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.
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By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) school board met on June 14 to learn about a new COVID-19 testing program for the 2021-22 school year and receive an update on the Highway 105 project and its impact to the school.
MA also held a special board meeting on June 2 to "pass the torch" to new board members. At the regular meeting, MA swore in new board members, voted on board roles, and discussed committee memberships.
Pooled COVID testing available for K-12
Outgoing Chief Operating Officer Christianna Herrera reported that the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) sent a letter to superintendents and school leaders to prepare for COVID-19 testing that will occur this summer and during the 2021-22 school year. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will be offering a new opt-in testing program free to all K-12 schools. The program will implement a weekly pooled Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing mechanism. CDPHE will offer districts end-to-end services or direct-ship services for PCR testing. If this program is made available, parents will need to provide consent.
Recognizing the challenges schools have faced with contact tracing and quarantining, CDE is working on revising quarantine requirement for schools, students, and staff who participate in the testing program. CDPHE is piloting an exemption from quarantine requirements for unvaccinated individuals if 70% of the school’s population is either vaccinated or participating in testing. This pilot will inform formal policy decisions for the coming school year. CDPHE is discontinuing its distribution of Binax at-school and at-home tests.
Herrera said this program may depend on an executive order from the governor and that the board should keep an eye on this program. The board confirmed the details and noted this would affect any elementary student under the age of 12, because they are not eligible for the vaccine. Herrera and the board discussed the involvement of the county Public Health Department and noted that individuals could advocate with the governor’s office, CDE, CDPHE and county Public Health departments.
Highway 105 project
Board member Megghan St. Aubyn reported that the county only received three feedback emails on the Highway 105 project. The project will not affect the 2021-22 school year, and MA hopes the work will occur in the summer of 2022. The county will try to minimize the impact on or consider relocating part of the nature trail. MA will request funding from the federal government regarding the nature trail.
The proposal for traffic flow is to come in on Knollwood, turn east by Vision Clinic and queue around the school building to avoid lining up on Highway 105. The county suggested posting a crossing guard at the turn. On June 22, MA’s lawyer will continue negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding between the school and the county and then will bring that to the board for a vote. St. Aubyn said she would post the letter with the county’s responses to the school web page.
Welcoming new board members
At the June 2 special meeting, new board members heard from past and continuing board members. Past board President Mark McWilliams discussed problems with the previous administration, the history of charter schools, and the need to defend charter schools. He noted board member Ryan Graham’s role in representing MA in the recent legislative session. McWilliams learned that MA was not just a great option for kids to learn conservative values but emphasized a classical education, so kids understand knowledge, logic, and rhetoric. He spoke of the positive changes at MA, starting with his time on the board, and said the board should focus on policy making.
Current board President Melanie Strop talked about long-term goals and her focus solely on protecting MA. Herrera spoke of re-establishing lost trust with leadership. Strop discussed the format of regular meetings, special meetings, and executive sessions along with the open meeting requirements of the Colorado Sunshine Law. She noted that as board president she controls the agenda and can prevent items that MA doesn’t want the public to know that can be handled via a letter from the COO to MA parents. Strop also cautioned that board members need to be aware of what they are wearing when speaking with other parents and staff members.
St. Aubyn said that board members need to represent all students and do what is best for the school. Board member Chris Dole cautioned that board members need to hold some things close since they are dealing with human resources and other privacy issues that need to be referred to the right person. He said the board has no obligation to respond to every communication. Board member Misty McCuen said the board members may not agree completely but that it is important to value each voice. She said it takes courage and trust to be a board member. Graham said new members should know the board policies, the bylaws, the charter contract, and the job description for the chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
At the June 2 meeting, the board discussed the duties of roles such as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and member-at-large. In the regular meeting, the board unanimously voted for Graham as president; St. Aubyn as vice president; Dole as treasurer; Lindsay Clinton as secretary, and Joe Buczkowski as member at large.
Strop described the various committees board members could join: accountability, curriculum, communication, facility, finance, governance, and resource development according to bylaws. Resource development is the fundraising committee. The board decided to table this discussion to the next meeting in July.
The board discussed adding a new member to the board. Dole said the bylaws allow from five to nine seats. In recent times, the MA board has had six seats, but this spreads the board thin with committee requirements and construction projects. He suggested the board vote to add a seventh seat and ensure that there are at least three seats filled by parents at each campus. He said the bylaws allow the seat to be filled by election or appointment. Strop said that five to six seats had worked, and she felt the optics looked like they were trying to fill a person into the board rather than filling a seat. St. Aubyn said this should be discussed and voted on at a regular meeting and that any election should happen after school starts.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Strop directed speakers that, since their reports were in the board packet, would not present but only answer questions. The board packet is not available online but can be obtained via a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request per board policy 1512 at https://bit.ly/ma-bp1512.
• St. Aubyn reported that MA made an offer and it was accepted by Merlin Holmes to be the new COO. St. Aubyn thanked the committee. Graham noted that Holmes will start on July 1 for his one-year contract.
• Herrera reported on two learning plans for next year. One is parent-directed with added tutoring and access to teacher-of-record support using options that take a classical approach. The online option covers core classes and electives and has a quarter commitment. MA has found programs with a mix of live and recorded options that match their programs as closely as possible, removing the burden from classroom teachers.
• The board unanimously voted to hire Herrera as an independent contractor acting as a transition consultant for the chief operating officer position starting on July 1 and ending no later than Sept. 30, 2021.
• Chief Financial Officer Marc Brocklehurst discussed the budget including decreased projected enrollment, updated per-pupil operating revenue from the state, decreased mill levy override funds due decreased ratio of students served, loss of Title II and Title IV funds, updated state capital grant fund, new federal funding to help schools provide internet access for students who qualify for free and reduced lunches, and a purchase card rebate of 1%. Expenses were lowered by planning for fewer teachers due to decreased enrollment and a slight decreasing building maintenance and repairs. The board unanimously approved the revised budget.
• Graham thanked principals Julie Seymour and Charlie Richardson for hosting Rep. Doug Lamborn on his visit to the school.
• Board members discussed the need to get going on Phase 2 funding for the high school because space is getting tight. Herrera noted that, without the Phase 2 construction, they may need to install modulars after next year.
• Newly elected board members Lindsay Clinton and Joseph "Joe" Buczkowski were sworn in. Their terms begin on July 1.
The next meeting has been moved to the third Thursday, July 15 at 6 p.m. due to the holiday. The meeting will be in person with some Zoom access and streaming; the venue is to be determined. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Meetings may be held in-person and/or via Zoom and will be streamed to the MA YouTube channel. For more information on how to join the meeting in person or virtually or to submit a public comment, see https://bit.ly/ma-boe.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board meeting on June 23, the board received an update on the unification process and the coming reduction in the Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) and heard about the district’s new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).
Directors Terri Hayes and Tom Tharnish arrived late after forgetting the temporary meeting location. The meeting began at 6:34 p.m.; Hayes was excused for a prior meeting and arrived at 6:48 p.m.
Wescott unification update
Chief Andy Kovacs said he and Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD), as directed by both boards, met with Project Manager Dan Qualman of Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) of Wilsonville Ore. to discuss the proposed feasibility study that both the DWFPD and TLMFPD boards had approved at the May 13 special meeting. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#tlmfpd.
Kovacs said he also attended the DWFPD board meeting on June 15 where the cost share for the feasibility study was approved unanimously. See the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District article on page 10. The goal of the study is to provide a third party, independent, unbiased assessment to evaluate the feasibility of a unification option. TLMFPD selected ESCI in 2018 to conduct a thorough analysis of the district and surrounding fire agencies and develop the 2019 Master Plan, so it is already familiar with the agencies and the area, said Kovacs.
Jones said the study will include at least one in-person visit from ESCI with the major stakeholders, all personnel, the command staff, and board members from both agencies. The same tools previously used to produce TLMFPD’s 2019 Master Plan will be used and include spatial and response time analysis, and the study will adhere to all the standard industry guidelines. The completed study is expected to be finalized in October 2021, said Jones.
Kovacs said the study will include a deep dive into facilities, apparatus, management components, capital assets and capital improvement plans, staffing and personnel management, service delivery and support programs such as training and fire prevention. No one will lose their jobs, but some personnel may not remain in the same positions, said Kovacs.
Jones confirmed that DWFPD has 15 volunteers and will not accept any more for the time being, and said the following:
• The agencies have different pay scales and benefits, and a full fiscal analysis of budgets and revenues (to include five-year forecasted budget analysis), cost avoidance for station locations/coverage and the consolidation of administrative services and capital purchases will be explored.
• Funding, and the mill levy disparity between the two districts, and the Wescott sub-district will need to be carefully examined.
• The recent increase in residential property taxes and the pending drop in the RAR could make the option to create a new district with a lower mill levy more viable.
• Both chiefs will meet with their respective district attorneys to discuss the RAR changes.
• ESCI will not be asked to make any recommendation on what kind of legal organizational structure should be selected.
• Both boards will be required to decide and select the final option once the study is complete.
Jones said two major incidents in the past 60 days showed the smoothest operational response with inter-agency support that he has ever seen, and that co-operation already exists between DWFPD and TLMFPD. Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District also assisted at both incidents. The unification would result in a five-station district with a mobile unit and negate the need for a TLMFPD fourth station due to the south Monument border location of DWFPD’s Station 1.
Kovacs said several TLMFPD administrative staff also assisted DWFPD recently with an internal lieutenant promotion process, and many co-operative efforts have been happening organically over the past few years.
The cost for the ESCI feasibility study is $56,960 and will be split 50/50, as agreed by both boards, said Kovacs.
The board unanimously approved funding for the cost share for the ESCI study.
Property tax assessment rate reduction
Kovacs said Special District Association Executive Director, Ann Terry has provided the following information:
• Senate Bill 21-293 addresses property tax assessment rates by reducing some assessment rates for a short time (two years), and the Colorado House of Representatives passed the bill on June 8.
• The RAR of 7.15 % will be reduced to 6.95% for 2022 and 2023 for single-family residences.
• Nonpartisan staff at the Legislature estimate the loss of revenue for special districts will be about 18.9% to 20% across the board.
• The real concern is the potential for a ballot initiative in November 2021 that will ask voters to permanently reduce tax assessment rates. That initiative would most likely include a non-residential (commercial) assessment rate reduction from 29% to 26.4%.
• "Colorado Rising," an advocacy group looking for opportunities to reduce taxes, is pushing for the reductions, and there is concern about the impact it might have on special districts.
• Executive Director Garry Briese of the Colorado State Fire Chief’s Association has invited the groups to discuss the potential impacts on firefighting revenue.
Hildebrandt said Tri-Lakes residents gave the district permission to retain the current RAR at 7.15% after the vote to de-Gallagherize passed in November 2019. See www.ocn.me/v20n10.htm#tlmfpd.
Treasurer John Hildebrandt thanked Kevin Barszcz for alerting 911 dispatch services to an escaped campfire in the Pikes Peak National Forest close to homes in the Red Rock/Mount Herman Roads area on the afternoon of June 15. Hildebrandt said living within about three-tenths to half a mile from the fire, it was in our back yard and it was disaster averted. TLMFPD crews ensured the fire was completely extinguished before turning the incident over to the U.S. Forest Service. Hildebrandt said he gave Barszcz a TLMFPD challenge coin at the scene for his actions.
TLMFPD reached out to recognize the timely action made by Barszcz before the board meeting, but the invitation was declined due to other commitments, said Kovacs.
Division of Community Risk/Battalion Chief Jamey Bumgarner is participating in the planning meetings for the Northwest Passage Evacuation Drill, rescheduled for Oct. 2. The event is operated by the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management. See www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm#tlmfpd.
Kovacs recognized five individuals for "jobs well done" with the chief’s coin award and said:
• Lt. Kevin Richmond was recognized for the completion of the SCBA project. Richmond did a fantastic job over a two-year period paying meticulous attention to detail in the procurement of state-of-the art equipment for the entire district that required significant funding.
• District Administrative Officer Jennifer Martin was recognized for her exemplary work in the organization after her audit accounting practices were noted by Mitch Downs, the district auditor, for the best-ever demonstration of those controls.
• In May, Lt. Jon Bodinsky, engineer Keegan Black and firefighter Christian Schmidt were recognized for helping a homeless man suffering from electrolyte imbalances, living in a vehicle, and looking for work with his girlfriend. The couple had not eaten in days, and using their own funds, Bodinsky and Black purchased bananas, Snickers bars and Gatorade drinks from the Pilot Flying J travel center to help the couple.
Kovacs said the district will be issuing the lieutenants a credit card for emergency use that will be tracked, as suggested by Hildebrandt and Secretary Mike Smaldino.
Kovacs said Chief of Logistics Capt. Dean Wahl has retired, and Deputy Chief Randy Trost has reverted to being both the operations and logistics chief for the next several weeks. A promotion opportunity for the position of operations chief has been advertised internally and, depending on the candidate selection, a cascade of promotions may be created within the district, said Kovacs.
Wildland fire personnel deployments
Kovacs said the following:
• Battalion Chief Mike Keough returned from a wildland deployment in Wyoming. He went on an operation for several days as a trainee and he returned certified as a Wildland Fire Division supervisor.
