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Our Community News - Home Vol. 8 No. 12 - December 6, 2008

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D-38 board workshop, Nov. 6, and regular meeting, Nov. 20: D-38 wrestles with further budget cuts

Below: Lewis-Palmer Elementary School teacher Austin Gross with his 5th grade class that raised $1,600 to help Sunshine 4 Orphans (S4O) with the cost of expansion of the Caroline Wambui Children’s Home and School in Wangige, Kenya (shown below). There is additional information on S4O and the project at www.sunshine4orphans.org. Photo provided by Austin Gross. 

Class members shown above - Front Row: Cade Bains (orange shirt), Kathryn Homoki (blue pajamas), Conner Deeds (stripped shirt), Preston Bille (light blue shirt). Second Row: Ryan Suckow (not smiling), Angela Teran (right behind the desk), Austin Gross, Megan Roscoe (white shirt), Tanner Rinaldo (blue sweatshirt), Jacob Tellez (long hair). Last Row: Nick Bopp (yellow shirt), Seth Walden (right in front of Nick Bopp), Sara Conrad (pink shirt), Emma McGuire (blue shirt), Molly McGann (right in front of Emma), Courtney Wessel (blond, right behind Austin Gross), Talia Glowacz (short hair), Bailey Ferrari (pink shirt, arms "presenting" what's on the board), Sam Bryant (white shirt), Dakota Kennedy (black shirt, mouth open), Amy Gargala (pink shirt), Josey Burkett (black sweatshirt). Not pictured: Philip Riegert, Thorin Wang, Lauren Mikelson.

Below: The Caroline Wambui Children’s Home and School in Wangige, Kenya (shown below). There is additional information on S4O and the project at www.sunshine4orphans.org. Photos below from www.sunshine4orphans.org

Below: Community Engagement conversation. In the foreground (L to R): Megan Roscoe, Seth Walden, Conner Deeds, and Jacob Tellez. In the background (L to R): LPES teacher Austin Gross; Board members Mark Pfoff, John Mann, Gail Wilson, Dee Dee Eaton; Superintendent's Secretary Vicki Wood; Superintendent Ray Blanch; Board member Robb Pike (at the edge of the frame). Photo by John Heiser.

By Stacey Paxson

On Nov. 6, the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board began a series of meetings that were focused on minimizing the impact on student learning of budget cuts necessitated by the failure of the district’s Mill Levy Override (MLO) ballot measure on Nov. 4. The MLO would have imposed a property tax increase totaling $2.7 million per year to increase teacher compensation and maintain current class sizes. According to Superintendent Ray Blanch, the 54 percent vote against this measure translates into personnel reductions of 26 full-time equivalents (FTE) including 17 teachers and increased class sizes within D-38 schools.

In addition to the five Board of Education members, Blanch; Cheryl Wangeman, assistant superintendent of operations; Shirley Trees, assistant superintendent of student learning; John Borman, principal of Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS); and Gary Gabel, principal of Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) were also present.

Board president Dee Dee Eaton began the meeting by stating, "The failure of the MLO is a real challenge that we’ve got to step up to; far greater than anything last year or in the previous years. But I have great faith in this board."

Blanch gave a presentation that explained just how great a challenge the board and all those involved would face.

This cut will be the second for the school district in less than a year. In an effort to narrow the options, the superintendent’s office compiled a list of suggestions, including the elimination of 14 classroom teachers, a savings of $798,000; a reduction in Art/Music/PE, a savings of $114,000; and combining nine support teaching positions, a savings of $484,500.

Many questions arose during the presentation. Gabel summed up the tone of the meeting. "Whatever we do will impact the students; we’re no longer cutting away fat, we’re cutting away flesh and bone," he said.

The board held additional workshops on the budget Nov. 8 and Nov. 13.

Regular meeting, Nov. 20

At the Nov. 20 regular meeting, the board again discussed budget cuts. The board revisited the presentation by Blanch from Nov. 6 and further discussed a predicted drop in enrollment for the 2009-10 school year. Blanch is projecting a loss of 209 elementary students, a loss of 74 middle school students, and an increase of 26 high school students. The net loss of enrollment is projected to create a $1.7 million revenue decrease for the district.

Enrollment predictions are based on the enrollment from the preceding year and for kindergarten by looking at the numbers of live births five years prior. As a result of enrollment predictions as well as the lack of increased funding due to the failure of the MLO, it is expected that as many as 30 job cuts will be needed within the school district beginning in January 2009.

In addition to the cuts, the board also faces a potential loss in state funding. Board member Gail Wilson reported that she attended a legislative breakfast held by state Rep. Cory Gardner that morning. Gardner predicted that the state will face a $200 million budget shortfall. Should Gardner’s estimate become a reality, school districts throughout the state may face reduced state funding.

In response to these issues, Blanch and the board are taking a very conservative look at the second half of the 2008-09 school year as well as the budget for 2009-10.

Blanch noted that central administration staff will decline from 17 in fall 2006 to nine in fall 2009.

During citizen comments, Kristin Boyd, representing the Lewis-Palmer Education Association, urged the board to move carefully regarding budget cuts. She said it appears decisions are being unnecessarily rushed. Board member Robb Pike offered to meet with Boyd to discuss the cuts being considered.

Final decisions regarding district cuts will be determined in the coming weeks.

Class project raised money for orphans

The Nov. 20 meeting began with a community engagement regarding a fundraising project a fifth-grade class from Lewis-Palmer Elementary (LPES) held last year to benefit Sunshine 4 Orphans (S4O). (See photos above). Those who participated in the community engagement were the five Board of Education members, Blanch; Austin Gross, a teacher at LPES; and Gross’ former students Conner Deeds, Megan Roscoe, Jacob Tellez, and Seth Walden. Also present for the meeting were Wangeman; Trees; Terry Miller, principal of Lewis-Palmer Middle School; and David Young, principal of Ray E. Kilmer Elementary School.

Travis Mitchell, founder of S4O and a friend of Gross, presented information on S4O to the fifth-grade students at Lewis-Palmer Elementary. The class then took the initiative to create a Fun Week in which students paid to participate in various activities. At the end of the week, the students had raised $1,600 in addition to a $300 donation from the student council. When asked by Blanch if fundraising for S4O is a responsibility, Conner Deeds answered, "You don’t have to do it but it gives you a good feeling when you do."

S4O is a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 and directed by a group of young adults based in Colorado. The mission of S4O is to provide a group of orphaned children in Kenya an opportunity to receive an education, have a place to live, and meet basic nutritional and medical needs. The organization operates under the premise that a community pulling together here can have a great impact on a community of children half-way around the world. For more information on S4O, visit www.sunshine4orphans.org

Other matters

  • Operations Advisory Committee (OAC, formerly the Facilities and Enrollment Committee) reports $1.6 million surplus from bond revenues—OAC Chair Carl Janssen presented bond expenditures for the high school construction projects. He noted that $67.3 million has been spent or committed, with $4.2 million of that spent at LPHS and the remainder spent at PRHS. The bond proceeds and interest earned so far have totaled $68.9 million, leaving a surplus of $1.6 million. He noted that the original ballot measure language cited "… equipping or furnishing school buildings, including but not limited to a second high school in the district, and making improvements to Lewis-Palmer High School." He suggested that the board could redirect some of the surplus funds to other capital improvement projects.
  • 2008-09 budget revisions presented—Wangeman presented adjustments to the budget for the current school year. Some major factors affecting the budget included an enrollment decline of 102 FTE students, increased energy and fuel costs, and a decline in vehicle sales that has resulted in reductions in Specific Ownership Tax revenues received by the district.
  • New director district boundaries approved—The board unanimously approved new school board director district boundaries based on changes in the Tri-Lakes area population. Eaton said the selected boundaries yielded more equal numbers of residents in each director district than the other alternatives considered. The boundaries were last adjusted in 2004.
  • Consent agenda items—The board unanimously approved several matters concerning students, personnel, and finances.
  • Board comments—Pike suggested the district may be able to recruit more volunteers to do fundraising and perform tasks to help reduce district costs. John Mann remarked on how refreshing it was to talk with the students involved with S4O.

At 10:50 p.m., the board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters and negotiations. Eaton said no actions were anticipated following the executive session.


The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the District’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The next regular monthly meeting of the board will be held Dec. 18 at 6 p.m.

The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org

The Monument Academy Web site is at www.monumentacademy.net

See additional D-38 articles on the DAAC and SEAC.

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Summary of the November 4 election results

  • Representative 111th US District 5:Lamborn 60%, Bidlack 37%, Scott 3%
  • State Senate District 4: Sheffel 76%, Alsup 24%
  • State Representative  District 20: Stephens 76%, Hejtmanek 24%
  • County Commissioner District 2: Lathen 69%, Hunter 31%
  • County Commissioner District 3: Clark 66%, Berry 34%
  • County Commissioner District 4: Hisey 57%, Vigil 43%
  • All judges retained
  • Measure 1A - County Question: NO 60%, YES 40%
  • Measure 3A - Academy School District 20 Question: YES 54%, NO 46%
  • Measure 3C - Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Question: NO 54%, YES 46%

For complete results, go to www.elpasoelections.com/2008general/results-text.html

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Nov. 5: Lagoon violations trigger fee increase

By Susan Hindman

Over an eight-month period starting in November 2007, the Academy Water and Sanitation District was out of compliance in its levels of BOD five times, prompting a notice of "significant noncompliance" from the Water Quality Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The letter requested a plan of action and threatened fines of up to $10,000 a day if action isn’t taken.

Carbonaceous BOD is the biological oxygen demand for treated discharge effluent. Testing measures the amount of organic pollution in the water that demands oxygen, and the results have to fall within a certain range to be acceptable to the state.

At the meeting of the Academy board on Nov. 5, likely reasons for the high numbers were discussed as well as what it will take to bring the district into compliance. One of the solutions requires spending an additional $91,000 that was not budgeted for 2009. This led the board to raise water and sewer fees starting Jan. 1.

The meeting included Jerry Jacobson, the district’s operator until August, when he left to take another job, and Fred Ladd, who offers engineering support. Anthony Pastorello is the current operator.

The district was out of compliance for BOD in November and December 2007, and January, April, and June 2008. January’s and April’s test results exceeded the state’s maximum limit of 40 milligrams per liter; the other numbers were less than that but still too high. Pastorello added that the numbers were high again in August.

"We have 14 days to respond and bring to the state a plan as to what improvements we plan on making to resolve it," said Richard DuPont, board president.

Twofold problem begins with blowers

Academy’s waste is handled in two of the three lagoons on the district’s Spring Valley Drive property. Blowers aerate both lagoons, keeping the solids circulating and introducing more oxygen into the water to enhance the growth of microbes, which work to get rid of solids. The blowers not only distribute raw sewage throughout the first lagoon, where the sewage first enters, they also contribute to some of that effluent being discharged into the second lagoon. In mild temperatures, the blowers cycle on and off, allowing some of the sludge to settle.

Jacobson believes the high BOD readings in winter stem from him continuously running the blowers in the lagoons, to prevent the blowers from freezing. The blowers sit on the waterline. If they freeze, they are troublesome to thaw because access to them is difficult, he said, "and I didn’t want the blowers to be nonfunctional." Ladd agreed, saying the concern is getting them started again and added that the lagoon "can’t go for a week without aeration."

Jacobson said he wrote letters to the state at the time explaining the weather conditions and his response to those conditions, and that it’s what contributed to the high numbers. In February and March, the numbers were in compliance because he didn’t have to run the blowers in the same way during that time.

Sludge levels too high

While the blowers are to blame for the winter violations, the spring and summer violations are caused by different situations. One suspect is ammonia, which can register higher readings in winter and continue to affect BOD levels into the spring. "We’ve had some very high ammonia numbers," Jacobson said.

Algae are another suspect. While a certain amount of algae is good for the lagoons, if it gets out of control, as can happen at the end of winter, it can cause the pH numbers to go up. Chemicals are then used to treat the algae, but those chemicals can accumulate in the sludge, Jacobson said.

Compounding that problem, Pastorello said, is the depth of sludge currently in the primary lagoon. Over the years, there’s a natural buildup of sludge, which is the "waste" of microbes. Usually, there is about a foot of sludge at the bottom of the lagoon; a recent draw-down, however, revealed 4 feet of sludge, with 6 to 8 feet at the edges—totaling around 500,000 gallons. The second lagoon had about half that amount. Sludge is typically supposed to be cleaned out of the lagoons every 10 years, he said, but Academy’s lagoons haven’t been cleaned in 22 years.

Too much sludge can reduce the lagoon’s efficiency by up to 50 percent, Ladd said. Because it reduces the water depth, the excess nutrients in the sludge cause algae to bloom in spring and summer—the green that appears on the surface of water that looks like grass. This boosts BOD numbers.

So the sludge needs to be removed. Pastorello said he got two bids for sludge removal, and the board voted to approve one company’s bid of $91,000. Work will start in April 2009.

Ladd will write the letter to the state that includes the district’s analysis of what’s wrong and how it plans to correct the problems.

Budget shortfall looming

How to pay for the upcoming expenses brought a discussion about the challenges to this year’s and next year’s budgets. Because the 2008 actual budget has exceeded projected costs, Treasurer Walter Reiss estimates a shortfall of $35,000 for this year. The numbers will be recalculated after the new assessed values of homes in the district are released in December.

The larger number looming is in the 2009 budget, with the unexpected cost of removing the sludge. That will throw the budget $91,000 in the red.

There was a lengthy discussion about where the extra money for next year could come from: cutting back on current budgeted expenses, such as scheduled maintenances; taking money out of one of the CDs, which would mean dipping into the district’s reserves; taking out a loan; and/or raising residential fees.

The problem with deferring maintenances for another year is that 2010 will bring its own challenges as the district starts to prepare for new statewide wastewater regulations regarding ammonia treatment. Academy currently cannot treat ammonia, so a new wastewater treatment facility needs to be planned before its operating permit, which expires in 2010, will be renewed.

Though there was no vote Nov. 5, the board is leaning toward taking the CD money. Director Jim Weilbrenner said the board also needed to look at increasing residential sewer and water fees. After much discussion, the board voted to increase the monthly service fees by $5 for water and $10 for wastewater. The $15 per household extra fees will generate $54,000 a year. The increase will be effective Jan. 1.

"We have no other way to pay for improvements or emergencies," DuPont said later, regarding the way the district is set up. "I was not at all happy to raise it because my bill goes up like everyone else’s."

Reiss also reported that 10 residents are over 90 days past due on their bills. The total amount owed by them is $9,500.

Other items

Pastorello said hydrant flushing is complete. The hydrant on Stella and Becky Drives is out of service, so it has a black plastic bag on it to alert firefighters not to use it in case of a fire.

A number of other issues have been corrected, including replacing gate valves that manipulate the flow between the lagoons; fixing the electrical spikes that occurred when the pumps started up and shut down; and installing a new outflow box, which regulates the level of the water in the lagoon. In addition, the first 20 new water meters and transmitters have been installed in homes. The remaining will continue to be installed over the next three years.

The district’s third lagoon, which is currently not operable, was originally going to be filled with dirt. But Pastorello says he wants to keep it empty as a backup to the other lagoons, in case of an emergency.


The Academy Water and Sanitation District board usually meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting, however, is Dec. 10.

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority Field Trip Nov. 4 and Meeting Nov. 19: Authority visits Rueter-Hess Reservoir, considers joining coalition to bring water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Below: Aerial view of the Rueter-Hess Reservoir under construction. This photo and the map above are from a presentation posted at www.rueterhess.com

By John Heiser

On November 4, representatives of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) visited the Rueter-Hess Reservoir project near Parker, Colorado. At the PPRWA’s regular monthly meeting November 19, the group discussed joining a new coalition that is looking into bringing water to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in the northwest corner of Colorado.

Rueter-Hess Reservoir

The Rueter-Hess Reservoir is three miles southwest of downtown Parker on Newlin Gulch, a tributary drainage of Cherry Creek. According to the Parker Water and Sanitation District, the earth-filled dam will rise 185 feet and the reservoir will encompass 1,170 acres, which is about one and a half times the size of the Cherry Creek Reservoir. The district’s web site says, "Rueter-Hess employs a water management system that captures surface water, especially storm runoff, that normally would be lost downstream. By storing water, it allows the Parker Water District to meet demands during peak summer months and extend the life of underground water aquifers."

Planning for the project started in 1985. Construction started in 2004 and is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2010. When completed, the reservoir will hold about 72,000 acre-feet and there will be water within about ¼ mile of I-25. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

There is more information on the Rueter-Hess Reservoir at www.pwsd.org/rueter_hess_reservoir.php and at www.rueterhess.com

Flaming Gorge/Green River pipeline

Several years ago, entrepreneur Aaron Million proposed the Regional Watershed Supply Project. Million proposed to construct a pipeline from the Green River in northwestern Colorado east across Interstate 80 to the Front Range and then south to Pueblo. Million said his privately-developed project would create 3.8 million acre-feet of storage in Flaming Gorge, include hydroelectric power generation, and pump 165,000 to 250,000 acre-feet of water per year through the proposed pipeline. Million estimated the project would take 3-5 years to complete and cost $2-$3 billion.

