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Storytelling is based on the word, being an honorable person of integrity is based on your word.
– Jesse Williams  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 8 August 2020  

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    Cherokee updates on upgrading wastewater treatment facility (continued)
    Black Forest wells update
    Black Forest AARP remembers veterans
    Back to school: segregation to synergy
    A fast connection to first place
    The 4-H Fair
    Building and real estate update
 
  Cherokee updates on upgrading wastewater treatment facility (continued)
  By Pete Gawda

   In 2016, Cherokee requested lower TDS standards for the Upper Black Squirrel Creek aquifer. A hearing was held in which local farmers and the Upper Black Squirrel Creek District Ground Water Management District presented information arguing for lower standards. Local farmers argued that higher TDS levels would impact future potential agricultural uses and would affect the value of water rights. While Cherokee argued that higher TDS levels would cause them a financial hardship, UBS stated that higher TDS levels would create a financial hardship for local farmers because of decreased crop yields. After considering all the evidence presented, the CDPHE took no action and the higher TDS level remained in effect.
   
   “Turnips and dry beans have not been grown in El Paso County for 50 or 60 years,” Hoadley said.
   
   “It comes down to a theoretical crop,” said Amy Lathen, general manager of Cherokee Metropolitan District.
   
   To comply with lower TDS limits, Cherokee is upgrading its facility. In August 2019, the board of directors approved a design-build engineering firm for the final design of the upgrade to reverse osmosis. This is a high-density membrane filtration system designed to remove TDS from the treated wastewater before it is discharged into groundwater. The current capacity of the plant is 4.8 million gallons per day. That capacity will not change with the upgrade. The currently average flow is 2 million gallons a day. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year. The estimated completion date is January 2023.
   
   To pay for the estimated $40 million upgrade, Cherokee has instituted a surcharge of $5.07 a month for all residential users of the system. In addition to residents of Cherokee Metropolitan District, the plant serves Schriever Air Force Base and most of Meridian Metropolitan District. Meridian owns 45.8 percent of the capacity of the Cherokee plant. However, it is Meridian's position that their customers should not have to pay that surcharge. According to Meridian's website, Cherokee's noncompliance is caused by design or construction defects that Cherokee allowed to occur. The two districts are scheduled to go to mediation in the near future. If mediation is unsuccessful, they will go to arbitration in January.
   
   A site 5 miles east of the facility on Drennan Road is the location that has created the problems. At this site, treated effluent is discharged into the aquifer. In an open field are 10 basins 20-feet-deep that have sandy bottoms. Treated effluent piped from the treatment facility fills these basins and trickles through the sand into the Upper Black Squirrel Creek aquifer.
   
   “We have actually replenished the basin,” Lathen said. Since this process has begun, she said the water level in the aquifer has increased 40 feet.
   
   
This centrifuge separates the sludge from the effluent at the Cherokee Metropolitan District wastewater treatment plant.Portrayed is a treated effluent that has gone through the final stage of treatment and is being released into a basin with a sandy bottom to recharge the aquifer.
This empty basin is one of 10 such basins with a sandy bottom that discharges treated effluent into the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Basin at the Cherokee Metropolitan District wastewater treatment facility.
These pipes and valves are used to control the flow of wastewater at Cherokee Metropolitan District’s wastewater treatment facility.This is the first step in the treatment process. From here, the effluent is piped into a centrifuge to separate the sludge.
  
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  Black Forest wells update
  By Leslie Sheley

   The Black Forest Water and Wells Committee has almost completed the first round of well testing.
   
   The committee was formed in March 2019 as part of the Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan organization. Terry Stokka, committee member, said the mission of the water and wells committee is to advocate for groundwater quality and quantity, and to promote sustainability for the Dawson aquifer, which provides water to Black Forest.
   
   Stokka said the well-monitoring program will measure water levels in private wells over a span of many years. Eighty-six people volunteered their wells; the committee chose 49 to provide a representative sampling for the Black Forest area. Stokka said they purchased a state-of-the-art sonic tester, which is held over the top of the wellhead to bounce sound waves off the surface of the water. "The sonic device converts the outbound and rebounding sound waves into the number of feet between the top of the well and the level of the water (static water level) in the well,” he said. “The static water level is the depth in feet to the top of the water in the well."
   
