secondary roads
Parks and Open Space Superintendent Jay Bateman reported that phase one, which included the installation and inspection of the landscape irrigation system in the Jackson Creek Parkway (JCP) median, was completed.
He confirmed that Kiewit was on site May 4 to begin completion of the parkway’s widening project that had begun in late July 2019. Severe October weather caused Kiewit to postpone the curb and gutter and asphalt overlay work because cold temperatures negatively affect quality outcomes. June 17 is the anticipated completion date for the JCP widening and sidewalk installation.
Triview addressed other roads in the district with a 2020 mill and overlay process. Bateman reported that most of that work had been completed. Extremely soft sections of Colorado Central Way needed to be fixed before Gleneagle Drive could be completed, however. McGrady expected to overlay Gleneagle Drive from Baptist Road to the north side of Lyons Tail probably in the first week of June.
The board discussed another problem area in the portion of JCP near the Baptist Road-JCP intersection. This section was paved in the past few years but appears to be subject to drainage problems. McGrady acknowledged that a prior attempt to improve drainage in the area was ineffective, and he is seeking a solution.
Additional actions and updates
• President Mark Melville conducted the online swearing-in ceremony for incumbent Vice President Fiorito and incumbent Director Otis. The directors will serve four-year terms.
• Progress on wells A9 and D9 in Sanctuary Pointe continues. Pumps for the wells have been sized. McGrady estimated that, collectively, the pumps would realistically produce 500 gallons per minute and possibly 550 gallons per minute. Construction on the dual-purpose pumphouse and restroom was expected to begin soon. The wells may be operational soon after July 4.
• In response to a letter from the U.S. Air Force Academy, McGrady confirmed that he had communicated his opinion of the best North Monument Creek Interceptor route. As part of potential wastewater regionalization between Colorado Springs Utilities and wastewater entities in northern El Paso County, Triview is exploring a temporary measure to expedite wastewater transport and treatment for the Air Force Academy’s Visitors Center. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n4.htm#tvmd and pages 14 through 18 of the May 20, 2020 board packet via the link listed above.
• Directors reviewed and approved Resolution 2020-06, which allows the district to use bond financing of up to $8 million as reimbursement for water and/or sewer capital project expenses.
• Concerns over dropping sales tax revenue as of spring 2019 were alleviated. It was discovered that an ownership change at a local business caused a misdirection of sales tax revenue to El Paso County instead of the Town of Monument. Triview receives a 50% portion of sales tax revenue from Monument, which is the sole funding source for the district’s road, park, and open space maintenance.
At 6:46 p.m., the board entered executive session §24-6-402(4)(b)(e) legal advice, negotiations.
The next Triview board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 17. 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, via conference call, or online. 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 reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By John Howe
On May 27, Forest View Acres Water District held its monthly board meeting.
It was announced that board members will not switch board positions until they can meet in person.
Treasurer Nancy Wilkins directed several questions at District Manager Lisa Jacoby of Community Resources Services of Colorado (CRS), including clarification on discrepancies in the tap fees report and Wilkins’ lack of access to certain specific financial reports. A heated debate ensued until President Brad Hogan said the board had not asked for certain reports, and he directed that Wilkins’ comments about details of the contract with CRS resume at the June 24 meeting.
Water Operator Clyde Penn presented the operations report, noting continued turbidity problems in the surface water plant. The consensus was to ask JDS-Hydro for assistance. See https://colorado.gov/fvawd for more information.
Caption: From left are District Manager Lisa Jacoby of Community Resources Services of Colorado, President Brad Hogan, Water Operator Clyde Penn, and Director Eckehart Zimmerman. On the phone were Director Hans Zimmermann, Treasurer Nancy Wilkins, and attorney Peter Johnson. Photo by John Howe. See article on. page 12.
John Howe can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
New board members were sworn in at the May 19 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District meeting after the May 5 election. The virtual meeting resulted in more discussions than it did votes to move the district forward. This included a postponement of the pension fund increase, the district website, and the district’s strategic plan. Treasurer Joyce Hartung was noted absent.
Three board members were sworn in by Chief Vinny Burns. Incumbents Lawrence Schwarz and Duane Garrett retain their seats as directors, and Charles Fleece is seated as the fifth director. Election results were:
• Lawrence Schwarz received 138 votes.
• Duane Garrett received 137 votes.
• Charles Fleece received 107 votes.
• Steve Simpson received 84 votes.
• Chris Mendrop received 40 votes.
• Larry Ciecalone did not receive any votes.
Pension fund vote postponed
During the September 2019 pension meeting, board representatives Lt. Bryan Ackerman and Lt. Tim Hampton asked the board to raise the monthly payout for the 13 retirees who receive a disbursement. An actuarial study shows a variety of increases that the board could approve. For example, to increase the current monthly payment from $400 to $450, the fund would need to receive an annual increase of $6,583. See https://ocn.me/v19n10.htm#dwfpd.
Resident Steve Simpson suggested the pension board should consider paying retirees one lump sum rather than a monthly payment, but district counsel Michelle Ferguson said because of strict statutory requirements this might be unlawful.
Schwarz asked Ackerman to clarify the quality of volunteer bunker gear as well as volunteers’ fitness training and healthcare requirements. Ackerman said volunteers receive new gear. The only difference is the volunteer gear is not rated for interior firefighting because volunteers are not allowed to fight these types of fires initially.
"Under the departmental standard operating procedures, all volunteers are the same as paid staff and are required to train for 30 minutes every day while on shift. Because volunteers don’t pull as many shifts, they have to make up at home," said Ackerman.
Battalion Chief Scott Ridings said with regard to healthcare, "this was going to be the first year we got baseline" tests including chest x-rays and cancer screening. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all their plans have been shifted to later in the year. This will include annual fit respiratory testing, agility and pack tests, and wildland fire testing.
The board decided to postpone the vote until Fleece could be part of the discussion.
Battalion Chief Sean Pearson, who has taken charge of the district website and public relations, has put together a plan that involves a complete rebuild of the site. "My big goal is to make it sustainable rather than a pet project as it has been in the past."
Capital projects and strategic plan
Garrett asked the chiefs which items are completed that could come off the list of projects in the strategic plan. Burns said they have made significant personnel retention improvements. Also, the Gallagher amendment didn’t become an issue as expected and could be removed. The new tender is expected in July, and E-911 will be addressing station alerting.
Burns asked that the rest of the changes be discussed and prioritized by a strategic plan committee rather than being decided by the directors.
The current strategic plan is on the Wescottfire.org website.
This reporter attempted numerous times to comment during the public comment period when all microphones should be unmuted. Unfortunately, the microphone did not appear to be unmuted at the Wescott end. It is unclear if there were other members of the public who were not able to make comments.
However, resident Shannon Garrett was able to speak, saying the department is doing a great job.
• Ridings said there were 81 calls for service for April took five minutes to put out.
• The Insurance Services Organization audit is going on now, and the chiefs hope they can attain a split rating, which means houses that aren’t near a hydrant and require hauled water can be rated for lower insurance rates.
• Although the district has responded to COVID-19 positive calls, there has been no exposure within the district because the responders wear full personal protective equipment.
• If a COVID-19 patient has to be transported in a district ambulance, Ridings and Burns said it and all the items within the vehicles are decontaminated prior to the next call for service.
• The battalion chiefs respond to all calls to make sure each call receives the correct response.
Burns reported the district has received numerous thank you cards, including one from a medical call on April 27. With regard to all the food being brought to the station by the public, Burns said, "We will always be accepting of that!"
The meeting adjourned at 5:25 p.m.
The next Donald Wescott fire district meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m., June 16. During the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings will either be at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr., or held as virtual meetings. They are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OCN needs your help
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By Natalie Barszcz
On May 20, the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District board met via Zoom to seat the board directors for another term and heard the presentation of the 2019 audit. The board planned to meet on June 3 to discuss a permanent fire chief.
Directors retain seats
Chairman Rick Nearhoof administered the oath to the incumbent board Directors Jack Hinton, Nate Dowden, and Jim Abendschan. Nearhoof nominated Dowden for vice chair after David Hoffpauir requested to return to a director position. Nearhoof nominated Jack Hinton for another term as treasurer. See www.ocn.me/v20n5.htm#bffrpd.
The board unanimously approved the self-nominated board members and their board positions, 5-0.
Executive session regarding fire chief scheduled
Nearhoof announced an executive session would be held at Station 1 on June 3 at 7 p.m. to discuss a permanent fire chief. For specific details, visit www.bffire.org. The results will be included in the July 4 issue of Our Community News.
2019 audit presentation
Dawn Schilling of Schilling & Company Inc. Certified Public Accounts presented an unmodified or "clean" opinion for the 2019 audit. Schilling thanked Administrative Assistant Melissa Bottorff, Finance Director Frances Esty, and interim Fire Chief PJ Langmaid for their contribution during the audit preparation. Schilling suggested the board explore a higher yield pool investment policy for surplus funds instead of using a low yield money market fund.
Schilling said, "The district is in a good financial position as a whole."
Hinton requested all board members read and present questions regarding the 2019 audit prior to the June board meeting.
Langmaid and Deputy Chief Jim Rebitski answered questions from the board on the operational report presented via email to board members as follows:
• Staff morale remains high and they are unfazed by the pandemic. The department is focused on an increased level of training. Rebitski concurred that the atmosphere was good.
• COVID-19 costs are primarily due to sick leave and overtime backfill. Costs have reached $14,269 for BFFRPD and are expected to increase, but 75% of expenses will be recovered through grants.
• Rebitski said BFFRPD has been approved for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, and most of the footwork was done in April. Once the submission gate is open, we’re on it! he said.
• Staff members presenting with COVID-19 symptoms are tested and required to stay home.
"There’s absolutely nothing unprecedented about the COVID-19—all you have to do is look at human history and there have been pandemics since there have been people, and I told staff members we are going to manage with one more risk and get through this," said Langmaid.
A copy of the Operational Report was provided to OCN on request. Some of the following points were discussed:
• Call volume has increased slightly since the "reopening" of the region, primarily in traffic accidents.
• With increased fire danger ratings, severity patrols have been implemented. Severity patrols consist of two employees patrolling on the lookout for potential smoke in the Black Forest area during certain fire danger conditions.
• Discussions will start soon to begin "proper long-term planning" for the BFFRPD fleet, since this was not done by previous administrations. It will include purchasing processes and preventative maintenance programs.
• The construction of a training facility has begun, and metal containers are being delivered for assembly of the first training building.
• Hinton said he was searching for a commercial contract to raise the bay doors. Dowden recommended commercial building contractor CMG Corp. for the project. They have done an excellent job on Rocky Mountain Group Engineers facilities, and owner Chris Richardson is a firefighter, said Dowden.
Disaster declaration extended
Nearhoof asked the board to approve Resolution 2020-07 to extend the disaster declaration until Dec. 31. See www.ocn.me/v20n5.htm#bffrpd. The board unanimously approved the extension, 5-0.
Hinton gave the following update:
• Unrestricted funds as of the end of April were $859,747, with a total of $1.338 million of district funds.
• Expenses were incurred for a generator repair and annual maintenance, a plow and trailer and computer support.
• A reimbursement of legal fees for Tad McClurg. See www.ocn.me/v20n3.htm#bffrpd.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 5-0.
Fire code review
Dowden said his employer, RMG Engineers, participates on code review committees with the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association (CSHBA). He has been asked by Marla Novak of CSHBA to weigh in on a review of El Paso County Engineering Criteria Manual and Land Development Code Review. Chapter 6 is Fire Mitigation Wildland Fire Codes.
Langmaid said he was not aware the codes were under review. Dowden said it looks like it could be beneficial to the department if he remained involved and that Novak was not concerned that he was also a member of the BFFRPD board. A meeting between Langmaid, Rebitski and Dowden will take place to discuss the fine details.
