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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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    Falcon Highlands ballot measure fails
    MVEA officials speak to growth
    Latigo: promoting the area’s Western Heritage
    Falcon has gone to the dogs
    Woodmen Hills addresses illegal marijuana operations
    Building and real estate
    D 49 D 4.9: Walk/Run draws hundreds
    Lights polluting our skies?
 
  Falcon Highlands ballot measure fails
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Nov. 7, Falcon Highlands Metropolitan District’s residents voted against a ballot measure authorizing the board of directors to obtain funding for proposed upgrades to the district’s water system. The measure failed with 161 votes opposed and 111 votes in favor.
   
   According to the November issue of “The New Falcon Herald,” the ballot measure would have allowed the board to do two things: refinance the current bonds for lower interest rates and borrow up to $4 million in additional funding, without increasing property taxes.
   
   Kevin Haas, FHMD board treasurer, emailed the following in a statement to the NFH: “With the election over, the way forward for the district is to continue to work with external agencies such as Colorado Springs Utilities, and or, other metro districts to develop a renewable water source for our district. We will work to solidify relationships with these agencies and work towards a path to purchasing renewable water or tributary water rights for the district. Well water resources are finite and are unable to meet the long term demands of our community and future property development. The district will continue to make every effort to improve our existing infrastructure and to mitigate risk.”
   
   Haas wrote that the district’s infrastructure may require some investments along with agreements with neighboring districts to establish emergency water connectivity. The board will continue to work on educating the community about the district’s needs for infrastructure improvement and water conservation, he wrote.
   
   “The FHMD Board will make every effort to remain transparent and open to our constituents,” Haas wrote.
   
   In a separate interview with the NFH, Haas said, “We will have another election in May to elect new board members. At that time, we may want to restructure the ballot question and address issues brought by the public.”
  
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  MVEA officials speak to growth
  Bill Radford

   Mountain View Electric Association is growing on a daily basis — and there's no end in sight.
   
   A presentation by Mountain View Chief Executive Officer Jim Herron focused on growth at the October Lamplighter dinner meeting at the Wedgewood Wedding & Banquet Center in Black Forest, Colorado. The annual dinner, drawing co-op members from Falcon, Black Forest and Monument, was the first of three regional dinners hosted by MVEA.
   
   "We've grown a lot over the last few years," Herron said. Among roughly 800 such co-ops in the United States, Mountain View is generally among the top 50 in terms of growth, he said.
   
   Mountain View has about 50,000 members, with most of them - 42,000 or so - in El Paso County, Herron said. Twenty years ago, there were about 17,000 members in the county.
   
   And Herron doesn't see that growth stopping. "I think Mountain View does have the potential to double in the next 20 years again, if not before," he said.
   
   Herron said people typically are surprised by the scope of Mountain View's territory, which is roughly 5,000 square miles. "The people in Limon know we serve a lot around Limon, and the people in Falcon know we serve a long ways around the Falcon area, but very seldom do they know we serve in both areas," he said.
   
   Herron also addressed the announcement made a day before the dinner by Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, regarding the agency's intent to repeal the Clean Power Plan.
   
   "I was ecstatic when I heard that," Herron said. The regulation, enacted by the EPA under the Obama administration, is aimed at reducing carbon emissions, "which sounds real good, until you start looking at the impact that it's going to have on you, the people," Herron said. Namely "a huge impact on the price of electricity going forward."
   
   However, his excitement dimmed when he learned the process to repeal will be “long (and) drawn out,” he said. ”It doesn't mean that it's dead, it just means they're starting the process.” Herron equated the process with trying to get toothpaste back into the tube.
   
   An audience member asked about the merits of solar power. "I think it's getting more and more cost effective," he said. However, he cautioned that for people buying solar panels for themselves, “It's about a 20-or-25-year payback on your investment."
   
   Mountain View is looking at utilizing a commercial solar power operation,” Herron said. The co-op does not generate its own electricity, but purchases its power from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Mountain View has issued a request for proposals "to see what the vendors have to say, what they could build it for and how much they could sell the electricity back to us for," Herron said, but nothing has been signed, and the idea remains under study.
  