• Lt. Chris Keough and firefighters Robert Horne and Matt Godson deployed to the Backbone Fire in Arizona, the largest fire in the nation at 38,000 acres and only 1% contained on June 23. They utilized a Type 6 engine, and Keough is an Engine Boss trainee with Engine Boss Horne.
• Lt. Mauricio Ayala has deployed with Security Fire Department on a Type 3 engine to the Sylvan Fire in Eagle, and he is also an Engine Boss trainee.
Kovacs said it is the first time TLMFPD personnel have deployed with outside agency resources to gain experience and complete their task books. There is a definite improved collaborative effort to share training, resources, and personnel between all agencies in El Paso County, said Kovacs.
New SCBA purchased
Battalion Chief of Training Jonathan Bradley said the district received the budgeted 3M Scott Air-Pak X3 Pro (SCBA packs) with improved technology features. The packs are making a big difference with the extra wide face mask, suspension system, voice amplification and integrated radio, quick release regulator change and articulated belt. Each pack weighs 35 pounds without an air tank, said Bradley.
Bradley said the 3M harness straps release, making decontamination with bunker gear possible. Previously, it was a struggle to keep a harness clean.
Richmond said 12 extra packs are now kept on standby to switch out for decontamination after an incident. The low oxygen warning signal sounds sooner and allows more reserve oxygen before exiting a situation, but the warning sound is the same and a built-in handle can dry rescue 1,000 pounds.
Trost said the SCBA packs went into service on June 17 and cost the district $332,000. The old SCBA packs were traded in for credit with Scott.
Treasurer Jason Buckingham presented the financial report to the board. Financial reports can be viewed in full after the minutes in the board meeting archive every month at www.tlmfire.org/board.
The financial report was approved as presented, 6-0.
Director of Public Works for the Town of Monument Tom Tharnish requested the board consider making a decision to be included in the initial bidding process for the multi-million-dollar Monument pipeline project, and said the following:
• Monument will go to bid on Aug. 25 for the 5-mile pipeline (to include fire hydrants) that will run from Monument Lake and come out at Cloven Hoof Road, Palmer Lake, and travel east down Highway 105 to the southside of Crystal Creek and east of the bridge and end at the Beacon Light Road apartments.
• Station 1 currently receives water from a well and, after the pipeline installation, it will disconnect from its well and be annexed into the town’s water district with a connection under Highway 105.
• Boring under Highway 105 will likely cost about $500 per foot for a 100-foot right of way, totaling about $50,000.
• Bidding a small separate project later would likely cost more and boring is already planned for the pipeline to travel under the creek and the railroad bridge.
• The pipeline project is expected to break ground in 2022.
Kovacs said the district has not budgeted for the expense in 2021, and payment deferred until 2022 would be preferable.
Tharnish said he doubted a payment request would be made until 2022, because the bids are not expected back until later this year.
Hildebrandt said the district has to bore anyway and get away from well water.
The board approved the request to be included in the bid, 6-0-1.
The meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.
Caption: Lt. Kevin Richmond receives the "Chief’s Coin" award from Chief Andy Kovacs at the June 23 board meeting. Richmond was recognized for his outstanding attention to detail in the sourcing of new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus the district began using in June. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce, 166 Second St., downtown Monument. For Zoom meeting instructions, minutes, and agendas, visit www.tlmfire.org or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer D38 passed a number of resolutions at its June 14 meeting.
The first of these authorized the beginning of implementing a plan from Schneider Electric Buildings America Inc. to implement several improvements in district properties, including adding security vestibules at three schools, improving lighting by replacing all incandescent lighting with LED lighting, replacing the boiler at Lewis-Palmer Middle School and the chiller at Lewis-Palmer High School, and various other projects.
This plan has been under discussion since last December when Schneider did an extensive survey of district employees and community members to learn of their concerns. In their detailed proposal, Schneider representatives explained that the district could see sufficient energy savings to pay for the project over the term of its financing. If this does not occur, Schneider will pay the difference.
Initially the district will pay $1.8 million to construct security vestibules at Lewis- Palmer Elementary School, Prairie Winds Elementary School, and Lewis-Palmer Middle School. This work will begin soon and be completed before the beginning of the new school year.
Financing will be through Sterling National Bank at a rate not to exceed 2.497%. The district can prepay if they wish to do so.
Grace Best resolution
Following several months of meetings and discussions and the formation of a 40-member steering committee, the board voted to approve the beginning of Phase 2 of the Grace Best Plan. Phase 1 developed a series of alternate approaches to the use of the building, ranging from doing nothing to renovating the entire facility to demolishing the oldest section and remodeling the rest.
The resolution authorizes Superintendent KC Somers to explore design possibilities for the facility after the oldest section, facing Jefferson Street, is demolished, with the understanding that all programs currently using the site (Homeschool Enrichment Academy, Bearbotics robotics team, Transitions program) will stay in place while seeking flexibility in future uses. This phase of the plan will involve consulting with architects, contractors, and/or consultants.
Anser Advisory and Cooperative Strategies, the consultants on Phase 1, will remain involved. There was no proposed date for beginning the construction.
Before the meeting, there was an opportunity for public comment on the proposed budget for 2021-22. Two teachers, expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed salary increases. The budget includes a $500 step increase plus 1.5% for teachers. The individuals said that teachers in surrounding districts are receiving a 6% increase and as a result a number of teachers are choosing to go elsewhere. If the district wants to maintain its quality of education, they said, it must do better.
A few comments regarding the budget were made by outgoing Chief Financial Officer Shanna Seelye. Participating by phone, Seelye said the Per Pupil Operating Revenue expected for the coming year has increased from last month’s estimate and that the proposed funding transfer to the food services department may prove to be unnecessary. Food services had been self-supporting for several years due to the ability to sell a la carte items in the cafeterias. This was not possible during the 2020-21 school year, and it is unknown whether it will be permitted in 2021-22.
The board approved the budget with the understanding that the district prefers a flexible system that can review and adjust it throughout the year.
BEST grant for middle school
The board approved receipt of a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant for the replacement of the boiler in Lewis-Palmer Middle School.
The grant is in the amount of $141,474. The district’s matching contribution will be $330,106.
The board voted to have Vicki Wood act as the district’s agent to notify the county clerk and recorder of the intent to participate in this November’s election, both for the biennial board election and any additional ballot initiatives that may be developed.
Coach Erica Bradley of the Palmer Ridge High School Girls Volleyball Team introduced members of her 4A State Championship team.
Coach Alan Arata introduced Lewis-Palmer High School Junior Dahlia Allen, who is the first from the district to become a 5A diving champion.
In his later comments, Somers also congratulated recently graduated Palmer Ridge High School senior Tessa Rothwell, who won the state championship in No. 2 singles tennis for a second year.
Dr. Stephanie Johnson, English Language Program coordinator, has been recognized by the Office of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education as a 2021 Distinguished Administrator.
April and May Board recognitions
Due to space restraints in our June issue, following is a list of those recognized at the April and May meetings of the D38 Board of Education.
Palmer Ridge High School Senior Riley Jones was selected as a recipient of the Boettcher Foundation Scholarship. Boettcher scholars are selected for academic achievement, outstanding character, and service and leadership in their school and community.
Jones is a top biology student and student body president.
The four-year scholarship will cover nearly all expenses at the Colorado school of Jones’ choice, including tuition, fees, books, and a living stipend.
Jones said that she plans to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder.
She selected Tyler Dall to be honored as an outstanding teacher who influenced her.
Dall will receive a plaque, a tribute from Jones, and a $500 grant to apply to a project at the school.
Future health professionals
Lewis-Palmer High School science teacher and Health Occupations Students of America faculty sponsor Monica Tupper reported on students who placed in the top three for their event categories and qualify to compete in the International Leadership Conference.
These students are Joselin A. Smart, third place in Human Growth and Development Knowledge test; Mikayla Boles, Isabella Smaldie, and Sophie Kovar, second place in Public Health, and Hope Esposito, first place in Health Career Photography.
District 38 has once again been recognized as a Best Community for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants.
Teachers Raleigh Eversole (Palmer Ridge High School Band), Tom Chapman (Lewis-Palmer High School Band) and Aaron Miller (Lewis-Palmer High School vocal music) introduced their students.
Below is a list of students selected to participate in All State instrumental and vocal groups.
Palmer Ridge High School – All State Band
• Paige Alsup, bass trombone
Palmer Ridge High School – All State Orchestra
• Ruby Bales, trombone
Palmer Ridge High School – All State Jazz
• Raleigh Eversole, tenor saxophone
Palmer Ridge High School – All State Choir
• Riana McHugh, soprano
Lewis-Palmer High School – All State Band
• Annabelle Hall, saxophone
Lewis-Palmer High School – All State Orchestra
• Jack Shimon, trumpet
Lewis-Palmer High School – All State Jazz Band
• Jack Shimon, trumpet, alternate
Lewis-Palmer High School – All State Choir
• Caroline D’Ambra, soprano
Pikes Peak Regional Science and Engineering Fair
Mrs. DeLello, sixth-grade science teacher from Bear Creek Elementary, introduced students who participated in the Pikes Peak Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
These were Pam Boyarko, Dempsey Carnahan, Elleigh Clark, Hannah Pershica, Audrey Skalko, Lily Sobers, and Sophia Taft. They competed with projects in the areas of Biochemistry/chemistry, Earth/Space/Energy/Transportation, Engineering/physics, and Environmental science.
Boyarko, Carnahan, Skalko and Sobers moved on to the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair at a later date.
Several of the students also won additional prizes from various organizations.
DeLello praised the students for persevering in their efforts during the pandemic.
Executive Director of Student Services Rick Frampton expressed appreciation for the six registered nurses employed by the district for their tireless efforts during the past year. He acknowledged that he often had to call them at all hours and every day of the week regarding quarantines and contacting families for various reasons.
The nurses each work at various schools during the week. They are Cathy Amhaus, Ann Colby, Donna Meier, Stacey Pearce, Luarma Torre, and Annie Vandenbussche.
District Accountability Advisory Committee recognition
Chief Academic Officer Lori Benton thanked Nanette Walker Smith for her two years’ service as co-chair of the District Accountability Advisory Committee.
Walker Smith said she was grateful to serve on a committee that incorporates input from the teachers, administration, and parents. She commented that meeting attendance was enhanced by the necessity of meeting virtually during the past school year.
Superintendent KC Somers gave a brief impromptu speech to thank Chief Academic Officer Lori Benton for her 20 years of service in the district.
He especially praised her thorough presentations and ability to explain the complexities of assessments and curriculum.
The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education does not meet in July. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 16 in the district learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board approved a unification feasibility study, which is expected to determine if the district should be combined with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD), during its June 15 meeting, a hybrid of in-person and remote attendees. The sound quality for some remote attendees was not optimal, so the board is considering allowing in-person attendance as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are being lifted.
Chairman Mark Gunderman was absent.
Unification feasibility study approved
Consultant ESCI will perform an independent assessment of the fire districts to ascertain certain data points about both Wescott and TLMFPD. The complexities of both agencies will be reviewed during the four-month process, which constitutes phase one of the unification process, said TLMFPD Chief Andy Kovacs. ESCI will be on site during phase two to gather input from stakeholders. Phase three will include a review of opportunities, benefits, and any obstacles to unification. The feasibility study will be delivered and reviewed during phase four. The study will cost $56,960 to be split by both districts.
Wescott Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones said revenues and expenditures will be reviewed, along with capital assets, to identify the agency’s financial stability. He said staffing and personnel management will be reviewed, but no one has mentioned that Wescott functions largely due to its large number of volunteers.
Note: Last month both districts held a meeting and discussed four possible unification solutions. The chiefs said they are looking at the first two solutions predominantly. These options will be reviewed separately from the feasibility study. See Vol. 21 No. 6 - June 5, 2017 (www.ocn.me/v17n6.htm).
During the public comments portion of the meeting, resident Steve Simpson said he likes the direction the district is going regarding "unification or merger." He also advocated for an executive summary in the feasibility study to help create a compelling argument, "why from a financial perspective [unification] would be better" for the district.
Both chiefs came from agencies that provided regional services. Kovacs suggested Wescott’s Station 1 could act as a southeastern station if it is absorbed into TLMFPD, rather than having to spend months building a new station.
Other decisions and discussion items
• The district’s attorney, Emily Powell, said retiring Chief Vinny Burns remained on payroll while using his accrued leave. After 41 years of service, his last day was June 22. A retirement agreement was approved by the board, and a party to honor him is set for Aug. 15.
• Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich said the annual Special District Association conference will be held in Keystone this year on Sept. 14 through 16. Two board members may attend, but no one has been selected to attend yet.
• Jones said he continues to follow the short-term action plan he presented to the board during the May meeting. See Vol. 21 No. 6 - June 5, 2017 (www.ocn.me/v17n6.htm). This includes a discussion for 2022 budget preparation. He said some current practices don’t have a financial policy associated with them.
• Jones asked the board to allow for staff time to be put toward creating options for Station 3. Director Charlie Fleece abstained from the vote because his property borders the station. It was unclear if the vote was approved, as Director Joyce Hartung was not heard during the verbal vote and a quorum was not available.
