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Our Community News - Home Vol. 5 No. 12 - December 3, 2005

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Wescott Chief Sheldon retires

Below: Chief Bill Sheldon in front of the recently expanded fire station on Gleneagle Drive. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Below: Bagpiper Sam Swancutt pipes the Chief into retirement. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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USAFA Honor Guard performed flag folding ceremony. Photo by Lt. Tim Hampton.

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By Jim Kendrick

Donald Wescott Fire Protection District’s Chief Bill Sheldon retired on Nov. 19 after 25 years of service to the district. The gathering of hundreds of long-time friends, colleagues, and fellow fire chiefs and firefighters led to an overflow crowd that spilled into the hallways of the Cactus Rose restaurant. Sheldon’s arrival and departure were celebrated by renowned area bagpiper, Sam Swancutt, after Assistant Chief Vinny Burns announced in his best fire ground command voice, "Attention on the floor! We have a Chief Officer in the house. Please rise!"

The Honor Guard of the Air Force Academy Fire Department presented the colors and then performed a moving 13-step flag-folding ceremony with Sheldon’s retirement flag. Captain Mike Whiting announced that this U.S. flag was flown over the United States Capitol then presented to the district by Rep. Joel Hefley. The flag was then flown over nearly every firehouse in El Paso County.

The district’s board of directors dedicated the new conference room in the station on Gleneagle Drive to Chief Sheldon and presented him with a plaque naming the room after him; that plaque is now mounted beside the conference room’s entrance. The district’s volunteer and career firefighters presented a photo album of pictures that documented his long career, an historic playpipe mounted on a wooden stand, and a flag case to hold his retirement flag, among several other gifts. Burns presented 25 roses to his wife Claire Sheldon for her steadfast support of his Wescott career. Also at the head table were his son Brian and daughter Lisa.

Sheldon was then showered with gifts, spontaneous heartwarming testimonials, and stories that elicited gales of laughter for over an hour by many friends he had served with and mentored in both his long Air Force and subsequent careers.

This was a tribute to a man’s life that could not have been improved upon.

Sheldon summed up the afternoon saying simply, "I was just overwhelmed."

He and Claire are wintering in Lake Havasu and will be back in town this spring.

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Tis’ the season for red kettles

Below: Warren Moore, with Monument Hill Sertoma, ringing the bell at Safeway Photo by Mike Wicklund

By Susan Hindman

Monument Hill Sertoma volunteers are ringing bells for the Salvation Army kettles at Safeway and King Soopers in Monument throughout the month of December. Last year, $33,000 was collected from the Tri-Lakes area; this year, Sertoma has set a goal of $35,000 for the Tri-Lakes Red Kettle campaign.

Every year, 100 percent of the local contributions are used for those in need in El Paso County.

This year, organizers are concerned that contributions could be low as a result of the financial requests associated with natural catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, according to Monument Hill Sertoma Salvation Army Kettle Campaign Chairman Michael Wicklund.

"There are more than 2,000 Katrina survivors who have located here in the county, many of whom Salvation Army is helping," he said. "The ongoing needs of those less fortunate in our county are ever present."

Normally, coins make up about 25 percent of the kettle contributions in our community.

"Beside the amount you normally donate to the kettles," Wicklund requested, "this year, please bring those coins that may be in a jar or have been laying around the house for years, to the bell ringer at Safeway or King Soopers. Let’s invest in a good work by putting that coinage back into circulation."

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Monument Board of Trustees, November 7: $1 million found for water improvements

By Jim Kendrick

At their post-election meeting on Nov. 7, the Monument Board of Trustees Town Manager Cathy Green announced an "accounting finding" by the town’s auditor that frees about $1 million for water improvements.

The town had previously said the cash reserve was untouchable due to a TABOR limitation capping the amount of sales tax revenue that could be spent at 10 percent of the total expenditures. Water sales tax revenue collected has always been higher than this TABOR limitation. Until the Nov. 1 ballot issue was passed, the town claimed the excess revenue could not be spent outside of the enterprise fund per the 1989 ballot issue that created the tax, supposedly trapping the excess revenue in a growing but unspendable water enterprise fund reserve.

At the regular meeting that followed the special budget meeting, the board reviewed, but did not pass, several ordinances and some related resolutions regarding construction of a new police building, revising the town’s water sales tax ordinance, and revising fees charged to developers throughout the planning review, inspection, and approval process.

The board approved two new liquor licenses and two renewals. Mayor Byron Glenn announced that BRRTA fees would rise dramatically. Trustee Travis Easton was absent.

Special Meeting

Green presented the second draft of the 2006 budget. Treasurer Pam Smith was excused from the meeting due to illness. The board members asked a variety of questions about specific line items contained within the budget.

Payroll and benefit fees have been realigned and consolidated under the general fund instead of being assigned in arbitrary portions to various expense accounts to spread the costs of staff time. Trustees Tim Miller and Frank Orten asked for a list of the budget items that had been moved from one portion of the budget to another. Green said that Smith would prepare the requested summary of budget realignments when she returned to work. Some of the answers provided by Green to budget questions are listed below.

Leasing costs have increased by $8,400 to cover a new color copier. Leases for three new police vehicles are also included in the 2006 budget. The three replaced vehicles are worn out and will be auctioned.

Triview Metropolitan District terminated the intergovernmental agreement with the town wherein the town provided two water operators and two trucks for a calendar year. Previously Donala Water and Sanitation District had provided this service to Triview, but the town significantly underbid Donala in an agreement reached by District Manager Ron Simpson and former Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall. Triview will now hire operators and acquire vehicles for them in 2006. There will be a three-month overlap to help the new hires transition into their new duties.

Green reported an "accounting finding" by the town’s auditor that would allow "nearly a million dollars," previously thought to be untouchable due to TABOR constraints, to be used for improvements to town wells 7, 8, and 9. Green said, "So apparently we had about $3 million in one of those locked-up water funds and $1 million became free."

There is a backlog of capital water projects that total about $2 million. After an inquiry to the town’s auditor following the Oct. 17 BOT meeting, Green said, "We have $1 million that she has released that will cover the water projects that need to be done, which is finishing [well] 9, lowering [well] 8, and re-drilling [well] 7."

There was no explanation of the new "finding," which partially refutes the previous long-standing legal and accounting interpretation of untouchability of more than 10 percent of tax revenue per year under TABOR, asserted by Town Attorney Gary Shupp and former Treasurer Judy Skrzypek. Glenn asked that Smith provide an outline of where the $1 million had come from at the next BOT meeting. Green agreed that a more complete explanation was needed.

This supposed untouchability of a substantial portion of the 1-cent sales tax revenue was the cornerstone argument for the town’s ballot question that passed on Nov. 1, in which voters allowed the limitation on water sales tax revenue use to be modified. Now, any water sales tax revenue that exceeds the annual budget for water system capital improvements can be used for purchase of a police department building (up to $2.5 million under an ordinance to be passed in December) and for purchase of additional water rights (with no limitation).

The board confirmed their preference for a public hearing on the 2006 budget at the Dec. 5 meeting and adjourned the special meeting at 6:20 p.m.

Regular Meeting

Glenn noted that there would be a community meeting on Nov. 29 to solicit resident input for town planning. He thanked Triview and Donala for allowing the town to buy excess effluent water from the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility to offset water stored behind the Monument Lake dam throughout 2005.

Glenn thanked the new staff members for "working their tails off" to rapidly approve developments that would increase town sales tax revenue. Glenn also thanked commercial property owner John Dominowski for his service on the Police Building Subcommittee.

Plank thanked the voters for approving the ballot question that will allow the town to use water enterprise fund money for a new police department and town office building. Current plans are to purchase the existing Abundant Life Church building on the northeast corner of Second and Jefferson Streets and remodel it, rather than build a new building on the vacant land between Beacon Lite Road and Adams Street, as was originally proposed.

Cost estimates for the proposed new building had approached $4 million. The lease-purchase payments for that amount are unaffordable because they exceed the town’s unused bonding capability—even when taking into account projected sales tax revenue from the new Wal-Mart, future Monument Marketplace and Jackson Creek Commerce center businesses, and the future Timbers and Monument Ridge commercial developments that are expected to be approved as soon as their plans are submitted. The site of the Monument Ridge development—the former Wal-Mart site opposite King Soopers on the south side of Baptist Road—is also expected to be annexed as soon as possible by the board.

BRRTA report

Glenn reported on the Nov. 4 Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) meeting he chaired. Fees for new homes will likely increase three to four times, from the current $500 per house—charged since BRRTA’s creation in 1997—to $1,500-$2,000 for each new home. Commercial fees would rise by the same proportion.

Baptist Road is a county road, like Highway 105 and Higby Road. However, the county will not pay for the improvements within the BRRTA boundaries, though the county will maintain them after construction is completed. A public hearing for the fee increases was not scheduled. Discussion will continue at the Dec. 9 BRRTA meeting in Town Hall at 2:30 p.m.

Current BRRTA fees are not high enough to cover the expense of improving Baptist Road. Nearly all of the $8 million cost for improving Baptist Road, other than the state’s I-25 interchange, from Old Denver Highway to just east of Desiree Drive, is being paid for by the new 1-cent sales tax charged by the Pikes Peak RTA (PPRTA) and the impact fees from Monument Marketplace. PPRTA’s contribution for road widening is expected to be about $6.2 million.

BRRTA will issue bonds for the proposed Exit 158 interchange improvements, costing about $15 million, if BRRTA makes the improvements before Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) funds become available. To finance the interest payments on the bonds, BRRTA would implement and collect the public improvement fee on sales that all commercial businesses within BRRTA would have to agree to. The size of the public improvement fee, if implemented, has not yet been determined. When CDOT funds become available, CDOT would pay off the bond principal under the proposal.

However, there is no way to know when CDOT funding would become available, and the problem was not helped when voters rejected Referendum D. This referendum may have made CDOT funding for Exit 158 expansion available sooner, though there was no guarantee. As a result, it’s unclear for how long the bonds will need to be issued or if the public improvement fee would be acceptable to all those businesses within BRRTA that would be affected.

The BRRTA board intends to include all development areas between Baptist and County Line Roads, since each development in that area will contribute to traffic on the east side of Baptist. Thus fees would be received from Home Place Ranch, Promontory Pointe, Monument Ridge, and the Baptist Camp in the short term, in addition to fees from the planned developments in Regency Park, Forest Lakes, and along Old Denver Highway.

However, the board decided that the Richmond Trails End subdivision will remain exempt from inclusion.

The board discussed, then abandoned, a proposal to also improve Higby Road. In addition to dangerously steep grades and drainage issues that rival those on Baptist, Higby has paving issues that will be aggravated by already approved and soon-to-be approved developments west of Higby Estates.

Massage therapy licenses

Although she did not attend the meeting, Sharon Williams had asked the town to drop the town ordinance requirement that professional massage therapists be certified by a town board before being approved for a business license. The board had adopted this requirement in 2004 following the arrest for prostitution at Miss Suki’s massage parlor on Highway 105 next to the 7-11 store. The owners of this building offered it to the town as an alternative location for the police department at the Oct. 17 board meeting.

Williams had said that requirements for three character references, fingerprinting, and a certification review by a town board, among other requirements, applied to no other professions or licensed health care providers in town, making the rules arbitrary and unfair.

The town has never been able to organize a review board for professional massage therapists due to the lack of qualified volunteers. A substantial number of professional massage therapists already operate businesses licensed by the town without having had to comply with the ordinance.

The staff was directed by Glenn to review the ordinance and make recommendations for possible changes to it if Williams attends a future BOT meeting.

Two appointments made

Monument resident Richard Mealer was unanimously appointed to fill a vacant position on the town’s Board of Adjustments. Mertz recommended that Mealer apply for an appointment to the town’s Planning Commission once he has been a resident for a full year. Town Clerk Scott Meszaros swore in Mealer.

Carl Armijo, a member of the Board of Adjustments, was unanimously appointed to fill a vacant position on the town’s Planning Commission. Armijo was also sworn in by Meszaros.

Three ordinances continued

The board continued the proposed ordinance "establishing a maximum expenditure for purchase, construction, and/or rehabilitation of a Police Department/Government Complex from the one-cent sales tax passed for assisting water improvements." Dominowski said during the public hearing that the ordinance needed to explicitly say that excess water tax revenues were to be used for the purchase of water rights for the town and that all the Nov. 1 ballot question documentation needed to be an attachment to the ordinance, to provide a complete record for future boards. There is little documentation available to determine the actual wording and intent of the 1989 ballot question that created the 1-cent water tax. An amended ordinance will be proposed at a future BOT meeting to set a cap of $2.5 million.

An ordinance amending the current 12 percent franchise fee on the water enterprise fund was continued because there appears to have never been an ordinance passed to set the franchise fee at 12 percent. The town had taxed water system customers 12 percent for use of the water department’s easements in order to move the money to the town’s general fund to bypass TABOR limits and strict state enterprise fund revenue use restrictions. Franchise fees were later charged to local utilities such as Qwest, Aquila, MVEA, and Adelphia cable. The 12 percent franchise fee is not charged to town residents, who receive their water from Triview or Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

The proposed ordinance would have kept the water system franchise fee in place, but a companion resolution would have reduced the fee to zero percent for the 2006 budget, due to staff concerns that there will not be enough money in the water enterprise for future capital improvements after buildout eliminates all but a few future tap fees in west Monument. All tap fees east of I-25 go solely to the Triview or Woodmoor water districts.

An ordinance creating new engineering plan review fees was continued. A separate ordinance and resolution applies to site plan and plat reviews, inspections, and enforcement. Glenn noted that the fees had previously been contracted out to commercial engineering firms by the former planning department. He said fees "six times higher" than Kassawara’s proposed engineering review fee schedule were "more appropriate" and that a local engineering firm "would charge 100 times" the fees of $200 for the initial review and $100 for each additional review in the new ordinance.

Kassawara said that the flat fees for the new Development Services Department are for an average development and not meant to overcharge any developer for having a smaller than average proposal. He had not collected any data on the time required for conducting and itemizing phone calls, faxes, e-mails, and administrative duties for each project’s engineering review.

Glenn asked Kassawara to review his planned fee schedule before resubmitting it to the board to ensure the costs were sufficient to pay for the cost of the staff’s time spent reviewing and approving the engineering documentation. Shupp also recommended making some format changes in the documentation.

Two of four resolutions approved

The resolution that would have implemented Kassawara’s proposed fee schedule was also continued. Kassawara said that the fees were listed in a resolution, rather than the ordinance, so that they could be more easily amended in the future, based on collected cost data. Changing the resolution is easier because the town would not have to comply with all the additional requirements for advertising and holding a public hearing that are state requirements for amendments to an ordinance.

A resolution to approve the contract with Ayres Associates Inc. to prepare the town’s first stormwater master plan was unanimously approved. Ayres had already begun gathering the needed data to initiate plan development. The basic contract is for $87,186 which will be paid from the town’s storm drainage impact fee fund.

A resolution to accept updated documentation regarding changes to the town’s 457 deferred compensation plan from the AIG Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company was unanimously approved. There is no substantial change in the plan and no change in its cost.

A companion resolution to limit the franchise fee the town charges its water system customers was continued because the ordinance to create the variable franchise fee had been continued earlier in the meeting.

Liquor licenses approved

The board unanimously approved liquor license renewals for King Soopers and the Mandarin House restaurant. The Mandarin House will be transferring its renewed license from its former downtown Monument Plaza location on Highway 105 to Jackson Creek in the near future.

After a lengthy discussion, the board narrowly approved a new liquor license for Monument Liquor Mart in Monument Marketplace. Jon Stonebraker, the attorney for owner Gene Jones, asked professional surveyor Max Scott to present the details of the complete survey he had made of the approximately 5,000 residents and business owners within the legal "neighborhood" of the proposed liquor store to assess the "needs and desires" of the community, as required by state statute. Scott found that 69 percent favored issuance of the license.

Stonebraker asked Jones a series of questions regarding his application for the license, including details of Jones’ one prior violation for one of his employees selling alcohol to a minor at his store in Parker five years ago. Jones’ license was on probation for one year. Jones said the policy at all his liquor stores since the violation is to card anyone looking 30 and under without exception.

Shupp said that trustee Miller’s request to postpone the license hearing until after the Nov. 29 public meeting was inappropriate. Shupp also said that the percentage in favor of the issuance was substantially higher than for most such requests. Glenn said that every aspect of the application exceeded the standards required for issuance of the license. Police Chief Jake Shirk said he had no concerns regarding the issuing of the license. There was no public comment in opposition to the request.

Without giving any legal justification for opposing the license, Drumm and Miller voted against it. The vote was 4-2 in favor. Drumm questioned the validity of the survey; Shupp said there was no reason or evidence for Drumm’s conclusion. Miller said that the store was too close to the high school and middle school, though the limit is much smaller (500 feet) than the separation to Creekside Middle School or Lewis-Palmer High School.

The board’s approval was contingent on a positive finding from a Colorado Bureau of Investigation review of Jones’ fingerprints. Jones operates other liquor stores, so a positive result was expected within a few days.

A new liquor license for the Hikari Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, which is taking over the former Mandarin House space in Monument Plaza, was unanimously approved. There was no public comment in opposition to the request, nor any board discussion of the application. Until its new license is approved, Hikari’s will operate under a temporary transfer of the Mandarin House’s liquor license.

Staff Reports

The board unanimously approved a tax transfer payment of $40,972.39 to Triview Metro District, $35,120.50 for half the sales tax and $5,851.89 for motor vehicle specific ownership tax collected within the district.

The board unanimously approved an amendment to the $22,500 Community Development Grant previously given to the Historic Monument Merchants Association for beautification of town facilities. Two of the six garden proposals were dropped, making some money available to be reallocated to a banner holder to span Second Street, just west of Highway 105. The banner holder would limit wind damage to banners displayed.

Flowers have been planted around Town Hall by Deputy Clerk Irene Walters in the past, and she will continue to maintain those flowerbeds. The Historic Monument sign across Third Street by the Monument Post Office will likely be moved due to proposed traffic flow changes at the intersection of Third and Highway 105.

Director of Public Works Rich Landreth reported that the town would share the cost of a water flow gauge with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to be installed in Monument Creek just below the dam, to more accurately measure output from the dam. Other gauges may be installed in the creek by USGS to better model the flows to the Arkansas River, but the town will not have to help pay for them. The town’s one-time share for installation is $5,900 and annual operations and maintenance cost share will be $15,000 per year.

Drumm advocated participating in the commercial plan for attracting a commuter rail station in Monument when the existing tracks are no longer used by freight trains. The developer is asking for a contribution of $10,000 per year to help float the proposal. Palmer Lake and Castle Rock have declined to make the payments to the developer. There are no plans for extending the existing Denver light rail system further south.

Green said the town has to figure out a way to prevent pedestrians crossing the railroad tracks at Second Street before the railroad will consider not using warning horns between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. in accordance with the new town ordinance.

Miller asked why No Trespassing signs were posted on public sidewalks along Lyons Tail Road. Glenn said he would have to ask Triview District Manager Ron Simpson since the town has no control over the issue. Miller was surprised that the town had no say in the matter, though Green offered to assist him with contacting Simpson.

Miller asked that signs be added for Monument at the Baptist Road exit on I-25, similar to those at the Highway 105 exit. He also asked that town signs be made for the entries into Jackson Creek from Baptist Road to help resolve the divisions between Jackson Creek and west/downtown Monument. Glenn asked the staff to move on this request. Green suggested that all the signs include elevation, population, and the date the town was established. Miller also asked that the town signs for downtown Monument all be made consistent with "Downtown Monument" or "Historic Monument" to prevent visitor confusion.