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  Latigo: promoting the area’s Western Heritage
  Bill Radford

   It is a place where "the cowboy way" is taught and preserved, where the Old West lives on in new generations.
   
   Latigo Trails Equestrian Center, north of Falcon, is operated by the Pikes Peak Range Riders Foundation, the charitable arm of the Pikes Peak Range Riders. A trio of Range Riders bought the property and donated it to the foundation in 2001. Prior to the Range Riders purchase, Latigo had been privately owned and operated but had fallen into receivership.
   
   The 45-acre complex includes an indoor arena and two outdoor arenas. The Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center and the Pikes Peak Rangerettes call Latigo home. There are youth rodeos, 4-H horse clinics, barrel racing lessons, calf and team roping and more. The Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts meet there as well.
   
   "Our biggest deal is youth activities," said the general manager, Bob Harrison. Those year-round activities have a shared mission: promoting the area's Western heritage. The centerpiece of the winter months is the Winter Buckle Series, a competition held one weekend a month from November through April. (An open-breed horse show is on Saturdays and Gymkhana events on Sundays.)
   
   "We had a real nice turnout," Harrison said of last month's opening-weekend crowds for the Winter Buckle Series. November also featured the Cowboy Christmas Auction; the annual event is a consignment sale with items such as saddles, tack, artwork and antiques: “Anything that people might enjoy to buy for Christmas," Harrison said. Also available for sale were bigger-ticket items such as tractors and horse trailers.
   
   Those who want to celebrate Christmas with some rodeo action this month can attend the Little Britches Rodeo, scheduled for Dec. 22 and Dec. 23 and Dec. 30 and Dec. 31.
   
   Horse boarding is offered at Latigo, available only as self-care. "We're an overworked, understaffed kind of deal, so we can't do a full-care service," Harrison said. Latigo also is home to several equestrian-related businesses, including High Plains Saddlery, Oleo Acres Ferrier, TM Leather and Equi-Line, which sells new and used saddles and tack. Equi-Line moved to Latigo from Falcon in 2015.
   
   For those who work up an appetite in the saddle and off, there is the Grill at Latigo, open 5 to 10 p.m., Thursday and Friday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. In addition to feeding event-goers at Latigo, "People in the area have discovered it," Harrison said.
   
   Latigo seeks to appeal to all segments of the equine community, Harrison said, from dressage to barrel racing to ranch horse versatility. The Winter Buckle Series is open to riders of all ages and skill levels.
   
   "We feel like we are the hub of the equestrian community because we offer such a wide range of activities," Harrison said.
  
A resident of Latigo Trails Equestrian Center, which is operated by the Pikes Peak Rangers Foundation, poses for the camera. Photos by Bill Radford
 
Trails Equestrian Center general manager Bob Harrison teaches roping during a 4-H gathering at the Latigo Trails Equestrian Center.
 
Randy Witte and his grandson, Time Niemeyer (Time is the correct spelling), get ready for the roping lesson at Latigo Trails Equestrian Center.
 
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  Falcon has gone to the dogs
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Two local couples own and operate separate businesses — all about man’s best friend.
   
   CoolK9’s Dog Training
   Jim and Bianca Beinlich own and operate CoolK9’s Dog Training, located west of Meridian Road on Owl Place in Falcon, Colorado. Their goal is training dogs to handle real-world situations, with an emphasis on training/fixing aggressive dogs, Jim Beinlich said.
   
   The Beinlichs have lived in Falcon since 2005 but moved to their current property about two years ago, he said. They were drawn to the area because they can work with the dogs off-leash in the outdoors, with an unlimited number of stimuli to distract the animals, Beinlich said. With so many distractions, the dogs must learn to focus on the training and the commands they are given, rather than memorizing movements in a closed space, like an indoor training facility, he said.
   
   With 30 years of experience under his belt, Beinlich said he has learned that many training certification programs stress 100 percent positive training techniques, which means no corrections. “Some people even think it is better to euthanize a dog than to give it corrections,” he said.
   