The project is now being pursued by a Colorado/Wyoming coalition of water providers led by Frank Jaeger, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District. According to Gary Barber, PPRWA manager, Jaeger has contacted Wyoming water providers along the I-80 corridor and is now looking for Colorado water providers to join the coalition. Jaeger is asking those who want to be part of the effort to pay $10,000.

Barber said Jaeger is currently seeking permission from the federal Bureau of Reclamation and from the Wyoming and Colorado divisions of natural resources to conduct a due diligence analysis of the project. Barber said Jaeger is also seeking potential sources of federal funding for the project.

Jaeger’s plan would be to deliver the water to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir. If Tri-Lakes area water providers decide to participate in the project, they would have to find a way to bring the water south.

According to Jaeger, the total demand from the Wyoming water suppliers is less than 25,000 acre-feet. The combined demand from the PPRWA members is about 25,000 acre-feet per year. Areas to the north of the Tri-Lakes area have anticipated shortfalls of about 400,000 acre-feet per year so some question whether there will be any water from the project to service the local area.

Barber was asked to arrange for Jaeger to address the PPRWA at its December 17 meeting.

Revised 2009 budget distributed

Dana Duthie, General Manager of the Donala Water and Sanitation District and treasurer of the PPRWA, distributed copies of a revised 2009 budget based on a two-tier dues structure. Districts serving or with potential to serve 1,200 or more single family equivalents (SFE) would pay $15,000, down from $25,000 for 2008. Districts with fewer than 1,200 SFE actual or potential customers would pay $5,000 per year. In addition, associate membership would be offered at $1,000.

Duthie estimated total revenue for the year to be $95,000. Administrative expenses and contingency are projected to total $154,000 leaving a $59,000 deficit and an estimated ending fund balance of $41,200.

The costs of any projects undertaken by the authority would be divided among the participating districts.

Conservation plan proposals distributed

Rocky Wiley of Rothberg, Tamburini, and Winsor Engineering distributed copies of two proposals to prepare a conservation plan for the authority. The lower cost one, at about $20,000, would prepare the plan but minimize the amount of public input included. The second proposal, for about $44,000, would have greatly expanded public input and public education. Action on the proposals was postponed to give PPRWA members time to review them.

Following the public meeting, the PPRWA went into an executive session to discuss negotiations and to receive legal advice.


The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held December 17 at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second Street in Monument. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

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Triview Metropolitan District Board meeting, Oct. 29: District debt temporarily converted from annual to weekly variable rate bonds

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 29, the Triview Metropolitan District Board unanimously approved the recommendation of investment banker Sam Sharp of D.A. Davidson for remarketing the district’s $47.6 million bond debt to convert one-year variable rate bonds to one-week variable rate bonds. However, Sharp advised the board that since it made the decision to start the conversion on Sept. 23, the prevailing interest rate on 30-year fixed rate bonds had risen dramatically and was still too high to be acceptable during the financial market turbulence that began after that meeting. Bond attorney Kim Casey of Kutac Rock LLP, who will represent the district in the approved short-term bond sale, explained the procedures for issuing weekly bonds. When long-term interest rates drop to a level acceptable to the Triview board, Sharp and Casey will initiate another re-marketing process.

Board President Bob Eskridge’s absence was excused.

The board had decided at the regular Sept. 23 meeting to convert its 2003 and 2006 series of annual variable rate bonds to long term fixed rate bonds when they expired on Nov. 1. Sharp had advised the board at that meeting that long term interest rates had become low enough, 6.75 to 8 percent, for the board to consider re-marketing the bonds. On Sept. 23, the total interest and marketing costs for re-marketing the debt under the letter of credit from Compass Bank for annual variable rate bonds was 5.75 percent.

Sharp also noted that weekly and monthly variable interest bond rates were low enough to provide a short term hedge while waiting for long term rates to drop further after Nov. 1. If the long term bond rates don’t appear to be dropping and the weekly rates start rising, Sharp said he would advise the board to hold a special meeting and go back to annual variable rate bonds. Sharp also noted on Sept. 23 that the board could obtain bond insurance at 1 percent. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n10.htm#tmd for more a more complete report on background details on this rapidly changing and complicated financing issue.)

These two bond issues are currently being repaid with revenue from 35 mills of property tax. The board raised the district’s mill levy from 25 mills to 35 mills on Dec. 11, 2007, to qualify for the first $2 million in Colorado Water and Power Authority loans to pay for Triview’s share of expansion costs for the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n1.htm#tmd for more details.)

The Authority also has the option to require the district to further raise interest rates if it does not believe Triview will be able to make loan payments on this initial $2 million loan or the second $2 million loan it recently extended to the district. These loans are being used to pay for cost overruns on the expansion of the Upper Monument Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility that is jointly owned by Donala Water and Sanitation District, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, and Triview.

At the Oct. 28 meeting, Sharp told the board that the bond market had crumbled since the previous board meeting, that long term bond rates had risen, but short term bond rates were low again. If the long term rate does not promptly drop to 5.5 to 6.25 percent after the Nov. 4 election as expected on Sept. 23, the board could re-market the weekly bonds to annual bonds for another year.

Sharp said that he was pleasantly surprised to learn that Triview had just been given an "A–" credit rating by Standard and Poor’s, which he called a very strong rating for any special district, equal to any big city in Colorado. This new credit rating will lower Triview’s future interest rates and may enable the district to get bond insurance to further raise its credit rating. However, only one bond insurance company was still issuing bond insurance on Oct. 29 and had rejected Triview due to its heavy reliance on sales tax revenue through the Town of Monument.

In August, an A– rating would have allowed Triview to get 30-year bonds at 5.5 percent, but rates have jumped to 6.5-7.0 percent due to turbulence. "I don’t think the fixed rate option makes a lot of sense right now," Sharp added. He recommended that the district should strive to get a AAA rating when bond insurance becomes available again, since weekly rates had just dropped to 2.5 percent earlier in the day. The rate was also 2.5 percent in September when the board opted to convert. Since September, weekly rates had peaked at 8 percent, "but make more sense now." Longer-term rates have not come down. "There are some really scary deals going on." Sharp also noted that the board could vote at another board meeting to switch to bond terms of one month to 12 months in the interim based on prevailing rates if weekly rates start to rise.

Casey discussed a "180-day parameters resolution" she had drafted for re-marketing the district debt as weekly bonds with a standing order for Casey to start a long-term bond sale if long-term rates fall to 6.5 percent for a bond term of 30 to 35 years. She asked the board to identify a person or persons, "sale delegate(s)," that could tell Davidson to start a long-term bond sale in a fast-moving market.

Casey said the first conversion step would be to issue a re-marketing memorandum. Once the decision is made by the board president (or another designated director if the president is absent) to re-market again for long term bonds, Sharp would issue a preliminary official statement that would set the sale date at whatever interest rate was prevailing on that particular day. It is acceptable for the board president or the designee to survey directors individually by phone before issuing the order to re-market, once Sharp has informed them all of the parameters of the sale.

Sharp would then consult with potential investors to see what final rate would have to be offered for them to be interested in buying the fixed-rate bonds. The actual market rate would not be known until the long-term bonds were offered for sale, most likely by conference call with investors. The district could withdraw from the process if the rate was too high, but would still be obligated to pay all the administrative costs leading up to the conference call. Board vice president Robert Fisher volunteered to be the designee.

Casey noted that the board’s resolution to start the weekly bond re-marketing states that the Triview board commits to future bondholders that it will "levy an unlimited property tax" in order to make the bond payments. The board can take other expected sales tax revenues into account when increasing the property tax. Triview’s attorney Pete Susemihl advised that this is the same board promise and risk that exists for the variable rate bonds that Compass Bank currently issues for the district. Davidson would provide specific parameters to the sale delegate or designee at the decision point. Casey also reviewed the numerous other official documents that are required for a weekly variable bond sale, effective Nov. 1.

Casey added that Kim Crawford of Sherman & Howard would serve as bond counsel to D.A. Davidson.

Sharp noted that Compass Bank is the "buyer of last resort" if no other investor will buy bonds. Compass would charge a "penalty rate" in that circumstance.

The board, with some nervous laughter, unanimously approved the resolution to re-market the bonds on a weekly basis, with Fisher added as the designee.

District Administrator Dale Hill reported that the district would be making a bond payment of $1,616,763.77 to Compass Bank on Nov. 1 for the expiring $47.6 million in annual bonds.

The board unanimously approved a payment of $20,000 to subcontractor Mark Snoddy for construction of a secure 12 foot by 18 foot insulated building to protect the new district well on the southwest corner of Promonory Pointe. Snoddy currently performs snow removal, street sweeping, and landscaping for Triview.

District Manager Ron Simpson reported that he had received proposals for water and wastewater operations in 2009 from Monument Public Works, Donala and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Districts, plus two unsolicited private contractor bids (one from Snoddy.) Simpson said they would discuss the proposals in detail in executive session. Monument’s bid for 2009 was $213,800. The amounts of the four other bids were not discussed.

Simpson asked the board to schedule work sessions to finalize the 2009 budget. He asked the directors to consider where the staff offices should be moved to when the lease on the current building expires. Some of the options discussed were to rent space in the old Town Hall building on Second Street after the town staff moves to its new building, or install a new modular building by the district’s well and storage tanks on the northeast corner of the vacant Promontory Pointe development at Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road.

The meeting went into executive session at 6:30 p.m.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District Board Meeting, Nov. 24: District completes purchase of $4.8 million ranch

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting Nov. 24, the board unanimously approved a resolution completing the purchase of the Mount Massive Ranch for $4.78 million. The ranch is approximately 711 acres and is about 7 miles southwest of Leadville.

Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, said the deal provides rights to at least 225 acre-feet per year of surface water rights. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. According to Duthie, 225 acre-feet represents about 20 percent of the district’s yearly total water use. A water court ruling will be needed to convert the water rights from agricultural uses to district use. Duthie said the district expects the final adjudicated amount to be closer to 300 acre-feet per year. If as a result of the water court case, the district receives rights to more than 225 acre-feet, the district would pay the prior owner, Ronald Strich, an additional $8,000 per acre-foot with an escalation clause if the water court case is not resolved within two years.

Appraisals estimated the value of the water rights at $3.38 million and the value of the water plus the land at $5.03 million.

Duthie noted that in the interest of avoiding potential opposition during the water court case, district representatives plan to meet with Lake County officials to determine whether they would prefer that the land be developed or kept as open space. The district is planning to offer hunting and outdoor recreation opportunities on the ranch.

Due to the unstable credit market at this time, the district decided to finance the purchase from cash on hand, including part of the $5.8 million it has invested with Davidson Fixed Income Management, and a resolution was passed to reimburse from future financing when it is appropriate.

Board President Dennis Daugherty presided at the Nov. 24 meeting. Board members Dick Durham, Tim Murphy, and Dale Schendzielos were present. William George was absent.

2009 budget and unchanged mill levies approved

In the revised 2009 budget Duthie distributed, total projected annual revenue is $7.4 million. Some of the larger amounts are $2.5 million for the wastewater plant expansion, $1.7 million from water sales, $1.2 million from property taxes, and $860,000 from sewer service.

2009 expenses for operations and administration are projected at $4.0 million. Some of the larger amounts are $675,000 for wastewater plant expenses, $518,000 for salaries, $500,000 for repairs and maintenance, $494,000 for repayment of loans, and $350,000 for utilities.

Capital project expenses are estimated at $6.5 million, including $2.5 million for the continuing wastewater treatment plant expansion and $2.9 million for the district’s pursuit of renewable water.

The projected ending total fund balance is $6.6 million, down $3.9 million from the projected ending fund balance for 2008.

The board unanimously approved unchanged property tax mill levies of 16.296 mills for those customers receiving water and sewer service and 8.148 mills for those customers who receive only water service. The latter category currently includes only properties in Chaparral Hills but will also include the Brown Ranch on Roller Coaster Road near Higby if it is developed as 2.5-acre parcels.

Water rate increases approved

The approved budget was based on the following revised residential water rates for 2009:


Rate per 1,000 gallons/month

Range (gallons) Old rate New rate Increase
0-10,000  $     2.75  $    3.00 9%
10,001-20,000  $     3.60  $    3.90 8%
20,001-30,000  $     4.00  $    4.40 10%
30,001-40,000  $     5.00  $    5.50 10%
40,001-50,000  $     7.00  $    7.70 10%
Above 50,000  $     8.00  $    8.80 10%

The proposed townhome irrigation water rates match the above residential rates up to 40,000 gallons per month. Over 40,000 gallons, the irrigation rate would be $7.00 per 1,000 gallons per month, or $6.00 per 1,000 gallons per month for those townhome projects that have made significant reductions in their irrigated landscaping.

The rate for reuse water for the golf course is proposed to cost $2.36 per 1,000 gallons per month, up from $2.25 per 1,000 gallons per month. Untreated water from the district’s wells is proposed to cost the golf course $3.30 per 1,000 gallons per month, up from $3.00 per 1,000 gallons per month.

The residential water development fee charged developers is proposed to increase from $4,500 per lot to $5,000 per lot. The residential sewer development fee is proposed to increase from $1,000 per lot to $2,000 per lot.

Residential water and sewer tap fees would remain unchanged at $6,000 each. Availability of service fees charged owners of vacant lots would be unchanged at $300 per year. Commercial tap fees and development fees would remain unchanged as well.

Golf course owner addresses the board

Miles Scully, owner of the Gleneagle Golf Club, said he has owned the course for about five years. He noted that the course has lost money every year he has owned it.

Scully said the townhome development proposal is needed to allow him to seek financing for the $1.5 million cost for improvements to the irrigation system. He added that those improvements would save water. He said lenders will not lend money using the golf course as collateral but would be willing to lend money on platted land.

Noting that there is "a lot of opposition" to the townhome project, he said he is meeting with some of those who have concerns to see what can be done to address those concerns.

In response to a question from board member Dick Durham, Scully said he has received two unsolicited offers to buy the course. One of those offers was from someone who reportedly intends to close the course and develop the land. Scully said, "I have no intention to sell."

Duthie added, "There is not water available to develop the whole course."

Other matters

  • During the three months from Aug. 1 through Oct. 31, the district’s $5.8 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 3.51 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 1.94 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 3.3 months. Scott Prickett of Davidson attended the meeting and reported on the characteristics and performance of the district’s portfolio of fixed income investments. He remarked on the recent market volatility and rapidly declining yields. He said a further rate cut by the Federal Reserve is expected Dec. 16.
  • Duthie reported that at its meeting Nov. 5, the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) addressed Duthie’s suggestion that since the authority has completed its current projects, it should be disbanded, the EPCWA’s responsibilities for administrating the Transit Loss Model and coordinating with other entities should be transferred to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), and the EPCWA’s member districts should be encouraged to join the PPRWA. Duthie said most members of the EPCWA want to keep the authority going as is, with member dues unchanged from last year, but are considering meeting less often than monthly.
  • Duthie reported on a Nov. 4 PPRWA tour of the Rueter-Hess Reservoir and the Nov. 19 PPRWA meeting. See the PPRWA article.
  • Duthie reported that the radiology problems with some of the district’s wells have emerged as a potential problem at the waste plant. When the biosolids were tested, they slightly exceeded the radiology limits allowed for disposal at the Midway landfill. The district has been given three weeks to correct the problem and retest. Duthie said it plans to do increased mixing with water from wells with lower radiology levels. If the district cannot bring the levels within the allowed limits, the sludge would have to be hauled to a different landfill at significantly higher costs to the district.
  • Duthie noted that start up of the sequencing batch reaction equipment at the wastewater treatment plant is now expected Dec. 9.
  • Duthie reported that additional discussions have been held with the regulatory agencies that control Monument Creek water quality. The agencies are tightening the standards for effluent discharged into the creek. For more information, see the Joint Use Committee article.

Following the public meeting, the board went into an executive session to discuss personnel, negotiations, and water purchase issues.


No meeting is scheduled in December. The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. The district’s Web site is at www.donalawater.org

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Donala xeriscaping project proceeds yard by yard

Below: Carol and Terry Bramschreiber's front yard before the Water Returns project began was mainly rock and grass. 

Below: They got rid of the grass and arranged drought-tolerant, colorful perennials within two different watering zones, and interspersed plants among the rocks in the front.

By Susan Hindman

In May, OCN talked to two of the nine households in the Donala Water and Sanitation District participating in the Water Returns xeriscaping project. The program featured workshops that ran from April through September and sent participants to the drawing board in search of the right plan for xeriscaping their yards. What happened over the summer?

Carol and Terry Bramschreiber of Gleneagle jumped into the project enthusiastically and, over the course of the summer, completed one part of their plan: the front yard. Doing the work themselves, they hauled loads of rocks—the landscaping choice of the previous owners—from one section of the yard to the ditch area, ripped out sod, laid down flagstone for a walkway, put in soil amendments, picked up loads of free mulch from Black Forest’s slash and mulch program, and planted. They learned how to use a rototiller and sod cutter.

They installed a drip system and separated the area into two watering zones. Plants in the higher watering zone include delphiniums, butterfly bush, shrub roses, lupines, lilacs, salvias, catmint, blue mist spirea, Mexican feather grass, an apple tree, artemisia Powis Castle, potentillas, ice plants, and various kinds of sedum. The low-watering zone contains Jupiter’s beard, daylilies, lemons and oranges, gaillardia, sumac, serviceberry, Russian sage, agastache, penstemon, purple coneflowers, and autumn joy sedum.

