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Our Community News - Home Vol. 24 No. 7 - July 6, 2024

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Audio versions are posted for many of the articles in this issue. Look for this icon or the phrase "Listen to this article."

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Contents

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

the PDF file. This is a 51 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.

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El Paso Board of County Commissioners, June 13, 25, and 27: Monument glamping expansion approved; short-term rental allowed to continue at Black Forest property

By Helen Walklett

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During June, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a request to expand a glamping site near Monument and an application to allow short-term rentals to continue at a Black Forest property.

Monument glamping site expansion

At their June 27 land use meeting, the commissioners heard a request from owner Chris Jeub for approval of an amendment to an existing special use to allow four extra sites at his glamping business with the potential for some hard-sided structures such as recreational vehicles (RVs) and shipping containers. The 6.44-acre property, zoned RR-5 (rural residential), is located at Rickenbacker Avenue, west of Interstate 25 and bordering the Town of Monument.

Note: Glamping is a term that combines "glamour" and "camping," meaning camping with certain amenities. Jeub is a volunteer with OCN.

The application came from the Planning Commission with a 7-2 vote recommending denial. See the Planning Commission article on page 5.

Ashlyn Mathy, planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, said Jeub had successfully applied for a special use permit in 2022 following a code enforcement complaint about structures such as tents, decks, and sheds at the property. The special use permitted eight tent sites. The current modification request follows complaints of an RV and shipping container on the property. Mathy said staff’s analysis of the master plan suggested the expansion may not be compatible with the rural nature of the area and its minimal change classification.

Mathy explained the modification would permit those hard-sided structures. With three of the sites restricted to tents because they are on the Monument Creek floodplain where permanent development is not allowed, those opposing the application feared the other nine would be hard-sided structures. Mathy said the applicant had not disclosed the number that would be hard-sided, making it difficult to assess the impact.

Craig Dossey, president, Vertex Consulting Services, representing the applicant, focused on the application’s compatibility with the master plan and the review criteria. He said, "We believe that a glamping operation not only brings tourism into the area, but it is also consistent with the rural character of the neighborhood, and it actually helps serve the Monument and Palmer Lake areas by providing additional, overnight accommodation." He continued, "We’re talking about a start-up company. We’re talking about emphasizing and supporting tourism in our region."

Fifteen individuals spoke in support of the application. Terri Hayes, president and CEO, Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, described the business as a valuable asset to the area providing an alternative lodging option in an area where accommodations are scarce. A neighbor to the north said the business had had no negative impact on him.

Four people spoke in opposition. Chris Maciejewski, attorney with Robinson and Henry P.C. and representing several of the neighbors, said, "This is not a minor expansion of a recreational camp from eight sites to 12. This would not continue to be a low impact, nature-based use of the property. This is essentially creating an RV park." He continued, "We believe the Planning Commission asked the right questions, made the right recommendation."

In rebuttal, Dossey was critical of the Planning Commission hearing and decision. He said, "There was very little discussion about the review criteria, and I think it’s something the county attorney should be cautious with because that hearing really had very little discussion about the criteria, and the decision that was rendered was not focused on the criteria." He said the master plan supported everything about the application in its location.

Dossey then put forward three additional conditions proposed by his client to be attached to any approval. Two would limit the footprint and height of any hard-sided structures and would mean the current RV on the property would have to be removed. The third would require five of the sites to be tent-only.

Commissioner Stan VanderWerf, making a motion to deny, said, "I would encourage the applicant to continue to enjoy the use of the special use permit that is presently approved but I am not comfortable making a declaration for myself that this is compatible and in harmony with the area." Commissioner Holly Williams seconded the motion.

Commissioner Carrie Geitner disagreed, stating she found it consistent with the master plan. Bremer agreed and the vote to deny the application was tied 2-2 and the motion failed. Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr. was absent. County attorney Kenneth Hodges advised that the recording of the hearing would now go to Gonzalez for review and the board would return at a later date for any questions and to vote on a new motion.

Bremer called a brief recess. When the commissioners returned, Williams stated, "I am convinced by Commissioner Geitner’s arguments that it is an allowable use. Perhaps maybe what I’m unconvinced of is that I liked the allowable use in the first place. So, based upon that, I would make a motion to reconsider and rescind my previous motion." The vote supporting this motion was 3-1 with VanderWerf the nay vote.

Williams said, "I just apologize. I do believe this one is a messy one and this special use process is very, very hard." She then moved to approve the application with the addition of the extra conditions proposed by the applicant. This vote succeeded 3-1 and again VanderWerf was the nay vote.

Variance allows short-term rentals at Black Forest property

At the June 13 BOCC land use meeting, the commissioners heard a request from owners Drew and Tarah MacAlmon for approval of a variance of use to allow an existing ancillary building to continue to be used as an occasional short-term rental. The 4.78-acre property is located on South Holmes Road, south of its intersection with Burgess Road, and is zoned RR-5 (residential rural).

The application came to the BOCC with a recommendation for approval following a 5-3 vote at the May 2 Planning Commission meeting. Discussion at that meeting focused on the history of the ancillary structure and the use tied to the original approval, the timeline of when the rentals started, and concerns that the applicants may have tried to circumnavigate the county’s process in order to rent out the structure. Speaking to his nay vote, Commissioner Tim Trowbridge said, "I don’t think this is compatible with the neighborhood. I don’t think short-term rentals belong here." See www.ocn.me/v24n6.htm#epcpc.

Ashlyn Mathy, planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, said the MacAlmons received approval in 2018 for an ancillary building to provide home office and additional living space. It passed all inspections in 2019, and the bedrooms in the basement of the building have been rented out on a short-term basis since that time with the owners not knowing this was not an allowed use. In 2022, an anonymous complaint about the rental was made to county’s code enforcement officers and a violation notice followed.

The MacAlmons then met with county staff and were advised not to submit a variance of use application at that time, which would bring the rental activity into compliance, because county was exploring code amendments that would allow accessory dwelling units. When this was put on hold waiting for the state Legislature, the applicants were asked to submit a variance of use application, and this was done in August 2023.

Mathy said 15 neighbors were notified of the application, and the county received one email in opposition. Two neighbors spoke in opposition at the hearing. Speaking online on behalf of his parents who share a boundary with the MacAlmons, one man raised concerns about the drain on water resources and increased traffic. He said, "They have clearly wanted to build this Airbnb from Day 1 and now that they’ve been caught, are trying to get approval."

Speaking in person, his brother said he had thought the rental was already approved and mentioned lots of traffic, big congregations at the site, and disturbance. He said, "The MacAlmons willfully fulfilled their dream of having a showcase Airbnb at the expense of the neighborhood’s ability to experience what living on a quiet, rural, dead-end road can give." He added, "It’s not a place for entrepreneurial commerce."

Nina Ruiz, Vertex Consulting, and representing the applicants, said a lot of the discussion had been based on neighborhood disputes and not the review criteria. She said three letters of support had been received, two of which came from immediately adjacent neighbors.

Commissioner Holly Williams said, "On this one I have to fall back on, you know, that they would have a right to certainly rent out their second home now that they’ve come through this process." Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr. was concerned that allowing the application would set a precedent allowing accessory structures to be rented. Commissioner Carrie Geitner said, "We need to be able to have the discussion around how to allow people to use their property with the most freedom possible but also mitigating impacts. I think that is very American, quite frankly, so I will be in support of this."

The vote to approve was 4-1 with Gonzalez the nay vote. The approval includes a condition that the variance only apply while the MacAlmons own the property.

Planning Commission reappointments

At the June 25 BOCC meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to reappoint Commissioners Jeff Markewich and Wayne Smith as associate members of the Planning Commission. Their new terms will end on June 25, 2025.

Caption: Monument Glamping consisting of two properties and 11 units, was submitted to El Paso County Planning and Development for four additional units and the ability to change structures on their RR-5 property along Monument Creek. The submittal was voted down on a 7-2 vote by the Planning Commission on June 6 but approved by the Board of County Commissioners on a 3-1 decision on June 27. Vicinity map courtesy El
Paso County.

Caption: Planned campsite locations. Another proposal was approved administratively for 24 units on a separate property on the east side of town. The entire glamping operation will total 36 units by summer 2025. Graphic courtesy El Paso County.

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The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) usually meets every Tuesday at 9 am at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., Suite 150, Colo. Springs. Agendas and meetings can be viewed at www.agendasuite.org/iip/elpaso. Information is available at 719-520-643. BOCC land use meetings are normally held the second and fourth Thursdays of the month (as needed) at 1 pm in Centennial Hall.

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

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Monument Town Council, June 3 and 12: Town manager put on administrative leave; debates on lodging tax, sign and gun laws

By Chris Jeub

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In June, the Monument Town Council debated a lodging tax and sign and gun laws. Town Manager Mike Foreman was placed on administrative leave.

June 12 special meeting: Town manager placed on administrative leave

During a special Town Council meeting on June 12, in an executive session held pursuant to Section 24-6-402 (4)(f) and (4)(b) of the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS), the council discussed personnel matters involving Town Manager Mike Foreman and sought legal advice on specific legal questions related to these matters. Town Attorney Bob Cole was present during these sessions.

Following the discussions, Councilmember Kenneth Kimple recommended that the town manager be placed on paid administrative leave. In the interim, his responsibilities will be jointly handled by Director of Parks and Community Partnerships Madeline VandenHoek and Police Chief Patrick Regan.

The Town Council has issued a press release regarding this decision, emphasizing that it was made with the community’s best interests in mind. Due to the sensitive nature of personnel matters, specific details have not been disclosed. The press release reads as follows:

"After careful consideration and consultation with legal counsel, the Town Council has decided to place the Town Manager on paid administrative leave effective immediately. We have appointed an interim Town Manager to oversee day-to-day operations during this period. We appreciate your understanding and assure you that this decision was made with the best interests of our community in mind. As this is a personnel matter, we will not be discussing specific details at this time. Thank you."

New lodging tax ordinance discussed

The Town Council deliberated on June 3 a proposed lodging tax ordinance that would impact short-term rentals (STRs) and other lodging within the town. The proposed tax would increase town taxes by a specific percentage on lodging purchases, effective Jan. 1, 2025. The revenue generated would be retained and spent according to voter-approved guidelines.

Councilmember Steve King voiced concerns about public perception, emphasizing, "I don’t want people to think this is a tax they are paying." Town Attorney Bob Cole confirmed that the tax includes short-term rentals, prompting King to inquire about the current tracking of STRs. Cole confirmed that no short-term rental regulations exist.

Mayor Mitch LaKind pointed out the discrepancies in STR taxes across different cities, noting, "Denver is 11%, Parker is 3%, Colorado Springs is on the low end at 2%. I think we should be 2%." He suggested the funds be earmarked for municipal park maintenance rather than the general fund. This proposal sparked a debate. King believed the funds could support general maintenance, while Councilmember Marco Fiorito noted a potential issue: "If they go to only the town’s parks, other municipalities’ parks don’t get the funds."

Planning Consultant Sophia Hassman identified the main sources of the proposed tax revenue as the town’s single hotel and truck stops. Town Manager Foreman raised logistical concerns, stating, "This takes a lot of administrative work, and 2% will probably not bring in what it takes to pull this off. We suggest 5%." Mayor LaKind recommended a detailed analysis, saying, "I suggest we figure out how much this will actually bring in; also figure out where the funds will go. We come back in a month to decide."

The council must finalize the ballot question by Sept. 2 to ensure it can be presented to the voters. The next meeting will likely see further discussions and decisions on the specifics of the lodging tax ordinance, including the proposed percentage and allocation of funds.

Lost Island II Final PUD approved

The council unanimously approved Ordinance No. 12-2024, which allows for the final Planned Unit Development (PUD) of Lost Island II, a family-oriented fun center. The approval followed a public hearing on Resolution No. 31-2024, which also passed unanimously, granting the final plat known as Conexus Filing No. 3, a replat of Conexus Filing No. 2-Lot 4.

Julie Esterl from Baseline presented the ordinance and resolution, with John Olson, the applicant and planner, detailing the project. The property, located on the west side of I-25 between the Interstate and Old Denver Highway, will feature an indoor/outdoor recreation center aimed at family fun. The approved plans for Phase 1 include:

• Four 18-hole miniature golf courses

• Indoor playroom with inflatables

• Ninja gym

• Party rooms

• 316-space parking lot

Phase 2, which will be developed later, involves the construction of a water park funded by the revenue from Phase 1.

Councilmember Kimple raised questions about operational hours and lighting, expressing concern about the center’s impact during dark hours and its plans to serve alcohol. Olson confirmed that the center would operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and assured that the owners are mindful of screening and lighting issues. Julie Esterl added that the lights would be turned off at night.

Willow Springs Ranch Final Plat approved

The council unanimously approved Resolution No. 32-2024, which grants a final plat for Willow Springs Ranch Filing No. 2. Lauren Richardson from Baseline presented the resolution.

The council recommended approving the final plat based on its compliance with the Town of Monument’s Land Development Code Section 18.02.260. The approval includes a condition related to future infrastructure developments. During the design phase of a new school site for Lewis-Palmer School District 38, the access from Forest Lakes Drive to Channel Island Drive will be evaluated. If necessary, this intersection may be converted to a right-in/right-out access. The applicant or Willow Springs Ranch Metropolitan District will be responsible for the cost of any required design and construction improvements.

Councilmember King expressed concerns about the safety of having two roads located just 100 feet apart. He pointed out potential issues with fire escape routes and emphasized that the current plans could pose safety risks. Despite these concerns, the council voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

Council reviews Temporary Sign Code

The council reviewed the Temporary Sign Code, focusing on Chapter 18.06 of the Town’s Municipal Code. The code, presented by Town Planner Dan Ungerleider, aims to regulate the design, construction, and placement of signs to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of Monument’s residents.

The sign regulations have several key objectives. They aim to promote safety by ensuring signs do not confuse or distract motorists, impair visibility, or interfere with traffic. The code also seeks to ensure efficient communication by preventing an overload of messages, thus reducing sign clutter and enhancing the visual environment. Additionally, it aims to protect property values, foster economic development, and assist in wayfinding. The regulations are designed to be fair and consistent, providing residents with ample opportunities to exercise free speech through signs.

During the discussion, King raised concerns about the legality of the sign ordinance, citing a Supreme Court ruling against similar regulations. He expressed doubts about the flexibility for making adjustments. Kimple questioned the need for the study session, pointing out that the previous board chose not to enforce the sign code. He stressed that this topic should have been addressed earlier.

Mayor LaKind agreed, suggesting that unless there was a public demand for changes to the ordinance, it might be best to leave it unchanged. The meeting concluded without any immediate modifications to the sign code.

Firearm ordinance debated

A contentious debate unfolded around Ordinance No. 14-2024, which addresses the carrying of firearms in public spaces, contrary to state directives.

New state legislation aimed at prohibiting firearms in public areas, originally intended to restrict open carry but not to exclude individuals with proper concealed carry permits. Town Attorney Cole highlighted this distinction, emphasizing that the state’s goal was to prevent individuals from openly displaying firearms in public places.

Kimple voiced preference for the state bill, arguing that it enhances safety by designating public spaces as gun-free zones. "I think this is a good bill coming down from the State Capital," he said.

In contrast, Police Chief Reagan, King, and LaKind advocated for local autonomy in firearm regulations. Chief Reagan noted that properly permitted citizens pose minimal risk and are not the focus of concern; instead, he emphasized the potential threat posed by criminals.

LaKind raised constitutional concerns, arguing against state overreach. "If we allow the state to do this, it overrides the Constitution," he asserted, reflecting on the broader implications of state-imposed restrictions.

Councilmember Sana Abbott expressed reservations about allowing firearms in public spaces, questioning the necessity outside of law enforcement. "Why do we need to allow people to come in here with a weapon other than our trained officers?" Abbott queried, reflecting concerns over public safety and comfort.

King countered, highlighting the potential consequences of declaring public spaces as gun-free zones. "If this is a known gun-free zone, that makes us a target," he cautioned, underscoring the potential unintended consequences of restrictive policies.

Ultimately, after deliberation, the council voted 5-2 in favor of the local ordinance, with Kimple and Abbott dissenting.

Final Plat for Zeal at Jackson Creek approved

Resolution No. 04-2024 was unanimously approved, marking a significant step forward for the Zeal at Jackson Creek development project.

The subject property, located in a Planned Residential District with multi-family zoning, sits adjacent to various residential and mixed-use zones in the area. The finalized plat includes critical updates such as a 30-foot right-of-way dedication along Higby Road, expanding its width from 70 to 100 feet along the property’s northern boundary. Additionally, the plat restructures utility easements to better accommodate buried overhead utilities along Bowstring Road.

Town Planner Dan Ungerleider presenting on behalf of the project confirmed that the revised plat met all town planning and engineering standards, ensuring compliance with Monument’s Development Code. Councilmember Jim Romanello sought reassurance that the resolution addressed concerns previously raised by fellow Councilmembers King and Kimple. Ungerleider affirmed that the revised plat accommodated these concerns, prompting approval from the council. The resolution passed unanimously with a 7-0 vote. Mayor LaKind expressed satisfaction with the decision, remarking, "I am glad to finally get this going!"

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The Monument Town Council 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 July 15 meeting has been cancelled. July 2 will be the only meeting in July. Call 719-884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Town Council.

Chris Jeub can be reached at chrisjeub@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, June 26: Board reminds residents of $5,000 fine for fireworks

By Jackie Burhans

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The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on June 26 to discuss fire safety and hear director reports.

Fire prevention and resident responsibility

With the Fourth of July holiday approaching, many of the discussions at WIA revolved around fire safety. Homeowners Association Administrator Denise Cagliaro sent emails to every registered short-term rental in Woodmoor to remind them that they are responsible for guest behavior and that fireworks are never allowed in Woodmoor. WIA also reached out to its sub-associations to ask that they remind their members.

Director of Public Safety Brad Gleason said an extra duty officer will be available specifically for fireworks patrols and will issue fines of $5,000.

Gleason also noted that open fires are subject to the same fine and that only approved, commercially constructed firepits with spark arresters are allowed. He asked that residents not park cars on the grass, as the heat can spark a fire. Board President Brian Bush encouraged residents to cut down tall grass, which, along with pinecones, increases fire risk.

Board highlights

• Bush reported that the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Organizations (NEPCO) is looking for people to join its board, noting that Director of Forestry Cindy Thrush had agreed to look at the land use position. He suggested that NEPCO should exercise its political clout by testifying in front of state or county political bodies.

• Bush noted that state laws limit the ability to prohibit home businesses, but the board can regulate those businesses under its covenants, including its nuisance clauses.

• Bush introduced Director of Covenants Sue Leggiero, who is serving out a vacant term ending in February 2025. Leggiero reported 20 covenant items in May, three of which resulted in violations. The remaining 17 were resolved with a courtesy communication and did not result in a violation.

• Gleason noted that Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) had received complaints about solicitors. While WPS cannot prohibit access to public roads, it will respond to complaints about trespassing. Gleason cautioned residents against signing contracts with roofing contractors as they can have expensive cancelation clauses.

