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Our Community News - Home Vol. 4 No. 7 - July 3, 2004

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Final public hearing on Baptist Road Wal-Mart July 15

Opponents host Community Meeting June 13

View photos from the Community Meeting

By Jim Kendrick

The Coalition of Tri-Lakes Communities sponsored a community meeting to explain the rezoning request for the proposed Baptist Road Wal-Mart and what is being done to fight it. The request will be heard by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on July 15. The June 13 community meeting was held at Lewis-Palmer High School and was attended by an estimated 200 people, including District One County Commissioner Wayne Williams who represents the Tri-Lakes area.

Coalition speakers reviewed the details of Wal-Mart’s request to rezone the 30-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. Speakers also solicited questions and concerns and suggested what residents could do to affect the outcome of the hearing by making their concerns known to their elected officials.

Williams answered questions from the audience. Some audience members urged Williams to represent the community’s interests, not just Wal-Mart’s. This is a sore point with many in the community who feel Williams has a history of siding with developers. One who attended the community meeting said to Williams, "Wal-Mart didn’t vote you in and Wal-Mart won’t be the one to vote you out."

No Wal-Mart representatives attended the meeting.

Coalition Presentation

John Heiser, the coalition’s coordinator, gave the background portion of the 45-minute presentation and later answered questions from the audience. Heiser noted that the coalition is a group of volunteers whose mission is to maintain the character and quality of life in the Tri-Lakes area. Three other coalition members also spoke: Steve Sery on land use issues, Dale Turner on traffic and roadwork, and Sue Wielgopolan on environmental impact and crime issues and how attendees could make their views known to the commissioners.

Background: Wal-Mart first proposed that Monument annex the land on Baptist Road across from the King Soopers and zone it to allow them to build a supercenter. Heiser said Wal-Mart put their annexation plans on hold in 2000 after being told the town expected Wal-Mart to improve Baptist Road to accommodate the predicted doubling of traffic. He added that Wal-Mart never presented its proposal to Monument’s Planning Commission or Board of Trustees, so it is incorrect to say the town rejected the Wal-Mart.

In 2001, Wal-Mart changed its plans and requested rezoning by El Paso County. The project was heard at a special County Planning Commission meeting on May 11. The commission recommended denying the request by a vote of 7-1, with the sole yes vote coming from Dennis Hisey, who is a candidate to replace term-limited County Commissioner Jeri Howells. The Homebuilders Association (HBA) and several other pro-growth business groups have endorsed Hisey.

Site and Site Plan: Ken Barber, Beverly Miller, and Uwe Schmidt own the site. Barber was the developer of numerous subdivisions in the area including Chaparral Hills that lies immediately south of the proposed store site. The plan for the store has grown in successive proposals over the past five years from 184,000 square feet to 203,000 square feet (4.7 acres), with parking for over 1,000 cars (19 acres), a gas station, and a 1.7-acre detention pond.

The PIC and Public Accountability: Wal-Mart proposes to have its customers pay the $4 million cost for road improvements it will be required to construct by levying a 3 percent surcharge on the total cost of each purchase. The Triview Metropolitan District, which has offered to supply water and sewer services to the site, will receive three-fourths of 1 percent, or one-quarter, of this surcharge. After the road construction bonds are paid off, the surcharge will drop to 1.5 percent, all of which will go to Triview.

Heiser added that Wal-Mart has been authorized by Triview to create a private, nonprofit Public Improvement Corporation (PIC) to issue doubly tax-exempt bonds to raise money to pay for road construction for the proposed store. The PIC board members would be appointed, not elected by the voters, and the PIC would not hold open meetings or publish open records. The PIC would be exempt from TABOR restrictions.

Impact on Monument: Wal-Mart is estimated to take 84 percent of its business from existing local competitors. Heiser said that since the site is just outside Monument town boundaries, Wal-Mart would pay no sales or property taxes to the town, which is expected to lose at least one-third of its annual sales tax revenue, a loss of $500,000. That loss would likely translate to a loss of seven town employees, three to four of whom may be police officers.

A Better Alternative: Heiser noted that Monument has already approved the Monument Marketplace and signed a development agreement tying down architectural and landscaping restrictions. He said the Wal-Mart supercenter could be built on 200,000-square-foot Pad A of the Marketplace—without a single hearing by the town’s Planning Commission or Board of Trustees—by agreeing to and complying with the approved Marketplace development agreement.

Zoning: Sery said that since 1975, the parcel has been zoned for medium-density multifamily housing, with a small portion that would accommodate a convenience store. Wal-Mart has requested Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning, which is intended for designs incorporating a variety of uses in innovative ways. Sery said this would be a misuse of this type of rezoning because there is nothing unique about a Wal-Mart supercenter, which normally requires regional commercial zoning. Since it is not zoned properly for the proposed use, the parcel’s value is $4 million less than it would be if it were zoned to accommodate a supercenter. Sery said approval of the rezoning would amount to a $4 million corporate welfare gift from the commissioners to Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retail corporation.

Comparison to Master Plans and Covenants: Sery said the Wal-Mart proposal violates the specific requirements of the County’s Policy Plan and Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan, as well as Monument’s comprehensive plan, for residential compatibility. These plans also prohibit conspicuously large parking lots next to I-25 and recommend annexation by the town of adjacent regional commercial property. State statutes require that PUD rezoning must conform to these comprehensive plans, more so than other types of rezoning.

Sery added that the proposal also violates the Chaparral Hills covenants created by Barber. The covenants say purchasers of the five-acre lots agree to commercial development "in a manner compatible with maintaining the property values of Chaparral Hills." Several of the development’s residents have received appraisals that show reductions of $30,000 to $70,000 due to the Wal-Mart proposal.

Road Building Issues: Turner said the Monument Marketplace is responsible for widening Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to I-25. The town required that this be completed by the end of 2004. Neither the Monument Marketplace nor the Wal-Mart project plans to expand the 48-inch culvert for Jackson Creek under the roadway. At the May 11 planning commission hearing, county engineer Paul Danley expressed concern that the present culvert cannot handle a 10-year storm, much less comply with the county requirement that it handle a 100-year storm—suggesting that this portion of Baptist Road could be washed away before the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) finds the money to upgrade the interchange and that portion of Baptist Road.

Turner added that Wal-Mart is proposing to build a portion of Jackson Creek Parkway south of Baptist Road. It is also proposing an additional right lane along Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway east to Leather Chaps. The plans include a median that will force residents and visitors leaving the Lutheran church to go to Leather Chaps and make a U-turn in order to go west toward I-25.

Traffic: Turner noted that the traffic on Baptist Road from Leather Chaps west is already at the worst service level, F, and the traffic count and delays are predicted to more than double with Wal-Mart there. Carl Schueler, manager of county planning, was quoted as saying, "No matter how much Wal-Mart contributes to Baptist Road improvements, the day it goes in it would kill the interchange." Turner noted that often cars are backed out onto the deceleration lanes of the interstate due to the inadequate existing off-ramps. There is no CDOT funding for improvements at the Exit 158 Baptist Road interchange now or for many years.

Environmental Impact: Several agencies besides the county’s engineering division have pointed out that the size, design, and drainage for the proposed detention pond are inadequate to prevent polluted runoff. Wielgopolan presented a slide highlighting some recent violations and fines Wal-Mart has received for its negligence regarding drainage and pollution. She showed several pictures that illustrated Wal-Mart’s practice of leaving surplus equipment and trash behind or beside their stores.

Crime: Wielgopolan noted that local Wal-Mart stores average one to three crime calls a day to local law enforcement. The northwest district—which includes Gleneagle, Woodmoor, and Black Forest—is served by two Sheriff’s Office deputies at most, and they would be unable to handle the added calls from Wal-Mart without creating significantly longer response times for all other types of calls in this area. Wielgopolan said that crime calls will inevitably be referred to the Monument Police Department, even though Wal-Mart currently rejects annexation and taxation by the town to help pay for those services.

Recommended Citizen Action: The speakers urged the audience to sign the coalition’s petitions opposing the project, help with sign-making, speak to their neighbors in person or through a phone bank, and help form carpools to attend the BOCC hearing. The hearing—which as of this June 13 meeting was to be on June 24—has been rescheduled to July 15, at 27 E. Vermijo in the third floor hearing room.

Heiser Answers Questions

After the break, Heiser read questions, provided answers, and fielded occasional related spin-off questions:

When will the PIC fee drop from 1.5 percent to zero? The PIC fee is supposed to drop from 3.0 percent to 1.5 percent when the road construction bonds are paid off in three to five years. However, the reduced PIC fee never goes away.

How can citizens appeal a BOCC decision to allow the rezoning? The only option is to appeal the decision to the District Court based on what the court would consider a reversible error in the review/hearing process—such as not posting the property with a proper hearing notice. Ironically, the hearing was delayed from June 24 to July 15 because a hearing notice had not been posted on the property at least 15 days prior to the hearing, as required by law.

At this point, Heiser invited Williams to field questions from the audience, which he agreed to do. Williams said he could not answer questions that might interfere with him being impartial since the hearing will be a quasi-judicial proceeding where the commissioners have to make decisions based solely on the facts and testimony presented at the hearing. He said he could not take a stand for or against the proposal before the hearing. Williams thanked everyone for showing their interest in their community by attending the meeting on a Sunday afternoon.

Williams said it is common for more citizens to be opposed to a proposal before the commissioners than in favor, and that commissioners were obligated to be more swayed by the nature of the arguments presented than by the number of people attending the hearing. He noted that he was most concerned about the impact of traffic.

Heiser said he hoped there would not be as many compromises resolving the Baptist Road improvement issues as there had been with the developer of Struthers Ranch who, during the review and hearing process, managed to avoid many costs involved in building Jackson Creek Parkway south of Baptist Road. Williams said there had not been that many compromises.

Here are some of Williams’ responses to audience comments and questions:

  • Regarding getting agreements with Wal-Mart in writing, Williams said the commissioners only make very specific conditions of approval, not unenforceable suggestions, for the Planning Division to enforce.

  • He said he had spoken with CDOT about widening the off-ramps at Exit 158 to two lanes. He suggested that the countywide Rural Transportation Authority proposal, which will be on the ballot in November, would provide a source of revenue for road and bridge construction and repair. Its countywide one-cent sales tax over 10 years would expedite construction and help pay for the improvements needed on Baptist Road.

  • When asked what arguments would be most persuasive to the commissioners, Williams said the board would listen to all citizen input but that the county cannot decide land use issues by picking winners and losers. For example, deciding where the Wal-Mart should be built should not be based on whether to help School District 38 or District 20 or whether to help the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District instead of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District. These are some of the consequences of suggesting that Wal-Mart build inside Monument at the Marketplace instead of on the unincorporated lot on Baptist Road.

  • He was asked what weight the board would give to the planning commission’s recommendation against the proposal. He said he looks at their votes and the reasons for their recommendations. He also noted that the proposal the county commissioners see will be different than the one the planning commission saw, because developers naturally try to change their proposals based on the concerns voiced, in order to gain approval. He said the county commissioners follow the planning commission’s recommendations about 80 percent of the time.

  • When asked if the hearing could be held on a Saturday, Williams said that weekend hearings raise costs due to overtime pay and pose attendance problems due to religious observances on Saturdays and Sundays. He added that because El Paso County has the lowest tax rate of any Front Range county in Colorado, there is little money available for overtime. Williams suggested that people only take half a day off (for the weekday hearing, which begins at 9 a.m.), because there is little likelihood of being able to speak until the afternoon. The county planning staff and the developer usually take all morning to complete their lengthy presentations on a proposal this complicated. Williams concluded by saying that he attends meetings throughout his district at night or on the weekends so more people can hear his presentations and give their views.

Williams noted that the coalition’s presentation had given him plenty of issues to have his staff research, so he can ask better questions at the hearing.

After Williams left, Heiser resumed answering questions:

What roadwork will be done by Wal-Mart? A lane would be added to the south side of Baptist Road from Leather Chaps to Jackson Creek Parkway; four lanes of the parkway would be extended south of Baptist to the southern boundary of Wal-Mart’s frontage. The county is requesting that Wal-Mart connect Jackson Creek Parkway south to Struthers’ Ranch. Funding sources for road building further south within the Struthers Ranch development remain to be determined.

Would the construction of a Wal-Mart accelerate the improvement of the I-25 interchange? It depends on whether traffic accidents and deaths occur and whether they cause a reprioritization for road building. However, CDOT makes its own schedule independent of county wishes. Heiser noted that CDOT appeared to be unresponsive to Monument’s wishes to allow large trucks to continue to exit the weigh station directly onto the highway between Arby’s and the Conoco station. Since that decision, the Burger King has gone out of business, and total town sales revenues from stores on Highway 105 from Second Street up to the Safeway are down significantly.

Will the profits from Wal-Mart stay here in the county? No, they will go mostly to Arkansas. The effect of spending one dollar at a local business is that it actually generates four to eight dollars worth of taxable-related business activity for Monument and the county, unlike Wal-Mart spending.

Why has the developer not met with the neighborhood to address its concerns? They held an open house at Lewis Palmer Middle School (LPMS) March 2 but only sent invitations to the 12 nearest lots in Chaparral Hills. Schueler told several of the residents who came to the LPMS session that he was quite upset by the meager notification. Heiser recounted similar situations dating back to 1999 where Wal-Mart gave very little notice of community meetings.

Heiser said coalition members will make an integrated presentation of the faults with this proposal at the BOCC hearing July 15. He urged everyone in the audience to attend, adding that speaking at the hearing would not be necessary to have an effect on the commissioners. He encouraged those who wished to speak to not repeat concerns already presented, but to address issues not adequately covered by prior speakers.

The session adjourned at 4 p.m. The coalition’s Wal-Mart committee meets each Tuesday night, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bethesda Building on the northeast corner of Gleneagle and Baptist Road.

**********

For more information on this project and to provide comments, contact Carl Schueler, Manager, El Paso County Planning Division, 520-6300, CarlSchueler@elpasoco.com Mail comments and questions to the El Paso County Planning Department, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903-2208.

In addition to Schueler, address comments to the five commissioners who will vote on this request: Jim Bensberg (jimbensberg@elpasoco.com), Chuck Brown (chuckbrown@elpasoco.com), Jeri Howells (jerihowells@elpasoco.com), Tom Huffman (tomhuffman@elpasoco.com), and Wayne Williams (waynewilliams@elpasoco.com).

The Coalition of Tri-Lakes Communities’ Web site, www.CoalitionTLC.org, has information on the project and includes the materials distributed at the June 13 community meeting. For further information on the coalition’s efforts and how to get involved, contact John Heiser at 488-9031 or info@coalitiontlc.org.

Additional information on the Wal-Mart project is available at the OCN Web site, www.ourcommunitynews.org.

View photos from the Community Meeting

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Star-Spangled Weekend

The Tri-Lakes area is the place to be over the holiday weekend as Monument and Palmer Lake celebrate community and history with a "Star-Spangled Weekend."

It all kicks off Saturday, July 3, with the "Historic Downtown Monument Celebration." The Sertoma pancake breakfast, a farmers market, and a "Fun Run" start things off at 7:30 a.m. From noon to 5 p.m., Second Street will close to traffic and turn old-timey with exhibits of antique cars, demonstrations of pioneer skills, arts and crafts, pioneer games, and even melodramas. You can enjoy the day in turn-of-the-century costume, available for rent. The fun ends with a barn dance starting at 9 p.m.

The action moves to Palmer Lake on Sunday, July 4, for the "What a Blast Celebration" for the Fourth of July, "lunchtime to launchtime." A street fair with music and arts, and other family fun is planned, with fireworks concluding the day.

Monument’s Independence Day Celebration starts Monday, July 5, at 7:30 a.m., with another pancake breakfast and is followed by a street fair until 3 p.m. The Kids Parade starts at 9:30 a.m., with the big Independence Day parade starting at 10, both sponsored by Monument Hill Sertoma. Because parking that day will be limited, shuttle buses will make trips into town starting at 8:30 a.m., leaving from Palmer Lake Elementary School, Lewis Palmer Middle School, and Lewis Palmer High School. Buses will depart Monument from noon to 2:30 p.m. Suggested contributions are 25 cents per person each way, to help defray costs.

For more details on these events, see the special events section, or call Betty Konarski, 481-2769.

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County planning commission meeting June 14

By Steve Sery

Two items involving northern El Paso County were addressed at this month’s meeting of the El Paso County Planning Commission.

The first was approval of an on-site wastewater treatment system at the new Edith Wolford Elementary School in Black Forest. This was a consent item and was approved unanimously.

The other was a request for a variance of use for a landscape materials yard on 5 acres of a 22.63-acre parcel, located at the southwest corner of Baptist and Woodcarver Roads. Ray Dellacroce owns the property, currently zoned A-35. Pioneer Sand will operate the business. The entrance will be at the southeast corner of the property, off of Woodcarver. There was some objection to the increased traffic on Woodcarver Road, which parallels the Santa Fe Trail. The applicant will be required to meet with the El Paso County Parks Department to discuss improvements such as signage and signals at the Baptist Road trail crossing. The request was recommended for approval 7-1.

In addition, Cole Emmons, assistant county attorney, clarified the relationship between rezoning and comprehensive plans. It had been his understanding that consistency with comprehensive plans was only a consideration in rezoning applications; inconsistency did not necessarily mean the rezoning would automatically be denied. Based on state statute, this is correct in all but a rezoning to PUD, Planned Unit Development. In the case of a PUD, there must be general consistency found with the Master Plan. This includes the county policy plan and the sub-area plans like the 2000 Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan.

This will undoubtedly be a major discussion point at the Board of County Commissioners hearing on the proposed Wal-Mart site, now scheduled for July 15.

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County transportation corridors forum June 17

By John Heiser

County Project Manager Jude Willcher headed a public forum at the Black Forest Community Center June 17 on the El Paso County Major Transportation Corridors Plan. This was the third and final meeting in the series of meetings on an update to the county’s major transportation corridors plan that was last updated in 1987. The first local meeting was held Oct. 23, 2003. The second meeting was held Feb. 9, 2004.

Willcher said the county intends to use the updated major transportation corridors plan to help guide transportation planning. The new plan will try to identify transportation needs through 2030 with suggestions for right-of-way preservation needs through 2050.

Willcher introduced Ray Moe, an engineering consultant team leader with LSA Associates, who presented the findings.

Following the presentation, citizens reviewed a variety of displays and completed comment sheets. Displays included a number of maps, aerial photos, and process descriptions to help citizens familiarize themselves with the history of overall county transportation plans since 1987. Team project members circulated, soliciting questions and concerns. In addition to Willcher and other county transportation staff members, employees of LSA Associates and public relations firm Catalyst Consulting moved through the crowd, answering questions and collecting comment sheets. Similar meetings were held June 14 in Fountain and June 15 in Falcon.

The primary purpose of this forum was to preview the recommendations that are to be presented to the El Paso County Planning Commission in September or October.

Recommended Tri-Lakes area improvements in the 2030 plan include:

  • Safety improvements on Black Forest Road, Burgess Road, Hodgen Road, Milam Road, Roller Coaster Road, Shoup Road, and Vollmer Road.

  • Widening Highway 105 to four lanes from I-25 to Highway 83.

  • Widening Baptist Road to four lanes from I-25 to Tari Drive.

  • Straightening Northgate Road from I-25 to Highway 83 and widening it to four lanes.

  • Completing Jackson Creek Parkway as a four-lane expressway from Interquest to Highway 105.

  • Widening Highway 83 to six lanes from the Colorado Springs city limits to the realignment of Northgate Road and then widening to four lanes from there to Highway 105.

  • Extending Furrow Road south as a two-lane collector road to connect to Baptist Road.

  • Extending Powers Boulevard north as a six-lane freeway to connect into I-25 south of Northgate Road.

Moe noted that the extension of Baptist Road to connect to Hodgen Road is not on the list because it is to be completed this summer.

Of great interest to many audience members was what the plan did not show. Gone were the extension of several roads through the Black Forest including the controversial extension of Milam Road north of Shoup Road as an arterial to connect to Walker Road or Hodgen Road.

However, the 2050 Preserved Corridors plan still showed Milam being extended north as a collector road to access future developments as far north as Walker Road. Corridors identified on that plan would be considered for right-of-way dedication as part of the county processing of subdivision proposals.

The plans presented are posted at www.elpasomtcp.com. Moe said comments received prior to June 25 would be considered for incorporation in the revised recommendations that will be posted on the web site by July 15.

Moe said the revised plan will be presented for adoption by the county planning commission in September or October.

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For further information on this project and the results of the traffic models used, visit www.elpasoMTCP.com or contact the El Paso County Department of Transportation, 3640 N. Marksheffel Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80922 (719) 659-3941 Fax (719) 520-6878.

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Monument Board of Trustees meeting June 7

By John Heiser

The regular June 7 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Trustee Frank Orten was absent.

