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""The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.""
– Abraham Lincoln  
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  Volume No. 18 Issue No. 9 September 2021  

None Book Review   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 Pet Adoption Corner  
None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life   None Rumors   None Wildlife Matters  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In

    NFH writers went to the "streets" to ask
    Crawfish boil in Colorado
    Enjoy Homestead park this summer
    Leading up to the Declaration
    Benet Hill Sanctuary of Peace Community
    Walk a journey with a child
    Composting business still uncertain
    Addition to Meridian Ranch coming soon
    A new subdivision, Rollin Ridge, is coming to Black Forest
    Building and real estate update
  NFH writers went to the "streets" to ask
  What was your biggest challenge during the COVID-19 lockdown.

   From Pete Gawda’s interactions with people
   “Dealing with my family 24/7.” Andrianna Hilliard, Falcon
   “The biggest challenge was actually staying home and working with the distractions of family.” Nathan Manor, Falcon
   “The fact that we had to close down about all our church activities, except worship. However, I think COVID-19 made our church stronger.” Craig Meredith, Falcon
   “It didn't affect me at all. I continued to go to work since I work in an office all by myself.” Tom Kerby FFPD
   “Trying to avoid wearing a mask.” Dan Kupferer FFPD
   From Leslie Sheley
   “I took the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends that I have not spoken with in a long time, albeit virtually. Mostly it was an opportunity to rethink a lot of things in my life and some of the changes I want to make now that 70 years are nearly behind me.” Steve Murtagh, Black Forest
   “Selfishness is the new definition of our population and it makes me sad about the meanness we so easily portray towards one another. I wonder if our nation has always been this way. I have struggled with how to interact in this new norm and that has been an impact that will last far longer than the virus will.” JJ Halsey, Falcon
   “I was just one of about 3 people working on my floor. “When I went into the hall, it felt post-apocalyptic. After walking those empty halls it just felt lonely and sad. After three months of that, I ended up eating all the TV dinners that had been abandoned to freezer-burn in the department freezer.” Ann Cushman
   “Throughout human history, tragedy and disaster has served to bring people together, but our experience with this COVID pandemic has been vastly different. Fear and desperation drove us apart this time. We are so "advanced" that we don’t think we need anyone else; all we need is our own individual rights. My right to not wear a mask, my right to not get vaccinated, my right to buy all the toilet paper and canned food I can haul away. And I am sad to my core that community has been sacrificed on the altar of self.”
   Sheryl Salter, Falcon
   “My take away has been to love more, respect others for their choices (even when they are different from our own) … be a listening ear to friends and/or strangers. Not that I didn’t try to practice all those, but the situation at hand made me more aware/intentional with my choices.” Deb Putney, Falcon
   Ava Stoller talked to seniors who graduated this year.
   Nate Nass: “What affected me the most was having to wear masks. It was really hard to stay in school because I have asthma and having a mask on I couldn’t stay in school. So, I ended up going online, and that made it harder to keep up my grades, which made it harder to stay eligible for football.”
   Marcus Jackson: “The lack of sports and a social climate everyday. I went from having school three days a week and football everyday to having none of that. Also classes on Zoom, previously I was able to pay attention, talk to people, relax, and kind of listen secondarily. Then, I had to pay full attention in Zoom classes, which isn’t good for me because I need lots of things for my brain to focus on. So, focusing on just the lesson made it really hard to learn stuff.”
   Kylie Vetromile: “Honestly, not much affected me. I was still able to work my job almost the same way without COVID. I was still able to see the person I was in a relationship with, we were still able to hang out, although a little differently, we switched it up a bit and went hiking or to DutchBros, things like that. I did graduate early but that was because I was trying to join the military.”
   Christian McIntosh: “My mentality — just because humans are creatures that need attention toward each other, so not seeing or hearing anybody just made me feel like I was abandoned. School was heavily affected, I did not do well during any of my last semester. I also wasn’t able to go to some of my classes that needed to be in person, during COVID.”
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  Crawfish boil in Colorado

   The Black Forest Farmer’s Market offered a taste of Louisiana on Saturday, June 5, when Mike “Zeke” Zalaznik came from New Orleans with a load of crawfish to boil Cajun style. Corn, new potatoes and sausage added to the authentic Cajun meal.   
Mike “Zeke” Zalaznik (right) and Clint St. Phillip boil up real Louisiana crawfish at the June 5 Black Forest Farmer’s Market.
A large crowd enjoyed the Louisiana traditional Cajun feast as they listened to live music.
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  Enjoy Homestead park this summer
  By Pete Gawda