• Popovich said the district has received $43,000 in state funding for COVID-19 reimbursements. A second reimbursement of $91,000 was just recently awarded to Wescott, but the money had not yet been received.
Simpson suggested allowing in-person attendance and asked the board to consider moving meetings to later in the evening to allow more residents to attend. During the pandemic, the meetings were moved up to 4 p.m. Fleece complimented all the work staff has done, saying the firefighters go out of their way to be caring.
The meeting adjourned at 5:31 p.m.
If the meeting is held in person, it will be at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. For a virtual meeting, the phone number is 669-900-9128, and the meeting code is 980 378 2073. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The next Donald Wescott fire district meeting is scheduled for July 20 at 4 p.m. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robinstein can be contacted at email@example.com
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) board meeting June 16, the board heard about the newly hired administrator and certified public accountant (CPA) and received an update on the current and future apparatus.
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid was attending a leadership course in Washington State.
Deputy Chief James Rebitski said he has been working closely with newly hired Administrative Officer Rachel Dunn. Dunn started on June 1 and has done a tremendous job already, diving right into the job with her finance logistics background, having previously worked for Donald Wescott Fire Protection District and was a former member of the Wescott board, said Rebitski.
Rebitski also said:
• Rebecca Weese, CPA, LLC was also hired on June 1 and is already a tremendous asset. The district is now caught up and using new procedures to set up the audit request.
• The material requested for the 2020 audit has been submitted to Dawn Schilling of Schilling & Co. Inc.
Our Community News received confirmation from Langmaid after the June meeting, that Capt. William Kraus officially retired in May after more than 30 years in the fire service in Colorado. Kraus served as the operations captain at BFFRPD from January 2020 until May 2021.
Spartan engine update
Rebitski said that BFFRPD will keep the four-wheel-drive engine from Super Vacuum Industrial (SVI) Co. of Fort Collins and will make some minor improvements to it and continue to use it. After receiving pricing from SVI, the numbers did not pan out and after assessing the market for the four-by-four chassis sale, it was determined there was no market for the old chassis. The engine has now been installed with LED lights, it still works well and crews understand that, said Rebitski. Once the preliminary budget numbers for 2022 are determined at the end of August, the potential sale of the chassis may be re-addressed.
Treasurer Jack Hinton said the four-by-four chassis might have sold for $100,000, but a new two-by-two chassis would cost the district $220,000.
Chairman Rick Nearhoof asked who had been involved with the pre-build for the SVI/Spartan four-wheel-drive engine. Rebitski said former employee Larry Bell and former Fire Chief Bryan Jack, and they had a pre-build. Hinton said he remembered the pre-build. See www.ocn.me/v19n10.htm#bffrpd and www.ocn.me/21.n4.htm#bffrpd and www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#bffrpd.
Note: Nearhoof, Hinton, and Langmaid were BFFRPD board members during the pre-build and purchase of the SVI/Spartan engine that was added to the fleet in 2019. See the BFFRPD January 2018 board minutes at www.bffire.org/board.
Pierce engine update
Rebitski said the previously approved two-wheel-drive Pierce Enforcer Pumper engine is expected to be delivered in May 2022, with a pre-build meeting scheduled for September. The crews will go through every specification to arrive at the ideal pre-build specification for the new apparatus. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#bffrpd.
Hinton said the following:
• The Station 1 building bond was paid off in June 2021.
• BFFRPD has $2.25 million in the bank, of which $579,757 is allocated to the reserve funds for emergencies, capital improvement, and TABOR, leaving $1.672 million for daily operations. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#bffrpd.
• Budget spending was at 30% year to date by the end of May 2021, and at the same time in recent years has been about 42% of the budget. Budgeted spending was kept to a minimum out of an abundance of caution during the pandemic and due to an increase in operating costs in 2021.
• Everything other than overtime is looking good.
• The recently hired six firefighters who replaced the staff who resigned in early 2020, and due to staff quarantining in compliance with COVID-19 protocols, overtime expenses have increased, but a reduction in compensation and wages has occurred because the department went without six staff for about three weeks. The district has not yet hired another six firefighters that are budgeted for 2021.
• The potential for a reduction in residential taxes in 2022 and 2023 could result in a loss of up to 25% of revenue for special district budgets. The district previously passed a ballot measure to de-Gallagherize and may be able to adjust the mill levy to match the 2021 budget year revenue without voter approval. The district attorney will be consulted to confirm that a mill levy match can be made. See the related Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District article on page 1.
Rebitski said the district has received one grant of $19,000 for COVID-19 related expenses from the state. A second grant request will be submitted for the additional COVID-19 related expenses to include the fogging machine and related overtime, but that pool of funding is not a guaranteed reimbursement, said Rebitski.
Nearhoof asked Hinton to confirm that he had reviewed the checks with the fire chief and said he would not counter-sign checks with the chief if the board treasurer was not aware of the purchases.
Hinton said he has taken time to discuss all the checks for outgoing expenses in fine detail with Langmaid.
The board unanimously accepted the financial report as presented.
OCN was not provided with the financial statement for May and has never had access to the monthly list of checks generated for purchases and payments above $2,500, that should be included in the financial report the board receives monthly. Langmaid confirmed after the meeting that OCN will receive copies of the financial report in the future.
Rebitski said the following:
• Two replacement Holmatro Rescue Equipment extrication tools were purchased and delivered one hour before they were needed at an automobile rescue incident.
• The district has received a Lifepak 15 cardiac monitor/defibrillator and two sets of bunker gear; all items were previously approved in the 2021 budget.
• The district is planning an approved purchase of 11 additional (used and re-certified by the manufacturer Scott) Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus.
• ESO Systems, a new incident reporting system, took effect on June 1. The system reduces the duplicated efforts that previously occurred and aligns the BFFRPD reporting system with both Colorado Springs and neighboring fire departments to the west, and it is a great tool for us.
• The district is still contending with operational communication issues and is evaluating all possible solutions and options and may need to replace old radios.
• Large red signs are being installed by the engine crews to identify firefighting water sources at a cost of $39 per sign, each stating the street and capacity. The project will be completed in two phases, to include ponds and cisterns. The project will cost about $2,000 and should be completed in early 2022.
• Apparatus fill sites are chosen during an incident to maximize time efficiencies, and may include cisterns or hydrants, with each situation and scenario being unique.
• The district website has been updated and Firewise assessments and recreational burn permits and guidelines are now easily accessible at www.bffire.org/firemarshal.
• Equipment, apparatus, and both stations are now decontaminated weekly using disinfectant and the recently purchased fogging machine. The practice will continue year-round regardless of the status of the current pandemic.
Rebitski said that Capt. Chris Piepenburg and Lt. Erik Beckstrom have developed a roster for potential future wildland deployments and said the following occurred in June:
• The primary focus on training has been wildland initial attack, driver operator training for supply pumpers and attack pumpers, hose packs, mock fires, and the rapid deployment of hose.
• The Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) brought 23 recruits for live burn training to the BFFRPD training center. CSFD cadre and leadership had nothing but great things to say about the realistic experience at the center and the professionalism of the BFFRPD firefighters and command staff.
Rebitski responded to public comments and said the following:
• The in-place fireworks ban for unincorporated El Paso County was rescinded by county Sheriff Bill Elder on June 14, because in accordance with state law the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) had not approved the ban.
• BFFRPD is currently under a Stage 1 Burn Ban, and the sale and use of fireworks are prohibited. See www.bffire.org.
• BFFRPD may add extra staff and a rolling brush truck to patrol Black Forest during the afternoon and evening hours of the Fourth of July holiday celebrations.
Note: The following fireworks are still illegal in El Paso County: Bottle rockets, mortars, Roman candles, fountains/ground spinners, and any firework that flies or explodes. Violators may be punished by a fine of up to $750 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. See www.epcsheriffsoffice.com, the article on page 21.
The meeting adjourned at 7:38 p.m.
Caption: Black Forest resident Donna Arkowski, center, receives the title "Honorary Fire Chief" for 45 years of service to the BFFRPD during the First Annual Awards Banquet on April 28. Arkowski joined the department in 1976 and retired as a firefighter/EMT in 2001 after 25 years, and is currently secretary of the board, a position she has held since 1976. Arkowski also did "yeoman’s work" as a volunteer during slash and chipping events run by Black Forest Together after the 2013 Black Forest Fire. Also pictured from left: Lt. Jamal Davis, firefighter Dustin Courter, Lt. Ky Emmons, Lt. Erik Beckstrom, Lt. Cody Poole, Capt. Chris Piepenburg, Donna Arkowski, Capt. William Kraus, Lt. Brandon Jones, firefighter/EMT Heather Heath, Fire/Medic Carlos Pittman, firefighter Kevin Holbrook, Fire/Medic Bre Migoya and Melissa Bottorff. Photo by Julie Rebitski.
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 July 21 at 7 p.m. For updates, agendas, and minutes, visit www.bffire.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
The Monument Board of Trustees met June 7 to approve several land use ordinances. The trustees also reviewed the results of a survey to judge residents’ support for a potential ballot issue that would increase taxes to create revenue for the Police Department.
The board approved three land use ordinances. A final plat and rezone for Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Filing No. 1 was approved. The 15.89-acre lot is rezoned from Planned Industrial Development to Planned Development and will be used for a planned expansion of the existing fire station. The Planning commission approved the request during its May 12 meeting. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#mpc.
Next, the final plat for Jackson Creek North Filing Nos. 3-6 was approved unanimously. The development is south of Higby Road and north of Leather Chaps Drive. The 165 acres will include 378 single-family detached lots that range in size from 7,150 square feet to 29,215 square feet. A 10.2-acre park and 34 acres of open space will be included. Zoning will change from Regency Park Residential District-Estate, which allows two dwelling units per acre, to Planned Residential Development District Single Family. This zoning allows four dwelling units per acre. The Planning Commission approved the request during the May 12 meeting. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#mpc.
Resident Lisa Hatfield expressed concern over the additional traffic this development will generate on Higby Road, but Town Planner Debbie Flynn said the town plans to annex the roadway into Monument and will create round-abouts to accommodate the additional trips.
Finally, new land development codes and the associated rezoned map were approved. The map has been updated to reflect new and renamed zoning districts. The town hired Plan Tools LLC to assist with the new codes that resulted in the repeal of municipal codes in Title 16 and 17, subdivisions and zoning respectively. The new zoning has been incorporated into Title 18 of the codes. To see project information, go to https://www.plan-tools.com/Community/Home.asp.
David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies presented the results of a survey to the board that had been intended to measure residents’ support of a tax increase to support the Police Department. Last year, town residents did not approve a similar tax increase. See www.ocn.me/v20n12.htm#mbot1109 and www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#mbot0720. Flaherty said 84% of respondents have a favorable opinion of the Monument Police Department, and 86% approve of the job the department does for the town. The survey shows 64% of respondents will support a 0.5% sales tax increase if it benefits the police.
The Girls of the West and the Pikes Peak Range Riders promoted the Pikes Peak or Bust rodeo, which is scheduled for July 14 to 17 at the Penrose Event Center. For tickets see http://www.pikespeakorbust.org.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
The June 9 Monument Planning Commission (PC) meeting was a remarkably short one, clocking in at around 17 minutes. Chairman Chris Wilhelmi was in attendance, along with Vice Chair Sean White and Commissioners Martin Trujillo, Daniel Ours, and Joshua Thomas. Zoning and annexation proposals for three parcels of land were approved for recommendation to the Board of Trustees (BOT), and two important announcements were made:
• New town Planning Director Meggan Herington is likely to attend the next PC meeting instead of Town Manager Mike Foreman, who has been attending in the absence of a town planning director.
• The BOT approved the code and zoning map updates that were presented to them, and these changes will be effective July 16.
Further information about projects discussed by the PC can usually be found at www.monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com, although as of the writing of this article there is no meeting packet for June 9. This site is also a good resource for accessing approved meeting minutes as well as the agendas for upcoming meetings. This latest PC meeting, along with many older ones, can be found recorded on the Town of Monument’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCdFLo8UcqZfFdkio5jT6GDA. Citizens may find it easier to search for "Town of Monument" or "Monument Planning Commission" in YouTube’s search bar.
According to the town’s website, planning staff can be contacted by calling 719-481-2954 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information about the Land Development Code rewrite can be found at www.plan-tools.com/Community/Home.asp.
Request for approval of annexation and zoning of three enclave parcels: Investing in Front Street LLC, the Dominowski property, and Elite Properties of America Inc.
Some facts about this proposal, according to a presentation from Planner Debbie Flynn:
• Investing in Front Street is located at 3 Second St. and is 1.01 acres in size. It is intended to be zoned as General Business District (B).
• The Dominowski property is located at 251 N. Front St. and is 0.93 acre. It is also expected to be zoned B.
• Elite Properties of America Inc. is adjacent to I-25, west of Jackson Creek Parkway. It’s part of The Village development and is 0.89 acre. Its intended zoning is Planned Development (PD.)
• The Town of Monument was the applicant for this project.
A vote to approve recommendation of these zoning and annexation requests passed unanimously, 5-0.
