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Below: A scene from the Monument Parade, July 4, 2005. Photo by Jim Kendrick
Below: Palmer Lake fireworks July 4, 2004. Photo by Kim Makower
Below: A scene from the Monument Parade, July 4, 2005. Photo by Kelly McGuire
Below: A scene from the Monument Street Fair, July 4, 2005. Photo by Kelly McGuire
Photos by John Heiser
Below: CDOT Transportation Commissioner Terry Schooler, who represents El Paso, Park, and Fremont counties, highlights some of the difficulties in obtaining state funding for the Baptist Road/I-25 Interchange.
By John Heiser
On June 19, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) held a special meeting as a town forum at Creekside Middle School to discuss plans to finance improvements to the state-owned Baptist Road/I-25 interchange. More than 100 people attended the meeting.
Monument Mayor Byron Glenn introduced himself, the members of the Monument Board of Trustees, El Paso County Commissioner for District 1 Wayne Williams, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner for District 9 Terry Schooler, and state Sen. Tom Weins.
Glenn mentioned that at its May 6 retreat, the BOT established the following top budget priorities for the next 18 months:
He later added that there is also interest in an I-25 overpass for pedestrian traffic to provide interconnection of the trails in the area.
Since the town is processing three large annexations (Home Place Ranch, Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Pointe), the need for improvements to the Baptist Road/I-25 interchange is becoming even more critical.
Glenn noted that the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) sets priorities for transportation projects in the region. CDOT uses the PPACG priority list in determining which projects will receive state funding. At present, the Baptist interchange is not on the list of highest- priority projects—those that should be funded within the next five years. Glenn said he is working with the PPACG to raise the priority of the interchange.
He said the purpose of the meeting was to find out whether residents within the boundaries of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) would vote for a sales tax increase to pay for improvements to the interchange. The revenue from the sales tax increase, which would be collected only by businesses within BRRTA, would go toward repaying bonds that would be issued to finance the interchange improvements.
BRRTA includes all of Jackson Creek and other, much of it undeveloped, property east and west of I-25 along Baptist Road.
Glenn said the estimated cost of the interchange improvements is $15 million. He added that donation of land for right-of-way has reduced the cost of the project by about $2 million. He noted that CDOT has completed the design and environmental assessment of the project.
He added that an agreement might be reached with CDOT to refund the bond principal when CDOT has the money in five to 10 years. The plan is to use that money to fund other improvements within BRRTA.
Glenn explained that other avenues for securing funds for the interchange improvements have been exhausted. He said if this initiative moves forward and is approved by voters, construction could begin in 2007. If not, the project would probably not receive funding until at least 2012. He later added that the project would take about 18 months to complete.
Glenn stated that he and the trustees want to do what the residents want.
Cathy Green, Monument town manager, presented a series of slides detailing some of the key problems with the Baptist Road /I-25 interchange, with photos showing traffic congestion and deteriorating roads.
Williams, who also currently chairs BRRTA and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA), addressed the question, "Isn’t someone else going to do it?" He noted that despite the additional funds approved by ballot initiative C, there are no state funds currently available for this project. He noted that the PPRTA is providing funds for the $10.7 million, 18-month project to improve Baptist Road but the interchange is a state responsibility. He added, "Monument is one of the few places that don’t have to pay the 1 percent PPRTA sales tax." Attempts to persuade local businesses to charge a voluntary public improvement fee failed when Wal-Mart refused to participate.
Williams said that, as presently planned, the ballot issue would not be put to the voters until a signed agreement is in place between BRRTA and CDOT for the eventual repayment of the project costs by CDOT. He added that the ballot issue would include specific language defining the purpose, amount, and duration of the sales tax and the anticipated uses for the funds when reimbursed by CDOT.
CDOT Transportation Commissioner Terry Schooler, who, as one of 11 members of the commission, represents El Paso, Park, and Fremont counties, discussed the state’s position and how similar projects such as the $8 million interchange at Platte and Powers in Colorado Springs have been successfully completed and repaid by the state. Schooler said, "There is tremendous growth throughout the state. Transportation funding is falling farther and farther behind." He noted that most of the funding comes from the 22-cent per gallon gas tax. He concluded, "We have to wait our turn."
Michael Lund, assistant vice president for public finance from Piper Jaffray, financial advisors for the bond issue, discussed the prospects for financing based on sales tax revenues. In March 2006, a study was completed by King & Associates, Inc. of the likely sales tax revenue based on projected retail sales at existing and planned stores within BRRTA as proposed by current landowners. Lund used that study in making his projections.
Lund determined that to have marketable bonds, there must be a reasonable expectation that the sales tax revenue will be sufficient to retire the debt within 20 years. He assumed the cost of issuance would be 3.5 percent of the principal, the interest for the first 18 months would be paid from the bond proceeds while additional retail sites are being constructed, and that a reserve fund equal to one year’s debt service would be created. He later said the interest rate on the doubly tax-exempt bonds was estimated at 7 percent.
With those assumptions, Lund determined that with a 1 percent sales tax, the $19.65 million in bonds needed to yield $15 million for construction of the interchange improvements could be paid off in about 9 years. With a 0.6 percent sales tax, the same bonds could be paid off in about 14 years.
The majority of the meeting was spent as a question and answer session between the public and the elected officials. Suggestions included traffic light synchronization at the current interchange, possibly constructing a temporary 4-5 foot widening of the off-ramp, and the modifications to the design of the interchange.
Commissioner Williams responded to the comment on the design of the interchange saying that CDOT went through a lengthy process to come up with the present design, that it was environmentally approved, and even though it may not necessarily be the best design to move traffic, it is designed to meet the traffic requirements through 2025. (Descriptions and drawings of the final conceptual designs for the Baptist Road interchange and the Northgate interchange are posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v3n1.htm#interchanges)
In response to a suggestion that the town invoke a moratorium on approval of new projects in the area until the interchange is improved, Glenn said that would raise legal issues. He added that he moved to Jackson Creek in 1999 and that Baptist Road was bad then.
Glenn said that in hindsight the town should have imposed a public improvement fee at the Monument Marketplace before that project was approved. He added, "We’re learning."
In answering skepticism that CDOT would repay the bond principal, Williams cited other projects where they have repaid the costs. He said it is a cost savings to CDOT to have the project completed earlier rather than later since construction costs are increasing. He added that if CDOT failed to fulfill its obligations under the agreement, "no one would ever make an agreement with them again."
In response to concerns about what would happen if sales tax revenue failed to meet projections, Williams said that these bonds would be revenue bonds, not general obligation bonds, so the bondholders not BRRTA taxpayers assume that risk.
In an informal show of hands, it appeared a majority was in favor of the ballot measure as described during the meeting.
By Jim Kendrick
The Monument Board of Trustees extended the six-month intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to provide certified water and sewer operators to the Triview Metropolitan District meeting through the end of 2006 and intends to renew the agreement for all of 2007. The fee for the rest of the year remains unchanged at $15,000 per month. The board also approved 10 plats, an IGA to buy excess sewer effluent from Donala Water and Sanitation District to refill Monument Lake, and Sertoma’s parade permit for July 4.
Water study progress reported
The transit loss model measures and records the amount of non-native Fountain Creek watershed stream flows owned by several municipalities and water districts. The amount of this water added to native stream flows, by external sources such as wastewater treatment facility effluent, can be exchanged or reused. The model measures how much of the added water is lost.
Monument water representative Betty Konarski told the board that the cost of participation in the development, administration, and operation of a transit loss model will soon go up and the trustees needed to include those costs in the 2007 budget. Until now, most costs for the new, more accurate model have been for developing and validating the way the model measures and accounts for losses into the ground and through evaporation of surface water flowing in the Arkansas River basin. The higher costs for the startup of daily measurements of flow gauges operated by the U.S. Geological Survey will increase the amount that participating members of the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) must budget and pay for as the initial grant money for start-up is exhausted.
Colorado Springs Utilities will ask other entities, including the town of Monument, to start to pay their proportionate share of operating costs. The city utility and USGS have paid half of all the development costs not covered by grants until now. Monument’s share of the $600,000 cost to date, through EPCWA, has only been $10,000.
Gary Barber, director of the Water Authority and the Palmer Divide Water Group, gave a very detailed technical report on the transit loss model. Some of the major points of his presentation were:
When the model goes online in 2007, it will be the primary tool the State Engineer uses to administer water rights. Currently, the town uses augmentation plans and exchanges to support its water supply system. The model has been specifically crafted to enable future strategies to garner greater efficiency from existing supplies. The model, and support for the administrative costs, is the key to unlocking the full potential of our scarce water resources, Barber said.
Barber also noted that Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth will be a member of the policy working group of the Water Authority to ensure that the town gets full credit for the water it contributes to the stream, making it easier to provide water from alternate sources This will require a number of intergovernmental and cost sharing agreements.
The model to date shows that losses are only about 7 percent instead of the original model’s assumption of 10 percent losses, a substantial difference with total flows ranging from 25,000 to 40,000 acre-feet per year. The direct benefit for the town in the short run will be the ability to return more reuse water for storage in Monument Lake.
Villani Industrial Park preliminary/final plat conditionally approved
This 8.2-acre industrial property at 730 Synthes Avenue is currently zoned Planned Industrial Development (PID) It lies between the railroad track to the east, Ashton Industrial Park to the south, Synthes Avenue to the west, and the southeast corner of the Monument Rock office park parcel to the north.
Owner Villani Partnership, LLC requested that it be subdivided into seven lots ranging from 1.09 to 1.4 acres. An existing east-west 60-foot right-of-way in the middle of the parcel was originally planned for a street to connect Mitchell Avenue to Old Denver Highway. The applicant has requested that this right-of-way be vacated because there will never be a bridge constructed over the railroad tracks at this location and houses have been built in the right-of-way on the east side of the tracks.
Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that the town’s platted street right-of-way assumed that a bridge would be built over the railroad tracks. He said that the railroad would not authorize a new crossing anywhere between Second Street and Baptist Road He also said that town staff did not want open space in this parcel, preferring instead a cash assessment based on the appraised value of the parcel; this money can be used by the town for improving existing park facilities.
Kassawara had originally proposed a condition of approval to the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees that the applicant must provide an analysis of water availability vs. demand prior to the Board of Trustees meeting This condition also applied to the other plats that were to be discussed as subsequent agenda items, and had been approved by the Planning Commission on May 12. He reported that since the staff packages for the trustees had been prepared he had come up with an alternative – "a pressure test in the vicinity of all new developments to assure that adequate water supply and pressure is available to a proposed site." He added that the town will also continue to require the submittal of a "will serve" letter from each water purveyor. His original proposed condition was dropped from all the proposals throughout the meeting.
There was a lengthy and surprisingly contentious discussion between trustees and staff before the board approved the Villani preliminary/final plat with a new condition. The proposal had not been controversial before unanimous approval by the Planning Commission.
Mayor Byron Glenn asked if a drainage plan and traffic study for the vacant lot had been prepared. A surprised Kassawara said, "No," that they are submitted with the site plan. He noted that the town code also inappropriately asked for building elevations to be submitted with the plat. Glenn said a note should be added to the plat that no planned development design guidelines had been approved by the town, to warn potential buyers that no standards had been agreed upon. Kassawara alternatively suggested that each parcel must adhere to a common set of guidelines even though no master plan has yet been developed. Glenn agreed with the suggestion and asked that Kassawara develop a set of guidelines.
Glenn also expressed concern that the initial Villani lot purchasers might not be required to pay for road impacts while those buying the last few might have to pay for some additional traffic improvements the others avoided. Kassawara said the increase in the amount of traffic from this industrial area on Mitchell Avenue and Second Street would be slight, and there were no plans yet for an internal roadway.
Trustee Gail Drumm made several requests. Drumm asked that a sidewalk be required as a condition, and Kassawara said that it was a code requirement. Drumm pointed out that the Monument Rock development, owned by Konarski, had not been required to build a sidewalk to comply with the code. Kassawara said that now that he is aware of that requirement, Konarski will be required to install her Monument Rock sidewalk retroactively when she seeks approval of the next filing of that development.
Drumm asked that all the trees that were moved be replanted in the Monument Sewer District easement at the rear of each of the proposed new lots to act as a screen for the Santa Fe Trails development to the east. Drumm lives in Santa Fe Trails. Kassawara pointed out that trees are never planted in a sewer easement and those already in the sewer easement will have to be moved elsewhere.
Drumm then asked that the Monument Sanitation District’s sewer easement be moved to the front of the seven lots. The Villani consultant engineer pointed out that they would not drain by gravity in that location to the existing manhole at the southeast corner of the parcel. Glenn concurred. Drumm persisted, saying that the two heavily treed lots could not be developed because all the existing trees could not be transplanted within these two lots.
During public comment, Planning Commissioner Lowell Morgan asked if the existing dirt road right-of-way could become a trail for pedestrians and cyclists.
Monument business owner Brian Brooks pointed out that the two-for-one tree substitution rule was impossible to apply to the densely treed proposed lot 2 and that no building could be built with the current code restriction. Glenn said, "The code’s the code" and that this was the owner’s and buyer’s problem. There was considerable further discussion about how trees are affected by architectural and landscaping standards and how the code on these issues could be applied without a master plan or site plan.
Kassawara said that a plat only defines the boundaries of the lots, easements, and circulation by planned roads, and all these issues are not actually addressed in the code. The town staff should be allowed to use its own judgment since there is no legal definition distinguishing a mature tree from a sapling. He added that scrub oak is not a tree that is protected by codes because it is invasive vegetation. Kassawara also said that the trees could be transplanted to the sparsely treed lots at the south end of the parcel or two new trees of equal caliper/diameter could be planted in place of those lost. He said he would require a more complete tree survey for the parcel to provide a better plan of analysis.
After the public hearing was closed, Drumm offered a motion to continue the plat application until a tree survey is completed Town Manager Cathy Green said that the delay might not harm the Villani development timeline because a master plan is typically required at the time of approval of a final rather than a preliminary plat. Final plats are typically approved at the same time as final PD site plans.
