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"We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 10 October 2020  

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    Meadow Lake Sporthorses
    County ordinance limits ATV noise
    Election ballot issues
    Falcon and its railroad history
    Autumnal equinox
    Building and real estate update
 
  Meadow Lake Sporthorses
  By Stephanie Mason

   Jordan Haddock, age 14, fastened the buckle on the bridle of her horse, Sport Royal Deprix. Though there was a mask over her face, her eyes were bright with a hint of a smile. She was finally able to participate in a horse show.
   
   On Aug. 9, Meadow Lake Sporthorses in Falcon hosted their first horse show. The show, put together by the stable’s owner, Andrea Valenzuela, aimed to bring some normality to the equestrian community.
   
   Valenzuela said the 2020 horse show season has been almost nonexistent because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was important that this show was designed with safety as a priority.
   
   “Horseback riding is about community,” Valenzuela said. “These shows are a good way to strengthen the community and get people to come together — at a safe distance.”
   
   All proceeds from the show went to fund a new nonprofit, Freedom Reins. According to the website, Freedom Reins is a nonprofit, equine-assisted outreach promoting emotional health in the lives of United States veterans, active military personnel, first responders, people rescued from sex or labor trafficking and women/girls who have dealt with abuse.
   
   "Riding is therapy regardless of who you are and what you've been through," Valenzuela said. "This nonprofit is really our passion."
   
   The show was classified as a United States Dressage Federation and Rocky Mountain Dressage Federation schooling show. About 30 competitors showed up and about 50 rides were judged.
   
   “With how the world is right now, we need to take extreme precaution to make sure we are not making things worse,” Valenzuela said. “But we wanted to give people some semblance of normality. I know what I like to celebrate in the summer is getting to horse shows with my friends and show off what I’ve been working on all winter. I wanted this show to give everybody a positive boost amongst a lot of uncertainty.”
   
   Volunteers staffed the horse show, which kept the safety of participants and staff as a priority and took measures to enforce strict safety rules and regulations. The staff sanitized frequently touched surfaces and took the temperatures of everyone who entered the show grounds.
   
   “The staff is doing an awesome job,” said Judy Carnick, a trainer of several participants. “They are even reminding people standing together to please socially distance themselves.”
   
   To keep people from congregating in a single area, participants registered for their classes online prior to the show. Participants were also required to sign a release from the United States Equestrian Federation. Anyone not riding a horse was required to wear a mask. Riders were also encouraged to spend as little time as possible on the show grounds.
   
   “Horse shows, traditionally, are places where people gather together and hang out,” Venezuela said. “But we had to really lay down the law and tell people that they can only show up, show their horses and then leave.”
   
   Riders did not mind the slight changes and precautions required to participate in the horse show.
   
   “Once you get on your horse, you are away from people anyway,” said Gayle Littleton, a horse show participant. “We are all out here enjoying the sunshine. We are so happy to be here.”
   
   
   
   
   
A rider warms up her horse before her dressage class begins. Photo by Stephanie Mason
Cory Popejoy is the barn manager for Meadow Lake SportHorses; he is seen here with one of the therapy horses. Photo by Cara Lord-GeiserJordan Haddock gets ready to warm up her horse, Sport Royal Deprix, at the Meadow Lake Sporthorses dressage show. Photo by Stephanie Mason
Amy Michaelson rewards a friend's horse after a successful show day. Photo by Stephanie Mason
  
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  County ordinance limits ATV noise
  By Pete Gawda

   Jacqueline Kirby of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said there are about 55 noise complaints a week and about 220 a month. Although noise complaints come from all over the county, some residents of Black Forest have been getting upset by what they describe as inconsiderate neighbors. A Black Forest resident (who requested anonymity) is especially concerned about the noise from ATVs.
   
   According to county regulations, on a public right of way, vehicles over 10,000 pounds operating in a 35 mph or less speed limit area are limited to 86 decibels. If the speed limit is over 35 mph, they are limited to 90 decibels. For lighter vehicles on a public right of way, 80 decibels is the maximum noise level allowed at 35 mph or less; and 84 decibels is the maximum level allowed over 35 mph. In residential, commercial and unspecified areas, the noise level is limited to 55 decibels from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 50 decibels from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. In industrial and commercial areas, the noise level is limited to 80 decibels from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 75 decibels from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
   
   To put this in perspective, according to the website Noise Help, an average conversation is 60 decibels, and 70 decibels is the noise level of a shower or a dishwasher. The noise level of a garbage disposal is 80 decibels. The website also states that a noise level of 85 decibels requires hearing protection. A lawn mower produces 90 decibels and a rock concert 110 decibels.
   