   Beinlich said he is an advocate of proper corrections when training dogs, especially through the use of pinch or prong collars. “I have been training with pinch collars since 1996,” he said. The key is using the collar in the proper manner to correct an undesired behavior, and not everyone understands how that works.
   
   “The hard part is battling what people have already been taught about prong collars,” Beinlich said. But when he puts his techniques to the test against other training methods, like clickers, Beinlich said his technique prevails every time.
   
   With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Beinlich said he applies what he learned in college to how he trains his dogs. “It is really just common sense paired with psychology,” he said.
   
   The couple is currently training a black German Shepherd named Lyric, who will be used as a demonstration dog, Beinlich said. In addition, Bianca Beinlich said she plans to adopt a puppy in the spring to train as a service dog. She is currently training the couple’s oldest dog for service work and has several other successful service dogs to her name, she said.
   
   With the wide array of training options the Beinlichs offer, including classes for puppies, basic obedience, advanced/competition obedience, scent work and tracking, Jim Beinlich said he is confident they can address most of the complicated issues a client might present to them.
   
   “Our goal is off-leash voice control, anytime, in any conditions,” he said. “We are balanced trainers who use the Golden Rule: If you would not let someone do it to you or your kids, do not do it to your dogs. And whatever you do should make sense.”
   
   Union Hill Labs
   Paul and Jeleen Guttenberg are the owners and breeders of Little Ricky Ricardo, a black Labrador retriever, who won Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February 2017. They own Union Hill Labs, a breeding and champion stud service, located across Highway 24 from Big R in Falcon.
   
   The couple moved to their current location on about 12.5 acres in January 2017, hoping to build a boarding and kennel business on-site, in addition to their breeding service, Paul Guttenberg said. “The busiest time for boarding is the holidays, and we wanted to have our business up and running by then,” he said. “We have to go through a lot of different organizations, like the El Paso County Regional Building Department, but we want to be open by the spring of 2018.”
   
   Prior to moving to Colorado, the Guttenbergs lived in Billings, Montana, and ended up in Falcon when they decided to focus on breeding and boarding dogs, Jeleen Guttenberg said. “We were going to just fly fish once we retired, but getting Ricky has changed our lives,” she said.
   
   Becoming established as a reputable breeder takes a lot of work and time, Paul Guttenberg said. “We do all the health clearances of each dog,” he said. “We do genetic testing, X-ray their hips and elbows; the full health clearance costs about $1,000. But reputable breeders do not make money breeding dogs for show.”
   
   The couple breeds animals with the best temperament, physical conformation and athleticism for the Labrador retriever breed, Jeleen Guttenberg said. Breeding purebred dogs goes a long way to ensuring that each litter has the best genetics possible to achieve that goal, she said.
   
   “Breeding dogs from two different breeds is a roll of the dice about what characteristics the puppies will have from each breed,” Paul Guttenberg said.
   
   While most of the dogs bred through Union Hill Labs will end up as pets, Guttenberg said they focus on breeding show and field labs. Field labs have a different physical conformation than purely show labs, and demonstrate the ability to do field work, like hunting, she said. “We bought Ricky as a puppy intending to keep him as a pet, but his breeder said he would be a good show dog,” Guttenberg said.
   
   The breeder was right; Ricky has won 113 Best of Breed awards since he started participating in shows in 2013, Paul Guttenberg said. But another Union Hill Lab has her sights on Ricky’s title, he said. Annie, a female black Labrador, recently beat Ricky in a show in Pueblo, Guttenberg said. Annie will soon be out of commission for shows because she is pregnant with Ricky’s puppies, he said.
   
   The Guttenbergs said they plan to begin construction on the kennels as soon as they receive approval from the county.
  
Lyryx shows that, at just 2 months old, she has mastered the sit command. Photo submitted by Jim and Bianca Beinlich
 
Little Ricky Ricardo is an example of great genes and ideal breeding, which is how he won Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in February 2017. Photo submitted by Paul and Jeleen Guttenberg
 
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  Woodmen Hills addresses illegal marijuana operations
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Sept. 20, the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District hosted a neighborhood meeting at the community center west to address illegal marijuana grow operations. Posts on a Facebook community page prompted the meeting because of concerns for the existence of illegal marijuana operations in the Falcon area, according to a resident who attended the meeting and wished to remain anonymous.
   
