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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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    Along with Falcon’s growth, more accidents
    Drake Lake problems need permanent solution
    Halupki, pierogis, halushki — oh, my
    Local Boy Scout builds cots for animal shelter
    Commissioner and state representative hold town hall meeting
    Building and real estate update
    Banning Lewis Prep Academy ribbon-cutting
    Child safety night in Falcon
 
  Along with Falcon’s growth, more accidents
  By Lindsey Harrison

   According to the Colorado State Patrol Regional Data Warehouse, the CSP investigated 14,058 traffic accidents from the beginning of 2017 through June 30. The number of accidents for 2016 totaled 14,168.
   
   According to data obtained from the Falcon Fire Protection District, almost every month this year has resulted in more accidents the department has responded to than the same month in each of the two prior years.
   
   In a call to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Jacqueline Kirby, media relations manager and public information officer, said, "(Colorado) State Patrol handles all the traffic crashes for unincorporated El Paso County. They would be the best ones to speak to that."
   
   Capt. John Lupton with the CSP said the fact that traffic accidents in Falcon are on the rise is no surprise. “Falcon has grown exponentially over the last 15 years or so,” he said. “The volume really is the biggest factor. Look at how many houses they are building and all the new roadways they are constructing. We are pushing the limits of the roads out there.”
   
   Lupton said the best way to deal with the increased traffic volume is to work together to obey the laws and realize that everyone has somewhere to be. “It does not infringe on people’s rights to follow the stated rules,” he said. “But when people put themselves in the position where they think their needs are more important than anyone else’s, it is a problem.”
   
   More people in the Falcon area means there are more commuters to Colorado Springs. Many of those drivers are not familiar with the roadways, which can lead to mistakes like misjudging the distance and speed of an approaching vehicle when turning in front of it, Lupton said.
   
   “People absolutely make mistakes, but many are also distracted while they drive by using their phones or texting,” he said.
   
   According to the Colorado Department of Transportation website, between 2012 and 2015, the 80831 Zip code, which includes Falcon and Peyton, documented 268 accidents involving distracted drivers.
   
   In an email to “The New Falcon Herald,” Brian Eschler, crime analyst with the Colorado State Patrol, wrote: "Crashes in the Falcon area are difficult for the Colorado State Patrol to report on, as this area sits at a convergence of three patrol areas and a state highway."
   
   Eschler wrote that looking at three main roadways in Falcon — Woodmen Road, Meridian Road and a 4-mile stretch of Highway 24 — will provide the best gauge about any changes in the crash volume over the years.
   
   In comparing the first seven months of the years 2014-2017, Eschler wrote the following: Crashes in general are up 36.21 percent from 2014 and 23.44 percent from 2015 and 2016. Crashes along Woodmen Road have remained about the same, but crashes along Meridian Road and Highway 24 have seen sharp increases. For Meridian, the increase is 35.71 percent since 2014 and for Highway 24, the increase is 116.67 percent.
   
   "Based on the crash volume trend seen within the three major roadways in the area, we can extrapolate, with reasonable certainty, that the Falcon area in general is experiencing an upward trend in crash volume as well," Eschler wrote.
   
   “A car is the most dangerous tool you will operate on a daily basis,” Lupton said. “Somehow, we got the idea in America that there was an acceptable amount of accidents. But these are preventable issues by slowing down and keeping driving the main thing you are doing when you are driving.”
   
   Lupton said he encourages anyone who witnesses a distracted or aggressive driver to report it by dialing *277. “We tell people to get a good description of the vehicle, license plate and the driver,” he said. “Troopers try to respond to those calls when they get them but they cannot always do that safely. We ask the people reporting the incident to be willing to go to court to report what they saw.”
   
   Pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike need to remember that Falcon is not the rural community it once was, and act accordingly, Lupton said. Pedestrians should not be engrossed in their phones while walking, and accept that they have as much responsibility to be aware of the traffic around them as any driver does, he said.
   
   “We used to do more coaching of our kids,” Lupton said. “We need to be reminding them how things are supposed to work and what to be looking for before they step off the buses or out into the street. Just because a car is supposed to stop for you does not mean it will.”
   
   While the bulk of the responsibility for safe driving falls on the drivers themselves, government agencies work together to fix any problem areas they can, Lupton said. “CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) sends a list about all the crashes so the county can see how many there are at the different intersections, and determine what they can do to mitigate those issues,” he said. “The Falcon area is growing at a rate that has surpassed our ability to improve those roadways. Instead, we have to look at the smartest ways to affect traffic safety.”
   
   One way is to ensure proper usage of safety equipment like seat belts, Lupton said. In the 24 years he has been a trooper, Lupton said he has never seen a scenario where the seat belt would have been the “kiss of death” for someone.
   