• Director of Architectural Control Ed Miller reported that WIA maintains a 100% approval rate of the 244 projects submitted to date. Seventy-six projects were submitted in May, with 66 approved in the office and 10 approved by the Architectural Control Committee.

• Director of Commons Area Steve Cutler reported that the Barn sprinkler system was started, and flowers were planted in early May. Working in conjunction with adjacent neighbors, noxious weed spraying in common areas was completed by the end of June, and prairie dog removal is scheduled for early August.

• The board unanimously approved refinishing the floors in the Barn for a cost not to exceed $8,000, and WPS was directed to track any damage that occurred after Barn rentals.

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The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be on July 24.

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

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

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El Paso County Planning Commission, June 6 and 20: Planning commission recommend denial of Monument glamping site expansion

By Helen Walklett

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At the El Paso County Planning Commission meeting on June 6, the commissioners heard a request to expand a glamping site near Monument. Also during June, the commissioners heard a final plat application for a Black Forest property.

Monument glamping site expansion

At their June 6 meeting, the commissioners heard a request by owner Chris Jeub for approval of an amendment to an existing special use to allow four extra sites at his glamping business on his 6.44-acre property at Rickenbacker Avenue, west of Interstate 25 and bordering the Town of Monument. The property is zoned RR-5 (rural residential).

Note: Glamping is a term combining "glamor" and "camping," meaning camping with certain amenities. Jeub is a volunteer for OCN.

The commissioners heard that Jeub successfully applied for a special use permit for the business in 2022 following a 2021 code enforcement complaint that there were multiple structures on the property, besides the primary residence, such as tents and outdoor bathroom facilities. The special use permitted eight tent or yurt sites with four shared bathrooms and was granted administratively (meaning there were no public hearings) after opposition was withdrawn.

The current application follows complaints about a recreational vehicle (RV) and shipping container at the property. Its approval would modify the special use to increase the number of sites to 12 and allow for a variety of hard-sided camping structures to include RVs and shipping containers. Should approval be granted, the next step would see a site development plan submitted for county’s approval.

Ashlyn Mathy, planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, said the modification would permit various structures such as RVs and shipping containers, which are not normally something you would expect to see in a rural residential area. She continued, "The applicant has not identified the number of glamping sites that will utilize specifically shipping containers and RVs. Therefore, it’s going to be a little more difficult to determine the impact to the surrounding neighbors. With the utilization of the shipping containers and recreational vehicles, we do see that it may not be compatible with the surrounding rural residential neighborhood."

Mathy said 29 neighbors had been notified and opposition received focused on safety and traffic concerns, a lack of compatibility with the surrounding area, and concerns about the applicant continually doing things on the property without approvals from county. Support for the application noted that it would be a boost to tourism and that it would not have a negative effect on the community. Staff had suggested conditions of approval based on the mitigation of negative impacts to neighbors using landscaping, fence buffering, and other measures to reduce visual impacts, noise, and lighting pollution.

Craig Dossey, president, Vertex Consulting Services, representing the applicant, said stays at the site are intended to be temporary, not exceeding 30 days at a time and no more than 90 in total in one year and stated that the Jeubs are very committed to operating a good business. Describing the proposal as a low-impact development, he said, "We think this is a great transition between a pretty urban area in the town, which is frankly a traditional subdivision just to the east, and that more rural area transitioning up to the National Forest."

Jeub explained, "Container homes do very well as far as the way the market of glamping goes. Glamping changes very quickly as far as structures and how well the structures do in the market of glamping." He explained that the additional sites would enable him to pay for some of the required improvements and said, "I want to have beautiful structures here. I don’t want to have junky structures and I think the RV is a step up from the tent that we had." Dossey added, "There needs to be some flexibility because it is such a developing market right now."

Commissioner Becky Fuller commented that it was not just four more tent sites that were being requested. She said, "I believe when this [the original application] was approved, the neighbors kind of let it go because it was tents." She said she thought it was very intentional to approve tents and that this application was a different use variance than that which was already approved. She said she could not see the compatibility of short-term, summer camping versus the longer-term nature of hard-sided structures which could be lived in year-round. She also commented on the code violations which resulted in the special use applications, asking, "Why are we doing something and asking for forgiveness?"

Dossey said he felt the tent-only definition was county staff’s "interpretation" of the wording in the original special use. Mathy said, "it is clearly depicted that it’s all tents" and Meggan Herington, executive director, Planning and Community Development, concurred.

Chris Maciejewski, attorney with Robinson and Henry, P.C. and representing several of the neighbors, said, "It’s clear they’re asking for open-ended approval as to what they can do under that special use permit." The three sites beside Monument Creek must be tents as no permanent development is permitted on the floodplain. Maciejewski said he thought the expectation is that the other nine would be hard-sided structures and commented, "The expansion to hard-sided structures is going to be a significant change from eight approved tent sites."

Commissioner Eric Moraes said, "This was approved based on tents. Both the executive director and county attorney confirm that and now we are coming to what’s in my mind a drastically different business to be in the neighborhood with hard-sided, large structures." Commissioner Christopher Whitney said, "I’m going to be opposed because I think it’s completely incompatible. It’s not really a modification of the earlier special usage but a brand-new application in my mind."

Commissioner Thomas Bailey took a different view, stating, "Portions of the master plan encourage economic development, encourage this kind of thing, and I see it very much as an entrepreneurial use." Commissioner Sarah Brittain Jack concurred.

The vote was 7-2 to recommend denial of the application. The nay votes were Bailey and Brittain Jack. The application was then heard at the El Paso Board of County Commissioners’ (BOCC) land use meeting on June 27. See BOCC article on page 1.

Vessey Road rezone

At the June 20 meeting, the commissioners heard a final plat application by Pawel Posorski to create two single-family lots of just over 2.5 acres each on a 6.02-acre Vessey Road property, about one-third of a mile east of the intersection of Vessey Road and Holmes Road. The land was rezoned from RR-5 (rural residential) to RR-2.5 (rural residential) in April. See https://www.ocn.me/v24n5.htm?zoom_highlight=posorski.

The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the application for approval. It was heard as a consent item, meaning there was no discussion, and is now due to be heard at the BOCC land use meeting on July 25.

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The El Paso County Planning Commission normally meets the first and (as required) the third Thursday of each month at the Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle, Colo. Springs. Meetings are live-streamed on the El Paso County News and Information Channel at https://www.elpasoco.com/news-information-channel. Information is available at 719-520-6300 and https://planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com/planning-community-development/2024-hearings-schedule/.

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

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Monument Planning Commission, June 12: Monument Planning Commission cancels June 12 meeting

By Janet Sellers

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The following notice was posted on June 4 on the agenda page for the Town of Monument Planning Commission:

"The Town of Monument Planning Commission canceled its regular meeting scheduled for June 12, 2024. The Planning Commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, July 10, at 6 p.m., in the town’s Council Chambers at 645 Beacon Light Road in Monument. Questions regarding this notice may be directed to the Town of Monument Clinic Department or 645 Beacon Light Road Monument Colorado 80132, or call 719-651-5405."

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The Monument Planning Commission usually meets the second Wednesday of each month. To see the options for remote public participation in each meeting, visit www.townofmonument.org/263/Planning-Commission-Board-of-Adjustment. Info: 719-884-8028 or at www.townofmonument.org.

Janet Sellers can be reached at JanetSellers@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Board of Trustees, May 30, June 13 and 27: Board approves concealed carry in sensitive spaces

By James Howald and Jackie Burhans

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In addition to the two meetings in June, this article also covers the last meeting the Palmer Lake Board of Trustees (PLBOT) held in May, which was held after OCN went to press.

The three meetings addressed topics ranging from gun rights to land use issues. Chairperson Susan Miner updated the board on the work of the Elephant Rock Advisory Committee. The board discussed regulations for farmers markets, peddler’s permits and the process for granting special event permits. The board awarded a contract for water line and roadway improvements at Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES). The board approved two special events. Town Administrator Dawn Collins gave the board an administrative update at the June 13 and June 27 meetings.

All three meetings included executive sessions.

Board opts out of state law prohibiting guns in sensitive spaces

At its June 27 meeting, Trustee Dennis Stern said he had gone to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (PPRBD) advisory committee and learned about a newly passed state law (SB24-131 Prohibiting Carrying Firearms in Sensitive Spaces) that goes into effect July 1. Stern noted that the law has an exception for police and that local governments can enact laws to allow carrying guns in sensitive areas. He said that resolution 37-2024 would allow concealed carry in sensitive areas, such as the Town Hall and administrative offices, in Palmer Lake.

Stern said he believed declaring any building or area a gun-free zone was asking for trouble because criminals don’t follow the law. Mayor Glant Havenar expressed frustration about rules being passed at the state level that were against the Colorado Constitution and that inhibited a local municipality’s way of life. She noted that she had a concealed carry permit and that as of July 1, she would no longer be able to walk into the Palmer Lake Town Hall or the administrative building with a gun in her purse. Havenar expressed support for the resolution, saying that if Palmer Lake didn’t stand up, no one else would. Trustee Nick Ehrhardt said emotions can rise in sensitive areas, and he has seen the consequences. He said he wanted to create a better world for his kids and grandkids and applauded the state’s efforts.

The board passed the resolution with a vote of four to one with Ehrhardt voting no and Trustees Kevin Dreher, Jessica Farr and Stern, as well as Havenar, voting in favor. Trustees Shana Ball and Samantha Padgett were excused from the meeting and did not vote.

Land use issues

At the May 30 meeting, the board held a public hearing on a request from Randy Allgood to replat his property at 95 Greeley Blvd. and a request from Ethel Engel to replat her property at 278 Lower Glenway St.

Allgood said his plan was to build four houses on the property, and the replat would change some easements to accommodate a shared access point for the four homes.

Jim Brinkman, a surveyor with Crossed Paths representing Engel, said there was a 7-foot discrepancy between surveys concerning the location of a right of way. The replat request used a survey originally done by Tim Wagner. Town Attorney Scott Krob said the replat could be granted and the discrepancy could be resolved later.

There were no comments from the public on either request, and the public hearing was closed.

The board voted unanimously to approve resolutions granting the requested replats.

At the May 30 meeting, the board considered Resolution 30-2024, which extends a temporary conditional use permit previously granted to Bruno Furrer and Loren Burlage for their property at 773 South Highway 105, which is used for the outdoor storage of hay. Two businesses, Diacut and HayCo, share the property. The resolution notes that Furrer and Burlage requested conditional use permits in 2022 and 2023 and specifies that all vehicles and equipment on the property must be screened from view from Highway 105 by July 1. The resolution also requires Furrer and Burlage to apply for a permanent conditional use permit that addresses screening by May 31, 2025 or cease use of the property. The board referred the issue to the Palmer Lake Planning Commission to clarify the dimensions of the fences needed to properly screen the equipment on the property.

At the June 27 meeting, Resolution 34-2024 to extend the temporary conditional use to Furrer and Burlage for 12 months with a deadline of Aug. 1 to complete the green privacy screening condition of 36 feet wide by 5.5 feet high as imposed by the Planning Commission was passed unanimously.

At the June 27 meeting, the board also passed Resolution 32-2024 to approve a lot line adjustment on Meadow Lane. At the public hearing, it was noted that the adjusted lot line would protect access to a new trail at Elephant Rock. The board voted unanimously to allow the adjustment. Erhardt recused himself from the hearing and the vote because his father, Kurt Ehrhardt, is the home builder.

Elephant Rock property

At the May 30 meeting, Miner told the board that the Elephant Rock property site planning subcommittee’s work was complete. The Arts Council subcommittee was working on an automated walk-through of the property, and the Parks subcommittee had completed about a third of its work. She said the Arts Council is working on the idea of a cultural district, which would open up funding opportunities. The Palmer Lake Economic Development Group is working on determining comparable sales. A recreation center is being considered, Miner said.

In terms of funding, Miner said opportunities from the state were being researched and sponsorships were being sought. Risk assessment was being considered for each of the options the committee was bringing to the board. Miner said an appraisal was needed.

At the June 13 meeting, Miner said the committee was preparing a final presentation for the board. She asked that a workshop be scheduled to present the plan so that the presentation would not be rushed by the need to consider other agenda items.

At the June 27 meeting, Collins told the board that a workshop had been scheduled for Wednesday, July 10 at 5 p.m. at the Town Hall for the Elephant Rock Advisory Committee to present its final plan to the board. Dreher, Farr, and Havenar were disappointed they would not receive a copy of the plan before the workshop so they could be prepared with questions.

Regulation for farmers markets takes shape

At the May 30 meeting, Collins told the board that town staff had received inquiries about a farmers market within town boundaries. She presented a draft of regulations that could be added to the municipal code. The draft requires the manager of the farmers market to obtain a license from town staff and to assume responsibility for all the vendors. The draft defines what can and cannot be sold at a farmers market: produce, handmade food and beverages, meat, honey and other handmade items are allowed; tobacco, firearms and electronics are prohibited. The draft requires the markets to be held on public property, but consensus of the board was that private property should be allowed.

Collins said she would re-draft the language based on the board’s discussion.

At the June 13 meeting, Collins presented an updated version of the code that included a $100 fee to be paid by the market’s manager, said licenses for vendors or peddlers would be handled separately, and markets are prohibited on residential properties.

At the June 27 meeting, Collins presented Ordinance 6-2024 Relating to Farmers Markets, which incorporated the board’s discussion, added enforcement language, and allows public or commercial properties to host the markets. The board voted unanimously in favor.

Peddler’s permits required

Related to its discussion of farmers markets, the board discussed permits for vendors and peddlers at its May 30, June 13, and June 27 meetings.

At the May 30 meeting, Collins suggested language that would exempt a peddler with an existing business license granted by the town from needing an additional peddler’s permit for special events and farmers markets. The draft specifies that a background check of applicants will be conducted by the town. The board directed Collins to refine the language, focusing on a streamlined process that would result in a permit good for one year.

Amended language was presented by Collins at the June 13 meeting that incorporated the one-year term for the license based on the calendar year.

On June 27, Collins reported that staff had reviewed peddler permit regulations at six municipalities including the town of Monument. Fees averaged $25, she said, and were meant to cover administrative costs. Some towns do a high-level background check looking for felony offenses or an outstanding warrant related to the proposed activity. Farr asked if a background check also was required for a business license and whether the peddler or business signed an agreement to the background check. Collins said she did not see that question on the application, and Krob said he didn’t know that it was required, but he advised it to be added.

Krob noted that peddler’s permits had been around for a long time and originally applied to people coming from out of the area and soliciting from door to door. Havenar asked if a peddler might be a felon who had served their time and turned things around and wanted to be in a farmers market; she said she was told that every vendor at the Wine Festival she owns had to get a background check even if they had done so previously. She asked if it was imperative that the town go through a one-hour process for every vendor. Collins explained that the code had been changed to require the background check only once per calendar year and that the background check itself only took five minutes of the one-hour processing time.

Farr said that the town couldn’t control everything and expressed concern about the time involved. Police officer Gene Ramirez spoke in defense of the background check, noting that someone could have a child-related issue or be prohibited from being around at-risk people, and the town could not know that even if the person seemed nice. He advocated for background checks and said that the police chief would as well.

Erhardt said business owners must follow rules and that it’s a level of protection he hopes is covered by the fee. Trustees Dreher and Stern agreed with Erhardt. Collins asked for direction, noting that there was a draft ordinance. Erhardt said the town should have some discretion on what would disqualify someone to avoid penalizing someone who was getting their life together.

The board did not vote on the proposed language at the June 27 meeting.

Special event permit process simplified

At the May 30 meeting, Collins noted that the town’s municipal code does not address special events. She presented language for the board to consider that requires special events to obtain a permit and defines criteria for denial, such as misinformation in the application, a conflict with a previously permitted event, or threat to public safety.

The language was reviewed at the June 13 meeting, and Collins suggested smaller events be approved by staff, without taking time from the board.

At the June 27 meeting, the board voted unanimously in favor of Ordinance 5-2024 Relating to Special Events, which lays out the process allowing for administrative approval of minor or recurring events while bringing large or new events to the board. All events would be announced at the board meeting, added to the calendar on the website, and announced on the town sign.

Roadway improvements at PLES

At the June 27 meeting, the board approved Resolution 35-2024, which awards the contract to West Fork Construction for PLES water line and roadway improvements on a vote of 4-1. As explained by Mark Morton of GMS Inc. Consulting Engineers, the costs were increased by $430,516 to cover an increase in scope, adding a water system, drainage system, and road surface improvements. The total award was $1.32 million, with the project cost including a 10% contingency. Farr voted no. Dreher, Erhardt, Havenar and Stern voted in favor.

Special events approved

Chris Medina requested a special event permit for a Funky Little Theater Company performance of The Last Train to Nibroc. The play will be staged at times to be determined between Aug. 2 and 17. Medina told the board he would like to have a long-term memorandum of understanding allowing the theater company to use the Palmer Lake Town Hall on an ongoing basis. At the June 27 meeting, the board passed Resolution 36-2024, which approves a memo of understanding with the theater company regarding its use of town facilities.

Amy Hutson, representing the Arts Council, asked the board to approve a special event permit for a Chautauqua event to be held between July 29 and Aug. 4. Classes, musical performances, films, cooking demonstrations and lectures will be part of the event. The board voted unanimously in favor of the permit.

Administrative updates

Collins told the board that the town’s website was being upgraded to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most changes would not be visible to users, she said. The CORE EV chargers will be completed the last week of June, she said, with a ribbon cutting planned after July 4. Concrete for the pickle ball courts being built on the west side of the Palmer Lake Regional Recreation Center has been poured and town staff is working on the permits for toilets near the courts.

Collins reported that tax revenue was above budget. The audit by the town’s insurer, Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency, is complete and the town’s deductible will increase from $2,500 to $5,000 due to the amount of hail and wind damage to town buildings.

Executive sessions

The May 30 meeting ended with an executive session to discuss the possible sales of public property and to consider negotiating positions. Following the executive session, the board reconvened to open session and passed Resolution 31-2024 that authorizes the mayor to sign a purchase and sales agreement.

The June 13 meeting began with an executive session to discuss the possible acquisition of an interest in real property and to discuss security to be provided by the Police Department and the possible hiring of a police chief.

The June 27 meeting ended with an executive session to discuss negotiating strategies and a possible annexation. No action was taken following the executive session.

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The next regular board meetings are scheduled for July 11 and 25. All meetings will be held at the Town Hall. See the town’s website at www.townofpalmerlake.com to confirm times and dates of board meetings and workshops. Meetings are typically held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at the Town Hall. Information: 719-481-2953.

James Howald can be reached at jameshowald@ocn.me. Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education, June 17: Board approves budget, discusses real estate options

By Harriet Halbig

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The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education held a public hearing before its June 17 regular meeting to offer the public the chance to comment on the proposed budget before the vote.

Chief Business Officer Brett Ridgway offered an overview of the budget, explaining that revenue for the district comes from various sources including funds from a 1999 Mill Levy Override (MLO), per pupil operating revenue (PPOR) from the state, cash in the general fund, and funding from local and federal sources such as grants, nutrition services, and special education funding.

The Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires that the district also maintain a 3% separate fund.

