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"Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws."
– Barbara Kingsolver  
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  Volume No. 18 Issue No. 5 May 2021  

None Book Review   None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar   None Did You Know?  
None FFPD News   None From the Publisher   None Health and Wellness   None Marks Meanderings  
None Monkey Business   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains   None Pet Adoption Corner  
None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life   None Wildlife Matters  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In

    Photos for Highlanders
    Falcon Marketplace update
    Drought on tap
    Watering in Colorado
    Selling homemade goods
    Living small
    MVEA announces winners of the Youth Leadership Trip Contest
    Building and real estate
  Photos for Highlanders

   The Pikes Peak Highlanders Bagpipe and Drum Band split into two groups to play a total of 18 shows for St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. The groups entertained patrons at restaurants, bars and pubs in Colorado Springs and Monument.   
This photo represents Group 1 of the Highlanders band: from left to right: Arty Macayan, Ben Reed, Andra Stoller, Gracie Stoller, D Wrede, Gary Frasier, Lou Ann Johnson and Natalie Smiley.
Gary Frasier, a member of the Highlanders Bagpipe and Drum Band, performs for the St. Patrick celebration at Frankie’s Too in Falcon.
Andra Stoller plays the bag pipes on St. Patrick’s Day at Frankie’s Too in Falcon. All photos by Cara Lord-Geiser
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  Falcon Marketplace update
  By Leslie Sheley

   Evergreen Devco Inc., a real estate company with offices in Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, purchased the 36-acre Falcon Marketplace at Meridian Road and East Woodmen Road in September 2020.
   Russell Perkins, a principal with the company, said they are continuing to make progress. Currently, he said they have the following tenant categories under contract: a national brand tire store, a dentist, a chicken restaurant, an Asian cuisine restaurant, a car wash and a coffee store; they have space for at least three more tenants. “I have permission to share with you the names of the car wash (Superstar Car Wash) and the Asian restaurant (Panda Express with a drive-through),” Perkins said. At this point, everyone still has the ability to back out should they determine they no longer wish to be included in the development, he added.  
   The schedule for opening any of the businesses depends on when they are permitted to construct them, he said. “A large portion of the property lies (on paper, at least) in a flood plain,” Perkins said. “Our contractors have completed 100% of the work to alter the path of the travel of stormwater and to increase the storage capacity of the regional stormwater basins. Just last week, the surveyors and engineers concluded their work to verify completion of all of those improvements.”
   A couple of the outparcel lots are technically not encumbered by the former flood boundaries, so those tenants have the option to build as soon as they can acquire permits from the county, he said. They expect one to two of them to build as soon as possible—probably the coffee shop and car wash, Perkins said.
    “We have formally submitted the floodplain map revision request to the appropriate federal authorities. Now we wait,” he said. “Approval from the feds takes about six months during normal times. We’ve been told to expect closer to eight to 10 months, but we hope to be surprised to the good side,” Perkins said.
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  Drought on tap
  By Leslie Sheley