   According to the CSP data warehouse, 53.2 percent more unrestrained occupant fatalities occurred through June 30, 2017, than through all of 2016.
   
   According to the CDOT website, El Paso County has the highest number of traffic fatalities in the state as of Aug. 14.
   
   “When you have to tell someone their loved one is never coming home, it changes you,” Lupton said.“You are wrecking their lives by telling them about something that is probably preventable, even while wearing the proper safety equipment, like a seatbelt.
   
   “It is critical that we remind the kids that we can stop these insensible deaths or at least reduce them by showing them it is all about doing one thing at a time to the best of your abilities.”
  
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  Drake Lake problems need permanent solution
  By Lindsey Harrison

   In mid-July, Falcon resident Dan Kibler noticed that the northwest embankment of Drake Lake in Falcon (off Mallard Drive) had been breached, and he is worried about the welfare of the surrounding vegetation and wildlife. On July 25, Kibler said he attended the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners meeting to find out what the county planned to do to fix the problem.
   
   Kibler said the breach was bound to happen because the culvert south of the wash-out point had been clogged for more than a year. Additionally, he said the underground spring that serves the lake has been covered with sand, and it no longer flows.
   
   Tim Wolken, director of the Community Services Department of El Paso County, said once the breach was discovered, the county made short-term repairs rather than undertaking a massive project to ensure no other washouts occurred that would also need to be repaired. A tarp was placed over the breach, and sandbags were placed over the tarp to hold it in place.
   
   “The short-term solution was not to completely close the breach,” Wolken said. “Our goal was to stabilize the bank and stabilize the water level, then focus on a long-term solution.”
   
   But Kibler said he is concerned the county will not make additional repairs, in part because of funding. The county spent plenty of money putting in the path by the lake, he said. “They are worried about the dead trees and want to remove them, which would destroy the habitat of some wildlife around here, but they are not doing anything about the water,” Kibler said.
   
   Mark Waller, who represents District 2 on the EPC Board of County Commissioners, said he received phone calls from Kibler stating the lake would be drained in a matter of hours if nothing was done to permanently fix the breach. “Our staff felt the demise of the lake was not nearly as imminent as he thinks is it,” Waller said. “The lake is one of a number of priorities in the county.”
   
   Wolken said funding is a concern but only one of a few the county must address. They also need to research water and property rights and determine the best permanent solution. “We have been meeting with the county attorney’s office to get a good understanding of the water and property rights around the lake,” he said. “It is surrounded by private property, and it is challenging to get to that side of the lake (where the breach occurred). We cannot just back up trucks there.”
   
   The county is considering whether the breach should be a natural spillway, Wolken said. Another option might be to not refill the lake completely and put in a service road or walking path around it to make all sides of the lake accessible, he said. “We are looking at all the possibilities,” Wolken said.
   
   In the meantime, Kibler said the geese that used to live at the lake are no longer there, and he is concerned that other wildlife species will follow suit. “The only thing saving the vegetation is all the rain we have been getting,” he said. “No one is advocating for this place.”
   
   Wolken said his department is planning to present the situation to the BOCC in September to give the board an overview of what has occurred to date to allow the commissioners to weigh in on the options.
   
   “We have been using our own engineers to figure out what we need to do,” Wolken said. “We are looking at solving the issue and determining what is best for Drake Lake.”
   
   Kibler said the repair with the tarps and sandbags is failing and the county is busy doing multiple non-priority projects and spending money, rather than working to save the lake, but Waller said, “I am confident that the breach is going to be fixed and the lake is going to continue on in perpetuity and be the same great resource we have always had.”
  
The breached embankment at Drake Lake has been temporarily fixed with tarps and sandbags. Photo by Lindsey Harrison
 
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  Halupki, pierogis, halushki — oh, my
  Annual Slavic fest in Calhan
  Bill Radford

   The kitchen at St. Mary's Holy Dormition Orthodox Church in Calhan, Colorado, gets quite a workout in September.
   
   Parishioners are getting ready for the 15th annual Slavic Fest, set for Oct. 7 and Oct. 8. The festival, honoring those hardy immigrants who came to the area from Czechoslovakia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire more than a century ago, includes traditional Slavic and Czech food.
   Monday nights this month at the church are devoted to making pierogis –- dumplings filled, in this case, with either cottage cheese, potatoes or prunes. Volunteers make thousands, with potato being the most popular. Oodles of noodles, meanwhile, are made from scraps of leftover dough.
   
   "You don’t waste much of anything," said Butch Sakala, one of the festival organizers.
   
   In early October, the volunteers turn their attention to halupki, or stuffed cabbage.
   
