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“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.”
– Shirley Temple  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 12 December 2017  

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  Chamber news
  By Jeremy Kniffen
  Liberty Tax

   The Eastern Plains Chamber of Commerce held their monthly meeting Nov. 1 at Grace Community Church; 32 members and guests attended. Our attendance is growing, and we encourage all businesses in the Eastern Plains area to join the chamber and help us grow and support our local community.
   After introductions, District 2 El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller spoke about the I-25 Gap project and the Tabor issue (1A), which was on the November Election Ballot. The I-25 Gap project involves an 18-mile stretch of interstate, between Monument and Castle Rock — two miles of the stretch is located within El Paso County.
   
   Regarding 1A, Waller said there is about $14.5 million in excess money that, according to Tabor laws, would have had to be refunded to the taxpayers within El Paso County. The ballot question asked voters if the county could retain the excess, which would be used to help fund critical infrastructure, with about $6 million going to roads and bridges and $6 million to the I-25 project. When asked why local money is going toward I-25, Waller said it was the only way to complete the project. He also said that about $1.5 million of the excess would go to parks and open spaces, and $1 million would go to disaster recovery and mitigation. He also said they were applying for a federal grant that could multiply the $1 million four times. Issue 1A passed Nov. 7, allowing the county to keep the excess.
   
   Waller also discussed issue 5b, which would allow $10 million of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority funds to go toward the I-25 project. Additionally, this issue would designate $5 million a year for two years, if tax collection is above budget. This excess is currently used for non-list projects. Issue 5b also passed Nov. 7.
   
   Next to speak, Mike Donahue, executive director and founder of the Colorado-based R5 Productions and Value Up, talked about his nonprofit organization, an award-winning program dedicated to enriching the lives of young people. Donahue started this organization in 2004 after growing up in a rough home, getting emancipated at the age of 16 and joining the United States Air Force at the age of 19. Donahue and his organization have reached more than one million kids so far.
   
   He said kids and schools are being “governed” by a social pecking order. Kids are constantly judging each other, which creates pressure on kids, which parents are often quick to dismiss, he said. Asking kids about social problems, listening to their concerns and acknowledging the pressures they are under are effective steps to prevent teen suicide and other destructive behaviors, Donahue said.
   
   He developed a program called “Walk a Mile,” which is a multi-faceted presentation provided to schools across the country. The presentation includes a school assembly designed to talk to students about making the right choices as well as respect and tolerance on campus.
   
   For more information about the program, visit http://r5online.com. Donahue also has a great book, “Value Up,” that deals with the topic of raising the value of individuals in a school culture. This book and other valuable resources are available on the website.
   
   Following the speakers, Ben Kley, chairman, said the chamber is providing monetary support to Shield616 and is willing to match donations by members. Also, the chamber Christmas party is scheduled for Dec. 14 at CreekView Grill — all members and their spouses are invited.
   
   Upcoming speakers:
   Dec. 6: Ben Hummel will be the featured speaker and will discuss the proposed development at Woodmen Road and Meridian Road. Hummel is involved in the development of the complex.
   
   January 2018: There will not be a membership meeting in January, to allow our members to celebrate the holidays with their families.
   
   If you or your organization would be interested in being the featured speaker for one of the upcoming Chamber of Commerce meetings, contact the board at board@easternplainschamber.com.
   
   The Eastern Plains Chamber of Commerce meets the first Wednesday of each month, from 7 to 8:30 a.m. at Grace Community Church, 9475 Grace Church View in Falcon.
  
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