Southwick appointed to PPACG

Melissa Southwick was unanimously appointed to be the town’s representative to the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) Community Advisory Committee. One of PPACG’s principal roles is regional transportation planning. Southwick said she is a commercial real estate broker. She added that she is interested in serving on the planning commission but has not yet lived in town for the requisite one year.

Marky expresses concern about town fees

Monika Marky, owner of Toys 4 Fun, 155 Jefferson Street, said, "I am frustrated being a business owner in this town." She said that because she is expanding her store, the town is imposing a $3,000 traffic impact fee. She noted that three stores closed recently due to lack of traffic. She also questioned the 3 percent town sales tax. She said, "I don’t see the improvement. There is still no sign showing what the extension of Second Street leads to. A landscape architect has not even been chosen yet. All of this is making it hard for business owners to succeed."

Mike Davenport, assistant town manager and town planner, replied that the traffic impact fee applies to new construction or expansion and was adopted in 2001 based on a traffic study. He said the fee is based on the Institute of Traffic Engineering standards for the number of vehicle trips generated and is intended to help pay for major roadways. He added, "I don’t have discretion to change or waive the fee." He said it might be legally defensible to change the regulation if differences in traffic generation can be shown between the downtown area and along the major highways.

Trustee George Brown said the regulation should be changed to distinguish between the historic district and highway commercial development and between new construction and expansion of an existing business. He said, "It’s ridiculous." Mayor Byron Glenn said he agreed with Brown.

Town attorney Gary Shupp said that to change the fee without a change in the regulations would raise issues of equal protection under the law.

Davenport said he would work with the town’s traffic consultant and look into potential changes to the regulations. Glenn asked that the proposed regulation change to allow adjustment of the fee should be ready for the board to consider in two weeks.

Shupp said the town could refund Marky’s $3,000 if the regulation is changed.

Marky added that she paid $943 for a drainage impact fee. Davenport said property owners get credit against the drainage impact fee for local improvements such as detention ponds they construct. Glenn said, "I don’t like that solution. Drainage impact fees should be for regional improvements."

Trustee Gail Drumm asked about the signage for Second Street and Third Street. Davenport replied that the Parks and Landscape Committee is reviewing the design for the signage. Brown said, "It has fallen through the crack. That’s not right."

Pankratz asks about relocation of water treatment building

Richard Pankratz, owner of Pankratz Gallery, 366 Second Street, asked when the blue building that houses drinking water treatment equipment near his gallery will be relocated.

Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall said, "Maybe before the end of the year–otherwise, spring time."

Pankratz said, "This is frustrating. We were led to believe that would be out of there by this summer."

Wall replied that construction would take six months after the plans are approved and sent out for bids. Glenn asked if the plans are out to bid. Wall replied that treatment for Well 9 was added to the requirements for Well 8 treatment. He said the town’s engineering firm, GMS, is reviewing the plans.

Glenn said, "All I can do is apologize for the delay and work with Tom [Wall] to get it done."

Pankratz asked if the town had a schedule for mowing weeds along Second Street. Wall replied that weeds in the right-of-way are the responsibility of the neighboring property owner. Glenn said the town would look at the ordinance to see if it is viable to change the maintenance responsibility.

Computer consulting contract to be put out for bids

Kevin Classen, vice president of Classen Computer Consulting, and Judy Skrzypek, town clerk and treasurer, appeared before the board with a renewal contract dated May 27 showing hourly rate increases of 18 to 25 percent. The highest hourly rate in the proposed new rates is $165 vs. $140 in the prior contract.

Brown characterized the hourly rate increases "unacceptable."

Classen said the rate increases were needed to "maintain the high caliber of staff we have."

Brown said the town needed to get bids for the services.

Glenn asked Skrzypek to advertise, get three bids, and bring them to the board meeting, July 7.

Classen said he was concerned that there is a risk of data loss with the town’s present computer system.

Skrzypek said the servers are being backed up nightly but there are problems with the backups.

Police Chief Joe Kissell said the police department is backing up their computers successfully using tape.

Benefit Design Services contract renewal continued

Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg recommended renewal of the contract with Dick Welch of Benefit Design Services. Sonnenburg said Welch has been the town’s health, dental, and life insurance broker since 1989.

Glenn said he wanted to research this matter. The item was continued to the June 21 meeting.

St. Peter Parish Education Center approval ratified

Ordinance 13-2004 was approved ratifying the April 19 approval by the board of the use by special review to operate a kindergarten through 5th grade school in the education center. The vote was 4-0-2 with trustees Tommie Plank and George Case abstaining.

Pacific Telecom antenna co-location approved

Davenport said that Richard Miller, representative of Pacific Telecom, is applying for an amendment to a final PD Site Plan. The applicant wants to mount an additional wireless antenna on the existing pole at 856 North Washington Street.

Davenport said there is a national competition to come up with new design ideas for these kinds of poles with a prize offered to make the poles less obtrusive.

No one spoke for or against the proposal, which was unanimously approved.

Wahlborg annexation continued to July 7

Since the planning commission continued their hearing on the annexation to June 9, the board of trustees unanimously voted to continue the item to July 7.

Board votes to oppose creation of a metropolitan district for the Village at Woodmoor (Wahlborg property)

Davenport said the developers are interested in forming a metropolitan district to raise money to build and maintain infrastructure within the subdivision.

Brown said, "We don’t need another district. We are going in the wrong direction."

Glenn remarked that with 140 acres and a large percentage of commercial development, the developers have substantial costs to cover.

Brown said they should have figured that out up front. He said, "We need to make sure we protect those residents from being overtaxed."

Glenn agreed, "Mill levies do get out of hand with special districts."

From the audience, property owner John Dominowski added, "We can’t get the fire districts together."

Shupp noted that if the developers drop their annexation request, they could have the county commissioners approve creation of a metropolitan district.

Brown’s motion to oppose formation of a metropolitan district for the Village at Woodmoor passed 4-2 with Glenn and Plank voting no.

Second Street to be closed for the town’s 125th Birthday Celebration July 3

Former Mayor Betty Konarski asked the board to authorize closing Second Street between Jefferson Street and Front Street from noon to 5 p.m. for the town’s 125th birthday celebration.

Konarski said that along with the numerous activities planned, there will be a new history book unveiled during the celebration.

At Konarski’s request, the board unanimously approved creation of a certificate of recognition entitled "First Family" to be signed by the mayor and awarded at a July 3 ceremony in Limbach Park to the living relatives of families who were significant in the development of the Monument area.

Limbach Park permanent stage approved

Konarski said a unit from Fort Carson is building a stage for Monument at Limbach Park. as part of their Community Partnership Program.

Glenn asked Wall if he is going to review the site plan and to see if it is a good idea to make the band shell a permanent structure at this time.

Wall said he is reviewing the location and the Parks and Landscape Committee will review the placement at their meeting June 8.

Glenn asked whether the town needed a lease agreement from the railroad to build a permanent structure on land it does not yet own.

Wall said the town has an easement through its agreement with the railroad.

Glenn asked if the agreement allows for a permanent structure.

Sonnenburg said he was unsure whether anyone measured to see if the band shell will be on property the town owns.

Glenn requested the town staff to investigate.

Dominowski said he and business owner Kelly McGuire asked the military to build a temporary stage for the July 3 events. He said the cost of building a temporary stage was nearly the same as building a permanent stage and the military engineers from Fort Carson agreed to come and build the stage. He added that over the past two years the community raised funds for the project. He said it is on Limbach Park land the town leases and is in negotiations to purchase.

Dominowski said that the consensus of the committee was that the costs were so low with the military doing the labor on the project that they are willing to risk losing the investment if the railroad decides someday they want the structure removed.

Glenn asked who is going to maintain the structure.

Dominowski replied that it is a low maintenance concrete block and stucco structure with no exposed wood. He said the committee is hoping the town will agree to maintain and insure it.

Dominowski said the front of the stage is 30 inches high and the back of the stage is about 46 inches. He said there is a back wall on the stage to eliminate the need for a railing. He added that the front of the stage is in an ideal location because of the slope of the land: People will be able to sit elevated all the way back to Front Street on the grass or in lawn chairs and be able to see the stage from there.

Plank’s motion was unanimously approved to permit construction of a permanent band shell in Limbach Park subject to the following conditions:

  1. The Superintendent of Public Works approves the plans when they become available.

  2. The Parks and Landscape Committee recommend approval of stage placement at their meeting on June 8.

  3. The town manager will check the railroad lease agreement.

Sales tax impact of closure of I-25 exit 161

Skrzypek said that in accordance with state statute she could not discuss taxes from any individual business, but looking at the overall figures for May 2002 and 2003 compared to May 2004, tax receipts are down. She said she could not verify if it was the result of the exit being closed.

Brown said the town is down $13,000 from last year and if the trend continues, it will be down around $39,000 - $40,000 by the end of the year.

Skrzypek estimated that sales tax would be approximately $76,000 in the first quarter of 2004.

Glenn said when people saw Burger King fold they blamed it on the exit closure.

In response to a question from Drumm, Skrzypek said her computer program is not presently sophisticated enough to break down east side vs. west side of I-25.

Sonnenburg said there are only seven or eight businesses on the east side of I-25 and these could be isolated to break down the figures.

Skrzypek said she would try to have that information available for the next meeting.

Brown said he did not see what difference it would make. The exit is closed and even though sales tax revenues are down approximately 2½ percent, the exit will not be opened again.

Drumm asked whether there are any arrangements with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to advertise local merchants.

Sonnenburg said there will be two standard blue billboard-type signs with business logos on I-25 northbound and southbound.

Davenport said some merchants are opposed to the pork-chop style center barriers that CDOT plans for Highway 105 but it is CDOT’s right-of-way and they can do what they want.

Plank asked if anyone discussed with CDOT why trucks getting off and on I-25 cannot come into town as well.

Kissell replied that this was asked at one of the meetings with CDOT. CDOT said it was too difficult to control who would be using the on and off access. They said they were concerned that trucks getting back on would be a hazard.

Disbursements over $5,000

The following disbursements over $5,000 were unanimously approved:

  1. John C. Halespaska & Associates for $5,325.37

  2. Forest Lakes Metropolitan District for $9,036.80

  3. GMS, Inc. for $16,103.09

The board unanimously approved payment of $39,304.52 to Layne-Western for work completed at the booster pump station. Wall said approximately $8,500 remains to be paid on the contract and the project should be completed within the next few weeks.

Lake of the Rockies fence compliance

Davenport noted that the board’s approval of an amendment to the Lake of the Rockies PD Master Plan earlier this year included several conditions, one being a fence or screen along the RV storage area located from the southeast corner of the site to the northeast corner of the site. It was left to Davenport to determine if the condition was satisfied. Davenport noted that minutes from the meeting where the plan was approved were reconstructed due to problems with the tape recorder.

He said the board discussion stressed the importance of the fence being located so as to avoid restricting the vision of drivers coming out of the RV storage area on the lane leading to Monument Reservoir.

Davenport said he and town engineer Tony Hurst visited the site and agreed the fence was located back far enough from the lane so as to not cause a vision problem for drivers.

Davenport added that the property owner has put up the fence to comply with the request; however, it does not hide the RVs. He said it screens them so they are less visible, but one can still see the RVs from the public access road.

Trustee Dave Mertz said there was very little screening of the RV storage.

Davenport said the barbed wire fence is not a screening fence. It is to prevent people from driving through the private property.

Mertz said the two issues are enclosures of the RVs and the setback on the northern portion.

Glenn asked if the owner intends to use trees as a screen. Davenport replied that they may help with screening but will not give a complete screening. He said the trees were part of the approved plan.

Brown said driving around town and looking in some yards he has seen worse things.

Glenn said the town could put up a screen if the property owner, Ernie Biggs, refuses to do it. He added that the town should ask the property owner to put in trees of a proper caliber.

Mertz said he may have taken extensive notes on the issue and would like to review them. Shupp said that Mertz’ notes do not have any legal significance. He said the written minutes are the formal record.

From the audience, Konarski said her memory was that the property owner did not want to extend the fence around the corner and that what was said was that it was to go around the corner.

Pegasus Transit

The Pegasus Transit representative did not attend the meeting so the item was postponed indefinitely.

Liquor license renewals approved

Liquor licenses renewals were unanimously approved for Eagle Wine and Spirits, 7-Eleven, Inc., and the Broiler Room.

Discussion of raise for town manager continued to June 21

A motion to continue this item to the June 21 meeting was unanimously approved.

Tree planing program supported

Davenport reported that the town did not receive a grant for planting trees along Second Street. The Parks and Landscape Committee recommended seeking donations or sponsorship by business owners or individuals for the trees with the town providing irrigation.

Davenport asked if the board supports the committee’s proposal. He said they are seeking sponsors right now and collecting money to buy trees but the committee did not want to go any further unless they had board support.

Wall noted that CDOT is planning to build sidewalks on the north side of 2nd Street.

Glenn added that there could be potential access to potential development sites along 2nd Street.

Mertz noted that the committee was only looking for support, not funding at this point.

Glenn said there is board support.

Drainage issues along Old Denver Highway

Davenport said that during the pre-application presentation on the proposed Trails End annexation west of Old Denver Highway, and just south of the Villages at Monument subdivision, the Planning Commission heard comments from an adjoining property owner that developments along Old Denver Highway, including Peak View Ridge and Santa Fe Trails, have caused drainage problems on his property. He said he removed eight truckloads of sediment from just one rain shower, and has spent over $8,000 removing sediment.

Davenport said the planning commission recommended the board consider not allowing further development along Old Denver Highway until the drainage issues are resolved.

Davenport said he requested Hurst to assess the drainage along the Old Denver Highway corridor and would report back to the planning commission and the board when the information becomes available.

Glenn asked that the board receive a report at the next meeting.

Mertz asked if the Peak View Ridge and Santa Fe Trails developments had liability to correct this drainage problem.

Sonnenburg said he and Hurst are looking into the Peak View Ridge detention pond design. He said the outlet does not flow as designed or the direction is not as designed.

He added that they would see if there are any liabilities for others to help fix the problem.

Mertz asked if there is a way the town can recoup the cost of the staff time spent dealing with these problems.

Shupp said it could come from the developer per agreement or through litigation.

Regarding the question of not allowing further development until the problem is resolved, Shupp said this could be construed as a taking of property rights. He added that if a proposal comes before the board with drainage issues, the board could take this into account. He advised not having a blanket moratorium on this issue.

Case asked if .the original drainage pattern for the area was known..

Davenport indicated that the photos may show this, but when work was done some years ago on the railroad tracks or the adjacent service road, the direction of the drainage flow probably changed.

Glenn said the town has a problem and needs to find a solution before the problem gets worse. Sonnenburg said there is approximately $180,000 in the storm impact fund but the town is trying to get others to fix it.

Highway 105 paving

Glenn said he thought CDOT agreed to pave Highway 105 to Safeway because they closed the exit 161.

Sonnenburg said CDOT now says it will only pave to McDonalds. He said he would talk with them about it.

Sept. 6 meeting rescheduled to Sept. 7

Due to the conflict with Labor Day on Sept. 6, the first board meeting in September was set for Sept. 7.

The meeting adjourned at 9:03 p.m. The next BOT meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on July 7 at Town Hall, 166 Second Street.

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Monument Board of Trustees meeting June 21

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) honored Bob Mooney for his service as chair of the Planning Commission at the June 21 meeting. They unanimously appointed a new alternate member to the Parks and Landscape Committee. Board members split on approving a proclamation declaring July 1 Home Depot Day and on the adequacy of the new Lake of the Rockies’ screening fence along the town’s park lane to Monument Lake. All members were present.

Certificates of Appreciation

Mooney was given a certificate thanking him for his service to Monument by Mayor Byron Glenn. Mooney took over the chair position from Dave Mertz, who moved to the BOT Aug. 18 to replace Trustee Chris Perry. Mooney resigned on April 12 due to a change in his business commitments. A certificate of appreciation was to have been presented to former Commissioner Tom Donnellan, but Donnellan did not attend the meeting. He resigned in May when he moved away from Monument.

Parks & Landscape Vacancy Filled

Bob Watson, a Woodmoor resident and professional landscape designer, was one of three candidates to express an interest in being an alternate committee member. He is a retired Air Force colonel, has an engineering and communications background, and has owned land here since 1983. He has worked for Mountain Farmer for the last nine years. When asked if he had experience in spreading small budgets, he replied, "Yes, my own." He was approved unanimously. As an alternate, he can participate in all the meetings and vote if a quorum is needed.

Planning Commission Vacancy

Volunteers are still being sought to fill two vacancies on the Planning Commission. Trustee Frank Orten suggested that signs be posted, in addition to newspaper advertisements. A motion to advertise again and post signs passed unanimously.

Candidates must be at least one-year Monument residents to be eligible for selection. Anyone interested should contact Rick Sonnenburg at 719-884-8012 or rsonnenburg@townofmonument.net. Additional information can be found at the town’s Web site, www.townofmonument.net.

Home Depot

Brian Smith and Sally Folsom, from the new Home Depot store, told the board of the store’s plans for a community night on June 30 and Opening Day on July 1. Over 90 percent of the new store’s employees are town residents. After they concluded their announcement and left Town Hall, there was a lengthy discussion on the appropriateness of a proclamation of "Home Depot Day" for July 1. The vote approving the controversial proclamation was 4-3, with George Case, Dave Mertz, and Tommie Plank opposed.

Charm approved

The board unanimously approved Renee Sanning’s request to manufacture and sell a charm commemorating the official town logo for the 125th Birthday Celebration July 3-5.

Metro Districts

Attorney Pete Susemihl gave the trustees an overview of the structure and operations of metropolitan districts. Under Title 32 of the Colorado Revised Statures, metropolitan districts direct a combination of two or more functions that special districts normally perform: water, sanitation, drainage, golf courses, and parks and landscape. For example, the Triview Metropolitan District administers water, sanitation, road building, and maintenance services including sweeping and snow removal in the Jackson Creek area.

The BOT was interested in learning about metro districts because the developer for the Wahlborg addition suggested creation of a metro district as an alternative to having the town perform some required services if the parcel is annexed.

Susemihl said metro districts have become more popular with county and town governments as the effects of TABOR and Amendment 23 have become more significant. Their advantages include the ability to issue tax-exempt bonds with no existing infrastructure as collateral, and they provide a more stable source of long-term revenue (through mill levies) than homeowner associations. Developers like them because they help finance big up-front infrastructure costs for roads and utilities, tax free.

When Gail Drumm asked him to list any negatives, Susemihl said he could not think of any. Trustees had several technical questions, however, indicating that not all of them agreed with his assessment. Susemihl said that district debt could not exceed the assessed valuation of the district, which prevents overborrowing. He said the developer is always responsible for the initial district debt, rather than the residents. Referring to Triview, he said the debt, now totaling about $36 million, has had no negative effect on home sales.

Pacific Telecom Antenna Approved

Pacific Telecom’s request to co-locate an antenna on an existing radio tower next to the town dump on Washington Street passed 6-0-1, with Orten abstaining because he had been absent during the BOT hearing on the subject.

Lake of the Rockies’ Fence

Mertz expressed concern that the new screening fence section at Lake of the Rockies Campground does not meet the spirit of the town’s new requirement. The 40-foot section was built along the south side of the town’s park lane from the northeast corner of the property on Mitchell Avenue to the north campground entrance. Town Planner Mike Davenport and Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the fence complies with the amended site plan conditions. Plank said her recollection of the original hearing on Jan. 20 regarding the fence called for concealment of the RV storage area. Davenport’s staff report for this July 21 meeting notes that less than 25 percent of the view into the storage area from the public access road is screened by the added fencing. The board requested that Biggs be asked to voluntarily extend the fence, even though he is not required to do so.

Traffic Impact Fees

Davenport reported that business owner Monika Markey has been satisfied that her planned store expansion will not be delayed by the town’s traffic impact fee. A review of the impact fee regulation is being performed by consultant Neil Geitner of IUG, the company that drafted the regulation. Recommendations for any possible changes will be available in late July.

Electric Fences

Town engineer Tony Hurst had been asked to do an analysis of safety concerns regarding electric fences. A Jackson Creek resident had asked to have the regulation prohibiting electrified fences within the town limits changed so she could keep her four-year-old fence. She said her mother is terribly allergic to dogs and presented copies of her medical bills to show the harm that had occurred when neighboring pets had jumped her fence. Her next-door neighbor had opposed her request and gathered other neighbors’ signatures on a petition supporting his position that electrified fences were harmful to children and pets and lowered property values. Glenn said he too had an electric fence and that it only gave his dog a pinch without knocking it down.

Shupp advised that the prohibition was common throughout the state, and Davenport said the building code prohibited them. The board voted 5-2, with Plank and Case opposed, not to amend or rescind the existing regulation.