Ridgway said he tries to present a balanced budget at the beginning of each year, but changes can be made during the year due to unforeseen events.

He said that due to Senate Bill 2024-017, there is an additional $8.5 million to work with. This funding has been designated to create a center for Career and Technical Education (CTE). The site for this center has been approved for purchase and public forums to collect information on priorities and potential use are planned.

This $8.5 million has been placed in a separate capacity fund along with $2 million available funding for a total of $10.5 million.

For details on this project, please see the June issue of OCN.

Ridgway said it is important to understand the source of all district revenue and presented detailed pie charts to demonstrate this. Please see boarddocs on the www.lewispalmer.org  website under the Board of Education to view these charts.

Ridgway said although there has been a large increase in property taxes this year, that does not translate to a larger amount coming to the district. Instead, it means that the portion of funding provided by local sources is increased while the portion provided by the state decreased.

Regarding student count, Ridgway said that student count numbers have remained stable over the past few years. Although there is a great deal of construction underway in the area, it is too soon to see how many students will move to the area.

Taking all information into account, Ridgway estimates an additional 6.2% in revenue for the coming year. Considering that 80% of the district’s expenditures involve compensation and benefits, this would translate to a potential increase in compensation of an average of 6%.

Ridgway also explained that the MLO passed in 1999 provides $4 million per year which, when adjusted for inflation, now would equal about $2.4 million.

Monument Academy’s board has approved its budget, but the D38 board must also do so as the chartering entity.

There were no public comments.

Recognitions

The board recognized Monument Hill Kiwanis for its Stars of Tomorrow Talent Show, offering performing arts students the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. Third-place winner in the high school division Rowan Vaughn spoke of the value of this experience and performed her award-winning song. She also sang the national anthem at the beginning of the meeting.

Kiwanis President Scott Ross thanked the board for their support and partnership and showed a video of the auditions for this year’s contest.

The board also recognized Silver Key Senior Services for its activities in the district. Silver Key President Jason DiaBueno thanked the district for its partnership and the use of part of Grace Best Education Center for the new area Senior Center. He also introduced other members of the Silver Key administration.

Budget approved

The board approved the 2024-25 budget as presented.

Real estate discussion

Ridgway and Director of Planning, Facilities and Grounds Melissa Andrews presented a map and explanation of a recent surveying of the district’s property between Second Street and Santa Fe Avenue and between Jefferson Street and Adams Street in Monument.

Ridgway explained that the board had requested this action to determine whether there was a way to subdivide the property and sell portions of it for other uses. He said that there is a 2-acre site in the area which could be sold and still allow access to the bus barn area and playing fields. He said that Tri-Lakes Cares has expressed potential interest in this site.

Ridgway said the Town of Monument currently lacks an official planner and therefore any action would probably be delayed up to six months.

In the following board discussion, it was asked whether the surveying efforts could be applied in the future if a decision could not be reached at the meeting.

Ridgway said that the results of the survey would remain valid.

Director Todd Brown said he would prefer to wait until there is a potential buyer before proceeding. He suggested that Ridgway contact Tri-Lakes Cares on the board’s behalf.

Ridgway said the work thus far was intended to create a marketable parcel ready to act on. He wished to isolate Grace Best in the process due its service as the location of the Home School Enrichment Academy and to isolate the playing fields as they are maintained by the town.

He also said he did not want to combine the current enterprise center with Grace Best.

Ridgway agreed that he will contact Tri-Lakes Cares regarding its interest.

Palmer Ridge High School turf fields approved

Ridgway reported that the board has received a proposal from donors to fund the purchase of artificial turf for the football, baseball, track, and softball fields at Palmer Ridge High School.

These fields have posed a problem due to drainage issues causing muddy conditions. This has robbed teams of their practice time and prevented them from hosting games.

As owner of the property, the board must approve such action.

The board passed a resolution to accept the donation of funds for the purchase of turf.

The board approved a calendar of meeting dates for the 2024-25 school year. The meetings in January and February will be held on Tuesdays due to federal holidays on the third Monday.

Caption: After Rowan Vaughn sang her third-place winning piece from the Stars of Tomorrow competition, the board heard a presentation on the Stars of Tomorrow contest from Monument Hill Kiwanian Rich Strom. The competition took place on Sunday, March 17, at Palmer Ridge High School as an opportunity for elementary, middle, and high school students to perform before an audience and judges to receive feedback on their performances. Contestants sang, performed drama pieces, played musical instruments, and did dance and comedy routines. Auditions were held with 58 applicants of which 20 were selected to perform before an audience of 400. From left are D38 board members Todd Brown, Ron Schwarz, Dr. Patti Shank, and Kris Norris, Monument Hill Kiwanian Strom, Acting D38 Superintendent Amber Whetstine, Kiwanis President Scott Ross, Bill Kaelin, Vaughn, and Max Williams. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

Caption: Director of Planning for D38 Melissa Andrews introduced President and Chief Executive Officer Jason DeaBuenno, Director of Healthcare Integrations and Strategy Adrienne Timmons and Tri-Lakes Program Manager Sue Walker, all of Silver Key Senior Services, formerly known as the Silver Alliance, which has had a long partnership with D38. In June 2022 it moved into the Grace Best building, remodeled a wing of the building, and have provided a variety of services for seniors in the area. DeaBuenno thanked the Kiwanis and said he was inspired to consider a talent contest for older adults in the community. He also expressed his thanks to the district for allowing Silver Key to use the Grace Best facility. Silver Key’s commitment is to have a long-term standing in the community. Walker has been part of Tri-Lakes Senior Center for over eight years. She has been in the district since 1995, and her two girls went through the school system, which she called an excellent district. She thanked the maintenance department, the building manager, and Administrative Assistant Vicki Wood for their support. Timmons said her role is to bring resources to the center and has felt well-embraced in the school district. She encouraged the board to stop by the center. From left are board members Ron Schwarz, Dr. Patti Shank, and DeaBuenno, Acting Superintendent Amber Whetstine, Walker, D38 board member Todd Brown, Timmons, and board member Kris Norris. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

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The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education meets on the third Monday of the month at its learning center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The board does not meet in July. The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Aug. 19.

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

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Monument Academy School Board, June 13: Board members sworn in, budget re-adopted

By Jackie Burhans

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Monument Academy (MA) held its regular meeting in June to swear in board members and assign board positions, re-adopt the 2024-25 budget, approve the purchase of its East Campus modulars, and update policies.

Board members sworn in, positions assigned

Board President Ryan Graham swore in returning board member Lindsay Clinton and incoming board member Jelinda Dygert. Clinton’s second term and Dygert’s initial term begin on July 1. The board discussed, nominated, and confirmed members for the following positions:

• President Ryan Graham

• Vice President Lindsay Clinton

• Treasurer Craig Carle

• Secretary Jelina Dygert

2024-25 budget re-adopted

Acting Chief Financial Officer Glenn Gustafson requested that the board re-adopt the 2024-25 budget. This was not an amendment, he said, but a replacement for the budget they adopted last month. He said he had the final information on staffing for the Home School Enrichment program and wanted to appropriate the money to buy out the modular units. Finally, given that MA has adopted new health benefits he wanted to put the Health Reimbursement Agreement money into the right account. Although he had already posted the budget and submitted it to D38, he let Chief Business Officer Brett Ridgway know there would be changes.

Graham made the three standard budget motions for appropriating funds, inter-fund borrowing, and using beginning balances, which the board unanimously approved.

Modular purchase

Gustafson noted that MA had entered into a lease agreement rather than a lease-purchase agreement for four modular units. The units are essential, he said, and are combined to make four classrooms. The lease conditions are not favorable, Gustafson noted, saying that the rental cost of $52,000 per year was significant and could increase annually and there was no option to buy. The space will always be used, he said, even after the expansion of the campus. After negotiations, he came to an agreement with the vendor to purchase the modular units for $175,000, which would take three years to pay off.

Graham said that when the lease was approved in 2022, it was supposed to be short-term while they refinanced to do the buildout, but that had not happened. Though he understands it’s a lot of money, even when MA breaks ground it would take 12-18 months to complete construction.

Gustafson said his goal was to cut a check in the first week of July so that MA would have no lease payments in FY24-25. The board unanimously approved the purchase of modulars.

Major Gifts and Corporate Sponsorships program

Executive Director Collin Vinchattle said he received a lot of feedback that the MA community would like to expand facilities, high school programs, and electives. He and Gustafson are working with the administration on a five-year capital improvement plan. He said that bond refinancing would not be able to cover all projects.

Vinchattle requested the board consider a donation coordinator position to focus on large gifts to MA. This person would reach out to donors, keep legacy donations moving forward, and possibly run a capital campaign. He noted that MA could consider different compensation structures from a percentage to a base salary plus percentage and the position could be evaluated semi-annually. He said things to consider include the initial cost, role clarification, definition of a major gift, and end goals.

Graham asked Vinchattle and Gustafson to explore this and bring back a proposal. He expressed appreciation for Operations Manager Jake Dicus and all he has done over the years and appreciates that these two roles would work collaboratively. Vinchattle said he would touch base with each board member to gather their input.

Highlights

Board meeting highlights include:

    • Carle and the entire board recognized outgoing interim Executive Director Kim McClelland. Carle presented McClelland with a certificate and gift. McClelland thanked the board for the opportunity to serve in her own backyard.

    • Vinchattle reported on the excitement of the first graduation from Monument Academy’s East Campus, which included 21 high school students. He noted that it was a beautiful day on the school’s front lawn, with speeches by Graham and valedictorian Scott Kohlhase.

    • Vinchattle reported that the secondary school administrative team was in place with Angela Duca as principal and Jessie Davis as assistant principal.

    • The board approved changes to Policy 1500B Executive Director to update the position title, noting it would not be renumbering the policy. It also approved Policy 1500C Chief Financial Officer, removing the information on procurement, which has been moved to a separate policy.

    • Finance Director Laura Polen presented the April financials, highlighting three streams of revenue that are still outstanding. She reviewed expenses and revenues highlighting the general fund, bond repayment funds for each campus, and the student activity fund.

    • Graham confirmed that construction on Highway 105 and around the West Campus should be completed by the time school starts in August. However, construction on Highway 105 itself will continue.

    • The board unanimously approved a resolution to change the authorized signatures for its ColoTrust account to add Polen. It also approved signature authorizations for its Integrity Bank accounts to add Polen and Business Manager Diane Smith.

    • The board unanimously approved a contract with Gustafson as interim CFO for fiscal year 24-25.

    • The board unanimously approved a contract with the Monument Police Department for school resource officers with a small price increase and other changes to reflect the makeup of each campus.

    • Vinchattle asked to delay the vote on the MA/D38 contract until the July board meeting to give him more time to review the contract since he was new in his position. The board agreed to wait for the vote.

    • The board voted unanimously to approve a contract with All Copiers, its current company, upon the recommendation of Dicus based on the negotiated cost per copy and the relationship established with the company.

    • The MA board will hold a retreat on July 12 at 9 a.m. in the Platinum Group conference room.

    Caption: At the June board meeting, President Ryan Graham (not pictured) swore in returning board member Lindsay Clinton and incoming board member Jelinda Dygert, whose terms begin July 1. Clinton retains her position as board vice president, and Dygert will be the board secretary. Pictured are Clinton, left, and Dygert. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

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The MA School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. The next regular board meeting will be on Thursday, July 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the East Campus. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/ma-boe.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, June 26: Merger process prompts final transfers; 2023 audit unmodified

By Natalie Barszcz

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At the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) meeting on June 26, the board received an update on the merger process with Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District dba Monument Fire District (MFD), held a public hearing, approved an exclusion of real property, and approved the transfer of a fire station, the Volunteer Firefighter Pension Fund (VFPF) plan, and a substantial fund balance to MFD. The board received and approved the presentation of the 2023 audit. The VFPF Board of Trustees held a meeting before the regular meeting.

District merger final transfer actions

Emily Powell of Ireland Stapleton Pryor Pascoe PC law firm, the district’s attorney, said the June and July district meetings are down to the final transfer actions. The following transfers were requested:

• The VFPF be transferred to MFD for administration effective Aug. 1.

• A substantial fund balance to MFD.

• The Sun Hills Station (formerly DWFPD Station 3) serving two nonprofit emergency services and additional storage for MFD.

• The exclusion of real property belonging to the two remaining board members. See www.ocn.me/v24n5.htm#dwfpd.

Powell recommended Wescott retain a fund balance of $65,000 to cover its attorney fees, and the District Court will act on the requests. The merger process is down to the end, she said.

President Charles Fleece asked if the retained sum would be enough in the event that any damage occurs at the Sun Hills property.

Powell said, after discussing the sum with Fire Chief Andy Kovacs, the anticipated $46,000 was bumped to $65,000 through the end of 2024, and MFD agrees to pay any outstanding bills.

District Administrative Officer Jennifer Martin said MFD pays the utility bills for the Sun Hills property.

Powell said the reason the two properties remain in the district is to allow the remaining board directors to continue dissolving the district. All of the other properties in the Wescott district were transferred in April onto the El Paso County Assessor’s books to be assessed under MFD for fire service and EMS beginning Jan. 1, 2025. The paperwork will be signed to transfer the two remaining properties before the end of 2024, said Powell.

Public hearing and approval

Powell opened a public hearing on the proposed exclusion of real property from the district and said the public hearing had been duly published as required by law. Upon hearing no public comments, the hearing was closed. The board was asked to approve the following:

• The exclusion of real property, Resolution 24-04 approving the exclusion of the two remaining real properties belonging to the remaining board members. See www.ocn.me/v24n5.htm#dwfpd.

• The quit claim deed transferring the Sun Hills Fire Station to MFD.

• Joint assignment of the VFPF plan and joint letter authorizing direction on the plan.

• A letter authorizing the Firefighters Police Pension Association (FPPA) requesting the transfer of the VFPF plan to MFD as the sponsoring employer.

• The fund balance transfer to MFD.

The board unanimously approved and signed the resolutions and legal documentation for the requests.

2023 audit

Mitchell Downs of Erikson Brown and Kloster said the firm is now part of CBIZ. The decision was made by the partners to secure the staff due to a nationwide shortage of accountants. Downs presented the 2023 audit and said the district had five adjustments that occurred due to tweaking financial statements, one was requested by district staff and the other entries related to the VFPF. Most of the disclosures were also related to the VFPF. There was not a lot of activity, but nevertheless everything was focused on and tested. The district 2023 audit received a clean or unmodified opinion and will be electronically uploaded to the state portal. The district budget required significantly less work due to limited activity and cost less than the budgeted $16,000. The audit was completed with cross-referencing the MFD audit and available a month ahead of last year’s audit, said Downs.

The board approved the 2023 audit as presented.

Note: For more information, see the MFD article on page 14 and visit www.monumentfire.org.

The regular meeting adjourned at 5:33 p.m.

Volunteer Firefighter Pension Fund Board of Trustees meeting

Volunteer Firefighter Pension Fund Trustee Mike Badger requested the trustee status in regard to voting during meetings.

Powell confirmed the volunteer trustees are voting members of the board, and that in the past there had been a misuse of terms before her time reviewing the minutes. The trustee board members are the five board members and the two volunteers elected from among the membership, and at the next meeting when the VFPF will be managed by the MFD board the trustees will be seven members and the two volunteers elected.

The board approved the November minutes as published, 3-0. Treasurer/Secretary Mike Forsythe joined the meeting after the vote.

Allocation report

Kovacs requested the board review the allocation report and said no action was necessary.

Pension Fund status

Badger said the allocation spreadsheet was developed years ago to track the data from FPPA and the status of the VFPF. At the beginning of 2023, the fund began with $907,397 and ended the year with $914,896, just shy of a $7,500 increase after all payouts and fees were made. The fund always increased until the downturn and at one point the fund was down by about $150,000, but it is making a comeback. At the end of the first quarter of 2024, the fund had $930,000 and realized a gain of $15,134. The second-quarter figures will be made available at the Nov. 13 meeting. Sadly, some volunteer firefighters passed away, but when that happens the fund becomes healthier. The fund is doing well, said Badger.

Fund transfer

Powell said as part of the merger process, one of the final action items is the transfer of the VFPF to MFD as the sponsoring employer. That action will take place at the regular board meeting. The Wescott district will dissolve at the end of the year, but the fund does not go away and will carry on with the same benefits and beneficiaries. Several board actions in connection with the fund will happen at the following regular meetings later in the evening, effectively assigning all of the rights to MFD. MFD will set up a relationship with FPPA, and once approved and signed the documents will be sent to FPPA, and the process will likely be completed in July. The fund will remain wholly intact, with the same pool of volunteers, and kept separate, even though MFD does not have a volunteer firefighter pension plan. The Wescott volunteers will be the only recipients and should not experience any interruption in their benefits. The transfer will be totally transparent to the recipients, said Powell.

Badger thanked Martin for facilitating the dissemination of information and keeping the volunteer trustees informed.

The VFPF Board of Trustees meeting adjourned at 4:22 p.m.

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Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for July 24 at 4:30 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For Zoom joining instructions, agendas, minutes, and updates, visit www.monumentfire.org or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011.

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

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Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District, June 19: Impact fee study discussed; additional funding received

By Natalie Barszcz

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At the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) meeting on June 19, the board received advice about implementing impact fees and heard the district had received the anticipated funding from the state. The board heard about the district’s wildland team deployment status and approved a proposal from Lexipol to develop the district’s policy manual. The board held an executive session to discuss negotiations regarding the district’s ambulance service.

Director James Abendschan was excused.

Special District Emergency Services funding

District counsel Linda Glesne joined the meeting via Zoom and advised the board on several changes in the state Legislature that allows Special District Emergency Services to increase funding. See www.ocn.me/v24n6.htm#bffrpd.

Glesne said the following:

• The state Legislature passed SB24-194 allowing special districts that are not under the jurisdiction of another political body to develop impact fees.

• The bill also allows for the creation of a sales tax within the district subject to voter approval.

• The impact fee portion will need to be underpinned by a study demonstrating the need to establish impact fees for the operation of the district.

• Specific language within the bill mandates a rational basis for adopting a fee that should be no greater than necessary.

• Discretion should be in play, and the study should focus on a cap or ceiling and assess reasonable anticipated growth.

• The impact fees can only be assessed for capital facilities, equipment, and apparatus wear and tear.

Chair Nate Dowden said the board had no appetite for collecting sales tax and asked if the Legislature limits the use of impact fees, noting the stipulation that fees cannot be used for additional staffing. Hypothetically, a development could necessitate a new station which would cost the most, and the fees would cover the construction but not any additional staffing, he said.

Glesne said that before adopting an impact fee, the study would look at the district’s projected growth overall and not just one development. The district can already provide service to multi-story buildings, but the study will address the latter not the former. The study will assess how much impact the growth will have on the fire district. Glesne also said:

• The board should consider the impact fee and implement it Jan. 1, 2025, with a view to the future and an anticipated growth model.

• The impact fees cannot be collected for any development already in the construction phase, and fees cannot be collected until after Aug. 7, 2024.

• The impact fees will be applied upon construction activity when the building permit is approved, and the fee collected will be distributed to the district.

• Any existing residence or commercial property that changes its footprint above a set square footage would also be assessed an impact fee.

