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"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread."
– Edward Abbey  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 9 September 2019  

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    Meridian District weighs in on growth and water
    Building and real estate update
    Horse Round Up and Remount Foundation help veterans
 
  Meridian District weighs in on growth and water
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Editors note: In July, “The New Falcon Herald” wrapped up a two-part series on population growth and the effects on the infrastructure, including a focus on special districts that supply water and wastewater services in eastern El Paso County. At the time, the NFH could not reach the Meridian Service Metropolitan District to seek their input. In August, Lindsey Harrison was able to talk to David Pelser, general manager of the Meridian district.
   

   When the Meridian Service Metropolitan District was formed in 2000, El Paso County required (and still does) that developers prove they have a 300-year supply of water at the buildout of each subdivision. David Pelser, general manager of MSMD, said the district has about eight to 15 years until the buildout is complete.
   
   “At ultimate buildout, the district will have 4,500 residential single-family units and retail space where the Shops at Meridian Ranch are now,” Pelser said.
   
   Each time a developer submits a plat map to the county to start building the next phase of units, the district sends a letter to the county documenting where the district stands on water supply and demonstrating there is sufficient water, he said.
   
   New infrastructure to connect those new units will be added as it becomes necessary in a phased-in basis, Pelser said. One example is the new well site, No. 6, that is actively being drilled south of Falcon High School, opposite the school’s athletic fields, he said. That work is expected to last through October, when pump testing will begin to determine how much water each of the two wells on the site can produce, Pelser said.
   
   Those wells will pump from two different aquifers: the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer and the Arapahoe aquifer in the Denver Basin aquifer system, Pelser said. The district has a total of 21 wells, including both off-site and on-site wells, that pump from a combination of those aquifers, plus the Dawson and Denver aquifers, he said. Two other off-site well locations, called the Guthrie site, are located about 10 miles east of the district offices in Falcon; and pump from the Upper Black Squirrel Alluvium aquifer, Pelser said.
   
   Everything at the Guthrie site, including the pipeline from it, the pump stations and the wells, is owned 50/50 between Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District and MSMD, so both districts share the cost to operate and maintain it, he said.
   
   Pelser said the district will continue to maintain the current infrastructure it has to serve its customers, which sometimes means taking a portion of the more than 22 miles of water-system pipes or one of the storage tanks offline for maintenance, but the goal is to always be able to produce the water MSMD customers need.
   
   The district is also looking ahead to how it can better meet increasing demands for water, he said. “We have recently engaged in conversations with Woodmen Hills staff about drilling another well and an extension on the main line coming from the Guthrie site to meet continuing demands, but nothing has been approved yet,” Pelser said.
   
   The bottom line is that, if a potential homebuyer was looking at a home in Meridian Ranch and was concerned about having an adequate water supply, adequacy was demonstrated when the entire master plan was created, which is the responsible way to build communities, he said.
   
   “Meridian Service Metropolitan District is just not very controversial because the developer did things the right way from the beginning,” Pelser said. “They bought all the water rights from the very start.”
  
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   The Retreat at TimberRidge
   The El Paso County Planning Commission unanimously approved a request from TimberRidge Development Group LLC for a Colorado Revised Statutes Title 32 Special District service plan for the Retreat Metropolitan District No. 1 and No. 2. The districts are located north of the proposed Briargate Parkway/Stapleton Road corridor, east of Vollmer Road and adjacent to Arroya Lane; and are included within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   The applicant proposed the following: a maximum debt authorization of $14.5 million, a debt service mill levy of 50 mills, an operations and maintenance mill levy of 10 mills and 5 mills for covenant enforcement.
   
   Statutory purposes of the districts include the following: water and sewage disposal services; street improvements, transportation and safety protection; design, construction and maintenance of drainage facilities; design, acquisition of land, construction and maintenance of recreation facilities; mosquito control; covenant enforcement; television relay and translation; and security services.
   
   On Aug.1, Spencer Fane LLP submitted a letter of intent to the county to construct about 193 single-family residential units on about 227 acres within the boundaries of District No. 1 and 2, and requested “the next possible public hearing” of the BOCC to meet the requirements of a formation election in November.
   
   On Aug. 22, Terra Nova Engineering Inc. submitted a letter of intent to the county proposing the final plat of eight single-family residential lots measuring 2.5 acres and two single-family residential lots measuring 5 acres, called the TimberRidge Estates. The applicant also proposed 1.3 acres for storm water detention and 6.82 acres for public rights-of-way. The final plat measures a total of 38.25 acres. Access to the site will be from Arroya Lane.
   