Villani land planner Pam Cherry of Land Development Consultants, Inc. asked Green if the town code actually requires a master plan for submission of a plat. Green said she did not know the code requirement for a PID plat Cherry and Kassawara said that drainage and erosion control plans, pavement and soil reports, the analysis of the town’s own water system, as well as submission of proposed building elevations usually require some knowledge of what is to be built on the lots. The owner has had no discussions with any potential purchasers and can’t until the subdivisions in the plat are approved. Cherry added that the right-of-way on the parcel was never recorded and that a master plan couldn’t be developed without knowledge of the purchasers’ intended uses.
Kassawara said that the appropriate time to look at all these submittals is when the first site plan is submitted because there is no development plan by a lot owner yet. Green said that the PID zoning ordinance is an obsolete hybrid zone no longer used. She also said that plats are not site plans. She added that the other document requirements for elevations and traffic and drainage studies in the town code for PID plats were inappropriate.
Cherry said that Villani cannot get a buyer until the land is subdivided and cannot develop the requested plans without revenue. Green and Kassawara said the master plan could be developed after the parcel was subdivided. Shupp suggested approval of the plat with a condition that it not be recorded until guidelines for the site, rather than a master plan, are submitted to the staff. Shupp said plat approval would create the lots, allowing Villani to sell them as requested by Cherry.
Trustee Tim Miller said the proposed plat should be rejected. Glenn said he did not like the attitude of Cherry. However, Cherry said she had only asked that the board follow its own town code. The board’s vote on Drumm’s motion to continue was 1-4 with only Drumm in favor.
Kassawara again asked what condition he was supposed to enforce before the plat was recorded. Glenn said he wanted a condition specifically stated on the plat to ensure that the lot buyer knows exactly what was being required by the town at the time of development including architectural guidelines and landscaping guidelines. Kassawara said, "That’s a master plan then. That’s not a set of guidelines." Glenn said it wasn’t a master plan. Kassawara said, "I’m trying to figure out how that fits into our code, what that is. Our code doesn’t have a procedure for getting design guidelines approved. Does it require a public hearing or not?" Shupp said the board could require a public hearing or allow the Planning Department to approve the guidelines.
A motion to approve the ordinance authorizing the Villani plat passed unanimously. The board required the Villani land owner to submit guidelines—rather than a master plan—regarding architecture, landscaping, tree relocation and replacement, etc., to be approved by staff prior to the town authorizing final recording of the plat with the county.
Nine other plats approved with no discussion
The board unanimously and retroactively approved the ordinances for the preliminary plat for Filing 1 of the Village Center @ Woodmoor and the final plat for Filings 1-6 of Monument Marketplace. While construction is nearing completion on all these plats, they were never formally approved by the board.
The board also unanimously approved a new final plat ordinance for filing 7 of the Monument Marketplace. Filing 7 is the location of a Village Inn restaurant in the northeast corner of the center.
Filing 8 is the location of Gene Jones’ new liquor store in the southeast corner of the center. Green noted that his liquor license was approved a year ago. This ordinance was approved (4-0-1) with Glenn abstaining.
Board sharply divided on liquor licenses
The board unanimously approved a temporary one-day special event liquor license for St. Peter parish for an all-day parish and community festival to be held at its north parking lot on Sept. 23 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The church committee will serve beer and wine in a "beer garden"area.
The board unanimously approved one-year renewals of liquor licenses for Cork-n-Bottle at 351 Highway 105 and the 7-Eleven at 283 Highway 105. Detective Mark Owens of the Monument Police Department attested that there had been no violations in the past 12 months at either store.
The board continued the renewal request of Eagle Wine & Spirits in the King Soopers center after there were some unresolved trustee questions regarding two instances of state sting operations leading to sales of alcohol to minors. In each case, the employee who sold alcohol to the state’s underage operative was fired. Employees now sign a contract every three months after a 90-minute one-on-one session with the owner that says they will be immediately fired if they sell alcohol to a minor. There were no violations noted by the town.
Trustee Miller advocated denying a license renewal. Green said, "You put them out of business." She noted that both employees had been trained and warned by the owner, yet sold alcohol to a minor anyway and were fired immediately. Shupp said, "We end up with a lawsuit." Miller advocated targeted stings by the town police because he said he did not know how many other sales might have been made. Shupp said, "I don’t think you necessarily want to target a particular establishment."
The board unanimously continued the hearing until a special meeting June 26 and to require Eagle Wine & Spirits owner Randy Obermeyer to attend the next hearing.
This hearing date will allow for full notice of a second hearing and also allow the state enough time to process the renewal paperwork if approved at that meeting without putting Obermeyer out of business.
The board unanimously approved three payments over $5,000 each:
The board also agreed to pay engineering consultant Nolte Associates $19,290 for a combined set of standards between the town and Triview Metropolitan district roadway design and construction. Kassawara said the town and the district have been merging their infrastructure and development standards for 10 months. The more stringent standards of the two have been adopted by both entities in all cases. Triview’s consultants will have performed all the consolidation work at completion of the project. Kassawara said the first set of standards prepared by Nolte were paid for by Triview and cost $32,000. Kassawara said the unbudgeted $19,290 town payment came from the Development Services Department’s surplus rolled over from 2005.
Future joint standards yet to be developed include stormwater and drainage master plans. The town of Monument has neither. The cost should be less than the other standards that have already been paid for.
Town Attorney Shupp reported that after the District Court had dismissed the Transmit Mix concrete batch plant lawsuit against the town, a settlement was being negotiated between the plaintiff’s and town’s attorneys wherein the plaintiff would not seek any appeals of their lost decision if the town did not attempt to recover the legal fees it is entitled to after successfully defending itself against the Transit Mix suit.
Green said the staff would have a new lighting ordinance for the board to consider by the end of July.
She suggested that the town support the proposed sale of Adelphia’s cable TV assets in Monument to Comcast.
The board went into executive session at 8:45 p.m.
Afterward, the board approved a proposal to offer a four-year waiver on half the firm’s sales tax as well as a complete waiver of all the town’s construction tax of 2 percent on new building materials as an incentive to Empirical Testing Corp., a medical equipment testing company, to open a new location in Monument.
By John Heiser
The Monument Planning Commission approved preliminary plats for filings 2 and 3 of the Village Center at Woodmoor. The commissioners also approved the town’s proposed request that the county discontinue processing the Hillsong project and refer the applicants to the town for annexation and development.
Commissioners John Kortgardner, Ed Delaney, Patricia Mettler, and Kathy Spence were present. DeLaney presided.
Village Center @ Woodmoor
Background: The Village Center @ Woodmoor occupies a 140-acre parcel, formerly the agricultural Wahlborg Addition along the south side of Highway 105 east of Knollwood Drive. The parcel was rezoned from rural to planned development when it was annexed by Monument in 2004.
The Village Center plan, as presented in 2004, is posted on the OCN Web site (at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v4n4village.htm ). The project consists of four filings. Filings 1 through 3 are planned for residences. Filing 4 is a planned 44-acre, 12-lot commercial development on the northwest corner of the property.
Construction is under way on filing 1, a single-family housing development on the southwest portion of the property.
Preliminary plat for filing 2 approved: Filing 2 consists of 46 single-family lots on 30.55 acres with lot sizes ranging from 11,875 square feet to 41,997 square feet. There are approximately 3 acres of open space as part of this plat.
Dale Turner represented developer Colorado Commercial Builders. He noted that the plats comply with the approved master plan for the development.
Woodmoor resident Michael Reed asked about traffic flow.
Turner said there will be access across from the Church of Latter Day Saints on Highway 105. He said acceleration and deceleration lanes will be built. He added that a signal will be added at that intersection when the traffic flow warrants it.
Woodmoor resident Joe Subialka asked about the boundary between filing 2 and the houses to the south.
Turner replied that based on an agreement with the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA), the 20-foot trail easement originally proposed was removed. He added that the developer is not planning to install fencing along that boundary although the residents might install privacy fences.
Elizabeth Miller, a member of the WIA architectural control committee, said the committee wanted a buffer and a fence but not a trail.
The Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of the plat for filing 2 without conditions.
Preliminary plat for filing 3 approved: Filing 3 consists of 22.37 acres for a multi-family subdivision. There are approximately 4.5 acres of open space as part of this plat. The plat shows three lots and two tracts but few details. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that a site plan for this plat showing the details of the multi-family development will be brought to the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees later.
Kassawara added that the developer has reconfigured open space tract A on the northeast corner of the plat to be easier to develop. Tim Irish of Designed Properties, LLC, has proposed developing that tract for affordable housing for seniors. As part of that project, the town would donate the open space to the developer, Kassawara said.
Spence said, "How do we know it will stay affordable?"
Kassawara replied that the rents for the units would be governed by an agreement between Irish and the town.
Monument Principal Planner Karen Griffith added that the agreement would require that some of the units have rents below market rates.
Mettler asked about landscaping plans for the open space.
Turner replied that the landscaping would primarily be concentrated along the trails.
Referring to the incompleteness of the plans for the multi-family lots, Turner said the real reason for bringing these plats forward now is to provide roads for secondary access to the filing 1 residential development that is under construction in the southwest part of the project.
Reed expressed concern that the height of structures on the northeast corner of the development might obscure views from homes to the north of the project.
Turner noted that it is open space and is difficult to develop due to the terrain.
Kassawara added that building heights are limited to 35 feet.
Reed said, "That alleviates my concerns."
The Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of the plat for filing 3 without conditions.
Griffith said the town received a request from the El Paso County Development Services Department for comments on the proposed Hillsong Village preliminary plan and zone change.
The property consists of 24 acres east of Monument Hill Road and immediately south of the Colorado Heights Camping Resort. The parcel is currently zoned as planned office complex. The proposal is for 36 single-family lots and one multi-family tract.
Griffith said the parcel is within the town’s urban growth boundaries as adopted in the comprehensive plan and so is a candidate to be annexed into the town.
Griffith’s letter requested that the county discontinue processing the application and direct the applicants to apply to the town for annexation and development of the parcel. Some reasons for that position were:
Griffith also noted:
The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. June 12 at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held the second Wednesday of the month.
By Sue Wielgopolan
Classic Homes plans to propose annexation of the former Baptist Camp to Monument and build as many as 899 upscale homes on the 461 acres that compose the heavily wooded property. The site is located on Kingswood Road north of Kingswood Estates. Monument Town Manager Cathy Green said Classic has estimated homes in the area would sell for around $600,000 or more.
At the request of Kim Scherschligt, Monument staff hosted an informal meeting and invited representatives from several homeowners associations in neighboring subdivisions to review the builder’s planned development sketch plan proposal, answer questions, and take comments. Scherschligt is a member of the Northern El Paso County Planning Board (NEPCO), works as a planner for Douglas County, and owns a home in Fox Pines that abuts the Baptist Camp property.
Green, Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara, and principal planner Karen Griffith represented the town of Monument. NEPCO members Chris Makela of Gleneagle and Mike Stark of Fox Pines attended, as well as several other homeowners.
Scherschligt’s main concern was the proposed density of housing in the development. The site is currently in unincorporated El Paso County and zoned RR-3, which designates the area as rural residential and carries a recommendation for a density of one home per five acres. If annexed into Monument, the area will be zoned as planned development (PD). Green said the town’s code currently does not place a restriction on density per acre, though in the future staff would like to break the PD zoning into subsets designating maximum density per acre.
Although Classic representatives have stated in the narrative accompanying the plan that they intend to construct approximately 650 homes, the sketch plan shows a much greater maximum of 899 homes on the 461-acre parcel at completion. Scherschligt said she felt the density was too high for the parcel and would like to see the lower number spelled out on a sketch plan revision and continued on all subsequent plans.
Griffith replied that the town had asked Classic to clarify the maximum number of 650 homes by placing it on its drawings. Kassawara stated that in most cases, the number of planned homes decreases as the builder makes allowances for infrastructure and natural features, so the final number could fall even further.
According to the sketch plan, which shows the approximate locations of general features such as trails, roads and "bubbles" indicating residential groupings but not individual lot lines, the builder plans a maximum density of 3 1/2 homes per acre. Some areas will have larger lots, with projected densities of only one residence on three acres. Kassawara said density was less important than lot size, which could be minimally specified by the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) under a PD zone.
Scherschligt, who had viewed the plans prior to the meeting, asked about local and regional trails shown on the map. Classic had previously met with the residents owning properties adjoining an existing regional trail, which follows the boundary between Fox Pines and the former Baptist Camp, eventually connecting the Santa Fe Trail to Fox Run Park. All four homeowners with lots along the trail corridor objected to the location, contending that the proximity of the trail to their homes disturbs their privacy. One homeowner, who discovered after closing that his builder had violated the setback requirement, said his home is approximately 26 feet from the trail.
Town staff said the homeowners had other options to consider. The regional trail could be rerouted to a different location and the trail eliminated altogether, but the buffer zone between Fox Pine and Sanctuary Pointe would be smaller. Or the existing trail could be used as a minor trail corridor, which would maintain a larger buffer between the two subdivisions but reduce use Staff members indicated they would continue to work with the property owners to find an acceptable solution.
Scherschligt pointed out that only 20 percent of the total acreage was devoted to open space, noting that only the perimeter appeared to be wooded. She was concerned that the town intended to allow over-lot grading, a process that requires the removal of vegetation and use of an earth-mover to level the site.
Griffith replied that the town and Classic have different visions for Sanctuary Pointe. She said that the site was unique, and one of the last remaining wooded areas available. The developer had indicated a desire to preserve as many of the trees as possible and build around the land’s natural contours. Should the area be annexed, lot layout would have to meet the town’s approval.
Green said that although the Baptist Camp site had been targeted for eventual annexation by the town in its comprehensive long-range plan, the plan and suggested zoning are merely guidelines. The project will be evaluated on its own merits. The board will determine whether annexation of the parcel is advantageous for Monument.