   Homestead Ranch Regional Park is a 450-acre park at the edge of Black Forest at 16444 Gollihar Road, which is maintained by the El Paso County Parks Department.
   The county keeps up several miles of interlocking trails for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding. There is also a watering trough for horses. The terrain ranges from rolling open meadows to tree covered bluffs. Other amenities include restrooms, picnic pavilions and a playground. There is also a spring fed pond for fishing. Waterfowl, deer, deer coyotes and foxes roam the park.
A spring-fed pond for fishing and home to many types of water fowl is part of Homestead Ranch Regional Park at the edge of Black Forest.
Dominick Barbour, age 8, enjoys the playground equipment available to kids at Homestead Ranch Regional Park.
There are wide open spaces to explore at Homestead Regional Park. All photos by Pete Gawda
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  Leading up to the Declaration
  By Ava Stoller

   On July 4, 1776, the fledgling American colonies declared independence from Great Britain. The colonists' bitterness toward the Crown started almost a decade before the Declaration of Independence.
   The list of grievances started with the taxes levied upon the colonies by King George II to pay national debts and expenses created by the French and Indian War. According to the History website, the Stamp Act required that, starting in the fall of 1765, legal documents and printed materials must bear a tax stamp provided by commissioned distributors. The law applied to wills, deeds, newspapers, pamphlets and even playing cards and dice. Parliament repealed the act in 1766.
   Next, the Townshend Acts were passed in the spring of 1767. From the Encyclopaedia Britannica, they were a series of four acts passed by the British Parliament in an attempt to exert authority over the colonies. The Suspending Act prohibited the New York Assembly from conducting any further business until it complied with the financial requirements of the Quartering Act (1765). The Revenue Act imposed direct revenue duties on lead, glass, paper, paint and tea. The third act established a strict machinery of customs collection in the American colonies, all to be financed out of customs revenues. Lastly, the Indemnity Act was aimed at enabling the East India Co. to compete with tea smuggled by the Dutch.
   Tensions ran high in Boston in early 1770. From, more than 2,000 British soldiers occupied the city of 16,000 colonists and tried to enforce Britain’s tax laws. American colonists rebelled against the taxes they found repressive, rallying around the cry “no taxation without representation.” Skirmishes between colonists and soldiers and between patriot colonists and colonists loyal to Britain were increasingly common.
   On March 5, 1770, there was a street brawl in Boston between American colonists and British soldiers. An unruly group of colonists flung snowballs, ice and oyster shells at a British sentinel guarding the Boston Customs House. After reinforcements arrived, the violence escalated and the colonists struck the soldiers with clubs and sticks. Reports differ of exactly what happened next, but after someone supposedly said the word “fire,” a soldier fired his gun, although it’s unclear if the discharge was intentional. Once the first shot rang out, other soldiers opened fire, killing five colonists.
   In 1770, Parliament repealed all of the Townshend Act duties except for the one on tea. According to, the American consumption of smuggled tea hurt the finances of the East India Co., already struggling through economic hardship. In an effort to save the troubled enterprise, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act in 1773, as a symbol of Parliament’s power over the colonies. The act granted the company the right to ship its tea directly to the colonies without first landing it in England and to commission agents who would have the sole right to sell tea in the colonies. It effectively lowered the price of the East India Co. tea in the colonies.
   However, the act had adverse effects to the original goal. According to the History website, by allowing the East India Co. to sell tea directly in the American colonies, the Tea Act cut out colonial merchants, and the prominent and influential colonial merchants reacted with anger. Other colonists viewed the act as a Trojan horse designed to seduce them into accepting Parliament’s right to impose taxes on them.
   The Tea Act revived the boycott on tea and inspired direct resistance. In several towns, crowds of colonists gathered along the ports and forced company ships to turn away without unloading their cargo. The most spectacular action occurred in Boston, where on Dec. 16, 1773, a well-organized group of men dressed up as Native Americans and boarded the company ships. The men smashed open the chests of tea and dumped their contents into Boston Harbor in what later became known as the Boston Tea Party. Parliament responded with the Coercive Acts of 1774, which colonists called the Intolerable Acts. The series of measures, among other things, repealed the colonial charter of Massachusetts and closed the port of Boston until the colonists reimbursed the cost of the destroyed tea.
   The first Continental Congress met in Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia between Sept. 5 and Oct. 26, 1774. From, delegates from 12 of Britain’s 13 American colonies met to discuss America’s future under growing British aggression. The Intolerable Acts, among other changes, closed off the Boston Port and rescinded the Massachusetts Charter, bringing the colony under more direct British control. Across North America, colonists rose in solidarity with the people of Massachusetts. Goods arrived in Massachusetts from as far south as Georgia, and by late spring 1774, nine of the colonies called for a continental congress.
   The Congress, through the Suffolk Resolves of Massachusetts ordered citizens to not obey the Intolerable Acts, to refuse imported British goods and to form a militia. Furthermore, the delegates promptly began drafting and discussing the Continental Association. The Association called for an end to British imports starting in December 1774 and an end to exporting goods to Britain in September 1775.
   In the immortal words of the forefathers, from the National Archives, “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury … . We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
   We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled… solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.”
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  Benet Hill Sanctuary of Peace Community
  By Leslie Sheley