The centerpiece is a large evergreen, which they’re still debating on keeping or pulling out. Dwarf red twig dogwoods replaced junipers that once hid the home’s front windows. Carpet junipers dot the rock area in front.

"We had no idea that Bermuda Dunes (their street) was so well named," said Carol. "There’s so much sand. It was like the beach, so we had to put in soil amendments." But, she added, "xeric plants love sandy soil because it doesn’t keep the roots wet."

Because much of the planting was done in late June, they only saw late-summer colors. So spring blooms, she said, "will be a surprise."

"I’m excited to see how it’s going to all come together," she added. "I’m happy with how it is at this point. We’ve got a foundation now." By doing it in stages—the side and back yards are on the drawing board—they’ll be able to see where the "holes" are and where more color is needed. Their plan paid attention to each season’s colors. The goal is a "cottage garden," which she describes as full of flowering plants, with little dirt or mulch showing.

They put in a garden in the side yard, with mixed results. Lessons learned will make a difference in the veggie garden they’re planning next year. They’ll also try to start some plants from seed to help with the cost.

As for winter, they’re hoping to escape the gopher and vole problems that neighbors have warned them about.

As they worked this summer, people would stop by and ask about the "great experiment," she said. And dovetailing off her experiences with Water Returns, Carol helped organize a community garden at District 20’s Discovery Canyon. She worked with a master gardener, and the kids took over from there. One Eagle Scout put in six garden beds in September with the help of the rest of his Scout troop; in October, fourth-graders at the school planted garlic bulbs from around the world. Another Scout will lead the troop in building fences.

For Ken Valdez, another Water Returns participant who lives in The Park in Fox Run, things didn’t happen quite the way he might have liked. He was going to use contractors, but for various reasons, that fell through. Undaunted, he’s eagerly looking ahead to next year, when he’ll take the plans he’s created and do the bulk of the work himself.

He couldn’t say enough about the program, which he called "fantastic."

"It has been an outstanding experience," Valdez said. "I learned a lot about design and order and varieties of plants and groupings and color and texture and maintenance and care." It has taken some time to "digest" the information and decide how to apply it. But his plan is for "an outdoor living space as an extension of the indoor living space," he said. "It has a place for gathering, a sitting area, a viewing area, a garden that’s functional, and an area where there could be more activity"—a place for kids, dogs, and a putting green.

He says he’s not frustrated that it’s not that far along. "This is a process," he said, "so when it comes together, it will look beautiful."

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Nov. 11: Budget hearing, annual meeting scheduled for Dec. 9

By Jim Kendrick

Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Manager Bill Burks distributed the final draft of the 2009 budget for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility to the Joint Use Committee (JUC) on Nov. 11. The directors scheduled a public hearing for this budget and the corresponding 2009 appropriation resolution. These hearings will be held at the facility on Dec. 9 at 10 a.m.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. All three primary representatives of the JUC, the facility’s board, were present: President Dale Platt from Palmer Lake, Vice President Lowell Morgan from Monument, and Secretary-Treasurer Benny Nasser. Several other directors and staff members from the three districts also attended.

The JUC also scheduled the annual JUC meeting for Dec. 9 at 11:30 a.m. The annual meeting is attended by all the directors for each of the three owning districts, as well as all staff members. Nasser asked that consideration of a Woodmoor proposal to conduct a review of the current Joint Use Agreement in 2009 be placed on the annual meeting agenda. This agreement governs facility operations and cost-sharing procedures and has not been revised in over a decade. Woodmoor District Manager Phil Steininger stopped acting as the executive agent for facility management at the end of 2006, with Burks taking over supervision of all facility operations. The current agreement does not reflect this change. This Woodmoor proposal will be the sole agenda item for the annual meeting.

Burks reported that new operator Mike Ortiz had successfully completed testing for his Class D wastewater operations license. Burks also noted that Woodmoor civil engineer Jessie Shaffer had inspected the recently completed project to stabilize the west bank of Monument Creek near the facility’s effluent discharge chute. Photos of the project taken during the inspection were forwarded to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its final review of the project. Burks noted that all the replanted vegetation and the existing willows on the creek bank are doing well.

Burks said that the copper concentration level in the discharged effluent in October was 12.2 parts per billion. The minimum detectable copper concentration is 5 parts per billion. Burks said this means about 21 pounds of copper are being treated by the facility each month.

Burks said that the copper limits for the new permit "may be based on the last two years of facility performance plus 15 percent." He added, "This is all speculation, so let’s not get too excited." At the Oct. 14 JUC meeting, Burks noted that the state’s permit writers have indicated that the current temporary permit modification for copper waiver, a maximum average of 24.8 PPB and a maximum of 36.4 PPB per sample, may be extended for the new permit while the ongoing water quality sampling study for Monument Creek flows upstream and downstream of the facility is being conducted by his staff. Limits will be set for the facility’s new five-year discharge permit before the end of 2009 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The committee discussed options for initiating future reuse of treated effluent. Most of the Tri-Lakes effluent is groundwater, but no effluent has been recycled to date. Currently non-potable raw groundwater is used for irrigating school athletic fields and golf courses.

Woodmoor Operations Superintendent Randy Gillette briefed the JUC on progress in renovating the emergency drainage infrastructure for Lake Woodmoor. Gillette said the construction project would be completed by mid-December and the district would then begin refilling the lake.

The JUC went into executive session to discuss personnel matters at 10:48 a.m. The JUC adjourned immediately after returning to open session.


The next regular meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Dec. 9 at the facility conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Regular meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. The annual JUC meeting will then be held at 11:30 a.m. Information: 481-4053.

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Palmer Lake Sanitation District Board, Nov. 11: Monthly rates will increase; Dale Smith named to board

By Jim Kendrick

At its regular meeting on Nov. 11, the Palmer Lake Sanitation District Board voted unanimously to raise the district’s residential and commercial sanitary sewer service rates by 7.7 percent starting on Jan. 1. For homeowners, the monthly rate will increase from $26 to $28.

For commercial customers, the 7.7 percent increase also applies to each step of the tiered use rate schedule. For example, the rate for each 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons per month increases from $4.16 to $4.48.

The board unanimously appointed Dale Smith, the retired chief of the Palmer Lake Police Department, to the board for a two-year period effective the day of the meeting. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v6n8.htm#smith)

Smith will fill the position previously held by former board President Kathleen Williams. She resigned at the conclusion of the Oct. 14 board meeting. Williams has moved and no longer owns property or lives within the district’s boundaries, a requirement for serving on a special district board. Director Dale Platt has replaced Williams as board president. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n11.htm#stallsmith )

2009 budget hearing announced

The public hearing for the final 2009 district budget will be held during the next board meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 in the district conference room, 120 Middle Glenway.


Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-2732.

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Monument Sanitation District Board meeting, Nov. 20: 2009 budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Sanitation District Board unanimously approved the 2009 budget and the associated appropriation at a public hearing held during its regular board meeting on Nov. 20. Because the district is debt free, there was no mill levy certification required for 2009. District manager Mike Wicklund and district CPA Ray Russell, of Haynie and Co., explained each of the revisions made in the final budget.

All directors were present. Larry Gaddis, the district’s attorney, also attended the meeting.

The board also unanimously approved an amendment to the 2008 budget and appropriation in a separate public hearing. Unexpected capital expenses for repairing and relining several vitreous clay collection lines required the addition of $170,000 to the $105,000 originally budgeted for district capital improvements. Russell advised the board to increase the appropriation for this line item by $195,000 in case there are any additional unexpected problems before the end of the year.

The meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.


The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 18 at the district office, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board, Nov. 13: Board discusses repairs, drainage easement

By Harriet Halbig

At the Nov. 13 meeting of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board, District Manager Phil Steininger commented that the district will probably exceed its budget due to increases in fuel and utilities expenses.

All members of the board were present at the meeting.

The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) had met twice since the October meeting of the Woodmoor group. In mid-October it conducted some sampling for water quality and has asked the U.S. Geological Survey for $1,000 to help defray the cost of the testing. The JUC said that both of its aeration basins are up and running. The only change they have noted in water quality is a rise in copper. It was noted that the Town of Monument hopes to pass a resolution to stop the use of copper tubing in new construction.

Board President Benny Nasser announced that the annual meeting of the JUC will take place on Dec. 9 at 11:30 a.m. He suggested that it would be prudent to look at the JUC’s agreement and bring it up to date, as it was last updated over a decade ago. He also said that a study of endocrine disrupters in the water supply had been suggested and asked whether the board would wish to participate.

Consultant engineer Mike Rothberg, of Tetra Tech-RTW, stated that it would be a research study that would require board permission to do the sampling, and there would be no public disclosure of the results. Nasser commented that Donala had recently sampled its water and found nothing problematical.

Matthew Merit of Classic Consulting made a presentation on behalf of the Village Center at Woodmoor, at the southeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive.

Merit said that the drainage system for the development is based on three drainage ponds at various elevations, with pipes connecting them. He said that the developers wished to request an easement along the edge of one of the ponds in order to adequately reinforce it against overflow in the event of a 100-year flow.

He pointed out a recent problem along Jackson Creek Parkway and Bowstring Road where storm water overflowed onto Jackson Creek Parkway to a depth of several inches and significant erosion occurred between these roads due to inadequate drainage. He said that a similar problem could occur on Knollwood if the drainage in Village Center were inadequate.

When asked whether any Woodmoor Water and Sanitation property was in the area requested, District Civil Engineer Jessie Shaffer said that there are no above-ground utilities in the area and any plumbing below ground is outside the area requested.

Steininger asked how the proposed earthen berm required on the easement would be maintained if it were on Woodmoor property. Merit replied that permission would be sought for access to make repairs.

Steininger then asked if Monument would take over responsibility for repairs if the
Village Center group went out of existence. A representative from Monument said that a private pond maintenance agreement exists that would allow the town to step in.

Director Jim Whitelaw expressed concern that the existence of such ponds would attract kids to explore and suggested that fences should be placed around them. He was concerned with liability issues.

Merit said that he felt it was not a danger within the Village Center area, but suggested that a fence could be built along the border with Woodmoor.

Board attorney Erin Smith commented that it might be wise for Woodmoor, Village Center, and the Town of Monument to enter into a three-way agreement regarding this issue. She also said that a slope easement might be necessary.

The representative from Monument commented that overflow from any flooding could affect protected Preble’s mouse territory near I-25, thus involving the state and federal authorities.

When asked what alternatives would result from not approving the easement, Merit said that the primary alternative would be releasing more water from the ponds, which would flow into open pastureland. He said that one of the ponds would be difficult to drain as it would be below the water table in that area. In addition, to enlarge a pond, building lots would be sacrificed.

The board agreed to further discuss the matter during the executive session at the end of the meeting.

Shaffer reported on action by the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, which is examining the construction of Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Colorado-Wyoming border. He said the authority is looking for letters of intent from its member organizations.

In a discussion of improvements being made at Lake Woodmoor, Steininger said that the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) is requesting that riprap be placed in the Cheyenne Mountain easement. This would require maintenance agreements and realignment of sewers. He said it should be completed before the lake is refilled.

Shaffer said WIA wishes to act quickly, by the end of the following week. He said that terms are under negotiation and that the district currently was not obligated to complete any work. He added that the sense of urgency was largely due to the imminent departure of WIA’s attorney.

Shaffer also said that the owner of parts of the lakeshore in need of reinforcement, Colorado Lakeshore Properties, is also requesting that the district correct that issue before refilling the lake. The board voted to explore this possibility, not exceeding $10,000 in expense. The board would sign the agreement, then WIA would have the developer reimburse the district’s cost.

Steininger then asked that, since he will leave the board at the end of the year,

Shaffer be appointed as the board’s representative to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. This request was approved

Randy Gillette, Woodmoor’s operations superintendent, reported that hydrant flushing had been completed for the year. He said a pipeline rehab crew would be at work the following week.

Regarding construction projects within the district, it was reported that Well 20 is finished. The Lake Woodmoor dam and drainage repairs are nearing completion. Some of the repairs are a few weeks overdue, and the contractor has agreed to compress its schedule. The project was expected to be substantially completed by Dec. 1.


The next meeting of the board will be at 10 a.m. on Dec. 9 in the district conference room, 1845 Woodmoor Drive. Meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 488-2525.

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Monument Board of Trustees meeting, Nov. 3: Downtown home-based occupation code changes approved

Below: Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk thanks Monument Police Department Chaplain Ryan Michaels at the Nov. 3 Monument Board of Trustees meeting for his help in securing Intel Corporation’s donation of a trailer that will be used for first responder calls. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 3, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved a town code amendment regarding home-based occupations that the Planning Commission narrowly approved. However, the board tabled a town code amendment regarding reduced lot sizes and setbacks in standard residential zone districts that the Planning Commission had unanimously approved. The board continued a presentation on the report prepared by the town’s Architectural Design Committee regarding implementation of new downtown design guidelines to give members of the committee to read and comment on the final version of the lengthy report. Intel Corporation donated a trailer for use by the Monument Police Department. All board members were present.

Home-based occupation code expanded

The staff recommended several changes for accessory uses for home occupations in the zoning code and subdivision regulations:

  • Adding an exception to the 20 percent limit on the gross floor area and 300-square-foot size limit for accessory uses for day care, adult care homes, and foster care uses.
  • Creating Class I and Class II home occupation categories, where Class I uses have minimal impacts to surrounding neighbors and Class II would require public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees on meeting criteria and compatibility with the adjacent neighborhood.
  • Adding stricter performance standards to ensure minimal impact of authorized home occupations on the adjacent neighborhood, adding restrictions for noise, light, vibration, heat, and electrical interference to current restrictions on glare, fumes, odors, noise, and other "objectionable conditions" beyond the lot.
  • Allowing the outdoor play areas that are required by the state for licensed day care homes.
  • Clarifying that mail order businesses are an allowed home occupation.
  • Restricting parking of large commercial vehicles in residential areas – RVs are not large commercial vehicles.
  • Restricting deliveries to normal daily deliveries by public and private mail carriers.
  • Limiting operating hours for client visits to a home-based business to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with the exception that day care operations may commence at 6 a.m.
  • Adding a provision for annual inspections and additional inspections if a complaint is filed to determine if a Board of Trustees compliance hearing should be scheduled for license revocation.

There were no comments from the public during the open hearing portion of this agenda item. A revision to eliminate the restriction on Sunday operations was approved 6-1, with Drumm opposed to public operations on Sundays. The revised amendment was then unanimously approved.

Zoning code amendments

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported that the staff had reviewed the town’s zoning code and subdivision regulations at the request of the board.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith noted that downtown lots were originally platted at 50 feet by 155 feet (7750 square feet) or 60 feet by 155 feet (9,300 square feet.) In 1997 the board had changed the zoning code to increase the minimum lot size to 15,000 square feet (about 1/3 acre.) Lot owners subsequently had to apply for variances from the Board of Adjustment to remodel existing homes or build new ones on what became "legal nonconforming" downtown lots.

The application fee for a residential variance was previously reduced by the trustees from $750 to $350 on June 18. Approval of the proposed amendment would have eliminated this cost and the lengthy review process leading to a Board of Adjustment hearing. The cost of applying for a commercial variance remained at $750 plus an additional $150 fee for a retainer for any corrections that the town might have to make to bring the project into compliance with the town code should the owner fail to meet code requirements.

The staff suggested changing minimum lot size and width in R-1 single-family house areas from 15,000 square feet and 90 feet to 6,000 square feet and 50 feet to be more consistent with the original downtown plats. Griffith suggested that side setbacks be reduced from 7.5 feet to 5 feet and rear setbacks be reduced from 25 feet to 20 feet.

The staff suggested changing minimum lot size and width in R-2 single-family house areas from 9,000 square feet and 65 feet to 7,000 square feet and 50 feet. She suggested that side setbacks be reduced from 7.5 feet to 5 feet and rear setbacks be reduced from 25 feet to 20 feet.

The staff also suggested reductions in lot size and setbacks for R-3 multi-family housing to match requirements common in traditional zone districts throughout Colorado to encourage new multi-family development.

All these changes would lessen the need for applications to the Board of Adjustment for variances due to practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship resulting from enforcement of the current code for additions or new construction in downtown Monument and encourage more variety in house styles, Griffith said. More homes would help downtown business owners as well.

On Oct. 8, the Planning Commission had approved the amendment 4-1 with Commissioner Dave Gwisdalla opposed to smaller lot sizes and the possible increase in view restrictions for neighboring property owners.

Trustee Gail Drumm objected to the smaller lots being allowed in R-2 zones south of Santa Fe Avenue, noting that the board had erred in allowing houses to be "too close together" in the Trails End development at the south end of town on Old Denver Highway. He added that standard zones exist for platted vacant lots on Mitchell Avenue, where such small lots should not be allowed.

