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"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread."
– Edward Abbey  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 9 September 2019  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Community Calendar   None Community Photos  
None Did You Know?   None FFPD Column   None FFPD News   None From the Publisher  
None Marks Meanderings   None Monkey Business   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains  
None Pet Care   None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life   None Rumors  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In
  BF Festival: blue skies and great crowd
  By Leslie Sheley

   A pancake breakfast sponsored by R&R Coffee Cafe kicked off the Aug. 11 Black Forest Festival, with this year’s theme of Farming in the Forest. About 3,000 people were in attendance, and Mother Nature provided perfect weather.
   An estimated 60 to 80 booths, from arts and crafts to businesses to organizations to local farms, were set up for festival goers. Several food trucks offered a variety of beverages and food. Visitors could tour the log school; watch a sawmill demonstration and take advantage of a wood sale.
   Kids’ entertainment included pony rides, games, water balls, chicken races and farm themed activities.
   Jon Karroll from KRDO emceed the parade (which had about 70 entries) and the outhouse races. Don Root, the 2018 Keeper of the Keys, rode in the parade — followed by the 2017 KOK, Terry Stokka. The newly appointed Keeper of the Keys counselors, Mike and Janet Fortner, were part of the judges’ panel.
   Winners of the parade entries:
   The Black Forest Animal Sanctuary — best animal; the Vista Ridge Cheer group — best youth entry; the Colorado Springs Corvette Club — best motor entry; Cub Scout Troop 70 — best theme in overall entry; Pine Creek Band — best music entry; The Black Forest Community Church — best float.
   There were six entries in the outhouse races, with the Black Forest Ward winning first place and The Chicken Coop coming in second. Each outhouse included a rider in the driver’s seat and a team of four pushing the outhouse. The last leg of the almost quarter-mile race was uphill.
   The 495’ers Acoustic Band, the Forest Chorus and the USAFA Wild Blue Country Band were among the bands and musicians. After the festival, a country dance capped things off in the community club.
   Mary Fortner, festival organizer, said next year’s festival information will be provided on the Black Forest Community Center website beginning early June. Booth applications are available starting in May.
The Black Forest Ward won the outhouse race out of six entries; the Chicken Coop came in second.
Floats were judged on six categories; four of the winners are shown here. Photos by Leslie Sheley
The Kit Carson Riding Club participated in the Black Forest Festival parade Aug. 11.
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  Pine derby race

   The Black Forest Brewery sponsored a pine derby race that took place after the Black Forest Festival Aug. 11.

Shay Owens of Colorado Springs won second place, with her homemade derby car, in the race at Black Forest Brewery.
Lots of kids and adults brought their cars to the derby event. Photos submitted

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  County efforts failing on Burgess Road

A few months ago, the county replaced the culvert under Burgess Road with five of the same size culverts. But the culverts are not working per these photos. The NFH will follow up in the October issue. Photos by Sheryl Lambert
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Bill Radford

  Faces of Black Forest
  Springs firefighter serving Black Forest
  By Bill Radford