Griffith told attendees that the presence of such a dense stand of trees in a residential area would present a critical safety issue for the town. Should the annexation be approved, the town would recommend the developer retain a forester to create a wildfire mitigation plan for the area, and require the builder to follow guidelines.
Other concessions requested by area residents, such as parks, open space, biking and walking trails, and wildlife corridors, would be topics of negotiations between the town and the developer.
If annexed, the Sanctuary Pointe subdivision would be included in the Triview Metro District, which would provide water and sewer service, manage stormwater and maintain roads and public spaces.
Green said the PD sketch proposal could be reviewed by the Monument Planning Commission as early as July. The BOT could consider annexation at its Aug. 21 meeting, but a September hearing is probably more likely.
Green, Griffith, and Kassawara thanked community members for attending and said comments and concerns expressed by the group were appreciated and would be considered during the town’s review.
By Jim Kendrick
The Palmer Lake Town Council approved three new business licenses at its workshop meeting June 1. The council also heard a proposal by local historian Jim Sawatzki for a television show about Palmer Lake’s historic Chautauqua summer sessions of the distant past. Trustee Trudy Finan was excused.
Liquor Licensing Authority approves O’Malley’s porch expansion
The board first met as the Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority to hear Jeff Hulsmann’s formal "modification of premises" request for Joseph O’Malley’s Steak Pub. He had given an overview of his request at the May regular council meeting. He is expanding the front and side porch to provide more outdoor room for smokers due to the state law prohibiting indoor smoking in restaurants as of July 1.
Hulsmann said the extra room on the deck is designed to keep smokers from affecting customers inside and at the door. There are no alterations to parking on the property.
Hulsmann’s request was approved unanimously, and the Licensing Authority session adjourned at 7:05 p.m.
Chautauqua television show endorsed
Sawatzki told the board he is working on a half-hour show for the Denver Public Broadcasting System (PBS) affiliate on the history of summer Chautauqua meetings that were held in the Glen area just south of Palmer Lake for about 30 years, until 1910. At that time, the Glen was separate from the town, having its own post office and train depot. Sawatzki said he produced a half-hour Rocky Mountain PBS show about Palmer Lake 10 years ago.
Sawatzki and the trustees had a lengthy, wide-ranging discussion about the content of the various Chautauqua meetings and the history of the cabins in the Glen that were built for those attending these sessions. Sawatzki asked the council for:
Sawatzki said he wants to re-create more dramatic scenes than regular PBS viewers may expect since there are not many surviving photos of Chautauqua sessions, the cabins in the Glen, and Palmer Lake scenes from that era. The council members all expressed enthusiasm and support for Sawatzki’s request and invited him back when he has more details and dates for his production schedule.
Three new business licenses become consent items
The council approved three new business license requests as consent items for the regular meeting on June 8. Applicants who satisfactorily answer all questions from the trustees and staff at the preceding workshop are not required to attend the regular council meeting for the formal vote on their licenses. The approved businesses are:
Sign ordinance revision committee formed
During the discussion of the Classic Catering license, Jones asked what kind of signs she could place on the roof of the building she will be leasing, noting that the town’s recent sign ordinance was difficult to understand and seemed to be very restrictive for businesses at the southeast end of the town.
Economic Development Trustee Susan Miner agreed and noted that the location of Jones’ business was technically in a "suburb" of downtown Palmer Lake and that the current sign ordinance applies only to downtown uses and their 30-mph-or-less speed limits. She said that the signs allowed are too small to be read at the higher speed limits along other portions of Highway 105.
Miner suggested that the council follow up on ordinance changes originally proposed in 2001 that would apply to businesses outside of the downtown area. She invited Jones to join a committee to study the sign ordinance revision issue and wait for resolution before coming back with a specific sign request. The council agreed to formation of a town sign committee that would meet on the third Thursday of the month. Jones’ sign request will have to be approved by the Planning Commission and Town Council.
Town water tap in Douglas County tentatively approved
Claire Brenneman asked to move one of the two town taps he had purchased in 1969 to a portion of his Pineview Road property that is actually in Douglas County. He noted that two neighbors had purchased town taps in the early 1970s that were installed in Douglas County at that time, outside the town limits. Town Clerk Della Gray confirmed those details of Brenneman’s statement.
There was a brief discussion about annexation of the properties across the Douglas County line. There was consensus that Brenneman’s tap request was "grandfathered" by his 37-year history of payments to the town and the two previous approvals. Because Brenneman’s request requires passage of a resolution, it could not be made a consent item for the June 8 regular meeting.
McDonald’s plan approved
The council unanimously approved a request by former Mayor Nikki McDonald to amend a Planned Unit Development to build a four unit, 8,000-square-foot multifamily residence on a property at 95 Greeley Blvd. Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich noted that no on-street parking would be allowed at the site. The contractor for the project is Palmer Lake Planning Commission Chairman John Cressman. The proposed amendment was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission on May 17. The formal public hearing on the amendment, which cannot be a consent item, was scheduled for June 8.
Hillside ordinance changes may still be slippery slope
There was a brief discussion about a proposed amendment to the town’s hillside ordinance that sharply limits construction on sites with an average slope of greater than 15 percent. There was agreement to the two main features of the amendment that state that no living space can be built on stilts, columns, piers, etc., and that deck space can be no more than 20 percent of livable interior space.
The purpose of these two new restrictions is to ensure that exposed space under a home or deck is limited because vegetation that stabilizes the soil and prevents erosion will not get enough sun to live after construction is complete. There was some discussion about how the 20 percent figure was derived and when waiver requests would be referred to the Board of Adjustments and/or the Planning Commission and the Town Council. There was consensus to have the town attorney look at the proposed wording of the change to the town code before the public hearing and vote scheduled for June 8.
Comprehensive plan update
Miner proposed that each of the council members review and prepare presentations on the parts of the town’s comprehensive plan that they are responsible for. The presentations are to be made in the next several months as a public education process for the council and town residents. She noted that the plan was written in 1983 and had been updated in 1999 and 2001. State law requires updates at least every 10 years.
McDonald noted that the update in 1999 was paid for by a grant from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. Miner asked that the town’s residents be invited again to participate in the review and presentation so the update becomes a more effective roadmap for future development.
The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Below: Palmer Lake Police Department Senior Officer Mike Brennan was appointed interim police chief at the regular town council meeting on June 8. Mayor Max Parker pinned on the chief’s badge for Brennan immediately after the council’s unanimous vote of approval. Photo by Jim Kendrick
By Jim Kendrick
Palmer Lake Police Department Senior Officer Mike Brennan was appointed interim police chief at the regular town council meeting June 8. Brennan will take charge until a permanent replacement for retiring Chief Dale Smith is appointed. Smith is retiring on June 30. Mayor Max Parker pinned on the chief’s badge for Brennan immediately after the council’s unanimous vote of approval.
Consent items approved
Payment of bills for May and the three new business licenses approved at the workshop on June 1 were all approved without discussion. The new licensees were Wooden Earth, Mark Kirkland Photography, and Classic Catering by Anne & Company (see the article on page 12 for more details.)
Town becomes major sponsor of PBS TV show
The board unanimously approved a donation of $1,000 to local historian Jim Sawatzki to become a "major sponsor" of his proposed half-hour PBS television production on the history of Palmer Lake summer Chautauqua sessions and the cabins built for attendees in the Glen. Sawatzki, a previous Emmy award nominee, said the show he is producing for PBS and the Learning Channel would also be released on a 90-minute video disc in late 2007. The disc will include this new show, his previous 30-minute PBS show on the history of Palmer Lake, plus an additional 30 minutes or so of other related historical material about area history. The town will receive 20 copies of the 90-minute disc as a major sponsor, and be listed on the front of the CD package. The $1,000 donation was composed of $500 offered by Parks and Recreation Trustee Trish Flake and Economic Development Trustee Susan Miner from their respective discretionary budgets.
Roads Trustee Richard Allen said that due to drought, heat, and strong winds, the Road Department’s dust-control efforts might be less effective this year. To date, 25,000 gallons of water and 7,800 pounds of magnesium chloride have been applied to the town’s dirt roads to help control blowing dust, but he emphasized that dust would remain a major problem for the rest of this year.
Allen also noted that the Roads Department is working hard to complete a number of projects prior to the July 4 weekend. About 250 tons of Class 6 road base were used to recrown Milton Street. Phase I of the parking lot project in Centennial Park should be completed by June 16. Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich said that in later phases, additional fill will be added to raise the grade of the new lot to the level of Highway 105. Landscaping, lighting, islands, and perhaps paving will be added as funds become available through grants or the town’s budget.
Fire Trustee Gary Coleman reported the success of the volunteers of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and the Fireworks Committee in making the town the focal point for rest and refreshments for the annual Elephant Rock bicycle race on June 4. The event attracts thousands of riders to the town each year.
Coleman also thanked the Bodhicitta Bakery, at 780 Highway 105, Suite B, in advance for sponsoring a pizza sale June 16, with half the gross revenue from evening pizza sales to be donated to the Volunteer Fire Department.
Allen reported for Police Trustee Trudy Finan, who was absent, that police calls for May were up to 131 from 123 in April, but down from 149 in May 2005. The biggest reported statistical declines from last year were in traffic and dog warnings, down from 61 to 13, and traffic citations, down from 29 to 19.
Parks and Recreation Trustee Trish Flake reported that the change in the town’s grant request to the Colorado Tennis Association had resulted in Community Development Committee chair Carolyn Peters asking the town to re-apply in October for a resurfacing grant for the town’s tennis courts. Palmer Lake Tennis Center manager Kim Makower had prepared the grant request in which he had offered to give tennis lessons at the resurfaced courts over the next several years, which was a condition of the grant award. However, he withdrew his offer after losing the April election for mayor to Parker.
Flake also reported that a place on the lawn in front of Town Hall had been selected for the statue of the German shepherd "Dizzy Dean," which was commissioned by the Lucretia Vaile Historical Museum to commemorate its 50th anniversary. "Dizzy" wore saddle bags that were used to transport construction materials in 1935 during volunteers’ construction of the town star. The star is illuminated at night for Memorial Day weekend and the Christmas season each year. The landmark can be seen for miles in many directions along the Front Range.
Water Trustee Jim Girlando reported that the town had consumed 7,627,000 gallons of treated water. The new south valley pipeline should be installed by the end of 2007. Resident Larry Meyer noted that the excavation had contributed to the blowing dust problem on the town’s predominantly dirt roads. Allen noted that this problem would last throughout this summer as construction continues, and the Road Department would do its best to help minimize the dust. Repaving will take place after installation is complete.
Girlando also reported that the Water Committee would start a series of meetings to evaluate the results of the recent rate increase and review how the revenue might best be allocated for future water system projects.
Miner gave a lengthy report on initial progress toward the goals of the town’s comprehensive plan. She reported the formation of a committee to perform demographic assessments on how best to solicit visitors for day trips and overnight stays. The members are Jeff Smith of Pinecrest, Al Fritts of the Inn at Palmer Divide, and Paula Johnson of Grayson’s Pineview Inn.
Miner is also working with Bill Roach of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Don Bennett of Big Fish Marketing to create a marketing study for the town by the end of the year. She said she hopes to increase recreational tourism and recruit appropriate supporting businesses.
Miner noted that a photographic competition called "Finding Palmer Lake" has been set up at the Tri-Lakes Center of the Arts, with categories for children, amateurs, and professionals. The photos are to focus on what Palmer Lake means to the photographers.
Citizen committee meetings on all aspects of the comprehensive plan review were to start on June 15. They will take place at Town Hall on the third Thursday of the month. Miner asked all residents to consider volunteering for the various groups that will create a new economic development plan for downtown and the commercial areas to the southeast along Highway 105. She said that the town will have little success in garnering state and federal grants for development without strong citizen participation.
Mayor Parker asked people to control their food and trash to minimize the chance for wildlife problems, particularly bear encounters. He also asked that people comply with prohibitions on fireworks and gun discharges within town to minimize the extremely high wildfire hazard during the holiday and the rest of the summer.
Awake the Lake spokesman Jeff Hulsmann suggested that the town maintain the level of Palmer Lake by digging an agricultural well in it. He said his discussions with the state water engineering department had led him to believe that this approach would present the fewest obstacles in terms of storage and water rights. Initially, he said, the untreated agricultural well water from one of the deeper aquifers would maintain the highest level achieved in summer 2005, when the lake was refilled with dechlorinated drinking water from the town’s now-depleted well. That particular water level supported the basic ecosystem of the lake and kept the temperature cool enough to sustain the stocked trout, though it is only about one-third full.
Hulsmann said the lake is back down to the level it was two summers ago, 2 feet at the deepest point, before it was partially filled with drinking water last summer. Hulsmann asked the town to provide the committee with any legal information it could from the town’s water attorney on well use and storage rights. Parker said that the town needs to move forward with a solution before people lose hope and stop buying Awake the Lake Committee memorial park pavers and T-shirts.
Town Clerk Della Gray reported that the town had proposed rerouting the planned drainage from the future Kemper subdivision on the south side of the Highway 105 opposite the "red barn." Instead of flowing north of the County Line Road intersection along Spruce Mountain Road, the drainage water would instead go under Highway 105, by the stone entrance sign south of the intersection with County Line Road and along drainages and detention ponds to be constructed in Centennial Park. Gray reported that the subdivision’s storm water would then drain into a new stub tap of the old water line under the railroad tracks that used to replenish Palmer Lake from the town’s surface reservoirs. This water used to flow into the lake through a drainage culvert under the tracks but was destroyed after flooding in that area several years ago.
As Fireworks Committee spokesman, Hulsmann asked the town to cover some, if not all, of any increase in costs for police protection for July 4. He said that the police and crowd control cost was $1,600 in 2005 and may double this year, according to a preliminary estimate interim Chief Brennan had prepared. Final police costs are not known until after each year’s event. In addition to paid police support from Palmer Lake and the Town of Monument, some 60 to 75 uniformed personnel from a variety of regional organizations will help with traffic and crowd control. Fire Rehab feeds these personnel and their families throughout the day, though a significant portion of their cost to the committee is usually offset by contributions to Fire Rehab volunteer cooks.