• The board will establish the fee and additional square-footage limits for existing properties and uniformly apply the fees.

• The board can revisit the impact fee scale in the future but cannot charge fees on a case-by-case basis.

• The bill allows fee waivers only for low-income and affordable housing units.

Glesne advised the board to begin pursuing the study and have all its "ducks in a row" ready to adopt the impact fees after Aug. 7. She suggested the board budget at least $20,000 and probably more for the study. Glesne added that a couple of completed impact fee studies with a skeleton request for proposal (RFP) would be forwarded to the board.

Treasurer Jack Hinton said he thought the study would likely be in the range of about $50,000 and it would be hard to appropriate funding for the study until the district receives the bids.

District receives state funding

Fire Chief PJ Langmaid said the day after the May board meeting the reimbursements for SB-23B-001 and SB-22-238 were deposited into the district’s bank account. The funds were allocated via the El Paso County Assessor’s Office with the property tax revenue in April. The additional funding is available for the board to move forward with the Lexipol policy manual development and conduct the impact fee study, he said.

Background: During the budget process in 2023, the district expected to incur lost tax revenue in 2024 of about $373,301, after Proposition HH failed on the November ballot and the state Legislature held a late November 2023 "special session" that resulted in a reduction in property taxes that took away tax dollars from special districts. See www.ocn.me/v23n11.htm#bffrpd. The state promised to reimburse fire district revenue losses, and the district received the following reimbursements:

• $264,429 for SB-23B-001.

• $213,440 for SB-22-238.

The state gave back more than anticipated for a total of $477,876, just over $100,000 in additional revenue.

Note: The Board of Directors adopted 14.951 mills for 2024, approving $4.969 million for the budget. The 2024 budget will require amending to reflect the additional funds received.

Wildland fire team deployments

Langmaid said the district was not deployed (at the time of the meeting) and it was uncertain if district would be needed in New Mexico due to torrential rains in mid-June, but the district is available to deploy with the Type 6 brush truck if needed. The wildland team would have deployed to California, but the Type 3 engine is not available due to a significant number of cracks in the aluminum body and mounts. District Mechanic Gavin Smith evaluated the engine and advised against deploying the Type 3 due to the cracks and risk to the engine. Deputy Chief of Operations Chris Piepenburg and Smith have a plan to retrofit the Type 3 cab and chassis, allowing the apparatus to remain in service within the district and avoid the cost of replacing the apparatus.

Hinton said aluminum is fixable and he would like to see the damage.

Piepenburg said a new rear box (pump and tank) would typically be about $250,000, but the plan is to accomplish the retrofit for about $125,000.

Langmaid said he agrees with the retrofit, but the purchase will be dependent on the revenue generated by the wildland team deploying with the Type 6 brush truck in 2024.

Hinton said it is a problem if the wildland team cannot deploy and make money to pay for apparatus repairs.

Piepenburg said the Type 6 brush truck will eventually be deployed, but the requests from California are for a wildland team with a Type 3 engine only.

Lexipol proposal

Glesne provided advice to the board after reviewing the Lexipol contract and said the district’s right to terminate the contract will not be before the end of 2025. The board should allocate revenue to cover the year-and-a-half contract, she said. The contract will need to be corrected to renew Jan. 1, 2026 and not July when the pro-rated half year begins. The contract has limited indemnity, but that is not uncommon in IT contracts. The board could ask for that to be removed, but Lexipol may not be willing to make the change because it is not offering a lot. A lot of agencies are using Lexipol, and the scenario of a lawsuit is unlikely to occur. Lexipol provides a quality product and a warranty that states it is following all of the appropriate laws of the jurisdiction and U.S. laws, living up to the standard of professional service providers, said Glesne.

Hinton voiced concern over Lexipol removing the policy manual if the district decided not to renew the contract.

Glesne said the online portal would close and the district would need to download the policy manual before terminating the contract and make the necessary changes to the content before re-adopting the policies. The policies would be for internal purposes only, she said.

Dowden said the document may only be online and unavailable to print.

Vice Chair Kiersten Tarvainen requested clarification on the right to retain the policies produced for the district during the contract.

The board approved the Lexipol policy manual development contingent on the items that needed clarification or amending and authorized Langmaid to execute or nominate a designee in his absence.

Financial report

Hinton said that as of May 31, the district had about $2.7 million in the General Operations Fund and a combined total of about $3.654 million (includes reserve funds, deployment operations, and TABOR). The district received about $250,775 in county taxes and $337,000 in wildland deployment revenue. The annual payment of $45,000 was made for the 2022 Pierce Enforcer 4395 engine. The district’s total expenses year to date are about $2.4 million. The district is at 40% of the anticipated budgeted expenses and 1.66% below the projected expense budget, he said.

The board accepted the financial report as presented, 4-0.

Langmaid said the only notable expense was $9,000 to Hoelting & Sons for the 2023 audit.

Chief’s report

Langmaid said:

• He had been invited to speak at 2nd Battalion (General Support), 4th Aviation Regiment at Fort Carson.

• The board received two concrete proposals for review and discussion at the July meeting, approval in August with pouring of concrete in September.

• Staff completed about 2,323 training hours in May.

• The district continued EMS and fire training with Monument Fire District (MFD).

• The district responded to a small structure fire on Highway 83 with MFD.

• The fire danger signs around the district are checked daily and updated when needed as fire conditions change.

Fireworks concerns

Tarvainen asked about the district’s plans for the Fourth of July fire danger change in operations coverage.

Piepenburg said that depending on the weather conditions that are forecasted to be hot and dry over the next few weeks, extra precautions and upstaffing will likely be made on and around the Fourth of July holiday, as residents set off more fireworks than usual and the fire danger challenges become greater; it is always a dangerous day.

Langmaid said the big challenge is due to fireworks not being illegal in the county. State law only requires an evaluation one week before announcing any fireworks ban for the Fourth of July. A significant issue occurred July 4, 2022 in Black Forest when about 50 to 100 mortars were launched at a property and law enforcement almost brought in an explosive ordinance disposal team, he said.

Executive session

The board moved into executive session at 8:34 p.m. pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-402(4), (e) to determine positions relevant to matters that may be subject to negotiations regarding the district’s ambulance service.

After the meeting, Logistics Officer Rachel Dunn confirmed that no action was taken when the board returned to the regular meeting and then promptly adjourned at 9:03 p.m.

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Meetings are usually held on the third Wednesday of the month at Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. Meetings are open to the public in person or via Zoom. The next regular meeting is scheduled for July 17 at 7 p.m. For joining instructions, updates, agendas, minutes, and reports, visit https://bffire.org or contact the Administrative Office at admin@bffire.org or call 719-495-4300.

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

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Monument Fire District, June 26: Controlled burn successful; station rebuild design approved

By Natalie Barszcz

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At the Monument Fire District (MFD) meeting on June 26, the board heard about the outcome of the controlled burn in Monument Preserve, approved the Station 3 rebuild design and a land purchase for a future station, received updates on the station remodels, approved the transfer of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) Volunteer Firefighter Pension Fund (VFPF), and approved a quit claim deed to transfer the Sun Hills property to the district. The board accepted the 2023 audit presentation.

President Mike Smaldino and Director Duane Garrett were excused. Director Randall Estes did not attend.

Controlled burn outcome

Division Chief of Community Risk Jonathan Bradley, acting as liaison to the U.S. Forest Service and the community for the controlled burn in Monument Preserve, said Congress designated the forests along the Front Range from Fort Collins to Pueblo as high risk for wildfire, and that allowed the individual forest districts to access funds for mitigation projects.

The plan was to masticate areas and then conduct a controlled burn, far more effective than one without the other. The complexity of burning an area surrounded by homes on three sides was challenging, but burning fuels in the winter months would not have been as effective, and windy, dry conditions throughout the spring would have had a greater impact on the residents. Fifty members of Team Rubicon mitigated the undergrowth in the area adjacent to Shiloh Pines and Forest View Acres; the district assisted with two chipping crews. The weather and fuel moistures dictated the time of the burn, combined with when the leaf-out period began.

The initial plan was pushed back by a day and began on June 12 and ended June 13. Two sections did get hotter than planned and some trees were burnt, but it opened up the canopy a little bit, the insects and woodpeckers are taking advantage of the dead trees, and the scorched trees will recover. The 600-acre burn went as planned, and the U.S. Forest Service met many of its objectives despite not burning the third day. The 300 acres in the third area may be burned in 2025 or 2026, said Bradley.

Division Chief of Administration Jamey Bumgarner said the Interlaken Fire began on the same day the prescribed burn commenced, and that fire was contained due to previous forest mitigation efforts.

Fire Chief Andy Kovacs said a good working relationship has been established with the U.S. Forest Service and the district ranger. The district had units assigned to the area to assist, and it was a great success, he said. See the On the Trail column on page 19.

Smoke from the controlled burn on June 13. (25 sec)

Station 3 rebuild design

The board held a workshop on May 29 to discuss the Station 3 design. The presentation detailed four options for the rebuild of Station 3 on about 2 acres adjacent and north of the YMCA on Jackson Creek Parkway. OZ Architects gave a two-hour presentation with board discussion. The general feeling of the board was to proceed with caution and remove the administrative office option to reduce costs.

At the June 26 meeting, Bumgarner requested the board approve one of four design options to allow the design concept to be submitted to the town for approval. The design concept is required during the land approval process, he said.

Treasurer Tom Kelly said he favored the phased approach, which will jack up the cost in the long run by adding administrative offices at a later date, but it will meet the immediate need with room for growth and is the optimum design, he said.

Kovacs requested the fourth option Kelly suggested for about $18 million to construct a two-story, 17,000-square-foot fire station with 10 dormitories (allows option to add additional firefighters), four bays, and space to allow the addition of administrative offices. The design adds $1 million to the cost but allows enough space to grow and was the staff’s selection.

The administrative office space at Old Forest Point meets the current staffing needs, but property tax revenue changes could affect special districts. The budget coordinators are working on requests that are due in August in preparation for the 2025 budget. This year, the district took on the largest one-time hiring of nine firefighters and may not hire any more in 2025 or add any additional administrative staff. The district will make do with the existing space, but it would be preferable to have a secure facility, Kovacs said.

Note: Removing the administration offices saved about $4 million.

Kevin Schaffer of OZ Architects said if the planning approval phase is shortened, the district could expect a 10- to 14-month construction phase, and assuming the project takes 12 months the rebuild could be complete around February 2026.

Kovacs said the district is taking a responsible approach, building with quality materials to last 75 years, a balanced approach sensitive to the conservative nature of Monument, he said.

The board approved the design, 4-0.

Station 6 land purchase

Bumgarner said the QuikTrip property of about 4.7 acres at Baptist Road and Squadron Drive is available for the district to purchase, in total or just the 2 acres facing Baptist Road. Another property owner had offered the district a 2-acre parcel off Old Denver Road for the same price as the 2-acre QuikTrip property.

Kovacs said Battalion Chief Scott Ridings mapped the QuikTrip parcel and found that a future Station 6 on the QuikTrip site would serve Struthers Road better than existing stations. The land price and timing are right, as the real estate is being bought up, but when the decision to build arrives the district will have land available to house a single engine company staffed with four personnel. Had the board pursued 4 acres at the QuikTrip property, funding for other capital improvements would be deferred. Ultimately future boards and staff could decide to sell the 2 acres, he said.

Kelly said the district is going high on expenditure with the Station 3 rebuild and is 214% over budget on the Station 4 remodel. The district needs to stick to what is required and within the budget for the land purchase. Funding to cover the over-budget Station 4 remodel still needs to be found; "it’s requirements not desirements," said Kelly.

Kovacs said the district budgeted $500,000 in 2024 for the Station 6 land purchase and will use $500,000 from collected impact fees. The land is expected to cost about $1.2 million for the 2 acres.

The board approved pursuit of the 2-acre land purchase from QuikTrip.

Overtime savings

Kelly requested the board consider changing the meeting times to earlier in the day in an effort to prevent overtime costs when staff must stay for meetings. The goal is to continue fiscal responsibility with the capital investments and remain prudent with the district funds, just as the residents requested during the meeting on the proposed Station 1 training center in April, said Kelly. See www.ocn.me/v24n5.htm#mfd. The meeting time change will be discussed at the July meeting.

Facility remodel updates

Bumgarner gave an update on the ongoing station remodels and said:

• Station 4 had some minor delays, and the move back into the station will occur around mid-September. The north side of the station is operational with an added shower to allow operations to continue with Engine 514 crews. The bid at about $900,000 includes fire sprinklers, dampers, heaters in the bay, a concrete pad that was additional to the contract for about $60,000, and an increase to the water line was necessary. Donala Water and Sanitation District had originally advised against replacement, but it was deemed necessary during construction. The remodel is about 50%-70% done, and the final cost will be known closer to September. The ambulance is located at Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive.

• The remodel of "Shamrock" Station 5 (Highway 83) cost just under $500,000.

• The Station 2 remodel plans have been submitted to the Monument Planning Department and once approved the district will have a year to commence the construction process. Crews will likely move to Station 5 during the five-month remodel.

• After attending a station design conference with Lt. Curt Leonhardt, the district is looking at replacing bay doors when funds permit with a transition to bi-fold doors to reduce maintenance.

• The Station 1 Training Center plat has been submitted to the town and will include Front Range Fire Apparatus. The maintenance facility location in Fredrick Firestone is used by the district for apparatus repairs, and the additional location in Monument will save additional overtime, manpower, time out of district, and fuel costs.

2023 audit gets unmodified opinion

Mitchell Downs of CBIZ said he had been working on fire district audits in El Paso and Teller counties for about 25 years. Five adjustments were made, including one Martin requested, and they mostly involved the DWFPD VFPF, due to actuarial liability and a lag in asset reporting and based on the 2022 numbers. There were no big internal control problems, and the district received a clean or unmodified opinion. In the future the audit will be performed with a few different procedures due to CBIZ owning the company, said Downs. See DWFPD article on page 12.

The board accepted the presentation of the audit.

Wescott merger transfers

Kovacs said before the meeting the Wescott board approved the transfer, along with a quit claim deed for the Sun Hills property, an exclusion of two properties, and the substantial transfer of funds to MFD. He requested the board approve the transfer of the Wescott VFPF to MFD for future administration and said Wescott had a number of volunteer firefighters coming in and out of the district over the years, but the program was discontinued at the beginning of the merger.

The fund had about 20 volunteers and about $930,000 at the end of the first quarter. Volunteers receive a monthly stipend based on the number of years served. The account is well funded and growing, although the FPPA always recommends adding funds. Ultimately, the Board of Trustees decides if the fund needs additional funding. One volunteer has yet to receive funds, and one passed away last year.

Director Mark Gunderman said the board did increase the stipend by $50 a few years ago to allow a full pension of $450, but a lot of the volunteers were hired full-time before qualifying for the volunteer pension at five years’ service. The volunteers are eligible to receive a pension at age 55, and the amount is based on time served, he said.

District Administrative Officer Jennifer Martin said that adding funds to the plan is based on the actuarial study.

The board approved the fund transfer to MFD, 4-0.

Sun Hills former Wescott Station 3

Kovacs requested the board approve the quit claim deed transferring the Sun Hills (former Wescott Station 3) property that is being used for storage by the district and two nonprofit groups. The property was sub-divided by a former Wescott fire chief and can only be used as a fire station, the property is tired and packed to the gills, but it is serving a practical purpose, he said.

Gunderman said the property can be sold, despite rumors it could not, but the Homeowners Association (HOA) raised concerns other property owners would seek to sub-divide. The district agreed to consult the HOA before selling the property to find a mutual agreement. The property could be returned to the original property, but that owner would be responsible for demolishing the building, he said.

The board approved the quit claim deed for the former station, 4-0.

Colorado Open Records Act

Martin requested the board approve the Revised Standard Operating Procedures, with the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) retrieval fee change from $30 after the first hour to $41.37 as of July 1.

The board accepted the CORA policy fee change.

Fire technician hired

Bumgarner said the district hired Joseph Valdez for the fire technician position about two weeks earlier. Valdez is studying to be an EMT.

Note: The chief’s report and the financial report can be found at www.monumentfire.org.

The meeting adjourned at 8:53 p.m.

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Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday every month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for July 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For virtual joining instructions, agendas, minutes, and updates, visit www.monumentfire.org or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011.

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

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Forest Lakes Metropolitan District and Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts 2 and 3, June 14: 2023 budgets amended

By Natalie Barszcz

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The Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) and Pinon Pines Metropolitan District (PPMD) 2 and 3 boards held a joint special meeting on June 14 to conduct public hearings on the amended 2023 budgets for FLMD and PPMD’s 2 and 3. The boards also adopted a second amendment to the FLMD and PPMD’s 2 and 3 budgets appropriating funds for the respective districts.

Note: The joint meeting was held via teleconference, the first meeting since December 2023. See www.ocn.me/v24n1.htm#flmd. A quorum could not be met for a special meeting scheduled on June 28 to approve the 2023 audits.

Secretary Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes, was excused.

2023 budget amendments

President George Lenz, executive vice president of finance for Classic Homes, opened the public hearing on the 2023 budget amendments for FLMD and PPMD’s 2 and 3. No comments were heard, and the public hearing was closed.

District Manager Ann Nichols said she had already amended the budget for FLMD for the conveyance of public infrastructure the district receives at year end for the Falcon Commerce Center phase 2 and FLMD filings 5, 6, and 7. Developers spent a significant amount on installing public roads, which creates a liability for the developers until those assets are transferred. The district immediately made the following entries to dedicate the public roads to the appropriate entities:

• El Paso County filings 5, 6, and 7

• The Town of Monument—Falcon Commerce Center

Nichols said there is no expenditure, just a journal entry the auditors insist is covered by an appropriation, and the board was asked to review the worksheet and approve the resolutions for:

• The additional appropriated amount of $9.5 million for road infrastructure in FLMD, a contribution to other governments.

• An additional $600 for the liability insurance increase for PPMD 2 (West Valley).

• An increase in funds for the 2023 audit for PPMD 3 (Falcon Commerce Center).

The district had allocated $1,000 in the budget for a request for audit, but due to the level of activity in PPMD 3, a full-blown audit was required for about $6,000, said Nichols.

Treasurer/Assistant Secretary Douglas Stimple, chief executive officer of Classic Homes, said there had been no requirement to make similar corrections before audit presentations for any of the other special districts Classic Homes had developed.

Nichols said the district’s auditors, Hoelting & Co. Inc., had notified the district that even though there is not an actual expenditure of funds, a note in the audit would appear stating the district had exceeded its appropriations. It is worth the effort to make the journal entry corrections and appropriations before submitting the audit to the state, and the auditors agreed, said Nichols.

The board made a blanket motion to approve three resolutions appropriating funds for the three districts.

The meeting adjourned at 10:35 a.m.

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Meetings are usually held quarterly or when necessary, on the first Monday of the month at 4 p.m., via Teleconference. A special meeting will be held in July (date to be confirmed) for the 2023 audit presentations. Meeting notices are posted at least 24 hours in advance at https://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com. For general questions, contact Nichols at 719-327-5810, anicholsduffy@aol.com.