Miller asked that CDOT adjust the timing of the lights on Baptist Road just east of the bridge over I-25, to minimize hazards for cars clearing the two Struthers Road intersections before lights turn green. He said there have been many near-misses at those intersections when drivers on Struthers (both northbound and southbound) attempt to turn onto Baptist. Other problems occur when drivers ignore or don’t understand the no-right-turn sign at southbound Struthers. These problems are worst at rush hour or when the high school day is over and students are driving home.

Miller also asked that the right-turn-only light at the northbound I-25 off-ramp be retimed for better flow. Green said all the requests would be made to CDOT.

Miller suggested that cameras be installed at these intersections to photograph and cite those who run red lights. The proposal was countered by other trustees. Kassawara said that some residents had successfully sued against the cameras in other parts of the country as an invasion of privacy.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:17 p.m. The Monument Board of Trustees normally meets the first and third Mondays each month at 6:30 p.m. in Monument Town Hall, 166 2nd St. For more information, phone 884-8017.

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Monument Board of Trustees, November 21: Treasurer explains recently discovered funds

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved an ordinance that amends the franchise fee ordinance for the town’s water enterprise fund, but allows the size of the fee to be changed at any time in the future by resolution rather than requiring another amendment ordinance.

Afterward, the board passed a companion resolution that reduces the water enterprise franchise fee from 12 percent to zero in the draft 2006 budget. There has never been an ordinance to explicitly set this franchise fee at 12 percent.

Trustees Frank Orten and Travis Easton were absent. Scheduled guest speaker Tim Irish was also absent; his presentation on planning options for senior housing in Monument will be rescheduled.

Ordinances

Monument Ridge Annexation continued: An "Ordinance approving the Annexation, Annexation Agreement, and Rezoning of Monument Ridge" was continued at the applicant’s request, as was a companion "Ordinance approving a Sketch Plan for Monument Ridge." This proposed development is located on the vacant 30-acre parcel on Baptist Road directly across from King Soopers. The Planning Commission approved these proposals on Sept. 28.

Reallocation Cap approved: The board unanimously approved an "Emergency Ordinance Establishing a Maximum Expenditure for Purchase, Construction, and/or Rehabilitation of a Police Department/Government Complex Passed for Assisting in Water Improvements." The ordinance caps the amount of water sales tax that can be reallocated for the police department building to $2.5 million, but "does not cap how much can be spent on the facility using other sources of revenue."

The ordinance had been continued from the Nov. 7 BOT meeting so that the wording could be revised to note that any reallocated water tax revenue beyond this cap "will be expended on the acquisition of new water rights and the transport and storage of these newly acquired water rights." (See the BOT article on Page 2 for details.)

Ballot question 2a was passed by the voters on Nov. 1 to permit the reallocation prohibited by the 1989 ballot question that created the 1-cent water sales tax.

Trustee Tim Miller asked why it was being passed as an emergency ordinance instead of giving 30 days’ public notice. Town Manager Cathy Green said the staff was "already moving on" the facility issue and preferred that the ordinance be enacted immediately to "ensure the comfort level of the public." Trustee Dave Mertz said that the ballot question and cap issues had been well publicized before the election and during the two-week continuation.

Water system franchise fee set: An ordinance amending the town’s tax on its own water enterprise fund had also been continued at the Nov. 7 BOT meeting. The ordinance from 2000 that created the franchise fee specified that it would be 2 percent of all water customer billings; however, the fee has been 12 percent since 2002. Trustees questioned Green on whether the new ordinance should rescind the original ordinance’s fixed 2 percent fee or the current 12 percent fee actually being charged to water customers. The 12 percent fee was never authorized by an amending ordinance, as required by statute; it was just added to the 2002 budget by the board.

Green offered the BOT a choice of draft documents that would amend the 2 or 12 percent fee. Mayor Byron Glenn asked what evidence there was that authorized the 12 percent fee. Green said she could only find correspondence discussing the size of the fee from year to year but no authorizing ordinance for the 12 percent amount.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that the fee increase was indirectly authorized by the last four town budget ordinances and that the purpose of the amending ordinance was to change how the size of the fee will be adjusted in the future, not to rescind the franchise fee completely.

The new ordinance says, "The Town of Monument Water Enterprise Fund shall be charged such franchise fee as determined by the Board of Trustees … with the amount of the franchise fee to be set by Resolution of the Board" rather than by another new ordinance. The size of the fee can be changed by resolution at any time. Treasurer Pamela Smith said the franchise fee charged to the town’s water system users has been 12 percent in all four town budgets from 2002 through 2005.

Miller asked whether the board should discuss eliminating the franchise fee permanently since it appeared the money was no longer needed in the general fund. Glenn said the companion resolution would reset the franchise fee to zero at the start of 2006.

Shupp recommended using the 12 percent figure in the ordinance. The board unanimously approved that version. Later in the meeting, the companion resolution setting the franchise fee at zero percent in the 2006 draft budget passed unanimously with no discussion.

Town engineering review fees created: The board unanimously approved an ordinance creating a new "Chapter 17.45 of the Town Code to establish procedures for review and approval of engineering plans, specifications, and related documents." These development proposal reviews have been conducted by consultant engineering firms in the past, with the charges passed through to the applicant. However, in 2003 and 2004 some of these consultant costs were not billed to developers due to administrative error. This ordinance had also been continued at the Nov. 7 BOT meeting. (See the BOT article on Page 2 for details.)

The proposed ordinance creates a set of technical engineering review procedures and authorizes fees for review by the town engineers. The amounts and types of fees "shall be established by the Town by a Resolution" of the BOT. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara is a professional engineer and will perform these reviews. The size and type of the fees can be changed by resolution at any time under this ordinance. Plat and site plan review procedures and fees are covered by completely separate planning ordinances.

Kassawara had initially proposed a fee of $200 for the initial review and $100 for each subsequent review. The board had rejected those numbers as too low. In the revised resolution, these two figures were increased to $500 and $200. Several trustees said the new fees were still too low.

Kassawara said that if the amount collected did not pay for the amount of time (salaries and benefits) he was spending on engineering plan reviews overall, he would come back to the board and ask for a new resolution to increase the fees. He said his proposal was based on eight months of data.

During the public hearing on the ordinance, Lowell Morgan said the proposed fees were too low based on his observations of town planning reviews over his many years as a trustee and planning commissioner.

Glenn noted that the town had not always recovered costs that exceeded the initial retainer provided by applicants for commercial consultant fees. He said a flat fee was easier to understand than the complicated formulas for engineering fees charged by neighboring municipalities. Kassawara said he wouldn’t begin the reviews until the fees had already been paid. The ordinance was unanimously approved after further discussion.

During discussion of the companion resolution that sets the engineering review fees at $500 for the initial review and $200 for each subsequent review, Miller suggested increasing the two fees to $750 and $400. However, the resolution passed, without revision, by a 4-1 vote, with Miller opposed.

Promontory Pointe annexation hearing scheduled: The board unanimously approved a resolution stating that the application for annexation of the northern portion (78 acres) of the Walters Promontory Pointe parcel was in substantial compliance with state statutes. The southern portion (39 acres), adjacent to the intersection of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive, has already been annexed.

The board’s annexation hearing is scheduled for Jan. 3.

Well 9 project contract awarded: The board unanimously approved a resolution awarding a contract for $125,865.98 to Amwest, Inc. for installing the pumping equipment for Well 9, which is located near the entrance to the Trails End subdivision on Old Denver Highway.

Water treatment plant contract awarded: The board unanimously approved a resolution awarding a contract for $1,054,809 to Bosco Constructors, Inc. for expanding the capacity of the water treatment plant at Well 8 for water from Wells 3 and 9. Public Works Director Rich Landreth noted that the bid was the "lowest responsible bid."

Green said that Landreth had done a good job on the project because the original request for proposals had elicited only one bid that he considered to be excessively high. Also, there were insufficient funds in the 2005 budget to pay for the work. The second request for proposal yielded seven bids. The Well 3 building on Beacon Lite Road will be eliminated under this contract.

Financial matters

The board unanimously approved three routine bond payments over $5,000: $6,425 for a 1979 general obligation water bond payment, $94,250 for a 1998 general obligation water bond payment, and $20,079.07 for a water enterprise fund capital equipment bond payment. Trustee Gail Drumm suggested paying off the 1979 bond as soon as possible. Smith reported that sales tax revenues were meeting the projections in the 2005 budget. The 50-page financial report for October was unanimously approved without discussion.

2006 budget questions answered

Smith answered 2006 draft budget questions some trustees had raised during her absence at the Nov. 7 board meeting. She listed the many line-by-line changes she had made in the latest revision of the 20-page budget proposal before answering the list of questions she had received after the previous meeting.

Of note, Triview Metropolitan District will no longer lease two water operators and two trucks from Public Works to operate their water system in the new year. There is an addition of $5,000 for flagpoles at the town entrance sign at Second Street and Highway 105, $100,000 for bathrooms at Dirty Woman Park, $8,400 for a new color copier lease, and $267,539 for "New Police Building Payments."

Smith reported that the fees for administering the benefits package for the employees had changed due to Wells Fargo bank charges for electronic processing direct deposits and changes in the benefit package fees. Also employee pay and benefits expenses have been consolidated into the administrative budget.

At the Nov. 7 BOT meeting, Glenn had asked for an explanation of why more money (thought be an additional $1 million) was suddenly available for water system capital improvements. Smith, who was absent on Nov. 7, said Auditor Kyle Logan of Swanhorst Accounting Services determined that there were differences between modified accrual budgeting in the general and special funds and full accrual budgeting in the Water Enterprise Fund (WEF) that had not been properly accounted for in the past.

In his revised opinion, "Principal payments on capital assets (leases and purchases), capital outlay, and depreciation should not be reflected on the income statement." These amounts are now to be "added back into the ending fund balance under Reconciliation to GAAP" (generally accepted accounting procedures).

She also noted Landreth found several discrepancies in how water expenses had been reported before he was hired that have now been corrected. "When I corrected this accounting method … I got $1.5 million as the ending balance to the WEF, after fully funding the Capital Projects. The WEF balance is based on accrual methods and should not be confused with cash balances. The actual amount of cash in the bank segregated for water as of October 31, 2005 is $2.9 million." Because this latter balance is actually much higher than initially thought, there is in fact money that can be spent on capital improvements for Wells 8 and 9 that lies outside the constraints of TABOR and enterprise fund statutes.

Reports

Shupp reported on two appeals processes in suits filed against the town by Kalima Masse. The suit regarding BOT rejection of her request for renewal of a 19-year-old building permit for the concrete batch plant at Washington and Highway 105 is now ready for review by the judges. The stay on the Transit Mix suit expired on Nov. 17, but she has made a motion for a new extension.

Police Chief Jake Shirk announced the adoption and first offering of a 12-hour class on the Rape Aggression Defense System to residents of the region for a $25 fee, which can be waived if it is a hardship.

In October, there were 143 total calls for service, 112 traffic calls and stops, and 125 administrative actions. He also gave a presentation recommending that the town adopt a black-and-white paint scheme (white doors and roof) for police vehicles to make them more recognizable to citizens. There would also be lower installation costs on the three new vehicles to be purchased in 2006, as well as reduced maintenance costs. Shirk did not ask for additional money in 2006 for the conversion, since the conversion would average about $700 per unit.

Green reported construction progress on the new public works garage, asphalt paving, and sidewalk projects downtown. Water usage has dropped significantly this year. She asked for a one-year waiver on the requirement to use the majority of very high comp time the new staff has accumulated by the end of the year, or face shutting down Town Hall for the month of December. She will propose a BOT resolution to that effect in December. The staff is looking for a more cost-effective way to disseminate the information in the monthly newsletter.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held the first and third Monday of the month.

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Monument Planning Commission, November 9: Promontory Pointe annexation approved; plan disapproved

Web site exclusive-Below: Promontory Pointe presentation at the Monument Planning Commission hearing Nov. 9. Photos by Jim Kendrick

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Web site exclusive: Below: Promontory Point Sketch Plan

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By Jim Kendrick

A standing room crowd of over 100 people presented numerous objections to the density of the sketch plan proposed for rezoning of the Walters Promontory Pointe parcel to the Monument Planning Commission on Nov. 9. After a long hearing, the Planning Commission voted to recommend the annexation proposal but voted against the PD sketch plan for this undeveloped 117 acre parcel north of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive, between Jackson Creek and Kingswood. The Beacon Lite Office Condo development was unanimously approved.

Commissioner Kathy Spence was absent.

County referrals

Under a new policy, the Board of Trustees has delegated the task of responding to requests for comment from the El Paso County planning staff regarding proposed developments in the Tri-Lakes region that are not in Monument to the Planning Commission. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said that both referral projects on the agenda would have no significant impact on the town of Monument.

MGP, Inc. is developing 30 acres between I-25 and Doewood, on the south side of County Line Road and Monument Hill Road. The site plan shows 17 single-family lots and 9 commercial lots.

The Red Rock Reserve Subdivision is located north of Pixie Peak Road and west of Red Rock Ranch. The site plan shows 23 single-family lots on 67 acres. Neither development is near a town boundary.

The commissioners concurred unanimously on forwarding letters to the county stating that the town had no comments on either proposal.

Beacon Lite Office Condos approved

The commission unanimously approved the preliminary and final PD site plan for the Beacon Lite Office Condos building, located directly behind the Air Academy Federal Credit Union. The lot on Beacon Lite Road is 1.22 acres. The L-shaped, 15,000 square foot building will have 12 units of 1,250 square feet each for sale. The exterior and grounds will be maintained by a condominium association. A condition of approval was an agreement between the applicant and the Monument Sanitation District regarding the applicant’s request to build a fenced-in trash dumpster area that encroaches slightly on an east-west district easement along the full length of the southern lot boundary.

Commissioner John Kortgardner asked about the kind of exterior lighting that would be used, expressing concern for residents of the adjacent apartments to the north and homeowners to the west. Architect John Padilla said that low wattage lighting with downcast shrouds would be used throughout. Timers will be used rather than photocells to ensure the nighttime security of the facility.

Village Center at Woodmoor Plat continued

A preliminary plat for filing 4 of the Village Center at Woodmoor had been sent back to the applicant for further review by the town staff. The commission unanimously approved a continuation until Dec. 14.

Promontory Pointe annexation: The southern third of the parcel (39 acres) was annexed by the town in 1989. The applicant is seeking annexation for the northern 78 acres. The 117 acre parcel is bounded on the south by Baptist Road to the west by the fully developed southeastern portion of Jackson Creek, to the north by the proposed Home Place Ranch development (also seeking annexation by the town), and to the east by the five acre lot Kingswood development in the county.

Triview Metropolitan District included the entire 117 acres in 2002 and has already agreed to allocate all required water and sewer taps to the parcel. There is an existing 50 foot utility easement separating the full length of these two developments. An existing dirt easement road connects Agate Creek Drive in Jackson Creek to the Triview Metropolitan District water storage tank located on the northeast corner of the Promontory Pointe. The land for the tank was donated to Triview by the landowner. The Metro district will provide all its standard residential services to the development except provide police coverage, which will be provided by the town, upon annexation. Police coverage in adjacent county locations along Baptist Road is provided by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Adjacent to the northeast corner of Promontory Pointe is the Baptist Church Camp (BCC), now owned by developer Classic Homes. Classic is also seeking annexation of the camp by Monument in order to ensure a connection of its main east-west collector road at the west end of its parcel to the extension of Gleneagle Drive to Higby Road. The developers of Promontory Pointe and Home Place Ranch are trying very hard to ensure that the proposed Baptist camp collector intersects Gleneagle in the other’s development.

In addition, neither the residents of Kingswood nor Classic Homes want the main western access to the Baptist camp to be Kingswood Drive instead of the Gleneagle extension. Kingswood Drive has very limited sight lines due to rolling terrain, and is very narrow, with extensive areas of disintegrating asphalt that are riddled with potholes.

Terry Schooler of Guman and Associates and Jillian McColgan of DTJ Designs gave the applicant’s presentation for the annexation and sketch plan proposals. They emphasized how the proposal had changed since its poor reception when first presented at the Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 28. After that presentation, both proposals were withdrawn before they were voted on. The presenters emphasized the changes that were made, based on the suggestions they had heard at the previous meeting.

Applicant’s presentation: The developer agreed that houses next to Kingswood would now be ranchers on larger lots to minimize residents’ concerns about their mountain views and to provide a better transition to the adjacent five-acre lots. The number of lots along this property line was reduced from 15 to 11.

The proposed lot lines along the western boundary of Promontory Pointe were all realigned to identically match those of existing adjacent Jackson Creek lots, reducing the number of lots along this property line from 47 to 39.

The total number of lots was reduced from 328 to 311. All are single-family home lots. The average density is now 2.66 dwelling units per acre, slightly less than the average density for Jackson Creek. Open spaces, parks, and easements total 28.77 acres, 8 percent more than required by the town’s code. The smallest lot size was increased from 6,600 to 7,700 square feet.

The developer will contribute to private financing of the improvements to the Baptist Road interchange on I-25, over and above paying BRRTA’s impact fees and donating, rather than selling, the right-of-way needed for widening Baptist Road along the frontage of the parcel. There are 8.14 acres of right-of-way, including acceleration and deceleration lanes for westbound Baptist at the development’s entrance.

In the sketch plan, the extension of Gleneagle Drive north of the main entrance on Baptist Road was realigned. Gleneagle no longer connects directly to the east end of Lyons Tail Road at the development boundary with Jackson Creek. Rather, it extends all the way to the boundary with Home Place Ranch, and Lyons Tail Road is extended east to intersect with Gleneagle at a three-way stop sign. Gleneagle is only a 50-foot right-of-way north of this new intersection with the extension of Lyons Tail. The eastward extension of Lyons Tail within Promontory Pointe is a 60-foot right-of-way. Gleneagle between this extension of Lyons Tail and Baptist Road is also a 60 foot right-of-way.

In Jackson Creek, Lyons Tail Road has been designed to be a collector. It is three lanes wide with a 60-foot right-of-way, no parking, no driveways, and a dedicated left turn lane for its full length from the current eastern dead-end all the way west across Leather Chaps Drive to Kitchener Way. Between Kitchener Way and Jackson Creek Parkway, Lyons Tail Road is four lanes wide.

The developer agrees with Jackson Creek residents that the connection with Walters Creek Drive shown on the modified sketch plan is not needed or desired. The developer only included the connection because it is being required by the Triview Metro District and town staffs.

However, unlike Lyons Tail Road, Walters Creek Drive is not designed to be a collector. It is a one-block narrow residential street, far removed from Leather Chaps Drive and loaded by driveways with cars backing out from every house. It connects two similar narrow residential streets, the end of Saber Creek Drive to the middle of Agate Creek Drive.

Commissioner John Kortgardner’s concerns were:

  • Trails should not be turned over to the HOA by the developer until completely constructed, proper alignments of Gleneagle at the southern and northern boundaries of the parcel, appropriate connections to Leather Chaps Drive,

  • The extension of Gleneagle Drive northward to Higby should be similar in quality and character in Promontory Pointe and Home Place Ranch to the existing limited access alignment throughout Gleneagle, from Baptist Road to Struthers Road

  • The build out of the development will be completed before the I-25 interchange expansion even begins

  • The lots along the property line are not large enough to preserve adjacent Kingswood property values

  • Walters Creek Drive will become a major shortcut to Leather Chaps Drive, jeopardizing families’ safety and quality of life because of the volume that will far exceed the design of the roadway and speeding by non-residents

Commissioner Lowell Morgan’s concerns were:

  • The town has no control over Higby Road and Baptist Road because they are county roads.