   These readings are placed into a database to compare to previous levels as well as the original static level; the data is protected and not available to the public, Stokka said. They will test wells twice the first year then once a year after that. He said the next testing is in October. “We are all concerned about our private wells and the long-term sustainability of water for our homes, Stokka said. “It is our hope that this program will continue for many years and will give accurate and trustworthy data to monitor what is happening to our groundwater in the Dawson aquifer.”
  
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  Black Forest AARP remembers veterans
  By Stanley Becker

   The 2020 coronavirus outbreak could not stop AARP Chapter 1100 in Black Forest from remembering the veterans at the Bruce McCandless Veterans Community Living Center in Florence, Colorado. As in past years, the chapter, in conjunction with AARP Colorado, teamed up to provide useful items for the center’s residents in appreciation for their service to the nation.
   
   At the suggestion of the Veterans Living Center Activity Director Glen Tyler, the chapter provided a variety of recreational items for the resident veterans’ use. The items included a variety of fishing equipment — six rods and reels with a variety of hooks, sinkers and containers of commercial bait; three sets of three gardening tools: hand-held trowels, shovels and rakes; three watering cans and several pairs of both men and women’s gardening gloves. Also provided were four regular and two oversize folding camp-style chairs, which could be used in a variety of recreational situations.
   
   The existing COVID-19 precautions for person-to-person contact prevented the Black Forest Chapter from presenting the items in person, as in past years, so the items were ordered online and delivered directly to the Florence facility. Glen Tyler provided photos of the items that were received on behalf of the McCandless Community residents by “Jack,” the resident council president, and “Bill,” the resident council vice president.
   
   The Bruce McCandless Veterans Community Living Center at Florence is a Colorado State Department of Human Services facility. The Center provides long and short-term services and rehabilitation, special programs and many amenities for veterans, spouses and Gold-Star parents, including their children, and families with disabilities. 
   
   In the past, Chapter 1100 has provided various items to the Bruce McCandless center. The chapter has provided 35 uniquely designed quilts and 30 wheelchair pouches, in conjunction with AARP Colorado
   
   The motto of the chapter is “To Serve not to be Served.” Contact Candace, the chapter president, at 314-330-0411 for information about Chapter 1100, which has been designated the best AARP Chapter in Colorado for community service for 11 consecutive years. 
   
   
   Photos:
   
   AARP Jack: While relaxing comfortably in one of the camp chairs provided by AARP Chapter 1100 in Black Forest and AARP Colorado, Jack, the Bruce McCandless Veterans Living Center resident council president, displays some of the fishing items donated to the center in Florence, Colorado.
   
   AARP Bill:  Bill is the Bruce McCandless Veterans Living Center resident council vice president. He is showing some of the recreational fishing and gardening items provided by AARP Chapter 1100 in Black Forest and AARP Colorado.
  
While relaxing comfortably in one of the camp chairs provided by AARP Chapter 1100 in Black Forest and AARP Colorado, Jack, the Bruce McCandless Veterans Living Center resident council president, displays some of the fishing items donated to the center in Florence, Colorado.
 
Bill is the Bruce McCandless Veterans Living Center resident council vice president. He is showing some of the recreational fishing and gardening items provided by AARP Chapter 1100 in Black Forest and AARP Colorado.
 
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  Back to school: segregation to synergy
  By Ava Stoller

   During the back-to-school season, a look into the past shows the growth of America’s educational system. Leading with the court cases that started the desegregation of schools to the trials of The Little Rock Nine.
   
   In 1865, the 13th Amendment ended slavery; in 1868, the 14th Amendment prohibited states from preventing anyone the right to vote because of race. From the United States Courts website (uscourts.gov), African Americans were treated differently than whites, specifically in the South. Many state legislatures enacted laws that led to the mandated separation of the races, which came to be known as Jim Crow laws. It wasn’t until 1890 that these laws were challenged in court.
   
   Brown v. Board of Education was not the only court case sent to the Supreme Court about segregation in the field of education.According to United States Courts (uscourts.gov), the cases previous to Brown v. Board of Education were Murray v. Maryland (1936), Missouri ex rel Gaines v. Canada (1938), Sweatt v. Painter (1950), and McLaurin v. Oklahoma Board of Regents of Higher Education (1950).
   