   In November last year, Benet Hill Monastery of Colorado Springs Inc. requested approval from the El Paso County Planning Commission to rezone 49.58 acres from A-5 (agricultural) and RR-5 (residential rural) to PUD (planned unit development). They also asked for approval of a preliminary plan for 26 single-family attached residential lots and a private business event center with guest lodging.
   Vincent Crowder, property and building manager of the Benet Hill Sanctuary of Peace Community, said the vision of the Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery for the residential community is a co-housing, intentional community of residents coming together in hope, hospitality and reverencing all creation.
   He said the sisters moved into the monastery in Black Forest in 2009. The privately owned forested property on the south side of Benet Lane went up for sale about five years ago, Crowder said. There were developers ready to buy, but the sisters didn’t want a group of large homes leading up to the monastery, and they wanted to preserve the forest, so they bought the land, he said.
   Crowder said going through the county planning commission was not an easy process. The commission was used to requests from developers who wanted to build large single-family homes on 5 acres or less, he said. “We worked with them for almost four years and eventually were able to get them to see our vision and why.” Crowder and the sisters put together a PUD plan and were granted approval on Dec. 8, 2020.
   They broke ground two weeks ago; Kahn Construction is responsible for the infrastructure, and they are also in negotiations with them to build the houses, he said.
   The patio homes will be built in pairs, with a fire wall and sound protection in between the two homes; they will be as fire retardant as possible, using concrete tile roofs and stucco and stone exteriors, Crowder said. Each home will have a single attached garage. “We’re encouraging people to only have one car,” he said. “We’ll have a small fleet of eco-friendly cars owned by the association so if people have a need for a second car, they can borrow from the shared pool.”
   He said there will be one well to serve the 26 homes and a state-of-the-art wastewater disposal system. They will have four wastewater treatment systems, where the water will go into a settling tank to be filtered and then redistributed throughout the forest through 1.5 inch drip lines, Crowder said.
   “We have this robotic trencher that goes in between the trees and wherever it needs to go to place the drip line,” he said.
   The area will be returned to its natural state once construction is completed; no lawns, garden beds or water features will be allowed, although there will be a community garden; and homeowners can have pots and hanging plants, Crowder said. Their goal is to keep the area natural and preserve as many trees as possible so they focus on every single tree, he said. “For instance, the workers came across a sacred prayer tree just the other day; everybody on the construction site is fully aware that those are not to be touched, so we had to come up with an alternative plan because they are protected,” Crowder said.
   The structure of the community mimics the popular co-houses in Denmark that were introduced in this country about 30 years ago, he said. A co-house is a community of private homes generally built around a shared space, which facilitates interaction among neighbors. He said there will be a community house with a large enough kitchen and dining space for people to gather together for social activities or to have a meal together.
   Crowder said the intentional component is that while anyone can buy the homes, the community is being established to draw in people who are interested in reducing their carbon footprint, preserving water and the forest and conserving natural resources.
   The infrastructure will take four to six months, and the foundations will be built over the winter and through next summer, he said. They expect to be built out and fully occupied in the next 18 to 24 months, Crowder said.
   In the next couple of weeks, they will be offering the public an opportunity to make a commitment to purchase and reserve a home, and choose the floor plan and lot, he said.
   “People are buying a whole way of living when they move here. It’s going to be a very special place,” Crowder said.
   For more information and floor plans, visit
The groundbreaking of the Sanctuary of Peace residential community was held June 19; pictured is Vincent Crowder, property and building manager; Sister Clare Carr; Bishop Emeritus Richard Hanifen; and Sister MT Summers. Photo by Gina Berger, communications director at Benet Hill Monastery
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  Walk a journey with a child
  By Leslie Sheley