  • There has been no progress in gaining all the approvals from all the controlling state and county agencies for widening Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and the I-25 interchange which was supposed to occur before Monument Marketplace opened a single store.

  • Baptist and Higby cannot support any more additional traffic until the interchange expansion is completed.

  • The widening of Baptist by BRRTA will not change the problems at I-25, and will only make them worse.

  • There are substantial drainage and grading issues for the parcel and for the widening of Baptist Road in the flood plain near Gleneagle Drive that will be difficult to reconcile at the same time.

During the public hearing, residents of Jackson Creek and Kingswood expressed the same concerns as the commissioners as well as these others regarding the proposal:

  • There is no benefit to the town to annex a purely residential development, because the property taxes are not sufficient to pay for all the services the metro district must provide and the problem gets worse over time when streets have to be repaved and curbs and sidewalks repaired

  • The lots are too small to support the size and cost of the homes projected for them.

  • Adjacent developed property values will be driven down when the bulk of the projected new houses are down-sized in order to sell them on the small lots.

  • Groundwater in the region is limited and the water usage allowed by the town is three times higher than the county (100 years vs. 300 years of usability)

  • Water pressure from Triview is already substandard throughout the area of Jackson Creek near this parcel and will only get worse.

  • Children playing in or near existing neighborhood parks in Jackson Creek will be endangered by "cut-through traffic"

  • Promontory Pointe residents will be soon be making the same complaints about Home Place Ranch and Baptist Camp residents cutting through their neighborhoods when those parcels are developed.

  • Fire, police, and schools can’t keep up with the pace of development

  • Accidents at the intersection of Lyons Tail and Leather Chaps will only worsen because no traffic light or four-way stop signs will ever be allowed there, since it is so close to the planned traffic light one block south at Baptist Road.

  • The county required Kingswood houses to be located in places that avoid the substantial flood plain that drains into Promontory Pointe, yet the proposal shows many of their houses in this same flood plain.

  • Who will maintain the easements between Jackson Creek and Promontory Pointe?

  • Kingswood Drive cannot handle any more traffic and was never designed to be a through road.

  • Houses along the western boundary should be ranchers too, to preserve eastward views of Black Forest for Jackson Creek residents.

  • There are no reliable traffic studies to show that area roads can support the requested high density.

  • Walters Creek Drive will be a shortcut for over 400 houses in Baptist Camp, 300 houses in Promontory Pointe, and 900 houses in Home Place Ranch despite on-street parking and driveways endangering school bus stops and residential routes.

  • Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway will become worse carbon monoxide hot spots during rush hour traffic jams and unusable for emergency vehicles.

  • Growth from annexation will outstrip the size of the town and Triview staffs, outpacing revenue growth, which may be less than projected if Wal-Mart damages the existing local economy, particularly downtown merchants

Former county commissioner Duncan Bremer presented the applicant’s rebuttal:

  • The town or county will have to address the range of issues raised about the annexation requests of Home Place Ranch, Baptist Camp, and Monument Ridge.

  • The applicant’s plan does provide effective solutions to all the concerns raised about Baptist Road, connections to Jackson Creek, and property and density concerns for adjacent property owners

  • Traffic studies have been conducted by BRRTA taking this development into account.

  • Gleneagle Drive has always been shown on county master plans a minor urban residential collector which the proposal meets and meets the county’s requirement to connect to Home Place Ranch and Higby Road.

  • The interchange is a serious issue that has been a problem for over a decade but BRRTA is moving to provide private financing to accelerate interchange expansion.

  • The developer has donated land and cash to improve Baptist Road and the interchange.

  • The developer agrees that Walters Creek Drive should not be connected but must comply with the town’s and Triview’s demands.

  • The developer has gone about as far as he can to cooperatively meet the concerns of adjacent property owners by redesigning lot sizes, moving house locations, and agreeing to upgraded fencing and landscaping along the development’s property lines.

  • Triview and the state water engineer have certified the adequacy of the groundwater supply under the development.

  • The houses will be built with or without annexation, though the town’s annexation will make the new developments better.

  • This density of residential development has been planned for a long time, as shown by the town’s inclusion of 39 acres back in 1989.

  • It makes no sense to leave the parcel straddling the town-county boundary.

Schooler replied that the annexation by the town will give the residents greater control of how the region develops. The developer is willing to work with the town on improving the interior road proposals, particularly with other alternatives for Walters Creek Drive, such as making adjacent cul-de-sacs that would allow only emergency vehicles and kids on bicycles to pass through.

The commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval of the annexation of the remaining two-thirds of the parcel to the Board of Trustees. Morgan said he was opposed due to concerns that property taxes were insufficient to pay for needed services.

There was a brief discussion before the vote on the sketch plan.

Kortgardner said his primary concern was the density of the development, particularly next to Kingswood.

Morgan said that the "real show stopper is the exit 158 interchange. Remember the exit 161 interchange took 10 years to complete" and there are no plans to even begin work on the Baptist Road exit at this time. "It is irresponsible to plan for 35 percent more houses in a few years."

Commissioner Larry Neddo said he agreed with everything Kortgardner and Morgan had said.

Commissioner Carl Armijo said the town went through a lot of time and effort to review what has been submitted that led to the second review by the commission.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reminded the commissioners that they were voting to establish an allowable density, not the specifics depicted in the sketch plan, which may change.

The vote for recommending approval of the density in the sketch plan to the Board of Trustees was 2-3 against. Chairman Ed Delaney and Commissioner Carl Armijo voted to recommend the plan, while Kortgardner, Morgan, and Commissioner Larry Neddo were opposed.

The meeting adjourned at 9:50 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 in Town Hall, 166 Second Street. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month.

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Monument holds Town Hall Meeting Nov. 29

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 29, the Monument Board of Trustees and the town’s department heads hosted an open house to solicit citizen input. About 40 citizens attended the two-hour session at Big Red, the Lewis-Palmer School District Headquarters building on Jefferson Street. Most took a turn at the podium to ask questions or express their views.

Police Chief Jake Shirk opened the evening with a slide presentation soliciting comments on repainting the department’s vehicles black with white doors and roof to present a more professional and readily identifiable presence, in line with a national trend back to basics.

Citizens from the town and adjacent county developments asked questions and expressed concerns focusing primarily on how rapid residential growth is stressing the town’s police and infrastructure resources, as well as the region’s aquifer-based groundwater systems, and the surrounding fire and ambulance districts. Besides concern for depleting groundwater too quickly, there were concerns about the adequacy of Baptist Road and the Exit 158 interchange to handle the three new residential developments proposed just east of Jackson Creek: Promontory Pointe, Home Place Ranch, and Classic Homes’ development of the Baptist Church Camp.

Mayor Byron Glenn and Town Manager Cathy Green discussed the compromises of growth. They noted that municipal revenue comes primarily from sales taxes rather than property taxes. Green said commercial development following residential rooftops.

The citizens and the towns’ representatives agreed that the evening’s discussion was a cordial and informative exchange. Glenn said the town planned to hold town hall meetings on a quarterly basis. The citizens thanked him for the opportunity to present their views.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, November 10: Renaissance Festival may move to Palmer Lake

Below: Palmer Lake Town Hall was packed for the chili supper Nov. 26. Proceeds pay for operation of the Palmer Lake Star. Photo by Vicky Baker.

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By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council (PLTC) approved a new license for Sterisil, Inc. a dental water treatment equipment company at 835 Highway 105, unit D. Their equipment sterilizes the water apparatus used by dentists and hygienists in dentist offices.

Three boy scouts—Ian Parker, Richie Postma, and Chris Taylor, of Troop 194, Antelope Trails Elementary School—led the pledge of allegiance. Trustee Max Parker was absent.

Nov. 3 workshop consent items

All the consent items listed in the agenda, which were previously discussed at the council’s informal workshop meeting on Nov. 3, were unanimously approved without discussion. As a policy, no records or minutes from these workshop meetings are kept or approved by the council or town staff. The consent item list included the minutes for the Oct. 13 PLTC regular meeting, new business licenses, and payment of the town’s bills for September and October.

A business license was approved for the Bodchitta Bakery, Inc., 780 Highway 105, Unit B, without discussion; the license was also listed as a consent item. Owners Gretchen Anthony and Adrienne Arnold did not attend the meeting.

New Villa license continued

Nick Serbenescu’s application for a new restaurant and catering business license for Nicky’s at the Villa, 75 Highway 105, was continued when no representative attended the session. Serbenescu did not attend the Nov. 3 workshop meeting.

Serbenescu is leasing the former Villa restaurant building, which was most recently operated as Guadala-Jarra’s by owners Jeff Hulsmann and his wife, Peggy Jardon. Guadala-Jarra’s was closed in August, four months after a gambling raid that led to 24 arrests, and just after a temporary eight-day liquor license suspension. Serbenescu will begin operations under a temporary transfer of Hulsmann’s Villa liquor license until the requested permanent transfer is completed. Hulsmann will retain his liquor license for O’Malley’s Pub.

Committee Reports

Fire: Trustee Gary Coleman encouraged everyone to attend the chili supper in Town Hall on Nov. 26. Profits are donated to the fund that pays for operation and maintenance of the Palmer Lake star. Volunteers, including members of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and the town staff, prepare the supper. Jeannine Engel held a fire truck coloring contest at the Rock House ice cream shop to promote the chili supper.

Coleman also reported that a Nov. 1 report by Area Director John Healy of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on its formal investigation of the July 4 fireworks display had found no violations or problems with the operation of the display by Western Enterprises, Inc. The company’s pyrotechnics operator was accidentally injured at the end of the show.

Coleman also reported that he had been a longtime teammate of the late Rev. Milton Proby in a Colorado Springs bowling league 40 years ago and was renaming the private road to his home after the civil rights leader. He showed a picture of the team and drew a big laugh by noting that he was the tall one with a whole head of hair (he’s bald now)—though he’s not as tall as Proby.

Water: Trustee Chuck Cornell gave the first of the new monthly reports on the town’s water system as requested by Awake the Lake committee member Jeff Hulsmann. There are 862 residential, 47 commercial, and 7 unused town taps, 916 in all. Seven taps have been sold in 2005, though none were sold in October. One of the taps was the commercial tap for the Willow Creek development.

October water consumption was 141,571 gallons of tributary water sources and 1,277,341 gallons of non-tributary sources. September expenditures in the water fund were $28,904 leaving a balance of $59,287. September capital water fund expenses were $15,388, with a balance of $198,139, and the wastewater credit was 3.1 acre-feet.

Police: Trustee Trudy Finan reported that year-to-date DUI arrests are down to 300 from 320 from this time last year. Part I offenses are down from 53 last year to 38 this year. The clearance rate for various types of cases in the department is 30 to 40 percent, well above the state average of 25 percent. Training is under way for the staff on dealing with domestic violence cases and threat assessment for homeland security.

Parks: Trustee Trish Flake reminded everyone that Deahna Brown is still offering yoga classes in Town Hall for $7, 9:15 to 10:45 a.m. every Wednesday. Local tennis coordinator Kim Makower received a round of applause for being awarded a matching grant of $3,800 from the U.S. Tennis Association to repave the town’s tennis courts. County Commissioner Wayne Williams is meeting with the county parks representative to develop a master plan for the county park at Palmer Lake.

Awake the Lake: The one-year anniversary of the Awake the Lake committee was noted by Hulsmann. Pavers are being sold at $75 apiece for the walkway through the memorial park on the north side of the lake. To date, the committee has collected $27,000 and has $14,000 on hand. Attendance remains high at meetings, with 30 people at the anniversary session.

Fountain Creek Watershed: Bob Miner distributed copies of a scientific and engineering report on impervious surfaces within the Fountain Creek watershed that was presented to the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. Town membership in the watershed committee is $1,500 per year compared to over $300,000 for Colorado Springs. However the latest two-year federal funding for the watershed studies was cut from $750,000 to $375,000. Funding for the Army Corps of Engineers study was also cut in half, from $250,000 to $125,000.

Renaissance Festival

Hulsmann also discussed the possibility of the owners of the Renaissance Festival moving out of Larkspur to another location between Denver and Colorado Springs. Two vacant Palmer Lake locations of about 250 acres are under consideration. One is along Highway 105, west of Spruce Mountain Road; this position would be in Douglas County, but could be annexed by the town due to its proximity to the northern town boundary. The other potential site is on the south side of County Line Road, east of Palmer Lake.

Council members agreed that an exploratory committee needed to be formed to determine the feasibility and desirability of relocating the festival to Palmer Lake. Trustees agreed that there were several positive and negative tradeoffs.

2006 budget

Town Clerk Della Gray distributed copies of the second draft of the town’s budget for 2006. The public hearing for the budget will be held at the next regular council meeting on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. Regular meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month.

A motion to approve the 2004 audit passed unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 7:48 p.m.

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The next informal council workshop meeting, where the draft budget may also be discussed, is on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. Council workshops are normally held on the first Thursday of the month and council meetings on the second Thursday.

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Felony arrests resolved Nov. 17

Felony charges against Jeff Hulsmann and his wife, Peggy Jardon, were deferred for a year by a 4th Judicial District judge on Nov. 17. The restaurant’s liquor license was suspended for eight days on Aug. 10. The restaurant, Guadala-Jarra’s, went out of business on Aug. 21.

The charges will be dismissed if the couple adheres to conditions attached to the court order. Under the agreement with the district attorney, Hulsmann and Jardon must not commit any crimes during the next year. He must speak at three public meetings about the state’s gambling laws and his arrest. If he complies, the felony and misdemeanor charges "will be dismissed forever," according to the court order.

Cases against all but four of the card players—part of the Elephant Rock Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Club—who were cited on April 26 with petty-offense professional gambling were dismissed on Oct. 4, after they agreed to make $50 donations to a nonprofit organization. The other four, including Palmer Lake trustee Trish Flake, plan to go to trial in January.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, November 28: Tri-Lakes will continue to fight for a place in water talks

By Sue Wielgopolan

At the Nov. 28 meeting of the Donala board, General Manager Dana Duthie reviewed three water group meetings, expressing disappointment that water expert Gary Barber will probably not be selected to sit on the Interbasin Compact Committee, which will help draft water legislation.

Member Don Pearson was absent and excused.

Investment update

Scott Prickett, of investment firm Kirkpatrick-Pettis, appeared before the board to brief members on the district’s investment gains for 2005, as well as to discuss strategies for the future. The firm has been managing about $5 million of the district’s $11 million in total cash reserves for approximately nine months.

Donala decided to hire a private firm to handle its investments in an effort to maximize returns within the constraints specified by the board. Kirkpatrick-Pettis has a reliable track record, having profitably managed portfolios for several water and sanitation districts in the state of Colorado since the early 1990s.

Liquidity and minimization of risk were Donala’s most important goals. Prickett said that over half of the district’s portfolio will always fall within a 12-month maturity date, so that funds will be readily available should they be needed in a short time. He stressed that while the conservative approach mandated by Donala’s board precluded high percentage yields, it also ensures modest but steady returns in most economic climates.

Financials

Members reviewed expenditures and income through the end of October, as well as the check register for the past month. One check for over $15,000 to cover lightning strike repairs drew the attention of the board. Duthie explained that a strike at the Holbein plant had destroyed a controller, as well as a computer server in the office, but that the $17,000 the district had received from the insurance company would cover most of the damage.

2006 budget

The Donala board of directors, having previously reviewed and discussed draft copies, unanimously accepted the budget. Though rate changes can be instituted at any time if approved by the board, the finalized budget does not include an increase in water and/or sewer rates for 2006. The approved budget will be submitted to El Paso County along with the required mill levy documentation.

Since the state’s deadline for submission of the budget is Jan. 31, Duthie will change the projections to reflect actual numbers for 2005 before sending in the paperwork. The board authorized Vice President Ed Houle to sign the revised documentation once final figures are available, as President Charlie Coble will be away.

Board members also unanimously passed resolutions authorizing the mill levies for the coming year. Mill levies, which must be recertified yearly by an elected board, are assessed as property and motor vehicle taxes and are used by the district for general operating expenses and payment of debt incurred to finance large capital projects.

Customers receiving water and sewer service—which includes all of Gleneagle, High Meadows, the Ridge at Fox Run, and a couple of homes in Chaparral Hills—will pay a mill levy slightly more than double that of those few homeowners in Chaparral Hills who only receive water. The mill levies remained essentially the same for 2006.

El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA)

Although Gary Barber, as executive agent for the EPCWA and manager of the Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG), is knowledgeable about water issues statewide and in El Paso County, it appears unlikely he will sit on the Interbasin Compact Committee. The authority had hoped that Barber would be appointed by fellow members of the Arkansas River Basin roundtable to represent them on the committee, which will help draft legislation to provide for the equitable division of Colorado surface water rights between competing interests. Each of the nine designated river basins in Colorado is allotted two seats on the Interbasin Committee.

Duthie said he does not expect to see legislation or policy decisions favorable to northern El Paso County proposed through the Arkansas Basin representatives, whom he said are heavily influenced by Pueblo politics and agricultural interests. Area water providers between Denver and Colorado Springs have been working to set up a mutually beneficial rotation/fallowing program with lower Arkansas River Valley farmers. But opposition to the fallowing concept by influential southern Colorado residents who fear the elimination of family farms—along with antagonism between El Paso and Pueblo counties resulting from disagreements over the proposed Southern Delivery System pipeline—make cooperation unlikely.

Authority members learned that the Douglas County Water Authority had not completely dissolved, but was in the process of breaking into two smaller entities, one covering the east Cherry Creek Valley, and the other the south Metro area. The break leaves the EPCWA as the only real water authority in Colorado.

El Paso County Commissioners decided that all newly created water districts within the county must join the EPCWA. Cascade Metro Districts A and B recently joined, but have not yet attended a meeting. This has made it difficult to obtain a quorum as specified by current rules, which mandate that a minimum percentage of the total membership must be present. Authority members asked the EPCWA attorney to amend the bylaws to specify a set number of individuals instead.

The issue of stormwater control, which has become an increasingly important topic in the city of Colorado Springs, was also discussed during the meeting. Because the county does not have an enterprise set up for the purpose, it cannot charge fees to build infrastructure to address the problem. Presently, the county transportation system has responsibility for instituting and overseeing stormwater runoff controls.

Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG)

Two PDWG meetings have been held since the Donala board last met in mid-October. Ed Houle attended the October meeting, and distributed a summary to board members. The main topic of discussion was the recent public release by the Bureau of Reclamation of the seven alternatives that will be included in the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Southern Delivery System (SDS). The SDS is a proposed pipeline that would bring surface water north from the Pueblo Reservoir for distribution to Colorado Springs municipal customers.

None of the alternatives include plans to supply water to the Tri-Lakes region. The purpose and need statement of the EIS refers to participants in the project in a narrow context, which only includes residents of Colorado Springs and a few small municipalities south of town, while ignoring the growing water needs of those living in northern areas of the county.

The group discussed other alternatives for bringing surface water to the area and concluded that only two were reasonable to consider. The first involved constructing a pipeline east of town to bring water north from agricultural land. The second required combining resources with other water providers to develop Brush Hollow Reservoir without participation from Colorado Springs.

A brief look at the cost of the alternatives convinced members that these options were not economically feasible and that partnering with Colorado Springs on the SDS pipeline was the only practical choice.

Ann Nichols, of Forest Lakes Metro District, recommended that the PDWG approach the Colorado Springs City Council to argue the merits of inclusion, instead of appealing to Colorado Springs Utilities, where the PDWG has always met resistance. A study quantifying the value of northern communities to the economy of the city, in skilled workforce contribution and spending power, could also be a persuasive tool.