Attendance in Palmer Lake throughout the holiday period has risen sharply each year over the past few years, resulting in the need for more traffic and crowd control personnel. The fireworks committee’s total budget for 2006 is $17,000, of which $13,000 pays for the fireworks show.
The council unanimously approved Claire Brenneman’s request to move one of the two town water taps he has owned since 1969 and has used continuously for the past 36 years within his property, which straddles the El Paso and Douglas County line. The tap he has always used for irrigation will be moved from inside the town limits into Douglas County for a newly constructed residence. This tap will convey to the new owners of the house if it is ever sold.
After a lengthy question-and-answer period by the trustees, Town Attorney Jim Kin advised that the resolution approving the move of the tap into another county specifically state that this approval of the tap relocation into another county was "grandfathered" by two previous town approvals for town water taps on neighboring properties in Douglas County during the early 1970s.
The council unanimously approved Nikki McDonald’s request for an amendment to the Planned Unit Development plan for 95 Greeley Blvd., to build an 8,000-square foot, four-family-townhouse building.
During the public input portion of the agenda, the last agenda item, Kim Makower suggested having a public comment portion for items not on the agenda at the start of the council meeting as well as comments at the end. The meeting adjourned at 9:08 p.m.
By Sue Wielgopolan
Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has decided to move ahead with its plans to build a $400,000 lift station for the 49 homes Picolan is building off Doral Way. The site is near the southwest corner of the Donala district, and although it lies within Colorado Springs city limits and will therefore be served by CSU, it is isolated from other city subdivisions by the Smith Creek drainage.
Donala’s lift station near Northgate Road could easily service the area and has the excess capacity to do so. It was originally sized to serve residential and commercial development, but the commercial portion never materialized.
Donala had offered to contract with CSU to handle the small subdivision’s wastewater. Negotiations stalled over effluent.
The city will supply water to the homes. If Donala were to provide sanitary sewer service, the wastewater generated would pass through the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility, and Donala would receive credit for the effluent, which Donala General Manager Dana Duthie estimates would amount to about eight acre-feet per year. Duthie offered to credit CSU for the effluent and deduct the credit from the wastewater servicing contract.
CSU stated it cannot supply water, even indirectly, to northern communities.
Duthie seemed disappointed but not surprised by the utility’s decision to move forward with a separate station, which he said demonstrates CSU’s general unwillingness to cooperate with northern El Paso County communities, even when it could benefit both entities and save the city a significant amount of money.
Duthie asked the board’s approval to recommend disapproval of the site application at the Water Quality Committee of Pikes Peak Area Council of Government hearing. He said building a second lift station within 400 feet of Donala’s was an unnecessary duplication of effort. Board members agreed to support Duthie’s decision.
El Paso County Water Authority fails to ratify changes
Efforts by authority members to amend the establishing document for the El Paso County Water Authority to make it easier to obtain a quorum failed.
In 2005, the El Paso County Commissioners voted to require that all newly created water districts within the county join the Water Authority. Several smaller members, including Cascade Metro Districts A & B, do not attend on a regular basis, making it difficult to obtain a quorum for voting purposes.
A quorum, as defined in the establishing document, is a percentage of the total membership. Actively participating Water Authority members wanted to remove the quorum definition from the establishing document and place it in the by-laws, change the definition to a set number of individuals, and each year update the number of individuals required to form a quorum.
But to change the establishing document, 100 percent of the existing membership must ratify the new document.
Water Authority subcommittee formed to set up transit loss administration
Duthie said that a June 2 special meeting to set up administration for the transit loss model was well-attended. The Water Authority has agreed to act as administering agent.
The U.S. Geological Survey conducted the transit loss study under contract and will continue to be responsible for operation and maintenance of the computer model and the gauging stations. The model will allow participating agencies to track flows in Monument and Fountain creeks and accurately determine the amount of water lost en route to the Arkansas River. This is important in accounting to the state of Colorado for the surface water in those streams available for sale or trade.
The study is expected to be complete and the model implemented sometime in 2007. Participating agencies will be expected to split the estimated $180,000 per year the USGS will charge to keep the model up and running. One plan was to charge 20 percent of the yearly cost as a base fee and split that equally among all participants, with the remaining 80 percent to be split based on contribution to flow the previous year as measured in acre-feet.
The group also discussed how private parties wishing to participate in the model, such as the Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co., will be included. Any additional parties will be expected to reimburse the Authority for a portion of the study, as well as pay a share of annual model costs.
The committee will continue to work out the details.
Duthie told the board that Donala’s base share would run close to $1,800. The greatest value derived from the model is the ability to sell effluent credits downstream, but Donala has had only two buyers. The town of Monument purchased effluent credits to refill its lake. A farmers’ co-op purchases unused credits for about $10 per acre-foot. Duthie said the directors may need to re-evaluate whether participation in the model is presently worth the expense.
Palmer Divide Water Group gets update on economic study
Paul Rochette of the economic consulting firm Bamberger Group updated the Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) on the progress of an economic study it had commissioned. Several members of the Colorado Springs City Council have stated that explosive growth outside city limits in the northern part of El Paso County drains valuable tax dollars from Colorado Springs, and have used that rationale to justify refusing to cooperate in bringing surface water to Tri-Lakes communities.
The PDWG commissioned the study to quantify the contributions of northern El Paso County communities to the Colorado Springs economy.
Rochette said that the "no growth outside city limits" policy had its origins in the 1960s, when growth outside city boundaries was detrimental. He claimed that scenario is no longer accurate. His study shows, for example, that county residents traveling into the city add $4.8 million to the city’s cost, but generate $21 million in sales tax revenues.
The draft report should be complete before July. The PDWG hopes to present the report to the City Council soon.
PDWG gets Web site
Dick Brown, lobbyist for the PDWG, has established a Web site for the group. In addition to providing general information for the public, group members will have their own secure passwords to view confidential information. ( www.palmerdividewatergroup.com)
Manager briefs board on alternative water sources discussed at PDWG meeting
Duthie told board members that Xcel plans to build a dual-generation power plant south of Colorado Springs. The plant will need approximately 4,000 acre-feet of water per year, which could be supplied by wells in a satellite field in the Greenland Ranch area. The company may use Monument Creek to transport the water south. According to Duthie, there may be an opportunity for water districts to "use" the water by pulling from the creek and replacing it with effluent from local wastewater treatment plants.
Two eastern pipelines bringing water north from the lower Arkansas may also eventually provide surface water to the Tri-Lakes region.
A company called Pure Cycle hopes to win permission from Colorado water courts to bring water from the lower Arkansas Valley to supply the Rangeview Metropolitan District, which will serve a planned new development on the old Lowry bombing range. The conceptual pipeline route lies about 40 miles east of the Tri-Lakes area; local water providers could conceivably build a pipeline to move the water west.
However, northern El Paso County needs only about 10,000 acre-feet per year; a pipeline of that length would be cost-prohibitive for a relatively modest volume of water. In addition, water quality is poor; the water is so alkaline and silt-laden that it will have to be treated before it is transported.
The Lower Arkansas Conservancy District has put themselves in the water business and is looking for customers for a second pipeline originating in the Highline area, which is in the middle Arkansas Valley. The water quality is better, and the pipeline route would probably be located closer to the region. As yet the pipeline has no customers and cannot move forward.
Water-line break inside Holbein plant floods building
Duthie told board members that a 6-inch PVC pipe attached to Filter 1 in the Holbein plant burst and flooded the south pump room over the weekend. The system alerted employees when the pumps stopped working. When technicians arrived, the water was deep enough to be above the raw water pumps but below the clear pumps.
Employees drained the system and put fans on the pumps, which started up Monday morning. The district did not experience any loss in production.
Duthie told board members that the filter valve had been sticking and slamming shut, which may have created enough pressure to burst the pipe. He said that Donala could install a cast-iron pipe that would be less subject to ruptures, but the weight of the pipe would cause other problems.
Power supply found insufficient for treatment plant expansion
Engineering consulting firm GMS finalized the design for the equalization basin. Weaver General Construction poured the footers and is pouring the walls. The next step is to build the influent station, which has almost completed the design phase.
Engineers recently discovered that the current electrical service does not provide enough power capacity for the finished plant. A second service line will be needed, which will create a second set of electrical bills, increasing the total power cost by about 35 percent. Currently, engineers for the project are considering two options for bringing in an additional line; both have drawbacks.
Duthie stated that although the equalization basin is behind, the expansion project as a whole is still on schedule.
District wells: one down, one back up
Duthie reported that Well 2D was again operational. Technicians are still fine-tuning the computer system.
Well 2A’s production had dropped from 400 gallons per minute to 156 gallons per minute. The Arapaho well was scheduled for a redrill in 2008; Duthie said they may have to move the redrill up to this year.
Triview names new manager
Duthie announced that Triview Metro District manager Ron Simpson has given notice that he is leaving the district to pursue consulting work. Widefield manager and El Paso County Water Authority President Larry Bishop will replace Simpson as manager.
Director Dick Durham was absent and excused from the meeting. Due to an executive session presentation by water consultant Gary Barber that began at 1:30 and ended at 2:50 p.m., the regular public meeting did not begin until 2:55 p.m. The meeting adjourned at 3:50 p.m.
The next regular meeting of the Donala board will take place on July 19 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.
Below: Patricia Unger confers with her attorney Tim Bussey in court June 22 prior to entering a plea of guilty on the charge of embezzling funds from the Forest View Acres Water District. Unger paid the water district $300,000 as partial restitution. Sentencing is set for September 7. If the judge accepts the plea bargain agreement, Unger’s sentence will include six months of work release incarceration and 6 years of probation. Photo by Fred Malmstrom
Below (L to R): Attorney Paul Rufien, SDMS President Debbie McCoy, SDMS Manager Lisa Johnson, board members Ketch Nowacki, Barbara Reed-Polatty, Rich Crocker, Jeff Walker, Ekhardt Zimmermann, and Operations Manager Don LaFontaine. Photo by John Heiser
By John Heiser
On June 22, at the regular monthly meeting of the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors, it was announced that as part of a plea agreement to settle the criminal and civil suits against the district’s former contract office manager, Patricia Unger, she had pleaded guilty that day to theft of checks, a class 3 felony. Two other felony charges were dropped. As part of the agreement, Unger immediately gave the district two cashier’s checks totaling $300,000. The sentence recommended to the judge under the terms of the agreement is six months with work release during the day, six years probation, and restitution of an additional $15,000 at $250 per month over six years. Any violation by Unger of the conditions would carry an immediate eight-year prison sentence. Unger’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7.
Contract water manager resigns
In an unrelated action, it was announced that Dan LaFontaine of Independent Water Services, the district’s contract water operations manager, had submitted his resignation effective Sept. 15. LaFontaine has been the district’s water operations manager for the past seven years. LaFontaine is responsible for maintaining the equipment and infrastructure and for managing all aspects of water delivery.
LaFontaine said that a recent letter from the district regarding his alleged non-compliance with requirements of his contract was "the straw that broke the camel’s back." LaFontaine said, "I put my heart and soul into this district. I feel I deserved more consideration." He cited the protracted negotiations on the new contract and a lack of response from the board to concerns he raised. Noting the district’s use of management company Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS) for administrative, bookkeeping, billing, and accounting services, he added, "I’m too small a company. The district is going places I can’t follow." In response to a question, he said, "I’m getting out of operations." He concluded his remarks by expressing appreciation to the residents and the board for his time as the district’s operations manager.
The board consists of Rich Crocker, Ketch Nowacki, Barbara Reed-Polatty, Jeff Walker, and Eckehart Zimmermann.
Lisa Johnson, SDMS district manager, serves as facilitator and secretary at the board meeting. Deborah McCoy, President of SDMS, was also present.
Attorney Paul Rufien provided legal advice.
Appointment of officers
The following appointments were unanimously approved: Reed-Polatty, president, Johnson, secretary, and Zimmermann, treasurer. The other board members were appointed assistant secretaries.
Johnson presented a list of claims paid through June 22 totaling $7,753 that included $4,515 for LaFontaine’s services and $1,088 for supplies and chemicals.
The net cash balance for all funds as of May 31 was $46,449.
Johnson said the total for accounts payable is $155,111 consisting of $59,969 due attorneys Petrock and Fendel, $79,316 due SDMS, and $15,826 due Rufien. Johnson added that the district’s total debt is $741,532.
Johnson reported that the district had received the $150,000 negotiated tap fee for the Red Rock Reserve Subdivision, formerly known as Raspberry Ridge and located north of Pixie Peak Road and west of Red Rock Ranch. The project involves 23 single-family lots on 67 acres.
LaFontaine said a leak was reported on May 7 and repaired May 19. He noted that during the excavation to repair the leak an unexpected water line was found and two lines were found to be not where they were shown on the district’s maps.
During May, the district’s surface plant produced 2.68 million gallons, averaging 60 gallons per minute over 31 days. The district’s well in the Arapahoe aquifer produced 259,200 gallons, averaging 108.4 gallons per minute over 1.7 days. The net monthly production was 2.91 million gallons.
Water sales for May totaled 2.07 million gallons.
LaFontaine calculated the net loss from the system during May was 837,148 gallons or 28.8 percent of total system use.
Disposition of the $300,000 restitution
Nowacki said that in addition to addressing the accounts payable, the $88,000 reserve account for the state loan should be restored.
McCoy agreed and suggested that one year’s interest on the loan be set aside as well.
The board unanimously approved McCoy’s suggestion that the district deposit excess funds in a ColoTrust account. She said the account is like a money market account for governmental entities, earns about 5 percent, and the assets can be transferred to any of the district’s other accounts within about 24 hours.
The board decided to postpone further discussion on the disposition of the $300,000 and continued the meeting to June 26 at SDMS.