Water Attorney Contract Change

Bruce Lytle has been the town’s water consultant for several years, but he has left the Halepaska and Associates firm to form his own practice. The town’s annual contract with Halepaska is due to expire on Dec. 31. A motion to initiate a new services contract with Lytle through Dec. 31 passed unanimously. The Halepaska contract with the town will also remain in force for the rest of 2004.

Engineering Services Contract Renewed

The annual transportation engineering contract with SEH, Inc. (formerly called Transplan), which expired on June 21, was renewed with unanimous approval.

Downtown Entry

Land Patterns Inc. was selected unanimously to be the landscape architect for the downtown entry at Second Street and Highway 105. The estimated $1,000 cost for irrigation was not budgeted, but may be covered by the funding for the overall project. Electricity is available on the southwest corner of the intersection. There is an unusually wide CDOT right-of-way easement, leading to some concern over the placement of the entry’s landscaping.

Server contract approved

A power surge knocked out two town servers. A contract to replace them was approved for Classen Computer Consulting, Inc. Costs are $10,387.50 for the town server and $9,058.42 for the police server.

Treasurer’s Report

A payment of $217,531.80 for construction costs of Well 9 to Layne Christensen Company was approved unanimously, as were the budget report and expenditures of over $5,000 including a tax transfer of $15,365.84 to Triview Metro District.

New Annexation Request

Robert Martin submitted an annexation petition for the 45-acre Labib Property, southwest of the Villages at Monument, west of Old Denver Highway. The board agreed to an eligibility hearing on Aug. 2.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, July 7, at 6:30 p.m., in Town Hall.

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Monument Planning Commission meeting June 9

By Jim Kendrick

Woodmoor residents made their feelings known a second time as consideration of the annexation and rezoning petition for the Wahlborg property resumed at the Monument Planning Commission (PC) meeting on June 9. The hearing was continued at the May 12 meeting after two hours of presentations by Zephyr Development and concerned neighbors. Residents again voiced concern over the housing density as well as the type and style of commercial buildings proposed for the 140-acre pastureland, located southeast of Highway 105 and Knollwood. Developer Steve Shuttleworth, his staff, and the property owner fielded many questions throughout their presentations.

Commissioner Jim Thresher was absent, leaving a quorum of four commissioners available.

Wahlborg Annexation and Rezoning

The applicant, WED LLC, is proposing that Monument annex and rezone the parcel for mixed use, with a 330,000-foot commercial center, three residential subdivisions consisting of 350 dwelling units, and over 25 acres of open space in these four areas.

Residents at the May 12 meeting had objected to the original proposal, which did not conform to the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) covenants. The proposal had allowed for more rear setback than the covenants call for because the 40-foot trails, along with the minimum 25-foot Zephyr covenant setbacks from them, had been figured in to the total buffer space. But when residents objected to the trails, those minimum setbacks were shortened from 65 feet to 40 feet, to match the WIA covenants.

Zephyr’s principal planner, Jerry Haire, reviewed other changes made to the proposal based on feedback from the May 12 hearing:

  • Minimum lot size was increased to 0.5 acres on the southern and eastern boundaries.

  • The 40-foot-wide walking trail between Woodmoor and Village Center at Woodmoor was eliminated. Woodmoor residents objected to residential trails, saying they promote crime.

  • Zephyr’s engineering consultant, JPS Engineering, submitted a revised, more detailed drainage plan.

  • Single-family housing fences will be limited to decorative split-rail in the large lot housing area, with wire mesh attached for controlling pets.

  • Perimeter fencing in the small lot and multifamily portions will be stucco or wrought iron, with no interior fencing allowed.

  • Commercial lighting will be limited to 25 feet in height, with downcast cutoff lighting that eliminates glare.

  • No residential street lighting will be installed.

  • Residential covenants were revised to parallel those of the WIA as much as possible. There will be a separate set of commercial covenants.

  • A metropolitan district will be formed to pay for initial development and continuing street and facilities maintenance. The town would not be responsible for these.

  • Outdoor storage and temporary tent sales of food and plants will be permitted, per town regulations.

  • No more than three commercial pad sites will be used for fast-food restaurants with drive-through access.

Houses will be built so there are no identical façades side-by-side. Builders will use natural colors, and there will be no wood shake roofing.

An impromptu question-and-answer session ensued before Zephyr could finish the presentation. Woodmoor resident Wallace Unruh interrupted Barr, demanding to know where his house was on the development map. Haire pointed to it on the diagram and noted that Zephyr had changed the lot layout to match Woodmoor’s covenants.

Woodmoor resident Mary Putnam asked if there would be a fence along the Knollwood perimeter and where the drive-through pads would be. Town Planner Mike Davenport said town regulations require that perimeter commercial buildings be designed with four-sided architecture so no unattractive rear façade will face Knollwood or Highway 105. There will be no perimeter fence on Knollwood, and the locations of the drive-through restaurants have not been determined.

Morgan asked about signage, noting that no other signs on Highway 105, all pre-existing, comply with recently enacted regulations. Davenport said Zephyr’s signs would comply with the same regulations as Monument Marketplace.

Commissioner Kathy Spence asked if Zephyr would have to meet with the commission again. Davenport said that specific plans for the townhouse/apartment residential area are not ready and would have to be reviewed separately by the town. That standard review would occur after annexation and rezoning.

After some other questions from the audience, Morgan indicated he wanted Zephyr to continue its presentation. However, Unruh again spoke up, complaining that Zephyr’s surveyor could not find the pin on his property and that several sections of the Wahlborg family’s old agricultural fence might not be exactly on the property line.

Resident Brian Osterholt asked that the existing land contours be maintained but that Zephyr control the areas of high storm water runoff they cause. Davenport said the town has recently begun enforcement of the county’s drainage manual, to prevent deposition of sediment due to soft or sandy soils.

Bill Brown thanked Zephyr for listening to Woodmoor’s concerns on May 12 and making the changes that had been presented. Shuttleworth said half a dozen builders were interested in building on the parcel, with Richmond likely to build the largest houses.

Elizabeth Miller expressed concern that the redesign had eliminated parks and open spaces next to Woodmoor. Haire responded that they were eliminated to comply with residents’ complaints about the resulting noise and need for watering and with the WIA covenants.

Kay Czylinski, president of the Monument Villas homeowner’s association asked that Zephyr build a fence along Knollwood to keep dust and trash from blowing into what she characterized as a mostly senior citizen development, located directly west of the parcel on Knollwood.

Spence asked how many people would want to live in a community without streetlights. Shuttleworth said that the developers, the builders, and the neighboring residents did not want them in the single-family, large-lot section. Spence said this development was not Woodmoor, and lights were needed or children would be endangered. Haire said that if required to install them by the town, they would be of the same design as the commercial area, though a bit shorter.

Morgan said he was concerned about the small individual lots created in the southwest corner for "starter" houses. While they may keep costs down for young families, he said they set a terrible precedent by violating the minimum half-acre requirement and might open up the town to many requests for variations. This would defeat the purpose of the town’s subdivision and zoning regulation update before it is even approved. He said his lot was platted in 1870 and is 7,700 square feet, compared to the 3,000 square foot lots in Zephyr’s proposal. Barr and Shuttleworth noted that these lots were small so the houses could be priced at $165,000, responding to the Monument staff’s suggestion to include some low cost housing. An earlier proposal had patio homes priced at $320,000.

Jim Hodsdon, of Zephyr’s traffic consultant LSC Transportation, tried to allay Morgan’s concerns about the doubling of traffic on Highway 105. But Morgan remained concerned. Hodsdon said that much of the congestion is due to construction and will improve when all the lanes of the widened highway are completed to Knollwood. Zephyr is proposing adding acceleration and deceleration lanes on the eastbound lane of Highway 105 on both sides of the Knollwood intersection. Similar lanes would also be constructed at the development’s main entrance on Highway 105, directly across from the Mormon Church. Haire added that these road improvements as well as the Knollwood traffic light would be built "up front."

Shuttleworth said he could understand why Morgan might be concerned, but said that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, and the major thoroughfare task force had found their proposal to be satisfactory. He then said, "We can do this in the county. Traffic flow will improve, according to the experts." He added that the major cause of traffic backups is the I-25 bridge construction, not Highway 105. Morgan countered that the area was developing too fast. Shuttleworth appeared exasperated, and said, "We’re happy to talk with the county."

Following the meeting, Davenport said the county has 300-year water requirements, as opposed to Monument, which has 100-year requirements. The county could force Zephyr to reduce the number of residences to meet the water restrictions.)

Spence said that on May 12, Zephyr had said there would be no drive-throughs, yet now, three were being proposed. Barr asked how many the commission would settle for, noting his children had worked initially at fast-food restaurants and that, once built, nearly every resident would use them. Spence said, "One is too many." Shuttleworth said the owners are longtime residents of Monument and intend to stay in town. They feel "honor-bound" to offer the town the revenue opportunity from this commercial center—particularly with the problems the new interchange had caused that might have contributed to the demise of the Monument Burger King. Miller responded, "That’s garbage."

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the proposal had significant differences from the one offered on May 12, but that they were only considering the request for annexation and rezoning, not the specifics of the proposed development. The commission voted 3-1 to recommend the development with conditions; Morgan voted no.

Sully’s Windshield Repair

Brian Sullivan is proposing to create a van-based windshield repair business south of Starbucks on Highway 105, on the dirt lot next to the former Burger King. Access would be from the shopping center road. Town regulations require that the van be removed from the lot every evening. Sullivan currently does business in Colorado Springs at six other locations, but the vans typically are not moved for weeks or months at a time. The business is service only and does not generate sales tax or require a state sales tax license, though Sullivan has applied for a town business license.

The commission approved his request unanimously. Sullivan may request a regulation change so his van does not have to be removed from the property every evening.

Soc-N-Roll Site Plan Amendment

The owner of the roller rink on Old Denver Highway is requesting approval to build a second 22,000-square-foot recreation building and a separate 12,000-square-foot storage facility in the future. The recreation building would be directly behind the existing building to the west, though not as big. It would be built by Access Construction Company that was represented by its president, Mark Ennis. The storage facility would be built next to the railroad tracks on the southwest tip of the property.

There were no significant concerns from the neighboring properties. Ken Watt, owner of the neighboring pastureland, asked that proper landscaping and drainage be installed. He also requested that some effort be made to prevent people from using his ranch road, instead of the current paved entrance and parking lot, for access to the new buildings. (There is no fence between Watt’s ranch road and the north boundary of the rink’s property.)

The proposal was approved unanimously. Planning Commissioner Ed DeLaney thanked Ennis for the work his company had done in building the town’s skateboard park.

Sundance Center Site Plan Amendment

Owners Steve and Kathy Clowes requested approval of an expansion of their dance studio to the north, to allow them to host small gymnastics competitions in addition to their current programs. The expansion would add 4,903 square feet to the 8,843-square-foot facility, a 55 percent increase, and also lower the slope of the roof line. Sixty-eight parking spaces would be provided. Their concurrent request to CDOT to lower the speed limit on Highway 105 from 50 mph to 40 mph near the Knollwood intersection was denied.

Spence questioned whether the proposed number of parking spaces would be enough for the gymnastics meets. She said that many family members attend these types of competitions. Davenport said that his spot checks had shown there was an excess of parking places for current operations and that the number of proposed spaces was sufficient. Mary Putnam said that clients park in the street on occasion, sometimes as many as 10 or 15 cars. Fay Czilinzki expressed concern about the safety of unsupervised children with the increasing traffic on Knollwood. Clowes replied that most of the kids skateboarding on his property actually come from Monument Villas.

The site plan amendment was approved unanimously.

Pre-Application Review for Monument Storage

Owners Scot and Patty Foster were seeking feedback on their proposal to build an interim outdoor RV and boat storage facility behind their existing storage units on Old Denver Highway, between Soc-N-Roll and "R" Rock Yard. They plan to build more permanent storage buildings on this portion of the property as their business grows, but are seeking an interim source of revenue until then.

The property was initially a single-family residence. It was annexed by the town in 1995 and rezoned as planned industrial park. Monument Storage began construction of the original storage buildings in 1997 and has expanded from time to time since then.

In discussing his pre-application proposal, Foster said he could understand why neighbors Ken and Mike Watt want him to build permanent warehouse-size storage buildings to enclose the RVs and boats. This would protect the Watts’ views, which are at higher elevations. But the expense of commercial tax rates on the structures and the future requirement to tear them down to build more storage unit buildings made this option unaffordable. The police department has opposed fencing around the property that completely screens it, because it encourages mischief and would prevent officers from observing activity inside the property during routine patrols or trouble calls.

After the Watts and Foster reviewed their history of grievances with each other, the commissioners generally agreed that there was no good, cost-effective way to implement Foster’s request for open, low-cost RV and boat storage that would improve views to the west. Foster concluded by saying that the town’s tax rates on commercial buildings were too high, which prevented him from being able to make a profit on the type of building the town wants to see.

Regulation Changes

The comprehensive subdivision and zoning regulation update has been continued indefinitely due to the new members of the Monument Board of Trustees wanting to review the approximately 20,000 changes that took nearly two years to be approved by the Planning Commission. Davenport brought eight technical changes that needed to be approved promptly to eliminate out-of-date and conflicting requirements that were harming applicants. The board approved them unanimously.

Planning Commissioners Needed

Volunteers are being sought to fill two vacancies on the Planning Commission. Candidates must be at least one-year Monument residents to be eligible for selection. Anyone interested should contact Rick Sonnenburg at 719-884-8012 or rsonnenburg@townofmonument.net. Additional information can be found at the town’s Web site, www.townofmonument.net.

The meeting adjourned at 10:50 p.m. The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on July 13 at Town Hall.

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Monument Parks and Landscape Committee June 8

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Parks and Landscape Committee reviewed the landscape plans for three expansion proposals at its meeting on June 8. Two were from Old Denver Highway businesses, Soc-N-Roll and Foster Storage, and the third was from the Sundance Center near Highway 105 and Knollwood. Monika Marky was absent, but there was a quorum with Chair John Savage, Vice Chair Linda Pankratz, and Toni Martin present. Assistant Town Manager/Town Planner Mike Davenport and Planning Assistant Natalie Ebaugh were also present.

The fifth position on the committee was vacant on June 8, but has since been filled by Woodmoor resident Bob Watson, who will serve as an alternate member (nonresident) under the new policy recently approved by the Board of Trustees (BOT). Watson, a retired Air Force colonel, has supervised landscape design and installation for Mountain Farmer for nine years. He was appointed by the BOT on June 21. Alternates are full participants in all discussions at every meeting. If their presence is needed to achieve a quorum, they may vote.

Soc- N-Roll amended final PD site plan

Soc-N-Roll wants to add a recreational building, behind and west of its current building, to be used for tournaments. Another part of this site plan amendment proposal would authorize construction of a separate future warehouse building along the railroad tracks, behind Foster Storage. Staff recommendations included:

  • Label all surface materials including raised parking aisles, sidewalks, and landscaped areas.

  • Indicate what is existing vegetation and what will be added.

  • Add landscaping (trees and shrubs) to the north and west of the future warehouse.

  • Add landscaping in the parking areas, specifically near the future warehouse.

The adjacent property owner to the north, Mike Watt, had suggested taking steps to keep people off his private road that runs along the north boundary of the Soc-N-Roll property, and to add more landscaping. Davenport noted that occasionally people enter the business’ parking lot from Watt’s road, instead of using the paved entrance, or park on his property, perhaps inadvertently.

A motion to recommend conditional approval of the amended site plan, subject to verification of the existing landscaping and fulfillment of the recommendations of town staff, passed 3-0.

Foster Storage amended final PD site plan

Davenport said the applicant was making a pre-application request for a review of his proposal to add uncovered RV and boat storage, along with a 12-foot privacy fence, at the rear of the existing storage facilities between Soc-N-Roll and R-Rock Yard. These improvements would be temporary until permanent storage units are built at a later date on the same land at the rear of Foster’s property.

The town staff recommended that mature trees be planted on the west boundary of the property to create a dense screen for properties to the west, which are at a higher elevation. After discussing the views and concerns of Foster’s neighbors, the committee recommended approval of the proposal by a vote of 2-1 (Savage opposed)—but only with the conditions that more landscaping be added behind the proposed storage and the RV and boat storage facility be enclosed to preserve views.

Sundance Center amended final PD site plan

The applicant for the Sundance Center, at the northwest corner of Knollwood Loop, is proposing to expand the existing dance and gymnastics building and parking lot to the north by approximately 4,000 square feet. The expansion would look the same as the existing building, with a reduced slope to the roofline. Existing landscaping would be transplanted where required to maintain the same appearance. The committee recommended that there be a landscaping bond for the expansion that would also cover any remedial work needed for the original landscaping.

Downtown Entry Design

The town received three responses from local landscape architect firms in their search for a company to design the entry for downtown Monument, to be constructed on the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Second Street. Davenport said the cost and schedule proposals of the staff’s first choice, Land Patterns, Inc., were within the town’s $32,000 budget. The committee unanimously recommended this selection. The firm will make changes and recommendations to the preliminary plans created by the Colorado Center for Community Development and will prepare construction plans.

Davenport also reported that the Planning Department would have a meeting with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) on June 14 about the construction of the downtown entry sign on CDOT property.

Park Maintenance

Becky King, Monument’s community service coordinator, had asked the planning staff for a list of services volunteers could perform for the town. The committee unanimously recommended to the BOT the staff’s suggestions, including:

  • Picking up trash in parks

  • Maintaining landscaping of parks and other town-owned property

  • Cleanup and maintenance of parks

Committee Term Renewals

On July 2, the terms of Savage, Marky, and Pankratz will come up for renewal by the BOT. All three have said they wish to continue with the committee.

The meeting adjourned at 8:06 p.m. The next Parks and Landscape meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on July 20, in Town Hall, 166 Second St.

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Monument Sanitation District board meeting June 15

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Sanitation District (MSD) received a clean audit from CPA Dan Brubaker of Bauerle and Company at the board meeting on June 15. The report praised the district on its record keeping and funds management. Director Lowell Morgan, who is also the chair of the Planning Commission, praised Brubaker for the readability of his report, saying it was a "nice document, better than the town’s." Final copies of the report will be forwarded to the District and the State of Colorado for review.

MSD will move forward on proposing adding two additional air circulation fans to increase the capacity of the joint use Tri-Lakes Waste Water Treatment Facility off Mitchell Avenue. The proposal will be made to Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District and Palmer Lake Sanitation District, which also use the treatment facility, at a Joint Use Committee on July 12, 6 p.m. at Palmer Lake. Some negotiations will be required to iron out cost sharing options and ownership of various components of the plant’s processing capacity for construction and future long term operations. These types of negotiations have been contentious in the past.

Wakonda Hills residents are continuing to seek inclusion by MSD. However, the proposed cost of $2 million dollars for a new well, storage tanks, and water treatment facility have led Doug Barber, developer of the Zonta parcel just south of Wakonda Hills, to put plans for installing sewer mains across his property on hold. As a contingency plan, MSD will analyze having all Wakonda Hills sewer lines feed east to the north end of the main collector on Beacon Lite Road. This would require construction of a third lift station within the Wakonda Hills Subdivision.

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on July 20 at the district office at 130 Second Street.

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Application filed June 30 to dissolve the Monument Sanitation District

By Jim Kendrick

On June 30, Ernie Biggs and John Dominowski filed a formal application to dissolve the Monument Sanitation District (MSD). By statute, the district’s secretary has up to 15 business days to examine the application and help the applicants correct any potential errors. After 15 days, then the lesser of either 5 percent or 250 of the district’s electors would have to sign a petition to force a vote on dissolution.

Biggs is the owner of Lake of the Rockies Campground on Mitchell Avenue, which lies outside MSD—as does his residence. However, he owns a rental property within the district. John Dominowski also lives outside MSD but is the owner of the Monument Village Shopping Center on Front Street, which is within the district. They are both currently voting members of the district. Ironically, if the town were to take over the district, they would not have voting rights because they do not reside in the town.

Biggs and Paul Ducommun, the owner of Rocky Mountain Bus Sales on Beacon Lite Road, attempted to run for the MSD board in May; however, their mutually signed self-nominations were invalidated by MSD because Ducommun is not an elector in the district.

Biggs and Dominowski want the town of Monument to take over the MSD operation. The town cannot initiate a takeover because less than 85 percent of the district lies within the town boundary.

Monument Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall sees no problem in supervising the sewer district’s assets, as he and members of his staff are already certified to do the work. He said he has not done a formal examination of the potential savings that might occur by having town staff take over operations.

Town Engineer Tony Hurst performed a cursory review of MSD assets.

District Manager Mike Wicklund contends the town does not have the assets to effectively administer the district.

Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg said the town may have to hire additional staff, possibly offsetting any possible savings.

Wicklund said there may be no savings or even additional expense.