Langmaid said he aims to prevent unwanted alterations to the codes, which could result in a loss of water supply if BFFRPD were to miss out on notifications from the Colorado Springs Planning Department, Electronic Development Application Review Program (EDARP) system, as they have in the past. Abendschan requested Dowden email the proposed fire code changes to the rest of the board.
The meeting adjourned at 8:04 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 June 17. For updates, visit www.bffire.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
On May 27, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board held its regular meeting via Zoom and with restricted attendance at Station 1 to administer the oath to four of the five elected board members and to officially promote two firefighters to engineers. Other topics of discussion included a future land purchase, the effects of COVID-19 on TLMFPD, and preparing for the 2020 wildfire season.
Director Terri Hayes was excused.
Board members sworn in
TLMFPD board President John Hildebrandt administered the oath of office to four of the five board members; all five retain their previous seats. Directors Jason Buckingham, Terri Hayes, Thomas Kelly, Roger Lance and Thomas Tharnish were re-elected. The board voted 6-0 to keep the same board positions that were held before the May 5 board election.
The following applied for three-year term board positions:
• Jason Buckingham received 63 votes.
• Harold Goldback received 33 votes.
• Terri Hayes received 57 votes.
• Roger Lance received 65 votes.
• Eric Nappo received 28 votes.
• Thomas Tharnish 50 votes.
The following candidate applied for a two-year term:
• Thomas Kelly received 85 votes. He ran unopposed, so he won the board seat.
Fire Chief Chris Truty thanked all the applicants for considering a board position and encouraged them to apply again in the future. Lance said he received positive feedback from several neighbors on the voting day process.
Future land purchase negotiations
At the end of the meeting, the board moved into an executive session to discuss matters pursuant to CRS 24-6-402(4)(e) to develop strategies for negotiations and instruct negotiators for a possible property acquisition and a land acquisition.
After returning to the regular session, the board voted 6-0 to authorize Truty to pursue the following:
• Provide a letter of interest to a developer on a future land parcel.
• Begin negotiations for a future property purchase.
No further information was provided.
Truty said the following about the effects of COVID-19:
• Call volume has declined, and the number of people being hospitalized is going down. Holding the TLMFPD state of emergency for at least another month would be the best plan of action, since neighboring fire departments have not rescinded their emergency plans yet.
• TLMFPD now has an account to receive reimbursement of 75% for COVID-19-related costs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Costs include personal protection equipment (PPE), overtime and any expense related to COVID-19 but not costs that would normally be incurred. Currently, TLMFPD has incurred almost $20,000 in unbudgeted COVID-19-related costs, far less than anticipated earlier in the pandemic.
• Daily and bi-weekly staff meetings have now been suspended, but the Colorado Springs Fire Department continues to keep TLMFPD informed with daily updates on COVID-19.
• The "pandemic 36 protocol" for 911 calls has been suspended.
• Three meetings to discuss wildland fire response took place during May with local partners and neighboring fire districts. Finding out-of-state support for wildland firefighting could be a struggle during COVID-19.
Director of Training Battalion Chief Jonathan Bradley said TLMFPD has a three-month supply of PPE, but gowns and N95 masks would be the first to run out. Items that could run low are on order with no confirmed delivery date and could take six weeks. Disinfectant is in good supply from vendors, and neighboring fire districts have offered to help if needed.
Deputy Chief Randy Trost said he feels uneasy as the state opens up. Let’s expect the worst just in case we need to ramp up again and we will keep preparing and maintaining supplies, he said.
2019 audit delayed
Truty said he was hoping the 2019 audit would be available for the June meeting, but it is more likely to be ready at the end of July.
Director of Administration Jennifer Martin said the audit is being conducted remotely with portal access to QuickBooks. Hildebrandt asked if items could be missed during the remote process, and Martin said the process is the same except the auditors do not visit the office from Colorado Springs and therefore the district is saving on trip charges.
Hildebrandt administered the oath of office to firefighters Matthew Edmunds and Braden Stoenner, who were promoted to engineers during the board meeting at Station 1.
Truty gave the following updates:
• Ferrari Films has produced four public information videos for TLMFPD in partnership with Monument Police Department Chief Sean Hemingway on several subjects to include COVID-19 and community relationships. For more details, visit www.tlmfire.org.
• Lt. Franz Hankins, president of the Monument Professional Firefighters Association Local 4319, has been interviewed by KKTV to discuss the COVID-19 response from a firefighter’s perspective, and it will air in early June.
Division Chief of Community Risk/Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner gave the following updates:
• A Ready Set Go! grant has been awarded, and a kickoff meeting is scheduled to select a site that has plenty of community support.
• The Chipping Program begins June 6 and continues through October, and the Elephant Rock community on the Palmer Divide has scheduled three weekends for chipping this year.
• Commercial building projects continue to move forward, and residential home permits have not slowed down and are a little better than last year.
Truty said the dialogue continues between El Paso County fire districts and the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association to find a suitable formula for the collection of impact fees in unincorporated El Paso County. Builders are not happy with some of the districts’ formulas that have produced high impact fees. Truty is hoping the builders will share specifics for calculating formulas that would be agreeable.
Bumgarner said that in TLMFPD, 70% of current residential building is within the Town of Monument, and the district is missing only a small portion of impact fees, mainly from the Forest Lakes development.
The regular meeting went into executive session at 7:42 p.m.
Caption: TLMFPD board President John Hildebrandt administered the oath of office to newly promoted engineers Matthew Edmunds (left) and Braden Stoenner (right) at the TLMFPD board meeting on May 27. Photo by Jennifer Martin.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 24 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, including possible Zoom meeting information, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011. For upcoming agendas, see www.tlmfire.org/board.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
During a virtual meeting May 4, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) voted to censure Trustee Laurie Clark for allegedly giving misleading and false information to the public in two news articles. A new accounting firm was approved to provide the town’s annual audit. The board approved an agreement that would allow it to apply for grants, and board members discussed the possible loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the first meeting in which all the newly elected trustees participated. Trustees Jamy Unruh and Mitch LaKind, as well as incumbent Jim Romanello, joined the existing members of the board.
Trustee censured for alleged inaccuracies
The board voted 5-2 to censure Clark as a means of expressing their disapproval regarding her recent print and online news interviews, text messages to news stations, and social media posts. Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott initiated the stern rebuke by noting the board had previously agreed that only the town manager or mayor would speak on behalf of the town when necessary.
Elliott said she observed several times where information was "grossly miscommunicated by Trustee Clark to our citizens."
Elliott said Clark was quoted in a March 23 KRDO story as saying, falsely, that Monument was going into "lockdown."
Actually, at a special meeting held March 23, six members of the board voted to approve a resolution declaring a local disaster emergency related to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Clark was absent from the meeting. The declaration provides Town Manager Mike Foreman with more decision-making authority and will allow the town to request federal funding for the pandemic for expenses related to the issue. See https://ocn.me/v20n4.htm#mbot-0323. "We never discussed or planned a lockdown," said Elliott.
Elliott said that Clark, in a lengthy Jackson Creek Monthly article, implied the cause of a neighbor’s cancer was radium in the town’s water supply. Elliott said she sincerely believes Clark is publishing and writing information without all the facts.
"It is the responsibility of this board to protect the citizens of Monument against these types of disturbing behaviors that cause unease in our community," said Elliott. She motioned to censure Clark for false information dissemination, noting, "Any of us on the board for the town must provide accurate information to our citizens."
Clark made a motion to table the vote to censure saying she had the right to answer this accusation and wanted to do so at a future meeting. "I’m not guilty of what I’ve been censured for, and I will bring an attorney to bear on this matter."
Mayor Don Wilson clarified that this was not a formal censure but a simple motion disapproving of her behavior. Therefore, the vote could occur at this meeting.
The motion to censure passed 5-2 with Clark and Trustee Jamy Unruh voting against.
New audit accounting firm approved
Finance Director Rosa Ooms asked the board to approve Hinkle and Company to perform the 2019 audit of the town’s financial records as required by law.
Ooms said she sent out requests for proposal for an auditor. During the Oct. 7 budget workshop, the board discussed with Foreman about looking for a new auditor. According to Foreman, Kyle Logan has been with every firm the town has used to perform audits for at least the last seven years. The town received two quotes as a result of the request.
In its proposal, Hinkle notes it audits for over 25 cities and towns within Colorado.
The audit cost is $15,000, which was included in this year’s budget.
A committee composed of Ooms, Human Resources Director Robert Bishop, and Foreman read through the proposals and selected Hinkle because it was the least expensive and could perform the audit in the time required by the town.
Ooms said the audit consists of Finance Department policy reviews. Also, the auditors will take samples of transactions, review internal and external processes, and ensure accounts are balanced and substantiated. They will also write the notes and financial statement presentation to the board.
Clark pushed for a more comprehensive audit that would check for embezzlement.
Clark said, "Based on my interactions with the FBI forensic auditor concerning the past 15 years of embezzlement they are investigating, he indicated that the best way to be proactive in catching that early enough next time is to make sure our next auditor give a comprehensive audit."
"We don’t have that information as public information," retorted Romanello. "It is just hearsay." Elliott noted there has been no formal finding of embezzlement within the town.
Background: Clark was referring to an announcement from Foreman during the March 18 meeting that the FBI and IRS are reviewing the town’s finances. No further information has been made public. See www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#mbot0318 and https://www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#mbot.
Ooms noted the audit is only for 2019 financial records, and if an auditor found something amiss, they would dive deeper to investigate irrespective of the type of audit they were performing.
Clark seemed to not be satisfied with this explanation, saying, "from the information I have received from the FBI forensic auditor, I wanted to change to a comprehensive audit from 2019 forward."
LaKind said, "In order to make an educated decision, on this discussion, the information Clark has from FBI, could that be shared (here with the board) before we amend the resolution?" Clark said, "I can’t disclose or comment on active investigation, but I can ask for this to be amended to include a comprehensive audit."
Following up, Clark said, "I’m not saying the FBI said to do this," rather she was asking for the resolution to be amended based on the information she received and on her own knowledge. Unruh seconded the amendment motion Clark made, but it failed in a 2-5 vote.
The initial resolution to hire Hinkle to perform an audit passed 6-1 with Clark voting against it.
Community development block grant approved
Madeline VanDenHoek, community relations specialist, brought a resolution to the board requesting an intergovernmental agreement between the town and the El Paso County Department of Economic Development in order to apply for community development block grants (CDBG).
In a letter to the town, El Paso County Economic Development Executive Director Crystal LaTier said, "We are pleased to inform you that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has notified El Paso County that it may re-qualify for designation as an Urban County.… El Paso County intends to seek that re-designation and, if successful, will be eligible to receive an allocation of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for federal fiscal years 2021-2023."
A county is considered urban under HUD requirements if it meets certain criteria including a population that exceeds 200,000.
If the county receives HOME or Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) funding, it can be offered to Monument if it elects to sign the intergovernmental agreement (IGA). HOME is a federally financed grant program intended to assist low- and very low-income participants in owning a home. ESG funds local emergency shelters and homeless prevention services.
The Town of Monument was included in an IGA in 2014 and in 2017, so this is just a renewal of those. The board approved the request unanimously.
COVID-19 concerns relating to the 2020 budget and public places
Stephens asked for an update on revenue reduction expectations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that because sales tax is a primary revenue source, he’d like to see the numbers as soon as they are available "and make them a number one priority." If the town is "falling behind" on tax numbers, "I’d encourage you to bring it up immediately so that we can address it sooner."