For the time being, the public will be able to attend PC meetings through Webex software. Citizens are also afforded the option of calling in to listen to meetings, and if alternate accommodations are needed, the town website states, "Individuals without the ability to participate by phone or computer may contact Drew Anderson at email@example.com or 719-396-0842." Further information: http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.
If there is a PC meeting next month, it is expected to be held on July 14 at 6 p.m.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
On June 21, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved ballot language that would allow the town to keep excess revenues. The board also approved a fee schedule update and a remote participation policy. Meggan Herington was introduced as the new planning director. And they heard the results of a Home Rule survey that is a precursor to a possible town government change.
Trustees Laurie Clark and Jamie Unruh were absent.
Town will ask to keep all revenues for eight years
The board voted 3-1 to put a ballot question asking voters to allow the town to keep excess revenues for the next eight years. During the May 17 meeting, the board couldn’t agree on ballot language. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#mbot. The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, requires residents to vote before a municipality is allowed to keep property and sales tax revenues in excess of budget, but the board has been working to increase the town’s reserves.
Trustee Ron Stephens has been an advocate of specific language for ballot questions to ensure voters know exactly how the money will be spent. In the case of these revenues, the board agreed they will be used exclusively for road construction and maintenance.
Town Attorney Andrew Richie originally wrote the ballot question allowing the town to keep revenues for 12 years, but Mayor Don Wilson said four years is much more palatable to him. Eventually, Trustee Jim Romanello made a motion to limit the term to eight years before the board will have to go back to voters asking to retain revenues. This was approved with Wilson voting against.
Fee schedule approved
During the April 5 meeting, the board reviewed the fee schedule but ultimately agreed it needed more work from staff. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#mbot0406. Planner Debbie Flynn brought the resolution to the board again. The intention is to provide better customer service by consolidating fees. The flat fee format should improve developmental review process too, Flynn said.
For example, in the current fee schedule, developers pay $2,500 for a preliminary plat plus $10 per acre up to 60 acres. In the new schedule, developers will pay a flat fee of $3,000 irrespective of acreage.
New land development codes and the associated rezoned map, which includes some zoning changes and fees, were approved at the June 7 meeting. See the Monument Board of Trustees article on page 14. To see project information, go to https://www.plan-tools.com/Community/Home.asp. Most fees for citizens, such as park reservations, have not changed.
The new fees go into effect July 16.
Remote participation limits put in place for board members
On June 7, the board held a workshop to discuss the possibility of allowing board members to attend meetings remotely. Before the pandemic, board members were required to attend in person. Trustee Jim Romanello said that as elected officials, the board should be present so that citizens can come to them in person with complaints. We are supposed to be here to "take the heat," he said. His work requires him to travel every month, and he schedules his business travel around his board commitments.
Originally, he suggested each trustee be allowed only one remote meeting per year, and those attending virtually wouldn’t get to vote on legislative matters.
Trustee Mitch LaKind has worked in collaborative remote settings for years, proving people can accomplish much when working remotely. He said the board needs to move along with the times and allow for virtual attendance.
Richie described the quasi-judicial situation: Just as a judge wouldn’t rule remotely, board members shouldn’t be allowed to vote if they are not attending in person.
Trustee Jaime Unruh said, "I find myself in a unique situation." Her husband is away at ranger school all summer. With a young child at home, "There’s no way I’m going to be able to attend if" trustees are allowed only four remote meetings. Since taking office, Unruh has participated and voted remotely for the majority of meetings she’s attended.
Town Clerk Laura Hogan reminded the board that an in-person quorum will be required for voting for any quasi-judicial matters. The policy language specifies that trustees should contact the mayor, town manager, or town clerk at least 24 hours in advance. If an in-person quorum isn’t met, Hogan said, staff will have to renotify the public of a hearing, including sending certified letters.
Ultimately, the board unanimously approved a policy to include emergency and non-emergency meeting attendance for board members. In an emergency, if in-person meetings are "not practical or prudent," trustees may be allowed to meet remotely and vote by roll call. The policy allows for four remote meetings per year. However, for this year, only two remote attendances will be allowed going forward.
Home Rule survey produces favorable results
The board has been discussing a change to Home Rule. It gives municipalities greater control over local issues while still applying federal and state laws. A Home Rule Commission composed of elected officials create a charter.
A survey of 382 town residents was completed to measure voter opinion of the possible government change. After being informed of the process, 62% of respondents said they would vote in favor of the change. One respondent said, "Monument is a unique area and I think it would be better protected under Home Rule where the people living in the area have the majority of say."
Those opposed to such a change argued residents don’t have the knowledge "to make good governance decisions." Others were concerned that previous board actions cannot be trusted to make decisions, noting a citizen-run commission sounds like "one big HOA."
Flaherty cautioned the board that moving forward will require the charter commission to be composed of representatives from the town inclusive of all demographics.
The meeting adjourned at 8:30 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 July 19. Call 719-884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees (PLBOT) met four times in June. Regular board meetings were held on June 10 and June 24. Also on June 10, the board held a workshop to discuss water conservation and met as the Local Licensing Authority to consider an application for an additional medical marijuana storefront and cultivation license for an existing cannabis business.
As part of its ongoing effort to update the noise ordinance and in light of complaints about the outdoor music performances at the business, the board considered the renewal of the business license for Palmer Lake Pub. The board updated the town’s water conservation ordinance and the town’s Master Fee Schedule, the document that establishes fees for a wide range of town services. The board moved forward on resolving issues related to the donation of the Living Word property to the town and established a calendar to draft a budget for 2022. Finally, the board heard reports from board members and staff on several ongoing projects.
Board approves requests from cannabis business
Brenda Woodward, part owner of Alpine Essentials, operating at 850 Commercial Lane in Suites A and B, requested a license to open a medical marijuana storefront at her current address, and also requested permission to remove a wall to create a larger room from two smaller rooms.
Woodward said Alpine Essentials had a medical storefront license in the past but let it lapse. She said her business was planning to convert part of the building they currently occupy to a medical marijuana storefront.
Town Administrator Dawn Collins pointed out that the paperwork for the requests was in order and the business was in good standing. She also said that if the board approved Woodward’s requests, Alpine Essentials would still need to be licensed by the state.
Board member Karen Stuth asked if Alpine Essentials was using town water, and Woodward said the business had its own well drawing from the Denver aquifer and used less water than a typical 2,400-square-foot house.
Three local residents asked questions about the business. Matt Stephen asked if traffic would increase and pointed out that there was a second medical marijuana store front just two blocks away from Woodward’s facility. Gary Atkins asked about signs. Bill Dardino said he opposed granting the license, cited other businesses he said were flouting the town’s laws, and said he believed the storefront would increase homelessness in the town.
Woodward said hers was a local business and was committed to working with the community. She said there would be no signs and that her business used closed circuit video surveillance and would call the police if there was any use of cannabis at the business.
Stuth said that the town’s two existing cannabis businesses had not caused an increase in traffic and homelessness to date.
The board voted unanimously to approve both of Woodward’s requests.
Palmer Lake Pub license renewed; noise ordinance amended
At the June 10 meeting, the board reviewed complaints about excessive noise that had been received concerning live music at the Palmer Lake Pub and considered renewal of the business license.
Pub owner Troy Brice told the board he had asked the town for permission to have outdoor music and that he had lowered the volume when he received complaints. He said most of the complaints he had received had been from the same person. Collins confirmed that most of the complaints the town had received about the business had been from one person.
Brice said he thought the ordinance should have a specific noise level defined, which would make it easier for him to know he was in compliance.
Palmer Lake Police Department Sgt. W. Michael Carrol said the business has always complied with police requests to lower the volume of outdoor music and that no citations have ever been issued.
Mayor Bill Bass commented that it has been challenging to draft a noise ordinance that balances the interests of residents and businesses.
The board voted unanimously to renew the Palmer Lake Pub’s business license.
Following the discussion with Brice, the board returned to its ongoing effort to update the noise ordinance. The conversation focused on how to make the ordinance more easily enforceable by defining a decibel level above which noise would be considered excessive, acquiring a tool to make consistent measurements, and establishing a consistent distance from which to measure the sound level.
The consensus for an appropriate limit on sound was 70 decibels. The board did not agree on exactly how to make the measurement and ended by tabling the debate until Town Attorney Matthew Krob could do some research.
Water conservation code amended
At the June 10 workshop, the board reviewed the town’s current municipal code regarding water conservation to determine if it adequately expressed the board’s concern with the need to conserve water. Stuth asked if there was evidence the rules around residential watering made a difference and said a constituent had asked if the hours when watering was allowed should be reviewed.
At the June 10 board meeting, Collins said the staff would amend the current code with the board’s latest concerns for a vote at the next board meeting.
At the June 24 meeting, the board voted unanimously to amend the municipal code by allowing watering to occur between 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. A statement saying that conservation was a year-round responsibility of all residents was added to the code. The code was also amended to empower the town administrator to grant variances from the restrictions as deemed necessary.
Master Fee Schedule adopted
At the June 10 meeting, the board passed Resolution 33-2021, which adopts a Master Fee Schedule for the services the town provides to residents. The fees establish costs for business licenses, liquor licenses, special event licenses, water taps, land use applications, and many other services. The Master Fee Schedule can be found on the town’s webpage at https://bit.ly/3h0TYOA.
Town takes ownership of Living Word property
At the June 24 meeting, the board passed Resolution 34-2021, which accepts the transfer of the Living Word property to the town and authorizes the deed to be recorded.
To establish a direction for how to manage the property, the board also discussed a list of proposed next steps, which included:
• Turning on the water service to determine if there are leaks.
• Switching utility billing to the town.
• Obtaining an insurance assessment.
• Cleaning and re-keying the property.
• Seeking professional advice on managing the property.
• Plan for public input.
Calendar for 2022 budget established
Collins told the board that planning was underway for the town’s 2022 budget. Green and Associates will serve as the town’s auditor as it has done in the past, she said.
Department budget reviews will begin the last week of July and will continue through August. A preliminary budget will be presented on Sept. 30. The required public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Nov. 11 and the vote to adopt the budget will be held on Dec. 9.
Highlights of board and staff reports
• The town is drafting a Request for Proposal to hire a consultant who will work with an advisory committee to further develop the town’s comprehensive master plan.
• One new water tap was issued in June; 1,027 taps are currently in use.
• Costs for the ramp project at the library have increased due to increased material costs.
• A contract has been awarded for the Town Hall restoration project, and grant funds are being sought. An ADA-compliant entrance will be added to the project.
• The redrill of the town’s Denver aquifer well is proceeding smoothly.
• An awning will be added to the town’s electronic sign to improve readability.
• The town is working with the El Paso Board of County Commissioners to add additional parking on the east side of the lake to accommodate increased demand resulting from the opening of a new open space.
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold three meetings in July, a regular meeting on July 8 and a workshop and regular meeting on July 22. The workshop will be held at 5 p.m. and the regular meetings at 6 p.m. All meetings will be at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
By Allison Robenstein
During the Monument Sanitation Department June 16 meeting, the board heard a report from District Manager Mark Parker, who is working to clean up lift stations and ensure they are in top working order. The annual audit review was postponed until the July meeting.
Director Katie Sauceda was noted absent, and attorney Joan Fritsche attended remotely.
Parker said he has taken charge of the lift stations after the Donala Water District contract was not renewed. Note: While the district was lacking a manager, Donala acted as the operator-in-responsible charge.
He updated the board on an electrical problem found last month at the Wakonda Hills lift station. The electrical termination box was found to be located in the wet well of the lift station. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#msd. Electricians found the two pumps wired to the same starter. The No. 2 pump was thought to be faulty because it was running at high amperage. Parker noticed a lot of extra grease buildup. Realizing it had been two years since the pump was cleaned, he recruited A-1 Pumping to clean it. Ultimately the faulty wiring was the problem. Parker said the electrical upgrade has been completed, and he intends to get all the lift stations on a six-month maintenance rotation.
Parker has had several conversations with the owner of Black Forest Foods, who intends to install an outdoor cooler to store and sell liquor. He was just approved for a liquor license by the town of Monument Board of Trustees. Parker said the restaurant owner intends to size the refrigerated unit under the district’s guidelines.
Parker asked the board to approve spending authority for him. The board agreed to write into the standard operating procedure to allow the manager to spend up to $5,000 to take action on district operations. Jim Kendrick, MSD Environmental/Regulatory compliance coordinator, urged the board to trust in their manager’s experience and judgment.
Parker and Administrative Assistant Cheran Allsup will be scanning documents that are currently stored in the shed. Some will be thrown out to provide more space in the shed. Then, Parker will organize the storage shed, and he intends to purchase more storage units using the existing budget.
Audit approval postponed
As the board reviewed the audit, it became clear the vote to approve it would need to be tabled. A minor error in calculations of tap fees was found that needs to be fixed. The audit reviewed at this meeting did not include the standard synopsis. Chairman Dan Hamilton said if it is a typical part of the audit, it should be included.
Kendrick recommended the auditor talk with Parker and Allsup before next month’s meeting to ensure they can communicate any issues to the board.
The audit will be reviewed at the next meeting. It must be filed by the end of July.