The town attempted to take over the district in 1991, but stopped the process when it discovered that the district was in financial technical default. In contrast, the district currently has $1.3 million in its capital improvement fund. The district’s 1988 bonds were refinanced in 1994 and will be paid off in 2007, making the district debt free. The district has doubled the size of its infrastructure since 1994 and is currently attempting to expand service in Wakonda Hills, which Wicklund says the district will be able to do without additional bonding.

Wicklund says that if this process moves forward and a special election is held, conducting the election would be very expensive for the district. The election would take place shortly after the district’s secretary, Glenda Smith, has validated the minimum number of petition signatures.

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Triview Metro Board meeting June 23

By John Heiser

At its regular meeting June 23, the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors discussed the status of various developments within the district.

Monument Marketplace status

Rick Blevins of Marketplace developer Vision Development, Inc., reported as follows:

  • All the major work has been completed.

  • Wavy lines are being redone on Jackson Creek Parkway, which is scheduled to open to the public June 30. Home Depot will officially open July 1.

  • Construction of the sewer line to serve the Marketplace was completed May 27.

  • The improvements to Baptist Road, required by the town for the first phase of the Marketplace, must be completed by the end of 2004.

  • The traffic signals at Leather Chaps Drive and Jackson Creek Parkway are working. Power is not yet available at the intersection with Higby Road. The county must approve the programming of the Higby Road signals.

  • The ribbon cutting for the Jackson Creek Parkway and the Home Depot is set for June 30, with the store open to the public on July 1.

Wal-Mart

Ron Simpson, manager for the district, said nothing new has been received from Wal-Mart. At the May meeting, the board reviewed the draft operating agreement, dated March 1, 2003. At that meeting, Peter Susemihl, attorney for the district, identified misconceptions in the draft document including the following:

  • Retained revenues: He said, "They can’t. The funds must be used for a public purpose."

  • Bonds: The draft agreement says that Wal-Mart would provide funds to the PIC and receive interest. Susemihl said the PIC should issue bonds.

  • Tax on the interest: The draft agreement says the interest would not be tax-exempt to Wal-Mart. Susemihl said that since Triview authorized the PIC, interest on bonds it issues would be exempt from federal and state income taxes.

  • Interest rate: The agreement calls for payment of an 8 percent interest rate. At the May meeting, district president Steve Stephenson said, "The market even for taxable bonds is not at 8 percent." The higher the interest rate, the longer it would take to repay the bonds issued by the PIC. That would postpone the point at which Triview receives 1.5 percent retail sales fee instead of the initial 0.75 percent.

Susemihl made no comment at either meeting on the clause in the draft agreement that gives the PIC board the power to change or terminate the retail sales fee. Only the initial 3 percent fee is set in the agreement. He also made no note of the clause in the agreement that applies the fee only to taxable items. In prior discussions, Susemihl and others have said the fee would apply to all goods sold at the store. Having it apply to just taxable items would substantially cut the district’s retail sales fee revenue from the store.

Despite the issues with the draft agreement identified at the May meeting, and a looming deadline of July 15 for approving the document, a revised draft was not available for review at the June 23 board meeting. At the May meeting, Susemihl said the Triview board would have to hold a special meeting to approve the agreement. A date and time for that meeting has not been set.

Well A4

Blevins reported that the connection to the water reuse system has been completed to Homestead Park and Creekside Middle School.

Simpson said the school asked him if there will be a discount for using water from the reuse system. He noted that the water from well A4 now connected to the reuse system is chlorinated but not fully treated and asked for the board’s guidance.

Gurnick expressed concern that offering a discount would increase consumption.

Stephenson replied, "I say no. This is almost potable water. You would have to twist my arm to get well water discounted."

WWTF

The Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) is jointly owned by the Triview district, the Donala district that serves Gleneagle, and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District that currently does not have any users.

Chuck Ritter of Nolte and Associates, engineering consultant for the district, said the engineers are considering conversion to use ultraviolet light to disinfect the effluent from the plant. He said this process would be less expensive than the current system using chlorine gas. The use of ultraviolet light is now more attractive since the state relaxed the standards on fecal coliform levels in the effluent. A decision is expected at the design team meeting in August.

A concept plan for expansion of the WWTF to use Sequencing Batch Reaction is being prepared for submission to the state health department.

Ritter reported that there appears to be some activity by the railroad on the district’s request for an at-grade crossing of the rails for access to the WWTF. The current crossing goes under the tracks using a trestle that will not accommodate the construction equipment needed for the WWTF expansion.

Homestead Park joint effort

Vision Development and the district are working with Homestead residents to make improvements to Homestead Park. Triview director and Homestead resident Charles Burns said the residents have raised about $30,000 to be used for landscaping, play equipment, picnic benches, and a gazebo. Vision Development donated concrete work.

Simpson said, "This is a nice precedent. This will be the third location with equipment." He added that to complete the work, an additional $5,000 is needed. The board unanimously voted to contribute $5,000. Blevins agreed to ask Vision to contribute a concrete pad for the gazebo.

North Jackson Creek development

Blevins reported that overall planning for the area from the Marketplace north to Higby Road is 75 to 80 percent complete. He said he plans to make a pre-application presentation July 9 to the Monument Planning Commission.

He added that the donation of about 12 acres for construction of a YMCA west of Lewis-Palmer High School is scheduled to be completed July 1. He said the YMCA is preparing to start a fund-raising campaign.

Tap fees for multifamily units

Simpson reported that for townhome units, currently the water tap fee is $2,225 and the sewer tap fee is $2,600.

He said he looked at the fees for the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District and the Donala Water and Sanitation District.

He recommended that Triview set the fees for apartments at 52.2 percent of the fees for single-family houses and set the fees for attached residences, including condominiums and townhomes, at 75 percent of the fees for single-family houses.

The single-family house water tap fee is now $7,365, so the water tap fee for apartments would be $3,845 and the fee for condominiums and townhomes would be $5,524.

The single-family house sewer tap fee is now $4,100, so the sewer tap fee for apartments would be $2,140 and the fee for condominiums and townhomes would be $3,075.

Simpson’s recommendation was unanimously approved.

When added in with other district fees—including drainage impact, parks and recreation, road and bridge, and inspection fees—the total fees for new housing within the district now stand at $12,590 for single-family houses, $6,572 for apartments, and $9,443 for condominiums and townhouses.

Mouse delisting

Stephenson noted that the Board of County Commissioners filed a letter with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging delisting of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. He asked if the Triview board wanted to take a similar action.

Noting that the district has no additional scientific data to contribute to the discussion, Susemihl recommended, "Let the sleeping mouse sleep."

Blevins agreed, "Don’t antagonize Fish and Wildlife. We need their cooperation."

Susemihl added, "We have gotten some deals out of them."

**********

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors normally meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 4:30 p.m., at the district offices, 174 N. Washington St. The next meeting will be held July 21.

A joint work session with the Monument Board of Trustees will be held July 19, 5:30 p.m., at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St.

For further information, contact the Triview Metropolitan District at 488-6868.

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Joint Monument Board of Trustees/Palmer Lake Town Council workshop June 3

By Judy Barnes

The two boards met to consider a proposal to form a Rural Transit Authority (RTA) between the towns of Monument and Palmer Lake.

Background

El Paso County and Colorado Springs will have an RTA issue on the Nov. 2 ballot. The issue will propose a countywide one-cent sales tax that would pay for several new county and city corridor projects, a backlog of overdue road repairs, and countywide public transportation programs. Municipal governments would receive 35 percent of the one-cent sales tax raised in their town to spend on their own road repairs. After 10 years, the tax would drop to a permanent 0.45 percent county sales tax. Most of the RTA revenue, 55 percent, would go toward new road construction managed by the elected officials from city and county governments who would serve on the RTA. The remaining 10 percent would go to expansion of Springs Transit.

If Monument joined the countywide effort, the town would receive about $119,000 a year at first. Due to rapid growth, the town’s 35 percent share would quickly grow beyond that. However, the town would receive only about one-third of the $500,000 in sales tax raised in Monument. If Monument and Palmer Lake formed their own RTA (two governmental entities are required to do this), they would each receive 100 percent of the tax revenues they raise, and they could ask the voters for less of a tax.

Discussion

Monument Trustee Dave Mertz expressed concern that there could be some backlash if they did not join the County/Colorado Springs RTA and that some Tri-Lakes projects might not get funded. Monument Trustee George Brown suggested giving the voters a prioritized list of the projects that would be funded by the RTA revenue. Monument Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg noted that $200,000 a year could go to a certificate of participation for a new police station. Brown pointed out that the RTA revenue was earmarked solely for roads, not for a police station.

Palmer Lake Road Supervisor Bob Radosevich noted that the cost of an asphalt road is $90,000 per mile. "In three years [with $36,000 of RTA revenue per year], we could do our section of County Line Road. It’s deteriorating," he said. Brown said, "I don’t like the specific list [of projects]. People whose road isn’t on the list might not vote for it [the tax]…. I think the shorter the sunset, the more likely people are to vote for it."

Palmer Lake Mayor Nikki McDonald suggested the boards meet separately to "hash out the details" and get back together at the end of June. Brown asked the other trustees if they were in favor of pursuing the RTA between Monument and Palmer Lake, and they all said they were. The trustees preferred a sales tax of four-tenths of a penny for the RTA and considered a "sunset" (expiration) of five to seven years.

Palmer Lake resident Bob Miner told the boards that around 10 years ago, Old Denver Highway practically disintegrated and Douglas County got some form of emergency funding to repair it. Miner suggested that since the road could be used as emergency access in the event of a catastrophe on I-25, perhaps funds for repairs are available, and for County Line Road also.

The joint meeting ended at 7:45 p.m., with a refreshments break. The regular Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting resumed at 8:06.

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Palmer Lake Town Council meeting June 3

By Judy Barnes

Roads

Trustee Gary Coleman reported that a Roads Committee would be forming, with the first meeting on July 1 at 6 p.m., before the town council meeting. Coleman said that the Roads Department wants to use town water for construction and for application of magnesium chloride (dust suppressor) in case they can’t coordinate with Mission Training International (MTI) to use their water when they flush their line. He also noted that Spruce Mountain Road would be closed through the end of September from County Line Road in Palmer Lake to Noe Road in Larkspur.

Water

Trustee Chuck Cornell reported that water use was around 250 to 260 gallons per day. The new well is ready, but the pH needs adjustment, perhaps due to the filter. He also noted that there will be an additional charge for electricity now that the well is operational. He planned to meet with town office staff to discuss this.

Parks and Recreation, Economic Development

Trustee Max Parker reported that the landscaping in the town parking lot on Middle Glenway was finished, the trees near the police department were trimmed, and spindles on the gazebo were replaced. He also said he planned to meet with the economic development group.

Police

Trustee George Reese reported that the police department had handled 153 calls in May, compared to 107 in April. He announced that Chief Dale Smith wanted to recommend part-time officer Nikki Tezak as a full-time employee to replace retiring officer John Cameron. Her salary would be $12.50 per hour. Smith spoke on behalf of Tezak, saying she’s an experienced officer who has worked in Fremont and Elbert Counties as well as for the Department of Corrections. She lives in Gleneagle. A motion to accept Tezak in a full-time capacity effective June 1 passed unanimously. Cameron said a few words and received a round of applause from the trustees and the audience.

Smith reported on phase two of a program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, planned for Aug. 14. He said the program has two objectives. The first is to develop a Tri-Lakes regional emergency response plan to a weapons of mass destruction or terrorist incident. Smith noted that such a plan is easily transferable to fire or hazardous materials events. The second objective is to plan for a field incident, including a written critique of how it went—what they did right and what equipment they need. He noted there is no protective gear at this end of the county for a chemical incident. A motion to pay the consultant on the project passed unanimously. Smith reminded the public to be aware of the Aug. 14 field exercise that will involve sirens.

Fire

Trustee Brent Sumner reported there were 23 calls, including 12 medical, 5 mutual aid, and 1 fire. The chipping program was active, but sometimes it was difficult to find houses because the house number wasn’t visible. This problem could also cause a delay in emergency response. Residents are urged to make their house numbers visible from the street.

Business Licenses

Steve Malenkovic, 707 County Line Road, received a license for Millwork Sales (windows, doors, and cabinetry). Debra Susan Nelson, 756 Second St., received a license for Heart and Sole Reflexology, a holistic system of treatment.

Fire fighting demonstration

Coleman said that for the Fourth of July, Jim Lipper plans to stage a firefighting demonstration with a simulation of a burning playhouse on the east side of the lake. If the lake’s water level allows, he will have a float-a-pump on the lake and will squirt water on the playhouse (which will only appear to be burning). The water will then flow back into the lake.

The meeting adjourned at 9:12 p.m.

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Woodmoor/Monument FPD flip-flops on merger

By Jim Kendrick

Russ Broshous, secretary of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD), called this board meeting to find out more about a joint meeting with the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) board that president Si Sibell had scheduled for June 8. Not all Woodmoor-Monument board members were made aware of this upcoming meeting, even though the agenda was to start merger talks with Tri-Lakes.

The June 3 meeting was unexpectedly announced by Chief Dave Youtsey, following Captain Tom Eastburn’s promotion to permanent fire marshal on May 28.

Numerous pre-election issues led to the June 3 meeting.

Background

Diggins ran for election with Rod Wilson, and incumbent Si Sibell on a platform of unifying with TLFPD instead of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD). Diggins is a resident of TLFPD but his business is located in downtown Monument. Wilson is a resident of downtown Monument but was a TLFPD volunteer until he ran for the W/MFPD board. Sibell is a former mayor of Monument.

Their platform was formally endorsed by a resolution of the TLFPD board on April 24 and was supported by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 4319. Union members felt their issues might be addressed more favorably by the Tri-Lakes board if their district was included by Tri-Lakes.

Many voters had expected that Sibell, Wilson, and Diggins might choose to immediately terminate the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Wescott. The former Woodmoor board had approved the MOU at its April 26 meeting, with only Sibell voting against it, saying he would only support a merger that involved all four districts. The approved MOU states that both districts would pursue the formation of a Unified Fire Protection District Board prior to the May 2005 special district elections. The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) was also invited to join the interim fire authority in the MOU and subsequently merge with the new consolidated Palmer Divide district in the near future if Palmer Lake residents would vote to create a fire district with a comparable 7.0 to 7.5 mill levy.

The TLFPD board withdrew from merger discussions on May 22, 2003, and is not a party to this MOU. Charlie Pocock, president of TLFPD, said they could not accept the Joint Working Group’s (JWG) requirement to stop work on their Station 2 at Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105 or the JWG’s decision to have the board of the merged district determine the use of Tri-Lakes’ ambulance service. The unification study that had helped guide the four-way merger talks recommended against construction of a new TLFPD station at Roller Coaster Road. Tri-Lakes has boycotted the JWG meetings since then.

Prior to the June 3 meeting, Sibell had said that a "housecleaning was needed." As a result of this comment, the short notice, and the unspecified agenda, there had been speculation that the purpose of the meeting was to fire Chief Youtsey and perhaps Assistant Chief Jim Rackl, as requested by the union, to smooth the way for Woodmoor’s inclusion by Tri-Lakes. Eliminating the salaries of these chiefs would partially help W/MFPD reduce their mill levy from 9.92 to 7.0 mills and satisfy union member desires. The mill levy reduction would require an initial annual budget cut of about $284,000.

Purpose of the meeting In addition to the Woodmoor board not being completely informed about this June 8 meeting or its agenda, a public notice had not been published. There had been no discussion of a change in policy on the already approved Memorandum of Understanding for unification with Wescott at the board’s May 28 meeting nor any mention then by Sibell that there were any plans to begin negotiations with TLFPD. Colorado statutes require the board to act as a group in a public meeting in determining policy changes and specifically prohibit any board member, including the board president, from acting alone in conducting district business.

Wescott’s new President Brian Ritz, Director Kevin Gould, and Assistant Chief Vinny Burns attended this June 3 meeting.

Sibell opened the meeting by asking Broshous why he had called the meeting. Broshous said that the new board should review the positions it had taken in previous negotiations with Tri-Lakes, previous points of agreement, and where the new board stands now.

Sibell replied, "First of all, it’s not we. I’ve appointed myself and Rod as negotiators for the [June 8] meeting." Sibell asked Broshous "Is that fair?" Broshous said, "It’s your prerogative." However, the board never publicly voted to appoint Sibell and Wilson as negotiators or even to endorse the pair’s appointments.

Broshous then asked if the meeting was only for the negotiators; Sibell said it was an open meeting, but only he and Wilson would do the talking. He added that he had spoken with DWFPD Chief Bill Sheldon and had invited Wescott to the joint meeting as well. The W/MFPD public notice prepared and posted by Youtsey indicated that the joint meeting was for all three districts (which later turned out to not be the case).

[See the related article on the June 8 joint two-way board meeting.]

Broshous asked Sibell what the meeting would consist of; Sibell said it would be a focus group meeting, "not a merger, consolidation, or inclusion meeting." Broshous asked if an agenda was available. Sibell said he had one; copies were prepared and distributed. It appeared that only Sibell, Wilson, and Diggins knew the agenda, calling into question how the others would have learned of it had Broshous not called for this special board meeting.

Broshous, who had been Woodmoor’s principal merger negotiator in recent years, passed out copies of two lists he had prepared: one with the six points of agreement he had achieved before Tri-Lakes broke off negotiations last May, and the other with unresolved issues. The points of agreement listed were:

  • Any merged district must provide qualitatively the same or better emergency services to all areas served by the merging districts.

  • Merged districts to exist in perpetuity or until otherwise disestablished by law.

  • District to be formed with voter-approved exemptions for TABOR and Gallagher.

  • Tax levies to be equal across the districts for all residential and commercial taxpayers.

  • Budgets and appropriations to be controlled by the unified district board.

  • Boards to be selected so as to be representative of the entire district based on the principal of one elector, one vote.

His concerns regarding Tri-Lakes merger issues were:

  • Will service be at least as good as before for all constituents with regard to training levels, staffing plans, and equipment positioning?

  • Tri-Lakes is not de-Gallaghered, which would require their inclusion into W/MFPD or consolidation, the latter being preferable because all constituents could vote.

  • Service is the most important factor; set the mill levy accordingly.

  • Inclusion does not meet the one-elector, one-vote condition until there is an election for the merged district.

  • Tri-Lakes’ debt must be assessed to determine if any of it should be borne by W/MFPD taxpayers.

Harvey asked who wrote the agenda for the joint meeting. Sibell said it was prepared by Tri-Lakes, but that the main issues in his view are finances and ambulance service. Diggins said that the joint meeting should only be for Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument, but Sibell again said he had personally asked Wescott to participate. The two then said that Tri-Lakes would provide ambulance service and Woodmoor would provide fire marshal service to the merged district.

W/MFPD Director Bob Harvey objected, saying that for the past 18 months Pocock had put up a "smokescreen" about ambulance service. "The fact is that Tri-Lakes does not have the ambulance service they say they do. Our firefighters want to be there because they think they’ll be treated better." Referring to the W/M pay raises at the beginning of 2003 and 2004, Harvey noted that Pocock had twice said to the Woodmoor board, "Don’t give your firefighters a pay raise. We can’t keep up." Harvey concluded by saying, "So I’m confused why you’re letting Charlie set the agenda and stay behind the smokescreen."

Sibell replied, "The board is not going to roll over to Charlie" and no citizen would "come out on the short end of the stick." He reiterated his election campaign position that only a merger of all four districts would be acceptable to him, even though the initial merger would only involve two, with DWFPD joining perhaps two years later and PLVFD two years after that. "I believe that Charlie will see the right way to do it. If he doesn’t, then we don’t have a deal."

Level of service

Broshous said it makes little sense for all three ambulances to be at the Tri-Lakes station at Highway 105 but also asked how there would be enough paramedics to maintain the W/MFPD level of service standard of always having one on the ambulance at the Woodmoor Drive station as well as the union’s goal of also having four firefighters on the engine.

Even with a mill levy of 9.92 plus AMR providing the EMT on their ambulance along with the W/MFPD paramedic, Woodmoor can only afford to place three employees on the engine. Proper staffing would require six employees per shift, 24/7, 365 days per year to meet national standards for two medically qualified staff on the ambulance and four firefighters on the engine. No North Group department meets this standard, however.

After discussion over the ambulance service, benefits, and the mill levy, Broshous asked again if the joint meeting was for just TLFPD and W/MFPD as the agenda stated. Sibell replied, "Yes, plus Donald Wescott. I came to an agreement with Chief Sheldon. Charlie might kick up at that, but that’s the way it needs to be to take the bull by the horns."

Harvey noted that the TLFPD station proposed for Jackson Creek, about a mile from the Wescott station, would have to be stopped. Sibell said that the whole process was just a focus group and that nothing had yet been written in stone.