The next meeting will be held July 27, 5:30 p.m., at Tri-Lakes district station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). Board meetings are usually held on the fourth Thursday of each month. Those wishing to attend should check the date, time, and location by calling SDMS at (800) 741-3254 or 488-2110.
A work session is scheduled for Friday, July 14, 9 a.m., at SDMS, 141 Union Blvd., Suite 150, in Lakewood.
By Sue Wielgopolan
Drought conditions similar to those in 2002 have delayed the anticipated use of Lake Woodmoor water as a supplemental drinking water supply. At the beginning of 2006, Woodmoor manager Phil Steininger and his staff had hoped to be able to use lake water this summer to help fill demand during periods of peak use, which typically occur when irrigation demand is highest. But precipitation this past winter was well below average. District staff decided that levels were insufficient to comfortably use as irrigation and supplemental drinking supplies, and postponed use of lake water for drinking until at least this fall.
The ability to store surface water from Monument Creek has given the district flexibility to better manage its resources. Mike Rothberg, consulting engineer for RTW, reported that the use of lake water for irrigating the Woodmoor Golf Course has so far sufficiently reduced demand on well supplies to enable existing pumping and treatment facilities to keep pace with customer needs.
Though a system enabling Lewis-Palmer High School to also use Lake Woodmoor’s water instead of well supplies for irrigation was recently completed, leaks and malfunctions have so far prevented its use. District staff expects to have the pipeline repaired soon, which will further reduce pressure on well supplies.
General manager Phil Steininger asked Rothberg if he was "comfortable" that existing resources would be adequate to supply the district this summer without the new well, which will not be operational before the end of the year. Rothberg replied that although Woodmoor wouldn’t have "made it" through heavy use during the unusually dry month of May without use of the lake, he was confident that when the wells were up and running and the district’s demand management program was implemented, Woodmoor would be capable of meeting demand.
Steininger reviewed the progress of paperwork for the new well site to be located at the northwest corner of Higby and Fairplay. He said that the subdivision process with El Paso County development services to redivide the residential lot was 90 percent complete. The Johnson family, owners of the property, have reviewed their requested deed restrictions and signed a letter of intent to sell. Barring complications, Woodmoor expects to close on the lot Aug. 21.
Woodmoor is presently working on design of the pipeline from the site to the South Treatment Plant. Geotechnical (soils) evaluations should be completed in one to three weeks. Consulting firm Bishop and Brogden is close to completing the drilling specifications. After the district closes on the property, a drilling contract will be put out for bid. Steininger hopes to have the well running by year’s end.
Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility will become self-managing
Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s representative on the Joint Use Committee (JUC), said the group was working on a process for transitioning the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment plant into a stand-alone facility. The Joint Use Committee consists of representatives from the boards of the three owners, Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor, as well as executive agent Steininger and plant manager Bill Burks. Woodmoor currently acts as administrative agent. Woodmoor and the JUC would like to have the management transfer 90 percent complete by the end of the year.
Nasser also said the JUC had changed its meeting date from the second Monday to the second Tuesday of each month to better accommodate committee members’ schedules.
Transit loss study nearing completion
Steininger told the board that the transit loss study is expected to wrap up at the end of 2007. The study uses U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gauging stations to measure flows at several points along Fountain and Monument creeks. Collected data are being used to create a computer model, which will be used by the state to monitor flows on a daily basis as well as determine the amount of water lost from both streams en route to the Arkansas.
The state engineer currently uses the same loss calculation for all streams. Study sponsors including Colorado Springs Utilities and the El Paso County Water Authority believe the loss to be significantly less than the state’s estimates, and anticipate the study and model will support their case.
Once the study is complete and the computer model has been established, contributing agencies can "plug in" to the system online. Steininger told the board that the district’s participation in the cost of the transit loss project is important because the district will be able to quantify the amount of effluent it puts into Monument Creek on a day-by-day basis instead of accepting the state’s estimate. More water credits will be available for sale or to trade for water pulled from the creek and stored in Lake Woodmoor. By state permit, Woodmoor is authorized to use effluent as replacement for an equivalent amount of water diverted upstream.
The USGS is conducting the study and will continue to monitor and maintain the stations and model once the study is complete. Steininger estimated that Woodmoor’s share, which is flow-based, will probably run $7,000 to $8,000 yearly.
Water Group continues to seek cooperation with Colorado Springs
Rocky relations between the city of Colorado Springs and northern El Paso County communities continue to impact discussions about the possibility of cooperation with Colorado Springs Utilities in bringing renewable water to the Tri-Lakes region. The Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) views the Southern Delivery System as a regional project and seeks inclusion as a cost-sharing partner. If approved, the pipeline will bring Arkansas water north to Colorado Springs.
Although northern El Paso County is outside the boundaries of the Fry-Ark project, and therefore not legally entitled to surface water supplied through it, PDWG members hope to eventually purchase independent rights from holders in the lower Arkansas Basin and use the pipeline to transport the water.
The Colorado Springs City Council is hesitant to join forces with areas outside city boundaries, arguing that those communities take advantage of city benefits without paying the taxes that support those amenities. In addition, commercial development beyond city limits draws sales taxes away from Colorado Springs. Some council members assert that additional water supplies will encourage further growth in those communities.
The PDWG has commissioned economic consulting firm Bamberger and Associates to conduct a study quantifying the positive financial contributions of the Tri-Lakes area to the Colorado Springs economy.
Meter replacement program about one-third complete
District engineer Jessie Shaffer reported that approximately 970 combination meter/transponder units had been replaced so far, which comes to just over one-third of the total. Woodmoor plans to replace only those meters that are at least five years old. In about 300 newer units, technicians will replace just the transponder, an electronic signaling device that enables the meter to be read remotely. Units installed around or after November 2005 are current and do not need to be updated.
The process has been running smoothly. Residents have been cooperative overall, with the vast majority of homeowners scheduling appointments after the first or second mailed notice.
Steininger credits Shaffer’s incentive program with helping to motivate staff and keep the project on schedule. The program rewards technicians and office staff involved in the project by sharing savings resulting from reduced contract labor costs.
Homeowner seeks financial assistance for diversion wall
Homeowner Christina Famiglietti asked that the board assist with the cost of building a diversion wall uphill from her family’s home on Wolverine Way. On May 16, Woodmoor’s water main on Fairplay split. Water from the main poured into the Famiglietti home, which sits downhill from the road, causing significant damage.
Though the district was not directly to blame for the incident, Famiglietti contends that an earlier repair, which was made necessary when cable company Adelphia ruptured the main during excavation, made the line more vulnerable to breaks.
Firefighters responding to the emergency had attempted to dig trenches to divert the flow of water around the house. She said that she and her husband had received a bid of between $4,000 and $6,000 to build a low wall uphill from the home which should direct any water resulting from future breaks to the periphery of their property.
Operations superintendent Randy Gillette, in speaking for the district, told Famiglietti that the repair to which she referred conformed to industry accepted practice and that the split was coincidental. Several board members expressed their sympathy for the family’s hardship, but agreed that subsidizing a retaining wall could set a costly precedent.
The directors thanked Famiglietti for her time, and decided to further discuss the matter and confer with attorney Smith in executive session.
After executive session, the board announced it had decided to deny Famiglietti’s request.
Woodmoor establishes reimbursement policy for water main and sewer breaks
An unusually high number of water main breaks during the past several months resulted in several large damage claims being submitted to the Woodmoor district. Previously, requests for reimbursement had been settled without the benefit of written guidelines. Attorney Erin Smith urged the board to adopt a formal policy to guide district decisions related to payment of claims.
She emphasized that state law exempts water and sanitation districts from liability related to damages except in cases of neglect, or improper use or installation of infrastructure. Though Woodmoor has frequently paid on damage claims regardless of liability, Smith pointed out that the district was under no legal obligation to do so.
She then discussed the details of the two proposed resolutions establishing guidelines for the settlement of claims; one for sanitary sewer backups and breaks, the other for water main breaks. As it has in the past, the district will continue to consider all claims and deny payment or reimburse part or all of the requested amount for non-liability claims based on a first-come, first-served basis until it reaches the limit of its no-fault insurance policy. Claims involving Woodmoor liability will be settled, from district funds if necessary.
As per Steininger’s request, Smith suggested the board also add authorization for the manager to approve a limited amount of reimbursement where immediate remediation or stabilization is needed, such as in the case of a sewer backup.
Board members voted unanimously to pass the resolutions.
Wells and treatment facility readied for summer season
Rothberg reported that the drop pipe and pump for Arapahoe Well 11 had been re-installed and AmWest was working on the electrical connections. By lowering the pump 400 feet, the district is hoping to achieve a yield of 200 gallons per minute.
Well 15 is also currently down. The district sent the pump to Casper, Wyo., for repairs. Because the pump had been pulled and the well cleaned three years ago, district staff felt it was unnecessary to do it again. The well should be up and running sometime in July.
After operating for nearly 10 years, the motor on Dawson Well 2 failed. Though the well is a low producer at 25 to 30 gallons per minute, it has been reliable. The district plans to replace the motor, but because there is plenty of water over the pump, it will not be lowered. Well 2 should be working again by the end of July.
Expansion of the Central Water Treatment Facility is complete. The third Trident filter unit has been installed and is up and running. Woodmoor staff is waiting on final drawings. Installation of the third filter enables the treatment facility to keep pace with pumping capacity.
Construction in the district
Water conservation and other items of interest
The public portion of the meeting was adjourned at 2:35 p.m. and the board went into executive session to consider the acquisition of water, excess water policy, and to receive attorney instruction regarding negotiations. The next meeting of the Woodmoor board will take place on July 13 at 1 p.m. at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Drive. Meetings are normally held the second Thursday of the month.
By Susan Hindman
Wescott firefighters will get a new pumper engine, after board members discussed at length and then voted to spend up to $330,000 on a new one. The board had been contemplating the purchase for several months, as a replacement for an aging pumper.
Three of the five directors—Brian Ritz, Joe Potter, and Dave Cross—were in attendance, as were Chief Jeff Edwards, Assistant Chief Vinny Burns, and Administrative Assistant Ginette Ritz.
Training updates: Edwards said three people have completed a wildland fire behavior class, which is a prerequisite to becoming a squad boss.
Station 2 is hosting a Firefighter I class, and 15 students are signed up. Training is ongoing for Fire Officer I and Fire Instructor I.
In addition, Edwards and Burns and director Joe Potter had attended the Special District Association (SDA) regional workshop on June 20.
Staffing: Eight new volunteers have been recruited; one is a paramedic, which brings the total number of medics on staff to five. In addition, a new hire has allowed Burns to come off-line and return to administrative tasks as assistant chief.
He noted that the district participated in a mass casualty exercise with Colorado Springs on June 9.
Recent fires: Over the last month, he said, the district assisted in the wildland fire in Woodmen Valley in northern Colorado Springs and a structure fire in Monument. Edwards said Wescott was the third company to respond to the wildland fire, arriving with a brush truck and tender in 12 minutes, and even though the crew was gone for eight hours, the district remained staffed with four firefighters.
"City fire (department) has been bearing a lot of the brunt of this particular fire, but people need to know that area is in the county," Edwards said. "The (city’s) chief acted according to the response matrix. … It was a county call. The city was there and the county sent its units. All units and all agencies performed excellent, and there was no loss of life or property and no equipment failure that has been reported to date. … All in all, we couldn’t ask for better response or a better outcome."
The only snag involved a communication problem.
"We had one issue with the Air Force Academy (fire department), which works off a whole other radio system … so it took awhile for someone from the city and county to link up with them by radio," Edwards said.
A follow-up meeting is planned for June 27 to review that problem and to go over the actions of all agencies and the entire call step by step.
Edwards also noted that a structure fire in Gleneagle is still under investigation. He added he has been offering fire-wise mitigation advice to a number of residents.
May run report: Edwards said there were 80 calls, bringing the total for the year to 438, a 27 percent decrease from last year. He included a sheet with the call report that indicated peak call hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., nearly the same as last year.
He said he expects more lightning calls (which is what started the Monument structure fire). "A majority of structural fires this time of year are caused by lightning," he said. "They just go undetected. They sit in (attics); they fester and build up heat, and then explode."
Other money, acquisition, publicity matters
Newly elected board members Cross, Gould, and Sullivan will begin receiving more money for attending board meetings. A resolution to change compensation from $75 per meeting to $100 passed. Since the resolution covers only board members elected July 1, 2005, and after, Ritz and Potter—halfway through their four-year terms—are not eligible for the increase.
The treasurer’s report was reviewed briefly, and it was noted that the district was where it should be at this point in the year.
Because of a new ruling requiring executive sessions to be taped, the board will look into purchasing a recording system. The rule will be effective in August.
Edwards said a new Life-Pac 12 was obtained for $17,045, in part with grant money, and is now in operation on Engine 1. It meets an upgraded county standard for equipment.
Potter said that at the SDA workshop the previous day, he learned that the director of SDA was unaware of Wescott’s donation of a fire truck to the Henry Volunteer Fire Department in Louisiana in April. This led Potter to request that the district submit a press release or summary report about it, to ensure it is mentioned at the annual SDA conference in Keystone in September. "I think the district ought to get some kind of recognition for it," he said.
Merits of repairing old pumper debated prior to approval of new one
There was a lengthy discussion about the bid of $40,585 that the district received for overhauls of the engine and transmission in the ailing 1988 pumper. The bid did not include needed repairs of the truck’s pump, frame, and electrical system.
"We don’t have a reliable second pumper. The immediate need is for two reliable pumpers, set up identically to serve the community," Edwards said, adding that since the district has been modernizing the fleet, "this would be the last big purchase that we’d have to do."
Firefighter Jim Rackl, who was part of the district’s apparatus committee, which developed the specifications for the new pumper, said that the money invested in repairs to the existing truck would not be recovered if the truck were sold in a few years. "There’s not a very good return on investment if you’re looking at the short term," he said. "If you’re looking 20 years down the road (before selling the overhauled truck), then it’s worth it."