   National Foster Care Awareness Month is recognized in May. According to the El Paso County Children, Youth and Families Trails System Report, a total of 177 children/youth were removed from their biological homes in the county from Jan. 1 to March 31. Of those 177 children, 142 were placed in foster care and 35 in congregate care (group homes, residential treatment facilities, psychiatric institutions and emergency shelters).
   The Griffith Centers for Children in Colorado Springs provides residential, foster care and foster adoption services. Susy Tucker, foster care director for the center, said Colorado is experiencing a major shortage of foster and adoptive parents.
   Tucker said people often have misconceptions about foster care. Some people think the children should never return home; others believe that foster families only want to adopt the children and take them away from their biological families. “In reality, the system is set up to return the children to their biological family,” she said. “If there is an appropriate, safe family they can return to, they need to go home.”
   People think their marital status, gender orientation or identity, their age or education level will prevent them from being able to foster a child, she said. “It depends more on whether you want to do it and have the energy to do it,” Tucker said. “We don’t discriminate against any of these issues; we just want to best serve the kids and the community in any way we can.”
   She said The Griffith Center actively recruits within the LBGTQ community. “They do very well with the foster children; they understand some of the pain and rejection on a personal level; and, because of that are able to genuinely connect with the kids,” Tucker said. One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ, is working with them this month to recruit foster parents, she said.
   Another misconception is that foster parents only do this for the money. Tucker said they are provided with a subsidy, but it isn’t enough money to make it worth taking the kids. “If the agency is doing their job, they make sure the foster parents can pay their bills and support themselves; they don’t place children with a family just so the subsidy can pay their bills,” she said. “We have to be vigilant to make sure these kids are safe; and, if we are taking them away from their families, then they better be in a better, safer place in the meantime.”
   Tucker said there are times when children can’t return home because the parents choose other behaviors and activities over getting their children back; there are also parents who acknowledge their limitations and let their children go. “I have seen some parents relinquish their rights … that is the best choice because they can’t do it,” she said.
   The process to become a foster parent takes about six months from the initial application to licensure. Tucker said the potential parents don’t pay anything for the process; the Griffith Center takes care of the cost, including all the background checks.
   “It blows my mind what these foster parents do for the kids; they are just incredible human beings,” Tucker said. “This is not a job, this is their life, this is their home, this is who they are and they take these kids in and love them and treat them as their own.”
   Jennifer Pezzulo, from Colorado Springs, has been a foster parent for three years. She originally wanted to do a private infant adoption but found it to be cost prohibitive. She said she researched the foster agencies in the area and decided on the Griffith; she liked their beliefs and policies. To date, she has fostered three teenagers and has provided respite foster care for young children.
   Pezzulo said she tries to develop a good rapport with her foster youth by listening, allowing them to cry and talk about anything, without holding judgement. “I have opened up to the boy I’m fostering now about some of my past traumas; I told him I can’t make his disappear, but I can show him the way through it,” she said. “He’s not having nightmares anymore; he’s not running away, has all straight A’s; he’s making friends and doing after-school activities.”
   She also tries to facilitate a relationship with the biological parents if possible. “Sadly, for the boy I have right now, his siblings were adopted and the adoptive parents won’t let them have contact with each other,” Pezzulo said. “The goal of the system is reunification; and, while it’s happy when someone gets adopted, it’s also simultaneously a tragedy.”
   She advises potential foster parents to research, talk to other foster parents and put some thought into why they want to do this. “Make sure you go into it because you want to walk a journey with the child. You don’t know what kind of trauma they have been through, so make sure you’re going into it for the right reason,” Pezzulo said.
   “All the difficulty and hardship aside, if you do this, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. I am passionate about raising awareness; we need all the homes we can get.”
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  Composting business still uncertain
  By Pete Gawda