Harvey said, "I’m in amazement after years of trying to get information from Tri-Lakes, it’s been worse than impossible to get info." He said that 18 months ago, "Charlie was trying to make a hostile takeover. I want to see something different, where the two boards are working together. They don’t have the money. They can’t pay for all these stations at 7 mills. The firefighters won’t enjoy the same pay raises. There will not be four full-time staff [on a shift]." He said there could only be two or three, with the other positions filled by volunteers. Sibell said that the ambulance services "could be a first-class service." Harvey replied, "The problem has been that they don’t have enough paramedics to staff them. We do." Wilson said, "We’re not going to roll over and hand them the keys and walk away."

Broshous said that the board needed to first set objectives and service levels, in order to set requirements for equipment, people, pay scales, and operations before they can determine the resources necessary to sustain them. Youtsey said, "This is where it deteriorated and fell apart before." He said Tri-Lakes "couldn’t get up to a level playing field last time." Broshous said the board had to know if it would be forced to accept a lower level of service.

Sibell said the district would have to cut to 7 mills and could only provide the level of service that was possible, not the current level of service. "If driven by public vote, then it becomes incumbent on the departments to provide a level of service satisfactory to the voter for the amount of money available." Previous Woodmoor boards have promised what they said was a higher level of service than other districts and then set their mill levy to cover the resulting costs. W/MFPD residents have voted in the past to waive TABOR and Gallagher Amendment restrictions, and their mill levy has varied between approximately 9.5 and 10 mills since then.

Wescott Comments

Ritz noted that he had been a part of the JWG for many years and would continue to be the principal representative along with Kevin Gould, who replaced term-limited former president Bill Lowes. He said that Tri-Lakes complained about the past at every negotiating session, rather than looking for solutions. "The districts have to prove we could work as a unit before we become a unit" in order to get the vote of all the people in all the districts. He said that a district-owned ambulance service didn’t appear to be an overwhelming positive and that if Tri-Lakes’ ambulances really were making money, "they wouldn’t be so much in debt." He added that he "didn’t like being lied to by two members of the Tri-Lakes board about false accusations being spread about people in my department."

Sibell did not disagree but countered by saying that the Colorado Springs Fire Department was also looking into providing their own ambulances instead of continuing their contract with AMR.

Rackl said that the bottom line after a merger is whether or not the new district has people on duty who can get a kid out of a burning building at 3 a.m., not whether or not they can "cook pancakes for the crew." He said people should expect the closest rig to show up with the best trained people and that W/MFPD should accept nothing less than a paramedic on every ambulance. He concluded by saying the chief’s job is, "We tell you the number of people, you should have the money from a fiscal plan—not, here’s the amount of money, you figure it out." Ritz agreed, saying the only role for the board is to be facilitators for those doing the job.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m., with tentative agreement that the regular board meeting would be changed from the fourth Monday morning at 8 a.m. to the fourth Tuesday at 7 p.m. A formal vote on that will take place at the June 28 meeting.

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Fire districts forge ahead with new plan

By Susan Hindman

The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) board appears to have shelved its agreement with the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) and is instead pursuing a course of unification with the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD). The first public meeting to discuss the change in direction was June 8 at Tri-Lakes Station 1. Those board members in attendance were Si Sibell, Rod Wilson, Jeremy Diggins, and Russ Broshous (Bob Harvey was absent) of W/MFPD; and Charlie Pocock, Keith Duncan, John Hartling, Rick Barnes, and John Hildebrandt of TLFPD.

Sibell began by saying there had been a "miscommunication" by him to DWFPD Chief William Sheldon. Sibell had invited Sheldon and the Wescott board to the meeting but didn’t tell them they would only be there as observers, not participants. Sibell apologized and asked the Wescott officials, who were clearly unhappy, to defer to Tri-Lakes’ wishes that the participants only be from Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument.

Background

The change in direction was brought on by the change in leadership of Woodmoor-Monument’s board following the May elections. In April, the previous W/MFPD board and the Wescott board (but not Tri-Lakes) had approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) forming an interim fire authority to direct joint operations between the two districts. Because of the then-upcoming elections, both districts agreed that the MOU could be modified if a change in board membership tilted the scale away from the agreement.

That proved to be the case when Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument announced their intent to form a joint focus group without Wescott. Its purpose is to work out differences between the two districts, toward the goal of unifying into a more efficient, single-minded district. The results, they feel, would produce better fire, rescue, and emergency medical service to the area at a potentially lower cost to taxpayers.

This effort echoes recommendations made in the 2002 Emergency Services Education and Consulting Group study, which noted duplications in services, illogical boundaries, little coordination between the districts, variations in training, and other issues. A Joint Working Group (JWG) was subsequently formed by all four fire districts (the fourth being the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, PLVFD) to carry out the recommended merger. But when disagreements arose over Tri-Lakes building Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road and over its ambulance service, Tri-Lakes left the group. That was in June 2003. The other three districts continued merger talks.

Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument board members said the joint meeting was not aimed at excluding Wescott but at focusing attention on the two more closely related districts and their shortcomings. Once they work out their differences, board members said, then discussions with Wescott and Palmer Lake could begin.

"This is a focus group, not a merger group, to see if we can get this thing off the ground," said Sibell, chairman of the W/MFPD board. Pocock, chairman of the TLFPD board, said the experts "recommended we start with two districts working together as one," then bring in the others one at a time after that (in about two years and four years, respectively).

Palmer Lake is not considered a major player in the talks because the town does not collect taxes for its fire department nor have town officials prepared voters for any future effort to do so, said Pocock. "Until Palmer Lake is ready to come in as taxpaying members, their participation in these discussions won’t be productive or meaningful," he said.

Methods of unification

Unification would be accomplished one of three ways, according to Pocock: consolidation, inclusion, or a fire authority.

In a consolidation, the merging districts are each dissolved and a new unified district is created. Citizens in both districts would be required to vote in favor of creating a new district, with its own new board, debt structure, and taxation method. "There would be four to five election steps you’d have to take, and at any one of those, a ‘no’ vote could spell disaster," Pocock said. "So that’s not a very good way to go, unless you’re sure you know how people feel." In addition, he said, "Our two districts are basically the same size. Consolidation has too many risks, and I don’t think it’s worth the risk." Russ Broshous disagreed, saying, "I agree there are risks, but the chance for the electorate to express its views is a plus."

However, Woodmoor-Monument’s district covers about nine square miles, while Tri-Lakes’ is about 45 square miles. Palmer Lake’s is six square miles in area.

In an inclusion, one district is designated as the including district and one as the included district. The included district is the one whose identity and board structure would "go away"; citizens would have to vote for the dissolution. The including district’s name, structure, and board would remain intact. Only the board, and not the voters, of the including district would have to approve the inclusion, according to Pocock. A pre-inclusion agreement would be needed that would state what new agreements regarding representation, finances, and property the included district’s constituents would be voting on.

In a fire authority, districts merge their operations, but their boards, debts, revenues, policies, and personnel remain separate and unchanged. Each board would appoint members to the authority board and would fund the authority. A fire chief would be appointed to run things. "The advantage is it can be temporary in nature. In an authority, you can get out of it if it doesn’t work," Pocock said. "Not so with the other [choices]."

No decisions regarding unification were made.

Focus group formed

Discussion turned to setting up the focus group and subcommittees. The focus group is to be made up of Sibell, Wilson, Diggins, Pocock, Hartling, and Hildebrandt. It will meet the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Tri-Lakes Station 1 meeting room. Each subcommittee will be composed of one board member from each district, interested firefighters, and the public. It would report back to the focus group.

The subcommittees will tackle these issues:

  • Fiscal. The two districts’ treasurers (Diggins and Hildebrandt) would meet and determine if unification is practical within the existing financial constraints. However, Hildebrandt noted that he and Diggins had already met prior to this meeting, and that they had "supplied numbers so far and started on spreadsheet analysis."

  • Operational commonality methods and approaches. It would develop: a common 911 alert so backup or second-alarm responses become automatic; a closest force response plan for the two districts; a joint training plan involving cross-training on each other’s equipment; and a plan for a single ambulance service for both departments. The two boards decided that their fire chiefs should designate the members for this subcommittee.

  • Public perception. The committee would be charged with proving to the public that the two departments can work together, through joint efforts at the Fourth of July celebration, a pancake breakfast, and a campaign of "speaking no evil" publicly or privately about the other department. Pocock said an effort was needed to reverse the perception in the community that the two districts don’t get along. He blamed media coverage "finger pointing" and said "friction doesn’t exist at the firefighter level, so we need to convince the public that this is so." Wilson and Duncan were named to this subcommittee.

  • Functional commonality. Members would review policy manuals, job descriptions, pay and allowance schedules, standard operating procedure, and existing documents. This agenda item was not discussed.

Public comment

Sheldon, Brian Ritz (president of Wescott’s board), and other members of Wescott’s board were not pleased with the turn of events, and several voiced their concerns.

After saying Wescott believes there should be one northwest county fire protection district, Ritz asked the two boards to change their focus group to include Wescott. "All of a sudden, we’re no longer asked to be active participants," Ritz said. "We want to know why. We wanted to be."

Hildebrandt responded, "This meeting was never intended to have Donald Wescott as a member."

Ritz continued, "We have an MOU that we think would be a great guide that could lead all fire districts. It gets everyone involved in a fire authority and can provide guidance for the best interests of the entire community…. If we have professional ethics and professional courage to take this task on, then why can’t we all take it on together?"

Ritz also noted that the ambulance issue (AMR in Woodmoor-Monument versus Tri-Lakes’ own ambulance service) led to the end of Tri-Lakes’ participation in the Joint Working Group. He asked Pocock, "If a private independent study showed AMR would be the best option, would you consider it?" Pocock replied, "Probably not." At several other points in the discussion, Pocock made it clear that a Tri-Lakes ambulance would replace the AMR unit currently stationed at Woodmoor/Monument. However, neither board has voted to adopt this policy in a public meeting nor has the Woodmoor board voted to terminate the AMR agreement.

Members from both boards noted they wanted to focus on fixing their relationship.

"We as two departments have a lot of issues to work out, and we’re going to hash those out so we won’t have those arguments at the JWG," said Diggins, emphasizing the need to "build a relationship between Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument."

Hildebrandt told Ritz, "You have to realize that there has been a major election and, if you notice, there has been a change in philosophy. The MOU you had with the old board can now be shelved for a period of time. We can go in independent directions … at no detriment to anybody. Trying to put four groups together in two years didn’t work. Trying to go back and reinvent that same wheel will not be beneficial to this group."

This was the closest any board member came to publicly commenting on the status of the MOU. However, actions to consolidate operations between Woodmoor and Wescott, which the agreement had called for, had already been suspended prior to the May election and have not been re-initiated.

Hildebrandt also chided, "This focus group is the bringing together of two fire districts, Woodmoor-Monument and Tri-Lakes, and if you have positive things to say regarding bringing together those districts, we welcome those. If you have comments that are not constructive, are argumentative or combative, please hold those comments to yourself."

Dennis Feltz, Wescott board treasurer and an emergency room RN, was emphatic about his desire for one district. He spoke passionately about his concern over the coverage that residents, such as in Jackson Creek (served by Tri-Lakes yet geographically closer to Wescott), are currently receiving. "It’s the people we’re focusing on. We’re leaving that whole south end open," he said, then asked directly: "Are they getting the closest response?" Hildebrandt acknowledged, "No, they’re not."

Hartling asked if there was anything precluding having Wescott on a focus group subcommittee. Hildebrandt replied that the focus should remain solely on bringing together the two districts.

Pocock said, "If the issues were simply closest medical response, that’d be one thing. But we’re dealing with many other issues—finances, commonality of departments, functionally and operationally. Those are the issues we’re trying to solve. It’s easier to get two departments looking alike and working alike and feeling alike than it is to get four."

Before the meeting concluded at 9:03 p.m., Barnes said, "I want to thank Wescott and the passion the board brings. I think we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing."

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Donald Wescott FPD Board meeting June 16

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) announced at the June 16 board meeting that its Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating had improved from ISO-6 to ISO-5 (lower is better). This rating may entitle some constituents to lower insurance rates. Chief Bill Sheldon encouraged homeowners and business owners to check with their providers. Sheldon acknowledged the contributions of the previous board president, Bill Lowes, and all the employees and volunteers of the district in successfully working toward the achievement of this goal. There will be a picnic on July 4 at the Gleneagle station to celebrate the new rating.

El Pomar Foundation Grant

DWFPD has received a $1,000 grant from the Wild Lands Fire Fund of the El Pomar Foundation. El Pomar is taking a proactive approach to enhance the readiness of Colorado fire agencies by providing unsolicited grants to around 140 agencies across the state. Wescott qualified because of its "significant wildfire potential [and] dependence on volunteers for staffing needs."

The money is to be used for wildland training and/or for purchasing personal protective firefighter equipment. Depending on the severity of this fire season, the foundation may review requests for additional equipment at a later date.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Dennis Feltz reported that about 60 percent of this year’s tax revenue has been received. Up to $5,000 in capital outlay funding was unanimously authorized for the purchase of a steam washer for cleaning the emergency vehicles.

Chief’s Report

Sheldon briefly reviewed his desire to slightly modify the plans for adding a third vehicle bay. Additional office and equipment space will be shifted. Director Kevin Gould will work with the consulting architect.

Two additional insurance providers have asked to make presentations on annual insurance coverage. Currently, the district uses Volunteer Firefighter Insurance Service (VFIS); Last year, no company bid against VFIS. The selection decision will be made in July.

The new brush truck is essentially complete and is ready for operation. Wescott now has two brush trucks.

Battalion Chief Jeff Edwards has returned from three months’ duty with the Air National Guard in Iraq. Besides providing airfield fire service, Technical Sergeant Edwards helped train Iraqi firefighters to take over services for the airfield after the Air Force withdraws.

Lieutenant Scott Ridings is preparing a FEMA grant application that would help fund the district’s homeland security responsibilities.

Seven new volunteer firefighters have begun service. All have Emergency Medical Technician-Basic, Firefighter I or II, and hazardous materials awareness certifications completed.

Review of the June 8 unification meeting

Sheldon confirmed that Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) President Si Sibell had personally asked Wescott to participate in unification talks that were scheduled with the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) on June 8. Sibell had said it would be a three-way joint meeting. Wescott President Brian Ritz, Gould, and Assistant Chief Vinny Burns confirmed that Sibell had made the same offer to them at a special W/MFPD board meeting on June 3. However, at the start of the June 8 meeting, TLFPD President Charlie Pocock had Sibell rescind his invitation.

Ritz said that at this focus group session, Pocock had misrepresented the debt (for the new fire engine) of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department by stating that 17 annual payments of about $32,000 remain; in fact, only seven payments of about $28,000 remain. Ritz added that Wescott would continue "to take the high moral and ethical road. I’m not going to let incorrect statements go uncorrected." He and Feltz reviewed other controversial issues involving ambulance service and response time that came up during the June 8 meeting.

On a more positive note, Wescott firefighter Scott Ridings has been selected to work with TLFPD’s Brian Jack and W/MFPD’s Mike Dooley on the subcommittee researching closest response, to determine the most efficient manner for assigning primary medical emergency response in northwest El Paso County.

There was unanimous agreement by the board members that Wescott firefighters were to be congratulated for their professionalism in supporting other North Group departments through automatic and mutual aid, despite the latest actions by the other two districts. Sheldon added that it was hard to understand how Tri-Lakes could expect Wescott to be the first on the scene at Jackson Creek or Fox Run when Wescott has not been asked to be part of the focus group. He reiterated his position that Wescott will respond to fire and medical emergencies in these areas, "rather than have citizens wait for a Tri-Lakes vehicle to arrive from seven miles away."

The board agreed that they would continue to aggressively pursue working with Woodmoor-Monument on their existing two-way Memorandum of Understanding and try to get Tri-Lakes to join in as well. To this end, Ritz and Sheldon will attend future W/MFPD board meetings as well as the focus group sessions. The Wescott board’s goal remains complete unification of the four fire departments, with all constituents voting on unification.

Calls

Assistant Chief Vinny Burns reported that there were 93 responses in May, bringing the total for 2004 to 577. The May runs within the district included: medical, 24; traffic accident, 5; automatic alarm, 2; other fire, 2; false alarm, 1; and carbon monoxide alarm, 2. Mutual and automatic aid calls included: traffic accident, 1, and AMR ambulance, 53.

The meeting adjourned at 8:23 p.m. The next DWFPD board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on July 14 at Station 2 on Sun Hills Drive.

The focus group will hold public meetings, with at least three board members from each district present, at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at TLFPD station 1 on Highway 105, by the bowling alley.

[See the related reports on the joint meetings of June 3 and June 8 and the article on the June 28 W/MFPD meeting for more details.]

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Tri-Lakes FPD board meeting June 17

By Jim Kendrick

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District is having an excellent financial year so far. The board announced at its June 17 meeting that the district has received about 85 percent of what was expected from ambulance service revenue through the end of May. Treasurer John Hildebrandt said that the district was averaging about $21,000 per month, while the 2004 budget called for revenues of $125,000 for the entire year.

Capital expenses have been a little higher in 2004 due to purchases of computers and new multimedia training equipment. Workers’ compensation costs are more than doubling, from $400 to $900 per employee due to a large rise in terrorism coverage. There are a total of 40 firefighters and EMTs, so this represents an increase of $20,000. In contrast, the increase in cost for additional liability coverage for Station 2 is $88 for 2004. The district is about to bring a new brush truck on line as the wildfire season approaches.

Station 2

Construction of Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road is moving forward on schedule.

Calls

There were 94 responses in May, bringing the total for the year to 471: medical, 40; traffic accident, 25; fire, 18; public assist, 8; hazardous materials, 3. There was discussion about a suspicious mobile home fire that occurred on Washington Street on June 9. There was concern that the trailer may have been used for manufacturing drugs and that the firefighters were not warned to use their self-contained breathing apparatus. However, OCN checked with Monument Police Chief Joe Kissell, who reported that the trailer had been recently moved to the location where it caught fire and was essentially empty, with no criminal activity suspected.

Tri-Lakes also participated in the Beaver Creek fire above Palmer Lake on June 15, with an engine, tender, brush truck, and ambulance. The fire started from a lightning strike. Assistant Chief Ron Thompson reviewed their role in the nine-hour operation that included two single-engine air tankers, helicopters, and the county’s wildland fire team. Pocock noted that the $1,000 overtime expense to the district for 12 hours of work was money well spent and helped sustain the district’s rapport with the Forest Service.

Training

Ten employees have been qualified to use electrocardiogram equipment carried on the ALS ambulances. TLFPD is one of six departments in the county to begin a new program where paramedics perform more advanced diagnosis and testing of heart attack victims. The goal is to expedite diagnosis and treatment so patients can go directly to a catheterization or operating room without having to be tested in the emergency room first. Average time for this type of treatment could be reduced from 97 to 37 minutes, including transport. Similar programs have been started in England, Oregon, and Denver. The program began July 1.

Inclusions

Elk Creek filing 1 and filing 2, east of Highway 83, have been included into the district. Chief Rob Denboske spoke at a homeowner association meeting, where the remaining petition signatures were obtained. The majority of the area directly east of the Roller Coaster station within about five miles has been included since November. The Wiggins and Stewart properties were also included, along with Whistler’s Ranch filing 1.

Joint Meeting Recap

Pocock briefly discussed the June 8 joint focus group meeting, saying that W/MFPD President Si Sibell had conveyed the wrong information to Donald Wescott Chief Bill Sheldon. Pocock said Wescott was not to be part of the discussion of inclusion by Tri-Lakes and added, "I don’t know how Si screwed that up." Pocock said the subcommittees on 9-1-1 and ambulance response have already met. He noted that the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor ladder trucks would display a banner honoring the fire service provided by local districts at Monument’s 125th birthday celebration on July 3.

The next joint meeting will be held on July 6, while the next regular TLFPD board meeting will be held on July 16. Both meetings will be at 7 p.m. at Station 1 on Highway 105 by the bowling alley.

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Woodmoor/Monument FPD board meeting June 28

By Jim Kendrick

The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) board confronted ongoing contentious issues in a long meeting on June 28. The meeting might have lasted longer than two and a half hours if there had been a financial report, but recording secretary Donna Arkowski is on an extended vacation.

The board tackled merger issues with the Tri-Lakes and Donald Wescott Fire Protection Districts and tabled a surprise letter from the International Association of Fire Fighter’s (IAFF) Local 4319 containing a request to use the station’s boardroom for union meetings so on-duty personnel could attend. Also, Acting Captain Mike Dooley presented a draft agreement that would switch the Woodmoor/Monument contract for ambulance service from AMR to Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) effective Aug. 1. Finally, Woodmoor and Wescott agreed to prepare a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to include Tri-Lakes in a three-way interim fire authority; this will be presented for consideration at the July 6 joint focus group meeting at TLFPD.