Ritz said the general feeling was that having a solid backup (truck) is mandatory, and a lease-purchase of a new truck is the only way to accomplish that. The agreement for a new engine would be with the Central States division of Rosenbauer America, which was selected from five bids.
"I ask myself, is this a fiscally responsible act?" said Ritz. "Equipment is the primary expense of any business. We’ve got the manpower, we’ve got the training, and we have to give them the tools."
Wells Fargo has already approved a $400,000 loan, but the board voted to spend no more than $330,000 for the lease-purchase agreement. The loan details (terms, conditions, payment schedule) will be worked out by Cross, who is treasurer.
Note: The contract for the engine was signed after this meeting on June 23.
The meeting, which began at 7 p.m., adjourned at 8:50 p.m. and went into executive session to discuss pay issues.
By Elizabeth Hacker
Three of the five directors, Rick Barnes, John Hildebrandt, and President Charlie Pocock, along with Battalion Chief Bryan Jack and Fire Chief Robert Denbroske, were in attendance at the Tri-Lakes FPD meeting. Directors Keith Duncan and John Hartling were absent.
In response to Hildebrandt’s question regarding how many meetings a director could miss before they could be dismissed, chief Denbroske responded that the bylaws stated three excused absences. Hildebrandt noted that Duncan had missed at least three consecutive meetings and that one month they had to cancel the meeting because they didn’t have a quorum. Denbroske responded that Duncan was away on business.
The agenda was approved after a recommendation by Pocock to move the discussion of Fire Station 2 into the executive session. Hildebrandt responded that he did not think the discussion needed to go into executive session but voted with the other directors to amend the agenda.
Treasurer Hildebrandt reported that as of the end of May, the district’s expenses were in good shape. Even though the revenues for fire service were a little under the estimate for May, the income from the ambulance service was exceeding expectations and would more than make up for the shortfall. He added that the shortfall was expected because the district is now providing health insurance for staff dependents and because of the duplication in billing for telephone service from PCI and Qwest for Station 2. Denbroske responded that they had renegotiated the telephone contract, and the duplication would be eliminated. Hildebrandt reported that expenses for staff training were 2 percent under estimate at this time. He added that the district has received about 52 percent of the anticipated property tax revenue for the year.
Fire Station 2 update
Hildebrandt commented on the public’s response to a letter that the district had sent to the contractor expressing concern over alleged less-than-satisfactory workmanship. He noted that he intended to hold the contractor accountable because public money was used to finance the building. He reported that the debris in the pipe under concrete was unacceptable and would be costly to repair. Director Barnes noted that if there were problems with the design, he would take responsibility since he was the architect for the building.
At 7:20 p.m., the board went into executive session to discuss Fire Station 2. At 7:55 p.m., the board came out of executive session.
A motion to retain attorney Bob Winter for Tri-Lakes FPD regarding issues related to Fire Station 2 was approved.
Meeting adjourned at 7:58.
The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for July 27, at 7 p.m., immediately preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board meeting at Tri-Lakes district station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).
For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.
By Susan Hindman
In a brief meeting, the Woodmoor-Monument district board reviewed the budget and heard Fourth of July plans. Three of the five directors were present: Tim Miller, Si Sibell, and Bill Ingram.
Although a few accounts are exceeding planned expenditures, the district is operating overall at 5.5 percent under budget, with $992,980 in the bank, according to the report prepared by treasurer Bob Hansen, who was absent.
Battalion Chief Mike Dooley said he will have an ambulance, crew, and brush truck at the Fourth of July fireworks in Palmer Lake. Because of the fire danger this year, he said, only one truck will be in the holiday parade in Monument.
The meeting, which began at 7 p.m., ended at 7:11 p.m., and directors waited for the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District meeting to end before meeting jointly as the Fire Rescue Authority. That meeting began at 7:55 p.m., with six of the 10 members in attendance.
Below: June 8 structure fire in Monument as seen from Jackson Creek Parkway. The fire was reportedly started by lightning. Mount Herman is in the background. Photo by John Heiser
Below: Fire Academy Class Graduation June 1 at Lewis-Palmer High School. All 11 of the entrants completed. Top row left to right: Ilene Presworsky, Marcus Matthynssens, Jason Kelsey, Jamal Bagley, Bjarne "B" Moberg, Eric Chase (Class Leader). Bottom row left to right: Jonathan Tavares, Franz Hankins (Outstanding Scholar), Chris DeLaRosa, Tyler Bronzan, Alice Gohlke. Each of the candidates has become a probationary firefighter for the TLMFRA. All but one of the graduates are certified EMT-Basics, which means, as volunteers, they are certified to respond to fire and medical emergencies in the Tri-Lakes area. Photo by JoAnn McNabb
By Susan Hindman
Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that the district is about 2 percent under budget. A total of $1,771,405 has been received for the year, with another large influx of money expected from property taxes in July. Offsetting a shortfall in the specific ownership tax was the revenue received from ambulance calls.
Identity theft presentation
Representatives of Prepaid Legal Services Inc., based in Colorado Springs, gave a presentation to the board about two programs of services the company offers. One involves identity theft protection, and the other is a "legal shield" of services that would allow members to have access to attorneys for contract and document review, will preparation, legal help in case of a court case stemming from an accident, IRS audits, and more. Restoration of identity is a key component to the identity theft program.
The Identity Theft Shield would cost $9.95 a month; the prepaid legal services would be $14.95 a month. Firefighters and their families would be covered, and membership would be paid through payroll deductions. Individual board members could also get coverage, but not as part of the firefighters’ group, since the board is not on the payroll; extra fees would be charged them as well.
Because the program would be a payroll deduction and not a cost to the district, Hildebrandt said the firefighters would have to let the board know if they wanted the service.
48/96 schedule unresolved
A radically different work schedule was proposed last month, called the 48/96 schedule, which would have firefighters working 48 hours straight and then 96 hours off. Between 50 and 80 stations across the country are using this schedule, and its results are still being studied.
Chief Rob Denboske and Battalion Chief Bryan Jack reported that the union had not yet gotten feedback from other stations using this schedule, the Fire Authority’s physician had not responded, and VFIS, the district’s insurance carrier, also had not made a determination about the potential schedule change.
Board members are seeking the feedback, which will help them make a decision on whether to approve the schedule. Denboske and Jack were asked to take the initiative and contact other fire districts—especially those in Colorado—that use that schedule.
The schedule is controversial because on the one hand, it creates work hours that benefit firefighters but on the other poses safety issues because of the potential for firefighters to be awake for 48 hours straight. Firefighter and chief mechanic Ken Cox registered his concern from a maintenance standpoint, saying he is worried about the potential for accidents caused by drivers who are too tired to be at the wheel.
Hildenbrandt stressed that he would like to see in the plan how management will "identify, monitor, and handle" issues that come up.
Jack read a letter the department had received from the owners of the Monument home that had been struck by lightning earlier in the month. He complimented the crews that had responded. (See picture below.)
Denboske was asked to update the board on the phone system since converting to voice-over Internet phone service. Problems with the system have prevented even board members from reaching anyone at the station; they have had to use personal cell phones to communicate. "The phone system still needs to be tweaked," Denboske said.
The board went into executive session at 8:48 p.m. to discuss personnel matters.
The Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District will meet at 7 p.m. July 26 at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The Fire Authority meeting will follow the meetings of both the Woodmoor and Tri-Lakes districts that evening. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.
Below: Former board member Hugh Eaton and his wife, current board member Dee Dee Eaton, present a hand-made quilted wall-hanging to retiring Superintendent Dave Dilley. Photo by John Heiser
Below: Recent high school graduate Meghan McLaws (R), who was nearly killed in an automobile accident, expresses appreciation to the school district for the support she received during her recovery. She was assisted by her mother Deborah Samek (L). In the foreground is Lewis-Palmer High School Principal Mark Brewer.Photo by John Heiser
By John Heiser
The Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting June 15 was retiring Superintendent Dave Dilley’s last. Near the end of the meeting, the board members gave Dilley a plaque and expressed thanks for his 11 years with the district and three years as superintendent. Former school board member Hugh Eaton and his wife, current board member Dee Dee Eaton, gave Dilley a hand-made quilted wall hanging.
Dilley expressed appreciation to the district and took the opportunity to address an issue associated with site selection for the second high school. He said some have misinterpreted the phrase "regional high school" to mean that it is intended to attract students from Douglas County. He said the phrase merely distinguishes high schools from schools like elementary schools that serve a particular neighborhood. He added that although elementary schools have been opened to enrollment of Douglas County students, Lewis-Palmer High School has been closed to such students, and the middle schools have been closed to them for the past year. He noted that enrollments from outside the district are subject to a one-year agreement. He added that such enrollments are being used to ensure that the district shows 3 percent enrollment growth per year to preserve its capacity to issue bonds.
Regarding the second high school site selection controversy, Dilley said to the board, "You don’t deserve the outrage being directed at you. I have seen nothing but integrity."
To the board and administrative council, he said, "You have a great school district. I am in awe of the superintendents that have preceded me. I am proud to have been a part of it. I never dreamed I would be superintendent. It has been the highlight of my professional career."
Earlier in the meeting, the board addressed a number of other topics, including:
Raintree thanked the attendees and announced that the meeting was going into executive session to discuss negotiations and an issue with a student.
The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center of the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next meeting is 7 p.m. July 20. The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org. Meeting highlights from the Web site were used in preparing this article.
By Steve Sery
Although there were no items on the agenda in our immediate interest area, there were two in the Black Forest area of interest.
X-Cel energy requested approval of the location for a 345KV transmission line in their existing right of way. Currently there is one 345KV and one 230KV line, although the 345KV is operating at 230KV also. It seemed like a fairly straightforward request; it was in the existing right of way, there was an existing line of the same voltage approved, and no additional towers would be constructed. This ended up being the most contentious item of the day.
Most of this line runs through grassland with only a short portion going through Black Forest. But when the first 345KV line was approved a year or two ago, X-Cel clear-cut their right of way with no discussion with the landowners, the grantors of the easement. After the blackouts in the Northeast some years ago, the Federal Energy Commission set a standard that required utilities to make sure that vegetation did not create a hazard with transmission lines. Although there were alternatives to meet the standard, X-Cel established a policy to clear-cut. This caused extensive discussion and it was determined a condition would be included in the approval requiring stump removal for any additional tree cutting.
It was suggested to write a letter from the Planning Commission to X-Cel suggesting it review its policy and approach to the landowners whose property they cross. This was approved 5-2.
A variance renewal was sought for Rogers Bed & Breakfast Inn located north and east of the intersection of Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105. The applicant had trouble understanding the new fee structure. Five years ago, when they first applied for the variance, the cost was $500; now a renewal of the variance is $3,000. This is a result of the county’s charge for service approach. All services have increased significantly over the past four years. The Planning Commission softened the blow a little by approving the variance for 15 years vs. the usual five years. It was approved 7-0.
By Camilla Mottl
WIA Executive Director
At the June 21 Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) Board meeting, Jim Woodman, director of forestry, informed members that the mountain pine beetles are already flying, starting about two weeks early this year. He warned members that if you see new mountain pine beetle hits, you should NOT cut down the tree. Once a tree has been hit, other pine beetles will be attracted to it. If you cut it down, the beetles will move on to another tree, which may cause the loss of additional trees. Trees that are hit this season should be left alone and not cut down until after Oct 15. He told the members that all slash on properties should be removed and warned against storing stacked wood between trees, as both can attract beetles.
Woodman also noted that the Defensible Space Grant ends on June 30. WIA has had good resident response, as owners seem to be more aware of the current high fire danger Additionally, WIA has been able to partake of the grant to do considerable (10-15 acres) defensible space clearing in the Toboggan Hill area, the Marsh, Common Area A between Regatta and Meadow Lake, Wild Duck, and Hidden Springs.
Woodmoor’s seventh annual Great American Cleanup a great success
This year’s event was one of the best in history thanks to the hard work and preparation by Marian Taylor, event coordinator for this year. Tri-Lakes Disposal was the only disposal company that responded to our request for Dumpsters. The owner, Brian Beland, donated two thirty-yard Dumpsters. A record number of corporate sponsors also donated a wide array of nice door prizes that were given out at the barbecue. Local Fire Department staff lent their cooking expertise in feeding the 150 volunteers who attended the barbecue held at "The Barn" following the cleanup.
Spraying of noxious weeds in the common areas planned
Allan McMullen, common area director, stated that the common areas were sprayed for noxious weeds using a new herbicide, Milestone. This is the first year it has been available for public use, and it is easier on the natural grasses and safe for animals as well as humans. He will be keeping an eye on its effect, especially on thistle and knapweed, as those are the most prevalent and aggressive in Woodmoor. Milestone is said to eliminate these weeds if consistently used for three years. Mowing of the common areas will begin around July 7 so the thistle can be cut before it starts to bloom. Additionally, McMullen will be looking for a way to mark the common area trails that are being used much more since the trees have been thinned for defensible space. Any Scouts or volunteers interested in helping on this project are encouraged to contact the WIA at 488-2693.
Since July 4 is just around the corner, board President Hans Post reminded everyone that no fireworks of any kind are permitted within Woodmoor. Due to the current high fire danger, El Paso County has banned the sale and use of all fireworks.
The WIA Board normally meets the third Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is July 19, 7 p.m., at the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive. For more information, call 488-2693 or go to www.woodmoor.org.
By Bill Kappel
June 2006 turned out to be quite an exciting month around the Tri-Lakes region, with hot and dry conditions through the end of spring, to severe thunderstorms and heavy rain to start off summer.
Not much changed at the beginning of the month as we saw a continuation of the hot and dry weather with highs soaring into the mid- and upper 80s from the 2nd to the 14th. Even more unusual was the fact that we received almost no relief until thunderstorms arrived the afternoon of the 11th. Only scattered afternoon clouds built each day, with a few weak thunderstorms bringing mainly traces of rainfall. Finally, on the 9th, some subtle changes began to take shape as a slightly cooler, moister airmass moved into the region. With the continued hot daytime temperatures, there was plenty of energy rising through the atmosphere to help cloud formation.