Foreman reminded the board that Gov. Polis allowed businesses to defer paying sales tax for March. "I’ve been in contact with other municipalities and projections are from 25-50% loss" in overall municipal revenues, said Foreman, adding the town may have to furlough some workers to adjust for the lower-than-expected income. Ooms said, "We are looking at any and all ways to minimize costs" including a stoppage of most capital projects.
During public comments, resident Ann Howe protested the town’s requirement to wear a face mask when entering Monument Town Hall. She said they were not mandated by the state and have "not been proven to be effective in any way shape or form. It’s infringing on people’s rights to require them to conduct business." Foreman said the sign is up on the facility, and they are providing masks to anyone who enters as a way to protect staff.
Checks over $5,000
• Civic Plus, website renewal, $5,407
• Murray, Dahl, Beery, Renaud, LLP, legal services for January and February 2020, $7,411
• TPX Communications, managed services, $9,306
• Jacobs Engineering, professional services paid by retainers, $5,226
The meeting adjourned at 8:27 p.m.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
At the May 18 meeting, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) heard a request to expunge the recent censure of Trustee Laurie Clark. Appointments were approved for a town treasurer and in-house attorney. And, the town will receive over a half-million dollars in funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Clark censure holds after vote to dismiss
During the May 4 meeting, the board voted to censure Clark for comments used by a reporter in a March 23 story aired by KRDO and Clark’s monthly column in the Jackson Creek Monthly. See related May 4 BOT article on page 14.
Clark asked for her attorney to speak during this meeting. Initially, her attorney, Randy B. Corporon, was allowed to only make a statement during public comments, but then Mayor Don Wilson allowed him to have a discussion with the board.
"I was asked by Miss Clark to attend the meeting to ask the board to reconsider a disciplinary action" related to two allegations of misconduct regarding the Jackson Creek Monthly column and an allegation of giving misleading information to a KRDO television reporter.
Her attorney said Clark "was unable to gain access electronically" to the May 4 BOT meeting.
Note: Clark made comments during the board’s virtual meeting on May 4 and was not noted absent in the meeting minutes. She is quoted several times in OCN’s May 4 Board of Trustees article. The recording of the May 4 meeting is available at https://tinyurl.com/ydxs4xmt and https://tinyurl.com/ycgqb3p3.
Town Attorney Joseph Rivera said, "I’ve had previous discussions with Mr. Corporon about this, and I let him know the censure was in essence a notice of disapproval based upon the articulated conduct by the board member by the board against another member of the board. It’s a procedural tool that can be used through Robert’s Rules, and [the] record otherwise speaks for itself."
Corporon provided copies of text messages between KRDO reporter Scott Harrison and Clark. Corporon said the text messages show that reporter Harrison misinterpreted what Clark was saying over the course of several such messages.
Background: In the March 23 article, Harrison wrote, "So far, Colorado Springs has decided against the kind of shelter-in-place, stay at home or lockdown order that some Colorado communities have enacted in an attempt to slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus. Denver announced the start of such an order yesterday, and a member of Monument’s Board of Trustees said the small town’s town manager has been given the authorization to make the same move."
A correction was issued the following day: "Editor’s note: Monday, we incorrectly reported that Monument would be going into lockdown after receiving erroneous information from a town board member."
Corporon said they are considering that Harrison print a retraction.
To see the text messages provided by Corporon, go to https://tinyurl.com/y8xtzysc.
Corporon said the text messages make Clark’s message clear and unambiguous. However, Wilson said there are few date and time stamps, making it difficult to know when the discussions occurred, making them indefinite, and that they possibly could have been sent after the article was written.
With regard to the column, Corporon said, "It is my understanding Miss Clark writes a regular column for the Jackson Creek Monthly … in no way, shape or form in her communication is she offering the opinion that the water in Monument is bad," saying it is Clark’s right to give her opinions in the article, noting she includes facts from the EPA and the public works director.
The context for this allegation dates back to March 2, when Clark asked the BOT to consider purchasing renewable water as an alternative to well water, but no other board members agreed, so it was not put on a future agenda for discussion. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n4.htm#mbot.
"She was concerned the discussion was not put on the agenda for the next meeting," said Corporon, suggesting this may be the reason she gave for writing the column, but noting it is the right of the board majority to disapprove future discussion items.
Corporon said the basis upon which she was censured was that she was fear mongering about radium in water, but instead, he said, he believed she was just advocating for a resident and pushing for the renewable water discussion to be put onto the board’s agenda.
Corporon made a motion to rescind and expunge from the record the censure against her. Citizens are usually not allowed to make a motion unless it’s supported by a three-fourths majority vote of the board. Lacking this majority, Clark made the motion herself with Trustee Jamy Unruh seconding the motion.
Five board members voted against this motion, saying they would prefer to review all the evidence and speak with Harrison before deciding. Unruh and Clark voted in favor of vacating the censure.
Trustee Ron Stephens made a motion to review the texting information Corporon provided, to ask the reporter for their timeline when information was received from Clark and then make a final decision at the next meeting. This motion was approved by a 5-2 vote. In the meantime, Clark is still censured.
New treasurer and town attorney sworn in; appointments approved unanimously
During the April 20 meeting, Kelly Elliott was appointed to continue as mayor pro tem. During the May 4 meeting, Laura Hogan was appointed as town clerk and Mike Foreman as the town manager. The board must appoint people to those positions pursuant to Monument municipal codes. Both appointments are for two years. Stephens noted, "I think Mike has been doing a great job. The morale since he started has been tremendous."
Tonight, Finance Director Rosa Ooms was appointed treasurer. The board had agreed to appoint Ooms during a May 4 executive session with a vote of 6-1. Clark voted against the appointment, arguing the treasurer position should require separate insurance and bonding in addition to the town’s CIRSA insurance.
The town has an ordinance that doesn’t require this type of insurance or bonding for the treasurer position, so Clark asked for it to be amended before Ooms was appointed. Rivera said it could be amended at a later date and be applied to Ooms’ appointment. "That can be taken up at a later date," said Stephens in agreeing with Rivera.
The treasurer position has been vacant since the trustees directed Foreman to draw up a separation agreement for Pamela Smith on Nov. 18. See https://www.ocn.me/v19n12.htm#mbot.
Andrew Richey was appointed as in-house counsel. It is unclear when Rivera, a contract employee, will complete his current work with the town. "We are very pleased with Joe and his company, but it would be good to have an attorney on staff," said Wilson.
Resident Nancy Swearengin suggested the current appointment requirements are unfair. Specifically, she said trustees recently appointed to the board shouldn’t be making employment decisions to appoint someone to their existing job. "I’m not sure how the situation gets corrected, but I would propose that the trustees and employees work on finding a more equitable solution to this very obvious problem."
Allocation of Emergency Funds from CARES
El Paso County applied for and received $1.26 million in funding through the federal CARES Act and voted to share the money with local municipalities. County Commissioner Holly Williams attended the meeting tonight, saying, "In my mind, we have a lot of tough decisions to make," but this one was quite easy to help the cities and towns that have had the most impact due to the pandemic.
The county was eligible to request CARES funding because the population exceeds 500,000. During its May 5 meeting, the Board of County Commissioners voted to disburse funds to local government entities including Monument. See BOCC article on page 20.
The board unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the county in order to receive a local fund distribution amount of $554,033.
Williams noted there are some spending restrictions. According to the IGA, "The local fund distribution amount will be used by the local government only to cover those costs and expenses that are eligible expenses" to include expenditures due to public health emergency incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30. If the town doesn’t identify expenditures for all the money, it must be returned by Sept. 1. "Any amount it reasonably anticipates will be unused as of Dec. 30, 2020."
Wilson suggested setting a $300,000 total to local businesses as is noted in section 5 guidance for the cost of business interruption due to the pandemic. Foreman noted the town’s expenses could exceed the $254,000, saying the town has been tracking its expenses since the beginning of the outbreak. No decision was made regarding the funding breakdown.
Resolution was approved unanimously as written.
Terri Hayes, president and CEO of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, told the board 67.7% of county residents have checked into the Census website and 74.8% of Monument residents have filled out their census forms. The town receives $2,300 per person counted. "This is the easiest way to bring money into the town without raising taxes," said Hayes.
Town manager’s report
Foreman reported the following for May:
• The town has furloughed two employees and reduced the hours of three more due to the reduction of revenues as a result of COVID-19.
• Town Hall is now open to the public on weekdays, but they still encourage people to use their online services if possible. See www.townofmonument.org.
• The Police Department continues to take emails for MPDCOVIDemail@example.com.
The meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next regular meeting is scheduled for June 15. Virtual meetings are held via Webex at https://tinyurl.com/y9hxgnyu or by phone at 1-844-992-4726 (Access Code: 628 114 196). Call 719-884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
During a May 27 special meeting, the Monument Board of Trustees amended the Local Disaster Emergency action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing outdoor dining and retail shops to expand into public spaces. A state order allows businesses to reopen at 50% capacity, which will increase a business’s overall footprint and thus capacity. The resolution expands the powers of Town Manager Mike Foreman and Town Clerk Laura Hogan. Foreman may approve temporary modification requests to expand businesses into public areas, including sidewalks and rights-of-way. It will be similar to laws that cover special events, such as St. Patrick’s Day festivities that spill into a parking lot. Hogan may allow liquor to be served in the expanded business footprint. The resolution is set to expire either when the emergency has ended or on Sept. 24, 120 days out from the approval date.
Caption: Monument restaurants including La Casa Fiesta, 230 Front St., and Ramen Chops, 491 Highway 105, have opened to indoor and outdoor customers. Photos by Allison Robenstein.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Town Council (PLTC) met on May 14 and 28. To comply with social-distancing requirements, both meetings were held online using Zoom. Links to future online meetings can be found on the town’s website at www.TownofPalmerLake.com in the Agendas and Minutes section.
In its May meetings PLTC heard from the Fireworks Committee that the event was canceled, swore in a new town clerk and fire chief, and passed a new parking ordinance increasing the fines.
During board comments at the May 14 meeting, the board discussed the annual Fourth of July celebration, which usually includes fireworks. Mayor John Cressman said it needed to be canceled as he could not imagine handling large crowds and noted that the Town of Monument had canceled its parade. Trustee Glant Havenar said she had spoken with the Fireworks Committee, which agreed it should be canceled. They had not been able to raise enough money and felt that, with so many other municipalities canceling, if they continued, Palmer Lake would be inundated.
Havenar said she had some ideas on how to implement a "safer at home" socially distant Fourth, suggesting lemonade stands or home decorations, which worked well during the Christmas season.
The council held a roll call vote and unanimously voted to cancel the fireworks and other July 4 festivities for this year only.
New town clerk and fire chief
At the May 28 meeting, the council swore in Town Clerk Dawn Collins and new Fire Chief Chris McCarthy, who both joined the Zoom meeting. Collins was unanimously appointed at the April 23 meeting but not scheduled to be in town until May 27. She will be working with interim Town Clerk Judy Egbert on transitioning into her role.
At the May 14 meeting, Mark Schuler recapped the hiring and selection process, which whittled eight applicants down to two finalists after interviews by fire personnel and Police Chief (and interim Fire Chief) Jason Vanderpool along with a Larkspur firefighter. The council was advised by the town lawyer to have a special meeting and executive session to interview applicants for the fire chief position and to instruct a negotiator to proceed with negotiations necessary for extending a job offer to a fire chief applicant.
Town increases parking fines
After lengthy discussions at both meetings about the challenges faced by the town with an increase in tourists and hikers, the council agreed to extend its trailhead parking closure, increase fines, and install signage regarding limits on street, tennis court and Glen Park parking.
The council unanimously agreed to direct the town lawyer to draft a new ordinance closing the trailhead parking, removing any reference to COVID-19, raising the minimum parking fine to $100, allowing the fine to be changed by resolution in the future, installing signs indicating street parking is limited to Palmer Lake residents; and limiting tennis court and Glen Park parking lots to those using those facilities. The motion carried on a roll call vote.