The meeting adjourned at 11:10 a.m.
Monument Sanitation District meetings are normally held at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month in the district conference room at 130 Second St., Monument. The next regular meeting is scheduled for July 21 at 9 a.m. See https://colorado.gov/msd. For a district service map, see https://colorado.gov/pacific/msd/district-map-0. Information: 719-481-4886.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
At its June 17 meeting, the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors conducted its executive session before opening the regular meeting to the public, which occurred at the normal 5:30 start time. Once directors moved into the regular session, District Manager Jim McGrady dived into several action items that required review and consideration by the directors. Two items pertaining to development within the district included a commercial district overlap resolution and a road-improvement funding agreement.
McGrady also presented bids received in response to the district’s request for proposal advertisement that had been announced at the previous board meeting, as well as a mining agreement and various easement agreements that advance the district’s water supply vision.
All board directors and general counsel George Rowley attended the meeting either online or in person. Director James Otis and water attorney Chris Cummins were excused.
The June 17 agenda and board meeting packet may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Agenda-6-17-21-Triview-Final.pdf and https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Triview-Board-Packet-for-6.17.2021.pdf, respectively.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, parks, and open space maintenance, as well as water, stormwater, and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas.
Overlap commercial district considered
Developers of the Conexus Business Center requested Triview’s consent to form a commercial metropolitan district whose boundaries and services would overlap Triview’s boundaries and services where the Conexus property lies sandwiched between I-25 and Old Denver Highway. Forming a commercial district would provide Conexus with a financing mechanism to fund public improvements such as utilities infrastructure and road development and improvement.
Rowley discussed the associated resolution 2021-06 and an overlap consent agreement. If Triview directors approved the resolution, they would consent to Conexus forming the overlap commercial district. The overlap consent agreement spelled out Triview’s expectations in greater detail. Rowley conveyed that two terms of the agreement were potentially problematic for Conexus: a two-year warranty of road and utility improvements and a requirement that Conexus seek written consent from Triview if the proposed commercial district wanted to change its boundaries.
McGrady discussed a possible compromise for the warranty term, explaining that utilities are generally used robustly during their first year and typically reflect the quality of construction by the end of that year. It is common to have a one-year warranty on pipes, he said. Roads, on the other hand, may not receive enough traffic to show construction quality, so a two-year warranty is standard. McGrady recommended allowing a one-year warranty on the utilities but maintaining the two-year expectation for road warranties.
Directors’ discussion pertaining to the boundaries term centered on possible impacts on Triview’s current services if Conexus were to annex additional property. They expressed concerns that potential boundary changes might expand Triview’s maintenance responsibilities and costs. Ultimately, the board created the caveat that Conexus must submit boundary changes to the district manager as the point of contact and decision maker. The board approved the resolution and overlap consent agreement subject to the changes discussed.
McGrady confirmed that Conexus representatives planned to attend Triview’s July 22 board meeting.
"Domino" road financing strategized
Discussions regarding improvements to Higby Road graduated to a financing agreement between Triview and Creekside Developers that McGrady presented for board approval. He explained that the agreement would establish a revenue stream to improve the road from its juncture at Jackson Creek Parkway (JCP) through Jackson Creek filing Nos. 3 through 6 and Home Place Ranch. Triview committed a portion of its road and bridge fees to the improvement project. Creekside would finance almost $4 million with an initial $2 million being placed into a Triview-accessible escrow account by late July.
McGrady described the sequence of steps that must occur for the project’s successful initiation. Much like one domino falling upon another, the entire project hinges on Higby Road—which is El Paso County property—being annexed into the Town of Monument and included into Triview. McGrady confirmed that El Paso County engineer Jennifer Irvine expected to file the annexation petition with the Town of Monument at the June 22 El Paso Board of County Commissioners meeting.
Once filed, the Town of Monument would need to accept the annexation petition, which will include Higby Road into Monument. Next, the Town of Monument would petition Triview for the metro district to include the road into its boundaries, then Triview would need to accept the inclusion. If all the pieces fell into place, McGrady estimated that the Triview board could approve the Higby Road inclusion at its August board meeting. If the sequence were not completed by Sept. 30, the escrow funds would be returned to Creekside, and the entire process would begin again.
McGrady characterized all involved parties as being highly motivated to achieve their respective goals. The Triview directors approved the financing agreement.
I-25 underground bore bid awarded
The district received three bids for the I-25 bore and pipeline project, which is one of many components in the district’s efforts to create a potential regional drinking water delivery system—known as the Northern Delivery System—to northern El Paso County water districts. This section of pipeline would go from the west side of JCP, under I-25, cross to the northern part of the Conexus development, and stop just east of Old Denver Highway. See related article at https://www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#tvmd.
Native Sun Construction submitted the lowest bid at $490,049 with about $307,000 going toward the actual bore and the remaining $182,000 funding the pipeline. Expressing confidence in the costs, McGrady stated that Native Sun had received a competitive pipeline bid from one of its suppliers and that the board’s approval time for the proposal was imperative to locking in the prices. He praised the pipeline project for its hydraulic benefits in moving water up a steep grade, potential to expand development in the area, and the possibility for other water districts to connect to the Northern Delivery System. The Triview board voted unanimously to approve Native Sun Construction’s proposal and award it the contract.
Mining contract obtained
The Central Reservoir, one of the reservoirs that comprises Triview’s Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex water storage facility, has the potential to be mined and provide additional revenue to the district. McGrady presented an agreement for a 20-year gravel property lease with Fremont Paving and Redi Mix Inc. for mining the Central Reservoir.
The agreement would provide lease revenue of $540,000 per year, $40,000 per year for overburden (natural materials that are removed to gain access to the mined materials), and a potential $500,000 per year for the sand and gravel. The lease incorporated increased royalty payments if the mining occurred at a faster rate than the anticipated 20-year term. McGrady estimated the total potential funds generated by the mining to be in the $10 million to $11 million range, about half of which could be dedicated to the necessary construction of a slurry wall at the Central Reservoir.
The agreement encompassed several important factors, said McGrady. It provided Triview with an extra source of revenue, it initiated overall construction at the Central Reservoir, and put construction of the slurry wall onto the calendar for 2022. He anticipated that mining would commence in 2023 and confirmed that Fremont had authorized the agreement. McGrady requested authorization from Triview’s board to sign as well. Directors approved the agreement and authorized McGrady to sign.
Directors reviewed four separate easement agreements associated with the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex. One agreement allowed for the building of a spillway at the East Reservoir. This step was missed due to timing when the Stonewall purchase closed, but $300,000 in escrow remained available for the district to build the spillway. A second easement agreement addressed the proximity of a power pole to a dam at the South Reservoir and allowed for the pole to be moved.
The final two agreements pertained to adjacent properties at the Central Reservoir that created a 70-foot easement running from Highway 50 to the Arkansas River. By gaining these easements, Triview would be able to establish that it could either pump or gravity-flow water to the Arkansas River—a contingency for state approval of the Central Reservoir. The directors approved all easement agreements.
Triview board meetings are generally held on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for July 22. The district office is located at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302. Check the district’s website, https://triviewmetro.com, or call 488-6868 for meeting updates and to confirm if the meeting will be in person or online/teleconference. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
The Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) met on June 17 to review the annual audit. They also reviewed the customer water leak adjustment plan and the district’s water strategy.
Auditors find district financials present fairly
Hoelting and Co. audited the district’s financial position and cash flow, finding both present fairly. It was noted Donala’s net position is $40 million, of which $12 million is unrestricted cash. Outstanding long-term debt decreased by $713,000 as payments toward loans were completed.
Water leak adjustment plan
Donala provides financial relief "to customers who experience extremely high water use as a result of a leak," due to broken or damaged plumbing fixtures, pipes, or irrigation equipment. The adjustment can span two billing periods but cannot be made available for more than two leaks in a 36-month period. When customers apply for the adjustment, they will need to show proof of the leak occurring and how it was repaired.
The water strategy is a plan intended to guide the district toward meeting long-term water needs. The strategy shows there is a need for 900 acre-feet per year. Water from the Denver Basin Aquifer that is composed of the Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers is non-renewable. The water levels are declining at a rate of 30 feet per year.
With a renewable water portfolio that includes Willow Springs Ranch, Laughlin Ditch, and reuse effluent from the waste treatment plant, the district has about 950 to 975 acre-feet of renewable water.
Donala’s strategy to pursue water rights in excess of current demand is intended to create a water reserve.
The next meeting is scheduled for July 15 at 1:30 p.m. Generally, board meetings are held the third Thursday of the month and include online access due to coronavirus 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. See https://www.donalawater.org for more information about the district.
Allison Robenstein may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
During June, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a preliminary plan application for the Cloverleaf development. The commissioners also made decisions relating to the Forest Lakes development, the annexation of part of Higby Road, and accepted certification of the new county Master Plan.
Cloverleaf preliminary plan
At its June 15 meeting, the BOCC approved the preliminary plan application by PT Cloverleaf LLC to create 144 single-family residential lots and 6 acres of open space and stormwater detention at its Cloverleaf development. The eight parcels of land, totaling 38.78 acres, are zoned RS 20000 (residential suburban) and RS 5000 (residential suburban) and are located immediately north of Higby Road and east of Jackson Creek Parkway.
The development includes the redevelopment part of the sale of the "Walters Open Space" land, which was rezoned from RS 20000 to RS 5000 by the BOCC in April. Lots 1-141 will be built on the rezoned land; lots 142, 143, and 144 will be built on two parcels separate from the rezoned land under their existing RS 20000 zoning.
The El Paso County Planning Commission considered the application at its May 20 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend it for approval. See https://www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#epcpc.
The item was approved as a consent item, meaning there was no further discussion.
Note: This development is adjacent to nearly 100 acres of space now called South Woodmoor Preserve that will remain open in perpetuity with ProTerra’s support. In turn, the Walters Open Space Committee agreed to support the Monument land development company’s plan to build up to 152 single-family homes in its Cloverleaf development. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#epbocc.
Master Plan certification
At the June 22 BOCC meeting, the Planning Commission certified the new county Master Plan to the BOCC. Although the Planning Commission has final authority over the plan, it is required to certify it to the BOCC and other outside agencies.
Planning Commission Vice Chair Tom Bailey said, "I want to assure you that the process and the group of people that have been involved in this was very extensive. We didn’t ignore any inputs. We didn’t agree with all of them, but we didn’t ignore them."
Planning Commission Chair Brian Risley told the commissioners that the Planning Commission had held two public hearings to obtain final comments and input following the lengthy process undertaken to create the new plan. He said, "Again that gives a lot of opportunity for public input, a lot of opportunity for us to robustly discuss that input and to really factor in how that measures with the goals of the county and the intent behind the Master Plan and I am pleased to inform you that it was unanimously approved in its final form." He described it as "an outstanding document and one that is really a legacy for this county and that’s something as a native of Colorado Springs, having grown up in the Black Forest area, that’s something that I take very seriously."
Craig Dossey, executive director, Planning and Community Development, said the new plan would now be used for all new applications made to the county. Applications already under consideration could choose to be reviewed under the new plan rather than the previous one. He also said it was the county’s intent to review the new plan regularly and update the Planning Commission and BOCC annually on how it was functioning. He said, "It is a plan that is intended to guide the next 20 years of growth and development in the county. That is not a little thing. I think Mr. Risley said that very correctly when he said it is a humbling thing but something that we took great pride in." He continued, "It’s not a little exercise. This is changing the future of the county for the foreseeable future."
BOCC Chair Stan VanderWerf described work on the Master Plan as "an outstanding community and county effort." He said, "This document is comprehensive and dare I say maybe even brilliant. So thank you to everyone for doing all this great work, [for] working so hard on it."
The commissioners voted 4-0 to accept the certification of the Master Plan from the Planning Commission. Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr. was absent. The commissioners also voted to dissolve the Master Plan Advisory Committee, thanking them for their work.
Forest Lakes parklands agreement
At their June 1 meeting, the commissioners approved a parklands agreement between the county and the owner of the Forest Lakes development, Forest Lakes Residential LLC, for Forest Lakes Filing No. 6. The owner is completing a final plat application for Filing 6 for the development of 68 single-family homes.
Under the agreement, Forest Lakes Residential will be granted an urban park credit of $20,060 and will install park and trail improvements of an equal or greater value. The owner will install part of the phase 2 trail system, which will provide connections to the regional trail and to Waterfront Park, litter bins, a pet waste station, and benches. The work is estimated to cost about $25,663.
Higby Road annexation
At their June 22 meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the county engineer to represent the BOCC and provide all necessary documents to the Town of Monument to facilitate the town’s petition for annexation of the county’s right-of-way and associated public infrastructure on and adjacent to portions of Higby Road. The section in question stretches from Jackson Creek Parkway to the end of Jackson Creek Filing No. 6, essentially the boundary between Jackson Creek North Filings 3 through 6 and Home Place Ranch.
On June 1, the commissioners held an executive session at the request of the county attorney’s office regarding access to Baptist Road and Forest Lakes Drive to determine positions relating to possible future negotiation. Direction was received but no decisions were made.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
The fireworks ban was rescinded June 15, making the sale and possession of fireworks legal in unincorporated El Paso County. However, the following are still illegal fireworks in the county:
• Bottle rockets
• Roman candles
• Fountains/Ground spinners
• Any firework that flies or explodes
Violators may be punished by a fine of up to $750 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
• We are not currently under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, but some portions of the county remain dry and may have a higher risk of fire.