Bank Restrictions

Eve Blatchley of People’s Bank said that since there were new board members, new signature cards needed to be filled out by every board member and notarized all at the same time. This is due to new Homeland Security anti-terrorist regulations. She said because there have been stories about a bank that was victimized in a laundering scheme, the bank’s auditors were closely watching them. Sibell quipped, "The only money I’ve ever laundered was when I left it in my britches and my wife washed it."

Public Comments

Palmer Lake Trustee George Reese asked if the meeting was going to "be open in its entirety." Sibell said yes, adding that public comments would be taken at the beginning and end of the meeting.

Wescott’s board president Brian Ritz said he saw that the MOU between the Woodmoor and Wescott districts was on the agenda. He asked if there had been any change in Woodmoor policy regarding not reducing level of service, manpower, staff, or employee pay and benefits, as called for in the MOU—or if there had been a change in policy regarding recently renewed merger discussions between Woodmoor and Tri-Lakes. Sibell said, "I can’t answer that." Jeremy Diggins did not answer the question, saying it was too broad and that the board’s primary goal was to serve the community. He said pay and benefits will depend on changes to mill levies, but the board wants to provide the best service it can to protect the public and property.

W/MFPD Secretary Bob Harvey said that Tri-Lakes President Charlie Pocock has come to the Woodmoor board twice asking that pay raises be eliminated because his district could not keep up with Woodmoor’s. The Tri-Lakes pay table is about 6 to 7 percent lower than Woodmoor’s, after an effort to catch up at the start of 2003. Woodmoor also pays 100 percent of all spouse and child health care benefits for its employees as a way to reduce turnover. Harvey asked Diggins about pay cuts and layoffs that will likely be required if Woodmoor cuts its mill levy from 9.92 mills to 7.0 mills to encourage a unification vote. "What’s the solution?" he asked. "Is there discussion with Tri-Lakes on red-lining our employees" to make the pay tables equal?

Diggins said that he and Hildebrandt were working on merging the two districts’ budgets and haven’t finalized their decision on pay and benefits yet. Harvey said that pay and benefits make up the largest part of the budget, over 80 percent, so this needed to be Diggins’ "first priority" and he needed to come back to the employees with his decision. Ritz said he was concerned about the effect of Woodmoor’s discussions with Hildebrandt on not reducing any of these measures of merit, as required by the MOU.

Assistant Chief Jim Rackl noted that Woodmoor had given the other two districts their pay scales, including specifics of all incentives and benefits, but that neither Tri-Lakes nor Wescott had reciprocated as required by the Joint Working Group (JWG) agreements and the MOU. Sibell said he hoped Woodmoor would receive this documentation before the joint focus group meeting on July 6. Sheldon added that Wescott is working to match Woodmoor’s level of service and pay and benefits. Sibell said the level of service should remain the same.

Rackl commented on the makeup of the focus group subcommittees, saying that Woodmoor had put different employees on each of the six subcommittees to get them involved and to be sure to include a variety of views. Meanwhile, Tri-Lakes had only appointed two employees, with Brian Jack on five of the six subcommittees. Rackl said this limits the effectiveness of the discussions and unfairly implies that the other Tri-Lakes employees aren’t qualified to represent their district in the discussions. Harvey said he was disappointed there was only one nominee from Tri-Lakes and none from Wescott on the proposal, adding "It’s ridiculous that they are not included." Dooley said he thought he would pick the members of the subcommittees but said, "It’s okay with me that the chiefs picked the membership."

Chief’s Report

The board members unanimously approved a motion to change the monthly board meetings to the fourth Tuesday at 7 p.m. A notice of the change in policy for the rest of the calendar year will be posted in addition to the normal meeting notices. Several board members and employees will be attending the Special District Conference in Steamboat Springs Sept. 22-24. The 2003 audit is complete and will be presented at the July meeting.

Youtsey reported that at the request of the Tri-Lakes board, he had faxed them a list of focus group nominees and a flow chart for the focus group subcommittees to use when reporting to the chiefs and boards. He said there had been no response from Tri-Lakes or even the Woodmoor board on whether the listed individuals had been approved or could begin working on their assigned tasks. Youtsey has frequently observed throughout the history of merger talks that there has been little response from Tri-Lakes on necessary actions.

Sibell said that ambulance and fiscal committee appointments were done. However, the Woodmoor board had never voted on approving them. Youtsey asked the board to authorize their participation. However, the board made no motion and took no vote to approve the list of participants or the reporting procedures.

Union Letter

A letter written by local IAFF president, Captain Larry Garner, asked the board to allow the union to use the station’s board room after 7 p.m. for meetings as well as the station’s bulletin boards for posting union notices and information. Sibell read the letter to the board as a non-agenda item. (Garner rarely takes action to get union issues on the posted agenda.)

Garner’s letter asked that the district delete or amend the portion of Policy 11.60 Employee Groups that he quoted: "An employee group, or any member thereof, may not solicit membership or conduct group business on district time." His letter noted that this policy appears to be in conflict with Policy 11.70 Use of District Buildings, which he quoted as saying, "An employee group may use the District buildings or facilities after business hours to conduct business meetings with prior approval of the Chief."

After Rackl clarified that Garner was only asking for permission to hold union meetings on duty time in the district’s boardroom, Garner said it was "an employee group." However, the first sentence of the letter says, "This is a request by Woodmoor Monument Local 4319 firefighters for use of district facilities for Union meetings."

Harvey, retired president of his Colorado Springs Fire Department IAFF Local 5, said that ordinarily union meetings are required to be held outside a municipal building because discussion of political activity while on duty is prohibited and is an "underlying conflict." Rackl, who has supervised union employees throughout his 35-year firefighting career, said unions have to maintain separate bulletin boards so neither the employees nor the employer can be accused of tampering with the other’s official notices. Garner responded, "We can do that."

Sibell and Wilson said they had no problem with use of the boardroom. Diggins remained undecided and asked for clarification on the legalities of attending union meetings while on duty. Harvey noted that one fire district had allowed the union to use its meeting rooms but the "next accusation was that the boardroom was bugged." The union took the board to court on the bugging issue, but lost. Rackl said the only way the district would be safe from legal difficulties would be to require the firefighters to fill out a leave slip for the length of the meeting. This would preclude having on-duty members discuss political actions by the union or having the appearance of impropriety.

Diggins suggested that on-duty union members be restricted to being observers only at meetings. The others agreed that this would be an illegal infringement as well as being unenforceable and a violation of state law. Youtsey asked how the board could possibly answer citizen complaints about using the boardroom for political activity while on duty. Wilson said it makes sense to let them have meetings and made a motion to authorize union use of the boardroom. There was no second, so discussion continued.

Rackl disagreed with Wilson, saying that it makes more sense to have them meet off-duty and off district property, to avoid the inherent conflicts with First Amendment rights and restrictions on political activities. Sibell suggested having Wilson (also a Tri-Lakes volunteer firefighter) negotiate with the union on a different solution. There were no objections. Wilson then withdrew his earlier motion. However there was no board vote appointing Wilson as principal negotiator or authorizing him to speak for the board with respect to union requests or activities.

Draft Ambulance Agreement with Tri-Lakes

In all the Woodmoor board meetings since the election in early May, discussions about ambulance service have appeared to assume that Woodmoor would not renew the six-month AMR contract, but there has been no public announcement or board decision to that effect. AMR also has the option to terminate the contract, which appears likely since the number of transports AMR is getting at Woodmoor is about 15 per month—well below the 30 to 45 transports per month required to break even.

There was a lengthy technical discussion about how both districts’ ambulances and fire engines would be staffed by paramedics or EMT-Intermediates along with an EMT-Basic. The difficulty in making decisions about the wording of such an agreement is how to address paramedic tasking during contingencies such as a second or third emergency response after the primary on-duty ambulance and/or engine has responded. Dooley differed with Rackl and Harvey on the relative merits of different staffing contingencies and multiple response scenarios. They also differed on possible options for substituting a second EMT if paramedic care is not required on a transport.

Youtsey objected to the paragraph that says, "TLFPD shall render such assistance as TLFPD deems appropriate for such emergency, as determined by the TLFPD Chief or authorized representative." He asked, "Do we let Tri-Lakes decide what’s good enough for our district?" Rackl objected to the vagueness of the word "person" in the sentence, "TLFPD will provide WMFPD a person to assist in covering the WMFPD jurisdiction for the duration of the transport."

The bottom line for constituents is that the draft agreement, as it is currently written, still requires that one of the four employees on-duty at Woodmoor be a paramedic. However, the minimum ALS level of EMT-I will still be permitted by Tri-Lakes. This could reasonably be called a lowering of the level of W/MFPD service because currently both AMR ambulances at Woodmoor and Wescott are always staffed with a paramedic and the Tri-Lakes EMT-I cannot dispense all the drugs that are on either type of ambulance. Alternatively, there has always been at least one paramedic on call at Woodmoor, and the paramedic on the AMR ambulance at Woodmoor is a Woodmoor employee, while the paramedic on the AMR ambulance at Wescott is an AMR employee. Wescott has no plans to terminate its contract with AMR.

Harvey thanked Dooley for the hard work he had done in trying to develop an agreement with Tri-Lakes. Harvey added that he would not support ambulance service to Woodmoor with only an EMT-B and EMT-I, without a paramedic—"It short-changes our constituents." Dooley countered that the Woodmoor paramedic could switch from the engine to the Tri-Lakes ambulance for transport, if that level of care was required. However, this would leave only three people at most on the Woodmoor engine for secondary calls. Harvey asked what would happen if Tri-Lakes’ ambulance was not staffed or dispatched with a paramedic. Dooley said that medical assistance would be requested from elsewhere. Mutual aid agreements only apply to firefighting, however, so the procedures in this situation would be different.

In the board’s discussion, Diggins asked if the existing Woodmoor paramedic level of service would diminish. Rackl said it would, because an EMT-I is not equal to a paramedic. Dooley said there will always be a paramedic on duty at Woodmoor and that the ambulance agreement could include an EMT-I backup from Tri-Lakes after the AMR contract expires in August. Rackl disagreed, saying that the agreement between Woodmoor and Wescott designates the Wescott AMR ambulance as the primary backup; that ambulance always has an AMR paramedic on board. Youtsey said that the current Woodmoor standard is a paramedic on location within five minutes whether on the engine or the ambulance and that is the standard that can’t be compromised.

After more technical discussion about national registry fire certification for Woodmoor staff versus internal certification by Tri-Lakes, the board agreed that the draft was a good first step. However, response numbers are increasing, and the population Woodmoor serves is older than average, which reinforces the paramedic requirement.

Diggins requested that in the future, board members should be given these kinds of draft proposals ahead of the meeting. Sibell said that all the subcommittees "need to have agenda items set a week ahead so they could avoid a last-minute rush."

Stipend Donations

The board agreed that Diggins (and any other board member who chooses to do so) may endorse the $75 stipend check they receive for attending each board meetings to the firefighters to use in any manner they see fit. Contributions from the district budget for a charitable purpose are not allowed. Harvey asked Diggins if he was also endorsing his Monument Sanitation District stipend checks to another cause. Diggins did not respond to the question, saying only "I’m only a minority voice. They aren’t as receptive to my suggestions."

MOU with Wescott

Sibell asked the board if it wanted to pursue action through the MOU. Diggins said it would have to be modified to include Tri-Lakes. Wilson said the MOU should be tabled until inclusion with Tri-Lakes. Diggins said that would be a long time. Harvey made a motion to enforce the existing MOU. Diggins asked if the motion would harm their relationship with Tri-Lakes; Harvey replied that there was nothing in the MOU that is harmful to Tri-Lakes. He added that he was initially against the concept of the fire authority, which the MOU calls for, but now believes it is a proven method of reaching consolidation. Rackl said that a fire authority puts senior managers in charge of implementing policy decisions while keeping budgets separate in transition.

Wilson said the board couldn’t "spring" the MOU on Tri-Lakes. Diggins agreed, saying that Woodmoor "must merge with Tri-Lakes at all costs." Harvey objected to Diggins’ "at all costs" condition. He said that Tri-Lakes gives Woodmoor a lot of requirements in order to participate in discussions and it is okay to give them one, i.e., talking to Wescott. He noted that the fire authority model would not prevent Tri-Lakes from building their new stations or buying their new engines, though it is difficult to believe they can be paid for with their current mill levy.

Wilson said that Woodmoor can’t appear to be making an end run to Wescott around Tri-Lakes. Harvey said the MOU was worked out without needing Tri-Lakes’ help, but that while he didn’t have as close a relationship with Pocock as the two new board members, he had no concerns about presenting a three-way MOU draft agreement to Tri-Lakes on July 6.

Sheldon agreed to rewrite the MOU and forward it to Youtsey. Woodmoor will present the three-way draft MOU at the joint focus group meeting on July 6. Wescott will also attend the meeting.

Monument’s 125th Birthday

Sibell agreed to Harvey’s request to add "DWFPD" and "PLVFD" to the joint fire district banner to be displayed at Second and Washington Streets on July 3 for Monument’s 125th Birthday celebration. Wescott will display one of its pumper engines between the Woodmoor and Tri-Lakes ladder trucks holding the banner that says, "Working together to serve you better."

Grants

Rackl announced that the district received an unsolicited $1,500 wildfire grant from the El Pomar Foundation, similar to the $1,000 Wescott grant and the $2,000 Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department grant, both of which also came from El Pomar. (Grant specifics are described in the article on Wescott’s board meeting.) Rackl also announced that it appears the district will receive a FEMA Homeland Security grant for $41,000, matched by $5,500 from Woodmoor. This Assistance to Firefighters Grant will enable the entire staff to get all new bunker gear and self-contained breathing apparatus.

Harvey asked if there was any progress on obtaining volunteers to help provide a fourth firefighter on the engine. Youtsey said they had received three applications.

The meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27; the revised schedule permanently changes the meetings from the fourth Friday at 8 a.m.

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Lewis-Palmer School Board meeting June 17

By Tommie Plank

According to Colorado law, a public hearing is required before the official adoption of a budget. There were no comments or questions from the public, and the board officially adopted the final 2004-05 school district budget as presented.

The board approved the district’s continued participation in the Pikes Peak Area School District Alliance, whose purpose is to carry issues that are important and unique to the Pikes Peak region to the Colorado Legislature. The alliance, formed in 2003, consists of Colorado Springs District 11, Cañon City, Academy District 20, Widefield District 3, Harrison District 2, Falcon District 49, and Lewis-Palmer District 38. Dave Dilley and the other superintendents felt the first year of the alliance was worth the time and money invested. Lewis-Palmer’s cost, which is based on enrollment figures, is about $5,300 and is included in the 2004-05 budget.

Some members of the board said they were disappointed at the small number of people who attended the official board hearings held June 14, 15, and 16. The hearings were planned as opportunities for members of the community to express their opinions regarding high school education. About 20 people attended the three hearings.

Director of Transportation Hal Garland discussed his review of building crisis plans. Making some recommendations to refine certain areas and finalize plans, he noted that the crisis plans are a work in progress.

Director of Curriculum Development Maryann Wiggs presented proposed foreign language guides, which align to National Foreign Language Standards, rather than the Colorado standards, due to the greater depth and relevance of the national standards. She also presented six proposed new high school textbooks the board will review and then consider for adoption at their meeting on July 8.

Board member Steve Plank reported that the Pikes Peak Board of Cooperative Educational Services reorganization appears to be coming along better than it did a few months ago. He expects it to continue as a viable educational services asset to the school districts of the region.

Dilley provided some information about a new service being offered by the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) that would allow school districts to access CASB core policies online. The district could also participate in a program that allows it to place district policies online. The board discussed problems with the current bulky hard-copy manuals and potential problems with the CASB system, and directed Dilley to look into ways to improve the situation and report back to the board.

Grace Best teacher Pam Weyer received a commendation certificate for the courage and love she displayed in taking over Ann Smith’s class following Smith’s death this past January. Using her experience, confidence, and talent, Weyer was able to help students and their parents during a most difficult time.

A commendation certificate was also presented to Jim Kerby for his outstanding performance as safety officer for district-classified employees and for his assistance in planning and organizing annual in-service programs. His efforts in providing and documenting training resulted in a 5 percent decrease in district insurance.

The regular July meeting of the school board will not be held on the usual third Thursday due to a conflict with the Professional Learning Communities workshop in Denver, which board members will be attending. The meeting will instead be on July 8 at 7 p.m. in the Learning Center of the Administration Building. The board plans to vote on the high school decision at this meeting.

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Monthly Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

June 2004 Weather Summary

June 2004 turned out to be quite an exciting month around the Tri-Lakes region, with the first 90-degree temperatures of the season, subfreezing morning lows, and several rounds of severe weather including hail, flash flooding, and tornadoes. Overall, the month was cooler and wetter than average, a great combination for an area in need of moisture.

The month started off with warm and dry conditions, continuing the trend from May, as highs peaked in the low 90s on the 7th. The first hail of the season developed during the afternoon of the 8th, as thunderstorms moved through the area. Unfortunately, very little precipitation fell with this storm, and we remained mild and mainly dry for the next five days. However, subtle changes began to move in on the 14th. The door to Gulf of Mexico moisture began to open and the storm track underwent a pattern change. These two factors combined to produce widespread precipitation between the 14th and the 21st. Afternoon thunderstorms were noted on the 14th and 15th, with severe storms common.

Around 2:30 p.m. on the 15th, several tornadoes touched down 15 miles north of the Tri-Lakes region, between Castle Rock and Elizabeth, while severe storms with hail and heavy rain pounded the south and east sides of Colorado Springs. A strong cold surge then moved through during the morning of the 16th, sending cold air and lots of low-level moisture into the area. Low clouds, fog, drizzle, and rain in the morning, with afternoon and evening thunderstorms, continued through the morning of the 18th. Over the four-day period, .50 to 1.5 inches of precipitation fell, and temperatures remained well below normal as highs only reached the mid to upper 50s from the 16th to the 18th.

Father’s Day 2004 will go down as a day to remember in the weather history of the Tri-Lakes region. The day started with some fog, and sunny skies broke out by mid-morning. The sun didn’t last long, however, as lingering moisture combined with an upper-level disturbance to fire severe thunderstorms over the area. Around 12:45 p.m., thunderstorms began to form. These reached severe levels by 1 p.m., when large hail began to fall along with heavy rain. Hail fell continuously until 2 p.m. in many areas. Locations east of Highway 83 received the heaviest rain, hail, and flash flooding. Hailstones up to 2 inches that damaged cars and houses were reported from Spruce Mountain south along Black Forest Road to Eastonville Road.

These thunderstorms also produced a damaging tornado that touched down around 1:10 p.m. just south of Walker and Steppler Roads, and then moved south-southwest across Hodgen Road and through the northeast side of High Forest Ranch. Several large trees were uprooted or snapped in half, and the highway equipment on Hodgen Road was tossed and tangled throughout the area. The tornado had approximately a mile-long path and a maximum width of around ¼ mile. It was on the ground for about 10 minutes.

Several funnels and possible touchdowns were reported elsewhere throughout the Palmer Divide around this time. Visit www.rain-check.org, which contains reports from volunteer rain observers in the Tri-Lakes area. Click on the Reports and Maps tabs to see that data. This site is a free resource provided to the community and supported by the El Paso County Office of Emergency Management and FEMA.

Another cold front moved through the next morning, the first full day of summer. This front brought with it more low clouds, rain, and thunderstorms. Temperatures continued to drop during the morning and afternoon, falling from the upper 40s just after midnight to the upper 30s during the afternoon and evening. A few snowflakes even mixed in during the heaviest showers between 1 and 3 p.m. Just under a half inch of rain fell during the afternoon, helping to bring totals for the month above average. The morning of the 22nd saw temperatures below freezing throughout much of the region, unusual even for our area. Quiet and dry conditions returned for the next two days, before a final shot of cool, unsettled weather moved in to end the month.

For a detailed look at monthly climate summaries for this area, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

A Look Ahead

July is typically the hottest and wettest month of the year, with precipitation ranging from 2.5 inches to 3.5 inches and average highs reaching the low 80s. Morning lows generally dip into the mid 40s to mid 50s, but some nights can remain on the warm side, making it tough to get a good night’s sleep. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are common, generally forming over the high country and moving out over the Tri-Lakes region. Strong, organized storm systems are less frequent, and cold fronts not as sharp. However, monsoonal moisture moving in from the Gulf of California and Gulf of Mexico usually begins to make an appearance by the middle of the month. The thunderstorms associated with this provide much-needed relief from hot temperatures and dry conditions.

June 2004 Weather Statistics

Average High 73.3ºF
Average Low 42.7ºF
Highest Temperature 92ºF on the 7th
Lowest Temperature 30ºF on the 1st and 22nd
Monthly Precipitation 5.83"
Monthly Snowfall Trace
Season to Date Snow 113.3"
Season to Date Precip. 20.09"

Weather affects all of us every day and is a very important part of life for us on the Palmer Divide. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at our_community_news@hotmail.com.

Bill Kappel is the KKTV 11 News morning meteorologist and a Tri-Lakes resident.