   The noise level of ATVs varies from 80 to 100 decibels, according to the website ATV Temple. This range of noise level falls into the prohibited category in residential areas of unincorporated El Paso County.
   
   Anyone bothered by noise should contact the sheriff's office. The first violation carries a fine of $30. A second violation within 30 days of the first incurs a fine of $60. Each successive violation within 30 days of the previous violation can accrue a fine of $300. In addition, each violation carries a surcharge of $10.
  
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  Election ballot issues
  By Stephanie Mason

   On Election Day (Nov. 3), Colorado voters will face eight — possibly as many as 11 — ballot issues; however, the number of issues is significantly fewer than originally anticipated because the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with in-person signature collections.
   
   The following are the measures (and potential measures) that Colorado voters will be voting on in November.
   
   Reintroduction of Gray Wolves Initiative (on the ballot)
   If approved, this measure tasks the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to create and carry out a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves onto public lands.
   
   National Popular Vote Interstate Compact Referendum (on the ballot)
   With a majority vote, this measure will allow Colorado to join other states in casting its electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote rather than the winner of the state popular vote.
   
   Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative (on the ballot)
   If approved, this measure amends the Colorado Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections, instead of the existing language that states “every citizen” of the U.S. can vote.
   
   22-Week Abortion Ban Initiative (on the ballot)
   If approved, this measure prohibits abortion after 22 weeks of gestational age.
   
   Decrease Income Tax Rate from 4.63 percent to 4.55 Initiative (on the ballot)
   If approved, this measure decreases the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent for individuals, estates, trusts and foreign and domestic C corporations operating in Colorado.
   
   Charitable Bingo and Raffles Amendment (on the ballot)
   The voters will determine the fate of a measure requiring that charitable organizations must have existed for three years, instead of five years, before obtaining a charitable gaming license. This allows charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage
   
   Gallagher Amendment Repeal and Property Tax Assessment Rates Measure (on the ballot)
   This measure, if it is approved, repeals the Gallagher Amendment of 1982, which limited the residential and non-residential property tax assessment rates so that residential property taxes amounted to 45 percent of the total share of state property taxes and non-residential property taxes amounted to 55 percent of the total share of state property taxes.
   
   Colorado Tobacco and E-Cigarette Tax Increase for Health and Education Programs Measure (on the ballot)
   If the voters approve, this measure increases taxes on tobacco, creates a new tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes and dedicates funds to education and health programs.
   
   Allow Voters in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek to Expand Game Types and Single Bets Initiative (potential measure)
   Not yet on the ballot, this measure allows voters in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek to expand allowed gaming types and bet limits.
   
   Paid Medical and Family Leave Initiative (potential measure)
   This potential measure would establish a program for paid medical and family leave.
   
   Require Voter Approval of Certain New Enterprises Exempt from TABOR Initiative (potential measure)
   This potential measure requires voter approval of new enterprises that are exempt from TABOR, if their revenue is greater than $50 million within its first five years.
  
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  Falcon and its railroad history
  By Pete Gawda

   Falcon could be compared to the phoenix, the mythical bird that came back to life from its own ashes.
   
   Falcon owes its birth to the railroad. As the importance of the railroad waned so did the importance of Falcon. Then, with the housing boom around the turn of the 21st century, Falcon sprang to life again and memorialized the railroad.
   
   As the Rock Island Railroad worked its way from Limon toward Colorado Springs, towns such as Calhan, Peyton and Falcon were established by the railroad at intervals along the right of way so the steam locomotives could take on water. The town of Falcon was established Aug. 31, 1888, as the Falcon Town and Land Co. on the site of an old deserted sheep camp. The name comes from the fact that nearby heights teemed with hawks.
   
   The town rapidly grew and the Falcon post office was established Oct. 10, 1888. The first train depot was built in 1890 on the site where Farmer's State Bank is located. Soon, there were two general stores, a drug store, a meat market, a blacksmith shop, six restaurants and two lumber yards. By 1890, the population was more than 200. The Denver, Texas and Fort Worth Railroad came through Black Forest into Falcon and built a second railroad depot. The Falcon Herald, a weekly newspaper and the forerunner to The New Falcon Herald, came out every Wednesday; the subscription price was $1.50 a year or 5 cents a copy or some chickens.
   
   Falcon also had a public park.
   
   The school district they formed was known as the shoestring district because it was 3 miles wide but extended eastward 36 miles to the county line.
   