• If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show put on by experts.
• Keep a close eye on children at events where fireworks are used.
• The risk of fireworks injury is highest for young people ages 15-24, followed by children under 10.
• Nationwide, more than 16,000 reported fires are started by fireworks annually.
The sheriff, deputy fire warden, other fire officials, and the National Weather Service will continue to monitor weather and fire danger conditions and may enact additional restrictions as needed.
If you any issues with residents using fireworks, please call our non-emergency number at (719) 390-5555. Reserve calling 911 for emergencies only.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved 988 as the three-digit abbreviated dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline starting July 16, 2022.
For 988 to work, customers in many area codes across the country with seven-digit local dialing, including 719 and 970 in Colorado, must be transitioned to 10-digit local dialing.
The FCC ordered that any area code that has the 988 prefix assigned as telephone numbers and has seven-digit local dialing be transitioned to 10-digit local dialing to ensure everyone is able to reach the suicide prevention line using the three-digit 988 code.
As of April 24, 2021, Colorado customers with numbers in the 719 and 970 area codes should have started dialing 10 digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. This is known as a permissive dialing period because if you forget and dial just seven digits, your call will still be completed.
Beginning Oct. 24, 2021, customers in the 719 and 970 area codes must dial 10 digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. On and after this date, local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed.
Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, and alarm and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use seven digits. Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit local dialing. Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment must be done during the permissive dialing period through Oct. 24, 2021 to avoid interruption of services.
Some other examples of services that may need to be reprogrammed are:
• Life safety systems or medical monitoring devices
• Private branch exchanges (PBXs)
• Fax machines
• Internet dial-up numbers
• Fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates
• Speed dialers
• Mobile or other wireless phone contact lists
• Call forwarding settings
• Voicemail services and other similar functions
Be sure to check your website, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information, your personal or pet ID tags, and other such items to ensure the area code is included.
What will remain the same?
• Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
• The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the dialing change.
• What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
• You will continue to dial 1+ the area code + telephone number for all long-distance.
• You will continue to dial a prefix (such as "9") when dialing from a multi-line telephone system (e.g., in a hotel, office building, etc.) as required.
• You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 (relay services) and 911 (emergency services).
• If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available in your community, dial these codes with just three digits.
• The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) even after the 988 code is in effect.
Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing "988" will route your call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to reach the Lifeline until July 16, 2022.
On June 24, Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) announced plans to provide reliable, affordable, high-speed fiber broadband service to its 51,000 members.
Within the next six years, Conexon Connect will deploy a 5,800-mile fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network to MVEA members, providing high-speed internet access to portions of Arapahoe, Crowley, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Lincoln, Pueblo, and Washington counties. The project will reach all MVEA’s co-op territory with fiber internet upon completion.
The fiber network will offer members access to symmetrical gigabit internet capabilities—among the fastest and most robust in the nation. Also, it will enable the benefits of smart grid capabilities to the electrical infrastructure, including improved power outage response times, better load balancing, more efficient electricity delivery, and others.
Together, MVEA and Conexon Connect are committed to build the approximately $190 million network, which is expected to be completed within five to six years. Construction is expected to begin in late 2021, with the first members connected in early 2022.
"El Paso County has a broadband strategic plan. When I started to look at what Mountain View Electric is going to be offering to its membership, I realized they are literally going to nearly complete the plan we thought would take considerably longer, but in a much shorter amount of time," said county Commissioner Carrie Geitner (R-District 2).
The MVEA and Conexon Connect teams are now designing and mapping the network—ironing out the path the fiber will take and making sure the footprint follows a logical and efficient path along MVEA’s electric infrastructure. It hasn’t been determined which areas and neighborhoods will be included in the first phase, but members will be updated as those decisions are made.
Caption: Mountain View Electric Association recently announced plans to provide high-speed fiber broadband service to all its members in the next six years. From the left: Jim Riggins, Board Member, MVEA; Errol Hertneky, Board Assistant Secretary, MVEA; Barry Springer, Board Vice President, MVEA; Milton Mathis, Board Member, MVEA; Joe Martin, Board President, MVEA; Rep. Tim Geitner (R-Dist. 19); Ed Dills; Commissioner Carrie Geitner (El Paso County, R-Dist. 2); Sen. Paul Lundeen (R-Dist. 9); Commissioner Holly Williams (El Paso County, R-Dist. 1), and Sen. Dennis Hisey (R-Dist. 2). Photo courtesy of MVEA.
For more information about MVEA and Conexon Connect’s fiber-to-the-home project, visit www.mvea.coop/broadband.
By Marlene Brown
The General Membership meeting for the Northern El Paso County Home Owners Associations (NEPCO) on May 8 was held by Zoom. The purpose of NEPCO is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas and to facilitate communication and interaction among member homeowners associations and develop collective responses to the county on issues affecting the quality of life in Northern El Paso County. The Transportation and Land Use Committee continues to be the Tri-Lakes area point of contact with the Monument and El Paso County Planning Commissions.
Greg Lynd, president, opened the meeting by welcoming several representatives of the 49- member Home Owner Associations (HOAs) in the area. The area includes the northern border of El Paso County at County Line Road that borders Douglas County. The southern border is North Gate Boulevard and Shoup Road. The eastern border of the area is Meridian Road, and the western border is where the county borders Teller County along the foothills including Monument and Palmer Lake.
Matthew Nelson, chairman of Wildfire Preparedness Committee for NEPCO, represents Woodmoor, Covenants and Forestry Administrator, updated information regarding a $245,000 Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) grant for the Black Forest area. CSFS may ask NEPCO to assist with program awareness and education. CSFS will review work plans, project completions, and reimbursement submissions. Contact Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Transportation and Land Use Committee Chairman John Lewis and Vice Chairman Paul Pirog gave updates on several projects in the area. Projects that have been in the pipeline and approved since the last meeting in March include Sanctuary of Peace PUD Preliminary Plan, Falcon Commerce Center Phase I, Maxa Extended Family Housing, Winsome Filing 1, Jackson Creek North Filing 3-6, Dancing Wolf Estates Replat, UPS Distribution Center Final Site Plan, Eagle Rising Preliminary Reconsidered, and Rolling Hills Ranch Filing 2 Final Plat.
Noteworthy transportation issue
NEPCO will join with the El Paso Safe Street Alliance, a group of homeowners, to meet with the county engineer and staff to discuss potential Furrow Road extension calming measures. The proposed extension of Furrow Road could reach 5,000 vehicles a day in the next 10-20 years. For more information and to sign a petition, go to the Board of County Commissioners at http://ceds.org/epssa/.
Guest speakers Terri Hayes, executive director of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development and Visitor Center, Mike Foreman, Monument town manager, and Mike Gebhart, deputy director of county planning, spoke about the growth of the Tri-Lakes area and completion and adoption of the county Master Plan. The planning process of the Master Plan began in 2019 has gone from Project Initiation and Outreach to the communities involved to Plan Documentation and Adoption. For complete information, see https://elspaso.hlplanning.com.
Lynd said the next meeting will be at 10 a.m. July 9 and will be in person at Monument Town Hall. http://nepco.org
Marlene Brown can reached at email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
June was warmer than normal overall, with late rounds of precipitation bringing us to above-normal levels by the end of the month. This late moisture was very welcome given how hot and dry it was earlier in the month.
The month started off with below-normal temperatures and a few sprinkles. Highs only managed to reach the mid-60s on the 1st and the 2nd, with overnight lows dipping well in the 30s. However, this was short-lived as an area of high pressure began to build into the region from the west, bringing temperatures to above-normal levels. High temperatures reached the low to mid-80s each afternoon from the 4th through 10th. Conditions were dry during this period except for some afternoon thunderstorms and rain showers on the 6th and 7th.
Hot and dry conditions really took hold over the next couple of weeks. This was somewhat unusual for June because we normally see afternoon and early evening thunderstorms on an almost daily basis. However, the synoptic pattern that set up pulled in dry air from the west along with well above-normal temperatures. Smoke from wildfires in Arizona, Utah, and western Colorado added to the hot conditions. During the period from June 8 through June 19, only a couple of sprinkles were seen around the region.
Temperatures peaked from the 15th through the 17th, reaching the low 90s even on top of the Palmer Divide. Temperatures in the low 100s were recorded in many regions along the Front Range and Eastern Plains of Colorado, with several locations setting daily record highs.
Fortunately, some moisture began to circle around the area of high pressure and produced some afternoon thunderstorms on the 18th and 19th. These storms produced a few areas of hail as well, and severe weather with a few weak tornadoes as they moved further east and encountered more moisture. Cool upslope conditions moved in behind these storms, and the low clouds and areas of drizzle held temperatures to the upper 50s on the 21st. It was more than a 20-degree drop from the day before. However, warm temperatures quickly returned, with the upper 80s returning the next two afternoons.
Finally, during the last week of the month, unsettled conditions returned. This was the result of Colorado being on the front side of a record-breaking ridge of high pressure over the Pacific Northwest. Remember that air flows clockwise around high pressure in the Northern Hemisphere and given that the high pressure that brought record heat to western Washington and Oregon was located to our northwest, we were on the eastern (front side) of that system.
That meant the airflow into Colorado was from the north and, of course, it brought cooler than normal temperatures, thunderstorms, and rain showers. The good news was that for the Palmer Divide, the instability levels in the atmosphere were not as elevated as when temperatures were warmer, therefore, most of the thunderstorms were well-behaved and just produced much needed moisture and cool temperatures.
A look ahead
July can be an active weather month around the region as the Southwest Monsoon season gets going. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are a common occurrence, and when they can tap into higher levels of moisture, flash flooding can result. Hot, stagnant weather can also take hold for a few days at a time, with highs hitting the 90s on the warmest days.
June 2021 Weather Statistics
Average High 78.4° (+1.0°)
100-year return frequency value max 82.5° min 66.3°
Average Low 49.4° (+5.0°)
100-year return frequency value max 50.7° min 40.2°
Highest Temperature 92°F on the 16th, 17th
Lowest Temperature 34°F on the 1st
Monthly Precipitation 2.10" (+0.15" 7% above normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.94" min 0.15"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0" (-0.1" 100% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 131.8" (+9.3" 7% above normal)
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30))
Season to Date Precip 15.94" (+6.87" 43% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 98 (+3)
Cooling Degree Days 66 (+38)
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Restore balance. Most children have technology, school, and extracurricular activities covered. It’s time to add a pinch of adventure, a sprinkle of sunshine, and a big handful of outdoor play." —
Here are some inspiring hands-on books specifically geared for kids exploring the great outdoors and learning about Colorado.
How to Go Anywhere (And Not Get Lost): A Guide to Navigation for Young Adventurers
By Hans Aschim (Workman) $14.95
With illustrated activities as well as handy tips throughout, you’ll learn the fascinating history and seriously useful skills to become a navigator. Find north and south by reading the trees. Make a simple compass. Use the stars to tell time. Build a basic sextant. Get your bearings using the sun; Go treasure hunting with GPS.
101 Outdoor Adventures to Have Before You Grow Up
By Stacy and Jack Tornio (Falcon Press) $19.95
Conquer a rock wall, go zip lining, create a geocache at your favorite nature hangout, camp without a tent. This guide offers up season-by-season activities, games, and challenges to get kids outdoors and loving it.
The Girl’s Book of Adventure
By Michele Lecreux, Celia Gallais, Clemence Roux de Luze (B.E.S. Publishing) $14.99
Packed with facts about nature, ideas for outdoor activities, and fun-to-do craft projects, this guide will keep girls interested and busy all year round. You’ll find instructions for outdoor games, ideas for hiking trips and nature watching, first-aid instruction, and more—a total of 60 themes of special interest to girls. This book’s sturdy construction makes it ideal for taking along on outdoor activities and adventures.
The Boy’s Book of Adventure
By Michele Lecreux, Celia Gallais, Esao Millet (B.E.S. Publishing) $14.99
Here’s the counterpart guide for boys. The book’s wide array of topics includes camping and hiking advice, ways to protect against the weather, first-aid for injuries, using a compass, tips for studying the night sky, identifying birds, and much more.
Colorado (A True Book: My United States)
By Jennifer Zeiger (Scholastic) $7.95
Readers will get to know Colorado’s history, geography, wildlife, and much more. This series includes an age-appropriate (grades 3-5) introduction to curriculum-relevant subjects and a robust resource section that encourages independent study.
Wild About Rocky Mountain Birds: A Youth’s Guide to the Rocky Mountain States
By Adele Porter (Adventure Publications) $17.95
Family-friendly activities introduce kids to the fun of bird watching. In the backyard, at a park, or on a road trip, this guide provides fun, engaging pages kids will love, an easy-to-use format arranged by habitat and size, large, vivid photographs for simple bird identification, and fun facts for kids.