Now we were just waiting for a trigger to help release the energy in a more organized fashion. This trigger came Sunday the 11th during the late afternoon and evening as a severe line of thunderstorms developed. This line of storms produced some serious amounts of rain in a short time and was accompanied by large, damaging hail in spots. Over an inch of rain fell in many areas around the Tri-Lakes in less than one hour, and hail over an inch in diameter battered parts of Monument to Highway 83. Just as amazing was the drop in temperatures associated with the passage of these storms. Temperatures dropped from the mid-70s to the upper 30s in half an hour once the heavy rain and hail started.
This round of thunderstorms turned out to just be a tease however, as high pressure again built back into the region and cut off the moisture supply. Once again, from the 12th through the 20th, dry and hot conditions dominated. We did manage to develop some thunderstorms on the afternoon of the 16th, but this was not enough to put much of a dent in the precipitation deficit. Fortunately, things began to change just in time for the start of summer, as some much need moisture returned to the region.
Unfortunately, as is often the case this time of the year, severe weather was a frequent visitor with the many thunderstorms that developed. Higher amounts of moisture began to work into the Front Range as a series of weak disturbances rode by into the central plains. These weakened the ridge of high pressure that had been holding its grip on the Tri-Lakes area and shifted it back to the west. And when the higher amounts of moistures combined with an unstable atmosphere, thunderstorms and periods of heavy rain and hail were the results. Temperatures also cooled down back to average and below on several afternoons, with highs holding in the 60s and 70s everyday except the 23rd. From the 22nd to the 25th we had several rounds of strong to severe storms, with tornadoes reported 3 miles to the west of Elbert on the late afternoon of the 22nd. Closer to home, several of the storms produced large hail, including the storms on the 22nd and 25th. The strongest of the storms rolled through during the mid-afternoon hours on Sunday, the 25th. These storms produced torrential rains in a short period, causing extensive flooding, especially along the Cherry Creek drainage. Many dry channels quickly became raging torrents, especially from Highway 83 and County Line Road east to Meridian Road and south to Woodmen Road. Areas within this box received from 1-2 inches of rain and hail in about an hour. The flash flooding that resulted also caused some damage, with at least one house in the Walden neighborhood sustaining severe flood damage.
After several rounds of heavy rains during the past week, we have managed to make up our moisture deficit for June, with most areas having received 2.5 to 3.5 inches of moisture. Let’s hope this trend of seasonal temperatures and above-normal precipitation continues for a while.
A look ahead
July is typically the warmest and one of the wettest months of the year, with precipitation ranging from 2.5 inches to 3.5 inches and average highs averaging in the 80s. Morning lows generally dip into the mid 40s to mid-50s, but some nights can remain on the warm side. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are common, generally forming over the high country and moving out over the Tri-Lakes region. Strong, organized storm systems are less frequent and cold fronts not as sharp. However, monsoonal moisture moving in from the Gulf of California and Gulf of Mexico usually begins to make an appearance by the middle of the month. The thunderstorms associated with this provide much needed relief from hot temperatures and dry conditions.
Let’s hope we don’t have a repeat of July 2005, when temperatures soared well into the 90s to near 100 on several afternoons and rainfall was below average. The official monthly forecast for July 2006, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for a better than normal chance of above-normal temperatures and equal chances of normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.
June 2006 Weather Statistics (as of June 28)
Average High 78.4°F
For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/Weather.htm.
Remember, weather affects all of us everyday and is a very important part of life for us on the Palmer Divide, and we want to hear from you. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.
In March of 2006, the Wissler Family asked the community for help to save their 100-year-old cattle ranch from eminent domain. District 38 Board of Education wants a portion of the ranch for a new high school and has the statutory right to take the land by force. The Wissler Family does not want to sell and 87-year-old Mrs. Wissler has said she just wants to be left alone and live the rest of her life in peace.
Save Wissler Ranch Citizens Group (www.savewisslerranch.com) was organized shortly after the Wissler’s request for help. I have been amazed at the compassion and support this community has shown the Wissler Family. Mrs. Wissler has been at all the meetings, stayed until midnight for school board meetings, and shown grace and composure in the face of some very disturbing comments. I want to personally thank the thousands who have stood beside her and supported this effort. Support has been widespread in the Tri-Lakes Region, from Palmer Lake to Black Forest and the opinion is consistent - It is wrong to take something from someone against their will and the majority of this community will not support such an action.
The School Board will soon release their findings as it regards alternative high school sites. I am holding out hope that they have spent time and money trying to make an alternative site work rather than time and money on ruling out all other options. I am holding out hope that Wissler Ranch is not on the list of possible sites due to the seller’s unwillingness to sell. I am holding out hope that the BoE will remove this controversy from the table and unite this community with a plan we can all support.
Volunteers and Supporters of Save Wissler Ranch do not underestimate the need for additional high school space for our kids and are committed to help the School Board pass a bond issue if eminent domain is not used to obtain the Wissler Ranch.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
Summer vacation — the chance to cozy up on the porch swing and discover that amazing experience of starting a book, and looking up to find several hours have passed. And aren’t you lucky? On any given day, there is a plethora of fabulous titles for all ages on the market. Careful, you may find yourself pulled into these reads that are not too light, not too heavy — just right for summer reading.
The History of Love
In a tribute to the strength of the human spirit, the extraordinary nature of language and the yearning for connection, this remarkable novel blends the threads of two disparate lives in a path toward one another, the prose as elegant as the characters. Beautifully written, with exquisite sensitivity and compassion, The History of Love will open your heart, fill you with the bright light of understanding, and leave you enriched for the experience. This author has created an extraordinary gift. It is not a novel but a journey into the deepest chambers of the human heart.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
See’s engrossing novel set in remote 19th-century China details the deeply affecting story of lifelong, intimate friends (laotong, or "old sames") Lily and Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women, and their betrayal by pride and love. Her in-depth research into women’s ceremonies and duties in China’s rural interior brings fascinating revelations about arranged marriages, women’s inferior status in their natal and married homes, and the Confucian proverbs and myriad superstitions that informed daily life. See’s meticulous research and exquisite language deliver a story that is haunting and powerful.
In this remarkable effort, National Book Award winner Philbrick (In the Heart of the Sea) examines the history of Plymouth Colony. In the early 17th century, a small group of devout English Christians fled their villages to escape persecution, going first to Holland and then making the now infamous 10-week voyage to the New World. Rather than arriving in the summer months as planned, they landed in November, low on supplies. In economical, well-paced prose, Philbrick masterfully recounts the desperate circumstances of the settlers and their would-be hosts, and how the Wampanoags saved the colony from certain destruction. More important, he brings into focus a gruesome period in early American history. For Philbrick, this is yet another award-worthy story of survival.
A Death in Belmont
In 1963, with the city of Boston already terrified by a series of savage crimes known as the Boston Stranglings, a murder occurred in the quiet suburb of Belmont, just a few blocks from the house of Sebastian Junger’s (The Perfect Storm) family—a murder that seemed to fit exactly the pattern of the Strangler. By turns exciting and subtle, the narrative chronicles three lives that collide—and are ultimately destroyed—in the vortex of one of the first and most controversial serial-murder cases in America.
Black Swan Green
For his fourth novel, two-time Booker Prize finalist Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) turns to material most writers plumb in their first: the semi-autobiographical, first-person coming-of-age story. And after three books with notably complex narrative structure, far-flung settings, and multiple viewpoints, he has chosen one narrator, 13-year-old Jason Taylor, to tell the story of one year (1982) in one town, Worcestershire’s Black Swan Green. It is Mitchell’s brilliant ability to reproduce internal monologue that makes this story so mesmerizing.
Pick up one of these reads and take a trip in time and place to contemporary New York City via Poland and South America, 18th-century China, 17th-century Europe and America, 1960s Boston, or 20th-century Ireland—all from your front-porch swing. Enjoy.
By Woody Woodworth
Record-setting high temperatures over the past couple of weeks have left us wiping our brow and hoping for cooler weather. The promised afternoon rainstorms have mostly missed us but have provided some cloud cover for brief periods of relief. We humans suffer in the heat, making us tired, thirsty, worn-out and less able to perform well at our daily tasks. Your plants react the same way. How do you help your plants beat the heat? Here are a couple of summertime hints.
Water plants early in the morning. If your plants show distress in the afternoon from the hot sun, many times a good drink in the morning helps. Saturate and water deep to ensure the plants get adequate water to the roots. By watering early, you avoid added evaporation losses from your sprinkler system and help conserve one of our precious resources.
Add additional mulch to flower beds, shrubs and around trees. By adding mulch, you help the plants retain more of the moisture and reduce transpiration from the hot afternoon sun. As a rule, the finer the mulch, the more moisture will be retained. I use Soil Pep, a small "forest mulch" around most of the perennials and smaller shrubs. I step up to medium-sized cedar bark mulch around most of the larger shrubs and trees. Apply mulch about 3 or 4 inches deep around the drip line of the trees and shrubs and about 2 or 3inches deep around most perennials. Keep the mulch 3 inches or so away from the trunks of shrubs and trees to prevent bugs from infesting the bark.
Fertilize your plants. The heat robs your annuals and perennials of their color as your plants use the energy toward the leaves and stalks to survive the extreme temperatures. They need to be fed to perform well through the hot months. If you used a good time-release fertilizer around the root system when you planted this year or as a top dressing, you may have all of your bases covered. If not, then a quick application of a water soluble bloom booster will help the plants gain some strength and provide the beautiful blooms you expect – even through the hot months.
Clean up in the garden. You know it’s going to get hot, so start early in the morning and work for short periods. Trim dead or dying leaves from perennials. Dead-head the blooms as soon as they are "spent" to ensure the growth energy returns to the plant to make new blossoms. Pluck those weeds that rob the water, fertilizer and space your plants need to use to grow healthy, strong and vigorously.
Help your plants beat the heat. Conserve as you garden. Be a part of the "green industry."
Below: 1957 Chevy owned by Larry Lasasso of Monument is a fine example of the beautiful cars on display during the Tri-Lakes Cruisers car show June 11. Photo by JoAnn McNabb
Below: (L to R) Monument resident Lowell Morgan and his three "Team Cyclonauts" teammates Larry Brenize, Robert Baldino, and Bernie Barge on the Municipal Pier at Oceanside, CA, moments before the start of the team Race Across America on June 13. They covered 3,052 miles traversing 15 states to reach Atlantic City, NJ in 8 days, 10 hours, and 43 minutes. Morgan specialized in performing long and difficult climbs. Photo by Jim Kendrick, support crew member and OCN reporter
Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker
By Elizabeth Hacker
The belted kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon) is a striking bird which, while not here in large numbers, is fairly common on the Palmer Divide. This compact medium-size bird has a short neck, short tail, long, dagger-like beak, and an oversize bushy head. Unlike most birds, the female is more colorful than the male. Males and females have similar coloration but the female has chestnut on her breast. The belted kingfisher is blue-gray on its head and back, and is white on its belly with a single blue breast band, but its most distinguishing features are its prominent white collar and bushy crest. It is easy to spot this bird because of its odd chunky shape.
Overhead wires near a pond serve as a popular perch for the belted kingfisher, and I often see it on wires along Highway 105 near Palmer Lake and Red Rocks Ranch. The times I’ve seen it hovering over the water and diving in for a fish are the days I feel lucky and buy a lottery ticket. I’ve learned that it’s best to stay out of sight because this shy bird will fly off as soon as it notices that it is being watched but not before it lets out a loud rattling call as if to scold me for foiling its meal plan.
Due to the large quantity of fish it consumes, it is no surprise that the belted kingfisher was named after its favorite food, but it also eats frogs, tadpoles, reptiles, insects, young birds, mice, and occasionally berries. It often perches over beaver dams because of the concentration of aquatic life there. When the belted kingfisher sights food it immediately darts to it, hovers over it to get a precise aim, and then plunges head-first into the water. Once the prey is securely between in its beak, the kingfisher flies to a nearby perch where it kills its prey, swallows it whole, and quickly digests it.
Predators of the belted kingfisher include raccoons, foxes, snakes, and raptors such as eagles, owls, and hawks. A trick that the belted kingfisher uses to avoid the talons of a hawk is to suddenly dive into the water as the hawk is about to attack.
With its strong bill and feet, a pair of belted kingfishers excavates a 3-to-6-foot-long tunnel in about three days. The tunnel has a sharp angle in it to deter predators from reaching the nest at the end of the tunnel in a rounded cavity lined with soft vegetation. The tunnel is shared with swallows that hollow-out small rooms along its walls. This living arrangement is beneficial to both birds, as the belted kingfisher is adept at excavating a habitat for the swallows while the swallows consume large quantities of insects that could otherwise infest the kingfisher’s nest and are the first line of defense against predators.
The female lays five to eight white eggs. Both parents incubate the clutch for about 24 days. Once the chicks hatch, the parents work tirelessly to feed them a milky substance of regurgitated fish. The parents care for their young for 23 days, at which time the chicks fledge the nest. The young birds quickly learn to fly and find a perch but still don’t know how to fish. The parents teach the immature birds fishing skills by dropping dead meals into the water that the fledglings then must retrieve. Within 10 days, the young fledglings are catching live prey. Due to this busy schedule, the belted kingfisher breeds only once each summer.
While researching this bird, I discovered that in some areas the belted kingfisher migrates, while in others it doesn’t. I sometimes see it in the winter, but it’s not clear if it is wintering or migrating. It is a singular bird and only forms pairs to mate. Once the young mature, the parents separate, and each bird then becomes fiercely territorial. Because the winters here are relatively mild and the belted kingfisher is a hardy bird, it is possible that a few may remain here to defend a territory, but I am venturing a guess at best.