At the May 28 meeting, emergency ordinance 03-2020 prohibiting parking on all town streets except for Palmer Lake residents, closing the parking area at the Reservoir Trailhead on Old Carriage Road, and restricting the use of the tennis court and Glen Park parking lots was presented. The ordinance, which replaces 01-2020, increases the minimum fine to $100, allows that amount to be adjusted by resolutions, and requires signage to be added. The ordinance was passed unanimously by roll call.
Terri Hayes, president and CEO of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, who is also on the El Paso County Complete Count Committee for the Census, explained why it’s important for local residents to complete the census.
She noted that most Palmer Lake residents have a P.O. Box, which makes it challenging but that it is a civic duty that raises $2,300 per person that goes back to the community and is the easiest way to get money without raising taxes. The money goes to the Colorado Department of Transportation for roads, and to schools, healthcare, Medicare, and other federal programs. Colorado is slated to get an additional member of the U.S. House of Representatives, which will increase representation.
Other meeting highlights
• The board agreed to spend $120,543 to replace the filters at the surface water filtration plant.
• Kirk Noll, a member of the Parks Committee, got permission from Bob Radosevich to rope off and provide signage for a wildlife area on the west side of the lake that has been trampled.
• Noll also reported that the Tri-Lakes Little League, whose season will start in June, is willing to commit up to $100,000 to help upgrade the baseball field.
• The council approved a business license for Fred’s Towing, which is now renting space and operating at an industrial park on County Line Road.
• The council unanimously approved a motion to uphold a unanimous decision by the Planning Commission to deny a conditional use request by Bruno Furrer for his father Rene and the owners of Elite Cranes because it did not fit the zoning. The council specified timing for the installation of a portable toilet, removal of a modular home from the site, removal of a large crane, and removal of the balance of the equipment within six months. Mayor Cressman recused himself based on a relationship with the landowner.
• The board unanimously approved acceptance of an electronic signboard by an anonymous donor. The signboard, like Larkspur’s, will be used to display important notices, will be centrally located in town, will be programmable and dimmable, and will go through the normal process of working with the Planning Commission to follow relevant ordinances.
The council is scheduled to hold two meetings online in June, on June 11 and 25 at 6 p.m. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, with the second meeting organized as a working session. Information: 481-2953. Check the town’s website for links to the online Zoom meetings.
By Helen Walklett
At its May 19 meeting, the El Paso County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend for approval a request for a rezoning to allow the development of 28 single-family attached homes on land north of Lake Woodmoor.
North Bay at Lake Woodmoor
Lake Woodmoor Holdings had requested a rezoning of the 7.23-acre property east of the intersection of Deer Creek Road and Woodmoor Drive from the obsolete R-4 zoning to Planned Unit Development (PUD). The request included approval of the PUD development plan as a preliminary plan. The proposed development, known as North Bay at Lake Woodmoor, will have 28 single-family attached residences, rights-of-way, and five open space and floodplain tracts. Proposed lots range in size from 2,100 to around 4,800 square feet. The proposals include walking trails that are intended for public use to access Lake Woodmoor. Access to the site will be via two roads off Deer Creek Road. The property is within the boundaries of the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan.
The property was originally zoned R-4 (planned development) in 1972 as part of a larger parcel of land. This zoning allowed for 110 townhomes. Two acres immediately west of the current property were developed as The Cove at Woodmoor with 20 condominium units in 1974. The most westerly four acres were developed as the Waterside Condominiums with 40 units in 1979. The proposed North Bay at Lake Woodmoor parcel is the remainder of the original R-4 zoning district that would have accommodated the remaining 50 dwelling units under the R-4 zoning.
Addressing the hearing, Andrea Barlow of NES Inc., on behalf of the applicant, explained that the rezoning request was required for new development at the property because the R-4 was now an obsolete zoning. She said the proposed development was much less dense, at 3.87 dwelling units per acre (DUA), than the original development planned under the R-4 zoning which had a 9.6 DUA across the whole site and a DUA of 5.2 for the part under discussion today.
The site includes two areas of wetlands, and the Dirty Woman Creek-Lake Fork floodplain flows through the property, effectively dividing it. The applicant has proposed a clustered design to reserve about 4.3 acres of the site as open space to preserve these natural features. The wetlands have been designated as no-build areas, and these would not be disturbed except for minor disturbances related to the floodplain improvements that have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers verified in 2017 that the proposed work is authorized under a nationwide permit and that it would not require an additional permit or approval from the corps. The applicant has also obtained an approved conditional letter of map revision from FEMA to allow the proposed adjustment of the existing floodplain.
The request was originally scheduled to be heard as a consent item, which would have meant there was no discussion. However, county staff moved it to a full hearing after neighbors raised objections to the plans. Their concerns included the impact of construction activity on the wetlands and wildlife, traffic congestion and road safety, the impact on the floodplain, trail access to Lake Woodmoor, wildfire risk, and the proposed development’s compatibility with adjacent neighborhoods. The county had notified 24 adjacent property owners and received three written communications, all in opposition.
Barlow told the commissioners that the applicant planned to bridge the two wetland areas and that there were no threatened or endangered species on site. The highest-quality wildlife habitats would be preserved in the open spaces, and the developer would use native species when landscaping. She pointed out that there would be a substantial wooded tract between the site and the neighbors to the east. She said the traffic study showed the slight traffic increase would be within the acceptable parameters and that tree removal, irrigation, and the appropriate distancing of landscaping from buildings would all serve to mitigate the risk of wildfires spreading. She added that the Woodmoor Improvement Association had reviewed and approved the plans.
Residents Rebecca and Richard Hicks spoke in person at the hearing to reiterate their strong opposition to the proposals. They had also submitted a detailed letter of opposition with 48 supporting signatures. Rebecca Hicks told the commissioners that it was totally incorrect to think that the area was not susceptible to wildfires, stating that they were put on standby evacuation for both the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon wildfires. She said the construction alone would impact the wetlands and was concerned that the traffic study, done in 2018, was out of date because homes in the Misty Acres and The Dunes at Woodmoor had been built since then and more would come with the development of The Beach. Richard Hicks questioned whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had had any input.
The Hickses said they would like to see the land put into a conservation easement instead of being developed and urged the commissioners to delay any decision to allow them enough time to review all the documents that they had only been made aware of on May 1.
No one spoke in favor.
In her rebuttal, Barlow said the traffic study is updated with additional developments being absorbed into it. She stressed that all the applicant’s reports were thoroughly reviewed by county staff and outside bodies where necessary. She said, "This is a much more sensitive development than what we could get on this site." She added, "Wetland impact is allowed. You just have to go through a permitting process." With regard to the suggestion of the land being put in a conservation easement, she said it was a moot point as the area was already zoned for development.
When the discussion returned to the dais ahead of the vote, Commissioner Allan Creely, who was attending his final meeting, said he did have some heartburn with engineering change after engineering change after engineering change but that he could not find where to say no to the application. Commission Chair Brian Risley stated that they were bound by the criteria and that he did not see any deviation from them. The vote to recommend the application for approval was unanimous, and the application went forward to be heard at the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on May 26. See BOCC article below.
After the vote, Craig Dossey, executive director of Planning and Community Development, described the application as "a tough one," remarking that sites with difficult conditions are the harder properties to develop. He said infill, where there is a large, surrounding population, is always challenging and is exactly why the master plan needed to be updated. He told the commissioners that they were likely to see more such applications in the future and that he welcomed the robust discussion from all sides.
Master plan update
At the beginning of the May 19 meeting, Dossey told the commissioners that work to update the county master plan was moving forward. There will be further opportunities for the public to have input into the process during June via questionnaires and Facebook live sessions. Further information will be available on the county’s website at: https://elpaso-hlplanning.hub.arcgis.com
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
During May, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a rezoning request for the North Bay at Woodmoor Lake development. The commissioners also made decisions relating to a minor subdivision request and to Monument Academy. They continued to receive updates and take actions concerning the COVID-19 outbreak.
North Bay at Woodmoor Lake
At their May 26 meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved a rezoning request from Lake Woodmoor Holdings LLC for a 7.23-acre property east of the intersection of Deer Creek Road and Woodmoor Drive. The applicant had requested a rezoning from the obsolete R-4 zoning to Planned Unit Development (PUD) and that the PUD development plan be approved as a preliminary plan.
The development, known as North Bay at Woodmoor Lake, will see 28 single-family attached homes constructed in a cluster design to reserve about 4.3 acres of the site as open space to preserve the wetland areas. The site will have five open space and floodplains tracts and will include public walking trails to enable access to Lake Woodmoor. The developer will also construct a trail along the side of Deer Creek Road for the length of the development. Lot sizes will range from 2,100 to around 4,800 square feet.
The El Paso County Planning Commission heard the request at its meeting on May 19 where neighbors’ objections were raised. It voted unanimously to recommend the application for approval. See EPCPC article above.
Neighbors again raised concerns at the BOCC hearing about water resources, the impact on the wetland areas, the floodplain, wildlife, the natural environment, wildfires, increased traffic, and road safety. Five people spoke in opposition.
Local resident Rebecca Hicks said, "Too often emphasis is put on the judgment of county planners who erroneously deem the project in our best interest and on the assessment of the report writers who are retained by the developers. Too little consideration is given to the concerns of long-established residents who have made homes and livelihoods in the area and voice real environmental, safety, and quality of life concerns."
Hicks’ husband, Richard Hicks, also spoke in opposition, stating, " This parcel should remain undeveloped because it is one of the few remaining riparian habitats for wildlife and birds in northern El Paso County, and this project will only contribute to overcrowding in the immediate area. It is time to give the wildlife, the birds, and surrounding neighbors a break. Please listen to us and stop this development." He referred to a letter of opposition that had been submitted, telling the commissioners, "Even in this time of COVID-19, some 48 neighbors that adjoin the property signed a letter to you in protest. "
Responding, Andrea Barlow of NES Inc., on behalf of the applicant, described the proposals as a modest development with significantly less density than was originally approved under the R-4 zoning. She said residents accessing the site currently had no right to do so but trails would be put in as part of the development to provide formal public access to the lake. She said a water supply agreement was in place and the traffic study showed minimal impact. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had concluded that the impacts to the wetland areas would be minimal and did not require mitigation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had given initial approval for adjustments to the existing floodplain. Once these are completed, FEMA will issue a letter of map revision after which the applicant will be able to record the final plat.
Grant Gurnée, Ecosystem Services LLC, on behalf of the developer, told the hearing that the highest quality wildlife habitat on the site would be preserved, with 88% of it being untouched. The remaining 12% would be minimally impacted. He said the majority of the site was disturbed, non-native habitat and that replacement plantings would be done with native grasses and shrub species.
There was concern from the residents of The Cove at Woodmoor condominiums that an unpaved area at the site’s western boundary, used for parking under a non-exclusive access easement, would be lost. Following lengthy discussions between the Homeowners’ Association and the developer, the parking will now be improved and shared. The area will be surfaced, formally striped, and three additional spaces will be added.
At the start of the hearing, Cole Emmons, senior assistant county attorney, told the commissioners that when approving a PUD, they had to be able to find general conformity with the master plan. Ahead of the commissioners’ vote, Nina Ruiz, planning manager, Planning and Community Development, advised them that staff believed this was the case with this application.
Making the motion for approval, Commissioner Holly Williams said, "We are continually balancing our right to have private property with the interest in the county about open space and just because this area has been used as open space, it still did belong to someone." Referring to the rapid growth being experienced in this part of the county and to the overcrowding at the nearby middle school, she said the school district needed to find a way to deal with it, stating, "We cannot take a person’s property right away because of overcrowding in a school district." She concluded, "I think it is a very well-planned development with the property owner having balanced around the ecological needs of the property which is why I would move that we approve this subdivision."