Wild Girl: How to Have Incredible Outdoor Adventures
By Helen Skelton (Candlewick Press) $19.99
Be inspired to get outside and dream big. Helen Skelton shares the stories of her daring feats of endurance and grit in some of the world’s most extreme wildernesses—overcoming challenges, embracing fears, and finding the positives in the toughest situations. Alongside each account are ideas for outdoor adventures readers can have closer to home, as well as gear lists and tips for physical and mental preparation.
Whose Track is That?
By Stan Tekiela (Adventure Publications) $14.95
Spotting animals in the wild is tricky, but they leave plenty of clues behind—especially tracks. This interactive picture book features the full-color photography of Stan Tekiela, a professional naturalist and award-winning author. Children will become familiar with a variety of North American critters and might start seeing animal tracks on every outing.
Rock Collecting for Kids: An Introduction to Geology
By Dan R. Lynch (Adventure Publications) $12.95
Young readers will learn geology basics with this guide featuring full-color photographs and identification tips on 75 types of collectible rocks and minerals. A "how to" section details what to look for, where to look, and what to bring, as well as safety considerations.
Fossils for Kids: An Introduction to Paleontology
By Dan R. Lynch (Adventure Publications) $12.95
Whether children see their first fossil at a museum or find their own, this easy-to-understand guide includes details on what to look for and where to look; how fossils are formed; rules about what you can and can’t collect; and an identification guide.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at the Covered Treasures can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Summer Adventure reading and activity program for children up to 18 continues until Aug. 14. Participants receive points for reading, doing a project involving imagination such as drawing or writing, and movement such as taking walks. Each participant receives a prize when they register and a book when they complete 45 points. Nearly 700 children have registered at the Monument Library.
Although the meeting rooms remain closed for the most part, a few programs have resumed. Due to capacity limits, most programs require registration to attend. To view a calendar of events, please see the district website, www.ppld.org. Click on programs and then the location.
A few of the programs will be held in local parks.
Masks are now optional for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Children over age 11 and those who are not vaccinated are encouraged to wear masks.
We look forward to seeing you at the library!
Harriet Halbig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Steve Pate
In the "On the Trail" column in May, we heard from Keith Lonnquist, an El Paso County Search and Rescue team member, who helps find and give aid to lost or injured people in our local wild areas. Most of us who hike or bike trails hereabouts avoid having to call upon Lonnquist, his search dog Bailey, or others who volunteer their expertise in finding people in difficult terrain.
The Scout motto "Be Prepared" applies to anyone who ventures out hiking or biking in our remote trail systems. Experienced local hikers such as Randy Philips and others say some basic items should be considered when preparing to hike, including the process of planning the route, anticipating weather and terrain conditions, letting someone know where you’re going, etc. Philips pointed out the "Ten Essentials" that I knew intuitively, but it helps to see them in writing.
Trails familiar to many local hikers and mountain bikers—Mount Herman, Limbaugh Canyon, Raspberry Mountain, Balanced Rock, Chautauqua, and others near the Palmer Lake Reservoirs—are now on hiking apps like AllTrails. Hence, people from outside our area are showing up at trailheads and starting off without really knowing what’s ahead.
Standard items I include in a daypack: water, first aid kit, rope, knife, food, microspikes (October-April), rain gear (April-September), jacket/gloves, small flashlight, waterproof matches, cell phone. InReach GPS or a similar navigation system is also very helpful in finding unfamiliar routes and as a backup in case one becomes incapacitated—Search and Rescue can use the GPS signal to locate you within a few feet.
From Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills by the Mountaineers, here are the Ten Essentials:
To safely spend a night:
Hokey as it sounds, it’s important to consider where you’re going and what you need for a safe, enjoyable experience on the trail.
Caption: From Ice Cave Creek trail looking east. Photo by Steve Pate.
Steve Pate can be contacted at email@example.com
By Janet Sellers
Even in July, we can start seeds for late summer and fall crops and flowers, turn green lawn cuttings into summer soil, and learn about the value of thistles.
Easy soil aeration, benign disinfectant
Common drugstore (3%) hydrogen peroxide in a 1:20 ratio of the peroxide to water can aerate garden plant roots with immediate results for oxygen-starved soil. Root rot in container gardening needs a 1:10 ratio of the hydrogen peroxide solution. Spraying the solution on tools and containers and in the greenhouse leaves no systemic chemical residues because it breaks down into water!
Canada thistle is a relative to artichokes. Kevin Timoney, an Alberta, Canada, ecological researcher, recommends we boil, cool, drain, and then puree Canada thistle leaves with water to render the spines, and more importantly, the fibers, edible and use this creamy puree in spreads, dips, sauces and more.
Despite its noxious weed status, thistle plays many ecological roles. Plants for a Future environmentalists report the flowers, leaves, oil, roots, stems, and seeds are all edible. The stem has a fiber that can be made into paper. It only grows in bare soil, breaks up hard soil, mines and shares nutrients and water to upper soil from as far as 20 feet down, and provides nectar to bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects as well as seeds for birds, protects growing trees from browsing animals and provides cover for birds and other animals. Milk thistle silymarin is being investigated as an anti-liver cancer agent and currently is used in treating type 2 diabetes with significant results.
Beer for composting and mosquito repellant
Our recent rains boosted tall weeds in excess of what mulching mowers can handle, and our weed eaters left us grass piles. We can transform that into soil in about a week by using the green, fresh clippings—they’ll even heat up and cook off seeds and pathogens. Grab two beers and two sodas: one beer (for yeasts), one sugary soda (for sugars), and 8 ounces of household ammonia. Put that in a 20-gallon hose end sprayer (it can pump out 20 gallons of this water tonic).
On the ground (think: worms and biology), repeatedly layer 4 inches of green weeds with a sprinkling of chopped kitchen scraps, fallen leaves, shredded paper, and a tad of soil, spraying each layer. The drunken compost tonic supercharges the microbiological growth. Cover the pile with a tarp (protects the pile and the worms doing their job) or something for seven days, then till with a pitchfork and the pile should be soil—it may take up to 10 days. The extra beer and soda? Those are for your benefit. It turns out that mosquitoes hate beer and alcohol; just put a glass of beer in a room and mosquitoes stay away. Maybe drink and refill as needed?!
Caption: Although they look dangerous, lady beetle larvae are quite harmless to humans. After feeding on insect prey for several weeks, the larva pupates on a leaf. Adults tend to move on once pests get scarce, while the larvae remain and search for more prey. Photo by Tara Lloyd.
Caption: Cutting tall green weeds is necessary, but gardeners can turn a pile of chopped up green grasses into soil with the application of a beer compost tonic. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an avid ethno ecologist, enjoying lazy gardening methods that provide optimal results. Send your garden tips to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa conceived a lunar tourism project to bring artists into space. His concept is that artists have the most powerful imaginations to share their experiences in space by bringing back that mystery and wonder to Earth. The entry deadline was earlier this year for artists to apply and send him images and support why they would like to do lunar tourism and be the first artists and lunar tourists in history. Maezawa plans to fly in 2023, bringing artists with him, commissioning them to turn the experience into a project called #dearMoon. It will be the first lunar journey since the final U.S. Apollo mission in 1972.
Holocene vs Anthropocene era: Hands-on or machine on?
Holocene is the name given to the past 11,700 years of the Earth’s history, the time since the end of the last major glacial epoch, or ice age. Since then, there have been small-scale climate shifts—notably the Little Ice Age between about 1200 and 1700 A.D.—but in general, the Holocene has been a relatively warm period between ice ages. In the American West, we have rock formations and petroglyphs and pictographs from 40,000 years ago—much before that time.
In contrast, our current creative visual expression may pale by comparison, but we’re also beginning a new art era with the Anthropocene era, named for the human-induced effects on our planet, some harmful, some just interesting. It’s named anthropogenic because we humans are generating effects on the planet, an era that humans are looking to dominate the planet and even leave it, and it’s a growing culture that includes art.
We’re smack in the middle of computer-generated art with alternate reality as well as augmented reality and artificial intelligence for creating things and our culture. The new field of augmented reality and composite imagery has been receiving the usual and customary resistance by some, and the usual and customary acceptance by others who want to be on the edge of new things and new ideas and new representations of ideas such as photo-realistic composites, created using photography and computer editing tools that add in elements of fantasy.
Local art events for July
• Palmer Lake Art Group show at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts runs through Aug. 13; opening reception is 6-8 p.m. July 16, 304 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake.
• Monument Art Hop in Historic Downtown Monument, July 15, 5-8 p.m.; just drive west on Second Street in Monument and follow the banners.
Caption: Monument’s June 17 Art Hop showcased Bonnie Anthony’s abstract paintings at Bella Art and Frame Gallery. Her specialty for the soft, warm sheen to her painting surfaces includes a complex buffing technique. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an artist, photographer and creative imagineer. Contact her at email@example.com.
They Kept Their Promise
Caption: Six years ago, four Boy Scouts promised each other they would achieve the rank of Eagle Scout together. They have now kept their promise. Garrett Polunci, Christopher Hutton Smith, and Christopher McKee Smith were conferred the rank of Eagle on May 22 at a Troop 17 Eagle Court of Honor at the Woodmoor Community Center. The fourth boy, Garret Vliet, became an Eagle in 2019 and served as Master of Ceremony at the event. From left are Palmer Lake High School seniors Garret Vliet, Christopher H Smith, Garrett Polunci, and Christopher M Smith. Photo by Thomas Smith.
Lions Club Fishing Derby, June 5
Caption: On Saturday, June 5, the Tri-Lakes Lions Club restarted its annual kids fishing derby. Nearly 300 kids from 4 to 14 years old signed up to catch fish in Palmer Lake and enter their catches into the contest for largest fish. According to the area manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, over 500 adults participated by helping the young people rig fishing rods and bait their hooks. The lake had been stocked with trout three times this year before the derby because many fish did not survive the recent drought and low lake levels. The Lions Club provided rods free for those who did not bring their own. Bass Pro Shop was also on hand with several kayaks for anyone who wanted to test their paddling skill. Club members and other volunteers helped with measuring fish and registration. Photo by Steve Pate.
DAR plants perennials, June 8
Caption: On June 8, members of the Kinnikinnik Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution planted flowers in boxes at Pine Meadows in Fox Run Regional Park. Perennials were planted and the area was inspected and cleaned. The DAR community service project for the park will continue with monthly inspections and cleaning as weather permits. Photo provided by Pat Hardin Borah.
Black Forest Fire Remembered
By Natalie Barszcz
The Black Forest Fire started on June 11, 2013 and burned 14,280 acres, destroyed 511 homes, and killed two people. On June 11, the eighth anniversary of the fire, residents gathered to remember what happened.
After the pledge of allegiance led by Boy Scout Troop 70 and the retiring of the colors, a memorial tribute was held for Ruth Ann Steele, the founder of El Paso County’s Slash and Mulch site. Steele’s vision for the program that began in the early 1990s was a solution to aid mitigation efforts, but despite the devasting loss during the Black Forest Fire in 2013, there is still ample fuel for another fire to happen again.
Restored youth artwork pictorially depicting the many effects of the fire and spelling the message: RESTORE—RECOVER—REBUILD was unveiled during the event by some of the original artists. The uilleann bagpipe/violin duo Blackthorn provided music between programs while about 70 attendees gathered information on property mitigation and emergency preparation.
Lt. Brandon Jones of the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District recommended residents create defensible space around their homes to help firefighters protect their property in the event of a fire.notices on page 28.
Caption: Lt. Brandon Jones of the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District spoke to residents at the eighth Black Forest Remembers event at the Log School Park/Black Forest Community Center on June 11. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Natalie Barszcz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RRR Firewise program, June 12
Caption: On Saturday, June 12, the Red Rock Ranch Firewise program committee initiated its summer season, on-site wood chipping for scheduled residents of the Red Rock Ranch Homeowners Association (HOA). This effort is accomplished under direction of Firewise committee members Dave Betzler and Dave Pheteplace, who provide monthly safety instruction and scheduling of the committee and resident volunteers. Provision and operation of wood-chipping equipment are made possible by the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and firefighter/EMT and paramedic personnel. The Red Rock Ranch Firewise program is focused on wildfire prevention and emergency preparedness to improve the safety and sustainability of HOA residents. This committed and collectively engaged program received national recognition as a National Fire Protection Association Site of Excellence for 2019-20. Photo by Sharon Williams.
Parking at Monument Lake
Caption: The Town of Monument continues to look for new ways to deal with the crowded parking problem at Monument Lake. In the past, it has tried dropping boulders in spots where parking was prohibited. Now, it has added "No Parking" and "Fire Lane" signs through the area. The town also added two handicapped parking spots. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
Co-housing groundbreaking, June 19
Caption: On June 19, the sisters of Benet Hill Monastery had a groundbreaking ceremony for their new Sanctuary of Peace Residential Community. The vision of the sisters for this development is to create a co-housing community of residents coming together in hope, hospitality, and reverencing all creation. From the left: Sister Mary John Thomas, Sister Anne Stedman and Sister Clare Carr The sisters had a small groundbreaking blessing when Sister Rose Ann Barmann and other prioresses shoveled some earth. Photo provided by Benet Hill Monastery.
