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And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier's tomb, and beauty weeps the brave.
– Joseph Drake  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 5 May 2017  

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    Falcon student a shark advocate
    St. Patrick’s Day: a green day for business
    Miami-Yoder students raise money for food pantry
    New bill changes school district funding
    Building and real estate update
 
  Falcon student a shark advocate

   Christopher Morlan, age 10, was invited to speak at the annual fundraiser, held in Denver, for Fins Attached, an organization that advocates for shark populations worldwide and the preservation of marine life. Christopher spoke to a sold-out crowd, more than 250 people, about the effects shark finning has on shark populations, as well as the ripple effect on the ecosystems of the ocean. Following Christopher’s presentation, Dr. Sylvia Earle, a well-known biologist and author who has received numerous awards and honors for her work with ocean conservation presented as the feature speaker.
   
   Christopher is in fourth grade at Meridian Ranch Elementary. He met the founder of Fins Attached, Dr. Alex Antoniou, in the fall of 2014. In 2015, Christopher began working with Antoniou to help raise awareness of the importance of shark research and preservation of marine life. For more information, visit http://finsattached.org.
  
Christopher Morlan has a passion for shark preservation; and is being mentored by Dr. Alex Antoniou. Dr. Sylvia Earle spoke at the Fins Attached annual fundraiser in Denver. Photos by Jeff Powers of JPOW Photography
 
 
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  St. Patrick’s Day: a green day for business
  Breeanna Jent

   On March 17, Americans — of Irish descent or not — will don their green garb and spend billions of dollars celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
   
   Although the annual holiday began as a feast for the patron saint of Ireland, it has transformed into “an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green,” according to history.com.
   
   “The date (March 17) commemorates the day St. Patrick died, believed to be in A.D. 461,” wrote Laura Rosenfeld’s in a March 14, 2016, article — “The History of St. Patrick’s Day: 9 Facts You Need to Know About the Holiday’s Origins” — posted at TechTimes.com.
   
   “St. Patrick was mostly forgotten. ... However, a mythology grew around the religious figure, and by the ninth or 10th century, people in Ireland began observing St. Patrick’s Day as a feast day,” Rosenfeld wrote.
   
   Modern celebrations incorporate alcoholic beverages and an emphasis on parties; the celebration of the previous “minor religious holiday” morphed in Ireland sometime in the 1970s.
   
   St. Patrick’s Day celebrations transformed in America much earlier.
   
   “Early celebrations happened in Boston in 1737 and New York in 1762. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations continued to grow as more Irish immigrants came to the U.S.,” according to Rosenfeld’s article. Rosenfeld also cited history.com’s statement that “New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest parade in the U.S.”
   
   The city of Chicago also dyes the Chicago River green each year to commemorate the holiday.
   
   In 2016, Americans spent $4.4 billion on the Irish holiday, according to a survey conducted by Proper Insight & Analytics for the National Retail Federation.
   
   On its website, the NRF reported more than 125 million Americans planned to celebrate the Irish holiday, spending an average of $33.37 per person.
   
   Holiday spending was down last year compared to 2014, when Americans spent $4.8 billion; and 2015, when Americans spent $4.6 billion.
   
   Last year, 21.1 percent of Americans attended a private party to celebrate; 28.7 percent headed to bars and restaurants; and 31.3 percent celebrated with a special dinner at home, NRF reported.
   
   The poll showed people age 25 to 34 spent the most last year — $42.60 each on the holiday.
   
   Plenty of money is spent on alcohol.
   
   In his March 14, 2016, article, “St. Patrick’s Day 2016 by the Numbers,” posted on WalletHub.com, John S. Kiernan wrote, “Despite its religious undertones, St. Patrick’s Day ranks among the calendar’s biggest drinking days, as more than 33 million Irish-Americans and their compatriots around the world raise pints of Guinness and forkfuls of cabbage all in the name of the Emerald Isle.”
   
   According to a 2016 WalletHub poll, last year,13 million pints of Guinness were consumed worldwide; and St. Patrick’s Day ranks fourth among the most popular drinking days of the year, “behind New Year’s Eve, Christmas and the Fourth of July.”
   
   WalletHub shared that 33.1 million Americans claim Irish ancestry - that’s “seven times Ireland’s population.”
   
   Locals looking for a place to celebrate this year can check out Frankie’s Too! in Falcon, Colorado. The restaurant will be celebrating in Irish fashion, continuing a tradition that started 30 years ago, said co-owner Kathy Patton.
   
   One of the main acts is a bagpipe performance.
   
   “We’re going to have the Pikes Peak Highlanders,” Patton said. The Pikes Peak Highlanders are a local group who perform bagpipe and drum acts throughout the Pikes Peak region.
   