When submitting the rezoning application, the applicant also requested administrative approval for the final plat, meaning there would be no public hearings. Now that BOCC has approved the PUD as a preliminary plan, this final plat approval can move forward.
The commissioners have continued to receive updates on the COVID-19 situation. At the April 28 meeting, Nikki Simmons, county controller, Financial Services, presented to the commissioners the county’s share of funding received from the federal government under the CARES Act. She said that Colorado had received $2.23 billion, of which El Paso County had been allocated $125.704 million. She set out the specific areas for which the funding could and could not be used. For example, it can be used to meet new expenses made necessary by the public health emergency but cannot be used to offset lost tax revenues. She stressed that any funds not used by Dec. 30, 2020 must be returned. El Paso County is sharing its funding allocation with local municipalities that were not large enough to apply directly for funding themselves. The county will keep 55% of the funding, with the remaining 45% being distributed among the municipalities based on their population size.
During public comments, as part of BOCC meetings, individuals have been asking the commissioners to do all they can to reopen the county’s economy. At the April 30 meeting, members of the public addressed the commissioners for about two hours.
At the May 5 meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution endorsing a variance request under the Stay at Home order to provide for in-person high school graduation ceremonies with restrictions. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) approved the variance on May 14. Graduation ceremonies will be student-only with the ceremonies streamed live. Palmer Ridge High School’s graduation ceremony will take place on June 11 at 9 a.m. with the Lewis-Palmer High School ceremony being held on June 12 at noon. Academy School District 20 graduation ceremonies are scheduled to take place during the week beginning June 22.
The commissioners voted to approve a second variance request at their May 14 meeting, this one requesting the limited reopening of in-person dining at restaurants in the county with safety precautions. The request was approved by CDPHE on May 23.
Two further variances were approved at the May 28 meeting, one relating to reopening places of worship and the other to a phased reopening of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Both variances will require state approval.
The BOCC chair, Commissioner Mark Waller, said, "Spiritual and mental health is a critical factor to our region’s response, recovery, and resiliency to COVID-19." He added, "We will continue our work on variances to get our county open for worship, business, and recreation."
Monument Academy Charter School development agreement
At its May 12 meeting, the BOCC approved a request by the Monument Academy Foundation to enable the development of the new charter school on a 42.32-acre site at the southeast corner of the intersection of Highway 83 and Walker Road.
The BOCC’s approval authorizes the signing of a development agreement between county and the foundation. The agreement sets out the requirements for permitting, financial assurance, and construction of public improvements for the new school. It includes provisions specific to roadway maintenance, requirements for any temporary access during construction, and the payments of county’s road impact fee. The associated site development plan requires only administrative approval.
Curtis minor subdivision request
At their April 28 meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a minor subdivision request by the Curtis Family Living Trust for a property at the intersection of Roller Coaster Road and Baptist Road. The application was heard at the El Paso County Planning Commission meeting on April 7 and came to the BOCC hearing with its recommendation for approval. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n5.htm?zoom_highlight=curtis.
The minor subdivision, to be known as Curtis Subdivision Filing No.1, will create two single-family lots from the 36.65-acre property that is zoned RR-5 (residential rural). Lot 1 will be 25 acres and Lot 2 about 8 acres. A total of 4.10 acres is being dedicated as public right-of-way for the future realignment of Roller Coaster Road.
The applicant was granted a deviation allowing driveway access for the second lot onto Baptist Road, an arterial road, instead of Roller Coaster Road. Normally access is not allowed onto an arterial roadway, but the request was granted because of safety concerns with access via Roller Coaster Road due to a large curve near the property that would cause a dangerous blind spot.
The application was heard as a consent item, meaning there was no discussion.
• May 5—The commissioners approved the adoption of the 2015 International Fire Code for the Black Forest Fire/ Rescue Protection District and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The two districts worked together to draft the resolution to enable the BOCC to approve the code.
• May 5—Approved the partial release of a check for $72,156 for subdivision improvements at Monument Hill Business Park following the completion of 60% of the improvements and their satisfactory inspection.
• May 14—Approved the issuance of three ambulance permits to the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District. The one-year permits run until April 30, 2021.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Angie Curry, WOSC LLC Membership and Communications Chair
After a single post on social media that undeveloped land in the middle of the South Woodmoor neighborhood had been put up for sale, many were surprised and unnerved at the uncertainty of what might lie ahead. A determined few organized a neighborhood meeting in September 2018, and now, after an unprecedented effort, a majority of the land will be preserved as open space named the South Woodmoor Preserve.
The subject land is about 133 acres. The space winds through South Woodmoor like a golf course, because that was the plan put forth more than 25 years ago by then owner and developer Vernon Walters. After realizing a golf course would not be profitable, he abandoned that idea and owned it until his passing. After that, several family members owned and maintained the land. In May 2018, they opted to sell.
South Woodmoor homeowners Tish Norman and Chris Williams formed and led the Walters Open Space Committee (WOSC). Many residents have served on this committee the past 20 months, often meeting weekly to brainstorm, strategize, and plan how to preserve this rare piece of open space.
Out of this committee came the idea to generate more financial participation from the owners who border that space by allowing them to buy additional land behind their homes, increasing their lot size. The group then formed a limited liability company and shortened its name to WOSC LLC.
Ultimately, 113 of the bordering homeowners pledged their money and became members of WOSC LLC. While a significant accomplishment, WOSC was unable to raise enough capital to meet the negotiated asking price. The deal stalled. A local developer heard of WOSC’s grassroots efforts, contacted Norman and expressed an interest in participating. Several months later, the deal was made and the property placed under contract. ProTerra and WOSC have an agreement to support each other’s efforts.
For its participation, ProTerra Properties LLC will develop about 38 acres of the open space west of Cloverleaf Road. Current plans call for building up to 152 homes there. WOSC and its members will own the other 94 acres.
Andrew Biggs, chief operating officer for Proterra Properties, said, "I am proud to be a part of such an unprecedented, grassroots effort put forth by these neighbors. This is a win/win for all parties involved and is a potential model for developer/neighborhood relations moving forward!"
The efforts came to fruition May 26 when WOSC and ProTerra closed on the land. Much work remains, including surveys, meeting county requirements, attorney fees, plus future improvement plans, including a better neighborhood trail.
To support this effort, please visit: www.gofundme.com/save-south-woodmoor-co-open-space. There you will find pictures and updates.
This story shows how success can come from people working together, even homeowners and a developer. That happened because many new relationships were forged these 20 months. Neighbors who didn’t know each other beyond a friendly wave are now close. Now, thanks to the dedication and hard work of WOSC members and ProTerra, South Woodmoor will have its open space.
Caption: This is the new South Woodmoor Preserve, where 94 acres will remain open in perpetuity, and 38 acres west of Cloverleaf Road will be developed by ProTerra.
Caption: The Walters Open Space Committee members are, from left, Bev Kimmel-Sullivan, Rich Lamb (treasurer), Ray Sullivan (vice director), Nancy Eldred, John Cona, Tish Norman (director), Randy Viera, Sandy Lamb (secretary), Angie Curry, Tom Snyder, and John Dumond. Photo courtesy of WOSC LLC. Photos courtesy of WOSC LLC.
Caption: The WOSC volunteers, and residents living along the whole 94 acres, celebrated closing on the South Woodmoor Preserve land by banging pots and pans. The sounds of trumpets and cowbells also echoed across the open space on May 26. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Contacts: Tish Norman, director of WOSC LLC (719) 534-3495, and Andrew Biggs, chief operating officer, ProTerra Properties LLC (719) 476-0800.
By Bill Kappel
May was warmer and drier than normal, with very little rainfall during the first three weeks of the month. This of course is of concern for our region, as May is one of the more important months of the year for receiving beneficial moisture as we head into summer. A lack of moisture during this time of the year can lead to drought and increased fire danger.
Warm weather started the month, with highs hitting 80°F on the afternoon of the 1st. This was the first time we hit 80° or higher since last September. A cool front swept through that evening, bringing temperatures back down. Conditions were dry from the 4th through the 10th, with temperatures ranging slightly above and below average. Highs ranged from below average 50s to a little above average low 70s during the period.
A warming trend then took over from the 13th through the 23rd. During this period, a more normal pattern began to develop with quiet conditions each morning turning into partly cloudy skies during the afternoon. Scattered thunderstorms developed as well on a few of the afternoons lasting into the evening hours. Unfortunately, rainfall from these events was hit and miss, with localized areas getting beneficial rain, while the majority of us just received a brief shower. Highs reached as warm as the low 80s during this timeframe, with the warmest days on the 18th and 19th.
The overall weather pattern finally began to change after a strong cold front moved through during the late evening hours of the 23rd. This allowed high levels of moisture to build in the region as colder air continued to rush in behind the storm system. Rainfall developed during the morning and increased in intensity during the remainder of the day. Another surge of cold air moved in later that afternoon, and by early evening the rainfall changed over to snow. Large snowflakes and heavy, wet snow began to accumulate that evening in areas above 7,000 feet. Strong winds also developed, making for a cold, wet, and white evening.
This storm brought very beneficial moisture to most of the region with a half to 2 inches of rain and snow accumulating in less than 24 hours. This was exactly the kind of soaking storm system we so desperately needed after the very dry start of the month. Fortunately, high levels of moisture stuck around through the end of the month with a summer, monsoonal type pattern taking hold. This produced daily afternoon and early evening thunderstorms each day, with another inch or two of rainfall accumulating for many areas.
A look ahead
By June we can usually say goodbye to our chance of snowfall but hello to frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms. The majority of the time we can expect warm, sunny days with afternoon and evening thunderstorms.
May 2020 Weather Statistics
Average High 67.1° (+1.4°)
100-year return frequency value max 75.7° min 57.9°
Average Low 38.2° (-0.7°)
100-year return frequency value max 43.2° min 32.5°
Highest Temperature 83°F on the 18th, 19th
Lowest Temperature 26°F on the 5th, 9th
Monthly Precipitation 1.73" (-0.91" 35% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.94" min 0.15"
Monthly Snowfall 0.7" (-5.0" 88% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 136.4" (+14.0" 10% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 10.18" (+1.11" 10% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 372 (-54)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community are the responsibility of the letter writers and should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer. Note: The letters this month are arranged in alphabetical order by the submitter’s last name.
People urged to control their dogs on the trails
Great, timely article written by Steve Pate (May issue of OCN) on protocol for walking outside. I was especially glad to see that you mentioned that people need to be aware of people breathing harder from walking rapidly, running, and biking. Also want to mention the same thing applies from the effect of the wind itself!
One other comment. Recommend, if possible, that you write a follow-up article and/or contact whoever puts up the trailhead "rules" regarding dogs not on leashes or dogs on "electric" collars. I walk over 4 miles on the trail every day (rain or shine, hot or cold). I can tell you the number of people using the trail has definitely increased, and so have the number of dogs. However, many people still don’t leash their dog (saying they have a good dog, or they are trying to train their dog, or they didn’t know that had to leash their dog, etc.). Or they say they have an "electric" collar on their dog. My research found that electric collars are not considered "leashes" by the El Paso County statute/law. Also, a Palmer Lake marshal was recently out on an ATV patrolling the trail around Palmer Lake itself. I asked him if electronic collars are considered "leashes" and he said, "absolutely not." He added that you can call El Paso County Dispatch at (719)-390-5555 to report violators.