   The Hotel Falcon started as a boarding house serving railroad travelers who stopped overnight, cowboys on cattle drives, coal miners from the local mines and people waiting to buy land to settle on. It was soon followed by a second hotel, the Hotel Edna.
   
   By the early part of the 20th century, six passenger trains and six freight trains passed through Falcon each day. About 12 people a day might board the Rocky Mountain Rocket, the crack (high priority) passenger train of the Rock Island Line. The westbound Rocket left Chicago and traveled to Limon, where a section branched off to Falcon and on to Colorado Springs, while the rest of the Rocket went on to Denver. Eastbound, the Rocket came from Colorado Springs through Falcon to Limon, joining the Rocket section that originated in Denver and traveled on to Chicago. Freight trains delivered and carried away mining equipment, livestock, hay and farm produce.
   
   In 1935, a serious flood wiped out the Denver, Texas and Fort Worth tracks on both sides of Black Forest, and that line was abandoned.
   
   As air travel became more common, the use of the automobiles for passengers and trucks for freight became more widespread and highways improved. Rail use declined. The town of Falcon also declined.
   
   The post office was discontinued in 1942. In 1980, the Rock Island declared bankruptcy; its assets were liquidated and the rails were taken up. By 1985, the train depot, hotel, general store, newspaper and other businesses were gone.
   
   Around the turn of the 21st century, Falcon began a rebirth. Ironically, as the automobile had caused the decline of Falcon by making it easier to drive from Falcon to Colorado Springs, the automobile made it easy for people to work in Colorado Springs and commute from Falcon. Stores, shopping centers and subdivisions began to spring up on the open plains around the site of the old town.
   
   Today, the original Rock Island right of way that ran through Falcon has been converted into a hiking and biking trail complete with benches and footbridges. Mile markers were installed in 2011 by Boy Scout Preston Martinez of Troop 444 as an Eagle Scout project.
   
   Editor's note: Information for this article was garnered from the book “El Paso County Heritage” by Juanita L. and John P. Breckenridge, published by Curtis Media Group in 1985; and two articles from The New Falcon Herald, “The Rock Island Railroad” by Cathy Griffen, which appeared in the January 2005 issue; and “The day Falcon had a parade” by Jim Ozburn, which appeared in the March 2019 issue.
  
Farmers' State Bank, at the intersection of U.S. 24 and Old Meridian Road, stands today where the Rock Island Railroad depot once stood. The railroad right of way is now a hiking and biking rail which runs alongside the bank.
 
This is one of the many footbridges on Rock Island Trail that are located where railroad trestles once stood on the railroad right of way.
 
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  Autumnal equinox
  By Ava Stoller

   Every year, there are two equinoxes and two solstices. As stated by earthsky.net, the word equinox comes from the Latin word “aequi,” which means equal and “nox” meaning night. The autumnal equinox is when both day and night are about equal; the sun rises later and nightfall comes sooner.
   
   The Earth tilts on its axis allowing the Northern and Southern Hemisphere to trade places throughout the year, permitting more seasonal direct sunlight. According to the EarthSky website, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the sun combine — in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun — it allows both hemispheres to catch about equal amounts of sun rays.
   
   In the far north, following the fall equinox, eyes are drawn to a spectacular light display in the night sky. From the History website, the autumnal equinox signals peak viewing of the aurora borealis, or northern lights. The celestial display of brilliantly colored lights happens when charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, causing them to light up. These light displays peak around the fall and spring, or vernal, equinox. That’s because disturbances in Earth’s atmosphere — known as geomagnetic storms — are strongest at these times.
   
   To determine when the fall equinox will occur, the sky is used as a clock and a calendar. From EarthSky.org, one of the first observatories was built in Machu Picchu, Peru. The Intihuatana Stone, a sculpted granite rock with four cardinal points, has been shown to be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and other significant celestial periods. The word Intihuatana, literally means for tying the sun.
   
   For millennia, the autumnal equinox marks the start of harvest but also is celebrated differently in multiple cultures and countries.
   
   Ethic Chinese and Vietnamese people celebrate their Mid-Autumn Festival on the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox — sometimes called the Harvest Moon. From history.com, the Chinese began celebrating the fall harvest centuries ago during the Shang dynasty. Ancient Chinese celebrated the successful harvest of rice and wheat and made offerings to the moon. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, lanterns decorate streets and family and friends gather to give thanks, share food and watch the moon. Round pastries, called mooncakes, are often enjoyed.
   