   The resident requested anonymity because of possible ramifications related to grow operations run by organized drug dealers. She is being attributed as “the resident.”
   
   About 25 residents attended the meeting, as well as Mark Waller, District 2 representative of the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners and EPC Sheriff Bill Elder and Jeff Shulz, an EPC sheriff’s deputy, the resident said.
   
   “People commented on the post, saying things ranging from having no idea that there was a problem in Falcon to having knowledge of three grow houses on their street,” she said.
   
   Elder spoke at length and answered a few questions toward the end of the hour-long meeting, the resident said.
   
   “I think people showed up to the meeting feeling optimistic and hopeful that there was something we could do (about the illegal operations), but after Sheriff Elder’s talk, it sounded to us like the laws were not written like they (lawmakers) anticipated this being a problem,” she said.
   
   In a separate interview, Schulz said meetings like these are important because it gives the community a chance to voice their concerns and gain a better understanding of how the sheriff’s department works and how they investigate illegal grow operations. However, Schulz said the people running illegal grow operations do not care about community meetings or the concerns of the residents.
   
   “They are running an illegal operation, and all they want to do is grow their plants, sell them and make money,” he said.
   
   The resident said her family and several others on her street have considered looking for new places to live, hoping to escape the problems in her current neighborhood.
   
   At this time, Woodmen Hills has not scheduled additional neighborhood meetings. Schulz said the sheriff’s department does not set up meetings like this, but they will gladly attend if invited.
   
   “When the new house bill (House Bill 1220) goes into effect in January that limits the number of marijuana plants to 12 per dwelling, I think we will have a few more meetings,” Schulz said.
   
   The resident said she thinks meetings like this are helpful in keeping residents aware of the illegal activities and the responses from the sheriff’s department. “The more people that know about it, the better the chance that we can do something about it,” she said.
  
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  Building and real estate
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Majestic Pines
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved the application for final acceptance of certain streets within the Majestic Pines Filing No. 1 subdivision into the county’s road maintenance system. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   The BOCC also approved the final release of funds for public improvements within Majestic Pines Filing No. 1 for $54,281.40. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   Armonia Ranch
   The commissioners approved the application for final acceptance of certain streets within the Armonia Ranch Phase 1 subdivision into the county’s road maintenance system. The subdivision is located in Black Forest, northeast of Burgess Road. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   The board also approved the final release of funds for erosion control in the Armonia Ranch subdivision for $20,992.40, plus accrued interest. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   High Forest Ranch
   The BOCC approved the partial release of funds for grading and erosion control in Open Sky Construction Drawing Review, Lot 48, in High Forest Ranch Filing No. 2 for $43,088.52. Eighty percent of the improvements have been completed and inspected, and the funds released represent that percentage. A balance of $5,360.38 will be held by the county as a defect warranty.
   
   Meridian Ranch
   The commissioners approved the application for preliminary acceptance of certain streets within Stonebridge, Filing No. 2, at Meridian Ranch subdivision into the county’s road maintenance system. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   The BOCC also approved the final release of a bond for grading and erosion control within Stonebridge, Filing No. 2, for $196,317. All grading and erosion control has been completed and inspected.
  
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  D 49 D 4.9: Walk/Run draws hundreds

   The D 4.9K Walk/Run was held at Stetson Elementary School Nov. 4 to raise awareness concerning health and wellness issues across the district. The event hosted 499 participants from the D 49 community. Stetson Elementary received a $250 award for having the most participants from their school's community.   
Nicholas Abrego, eighth grader from Falcon Middle School, grabs his water on the run while participating in the D 4.9K Walk/Run event at Stetson Elementary School Nov. 4.
 