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Lightning: The Underrated Killer

By Bill Kappel

This time of the year means thunderstorms, so it’s time to brush up on some lightning safety tips. Lightning is the second leading cause of storm-related deaths in the United States, exceeded only by floods. In an average year, lightning kills more people than tornadoes or hurricanes. Thunder and lightning occur together in the atmosphere, but since light travels faster than sound, one normally sees the lightning first. As soon as you see lightning, count the seconds until you hear the thunder, then divide by five to estimate how many miles away the lightning strike was. If you count five seconds, the lightning was about a mile away.

The most important thing for everyone to understand about lightning safety is that no place outside is safe from lightning! Staying safe involves several levels of preparedness:

Level 1

Plan your activities around the weather to avoid lightning strikes. If you are going to be outside, know the forecast beforehand and know the local weather patterns.

Level 2

While outside, use the "30-30 Rule" to know when it’s time to seek a safer location.

  • When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If this time is 30 seconds or less, go to a safer place. If you can’t see the lightning, just hearing the thunder is a good backup rule to use to take cover.

  • Wait 30 minutes or more after hearing the last rumble of thunder before leaving the safer location.

  • The "30-30 Rule" will not work well for "first-strike" lightning from locally developing thunderstorms. Watch for building clouds and seek shelter before the first lightning is produced.

Level 3

Go immediately to a safer location when required—and don’t hesitate. The safest place commonly available is a large, fully enclosed, substantially constructed building such as a typical house. Once inside, stay away from any conducting path from the outside—corded telephones, electrical appliances, and plumbing. If you can’t get to a substantial building, a vehicle with a solid metal roof and metal sides is a reasonable second choice. Avoid contact with conducting paths going outside. Convertibles and open-framed vehicles do not count as lightning shelters.

Level 4

If you can’t get to a safer location, avoid the most dangerous locations and activities. Avoid higher elevations, wide-open areas, tall isolated objects, water-related activities, and open vehicles. Avoid unprotected open structures like picnic pavilions, rain shelters, and bus stops. Do not go under trees to keep dry during thunderstorms.

Level 5

This is only to be used as a last resort if you are outside and far away from a safer place. If lightning is imminent, it will often give a few seconds of warning: hair standing up, tingling skin, light metal objects vibrating, seeing corona discharge, and/or hearing a crackling or "kee-kee" sound. If you are in a group, spread out so there are several body lengths between each person. Once spread out, use the lightning crouch: put your feet together, squat down, tuck your head, and cover your ears.

When the immediate threat of lightning has passed, continue heading to the safest place possible.

If someone is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately, if possible. All deaths from lightning are from cardiac arrest or stopped breathing at the time of the strike. CPR or mouth-to-mouth-resuscitation is the recommended first aid.

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Letters to Our Community

Commit to a sustainable future for Colorado

This election year, the residents of Monument will have an opportunity to make a difference in the way Colorado views its energy future—not to mention an opportunity to make national history. Groups from across the state, led by Environment Colorado, are working to put an initiative on this November’s ballot that would create a clean energy standard for Colorado. Such a standard would increase our use of clean and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and biomass, while still meeting the needs of our growing state. This will mark the first time that a state’s voters have had the chance to create such a standard. Now is the time to get involved in the effort and make your voice heard.

Anyone who has had to drive over Monument Hill knows that Colorado can be a windy place. In fact, we are one of the windiest states in the nation; and Colorado boasts the eleventh best wind energy potential in the United States. Despite this, only about 2 percent of our energy comes from renewal sources like wind or solar power. More than 80 percent of our electricity comes from unsustainable, dirty coal plants that hurt our environment and our economy. As we move into the future, there will be less coal available to burn; and the continuing decrease in these resources will mean a steady increase in our electric bills. We have the choice to start taking advantage of our state’s renewable energy potential, and now is the time to act.

Not only is coal unsustainable in the long run, but Colorado is also fueled primarily by coal that comes from Wyoming. We are burning enough of it to fill 384 railcars every year. The coal that we burn is not helping to feed our state’s economy, and we do not have to be shipping our money out of state to meet our energy needs. Wind-power farms are already being built on ranches and farms in Colorado. They provide extra income to landowners, a larger tax base to the counties in which they are located, and more money for local school districts.

Our dependence on coal is bad for the economy because of short-term losses in potential in-state revenue and long-term losses to higher utility prices and eventual resource depletion. Beyond hurting our economy, however, coal power is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain, global warming, and air toxins such as mercury. All of these problems hurt the health of Coloradans; and given the trend toward increasing medical bills, hurting our health translates into just another way of chipping away at our checkbooks. In an average year, a typical coal plant generates 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the primary human cause of global warming. These emissions are the atmospheric equivalent of cutting down 161 million trees.

Environment Colorado is working toward a ballot initiative that will require our utility companies to purchase 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2015–– a measure that has had considerable bipartisan support–– and this is our chance to get involved in the process. When you see people wearing the blue campaign shirts walking around your neighborhood, take a moment to stop and talk. You can also learn more about the measure at www.environmentcolorado.org. Help take control of our state’s energy future and make Colorado a leader in clean energy technology.

Michael Subialka

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Forest Stewardship

Born and raised on Colorado’s Western Slope, I spent a lot of my younger days out of doors and in the woods. I fought forest fires for about seven summers in the late 1960s, early 1970s, and I spent a good deal of time in the wild. I moved to California in my 30s and spent the next 20 years looking forward to moving back to Colorado.

This was accomplished in March of 2002 when my wife and I bought our 5-acre island here in the Black Forest. It suddenly dawned on me that—my background not withstanding—I knew very little about the stewardship responsibilities of a ponderosa pine forest. I considered it a responsibility to make up for this inadequate knowledge. So I contacted the Colorado State Forest Service to find out if they could help me out. Little did I know what a tremendous resource these fine folks would prove to be.

Do you know that, for a fee of $40, a representative of the Colorado State Forest Service will visit and inspect your property and the condition of the forest on it? Well, they will. Do you know that the majority of the Black Forest is overgrown? Well, it is. Do you know that most of the beetle infestation and other ailments within our forest are due to stress from overcrowding—maybe even more so than from the drought? Well, they are.

The State Forest Service has inspected my property twice, and I had them inspect another property where I am thinning dead and stressed trees. On the occasion of these inspections, I walked with the representative and listened, learned, and became excited about the prospects of doing something effective to help preserve this beautiful Black Forest.

I would like to see you and other Black Forest residents partake of this inspection service from the great folks at the Colorado State Forest Service. Then, act upon it by thinning out the suppressed and stressed and overgrown trees on your property. I am also happy to take your phone calls to answer questions about how to proceed with taking care of your forest. You can call me in the evenings at 495-0562 or e-mail me anytime at dennismcneill@mac.com.

Denny McNeill

Editor’s Note: To contact the Colorado State Forest Service, call 687-2921.

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More About Abuse of Government Power

Monika Cline’s defense of the undermanned, underfunded, "dedicated" 12 members of the Monument Police Department (OCN, June 5, 2004, "More Tickets") makes one wonder if she has some kind of affiliation with these poor souls whom I have "disrespected"? In any case, it’s interesting and gratifying to learn that discussions of possible abuses of government power has reached "block party proportions" in her circles.

Her contention that the members of the Boston Tea Party and the signers of our Declaration of Independence were "supported by the majority" of the colonists at the time is highly debatable! And then Monika offers us the actions of John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald as examples of the "selfcenteredness" of those who resist government oppression. Had they resisted fascism and communism and eliminated Hitler and Stalin, rather ­than Lincoln and Kennedy, would they be held in such disdain?

When one has kicked around on this planet as long as I have, it becomes apparent that SOME of those ENTITLED BY THE PEOPLE to wear government uniforms get carried away with their authority. Like it or not, the recent abuses perpetrated by government personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq substantiate this unfortunate fact!

With respect to the right to express dissent, the late president Ronald Reagan once said; "Freedom … is never more than one generation away from extinction. Every generation has to learn to protect and defend it." About 150 years ago, a Frenchman by the name of Alexis de Tocqueville, after spending some time in this country studying our achievements, remarked that he saw signs prompting him to warn us that if we weren’t constantly on guard, we would find ourselves covered by a network of regulations controlling our every activity. He added that if such came to pass, we would one day find ourselves a nation of timid sheep with government as our shepherd. Heaven forbid!

Monika goes on and questions whether or not I "spit on the soldiers returning from Vietnam." How she equates that with resisting government abuse is anybody’s guess, but believe it or not, Monica, I was a spitee, rather than a spitor. And in this connection, having shed blood twice in defense of the principles upon which our government was founded, I believe I’ve earned the FREEDOM from time to time to question the activities of some of its members.

Wm. R. Lamdin

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Something is wrong with this picture

It’s real easy to be unemotional when something wrong is happening to someone else. It’s easy to be detached when you are not spending a dime to "right" that wrong. It’s simple to sit back and pass judgment when you don’t have all the facts. El Paso County is in the process of condemning approximately one-third of my five "treed" acres to build a road to access a new development. There are portions, larger and smaller, of eight other properties that are also being condemned.

This road is intended to go one place and one place only, and that is to a new housing development. This road is intended to go across my land and then curve back into one of the jewels of Black Forest: The Black Forest Regional Park.

Of course, this is of no concern to the El Paso County Commissioners who approved the road and the taking of my land by a process of eminent domain. They consider extending Milam Road into this new development good for the public use. How interesting!

A revised 2030 proposed transportation plan shows NO extension of Milam Road north of Shoup, so the only thing it could be is a private taking for the intended use of a developer as a private entrance into a new development.

Friends of the Black Forest Regional Park (FOBFRP) fought long and hard at great expense to prevent El Paso County from building this entrance through the lower 80 acres of the park. They won in court for one simple reason: It was illegal!

Of course, that didn’t stop El Paso County and the developer from filing an appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals and with the Colorado Supreme Court. They lost in the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court wouldn’t hear it. However, the county and developer did win in running up the FOBFRP expenses.

El Paso County cannot extend Milam Road north of Shoup beyond the development because of a 50-year conservation easement north of it. So, once again, Iguess it’s a beautiful private entrance over my property (and eight others) and through the upper 160 acres of the Black Forest Regional Park.

Does El Paso County really have the money for all this legal action, the taking of nine properties, the building of a road and everything else that goes along with it?

Of course they do! They are getting it from the developer and the taxpayers, of which I am one. So, not only am I spending thousands of dollars to prevent the county from taking my land; as a taxpayer, I am also enabling the county to take my land.

Something is very wrong with this picture

Cindy Miller

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Big Dog Gets Their Day

On June 22, at the town council meeting, a proclamation was passed declaring July 1 as Home Depot Day. Why pass a proclamation giving Home Depot any day at all? I have a few comments to make towards that proclamation.

For those who may not know, July 1 already has a proclaimed day. In 1879, the union of the British North America provinces formed a federation under the name of Canada. Our northern neighbors call it Canada Day. My wife is Canadian. She was surprised and disappointed that the town council approved July 1 as Home Depot Day. Perhaps the town council members that voted in favor of this could have suggested a different date.

So why proclaim such a day? Who benefits? Maybe nobody, but it seems odd to make such a fuss over a particular retail store versus some of the other retail stores that have recently opened up in town. That kind of favoritism usually raises a few eyebrows among small communities. It might have something to do with the expected tax revenues, I guess. Money does talk.

I wonder if the other businesses that recently opened feel slighted that they didn’t get their day. Where was all the hoopla when Paradise Ponds opened their business this past spring? What about another retailer that just opened directly across the street from the town hall called Bella Casa? Perhaps they could have had days proclaimed to celebrate their openings. There is a new retailer opening on the same day, July 1, called Pacific-Rim Interiors. Why didn’t they get the same billing as Home Depot? Perhaps the proclamation should have been Local Business Day or something like that, and we could have still welcomed Home Depot and Pacific-Rim to the business community on that day.

This proclamation may have opened a can of worms by setting a precedent for other companies to proclaim their day. What would happen if every business in the community applied for "their day"? I would think the town council would have to approve proclamations for all of their days. Then we can fill our calendars with even more days to celebrate.

The town council has set themselves up for ridicule with the lack of thought given to a proclamation before voting it in.

Woody Woodworth

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Letters to the county commissioners about Wal-Mart

My husband and I are both against the Wal-Mart being built at I-25 and Baptist Road. We do not want the zoning changed to accommodate such a development in this area. We have lived in Gleneagle for 20 years and understand that growth is necessary. All of the major issues raised against allowing Wal-Mart are valid and should be thoroughly considered by the Board of County Commissioners when making their decision. Most importantly, the county roads, bridges, and traffic volume should be considered at this point in time. These roads and bridges are already supporting more traffic than what they were built to support.

We have confusion on how such a large commercial development would even be considered to be built on such small acreage in an area of traffic congestion. Saturday, June 12, 2004, for example, my husband went to Pizza Hut in Monument to pick up a pizza. It took him 50 minutes to do a 20-minute trip. This was around noontime. The congestion at I-25 was incomprehensible. It boggles the mind to think of the traffic Wal-Mart would generate at this intersection.

Some people think it would be okay to build the Wal-Mart in the Marketplace. We also have concerns about traffic in this area and continued commercial development. We understand the zoning differences and how it impacts commercial development in the Marketplace. Maybe Wal-Mart would consider Interquest Parkway. It would better be able to handle the traffic, and there is more acreage to build.

It would be so wrong to allow the Wal-Mart at I-25 and Baptist Road for all the major issues raised. This is a neighbor community. The zoning should be left the way it is at present and according to the comprehensive plan. Wal-Mart would not primarily serve this neighborhood. Wal-Mart has bigger visions. Why can’t there be a vote on Wal-Mart as there was in Inglewood, California? Wal-Mart wants a store at this location and does not care about the neighborhood, the community, wants no interference, and does not want to financially support any improvements to benefit anyone but itself. The community and the neighbors should be the major consideration when a decision is made.

Edgar and Elizabeth Dove

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One can be only surprised that this insane proposal of Wal-Mart in our midst is even being seriously discussed. However, living in a democracy, it of course is normal.

Is it not important, though, that this corporate giant should be shown the resolve of little people, whose very lives and life savings are to be trampled upon, lifestyles ruined, daily commute endangered because of ridiculously inadequate infrastructure?

Tell me, who in this neighborhood, for which it is intended, would insist on having a Wal-Mart in his backyard, when one is a 12-minute drive away? Why should the "convenience" of insatiable corporate greed of Wal-Mart in our backyard override our collective will? Whose convenience are we talking about here, Wal-Mart’s or ours?

Please, let’s conclude this discussion with a resolute denial, at least for now and the immediate future. Who knows what this area will look like 30 years from now. It certainly will not have a bright future if we let this insanity slip through. And, of course, I just do not think that Wal-Mart will be a loser here, either.

Ivan Kosta

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As a resident of Gleneagle for the past 12 years, I have witnessed the gradual increase in traffic that has reached an intolerable level. During this time, I have attended El Paso County hearings that considered, and always approved, developments to accommodate a surge in population without regard to having an adequate infrastructure.

 The hearing for Filing 8 comes to mind when Bethesda’s hired traffic expert testified that Baptist Road and the I-25 interchange could accommodate increased traffic without an adverse impact. A Donala Water District spokesperson testified that water resources were available to support long-term growth.

We now face the realization that these testimonies were totally inaccurate, and the residents of Gleneagle and surrounding areas are stuck with the consequences.

It now takes about 12 minutes to drive from my house to the Wal-Mart near Chapel Hills Mall. It will take about that much time to pass the congestion created by the proposed Wal-Mart just to get on I-25. Continued demands on the declining water supply dictates that we come to our senses and keep development under control.

You, as our elected representative, have the heavy responsibility to do what is right for the homeowners.

Marvin Walters

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I would like to voice my opposition to the entry of Wal-Mart at the site proposed. My opposition has both practical and principled reasons.

 First the practical reasons:

  • Without the Wal-Mart, the traffic congestion at Baptist and I-25 is bad and rapidly growing worse. With the addition of the Wal-Mart, this congestion would become extreme, leading to, at best, much frustration on commuters’ parts and, at worst, traffic-related safety problems. With funding not available for road improvements, this congestion would not be contained to just Baptist Road commuters, but to those traveling through Monument on I-25.

  • A Wal-Mart in this location simply looks terrible, particularly to those in whose neighborhood it resides. Zoning in the area has been purposely set at certain levels, with the express purpose of preserving the current "feel" of the area. The entry of a Wal-Mart would destroy that feel, particularly for those of us who have moved to that area to enjoy that feel. I suspect that most people, given the choice, would choose not to have to see a Wal-Mart from their front porch.

  • Although much can be done to mitigate many environmental impacts of any type of development, one simply has to look at existing Wal-Marts to discern what will eventually become a bane to those in the surrounding area of this Wal-Mart. Twenty-four-hour lighting will annoy those who can see it from their once valuable homes. Trash will be carried by the consistent Palmer/Divide winds to pollute the yards and streets of neighborhoods, both near and distant. Runoff of chemicals from leaking cars will be deposited in private wells and groundwater. Again, things can be done to mitigate these issues, but Wal-Mart has a poor track record on this issue, and we should not expect that record to change simply because of the store entering this area.

  • Because of the large numbers of people Wal-Mart will attract, crime will increase. An increase in crime is never a desirable outcome on the simple basis that crime is wrong. However, in this case an increase in crime in this area will severely inhibit law enforcement’s capacity to handle issues countywide due to the formidable constraints on our Sheriff’s department that we have currently.

  • Wal-Mart currently has a policy of allowing travelers to camp in its parking lots. Because of the appealing location of this Wal-Mart, it is likely that it will become the Wal-Mart of choice for those who take advantage of this policy. Coupled with the burgeoning problem of panhandlers at the I-25/Baptist Road exchange, this policy will increase safety hazards for both drivers and panhandlers, increase crime, and encourage the development of a transient community within a community designed for those choosing to leave these issues in the city.

  • The entry of Wal-Mart to this site will, because of the previously stated items, reduce the values of the property surrounding it.

The reason in principle: The entry of Wal-Mart at this site violates already established comprehensive development plans and would require a rezoning of the site to "accommodate" the wishes of those (none of whom likely have property in or around the proposed area) who are proponents of the plan. I am a free market capitalist and do not wish to see our government constrain the progress of business. However, I do not wish to see our government override the wishes of the people it governs. Allowing Wal-Mart to enter this site will do just that by disregarding the established development plans AND disregarding the current wishes of those who live in the immediate area.

Marc Stewart

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We firmly oppose a Wal-Mart SuperCenter in Monument. We do not need this kind of urban sprawl here. There are already two Wal-Marts located in close proximity to Monument: One is on North Academy Boulevard, about 10 minutes away, and the second one is located in Castle Rock, about 20 minutes away. How many Wal-Marts do we need in a given area?

Another Wal-Mart in Monument would just be market oversaturation (we already have a King Sooper, Safeway, Home Depot (new), and Foxworth/Galbraith Ace Hardware for our local shopping needs) and would create more overcrowding, traffic congestion, trash, and environmental stress when it is not needed.

Also, Wal-Mart is well known for driving small local businesses out of business. Although one-stop shopping is nice at times, a diversity of selection is better, and we believe that these local businesses should be given a chance to survive for the sake of the Monument community.

Please join us in loudly saying "NO" to Wal-Mart here in Monument.

Glenn and Monica Whiteside

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I am very much opposed to a Wal-Mart being built on Baptist Road.

My family and I built our home in the Tri-Lakes area in April of 1981. My youngest son was two years old when we moved into our house in the middle of five acres on Roller Coaster Road. My four children attended schools in the Lewis-Palmer School District. They are grown and now live in the Boulder area. When they were children, they liked to play across the road on "church property." I never worried about their safety. They always checked in with me, and I considered our "neighborhood" to be completely safe.

As the community grew, we experienced many changes, both physical and psychological. The first major change was the development of Fox Run Park, which turned out to be a good choice after all. A few years ago, we heard the constant roar of bulldozers as Baptist Road was cut through the forest to make room for the large Fox Run housing development. Suddenly we felt threatened by overdevelopment. Even the addition of the King Soopers shopping center was difficult to accept.

As more people move into our area, we hear the constant roar of bulldozers. As we see more of the forest disappear, our quality of life continues to disappear as well.

I oppose the Wal-Mart on Baptist Road for several reasons: (1) The Wal-Mart in Chapel Hills is located only 15 minutes away in the city, where it belongs; (2) Wal-Mart is not a company that supports its employees, therefore I cannot support Wal-Mart; (3) Having a Wal-Mart across from King Soopers will add even more traffic problems to an area that is already heavily congested and dangerous; (4) The appearance of another Wal-Mart on the horizon is revolting to the people who want to protect the quality of life that we’ve all come to enjoy and expect in the Tri-Lakes area.