   Higan is a six-day Buddhist celebration in Japan. According to the History website, during Higan, Japanese Buddhists will return to their hometowns to pay respects to their ancestors. Higan means “from the other shore of the Sanzu River.” In Buddhist tradition, crossing the mythical Sanzu River meant passing into the afterlife. It takes place twice a year, during the spring and fall equinoxes. From timeanddate.com, it is a time to remember the dead by visiting, cleaning and decorating their graves.
   
   The Christian church replaced many pagan holidays with Christianized celebrations. According to the Time and Date website, the Christian celebration closest to the September equinox is Michaelmas, also known as the Feast of Michael and All Angels, on Sept. 29. These days, Michaelmas is a minor festival mainly observed in the Catholic church. Centuries ago in England, servants were paid their wages after the harvest, and workers looked for new jobs at employment fairs, which also became a place for celebrations.
   
   Sukkot is the Jewish Festival of Harvest. From shareable.net, also known as the Feast of Booths (Sukkot means “booth”), this week-long festival has a double significance: celebrating the harvest and commemorating the Israelite's 40 years wandering in the desert. Sukkot falls five days after Yom Kippur and is celebrated all across the Jewish Diaspora.
   
   Mehregan is a Persian harvest festival and tax day. As stated by shareable.net, Mehregan originated in the ancient Persian city of Persepolis, where it served as both the day of harvest, and tax day. Visitors came from all over the Persian empire for the festivities, contributing to a lively day of gifting, feasting, and general merriment. The October gathering also celebrates friendship and togetherness -– the word “Mehr” in Persian means “kindness.” In the spirit of that, Mehregan is a time for families and communities to come together and gather, often around a table set with a colorful cloth and fruits, vegetables, and flowers. There are fewer taxes in the present-day festivities, but the rest of the festival lives on.
   
   As autumn swiftly approaches in Colorado, there are plenty of activities to do while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. Generally, this time of year in Falcon, there are festivals celebrating harvest time. Even though there are COVID restrictions, traditions can still be recognized with some creativity. Bake pumpkin spice bread, make caramel apples, cobblers and pies. Take a drive or hike to see the beautiful Aspen leaves change colors. Visit the local farmer’s market in Peyton — Smith Farms. Pick out pumpkins and instead of carving them paint a picture. Lastly, create a DIY Halloween costume.
  
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   The Reserve at Corral Bluffs
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the preliminary acceptance of certain streets within The Reserve at Corral Bluffs Filing No. 2 subdivision into the EPC road maintenance system. All public improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   The commissioners also unanimously approved the preliminary releases of a letter of credit for $104,071.60 for public improvements in the same filing. All work has been completed and inspected.
   
   Meridian Ranch
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by Meridian Ranch Investments Inc. to rezone 251 acres from a conceptual planned unit development to a site specific PUD for the Rolling Hills Ranch Filing Nos. 1-3 subdivision in Meridian Ranch. The request also included a preliminary plan to create 725 single-family residential lots, rights-of-way, open space and utility tracts on 139.097 acres of that rezoned area. The property is located west of Eastonville Road at the easternmost end of Rex Road and west of the Falcon Regional Park and included within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
   
   Retreat at TimberRidge
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by TimberRidge Development Group LLC, for the final plat to create 70 single-family residential lots, rights-of-way, six open space tracts for trails and drainage and public utilities on 72.4 acres in the Retreat at TimberRidge Filing No. 1 subdivision. The property, zoned PUD, is located north of the future extension of Briargate/Stapleton Parkway, south of Arroya Lane and east of Vollmer Road and included within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   The Ranch Metropolitan District
   The BOCC approved a request by PRI #4 LLC for a Colorado Revised Statutes Title 32 Special District service plan for the Ranch Metropolitan District in a 4-1 vote with Longinos Gonzalez, representative for District 4, opposed. The property is located north of Woodmen Road, south of Stapleton Drive and east of Raygor Road, with a total of 610 acres. 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.
   
   Falcon Fire Protection District
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by the Falcon Fire Protection District for a subdivision exemption to create a 5.424-acre parcel to construct a fire station on property zoned PUD, located at the northwest corner of the Highway 24 and Old Meridian Road intersection. The property is included within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
   
   Mountain View Electric Association substation
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by Mountain View Electric Association Inc, for a subdivision exemption to create a 5-acre parcel for an electrical substation in the Sterling Ranch subdivision. The property is zoned residential rural-5 and is located about 1.27 miles northeast of the Woodmen Road and Mohawk Road intersection, at the northernmost end of Mohawk Road.
   
   Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District water storage tank
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District for a subdivision exemption to create a 1.47-acre parcel for a public water storage stank. The property, zoned RR-5, is located on the south side of Arroya Lane, about 0.5 miles east of Vollmer Road and is included within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
  
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