   “The bagpipers will play from 5 to 6 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, before the floor is open up to dancing.”
   
   Patrons can also enjoy the traditional corned beef and hash and green beer, along with the restaurant’s popular St. Patrick’s Day dessert staple: an Irish bread pudding with Irish whiskey sauce.
   
   “People line up for that,” Patton said.
   
   “(The event) is very family friendly, and everyone is welcome to come by and join in the fun.”
   
   Other local celebrations include the Colorado Springs St. Patrick’s Day Parade; this year, slated to take place in downtown Colorado Springs Saturday, March 11. The event kicks off with a 50k bike ride starting at 8:30 a.m., a 5k run at 11 a.m. and the parade at noon.
   
   For more information, visit the parade website at http://ccstpats.com.
  
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  Miami-Yoder students raise money for food pantry
  By Jason Gray

   When the National Honor Society at Miami High School learned that the Antioch Daily Bread Food Pantry in Truckton, Colorado, was facing a cash shortfall, the students decided to sell holiday gifts. They raised $562 — almost tripling their original goal.
   
   Norma Houghton, president of the Miami High School National Honor Society, learned about the pantry's needs while volunteering her own time at the pantry. “At NHS, we love to do community events,” Houghton said. “We don't raise money to do our own things for the club. I knew last year the pantry lost an outside grant and were short money, so I suggested we do our Yankee Candle fundraiser for here.”
   
   The club enthusiastically embraced the idea, Houghton said. The members knew the pantry was vital to helping many of the rural community's families meet their food needs. Several of the members' families have been clients of the food pantry at some point. “We sold quite a bit of Yankee Candle gifts, and our 40 percent share of the revenue came out to $562,” Houghton said. “I was very surprised. I was expecting $200 maybe. But then everyone worked hard to sell a whole bunch for this. It was awesome.”
   
   “Honor society is the first outside group that I know of that has donated funds directly to the pantry in at least four years,” said Aleta Fields, director of the pantry. “Our funds have mainly come from the church, but with the economic situation, when the church funds go down; the pantry funds go down. We get about $100 a month from the church, and it costs $400 to $500 a month to just buy the food –- not including gas and volunteers with their own trucks and trailers. But we manage to stretch that like crazy. Otherwise, as far as money, we're on our own.”
   
   “Miami-Yoder and Edison schools always do food drives for us, and the post office has boxes for us,” said Debra Brinkman, pantry volunteer, who has been working at the pantry with her family for years. However, the cash needed to run a pantry are often overlooked. “For example, just last night our truck we use to haul the food went down,” Brinkman said.
   
   “Last year, we served over 200 families,” Fields said. “We ask if the families are in Miami-Yoder or Edison school districts, but we serve families from Simla, Ellicott, Hanover — all over a wide area out here.”
   
   The Daily Bread Pantry only takes the most basic identifying information to keep track of client numbers and family size. “Our pantry does not ask for financial information, rather only how many people are in the household, and Care and Share needs to know the ages,” Fields said.
   
   If a family might otherwise have money for groceries but are temporarily hit with an emergency medical debt, the Daily Bread team sees it as a win if they are able to use the pantry's resources to lower their grocery bill to pay off that debt, Fields said. At other pantries or charities, that hypothetical family may not qualify because of their base income. “We're in one of the most impoverished areas in El Paso County,” Fields said. “We know we have a lot of low income families who just need a little extra help.”
   
   The number of area families that use or have used the pantry for brief times has created a sense of community ownership. Previous clients are now the pantry's most active volunteers.
   
   “Some of our volunteers are connected to the church, but many are people who we have helped in the past who want to give back, and that's how they can do it,” Fields said.
  
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  New bill changes school district funding
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Jan. 13, the Colorado State Senate introduced a bill that would require school districts across the state to distribute funds equally to all schools, including charter schools. Sen. Owen Hill and House Rep. Lang Sias sponsored the bill, known as Senate Bill 17-061.
   
   On Feb. 15, the senate education committee passed the bill, and the full senate will hear it around the beginning of March, Hill said.
   
   According to the bill’s text, “Beginning in the 2017-2018 budget year, the bill requires a school district to distribute revenue it receives from ongoing local property tax mill levies equally, on a per-student basis, to the school district charter schools.”
   
   Public schools in Colorado receive funding from two sources: state funding and local funding, largely through property taxes based on the mill levy rate, Hill said. “The state sets a base rate for each district to provide per kids,” he said. “The mill levy money is being shared and all the state constitution language says that money is to provide for public schools within the district. But many districts are not sharing that money with public charter schools.”
   