Griffith noted that there had been no homeowner complaints about this proposed code revision and no citizens or HOA representatives were present at this hearing to object to the recommended code changes. These changes would not apply to Planned Development zones such as Trails End or the new Willow Springs development. No standard house being built today would fit on a lot with the 10-foot side setbacks currently required. People are forced to buy two lots or an entire vacant block and apply for a replat to create 15,000 square foot lots. She added that the changes would allow the same kind of downtown development that has been very successful in Castle Rock.

During a lengthy discussion, some trustees were confused about where the town’s various Planned Development and standard residential zones were located. They were also unsure about how covenants, that may be more restrictive than the zoning code or individual planned development regulations, are enforced. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the town enforces the ordinances while HOAs enforce covenants with civil actions.

Kassawara observed that builders have proposed building townhomes, but can’t under the open space and setback limits in the current code.

Mayor Byron Glenn noted that all new town developments are zoned Planned Development to get around the 1997 lot size restriction to make construction affordable.

Town Manager Cathy Green said that the town had not consistently enforced the code’s 15,000 square foot provision since 1997. She noted that the town ignored the code when it approved the small lot housing development she lives in on Vista Montana Lane. Green added that there are few existing downtown houses on small lots with vacant lots next to them.

There were no comments from the public during the public hearing portion of this agenda item.

During further lengthy discussion on possible wording changes to the proposed amendment, Drumm continued to object to allowing smaller lots again because the tighter spacing blocks views. The issue was unanimously tabled when Green suggested creating an "overlay zone" that only re-authorizes the existing platted lot sizes for the downtown geographical area, similar to the unique downtown B commercial zone, so that lots smaller than 15,000 square feet would still not be allowed in standard zones anywhere else within the town boundaries.

Trustee Comments

Trustee Tommie Plank reported that Tri-Lakes Views plans to display two works of art at the new Town Hall building at Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105 and three art works at Monument Marketplace.

Trustee Travis Easton said he attended the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Health Fair and there was a good turnout.

Trustee Gail Drumm noted that the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department is considering a new requirement for indoor residential sprinkler systems to be put into effect sometime in 2009 for houses over 6,000 square feet in unincorporated areas. A new Front Range high-speed rail line alignment that would pass 15 miles east of Monument, rather than through the town, was discussed at the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority meeting on Nov. 1. Drumm said he opposed this alternative alignment.

Glenn noted that a Baptist Road interchange expansion pre-construction meeting would be held in town hall on Nov. 5. Lawrence Construction is estimating a 12-month schedule once construction begins. Glenn said he, Green, Kassawara, and Drumm met with developer Tim Irish and his design team on the Arbor Mountain senior center project located on Highway 105 east of Knollwood Drive. Irish plans to break ground in March or April, if Irish gets his revised plans back to the town staff. Irish needs to discuss whether he has obtained supplementary water for the high density housing facility.

Trailer donated to Police Department by Intel

Chief Jake Shirk announced that Intel had donated a trailer to Lighthouse Christian Fellowship for the purpose of having it turned it over to the Police Department for use in first response operations. Shirk stated that Monument Police Chaplains Angela Robbins, Dan Robbins, an Intel employee, and Ryan Michaels, a member of the fellowship, had coordinated the donation. Robbins and Michaels explained the mechanics of the donation, noting Intel’s need to donate the trailer to a non-profit organization. The fellowship wanted to help outfit it to "give back to the community." Shirk noted that the trailer is "loaded with barricades, signs, snow fencing that will really help us out on the Fourth of July. Thank you so much for the donation. We appreciate it."

The board approved two change order requests totaling $27,180 from engineering consultant Nolte Associates, Inc. for design and construction administration of the Third Street improvements project. Ayres Associates, Nolte’s storm drainage subconsultant, had asked for additional compensation to complete the design of the stormwater drainage and then turn it over to Nolte and the town. Ayres said additional work beyond the original scope of work was required to complete its portion of the overall project design.

Glenn noted that the town had recently learned that the planned location for the Third Street drainage detention pond between Monument Lake and Mitchell Avenue may be in mouse habitat. Glenn said that Lavallette Park, on the northwest corner of Beacon Lite Road and Third Street was now being considered as an alternative location for this detention pond. Outfall flows may be reduced sufficiently to change or eliminate the need for draining Third Street stormwater flows directly to Monument Lake across privately owned property as previously planned.

Easton, a Nolte civil engineer, abstained from voting. The other six trustees all approved the additional payments of $18,980 for Change Order #4 and $8,200 for Change Order #5 to Nolte.

The board unanimously approved:

  • A payment of $9,445 to All Purpose Paving, Inc for paving performed on Washington and Front Streets
  • The September financial report and sales tax report.
  • An annual liquor license renewal for Chili’s Grill & Bar at 15898 Jackson Creek Parkway.

Glenn stated that he would like the board to begin consideration of another home rule ballot initiative after the New Year. Green passed out copies of Colorado Municipal League "Home Rule Handbook" for board members to study.

The meeting adjourned at 7:46 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Nov. 17: Ordinance to help pay for new Town Hall postponed

Below: New Planning Commission Becki Tooley was sworn-in for a two-year term by Town Clerk Scott Meszaros at the Nov. 17 Monument Board of Trustees meeting. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 17, the Monument Board of Trustees opted to postpone a decision so that the staff could provide more information and options on how to amend a 2005 town ordinance that established a maximum expenditure of $2.5 million of water sales tax revenue for the new Town Hall and Police Department building. The actual cost for the lot and design, construction, financing, and improvements for the new building is $4.481 million. It is located on the southwest corner of Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105 and is about 35 percent complete.

Becki Tooley was unanimously appointed to fill a long-vacant seat on the Monument Planning Commission.

Trustees Rafael Dominguez, Travis Easton, and Steve Samuels were absent.

Emergency funding ordinance continued

Town Manager Cathy Green reviewed the background of how the three-year-old ordinance was approved by town voters in November, 2005. Due to Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits on how much revenue could be raised by the town’s 1-cent water tax used for assisting water improvements, the board initiated a ballot question asking the voters to allow the use of the excess revenues for a new police station/government facility and that the remainder be spent on the purchase, transfer, and storage of new water.

Water sales tax revenues had exceeded 10 percent of the enterprise fund’s total revenues, the TABOR limit, for several years and could not be spent on the enterprise. The excess could not be spent on any other town need without the approval of the town’s voters.

The ballot issue did not specify how much of the revenue should be spent on any of these spending categories.

Green noted that at the Oct. 17, meeting in 2005, just before the election, the board chose, in a separate action from the ballot election, to pass an ordinance that set a cap of $2.5 million as the maximum amount of the excess water sales tax revenue that could be spent on the new building. The board set the cap in response to the concerns of some citizens about how much of the water sales tax revenues would be used for a purpose other than water.

Green repeatedly noted that neither the 2005 ordinance nor the 2005 ballot question set a limit on how much the town could spend on the new police station/government facility. Specifically, there was never a $2.5 million cap set for the total cost of the building.

Many options were considered for a new police building and rejected before the 2005 election. Around the time of the election the town was considering buying an existing building and modifying it for town use for the police department and other town staff. At one point, there were two candidate buildings on Second Street under competitive consideration. Since then plans changed from buying and modifying the existing Abundant Life Church building on the northeast corner of Second and Jefferson Streets to constructing a new building on a vacant lot. Costs for various aspects of the overall project other than the possible purchase price of a building were unknown three years ago.

Green distributed a list of every expense for the building to date, a total of $1,616,691, which includes the cost of terminating and settling the contract with the original developer, Centennial Services, at the end of the design process and engaging the current general contractor, Alexandher Building Company.

The total specific cost for the building is $4.481 million, including:

  • $564,683 for the 1.13 acre lot, including closing costs
  • $240,066 for building design, engineering, and environmental, permitting, sign, traffic studies, tap and impact fees
  • $2.90 million for the 10-year lease-purchase loan from Wells Fargo Bank for the construction contract with Alexandher Construction Co.
  • $755,981 for interest and finance charges for the Wells Fargo lease-purchase
  • $20,000 for security, alarms, and phones

Some of the other points Green made were:

  • Construction costs have risen about 25 percent in the past three years.
  • The cap did not account for required police operations security costs that are not included in the construction contract, such as wiring, alarms, security cameras, and secured entries.
  • The cost of an audio/visual and speaker system and seating in the new board room were not included in the building contract.
  • There is no additional cost for furniture, phones, or upgraded fixtures – they will all be moved to the new building.

Green listed the current total of accumulated excess water sales tax revenues that exceeds the TABOR cap as $2.760 million, about $1.721 million less than the total cost of the new building. She listed three options for accumulating the additional $1.721 million via the water sales tax. Two of ten annual payments to Wells Fargo have already been made.

One proposed payment schedule would pay off the new building in five years using 60 percent of the water tax revenues collected in 2009-2013. This option would produce a total of about $1.728 million for building payments. The other 40 percent of the water tax revenues – $1.438 million for the five-year period – would be allocated to the fund for the purchase, transfer, and storage of new water. The town would still be able to fund capital projects such as infrastructure and parks projects from the general fund at a slow but steady rate.

Another proposed payment schedule using 100 percent of the water sales tax revenue for 2009-2011 would net $1.807 million with none of the revenue set aside for additional water. No money from the general fund would be used.

The third option is not to change the cap in the 2005 ordinance, making up the unfunded difference entirely from the general fund. Green stated that if the proposed amendment does not pass, the town would have to use nearly all of its unallocated general fund revenues for lease-purchase payments of $366,000 per year for the next five years, a total of $1.83 million. There would only be $348,721 available in 2009, a shortfall of $17,279. The total amount of other general fund revenue available would be only $269,577.

Treasurer Pamela Smith noted that the town’s general and TABOR reserves would have to come from this small amount of unencumbered revenue leaving little for any other contingencies or standard capital items such as road and other infrastructure repairs. There would be scarce funding for any large emergency project that might be required in the next 10 years, Green added.

The proposed ordinance would increase the cap on the amount of water sales tax revenue that can be spent "on a police/government facilities complex including acquisition, construction and/or remodeling" from $2.5 million to $3.7 million. The new ordinance states that water sales tax revenues collected "beyond the cap" will "be expended on the acquisition of new water rights and the transport and storage of these newly acquired water rights."

Mayor Byron Glenn concurred with Green and also noted that the town was only looking at buying and renovating existing buildings at a much lower cost three years ago.

Trustee Tommie Plank observed that there would be no interest savings from paying off the lease-purchase agreement early. She suggested that the staff prepare an option that made only the standard lease-purchase payments over the eight years remaining on the agreement.

Trustee Gail Drumm objected to the cost increase and the use of an emergency ordinance that does not have the standard public notice posting requirements of an ordinary ordinance approval cycle for a statutory town. Trustee Tim Miller also opposed the use of the emergency ordinance procedure.

Green replied that the reason for proposing an emergency ordinance was solely to arrive at a final construction cost figure for the proposed cap change and thereby facilitate board approval of the final 2009 budget early in December. Green noted that an emergency ordinance requires four affirmative trustee votes. Drumm reiterated that he is opposed to the proposed emergency ordinance so there were only three potential positive votes available from the other trustees in attendance.

Glenn opened the public hearing on the emergency ordinance and there were no comments in favor of or opposition to the proposal.

After further discussion, there was consensus to make the eight remaining standard payments of the existing 10-year payment schedule to Wells Fargo with the remainder of the water sales tax revenue going into the fund for buying additional water where the money can earn interest until a purchase opportunity arises.

A motion to table the item so that the staff could post notices and advertisements for a regular ordinance hearing process at the next board meeting on Dec. 1 passed 4-0.

Annexation referral approved: The board unanimously approved a resolution referring an application from the Schuck Corp. for annexation hearings before the Planning Commission and the board for 1.97 acres of land contiguous with one of Shuck’s Forest Lakes parcels on the southwest corner of I-25 and Baptist Road. Glenn noted that this piece of land along the western I-25 right-of-way was given to Schuck by the Colorado Department of Transportation in return for Schuck’s donation of right-of-way needed to expand the Baptist Road I-25 interchange. The approved resolution is only a referral of the annexation application, which the board determined to be in conformance with state statutes, to the Planning Commission and does not imply that the board already intends to approve the annexation.

The board unanimously approved a payment of $855.45 to engineering consultant Nolte Associates, Inc. for Change Order # 6 for the Third Street improvement project. The payment was for additional environmental work beyond the scope of Nolte’s original contract for mouse habitat assessments and recommendations for town negotiations with U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials, as well as impacts on downstream properties. Subconsultant Peter Smith of Smith Environmental and Engineering performed the additional work.

Contract to complete roadway standards update approved

Tom Kassawara, Director of Development Services, stated that the board had previously approved an agreement with Triview Metropolitan District for a contract with

Nolte to develop common roadway standards for the town and the district. The town agreed to pay for all of Nolte’s work because Triview had paid for Nolte’s development of common water standards which have already been adopted by the town and the district. Nolte is Triview’s engineering consultant, and also does some consulting work for the town.

Kassawara said the complexity of the common roadways standard has increased beyond the original scope of work in the agreement between Nolte and Triview. He noted that the town had asked Nolte to do additional work including a comparison of other regional roadway standards, new standards for access lane spacing and turn lanes, and a re-write of several sections of the Triview standards for easier interpretation by the end users.

The original proposal to Triview for the additional work was $31,500. Kassawara and his staff elected to do much of the work due to budgetary constraints. Nolte proposed completing the project for $12,000. Staff asked Triview to "split the cost" of this additional work. Triview declined.

When Nolte’s work is done the staff will perform the final edit of the new standard and present it to the board for incorporation into the town code. Triview will be given the opportunity to also adopt the standards prepared by Nolte at the district’s discretion. Kassawara added that there would be no reason for Triview not to adopt the new standard.

The board unanimously approved the contract for $12,000.

The board unanimously approved five payments over $5,000:

  • $111,466 to Triview for its share of the town’s September sales tax revenue
  • $6,500 to Triview for its share of the town’s October motor vehicle tax revenue
  • $7,824 to National Meter & Automation for 24 water meters
  • $205,161 to Alexandher Building Company for construction work on the new Town Hall
  • $35,822 to Nolte for engineering work performed on the Third Street improvement project

In other matters, the board unanimously approved:

  • An ordinance amending its traffic code to bring it into line with recent changes to the state’s model traffic code.
  • A resolution appointing Becki Tooley to a two-year term as a Planning Commissioner.
  • A resolution asking the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department to change its code to prohibit the future use of copper pipes and tubing in new construction or repairs of residential water systems.

Staff reports

Kassawara reported that County Engineer Andre Brackin said that the town could re-stripe the intersection of Higby Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. The county’s signal at this intersection will be re-programmed at the same time by the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, contract manager of the Baptist Road I-25 interchange expansion project, when Struthers Road between Higby and Baptist Roads is closed at the end of December. Currently, the two southbound lanes are striped for a right turn onto westbound Higby and a left turn or straight thru. The current delay for southbound left turns onto Higby creates backups at rush hour and the end of the school day for Lewis-Palmer High School. Brackin asked the town to take ownership of the traffic signal after it is re-programmed.

Kassawara noted that the total number of town building permits has declined from 120 in 2006, 65 in 2007, and 41 to date in 2008. Only Richmond Homes is currently building houses.

Rich Landreth, Public Works Director noted that AmWest Inc will be installing a new pump and pipe for Well 3 on the southwest corner of Second Street and Beacon Lite Road. The leak test on the new Forest Lakes Metropolitan District has been completed and the tank has been drained to make repairs.

The solar-powered signs and poles for the flashing yellow lights at each crosswalk will cost about $8,000 each. The traffic study for installing crosswalks on Old Denver Highway from the development entrances to the Santa Fe Trail will cost about $2,500. Kassawara said that drivers don’t normally have an expectation to stop for a crosswalk in the middle of a block and often ignore the flashing yellow lights. Drumm added that many people will continue to cross the highway between the cross-walks.

Green reported that the date for final adoption of the quiet zone for the Second Street Union Pacific Railroad crossing should be announced by early December. She also noted that the Colorado Association of Libraries named the Monument Library the Library of the Year.

The meeting adjourned at 8:08 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 1: Ordinance to help pay for new Town Hall approved

Below: Lewis-Palmer High School students Alex Swanson and Stephanie Costa asked the Monument Board of Trustees on Dec. 1 to approve a resolution supporting ONE, a non-partisan humanitarian organization. Mayor Byron Glenn read the proclamation after the board unanimously approved it. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Below: On Dec. 1, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman explained the reasons for the Monument Board of Trustees to adopt the current versions of the Uniform Fire Code and the International Urban-Wildland Interface Code to be consistent with neighboring fire districts. The board unanimously approved the proposed ordinance to enact the amended code. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved an ordinance to amend the 2005 ordinance that placed a cap of $2.5 million on the amount of water sales tax revenues that could be used to help pay for the new Town Hall/Police Department building that is under construction. The previously proposed emergency ordinance to raise the cap to $3.7 million had been unanimously tabled at the previous board meeting on Nov. 17. (For details see the article on the Nov. 17 hearing on the tabled ordinance.)

Trustee Tim Miller was absent.