   Bennett Channel Sediment Removal Project
   The EPC Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved an amendment and change order to a contract with Frontier Environmental Services LLC for the Bennett Channel Sediment Removal Project for $244,892. The original contract was for $450,271, awarded to Frontier on April 2, bringing the total contract amount to $695,136.
   
   Pineries Open Space
   The BOCC unanimously approved a construction contract and purchase order to 53 Corporation LLC for construction of the Pineries Open Space Phase 1 project for $345,219. The project site is located on the 1,067-acre Pineries Open Space in Black Forest, northeast of the intersection of Vollmer Road and Shoup Road. It is being funded by EPC Regional Park fees and ballot issue 1A funds; and includes the following scope of work: a 28-foot wide gravel access road, including an asphalt entrance from Vollmer; 71 stalls of parking space; and roadway drainage culverts.
   
   McLaughlin Road/Old Meridian Road Improvement Project
   The commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of agreement, a special warranty deed, a non-exclusive permanent easement and a temporary construction easement from property owned by Gesick Investments LLC for $108,000 for the McLaughlin Road/Old Meridian Road Improvement Project.
   
   Frank Road
   The BOCC unanimously approved a memorandum of agreement and a special warranty deed from property owned by Jimmy and Jean Young for $5,250 for the Frank Road right-of-way.
   
   Hunsinger subdivision
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by Hunsinger Development corporate to vacate and replat three residential lots to create a total of five residential lots on the site in the following sizes: Lot 1 – 3.33 acres; Lot 2 – 2.67 acres; Lot 3 – 2.53 acres; Lot 4 – 3.12 acres; and Lot 5 – 3.52 acres. The property is zoned residential rural 2.5 and is located about 0.4 miles east of the Voyager Parkway and Old Ranch Road intersection.
   
   Herbertson property
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by the Herbertson Family Living Trust for a variance of use for another dwelling unit on the 47.55-acre property, zoned RR-5 and located on the east side of Highway 83, about 0.33 miles south of the Highway 83 and Walden Way intersection. It is included within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan. Two residential dwelling units are currently located on the property, but the second unit requires a variance of use to be used for a rental structure.
   
   Paint Brush Hills
   The commissioners unanimously approved the final release of a letter of credit for a defect warranty for the Scenic View at Paint Brush Hills subdivision for $25,160. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   Homestead at Sterling Ranch
   On July 6, N.E.S Inc. submitted an application for the final plat for 72 single-family residential lots within the Sterling Ranch Development, located adjacent to Vollmer Road and south of Stapleton Road.
   
   N.E.S. also submitted a letter of intent in July for the final plat for 104 single-family units within Homestead at Sterling Ranch Filing No. 2 on 29.658 acres, located within the 182.26-acre Sterling Ranch Preliminary Plan approved by the BOCC May 26.
   
   Branding Iron at Sterling Ranch
   On July 6, Challenger Homes submitted an application to develop 51 single-family residential lots in the Branding Iron at Sterling Ranch Filing No. 1, located east of Vollmer Road and south of Stapleton Road.
   
   Loudermilk property
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by Bradley Design LLC for a minor subdivision to create two single-family residential lots on 19.87 acres, zoned RR-5 and located on the west side of East Goshawk Road, about 0.4 miles north of Hodgen Road. The subdivision created one 14.87-acre lot and one 5-acre lot and the property is located within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   Judge Orr Ranchettes
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by John and Linda Jennings for the final plat to create seven single-family residential lots on 40.65 acres, located at the northwest corner of the Judge Orr Road and Stapleton Drive intersection. The property is zoned RR-5 and is located within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
   
   Falcon Fields
   In June, N.E.S. submitted a letter of intent to the county on behalf of Falcon Fields LLC to request a rezoning of two parcels, measuring 33.14 acres and 24.53 acres, respectively, from RR-5 to commercial zoning. The property is located south of Rio Lane and east of the Woodmen Road and Highway 24 intersection and is within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
   
   Grazing Yak Solar Project
   Bryan Garner, director of communications for NextEra Energy Resources LLC, wrote in an email to "The New Falcon Herald" that construction on the Grazing Yak solar array, which includes about 125,000 6-foot-by-4-foot photovoltaic solar panels, began in July; he anticipates construction will be complete by the end of 2019.
   
   4-Way Ranch
   Brian Matise, an attorney with Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine P.C., wrote in an email to the NFH that the litigation between 30 residents of the 4-Way Ranch Metropolitan District and five board members plus 4-Way Ranch Joint Venture LLC is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 3.
  