Integrity Bank sponsors parade
Caption: Brett Wyss, president and CEO of Integrity Bank & Trust, presents a check for $5,000 to Jack Fry, president of the Monument Hill Kiwanis at the club’s meeting on June 12. Integrity Bank & Trust has been the primary sponsor of the Kiwanis Independence Day Parade for many years. In keeping with the family nature of the of the parade, Wyss brought members of his family to help present the donation. Presenters shown are, from left, Elin (6), Truett (10), Maren (12), Brett Wyss, MHKC Parade Director Al Fritts, and Fry. The parade has been held annually since the 1970s, except for 2020, when the parade was held virtually. This year’s parade will be held Saturday, July 3 as part of the Tri-Lakes Independence Day celebration. Parade organizers are expecting a large crowd. Photo courtesy of RF Smith.
WMMI Family Day, June 12
Caption: On June 12, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) held its annual Family Day. Activities included tractor-pulled hayrides, watching and learning about blacksmithing, and observing the operation of multiple pieces of museum equipment. The equipment operated included the Osgood Steam Shovel, H.K. Porter trammer, EIMCO 630 rocker shovel mucker and the Yellow Jacket Stamp Mill. In conjunction with Family Day, the Gold Prospectors of Colorado (GPOC) hosted the Gold Panning Championships. GPOC President Marty Allen said there were three individual and team challenges: skills, speed, and dry panning. As pictured above, GPOC also set up panning troughs for Family Day attendees to enjoy the experience of gold panning. Allen said, "We wanted to teach how fun it is finding gold and enjoying the outdoors." Information on upcoming museum events is at www.wmmi.org. Photo by David Futey.
Farmer’s Market, June 19
Caption: Beautiful, warm Saturdays have brought out the crowds to shop for wares and fresh fruit and vegetables at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Monument. Vendors say produce from Colorado farms will be available in just a few weeks. Photo by John Howe.
#NeonNights, Prom 2021
Caption: #Neon Nights, held May 15, was sponsored by a group of Lewis-Palmer High School moms because they wanted to hold a private party so they could make the rules (no masks, no social distancing, lots of kids, no 10-person pods, etc.). They rented Limbach Park in Monument and planned every detail from fencing, police presence, chaperones, DJ, grab-and-go snacks, resulting in a safe, fun environment for kids who had missed out on so much this past year. This prom was open to all juniors and seniors (plus one guest) from Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High Schools. When the night came, they crossed their fingers that it wouldn’t rain and hoped kids would attend. It didn’t rain, and over 450 students attended! After the fact, we heard that the kids thought it was an amazing night, they had so much fun, and other positive feedback.
Caption: Christy Musser planned and executed the entire event with the help of Amy Wilch, Jessica Allner, Cami Ahlers, Jennifer Donlan, and Michelle Ratliff. Photos courtesy of Sarah Dahl.
TLC Appreciation Day, June 23
Caption: Miniature horses in costumes roamed the Tri-Lakes Cares parking lot on June 23 during an appreciation lunch for the staff and board members. Goats from Size Matters Microranch also mingled with the crowd. From left, Indy was dressed as a bumble bee, and his handler, Deb Boston, wore a beekeeper’s outfit; Timmie Cunningham, local Certified Horseman’s Association riding instructor and owner of the three miniature horses, dressed as a gardener and her horse Belle wore a flower costume; Haley Chapin, executive director of Tri-Lakes Cares, was accompanied by Monty, who wore a Hawaiian hula dancer outfit. Photo by Sharon Sossin.
JC Garage Sale, June 25
Caption: Tyler Cox and his father Michael greet a shopper at the fourth annual Jackson Creek community garage sale on June 25. The event is organized annually by Frances Machovina of Tri-Lakes Real Estate Inc., and through extensive advertising on multiple garage sale search sites and apps, and in Our Community News, the event was well attended from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 25-26. Participation increases every year, with some residents teaming up to create multi-family garage sales with as many as seven homes. For information on next year’s community garage sale, visit www.TriLakesRealEstateInc.com. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Wine tasting, June 19
Caption: Dirk Stamp, proprietor of the Wine Seller, began his summer series of wine tasting June 19. This was the first tasting in two years because of COVID-19. From left, Clarence Jones and Fannie Mae Garcia enjoy a taste poured by Shane Alexander, center, and Donavon Kennedy. Photo by John Howe.
PLHS Ice Cream Social, June 20
Caption: On Sunday, June 20, the Palmer Lake Historical Society (PLHS) volunteers organized the annual tradition of the Father’s Day Ice Cream Social at the Palmer Lake Town Hall and Village Green. Well over 200 gathered with their lawn chairs and picnic blankets to enjoy ice cream and pie on the shaded lawn of the Village Green. A nearby car show was provided by the Pikes Peak Corvair Club. A caravan of Model A and Model T cars made a brief stop as it was passing through on a road trip. This event was made possible with donations from PLHS, Bella Panini, Rock House Ice Cream, Spidell Foundation, and Village Inn (Duryea Drive.) Photo by Sharon Williams.
MCSS needs drivers
Caption: Mountain Community Senior Services is back providing free social transportation and handyman services to people 60 years and over in the Tri-Lakes area. It had stopped operations because of COVID-19. If you would like a ride to lunches, senior center activities, and other social events, or handyman services, please call the hotline at (719) 488-0076. You can also call the hotline if you’d like to be a driver like Lisa Phillips (far right). Photo provided by Lianne Lodwig.
"Sailfish" sculpture gets plaque
Caption: For two years we have been viewing the sculpture at the Chamber of Commerce Meeting House. On June 25, Sky Hall, president of Tri-Lakes Views, shows a plaque he is about to install for Sailfish, a sculpture by Ivan Costa of Colorado Springs. It is part of a permanent collection for Tri-Lakes Views. Photo by John Howe.
Well 3 re-drilled
Caption: Well 3 in Monument is old and was beginning to corrode, and the screen plugs up. This spring, after erecting very large walls around the area on Old Denver Road to contain any debris, the drilling rig, pictured May 27, was installed near Well 3 and the new well completed in short order. The well will be in use soon. Photo by John Howe.
Purely Ponds Parade
Caption: The Purely Ponds Parade, the annual self-guided charity pond and waterfall tour, was held on June 26 and 27. Purely Ponds Fine Landscapes matched and donated proceeds from the ticket sales to the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Front Range Makers Market, June 26
Caption: On June 26, makers, artists, crafters, boutiques, and food vendors set up tents to sell their wares at Lewis-Palmer High School. Entry was free for the 25th year of the annual fall Front Range Makers Market in Monument. Photos by Janet Sellers.
Caption: Each year, ospreys descend upon Monument Lake. On April 22, I was fortunate to capture this image of an osprey snatching a rainbow trout. Photo by Krista Bobo.
Caption: Anyone who lives in the area knows that sunsets on Monument Lake can be stunning. They can be even more so if you experience them kayaking on the lake. I got this shot June 14. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
Keep them coming! Send your best "Life in Tri-Lakes" photo to email@example.com no later than July 23. Please don’t send more than two photos. Include names of any people in the photo, date taken, a description of the activity or location, and the name of the photographer. Call Lisa at 719-339-7831 with questions.
By the OCN calendar team
If you are interested in helping OCN compile the monthly calendar and notices, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to have your help!
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. Please notify us if your event listing needs to be updated.
Red Flag Warning!
A Red Flag Warning means warm temperatures, very low humidity, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger. Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Do not throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it. Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite a fire, and quickly spread. See www.elpasoco.com/fireworks-burn-ban-information/.
Black Forest Slash-Mulch Program is a Wildfire Mitigation and Recycling Program. It accepts slash (trees, limbs, and brush debris only, maximum length 6 feet, maximum diameter 8 inches) (no stumps, roots, weeds, grass, lumber, or trash). Cost to drop off slash is $2 per load. Mulch loader fee $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. Co-sponsored by the El Paso County Environmental Division, Colorado Forestry Association and the Black Forest Fire Department, in cooperation with the Colorado State Forest Service and the State Board of Land Commissioners. Hours: Sat., 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m.; Tue. & Thu., 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Sat. only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. on specified days. See www.bfslash.org for a form to bring with you, or phone the county Environmental Division, 520-7878. Southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in Black Forest.
Donate live trees
Black Forest Together needs your help! BFT is hoping to launch the fourth year of our Trees 4 Tomorrow program, which has transplanted just under 4,000 trees into the burn scar. We need new tree donor sites in order to launch the program. As always, all tree donations are tax-deductible. Donating your trees is a great way to help mitigate your property and help your burn-victim neighbors restore theirs. To help keep overhead and costs down: site must be 25 acres or larger, have easy access for a truck and trailer, have at least 100 trees to donate. Trees need to be 3 to 8 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of 2½ to 4 inches. Doghair (thickets of seedlings) will not be removed. If you are interested in donating to our program or know someone who is, please contact us at Resourcecenter@blackforesttogether.org or call 719-368-0500.
County Safe Streets Alliance
El Paso is one of the most rapidly growing of Colorado counties. With this growth comes increasing traffic volume and the potential for commuters to use our neighborhood streets to bypass congestion. El Paso County does not currently benefit from a program to use speed tables, chicanes, roundabouts and other calming measures to slow traffic speed and volume on neighborhood streets.
There’s a county proposal to extend Furrow Road South to Higby Road. Once this connection is made, the current traffic volume is forecasted to significantly increase. Three HOAs that border Furrow have formed an initial group to deal with the issues of this extension with the county. The group has created a working document and an El Paso Safe Streets Alliance petition at https://ceds.org/epssa/. The petition urges the county commissioners to expand traffic calming measures county-wide.
Distracted Driving continues to be a dangerous issue on Colorado roads. An average of 42 crashes a day involve a distracted driver, and the consequences can be truly life-changing. Please rethink your distracted driving behaviors and consider the reactions of those around you. "Every time I see a distracted driver, my first thought is to get as far away from them as possible," said Susan Dane, founder of Coloradans Organized for Responsible Driving (CORD). "My second thought is to ask: is it worth it? I lost two friends to a distracted driver, there’s no reason for more lives to be lost due to distracted driving." Hear from the victims themselves at https://www.codot.gov/safety/distracteddriving/victims.
Reading tutor volunteers needed
Children’s Literacy Center provides free one-on-one literacy tutoring to Tri-Lakes children in grades 1-6 who are reading below grade level! Tutoring is at the Tri-Lakes Senior Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m., and our Summer Session will begin June 29 and run through Aug. 14. For more information, to become a volunteer tutor or to enroll your child, visit www.childrensliteracycenter.org or email Christine Jeffson at Christine@childrensliteracycenter.org.
MVEA rebates for outdoor power equipment
Outdoor power equipment rebates from Mountain View Electric Association if you switch from gas to electric powered mower, snow blower, leaf blower, electric bicycle, chainsaw, power washer, pruner, trimmer. Learn more at www.mvea.coop/rebates or 800-388-9881. See ad on page 13.
WMMI is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Colorado Springs with "The Mining Heritage of Colorado Springs," through August. The exhibit will highlight the operations of the coal industry, the gold ore processing mills that stood west of the city, the railroads that serviced the coal and mining industries, Winfield Scott Stratton and his legacy, the El Pomar story, Cripple Creek railroad millionaires and their Colorado Springs mansions. 225 North Gate Blvd., Colorado Springs 80921, 719-488-0880. For additional information, https://wmmi.org.
Senior Citizen Luncheons
Connections Café sites will have "grab and go" (prepared meals). every Mon.-Fri., noon-12:30 p.m., Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake. A $2.25 donation is requested. Please call 719-884-2300 to reserve your meal. See the menu for the month in the Senior Beat newsletter. Meals on Wheels and Home Delivered Meals will deliver frozen meals for the week to Monument on Wednesdays. Food Pantry offers a "pick up only" model for clients."
Links to local organizations with an immediate need for volunteers are listed on the county’s website, www.elpasocountyhealth.org/volunteering-and-donations, for groups like Care and Share, Crossfire Ministries, 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).
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.TLC youth internship opportunities
Do you know a youth who wants to improve their technical skills and contribute to our local community in a meaningful way? If so, Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) wants to connect with them! Systems Development Internship & Website Development Internship. See https://tri-lakescares.org/about-tlc/employment/.
Plague in El Paso County
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) recently (May 2021) confirmed a squirrel tested positive for plague in El Paso County. Plague exists in Colorado year-round, but simple precautions can keep the risk of transmission very low to humans.
Plague is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected flea, but it can also be transmitted by infected animals. Plague symptoms include sudden fever, headache, chills, weakness and tender, painful lymph nodes. If caught early, both people and pets can be treated with antibiotics. Precautions for people and their pets include not handling wildlife, keeping pets away from wildlife, treating pets for fleas, not feeding wildlife and reporting sudden die-offs of rodents and rabbits in the community.
The disease was found in animals in areas of Adams and Broomfield counties in 2020, as well as two cases of human plague infection that year. Both people had exposure to sick animals and survived.
By the OCN calendar team. We miss Judy Barnes’ expert work on the calendar and notices.
If you are interested in helping OCN compile the monthly calendar and notices, please write to email@example.com.
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.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with changes and additions.
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to email@example.com or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on September 26, 2021. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on September 26, 2021. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.