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""My father always used to say that when you die, if you've got five real friends, then you've had a great life.""
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  Volume No. 18 Issue No. 6 June 2021  

None Business Briefs   None Community Calendar   None Community Photos   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 Rumors   None Wildlife Matters  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In

    A Cold War relic in Black Forest
    Manure business awaits well permit
    Building and real estate update
    Houses slim but selling at a fast pace
    El Paso County Sheriff's Office has colorful patrol cars
  A Cold War relic in Black Forest
  By Leslie Sheley

   The Civil Defense Siren System, first introduced during World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor, did not gain much popularity until the Cold War. The number of siren systems in most cities spread rapidly during that time; nearly every city had a system to warn citizens of a nuclear attack, according to the Wende Museum of the Cold War website.
   Cities regularly threatened with natural disasters (tornados, floods, etc.) still use outdoor siren systems; however, most of the sirens intended for attack-warnings only have been taken down or are rusting away at the top of their poles, according to the Civil Defense Museum website.
   The siren sitting on the green pole by the Rockin’ B Feed & Supply store in Black Forest is one of those siren systems.
   Dr. Nick Studer, director of the National Museum of Civil Defense, said the siren is abandoned and without power. It is a Model 7 siren, produced by Federal Signal Systems, which is a common siren, he said. “What is unique is the pole,” Studer said. The siren is mounted on a scream master pole, specifically built for a scream master siren. “Those kinds of poles are quite common in California where they were made, but not so much in Colorado,” he said.
   “Rumor has it from the people in the siren industry that the scream master pole was tested at the Nevada Proving Grounds and is capable of taking weapons effects (like a nuclear blast, bullets or artillery).” He said he hasn’t found actual documented proof of the information.
   The National Museum of Civil Defense’s interest in the siren system is for historical purposes. He said they’re concerned, since it is an abandoned siren system, that it will be bulldozed to make way for a wider road. They have reached out to Pikes Peak Regional Emergency Management; so far, he doesn’t know what their plans are for it. The NMCD would like to preserve the pole in particular and the siren, too.
   There are no records on the owner of the siren system. “It’s just hard to find any records because they are so old, and chances are unless someone had a specific interest in preserving them, they were probably thrown out,” Studer said.
   He said the sirens were put in place in the late 1950s, early 1960s by the El Paso County Civil Defense, the predecessors of Pikes Peak Regional Emergency Management. Studer said at that time, the Colorado Springs Radio Communications department would have been responsible to repair and maintain them.
   “Emergency preparedness is a timeless thing; civil defense at that time was a calculated and planned effort in response to a significant threat the country faced, and the folks who worked on it really put a lot of effort into it,” Studer said. “At the museum what we try to emphasize is … nuclear weapons existed and people at the local, city and state levels were entrusted with keeping the citizens safe and do what they could to plan for an emergency.”
   Bob Sayers, retired communications engineer, maintained the sirens in the early 1970s. He worked for Colorado Springs Radio Communications, which contracted with the El Paso County Civil Defense. He said there were 33 sirens altogether in the county, and remembered that the pole in Black Forest had initially been wood and not metal.
   He said the sirens were tested the first Friday of every month. “The week before each test, we radio repair guys would go around to each siren to make sure they were functional,” Sayers said. “The test would infuriate the neighbors; they all hated the sound test, as it was quite loud. The neighbors came over several times and threatened to put a bullet in the siren if we set it off again. They were never used for a nuclear warning, thank heaven.”
   Sayers said when people heard the sirens go off, they were instructed to turn to either 640 or 1240 kHz to receive instructions. He said old radios used to have little arrows pointing to those frequencies. “It was a federal law then that radios manufactured between 1953 and 1963 have these two frequencies marked by the triangle-in-circle ("CD Mark") symbol of Civil Defense,” he said. “It was all geared toward survival during the Cold War.”
   Dr. Frank Blazich is the lead curator of military history at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He said he is a military historian by training; at the Smithsonian, he reviews the military history of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard, from the 1900s to the 2000s.
   He is also an advisor on the NMCD board. Blazich said (in reference to Sayers comment that the pole used to be wood) it makes sense to have a pole that is going to survive a forest fire. “That’s a prudent measure, changing the pole from wood to metal, which is a lot more durable,” he said. “The fact that the county spent the amount of money that they did on this pole is just another piece to the puzzle that they were legitimately concerned they might take a direct hit and be a military target.”
   He said the American civil defense effort is in some circles viewed as a failed effort. “The artifacts and records of those few men and women who dedicated their careers to the safety of others provide the understanding and perspective for contemporary emergency management officials to prepare for and respond to crisis big and small, be it a wide scale natural disaster or man-made crisis.”
Most of the sirens used for attack warnings during the Cold War have been taken down or are rusting away at the top of their poles, according to the Civil Defense Museum website. The siren sitting on the green pole by the Rockin’ B Feed & Supply store in Black Forest is one of those siren systems. Photos by Leslie Sheley
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  Manure business awaits well permit
  By Pete Gawda

