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“Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”
– Vesta M. Kelly  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 12 December 2018  

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    Paint Brush Hills and water sources
    Falcon Park N Ride: lights and law enforcement?
    Agent Orange: still toxic after 50 years
    Building and real estate update
    Four Way Ranch meeting
    EASTER FUN
 
  Paint Brush Hills and water sources
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Feb. 21, the Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District, along with the Colorado Rural Water Association, hosted a stakeholder meeting at the district office in Falcon, Colorado, to begin the process of developing a source water protection plan.
   
   Leon Gomes, district manager for PBHMD, said the purpose of the SWPP (source water protection plan) is to determine the risks facing the district’s source of water. “When you look at surface water versus groundwater, surface water has more risk because it is exposed,” Gomes said. “Those risks could be hazardous material spills, vandalism to well heads or acts of terrorism. It is really determining how exposed our well heads are, what risks there are and what we need to do to mitigate the risks we have identified.”
   
   Gomes said Paul Hempel, source water specialist with CRWA (the Colorado Rural Water Association), provided an overview of the SWPP’s purpose and the process to develop a plan. Gomes said they are trying to find people interested in participating in the development process. The final committee will consist of three community members; two PBHMD board members; Rick Gonçalves, the district’s contracted engineer and president of RG and Associates LLC; and Raimere Fitzpatrick, planner II for El Paso County.
   
   “Having the county representative here for the first meeting was helpful because we need to know what route the Stapleton Road extension is going to take,” Gomes said. “The types of vehicles on that roadway will change, so it is possible to have a truck carrying chemicals on that road, which could end up with a spill. We want to make sure to have an emergency response plan in place for that.”
   
   Gomes said the SWPP is funded by a $5,000 grant the district received from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, plus matching in-kind contributions from the district.
   
   A second meeting regarding the SWPP was held April 5 at the district offices — after the deadline for The New Falcon Herald. Gomes said that at that meeting he planned to provide more details about the water sources within the district, the locations and types of wells.
   
   “The process will take up to six meetings before the final document is created and goes before the board of directors for their adoption of it,” Gomes said. “Once the board has accepted the plan, the next step is implementation of that plan. What kinds of risks did the plan determine and what are the mitigations to those risks? What are we going to do about them?”
   
   Editor’s note: The NFH will follow up in May.
  
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Vesta M. Kelly
  Falcon Park N Ride: lights and law enforcement?
  By Marylou Doehrman Bride

   In January, El Paso County officials sent notices to everyone who lives within 1,000 feet of the new Park N Ride, which will be built south of U.S. 24 and Swingline Road. The plans also call for a “New” Meridian Road, according to an Aug. 8, 2017, article in The Gazette. The commuter parking lot will have 208 parking spaces.
   
   The Gazette article stated, “The plans are part of a list of voter-approved projects that the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority can finance with taxpayer dollars. County money and a federal grant from the Federal Highway Administration's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program will also pay for the project.”
   
   The project has been on the county’s to-do list since 2003, as Falcon continued to grow residentially and commercially. But Carrie Bauer, who lives in Vista Ridge in Falcon, said the letter she received in January is the first she had heard of the Park N’ Ride. After attending a January planning commission meeting, where the Park N’ Ride was approved, Bauer had concerns about the necessity of having the commuter lot, along with law enforcement issues and lighting.
   
   To address her concerns, officials from the county and the city of Colorado Springs put together a meeting that took place in mid-February. County officials attending the meeting told Bauer the plans had been in the works for at least 10 years. “They told me there is no stopping it,” she said. Her concerns relate to policing issues and lighting. At the time of the February meeting, there were no definitive plans for lighting the Park N’ Ride. Bauer also called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Springs Police Stetson Hills office to determine which agency would be covering the area for criminal activity. “Neither agency” is willing to claim responsibility for the Park N’ Ride, Bauer said. County and city representatives from law enforcement told her they would not be responding to calls on suspicious activity at the Park N’ Ride.
   
   However, Bauer said Jennifer Irvine, a county engineer, told her the issues of lighting and law enforcement would be resolved.
   
   The NFH made three calls to Irvine and sent an email, and received no response. Two calls were made to Dave Rose in the communications department — no calls were returned. One call to Mark Waller, county commissioner, was not returned. A search of the county website revealed nothing about details like lighting and law enforcement. The city did call back and referred the NFH to the county.
   
   Editor’s note: We will be following up with this story in our May issue. Obviously, it is difficult to get the information to the public when calls are not returned. That needs to change.
  