We moved away from the noise and chaos of the city in order to enjoy the peace and serenity of the forest. It saddens us to see the city encompassing our area, bringing the problems and pollution along with it.

Please listen to the voices of the people.

T. McKinsey Morgan

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We have resided in Gleneagle, one street away from Baptist Road, for more than 12 years, and in the Tri-Lakes region for almost 18 years. During this time we have witnessed a constant decline in the quality of life, despite a series of citizens groups and planning documents that clearly voiced our desire to maintain the unique character of the area. We now oppose the building of a major commercial facility on Baptist Road because it will seriously accelerate the deterioration of our neighborhood.

First, the road configuration at the intersection of I-25 and Baptist Road was an extremely poor design from the start, and has already greatly surpassed its limits. The addition of major store traffic there will increase the frustration of drivers and reduce the safety of driving to intolerable levels 24 hours a day. Moreover, the traffic throughout the entire neighborhood will further increase, spreading the noise, danger, and ultimately crime to previously peaceful streets.

Second, the Public Improvement Corporation (PIC) will drain away funds needed for police, fire, and emergency services just when the store causes their requirements to increase. The result will be either that the quality of services for the existing population decline, or that their taxes increase for the benefit of the new store. Neither alternative is fair to the people who live here now and oppose this expansion. The PIC is, in fact, such an obvious distortion of the democratic process and means to circumvent accountability that the project should be canceled simply to prevent the establishment of the PIC.

Finally, it must be noted, that since the store in question is a Wal-Mart, there is already one located at a suitable site only 10 minutes away.

We therefore strongly urge you to listen to your constituents in the Tri-Lakes region on this issue and preserve their trust and the real value of your El Paso County by voting against the Wal-Mart project.

Dr. William H. Heiser
Leilani G. Heiser

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The Baptist Road Wal-Mart saga is drawing to a close. On July 15, the County Commissioners will decide whether to rezone the site on Baptist Road to accommodate a Wal-Mart Supercenter. The County Planning Commission already recommended denial in a 7 to 1 vote. Traffic gridlock, decreased real estate values, incompatibility with the existing neighborhood and comprehensive plans, and dangerous traffic flow patterns are just a few of the many concerns.

With so many problems and drawbacks to the Baptist Road proposal, why would our commissioners be inclined to approve the rezoning? The county hopes to fund some needed road improvements adjacent to Wal-Mart with the help of a sales fee imposed on items purchased at the store. But the presence of a supercenter in the middle of a residential area with an already congested I-25 interchange just one-quarter of a mile away would create more problems than it would solve. So the pressure would be on to find new developments to help fund improvements to solve the problems the current development created. And so on. When you find yourself in a hole, the old saying goes, the first rule of thumb is to STOP DIGGING. Our county officials would merely be trading old problems for new and probably worse ones, without making any net gain at all.

Proper prior planning prevents poor performance. Obviously, mistakes were made in the past when officials failed to require adequate financial commitments from developers for the improvements to county arterials, which would eventually be made necessary by their developments. Is it really the best plan to now dump a big-box store and all its associated impacts on the backs of the current residents in an effort to mitigate past errors?

Let’s not make an already bad situation worse. Show up at the hearing on July 15. Write letters to your commissioners letting them know that a rezoning at this site at this time would be disastrous. Wal-Mart has a lot of money and savvy corporate lawyers. Every opponent’s voice and presence is needed to make this nightmare go away.

Susanne Wielgopolan

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High Country Highlights: Water Gardens

By Woody Woodworth

Here are some basic and frequently asked questions about water gardening.

Should I use a flexible liner or a preformed pond? Liners are usually easier to work with and easier to install. You can configure your own shape and size and are not limited to any specifics. If you choose a preformed pond, make sure it is deep enough to meet your needs.

How deep does a pond need to be? It should be 18-to-36-inches deep for water gardens and 3-to-4-feet deep or more to winter over goldfish or koi. Deeper ponds may need to be fenced for safety. If you are only adding plants, shallower ponds are safer, easier to work in, and better for the plants. Be sure to allow plenty of shelf space to arrange bog plants around edges, and allow enough depth for water lilies and floating hearts.

How do I figure how big my liner needs to be? The length of your liner needs to be the length of your hole at its longest point added to twice the depth of your hole at its deepest point, plus 2 more feet (to go out over the surface a foot on each end). The width of your liner needs to be the width of your hole at its widest point added to twice the depth of your hole at its deepest point, plus 2 more feet (to go out over the surface a foot on each side). A hole that is 14 feet long by 10 feet wide by 2 feet deep needs a liner that is 20 feet long and 16 feet wide. Be sure to add any shelves or ledges to your formula.

How do I get rid of green water? Create a balanced system in your pond. Plants, filters, bacteria, and a thin layer of gravel in the bottom of your pond will help. Don’t put too many fish in your pond, and don’t feed them excessively. Consult your local garden center for chemical use and ideas to help rid your pond of green water.

How do I get rid of string algae? String algae help to keep your pond clear. It also provides food for your fish. If it becomes excessive, you can remove part of it with your hands or leaf rake. Don’t try to get rid of it completely.

Do I need to add fish? Not for balance, but a few can add interest to your pond. They are easy to care for. Goldfish are cheap and require less maintenance than koi.

How many fish can I have in a pond? You can have up to 1 inch of fish for every 1 square foot of surface area of your pond. This means in a 10-by-10-foot pond, which is 100 square feet, you can have 100 inches of fish. This can be 20 5-inch fish or 10 10-inch fish. Remember, your fish will grow, so don’t put in too many at the start.

What kind of filter should I use? If you only use one, use a biological filter. They only need to be cleaned if the water is being blocked from moving through them. Some can be mounted outside the pond. We use an up-flow filter at the beginning of our waterfall. We clean it once a year, and it is very effective in keeping our pond clear. A good rule of thumb is a "bigger filter is better," so don’t go cheap on your filter purchase.

How big a pump do I need for a waterfall? Measure how wide your waterfall is at the start of the falls. You should have 1,000 GPH (gallons per hour) in pump capacity for every foot of width of the falls. Remember that length of run, elbows, and head (or height) to your waterfall will lessen the amount of water a pump can push.

How many gallons of water does my pond hold? For square or rectangular ponds, multiply the average length in feet by the average width in feet by the average depth in inches by 5, and divide by 8. A 10-by-15-foot pond averaging 16 inches deep holds 1,500 gallons (10x15x16x5÷8). For circular or oval ponds, multiply the full length in feet by the full width in feet by the average depth in inches, and divide by 2. A 10-by-13-foot oval pond averaging 21 inches deep holds 1,365 gallons (10x12x21÷2).

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Feed & Garden and is a member of Garden Centers of Colorado and the Green Industry.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)

View a drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of the Wild Bluebird

By Elizabeth Hacker

It’s summer and the bluebirds have migrated here from the mountains of central Mexico and are nesting in their summer home. In the Tri-Lakes area, we are privileged to have two species of bluebirds, the more common (to this area) western bluebird and its more elusive cousin, the mountain bluebird. As a child, I can remember walking down a country lane near Memphis with my dear aunt and spotting eastern bluebirds.

Bird-watching is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, with family or solo, because more than 300 species of birds migrate through or reside year-round in our beautiful state.

At 6.5-7 inches, the western bluebird is a bit longer and bulkier than a sparrow. They are easy to spot because of their distinctive coloring. Their head, wings, and tail are blue, and their breast and back are a rusty orange. Their throat is supposedly a lighter blue, but it looks orange to me. The females are grayish with a duller blue on its wings and a rustier orange on its breast.

Young birds are speckled-breasted and are generally a light brown, with a bit of blue on their wings. Does this sound a bit like a baby robin? If so, that’s because robins and bluebirds are members of the thrush family and share similar traits: large eyes, slender bills, strong legs, and speckled-breasted young.

Western bluebirds begin showing up here in late April to mid-May to build their nests and mate. They lay eggs in early June and incubate them in 14 days. This allows enough time to mate twice each summer. If you have a bluebird house and want a second nest, be sure to clean out the old one or they will find a different place to nest. In late July, they begin their flight back to their winter home in central Mexico. This provides three to four months of excellent viewing.

Bluebirds are one of the more expressive birds and are fun to watch. To me, they appear contemplative as they sing their elongated pew- or mew-sounding songs, and I can never get enough of them.

Their habitat includes open areas around conifer forests. Often you will see a line of bluebird houses along fences on roads or trails such as the Santa Fe Trail. It is important that boxes be properly spaced to allow bluebirds their territory and be high enough to deter predators. We have a number of bluebird houses in our yard, but we never attract more than one family a year.

One of my favorite stories is the year a male bluebird was sitting on our birdbath and saw his reflection in a nearby window. He immediately and aggressively began attacking his own reflection in his fight over territory!

The favorite food of bluebirds is the mealworm, but it also devours other insects like the miller moth. Last week, I opened one of my windows, and as a miller moth that had been sleeping there flew out, a bluebird swooped up to get it. I can’t say I was sorry to see that moth transformed into bird food.

It has been reported that there have been fewer bluebirds the last few years; this may be related to the drought we are experiencing. Roaming house cats also take a serious toll on all songbirds because birds are not equipped (bright enough) to escape predators. One year, our precious cat, Dandilion, killed the female bluebird nesting in our yard. Her mate perched on our deck for a few days singing the most soulful, sad song—it broke our hearts. We learned from this experience to keep Dandy inside or closely monitor him when we let him outside.

We once thought having a dog would deter bluebirds from our yard. But we have found that our lab-mix, Rocky, keeps the predators at bay and actually encourages bluebirds to nest in our yard.

Much information is available about building bluebird houses and is easily accessed on the Internet or in stores like High County Store. Houses are easy to construct, and even my son’s Cub Scout troop made them as one of their projects. The important feature is the 1.5-inch opening. Predators—including raccoons, squirrels, jays, crows, and magpies—can be deterred by adding a piece of 2-by-4 wood over the original hole (which you’ll need to drill a 1.5-inch hole in, too).

The other migrating blue-colored songbirds that can be seen in the Tri-Lakes region include the Lazuli bunting, indigo bunting, and blue grosbeak. We also have spotted many other species of migratory birds this month, and some of these will be featured in future articles.

The best view times are early morning or early evening when birds are feeding and near their nests. In A Birder’s Guide to Colorado, Harold Hold recommends using binoculars and not venturing too close to nests, as too much human intrusion can permanently scare the parents away from the nests.

If you would like to know more about a particular bird, you can also purchase a copy of Western Birds by Roger Tory Peterson. Please write to us at P.O. Box 1742, Monument, CO 80132 or editor@ourcommunitynews.org with your bird finds and stories.

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The Society Page: Society takes a walk through Palmer Lake history

By Leon Tenney

Palmer Lake Historical Society members received a tour through the town of Palmer Lake’s historic homes area by Jim Sawatzki, noted local historian and film producer.

We started at the gazebo in the park across from the Palmer Lake Town Hall that has the words "Yule Log" over its entrance. Sawatzki pointed out the many public historic buildings are nearby: The Volunteer Fire House, the old town hall used by the cops, and the museum and library building. Recently, the Society restored the old town jail, under the leadership of our past president, Sam DeFelice.

Off we went looking at these old structures. Sawatzki told us about Palmer Lake and the original "Castle Rock." Palmer Lake was incorporated in 1889, 10 years after Monument was incorporated. The Town Hall was originally built in 1914, and the kitchen wing and fireplace were added later. Some of the stones in the fireplace came from the Rock House Hotel.

The first two bays of the fire station were built in the early 1930s. The third bay was added in the 1960s. During the 1930s, volunteer firemen took care of the Palmer Lake star. Even today, they are still doing the work, as evidenced by Todd Bell, who recently changed all the electrical wiring with DeFelice. The highest watt lightbulbs used on the star were 40 watts, as anything larger would blur the lights together and not be seen as individual points. Palmer Lake and Castle Rock had a competition for the best Christmas star. Palmer Lake won this competition.

We walked one block to the east, to the intersection of Village Crescent and South Valley Road. This was the site of the old town center. Many of the current residents live in, and are restoring, these lovely old Victorian houses. Larry Myer, who lives in the old Pillsbury Store, not only told us the history of his old house, but also invited us in for a peek. He called it the local money pit, after the movie.

We walked by many old houses, as Sawatzki described their history. (For more details, you can get a guide at the museum.) We saw many structures that were once stores and post offices. We saw the first building to provide electricity to the town. We saw the first schoolhouse, whose bell now has become part of the Little Log Church. Some of the houses held the first church services in town. Some of the houses were used by the railroad. In fact, one house had once been the depot in Larkspur.

For those who missed this tour, the Wards are opening their Estemere mansion on Aug. 28. Next month on Sunday, July 18 at 2 p.m., the Society is hosting an Ice Cream Social at the Town Hall. You’re all invited. See you then.

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Special Events and Notices

Independence Day Weekend in Tri-Lakes

July 3 - Monument’s 125th birthday celebration

7:30-9:30 a.m.: Pancake breakfast hosted by the Monument Hill Sertoma Club, Front Street, between Second and Third Streets, in Monument

7:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Farmers Market, Second Street by the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building

7:30 a.m.: Palmer Lake Elementary’s four-mile run to Limbach Park in Monument. Starting point: Palmer Lake Santa Fe Trailhead

11 a.m.-4 p.m.:

  • Historic exhibits at the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building (Big Red)

  • Historic walks led by Jim Sawatzki, from Big Red

  • Historic pictures in Town Hall, 166 Second St.

  • Historic displays and demonstrations along Second Street, including teepees to climb inside, gypsy wagon, pioneer crafts, and antique vehicles

  • Western town, complete with a shooting arcade and gunfighters

  • Food booths, pioneer games, and more!

12:30-9 p.m.: Concerts at the Big Red stage on the north side of the D-38 Administration Building at Second Street and Jefferson and at the Limbach Park stage at Second and Front Streets.

5-9 p.m.: Old-fashioned potato bake and live concert in Limbach Park.

9 p.m.-midnight: Barn dance at the Sibells’ barn

July 4: Palmer Lake "Lunchtime to Launchtime"

  • Live bands from noon to 8 p.m.

  • An old-fashioned, small-town street fair with merchants, food, and family fun.

  • Kid’s Play at the ballpark

  • An inflatable playground by Daisy Twist

  • Kiwanis old-fashioned games

  • A celebrity dunk tank by the Palmer Lake Elementary School PTO

  • Hiking and biking trails, including the Santa Fe and Greenland Trails

  • Art show at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

  • Fireworks display at the lake at nightfall

July 5: Downtown Monument

Monument’s Independence Day Parade

Sponsored and marshaled by the Monument Hill Sertoma Club. Parking is available at Lewis-Palmer High School and Middle School, and at Palmer Lake Elementary School Drive, with a free bus shuttle to Monument from 8:30 a.m. Buses will depart from Monument between noon and 2 p.m.

9:30 a.m.: Children’s Parade–participants line up by 8:30 a.m. at the south parking lot of St. Peter Catholic Church, at First Street and Jefferson. No entry form or fee needed; just show up with decorated trikes, bikes, wagons, critters, etc. No skateboards or motorized scooters.

10 a.m.: Fourth of July parade

9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.: Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Street Fair: Nifty things to buy, delicious food, and more!

Noon-3 p.m.: Big Sky Band concert

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Black Forest Slash-Mulch Site Open

The Black Forest Slash-Mulch Program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling program of the El Paso County Solid Waste Management Department. The site is located at the southeast corner of Herring and Shoup Roads in Black Forest.

Residents may bring slash that is no longer than six feet and no wider than eight inches in diameter to the slash-mulch site, where it will be ground into mulch and recycled. Slash is accepted through Sept. 25, Thursday evenings 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is a donation of nonperishable food that will be distributed to nonprofit Black Forest organizations. No stumps, roots, lumber, railroad ties, dirt, weeds, or household trash will be accepted. Loads must be covered and tied, and children and pets must stay inside the vehicle while at the site. Mulch will be available to Sept. 25. Bring your own tools and load mulch free of charge.

Dave’s Demos will be held at the site on one Saturday a month at 11 a.m. A question-and-answer session will follow each presentation.

  • July 10: Disease and Insects

  • Aug. 7: Mountain Pine Beetle

For more information, call El Paso County Solid Waste Management at 520-7878 or Ruth Ann Steele at 495-3107, or visit www.bfslash.org.

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Farmer’s Market Returns to Monument

The Farmer’s Market will be in downtown Monument every Saturday from June 26 to Oct. 2, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Lewis-Palmer School District yard on the south side of Second Street between Jefferson and Adams.

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Free Concerts in Monument’s Limbach Park

Wooden Rose Productions and the Historic Monument Merchants are presenting the fifth annual Concert in the Park series in downtown Monument. Performances are Wednesdays from July 7 to Aug. 4, 7-9 p.m., at Limbach Park. Bring your own chair or blanket and enjoy family entertainment, concessions, food, and drinks. All proceeds from the food and refreshments go directly back to the park, and a hat is passed for donations to compensate the musicians. See the Community Calendar for details on each concert. For information, call Woody at High Country Store, 481-3477.

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Reception for Retiring Stratmoor Hills Fire Chief

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District will co-sponsor a reception to celebrate the retirement of Stratmoor Hills Fire Chief and former El Paso County Fire Marshal Marwin Parker at the Cactus Rose Restaurant, 13990 Gleneagle Dr. on July 11 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10, available by calling Dottie at Stratmoor Hills Fire Department, 576-1200, by July 6.

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Learn about Preventing Diabetes and Stroke

For those interested in learning more about diabetes and stroke prevention, St. Peter Parish Education Center is hosting a free 10-week course beginning July 12, from 6 to 7 p.m., continuing through Sept. 20. Classes will include information on nutrition, cooking, exercise and stress reduction. All classes are open to the public; space is limited to the first 25 who sign up. To register and find out more about the classes, call Liz Slusser, RN, Tri-Lakes Pastoral Nurse, at 488-8639.

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BOCC to Hear Baptist Road Wal-Mart Proposal

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to hear the request for rezoning for a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter on Baptist Road on July 15, 9 a.m., in the 3rd Floor Hearing Room at 27 E. Vermijo, in Colorado Springs. For information, call the county planning department at 520-6300.

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Concerts at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) presents a return engagement on July 15 by bluegrass band Broke Mountain, winner of the 2003 Rocky Grass Band Contest, the premier bluegrass contest in the West. Admission at the door is $8 for members and $10 for nonmembers. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts.

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and The Wine Seller Concert series presents Flatirons Jazz on July 24. Flatirons Jazz is a musical ensemble presenting Colorado’s best in contemporary and traditional jazz music. Tickets, $10 for members and $12 for nonmembers, are available at The Wine Seller, The SpeedTrap, and TLCA. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

TLCA is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more information, call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.com.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society’s Sizzling Summer Events

  • July 18, 2 p.m., at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, ice cream social. Joe Bohler will entertain with his honky tonk piano playing. Free and open to the public.

  • Aug. 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the annual Estemere Tour. Don’t miss this opportunity to tour the elegant Victorian mansion in Palmer Lake. Watch for details.

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BOCC Hearing for Forest Lakes

The final plat for Forest Lakes Filing No. 1 (includes the proposed elementary school site, several utilities, open space, detention pond tracts, and some of the single-family residential lots that were shown in the western portion of the proposed Phase I) is tentatively scheduled to be heard by the Board of County Commissioners July 22 or August 12. For information, call the county planning department at 520-6300.

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Storytelling Festival

Some of the West’s best storytellers will perform at the 2004 Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival. Colorado storytellers Opalanga Pugh, Pat Mendoza, and Susan Kaplan are the featured presenters. Children’s storytelling workshops and a free evening concert with the featured storytellers take place on July 30 at Philip S. Miller Public Library, 100 S. Wilcox, Castle Rock. Palmer Lake Elementary in Palmer Lake will host adult workshops and more stories and music for all ages on July 31. Come tell your own story at one of the Story Swaps. For more information, contact John Stansfield, P.O. Box 588, Monument 80132, (303) 660-5849 or toll-free (866) 462-1727.

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Down Syndrome Buddy Walk in August

The Colorado Springs Down Syndrome Association will host its 5th Annual Buddy Walk in Manitou Springs Memorial Park on Aug. 28. Registration begins at 8:30 in the park. The walk starts at 10 a.m. and is a 5K (3.2-mile) course through the streets of Manitou. A continental breakfast and lunch are provided. For more information, call CSDSA at 633-1133 or visit their Web site at www.csdsa.org.

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Blood Drive in Gleneagle

Gleneagle Sertoma, Penrose Hospital, and Donald Wescott Fire Protection District are sponsoring a blood drive on Aug.4, from 2 to 6 p.m., and Aug. 7, from 2 to 7 p.m., at Antelope Trails Elementary School. The school is located at 15880 Jessie Drive, off Gleneagle Drive. Information and appointments are available by calling 488-2312 and 488-8328. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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