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"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change."
– Leon C. Megginson  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 4 April 2020  

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  Faces of Black Forest
  Helping people and community
  By Leslie Sheley

   Mona Murch grew up in Minnesota but moved to Black Forest 35 years ago.
   
   She owns a business called RAI Services. “It stands for take responsibility, make amends, live with integrity,” Murch said. She provides polygraph exams for people on probation and parole, and travels all over the state.
   
   “My job is to give people a chance, but also to hold them accountable as needed, so they can become a contributing member of society,” Murch said. “I believe it is better to help them manage their behaviors, while insuring public safety and giving them a chance to rehabilitate.”
   
   As a student at St. Cloud State in Minnesota, Murch was involved in CAASA, Campus Advocates Against Sexual Abuse, where she worked with victims of sexual abuse and also sex offenders. She graduated with a degree in psychology and recreation. After moving to Colorado, her first job was at Cedarwood Health Care Center as a recreational therapist.
   
   Later, Murch received a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and became a therapist at The Family Center of Colorado Springs, where she worked for 17 years. Murch then worked for the El Paso County Department of Human Resources as a caseworker; she worked with victims of sexual abuse and sex offenders.
   
   She met her husband while working at the county.
   
   Murch and her husband married in 1995, and decided to look for a house in Black Forest. “We wanted space; we had dogs and they needed a place to run plus we knew we wanted children,” she said. “We wanted an open, clean place for them to play, plus it was in District 20, which is a good school district.”
   
   She has two grown sons: Both went to First Step Preschool in Black Forest and then Edith Wolford Elementary. Her youngest son was in the first kindergarten class to go to the newly remodeled Edith Wolford Elementary School. Her sons attended Challenger Middle School and graduated from Pine Creek High School. She said now that they are both grown, she and her husband would like to travel as often as they can.
   
   Murch said she is active with the Black Forest Community Church. She also heads up the restoration project for The Old Log Church, which was the first church in Black Forest — the church will celebrate 80 years in 2020. Murch has helped with donations for the restoration and has also applied for grants. So far, the outside logs have been restored and preserved, and the next grant will allow them to incorporate stain glass windows — which the church originally had — plus a new front door.
   
   As a member of her high school choir and an all-state choir in college, Murch has a long musical history. She played the clarinet and saxophone in band. She and her husband sing in the choir at church, and the whole family used to sing together when the kids were growing up. Murch said her husband and two sons know how to play the ukulele; one son also plays the drums and the other plays the guitar. Murch was in the Forest Chorus for 10 years under the direction of Ruth Ann Steele; she said she has great memories from that experience.
   
   Murch talked about their early days as residents of Black Forest, when Domino’s Pizza would deliver to the convenience store at Woodman and Black Forest roads — and customers would meet them at the store, which is no longer there. During the 2013 fire in Black Forest, Murch said they had to evacuate but their home escaped damage.
   
   With water issues a big concern in the area, Murch said she is concerned about the over-development in Black Forest and hopes it can be resolved or the county finds a compromise to preserve the beauty of the Forest. She said on the day of the fire, she was out of town and her husband had to grab their belongings, including some clothes for her. “He packed two turtlenecks, five pajama tops and two pairs of spandex workout pants; a few days later he was able to go back and rescue his pigeons and grabbed me more clothes … 10 skirts; what a guy, I love him,” Murch said, laughing.
   
   Murch said Black Forest reminds her of the town where she grew up in Minnesota. “It has a small town feel, people are friendly and it’s away from the crowd and traffic; it’s so quiet and peaceful,” she said. “Even now when my son comes home for a weekend from Denver, he will say how nice it is without all the noise of city traffic, which is one of the reasons we love it.”
  
n September 2019, Mona Murch treated her oldest son and his girlfriend to a trip to Italy to celebrate both of them graduating from college. In this photo, Murch is enjoying the sights at Centro Storico, Naples, Italy.
 
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  Town hall meeting focused on bills
  By Leslie Sheley

   Sen. Paul Lundeen and Rep. Tim Geitner spoke at a town hall meeting sponsored by The Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan at the Black Forest Community Center on Jan. 25. For the most part, the meeting was focused on bills.
   
   Lundeen discussed his three bills. With the Sales and Use Tax Revenue for Transportation Bill, Lundeen said he is proposing using 10 percent of the sales tax on vehicle and transportation related items for the Highway User’s Tax Fund. The HUTF will be used for state, county and municipal highway system projects. Lundeen said the bill was sent to the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee instead of the transportation committee. “In politics, this is what is known as a ‘kill committee,’” he said. The bill has been killed since the town hall meeting.
   
   The second bill, SB-74, Bonuses for Highly Effective Teachers, suggests using $50 million from the existing education budget to give effective teachers a $2,000 bonus. Lundeen said, according to the last audited school year, 2016-2017, Colorado spent $13 billion on public education, which equals about $15,000 per child in K-12. Lundeen said the Department of Education would be responsible for deciding which teachers would receive the bonuses, based on a formula that accounts for the number of teachers employed by each district.
   
   The third bill, which he hopes will be introduced in three or four weeks, is related to data privacy. Lundeen said he believes companies should not be able to gather personal information to sell or share. He said a bill was already passed three years ago that protects students’ privacy rights; this bill is broader.
   