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, June 10: Residents question development and water availability

By James Howald

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In June, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board heard concerns from residents regarding the future water supply, especially as it affects the proposed residential development Monument Ridge East (MRE). District Engineer Ariel Hacker updated the board on the pace of development and its impact on revenue the district expects from tap fees. The board heard operational reports, rescheduled its next meeting and planned a workshop. The meeting ended with an executive session, after which no action was taken.

Is there enough water for MRE?

During the public comment portion of its meeting, the board addressed questions about the availability of water to serve the MRE residential development, which is planned for the land at the northernmost edge of El Paso County, just south of County Line Road and east of I-25. About 444 residences in total, some detached single-family residences, some duplexes, and some fourplexes, are planned for the site.

Resident Lanette Prosseda reminded the board about the history of the Misty Acres development, which was originally to have just over 400 single-family residences but needed to be reduced in size in 2005 due to concerns about lack of water. This happened before the district’s purchase of the Woodmoor Ranch and its water rights, she said. She questioned whether there would be enough water for MRE.

Steve King, Monument mayor pro tem, said he understood MRE would need to buy supplemental water from the district, which comes at a much higher cost than the standard one-half-acre-foot of water per acre of land that is the standard water service in WWSD’s service area. He also mentioned a concern over the number of impervious surfaces that the development would entail.

Resident Gordon Reichal asked if the restrictions on outdoor watering meant the board was concerned about the availability of water.

District Manager Jessie Shaffer explained that the restrictions on water were primarily intended to manage issues of peak demand, not total availability of water. Handling peak demand was a costly issue for the district, he said. The water restrictions are aimed at leveling the peaks of consumption and reducing the overall costs of water delivery, Shaffer said. He added that demand management is "just good stewardship" of a resource and everyone should be mindful of the need to conserve water.

Shaffer went on to say that WWSD is not a land use authority and did not have the legal responsibility or authority to decide on land use issues: "We can’t tell anyone what they can build." Land use decisions in the WWSD service area are made by the county, he said.

Shaffer said the district drafts a Long Range Plan (LRP) every five years that details the water rights to ground and surface water owned by the district. The current LRP, which estimates water needs at buildout, allows for 600 single-family residences on the land that MRE would occupy. He said the district’s supplemental water policy was designed to help ensure development paid for its demands on the district.

Board President Brian Bush said the district has enough water to serve "full buildout." He said he was not on the board when the decision was made to purchase the Woodmoor Ranch and its renewable water rights, but he thought that decision was sound. He said the board was not able to help those who opposed MRE in any configuration. He suggested residents take their concerns to the county Planning Commission or the county commissioners.

King said his main concern is the impact MRE would have on the conservation easement in Douglas County immediately to the north. He estimated that only 15% of MRE’s land would be permeable, and said he believed that was a valid reason not to move forward with the development. Douglas County has protested the plans for MRE out of concerns for the conservation easement, he said.

Growth slows, reducing water tap fee revenue

In response to questions from the board at a previous meeting about expected revenues from water tap fees, Hacker told the board that her calculations showed that development in the WWSD service area was slowing. The estimate of new water taps used in 2024 was close to the actual number of taps sold, she said. The Cloverleaf development just east of Lewis-Palmer High School purchased 15 taps in the first half of 2024 and is expected to purchase another 15 in the last six months of the year. The Monument Junction East development has purchased 14 taps and is expected to purchase 48 more by the end of the year.

A 3/4-inch water tap, the most common size for residential uses, costs $37,235 and a sewer tap costs $10, 388.

Hacker said the Waterside, North Bay, MRE, and Monument Junction West developments are not expected to purchase taps until 2025.

At previous meetings, the board discussed the possibility of raising tap fees in mid-2024. Historically, the board has raised tap fees only once per year as a part of its budgeting cycle. Shaffer said growth was slowing, in part due to high interest rates, and he recommended leaving tap fees unchanged until next year. Bush said he did not recall the board ever raising tap fees mid-year.

Operational reports

In his financial report, Treasurer Roy Martinez commented that revenue from supplemental water service was at 100% of the budgeted amount, and income from leases had seen an increase from the district’s lease of a portion of Woodmoor Ranch to Enerfin Renewables Inc. to be used for a solar array.

Martinez said the district had added an additional bank account that was used for a money market account that generates much higher interest.

The board voted unanimously to accept the financial report.

In his report, Operations Superintendent Dan LaFontaine said water loss had returned to 10%, which was normal. He reported no breaks or failures for the previous month. He reported a loss of water pressure in some houses due to an error made in the installation of a pressure reducing valve required by the Monument Junction East development.

Next meeting rescheduled

The board voted to delay its next meeting to July 15 to allow an additional week to work on the 2025 budget data.

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The next meeting is scheduled for July 15 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive; please see www.woodmoorwater.comor call 719-488-2525 to verify meeting times and locations.

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

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Monument Sanitation District, June 19: 2023 audit accepted; repair hits snag

By Jackie Burhans and James Howald

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In June, the Monument Sanitation District (MSD) board heard an audit report from Derek Watada of Olson, Reyes & Sauerwein LLC, the district’s auditor. In his Manager’s Report, District Manager Mark Parker discussed a change to the plan to repair a sewer line that runs under Highway 105 adjacent to the Taco Bell restaurant.

Audit shows no concerns

Watada thanked the MSD staff who helped with the audit. He described the district’s finances as "business as usual." He mentioned that the grant MSD received as part of the American Recovery Plan Act, which is being used to repair a sewer main connecting the Willow Springs neighborhood to the Tri-Lakes Waste Water Treatment Facility, was a new category in the audit. The district’s net position, or equity in MSD’s infrastructure, increased from $5 million to $9.4 million, primarily due to a lift station built by the developer of Willow Springs and then donated to the district, which will maintain it.

Watada asked the board to be aware of the need to separate duties, pointing out that it was difficult to compartmentalize duties in an organization with such a small staff. Parker pointed out that Haynie & Co., the district’s accounting company, assisted Accounts Administrator Cheran Allsup and Parker in their efforts to separate all duties involving financial matters.

The board voted unanimously to accept the audit report.

Unexpected spot repair needed

In his Manager’s Report, Parker told the board that the repair to a sewer line running under Highway 105 was planned to be complete by June 4, but that deadline had not been met. After telling MSD that the pipeline could be repaired by relining it, with no need to excavate and interrupt traffic on the highway, the contractor, Aegion/Inasituform, had changed its position and now said a spot repair was needed. Parker said he believed that change of position invalidated the district’s contract with Aegion/Insituform. Parker said he was organizing a meeting with the contractor and GMS Engineering Inc., the district’s consulting engineers.

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Monument Sanitation District meetings are 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 17. See https://colorado.gov/msd. For a district service map, see https://colorado.gov/pacific/msd/district-map-0. Information: 719-481-4886.

Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me. James Howald can be reached at jameshowald@ocn.me.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, June 20: Loop water reuse project discussed

By James Howald and Jackie Burhans

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In June, District Manager Jeff Hodge gave the Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) board a detailed update on the status of the water reuse project, often called The Loop, in which DWSD is an active participant, along with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District and Cherokee Metropolitan District. The board also considered a recommendation from Brett Gracely, a project engineer with LRE Water, to lease surface water from DWSD’s Willow Creek Ranch to the Arkansas Groundwater and Reservoir Association (AGRA). (Arkansas in this instance refers to the Arkansas River, not the state.) The board also heard financial and operational reports.

The Loop focuses on financing, member obligations, and easements

Hodge told the board that The Loop leadership is drafting a Member Agency Financing and Contribution Agreement that will define the benefits and responsibilities of participating agencies. He mentioned that some of the agencies are seeing personnel changes that will affect who represents them on The Loop board. A "Go or No Go" decision is expected from participating agencies in September. The agreement will help The Loop get the bonds needed to complete the project, Hodge said. DWSD was slated to receive 500 acre-feet of water per year, roughly 13% of the water produced, at a cost between $20 million and $25 million. That amount is equal to the cost of drilling eight wells, Hodge said. He pointed out that the average productive life of a well is 40 years, but The Loop, which will allow customers to reuse return flows from DWSD’s treatment facility after they have made their way through the watershed to Fountain Creek, will have a useful lifetime closer to 100 years.

Recalling the history of The Loop, Hodge explained that when American Recovery Plan Act funds became available in 2021, The Loop’s board asked for $145 million, enough to complete the entire project, but received $4 million, enough to reimburse the seed money that participating agencies invested in the project. Initially, the participating agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding to get the project underway, and then formed the El Paso County Regional Loop Water Authority

Hodge said The Loop was still discussing how it could partner with Colorado Springs Utilities, which has its own goals for water reuse. He also pointed out that some of the initiatives expected on the ballot in November could impact the financing for DWSD.

At The Loop meeting held earlier in the day on June 20, a contract was awarded to a company that will manage the acquisition of the easements needed by the pipeline that will convey The Loop’s water from Fountain Creek to customers in northern El Paso County. Purchasing the easements represents a risk for the project, Hodge said. See The Loop board meeting article on page 17.

Board President Wayne Vanderschuere asked Hodge to get the agreement to the DWSD board for review as soon as possible so that the board would have enough time to review it thoroughly.

District decides to lease water

Gracely told the board that due to heavier than usual precipitation over the last year, some of the reservoirs where DWSD stores water are full, leading to the risk that some of DWSD’s water stored in those reservoirs might need to be released rather than delivered to customers. AGRA has a beneficial use for surface water from the Willow Creek Ranch owned by DWSD and stored in the Pueblo Reservoir. Permission was granted by the state’s engineer for AGRA to use a portion of DWSD’s water stored in the Pueblo Reservoir, Gracely said.

Gracely asked the board to give Hodge the authority to enter a revised or new lease with AGRA, subject to review by the district’s water counsel. The board voted unanimously to give Hodge that authority.

Operational reports

In his financial report, Hodge said water sales were on track to meet revenue goals in 2024. In 2023 abundant rainfall meant residents had less need to water lawns and gardens and that reduced the district’s revenue from water sales. Hodge anticipated that tap fees would generate higher than budgeted revenue because of a 44-home residential development planned by Classic Homes adjacent to the Big R Store east of I-25. Property taxes were being received as expected, Hodge said.

Hodge said legal review of the district’s agreement with The Loop would raise legal fees slightly, and upgrades to the district’s phone system would raise the large office equipment budget line item.

The board voted unanimously to approve the financial report.

Water Operator Ronny Wright told the board progress was being made in returning Well 16A to production. Issues with Well 1A were being analyzed, he said. Wright said he expected the repairs to the district’s water storage tanks to be complete before July.

On the wastewater side, Chief Waste Plant Operator Aaron Tolman reported E. coli numbers were down from the previous month at about 14% of the allowable level.

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The next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 18 at 1:30 p.m. Generally, board meetings are held the third Thursday of the month at 1:30 p.m. and include online access; 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.

James Howald can be reached at jameshowald@ocn.me. Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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Triview Metropolitan District, June 20: Wastewater processing explored; legislative changes raise concern

By Natalie Barszcz

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At the Triview Metropolitan District (TMD) meeting on June 20, the board received updates on the water sold and wastewater discrepancy at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Waste Water Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF) and received legislative updates that caused concern over future revenue, density, and artificial turf replacement. The board received multiple updates and discussed funding for the Higby Road widening project. The board held an executive session to discuss water and land acquisitions and development incentives.

Wastewater processing discrepancy

Assistant Manager Steve Sheffield said that he had met with District Manager Jeff Hodge and Waste Plant Operator Aaron Tolman of Donala Water and Wastewater District, and Executive Director/Manager Bill Burks of Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) about the excessive amount of wastewater leaving the UMCRWWTF from the TMD side of the plant. The plan is to meet at the plant to try to discover the cause. Hopefully Burks can help brainstorm the issue and discuss how he operates the TLWWTF, said Sheffield.

District Manager James McGrady said about 2 million gallons of treated effluent is being picked up per month within the plant. The outgoing flume could be inaccurately reading the wastewater effluent output, but the final amount of treated effluent should be less, not more than the untreated effluent entering the plant, he said.

Sheffield said the staff is taking a holistic approach as a team, exploring all avenues to understand the discrepancies in water pumped, treated, sold, and processed through the UMCRWWTF.

Legislative update

District counsel George Rowley said SB-233 addresses property tax limits and imposes a limitation on special districts to not collect more than 5.5% in property tax revenue than the previous year. That is not much revenue if inflation is 10% and the district should keep the limitation in mind when developing the budget, he said. The bill exempts new growth, but another increase in assessed valuation similar to the past few years would apply the limitation. The bill applies to the property taxes and not the debt service.

Treasurer/Secretary James Barnhart said the bill is an incentive for the district to assess the full mill levy.

Rowley said the district could hold an election to vote out of the restriction, but it would be a hard sell and the restriction begins for tax year 2025, he said.

President Mark Melville asked about the legislation preventing commercial, industrial, institutional, and government entities from installing artificial turf or invasive plant species.

Rowley said the idea is to create areas that don’t have growing space and prevent heat sinks and chemical exposure concerns. The legislation will apply to the future replacement of the Sanctuary Pointe Park artificial turf. See snapshot on page 20.

He also said HB-1152 prevents municipalities and counties from prohibiting the construction of accessory dwelling units on properties, such as he/she sheds and mother-in-law suites. Renting out the additional units would create additional density on properties.

Vice Chair Anthony Sexton said the bill could also create double usage on one tap.

McGrady said the district is set up mostly for one dwelling and one tap on each lot. A change to the tap structure will be needed if a multiple service line is required on any one lot, he said.

Melville said a solution would be to drive up the water sold tiers and make it cheaper to buy a tap.

Operational updates

McGrady said the following:

• The Northern Delivery System (NDS) is about 96% complete and the electrics are installed at the pump house. The facility that will operate the NDS is secured by a fence. The district expects to turn the pumps on and begin testing on July 15.

• The district is using its decreed Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. (FMIC) water shares and about 400-acre feet purchased from Pueblo to provide the necessary 800-acre feet needed to run the NDS through May 2025.

• An additional cost of about $993,300 for the unexpected 120.4 acre-feet will be wired on June 21 to the two additional land owners who also decided to sell water rights to the district through the Arkansas Valley Irrigation Co. (AVIC).

• The district is waiting for its AVIC shares to be approved in the water courts. The additional water shares in conjunction with spring run-off will be needed to run the NDS from mid-2025.

• The district is depositing water back into Stonewall Springs Reservoir in a paper exchange with Pueblo.

• The Buena Vista land annexation plan, plat, and request for a zone change was submitted. The masterplan for the project is approved by the town of Buena Vista and the district plans to construct recharge ponds on the 296 acres purchased by TMD in late 2020.

• The district is adding a pick-up lane on Leather Chaps Drive at Bear Creek Elementary School. The construction is expected to be completed mid-July. The lane was installed at D38’s request to elevate safety for students during drop-off and pick-up times.

• The Promontory Pointe overlay project was completed June 6.

Sexton said Martin Marietta had done a "nice job" on the mill and overlay project; it was well organized, but he had received multiple complaints from residents about the black footprints and tread marks on sidewalks and some driveways.

McGrady said from personal experience the black marks will come off, but it will take a couple of months.

Financial report

Sexton said the graph showing sales tax revenue from Monument shows the district’s portion is $20,000 less than collected last year.

McGrady said he discussed the tracking of sales tax revenue with Monument, and although the town purchased a software package to track sales tax, it had no staff to run the program. The town did hire a contractor to begin tracking sales tax. Upon investigation, he immediately noticed that no sales tax had been collected for the Tractor Supply Store for several months. Those are the types of errors that the town needs to get after, McGrady said.

Sexton said the sales taxes should be filed with the state monthly, and Monument will need to identify the businesses and contact the state.

McGrady said the district had almost $5.2 million in the Wastewater Enterprise Fund, and $3.8 million in the General Fund. About $1.8 million will be needed from the enterprise fund to pay for the remaining NDS balance.

Melville said the district needs to let the general fund grow to fund road repairs that will cost about $4 to $5 million every 10 to 12 years to avoid using a bond.

The district estimates that about 55 taps will be sold by the end of June. It budgeted 75 taps for 2024 and collects about $45,000 per residential tap. The taps are mainly from the homes built south of Higby Road.

McGrady said the district closed on the Colorado Water Conservation Board loan on June 15. The loan was for $5.2 million at 2.05% to pay for the Stonewall Springs Reservoir project. It is the crown jewel of the district, he said. See www.ocn.me/v23n11.htm#tmd.

The board unanimously approved the May financial report.

Higby Road widening project update

Director Jason Gross requested an update on when the Higby Road widening project would begin and asked about the funding now that the Zeal for Living apartments are approved.

McGrady said the project will cost about $10 million to $12 million. Funding will be a combination of a number of things, including road and bridge fees for both residential apartments and commercial property that will generate about $2 million. The developers will contribute, and the remaining $8 million will generated by Sub-district A issuing bonds (debt service) for filings 1-6 in the south Higby Road development. Homes are going in and bonds can be issued, but the payments will be low initially and increase as the development grows and the commercial area is built. Kiewit provided the estimate for the widening project, and the district will pay $750,000 for a water pipeline this summer. The developers are installing storm drainage. The preliminary utility work is expected to be installed this year. The financing will need to be in place before the road project begins, but the growth is there and plats are pre-approved, he said.

Speeding concerns

Director Amanda Carlton said a resident of Sanctuary Pointe requested the district install flashing speed signs along Sanctuary Rim Drive in both directions before and after Sanctuary Rim Park, to help slow traffic and ensure safety, just like the signs installed along Gleneagle Drive.

McGrady said the signs cost about $7,500 each and the district will look into adding signs.

Executive session

The board moved into an executive session at 7:43 p.m. pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes sections 24-6-402(4)(a), for the purpose of acquisition of water/land, and 24-6-402(4)(b) to determine the positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations, developing strategies for negotiations, and instructing negotiators as it relates to potential development incentives.

Sheffield confirmed that after the meeting returned to the regular session no action was taken, and the meeting adjourned at 9:18 p.m.

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Meetings are usually held on the third Thursday of the month at the district office located at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for July 18 at 5:30 p.m. For meeting agendas, minutes, and updates, visit https://triviewmetro.com.

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

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El Paso County Regional Loop Water Authority, June 20: Board pursues easements

By James Howald

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In June, the El Paso County Regional Loop Water Authority (EPCRLWA, or the Loop) board met to hear a request from John Kuosman, a water practice leader with Merrick and Co. who also serves as the Loop’s project planning and workflow manager, to award a contract for right-of-way acquisition services to Western States Land Services LLC. Board President Jessie Shaffer presented invoices from the previous month.

An agenda item to accept a secondary director from the Cherokee Metropolitan District, currently represented on the Loop board by Amy Lathen, was tabled until the next meeting. The board also held an executive session after which no action was taken.

Easement acquisition advances

Kuosman told the board that he had received responses from four companies to his solicitation for a contractor to help with the acquisition of easements needed by the Loop project. Of the four, Kuosman recommended Western States Land Services LLC. He said Western States would provide:

• Planning and decision making, estimated at $10,000.

• A preliminary assessment of easements needed, including utility easements, estimated at $7,500.