Barber and Rick Fendel agreed to work together to draft a PDWG response to the Bureau of Reclamation’s preliminary alternatives before the Nov. 15 comment deadline. They will again argue for a regional solution that includes northern El Paso County residents as participants in the SDS. Barber will also speak with independent consultant Dave Bamberger to get an estimate on the cost and feasibility of an economic study to help support the PDWG’s position that the Tri-Lakes area represents a considerable asset to Colorado Springs.

Duthie, chairman of the PDWG, brought the board up-to-date on the latest developments from the Nov. 10 meeting. Duthie had written a letter in September to Colorado Springs mayor Lionel Rivera requesting the PDWGs inclusion in plans for the SDS. He recently received written response from the mayor, who replied that the city would not consent to discuss the matter until the PDWG worked with the county to "establish the necessary governance to address stormwater for El Paso County."

While Duthie agreed that stormwater management is an important issue that needs to be addressed, he told the board that by charter, water and sanitation districts are established to handle only water and wastewater, not storm runoff. Funds collected through mill levies, fees, and service charges can only be used to provide water and/or transport and treat wastewater.

Municipalities and metro districts such as Forest Lakes or Triview have broader powers, and stormwater management would fall within their jurisdiction. Duthie contends that Colorado Springs should actually be working through the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments’ Water Quality Committee to address county stormwater issues rather than pressuring the PDWG, since the group’s membership includes special districts, which have no authority to deal with storm runoff within their borders.

However, the PDWG will send a letter to Rivera thanking him for acknowledging that, in order to be effective in solving problems that affect the entire county, the Tri-Lakes area must be included as part of any "regional solution."

Duthie also distributed copies of the PDWG letter to Pat Mangan of the Bureau of Reclamation commenting on the SDS and proposed alternatives.

Parker Water and Sanitation has rejoined the PDWG. After PDWG members decided to scale back the size of their group and focus primarily on water providers around the Tri-Lakes area, it was hoped that Castle Pines North would take the lead in heading up a larger lobbying and public relations group encompassing areas between the Denver metro region and Colorado Springs. No plans have taken shape yet, so Parker decided to resume its association with the PDWG.

Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) expansion

The Operations Coordination Committee, which consists of the plant superintendent and engineers and managers of the owners of the Upper Monument Creek facility, will meet on Dec. 1 to choose a contractor for the expansion. The plant is owned jointly by Donala, Triview, and Forest Lakes. Five of the eight prequalified contractors submitted a bid for the equalization basin and final design of the plant. Since the contractor will help finish the design, bidders could not give firm estimates of the total cost, but the committee has capped the project at $8 million.

A decision on which ultraviolet (UV) process to use may not be finalized until February. Engineers want to gravity feed wastewater through the UV process on its way from the sequencing batch reactor (SBR) to the reuse building. (Currently the denitrification filter building, it will be converted to reuse once the SBR is complete.) This design requirement will affect the specific UV process chosen, as some do not gravity feed.

Cost may also become a factor in the decision. Individual bids ranged from $30,000 to $100,000. Each process offers a different set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, closed channel processes use fewer of the energy-intensive UV lamps and therefore incur lower power costs. However, the process is more expensive overall and more difficult to clean.

As design of the entire expansion progresses, engineers will be better able to determine which process will work best within the design constraints of the plant.

Glacier Construction has finally commenced work on the new access road and railroad crossing. El Paso County had withheld permission for right-of-way across the Santa Fe Trail because of a dispute over the possibility of large trucks temporarily blocking trail access as the vehicles waited on the east side of the railroad tracks for the plant’s security gates to open. Engineers reached a compromise with El Paso County Parks by agreeing to place the card reader east of the trail and two series of instructional signs along the road.

Another complication threatens to delay the project. Union Pacific Railroad, which had already granted permission to the WWTF to work on the crossing, now claims that the contractor hired to do the work must obtain separate permission. The railroad will provide a flagman to work with the contractor once the work has been approved.

Glacier was also awarded the contract to reinforce the one-lane bridge across Jackson Creek. The work will be completed for $30,000, much less than the $100,000 GMS engineer Roger Sams originally estimated for design and construction. Duthie suggested to Glacier that they start preliminary work on the bridge while waiting for Union Pacific’s permission to work on the railroad tracks. He would like to stay on schedule, so that work on the equalization basin can begin as soon as possible.

Operations update

Electricians are currently working on providing power to Well 9. Timberline will then install the instrumentation. The well is scheduled to be up and running by early 2006.

The contract to redrill Well 2D is out for bid. The district will have to fill the current shaft with concrete and redrill nearby. Because the well is located in a residential neighborhood, and drilling will take place around the clock, Donala hopes to hire a contractor with a relatively quiet generator.

Donala will conduct one more lab test on Well 3D to determine whether rehabilitation efforts are likely to be worthwhile.

The district will be boring under a small stretch of the Gleneagle golf course in order to install a pipeline to loop the water lines servicing River Oaks Drive and Mission Hills Way. A break in the main earlier this year left several customers without water for an extended period. Installing a loop will allow homeowners to be serviced from either direction.

Donala recently learned that in order to dig up a portion of Lariat Lane to install the new water line that will serve Chaparral Hills customers, the district is required to submit engineered plans to El Paso County. One contractor submitted a bid totaling approximately $44,000 for the work, which Duthie felt was exorbitant. He told the board that the district already has the pipe. In order to keep costs down, GMS engineering will do the design work, and the district will install the pipeline.

Expansion work on Baptist Road may necessitate the lowering of two water lines running alongside Gleneagle Drive between Baptist and Jessie Drive. The work will be done at the district’s expense.

Duthie also mentioned to the board that he had discussed with Triview General Manager Ron Simpson the plan of looping Triview and Donala’s water systems. Long range plans call for the eventual interconnection of all water systems in the Tri-Lakes area, so that the districts can draw on each other’s resources should an emergency arise. Since Baptist Road will be torn up during expansion, Duthie suggested to Simpson that it would be economical to install a 12-inch pipeline across Baptist during that time. However, Simpson has not committed to funding Triview’s half.

Development update

Both Laing and Keller Homes appear to be well on their way to completion of their neighboring developments by next summer.

Classic Homes is currently negotiating with Triview for water and sewer service to the former Baptist Camp. Duthie expressed the opinion that the developer might want to avoid zoning issues that would come before the county if they chose to petition Donala for inclusion. The Town of Monument will hear any rezoning requests if Classic chooses to annex to Triview.

Board members asked whether Picolan had approached Donala for service to the homes it plans to build off Doral Way. Duthie replied that water and sewer service to the area would be provided by Colorado Springs Utilities, as the small development will lie within city limits. He did mention that he would like to install a 12-inch main to provide for future service from Colorado Springs.

District passes Compliance Inspection

The state of Colorado conducts a yearly compliance inspection of community water systems. Duthie reported that the district was in full compliance, with no violations of any kind during the past year. All tests were being conducted properly and at the required frequency. He distributed copies of the report and conclusions to board members.

Tentative schedule for 2006

Members received a schedule of tentative meeting dates for 2006. The schedule was designed to accommodate the directors’ personal scheduling requests wherever feasible. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala Water and Sanitation District Office, 15850 Holbein Dr. Two exceptions have been noted for the upcoming year. The January meeting will be held on Jan. 6, which is the first Friday of the month. The March meeting will be held on March 28, which is the fourth Tuesday. Time and place will remain the same.

Meeting announcements are posted in three locations: at the Holbein office; next to the drop box across from Loaf-n-Jug, located in the Gleneagle shopping center; and at Peoples National Bank on Gleneagle Drive.

The public portion of the meeting ended at 10:45 a.m. and members went into executive session to consider the acquisition, lease, purchase, or sale of property, and personnel matters.

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The regular meeting for December has been canceled; the directors will instead enjoy a holiday luncheon. The next regular meeting of the Donala board will take place on Friday, Jan. 6 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office.

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Forest View Acres Water District, November 2: Draft 2006 budget reviewed

By Jim Kendrick

At its regular monthly meeting Nov. 2, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors reviewed the first draft of a budget for 2006. There was none of the controversy or harsh comments that have been common in recent meetings, and the dozen residents in attendance seemed generally satisfied that the board was now moving toward solutions to the district’s problems. However, the audience had difficulty hearing the directors above the noisy ventilation system in the Grace Best Elementary School cafeteria.

The five-person board consists of President Barbara Reed-Polatty, John Anderson, Brian Cross, Ketch Nowacki, and Eckehart Zimmermann. Zimmermann was traveling and unable to attend the meeting.

Administrative, bookkeeping, and accounting services for the district are now being provided by Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS) for a deferred management fee. Deborah McCoy, president of SDMS, served as facilitator at the board meeting. McCoy was accompanied by SDMS District Manager Kammy Tinney, CPA Susan Clyne, and attorney Paul Rufien. Tinney has been designated as the manager for the district and secretary for the board.

The district has a contract water operations manager, Dan LaFontaine of Independent Water Services, who is responsible for maintaining the equipment and infrastructure and for managing all aspects of water delivery.

Background

In December 2004, the board uncovered the apparent theft of funds from the district’s bank accounts. In February, a warrant was issued for the arrest of former contract office manager Patricia Unger on charges of embezzling more than $212,000 in district funds. That amount was later increased to $315,000. Unger surrendered to authorities Feb. 16, 2005, and was released on $50,000 bond to await a preliminary hearing. Unger rejected a negotiated mediation agreement and waived a preliminary hearing on the charges. The criminal trial is scheduled to begin March 7, 2006. The felony charges Unger faces carry a potential sentence of 4 to 12 years.

The district has filed a civil suit against Unger and her husband, Dennis, to recover the missing funds and associated costs. The civil trial is scheduled to begin July 18, 2006. The district’s attorneys hired Sheri Betzer, a forensic auditor. According to information released by the board, Betzer estimated the total financial loss to the district at not less than $625,000.

Nominations for election

During her preliminary announcements, McCoy noted that Cross, Nowacki, and Zimmermann must run for election in May 2006. The terms of Reed-Polatty and Anderson expire in May 2008. Self-nominations for the three vacant board seats may be submitted between Feb. 1 and Feb. 27. If the district receives no more than three self-nominations, the May election will be called off on Feb. 28 and the candidates declared the winners.

McCoy urged district residents who are interested in running for the board or who have operational or management questions or comments to contact SDMS at (800) 741-3254. However, those wishing to attend board meetings are still encouraged to check the location (which varies), date, and time of each meeting by calling the district at 488-2110.

She asked those in attendance to note on the attendance roster any questions they would like to ask, but defer them to the end of the business portion of the meeting. She said that the board and management team would answer every question thoroughly, taking as much time as necessary before adjournment.

Insurance contract renewed

An insurance agency services agreement with Tom Farber of T. Charles Wilson Insurance Services was unanimously renewed for another year. Farber will again receive no commission under the renewed flat fee contract, which is again expected to be cheaper than paying for his services by the hour. The one-year contract cost increased from $7,300 to $7,400.

Financial report

McCoy requested that the board approve payment of claims for October totaling $7,782 and noted that a debt service payment was due on Dec. 1. Total payments due for the month were $15,191. However, the total cash balance for the district was only about $13,000 after making the debt service payment of about $59,000 from a cash reserve of about $72,000. McCoy said customer payments that would be received in November should exceed the $2,000 difference before the remaining payments for the month had to be made.

The board has also received a Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) loan of about $172,000 and a state health department loan of about $10,000. Expenses against this amount have totaled about $139,000 so far this year.

The payment of claims and debt service were unanimously approved and the financial report was unanimously accepted.

Billing report

On Oct. 5 the board agreed to discontinue use of the drop box for water payments on Oct. 31 and now asks all customers to make their payments by mail.

Preliminary 2006 budget reviewed

Many of the numbers in the draft budget were not firm, and the order of some budget lines will be changed to better separate the enterprise fund from the debt service and capital funds.

The total cash expected to be rolled over at the end of 2005 in the Enterprise Fund is about $99,000 with expected revenues of about $140,000. Total expenditures of about $161,000 would leave a balance of roughly $78,000 at the end of 2006.

Rollover from 2005 in the debt service fund was expected to be just under $3,000 and total revenue about $89,000. Bond principal, interest, and service charges, plus DOLA loan interest will total about $90,700, leaving a reserve of roughly $1,700 at the end of 2006. The debt service funds pay off an $880,000 bond issued in 1995 and a $45,000 loan obtained in 2004.

A deficit of about $138,000 in the capital fund will improve to a deficit of about $43,000. The district will receive an inclusion fee of about $120,000 from the Red Rock Reserve development, formerly called Raspberry Ridge. Estimated capital expenses will be about $25,000.

The board was asked to consider having a revolving loan of about $150,000 rather than seek a new bond issue for short-term debt. Bills that have been deferred for now are $7,000 for the 2004 audit, as well as $75,000 for management fees and $50,000 for legal fees. The district’s legal counsel, Petrock and Fendel, have asked for $7,000 in partial payment against deferred legal fees to date of approximately $41,500.

The board unanimously approved an offer to switch to CPA Dawn Schilling, who will conduct the 2005 audit on an hourly basis, for a total fee of not more than $7,000. Schilling is starting a new practice, having just left the district’s current audit firm. The board unanimously approved closing seven bank accounts that were no longer being used.

The final 2006 budget is scheduled to be approved on Dec. 7, following a public hearing during the next regular board meeting.

Two properties requesting inclusion

The board unanimously approved a request for inclusion by Leroy Schmidt, with the condition that all required easement documentation was to be conveyed to the district’s attorney and found to be acceptable. There were no citizen comments during the public hearing regarding the Schmidt property.

Schmidt has a house on 40 acres with a well that has gone dry. He has submitted a petition for inclusion into the district. He has agreed not to subdivide the property and has agreed to pay a tap fee, legal fees, and the cost of running pipe to his property and to transfer to the district the water rights associated with his property. He asked for a waiver of the district’s inclusion fee, which is estimated at about $120,000 for the property.

McCoy noted that Doug Higgins had also requested inclusion and that the documentation should be ready for review by the Dec. 7 board meeting.

Administrative matters

McCoy suggested that the board have a working session with the management company to streamline the district’s lengthy regulations and procedures. She also suggested that the board rescind the district’s bylaws since they are redundant to state statutes and difficult to keep up to date. The board unanimously rescinded the bylaws.

The board unanimously approved a renewal of the annual contract with LaFontaine for contract operations and maintenance services. His lawyer will review the slightly revised document. LaFontaine will work on a month-to-month basis until both sides approve the final document.

McCoy asked that the board approve creation of a Memorandum of Understanding for fire hydrant maintenance and testing with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority. No written agreement has existed thus far between the two districts.

Production report

LaFontaine noted that the district’s surface plant had produced 1,224,600 gallons in October, averaging 27.7 gallons per minute over 30.7 days. The district’s well produced 1,003,700 gallons during 6.7 days of operation, averaging 104.8 gallons per minute. Average billed consumption for 280 residential services was 6,234 gallons. About 558,000 gallons were lost, a 24 percent rate.

Two leaking glued joints in a 6-inch main west of the intersection of Red Rocks Drive and Granite Circle were repaired by Ray’s Diggins. LaFontaine completed 73 cross-connection and curb stop inspections, finding one cross-connection violation that was corrected. All bacteriological sampling and reporting requirements of the state health department were satisfactorily completed.

Under LaFontaine’s direction, Layne-Western Inc. has performed a repair on the well’s variable frequency drive assembly. The board unanimously approved payment of the deductible amount not covered by warranty.

Public comment

Resident Susan Gates asked if there would be a different lawyer representing the district in its civil lawsuit against the Ungers. No final decision had been made regarding continuation of Petrock and Fendel.

Gil Moore said that people in the audience could not hear the board due to the noise in the room and the configuration of the head table. Reed-Polatty acknowledged the difficulties and said she would try to arrange to use the meeting room of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District on Highway 105 for future meetings.

The board then went into executive session at 7:15 p.m. to discuss the legal issues of the Unger civil case. There were no announcements after the session.

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Unless otherwise announced, the next meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 at Grace Best Elementary School, 66 Jefferson St., in Monument. Regular board meetings are usually held on the first Wednesday of each month, though the location varies from month to month. Those wishing to attend may check the date, time, and location by calling the district at 488-2110.

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Joint Use Committee, November 14: Parking lot subgrading disagreement settled

By Jim Kendrick

The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) unanimously approved the draft budget for 2006 without discussion. Construction is progressing satisfactorily on the new laboratory and administration building. After a lengthy discussion, the board approved a payment of $3,000 to Lafarge West, Inc. for additional subgrading prior to laying down the asphalt for the building’s new parking lot.

Woodmoor Water and Sewer District (WWSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Monument Sanitation District (MSD) are the co-owners of the treatment facility. Each district owns one-third of the facility’s capital assets. However, ownership of the plant’s water treatment capacity is roughly proportional to the amount of wastewater each district delivers to the plant. Woodmoor owns roughly three times the treatment capacity of PLSD and MSD and also manages the facility as the executive support agent for the other two districts.

New alternates nominated

The JUC consists of one primary and one alternate member from each district as specified by the Joint Use Agreement. However, each district nominated additional alternates to better ensure voting representation at future meetings. The Joint Use Agreement has not yet been amended to authorize the additional alternates. Typically, several board members for each district attend JUC meetings to better understand facility issues. The three district managers, as well as facility manager Bill Burks, also attend the meetings to provide technical expertise for the JUC.

Copper still within limits

Burks reported that there were no problems in the October Discharge Monitoring Report. Copper concentrations remained at 8.0 parts per billion, well below the facility’s permit limit–an average of 24.8 parts per billion–for 2005 through 2007, but barely below the 8.3 parts per billion permit limit for 2008 and 2009. The JUC is seeking a permanent waiver on the decrease in the copper limit and has conducted extensive testing and research to justify the request. The committee agreed to extend the weekly testing of copper levels delivered to the facility by each of the three districts for another year.

2006 budget approved

The 2006 budget ($517,957) was unanimously approved without any discussion. There were no citizen comments during the public hearing. The executive agent contract was renewed for a year. Woodmoor staff performs management and engineering duties for the facility on an hourly basis.

Paving issue settled

After a one-hour discussion, the JUC approved a payment of $3,000 to Lafarge West, Inc. for additional subgrade preparation for the new operations and administration building. In October, the JUC had approved an increase of $2,068, for moving the new building 10 feet to avoid covering the air line that runs from the air pumps to the aeration basins, and an increase of $13,930 for changing to a caisson-type foundation.

Mark Ennis, president of Access Construction, had been asked to prepare the subgrade for the parking lot outside of the construction contract, but Lafarge wanted to re-grade the parking lot area before laying down asphalt. Woodmoor District Manager Phil Steininger, Executive Agent for the JUC, said that Ennis should pay for the regrading work by Lafarge, since Ennis had declined to do it himself. Ennis said that his subgrade preparation far exceeded the required industry standard for smoothness to a "fine finish" and that Lafarge had said his subgrading was more than satisfactory in a pre-installation inspection.

Ennis added that Lafarge was unhappy with the slope of the parking lot, which is the minimum allowed by code for runoff, 2 percent, and Lafarge wanted to increase the slope to 3 percent prior to laying the asphalt. Lafarge was also unhappy with the design of the swales in the lot. Without regrading, Lafarge will not provide a warranty for the asphalt against cracking and puddling of rainwater.