   A crucial part of these cases is the participation of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). From NAACP.org: “The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.”
   
   The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was established Feb. 12, 1909.
   
   The Legal Defense and Education Fund of the NAACP fought for equal rights in the field of education. According to uscourts.gov, for the first 20 years the organization tried to convince Congress and other legal bodies to enact laws to protect African Americans from racist actions. From 1935 to 1938, the legal portion of the NAACP was headed by Charles Hamilton Houston; together with Thurgood Marshall, they attacked Jim Crow laws where they were perhaps the most tenuous — the field of education. Houston was the head of the Legal Defense and Education Fund for the first two cases, Marshall took over for the last two cases after Houston went into private practice in 1938.
   
   The case most recognized for the final U.S. Supreme Court ruling is Brown v. Board of Education. As stated by uscourts.gov, the Brown v. Board of Education comprises five separate cases all heard by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning segregation in public schools. These cases were Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v. Elliot, Davis v. Board of Education of Prince Edward County (Virginia.), Bolling v. Sharpe, and Gebhart v. Ethel. Marshall argued a variety of points, but the most common was that separate school systems for African Americans and whites were inherently unequal, and thus violate the “equal protection clause” in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
   
   The Justices of the Court were divided over the issues that were raised. According to uscourts.gov, most wanted to declare segregation in schools unconstitutional but they were unable to come to a decision. The Court decided to rehear the case in December 1953; however, in the intervening months, Chief Justice Fred Vinson died and was replaced by Gov. Earl Warren of California. After the rehearing of the case, Chief Justice Warren was able to get a unanimous decision declaring segregation in public schools unconstitutional. On May 14, 1954, he delivered the opinion of the Court, stating, "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
   
   Three years later, in September 1957, the first African American students attended a desegregated school. Melba Pattillo, Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Minnijean Brown, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls, Jefferson Thomas, Gloria Ray and Thelma Mothershed were dubbed The Little Rock Nine — the first African American students to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (nmaahc.si.edu), a few days before the students were to attend Central High School, the Arkansas governor, Orval Faubus, ordered the National Guard to block the entrance to the school, claiming it was for the safety of the nine students. On Sept. 4, the day school started, a mob prevented the teens from entering the school. Sixteen days later, escorted by the Little Rock police, the students attempted to attend school but an aggressive mob tried to rush into the school. Fearing for the students safety, school officials sent the teens home.
   
   Ultimately, President Eisenhower stepped in. From history.com: Eisenhower issued an executive order, which put the Arkansas National Guard under federal authority and sent 1,000 U.S. Army troops from the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to maintain order as Central High School desegregated. From December until the end of the school year in May 1958, soldiers from the Arkansas National Guard patrolled the school, while the Little Rock Nine were regularly subjected to physical assaults, threats and slurs.
   
   Ernest Green was the first of the Little Rock Nine to graduate in May 1958. According to the Zinn Education Project website (zinnedproject.org), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attended the Central High School graduation and sat with Green’s family.
   
   Sixty-three years later, public education is available to every citizen. This concept is demonstrated in Falcon’s rapidly growing, diverse population. According to The Demographic Statistical Atlas of the United States, there are about 82,000 students and faculty members in El Paso County Colorado School District 49. That number breaks down into D 49 school populations consisting of 73.2 percent white, 13.4 percent Hispanic, 5.4 percent African American, 3.9 percent mixed and 3.3 percent Asian students.
   
   Colorado Springs’ statistics are similar to Falcon, only on a larger scale. World Population Review stated that of the 486,000 residents in Colorado Springs, 78.3 percent identify as white, 6.2 percent African American, 6 percent mixed, 3 percent Asian, 5.6 other.
   
   Today, there is no zoning or segregation in Colorado schools. There is no longer a need for the 101st Airborne to patrol schools or a military escort to attend classes. Students can participate in other school districts by using the Choice option. For instance, a student who lives in Falcon can attend school in Peyton, or schools in District 20, or District 11. No matter the ethnicity, every student in D 49 has the same opportunity and access to vocational and college preparatory coursework.
  