Last month I reported that Randy and I planned to add the blue grosbeak to our bird list this summer. To find it we headed south to the Clear Springs Ranch nature reserve. Forgetting that there are mosquitoes in Colorado, we left our Deet at home. While the blue grosbeak eluded us, we did see the yellow chat and felt the sting of hungry mosquitoes along the banks of Fountain Creek. Fortunately, we still have a few months before the blue grosbeak heads south, so we will try again— armed with a can of insect repellent.
Elizabeth Hacker is an artist who paints and writes about the birds of the Palmer Divide. Her bird prints are available at the gift shop in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. Email her with your questions and bird finds at OCN.
By Jackie Colburn
The Palmer Lake Blue Columbine Festival and Concert was held June 10 at the Village Green across from Town Hall. Trish Flake offered blue columbines to those present in order to perpetuate growth of these lovely spurred flowers.
Originally discovered by Dr. Edwin James as he led the first climb up Pikes Peak, the blue columbine is one of eight species native to Colorado. It became the state flower in 1899. Above timberline, the Rocky Mountain species grows heartily. The fragrance of the flowers’ spurs draws the tiniest hummingbirds to feast on the nectar.
Hummingbirds, butterflies and columbines danced with a broad-brushed Colorado afternoon sky to the southwestern acoustic flavor of Chuck Pyle, well-known Front Range songwriter and singer. Gordon Burt joined Chuck on center stage with bow strokes on the violin that seemed to match the hummingbirds’ wing vibrations as they whirred through the crowd.
Humorous exchanges passed between Chuck and Gordon while they entertained this friendly community. Music lovers’ hearts shared smiles as the duo picked melodies like "Sedona Ramona" and "Romancing the Moment." The audience also enjoyed "Colorado," Chuck’s song that is the theme song for the PBS series, "Spirit of Colorado."
Though he was raised in Iowa, Chuck moved to Steamboat Springs in 1965. In 1981, the Palmer Lake community became the place he calls home.
Gordon fiddled the afternoon away on a refurbished violin that has been in the family of local resident Terri Watson for over 100 years. Wafting melodies rang harmoniously through the quaking aspens in the park. Some tapping toes shuffled on the porch of Town Hall as fingers turned pages through library books that were for sale. Buttery popcorn and rainbow-colored cotton candy satisfied the crowd—even pets whose noses sniffed the aroma as they walked through the crowd. Kay DeBlois offered T-shirts for donations to support "Awake the Lake" and the upcoming July 4 celebration at Palmer Lake.
Guitarist Tom Munch added to the day with a display of fine picking as he played tunes such as "Blue Ship."
Blue columbines, the purpose of this celebratory day, have once again reminded locals and visitors of the beauty and heart offered by this quaint Colorado town.
By Elizabeth Hacker
On the evening of June 3, I was honored to accept an invitation to the Palmer Lake Art Group’s (PLAG) 41st Annual Spring Fine Art Show and Sale opening gala. And what a gala it was at the Tri-lakes Center for the Arts. Complementing the spectacular paintings and drawings, the delightful sculptures, and eye-catching jewelry were tables of delicious food contributed by local restaurants and PLAG members. While the food was delicious, the desserts were to die for!
The PLAG sponsors two juried art shows a year for its members, held in January and June. Watercolor artist Robert Gray, whose work is on display in the Lucy Owens Gallery, judged the spring art show that will hang until July 15. The best of show award was given to longtime artist and resident Bunny Miele for her watercolor "Fruitful," and the people’s choice award went to M.M. Edwards for her oil painting, "The Art Student."
In addition to these awards, first-, second-, and third-place ribbons were awarded in 12 media, ranging from painting and drawing to photography and sculpture. The show was dedicated to the fond memory of Frances Kramer, a professional violinist and member who passed away this year. The diversity and range of art at this show was a sight to behold.
The gallery at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is open to the public noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. With 45 members participating, a variety of styles are available for sale at reasonable prices from professional and amateur artists. More than 20 paintings and sculptures were sold on opening night, and a portion of the sales goes to a good cause.
The Palmer Lake Art Group was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1968 after Lucretia Vaile, a longtime summer resident, deeded her summer cottage to the town with the provision that it be used by the PLAG. The town then sold the cottage to the PLAG for $1, with the stipulation that the building be well maintained. The cottage was named the "Vail Hill Gallery" and is used by members for their monthly meetings, classes, and workshops. Grace Best was president of the art group at that time and wrote the Jeremiah Mouse children’s books that are still available at the Palmer Lake Library.
The goal of the PLAG is to promote and further the arts in the Tri-lakes community. Its more than 100 members, who come from as far away as Denver and Manitou Springs, gather monthly to exchange ideas and plan their shows and fund-raising events. Every year, the PLAG gives scholarships to District 38 graduating seniors who plan to continue their education in the arts. This year, the PLAG awarded scholarships to Lauren Smallidge and Renee Boedigheimer.
It was truly magical to be in the midst of so many gifted artists and their creative works on that beautiful Colorado evening overlooking Palmer Lake at sunset. If you didn’t make it to the opening gala, be sure to go over to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts before the show comes down July 15. It will be worth the trip.
Below: At the annual Soap Box Derby held in Colorado Springs June 25, three Monument youths swept the event (L to R): 1st - Oliver Shanklin, 2nd - Dylan Coons, 3rd - Cody Callender. Photo and caption provided by JoAnn Coons
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.
Motorcycle Show at Palmer Lake, July 1, noon to 4 p.m., Centennial Park (between the lake and Hwy 105). Prizes, live band, local vendors.
Antique Tractor Show and Pull Contest in Palmer Lake, July 1 & 2 at noon, behind ‘Merchants Row’ and along the railroad byway trail. Presented by Rocky Mountain Tractor Pull Association.
Automobile Show at Palmer Lake, July 2, noon to 4 p.m., Centennial Park (between the lake and Hwy 105). Prizes, live band, local vendors.
Family Day–Old-Fashioned Town Fair at Palmer Lake, July 3, noon to 4 p.m., Centennial Park (between the lake and Hwy 105). Sack Races, carnival, games; fun for free!
Barn Dance at Sibel’s Barn, 231 Front St., Monument, July 3, 8-11 p.m.
Sertoma Pancake Breakfast, July 4, 7 to 9 a.m. in front of St. Peter Church, 55 Jefferson St., Monument.
Fourth of July 4-Mile Run, July 4, 7:30 a.m. The race starts at the Santa Fe Trailhead-Palmer Lake Regional Park and finishes at Limbach Park on Front Street in Monument. Come early for the parade in Monument and cheer on the runners! Pre-register June 15-July 1 at Tri-Lakes Printing, 1756 Lake Woodmoor Drive. Race day registration begins at 6 a.m. at Palmer Lake Elementary School; follow the signs from I-25 exit 161 and Highway 105.
4th of July Parade in Historic Downtown Monument:The Monument Fourth of July Parade traditionally is made up of over 100 entries and draws an estimated 20,000 spectators. The parade is known as the "Biggest small town parade in Colorado!" The theme for the 2006 parade is Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The Monument Hill Sertoma Club is proud to have sponsored the parade for 13 years. This year, U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley has been selected as the Parade Grand Marshal. Hefley serves Lake, Chaffee, Park, Fremont, Teller, and El Paso counties and is retiring after 20 years in the House of Representatives and over 10 years in the parade.
Parade entry forms are available at the Monument Town Hall, the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Tri-Lakes Printing, or e-mail Bill Walsh, chairman, at July4parade@adelphia.net or download a registration packet on the Sertoma Web site at www.monumenthillsertoma.org.
Parking is available at the local schools with free bus shuttles running until 1 p.m. Fireworks, water guns, and alcohol are prohibited from all Fourth of July activities, including the parade.
Children’s Parade, 9:30 a.m. Youngsters participating should assemble in the south parking lot of St. Peter Church, First Street and Jefferson, by 8:30 a.m. No entry form is required; just show up with decorated tricycles, bicycles, wagons, animals, etc.
Main Parade, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m, starts at the intersection of Jefferson St. and Lincoln St., goes south on Lincoln St., north on Front St., east on Third St. and ends at the intersection of Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Rd.
Street Fair in Historic Downtown Monument after the July 4 parade: Food, art, crafts, vendors, live music, fun!
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Open Gallery & BBQ, July 4,
2-9 p.m., 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Three live bands will play 6-9 p.m.,
Live music, inflatable park, Celebrity Dunk Tank, games, rides—this year featuring the fabulous "Mind Bender" at the Palmer Lake baseball field opposite the Rock House on Highway 105.
"The Best Small-Town Fireworks Show in America"
The fireworks display will begin shortly after dark, at about 9 p.m. The fireworks will be initiated from the south side of the lake, with the presentation over the lake toward the north.
There will be no parking along Highway 105 through the town of Palmer Lake. Parking will be allowed on County Line Road from Indi Drive to Spruce Mountain Road, but only on the south side (no parking on the Greenland Open Space side).
The parking lots at the Santa Fe Trailhead on the east side of the lake will be designated "Special Needs" (handicapped, elderly, etc.) parking. Additional general parking lots will be appropriately marked.
The town and county have a fire ban in place, so no use of personal fireworks will be permitted. Violators will be cited and fined up to $1,000 and the fireworks will be confiscated. Also, alcohol is prohibited.
After Glow Concert featuring the band Morning Star performing Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon" after the fireworks.
Help adults learn to read, write, and improve their English language skills. Tutors work one-to-one with an adult learner two to four hours a week; meeting times and location are flexible. Free training is held Thursdays, July 6, 13, 20, and 27 at 5:30 in Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs. Tutors must attend five sessions. Call 531-6333, x2223 for information or to register.
This sixth annual series of tours sponsored by Colorado Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. and Colorado WaterWise Council demonstrate water conservation principles in home landscapes. The remaining tours of the season are of six private gardens in Colorado Springs July 8 & 9, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is a $15 per person (tax-deductible) contribution to Colorado Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc, a 501(c) (3) non-profit, charitable organization. Tickets are available at all Front Range King Soopers. On the dates of the tours, tickets can be purchased at 1222 La Paloma Way and 12 West Point Road in Colorado Springs. There you will receive a map to the other garden sites, which you will have two days to tour at your own speed in whatever order you wish. Tour hostesses, handouts, and information are available at each tour garden.
Some of the West’s best storytellers will present workshops and concerts for adults and children at this year’s Storytelling Festival, July 28 and 29. The festival’s theme this year is the Poet’s Tale, the Teller’s Song, the Singer’s Story. Susan Marie Frontczak, Brad Bowles, Stacey Dyson, and more storytellers and poets are featured. Come tell your own story at one of the Story Swaps. July 28 events will be held 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Wildlife Experience Museum, Parker. July 29 events will be held 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Palmer Lake Elementary School, 115 Upper Glenway. Full advance registration is $44 for adults, $25 for children. Individual events cost $5 and up.
For more information and a free brochure, contact John Stansfield at PO Box 588, Monument, CO 80132, 303-660-5849 (Denver metro) or toll-free 866-462-1727. Visit the festival website at www.colo-performingartists.com and click on the festival link.
On July 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can tour the Estemere Mansion, an elegant 19th century Victorian mansion in Palmer Lake at 380 Glenway St. This is the only day of the year that this home is open to the public. The Palmer Lake Historical Society (PLHS) organizes the day as a fundraiser; the owners will be your hosts. There will also be music, food, drinks, historical books, and art from the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. The entrance fee is $5 for members of PLHS, $8 for non-members. It is regretted that handicap access is not possible. For more information, phone 481-2323.
National Night Out is an annual event promoting crime prevention and drug prevention in communities across the country. The event’s recurring theme is: "Give neighborhood crime and drugs a going-away party."
The concept is to turn on your porch light and come outside to join your neighbors to make a show of solidarity and strength. This event is an effective way for citizens to send the message to criminals that crime won’t be tolerated in their neighborhoods. It’s also a great way to welcome new residents to the area and help them get to know their new neighbors. A block party, barbecue, neighborhood walk, or other activity are some additional ways to participate in this nationwide event.
The Sheriff’s Office encourages all residents of unincorporated El Paso County to plan an event and let them know about it. Residents within the city limits of Colorado Springs should contact CSPD for information about its program. On Aug. 1, Sheriff’s Office employees will travel around the county to attend the neighborhood celebrations. There will be prize drawings at the registered events. Registration forms must be returned by July 7.
For a registration form or questions about getting involved with National Night Out in El Paso County, go to the Sheriff’s Office Web site at http://shr.elpasoco.com or contact Brandi Christon, Crime Prevention Coordinator, 520-7151; or by e-mail, BrandiChriston@elpasoco.com.
The Black Forest Slash-Mulch Program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling program of the El Paso County Solid Waste Management Department. The slash-mulch recycling site is located in Black Forest on the east side of Herring Road, between Shoup Road on the north and Burgess Road on the south. You may bring slash up to 6 feet long and up to 8 inches in diameter to the slash-mulch site, where it will be ground into mulch and recycled.
Slash is being accepted through Sept. 17, Tuesday and Thursday evenings 5 to 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. The cost is a donation of nonperishable food for nonprofit Black Forest organizations. No stumps, roots, lumber, railroad ties, dirt, weeds, or household trash will be accepted. Loads must be covered and tied, and children and pets must stay inside the vehicle while at the site.
Mulch will be available until Sept. 23. Bring your own tools and load mulch free of charge. The mulch loader schedule for June and July is Saturdays only, 7 a.m. to noon. In August and September, the mulch loader will be available Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The loader fee is $4 per bucket. For more information, call El Paso County Solid Waste Management at 520-7878 or Ruth Ann Steele at 495-3107, or visit www.bfslash.org.
Due to the continued dry conditions, a stage I fire restriction is in effect for all of the unincorporated areas of El Paso County. The town of Palmer Lake has also enacted a fire ban. The following activities are prohibited:
These restrictions do not include fires contained within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves, indoor fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, outdoor charcoal grills and wood-burning stoves, providing they are at private residences and in an area cleared of all flammable materials including dry vegetation.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on December 04, 2019. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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