   "We buy anywhere from 275 and 300 pounds of cabbage," Sakala said. Night one of the two-night process involves coring the heads of cabbage, then boiling the leaves off and deveining them. The next night includes mixing 100-plus pounds of hamburger and 20 pounds of ground pork with onions and spices, then stuffing the cabbage leaves with the mix and cooking them in big electric roasters.
   
   Lastly is the making of halushki –- "a potato noodle dumpling deal," Sakala said, another two-night process.
   
   All of it feeds the hungry crowds that come from across the region and even neighboring states for the festival. "I'm thinking we feed like 800 or 900 on Saturday and 600 or 700 on Sunday," Sakala said.
   
   It is a way to raise money for the church and an effort to hold onto Old World traditions. Sakala lives on the land where his grandparents, fleeing religious persecution from what was then called Czechoslovakia, settled roughly 120 years ago.
   
   At that time, he said, ”Most everybody north of Calhan and north of Ramah were Czechoslovakians." Those immigrants largely settled in the East at first, working in the coal mines and steel mills. The Homestead Act of 1862, with the offer of free land to settlers, brought them to Colorado, Sakala said. (The National Park Service, on its website, notes that, "it is apparent the 37th Congress saw the Homestead Act as a way to build an agricultural nation by encouraging immigrants to settle the public lands of the United States.”)           
   
   But those seeking a better life on the plains of Colorado didn't have it easy. The men typically worked in mines and mills in Pueblo and Colorado Springs. The women stayed at home, often living in what were essentially man-made caves, or dugouts. "Every two weeks or so, the men would come home with supplies and stuff," Sakala said.
   
   Today, Sakala acknowledged that he is concerned about preserving the Slavic traditions — about that rugged past being forgotten.
   
   "A lot of the kids are moving,” he said. “It used to be the kids would stay and work the farm, or buy the neighbor's farm … now the kids are going to town."
   
   One tradition might already be lost. While there will be music and other entertainment at this year's Slavic Fest, there will not be polka dancing.
   
   "Our polka dancers gave up on us," Sakala said. "They all got too old to dance."
   
   The Slavic Fest is 11 a.m to 5 p.m. on Oct. 7 and noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 8 at St. Mary’s at 19485 N. Calhan Highway.
  
St. Mary’s Holy Dormition Orthodox Church in Calhan was built in the 1930s, but the church has a more than 100-year history in the community.The church will host the annual Slavic Fest in October. Photo by Bill Radford
 
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  Local Boy Scout builds cots for animal shelter
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On July 29, Nathan Jense, a 13-year-old Falcon resident and a Boy Scout with Troop 553, supervised a team of 17 people as they built cots for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. For more than two hours, the group constructed 16 cots using PVC pipe and Sunbrella fabric.
   
   The project was part of Jense’s requirement to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. “I like dogs, and I was browsing on the Internet for projects; and I saw one for dog cots,” he said. “The project had to be done for a specific place, like for the community or for a nonprofit group, and I chose the Humane Society because they are a good, legitimate place.”
   
   Jense, who is home-schooled, said it took about four to five months of planning, getting approval for the project and raising money to purchase the necessary supplies. He has had his own dog poop-scooping business for about 18 months, and said once he chose his project, he spent about one week working specifically to raise money for the supplies.
   
   “The hardest part was the fundraising,” Jense said. He reached out to the Falcon Thrifty Facebook community to help raise the money, which he used to purchase the supplies at The Home Depot and Lowe’s, the latter allowed Jense to grab whatever he needed at no charge, he said.
   
   “The Little Caesar’s store in Falcon gave me five pizzas to provide lunch for the volunteers on the day of the project,” Jense said. “The Falcon Walmart gave me a $25 gift certificate, which I used to buy plates and utensils.”
   
   In total, Jense said he received about $400 in materials and cash donations.
   
   Because the project designer must show leadership skills, Jense said he did not work much on the cots; instead, he supervised the volunteers. Considering Jense fell off his skateboard two weeks before the project and broke his arm, he said it worked out well.
   
   Once he completes the other requirements for the Eagle Scout rank, Jense said he will make a presentation and give a report to the Eagle board for review.
   
   “My favorite part of the project was the project day,” Jense said. “Also, I learned that I really love dogs.”
   
   
From the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region:
 
Gretchen Pressley, communications specialist with the HSPPR, said, "The Humane Society would like to give a big thank you to Nathan for thinking of us and doing his Eagle Scout project with us. We are always so happy to see our young people getting involved in the community, especially for thinking about making the homeless pets here at the Humane Society more comfortable."
  
Nathan Jense inspects one of the dog cots built for the Humane Society of the Pikes Region. The cots were Jense’s idea for his Eagle Scout program.
 