   Hill said this funding disparity could result in students within the same household receiving different amounts for their education, based simply on the school they attend, even though both attend public schools. Technically, not sharing the mill levy funds equitably is a violation of the state constitution and a violation of the trust of the voters, he said.
   
   Sias said he spent a time getting educated about how schools are funded, and learned how prevalent it is in Colorado not to share mill levy funds. “There are dramatic positive effects when the funds are shared,” he said. “I looked at the language of the mill levies, and there is no explanation of the fact that some public school children are going to be cut out of receiving that money.”
   
   According to the bill, districts do not have to share mill levy funds collected for a specific purpose, like funding a program or for capital improvements designated in the mill levy language. Those funds are considered restricted revenue, the bill states.
   
   “We have broad bipartisan support in both chambers,” Hill said. “People across the state and the political spectrum recognize how important this is, and we are cautiously optimistic that this will move forward.”
  
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Meridian Ranch Estates Filing No. 3
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved the application for preliminary acceptance of certain streets within Meridian Ranch Estates Filing No. 3 into the EPC road maintenance system. All improvements have been completed and inspected, bringing the total miles of county-maintained roads from 2,179.46 to 2,179.90.
   
   Paint Brush Hills filings
   The commissioners unanimously approved a petition for inclusion of Paint Brush Hills Filings 13B, 13C and 13D into the EPC public improvement district No. 2. All developers in the county must pay a road impact fee, and choosing to include these filings into a PID allows the developer to reduce the initial fee they must pay at the time of the building permit process; the balance is collected over time through a mill levy.
   
   Cherry Creek Crossing
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by Cherry Creek Crossing LLC for a planned unit development amendment to identify specific allowed and permitted uses on the commercial lot within the Cherry Creek Crossing development. The 8.353-acre plot, which is zoned PUD, is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Highway 83 and Hodgen Road. The amendment not only identifies allowed land uses that were previously only implied by reference in the PUD, but also adds specific, less intensive uses associated with a greenhouse. Proposed uses associated with a greenhouse include the sale of greenhouse products, a farmer’s market, a restaurant serving food produced in the greenhouse, living quarters for employees and a classroom space for teaching food cultivation and preparation instruction.
   
   Oil Well Bridge Replacement Project
   The county commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to recognize federal revenue and appropriate expenditures for construction of the Oil Well Bridge Replacement Project for $1,772,848. The project includes demolition of the existing 1935 timber bridge and construction of a new bridge with associated roadway approaches and channel improvements. The current structure has failing stringers and pilings; the proposed bridge is a 120-foot long, three-span, pre-stressed concrete slab bridge with a pile-type foundation. The bridge is located along Oil Well Road, about 1 mile north of Funk Road in eastern EPC.
   
   Holtwood Road Bridge Replacement Project
   The BOCC approved a resolution to recognize federal revenue and appropriate expenditures for construction of the Holtwood Bridge Replacement Project for $2,019,200. The current structure has failing girders and piers, which EPC has reinforced to maintain traffic until the bridge is replaced. The bridge is located about .8 miles north of Corona Road in eastern EPC.
   
   Falcon School District 49
   The EPC Planning Commission unanimously approved a resolution not to require a public hearing for the purchase of a school site for Falcon School District 49. The site includes an existing facility that will house and operate the Colorado Military Academy, a new charter school in D 49. The charter school is adjacent to the Peterson Air Force Base entrance on the east side of Peterson Boulevard and south of Space Village Avenue.
   
   Taylor Acres
   The planning commission unanimously approved a request by Taylor Living Trust to subdivide the property located on the west side of Black Forest Road at the intersection with Brentwood Drive, about .4 miles north of Shoup Road into three single-family lots. The 15-acre parcel is zoned residential rural and is within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan. The subdivision request creates two 5-acre parcels and one 4.776-acre parcel, with a dedicated 20-foot right-of-way along Black Forest Road.
   
   Kellin Communications Commercial Tower
   The planning commission unanimously approved a request by Kellin Communications for a special use for a 195-foot tall commercial tower, which will act as a host receiver and transmitter for wireless broadband Internet service, on a 34.9-acre parcel zoned agricultural. The property is located on the south side of Hopper Road, about 1 mile east of Elbert Road; and is within the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
   
   Peyton Junction
   The planning commission unanimously approved a request by Mark and Desiree Schultz on behalf of Peyton Junction LLC to rezone a 1.4-acre plot from the agricultural zoning district to the commercial community zoning district. The property is located north of Highway 24, south of Main Street in Peyton, and is within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan. The property currently has a single-family home and three commercial-use facilities on it.
  
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