 
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  Agent Orange: still toxic after 50 years
  Mark Stoller

   The Department of Veterans Affairs website states Agent Orange was a powerful herbicide used by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War to eliminate forest cover and crops for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops.
   
   The U.S. program, codenamed Operation Ranch Hand, sprayed more than 20 million gallons of various herbicides over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos from 1961 to 1971. Agent Orange, which contained the deadly chemical dioxin, was the most commonly used herbicide. It was later proven to cause serious health issues among the Vietnamese people as well as among returning U.S. servicemen and their families.
   
   Vietnam war veterans served their country when the country didn’t support their involvement, witnessed atrocities of war, and were exposed to chemicals that would manifest themselves in many malignant ways. It appears the exposure to Agent Orange herbicides has not only affected the veterans who served in Vietnam. The VA, as stated on the Agent Orange website, has recognized that certain birth defects among veterans’ children are associated with veterans’ qualifying service in Vietnam or Korea.
   
   Marjorie Cohen, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, states, “The U.S. government was aware that the use of poison as a weapon of war was forbidden by international law well before it authorized its use in Vietnam. In fact, the U.S. government suppressed a 1965 report, called the “Bionetics Study,” that showed dioxin caused many birth defects in experimental animals. It was not until the results of that study were leaked that the use of Agent Orange/dioxin was stopped.” Per the Environmental Protection Agency, this chemical can cause cancer, disrupt the immune system and interfere with hormones.
   
   An investigation by ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot has found the VA’s medical staff have physically examined more than 668,000 Vietnam veterans possibly exposed to Agent Orange, documented health conditions and noted when and where they served. For at least 34 years, the agency asked questions about their children’s birth defects, before and after the war.
   
   While the Department of Veterans Affairs collected reams of information, thousands of veterans struggled for decades for the government to answer their question: Could Agent Orange, the herbicide linked to health problems in Vietnam veterans, have also harmed their children? It took until 1997 for the VA to recognize the connection and compensate veterans with children suffering from spina bifida. Since then, the VA lists a greater number of associated ailments on their website.
   
   The birth defect data accrued by the VA, by its own admission, does not appear to have been analyzed by VA scientists or any other organizations. In a written response to the ProPublica findings, the VA stated, “The VA believes that research to understand the relationship between exposure and intergenerational transmission of disease, if conducted, should be done where scientists with expertise in the relevant fields of inquiry can provide leadership.” Continuing, the VA said it should play “an ancillary role.”
   
   One example of Agent Orange’s effects in offspring is Heather Bowser of Canfield, Ohio. She was born three years after her father, William, returned from Vietnam. She said he was stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base, less than 10 miles from where the U.S. Air Force launched the aircraft conducting defoliating missions. On return from short missions, Bowser said excess Agent Orange was dumped by the aircraft in the river alongside his base. At birth, Heather weighed 3 pounds, 4 ounces and was missing her right leg below the knee and several of her fingers. She had no big toe on her left foot, and the remaining toes were webbed.
   
   Five years ago, Heather Bowser co-founded Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance, which has since grown to nearly 4,000 members who swap stories or vent about doctors who dismiss their concerns about Agent Orange. “Our stories are very similar … very similar birth defects, very similar health issues later,” she said. “Neural tube defects, shortened limbs, webbed toes, missing limbs, extra vertebrae, missing vertebrae, autoimmune disorders. The list goes on.”
   
   Members of federal scientific advisory panels from the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Medicine have repeatedly urged the VA to research Agent Orange’s effect on offspring. A panel of the Institute of Medicine reiterated that recommendation in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2014. This year, yet another IOM panel reported the VA made no progress on the research into generational effects of Agent Orange.
   
   “It’s like a sign that says ‘Dig Here’ and they’re not digging,” said Dr. David Ozonoff, a professor of environmental health at Boston University and co-editor-in-chief of the online journal “Environmental Health,” after reviewing ProPublica’s findings. “It raises questions about whether they want to know the answer or are just hoping the problem will naturally go away as the veterans die off.”
   
   Congress passed a bill, H.R. 6414, in 2016, requiring the VA to pay for an analysis of all research done thus far on the “descendants of veterans with toxic exposure.” It also requires the agency to determine the feasibility of future research; and, if such studies are possible, to pursue them.
   
   Since the 1980s, the VA has awarded money to veterans who successfully proved their exposure to Agent Orange. According to the VA’s website, the Agent Orange Settlement Fund was created from a class action lawsuit brought by Vietnam veterans and their families against the major manufacturers of these herbicides. The class action case was settled out-of-court in 1984 for $180 million. The Payment Program operated from 1988 to 1994 and distributed a total of $197 million in cash payments. Of the 105,000 claims received by the Payment Program, about 52,000 Vietnam veterans or their survivors received cash payments, which averaged about $3,800 each.
   