The new regular ordinance considered on Dec. 1 further increased the cap to $4.4 million, changed the period, distribution, and annual amount of water sales tax revenue to be used to pay for the building. The period is now eight years (2009-2016). The amount of future revenue used for the building decreased from 60 percent to 32 percent and the amount to be saved for purchases, storage, and transport of future water rights increased from 40 percent to 68 percent. The total amounts of water sales tax revenue allocated under this new eight-year plan are $1.751 million for the building and $3.721 million for water.

Trustees Rafael Dominguez, Travis Easton, and Steve Samuels, who were absent on Nov. 17, agreed with Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee Tommie Plank on making the minimum lease-purchase payments to Wells Fargo Bank for the $2.9 million loan for the construction contract, since there would be no savings for paying off the loan early. Glenn and Plank also noted that the 32/68 percent split would maximize the amount of general fund revenues available each of the next eight years for other town capital projects and emergency needs. Trustee Gail Drumm remained opposed to raising the water sales tax cap and paying more than $2.5 million for the new building without doing an analysis of cutting other line items in the overall town budget to reduce the amount of diverted water funds.

Town Manager Cathy Green reminded the trustees that after the building is paid for, no more water sales tax revenue will be diverted from purchase, storage, and transportation of new water rights. Samuels said that constructing a new building provides a better value for town funds than renovating a building "that is dilapidated."

There were no public comments in favor of or opposition to raising the cap on the use of water sales tax revenue to pay for the new Town Hall/Police Department building from $2.5 million to $4.4 million.

The board approved the new ordinance by a 5-1 vote with Drumm opposed.

Treasurer Pamela Smith has summarized the views of the BOT and the staff on this ordinance and added additional financial details to those presented on Nov. 17 in a Letter to the Editor. Please see this letter for more details on the staff’s analysis of this funding issue.

Board and public comments

Plank invited everyone to attend Small Town Christmas activities in Downtown Monument that will take place all day on Saturday, Dec. 6.

Glenn noted that he had attended a neighborhood meeting held byArbor Mountain Senior Living developer Tim Irish. He said three "gentlemen" showed up, all "seniors very excited about the project and when it was going to start." One of the gentlemen was concerned about the location being "so far out of town and all the shopping." The Arbor Mountain property donated to Irish by the Town of Monument in return for reduced rates on 10 percent of the apartments, is located on the south side of Highway 105, by the new Monument Academy school building, east of the Knollwood Drive traffic signal. There were no comments in opposition from the three attendees.

Glenn read from a letter he had e-mailed to each of the directors of the Triview Metropolitan District Board on Nov. 26 on behalf of the Board of Trustees asking to "open honest conversations" between the two boards on "future partnering between us. I sense that there may have been misunderstandings between us, but our conversations need to be face to face as opposed to a third party translation. As we all know, third party translations tend to get a little fuzzy."

Some of the other points Glenn made in the e-mail were:

"It has always been the town’s intent to partner with Triview to enhance the deliverability of services to the residents of the Town, while at the same time, allowing Triview to either pay down debt or pay for much needed capital improvements. The Town recognizes our agreement regarding the splitting of the tax within the Triview boundary, and we believe that money needs to stay within the Triview boundary to enhance the capitol improvements and early debt retirement. The Town also wants to make it clear that the Triview Metro District board is responsible to pay its own debt and to manage the District’s finances. Because of the current economic times, the Town’s intent is to consolidate some of the Triview operations and hopefully reduce overhead and administrative costs."

By "partnering with Triview" Glenn added, "we will be a stronger entity as we go forward looking for renewable water, resolving the waste treatment plant issues, transportation, land uses, etc."

"I think it will show ALL Monument residents that we are concerned about government spending and we are trying to find ways to reduce waste. I believe that it will make our community stronger as a whole."

"We, therefore, invite you to join us for a joint meeting within the next couple of months to frankly discuss concerns, and to begin working together for a better community."

"The town needs to pass its budget quickly as well, so the sooner we meet the better. I hope this e-mail settles nerves for us all, because I think we all want the same thing, and we just need to work together to get there."

Glenn noted that he had invited the Triview board to the Dec. 1 and Dec. 15 BOT meeting in his e-mail. Only Triview Director Steve Cox attended this meeting and did not comment.

Glenn also noted that the Triview budget is about "$500,000 to $800,000 short for next year. I don’t know how they are going to raise the funds if they don’t merge" with the town. "I thought they were going to be here tonight, but I don’t see their president." The Triview president is Bob Eskridge.

Drumm asked how the percentage of the town’s Public Works and Police Department resources are currently divided between Triview and the rest of Monument and how they would be divided after the merger of the two entities’ operations. Public Works Director Rich Landreth and Police Chief Jake Shirk noted that they don’t keep specific records on the number of hours spent in Triview.

In other public comments, Glenn noted the presence of several members of Boy Scout Troop 194 who said they were there "to observe."

Lewis-Palmer High School students Alex Swanson and Stephanie Costa asked the town to approve a resolution supporting ONE, a non-partisan humanitarian organization with 2.4 million participants, united as "ONE," that distributes donations to help fight extreme poverty, AIDS, and hunger by encouraging debt cancellation, increasing effective international assistance, and more favorable international trade regimes. This activity was part of the girls’ sociology class project. The board unanimously approved the proclamation which Glenn read to the audience.

The board unanimously approved an ordinance adopting the 2003 versions of the Uniform Fire Code and the International Urban-Wildland Interface Code to be consistent with neighboring fire districts. Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman, of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, provided an overview of possible future changes in these codes.

Please e-mail or call Kauffman at ckauffman@tri-lakesfie.com or 266-3382. Kauffman can also provide fire inspections for private residences on request and advice regarding possible future building code requirements for sprinkler systems in rural or wooded residences without hydrants.

The board unanimously approved a resolution that continues to schedule board meetings on the first and third Mondays of the month for all of 2009. There are three "Tuesday exceptions" –January 20, February 17, and September 8 – each a day after a Monday national holiday.

The board unanimously approved a resolution setting the town’s property tax mill levy for 2009 at 6.289 mills, the same as in 2008. Smith noted that the 5.5 percent TABOR cap on mill levy increases prevented the mill levy from rising to 6.60 mills.

The board unanimously approved a payment of $4,886 to Allwater Supply, LLC for the caustic soda project that will adjust the pH of the town’s drinking water to help reduce copper levels in town drinking water and wastewater. Monument Sanitation District also paid $4,886 to Allwater in accordance with the district’s agreement with the town to split the cost of construction of the caustic soda project.

The board unanimously approved Smith’s October Financial Report and Sales Tax Information Report.

The board discussed purchase of 10 acres of mouse habitat near Dirty Woman Creek for $50,000. The land is owned by the Santa Fe Trails Homeowners Association and could be used in the future for substitute Preble’s mouse habitat. Glenn argued for approval of the purchase, noting that the town will need similar habitat to replace that which will likely be destroyed when Mitchell Avenue is extended southward across a wide Monument Creek drainage to connect with Baptist Road. The staff supported Glenn’s recommendation. Smith noted that money could be taken from several accounts to close on the sale, if it occurred in 2008.

The board approved a motion to have the staff begin due diligence on purchasing the property within 45 days contingent on a positive evaluation of the quality of the habitat. Drumm abstained.

The board also unanimously approved payments of:

  • $7,654 to Forest Lakes Metropolitan District for the town’s share of the district’s water storage tank expenses.
  • $8,791 to Stein-Tech Computer solutions for a new server for the town’s computer system.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported no further progress had been made in resolving Kalime Massie’s lawsuit against the town for legal fees incurred while seeking a renewal of the business license for the long-abandoned concrete batch plant at Highway 105 and Second Street. Massie sold the property earlier this year. Kassawara reported that the new owners planned to develop an office park on the batch plant property.

Green reported that the town had won an award from the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk-Sharing Agency for its successful loss prevention program and receives reduced property and casualty insurance rates. The town also received a plaque from Alamosa thanking the town for its offer of equipment during Alamosa’s recent water contamination emergency.

Kassawara reported that the town has applied to the state for ownership of the portions of Highway 105 within the town boundaries and had urged Palmer Lake to make the same request. The state may offer money for maintenance of the road to encourage such a takeover. The town prefers to own Highway 105 to expedite installation of a new traffic signal at the intersection with Beacon Lite Road, adjacent to the new Town Hall building.

Police Chief Jake Shirk announced that the date of the visit to Covered Treasures Bookstore by Santa’s Assistant had been changed from Dec. 22 to Dec. 20. (See the announcement of this event for more details.)

Shirk said that the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office would be laying off about 25 people, which may affect coverage to county areas in Tri-Lakes.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth reported that repairs had been completed on the Forest Lakes water tank and that it was being refilled for final testing and future use.

The meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m.


The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 15 at Town Hall, 166 Second Street.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Volunteer Pension Board, Nov. 19: Pension fund sound despite market upheavals

Below: Donald Wescott Fire Protection District volunteer firefighter Bryan Ackerman was sworn-in as a member of the district's Volunteer Firefighter Retirement Board on Nov. 19. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board held its semi-annual volunteer firefighter Pension Board meeting at 6:30 p.m., prior to the regular board meeting at 7 p.m. (see article below.) All pension board members were present.

The Pension Board, made up of the district board plus two active volunteer firefighters, conducted a detailed review of the return on investments made from the annual contributions from the district and the matching grant supplementary funds that are currently available from the state. Pensions for volunteers are provided by the state’s Fire and Police Pension Association (FPPA).

Reflecting the current investment climate, the total value of the FPPA’s Members’ Benefit Investment Fund has dropped about 16 percent over the past year, but this fund is still up over 7 percent for the past five years. A free FPPA actuarial study will be performed for Wescott in 2009.

Chief Jeff Edwards said Wescott had just received $67,500 from the state Department of Local Affairs Division of Local Governments as a 90 percent match for 2008 to the district’s $75,000 contribution in 2007. The district contributed $100,000 this year in order to receive a $90,000 matching contribution from Colorado in 2009. There is a one-year delay in the match to ensure that a fire district’s promised contribution to the FPPA fund is actually made before any matching state funds are distributed.

Volunteer firefighter Bryan Ackerman was sworn in as a member of the Pension Board to replace volunteer paramedic Elyze Wermel, a full-time paramedic for American Medical Response, who stepped down after the Pension Board meeting June 18.

Volunteer firefighters in the state must have at least five years of service to become vested in the FPPA retirement program. They cannot begin collecting pension payments until they have completed a minimum of 10 years of total volunteer service within Colorado as an FPPA participant. Annual qualification requirements are monitored by volunteer firefighter Mike Badger, who is Wescott’s chief of volunteers. Badger is a full-time firefighter for the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Some of the annual qualification requirements are:

  • Completion of at least 38 hours of training per year, a state requirement
  • Serving two duty shifts per month
  • Attending at least 19 of the 22 annual Tuesday training night sessions.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, Nov. 19: Successful CPR recovery from cardiac arrest reported

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District held its regular board meeting at 7 p.m., following its semi-annual pension board meeting at 6:30 p.m. (see article above.) All board members were present.

Capt. Mike Whiting reported that a motorist had performed life-saving cardiac pulmonary resuscitation on a Gleneagle jogger who was cooling down and collapsed near the jogger’s home. During her 911 cell phone call, the motorist received verbal assistance from a Colorado Springs dispatcher who reminded her of what she had learned in her CPR training several years ago. Early defibrillation by Wescott responders also helped ensure a positive outcome.

Wildland firefighting funding

This is the first year Wescott crews have participated in the federal program that uses firefighters from across the nation on a temporary basis during the annual wildfire season. Edwards decided to have Wescott firefighters participate in the program after the 2008 budget and appropriation were finalized. Several Wescott crews served in California this summer.

Edwards plans to have Wescott firefighters participate again in 2009 to gain additional hands-on wildfire experience. A substantial portion of the Wescott district is heavily wooded and lacks fire hydrant availability.

Nearly all the district’s wildland training expenses for payroll, benefits, fuel, equipment, and vehicle maintenance had to be paid for from ordinary district operations accounts before the district received any federal reimbursement. Some of the district’s federal invoices were paid before this board meeting. The district should receive a final federal payment of $79,000 before the next board meeting.

The board had asked the staff to use a different spreadsheet layout for the monthly financial reports and the 2009 budget to make it easier to see how expenses and revenues for this new "real world" training activity are accounted for, including the overtime pay received by volunteers and off-duty, full-time staff to fill in for crews deployed to California. The district’s auditor recently suggested further changes in the spreadsheet layout to separate the district and California deployment financial transactions for this participation.

There was a lengthy discussion of how to account for all the costs for Wescott crew/vehicle participation in California that had to be paid for before receiving federal reimbursements.

Edwards and Wescott Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall noted that the district had just learned that it was entitled to reimbursements for health, FPPA retirement, dental, death and disability, and Medicare non-salary items. The total reimbursement the district now expects to receive from the federal government exceeds the direct expenses for salaries, transportation, equipment, fuel, and vehicle operation by about $34,000.

The board asked the staff to provide notes to the board at the next meeting to explain the various spreadsheet layout changes for wildfire expenses and reimbursements that the directors had requested, as well as the changes the district’s auditor had suggested on how the wildfire data should be listed separately. Notes will also be provided on how each of the specific reimbursements has changed from the staff’s original estimates as familiarity with the federal procedures increased throughout the first year of participation.

Corresponding changes will also be made to the layout of the 2009 district budget and appropriation and the amended budget and appropriation for 2008.

In order to meet deadlines for submitting all these items to the state, the date for the 2009 budget hearing and the next regular board meeting date was changed from Dec. 17 to Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. The public hearing on the 2009 mill levy, which will remain at 7 mills, was also scheduled for Dec. 3.

Capital projects added to the 2009 budget

There was a two-hour discussion of also adding specific line items for future capital project funding to the 2009 budget to improve service throughout the entire area served by the district. There was unanimous board approval for creation of capital funds for construction of a new fire station in the eastern portion of the district, acquisition of land for the new station, purchase of new fire apparatus, several categories of equipment, and funds for matching grants.

The board also unanimously approved maintaining a minimum cash reserve that would cover all operational costs for six months, about $750,000. Final amounts to be allocated to each of the approved capital categories from the remainder of the general fund reserve will be determined at the Dec. 1 workshop and approved at the Dec. 3 budget hearing.

Chief’s report

There were 95 runs in October, bringing the total to 1,095 for 2008, an increase of about 20 percent over the previous year.

Edwards and Badger asked the board to amend the district’s policy regarding full-time and volunteer personnel on military leave from Wescott for Reserve and National Guard personnel who are recalled to active duty. The proposed changes in wording bring the policy into alignment with current state statutes and the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act that protect job status, pay grade, and the accrual of longevity and seniority. The board asked Edwards to prepare a final draft of his proposed wording changes regarding mandatory and discretionary military leave policies for a vote at the Dec. 3 board meeting.

Edwards has been called back to active duty again and will deploy with his Wyoming Air National Guard unit to the Middle East in January. Edwards served four months of active duty in Kuwait in early 2007 and three months in Iraq in 2004. Assistant Chief Vinny Burns will take charge again during Edwards’ absence.

Meeting schedule changed for 2009: The board unanimously approved a schedule change for regular board meetings in 2009 from the third to the fourth Wednesday of the month. However, the November meeting date will be held on Nov. 18 to avoid meeting on the night before Thanksgiving. The December meeting will be held on Dec. 2 to ensure approval of the 2010 budget in time for submission to the state prior to the deadline. All meetings will be held at 7 p.m. The first 10 meeting dates were changed to deconflict with the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District board meetings, held on the third Wednesday of the month, so that the directors can attend each others’ board meetings.

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.


The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings will normally be held on the fourth Wednesday of the month starting in January. Information: 488-8680.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 District Accountability Advisory Committee Meeting, Nov. 11: D-38 committee discusses School Improvement Plans

By Harriet Halbig

At the Nov. 11 meeting of the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC), School Board Liaison Dee Dee Eaton thanked everyone for their efforts to pass the Mill Levy Override, which failed on the November ballot. She said the School District 38 board had already met twice since the election to consider budget cuts and that the board welcomes any suggestions.

Asked if there would be cuts for this school year, Eaton said no.

Advisory Committee Co-Chair Betty Hutchinson announced that her term expires at the end of the year, but she will continue as a member of the committee. She urged members to consider succeeding her as a co-chair.

School Improvement Plans

The committee discussed the various School Improvement Plans. Each school had submitted a plan addressing goals in three categories: Student Achievement, Whole Child, and Community Engagement.

Members of the committee were charged with reading the plans and determining which goals several schools had in common. Student Achievement was stressed by Prairie Winds, Kilmer Elementary, Palmer Lake Elementary and Lewis-Palmer Middle School. In some cases the goal was stated in terms of CSAP scores, in others the goal was specifically to improve reading or math.

For example, Palmer Lake Elementary wishes to increase its CSAP writing scores by 10 percent over the next three years.

Schools stressing Community Engagement included Kilmer Elementary, whose goal is to increase community use of its playground by improving the facility with funding from the PTO and a playground committee providing labor. Grace Best Elementary wishes to help develop a town park and is awaiting town approval.

Palmer Lake Elementary continues to offer recycling services to the community and continues its Green Panthers program, which includes classroom instruction on recycling and the environment. Grace Best Elementary is also introducing a recycling program.