Two JUC members, Lowell Morgan and Todd Bell, concluded that the wording of the summary of the work portion of the paving contract with Access was ambiguous and that Lafarge had been late in arriving at the facility after two postponements and was unprepared to begin paving, due to their failure to provide their own skid steer tractor equipment on site. Also, most paving contracts call for the paving company to prepare the subgrade. The contract with Lafarge calls for a specific volume of asphalt rather than a specific thickness, which MSD Manager Mike Wicklund said usually leads to disputes.

Woodmoor representative Benny Nasser initially said he "kind of agreed" with the JUC paying Lafarge $3,000, "a penny ante thing we’ve wasted almost an hour on," but then voted against the payment.

Ennis agreed to provide a skid steer tractor when Lafarge arrived to perform the asphalt work, in case there were problems caused by a heavy snowfall and frozen moisture following Ennis’s subgrading during the delay caused by this contract disagreement. The parking lot is too small to use a blade for grading.

Substantial completion of the lab building project is estimated for the end of November, with final completion 30 days later. However, some funds for the project will still roll over to the 2006 budget as a contingency.

Waiver for copper levels

Consultant water quality attorney Tad Foster, who had waited for an hour through the entire Access discussion, provided a status report on his efforts to change the facility’s state permit limits for copper. He plans to secure approval for the waiver by the state and the Environmental Protection Agency and apply for grants for 2006 to help cover possible facility modification costs if the waiver is not granted.

There was a lengthy technical discussion about water quality within Monument and Fountain Creek and how standards are determined and changed. Foster said the JUC had done excellent work in researching its request for a waiver and that districts throughout the state were using the JUC data as well.

The JUC went into executive session at 8:15 p.m. to discuss personnel and executive agent contract negotiation issues. There were no announcements after the executive session.

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The next JUC meeting will be held at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., on Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. JUC meetings are normally held on the second Monday of the month. The location rotates among the three district offices.

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Monument Sanitation District, November 15: Board approves new office design

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Sanitation District Board reviewed and tentatively approved a sketch plan, provided by Access Construction Company Inc., for its new and expanded office space within the district’s Second Street building. Current plans are for the district office to move west into the two adjacent office spaces sometime next summer, making room for a possible expansion of Pure Delights Café into the current office space.

The current tenants of the two affected spaces will be relocated to new buildings. The additional floor space will be used to create a conference room for district meetings, which will also be made available for use by groups within the district.

Tap fees for 2005 will probably be just over $300,000. Total collections thus far are $286,126.64 from 41 new customers. New tap fees since the last board meeting totaled $9,040.

Justin Tabone, developer of the Monument Lake Road townhomes to be built adjacent to Raspberry Ridge, asked that the number of sewer taps available to his property from the district be increased from 13 to 15. The town of Monument will be giving him 15 water taps.

Although the development lies within the Monument district, Tabone will actually be connecting directly to a 15-inch Palmer Lake Sanitation District main collection line, as are the Raspberry Point townhomes. Under an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the two districts, sewer fees for both developments are collected by Monument, then half the revenue is forwarded to Palmer Lake. Tabone will pay the legal fees for preparation of the required amendment to the IGA. The request was unanimously approved.

2006 budget highlights

Budget officer and district CPA Ray Russell reviewed the draft 2006 budget. He noted that the lost rent for the two office spaces would be $7,200 per year, but would be partially offset when the current office space is renovated and leased.

The lease-purchase for the district building will be paid off in January. The final payment is about $246,000. Future lease-purchase payments would have been about $30,000 per year through 2019.

The mill levy for 2006 will probably drop from about 3.5 mills to 3.3 mills; all the district’s bonds will have been paid off at the end of 2007.

Interest income will sharply decline when much of the district’s very large capital cash reserves are spent on the Wakonda Hills expansion. This may reduce the amount of the rebate that the district has given customers in recent years, though the rebate for 2006 will remain at $60 per user account. That is the typical fee that residential customers pay for three months’ service. Recent board policy has been to voluntarily return excess interest income through rebates.

The public hearing for the budget will be held on Dec. 13.

JUC update

Chairman Lowell Morgan and District Manager Mike Wicklund gave a lengthy report on the actions taken by the Joint Use Committee on Nov. 14. (Please see the JUC article on Page 21 for the details.)

Development update

All easements have been secured for the first phase of sewer installations in the eastern portion of the development. The project is moving forward but has been slightly delayed as a result of obtaining easements and the additional cost associated with a national shortage of collection pipes due to worldwide oil production problems. The resin that strengthens the synthetic pipes is oil-based and in short supply. The project will begin before the end of January 2006.

The takeover of the private sewer lines in Raspberry Point, at district expense, will be completed in early 2006. The property owners will each be asked to sign an easement document to allow the district access to the collection system.

The Trails End lift station has been repaired and is ready to be put in service. Larry Gaddis, the district’s attorney, drafted a 10-year warranty agreement for the repair of cracks in one segment of the wet well. The developer will provide a $75,000 warranty bond. Any remaining principal and all interest for the bond will be returned at the end of the 10-year period.

The board approved a revised health benefits plan that, after completion of a full year of employment, pays for full coverage or gives an annual cash payment equal to the sum of the monthly premiums to an employee who chooses to be covered by a spouse’s medical plan.

The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held on Dec. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the district office at 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month.

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Triview Metropolitan District, November 16: Green reports on Promontory Pointe and Monument Ridge

By Elizabeth Hacker

At the Nov. 16 meeting of the Triview Metropolitan District board of directors, Monument Town Manager Cathy Green gave reports on the progress of two developments.

She said the developers of Promontory Pointe had submitted a sketch plan to the Planning Department for the 117-acre Walters property, but that not enough concerns had been addressed with respect to density and traffic on Baptist Road. She noted that currently there were 337 residential lots proposed on the 117-acre property and that it may be reduced to around 300 homes by the time it is heard by the Town of Monument’s Board of Trustees (BOT) on Jan. 2, 2006.

Green added that the adjacent homeowners were strongly opposed to the proposed higher densities and were well organized. One of their concerns was water availability. She suggested that someone with more knowledge about water availability be at the meeting to explain it. Triview manager Ron Simpson noted that he would do so.

Regarding Monument Ridge—the 30-acre former Wal-Mart site on Baptist Road (across from King Soopers)—Green reported that a developer has submitted two different sketch plans for a mixed-use commercial and residential development that met the planning department’s conditions. Simpson has had no recent communication with the developer.

Neither Green nor Simpson had written annexation or inclusion agreements yet. Simpson added that they should carefully avoid "potential conflicts" in Monument’s annexation agreement and Triview’s inclusion agreements. Green noted that the BOT would hear the issue on Dec. 15.

Green added that the developer is proposing 60 to 90 townhomes, to which Simpson responded that it should be a gated townhome community with private streets and adhere to minimum standards. Simpson added that due to the disjointed street configuration, Triview would not maintain the streets.

Proposed 2006 budget

The proposed 2006 total budget of approximately $2.6 million was approved. Triview’s total budget is comprised of two entities that include the district (general) and the enterprise.

The district budget was approved for $1,128,334 and includes streets, lighting, signage, traffic control, drainage and erosion control, mosquito control, parks, landscaping and open space, environmental, and administrative. The enterprise budget was approved for $1,426,826 and includes the water, wastewater, and reusable water systems, environmental, and the enterprise portion of administrative expenses.

Simpson reported that the total anticipated 2006 revenues are expected to be $4.2 million. These revenues were projected as $2 million from impact fees and $2.2 million from taxes and water and sanitation fees. The proposed 2006 budget was $2.6 million, which was a $198,318 (or 8.92 percent) increase over the audited 2005 budget. The increase reflects increases for salaries, health insurance, FICA, retirement, and professional services for the growing district. Streets are anticipated to increase to $290,000, of which $100,000 is budgeted for re-paving.

Amended 2005 budget

The board amended the 2005 budget from $2.2 million to $2.4 million. The $210,000 increase was due to unanticipated increases in costs for utilities and for the Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF), including the railroad crossing and bridge repair.

Parks and open space

Irrigation along Lyons Tail Road between Leather Chaps Drive and Lacuna Drive has been completed.

Engineer’s report

Waste Water Treatment Facility: Charles Ritter of Nolte and Associates reported that Rick Sailler, the Upper Monument Creek WWTF plant operator (a Donala Water and Sanitation District employee), had resigned, which was a setback for the facility. The facility’s Operations Committee will meet on Dec. 1 to make recommendations for his replacement.

Access road: Ritter reported that on Nov. 10, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved the WWTF access road to cross the Santa Fe Trail. The notice-to-proceed had been issued to the earth-moving contractor, but there had been weather-related delays.

Updating of water standards: Ritter was contracted to update the district standards to be consistent with those of the Town of Monument. Simpson noted that the section on water specifications seemed to be the most inconsistent.

Bridge Repairs: Ritter reported that he had received two bids for bridge repair. The $30,500 bid was 70 percent less that the estimated cost for this project, and he noted that he was pleasantly surprised.

Manager’s Report

Discoloration due to iron deposits: Ron Simpson said he had received a complaint from a resident about landscape rock being discolored by the iron in the water. He suggested pressure-washing the rock when the district pressure-washes the concrete that had been stained.

Electric rates: Simpson handed out a letter he had received from Mountain View Electric Association regarding electric rates charged to the district. The letter explained peak usage and cost based upon actual demand for electricity. No discussion or action was taken.

Potential inclusion of the Baptist Camp: In a previous meeting, Simpson had asked the board to approve an alternative to the district’s standard offer of inclusion to Classic Homes, which has bought the Baptist Church Camp. Because Triview is a metropolitan district, its responsibility includes streets and parks, whereas non-metro districts, like Donala and Woodmoor, only supply water and sanitation. Simpson recommended adjusting some of the proposed inclusion cost figures so that they could be competitive with other districts vying for Classic’s business.

Because of the competitive nature of this information, the board elected to discuss this in the executive session that followed the regularly held meeting.

Financial Matters

Dale Hill reported that she was working on getting the GOCO grant check in so that it could be included in the amended 2005 budget.

The board authorized Hill to pay the November bills.

Executive Session

The meeting adjourned at 3:45 p.m., and the board went into executive session to consider the limitation on an ongoing condemnation issue and negotiations with the Baptist Church Camp. No action was taken on either topic.

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The next meeting of the Triview Metropolitan District Board will be Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m., at the district office, 174 N. Washington St., Monument. The board normally meets on the fourth Wednesday each month. For information, phone 488-6868.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, November 8: Board considers 2006 water and sewer rates

By Sue Wielgopolan

At their Nov. 8 meeting, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board members focused on the 2006 budget. General Manager Phil Steininger expects income from water and sewer tap fees to be over $4 million, up about $1.5 million from last year. The income will be used to fund capital improvements made necessary by population growth.

Though this year’s rates will reflect an increase averaging about 2 percent overall, the mill levy decreased by a full percentage point. According to Steininger, most residents will pay less in taxes to the district this year, lowering their total cost of service.

Member Ron Turner was absent and excused.

Financials

Treasurer Jim Wyss told the board that although water and sewer tap fees were significantly below budget, net income was still higher than originally anticipated for the 2005 fiscal year, leaving the district in a good cash position. Office Manager Hope Winkler cautioned members that water use fees, which were higher than anticipated and accounted for most of the additional income, were likely to drop off during the final two months of the year.

Steininger reiterated that tap fees originally forecast to be collected during 2005 were merely delayed until 2006. The board was optimistic that original projections for overall expenses and income were likely to be close to expectations.

2006 budget and rates

After the board approved the minutes and reviewed the month’s financial statements, Steininger opened public discussion of the district’s 2006 budget. Announcements of the hearing had been published and posted as specified by state law. No residents were in attendance.

Using a model based on Woodmoor’s cost of providing service, Roger Hartman of the Hartman Company, utility management specialists, had generated water and sewer rate schedules for the upcoming year. His recommendations were included in the draft budget package that had been distributed to board members the previous month for their review.

The residential flat rate sewer charge, if approved, will increase a modest four-tenths of a percent. Commercial sewer rates, which are already higher than the residential rate and include additional charges for flows over 6,000 gallons of wastewater per month, will remain unchanged.

Hartman recommended raising the service charge and the per gallon rate for water. Residential homeowners will probably see an increase of between 2.3 and 2.5 percent on the water portion of their monthly bill, depending upon actual usage.

To encourage water conservation, Woodmoor and other area water districts charge more per gallon as consumption increases. For example, residential customers now pay $3.60 per 1,000 gallons for the first 6,000 gallons, then $4.75 per 1,000 gallons over 6,000 but less than 12,000. The consumer currently pays $5.50 for every 1,000 gallons exceeding 12,000 gallons in a month. Steininger estimated that the average household in Woodmoor uses approximately 8,300 gallons per month, with consumption varying by season.

Benny Nasser noted that although the proposed per gallon rates for residential customers using over 12,000 gallons were higher, the percentage increase was smaller. He felt that higher usage customers should experience the same percentage increase as lower volume consumers, especially since one of the goals of instituting graduated rates was to lower consumption. After discussing the issue, the rest of the board agreed, and Steininger said he would recalculate block rates and present the revisions at the next meeting.

Steininger also pointed out to members that although the district rates were increasing, the mill levy for the district would decrease by a full percentage point, from 9.5 to 8.5, resulting in lower taxes. He calculated that the total cost of service for the average Woodmoor homeowner, including taxes and yearly water and sewer service charges, would be slightly lower than the 2005 total.

Steininger called the board’s attention to the portion of the budget devoted to construction of facilities, which contained an increase of $1.6 million over last year, and reviewed some of the larger expenses.

Of the $2.9 million allocated to facility construction, $1.78 will go to drilling and equipping a new dual well, which will tap the Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers.

District staff budgeted $452,000 toward the upgrade of the south outfall, which is the main sewer collector that transports wastewater from the southern part of the Woodmoor district to the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). The upgrade will increase capacity of the line to accommodate intensive development in the area. Funds for a geotechnical survey, cash for the purchase of easements, and design costs are included in this year’s figure. Total project cost is estimated to be around $2 million, and will be spread over two years.

This year the district will install new transponders and replace all meter sets over five years old. The project will cost $556,000 and should be completed by the end of 2006.

The salary budget also increased for 2005; Steininger said that employees will receive a 4 percent raise. The budget also includes an allowance for step increases and compensation for an additional technician, which Woodmoor hired this fall.

Sewer treatment expenses showed the only substantial decrease in the 2006 budget. The WWTF’s combination laboratory/administration building is nearing completion; Woodmoor’s share was funded in the 2005 budget. And because the WWTF only hauls sludge every other year and completed that task this fall, the district won’t have to pay for its share of another hauling operation until 2007.

After more discussion involving the district’s retirement of debt in 2011 and funding of capital improvements after buildout, the board closed public discussion of the district’s 2006 budget. Final review and approval of next year’s budget, including new sewer and water rates, will take place during the Dec. 13 meeting. Interested Woodmoor residents may view a copy of the draft budget at the office.

Joint Use Committee (JUC) activities

District engineer Jessie Shaffer began the JUC report by showing slides of the WWTF’s nearly completed lab/administration building. The JUC is composed of the three owners of the Tri-Lakes facility: Monument Sanitation district, Palmer Lake Sanitation district, and Woodmoor.

Structural work was basically finished; the contractor had begun interior finishing, including drywall and flooring installation and surface texturing. Shaffer said that he expected painting to begin as early as the following week.

Shaffer told the board that due to several change orders, the project was about 10 percent over the original bid price, but that the total cost was still less than the next closest bid.

Board members then engaged in a lengthy discussion of a disagreement with Access Construction over contract wording regarding grading of the facility parking lot to prepare it for asphalt. Access claimed it had fulfilled the conditions stipulated in the building contract; the paving contractor claimed the surface needed further work before it would be asphalt-ready.

In order to expedite completion of the parking lot, Shaffer issued a notice of noncompliance to Access and plans to pay the paving contractor, LaFarge West, Inc. to do an additional fine grade for a fee of $3,000. As contract administrators, Woodmoor staff wants the asphalt installed as quickly as possible, before unfavorable weather causes extensive delays.

Woodmoor invited Mark Ennis of Access to present his arguments in writing to the JUC at the next meeting on Nov. 14. The committee will consider his claim and make a determination of how to resolve the conflict.

Steininger stated that in spite of their disagreements, Woodmoor has no issue with the quality of Access’ work, only with aspects of the company’s contract interpretation. He also said the JUC will probably hold an open house at the new lab after the holidays.

Nasser told the board that the sludge-hauling operation had been completed. Parker Ag removed 2.62 million gallons of sludge from the plant, which was less than originally anticipated. Total cost for the removal came in at 79 percent of the amount budgeted by the JUC. Cost savings were attributable to the lower amount of sludge and a price break given by the contractor.

Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG)

Steininger said the group provided input in the form of comments to the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Southern Delivery System (SDS). The Bureau recently held a series of open houses outlining the alternatives to be included in the EIS; none included delivery of surface water supplies to communities north of Colorado Springs city limits. The PDWG argues that the EIS does not address the larger issue of how exclusion will affect surrounding communities, whose well water supplies are rapidly being depleted.

The group also discussed other alternatives to the SDS, including an alternate pipeline route following Highway 115, as well as the expansion and use of Brush Hollow Reservoir as part of a surface water supply network.

New billing system conversion

Winkler told the board that conversion to the new billing system was not going as smoothly as expected. The new Casselle software is incompatible with some components of the district’s current system. Consequently, next month’s bills might still be on the old postcard format.

Sewer lining contract awarded

Steininger told the board that the three-year contract to line the district’s sewer pipes had been awarded to Tele Environmental Systems, Inc. based in Rifle. The company has performed lining work for the district in the past. The PVC lining is used to reinforce existing clay pipes to extend life expectancy, prevent tree root infiltration, and reduce the volume of groundwater that leaks into the system. Lining existing pipe is cheaper than replacing the deteriorating clay lines. Woodmoor has budgeted $250,000 for lining operations in 2006.

Flaming Tree water pressure adjusted

Woodmoor recently disconnected homes on Flaming Tree from the existing gravity feed water lines and reconnected homeowners to a line serviced by a booster pump, which increases water pressure. Low pressure of about 40 to 50 pounds per square inch (psi) in the old lines was barely sufficient for household use.

Woodmoor decided to upgrade the lines to provide better service for the homeowners, and to provide higher pressure to the existing hydrants for firefighting purposes. The pump provides line pressure averaging 120 psi. Technicians from the district have been informing affected homeowners of the need to install a pressure regulator to prevent damage to lines inside the home.

New warehouse

Construction work on the new warehouse has begun. The structural steel for the building frame should be delivered by Nov. 11. The structure will be used primarily to house district equipment and spare parts.

Subdivision update

Shaffer updated the board on construction in the district. He said there had been little change in the status of most developments. A few notable highlights:

  • Walters Commons: Water and sewer infrastructure in Filing 1 is operational and receiving taps. The builder, Pulte Homes, plans to start moving dirt and building four- and five-plexes soon in Filing 2. Models are currently open. The development is located north of Higby Road and east of Lewis-Palmer High School.

  • Village Center at Woodmoor: Infrastructure for Filing 1 is complete; the contractor, Richmond American, is building houses. Construction on Filing 2 infrastructure will begin soon, and plans for Filing 3 are in-house. Filing 4, which is the commercial portion of the development, is lagging behind schedule. The Village Center is located off Highway 105.

  • KAB Pankey LLC (surrounding Lake Woodmoor): The land currently owned by KAB Pankey LLC is under contract to Cheyenne Mountain Development Company LLC and is scheduled to close in December. The developer intends to begin building at Waterside and the Cove and move south and east.