   The VA recently advertised a study by the National Academy of Medicine on whether Vietnam veterans, generally, have “different patterns of illness that are unlike their non-Vietnam deployed military counterparts, and members of the U.S. population.” The study is said to also include the children of those veterans. After 18 months of review by his department, Department of Veterans Affairs Sec. David J. Shulkin announced, in November 2017, that he plans to “further explore” adding ailments to the list of compensable conditions the VA presumes were caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War. (As of March 28, Shulkin is no longer with the Department of Veterans Affairs.)
   
   If researchers conclude that troops’ wartime exposures can affect future generations, the implications go well beyond Vietnam veterans and their descendants. Veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will have the same concerns about their exposure to burn pits, depleted uranium and other toxins that may have caused birth defects in their children, too.
  
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Pikes Peak Regional Building Code 2017 Edition
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution to amend the existing area building code by adopting and applying the Pikes Peak Regional Building Code 2017 Edition in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez opposed.
   
   El Paso County Fairgrounds
   The BOCC awarded a construction contract and purchase order to Ed Green Construction Co. for the pavilion installation at the EPC Fairgrounds for $345,570.
   
   McLaughlin/Old Meridian roundabout
   The commissioners awarded a purchase order to Transportation Resources Services Inc. for right-of-way and property acquisition services for the McLaughlin Road/Old Meridian Road roundabout project for $148,221.50. The project includes improvements to an existing stop-controlled intersection by constructing a roundabout with associated roadway approaches, pedestrian facilities and underground drainage infrastructure.
   
   Meridian Ranch
   The BOCC approved a request by GTL Development Inc. to authorize the county engineer to issue a construction permit for pre-development site grading associated with the proposed Winding Walk at Meridian planned unit development, in advance of the approval of a preliminary plan. The 207.351-acre property is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Eastonville Road and Stapleton Drive and is included within the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
   
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by Meridian Ranch Investments Inc. for approval of a sketch plan amendment for an 848.8-acre PUD. The amendment increases the maximum residential density from 4,000 to 4,500 dwelling units. The request includes the following: conversion of 40 acres of planned business park land use to a residential land use of six dwelling units per acre; decreasing the residential density of 56 acres from six to four dwelling units per acre; increasing the residential density of 216 acres from one dwelling unit per acre to two dwelling units per acre; the conversion of 40 acres of planned district land uses to residential land uses with a density of two dwelling units per acre; and the addition of a 4-acre neighborhood park.
   
   Nelson Winery agritainment
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by Ben and Lisa Nelson for a special use for agritainment to operate a winery on the property located about 800 feet south of the intersection of Burgess Road and Black Forest Road. The property is zoned residential rural and is included within the Timbered Area of the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   Four Way Ranch
   The commissioners approved the final release of a bond for grading and erosion control in Four Way Ranch Filing No. 1 subdivision for $24,633. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   The BOCC also approved the final release of a bond for other public improvements in Filing No. 1 for $122,020. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   The county commissioners also approved the final acceptance of certain streets within Filing No. 1 into the EPC road maintenance system, bringing the total miles of county-maintained roads from 2188.69 to 2190.37 miles.
   
   Drake Lake
   The BOCC approved a purchase order to GMS Inc., consulting engineers for embankment repairs at Drake Lake for $32,266.
   
   Highland Park
   The commissioners approved a request by Little London LLC for reconsideration of the approved final plat for Highland Park Filing No. 3 to exclude a portion of the Poco Road right-of-way and to grant a two-month extension time to record the final plat. The 162.31-acre property, zoned residential rural, is located on the south side of Poco Road, about .75 miles east of the Poco Road and Vollmer Road intersection. The final plat includes 39 single-family lots, rights-of-way and improvements to Poco Road to provide access to the northern part of the subdivision.
   