Also in the Community Engagement category is Lewis-Palmer Middle School, which is doing an exchange program with a school in the Harrison School District. Each student exchanges letters with a pen pal at the other school. They will exchange books and, later in the year, they will go to the other school for a day. Other programs included a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the adoption of a family for Christmas gift exchange.

In the Whole Child category, a number of schools are developing peer counseling programs and other socially involved programs. Palmer Lake has a Stick Up for Yourself anti-bullying initiative. Creekside Middle School hopes to increase student involvement in extra-curricular activities, have fewer disciplinary referrals, and increase student satisfaction about the school.

Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High Schools have their own unique situation with regard to the Whole Child category. Palmer Ridge must address the transition from one school to another while Lewis-Palmer stresses increased participation in sports, clubs and other activities. Lewis-Palmer places its academic emphasis on math while Palmer Ridge emphasizes writing.

Regarding Community Engagement, Palmer Ridge High, has a senior center on the premises while Lewis-Palmer wishes to increase the community’s use of its facilities.

Virtual charter school application

The committee considered an application by Flatirons Academy of Louisville for a virtual charter school in District 38. The school would be online and geared toward those who might not succeed in a traditional school setting. A copy of the application was provided to committee members. Members were reminded that the district already has Option 38 for at-risk students as well as the Colorado Virtual Academy, which is available to students including those in elementary school.

Committee members were asked to especially consider the following aspects of the application: evidence of support (adequate number of students); projected enrollment; statement of need; proposed budget; and an economically sound plan.

It was explained that the school would require learning centers where the students would be provided with computers. Lunch would also be made available.

Following a brief breakout session, the committee members expressed that they were not given sufficient evidence of numbers of students who would attend. Regarding need, they pointed out that the District 38 graduation rate is much higher than that of most of the state, that D-38 already offers advanced placement classes, and that none of its schools is rated unsatisfactory by the state.

The proposed virtual charter school budget is based on 300 students, but it is not clear whether that number would come from District 38 or from all over the state. There is no line item for interest or cash earnings.

The general consensus was that the application was essentially incomplete.

A committee member also pointed out that none of those whose names appear on the application has a background in education.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.


The next meeting of DAAC will be on Dec. 9.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee Meeting, Nov. 12: Special-education panel discusses Web site, parental support activities

By Harriet Halbig

District 38 Special Education Director Julie O’Brien told the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) on Nov. 12 that despite the failure of the Mill Levy Override, the school board has no plans to cut special education funding.

Those attending the Nov. 12 meeting represented every school in District 38 except for Grace Best Elementary.

Chairman Chris Amenson said that he and Lisa Anderson met with the school board the previous week to discuss the services offered by the district. Representatives of the gifted/talented program and English as a Second Language program were also in attendance. Amenson said he was encouraged that the school board was interested in understanding services offered in the district.

O’Brien commented that she was also impressed with the board’s interest.

O’Brien said that the parent information program on the new Individual Education Program (IEP) forms was attended by only 10 people. She reported that the End of Year Report for the 2007-08 school year has been submitted to the state. This report enumerates the number of hours of service provided to those in need. O’Brien said that the District 38 graduation rate is double the state average, and that the district is in complete compliance except for the timely development of IEPs. She said that this is only an issue with preschool-age children, because the district is often not made aware of their needs in a timely fashion.

Regarding the failure of the Mill Levy Override, O’Brien assured the committee that the school board plans no cuts in special education funding for this or future years.

O’Brien also reported that the parent survey regarding IEPs has been reworked in recent weeks and that she will bring it to the committee in December.

In answer to a question, O’Brien said that the SEAC does not have a legislative committee because the group is not allowed to perform any lobbying function. She stressed that any individual may contact legislators about their concerns, but they must not present themselves as representatives of the school district.

The subcommittees, involving Web site improvement and parent support, then went into breakout sessions to discuss their plans.

The Web site committee, reported by Amenson, described its new concept for a Web site. The opening screen will feature a welcome to the district, followed by tabs to refer the viewer to such areas as SEAC bylaws, success stories in various contexts, and an opportunity to provide feedback. Also included will be a Parents Guide to Services and a mechanism by which parents can get to know their SEAC representatives—perhaps a staff person or parent in their school.

Finally, the Web site would include any PowerPoint presentations from SEAC meetings or training sessions such as the new IEP program.

In response to a question, O’Brien responded that comments and feedback are encouraged. They would be routed to her office and she would reroute them to the appropriate office for response. She stressed that any suggestions should be systematic in nature, not involving an individual student. In this way the district could be advised of what is needed.

The Parent Support Activity committee said it planned to get a program from the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC) or the Peak Parent Center in January.

Members suggested a meeting to address available community resources in February.

Another activity the committee suggested is a school-level roundtable involving parents and staff, especially the principals. In response to this suggestion, a committee member commented that, in her opinion, the elementary-level teachers take special education needs much more seriously than those at the middle school level. She felt that the need had to be greater to be addressed at the middle school level.

A member inquired whether grant money could be sought to allow the district to offer additional services. O’Brien answered that the district has a volunteer who helps with grant applications but does not write them herself. She said that the grant application must be very specific and not applicable to routine district services. It was moved and seconded that grants be researched.

The Parent Support committee commented that there should be a wider availability of district services to parents of children of preschool age, between the time when a medical diagnosis is received and when services are available from the school district.

A committee member commented that she agreed with this opinion and that one issue that needs to be addressed is the grief process resulting from being told that a parent has a special needs child. She said one valuable service would be to provide the names of family support groups for various disabilities.

O’Brien commented, in closing, that a number of parents who anticipate moving into this area have come to her office to discuss services available. The majority have chosen to relocate into District 38.

Ilanit Benaim then suggested that the district offer a monthly award certificate to people providing valuable services to the disabled, perhaps calling it the Someone Who Cares certificate. Members agreed this would be a valuable idea.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30.


The next meeting will be on Dec. 10 at 6 p.m.

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El Paso County Planning Commission meetings November 4 and December 2: Cathedral Pines expansion and Palomino Estates preliminary plan approved

By Steven Sery

At each meeting, there was one item of particular interest to Tri-Lakes area residents.

November 4: Cathedral Pines PUD amendment.

This subdivision is located north of Shoup Rd. on Milam Rd. It adjoins Black Forest Regional Park. There have been many issues from the very start including a number of lawsuits. This amendment involved adding 13 lots. The new lots are in areas that had been designated open space. There was significant opposition from the Black Forest Group. In the end, a motion to deny ended in a 4-4 vote meaning it did not pass. No additional motion was proposed. The proposal went to the Board of County Commissioners where it was approved 3-0.

December 2: A preliminary plan for Palomino Estates (formerly Elk Ridge Estates).

This project is located at the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Highway 83. The 88-acre property is zoned R-5 (minimum five acres). The plan is for 13 lots of five or more acres each. The main issue was with access to four of the lots via a private road off Highway 105. The commission found the resulting solution to be satisfactory and in compliance with the zoning requirements. The plan was unanimously approved.

The absence of this column for the past few months was because there has not been anything going on in the northern part of the county.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Nov. 24: Barn closed for mold removal, remodeling until Jan. 1

By Chris Pollard

When contractors started work on remodeling the downstairs part of the Woodmoor Barn, which is the building containing the offices of the Woodmoor Improvement Association and Woodmoor Public Safety, they discovered the presence of mold. It was subsequently recommended that the entire building be vacated until remedial work and remodeling was completed.

The WIA is currently renting an office in the Monument Hill Church at 18725 Monument Hill Road. The next board meeting will be held there at 7 p.m. Dec. 16.

It was also decided that in the future, the WIA offices would not be closed automatically if School District 38 takes a snow day. Closure of the office will instead be determined by Executive Director Camilla Mottl and Chief of Woodmoor Public Safety Kevin Nielsen.

Nielsen gave an update on safety and security in Woodmoor. September and October had been good months with very few reports of crime. There had been a report of one stolen bicycle, and the only other criminal mischief was damage to a bench at the elementary school. There had been some graffiti on road signs, and a description of the perpetrators had been sent to the El Paso County roads department.

Nielsen was preparing for skating activity on the Woodmoor ponds and sledding on Toboggan Hill. While the department doesn’t specifically check the thickness of the ice, it tries to keep people off until it has reached a reasonable thickness. The department also tries to discourage regular events on the ice like hockey practice. For sledding, the department tries to monitor conditions on a regular basis and, if the hill does become hazardous, will close it down.

Work with the county has led to most potholes being fixed, Nielsen said, and he is now working to get the county to fix the sides of the road where the surface has broken up.

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November Weather Wrap

Below: Elizabeth Hacker took this photo of her bird bath on November 30.

Below: Three images taken by Bill Kappel December 1st 1/2 mile east of the intersection of Highway 83 and Highway 105 in the Walden neighborhood.

Below: An image taken by John Heiser December 1st near Higby Road and Roller Coaster Road.

By Bill Kappel

Most of November was quiet and mild before a big blast of winter moved in to end the month and make for an exciting Thanksgiving weekend. Overall, temperatures were above normal and precipitation was well above normal.

Temperatures much above normal greeted us to start off the month of November, with highs reaching into the 60s and low 70s. Even more surprising was that overnight lows stayed well above freezing on the mornings of the 2nd and 3rd. Gusty winds and scattered clouds helped to keep us very mild at night. These temperatures were a good 15-20 degrees above normal. Of course, "normal" or "average" temperatures and weather are the mean between extremes, so you know at some point we will even out these warm/dry extremes with the other side of the coin.

A weak cold front did produce a couple flurries on the 4th and dropped high temperatures to the low 40s that afternoon. With the clear skies that evening and the chilly air in place, morning lows on the 5th dipped into the low teens and upper single digits, and highs once again were slightly below normal, hitting only the mid-40s. Seasonal conditions returned for the rest of the week with highs in the 50s and lows in the 20s. Overall, it was pretty typical for early November, as this has been one of the driest and least active months over the past few years.

More typical November weather affected the Palmer Divide from the 10th through the 16th. This included a couple quick shots of snow, with sunshine and mild temperatures in between. Monday started off on the cold side with 1-2 inches of snow and high temperatures holding in the 30s. Temperatures rose through the 40s all the way to the 60s over the next couple of days under lots of sunshine. This quickly melted most of the snow as well.

The next cold front arrived early on the 14th and snow began to fly just before sunrise. This storm dropped another 1-3 inches around the region and kept temperatures below freezing all day on the 14th. Skies cleared quickly that evening, and overnight lows dipped into the single digits around much of the area on the morning of the 15th. Sunshine returned again quickly for the weekend, and highs rebounded into the 60s by Sunday the 16th, again melting most of the snow.

It was another quiet week Nov. 17-23, with temperatures above average except for one day and dry conditions. From the 17th through the 19th, temperatures were in the 60s to near 70, with numerous record highs set around the Front Range of Colorado on the afternoon of the 18th. A sharp cold front did bring a quick and drastic change to the warm temperatures late on the 19th through the morning of the 21st. Low clouds, fog, freezing drizzle, and a few flurries developed across the region as this shallow layer of cold air settled in on the 20th. This made for an icy commute as ice coated many of the roadways. Westerly winds soon pushed this cold air mass out of the region, with mild and dry conditions returning for the weekend.

The last week of the month started off harmlessly enough, causing no major travel headaches for those headed out of town. This changed quickly, however, when wintry conditions made a powerful appearance during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as several rounds of snow developed in the area. The first cold front moved in during the early morning hours of turkey day, with temperatures staying at or below freezing all day—making for an even better excuse to stay inside, watch football, enjoy the family and friends, and eat lots of food. Less than an inch of snow fell during the evening hours, but this did add a nice wintry feel to the area.

Temperatures warmed briefly into the low 40s the next afternoon as we enjoyed a brief respite between storms. More light snow developed during the evening of the 28th and continued through the early morning of the 29th. More snow blew in during the afternoon of the 29th, and then the real fun developed later that evening and continued into the 30th. Heavy snow bands formed late on the 29th and into the 30th, as a very strong jet stream moved directly overhead. This allowed for very efficient lift in the atmosphere.

This lift in the upper atmosphere (20,000 feet above the ground) combined with a strong north/northeast flow at the surface to produce orographically enhanced snow bands as the winds blow up the north side of the Palmer Divide. There was plenty of moisture and cold air to work with as well, all combining to give us our first big snow of the season. By the end of the day on the 30th, most had accumulated an impressive 10-20 inches of fresh snow in less than 24 hours. This quickly helped to make up the deficit we had been running up to this point.

A look ahead

The month of December can be a cold one around the Tri-Lakes region, with highs often staying below freezing. The month is generally dry, however, with several light, fluffy snowfalls. Gusty winds are also common during the month. In December 2004 we had a well-timed snow just before Christmas which left behind clear skies and a beautiful snow-covered landscape for Christmas Day, while December 2005 started off cold and snowy, and then ended up mild and dry. 2006 was very exciting, with two blizzards moving through, one right before Christmas and one right after. A well-timed snow graced us again just before Christmas last year, so let’s hope for more this year.

The official Climate Prediction Center forecast ( www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ) is calling for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

November 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 51.8° (+3.7°)
Average Low 21.8° (+2.2°)
Highest Temperature 70° on the 2nd
Lowest Temperature 8° on the 15th, 29th
Monthly Precipitation 1.51" (+0.97", 64% above normal)
Monthly Snowfall 25.7" (+16.9", 66% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 28.6" (+3.6", 12% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 12.82" (+2.73", 21% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 844
Cooling Degree Days 0

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at www.thekappels.com/Weather.htm

Remember, weather affects all of us every day and is a very important part of life for us in the Tri-Lakes region, and we want to hear from you. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at billkappel@ourcommunitynews.org

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Thanks for supporting the arts center

The Spidell family would like to thank everyone who helped Celebrate Arts & Humanities Month in Palmer Lake at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). Oct. 25, 2008, was the date, with the theme "Triple Spooktacular." We appreciate everyone who attended in creative costumes befitting an art center, plus the generous donations given by everyone, whether they attended or not. It was an evening of fun and a job well done by many volunteers.

The fundraiser for TLCA, hopefully, brought community awareness to Palmer Lake. The center is in the midst of a "Capital Campaign" and still could use donations to purchase stucco for the outside of the building. You can send your tax-deductible donation to Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, P.O. Box 1154, Palmer Lake, CO 80133.

John and RuthAnn Spidell

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Monument treasurer explains change in town hall funding cap

At the 12/1/2008 regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Town of Monument, Ordinance 30-2008 was passed by a vote of 5 for and 1 against to amend Ordinance 25-2005, increasing the maximum expenditure for a Police Department/Government Complex allowed to be spent from "2A" water sales tax funds from $2.5M to $4.4M. Each member of Board of Trustees along with Town Staff, wishes to be as transparent to our residents as possible, especially when it comes to spending your tax dollars. Therefore, we would like to explain the need for increasing our self imposed cap for the Town’s new government facility. The additional $1.9M is necessary due to the following:

  • In 2005, the Town was considering remodeling an existing building to fit the needs of the police department. As the Town investigated this possibility it was determined that refitting an existing building to meet the needs of a police department would be difficult and the ultimate cost would be unknown until its completion. The final decision, therefore, was to purchase land and build a new facility that met the total needs of the Police Department and Administrative Offices for the Town.
  • In 2006, the Board approved a Land Lease in the amount of $2.9M, which was $400,000 over the $2.5M cap, with financing costs of $66,000 and interest of $756,000, making the amount over the $2.5M cap = $1,222,000
  • In 2006 land was purchased for the building at a cost of $500,000
  • Tap fees for the new building = $18,000
  • Architectural and Engineering Fees = $210,000

Total increased costs for the project, in consideration of the foregoing = $1,950,000

The Town finance office has been able to offset some of the additional cost with interest earned on the balance of lease proceeds not yet expended in construction costs.

Anyone wishing to view the details of the costs of the project may contact Pamela Smith, Treasurer of the Town at 719-488-1506.

Pamela Smith

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Eye-catching coffee table books

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Some gift books are works of art that can be enjoyed by the entire family, as well as by guests gathered around the coffee table. Following are some new releases and others that are timeless.

The Native American Experience
By Jay Wertz (The Lyons Press), $45

This volume tells the Native American story from migration during the Ice Age to their influence on our culture today, examining tribal history and the turbulent relationship between Native Americans and Western settlers. The 64-page book contains over 200 illustrations and 30 rare and newly researched, removable facsimile documents of historic importance, including President Lincoln’s hand-written pardon of 38 Dakota warriors and top-secret Navajo Code Talker documents from the Second World War.

Canyon Wilderness of the Southwest
By Jon Ortner (Welcome Books), $195

This visual odyssey through one of the world’s greatest treasures, the Colorado Plateau straddling the borders of Utah and Arizona, includes the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Petrified Forest, as well as less-accessible and relatively unexplored tribal lands and slot canyons. An oversized deluxe edition, this volume is limited to 6,000 copies and includes 10 gatefolds that open to 4 feet and a numbered print signed by the artist. It is truly a fitting homage to the immensity and beauty of the untamed West.