  • Greenland Preserve Filing 2: Greenland Preserve is located south of County Line Road and east of High Pines Drive. The contractor, Masterbilt, intends to begin construction of the lift station force main this week.

New excess water agreement

Woodmoor’s yearly contract with the Colorado Water Protective and Development Association (CWPDA) for the purchase of excess water will expire in March 2006. Steininger recommended approval of a new contract that raises the rate from $10 to $25 per acre-foot. Other aspects of the contract remain unchanged. The new agreement would take effect April 1, 2006.

Steininger assured members that the agreement would not obligate Woodmoor to sell a minimum amount of water to the CWDPA. Only the effluent that the district is unable to store in Lake Woodmoor, use as exchange, or sell elsewhere for a higher price will go to the association. The board then voted to approve the contract and authorized President Jim Taylor to sign the agreement.

New employees

Steininger announced that the district had hired two new employees. Keith Porter was hired as a technician and replaces Toby Ormandy, who resigned earlier in the year to accept a position at the Tri-Lakes facility. Porter held an operator’s license in California four years ago, but is not yet certified in Colorado.

Woodmoor decided to create an additional permanent position this year. J.D. Shivvers started in an entry-level mechanics position and is currently in training. Shivvers is expected to take his D operators license test in January 2006; Porter is currently studying for his C operators license and will take his test in the same month.

Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP)

Mike Rothberg, of engineering firm RTW, informed board members that RTW is soliciting contractors for prequalification for the CWTP expansion. Only those bids submitted by prequalified contractors will be considered. The selected contractor will work with Timberline Controls, which the district subcontracted directly to install the instrumentation and controls.

Backwash study

After water is pumped from the wells, it must be filtered and treated before distribution. To clean the filters of debris and sediments, the district uses a process called backwashing, sending water backward through the filters to dislodge accumulated sediments. Presently, Woodmoor "wastes" the water used to backwash the filters, piping it directly to the wastewater plant for processing.

Because this backwashing uses approximately 1/2 acre-foot of well water per day, the district hired RTW Engineering to determine if it would be economically feasible to capture and recycle the water. The district would derive dual benefits from such a program by recovering a significant amount of water and also reducing the volume of wastewater sent to the WWTF.

Rothberg told the board that his firm was about halfway through the backwash study. One of the main impediments to recycling the water is the high concentration of iron and manganese present in the backwash. Rothberg said that unlike most of the other sediments, the elements will not settle out in holding tanks, but filtering or chemical treatment works reasonably well to remove them.

Rothberg wants to retrofit the south treatment plant for a pilot program and anticipates that he could recover as much as 85 percent of the backwash water.

Board members asked how the district would dispose of the iron and manganese. Rothberg replied that they would still be sent to the wastewater facility in solution but in a much more concentrated form. Because they are not heavy metals, state limits on the amounts entering the stream are very high and would not be exceeded, even if backwash reclaim processes were instituted.

Anti-harassment policy

Attorney Erin Smith distributed copies of her final draft of the new anti-harassment policy to board members. Until now, Woodmoor had no written policy regarding harassment. Smith said documentation was necessary to satisfy the federal government that the district had exercised reasonable care to prevent and remedy incidents of harassment, as well as to inform employees of their responsibility to report occurrences.

The directors voted to adopt and incorporate the new policy into the district’s personnel guidelines.

Rules and Regulations

Smith informed the board that they had completed review of all sections of the revised rules and regulations. She said she would be sending the four technical sections to RTW for comment and conferring with Steininger and his staff on the appendices.

According to Smith, most of the changes were language revisions. She will create a cover memorandum listing all policy changes, which will be distributed before the board votes on adoption of the new rules and regulations. Acceptance of the document and the vote on adoption will be listed as an action item on the meeting agenda, which could occur as early as January.

The public portion of the meeting ended at 3:37 p.m., and the board went into executive session to discuss land acquisition negotiations and management of the Tri-Lakes Facility.

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The next regular meeting of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation board of directors will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m. at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr. The meeting will start 30 minutes later than usual to accommodate a holiday luncheon for the board of directors. Meetings are normally held the second Tuesday of the month.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, November 23: Pension board finalizes budget recommendations

By Jim Kendrick

Two different board meetings were held at the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District on Nov. 23. The district’s Pension Board finalized its budget recommendation to the district board for 2006. After the Pension Board meeting concluded, the district board approved the pension board’s recommendation, which will be incorporated in the district’s 2006 budget.

The district board unanimously approved a resolution adopting the 2003 International Fire Code, which is becoming the standard throughout El Paso County and is consistent with the International Building Code that was recently adopted by Regional Building.

Secretary Dave Cross and Assistant Chief Vinny Burns were excused from both meetings. Volunteer Wescott firefighter Mike Badger was excused from the Pension Board meeting.

Pension Board meeting

Volunteer firefighter John Hamand announced that he had retired on Nov. 1, and was no longer eligible to be a Pension Board member. The board thanked him for his service and unanimously accepted his letter of resignation.

Hamand will be one of three volunteer firefighters to begin collecting a pension from the district in 2006, bringing the total number of pension recipients to six.

Chief Jeff Edwards said that Badger would solicit an active volunteer firefighter to replace Hamand before the next pension board meeting in May. The pension board meets twice a year, and meetings will now take place every six months.

The pension board unanimously approved a recommendation to double the district’s annual contribution to the pension fund from $25,000 in 2005 to $50,000 in 2006. Currently, the state of Colorado is providing a 90 percent matching grant to district contributions to volunteer pension fund contributions. The state agency administering the pensions is the Fire and Police Pension Association (FPPA). However, the matching contribution is made in the following calendar year. The state’s match will be $22,500 in 2006, and then jumps to $45,000 in 2007. The legislation authorizing the 90 percent matching grant funds is scheduled to expire in 2009, and the board is trying to maximize the matching amount before expiration.

The board unanimously approved a recommendation to keep the pension payment at $300 per month for another year to help ensure the actuarial soundness of the fund, while acknowledging that an increase for inflation should be considered for 2007. Fees and expenses are $1,500.

The board unanimously approved a revision in the Pension Authorization Form that is forwarded to FPPA; newly appointed Chief Jeff Edwards’ signature block will replace that of former Chief Bill Sheldon.

The Pension Board adjourned at 6:50 p.m.

District Board meeting

Chief Jeff Edwards reported that Bill Sheldon had been "overwhelmed" by his retirement ceremony on Nov. 19 at the Cactus Rose. Sheldon has temporarily moved to his "winter home" in Arizona.

Administrative Assistant Ginnette Ritz reported that the district received $13,249 in specific ownership auto taxes in October. Board President Brian Ritz noted that the revenue from this tax is approaching 10 percent of total revenue this year and that a few small property tax payments will continue to come in as well. He also noted that the district’s 2005 volunteer pension fund contribution of $25,000 was paid to FPPA in November.

Chief’s Report

Edwards reported that the district made 123 runs in October, bringing the total to 1,251 for the year, an 8 percent increase over 2004. The calls consisted of 32 medical, 7 traffic accident, 3 automatic alarm, 2 structure fire, 1 hazardous material, 2 good intent false, 2 public assist, 1 rescue, 3 other, and 70 AMR ambulance calls, plus 7 mutual aid calls. There have been no firefighter injuries this year.

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Navarro sent a letter of appreciation for the district’s assistance on several downed power lines in the city during the recent windstorm. There were 30 downed power line calls in one hour, resulting in several spot fires. The district’s brush truck responded to numerous calls from CSFD Station 1.

The district also received a letter of appreciation for stopping to help a Monument motorist with a broken jack change a tire in the dark on Gleneagle Drive. Wescott firefighters lifted her car with high-pressure air bags.

Director Kevin Gould delivered some architectural plans for the addition to Station 1 he had received from the architect. The district is still awaiting the final "As-Built" plans to be delivered to the architect by the contractor. The final payment for the addition has been made.

The board unanimously approved a new light duty policy in response to a request from the district’s insurance company, Volunteer Firefighter Insurance Service, to have a policy in effect by the end of March. The policy describes procedures and permitted work tasks for people returning to work after an on-duty injury. Firefighters must use their sick leave and obtain their own short- or long-term disability payments to cover periods when they cannot work if the injury occurs off duty.

The board noted that there is no requirement to create a temporary "light duty" job position after an off-duty injury, as part-time or volunteer firefighters must still perform the injured person’s duties until that person is fully and completely recovered from the off-duty injury. The board agreed that the policy should specifically list what are allowable "light duties" and should preclude wearing of a firefighter uniform or riding on a truck.

Draft budget reviewed

Edwards suggested that the district purchase a four-wheel-drive all-terrain vehicle (ATV) with a winch and a blade for snow removal to increase its effectiveness for use as a food and safety shuttle in brush fires, wildfires, and search and rescue. Also suggested was the purchase of a trailer to transport the ATV to the scene of an emergency for year-round utility. The board concurred on his request for an additional $15,000 to purchase this equipment.

The public hearing for the final 2006 budget will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7 at Station 1. The budget must be submitted to the state by Dec. 15.

2006 Goals

Director Joe Potter suggested the district adopt the following as goals for 2006:

  • Pinpoint a strategic fund for a new engine

  • Refine new performance appraisal procedures

  • Enhance the working relationship with Black Forest Fire and Rescue District

  • Plan the renovation of Station 2

  • Work on increasing federal grants

  • Streamline public affairs with the community

  • Discard aging equipment

The board concurred on these goals.

The board went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter at 8:25 p.m. There were no announcements or actions taken prior to adjournment.

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The next board meeting will be held on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 15425 Gleneagle Dr. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority, November 16: Fire Authority awarded $700,000 grant to hire firefighters; audit firm selected

By John Heiser

On Nov. 16, the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District met jointly as the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board. A quorum of each board was present. Absent were Tri-Lakes directors Keith Duncan and John Hartling and Woodmoor/Monument directors Bill Ingram and Rod Wilson.

It was announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had awarded the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority a $700,000 grant under the $65 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. Information on the program is posted at www.firegrantsupport.com

The fire authority will use the funds—which require matching funds from the Tri-Lakes district and are spread over the next four years—to hire an additional seven full-time firefighters to respond to fire and medical emergencies in the Tri-Lakes region. Those additional firefighters are anticipated to start work in February. Candidates must be qualified as Firefighter I with Emergency Medical Technician training and pass physical agility and written tests.

Board selects audit firm Gordon Hughes & Banks

At past meetings, the board has expressed dissatisfaction with the current audit firm, Parsons & Rosacker. They interviewed representatives of Bondi & Co., Gordon Hughes & Banks, and Mason Russell West.

Julia Stone represented Bondi.

Gordon Hughes & Banks was represented by Kimberley Higgins, Susann Hartwig, and James Rae. Higgins said all three of them were formerly with Bondi.

Ray Russell represented Mason Russell West.

Fire Authority and Tri-Lakes district treasurer John Hildebrandt led the questioning. Each of the firms was asked a series of questions including:

  • What is your opinion of using pledged assets instead of funds to satisfy the 3 percent TABOR reserve?

  • What is your opinion of the GASB 34 requirement for Management Discussion and Analysis (MDA)?

  • When during the year do you advise doing the audit?

  • How do you advise clients if they are making similar mistakes each year in their financial management and reports?

All the representatives said that use of pledged assets is permitted, but they recommended against the practice, saying that holding cash reserve is easier to understand and explain.

Noting the importance of auditors maintaining independence, all representatives said the district or its accountant must prepare the MDA but offered to provide standard MDA templates.

All recommended an interim audit in September, October, or November to highlight corrective actions needed before Dec. 31, with the formal audit work starting early in the year and producing a final audit report by May or June.

All said they would promptly notify the board verbally and in writing of mistakes they uncover.

The firms’ proposals called for initial total annual fees of up to $19,000 to perform the audits for the fire authority and the two fire protection districts.

After a discussion of each of the firms, the board voted 5-1 to retain Gordon Hughes & Banks as the audit firm. Woodmoor/Monument director Tim Miller, who during the discussion related his positive experiences working with Bondi, cast the no vote.

Financial report

Hildebrandt distributed copies of a financial report covering the Tri-Lakes district and the Woodmoor/Monument district and the resulting financial status of the fire authority through the end of October. Some highlights:

  • The districts and, in turn, the fire authority have received $1.89 million or 99 percent of the anticipated $1.91 million in property tax revenue for the year, and $237,492 or 84 percent of the anticipated $284,000 in specific ownership taxes for the year.

  • The districts also received ambulance revenues of $267,682 or 89 percent of the anticipated $300,000 for the year. That is 6 percent more than budgeted levels at this point in the year and a substantial improvement from the report for September.

  • Administrative expenses stand at $176,292 or 79 percent of the $222,635 for the year called for in the revised budget. That is 4 percent under the expected level for this point in the year.

  • Salary expenses were $1.31 million or 88 percent of the budgeted $1.48 million, 5 percent more than the expected level. The $1.31 million includes $98,469 for part-time employees, which is 105 percent of the $93,433 for the year called for in the revised budget.

  • Overall expenses year-to-date have been $2.23 million, which is 84 percent of the annual budget of $2.65 million, right at the expected level for this point in the year.

A motion to accept the financial report was unanimously approved.

Proposed 2006 budget distributed

Copies of the fire authority’s proposed 2006 budget were distributed. Some highlights:

  • Total revenues and expenses are projected at $3.29 million, up from $2.61 million in 2005, a 26 percent increase.

  • Salary expense is projected at $1.86 million, up from $1.48 million in 2005, a 26 percent increase. The total includes $260,813 in matching funds for firefighters hired by the Tri-Lakes district under the SAFER grant program and $35,000 for part-time employees, down from $93,433 in 2005.

  • The Tri-Lakes district’s total debt for vehicles and buildings stands at $1.76 million. Principal and interest payments for 2006 are projected at $255,808, up 10.8 percent from $230,813 in 2005.

  • The Woodmoor/Monument district is debt free.

The hearing on the 2006 budget will be held Dec. 13.

Tri-Lakes district mill levy increase may be needed

Referring to difficulties covering expenses in the rapidly growing Tri-Lakes district, Hildebrandt said, "I’ve been on the razor’s edge for nine years. We need to talk about a mill levy increase." The Tri-Lakes district’s current mill levy is 7 mills, whereas the Woodmoor/Monument district’s mill levy is 9.92 mills.

Volunteer report

John Stearns, volunteer coordinator for the Tri-Lakes district, reported that in the past ten months, volunteers contributed more than 14,000 hours, which he said saved the fire authority over $116,000. The average per volunteer was about 87 hours, equivalent to $696, per month.

Phone system change approved; vehicle rejected

Woodmoor’s Captain Joe Yordt reported that Qwest has not been able to correct the continuing phone system problems. He recommended switching to a phone and Internet system and service provided by PCIbroadband using voice over Internet protocol, where phone call connections are completed over the internet instead of phone company utility lines. The board unanimously approved a $24,549 total first-year expense to switch to the new system. Hildebrandt said the expenses would be split, with the Tri-Lakes district paying two-thirds of the cost and the Woodmoor district paying one-third of the cost.

Yordt also recommended purchase of a used 1997 chief vehicle from another fire district. Woodmoor treasurer Bob Hansen said, "I’m not prepared to do deficit spending." A motion to purchase the vehicle failed 3-3.

Operational report

Based on the fire authority’s written report covering operations through the end of October:

  • The fire authority responded to 160 calls during October, bringing the total for the year to 1,323. The 160 calls consisted of 74 medical, 36 fires or fire alarms, 27 traffic accidents, 17 public assists, and 6 calls involving hazardous materials.

  • Vehicle trips made totaled 2,690 in responding to the 1,323 calls for the year, with an average of 2.03 vehicles responding to each call.

  • During October, 64 people were transported to local hospitals, bringing the total for the year to 541.

  • For October, Station 1 on Highway 105 responded to 61 calls, station 2 on Roller Coaster Road responded to 30 calls, and station 3 on Woodmoor Drive responded to 69 calls. For the year, station 1 responded to 588 calls, station 2 responded to 253 calls, and station 3 responded to 482 calls.

Executive session

The board unanimously voted to hold an executive session to discussion personnel salaries. Following the session, the board unanimously approved a revised pay schedule.

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The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board normally holds its regular monthly meetings on the fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be Dec. 13.

For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, November 16: District increases ambulance billing rates

By John Heiser

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors held a meeting Nov. 16 following the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board meeting. Directors Charlie Pocock, Rick Barnes, and John Hildebrandt were present. Keith Duncan and John Hartling were absent.

After reviewing a comparison of the district’s current ambulance billing rates with those charged by 14 other ambulance services, the board unanimously approved increases that ranged from 24 percent to 49 percent.

The approved rates will be close to the average for nearby districts including Parker, Castle Rock, Elizabeth, and Woodland Park, but will be 27 percent to 72 percent more than the equivalent services by American Medical Response.

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The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13, immediately following the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board, which meets at 7 p.m. at Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Fire Protection District, November 16: Board considers building a training facility

By Susan Hindman

Following an exceptionally long meeting of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority, the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District began its meeting at midnight. A formal presentation by Capt. Joe Yordt on a proposed training facility had been planned, but due to the late hour, it was decided that it would be given at another time. Instead, a discussion was held on the subject.

Directors Rod Wilson and Bill Ingram were absent.

Financial report

Treasurer Bob Hansen reported that the district has received 98.49 percent of property tax revenues and 84.4 percent of the specific ownership taxes, for a total of $1,049,851. The total in the three bank accounts is $804,212.

Total expenses are 3.2 percent over budget, and if the current expenses continue, the district will end the year 3.8 percent, or $42,036, over budget. "And that’s before we get the bill for the training materials," Hansen said. "With the additional expense of $15,000 for training materials approved at our last meeting, I have asked the chief to find ways to ‘cut back’ on unnecessary expenditures for the remainder of the year," he added.

After he makes the changes discussed earlier during the Fire Authority meeting, Hansen said, he anticipates amending the budget to reflect that, "if we stay the course," the district will be "about $57,000 over budget" at the end of the year.

Unanticipated additional interest income, totaling $8,000 so far, will help offset some of this year’s expenses. In addition, the contingency fund may be amended.

Building a training facility

Last month, the board voted to pay for a comprehensive, in-house firefighter training program that could lead to the district becoming a regional training ground. This month, Yordt requested that the board consider the idea of purchasing land to build a facility that would house the program.

The money would come from the district’s reserve funds and through a matching FEMA grant that would be written by Woodmoor-Monument.

Hansen said that this facility "down the road will benefit our district, whether we’re operating under the authority or we’re one district … and that would be a great way to use the money as opposed to going into the consolidation or inclusion … and just turning the money over to Tri-Lakes."

Yordt added that keeping the facility close by would prevent them from having to close a Woodmoor station while the firefighters did live fire training elsewhere, and thus having to rely on the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District for backup during that training time. "Right now we have makeshift abilities to train within the district," he said.

Hansen said he felt strongly that if the board was going to be funding the facility, as well as the training program, then the facility should be built within the Woodmoor-Monument district, and not on land in the Tri-Lakes district. Yordt said they would need at least 3½ acres of land.

"My initial impression is good," said director Tim Miller, and suggested "we start the process of informing the public." Hansen suggested Yordt do some more homework on the matter of land. His presentation will be given at the December meeting.

The meeting ended at 12:22 a.m.

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The next meeting of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District will be on Dec. 13, following the 7 p.m. meeting of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority, at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (next to the bowling alley).