Third-grader Jack Rymer and his sister, kindergartener Danielle, both students from Stetson Elementary, are on the run to promote healthy living during the D 4.9K Walk/Run event. Photos submitted
 
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  Lights polluting our skies?
  By Lindsey Harrison

   With the holiday season in full swing, residents in the Falcon/Peyton area are busy decorating their homes with festive outdoor lighting. Santa all lit up on the rooftop is not joyous to everyone. And year-round lighting like flood lights can be a big annoyance, too. There is such a thing as light pollution as well.
   
   The International Dark-Sky Association’s website states, “Light pollution –- the inappropriate use of artificial light at night –- is an environmental pollutant that harms our planet and robs us of the opportunity to experience the wonder of a natural night sky.”
   
   The IDA, a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1988, is the authority on light pollution and the leading organization combating light pollution worldwide, according to the website.
   
   John Barentine, a physical scientist and program manager for the IDA, said the concept of light pollution can be fairly subjective. For some people, skyglow or the brightening of the night sky that makes it difficult to see the stars, may be an acceptable consequence to being able to see at night, he said. For others, a single neighbor’s lights glowing from their property into the neighbor’s windows at night, called light trespass, is a major problem, Barentine said.
   
   The IDA receives many requests opposing holiday lighting because it contributes to light pollution, but Barentine said the organization must take a pragmatic approach to solving the problem. “We are not trying to turn the world’s lights off,” he said. “We know that is not a practical solution to the problem.”
   
   Regulating holiday lights typically falls under the jurisdiction of various municipalities across the county, like homeowner’s associations, Barentine said. They often set rules on how long holiday lights can remain lit past dark and how long they can stay up after Christmas.
   
   Because holiday lights are low-intensity, Barentine said in the grand scheme of light pollution, they are a minor contributor. However, other forms of artificial lights like flood lights can be damaging to the environment, he said.
   
   “There are consequences for the artificial light we use,” he said. “From a purely environmental perspective, there is no safe amount of artificial light. Life evolved in a world that did not have that extra light, and our biology just does not know what to do with it.”
   
   According to an article published online in the “Journal of Nature and Science of Sleep” Sept. 27, 2012, “Melatonin is secreted at night, and its synthesis is suppressed in a dose-dependent manner by light; greater suppression is produced with brighter light.”
   
   According to an article published on http://talkabout sleep.com Aug. 23, 2013, melatonin performs a variety of tasks critical for continued health and longevity. An imbalance of melatonin can result in depression, a shorter life span and possibly cancer. “Melatonin in our system at the wrong time of day stresses our cells because it is telling them to pull back and shut down when we need to be active and energetic.”
   
   A resident of eastern EPC, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted “The New Falcon Herald” with his concerns about recently installed permanent outdoor lights on his neighbor’s house. He said the lights are so bothersome that his mental health has diminished, leading to anxiety and depression.
   
   The resident did not want to be identified because of potential further negative encounters with his neighbor.
   
   The resident said he decided to talk to his neighbor first, but to no avail. The neighbor just installed additional lights, and all of them are lit 24 hours a day, he said. The resident said he once had hopes to construct an observatory on his property so he could enjoy the stars, but the bright lights coming from the neighboring property have eliminated that option.
   
   Since EPC does not have an ordinance that addresses excessive outdoor lighting, the resident said there is nothing else he can do to resolve the situation.
   
   Barentine said the IDA does not have the authority to sue anyone over a lighting conflict. “We have chapters across the world working with local authorities to help change the way people think about artificial lighting, hoping that a change in behavior will be the result,” he said.
   
   The IDA offers suggestions for lighting and provides information they informally call the “Four Ps:” Proper place, proper time, proper amount and proper spectrum of lighting, he said.
   
   A searchable database with information on products that have the IDA’s Fixture Seal of Approval is available as well, Barentine said. According to the IDA website, the Fixture Seal of Approval program certifies outdoor lighting fixtures that minimize glare while reducing light trespass and skyglow, when installed properly.
   
   “It is our belief that by doing the right things with respect to lighting, meaning making the changes to benefit the environment and the night sky, it better achieves the goals for your lighting than what you had before,” Barentine said. “Targeting the light carefully means you will need less of it to get the job done, you will improve the night sky and environment, and you will be saving yourself money.”
  
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