   As a Colorado Springs firefighter, PJ Langmaid works to save lives and property in the city he has chosen to serve.
   As a member of the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District board of directors, his goal is the same for the community he has chosen as his home.
   When Langmaid was a youth growing up in Boston, he worked in construction; surrounded by a crew made up of firefighters. That, he figures, sparked his interest in becoming a firefighter himself.
   “Interestingly, all those guys suggested I not get into the profession because of the number of firefighters that were dying in the line of duty during their careers,” Langmaid said. So he said he waited quite a while before becoming a volunteer EMT and then a volunteer firefighter.
   Those volunteer years were spent in Wyoming. He asked the chief of the department where he was volunteering to recommend a place in the Rockies to pursue a career in firefighting, and the instant reply was the Colorado Springs Fire Department, headed then by Manny Navarro.
   "Manny had a phenomenal reputation," Langmaid said. So it was off to Colorado Springs, where he has been a firefighter for 14 years.
   He bought a house in Black Forest in 2008, attracted by the trees and the distance from the city. But he lost that home in the Black Forest fire five years ago. He was off-duty that day and fought in vain to save his home, risking his life in the process.
    It was a trauma that, on top of other life-threatening situations he has faced as a firefighter, eventually led to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.
   "That was a pretty rough time," he said; Langmaid struggled to describe that time: "I just had felt that something serious was wrong internally."
   His father was a police officer; looking back, he can see how the stresses of that job affected his dad and the family. It's the same for firefighters: A 2016 report by the International Association of Fire Fighters found firefighters and paramedics experience PTSD at rates similar to combat veterans.
   "It's a topic that needs to be addressed," Langmaid said. “It's probably going to be the big issue in the firehouses."
   Asked if the loss of his home gave him a new appreciation of what fire victims go through, he said, "Being a 'victim' is a choice, a mindset. All people have stressors and struggles in life, we all suffer losses, but we get to choose how we allow that to affect us. What I will say is that the amount of immediate stress and grief placed upon those individuals and families is incomprehensible to anyone who has not experienced that. ... So yeah, I'd say this experience has certainly given me a perspective of what those folks go through." 
   Langmaid has since rebuilt, but it took much longer than he first figured. And it involved help from a surprising source. Despite his experience in construction, he had reached a low point, lacking the additional labor needed to move forward, when he was connected with a Mennonite church in Kansas that was looking for a community project. Church volunteers provided the labor to get the walls up.
   "Many people no longer believe in God and they can come up with all kinds of 'logical' explanations and reasons for random coincidental occurrences. Based on my experiences in the last four years, I have no other explanation than divine providence," he said.
   Langmaid was elected to the five-person Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District Board in May 2014, the year after the fire. He was on the board during a tumultuous time, with public disagreements between Sheriff Terry Maketa and Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey over the handling of the fire and Harvey's departure from the post in summer 2014. At one point, Harvey said he had resigned but later he filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination.
   Today, Bryan Jack is Black Forest's fire chief and "the level of professionalism is at an all-time high," Langmaid said. But that doesn't mean there aren't issues.
   "Like every other public safety agency, it is a struggle to fund the operations of the department," Langmaid said. "The salaries and benefits are not sufficient to keep "talented and professional quality employees,” he said. As a result of that and other pressures, such as "rapid and explosive growth" in the community, the district will be seeking voter approval this fall for a mill levy increase. The district, which covers about 50 square miles, currently serves about 10,000 residents.
   Langmaid recently became chairman of the board. It's a role that, for him, comes with a the buck-stops-here attitude.
   "As the chairman, it is ultimately my responsibility for any failures of the board," he said. "If we don't communicate a need to the public sufficiently, then that is on me for not ensuring we have been effective."
   (The Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District recently upgraded its website; for more information on the district and the mill levy proposal, go to
PJ Langmaid is a Colorado Springs firefighter and chairman of the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District Board of Directors. Photo by BIll Radford
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  Keeper of the Keys
  By Leslie Sheley