• Recommendations for the cost of each easement, estimated at $5,000.

• Purchase of the easements, estimated at $325,000.

• Landowner coordination, estimated at $25,000.

• Post-construction service, estimated at $15,000.

Kuosman asked the board to authorize him to work with Spencer Fane LLC, the Loop’s legal advisors, on an agreement with Western States. The board voted unanimously to authorize Kuosman to negotiate on its behalf.

Invoices

In his financial report, Shaffer mentioned five invoices that had arrived in the last month:

• Fromm and Co. for $920.

• JVA Inc. for 35,158.

• Kimley Horn for $4,140.

• Spencer Fane LLC for $5,923

• The American Co. for $32,586.

The board voted unanimously to accept the financial report.

Executive session

The meeting ended with an executive session to receive legal advice from the Loop’s attorney and to discuss negotiating positions. No votes were taken after the executive session.

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The next regular meeting is scheduled for July 18 at 9 a.m. Regular meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Monument Town Hall at 645 Beacon Lite Road. Workshop meetings are held the first Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Cherokee Metropolitan District offices at 6250 Palmer Park Blvd., Colorado Springs. Please see www.loopwater.org or call 719-488-3603 to verify meeting times and locations.

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

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June Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

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June was the second month in a row of well below normal rainfall, but unlike May temperatures were well above normal. This combination of warm and dry conditions of course was not good for our plants, which would do better with a more auspicious start to the North American Monsoon system season and more frequent rainfall in July. This is also a reflection of the transition from a strong El Niño pattern to a La Niña pattern this spring. La Niña has begun to set up in the Pacific, shifting the storm track farther north and allowing the region to be dominated by high pressure and not allowing high levels of low-level moisture to build in the region.

Not surprisingly, the month started off dry and mild with highs reaching the mid-70s to mid-80s every day from the 1st through the 8th. The lack of thunderstorm development was unusual with only two afternoons/early evenings seeing thunderstorms. And only one of these, on the 7th, produced measurable rainfall.

Over the next 10 days, even warmer air moved in, producing our first heatwave of the year. Highs increased from the mid-70s on the 9th, 10th, and 11th to the mid-80s on the 12th and peaking in the low 90s on the 13th. Note that 90-degree temperatures on top of the Palmer Divide only happen about five-10 times per year. Most afternoons did see a buildup of afternoon clouds and a few brief showers and thunderstorms, but nothing that amounted to more than a trace in most cases. So we didn’t get any relief from the heat. Of course, we also didn’t get any severe weather either.

An uptick in moisture and therefore more active conditions finally affected the region from the 18th through the 22nd. This started with a push of cooler air during the morning of the 18th, dropping highs from the upper 80s the day before to the upper 60s and low 70s that afternoon. This also produced some low clouds, fog, and rain showers, a nice relief from the heat. The cool, upslope conditions continued on the 19th, with low clouds and fog sticking around all day. This kept us cool, with highs only hitting the upper 50s and more rain showers at times. The remnant moisture also allowed scattered thunderstorms to form each afternoon over the next couple of days, more typical of a mid-June weather pattern. Even with all the cool and moist weather, most of us only managed to accumulate a quarter to half-inch of rainfall, certainly not enough to alleviate our dry conditions.

The month ended with more warm conditions, with highs hitting the upper 80s to low 90s from the 23rd through the 28th. We did manage to squeeze out a few afternoon thunderstorms and brief rain showers each afternoon and evening, with the heaviest rainfall occurring on the last day of the month when three waves of storms moved through from the late afternoon through early morning hours. This doubled our rainfall for the month with a half inch to an inch accumulation.

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 are able to tap into higher levels of moisture, flash flooding can result. Hot, stagnant weather can also take hold for a few days at time, with highs hitting the 90s on the warmest days.

June 2024 Weather Statistics

Average High 81.9° (+4.5°)

100-year return frequency value max 82.5° min 66.3°

Average Low 50.1° (+5.8°)

100-year return frequency value max 50.7° min 40.2°

Highest Temperature 91°F on the 13th, 25th

Lowest Temperature 43°F on the 1st, 19th

Monthly Precipitation 0.72" (-1.13" 82% below normal)

100-year return frequency value max 6.94" min 0.15"

Monthly Snowfall 0.0" (-0.1" 100% below normal)

Season to Date Snow 137.1" (+14.6" 10% above normal)

(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30))

Season to Date Precip 8.50" (-2.72" 20% below normal)

(the precip season is from Jan 1 to Dec 31)

Heating Degree Days 45 (-50)

Cooling Degree Days 73 (+45)

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

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Letters to Our Community

Guidelines for letters.

Disclaimer: The information and opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community are the responsibility of the letter writers and should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer. When there is more than one letter, the letters are arranged in alphabetical order based on the last name of the author.

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Remembering and honoring those who fought for our freedoms

Many thanks to those Monument and northern El Paso County community members who showed up to honor our fallen veterans on a beautiful sunny day on Memorial Day 2024. We all could have been elsewhere relaxing, preparing for a barbecue, shopping, hiking, etc. But each person took the time, mostly to honor people we never knew, and to remind the world that those veterans made a difference for our country.

OCN reported the crowd at hundreds, but it would have been nice to see thousands. Even in a highly concentrated military community, as we drift farther away from U.S. military engagements overseas, there seems to be less interest in remembering those who achieved those freedoms. That saddens me. In my father’s generation, "The Greatest Generation," and himself a proud WWII Marine, 14 of 14 of my family’s male members served in the military. In our next generation, Baby Boomers, it was only 1 of 40. Of the Millennial children of my immediate family, so far only 2 of 18. Service to our country makes a huge difference in how someone views our nation, the world, and the values and truths enshrined in our Constitution.

If you look at the stats, the vast majority of our fallen soldiers were very young, probably averaging in their early 20s. They had their entire lives in front of them, yet most chose to voluntarily put their life in danger to fight for freedoms of religion, speech, press, to gather, and not just for our country but for others around the globe. After the ceremony, I walked throughout Monument Cemetery and was amazed to see the faded and simple gravestones from Civil War veterans who were buried there. Soldiers from Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, and other states. They each fought in our internal conflict over 160 years ago. I was proud to be among those who, in less than an hour, honored the memory of young heroes who lost decades of their lives for me.

Patrick Kiernan

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Between the Covers at Covered Treasures Bookstore: Let’s go outdoors!

By the staff at Covered Treasures

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"One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.—Jeannette Walls

July is the time for camping, swimming, cookouts, and enjoying a great book in the sun. Check out these titles to explore the trails, the stars, and/or to learn outdoor survival skills. The first two books listed are by authors that will be at the Bookstore in July to sign their books.

Exploring Colorado with Kids: 71 Field Trips + 142 Nature-Inspired Activities
By Jamie Siebrase (Falcon Press Publishing) $25

Travel journalists and local parenting experts Jamie Siebrase and Deborah Mock will guide you and your children through 71 incredible, in-state adventures. Get ready to discover nature centers, farms, outdoor history museums, art walks, hidden SUP spots, open-air theaters, story walks, and so much more. Each section includes a short section with action-item information on each site. This is an informative guide to discovering a variety of outdoor adventures that are a perfect fit for family weekends and getaways.

Best Hikes Colorado’s Front Range: Simple Strolls, Day Hikes, and Longer Adventures
By Abbie Mood (Falcon Press Publishing) $25

Best Hikes Colorado’s Front Range highlights the top trails from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs. The book includes a variety of hikes in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains for everyone from novice hikers to more experienced adventurers. Best Hikes Colorado’s Front Range offers 40 main hikes plus eight bonus hikes ranging in altitude from 5,000 to 14,000 feet—all within driving distance of Fort Collins, Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs. Inside you’ll find a wide variety of hikes, difficulty ratings, trail contacts, fees and permits, local information, easy-to-follow directions to the trailhead and detailed trail descriptions, mile-by-mile directional cues, and GPS-compatible trail maps.

101 Amazing Sights of the Night Sky: A Guided Tour for Beginners
By George Moromisato (Adventure Publications) $15

This guide by George Moromisato introduces you to 101 sights, from old favorites like Saturn’s famous rings to awe-inspiring wonders like the Andromeda Galaxy. Learn what to look for and when and where to find it. The sights are ranked by beauty, accessibility, and importance. The guide features at least one full-color photograph for each entry, including many from NASA. As an added bonus, the author’s astrophotography tips provide information about taking pictures of the night sky. This astronomy book is perfect for beginners, as many objects can be seen with the unaided eye or binoculars, while others simply require a small telescope.

Send a Ranger: My Life Serving the National Parks
By Tom Habecker (Falcon Press Publishing) $20

This book is the story of one park ranger’s journey from Gettysburg to Denali and back, raising a family, contending with bears, and rescuing hikers, in four national parks over more than 30 years. Interspersed with real-time journal entries, these reflective, engaging stories illustrate the real life of a national park ranger.

Death in Rocky Mountain National Park: Accidents and Foolhardiness on the Continental Divide
By Randi Minetor (Lyons Press) $19

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park welcomes more than 4 million visitors every year, but this jewel of America’s parks has seen more than its fair share of deaths among its tourists. More than 70 people have perished attempting to climb Longs Peak, the park’s tallest mountain. Some vanished into the wilderness never to be found. Thousand-foot falls from high rock ledges, hypothermia, avalanches that bury climbers, lightning strikes, a historic flood, and even plane crashes are among the ways that park visitors have met a bad end.

Outdoor Skills for Kids: The Essential Survival Guide to Increasing Confidence, Safety, and Enjoyment in the Wild
By Buck Tilton & Christine Conners (Falcon Press Publishing) $17

This book offers over 100 important wilderness lessons including what to do when you get lost, how to respond to wild animals, basic first aid, and ways to stay positive in a survival situation. Outdoor Skills for Kids is loaded with fun facts, games, safety tips, and inspiring true stories of kids who used these same skills successfully in survival situations.

Until next month, happy reading.

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

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May Library Events: Exciting programs & Ice Cream Socials

By Harriet Halbig

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Many exciting activities are planned for July at the Monument and Palmer Lake libraries.

The 50th annual Summer Adventure Reading Program ends on July 31. Visit your library to register and receive prizes for reading and other activities during the summer.

There will be an all-ages concert at the Palmer Lake Library on July 12 from 6 to 7 featuring Katherine Dines and her Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta music.

On July 16 from 10:30 to 11:30 there will be a Summer Fun program featuring the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center at the Monument Library. Space is limited. Please call ahead if you plan to bring more than 10 children.

There will be two events on July 17. At Palmer Lake from 2 to 3 p.m., create a Book Page Wreath. Registration is required. Please go to the library website, www.ppld.org, programs by location or call the library at 719-531-6333 extension 7007.

At the Monument Library on the same day there will be a Teen Escape Room from 3:30 to 4:30. Registration is required on the website or call 719-531-6333 extension 7005.

On July 23 from 4:30 to 5:30 there will be an Idea Lab to create a Makedo Cardboard building from 4:30 to 5:30. This program is for ages 5 to 12 and no registration is required.

Two Ice Cream Socials are on the calendar in July. The first, at Monument Library, will be on July 26 from 1:30 to 5:30. Drop by for a cool treat. The Ice Cream Social at Palmer Lake will be on July 31 from 2 to 5:30.

Enjoy your summer and we hope to see you at the library.

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

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, June 6: Book launch

By Marlene Brown

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The Palmer Lake Historical Society (PLHS) introduced its newest book on June 6: The U.S. Forest Service Monument Nursery, 1907-1965, written by Dan Edwards and published by the PLHS.

Edwards, local resident and historian, explained how the U.S. Forest Service conducted its work for almost 60 years on what is known as National Forest Monument Preserve (Mount Herman). Millions of ponderosa pine saplings were started in the area and shipped to be planted where trees were cut down during the building of the Western expansion of the United States.

Copies of the book are available at Covered Treasures in Monument. For more information, see www.palmerdividehistory.org.

Caption: Author Dan Edwards at the June 6 PLHS book launch. Photo by Steve Pate.

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PLHS meetings are usually on the third Thursday of the month at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent, 7-8 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). For more information about future presentations and membership, go to www.palmerdividehistory.org.

Marlene Brown can be contacted at marlenebrown@ocn.me.

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On the Trail (in memory of Tim Watkins): Prescribed burn promotes forest health

By Steve Pate

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The Pike-San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC) Pikes Peak Ranger District, with support from local fire, police, and emergency responders, began a three-day process of prescribed burns in the Monument Preserve on June 12.

A "test fire" was lit just north of Mount Herman Road. A test fire is a small fire that firefighters light to evaluate fire behavior before igniting prescribed fires. The conditions were deemed ideal and prescribed burns were conducted in three areas of the Monument Fire Center in the Monument Preserve: Memorial Grove, Monument Rock, and the Mount Herman Trailhead. The prescribed fires treated about 1,000 acres of forest lands with low-intensity fire to limit the impact of smoke to the community.

The prescribed fire, a low-to-moderate-intensity burn, reduced available fuels and the risk of catastrophic fire in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) when fire suppression efforts would be less likely to succeed. Additional objectives of this prescribed fire were to reduce the amount of Gambel oak brush and promote the growth of ponderosa pine forest.

During a press briefing before the test fire, Dawn Sanchez, fire prevention technician with the PSICC, said 149 wildland firefighters were also being briefed on procedures for the upcoming test fire and prescribed burns. Sanchez explained how the low-intensity fires would stunt the regrowth of scrub oak in areas where the Forest Service conducted wildfire mitigation last year.

While some may become upset with smoke and the immediate after-effects of prescribed burns, Randy Phillips of the local hiking community who has lived adjacent to Pike National Forest for nearly four decades said the Berry Fire that roared through this area below and up Mount Herman, leaving only scrub oak in place of what was a thick and deep forest, is a major reason the Forest Service has masticated the area and are now prescribing a burn. "I get nervous … however, that nervousness pales to experiencing April 21, 1989, and the days that followed. It’s important to keep things in perspective," Phillips said.

As was the case last year when PSICC did wildfire mitigation over a wide area in Monument Preserve, the hiking and biking trails in the area appeared "ruined," but this year were nearly recovered with new growth. The same will be true of the prescribed burns—ugly for a few weeks or months but healthier as the areas recover and again a pleasure to hike or ride in.

Steve Pate may be reached at StevePate@OCN.me

Caption: Wildland firefighters gear up for the test fire. Photo by Steve Pate.

Caption: Test fire before the prescribed burn Photo by Steve Pate.

Caption: View of the prescribed burn from Woodmoor. Photo by Dawn Lervik.

Caption: View from Jackson Creek. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.

Caption: Results near Monument Rock. Photo by Steve Pate.

Caption: The burn reduced surface fuel loads by reducing pine needles, leaves, and small branches, decreasing the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Photo by Chris Jeub.

Caption: Wildland firefighters protected a Ute "prayer tree" in the Monument Preserve. Photo by Steve Pate.

Smoke from the controlled burn on June 13. (25 sec)

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High Altitude Nature and Gardening (HANG): High-altitude hot summer days

By Janet Sellers

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"If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden."—Robert Brault

How the forest keeps its soil moist

Mulch as ground protector: wood chips, pine needles, rocks, or pebbles?

Using innate, natural forest mulching wisdom, we can keep our plants thriving in hot weather. I’m not comfortable in this altitude with heat over 75-80 degrees, and neither are the food crop plants. Even heat-loving tomato plants wilt in the heat.

In the Tri-Lakes Cares Garden, we have nice, thick 4-to-6-inch-deep wood mulch from the Black Forest slash and mulch program (www.BFSlash.org). Even without watering, the garden soil underneath that protective mulch is moist and ready to support the plants. I wish it had a nicer name than "mulch." Mulch is simply a protective layer of material spread on top of the soil. Organic mulch is from living material. In Italian, it’s "pacciame." In French it’s "le paillis." In Spanish it’s "mantillo."

In the food garden, we water the plants once or twice a day in the hottest weather so nothing dries out and dies. That happened in the community garden when we just had early morning watering on the water timer. The lack of shade and intense heat wilted and killed many plants; even with pine mulch, we had to have some water late in the day. I admire my fruit trees for holding up under that high-altitude heat, but they need mulch, too.

Mulch and native flowers

Thankfully, most places only regulate lawn watering (lawns aren’t native and hard to have here anyhow) but not food crops. My grassy areas are not happy without rain, and I look to change to groundcovers. I had to get rid of a bed of weedy grasses, so I mowed them short twice and they gave up and dried out. Now I can rake the area and put in alpaca "beans" compost with the wood mulch or pine straw and grow what I’d like to see instead of grasses that need mowing. I look to transplant my bearded iris and some annuals there. Even planting flower seeds thickly, the plants can grow just fine amid the mulch. Asters make pretty plants and seem to adjust to low water conditions, as do yarrow, which come in many colors and reseed each year.

Recipes for a cool afternoon beverage

A mint sprig in iced water is refreshing. My new favorite is iced hibiscus tea (aka Jamaica tea in the Wild West). It’s kind of tart, so just adding a fruit slice changes the flavor profile with an exotic perk. I’ve added dried mango, pineapple (even canned) and orange slices for a change in flavor. Here’s to a cool one from the garden—cheers!

Janet Sellers is an avid "lazy gardening" enthusiast, letting Mother Nature lead for gardening wisdom in our Tri-Lakes high desert ecosystem. Share your garden tips and stories: JanetSellers@ocn.me.

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Art Matters: Chautauqua: "the most American thing in America"

By Janet Sellers

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Making art is a powerful tool. From finding images in the clouds above, to grabbing a pencil and doodling, to painting in a class or with a group outdoors, we are encoded from our genes to our dreams for making art. It’s encoded in our DNA for evolution and our ability to adapt. Pick up a paintbrush, grab a piece of chalk, or just visit some art at the Art Hop and the Chautauqua this month. Research shows that making or viewing and appreciating art is really good for your health, your mind and your future, as in healthy longevity. How about extending a high quality of life by as much as 10 years?

An article on CNN reported that, "The power of diverse arts practices to promote healing, well-being, and even longevity provides benefits that rank right up there with exercise, nutrition, and sleep," as put forth by Susan Magsamen in her bestseller, co-authored with Ivy Ross, "Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us." And Magsamen’s study published July 2019 in the National Library of Medicine, "Your Brain on Art: The Case for Neuroaesthetics," offers fascinating details on this new and rapidly expanding field. The study reveals what art lovers have always felt, that art is the wholesome source for the "intersection of psychological aesthetics, biological mechanisms, and human evolution."

Enjoying art makes a world of difference in our lives

We don’t need a scientific study to show we can benefit from the myriad arts whose creative frequencies guide us to a higher connection in our well-being. But scientific studies and reports do add credence to a justification for making the effort to go out and get our art fix. We’ve got the arts to enjoy right here in town at the Art Hop as an introduction to the fun and powerful way our local art scene supports us.

Besides our beloved Art Hop each fourth Friday through September, the annual Chautauqua in Palmer Lake (July 29 to Aug. 4) will give us some fine aesthetic experiences in art and live entertainment. Chautauquas (from the Haudenosaunee word with multiple meanings, including many forms of "cultural enrichment") have been popular around the country since the 1870s, with Teddy Roosevelt once calling the traveling Chautauquas "the most American thing in America".