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, November 17: District says, "We Are L-P!"; plans 2nd high school

By Tommie Plank

At the Nov. 17 meeting, the board approved new Mission and Vision Statements, which were developed collaboratively with the Administrative Council:

We Are LP

Our Mission: Lewis-Palmer School District is an educational community ensuring achievement reflects the greatest potential of every student.

Our Vision: In pursuit of excellence, we collaborate to create challenging, relevant, and personal learning.

Schedule for a second high school

Superintendent Dave Dilley presented the board with a proposed schedule that will lead to the opening of a second high school in July 2008. This proposal is dependent on the board deciding to conduct a bond election in November 2006. Dilley is actively working to secure land for a second high school.

To initiate the planning for a second high school, the board authorized Dilley to work with consultants to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the new building that would meet an accelerated schedule. The authorization includes the approval by the board to use the CM/GC (Construction Manager/General Contractor) option for project delivery.

The proposed reverse schedule for occupancy date:

July 2008 - The new high school is completed and ready for occupancy

December 2006 or January 2007 - The bonds are sold. Optimal date of sale is dependent upon bond market trends, and probable property tax impacts.

November 2006 - Bond election is approved by the voters and, with ideal circumstances, construction documents are finalized and the project is ready to begin

Last week in August or first week in September, 2006 - Bond question is certified for the ballot, in compliance with statutory requirements.

March to August - Architect/GM/GC team begins to work together to complete design development documents to determine the bond question budget. It is necessary for the team to be able to work on construction documents at this early date for the purpose of determining project scheduling and initial bid packages, in order to meet a December 1 start date.

March 2006 - Site selection should be nearing completion by this date if schedules are to be met. Architect selection committee continues to screen proposals and conduct interviews for CM/GC. Interviews for CM/GC services should be scheduled. CM/GC is selected for Board of Education approval.

February, 2006 - Request for proposals sent to pre-qualified CM/GC firms.

January 2006 - Selection committee is appointed to screen proposals and conduct interviews. Interviews for architectural services scheduled. Architect is selected for Board of Education approval; the architect can begin work on the high school program and conceptual design, without final site selection.

December 2005 - Request for proposal is sent to qualified architectural firms with large project/high school experience.

November 2005 - Board of Education reviews construction options and proposed schedule and authorizes the Superintendent to proceed with planning work.

Annual Report

The board approved the draft of the 2004-05 annual report to District 38 patrons. This report, entitled The Stakeholders’ Report, is required annually by the Colorado Department of Education and will be mailed to the community in December. It will also appear on the website, www.lewispalmer.org. 

Outstanding students recognized

Lewis-Palmer High School students Erica Corder, Whitney Hayes, Toni Klopfenstein, Carrie Waugaman, Brianna Yelle, and Imani Young were recognized for being named among the Colorado Springs Mayor’s 100 Teens. The Mayor’s program recognizes the achievement of area students who have made a difference in unique and personal ways. These students will serve as ambassadors to inspire other students during the school year.

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The last regular meeting of the District #38 School Board for 2005 will be held Thursday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Learning Center of the District Administration Building.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, November 2: Board candidates introduce themselves

By Chris Pollard

One of the first actions of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board on Nov. 2 was to appoint Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, to the seat vacated by Susan Shields, who recently resigned. Woodman will remain in his current position but will serve for another year without re-election.

George McFadden, Secretary, who has been responsible for recruiting new board member candidates, announced that he now has five candidates for the open position. Three new candidates would be presenting themselves at the meeting beyond the two—Brian Osterholt and Bill Walters—who had already announced their candidacy.

Prior to their introductions, John Ottino, President, said that his philosophy on candidates was that they should not join for a particular agenda but should come prepared to work as a team.

Phil Le Beau, the first candidate to speak, said that he has been a resident of Woodmoor since 1991. He has been married for 26 years and has also been a member of the Colorado Springs Police Department for 26 years. He had responsibility for traffic and special events and is currently responsible for the motorcycle division. He admits that he has been critical of WIA in the past but now wants to contribute rather than just be a complainer.

LeBeau said the board members seem to be part of a "nitpicking" organization and has come to the opinion that builders felt that construction or landscaping deposits were going to be taken no matter what they did. He has some complaints about what’s happening in South Woodmoor and in particular has problems with gophers coming onto his land from the neighboring open space. He added that he works a normal shift, so he has the time to participate. He has some related experience from having been president of the Timberline fishing club, which has over 100 members.

Terry Holmes, who spoke next, said that he has been a resident for 10 years and is currently a self-employed telecommunications consultant. Through that experience, he has spent a lot of time before similar boards with regard to the installation of communication systems. He said he now consults from home so he has plenty of time to participate.

Holmes said he wants to volunteer because he likes living in Woodmoor due to its proximity to other areas. He likes the system of covenants and the friendliness of the area. He has started a number of companies and, through that, has spent a lot of time in dispute resolution. He feels his energy and fortitude will help. He has no complaints about WIA but feels there is still a need for improvement and that traffic, the Walters open space, and infestations are pressing issues.

Jake Shirk was last to speak. He is Chief of the Monument Police Department, having recently retired from the Aurora Police Department. He has only recently moved to Woodmoor but said he knew as soon as he drove through the area that this was where he wanted to make his home. He plans on being here a long time and becoming part of the community.

Shirk said he believes that his experience of 30 years of conflict resolution and working with 200 officers would be helpful. He has learned to make sure there is a road map for the future and to be upfront and to acknowledge mistakes if they have been made.

Ottino reminded the candidates that the position involves a lot of interruptions by way of phone calls and similar intrusions. He feels that the WIA staff helps to filter out some of that input and provides support. The overall intention is to do what is good for Woodmoor.

Committee reports

Elizabeth Miller, Director of Architecture Control, added that the Architectural Control Committee is also looking for members.

Camilla Mottl, Executive Director, asked the candidates to submit half-page statements so that she could include them in the December WIA newsletter, along with the ballots that were to be sent out with it. Anyone not on the ballot would only be able to be nominated from the floor on the day of the annual meeting.

Allan McMullen, Director of Open Space, said that he was now interested in spending money to rebuild Piney Trail. He had identified a contractor with a machine that could do it for $1,000. The equipment would effectively shave the ground to make the trail, which would be on the northeast side of Toboggan Hill Road. This would possibly be extended next year beyond the proposed ¼ mile that would run along the top of a ridge.

Ottino asked about erosion control, but McMullen felt that, since it was a fairly heavily forested area, there was little water moving through, but promised he would take another look. Woodman added that he was concerned about fuel reduction in this and the "Marsh" area. They wanted to get rid of some of the scrub oak before it started to leaf out and use chips from the clearing of this area as material for the trail surface.

Woodman said that excess common area budget dollars would be transferred to allow fire mitigation in those areas. Residents adjacent to the common areas being treated would be offered up to $600 for mitigation on their own. The goal was not to clean everything out but to clean up the excess vegetation, with an additional aim of minimizing regrowth.

Ottino asked the board to ratify a new forestry rule that would allow the WIA to refer residents who did not cooperate in removing trees infected with live beetles to covenants enforcement. The rules would also require the removal within 30 days of any slash created. This was unanimously approved.

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The next meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association board will be Dec. 7, 7 p.m., at the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. The board normally meets on the first Wednesday each month. For information, phone 488-2694 or visit www.woodmoor.org.

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NEPCO, November 12: Homeowners associations to comment on proposed developments

By John Heiser

At the Nov. 12 annual meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), Dave Patton from the Ridge at Fox Run and George Diestelkamp from Gleneagle North were unanimously elected to the board. NEPCO President Beth Courrau reviewed accomplishments for the year and predicted a "critical year" ahead in terms of reviewing numerous proposed developments. The NEPCO Land Use Committee provides comments to the county planning department and to the Monument Planning Department.

About 20 people attended the meeting. Numerous northern El Paso County homeowner associations (HOAs) and residential areas were represented at the meeting, including Bent Tree, Donala Club Villa, Eagle Villas, Gleneagle, Higby Estates, High Meadow at Fox Run, Ridge at Fox Run, Sun Hills, Sunrise Townhomes, and Woodmoor.

Courrau said the County Planning Department was to provide a speaker for the meeting but had to cancel at the last minute.

The group then discussed several proposed developments in the area, including the following developments between Baptist Road and Higby Road:

  • Home Place Ranch – Approximately 400 acres south of Higby Road and east of Fairplay, planned for 976 houses. Prior plans to include a convenience retail commercial component have been dropped. The developer has requested annexation by Monument and provision of water, sewer, road maintenance, and other services by the Triview Metropolitan District. NEPCO is trying to facilitate a meeting of affected HOAs and the developer.

  • Promontory Pointe – Approximately 117 acres north of Baptist Road and east of the Jackson Creek development, planned for 311 houses. The developer is seeking annexation by Monument and inclusion in Triview of the 79 acres of the site not already in the town and within Triview.

  • Baptist Camp – Approximately 430 acres north of Baptist Road east of Kingswood and south of Home Place Ranch. The project is being developed by Classic Homes. Higby Estates resident Patrick Pivarnik said, "Classic has been working with the HOAs" in developing their plans for the site. Due to statutory contiguity requirements, the Baptist Camp development cannot be annexed by Monument unless Home Place ranch is annexed. The developer might seek approval of the project by the county and provision of services by the Donala Water and Sanitation District.

Discussion on these proposed developments focused primarily on traffic flow patterns and road development, water availability, and compliance with density transition guidelines in the county’s Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan.

The NEPCO Land Use Committee and many of the HOAs in the area are studying these developments and plan to provide formal responses.

**********

The next NEPCO meeting will be held in January. For more information on NEPCO, visit www.nepco.org or contact Beth Courrau at 488-0284 or bethcourrau@adelphia.net.

Minutes provided by NEPCO secretary Bob Swedenburg were used in preparing this article.

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County Planning Commission, November 19: Brookmoor plat, Cherry Springs Ranch rezoning approved

By Steve Sery

Although the El Paso County Planning Commission held two meetings in November, only the Nov. 15 meeting discussed projects in the northern El Paso County area.

A final plat for Brookmoor Filing #3 was on the consent calendar. This is a 29-lot single-family residential subdivision on 16.69 acres. It is located on the south side of Lake Woodmoor Drive at Moveen Heights Drive. This is an older plan; the Board of County Commissioners approved the Brookmoor development in 1995, and it was rezoned to PUD in 1998. This consent item was approved unanimously.

The second item was a Cherry Springs Ranch rezoning. This 231-acre parcel is located north of Highway 105 and approximately ¼ mile west of Highway 83. It is adjacent to Kings Deer on the north and Hilltop Pines on the west. It is currently zoned RR-3 (5-acre minimum lot size). The rezone request is for PUD consisting of 46 single-family lots, 2.5-acre minimum lot size with an overall density of 1 dwelling unit per 5 acres. It will include approximately 36 acres of open space. There were no objections, and it was approved unanimously.

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There will only be one meeting this month, on Dec. 20, 9 a.m., at 2880 International Circle in Colorado Springs. For information, call 520-6300.

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November Weather Wrap

Below: Bruce Bates took this photo of trees blown down Nov. 3 at his house in the Bent Tree subdivision.

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Bill Kappel

For the second month in a row, temperatures were slightly above average and precipitation was below normal across the Tri-Lakes region.

November began the same way October ended, mild and dry. The first two days of the month saw highs reach into the 50s and low 60s, about 10 degrees warmer than normal. Windy conditions began early on the morning of the 3rd, as winds gusted to over 80 mph at times, especially west of the I-25 corridor. Several residents lost large ponderosas, and dust and debris were redistributed throughout the area. Winds began to subside during the early afternoon hours, leaving behind quiet and mild conditions.

These types of winds become much more common this time of the year as the jet stream gets stronger, often residing right over Colorado. When conditions are right, those winds are able to "mix" down to the surface and accelerate off the Rampart Range over the Palmer Divide. The Nov. 3 event was a little stronger than usual. Wind speeds that day were equivalent to a category 1 hurricane. Fortunately for us, because we live at elevations above 7,000 feet, the air is much less dense than at sea level. Therefore, the amount of air actually blowing around at 80 mph is much less and doesn’t have the same damaging effects.

The other fun event the first week of November was a "surprise" snowfall the morning of the 5th. Colder air was expected, but the 2 inches of heavy snow—which fell from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.—was not. But I’m not complaining; there is nothing better than waking up to a surprise snowfall.

Mild weather returned for the second week of November, with record highs on the 8th of upper 60s to low 70s across the region. Also unusual was the fact that the overnight lows stayed above freezing, even with mostly clear skies—aided by winds that continued to be gusty each day.

Wintry weather finally made an appearance when a series of weak cold fronts moved through the area starting on the 13th, with highs holding in the 30s that afternoon. A brief warmup returned the next afternoon, with highs bouncing back into the 50s. However, the coldest air of the season so far was about to make an appearance. A strong cold front raced down the Front Range from Wyoming and blasted through at around 4 p.m. on the 14th. Snow and blowing snow quickly developed, with 3-5 inches accumulating before midnight. The moisture with this storm soon moved out of the area, and clear skies returned just after sunrise on the 15th. Temperatures were chilling that morning and the next, with single digits common throughout the area.

For the rest of the week and into the weekend, we remained on the edge of the cold air over the Midwest and the mild air over the Southwest. We had several quick-moving cold fronts brush the region, with light snow at times producing some icy roadways but no significant accumulations.

Most of the Thanksgiving holiday week was quiet weatherwise around the Tri-Lakes area. Clear skies were the rule as a strong ridge of high pressure built from out of the southwest. This allowed temperatures to jump into the 40s and 50s, with seasonably cool mornings. Winds were light as well, making for perfect travel conditions to begin the holiday week.

Things quickly changed for travelers trying to head home after the long weekend. A strong area of low pressure developed over eastern Colorado, western Kansas, and western Nebraska late Saturday into Sunday. Colder air rushed across the Palmer Divide, but the ingredients for moisture with this storm stayed to our east. Therefore, we were chilly on the 27th, with a dusting of snow in the morning, but the worst of the storm stayed over Colorado’s eastern plains, where blizzard conditions existed. Most roads into Kansas and Nebraska were closed Sunday into Monday because of whiteout. Consider ourselves lucky, as we just missed out on this one.

A Look Ahead

The month of December can be a cold one around our region, with highs often staying below freezing. The month is generally dry, however, with several light snowfalls common. Gusty winds are also a common nuisance during the month. Last December, we had a well-timed snowfall just before Christmas, which left behind clear skies and a beautiful snow-covered landscape for Christmas Day.

The official monthly forecast for December 2005, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for equal chances of normal temperatures and precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

November Weather Statistics

Average High 48.0° F
Average Low 21.5° F
Highest Temperature 71° F on the 8th
Lowest Temperature 4° F on the 29th
Monthly Precipitation 0.66"
Monthly Snowfall 11.0"
Season to Date Snow 35.1" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 7.86" (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)

Remember, weather affects all of us everyday and is a very important part of life for us in the Tri-Lakes region, and we want to hear from you. 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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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Making a List...

By The Covered Treasures Staff

Trying to think of the perfect gift for Aunt Jane? Looking for just the right item for your father-in-law? Or what about you? Has your family been asking for suggestions? We think a book is always the best gift ever—no size to worry about, it is easily tailored to special interests, and it keeps on giving, for many years, in some instances! Here is a short-list of some of our favorite suggestions for unique gift choices this year.

Small Graces
By Anne Sandall, $24.95

Anne and her daughter Diane have created a work of art with this collection of devotions, songs, and inspirational thoughts. Each selection is framed with one of Diane’s linocuts, which compliments the words beautifully. What a wonderful family gift to encourage quiet sharing at bedtime!

Christmas Eve: The Nativity Story in Engravings, Verse and Song, $19.95

The Christmas story has been told and illustrated hundreds of times so one may wonder if another version is needed. This book is magic to the hands and eyes. The engravings and text are smartly done—the story offset by songs and poems—and the rich cloth covering makes it a joy to hold and caress. It will be a treasured addition to the library of special Christmas books.

Riding High: Colorado Ranchers and 100 Years of the National Western Stock Show
By Thomas Noel, $35.00

The official 100th anniversary book of the National Western Stock Show, held annually in Denver, this will please the ranching history buff on your gift list. The history of the stock show, as well as the livestock industry, the origins of rodeo, and historic ranches of the West are recounted with great warmth by author Thomas "Doctor Colorado" Noel. The hefty volume is filled with photographs, interesting facts, legends, and perspectives that can’t be found elsewhere.

The Lumby Lines
By Gail Fraser, $12.95

Fans of Jan Karon will like this new series by Gail Fraser. The residents of this small, one-moose northwestern town welcome Pam and Mark Walker, newcomers to the town of Lumby, who set out to transform an old monastery into a country inn. The residents come out to help the progress of this renovation in some funny and touching moments. You will meet pigs that "fly," goats that invade a bank, and a dog that runs for mayor!

Christmas Cookies
By Kaye and Liv Hansen, $16.95

Who doesn’t love to add a new cookie recipe or two to the traditional treats made each holiday season? For the coffee lover on your list, try making a batch of chocolate espresso balls; for the nut lover, macadamia brittle cookies or pistachio gems. The hand-decorated, shaped cookies are pieces of art to be admired before biting into the tasty middles. This small hardcover is lavishly illustrated and is a great addition to your cookbook collection, or that of a friend.

Christmas Is Good
By Trixie Koontz, dog, $9.95

Trixie Koontz, author Dean Koontz’s dog, is at it again with this small book of holiday wisdom. The first chapter is entitled, "Things for dogs to do at Christmas" and advises, "Form a group to sing carols. People will yell shut up and throw things. Some things may be food." Cuddly photos of Trixie and whimsical illustrations of dogs enjoying the holidays are sure to please any dog lover. This is a gift with far-reaching impact, as proceeds from the sales will go to the Canine Companions for Independence program. Now isn’t there a dog lover on your list who would love this little gem?

A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children
Compiled by Caroline Kennedy, $19.95

"If our parents read to us as children, we remember the closeness of the moments together, the sound and power of voice and expression, the sense of wonder that a poem inspires." Caroline has chosen some wonderful poems for this book of poetry. Her chapters are divided by categories not often found in other compilations: "About Me," "That’s So Silly," "Adventure," and "Bedtime" are just a few of the chapter headings. Reading some of these familiar poems to yourself or, even better, aloud to a child reminds you once again of the wonder of the written word. The fun and colorful illustrations by Jon J. Muth add to the appeal of this wonderful collection.

Snowmen at Christmas
By Caralyn Buehner, $16.99

The illustrations in this Christmas story will delight young and old alike. A young boy falls asleep wondering if snowmen celebrate Christmas. Fade to the snowmen, as they come alive once darkness sets in and rendezvous at the town square, play games, and eat (what else?) ice-cold treats. As dawn approaches, the snowmen slowly find their way home, but seem just a bit warmer come morning. The rhyming text and animated faces of the snowmen make this book a winter treat.

River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey
By Candice Milard, $ 26.00

This dramatic novel will thrill anyone who loves nonfiction, the private lives of presidents, or adventure. After a failed attempt at a third presidential term, Teddy Roosevelt decided to travel with his son to South America for a bit of adventure. This chapter in the often-exciting life of our 26th president is well documented by Milard, who is also a writer for National Geographic. The political intrigue and their expedition on an uncharted river in the Amazon in 1914 are full of jungle discovery, a close brush with death, and murder. An absorbing read!