   Colorado is presently in a drought. In the past 20 years, the state experienced a drought in 2002, 2012 and 2018; with 2019 declared drought free.
   Becky Bolinger, assistant state climatologist and research scientist II at the Colorado State University Colorado Climate Center, said a drought is a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, leading to a shortage of water. She said Colorado has the added benefit of the snowpack in the mountains instead of being solely reliant on groundwater. “The whole state to some extent relies on the snowpack in the mountains for their water supply,” Bolinger said. “When there are winters without much or at least not enough to replenish the reservoir supply through the spring and summer, then we know we may be looking at drought conditions.”
   She said the problems leading up to this drought started in the spring of 2020. “The snowpack was OK in some areas but it melted too fast and too early, so it didn’t fill up the reservoirs the way we like. That started the drought, and it intensified through the summer and fall,” she said. “Because of that, 100% of the state is in drought conditions.”
   Bolinger said to get out of this drought, Colorado needs above average snowpack to make up all the deficits from last year. The first deficit is that reservoirs did not fill up last spring; and, because of a hot, dry summer, extra demands were put on those reservoirs, dropping their levels even more, she said.
   The lack of moisture from the monsoons that Colorado receives July through September created another deficit. Bolinger said Southern Colorado usually gets good monsoon moisture, but this has been lacking for the last four years. The last deficit concerns the soil, which is currently very dry. She said in the mountains, if the soil is dry then the snowpack will initially soak into the ground, which means extra snowpack is needed to run off into the rivers and ultimately fill the reservoirs. “We’re in a situation where not only do we need a normal snowpack because we need that every year, but we need a lot more to chip away at these deficits,” she said. “If we don’t have this, it just takes longer to get out of drought conditions. At this point, it doesn’t look like we have enough to get us out of the drought.”
   Bolinger said the big snow months for Colorado’s Front Range happen in March and April, but the snow accumulation in the mountains needs to be more evenly distributed from December through February. “Ideally, we want the snowpack to keep building until April; melting slowly into the soil, out to the river and into the reservoirs from mid-April to June,” Bolinger said. “We want it to keep adding to the reservoir until June; if it melts out by May or mid-May then the reservoirs don’t get the full benefit.”
   Effects of draught on gardening
   Irene Shonle, Ph.D., horticulture associate at Colorado State University Extension El Paso County, said the state of Colorado has activated the municipal portion of its emergency drought plan for 2021; this is only the second time in history it has been implemented. She said it is part of the State Emergency Drought Plan; each city has its own drought response.
   Shonle said if residents plan to have a vegetable garden this summer, work with the soil so it sufficiently holds water by adding organic matter such as compost or aged manure. She said the recommendation is to add 2-to-3 inches of organic matter on top of the bed for every 6-to-8 inches gardeners dig underground — and then thoroughly mix it in. Use a drip irrigation system as opposed to hand-watering or overhead sprinklers; that way the water only goes to the plant, she said.
   Plant vegetables in blocks instead of the traditional row, and plant more compactly rather than having a big sprawling garden, Shonle said. The leaves of the plant will protect the soil plus gardeners will get more produce in a small space. Add mulch on top of any open soil or empty spaces to keep the soil from getting too dry and to control weeds, she said. Other suggestions for mulch include weed-free straw, crushed-up dry leaves from fall or spring rake-up and fine mulch (not big chunks). She said gardeners can use pine needles or grass but make sure they aren’t in clumps as that tends to keep water from getting to the soil.
   Aerate lawns in the spring to prevent thatch and promote healthy roots, which is important all the time, but especially during a drought, Shonle said. Early morning watering is better; watering during the heat of the day just evaporates instead of getting to the plants. Monitor where the water is going; if it’s running off the lawns, it is either being over-watered or not going where it is meant to go, she said.
   Grant Winger, executive director of the Fresh Start Center in Colorado Springs, said they have a garden on the property that is used to provide produce for their clients. He said they have 42 5-by-10-foot raised beds on 1-and-a-half acres.
   Winger said they learned plenty from last year’s dry growing season. “It was an uphill battle last year, but we’re in a constant state of learning,” he said. “When we first started our garden, we had sprayers, but we changed to drip irrigation to be more focused and conservative with the water we have, and our resources.” He said this year, they’re also going to focus on plants that don’t require as much water. “Our goal is to have zero waste and the most productive outcome as possible. We check, adjust and move forward accordingly, and use our resources as efficiently as possible,” Winger said.
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  Watering in Colorado
  By Leslie Sheley

   Jim Nikkel, general manager of Meridian Service Metropolitan District, said Meridian Ranch does not use surface water like the city of Colorado Springs. Meridian’s water comes from the Denver basin aquifer, Nikkel said. The draught, therefore, does not affect the well. He said they encourage residents to be water-wise — any usage of water affects the aquifer because it doesn’t replenish itself.
   He said people get excited about spring, but don't turn on sprinklers until mid to late May; the grass will develop a better root system by stressing the roots a little right now. They encourage residents to irrigate at night or early in the morning. "Temperatures get high fast here and in Falcon, we get a lot of wind; if you're watering your lawn and plants in the middle of the day, the water will just evaporate," Nikkel said. They are constantly educating people who move here from other areas of the country about how watering is different in Colorado. He said in other states, watering grass at night could result in a fungus or mold. Also, because the soil is tight in the area, Nikkel said they recommend watering in multiple short intervals of about five minutes; otherwise, it just runs off. 
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  Selling homemade goods
  By Leslie Sheley