   The approval process for a special use permit for a horse manure composting business just over the county line in Elbert County has hit another snag.
   Colorado Manure Hauling is just barely in El Paso County. The first 10 feet of the property — located on County Road 74-82, which runs between Elbert Road and Peyton Highway — is in El Paso County. The remainder of the 55-acre site is in Elbert County.
   Jonathan Whetstine and his father, Roger, applied to the Elbert County Planning Commission for a permit to operate their business, Colorado Manure Haulers. They also applied for a well permit from the Groundwater Commission of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. The Elbert County Planning Commission has now decided to wait until the well permit application has been decided.
   However, Colorado Manure Haulers does not have to wait for any permit to continue its operations. In Elbert County, once a person has started the process to obtain a special use permit for a business, that person can operate the business during the approval process. If the permit is denied, then the person has to cease business operations.
   In a letter to the editor in the November 2020 issue of “The New Falcon Herald,” Janice McCall of Peyton expressed concern about the amount of water that would be required for the composting operation. She is one of the parties contesting the Whetstine's well application. “We feel it (the composting operation) is a wasteful use of water resources,” McCall said in a follow-up phone call. However, Whetstine said McCall has to prove that approval of the well would be harmful.
   As part of the special permit application with Elbert County, a community meeting was held last September, with about 50 of Whetstine's neighbors attending the two-hour meeting. Greg Laudenslager, a county planner with Elbert County, also attended the meeting. He said that a two-year limit could be one of the conditions for the special use permit application.
   Roger Whetstine said the well permit is for irrigation, stock watering and commercial use purposes for the farm. Because Whetstine’s neighbors, including McCall, have contested the well permit, a hearing before the Colorado Ground Water Commission was held April 20. As of the publication date of “The New Falcon Herald,” a decision had not been made.
   The composting process was explained in the October issue of the NFH. The manure is piled in long rows, and each row is covered with a blue tarp. Before the composting process is complete, each row is turned over at least 15 times. The compost row is uncovered and turned over by a tractor-drawn machine that exposes it to the air and also allows it to be moistened by water sweetened with molasses. The temperature and carbon content of the compost row is checked before and after turning.
   Jonathan Whetstine said he maintains a temperature of 130 to 150 degrees to kill weeds and harmful pathogens. He said there are no foods or bio solids in the process. The compost is tested for harmful pathogens, and the finished project is sent out to a lab for testing.
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Falcon Park N’ Ride
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to recognize federal revenue, and appropriate expenditures for $2,712,473; Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority revenue, and appropriate expenditures for $1,104,885 to the Road and Bridge 2021 budget for the construction of the Falcon Park N’ Ride Project.
   EPC fairgrounds
   The BOCC unanimously awarded a contract and purchase order to Olgoonik General LLC to construct American Disabilities Act accessibility improvements at the EPC fairgrounds for $138,816.
   Tanner Ranch subdivision
   The commissioners unanimously approved, for the second time, amended and restated subdivision improvements for Tanner Ranch Filing No. 1. The subdivision is located at the southwest corner of the Highway 94 and Calhan Highway intersection. The property has been owned by the same entity since the filing was approved by the BOCC in 2005, but public improvements have never been completed. New investors plan to purchase the subdivision and complete the public improvements.
   12265 Highway 94
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by Udon Holdings LLC to rezone 40 acres from a residential rural-5 zoning district to a commercial service zoning district. 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.
   8330 Mustang Place
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by Mason LLC to rezone 5.37 acres from RR-5 to residential rural-2.5. The property is located on the north side of Mustang Place, about 1 mile northeast of the Woodmen Road and Marksheffel Road intersection. It is included within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan and the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
   Winsome subdivision
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by N.E.S. to authorize the county engineer to issue a construction permit for pre-development site grading in the proposed 340.31-acre Winsome Filing No. 2 subdivision. This permit is separate from the preliminary plan approval. The property is located at the northwest corner of the Hodgen Road and Meridian Road intersection.
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  Houses slim but selling at a fast pace
  By Pete Gawda

   The population of El Paso County has increased slightly from last year, and a smaller number of homes are selling at a faster rate and a higher price than last year.
   According to the most recent United States Census data, the population of El Paso County increased 1.14% from an estimated 2020 population of 728,717 to an estimated 737,031 in 2021.
   The Colorado Association of Realtors reported the following statistics. In March 2020, single family houses were on the market for an average of 26 days. In March this year the average time on the market was 12 days. During that same time period the average price of a single-family dwelling in El Paso County rose from $394,907 to $469,834, an increase of 19%. In March 2020, the total new listings of single family homes was 1,567. In March 2021, the number of new listings for single family homes had dropped to 1,331, a decrease of 15.1%.
   Dave Ahrens with Sellstate Alliance Realty said that many new homebuyers are coming from California, and some are moving in from midwestern states. Ahrens said he wondered where they would all be employed. However, he said that with the advent of COVID-19, many people are now working from home; without the commute, they can live anywhere.
   Jody Heffner of the Platinum Group had a different opinion.“It’s a lot of local people,” Heffner said. The homebuyers are not coming from any particular place, with about 10% coming from Denver, he said. The statistics bear out Heffner’s statement that the supply of houses for sale is limited. Heffner added that with lower interest rates, home buying is more attractive to many people. Because of the scarcity of houses for sale, when someone local buys a new house and moves into it, their old house sells quickly, he said.
   Dwight Mulberry of Campbell Homes added that in his experience new homebuyers are not from a specific area but are “all over the board.”
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  El Paso County Sheriff's Office has colorful patrol cars
  By Pete Gawda

   The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is slowly transitioning to an all-black patrol car. Currently, they are driving black and white patrol cars — the sheriff’s office houses 115 white cars and 25 black cars. Lt. Deborah Mynatt, public information officer for the sheriff's office, said the transition began in July 2019. Mynatt said the new design is unique to the area, with both city and rural areas highlighted in the design. Both white and black cars are trimmed in blue and yellow.   
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