Colorado 1870-2000 II
By John Fielder, $45.00

Six years ago John Fielder produced his amazing book (and Colorado’s best-selling book ever), Colorado 1870-2000. The historical photos of William Henry Jackson served as the "then" photos, while Fielder’s photos showed the changes with the "now." Only 156 of the 300 photographic pairs made it into the first book. Years later, as he was looking over the remaining photos, he saw much beauty in them and decided to complete the project and create this new book. It holds 108 pairs never before reproduced together. Fielder’s hope is that these images "provoke you and renew your appreciation for the reasons why we are so fortunate to live in Colorado." He will be personally signing this beautiful book at Covered Treasures on Monday, Dec. 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. A great gift for the Colorado lover!

Stocking Stuffers

We’re always searching for the perfect stocking stuffer, that last-minute remembrance, or a host/hostess gift. Here are several worthy suggestions:

  • Journals—all sizes and prices

  • Mini-Footnotes—these holiday-decorated sandals fit perfectly in a little girl’s stocking

  • Knowledge cards—decks of cards to challenge the mind and inform; Dinosaurs, Wine, and Constellations are but a few subject titles

  • Bookmarks—humorous or pretty, they mark your place with personality

  • Reader Lights—several colors and styles for the late-night reader

  • Magnifiers—folding, lighted, small, large, line size…for the eyes (of many of us!) that could use a little help

May you enjoy the festivities and blessings of the holiday season. Hopefully, there will be time for "feet up" with a book. Until 2006, happy reading.

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High Country Highlights: Basic Tree Pruning

By Woody Woodworth

A tree may need pruning for a variety of reasons. Pruning aids in removing diseased or storm-damaged branches, thinning the crown to permit new growth and better air circulation, reducing the height of a tree, removing obstructing lower branches, and shaping a tree for design purposes.

The dormant season, late fall or winter, is the best time to prune, although dead branches can and should be removed at any time. Pruning during the dormant period minimizes sap loss and subsequent stress to the tree. It also minimizes the risk of fungus infection or insect infestation as fungi and insects are likely to be dormant at the same time as the tree. Finally, in the case of deciduous trees, pruning when the leaves are off will give you a better idea of how your pruning will affect the shape of the tree.

When deciding how much to prune a tree, as little as possible is often the best rule of thumb. All pruning stresses a tree and increase its vulnerability to disease and insects. Never prune more than 25 percent of the crown; make sure that living branches compose at least two-thirds of the height of the tree. Pruning more will risk fatally damaging your tree. In some cases, such as storm damage, height reduction to avoid crowding utility lines, or raising the crown to meet municipal bylaws, your pruning choices are made for you. But even in these instances, prune as little as you can get away with.

Large trees aside, there are many pruning jobs that you can do on your own. In all cases, the key is to prune the unwanted branch while protecting the stem or trunk wood of the tree. Tree branches grow from stems at nodes, and pruning always takes place on the branch side of a stem-branch node. Branches and stems are separated by a lip of tissue called a stem collar that grows out from the stem at the base of the branch. All pruning cuts should be made on the branch side of this stem collar. This protects the stem and the other branches that might be growing from it. It also allows the tree to heal better after the prune. To prevent tearing of the bark and stem wood, particularly in the case of larger branches, use the following procedure.

Make a small wedge-shaped cut on the underside of the branch just on the branch side of the stem collar. This will break the bark at that point and prevent a tear from running along the bark and stem tissue. Somewhat farther along the branch, starting at the top of the branch, cut all the way through the branch, leaving a stub end on the tree. Finally, make a third cut parallel to, and just on the branch side of the stem collar to shorten the stub as much as possible.

A similar procedure is used in pruning one of two branches (or one large branch and a stem) joined together in a U or V crotch. This is known as a drop crotch cut. Make the first notch cut on the underside of the branch you’re pruning, well up from the crotch. For the second cut, cut completely through the branch from inside the crotch, well up from the ridge of bark joining the two branches. Finally, to shorten the remaining stub, make the third cut just to one side of the branch bark ridge and roughly parallel to it.

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: American Kestrel

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of an American Kestrel.

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Bird watching has become big business for many communities. "More and more states are creating bird-watching trails," said Andy Thompson, publisher of Bird Watcher’s Digest, a national magazine. The growth of birding trails, combined with America’s love of the automobile, has helped build interest and the spread of birder tourism dollars.

Thompson said birders are often people age 50 or over who have disposable income. He added that the popularity of birding has increased partly because people are interested in spending time outdoors and because it is easy. It can be done anywhere, from backyards to trails to special bird sanctuaries. In 1993, about a dozen U.S. communities had birding festivals. Today there are more than 250 every year in communities across the country, and this trend continues to grow.

Often people share their bird sightings with me. Mardel Brown was recently thrilled to have seen a barn owl on a fence along County Line Road on her way to her shop in Palmer Lake. We ended up sharing bird stories for nearly an hour, which I found entertaining and energizing.

Fences and telephone lines are great places to look for birds, and I often look for the American kestrel (Falco sparverius) on them along Highway 105 between Palmer Lake and Perry Park. Once referred to as the sparrow hawk, the kestrel is actually a falcon. Falcons are compact, fast-flying raptors with long, pointed wings. Falcons do not soar as high or as long as hawks. The American kestrel is the most widespread and colorful falcon species in North America. It is active during the day and is about the size of a blue jay, 9 to 12 inches. It has a wingspan from 21 to 24 inches.

A cavity-nesting raptor, the American kestrel does not build nests. It relies on natural sites or those created by other birds such as woodpeckers. Its habitat includes open areas where it can easily observe and descend upon its prey. Ecologically it is important because its diet includes what we often consider as destructive pests, including rodents, small reptiles, and large insects. It prefers open country, but it will inhabit unforested mountainsides up to 1,300 feet. Unlike other falcons, it captures its prey on the ground, rather than in the air. A kestrel will perch on a fence or power line, or in a tree for long periods of time. It has excellent eyesight and can spot its prey from quite a distance. It flies to its prey at speeds up to 40 miles per hour, then hovers in the air directly over it until just the right moment when it drops down to grab it in its talons. It then returns to its perch to devour it.

The American kestrel is not a social bird but it is highly adaptable and lives just about everywhere as long as it can find ample food, open ground, and places to nest and perch. I was surprised to see a kestrel on a golf course in San Francisco. The size of its territory varies depending upon habitat quality, but it is reported to range from approximately 100 to 800 acres, with an average of one breeding pair per mile. Kestrels are monogamous but form separate territories during the winter.

Even though the kestrel remains fairly common, shrinking habitats, clearing of dead trees, the use of pesticides, and invasions of European starlings has reduced its numbers. Some communities have developed creative ways to circumvent this loss. In the 1990s, the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) permitted conservation groups to place kestrel boxes on the back of road signs along state and interstate highways. The signs are the proper height for nesting boxes, the roadsides provide ample open space for foraging, and IDOT does not spray pesticides in these areas.

This program has been so successful that other states are adopting it. Hopefully, the birders in these states are not like my grandfather who routinely drove off the road while observing birds!

There are many areas on the Palmer Divide that are suitable for kestrels. Subdivisions like Kings Deer provide open habitat for kestrels, and residents might enjoy their graceful antics. Readers who are interested in putting up a box can contact me for plans and specifications. I also know some young entrepreneurs who would be happy to make boxes to order and could install them.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer who lives in the Tri-Lakes area. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at OCN.

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Art Matters: The care and keeping of art

By Janet Sellers

We are always looking at art—all kinds of art and all levels of value. We see it when we look at kids’ creations tacked onto the refrigerator; when we visit a gallery or museum, no matter the size; when we buy it for ourselves or as gifts. It can be found anywhere—

these days, even Costco sells signed Picasso prints online.

Genuine human expression is fascinating, and our art experiences can be very personal and meaningful. As Americans, we tend to want to own what we like or at least be close to it.

However, in terms of preserving this art and its value, there may be more involved with our choices than meets the eye, especially when we are not fully aware of the art we have in front of us. Our personal enjoyment is not the whole picture.

Case in point: I was talking with an acquaintance some time ago about art and art collecting. His father is a world-class artist, with works in major world museums and collections and who commands impressive prices in the five- and six-figures. Surprisingly, he said he didn’t want to house the artworks he will inherit someday. He said they were too valuable, and he didn’t want the tremendous responsibility for such treasures. He found the onus of personal ownership of such magnitude daunting.

I had not thought about that before, so I began to research ownership issues regarding art. Art is an asset that requires management and is not simply a vanity purchase. Just as any asset requires proper care, so does fine art.

When I studied at the Getty Museum, learning to restore art and antiquities (actually I was just cleaning the dirt off 3,000-year-old temple trash from Crete), the caveat for each piece was "do no harm." The works were being examined for damage done from well-intended restorations of earlier centuries. Our work was to undo as much of those good intentions as possible. The intent was to maintain the integrity and patina of the ages as part of the life spirit of the artworks, on top of conserving the original integrity of the art.

Paintings in particular may be the most vulnerable works of art to maintain for an owner, yet they can be the most valuable as well. These days, it is relatively inexpensive to have a professional conservator execute a proper cleaning ($300 or less), and a treatment report may be free.

Blake Vonder Haar, director and conservator with the New Orleans Conservation Guild, reports that art needs to be maintained at least once each generation. She says that even if it is not obviously dirty, it should be examined for its condition and worth—be it $10 or $10,000—which will affect how the painting is displayed, cared for, and insured.

Inspection by a professional also provides a reference point for future "tune-ups" if the piece is deemed valuable enough. Careful records of condition and ownership history, including where it was kept, will be helpful in charting the health, future, and value of the artwork. Famous owners help a work fetch a more handsome price.

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works provides sound, ethical advice and services regarding art conservation. Its Web site (http://aic.stanford.edu/ ) can refer reliable conservators in one’s local area. Typically, local museums can do the same, and many artists and galleries are well versed in the care and keeping of paintings.

In my background of working at museums and galleries and curating shows, I know that sharing this vital information is critical, especially for those new to art sales and purchases. I can’t say every art lover knows this aspect of the field, but I can say that an art restorer’s job is easier when the artist has had a good education about compatible materials and techniques for archival quality work.

Amateur folk art and what is known as outsider art are revered for their inspirational qualities, but rarely for the quality of the materials or craftsmanship in their making. These works often require very special handling. Outsider art is so named because the artists are not trained in art and art materials. Some of the materials used in this genre may be extremely self-destructive when it comes to color loss and acidity in the substrate—to the point of disintegrating altogether.

Additionally, knowing about archivally safe art materials and framing materials can mean the difference between a decade of life for the art and centuries—and whether the art can travel safely around the world or not be shared publicly at all.

Choosing to live with art of quality is not limited to grand-scale works. The Tri-Lakes area is fortunate to have many fine artists and very good art within our reach. Local and regional artists have been exhibiting their work, and thousands of the rest of us have been enjoying this art found in our community’s exhibitions, galleries, and merchants, as well as at a growing number of venues, both usual and unusual.

Local art events in December

Art Hop, Thursday, Dec. 15, 5-7 p.m. Historic Monument area galleries and merchants. Free.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Highway 105, Palmer Lake: The Gift Gallery is open Wed.-Sat., noon-4 p.m. "The Great West Show": many art pieces representing western heritage; through Jan. 30, 2006. Free.

Artist/Classes/Student News

Monument School of Fine Arts: Holiday Gift Card and Winter Break Art/Movie Camps: ArtCamps on Wed., Thurs., Fri. mornings, 10 a.m.-noon; Movie Camps: Wed., Thurs., Fri. afternoons 1-4 p.m. Regular weekly studio appointments/classes Tues., Wed., and Thurs. 4-8 p.m. To join or sign up, contact the programs office: 488-8280 or visit www.StartMyArt.com.

2-Watts Pottery: Potter wheels to rent (classes available). Price includes wheel time, clay, and first firing. DIVA Night, the second Friday of each month, 7-10 p.m. Women from 12 to 100 years old are invited. Reservations are recommended, but not required. Call 488-0889. Participants are encouraged to bring their own refreshments. Groups are welcome.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts: 481-0475; www.trilakesarts.org 

Fine art scholarships

Art School Scholarship – what most people call "fine arts": painting, sculpture, drawing, graphic design, etc. A majority of scholarships out there are offered only to students attending four-year colleges, and a lot of art schools are not four-year programs. This is for fine art students only: http://www.straightforwardmedia.com.

The Film & Fiction Scholarship: for college MFA students. For more information, visit www.TheIHS.org/film&fiction 

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, November 17: A Brass Band - Vintage Film Evening

Photos by Rogers Davis

Below: The Low Brass Ensemble of the Castle Rock Band entertains the Palmer Lake Historical Society Nov. 17.

Click here or on the photos to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

Below: Virgil Watkins presented a vintage film of Yule Log celebrations from 1934, 1935, and 1945.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Dee Kirby

The Low Brass Ensemble of the Castle Rock Band, regaled in white shirts, red suspenders, and white straw hats adorned with red and blue ribbon, played to a small but very appreciative audience at the Palmer Lake Historical Society (PLHS) meeting on Nov. 17.

Musicians in the four-man ensemble described features of their instruments. In the concert that followed, they played everything from rag to jazz to Beethoven to Irving Berlin.

Nostalgia filled the room, especially when Virgil Watkins presented a 12-minute vintage film of past Yule Log celebrations shot by Brian Medlock in 1934, ‘35, and ‘45. Harry Krueger provided the antique projector.

Participants in the film, attired in capes, trudged through snow in search of the Yule log. The finder of the log got a bumpy ride, along with friends who climbed aboard. The log was sawed in two. One half of the log was set aside to kindle next year’s log. The other half went into the fire, kindled by last year’s log. Wassail was poured, a toast was made, and the spirit of Christmas was shared by all.

Then and now, the Yule Log Celebration brings "peace and goodwill" to the community of Palmer Lake and its Pikes Peak neighbors. This year, the Yule Celebration will be held on Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. at the Town Hall. Everyone is invited to attend and be part of this time-honored tradition.

Also, PLHS presented Hans Post Uiterweer with a plaque to commemorate his contributions to the society and to the Tri-Lakes community.

The evening concluded with the ensemble’s final piece, "White Christmas," to which everyone sang along. Bing Crosby would have been proud.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.

Monument’s Small Town Christmas

Get into the holiday spirit Dec. 3 in historic downtown Monument, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Activities throughout the day include crafts for kids starting at 10 a.m. in the Town Hall, a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at 10 a.m. in the Chapala Building on Second Street, a historical walking tour departing Limbaugh Park at 1 p.m., hayrides 11 a.m.-1 p.m. leaving from High Country Store–which will also have cupcake decorating, carolers and entertainment throughout the day, and other family activities. Galleries and shops will be offering holiday treats and special sales. There will be a potato bake in Town Hall, 3-5 p.m., with proceeds going to the Red Cross Hurricane Fund. Bring a donation of boxed piecrust or canned pie filling for Tri-Lakes Cares to any Gallery Center Shop for a 10 percent discount on your purchase. For information call 488-8306.

Classical piano concert

The Rocky Mountain Music Alliance will present a two-piano concert with Dr. Michael Baron and Renato Premezzi on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road. The concert will feature sounds from Tchaikovsky’s "Nutcracker Suite," mixed with Rachmaninoff, Poulenc, and more.

The Rocky Mountain Music Alliance was formed two and a half years ago to promote fine classical music in the Tri-Lakes region. Other concerts in the series will be held Jan. 21, March 5, and April 8. Season tickets (four concerts) are $60 for adults and $50 for students. Individual tickets, if available, will be $22 and $18 at the door. For more information or to order tickets, call 487-1211.

Riders in the Sky Concert

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and Classic Companies present Grammy-winning Western music group Riders In The Sky Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Lewis-Palmer High School auditorium. The four performers infuse humor with music to entertain music lovers of all ages. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to enjoy an afternoon of legendary fun! Visit www.trilakesarts.org for further information. Tickets are available at www.ticketswest.com or by calling (800) 464-2626.

Yule Log Potluck 

Bring a dish to share and come enjoy the festivities Dec. 6, 5 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall. For information, call the town office at 481-2953.

Local musicians in concert at TLCA

Singer/songwriter trio Wood, Adams and Young are on stage Dec. 10 at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts with a flare of bluegrass and acoustic originals featuring guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and vocals. Woody Woodworth, Jody Adams, and Hal Young will thrill you with their many decades of experience and showmanship. Doors open at 7 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. show; refreshments provided and alcohol available for purchase. Tickets are $10 for TLCA members and in advance, $12 for nonmembers at the door and $5 for children under 12. Tickets are available at TLCA, 481-0475; High Country Home & Garden, 481-3477; and The Speedtrap, 488-2007. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For information, call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.org.

Yule Log Hunt

This popular event takes place Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall. Hunt participants should arrive between 11 a.m. and noon. The winner will ride the Yule Log back to town and get the first cup of wassail. Those not participating in the hunt can stay indoors and enjoy a holiday program and other fun activities.

Handbell Concert

All are invited to the annual Tri-Lakes Community Christmas Handbell Concert Dec. 10, 7 p.m., at Monument Community Presbyterian Church, 238 Third St. The free concert will feature multiple handbell choirs, chimes, the Monument Hill Brass Quintet, organ and piano, and a sing-along. For more information, phone Betty Jenik at 488-3853.

Holiday concert to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares

The Tri-Lakes Music Association is performing their annual Christmas concert at Lewis-Palmer High School on Dec. 16 and 17 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. The proceeds from this event will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares, a nonprofit organization that provides food and financial assistance for needy families.

The Tri-Lakes Music Association’s orchestra and choir will perform Phil Barfoot’s "Spirit of Christmas." The Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir and the Tri-Lakes Music Association Children’s Choir will also entertain. Admission is free, and a free-will offering for Tri-Lakes Cares will be collected during the concert. For more information, contact Bob Manning at 481-3883 or rwmanning@adelphia.net, or visit www.trilakesmusic.org.

Below: A sign of the times: Wal-Mart is scheduled to open in the Monument Marketplace in 2006. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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County seeks volunteers

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on various boards and committees.

  • Two associate members are needed for the Board of Adjustment. The board hears and decides on issues of physical variances related to the county zoning code.

  • A citizen-at-large is needed for the Community Corrections Board. Board members advise the commissioners on community-based and community-oriented programs that provide supervision of offenders being diverted from prison and those transitioning back into the community after prison.

  • A representative from County Commission District 1 is needed for the Park Advisory Board. District 1 primarily encompasses El Paso County south of Douglas County, west of Teller County, east of Vollmer Road, and north of the Air Force Academy. It includes the areas of Monument, Black Forest, and Palmer Lake. Board members review and comment on items and proposals related to park department policies, philosophies, and objectives and make formal recommendations to the county commissioners.

  • A representative from the land developer sector is needed for a vacant position on the Park Fee Advisory Board. Members meet September through December to establish a fair and equitable park fee schedule.

  • The Placement Alternatives Commission, under the Department of Human Services, has openings for representatives in the following areas: public health (must be a current employee of the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment), probation (must be a current employee of the Juvenile Probation Department), Community Center Board (must be a current employee of the local Community Center Board - Resource Exchange), a health care professional (must be a physician or licensed health care professional), a consumer (must have utilized the services of the Department of Human Services in the past), and a private citizen. The commission reviews the effectiveness of programs within its jurisdiction and evaluates requests to establish new residential children’s programs in the county.

Interested persons may submit an El Paso County volunteer application and/or a letter of interest along with a brief resumé including address and a daytime telephone number to: Board of County Commissioners, Attn: Fran St. Germain, Executive Assistant to County Administration, 27 E. Vermijo Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903-2208; fax to: 520-6397; e-mail: webmaster@elpasoco.com. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com by clicking on the "Volunteer Opps" link. For further information, call 520-6436. Deadline for applications is Dec. 16.

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