   In 2012, the Colorado Legislature enacted the Colorado Cottage Foods Act, which allows limited types of food products that are non-potentially hazardous (do not require refrigeration for safety) to be sold directly to consumers without licensing or inspections.
   According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website, the legislation requires producers to complete a food safety training course prior to starting a cottage foods business. They must remain in good standing with the course requirements, including the renewal of certificates of completion as required by the course developer. 
   Michael Lucero holds a master’s in public health and is an extension agent with the Workforce Development program, which includes nutrition, food safety and health, at Colorado State University Extension in El Paso County. He is a trainer for the cottage food industry certification classes at CSU.
   Lucero said the CSU training is written into the Colorado Cottage Foods Act. They collaborate with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regarding any changes or updates to the CCFA or training requirements. He encourages consumers to make sure they are buying products from someone who has the cottage foods industry certificate from CSU.
   Statewide training is offered two times a month and costs $40. Lucero said trainees are able to take the online exam following the four-hour class; after passing the test, they receive a certificate that is good for three years. He said the benefit of a cottage industry is that they can use their own kitchen; they don’t need to rent space.
Some foods that can be sold under a cottage industry certification include spices, teas, nuts, honey, jams, certain baked goods, candies, pickled fruits and vegetables.
Lucero said the number of people who went through the cottage food industry class in El Paso County went up 165% in 2020, compared to 2019. In 2020, the county saw170 new cottage food industry businesses start up. He said COVID-19 probably contributed to the upswing because many people needed a way to supplement their income, and classes were all online instead of in person as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. El Paso County is a large county, so having to take classes in person is a barrier to some people, Lucero said.
   The focus this year is to educate the farmers market managers about the need for the CSU training, certification and labeling requirements, he said.
   “Talking about product ingredients with the consumer is an opportunity for the producer to have a conversation regarding what the product is, how it’s prepared, if they use locally sourced ingredients, etc.” Lucero said. “It’s a way to develop a relationship with the consumer, which is so important and unique with this type of business.”
   Justin Trubee, environmental protection specialist IV and manufactured food safety program coordinator with the Colorado Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability, said the CSU safety training includes how to correctly wash hands, how to properly wrap and store produce, how to label food products, what can and cannot be sold and other food safety issues.
   He said there are restrictions on how and where cottage food products can be sold. They must be delivered directly from producer to consumer and cannot be resold; they cannot be sold to restaurants or grocery stores and can only be sold in Colorado. Trubee said at the point of sale, there needs to be a clearly displayed placard, sign or card with the following disclaimer: "This product was produced in a home kitchen that is not subject to state licensure or inspection. This product is not intended for resale."
   Trubee said it is important to be an informed consumer; read labels and ask questions like what kind of training does this person have, where is the food prepared, preparation date, ingredients to include any common food allergens; and ask if they use peanuts in their kitchen or if pets are allowed in the cooking area.
   “Part of the fun of farmers markets is you get to talk to the people you’re buying products from, so you have that direct relationship; get to know them and ask questions,” Trubee said.
   Mary Ponting, owner of Early Bird Bakery LLC, said she received her cottage food certification through CSU in April 2020, and participated in the Backyard Market in Black Forest last summer.
   She said she loves to bake, and five years ago she started recipe testing and put a menu together. She also participates in the SOCO Virtual Farmers Market and sells from her website. Ponting said she enjoyed participating in the Backyard Market last year, plus meeting and getting to know the consumers.
   Theda Stone, manager of the Backyard Farmers Market, said part of managing a farmers market involves providing resources and educating new and existing businesses about what they can and cannot sell. Stone said, “For example, someone wanted to sell empanadas, and I had to tell them that is a potentially hazardous product; and they have to have a retail business license for that.”
   She said there is liability for a farmers market. “If our vendors are selling something they haven’t been educated on, or if a patron gets sick, that’s a liability that could affect the market,” Stone said. “We want all of them to be trained so everyone is on the same page.”
   Vendors must have their CSU certificate and liability coverage to participate in their farmers market, Stone said. They perform random inspections to ensure proper labeling and storage, plus the vendors give them a list of all the products they want to sell. She said this way, they can go through the list and make sure it is approved based on the cottage industry requirements.
   Stone said, “Farmers markets can really be great for cottage food businesses and help them to grow because they get immediate firsthand feedback on their products, plus face-to-face interaction with their customers.” She said it has been great watching all the new and existing cottage industry businesses grow. The Backyard Market starts again on May 22.
   To register for CSU certification classes, go to or
   Theda Stone manages the Backyard market and suggested this website for cottage industry businesses:
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  Living small
  By Ava Stoller