Although this form of live entertainment faded with the growing popularity of radio and motion pictures, we are seeing a revival of this live entertainment genre nationwide. We feel our age-old need to socially connect, to be in a community in real life, and we’ve got hold of it now. Our local Chautauqua will offer multiple events each day at various Palmer Lake locations, for all ages. Vocal and instrumental concerts, lectures, cooking demos, daily yoga and tai chi, poetry slams, Palmer Lake Art Group-sponsored Plein Air contest, guided walks and tours, Feldenkrais classes, and more. A complete calendar of events, times, and locations is available at https://ChautauquaPalmerLake.org and is sponsored by Palmer Lake Arts Council.

Janet Sellers is an artist, writer and speaker, with a focus on enjoying nature and well-being. She can be reached at JanetSellers@ocn.me.

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Snapshots of Our Community

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Celebration of Claudia Swenson’s life, June 1

Caption: Former Monument Deputy Town Clerk Claudia Swenson was given a New Orleans-style sendoff on June 1. Swenson died April 2 at the age of 75. The Royal Street Ramblers Dixieland Band led a procession of more than 150 friends and relatives from Swenson’s house on Washington Street in Monument to Limbach Park, where the crowd gathered for testimonials and food. Swenson’s son-in-law Spencer Griffith told the crowd Swenson said she wanted a party where she could be "celebrated, not mourned" when she died. Griffith shared many fond memories with the large group of friends and loved ones. She was "grandmother and great grandmother" to many children in Monument, was Mrs Claus every year at Christmas, and won top prizes at the county fair for honey and crafts she made from honeycomb wax. She will be missed. Photos by Michael Weinfeld.

The Royal Street Ramblers lead a procession in memory of Claudia Swenson. (1 min 22 sec)

Claudia Swenson's son-in-law Spencer Griffith tells how she loved being the life of the party. (50 sec)

The Royal Street Ramblers perform at Claudia Swenson's celebration of life at Limbach Park. Unlisted. (27 sec)

Picnic N Planes, May 30

Caption: On May 30, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) held its annual Picnic N Planes event in celebration of the Air Force Academy graduation and Thunderbirds air show. The museum’s hilltop was dotted with numerous lawn chairs, blankets, and umbrellas to shade the sun as over 500 visitors took advantage of the ideal vantage point for the Thunderbird’s aerial show. Museum Executive Director Grant Dewey said the museum "was very excited to host the event and to have visitors from around the state take part." Museum volunteer Gary Steffens was among a group aged 19 to 75 from Denver and Colorado Springs who make this an annual event. Steffens said, "This is the ninth year we have attended for the friendship, food to share, and the great air show." The museum has hosted the event for more than a dozen years. Information on upcoming museum events is at www.wmmi.org. Photo by David Futey.

Tri-Lakes Lions Fishing Derby

Caption: The Tri-Lakes Lions Club held its annual kids fishing derby at Palmer Lake on June 1. About 260 kids registered for this year’s event and were accompanied by parents or other adults who helped bait hooks, cast, and handle fish. Last year’s event was cold and windy, but this year saw calm, sunny conditions. Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocked the lake with rainbow trout a few days before the derby, and those using "power baits" seemed to land more fish than those using worms or other baits. Again this year, Jim Hazuka organized the Lions Club and other volunteers who helped with registration and measuring fish for the contests—largest fish for each age group. Sponsors included Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which donated fishing gear for those who did not bring their own, Bass Pro Shops, Roadrunner Bait, which donated free fishing worms, Rosie’s Diner, the Town of Palmer Lake, Safeway, Colorado Friends and Family Fishing, Tri-Lakes Printing, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and 3GEngagement. Photos by Steve Pate.

D38 Innovate 38, June 20

Caption: On June 20, nearly 50 people gathered at the D38 Learning Center in the Big Red administration building to participate in the Innovate 38 community discussion. Attendees included staff, parents, community members, community partners, and students. The forum was designed to discuss programming ideas for D38’s new Career and Innovation Center, to be located at the newly purchased facility, slated to open in August 2025. Director of Innovative Programs Jessica McAllister welcomed attendees, set meeting norms, and defined Career and Technical Education (CTE) as a modern, expanded version of vocational technology that emphasizes real-world, hands-on skills leading to high-demand, high-wage jobs. Dr. Tatiana Bailey Ph.D. of Data-Driven Economic Strategies, reviewed the state of the job market, focusing on job areas with high rates of growth. Attendees broke into table sessions to discuss goals for programming in the new center. For more information on CTE, see https://www.lewispalmer.org/page/career-technical-education. To see the Innovate 38 forum video and slides, see https://bit.ly/d38-innovate. Pictured standing at the front of the room with the microphone is McAllister. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

Sanctuary Pointe Park opens

Caption: The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors and Classic Homes officially opened the new Sanctuary Pointe Park on Sanctuary Rim Drive in Sanctuary Pointe on May 31. Food trucks were available and Wirewood Station provided music from the covered pavilion. Jim McGrady handled the ribbon-cutting on behalf of Tri-Lakes Metropolitan District. Triview and Classic Homes each contributed about $1 million to the construction, which includes a sporting field, covered pavilion, and access to about 10 miles of hiking trails. Photo by Steve Pate.

Kiwanis celebrates 50th

Caption: Monument Hill Kiwanis Club celebrated its 50th anniversary on June 1. Members got together at Maguireville, which is where Monument resident Jim Maguire has two barns filled with memorabilia. They celebrated past Kiwanis achievements and heard President Scott Ross talk about plans for the future. A spokesman says the club gave out $109,000 in grants last year to "make a positive difference for youth and our community." Photo by Bob Harrigan.

Silver Key Thrift Store reopens

Caption: The Silver Key Thrift Store in the West End Center on Highway 105 has expanded and had its "Grand Reopening" on June 7. About 100 people turned out to support the store, which provides funding for many activities and resources for seniors through the local Silver Key Senior Center in the Grace Best Elementary School building in Monument. Jason DeBueno, president of Silver Key, Colorado Springs, was on hand, along with local dignitaries Jayme Holligan, director of Volunteer Events and Community Engagement, and Sue Walker, who manages the local Silver Key center. Tammy Jones manages the newly reopened thrift store and the volunteers who staff and support the store. The store offers a variety of clothing, books, paintings, tools, cooking utensils, etc., at low cost. Photo by Steve Pate.

Outdoor Pikes Peak Initiative

Caption: The Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance (PPORA) held one of six public listening meetings at Bear Creek Elementary School on June 21. The alliance introduced and explained the Outdoor Pikes Peak Initiative (OPPI) and listened to interested members of outdoor businesses, nonprofits, government entities, and local outdoor enthusiasts. The PPROA’s mission is to strengthen the outdoor industry in the Pikes Peak Region through leadership and collaboration. One of its core values is the protection, conservation, and stewardship of natural resources. Land and water management promotes healthy ecosystems for communities and wildlife. Proper management of natural resources can promote economic growth for local businesses and the workforce, the alliance says. PPORA is asking for help from the area communities in the planning process of OPPI. For more information, contact it at www.pproa.org. Photo by Marlene Brown.

Rainbow over Gleneagle, June 21

Caption: For a brief moment at 5:30 a.m. on June 21, a rainbow greeted early risers in the Gleneagle area as a light rain fell. Photo by David Futey.

Art Hop, June 28

Caption: June 28, artist Steve Castle of Woodmoor presented his watercolors of Americana at the Love Shop outdoor porch venue. An Air Force veteran and aerospace retiree, Castle has been making watercolor paintings since childhood. Next to him is his painting The Sole Survivor. The vintage truck depicted was the only surviving—and untouched—part of the Flying W Ranch after the Waldo Canyon wildfire. Left: James Divine of JazzySaxMan.com. played pop songs on his saxophone on Front Street.

Below: The music group Hickabee, complete with bass, fiddle, guitars, and mandolin, played folk and blues tunes from the Monument Mercantile shop veranda for Art Hop passersby. Photos by Janet Sellers.

Art Sites completes installations

Caption: On June 28, the selection committee for the Art Sites outdoor public art in Monument celebrated the completion of the installation of sculptures throughout Monument in June at the Secret Window events venue. The artist call was well received nationwide, and artists from across the United States submitted their work with 12 artists’ works chosen for the 2024-25 exhibition season, delivered by the artists and installed by the Town of Monument in June. Photo by Janet Sellers.

Caption: Shakespeare’s Two Gents was presented by Act Out Theatreworks on the Village Green in Palmer Lake on Saturday, June 22. The play is a version of Two Gentlemen from Verona. Using the words of Shakespeare’s time, actors were staged upon the lawn, attired in campy modern garb. The event was courtesy of the Palmer Lake Arts Council. Photo above by Janet Sellers. Photo on the right by Lynn Roth.

St. Peter welcomes new principal

Caption: St. Peter Catholic School has a new principal. Karen Shannahan comes from St. Pius X Catholic School in Aurora, where she held the same position. Before that, she was a fifth-grade teacher at Monument Academy. The school says Shannahan "plans to focus on forming virtuous students and promoting academic excellence through nurturing relationships with students, parents, staff, parishioners and the Monument community." Photo courtesy of Karen Shannahan.

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Our Community Notices

By Janet Sellers

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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.

Higby Road closure

Higby Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to Bowstring Rd. will be closed June 24-July 8 for road work. There will still be school access and detour signs posted.

Vollmer Rd. at Hardin Rd. closure

Starting July 1, with expected completion in 3 to 4 weeks, El Paso County will begin construction on Vollmer Rd at Hardin Rd (between Shoup Rd and Burgess Rd) to remove a section of existing roadway and widen the road. Vollmer Rd will be closed to all through traffic and the only access will be to the school on the west side of the road and residents on Hardin. Access to residents and businesses before and after the work zone along Vollmer Rd will still be open. The project adds left turn lanes at the intersection of Vollmer Rd and Hardin Rd. be completed in two phases (north and south sides of Hardin Rd). Detours include using Herring, Shoup and Burgess Rds. Reduce speeds in work zone. Watch for workers, equipment, signs, and barricades. El Paso County wishes to thank drivers in advance for their cooperation.

Woodmoor Slash/mulch program

Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) annual slash/mulch program dates include July 27-28 at Lewis Palmer High School, 8-4 pm and 8-2 pm, respectively. Due to road closures, if you are coming from Jackson Creek Parkway, please use the road into the school at the light at the YMCA and follow the signs around the perimeter of the tennis, soccer, etc. fields. From Higby Rd, turn right on Bowstring Rd. and head into the school’s southeast parking lot (west of the baseball fields). Acceptable materials include woody limbs and branches only up to 8 in in diameter, pine needles (must be removed from bags), construction materials but no nails or wire, and junipers. Do not bring trash, weeds or yucca, no nails or wire, no roots dirt or rocks, no grass clippings or bags of leaves. While pine needles are accepted, please remember the WIA covenants to remove any combustible material, pine needles included, within five feet of foundations and beneath decks. But, WIA does try to discourage removing needles elsewhere: it does nothing to reduce the fire hazard, and too many people think that raking the needles is a substitute for defensible space. The Colorado State Forestry Department recommends leaving some needles, especially in times of drought, as they help keep what little moisture there is in place. Also please keep in mind that if you rake the pine needles into piles and leave them there, this is considered "slash" and is a covenant violation in Woodmoor. Info: www.Woodmoor.org or call Justin at 719-488-2693 x 4.

Black Forest Slash mulch program

Slash can be brought to the Black Forest slash and mulch program. Tree and brush debris only. No pine needles. (It is important to protect the trees’ health and keep some pine needles on the ground. 80% of the nutrients that the pine trees need come from the decomposing pine needles). This program serves fire mitigation efforts in the area and is $10 per load to drop off, regardless of size. The program also offers free mulch to take home. Info: www.BFSlash.org.

D38 seeks volunteers

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 seeks volunteers now to help with summer gardening and painting projects at Palmer Lake Elementary and Palmer Ridge High School. Contact Kelly Bryant at kbryant@lewispalmer.org for more information.

WMMI needs volunteers

The Museum of Mining and Industry is currently recruiting for Visitor Services Associates and Guides. Please consider sharing your time and expertise. Volunteers must be 18 and older and pass a background check. For information about volunteer opportunities, please call 719-488-0880 or email at volunteer@wmmi.org.

Children’s Literacy Center

The 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 pm, and the Summer Session will 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.

Tri Lakes Cruisers car club

Call for entries open immediately for the 21st annual benefit car show on August 18, from 9 to 2 along 2nd Street in historic downtown Monument. The not-for-profit car club welcomes anyone interested in cars to this community service organization. Funds from the car show benefit local charities such as Tri Lakes cares as well as scholarships for local high school students. Pre-registration to be in the show is required. Enter at www.trilakecruisers.com

Community volunteers

Many students need volunteer hours for scouting, civics classes, clubs, or would just like to volunteer for the good of it. Friends of Fox Run Park will have some openings for student volunteers (and grownups, too) most of the year for various tasks. Besides tasks, the group offers information and skills demonstrations for each 2-3 hour session, and celebrates volunteers at the park with annual community events. The Tri Lakes Cares on-site garden in Monument also needs volunteers in Fall, Spring and Summer. Gardening tasks include preparing garden beds, weeding, sowing seeds, and developing the compost. Bring gardening gloves, some tools will be provided on the workdays. Contact Janet Sellers at JanetSellers@ocn.me or Marlene Brown at MarleneBrown@ocn.me for more information.

Tri-Lakes Cares needs your support

Tri-Lakes Cares is the only food pantry and human services organization serving northern El Paso County through emergency relief and self-sufficiency programs. The community-based, volunteer-supported center is a critical resource for our neighbors in need. The best way to help support Tri-Lakes Cares is to donate. Visit https://tri-lakescares.org/donate to learn how to donate money, medical items, personal supplies, or food. Please check the web for current needs in our food pantry at https://tri-lakescares.org/donate/current-needs. Donation drop-off hours are Mon.-Thu., 9 am-4 pm. For more information about Tri-Lakes Cares or how you can help, contact Tri-Lakes Cares at 719-481-4864 or info@tri-lakescares.org.

Silver Key at Tri-Lakes Senior Center

Silver Key at Tri-Lakes Senior Center, formerly known as the Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Center, has been providing exciting programs and activities to area seniors who have a zest for fun and learning. As the older adult population is growing, our services are in high demand. 719-884-2300 66 Jefferson St, Monument. See ad on page 2.

Need PC help?

Make It Work Clinic for PCs, FREE. Donations appreciated. We are gauging interest in helping community members with their PCs, please email us if interested. enable@monumentalimpact.org. 55 Adams St in Downtown Monument. Monumental Impact info: https://monumentalimpact.org.

The Sunflower is for people with non-visible disabilities

Watch for green and yellow sunflower lanyards, bracelets, and ribbons, discreet ways to make the invisible visible. Wearing the Sunflower discreetly indicates to people around the wearer including staff, colleagues and health professionals that they need additional support, help or a little more time. However big or small, your help moves us closer to a society where people recognize that an offer of help, understanding and kindness can make a huge difference to the daily experiences that a Sunflower wearer has. For more information: www.flydenver.com/accessibility, www.hdsunflower.com/us/, and www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/invisible/.

MVEA outage notifications

Please add your phone number to your MVEA account to streamline outage reporting and restoration notifications. To report an outage please call or text "OUT" to (800) 388-9881. Visit MVEA’s Outage Center before the storm. There is information about preparing for outages, electrical safety, outage reporting, a link to the outage map, and more.

Can you volunteer today?

• 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).

• The Colorado State University Extension office in El Paso County has several opportunities for individuals interested in volunteering. https://elpaso.extension.colostate.edu/volunteer-opportunities/

• El Paso County volunteer-based and nonprofit organizations rely on the hard work of individuals like you. Find out how you can play a part by becoming a volunteer in El Paso County. Get involved in El Paso County volunteering non-profits and organizations! https://www.americantowns.com/el-paso-county-co/volunteer-organizations/.

• The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Program is composed of a collective citizens group with a true and common desire to partner with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office by volunteering their services while learning more about the internal workings of the law enforcement community. https://www.epcsheriffsoffice.com/volunteer-program-0.

• The El Paso County Volunteer Program is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to learn about the various functions of county government as well as give back to the community. The County’s numerous boards and commissions need your experience, talents and time. https://bocc.elpasoco.com/volunteer.

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Our Community Calendar

By Janet Sellers

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. Please contact calendar@ocn.me with changes and additions.