Natural Affinities
By Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams (Little, Brown and Co.), $40

This is the first major publication and exhibition devoted to a comparative view of the work of Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams, two towering figures of 20th-century American art. More than 100 duotone and four-color reproductions of paintings and photographs, accompanied by critical essays, reveal telling parallels and differences between the artists’ unique visions of the natural world. Drawn to the American Southwest by its stark and extraordinary beauty, O’Keefe and Adams met in Taos, N.M., in 1929 and formed a lifelong friendship.

Colorado Scenic Byways: Taking the Other Road
By Jim Steinberg and Susan J. Tweit (Portfolio Publications), $79.95

These two companion volumes are packed with gorgeous photography by Steinberg, detailed byway maps and fascinating, fun-to-read text by Tweit. They celebrate Colorado’s extraordinarily diverse system of Scenic Byways, twenty-five routes that follow less-traveled and more inspiring roads. This is a book for travelers who prefer winding roads to straight and whose curiosity leads them to marvel at a waterfall, a wildflower, an abandoned barn, or a flock of sandhill cranes high overhead. It is for those who think they know Colorado, as well as those who are new to the state’s enchantments.

Great Ranches of the West
By Jim Keen with Ami Reeves (KM Media Inc.), $49.95

The images in this volume convey solitude, hard work and harsh conditions and transport the viewer to a vanishing part of our history, the Western ranchlands and the families who live there. Keen has spent much of his adult life hiking and photographing on public land in the West, climbing all 54 of Colorado’s highest mountains. Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers named Great Ranches of the West Best Arts Book for 2008. In it, Keen focuses on private lands with close to 600 photographs created over a five-year span. He made some remarkable discoveries and often chose stories from the past that shed light on the present.

A Colorado Winter
By John Fielder with essays by M. John Fayhee (Westcliffe Publishers), $50

Nature photographer John Fielder has sought out scenes that evoke the subtle beauty of a Colorado winter, capturing the sculptural shapes of snow blanketing trees and hillsides, the dramatic juxtaposition of white snow below sunlit orange sandstone walls, and the stories told by tracks in the snow. Veteran outdoor writer M. John Fayhee’s stories recount the adventures of an outdoor enthusiast in the snow-covered Colorado mountains from snowshoeing through a silent forest to scaling a frozen waterfall. A Colorado Winter is a keepsake for any who appreciate the beauty and wonder of the Colorado landscape in winter.

If you need a special Christmas gift for someone—or for a family to share—a beautiful coffee table book of eye-catching photographs and scintillating stories may be just the right choice. Until next year, happy holidays and happy reading!

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Trumpeter Swan

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of Trumpeter Swans by Elizabeth Hacker. 

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Christmas is a season for remembering as well as making new memories. One of my favorite fairy tales is The Six Swans, and each holiday season I look forward to hearing the traditional English Christmas carol The 12 Days of Christmas, as it celebrates seven graceful swimming swans on the seventh day of Christmas. Throughout history, the graceful swan has inspired artists, writers, composers, and story tellers, and through their imaginative creations this majestic bird transforms into a mythical bird of legend.

In reality, the trumpeter swan is North America’s largest waterfowl and one of its rarest native birds. To many people, it is the embodiment of grace, beauty, and unspoiled wildness. It is also an inspiring reminder that it is possible to save a species that has been reduced to near extinction.

Historically, the trumpeter swan was abundant throughout most of North America. By the 1930s, fewer than 100 trumpeter swans remained south of Canada. The trumpeter swan was once prized for its large flight feathers that reportedly made the best quality quill pens that were used to draft our Constitution.

Many states have reintroduced the trumpeter swan, and now flocks of them winter in their traditional habitat in the lakes and wetlands of Colorado. An adult trumpeter swan is pure white with a jet black face and tapered bill. Its wings and webbed feet are edged in black. Until it reaches adulthood, the juvenile swan is a light gray color that from a distance may resemble a Canada goose, but it is bigger. Its neck is long and straight.

The formula for "wing loading" suggests that the maximum weight for a flying bird is around 26 pounds. An adult trumpeter swan can weigh 23 to 30 pounds, which tests the limits of aerodynamics. Because of its size, it must compensate for higher wing loading. Smaller birds like the mallard, which has a lighter wing load, simply leap above a surface to become airborne. Large birds like the albatross launch from a cliff to become airborne on costal air currents and may soar for days before flapping a wing. Because the swan is a big lowland bird, these flight options don’t work.

In order to launch its large body mass, the trumpeter swan must constantly work to strengthen its 7- to 8-foot wing span by consistently stretching and taking daily flights. It takes off by running along the surface of the water and flapping its wings until it gains lift and is airborne. It must continue to flap its wings to stay in the air—no soaring for this bird.

Flying in its familiar "V" formation, the swan flock is an exceptional example of teamwork. Each bird flies closely behind the lead bird and is lifted and pulled along by the rising portion of the spiraling mass of air referred to as the wingtip vortex. The V formation saves time and energy as the flock migrates thousands of miles between its summer and winter habitats. When the lead bird tires, it falls behind and the next in line takes the lead, which allows the flock to fly continually from the time it takes off until it descends for the night.

Pair bonds begin to form at 3 or 4 years of age. In the past it was assumed that swans mated for life, but more recent observation indicates that some swans switch mates. When swans lose their partners, some form new pair bonds while others remain independent. A swan’s average lifespan is 23 years.

Pairs arrive to build a nest before the ice breaks on the tundra. The nest is a low mound of plant matter several feet across with a depression in the middle. The nest is built to rest on top of the water and will float if the water levels change, so it is often anchored to another structure such as a beaver lodge. The pair often returns to the same nesting territory and may reuse the same nest.

A female lays 4 to 5 eggs, and incubation begins after the last egg is laid. The male guards the female and the nest, and he may occasionally sit on the eggs while the female stretches her wings. Incubation lasts about 35 days. The chicks hatch within hours of each other and are able to swim and feed themselves shortly after hatching. The parents tend to the chicks, protect them from predators, and lead them to feeding sites but the chicks must feed themselves. Young birds feed primarily on insects and other invertebrates, especially in the first weeks after hatching. Juveniles fly at about three to four months.

Adult trumpeter swans forage on water and on land. Their long necks allow them to feed on submerged vegetation without diving. Plant material makes up most of their diet. Adults eat stems, leaves, and roots of aquatic plants as well as grasses and tubers.

On a recent walk I was asked where I get the information for my column and why I don’t write more about each bird. In the somewhat limited space of OCN, I try to cover the key information I think readers would find interesting. I depend on three sources of information: personal and shared observations, my growing library, and the Internet.

Happy holidays, and remember that birds would really appreciate a gift of warm water near their feeders.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist in the Tri-Lakes area. Her bird prints are available at the gift shop in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake, with proceeds benefiting habitat preservation. Contact her at www.elizabethhackerart.com with your questions and bird stories.

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Art Matters: The emerging art face of Tri-Lakes

Photos by Janet Sellers.

Below: Doug Buchman, right, leads a festive tour group for the Banner Christmas Walk on Nov. 29. The Banners will be up throughout the holiday season. The community of artists have banners up for sale to support a four-season banner celebration of our community. 

Below: Suzzanne Jenne, artist, stands next to her Holiday Banner design at the grand opening of the Banner Christmas event in Historic Downtown Monument. 

By Janet Sellers

Much of Colorado’s art traditions have followed the common Western country-scape themes for the past hundred or so years. Now, some civic committees such as we find in Denver are attempting to put on a different art face. They plan to do it via public art with works in the vein of "the new west" art, or as recently reported in the New York Times, "The Big Lebowski meets Stagecoach." We could call it the "art that doesn’t fit" even though it does grab attention.

In the words of some of the city leaders and arts committees, they strive to be more relevant to current trends than is found in traditional Western buffalo and cowboy art. The idea behind this peculiar art movement is that the nature of Colorado and the enormous mountains dwarf the human attempts to make a statement.

Colorado is gaining on the cultural appreciation scene, and its world-class art museums and art venues infuse the local economies with new dollars that circulate within these local communities. I am not talking about retail taxes for infrastructure for new roads or water pipes, important as they are. I am talking about art, culture, interest, community enjoyment, and satisfaction, which are factors for a staying power that holds a community together. It is a social infrastructure that plays out in community wealth.

Likewise, the art character in Tri-Lakes is coming into its own. Now, a walk in Historic Monument or a walk in Palmer Lake reveals art on every block, flowers overflowing in pots all along the streets the entire summer, and cheerful evening Art Hop walks each month. Manitou Springs has its flower-power face, Colorado Springs has its steel cowboys and iron bison, and Denver has its iceberg-like Liebeskind art museum. What will our community reveal as its signature art identity?

As the Tri-Lakes community grows in population, its art identity is emerging. What will our art legacy be, and how will we create it for the here and now? We have a home and habitat within natural surroundings we can protect by choice.

Great blue herons still fly overhead, ducks and geese still swim in our ponds, and at least for now, horses and cattle grace our bucolic vistas. Even our big-box merchants are dwarfed in the shadow of the great Rocky Mountains. The romance of Colorado and the West lives in us still, and is ours to protect and honor in our art. So far we celebrate art as figurative or abstract, high tech or low tech, outdoors in concrete monoliths or acrylic panels, and indoors in the cloth and quilt fibers.

It will be interesting to see the artworks that go up in those venues. Compared to Denver and other cities trying to make a statement and blast the public eye, it looks like Monument and Tri-Lakes may have a chance at elegance and beauty amid its art and public scene. We are a community with original thinkers and enough resources (not just cash, but creativity) to offer dozens of art and cultural venues throughout our area.

Every business and public venue can make an opportunity to offer visible art. This is good for public attention, which is very good for business. In many places, the art availability becomes the introduction to a place. I cannot help but think that such a refreshing and fun idea will be in our public eye here very soon. An art stop is a way to invite new energy (and dollar circulation) to our community from the outer realms of tourism.

Speaking of public art in our community, the annual Banner Christmas event in Historic Monument is up and waving in the skies along Second Street. Artists from the Front Range area were invited to paint a banner for the season. The grand opening/dedication was on Nov. 29, greeted by many artists and art lovers, and Monument lovers (pun intended). Fiber art as public art! The Banner Christmas event was a delight for all who attended. Be sure to waltz through the town and enjoy the banners and all the festive galleries this month, for they are sure to please.

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts member show opened Nov. 21. This annual show spotlights members through Jan. 16. Sales are hot, and the art is worth a visit. The judging for the show by Jane Randall shows the adventurous spirit is alive and soaring in the exhibition. The Grand Prize winner is a fabric sculpture, a fine art doll by Lauren Vlcek. My friend and fiber art guru, Liz Kettle, said Lauren is currently working on a book with several other local fiber artists and teachers (Liz included). Fine art in fiber is embraced worldwide in gallery shows and museum exhibitions, and it seems like the Tri-Lakes art public is getting going on celebrating this medium, too.

Also, the current call for public artists with Tri-Lakes Views is taking in art entries until Dec. 15 at www.trilakesviews.org. There are two locations available to place the sculptures, and the sculptures will be for sale with a percentage going to the Tri-Lakes Views program. While an honorarium is offered, the local visibility and potential sale are also a plus for artists in this endeavor. One location will be the new police building at Beacon Lite and Highway 105, and another is the clock tower at the Monument Marketplace. The most recent public artwork put up by the group was the lexan mural of the ice harvesters located at Beacon Lite and Second Street, now in full garden setting courtesy of Home Depot volunteers.

Well, that wraps up another art year here in our community. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy holiday season, and remember to "take life easel" and delight in your creativity every day.

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter, sculptor and writer working in the mediums of canvas, concrete/mixed media and paper. Her work supports natural habitat for rural and urban wild (and human) life.

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Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Nov. 22: Dotsero jazzes up the arts center

Below: (L-R) Dotsero band members David Watts (guitar), Larry Thompson (drums), Stephen Watts (saxophone), Marvin Craft (bass), and Tom Capek (keyboard) play to an enthusiastic audience at the TLCA. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

The third time was definitely the charm for the Nov. 22 appearance of Dotsero at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). It was three years ago that the TLCA started its concert series, and Dotsero, a Denver-based jazz quintet, was one of the first bands to sign on. This third appearance by Dotsero marked the first time that a pre-event sellout occurred for any TLCA event.

The name Dotsero comes from a Colorado town and may also mean "something unique" in Ute legend. The record-setting 250 attendees this evening experienced the band’s uniqueness with a night filled of rhythm and blues, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll influences streaming from the stage.

Brothers David and Stephen Watts started Dotsero in 1989. They began their musical journey in the jazz program at George Washington High School in Denver. A particular influence was music instructor Neil Bridge, who formed a student jazz combo that challenged the brothers. Bridge guided the combo through learning a tune but more so emphasized improvisation from the tune’s construct. From this guidance and, of course, with practice, Stephen Watts was selected as the top high school saxophone player in the United States in 1980 by Downbeat magazine.

When attempting to describe Dotsero’s sound, David Watts first lists influences such as The Beatles; Chicago; Blood, Sweat, and Tears; Led Zeppelin; the Crusaders; and David Sanborn along with jazz trailblazers the Yellowjackets, Weather Report, and Return to Forever.

To further describe Dotsero, he likens jazz to the trunk of a tree. Watts stated that "the tree has many branches such as New Orleans, Chicago, and Kansas City. We are on a wayward branch but belong to the tree." It seems Dotsero started out on a fairly strong branch as their 1991 release, Jubilee, was on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart for 10 weeks and No. 1 for five weeks on the Radio and Records chart.

Among their 11 albums, Dotsero added a holiday CD this year titled "A Season of Wonder." David Watts said the "timing never seemed right for a time (to record a Christmas album) but our fans kept clamoring for one, so with the help of producer Kip Kuepper we finally got it (the CD) together." Besides working on another album for an early 2009 release and touring, the brothers Watts keep busy with their Jazz@Jacks jazz club in Denver’s Pavilions Mall, which offers a selection of blues, big band, jazz, and comedy six nights a week.

And though they play to enthusiastic crowds at their own club and other venues, Stephen Watts, recalling a train that blared its whistle during a previous TLCA appearance, complimented the appreciative TLCA audience’s applause as "being able to drown out a train." This comment demonstrates how the TLCA is rapidly gaining a reputation for being a supportive musical venue and essential tour destination for local and national musical acts.


Information on Dotsero is available at www.dotsero.org. Information on the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, upcoming events, and how you can support the center’s capital campaign is available at www.trilakesarts.org.

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Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Nov. 23: TLCA Member Show

Photos by David Futey

Below: Connie Kay Miner poses with her quilt work, Totally Square, which received 1st Place honors at the 2008 TLCA member show. Miner used a mix of light and dark colored material to draw the viewer into her piece. Miner belongs to a color study group that analyzes colors, their luminosity, how they can be used to develop depth perception, and other visual characteristics that she then incorporates into her works. 

Below: Lauren Vick’s fiber and mixed-media work, Marty McGraw, received Best of Show from over 140 entries in the 2008 TLCA member show. 

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Nov. 20: Historical Society hears about early Colorado railroading

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: The Palmer Lake Historical Society Members and guests listening to Charles Halaska.

Below: Charles Halaska

Below (L-R): Refreshment Committee Members, Kim Braun and Rhetta Walters.

By Bernard L. Minetti

At the November meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society, attendees were addressed by Charles Halaska, a docent for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

Halaska presented a slide viewing of the railroad’s history and how it runs today. He pointed to one of the primary differences between the Cumbres and Toltec, which is a narrow-gauge track line and the standard railroad tracking today. The difference is the track layout widths. Narrow-gauge rail-to-rail is 3 feet, while the standard gauge width is 4 feet, 8 inches. Narrow gauge allows the trains to be able to make the steep turns on this route.

This railroad route is now a 68-mile winding and zigzagging ride and is rich with adventure and scenery on the tour from Antonito, Colo., to Chama, N.M. The docents, who recount and provide historic information on the ride, are the source of some exciting history of early Western railroading. The information is especially valuable for those seeking to enrich their Colorado heritage and to learn firsthand how the railroads in Southern Colorado came into being.

The ride takes you through the Toltec Gorge and is especially exciting as you ride through some of the most precious and pristine scenery in Colorado and New Mexico. Halaska stressed that this would be a wonderful vacation event for families.


The Palmer Lake Historical Society will not meet in December. The next meeting will occur on Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Palmer Lake Town Hall. It will be the annual Potluck Dinner. Slides and music will be presented by Joe Bohler. Those interested in the history of the Tri-Lakes area and Colorado can become a member. Individual memberships are $10; $15 for families.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Halloween activities in the Tri-Lakes area

Photos by David Futey.

Below: On Halloween night, kids young and old participated in the Safe Trick or Treat, which weaved its way through downtown Monument. Over 15 businesses provided candy and other treats to the many costumed participants.

Below: On October 30th, nearly 1,000 community members attended the Tri-Lakes YMCA Halloween event. Games, crafts, costume contests, and a haunted house were among the many activities for those who attended.

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Monument Academy honors veterans, Nov. 11

Below: Monument Academy honored 45 veterans at their second annual "Let’s Celebrate Our Veterans" event, Tuesday, November 11. Veterans from all branches of the armed services were represented, as well as wars from WWII to the current war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Cub Scout Pack 17, Den 1 posted the colors and Col. Miriam Michael delivered the keynote address. Students in 4th-8th grades participated in the assembly and provided choral and instrumental music, as well as moving videos to honor our veterans. The school hosted the veterans and their families at a lunch after the ceremony. As one veteran told the children, "I feel more secure about our country’s freedom now than I did when I came in this morning." Photo and information provided by the Monument Academy.