   Tiny houses are a common phenomenon today. The blog “Tiny House Talk” reported on 27 tiny home dwellers and their reasons for choosing the tiny lifestyle.
   Some people go tiny because they’re stressed out by belongings; others want to reduce their housing costs; some want to travel more; some want to live more sustainable lifestyles; and some want to be different, just to be different!
   There are many types of tiny homes such as a van, recreational vehicle or bus conversion, a cob house, even a vardo (a round-top wagon). The more traditional version of a tiny house is one on wheels, where the base of the home is a trailer bed.
   From the I Property Management website (, the difference between just a small house and a “tiny” one is defined in the International Residential Code, Appendix Q as “a dwelling that is 400 square feet or less in floor area, excluding lofts.”
   With the rising cost of housing, consumers are opting for the smaller mortgage that comes with the small living space. According to (, the national average sales price of a new home in 2020 was $389,400; in 2021, it increased to $408,800.
   Statistics from I Property Management show the average cost of a built-to-suit tiny house is $59,884. The average cost of a DIY home build is closer to $23,000. A smaller price tag means less loan interest to pay; it’s not uncommon for mortgage holders to end up paying an additional 50% of what their home is worth in interest alone. Seventy-eight percent of tiny home dwellers own their home, compared to 65% of traditional home dwellers; 55% of tiny house owners have more savings than the average American.
   Weather is an important factor when buying a tiny house. From I Property Management: Because the interior of a tiny home is inherently small, having an outdoor seating and/or dining area can essentially double the size of a living space. This means, however, that in inclement weather, the living space will suddenly decrease by half. The most popular places for tiny home living are warm and temperate climates.
   There are many benefits of a tiny home. According to I Property Management, a tiny home uses about 7% of the energy that a traditional house does — 85% of tiny homes operate at above-average energy efficiency. Moving to a tiny home can decrease a household’s ecological footprint by 45%.
   However, there are some drawbacks to choosing a tiny home. ( put together 26 photos that display the negative side of living in a tiny home. It has been shown that traveling and moving a tiny home is expensive and difficult. The photos show cramped spaces, very small closets, difficulties of a sleeping loft, how hot it can get, as well as the methods of getting up to a loft. Appliances are smaller, toilets and showers are extremely close together, and temperature control is tricky — mold can grow quickly if the systems are not properly installed.
   Insider also addresses problems with zoning codes. The codes are passed and enforced by local governments, which means they vary greatly throughout the U.S. and any dwelling must be built with these codes in mind. One major stipulation is that most codes have a minimum square-footage requirement for homes. To make matters more complicated, the zoning codes differ from community to community.
   Another key issue, according to Insider, is that tiny houses on wheels are considered RVs in the eyes of local governments. Most local governments only allow RVs to be parked in certain locations, like RV parks or campgrounds, making it impossible to park a tiny house in a backyard or on a private piece of land and live in it full time. RVs are also not considered inhabitable for full-time living, so many municipalities limit the number of days a person can live in their tiny house.
   Other versions of a tiny home include renovations of an RV, bus or even a large van. The shape and size of each limit the renovation options, but it does alleviate the zoning and parking issues.
   “Tiny House Nation” is a series on Netflix that shows what it takes to move into a tiny home, along with being able to customize it to fit the owners needs — it’s all wrapped up in a heartwarming comedic package. The show highlights how and why going tiny is chosen by different demographics: young couples with kids, retirees, a single parent with kids, couples who want to travel, grandparents who want their kids to be able to stay over, and the list goes on.
   The general demographic of a tiny home owner are those 50 years and up or millennials, according to I Property Management. Sixty-three percent of millennials are interested in buying a tiny home, and 40% of tiny home owners are 50 or older.
   Close to home, there are multiple professional construction companies in Colorado that specifically build tiny homes. Home Builder Digest picked out some of the top construction companies in Colorado: Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, Sprout Tiny Homes and MitchCraft Tiny Homes.
   Colorado is also one of the most tiny-home-friendly states in the U.S. According to an entry of Tiny House Blog by Alexis Stephens, El Paso County approved the first tiny house on wheels zoning ordinance in the state. They now allow them in unincorporated areas. Tiny houses must be constructed to ANSI RV standards, and are allowed in RV parks for full-time living, on single lots and as accessory dwellings.
   Currently, there are tiny home communities in Escalante Village in Durango, Woodland Park and Leadville, Colorado.
Colorado is one of the most tiny-home-friendly states in the U.S.
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  MVEA announces winners of the Youth Leadership Trip Contest
  Mountain View news release, March 29