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  A fast connection to first place
  By Stephanie Mason

   During a time when people are relying on their home internet more than ever for work and entertainment, a local fiber internet company outshined other providers. In June, Stratus IQ, formerly Falcon Broadband, was awarded Best In Business 2020 by “The Colorado Springs Business Journal” in the category of Broadband and Internet Service Providers.
   
   StratusIQ provides fiber internet, telephone services and digital TV services. The company originated in Falcon and now serves numerous surrounding communities. StratusIQ has serviced El Paso County for more than 16 years and was the first to bring fiber internet to the area, according to their website. Though they are expanding, StratusIQ currently provides fiber communication services to communities from the Monument area through Fort Carson. The company boasts “the most extensive fiber backbone in Colorado Springs.”
   
   Fiber internet, or fiber-optic communication, is a method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of infrared light through an optical fiber.
   
   “We are absolutely ecstatic to be voted the best Broadband and Internet Service Provider in Colorado Springs by our customers and the readers of ‘The Colorado Springs Business Journal,’” said Ben Kley, president of StratusIQ, in a press release. “As a local business, it means so much to us to be recognized by the community that we serve. Our goal is to provide the highest level of service to our clients and uphold the values our customers have come to expect from us.”
   
   To win the award, StratusIQ needed to receive the most votes cast by the community via an online voting poll set up by the CSBJ. StratusIQ won the award over well-known, national providers, such as CenturyLink and Xfinity. The second place award went to Unite Private Networks and the third place award went to Comcast NBCUniversal.
   
   “We switched to StratusIQ after our previous internet provider didn’t offer fast enough speeds to meet the needs of our family’s internet usage,” said StratusIQ customer Tamara Morris. “From the start, I received nothing but stellar customer service from StratusIQ staff.”
   
   Kley said the win is due to the investment that the company makes in providing service to under-served, local areas. The award, received June 24, speaks to more than just the company’s customer service and internet packages. StatusIQ is dedicated to building infrastructure to provide high-speed fiber internet services to under-served areas. The company is dedicated to providing internet to areas overlooked by larger internet providers.
   
   “There is a lot of expansion going on in Colorado Springs, and a lot of people feel they are having a hard time receiving good communication services,” Kley said. “People in these areas are happy to receive our services because they feel like the incumbent providers leave them behind and are not investing in the network in their area. By expanding our network, we have brought on a lot of customers. We have very good reviews, and people in those areas are very happy to receive our services.”
   
   On track to finish this year is the infrastructure StratusIQ is building to serve 237 homes near Latigo Trails. This project will provide its users an upgrade to plans that reach download speeds of up to one Gbps, a huge improvement from their current provider’s speeds of between 1.5 and 15 Mbps. This new internet service could reach more than 1,000 residents in the area, according to the grant proposal.
   
   The proposal also states that StratusIQ started this project after receiving a state grant that funded 65 percent of the project. The grant that StratusIQ received was from the Broadband Fund, which is a rural broadband infrastructure grant program overseen by the Broadband Deployment Board within the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.
   
   StratusIQ sent a new proposal for a state grant in mid-July for a similar project on North Meridian, according to the grant proposal. This project will provide the possibility of fiber internet to an additional 291 homes and an estimated 1,048 people. At this time, the project is only in a proposal stage. Kley said he believes it is important to continue to provide high-speed internet to rural areas.
   
   “Everybody wants fast internet and they all want fiber internet,” Kley said. “This is something that needs to be planned out and it takes a long time to actually initiate. If we didn’t have these plans, then these people would never get fiber internet. No other company is going to invest millions of dollars in these areas.”
  
SratusIQ’s Sebastian Nutter (left), director of sales and marketing, and Ben Kley, president, accepted an award in June for providing the best broadband and fiber internet services in the area.
 
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  The 4-H Fair
  By Stephanie Mason

   Not even COVID-19 could completely halt the 2020 El Paso County Fair. The typical fair would host more than 200 activities and draw a crowd upward of 25,000 spectators. But, because of restrictions and health concerns surrounding the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s events were stripped back to only include the events that highlight the heart of the community; the 4-H presentations.
   
   The county fair transitioned into a 4-H show, from July 11-18.
   