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Volunteers gather gifts for reservation children

Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

Once again this holiday season the Tri-Lakes Angels, Mary Little Deer and Anne Shimek, along with their many supporters from the Tri-Lakes and Colorado Springs communities, will be sending Christmas presents to children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Each year at this time, Little Deer and Shimek receive a list of children’s names, this year totaling 105, from the staff of Children’s Village, an emergency foster care facility on the reservation. After receiving the list, community members purchase gifts and donate toys, stuffed animals, and other items to be given to each child. They also help to wrap and ship the presents to the reservation.

In addition to bowls made for the Empty Bowl event, a number of local potters created small bowls to be sent to the reservation children. The bowls will be wrapped with small toys, books, stuffed animals, and other items as a Christmas basket. Nancy Ament, Ann Werner, Sandy Miller, Janice Mann, Audrey Arnholdt, and other Tri-Lakes and Colorado Springs community members will be helping Little Deer and Shimek put the baskets together.

The presents and baskets should be on their way to the reservation by Dec. 10. Once the presents are received, the joy of Christmas will have once again been sent from the hearts of many in our community to those who might not know such a joy without the help of their angels.

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Gleneagle Women’s Club Arts and Crafts Show, Nov. 21

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below (L to R): Shirley Roberts, Gayl Skorenki, Tsilla Reyner, Frances Luke, Sandy Trent, and Lynne Brown. Reyner is Craft Section Coordinator for the event. Luke is the Luncheon Coordinator. 

Below: (L to R): Nancy Zdeb, Sherrie Beasley, Jonnye Dickard, Club Members With Elaine Teevens, Owner Of The Heart And Hand Market Place located in Historic Downtown Monument. 

Below: Elizabeth Hacker of Birds of the Palmer Divide displaying her art work.

Below: Gaspare Licata, owner of Vicenzo’s Bistro and Bakery, who volunteers his establishment for the Gleneagle Women’s Club’s annual fundraiser, which supports Tri-Lakes area charitible organizations. Licata, who is from Sicily, is passionate about his food presentations.

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Record crowd enjoys Palmer Lake chili supper, Nov. 29

Below: (L-R) Randi Fluegel, winner of the raffle to turn on the Palmer Lake Star, her friend Megan Lawson, and Palmer Lake Volunteer Firefighter and Police Trustee Dan Reynolds look at the star just after Fluegel lighted it through a remote control device. Fluegel, from Black Forest, was among the nearly 500 guests who attended the Palmer Lake Chili Supper, with proceeds going toward the maintenance of the Palmer Lake Star located on the hillside to the west of the town.. The star was installed in 1935 and is lit to celebrate the Christmas season and several National holidays. Photo by David Futey.

Below: Nearly 500 guests attended the Palmer Lake Chili Supper held in the Town Hall on November 29. Besides their choice of edibles, which included 3 varieties of chili, cinnamon rolls, and white and chocolate milk for drinks, guests were automatically entered into a door prize raffle and could also enter a raffle that consisted of a wide variety of prizes donated by numerous Tri-Lakes businesses. Photo by David Futey..

Below: Overflow crowd fills the Fire Department Gear Room. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below (L to R): Firefighter kitchen servers Nora Birt, Kim Polonsky, Troy Oliver, David Farr, and Joe Polonsky. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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Sertoma gives dictionaries to third graders

For the past several years, many Rotary Clubs have purchased and distributed hard cover dictionaries to third grade students. Because no Rotary Clubs directly serve the Tri-Lakes Area, the Monument Hill Sertoma club has taken on this program for the six elementary schools in Lewis-Palmer School District 38. The 402 books presented this year were accompanied by a letter from the club to parents.

Below: After the dictionaries were distributed at Palmer Lake Elementary School. a contest was held to see who could look up words first. In this picture , the third graders looking up the word "dictionary". Photo provided by Stephen Plank.

Below (L-R): Sertoma Club members, Brig. Gen. A. Trifiletti, USA (Ret.), Judith Thomas, Lt.Gen. Billy Thomas, USA(Ret.) distributing dictionaries to the Lewis-Palmer Elementary School third graders. Ms. Jean Yamiolkoski standing in the background, helped with the distribution. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below: At Lewis-Palmer Elementary School, Ms. Neva Nardone’s third graders show their pleasure at receiving these wonderful dictionaries. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below: At Grace Best Elementary School, Sertoman Jim Taylor and Debby Tudor from the Coffee Cup Cafe distribute dictionaries. Coffee Cup was a business sponsor of the project at Grace Best. Photo by Ted Bookman.

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It’s Red Kettle time - Please give generously

Below: Braving the cold December 3, Monument Hill Sertoma club member Chris Otto rings the bell for this year’s Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign. Bell ringing is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through December 24 at the Monument Safeway, Wal-Mart and King Soopers. Lewis-Palmer High School Serteens, Palmer Ridge High School Serteens, and the local Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs are also helping the Sertoma Club ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. Please put something in the kettles each time you pass one. One hundred percent of the donations are used to help those in need in El Paso county. Remember to drop off that change from your home coin jars. Happy Holidays to all of you, from all of us involved in the 2008 Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign. Photo and information provided by Mike Wicklund.

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November and December events at the library

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Associate Director Beth Barrett, Branch Manager Jean Harris, Trustees Calvin Otto and Aje Sakamoto, and Executive Director Paula Miller celebrated at the Monument branch.

Below: Becky Campbell and Julie Simmons of the Monument Library and Linda Fuqua-Jones of the Palmer Lake Library were the "storytellers in the dark."

Below: Noreen Griffin and her children Keira and Hayden found a spot in the hallway to work on their biplanes.

Below Maria Hammill shows the catamaran she built with her dad, Ches.

By Harriet Halbig

November was an exciting month at the Monument Branch Library.

The Dance in Disguise teen event was held after hours Nov. 1. It was a great success, with the teens handling all the decorating chores and supplying the music and sound systems.

On the evening of the Nov. 7, most of the staff and many of our spouses and volunteers traveled to Denver for the Colorado Association of Libraries Awards Banquet, where we received our award as Library of the Year. On Monday the 10th the Friends of the Library arranged a festive reception at the branch, complete with flowers and wonderful fruit platters, cakes, and punch. In attendance were many of our patrons, friends, members of the Pikes Peak Library District’s Board of Trustees, and the director and associate director of the district. A guest book was made available to those who wished to record their greetings.

Also early in the month, the branch’s food drive for Tri-Lakes Cares yielded donations of over 750 pounds of nonperishable food. The food drive is an annual event in Monument.

The Home Depot Build It Yourself program at the Palmer Lake branch on the 15th was very popular, with over 35 young builders working with their projects in the children’s area, every hallway, and between rows of shelves as they built catamarans and biplanes. It was especially satisfying to see so many dads participate.

In December, the Monument and Palmer Lake branches continue to offer many special programs.

On the 6th in Monument will be a presentation of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" with actors ages 12-20 playing multiple parts and emphasizing the comedy of the play with a modern twist.

On the 13th, Mrs. Claus will visit Monument with songs, stories and puppets. Her visit last year was delightful! Also that day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., children are invited to decorate colossal cookies with frosting and sprinkles—take them along or eat them there.

The cookie event will be repeated at Palmer Lake at 10:30 a.m. on the 20th.

On Saturday the 20th at the Monument branch, from 1:30 p.m. until 3 p.m., there will be a concert of holiday harp music played by teen musicians. Come take a break from your hectic preparations.

Many of the groups that meet monthly have suspended their meetings for December. Please call the branch if you’re unsure.

Entry-level computer classes for adults will resume in January.

Also in January, join us for the annual adult reading program, "Celebrate a New Year of Books," beginning on Jan. 12 and lasting until March 9. Log the books you have read and receive such prizes as Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory chocolate, Panera coupons, and a commemorative coffee mug.

In the Monument display case during December will be ornaments from the White House Historical Association. On the walls will be a display of mixed media on canvas by Theresa Lugo.

Happy holidays from the library, and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Libraries taking food donations for local food banks

 Pikes Peak Library District is teaming up with local food banks to collect nonperishable food donations from December 12 to January 16. The Monument and Palmer Lake branches will accept donations for Tri-Lakes Cares. The most needed food items are: canned meat and tuna, canned tomato products, boxed pasta, canned meals, canned fruit and vegetables, canned and bagged beans, canned soup, peanut butter, and powdered milk. 

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Monument Christmas Banners

Historic Downtown Monument presents the first "Banner Christmas" featuring 30 original Christmas art banners hand-painted by renowned local artists. The banners will be on display on Second Street and Front Street lampposts throughout the holiday season. Some of the banners will be available in a silent auction to raise funds for various local nonprofit organizations. For more information, call 884-8016.

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Historic Monument Small Town Christmas, Dec. 6

Downtown Monument shops are offering refreshments, special events, and discounts Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Holiday activities for the entire family include:

  • Holiday crafts at Town Hall (166 Second St.) 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Miniature donkeys at Monumental Miniatures, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Hayrides and carolers at the Gallery Center (Second Street Art Market, Bella Art & Frame, and the Design Works), starting at 10 a.m.
  • A visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus at Limbach Park bandshell 10 a.m.- noon (weather permitting, otherwise in the Chapala Building.)
  • Christmas Karaoke at High Country Home and Garden, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Reindeer and music at Front Street Square throughout the day
  • Kids can make Christmas ornaments, free, at 2 Watts Creative.
  • A gift to every child who stops by Toys 4 Fun

For more information visit www.monumentmerchants.com and click on ‘events’ or phone 884-8016.

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Monument Hill Brass Quintet Holiday Concert, Dec. 6

Monument Hill Brass Quintet will perform a program of holiday music at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Dec. 6. Doors open at 7 for the 7:30 p.m. concert. The Lewis-Palmer High School Chamber Singers, under the direction of George Douthit, joins the quintet as special guests. Tickets are $12 TLCA members, $15 non-members, $5 students, and are available at The Wine Seller (481-3019), Covered Treasures Bookstore (481-2665) in Monument and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Colorado Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, visit the website at www.trilakesarts.org.

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Palmer Lake Yule Log Pot Luck Dinner, Dec. 9

The 75th Annual Yule Log Pot Luck Dinner will be held Tue., Dec. 9, 6 p.m., at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Circle. Please bring a potluck dish to share and place settings for your family. For more information, call 481-2953.

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Black Rose Acoustic Society Christmas Potluck Party, Dec. 12

Share in the holiday spirit at a festive Christmas potluck party with all the seasonal adornment, scrumptious foods, mouth-watering desserts, storytelling, Christmas carols, and the Forest Chorus. The fun starts at 7 p.m. in the Black Forest Community Center, 12530 Black Forest Road at Shoup Road. For more information visit www.blackroseacoustic.org or phone 494-0666.

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Night of Lights, Dec. 12-14

The congregations of the Church at Woodmoor and The River invite the community to the Night of Lights, a uniquely Colorado experience of pine forest paths trimmed with over 10,000 lights that point to a living nativity scene. For those unable to walk the lighted trail, parking is available near the living nativity and heated outdoor pavilion. Hot chocolate, cider, and snacks will be served and each family and/or group visiting will receive a keepsake ornament. The event is free, but all are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares. The event will be held at the Church at Woodmoor, 18125 Furrow Rd., Monument, Dec. 12-14, 5 to 8 p.m. For additional information call 488-3200.

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Christmas Handbell Concert, Dec. 13

Everyone is invited to a free community concert and sing-along Dec. 13, 7 p.m., at Monument Community Presbyterian Church, 238 Third St., Monument. Come and enjoy the sounds of the season featuring multiple handbell choirs, a brass quintet, organ/piano, flute, vocals, and sing-along. For more information, phone Betty Jenik, 488-3853.

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Palmer Lake Yule Log Hunt, Dec. 14

This popular event is one of Palmer Lake’s best traditions. Join the trek up the mountain in search of the Yule Log Dec. 14, 1 p.m. Hunt participants should arrive at Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, between 11 a.m. and noon. The winner will ride the Yule Log back to town and get the first cup of wassail. Those not participating in the hunt can stay warm indoors and enjoy Christmas carols and stories told by storyteller John Stansfield at 1 p.m. For more information phone the town office, 481-2953.

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Call to Artists, Dec. 15

Tri-Lakes Views is excited to be underway on its second phase of public art, ARTSites, a yearlong outdoor sculpture-on-loan exhibit displayed in the Tri-Lakes area. Scheduled for installation in May 2009, Tri-Lakes Views has put out a Call to Artists. Artist submissions are due Dec. 15 and all details can be found on the Web site, www.trilakesviews.org. Pieces will be placed at two locations the first year; in front of the new Monument Town Hall building at the corner of Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road, and at Monument Marketplace on Jackson Creek Parkway. Tri-Lakes Views will expand the number of display sites and the number of pieces each year.

Tri-Lakes Views is a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to enrich our community by supporting activities that showcase the arts and preserve the region’s unique history. Its volunteer committee includes members of the business and residential communities of the Tri-Lakes region. More information on the Call to Artists, sponsorship, volunteering, or Tri-Lakes Views can be found on the Web site, www.trilakesviews.org, or by contacting Karen Ball, 481-5658.

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County seeks volunteers for Highway Advisory Commission, Dec. 19

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Highway Advisory Commission, one of its advisory boards. Applications for the open positions are due Dec. 19. The Highway Advisory Commission is in need of an at-large representative and two associate members, as well as one representative from county commissioner District 2 (encompasses the eastern portion of the county) and one from District 4 (includes the southern part of Colorado Springs, the Security-Widefield area, Fountain, Fort Carson, and the area south to the county line). The commission considers highway and road needs throughout the county, and assists with establishing the construction priorities and corresponding budget for the county Department of Transportation annual project plan. District and at-large representatives are appointed by the Board of County Commissioners for three-year terms, with associate members appointed for one-year terms.

The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. Applicants are asked to reference which position they want to represent and include a mailing address and daytime phone number. Send completed applications and letters of interest and/or résumés to:

Board of County Commissioners
Attn: Frances St. Germain
County Administration Manager
27 E. Vermijo Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80903-2208 

Applications may also be faxed to: 719-520-6397 or emailed to: webmaster@elpasoco.com. For more information call 520-6436.

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"The Splendor of Christmas" Holiday Concert, Dec. 19-20

Tri-Lakes Music Association (TLMA) presents its annual free Christmas concert Dec. 19-20, 7 p.m., at Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Road, Monument. The two-hour concert will feature the TLMA orchestra of 60 musicians directed by Rose Dunphey, and the choir of 90 singers directed by Bob Manning. In addition there will be performances by the Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir directed by Betty Jenik, and the TLMA Children’s Choir directed by Diane Jensen. The proceeds from this event will go to scholarships for two Lewis-Palmer High School seniors involved in music and to Tri-Lakes Cares, a local nonprofit organization. For information visit trilakesmusic.org or contact Bob Manning, 481-3883, or e-mail rwgmanning@comcast.net

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Combined Police and Fire Departments’ Holiday Toy Drive

The Monument Police Department and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department need toys for the third annual Tri-Lakes area Santa on Patrol. Please drop off toys for needy children by Dec. 20 at the Monument Police Station, 154 N. Washington St., or the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Station, 18650 Highway 105. Please mention that the toys are for "Santa on Patrol."

On Dec. 20, Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk, acting as a duly sworn-in and authorized Santa Assistant with uniform to match, will deliver toys and joy to many children in the Tri-Lakes area. Instead of a sleigh pulled by a red-nosed Rudolph, Chief Shirk will drive a police car with red lights and siren followed by fire engines driven by the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department Elves. If you hear loud noises, look out your window as it may be Santa and his elves visiting your neighborhood. For more information, call Chief Shirk, Santa Assistant, on his elf phone, 884-8032.

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Low-Income Energy Assistance Program

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners has approved the Department of Human Services’ contract with Goodwill Industries of Colorado Springs to assist low-income households with their winter home heating costs and non-fuel emergencies such as heating system repairs and window replacement. This federally funded program, known as LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program), runs Nov. 1, 2008, to April 30, 2009. Any U.S. citizen or legal resident of Colorado who pays heating costs directly to an energy provider, or whose heating costs are included with their monthly rent, may qualify for LEAP if their monthly gross household income falls within the federal poverty guidelines set annually on Nov. 1. For more information, call 1-866-432-8435.

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Library District’s new Kids Web

Pikes Peak Library District now has an exciting new Web site for children. To access the new site, go to www.ppld.org and click on Kids Web. Kids Web features a wealth of resources for school reports and homework, as well as links to local historical information and biographies of people of interest in the Colorado Springs area.

Kids Web also has links to Tumblebooks, free online read-along books; a children’s blog; YouTube videos of storytellers; library program and event information; and book reading lists. On the site’s Fun & Games link, children can access a variety of free online games and learning activities, coloring book pages, and Summer Reading Program information. Parents and teachers will find the new site helpful as well—a "grown-ups" link provides information about local school districts, home-schooling, and more.

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