Tri-Lakes Cares: more than a food pantry
On behalf of everyone at Tri-Lakes Cares, thank you for the outpouring of support since mid-March as the COVID-19 pandemic spread and TLC worked to continue to help those in need, beginning with immediate food requests. As the weeks have passed, those requests for help now include financial assistance to pay for rent, mortgage, utilities, car repair, medical costs, and so much more.
The good news is that through generous financial donations by individual donors and the receipt of emergency grant funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are able to meet many of those requests. I strongly encourage that if you or someone you know is struggling financially because of job loss or reduction of work hours due to business closures or for any other reasons, please give Tri-Lakes Cares a call. We may be able to help. Visit our website at www.tri-lakescares.org, where on the home page you will find links to find out how to get help or fill out a grocery request form. Or you can call us at (719) 481-4864 to speak with one of our case managers.
We will be closed for walk-in services through the end of June, but we continue to serve those in need with food and financial assistance via telephone or email.
Again, a heartfelt thank you to everyone in the community! Together we will come out stronger.
Haley Chapin, executive director
Boy raising money to protect police
My name is Andrew Deeds and I am 12 years old. I am a Boy Scout with Troop 8 in Monument. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been using my 3D printers to create ear savers for essential personnel. They need to wear a mask for eight hours or more a day and certain styles of masks create sores around their ears from the elastic rubbing. To date I have printed and donated over 2,800 ear savers. The farthest place I shipped them to was a base in Germany. I am still printing these, so if you find yourself in need please reach out.
When I am not 3D printing parts, I enjoy doing other community service. Two years ago, I got involved with SHIELD616, a nonprofit that provides rifle-rated gear to first responders in need. My friend Caleb and I fundraised to help provide better protection for the Monument Police Department. They are still in need of gear, so my 2020 goal is to help provide more of this much-needed protection. Advances in technology continue to make the gear lighter weight and better for the officers. Due to the pandemic, I have not been able to raise money going door-to-door or by holding events. So, I will be doing a virtual bike ride to raise additional funds. Please go online to https://shield616.org/law-enforcement/ and select Monument PD from the drop-down menu to help. If you prefer to donate by check or have a donation for porch pick-up, I can do that as well. All donations should be made out to SHIELD616. Any donation amount will make a difference in the life of an officer in need.
In support of wearing masks
To wear a mask or not to wear a mask? That’s a question we should ask ourselves every time we expect to be out in public. All of us, regardless of what we do, where we live, or how old we are, have to deal with the terrible effects of the ongoing pandemic. It’s not a matter of what we believe, the virus is essentially everywhere, and it attacks indiscriminately. But how we as individuals react to it is an entirely individual action. Many of us properly comply with the directions issued by the honest health experts, e.g., wear a mask while in public places, stay at least six feet away from others (excluding close family members), avoid mass gatherings. Others, actually far too many others, simply ignore that advice. Somehow, these folks believe they know better than the doctors and scientists; that they are immune to COVID-19 and not concerned that they could be infected even if asymptomatic and thereby spread the virus simply by not complying with the rules.
I get it. Our way of life has changed dramatically, and certainly not for the better. Jobs lost, incomes slashed, schools shuttered. And worst of all, many people have fallen seriously ill with far too many having perished. It’s a horrible situation, but that’s where we are, and it’s likely to remain so for the near term.
So, as we await an effective and safe vaccine as well as drugs that can treat the COVID-19 disease, what can or should we do? To my way of thinking, the answer is clear. Follow the published guidelines: maintain social distancing, wear a face mask while out in public, and avoid large gatherings. And please, think about others.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."—Mary Oliver, poet
These are difficult days, but there is help out there! Books can take you on adventures without leaving home. No matter what your age or circumstances, you can travel the world, learn a new hobby, learn how to plant a garden, and travel back in time through historical fiction and nonfiction. Challenge your mind with Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and activity books; explore new hikes and so much more at your fingertips.
For adults and kids of all ages, consider games and activities that spark conversation. For example, there is a series of games called After Dinner Amusements that features a variety of conversation starters and different topic areas. Mad Libs have been great fun for many generations and all ages.
Start a series of books to read aloud as a family. Or pick some classics to read aloud.
Teens and adults might consider starting a mystery series. There are so many great ones available. You might want to consider the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton, the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series by Margaret Mizushima, the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, and the Longmire mystery series by Craig Johnson. Pick a book series that has been made into a television series; read the books and compare them. Which do you like better?
Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition: 52 Mouth-Watering Recipes and the Everyday Science That Makes Them Taste Amazing
By Liz Lee Heinecke (Quarry Books), $24.99
Make science fun for all ages with 52 edible, delicious ways to explore food science in your own kitchen. You might want to combine it with Heinecke’s book Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Experiments from Around the House.
Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media for Budding Artists of All Ages (Lab for Kids No. 1)
By Susan Schwake (Quarry Books), $22.99
Kids and adults will enjoy these lessons for art projects of varying styles, including drawing, printmaking, and mixed media.
Tell Me Why? (Tell Me Series)
By Isabelle Fougere (B.E.S. Publishing), $14.99
The Tell Me Series offers fun-filled books packed with more than 180-plus answers to all kinds of questions kids ask. Plus, there are lots of games and stickers. Other books in the series are: Tell Me How?, Science and Inventions, What is That?, How Many?, and Earth and Sky.
The Boy’s Book of Adventure: The Little Guidebook for Smart and Resourceful Boys
By Michele Lecreux with Celia Gallais and Clemence Roux de Luze (B.E.S. Publishing), $14.99
This guidebook (great for girls, as well) offers more than 40 ideas for outdoor activities and fun-to-do crafts projects that will get you acquainted with facts about nature, how to identify different insects and birds, recognize different kinds of rocks, read a map, protect yourself against the weather when camping out, and much more.
How to Build Treehouses, Huts & Forts
By David Stiles (Lyons Press), $17.95
Filled with fun projects and step-by-step instructions for kids and their parents to build outdoors, it also has a section on "cool stuff for kids to make" such as treasure chests, cannons, catapults, and several fun projects to build in the snow.
Learn Chess the Right Way Book 1: Must Know Check-Mates
By Susan Polgar (Russell Enterprises), $19.95
Learn Chess the Right Way is a five-volume series aimed at the novice, beginner, and intermediate level player, using the unique methods of the award-winning coach and former world champion Susan Polgar. Each volume contains over 500 puzzles.
Yes, these are challenging times we are in; however, we can look at this as a time of opportunity to bond closer with our families. To paraphrase Mary Oliver, "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
Since May 13, patrons have been able to pick up their holds at the library. Call the library (488-2370 for Monument, 481-2587 for Palmer Lake) and reserve a time to collect your holds. It’s been great to speak with you on the phone, and we look forward to meeting again face to face.
Book drops are now open for returns, but materials are being quarantined for 72 hours before processing due to COVID-19. This delay will not result in any fines.
Also at Monument, Rapid View DVDs and Rapid Read books can be seen in front of the entrance and may be checked out.
During this time, libraries are working with half of the usual staff and all are wearing masks and practicing social distancing in the library. We are shelving books, checking in quarantined materials after 72 hours, processing holds coming in from elsewhere, and reorganizing the physical space to make reopening possible within Colorado Department of Health and Environment guidelines
This involves making some of the public computers unavailable and moving furniture to allow for social distancing. We will also have Plexiglass barriers between staff and patrons. Further details can be seen on our website www.ppld.org at the top of the homepage.
All virtual services are still available, including virtual story times, streaming of videos and music, access to databases for research, access to the catalog for placing holds, and access to your account to learn the status of holds placed previously.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Harriet Halbig can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Caption: Curbside pickup of holds is now available at the library.
Caption: Library Assistant Sherry Hoover takes a call from a patron about picking up holds.
Caption: The community room houses three days’ worth of returns being quarantined before processing. Items are boxed or bagged and dated. Photos by Harriet Halbig.
By Sharon Williams
Early in the fall of 1918, Colorado one-room schoolhouses were quickly abandoned, public schools closed, and colleges quarantined their campuses, some placing themselves under the control of the American Red Cross. Due to a shortage of nurses, teachers were moved to assist in Denver hospitals and infirmaries set up on campus at Colorado A&M in Fort Collins and the School of Mines in Golden.
The flu first appeared in Colorado in September 1918 at the University of Colorado, where cadet students contracted the disease from soldiers brought to Boulder for student training. Aided by the movement of troops at the end of World War I, the virus spread at a historic rate and particularly affected children younger than age 5 and people 20-40 years old.
By late September 1918, Colorado saw its first known influenza fatality when University of Denver student Blanche Kennedy died in her brother’s home.
On Oct. 4, 1918, Colorado Agricultural College reported three possible flu cases and its first death—all among the troops of young student soldiers taking part in the wartime Student Army Training Corps, according to The Mile High College, an account of Colorado State University’s early years by its first university historian, Ruth Wattles. Soon, many more cases and fatalities overwhelmed the makeshift nursing facilities on campus.
In late November 1918, Colorado Agricultural College President Charles Lory’s sister Emma Smith lost her 3-year-old daughter, Iris, to the virus. A few days later, Iris’ twin sister, Inez, died, followed by 6-year-old Cecil and 19-year-old Eda. In just three weeks, the Smiths went from having nine children to five.
In the Pikes Peak Region, Cheyenne School started in the fall of 1918, where flu fatalities began to happen in the Army camps to the south and east in Colorado Springs. Dr. Lloyd Shaw, former principal of Cheyenne School, described firsthand experiences in an article for The Colorado Springs Free Press, March 9, 1957. He indicated the flu was rapidly spreading. By the first week in October, all area schools were closed. School staff and faculty salaries were reduced due to diminished responsibilities. When reported cases subsided, Shaw reopened Cheyenne School on Jan. 18, 1919.
In early September 1918, Cañon City closed schools. Homework assignments were mailed to the students. The only students who returned to school were the seniors, who wanted to graduate on time in the spring of 1919. The public gathering ban was kept in place even when it seemed the flu was on the decline, which accounted for the low death rate in Fremont County.
Caption: Cañon City High School seniors. Cañon City High School 1919 Yearbook, courtesy of Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.
Caption: Colorado nurses and children don masks to ward off disease. The influenza epidemic of 1918 produced a run on surgical masks that mirrors today’s shortages during the coronavirus concerns. Photo courtesy of the www.HistoryColorado.org website.
While the Historical Society has suspended regular meetings due to COVID-19, Sharon Williams is writing a series of columns with relevance to OCN readers. July’s column will feature an account of the women’s suffrage movement.
Sharon Williams can be reached at email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
Our June rains bring us seasonal gastronomic treasures, from spruce shoots to mountain greens to fungi, and a plethora of foraging discoveries, if we know how to find them. Many recognize some wild foods, but beware! There are also dangerous look-alikes. Ticks are also on the rise outdoors, as reported by the Pikes Peak Mycological Association. The association is offering, during the current cautious social climate, online video classes on fungi.
Speaking of a fun guy and wild foods expert, I met Donny Dust recently to discuss fungi and foraging in the Front Range area, especially the Tri-Lakes region. Dust is a world-class consultant for remote primitive survival, preparedness, and ancient technologies. We sat down at Fox Run Park with Friends of Fox Run Park Co-director Marlene Brown to talk about primitive technologies, local foraging, wild mushrooms, and more.
Dust, a Monument resident, offers paleo survival skills education with his self-reliance school, Paleo Tracks Survival. Dust has a friendly way of explaining the wild world, where most of us fear to tread. He can craft shelter, clothing, and tools barehanded in the wilderness using ancient technologies with age-old respect for Mother Nature and the Earth, and he teaches these skills. He is a technical consultant for feature films and has taken part in network television programs. He remarked he is a "professional caveman" as he utilizes paleo technologies for survival and emergency preparedness education and programming.