   The two winners earned top scores for creatively and astutely answering essay questions, which explored the seven cooperative principles that electric co-ops were founded on, leadership qualities they value, and what being part of an electric cooperative means to them.
   First Place: Ella Anderson, Junior at Discovery Canyon Campus
   When asked about what qualities a good leader has, Ella said, “A leader is trustworthy and responsible – this person should set a good example everywhere life takes them. Leadership is being able to inspire others to be their best, while also doing all you can to be your best self.” Not only is Ella a skilled writer, she also participates in numerous extracurricular activities, is a member of the National Honor Society, leadership council, student senate, is a young champion ambassador, and participates in her church youth group.
   Second Place: Carolyna Truong, Junior at The Classical Academy  
   Carolyna feels, “a good leader is one that has courage, integrity, honesty, humility, and clear focus. She finds ways to encourage and build courage in others so that she, and everyone she leads, can take on the most difficult task and persevere to the end.” Carolyna works on her leadership skills while participating in her school’s marching band, concert band, varsity tennis team, and Destination Imagination (a structural building competition). She has also been inducted into the National Honor Society.
   As the first and second place winners, Ella and Carolyna will receive an all-expense-paid week-long leadership trip to Washington D.C. for Youth Tour during the summer of 2022.
   MVEA’s Youth Leadership Trip Contest encourages high school sophomores and juniors to familiarize themselves with the cooperative business model, while giving them the chance to compete for a once-in-a-lifetime leadership opportunity. This year’s contest attracted quality applicants from around MVEA’s service territory. Applicants were blind judged by the Education Committee, which is comprised of members from MVEA’s Board of Directors.
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  Building and real estate
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Redtail Ranch
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the preliminary release of funds plus accrued interest for public improvements in Redtail Ranch Filing No. 1 for $139,039.69. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   The commissioners also unanimously approved the preliminary acceptance of certain streets within that same filing into the EPC road maintenance system.
   Saddlehorn subdivision
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by Gorilla Capitol Co. for the preliminary plan to create 218 single-family residential lots. The 816.475-acre property is located at the southeast corner of the Judge Orr Road and Curtis Road intersection and is zoned residential rural-2.5.
   8330 Mustang Place
   The EPC planning commission approved a request by Mason LLC to rezone a 5.37-acre parcel from residential rural-5 to RR-2.5, in an 8-2 vote, with Tim Trowbridge and Jay Carlson opposed. The parcel is located on the north side of Mustang Place, about 1 mile northeast of the Woodmen Road and Marksheffel Road intersection.
   12265 Highway 94
   The planning commission unanimously approved a request by Udon Holdings LLC to rezone a 40-acre property from RR-5 to commercial service. The property is located on the south side of Highway 94, about 0.5 miles west of the Highway 94 and Franceville Coal Mine Road intersection and is included within the Corral Bluffs Subarea.
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