These dog cots for the Humane Society were the result of an Eagle Scout project by Nathan Jense of Falcon. Photos submitted
 
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  Commissioner and state representative hold town hall meeting
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Aug. 12, Mark Waller, District 2 representative on the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, and Paul Lundeen, Colorado State House District 19 representative, held a joint town hall meeting at Falcon Fire Protection District Station 3 in Falcon.
   
   The two engaged in discussions with attendees on topics, including water rights, development, improvements to Interstate 25, marijuana grow operations and impact fees for development.
   
   Attendees voiced concern about marijuana grow operations in eastern El Paso County. Waller said about 400 illegal operations exist currently in the eastern area of the county. “The vast majority of the product that is grown here is not being sold here,” Waller said. Drug dealers use Colorado as a distribution hub because two major interstates, I-25 and I-70, flow through the state, allowing for easier transportation from the grow operations, he said. It is difficult to prosecute these illegal operations, making it harder to shut them down, Waller added.
   
   Marijuana grow operations increase water usage; and, in eastern EPC, water is a source of anxiety, considering most of the growth in the county is in the northeastern portion, Waller said. Developments like Sterling Ranch, north of Woodmen Road and east of Vollmer Road, have already been approved for 1,700 homes, with a proposed total buildout of 5,300 homes, he said.
   
   “The developer does not have the water to provide to the other 3,600 homes so they do not have the final approval for those homes,” Waller said. “Growth is necessary to our community; we just have to figure out how to do it responsibly.”
   
   “Water in Colorado is probably the biggest developing concern,” Lundeen said. “Storage at the state level needs to be a larger concern and higher priority.”
   
   A Black Forest resident attending the meeting referenced an article in the August issue of “The New Falcon Herald” on impact fees imposed on developers by fire protection districts to support new growth. “There is concern that people in one part of the (fire protection) district are paying for the infrastructure that benefits people in another part of the district,” she said. “If those impact fees had been in place, that money would have paid for the new fire station (No. 4), and the money used on the new station could have been used for infrastructure to benefit other parts of the district.”
   
   Waller said he needed to see the paperwork to back the assertion that fire protection districts, like the Falcon Fire Protection District and the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District, need more money. Additionally, Waller said the intergovernmental agreement that would allow the districts to collect those fees needs to include a larger public process to determine the fees.
   
   “If we are going to put this additional fee on homeowners, there needs to be a great public process,” Waller said.
  
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Black Forest Brewing Co.
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved an application by Brewing Ground Investments LLC for a brew pub liquor license for the property at 11590 Black Forest Road, Suite 50. The license will apply to the Black Forest Brewing Co.
   
   Latigo open space
   The BOCC approved a lease agreement between the county and Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center for about 100 acres of property located at 12625, 12712 and 12848 Latigo Boulevard, currently owned by the county. The PPTRC plans to use the space for grazing purposes.
   
   Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District
   The commissioners approved the first partial release of a credit for grading and erosion improvements for the Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District administration building for $149,421.60. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
  
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  Banning Lewis Prep Academy ribbon-cutting
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Aug. 4, students, parents, staff and other members of the Falcon School District 49 community gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the newly constructed Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy. The school represents the first charter high school option for the district, and will serve 1,050 students in grades six to 12.
   
   Banning Lewis Ranch Academy, which previously served kindergarten to grade eight students, will now only serve elementary students while secondary students will feed into BLPA.
   
   Several members of the BLPA community expressed gratitude and excitement that the building was finally complete, including Todd Morse, BLA head of the school, and DeAnn Barnett, BLA board president.
   
   “We have got a beautiful building here, but it is really the people inside the building that are going to be meeting the needs of those we serve,” Morse said. “They are absolutely committed to putting kids first.”
   
   “I want to thank everybody that has had a hand in this project,” Barnett said. “When you have a project this big, there are many hands that need to help.”
  
(From left to right) Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, Todd Morse, Banning Lewis Academy head of school, and DeAnn Barnett, BLA board president, cut the ribbon inside the gymnasium of Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy. Photo submitted
 
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  Child safety night in Falcon

   
American Legion 2008 sponsored a Child Safety Night for the community of Falcon. Families enjoyed a variety of activities, including face painting, a bounce house, a raffle and free prizes. Mera Mock, age 12, and Christopher Morlan, age 10, both of Falcon, had fun trying to fly their free kites they received courtesy of the American Legion
Cayden Kuntzsch, age 10, and Makayla Haflich, age 7, both of Falcon, enjoyed playing with over-sized bubble wands.Josiah Haflich, age 5, of Falcon gets his face painted at the American Legion’s Child Safety Night. All photos by Angie Morlan
  
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