   “The El Paso County Fair is a treasured family tradition, and I appreciate the work done to carry that forward in some modified fashion,” said Mark Waller, chairman of the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, in a press release. “While we would love to hold a normal fair, we agree it is unlikely the Governor will loosen restrictions in time. However, this approach is good for those in the 4-H program and we look forward to our regular fair returning in 2021.”
   
   According to the county fair’s website, the county decided to carry on the fair tradition while providing a safe environment. Large special events would be difficult to host while ensuring social distancing requirements at performances, carnival and vendor areas. However, hosting a fair that focused only on 4-H could allow for 4-H participants to complete their projects and potentially participate at the state fair.
   
   “We all wish we could offer our regular county fair,” said Lori Harfert, chairwoman of the Fair Advisory Board, in a press release. “We are very interested in providing a positive 4-H fair experience for our youth.”
   
   A few events had to be modified or cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions. However, participation in the show did not drop much from previous years. A total of 233 4-H members showed in 1,182 different classes at the El Paso County Show. The 4-H show had more than 200 tabletop exhibits.
   
   Charity Cagle, 4-H Leadership Extension Agent, said that this show provides the kids a chance to complete this year’s learning cycle for the projects they worked on throughout the year.
   
   “4-H is about the learning process,” Cagle said. “It is a hands-on experience learning model that we provide with all our 4-H experiences. Being able to showcase their work and being able to get feedback from professionals, judges and people in the field is very important to the kids. We are so grateful that the county was able to provide them that experience.”
   
   Some participants qualified for the state fair. According to the Colorado State Fair website, the state fair will still take place this year from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7, continuing their 147-year tradition. The state fair, calling its modified version the “Colorado State Fair Reimagined,” released a statement claiming that the fair will maintain social distancing regulations and manage smaller groups within the fairgrounds. Some areas normally open to the public will be restricted to exhibitors only. To learn more about the state fair, visit the Colorado State Fair Reimagined FAQ page at https://coloradostatefair.com/p/general-information/colorado-state-fair-reimagined.
  
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   
  • The El Paso County Planning Commission unanimously approved a request by Meridian Ranch Investments Inc. to rezone the Rolling Hills Ranch Filings No.1-3 subdivision from a conceptual planned unit development to a site-specific PUD. The new PUD would create 725 single family residential lots, rights-of-way, open space and utility tracts on 139.097 acres. The applicant also requested the PUD be approved as the preliminary plan. The property is located west of Eastonville Road at the easternmost end of Rex Road, west of the Falcon Regional Park and included within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
  • The planning commission unanimously approved a request by PRI #4 LLC for a Colorado Revised Statutes Title 32 Special District service plan with a multiple district configuration for the Ranch Metropolitan District Nos.1-4 for property located north of Woodmen Road, south of Stapleton Drive and east of Raygor Road. The service plan includes a maximum debt authorization of $43 million, a total maximum combined mill levy of 65 mills and the statutory purposes of the district. Statutory purposes include street improvements and safety protection; design, construction and maintenance of drainage facilities; design and land acquisition, construction and maintenance of recreation facilities; mosquito control; design, acquisition, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of television relay and translation facilities; covenant enforcement; and design, construction and maintenance of public water and sanitation systems. The property is located within the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan and the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
  • The PC unanimously approved a request by the Falcon Fire Protection District for approval of a location to construct a new fire station. The two parcels, totaling 6.85 acres, are zoned PUD and are located at the northwest corner of the Highway 24 and Old Meridian Road intersection. A concurrent application is under review for a subdivision exemption to create a 5.424-acre parcel on which the proposed fire station would be constructed. The application states the proposed station will be 8,382-square-feet and manned 24 hours a day. The existing station will be remodeled into an administrative office building for the fire district. The parcels are located within the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan. This item will not be forwarded to the EPC Board of County Commissioners; the PC’s approval is final.
  • The planning commission unanimously approved a request by TimberRidge Development Group LLC, for the final plat for the Retreat at TimberRidge Filing No. 1 subdivision to create and develop 75 single-family lots, rights-of-way, six open space tracts for trails, a monument sign, drainage and public utilities on 72.42 acres. The property, zoned PUD, is located north of the future extension of the Briargate-Stapleton Parkway, south of Arroya Lane and east of Vollmer Road. It is located within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
  
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