Friends of Fox Run Park (FOFRP) has invited Dust for a local public hike foraging day on June 30. Since attendance will be limited to 10 people due to COVID-19 restrictions, reservations are required; contact FOFRP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the first hike fills, a same day second chance offering is possible.
Caption: Tara Lloyd, horticulturist and a current volunteer at Monument Community Garden, helps prepare the soil with alpaca manure and compost for seeding and transplants. For 2020, the garden is again optimizing organic methods including ancient and heirloom seeds that will produce large amounts of food. This year’s "walking stick" kale could overwinter for two to three years, each plant reaching a height of 8 to 12 feet, and just one huge leaf can feed a family of four. Post-season, the kale can be frozen for eating in winter. The garden is showcasing the three sisters’ of corn, beans, and squash, dozens of lettuces, brassicas, herbs, rhubarb, and peppers. The garden is surrounded with its annual wildlife "deer screen" protection of giant sunflowers. It is located in Lavelett Park in Monument. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Caption: Tara Lloyd, horticulturist and a current volunteer at Monument Community Garden, helps prepare the soil with alpaca manure and compost for seeding and transplants. For 2020, the garden is again optimizing organic methods including ancient and heirloom seeds that will produce large amounts of food. This year’s "walking stick" kale could overwinter for two to three years, each plant reaching a height of 8 to 12 feet, and just one huge leaf can feed a family of four. Post-season, the kale can be frozen for eating in winter. The garden is showcasing the three sisters’ of corn, beans, and squash, dozens of lettuces, brassicas, herbs, rhubarb, and peppers. The garden is surrounded with its annual wildlife "deer screen" protection of giant sunflowers. It is located in Lavelett Park in Monument. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an ethnoecology researcher, writer, photographer, designer, artist, and chronicler of life and landscapes. She is director of Janet Sellers Fine Arts and lives near Monument.
By Janet Sellers
"Every good painter paints what he is."—Jackson Pollock
Artist Jackson Pollock threw paint on his canvas in a meaningful way, understanding the flow of his thoughts came through the throw of his paint. Art lovers and museum curators worldwide enjoy seeing that freedom. His life challenges notwithstanding, he persevered in his art, becoming an icon for creativity in a new, phenomenal way.
There are so many artful things we can do—just watching the paint brush or colors flow soothes us as we observe them. It’s the intent and the desire to make something and to be in those pleasant flows of thought, energizing us through the colors, regardless if it’s canvas, the driveway, or the top of a cake. Some of us are practicing artists, some are aspiring artists, yet anybody can enjoy creative pursuits.
Stay-at-home boredom? Schmordom! Give something creative a try, whether it’s frosting a cake or chalk drawings on your driveway. If you can’t bend down to the sidewalk, strap a brush onto a broom—artists of the mid-century modern movement used brooms to move paint colors around their canvas. Anyone can make chalk pictures from scratch—here’s a recipe:
Paint anywhere chalk paint:
• 1/2 cup corn starch
• 2/3 cup water
• Food coloring
• Mix water and corn starch and stir until the corn starch dissolves. Use a 1:1 ratio of corn starch and water; for painting on the sidewalk instead of paper (try brown paper bags!) you can incorporate just a bit more water to paint longer brushstrokes without needing to reload the paintbrush with paint—always great for younger kids. Divide the paint mixture into the wells of a muffin tin or similar painting tray, add food coloring for desired colors. Colors will dry much lighter on the sidewalk than they appear in the tin!
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, art teacher, and public speaker. She makes public art, garden sculptures, murals, and smaller works, too. Photograph your chalk creations and send them to her at email@example.com.
Honoring medical workers
National Nurse Day May 6 was the day to give even more encouragement for medical workers. Members of Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church connected with Penrose Main Hospital to arrange a donation of 100 lunches and a few artful posters for the ER and the cafeteria. This is just one example of the many citizens in the Tri-Lakes area who have made signs of support and donated homemade masks to help support health care workers.
Caption: Penrose-St. Francis Health Services Public Information Officer Andrea Sinclair and Diana Adkins, RN, who coordinates the atrial fibrillation clinic at Colorado Springs Cardiology, displayed a poster showing Wonder Woman wearing a medical face mask, in honor of all the sacrifices made by nurses and doctors. To donate, arrange with Sinclair at 719-776-5050. Photo by Margie Frostman.
Essential hidden heroes, Apr. 20
Caption: Parks Foreman James Schubauer and Parks Technician Kellyn Brian are installing COVID-19 social distancing precaution signs at Monument Lake and other public parks and common areas. Photo by Sharon Williams.
Men honored for their efforts, May 1
Caption: Fire Chief Chris Truty presented awards to two men May 1 for their attempted life-saving efforts at Monument Lake on April 13. From left above are Truty, Monument Mayor Don Wilson, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board President John Hildebrandt, Monument Town Manager Mike Foreman, and Monument Police Chief Sean Hemingway. Both men took immediate action in an attempt to rescue a kayaker in distress on Monument Lake. Their names were not released. Photos by Jamey Bumgarner.
Monument Lake regrading, May 6
Caption: Fishermen, boaters, paddleboarders and others who use Monument Lake no longer have to drive over deep ruts, tire tracks, and potholes. The town’s Public Works Department regraded the parking and beach areas on May 6. The lake had to be closed for half a day while workers used heavy equipment and shovels to level off the area. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
OCN mailing day, Apr. 30
Caption: More than 40 volunteers involved in the production and distribution of each issue of Our Community News (OCN) so your Tri-Lakes area news arrives in your mailbox on the first Saturday of each month. Many steps are involved in the monthly process. After reporters, photographers, columnists, and editors submit articles and other information for copy editing, OCN is laid out and sent to the Pueblo Chieftain for printing the 22,000 papers. The Chieftain then delivers the papers to a meeting room in downtown Monument where the papers are counted out and inserted, 140 at a time, into 150 U.S. Postal Service mailing tubs. Once all the tubs are filled, they are delivered to the Monument, Palmer Lake, and Briargate post offices for delivery to you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in volunteering to assist with reporting, mailing day or other roles that produce this essential news source for the Tri-Lakes community. Photos by David Futey.
Antelope Trails Parade of Thanks
Caption: On May 7, Antelope Trails Elementary School teachers and staff organized a "thanks" and "we miss you" parade to the great delight of ATE parents and students. The parade of over 20 decorated cars, scooters, and two Wescott Fire Department vehicles weaved its way through the Gleneagle neighborhood with vehicle occupants honking horns, waving to spectators, and voicing hellos and good wishes. Along the parade route, parents and students held up signs of appreciation such as "Thank You ATE Teachers," "We Miss You," and "Our Teachers Are Superheroes" in their driveways and along the streets. Photo by David Futey.
Bee’s Book Club makes masks
Caption: Bee’s Book Club has reinvented itself from a traditional book club into a dynamic producer of the widely needed quality face masks designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. They still have their traditional monthly book club meeting sessions, but since early April they have been manufacturing and distributing high-quality face masks at a rate of 1,000 per week. The beneficiaries of this effort have been first responders, doctors, nurses, seniors, prison guards and members of veterans’ groups. AARP Chapter 1100 in Black Forest is one of those recipients. The masks are made of donated 100% cotton cloth and ¼-inch elastic. Every mask, washable and reusable, takes about 15 minutes of individual effort to produce. The Book Club, led by their founder and President Adria Lopour, has a 15-year history of helping charitable organizations. Their activities include providing toys and other useful items to needy children. Photo courtesy of Black Forest AARP.
Coal car derailment, May 13
Caption: Monument police reported a derailed coal car in the area of the 2100 block of Wagon Gap Trail the night of May 13. Sgt. Mark Owens told Our Community News at the scene that resident surveillance video showed "three white males" in their early teens at the site at the time of the derailment. Commander Jonathan Hudson says it’s not known if the teens deliberately released the brake, but the car did tip over spilling its contents of coal. The car was on the service track, so it didn’t disrupt train traffic. The investigation is being conducted by BNSF Railway police. BNSF External Corporation Communication Manager Ben Wilemon confirms that "trespassers were reported in the vicinity before the incident" but, he says, "at this time, it is still under investigation, so we cannot provide further details." Photo by Michael Weinfeld
Fundraiser walk for Bakhita, May 16
Caption: On May 16, a virtual walk along with socially distanced walks at Benet Hill Monastery and in Black Forest were conducted to raise awareness and funds for Bakhita Mountain Home (BMH), the first safe home in Colorado for victims of human trafficking. Participants in the virtual walk were asked to send photos of themselves to email@example.com. BMH, conceived in 2018 by an ecumenical group of Benedictine and Franciscan sisters, lay women and female trafficked survivors, will provide its residents with a safe haven, trauma-informed therapy, and life-enhancing skill. The walks were the first fundraising effort for BMH toward a renovation goal of $190,000. Donations to this 501(c)(3) and information about BMH services can be found at www.bakhitamountainhome.org. Over 24 million individuals worldwide and hundreds of thousands in the United States are victims of human trafficking. If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or 1-833-455-5075 in Colorado. Photo by David Futey.
Piping encouragement, May 8
Caption: Pipe Major Sam Swancutt shared a Scottish Highland tradition with Monument on May 8. Clan pipers sometimes "play the sundown" from a hilltop, but in this case Swancutt piped encouragement to the residents and staff of Jackson Creek Senior Living on a blustery day. Some people watched from their windows, and others journeyed outside to listen. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Visible address numbers
Caption: The Fire Department tells us how important it is to have bold address numbers clearly visible from the street for fire and medical emergencies. It recommends 4-inch, reflective numbers clearly outlined on a contrasting background. Try this project: In the dark of night, walk to the end of your driveway and down the street. Look at your address from both directions. Is it clear which driveway and which house are associated with that address? Residents of Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District can see www.bffire.org/driveway-address-sign-post for details and a $25 kit. If you lost your home in the Black Forest Fire, the signpost is free. If you live in another fire district, check with them for guidance on simple high-visibility house number signposts. Photo courtesy of Terry Stokka.
Community Meeting House, May 17
Caption: The Chamber of Commerce, in keeping with the Town of Monument’s ongoing beautification project, has volunteers clearing and preparing to plant the garden area (lovingly referred to as Ms. T’s Garden) around the Chamber’s Community Meeting House on May 17. Contact John Howe if you wish to volunteer (719-487-1047). From left are John Howe, Tia "Ms. T" Mayer, and Michael Perry Jr. Photo by Michael Weinfeld. Caption by John Howe.
Drive-through awards ceremony
Caption: Fuel Church hosted the Tri-Lakes Awana Club that got creative in May when the club held its Award Ceremony for 62 local children and youths via a drive-thru format. With the "Safe at Home" order put in place in March, club members were not able to finish their Bible classes in person. Instead, the Awana leaders made a video for the group, and teachers called their students every Wednesday to check in on their individual progress. During the Drive-Thru Awards Ceremony, teachers and assistants dressed up in silly costumes, played instruments, waved congratulations posters, and cheered on the children as their parents pulled up for the children to receive their awards. Pastor Dan and Maria Crosby greeted the children from the big black Fuel Church Awana bus. From left are Brynn Chapman, Pastor Dan Crosby, Noelle Chapman, Bengetta Chapman, and Ayden Cordova. See http://fuelchurch.org. Photo by Maria Crosby.
TLC donations collected, May 25
Caption: On Memorial Day, realtor Lisa Pflugh (right), with the help of her daughter Maddie (left) and staff, collected non-perishable items for Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC). Pflugh and husband Howard are board members with TLC. A week before receiving donations, Pflugh’s staff placed 450 paper bags, to be used for returning the donations, onto front porches in the Gleneagle area along with a list of needs. The goal was to collect 1,000 pounds in donations, and just over that amount was received. The Pflughs with daughter Maddie then received the donations at a drop-off location on Gleneagle Drive. Lisa Pflugh stated, "There is a huge need as we have people in our community having to make the choice between buying groceries or paying the mortgage." She added, "With schools being closed there are children who are going without a breakfast and lunch." To make a donation or for more information on TLC, go to www.tri-lakescares.org. Photo by David Futey.