   The fate of a horse manure composting business is still uncertain. Several months ago, Jonathan Whetstine and his father, Roger, applied for a special use permit from the Elbert County Planning Commission for their business, Colorado Manure Hauling.
   They followed up with an application for a commercial well permit from the state.
   A hearing was held before the Colorado Ground Water Commission's hearing officer on April 20. After due deliberation, the hearing officer decided that the operation is an agricultural well and not a commercial one. Jonathan Whetstine said they are awaiting instruction as to how to amend their well permit application.
   The Elbert County Planning Commission decided to wait until after the well application is completed before making a decision on the special use permit. In Elbert County, if a business has applied for a special use permit, that business can operate during the approval process. If the permit is denied, then that business has to cease operations.
   Colorado Manure Hauling is on County Road 74-82, which runs between Elbert Road and Peyton Highway. The first 10 feet of the property is in El Paso County. The remainder of the 55-acre site is in Elbert County.
   Several of the Whetstine's neighbors have objected to the composing operation, both at a meeting held last September and in a letter to the editor in the November 2020 issue of “The New Falcon Herald.”
   In that issue, Whetstine defined their composting process. 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.
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  Addition to Meridian Ranch coming soon
  By Pete Gawda

   Later this summer, there will be a new section added to Meridian Ranch — Rolling Hills Ranch.
   The new subdivision is southeast of the intersection of Rex Road and Sunset Ridge Drive and extends to Falcon Regional Park on Eastonville Road. The applicant, Raul Guzman of GTL Development, said the subdivision consists of 725 single-family homes on 140 acres. Guzman said there would be plenty of open space around the whole project, including a park, a connection to the existing trail system and open space through the middle of the subdivision.
   Construction for streets began the first of June. Guzman said construction of houses would begin in August, and soon after they should be up for sale.
This photograph, taken on June 5, shows paving being done to extend Rex Road as part of the construction of Rolling Hills Ranch subdivision. Photo by Pete Gawda
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  A new subdivision, Rollin Ridge, is coming to Black Forest
  By Pete Gawda

   A new subdivision is under construction in Black Forest. The subdivision, Rollin Ridge, is located on the southwest corner of Highway 83 and Hogden Road. The developer, David Jones, of Land Resource Associates, said all applicable county permits have been approved and road and drainage projects are under construction.
   Plans call for 16 single-family homes on lots of 2.5 acres each, with a little over 5 acres set aside for commercial buildings. Jones said Land Resource Associates sells lots to individual owners and builders so time frames on the completion of homes cannot be determined. The subdivision is not required to have open space or to donate land for schools.
Street and drainage work is being done at Rollin Ridge, which is located on the southwest corner of Highway 83 and Hodgen Road. Photo by Pete Gawda
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   High Plains Ranch
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a request by Matrix Design Group Inc. for reconsideration of the expired High Plains Ranch sketch plan, which consists of 1,000 single-family residential lots, 22 acres of commercial land, 79 acres for institutional uses and 36 acres for equestrian uses. The 1,500-acre property, zoned agricultural-35, is located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Falcon Highway and Murr Road. The sketch plan was approved Dec. 11, 2008, extended until Dec. 31, 2017, and then again until Dec. 31, 2018. The applicant requested and was awarded a five-year extension to the sketch plan.
   McLaughlin Road/Old Meridian Road Roundabout
   The BOCC unanimously approved two special warranty deeds associated with the McLaughlin Road/Old Meridian Road Roundabout project. The first is from property owned by Cygnet Land LLC for $500 and the second is from property owned by KLK 1031 Investments LLC for $4,850.
   Homestead North subdivision
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request to rezone 65.29 acres from residential rural-5 to residential suburban-6,000 in the Homestead North subdivision. The property is located at the northeast corner of the Vollmer Road and Briargate Parkway intersection and is included within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Plan and the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   Your El Paso County Master Plan
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by the EPC planning commission to certify the “Your El Paso County Master Plan.”
   Woodmen Hills
   The planning commission unanimously approved a request by T-Bone Construction Inc. to replat one commercial lot into two commercial lots in the Woodmen Hills Filing No. 12 subdivision. The 1.64-acre property is zoned commercial residential and located on the east side of McLaughlin Road, about .25 miles north of Woodmen Road. It is included within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
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