   He also talked about two bills coming up that he said would be detrimental to the people of Colorado. One is called Public Option, which allows the government to set prices hospitals can charge, doctors’ visits, tests, etc. Lunden said, “There are three critical pieces of information to consider when making these kinds of decisions; cost, access and quality.” He said he agrees we need to contain the cost, but is concerned about what will happen to access and quality in the process.
   
   The second bill involves a tax increase. Lundeen said there is a proposal to take 1 percent of each person’s salary for a fund to allow an employee 16 weeks leave from work to take care of someone with whom the employee has a meaningful relationship. He said they are still waiting for the exact language, but the last time it was discussed, there was no explanation as to what “meaningful” means. Lundeen said most companies and employers already have a provision for the Family and Medical Leave Act for their employees.
   
   “I think freedom is the greatest thing,” Lundeen said. “My friends on the other side think government is here to help everyone. I will continue to talk to them with respect and honor every day and share with them where I think government belongs and where it doesn’t belong,”
   
   Geitner talked about his three bills. The Fundamental Family Rights in Colorado Bill, HB20-1063, states that parents have the right to make financial, medical and educational decisions relating to their children, without government intervention; and it establishes that parents should have fundamental rights in Colorado. Geitner said this bill has been sent to the kill committee.
   
   The second bill is the Colorado TRAILS System Requirement, HB20-1105. Geitner said TRAILS is what Colorado uses to track and register those who are suspected and accused of child abuse and neglect. He said the problem with TRAILS is that it puts anyone who is under suspicion into the system without due process. Currently, a case is opened and a letter is sent to the individual suspects informing them they are now in the registry; the letter also provides information about a hearing.
   
   Geitner said the first problem is that the process can affect people’s licenses, such as doctors, teachers and people in the military with security clearances. Also, young people are being added to the registry, which means they can now be entered into the adult judicial process, Geitner said.
   
   “This bill requires the department of human services to provide the accused person written notice of the intent to list the person’s name in the system,” Geitner said. After an allegation is made, the accused can request a hearing before a judge within 14 days.
   
   The third bill is Parent Authority to Require Educational Reforms, HB20-1111. Geitner said currently parents don’t have many options to address failing schools, other than taking the child out of the school. Geitner said most parents cannot just take their kids out of school. According to this bill, if 50 percent of the parents agree on a proposed plan for the failing school, they can present it to the school board and ask them to institute the changes, he said. The board can agree or negotiate; if they decline the plan, parents can initiate a recall of the board or apply for an appeal.
   
   Geitner said he is concerned about two bills that have not been introduced. One could involve limits on firearm purchases. Rep. Tom Sullivan is the author of the bill and has not yet introduced the bill. The second bill requires a standard mill levy for school districts. Geitner said every district would have to pass a $27 million levy, which could be a burden for smaller school districts. He said the $27 million is not set in stone.
   
   Geitner said, “It’s an honor to represent the people in my district.” He will be running for re-election this November.
   
   Toward the end of the meeting, attendees brought up questions related to school districts, future plans for I 25, the Black Forest Preservation Plan and water issues.
   
   Regarding water, Lundeen said, "Part of the challenge is every year we allow too much water to flow down river; we don't store water we have legal rights to; and, if we are to move forward, we need to store more water and use municipality systems in dense areas rather than only groundwater." Resident Judy Von Ahlefeldt addressed the group regarding the county’s process to approve development.
   Lundeen and Geitner encouraged the people of Black Forest to keep having meetings and to keep bringing their concerns to official meetings.
  
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  AARP Black Forest Chapter
  2020 Heart Attack and Stroke Update
  By Stanley Beckner

   Black Forest Fire and Rescue Dep. Chief James Rebitski presented an interesting and provocative program at the Feb. 12 AARP Chapter 1100 meeting. Chief Rebitski discussed the latest data regarding the risk factors for heart disease, which include heart attacks, diabetes, being overweight and obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and activities such as smoking. He answered many questions from the membership on these topics.
   
   The chief also presented a quick overview on how to prevent fires in the home, including maintaining fire and carbon monoxide detectors in good working order. He emphasized that people who heat with wood or have wood fireplaces should have their chimney systems inspected annually to make sure they are in safe working order. Every family, regardless of whether or not they have a fireplace, should have a home fire escape plan with at least two ways out. The escape plan must be well-understood by the family members and occasionally exercised.
    
   The Black Forest Fire and Rescue has established a website, BFFire.org, which has additional information on fire safety, along with instructions on how the fire department can assist in making your home and area fire-safe.
   
   Several visitors were welcomed at the Chapter 1100 February meeting. Other interested individuals should contact Candace at 314-330-0411 for a chapter schedule and meeting times or visit our website at https://aarpchapter1100blackforest.weebly.com. All are welcome.
   
   FIGHT FRAUD, SHRED INSTEAD.
   Mark your calendar –- June 20 will be the Chapter’s annual free shredding event at the Black Forest Lutheran Church.
  
Black Forest Fire and Rescue Dep. Chief James Rebitski brought AARP Chapter 1100 members up to date on the latest stroke, heart attack detection and heart disease prevention technology, along with home fire safety rules.
 
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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 meets every second Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road. The next meeting is March 12; the program is on skin care. Coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m., and the meeting begins at 10 a.m. Parking is in the back; use the ramp and go in the first door on the right. Visitors and guests are always welcome. For more information, contact Carol at 719-640-2893.   
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