   The Black Forest Keeper of the Keys project started in 1960, in conjunction with the Black Forest Festival, to recognize and honor couples and/or individuals for their service to Black Forest.
   According to the Black Forest Community Club, Jim and Ana Mae Hawkins created seven keys, which were cut from wood and covered with embossed copper; tiny copper nails fastened the copper to the wooden keys. Each key depicts a different theme, such as storms and blue skies, the changing beauty of trees and meadows, bird songs, music of the waters and the spirit of neighborliness, to name a few.
   Gwen Burk, who is the daughter of the Hawkins, said originally they called the key program “Keeper of the Forest,” with a goal to recognize the “old timers” and what they had done for the community. Seven people from the community were nominated as counselors and one was named the Keeper of the Keys. In 1960, Wayne Rusk was named the first Keeper.
   Each Keeper has his or her own legacy and story to tell.
   The Keeper of the Keys award was discontinued from 1968 to 1985 because of a lack of interest, said Lavonne Hidy, Black Forest resident and 2007 Keeper of the Keys. The Black Forest Community Club brought it back again in 1986, and Anna Mae Hawkins was awarded the Keeper that year.
   The 2018 Keeper of the Keys ceremony, along with a potluck was held Aug. 5 at the community center. Past Keeper of the Keys recipients participated in the event. Ruth Ann Steele (KOK 1994) played the piano as people arrived; Leif Garrison (KOK 2016) served as the master of ceremonies; and Judy von Ahlefeldt (KOK 1998) read a poem. The Forest Chorus entertained the crowd with a medley of songs.
   A garland of keys hanging above the main table were made by Burk, and Hidy created the table arrangements, which were given to attendees.
   Don Root was awarded the Keeper of the Keys for 2018-2019; Mike and Janet Fortner were named as the counselors. Root received seven keys on a ring, a staff and a certificate. The keys are in the custody of the Keeper for one year and stored in a wood box lined with velvet. Leif Garrison said, “We honor all who are nominated, but we can only give one person or couple the keys.”
Don Root was named the 2018-2019 Black Forest Keeper of the Keys.
Mike and Janet Fortner were named the 2018-2019 counselors to the Keeper of the Keys.
Don Root holds the staff and keys he received. The keys were cut from wood and covered with embossed copper; each one depicts a different theme.
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  AARP at the festival
  Submitted by Stanley Beckner

   The Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 offered items for sale such as baked goods, crafts and a variety of plants at the August Black Forest Festival. All proceeds from the sales went toward new equipment for Hope Restored, a group of volunteers, who help remove still standing and burnt trees from Black Forest residential property. The chapter also provided free cold water, plastic bags and literature to many of the attendees at the festival.
   The baked goods and crafts that the chapter sold were made and donated by the members, who also staffed the booth at the festival. Some of the members also provided homegrown house and yard plants.
   The involvement in the Black Forest Festival by Chapter 1100 typifies the chapter’s motto “To Serve not to be Served.”  
   Individuals interested in providing community service throughout the local area, while socializing and enjoying informative luncheon meetings in Black Forest, should contact Ray at 719-495-6767 or visit the chapter website at for details on when and where the monthly meetings are held. All are welcome, and there are no age restrictions.
There was plenty of interest in the items offered at the Black Forest AARP chapter booth. Photos submitted.
AARP Chapter 1100 members work their booth and hand out free plastic bags to Black Forest Festival attendees.
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  AARP blood drive

   The Penrose–St. Francis Hospital partnered with AARP Chapter 1100 to provide an opportunity for citizens to donate blood Aug. 18 at Black Forest Fire and Rescue Station in Black Forest. Fourteen Chapter 1100 members volunteered to assist the hospital in the registration and processing of donors.
   The hospital reports that local area hospitals, including local area military facilities, have a need for about 10,000 units of blood per year, which totals 170 to 200 units per month. Among the 25 individuals who donated blood were several AARP Chapter 1100 members and Black Forest firefighters.
   Giving the gift of life is definitely worthwhile and needed for the overall health and welfare of the community. Those interested in donating blood can call the Penrose-St. Francis blood bank at 719-776-5822 for more information.
Volunteers donated blood on Aug. 18 at the Black Forest Fire and Rescue Station on Teachout Road in Black Forest.
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  No fee senior social

   A monthly informal occasion for seniors is the no fee event. They meet in the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road in Black Forest.
   Seniors are welcome at the Black Forest AARP and Black Forest Lutheran Church monthly informal gathering, held at the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road. The social is from 1 to 4 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month, and all are invited to socialize, play games, work on hobbies or to simply sit and talk about “whatever.” Light refreshments are available. For more information, contact Lavonne at 719-494-1276.
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  Black Forest Women’s Club

   The Black Forest Women’s Club will meet Sept. 13 at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road. The club will be having an auction of donated items. Join in the fun: A social time with brunch takes place between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. The meeting starts at 10 a.m. Guests are always welcome, as well as anyone who would like to be a member. Come make new friends with a great group of women and enjoy monthly programs! For information, call Carol at 719-495-3846.   
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