   The Retreat at TimberRidge
   In a 3-2 vote, with commissioners Darryl Glenn and Gonzalez opposed, the BOCC approved a request by Arroya Investments LLC., Robert Scott General Contractors and Jacob Decoto to rezone 262.92 acres of property from residential rural to PUD. The request proposed 212 single-family lots, rights-of-way and 11 open-space, trail corridor, detention utilities tracts that will be owned by the proposed TimberRidge Metropolitan District. The property is located north of the proposed extension of Stapleton Road/Briargate Parkway, bisected by Vollmer Road and included within the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   Settlers View
   The EPC planning commission unanimously approved a request by Gary and Brenda Brinkman to rezone a 40.61-acre parcel from the residential rural 5 to residential rural 2.5. Residential rural 5 zoning allows for no more than one parcel for every 5 acres, while residential rural 2.5 allows for no more than one parcel for every 2.5 acres. The property is located north of Hodgen Road, south of Silver Nell Drive, east of the Walden Development and west of Steppler Road and is anticipated to be developed into 14 single-family residential lots. It is included within the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   In a 5-1 vote, with commissioner Kevin Curry opposed, the planning commission also approved a request by Gary and Brenda Brinkman for the preliminary plan for the Settlers View subdivision.
  
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  Four Way Ranch meeting
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On March 14, the board of directors for the Four Way Ranch Metropolitan District 1 held a public hearing to vote on the exclusion of about 321 acres of property from District 1. The property is commonly referred to as the Waterbury property. At the same meeting, the board also held a public hearing to vote on the inclusion of the Waterbury property in the newly formed Four Way Ranch Metropolitan District 2.
   
   The following board members were present at the meeting: Peter Martz, president; Robert Elliot; Deborah Elliott; and Tracy Lee. Linda Johnson Conne, director, was present via phone but did not participate in any votes. All board members for District 1 are also the board members for District 2.
   
   Barbara Vander Wall, legal counsel for both District 1 and 2, said she had received objections to the exclusion from 23 different families, all of which were similar.
   
   After the first public hearing, the board entered into an executive session, then returned to vote. The motion to exclude the Waterbury property unanimously passed, with Martz abstained and Conne unable to vote. The board also unanimously passed a motion to include the Waterbury property in District 2, with Martz abstained and Conne unable to vote.
   
   Bill Ankele, shareholder with White Bear Ankele Tanaka & Waldron Attorneys at Law, attended as a representative for a property owner in District 1. He said there was a clear conflict of interest in allowing the Waterbury property to be excluded from District 1, and he said the board was not meeting its fiduciary obligation and duty to the residents of District 1.
   
   “There is nothing on this agenda that shows you are acting in the best interest of District 1,” Ankele said.
   
   Brian Matise, attorney with Burg Simpson Attorneys and Counselors at Law, attended as the representative of his clients who are other property owners in District 1. He said he objected to the entire meeting because the board members failed to adequately disclose any conflicts of interest.
   
   “It is my understanding that many of the directors have an interest in an LLC affiliated with the Waterbury property,” Matise said.
   
   Editor’s note: The NFH will follow up in May with the attorneys for the property owners.
  
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  EASTER FUN

   
More than 2,000 people attended the second annual Easter Egg-splosion event, hosted by The Bridge Fellowship at the Northtree Park, which is adjacent to Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy. Pastor Steve Farris said, “We just want to give a gift to the community on Easter and have an event that families could attend and enjoy together.” Photo by Lindsey HarrisonWith 25,000 Easter eggs split among multiple fields, children attending the Easter Egg-splosion event stood a good chance of walking away with some yummy candy and even one of five special prizes: one of four gift cards for Chick-Fil-A or a $25 Visa card. Each field had five Golden Eggs, which contained the special prizes, scattered among the rest of the eggs. Photo by Lindsey Harrison
Vera Johnson, 17 months old, was ready for another round of egg-gathering after she finished her turn. Although her basket was full, she had made several attempts at topping it off with just a few more eggs. Photo by Lindsey HarrisonKohyn Bryant, 7 months old, anxiously awaits his turn to scramble onto the field and gather some eggs at the second annual Easter Egg-splosion, hosted by The Bridge Fellowship. More than 100 volunteers helped scatter eggs and man the four bounce houses that provided additional entertainment for the kids. Photo by Lindsey HarrisonThe Easter Egg Hunt also offered other activities for the kids, including a bounce house, crafts and sidewalk chalk art. Kevin and Colleen Pinski and their son, Ryler, enjoy the festivities. Photo by Daniel Cole
WHMD Board President Joshua Killett with his wife, Jamie, and their daughter, Saige. Enjoying the bounce house in the back are sons Zohla and Jaxson. Also pictured is Board Member Anthony “Mike” Pizzi and dog Jake. Photo by Daniel ColeWHMD Parks and Recreation employee Mason Tate gets ready to start the dash for the eggs. Photo by Daniel Cole
Falcon Fire Protection District and Woodmen Hills co-sponsored the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Falcon Fire Station 1 on Saturday, March 31. Kids are seen here searching for the 10,000 eggs scattered across the fields. Photo by Daniel Cole
  
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