GOVERNMENTAL BODIES

  • Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, Pinon Pines Metropolitan District 1, 2 & 3 board typically meets quarterly on the first Mon. Meetings are held via teleconference. For virtual joining instructions and updates see www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com.
  • Monument Town Council meeting, Mon., July 1 & 15, 6:30 pm, Town Hall Board Room, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., Monument. Normally meets first and third Mon. Info: 719-884-801, www.townofmonument.org/260/Board-of-Trustees for remote attendance links.
  • El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) regular meeting, usually every Tue., 9 am. View agendas and meetings at www.agendasuite.org/iip/elpaso. Meetings are held at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., Suite 150, Colo. Springs. Info: 719-520-643. BOCC land use meetings are held the second and fourth Thursdays of the month (as needed) at 1pm Centennial Hall.
  • Palmer Lake Board of Adjustments meeting, Tue., July 2, 5 pm, 28 Valley Crescent St., Palmer Lake. Normally meets first Tue., as needed.
  • Woodmoor Water & Sanitation District board meeting, Mon., July 9, 1 pm, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Normally meets second Mon. Info: 719-488-2525, www.woodmoorwater.com.
  • Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility Joint Use Committee meeting, Tue., July 9, 10 am, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meets second Tue. Info: See https://tlwastewater.com/index.html Bill Burks, 719-481-4053.
  • Palmer Lake Sanitation District board meeting, Wed., July 10, 9 am, call-in only: 650-479-3208, Access Code 76439078, 120 Middle Glenway. Meets second Wed. Info: 719-481-2732. www.plsd.org.
  • Monument Planning Commission meeting, Wed., July 10, 6 pm Town Hall Board Room, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., Monument. Usually meets the second Wed. To see the options for remote public participation in each meeting, visit www.townofmonument.org/263/Planning-Commission-Board-of-Adjustment. Info: 719-884-8028. www.townofmonument.org.
  • Palmer Lake Board of Trustees meeting, Thu., July 11 & 25, 5 pm, Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Usually meets second and fourth Thu. Info: 719-481-2953. www.townofpalmerlake.com.
  • Monument Academy School Board meeting, Thu., July 11, 6:30 pm, East Campus gym, 4303 Pinehurst Circle. Usually meets the second Thu. Info: 719-431-8001, www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
  • Monument Sanitation District board meeting, Wed., July 17, 9 am, 130 Second St. Zoom meeting. Find joining instructions on the website. Meets third Wed. Info: 719-481-4886, www.colorado.gov/msd.
  • Academy Water and Sanitation District board meeting, Wed., July 17, 6 pm. Usually meets third Wed. Public can join the Skype meeting: https://join.skype.com/PAcujKTn7Nrh. Check the website for a link: https://academywsd.colorado.gov/notices-and-alerts. Meets third Wed. Info: 719-481-071119https://academywsd.colorado.gov.
  • Palmer Lake Town Planning Commission meeting, Wed., July 17, 6 pm, Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Meets third Wed. Info: 719-481-2953, www.townofpalmerlake.com.
  • Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District board meeting, in person or via Zoom, Wed., July 17, 7 pm, Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. Find updates and Zoom meeting joining instructions at www.bffire.org or contact Administrative Officer Lisa Emry at 719-495-4300. Meetings are usually held on the third Wednesday.
  • El Paso County Regional Loop Water Authority meeting, Thu., July 18, 9 am, Monument Town Hall Boardroom, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Normally meets third Thu. Info: 719-488-3603. www.loopwater.org.
  • Donala Water & Sanitation District board meeting, Thu., July 18, 1:30 pm, 15850 Holbein Dr. In 2023, meets third Thu., Check the website for the access code for the electronic meeting. Info: 719-488-3603, www.donalawater.org.
  • Triview Metropolitan District board meeting, Thu., July 18, 5:30 pm, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302, Monument. Normally meets third Thu. Info: 719-488-6868, www.triviewmetro.com.
  • El Paso County Planning Commission meeting, Thu., July 18, 9 am. Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle, Colo. Springs. Meetings are live-streamed on the El Paso County News & Information Channel at https://www.elpasoco.com/news-information-channel. Normally meets first & third Thu. (as required). Info: 719-520-6300, https://planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com/planning-community-development/2024-hearings-schedule/
  • Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting, Wed., July 24, 4:30 pm., meets in person at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105, Monument, and via Zoom. For Zoom meeting joining instructions, agendas, minutes, and updates, visit http://www.monumentfire.org or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011.
  • Monument Fire District board meeting, in person or via Zoom, Wed., July 24, 6:30 pm. Station 1, 18650 Highway 105, Monument. Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday. Find updates and Zoom meeting joining instructions at www.monumentfire.org, or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin, at 719-484-0911.
  • Woodmoor Improvement Association Board Meeting, Wed., July 24, 7 pm, Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. The WIA Board usually meets fourth Wed. Info: 719-488-2693, www.woodmoor.org.
  • Lewis-Palmer School District 38 board meets during school year on third Mon., 6-10pm 146 N Jefferson St, Monument. The Board of Education meeting will be live-streamed on the district’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/LPSDCommunity, agenda, and supporting documents at https://go.boarddocs.com/co/lewispalmer/Board.nsf/vpublic. Contact Vicki Wood. Phone: 719.481.9546 Email: vwood@lewispalmer.org Website: https://www.lewispalmer.org.
  • Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Parent and Community Advisory Committee (now PCAC, formerly DAAC. No more meetings this school year. Meets six times a year. Usually meets monthly, second Tue. Contact info: tmckee@lewispalmer.org.

WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS

  • AARP Black Forest #1100, second Wed., noon. In-person Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Rd. All ages welcome. Info: www.aarpchapter1100blackforest.weekly.com.
  • AARP Local Senior Social, fourth Wed. In-person Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Rd. Info: www.aarpchapter1100blackforest.weekly.com.
  • A.A. Big Book Study, every Thu., 7 pm, Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 W. Baptist Rd. Call 425-436-6200, access code 575176#.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous, every Tue. & Thu., 7:30 p.m. Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80908. AA is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they June solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Join us with your questions. Info: bflc@bflchurch.org.
  • Al-Anon for family and friends of alcoholics, every Tue. & Thu., 7:30 p.m. Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80908. Al-Anon members are people, just like you, who are worried about someone with a drinking problem. Join us with your questions. Info: bflc@bflchurch.org.
  • Al-Anon Zoom Meeting, Just for Today Online, every Mon., 9-10 am Zoom Meeting ID: 889 4142 7446, Password 349309.
  • Al-Anon meeting: Letting Go, every Thu., 9-10:15 am at Ascent Church, 1750 Deer Creek Rd., Monument. For additional information go to www.al-anon-co.org.
  • Al-anon Meeting: Monument, every Thu., 7-8 pm, Ascent Church, 1750 Deer Creek Rd., Monument. Info: MonumentSerenity@gmail.com .
  • Amateur ham radio WØTLM (Tri-Lakes Monument ham radio Association), third Mon. (except December). All amateur ham radio operators or those interested in becoming one are we, lcome. Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Building, 166 2nd Street, Monument. For details, contact Bob Witte, bob@k0nr.com or www.W0TLM.com.
  • American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11, second Wed., 6:30pm, Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Community Meeting House, 300 CO Hwy 105, Monument. New members welcome. Info: Visit website at www.trilakespost9-11.org.
  • Art: Open Studio painting, Wed., July 3, 9:30-noon. Donations welcome, meets monthly first Wed. Tri Lakes Senior Center, 66 Jefferson St., Monument.
  • Benet Hill Monastery: Let us pray with you, walk in the forest, walk the labyrinth, come and visit prayer sites, every Sun. worship is 10:15 am, 3190 Benet Lane, 80921. See ad on page 3.
  • Black Forest Community Church, Centering Prayer Group, first Sat., 8:30-10 am The Old Log Church. Centering prayer opens and closes the meetings with discussion and fellowship in between; open to all.
  • Children’s Literacy Center, every Mon. & Wed., 5:30-6:30 pm. Provides free one-on-one literacy tutoring to Tri-Lakes children in grades 1-6 who are reading below grade level. Tutoring is at Grace Best Education Center, 66 Jefferson St. Monument. For more information, to become a volunteer tutor, or to enroll your child, visit www.childrensliteracycenter.org or contact Rachel Morin, Tri-Lakes Senior Center Coordinator, CLC 610-246-1047 (cell).
  • Colorado Springs Philharmonic Guild Listening Club, third Wed. Free virtual event. Maestro Wilson will conduct monthly hour-long programs. RSVP at www.cspguild.org.
  • Dementia Caregiver Support Group, second Sat., 9:45-11:15 am. Meets in-person, First National Bank Monument ( 581 Highway 105, Monument, CO 80132). Meets monthly, 2nd Sat. Contact: Registration is required, call 800-272-3900 or email khare@alz.org to register.
  • Essential Tremor Support Group. Meets quarterly at Colorado Springs Public Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive Colorado Springs, CO 80920. For details, contact: Jim Sanchez, 719-660-7275; jimdjs22@gmail.com.
  • Essentrics Fitness Program at Senior Center, every Tue., 9 am & Thu., 10 am, Grace Best Education Center, 66 Jefferson St, Monument, CO 80132. Registration & info: Sue Walker, 719-330-0241, www.trilakesseniors.org.
  • Fellowship of Christ Church, every Sun., 9 am. Monument Academy East Campus, 4303 Pinehurst Circle 80908.
  • Friends of Fox Run Park, Zoom meeting, fourth Thu., 7 pm, email friendsoffoxrunpark@gmail.com, they will email you the link the day of the meeting. Join the growing group to learn about volunteering and supporting the park for forest safety, trails, trees, education, special events, and more. Special events including "Christmas in July," August Hummingbird Festival and more, stay tuned! Info: friendsoffoxrunpark@gmail.com.
  • Friends of Monument Preserve (FOMP) Trail repair monthly work days, second Thu. of each month from April through October. Meet at 6 pm at the parking lot off Red Rocks Road. FOMP provides all the necessary tools but you must wear appropriate clothing for landscape work and bring gloves, a hat , eye protection, sunscreen, bug repellent and water. Check the FOMP website at www.fomp.org for additional info.
  • Fuel Church GriefShare, every Thu., 5:30-7:30 pm, 643 State Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Email info@fuel.org. 643 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake.
  • Fuel Church Sunday Service, every Sun. Service times, 11 am Live service streaming at www.fuelchurch.org at 11:40 am on www.fuelchurch.org. Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake. Nursery and kids’ service. Non-denominational, spirit-filled. Need prayer? Email us at info@fuel.org. See ad on page 5.
  • Gleneagle Sertoma, first and third Wed., 11:45 am to 1 pm. Gleneagle Sertoma is the longest continuously active civic service organization in northern El Paso County. Our regular program presenters address local topics of interest to include local developments, community planning and projects, as well as opportunities to serve your community. Contact Harvey LeCato for meeting location and club information at mbca@comcast.net or 719-331-1212.
  • Gleneagle Women’s Club, membership luncheon, third Fri., (Sep.-June), various venues, 12 activity groups, i.e., hiking, bridge, etc. Guests welcome. For information contact Susan Owen, 719-886-7110.
  • GriefShare Support Group, last Tue., 10:30 am-noon. NEW LOCATION: Tri-Lakes Senior Center, 66 Jefferson St. in the Grace Best Elementary School building. The Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance has partnered with Colorado Palliative and Hospice Care to host a 13-session grief support group in Monument. RSVP, info: Sue Walker, 719-330-0241.
  • La Leche League breastfeeding support group, second Thu., 12:30 pm. Partners and helpers welcome (and babies and kids, too) so we can meet our breastfeeding goals together. Homestead Direct Primary Care Clinic, 15455 Gleneagle Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. For more information, contact RachelKLangley@gmail.com.
  • Lions Club Bingo, every Sat. (except the first Sat.), 8:30 am-1 pm and first Mon., 5:30-10 pm Tri-Lakes Lions Club’s portion of the proceeds benefit those in need in the Tri-Lakes community. Updated info and location: Jim Naylor, 719-481-8741 or www.trilakeslionsclub.org.
  • Library Chess Club, We welcome anyone who wants to learn to play chess or wants to play a game with an experienced player. Contact Steve Waldmann, huskerco@gmail.com. Monument Library meeting room, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument (Information also on the Facebook page: Monument Library Chess Club)
  • Monument Hill Kiwanis Club meeting, every Sat., 8 am. www.MHKiwanis.org, MonumentHillKiwanis@gmail.com for details, guests are welcome. Service leadership clubs, Key clubs, Builders Club, and K-kids at D38 schools. Memberships are open to the public. Info: RF Smith, 719-210-4987, www.MHKiwanis.org.
  • Monument Life Recovery Group, every Mon., 6:30-7:30 pm, The Ascent Church, 1750 Deer Creek Rd. This faith-based support group is for those seeking freedom from all hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Daycare for children under age 11. Info: 303-946-2659, www.liferecoverygroups.com/meetings/life-recovery-group-3/.
  • Neighborhood Net Ham Radio, every Sat., 10 am. Amateur ham radio operators practice for emergencies on weekly repeater nets so neighbors can help neighbors. Sign up at www.mereowx.org/neighborhood-net or contactus@mereowx.org.
  • Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) Sat., July 13, 10 am–12 pm., Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. Members of local HOAs are welcome. Usually meets bi-monthly (Jan., Mar., June, July, Sep., Nov.) on the second Sat. of the month. www.nepco.org.
  • Palmer Divide Quiltmakers, first Thu., 6:30-8:30 pm at Monument Chamber of Commerce building, 166 2nd St, Monument, CO.
  • Palmer Lake Art Group, second Sat. A variety of art programs are offered after the social gathering and business meetings. Guests welcome. 300 Hwy 105, NE corner of I-25 and 105. 9:30 am. Info: 719-460-4179, www.palmerlakeartgroup.co.
  • Palmer Lake Historical Society, Thu., July 18, 7 pm; (doors open at 6:30 pm), Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent St. Usually meets third Thu. Contact: Kokesdm@yahoo.com, https://palmerdividehistory.org.
  • Pikes Peak Genealogical Society meeting, Wed., July 10, 7 pm. Meets monthly, second Wed. Members can log in and get the monthly meeting Zoom link. Guests are welcome to attend, please request an invitation from the PPGS president at www.PPGS.org.
  • Ridgeview Baptist Church, every Sun., 10:30 am, temporarily meeting at 9130 Explorer Dr., Colorado Springs, 80920. Info: 719-357-6515 or www.ridgeviewcolorado.org. See ad on page 6.
  • Senior Bingo, third Wed. Silver Alliance Senior Center, Space is limited to 16. participants. RSVP & info: Sue Walker, 719-464-6873, or email sue@monumentalfitness.
  • Senior Book Club, second Fri., 11 am-noon, Silver Alliance Senior Center, all are welcome. Coffee & snacks. RSVP & info: Sue, 719-330-0241.
  • Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church, every Sun., Contemporary 9 am; Traditional 10:30 am. A live stream is available at www.tlumc.org/live. Watch live or replay: www.facebook.com/tlumc, www.youtube.com/tlumc.org. Info: 719-488-1365, www.tlumc.org. 20256 Hunting Downs Way, Monument.
  • Tri-Lakes Church of Christ Wednesday night fellowship classes, every Wed., 6-7:30 pm, 20450 Beacon Lite Road, Monument (corner of Beacon Lite & County Line Roads). Info: 719-488-9613, gregsmith@trilakeschurch.org, www.trilakeschurch.org.
  • Tri-Lakes Cruisers, first Wed., 7 pm. A nonprofit car club. Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce community room, with numerous activities and events each month. Club membership applications are now being accepted and are available on the website: https://tl-cruisers.weebly.com.
  • Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Networking breakfast, first and third Thu., in person or via Zoom 166 2nd Street Monument 7:30-9 am free registration at www.TriLakeschamber.com .
  • Tri-Lakes Church of Christ Cabin Conversations: fellowship with meals. every Wed., 6 pm 20450 Beacon Lite Rd.
  • Tri-Lakes Dynamic Rotary Club meeting, monthly first and third Thu. 6 pm-8 pm. First Thursday via zoom and third Thursday in person at the Chamber of Commerce, 166 2nd St., Monument. Details: www.tlrotary.com, Trilakesdynamicrotary@gmail.com. Guests welcome. We are a service club serving Tri-Lakes. Memberships open to the public. Info: www.tlrotary.com.
  • Tri-Lakes Parkinson’s Disease Support Group, third Sat., 10 am-noon, Monument Community Presbyterian Church, 238 Third St., Monument. Info: Syble Krafft, 719-488-2669; Barry (group president), 719-351-9485. If you need any help, please call Syble or Barry.
  • Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) monthly meeting, third Fri., 11:30 am. Eisenhower Golf Club, USAFA. To become a member, or learn about the club, visit our website at www.tlwc.net Contact Info: Tri-Lakes Women’s Club membership@tlwc.net.
  • Women’s A. A. Step Study, every Mon., 6:30 pm, meeting remotely, check for details. Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 Baptist Rd. Park in the west lot. Info: 866-641-9190. Al-Anon Zoom Meeting, Just for Today Online, every Mon., 9:00 - 10:00 am Zoom Meeting ID: 889 4142 7446, Password 349309
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7829, third Wed., 7 pm, Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce community room, 166 2nd St., Monument. New members welcome. Info: Post Commander and POC Bruce Beyerly, Bruce.Beyerly@gmail.com.
  • VFW Auxiliary to Post 7829, third Wed., 7 p.m. Meets at Victory Baptist Church, 325 2nd Street, Suite X, Monument. Guests are welcome to join; if you are a relative of a veteran who served on foreign soil during war or other military actions, you June be eligible. For more information please contact Kathy Carlson, 719-488-1902, carlsonmkc@gmail.com or Linda Lyons, 303-579-8114, lindalyons7829@gmail.com.

SPECIAL EVENTS

  • VOLUNTEER TODAY! Our Community News: volunteer mailing days, Thu. July 5 & Aug. 1, approx. 7-8:30 am. We are all volunteers at OCN and need YOUR help, even for an hour or two, getting the papers ready to mail. Contact AllenAlchian@ocn.me or (719) 488-3455.
  • Monument Hill Farmers market every Sat., 8-2 pm. D38 Lewis Palmer admin building, 66 Jefferson Street, Monument. See ad on page 5.
  • Town of Monument, Concerts in the Park, every Wed. through Aug. 28, Limbach park. See ad on page 8.
  • Covered Treasures Bookstore, Fri., July 26, 5-8 pm, authors Jamie Sieberase will sign Explore Colorado with Kids: 71 Field Trips and 142 Nature-Inspired Activities and Abbie Mood will sign Best Hikes Colorado’s Front Range: Simple Strolls, Day Hikes and Longer Adventures. 105 Second Street, Monument.
  • Kiwanis peaches by the box order by Mon., July 22, pick up Sat. Aug. 3. See ad on page 7.
  • Fuel church at Limbach park, Sun. July 28, 11 a.m. live music, food and kids activities. See ad on page 5.
  • Affordable Flooring Connection, special offers. See ad on page 2.
  • Eagle Wine & Spirits, special offers. See ad on page 3.
  • Monumental Med Spa special offers. See ad on page 7.
  • Mesa Health and Aesthetics. Bring ad for a special offer. See ad on page 2.
  • Monument Art Hop, Fri. July 26. Art, music, food, and fun; fourth Fridays, through Sep., 5-8 pm, Downtown Monument. See ad on page 2.
  • Monument Cleaners, special offers. See ad on page 5.
  • Mountain View Pella windows, special offers. See ad on page 24.
  • Mutt Masters canine academy 50th anniversary, 50% off services. See ad on page 7.
  • Native American Sacred Trees and Places, (NASTaP), annual membership meeting and conference, Fri.-Sat. Aug. 16-18, (open to the public). Speakers, tree tours, fire circle, drumming. See ad on page 3.
  • Noel Relief Centers, new patient specials, new treatment options. See ad on page 7.
  • PeakView Windows, special offers. See ad on page 7.
  • Pierson promotional products, summer specials: swag, tumblers, hats, more. See ad on page 4.
  • Space Foundation Summer of Discovery, fun and educational workshops Saturdays through Aug. 31. See ad on page 12.
  • The Living Room Plants, special offers. See ad on page 5.
  • Tri-Lakes Collision and Auto Service Center, special offers. See ad on page 5.
  • Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI), Western saloon night, Sat., Aug. 3, 6-9 p.m. See ad on page 12.
  • YMCA fall youth sports, register today! Season starts Aug. 26. See ad on page 6.
  • Chautauqua Palmer Lake, Mon.-Fri., July 29–Aug. 4, Chautauquas hail from the Haudenosaunee word with multiple meanings, including many forms of "cultural enrichment". Multiple events each day at various Palmer Lake locations, for all ages: Vocal and instrumental concerts, lectures, cooking demos, daily yoga and tai chi, poetry slams, PLAG-sponsored Plein Air contest, guided walks and tours, Feldenkrais classes, and more. Complete calendar of events, times, locations at https://ChautauquaPalmerLake.org. Sponsored by Palmer Lake Arts Council. See ad on page 8.
  • Tri-Lakes Cruisers 21st Annual Benefit Car Show open entries now: supporting Tri-Lakes Cares, Sun., Aug. 18, 9- 2 pm, along Second Street, Historic Downtown Monument. All entries for display and judging must be pre-registered, (no registration on the day of the Show). On-line or US mailed-in registrations accessed at www.trilakescruisers.com ($35 per vehicle) The event DJ, food trucks and other vendors, and a dog watering shade tent will be under the trees along Second Street next to the School District D-38 Admin Building. See ad on page 2.
  • Trinity Community Park, grand opening, Sat., Aug. 24, games, prizes, crafts. 17750 Knollwood Dr., Monument.

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

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