Enjoying Palmer Lake, May 29
Caption: While dozens of kayakers and anglers enjoyed Palmer Lake on May 29, the Beatty family enjoyed a walk with their grandchildren at the Palmer Lake bridge overlooking the scene. This day they went across the bridge for the first time, with the grandchildren hoping to see the train cars go by. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Hydrant rainbow, May 22
Caption: Water tech Jon Rigaud of the Monument Water Department created a towering geyser by flushing one of the town’s hydrants west of I-25 on May 22. The flush released more than 1,000 gallons a minute. The flushing program cleans iron sediment from the distribution system. Residents were advised not to do laundry and to run their faucets a few minutes after the hydrants were flushed in their neighborhoods since some sediment could have made its way into their plumbing. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
Not all heroes wear capes
Caption: Grocery store employees have been working around the clock to offer food and needed supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to thank our hard-working grocery store workers, Our Community News offers a nod of appreciation for their dedication and efforts of pleasant cooperation including the use of masks, which has helped create the adage, "I protect you, you protect me." Photo by Janet Sellers.
The theme is "Spring and Summer Life in the Tri-Lakes area." Send your best photo to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than June 26. Include names of people in the photo, date of photo, a description of the activity or location, and name of photographer. Call Lisa at 719-339-7831 with questions. We will print the winners in our July 4 issue.
Are you and your neighbors planning a festive celebration on the morning of Fourth of July? If so email email@example.com with your name, location, time (before noon) and brief description of what you are planning. One of our OCN photographers just might make their way to your location to capture your celebration.
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.
Safer at Home’s physical distancing rules
For up to date information on this changing situation, see https://covid19.colorado.gov/blog/safer-at-home. The goal is still for the general public to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out. Certain businesses may open now but with strict precautions. It’s a new level of safety that still includes keeping your distance, wearing a mask when in public, and limiting size of gatherings to less than 10 people. The El Paso County Public Health Department still wants you to be Safer at Home.
Community resources available during COVID-19 pandemic
The county’s website, www.elpasocountyhealth.org/community-resources-0, has lists to help with basic needs, behavioral health resources, businesses, childcare resources for children and teens, health and wellness resources, and volunteer opportunities (local and immediate needs).
Monument Police Department non-emergency email contact
Throughout the COVID-19 emergency, the Monument Police Department is modifying procedures to reduce the spread of the virus. They will continue to respond to calls on a priority basis and will do everything possible to deliver a high quality of service while minimizing the risk of community exposure. Please use MPDCOVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org to contact police with non-emergency information.
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.
Slash-Mulch season underway
The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch program will accept slash (tree and brush debris only) through Sept. 13. Mulch will be available through Sept. 19 or until mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost for slash is $2 per load. The mulch loader fee is $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone the County Environmental Division, 520-7878; Carolyn, 495-3127; Chuck, 495-8675; Jeff, 495-8024.
Monument’s Memorial Day Virtual Ceremony, online now
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town canceled the annual ceremony at the cemetery. A virtual remembrance is available online at www.townofmonument.org/331/Memorial-Day-Ceremony.
The Monument Hill Kiwanis (MHKC) 2020 Virtual Parade, entries welcome
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the Fourth of July activities have been canceled, postponed, or will occur virtually. This year’s live parade is being replaced by a virtual parade with the theme, "Celebrating Our First Responders, Health Care Professionals, and Critical Support Workers." The virtual parade will be in three parts: a video presentation from MHKC archives of past parades, a showcase of video and photo contributions from members of the community, and a video parade to be assembled from these public entries. Any person, family, business, or organization within El Paso County and the surrounding counties may submit an entry composed of photos or a short video (two minutes or less). Submit your entry by Jun. 30. For details, visit the website, www.monumenthillkiwanis.org. See ad on page 3.
Countywide fireworks shows July 4
Plans are on the way to team up with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and Colorado Springs Sports Corporation in conjunction with iHeartRadio to have the Falcon Freedom Days Fireworks Show, the Club at Flying Horse, and eight other fireworks sites, synchronized to music July 4, 8:30-10 p.m. Countywide fireworks events will allow residents to stay home, stay healthy and enjoy the fireworks displayed at ten locations throughout El Paso County. See CS4thofJuly.org for map showing all ten fireworks shows and participating radio stations. Note: The Town of Palmer Lake has canceled its fireworks for 2020.
D-38 budget hearing, June 15
A public hearing on the proposed 2020-21 fiscal year school district budget will be held during the regular meeting of the Board of Education via videoconference on June 15, 6 p.m. Visit the Board of Education webpage at www.lewispalmer.org/Page/7316 for instructions on how to submit comments. See Public Notice below.
WMMI indoor tours resume
Museum tours now accommodate social distancing and COVID-19 safety standards. Tours are available Mon., Wed., Fri., & Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with a special hour for our vulnerable population, 9-10 a.m. Please call in advance. The gift shop is open. Cost: $11 adults, $10 military/AAA, $9 seniors & students, $6 children 3-12, free to children under 3 and museum members. The museum is located at 225 North Gate Blvd. (I-25 Exit 156 A). For more information, phone 719-488-0880, email email@example.com, or visit www.wmmi.org.
Clerk & Recorder services available
In-person services are available by appointment only for marriage licenses as well as motor vehicle and driver’s license renewals and out-of-state transfers at the Main, Southeast, and North offices. Schedule an appointment online at www.epcdrives.com. Most driver and vehicle services can be completed online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov. Residents can renew their motor vehicle registration online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov, by phone at 520-6240, by mail, or by self-service kiosks at King Soopers or at the North Motor Vehicle Office at 8830 N. Union Blvd. (24/7 kiosk). For more information, phone 520-6200 or visit www.clerkandrecorder.elpasoco.com. See ad on page 2.
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) update
Check out the new dates for TLCA events rescheduled due to COVID-19. Tickets already purchased for these shows or classes will be honored on the new dates. For more information, visit www.trilakesarts.org: Soul Sacrifice: July 24, PLAG Exhibition: Aug. 4 to 28, Suzy Bogguss: Aug. 16, Moors & McCumber: Aug. 28, Dion Pride: Sep. 18, Acoustic Eidolon: Oct. 17, Sawyer Fredericks: Nov. 1, Claude Bourbon: Apr. 17, 2021, Jubilant Painting Class w/ Carol Probst TBD, Passionate Painting Class w/ Carol Probst TBD
Sisters’ Thrift & Boutique reopens
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 Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The phone number is 719-282-0316. For a $5 off coupon, see ad on page 7.
Summer STEM Camp at WMMI in July
Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) Summer STEM Camp offers a fun, educational, hands-on week of learning for ages 8-12, Jul. 20-24, full or half day. Register by phone, online, or in person: 488-0880, www.wmmi.org. The museum is located at 225 North Gate Blvd. See ad on page 32.
County parks update
Park headquarters will open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Park restrooms will begin to be opened. County fairgrounds office is open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Fountain Creek and Bear Creek Nature Centers will be open Tue.-Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Access will be limited to nine citizens at one time per the governor’s order. No organized programs or activities until further notice. Rainbow Falls Historic Site is open on weekends, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Playgrounds and pavilions will remain closed per the governor’s order until further notice. The remainder of county parks, trails, and open spaces remain open.
Park users are highly encouraged to practice social distancing and wear masks while enjoying the county park system. For more information, visit www.elpasoco.com for online services, 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. See ad on page 8.
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.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) hosts virtual support groups
NAMI’s in-person groups are on hiatus due to COVID-19. In their place, there are virtual groups. For more information, visit www.namicoloradosprings.org or contact NAMI Colorado Springs at 719-473-8477, 719-482-0918 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and handyman services to Tri-Lakes seniors. If you need a ride to a medical appointment, grocery shopping, or the local senior lunches, a volunteer driver will be happy to help you. Call 488-0076 to leave a message for the dispatcher. If you need grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call Cindy Rush, 488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
Senior citizen luncheons and transportation
Connections Café sites will have "grab and go" (prepared meals). 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 available
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.
Local grocery stores offer senior shopping
During the COVID-19 pandemic, local stores have made some changes to their schedules: King Soopers (719-488-2955) is open for seniors Mon. & Wed. 7-8 a.m.; Safeway (719-488-1187) opens for seniors Tue. & Thu., 7-9 a.m.; Walmart (719-484-0912) opens for seniors Tue., 6-7 a.m. All three offer grocery pick up.
Monument Academy now enrolling
Monument Academy is a free public school of choice and features academic excellence, award-winning programs, and more. Its new east campus will open this fall. Learn about this growing school; schedule a tour at 481-1950 ext. 1710, www.monumentacademy.net.
St. Peter Catholic School now enrolling
Preschool through eighth grade features academics, athletics, and faith formation. For more information, call 719-481-1855 or visit www.petertherockschool.org. See ad on page 2.
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. With stay-at-home orders and the number of coronavirus cases continuing to rise, it is expected that the number of people struggling with mental health issues will increase as well. According to JFS therapists, the biggest concerns for clients are heightened anxiety and fear, intensified trauma symptoms triggered by current fear regarding COVID-19, confusion about the coronavirus situation due to language barriers, isolation, and daily anxiety about how to pay rent and other bills. Mental health services are available to adults and youths, including students who normally receive mental health counseling at school through JFS’s KidSuccess program. JFS also provides mental health services for underserved refugees and is the region’s only agency that provides mental health care for the Russian-speaking immigrant population in their native language. 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.
Help protect firefighters and yourselves
Hundreds of firefighters across the country have COVID-19. Even with personal protective equipment and strong infection control procedures, hundreds of firefighters are sick. Some have died. Here are some steps you can take to make it safer for firefighters and others on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle, such as police officers, nurses, and doctors. (1) Stay home and practice social distancing. (2) Call 911 for emergencies only. If you need assistance, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs will be there. (3) If you do need to call 911, alert the call-taker if anyone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has experienced any symptoms such as cough or fever so that firefighters can take the precautions needed to ensure they can keep doing their job throughout this pandemic. The 911 call-taker will likely ask additional questions. (4) Make a list of all medications being taken by each member of your household, along with a medical history. Do it now and keep it handy, just in case. New rules in many communities will prevent relatives and friends from riding in the ambulance or even entering the hospital. (5) Collect a few things a loved one might need if they must go to the hospital. A phone charger, eyeglasses, wallet, ID, and insurance card(s) are great things to include. Follow your local fire department and emergency management agency on social media. They’ll have additional COVID-19 safety tips and keep you updated on changing procedures and policies.
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 email@example.com 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).
Tri-Lakes Cares needs us more than ever
Even though Tri-Lakes Cares is still closed to the public for onsite client services through June 30 and will continue using remote and no-contact service options to provide grocery services, financial assistance services, and medical assistance services, it 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 volunteer-supported center is a critical resource for our neighbors in need. For more information about Tri-Lakes Cares and 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.
Trees 4 Tomorrow, ends soon
Trees 4 Tomorrow Program (T4T Program) is an innovative, green approach to transplanting healthy trees from unmitigated properties to burn scar properties needing reforestation. Black Forest Together is now accepting requests for our 2020 Trees for Tomorrow program. This will be the last year that we are able to offer this program on this scale. Transplant days will be limited this year so the program will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once demand drops or inventory runs out, this program will shut down for the year. To sign up, phone 719-368-0500 or visit the website, www.blackforesttogether.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.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to email@example.com or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on February 02, 2022. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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