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  Horse Round Up and Remount Foundation help veterans
  By Mickey Althouse

   First in –- last out. In March 2017, near Riga, Latvia — the order mattered. Twenty-one-year-old Ft. Carson E-4 Spc. Drew Joyner, driver of a carbon monoxide-filled M1A2 Abrams tank, would be the last pulled out. He was lifeless. The member of 1-68 Armored was placed in an induced coma until stabilized. Unresponsive to efforts to wake him, the physician –- believing a life-long coma likely –- began inserting a feeding tube. The procedure snapped Joyner from twilight.
   
   Transfers, surgeries and therapies would lead him to Ft. Carson’s Warrior Transition Unit, where he was viewed, not as broken, but as someone who had something extraordinary happen to him. He would medal in Warrior Games; yet, find himself feeling incredibly alone. The weight of his losses made Joyner feel he might be last-out, once again. He learned of The Remount Foundation — a program using equine therapy for warriors like him. It made him think of times on the family ranch.
   
   Remount horses kept him in the moment. No stress. No hyper-vigilance. Despair lifted. Loneliness abated. Peace took up residence.
   
   While Joyner’s greatest obstacle was loneliness, anger was Travis Elliston’s overarching challenge. “It’s not uncommon for many to be looking for a beehive to kick,” Elliston said. The retired Command Sgt. Maj. served multiple infantry tours. “I was blown up a few times,” he said.
   
   Like Joyner, Elliston’s experience with horses predates his association with Remount. Elliston roped cattle on a family ranch. Now the Horsemanship Coach for the Air Force Academy Rodeo Team, others seek him out for his knowledge, including the Remount executive director, Billy Jack Barrett, for whom Elliston helps locate program horses.
   
   It was through their association with Remount that Joyner and Elliston learned of riding spots open to them at the NVRHA/KCRC Annual Ranch Horse Round Up – Healing Our Military Event. Held in late July, the weekend RHRUP taught riders ranch versatility while hosting silent, live auctions and a stick pony calcutta.
   
   “I loved the event,” Joyner said. “I had never done arena work before.” The ranch riding clinician said, “The first time is messy; second time, more comfortable. By the time you compete, you know you can do it if you focus.” Joyner earned a fourth-place ribbon in ranch trail.
   
   Elliston enjoyed meeting people with character. “Everyone was supportive of horses and veterans,” he said. “Everyone wanted to help each other — much like my experience in the military. The ‘Round Up’ was like a chess game. There were two cattle events and two controlled events. I had to adjust my state of mind to bring my horse up and then bring my horse down — a much-welcome aspect of the experience. It was a well-organized community event with a plethora of different masses of people; yet, there were no cliques.”
   
   As Joyner and Elliston are aligned and thankful for the purpose and goals of RHRUP, so too are they aligned with the purpose and goals of the Remount Foundation. Elliston has seen firsthand how some –- including himself — choose to cope with what they’ve been through. He admitted his humor can be a form of deflection; a way to not dwell on certain things. He roused laughter from the audience as he implored the “Bareback” Stick Pony Calcutta Race gallery to root and cheer for “Lucky” (his steady steed with no eyes and only “lucky” enough to have a partial ear).
   
   While Elliston uses humor, Joyner’s approach is to look at life with a full heart and a warm belly. When asked what his advice would be for those facing external and hidden injuries such as his, Joyner said, “I knew I needed to stop being prideful and embarrassed. We’re all warriors. No need to be afraid or ashamed of getting help. Physical and mental pain is not helping you in your daily life. No one is going to look at you different. You are not the only one. Ditch the shame shadow.”
   
   Joyner is currently interning at Remount with a desire to join the staff. Elliston recently earned his certification/degree in equine assisted psychotherapy.
   
   “It is a rare gift to be able to guide someone through it,” Elliston said. “It is encouraging for me to see other veterans come through Remount, from our Vietnam veterans to those currently serving.”
   
   Elliston’s empathy is for those who might not realize their need: “I had no recognition of my TBI (traumatic brain injury) symptoms for a year.” He had the responsibility of overseeing thousands of soldiers. He knows the impact to those without support. “Some won’t ask for help. They don’t want their ability questioned,” he said. “The number of suicides from my unit since return is 14. Outsiders weren’t there to witness what the soldier experienced. Depression can follow.” Elliston paused before continuing, “There is undue stigma attached to PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome). Not everyone’s suicidal.”
   
   As a spokesman for Remount, his passion for the program is contagious. “Contentment comes. Lightbulbs come on. There is not enough money in the world [to take me away from] removing that darkness … . Remount saves lives.”
   
   The Ranch Horse Round Up 2019 net proceeds estimate is $12,900, which will be split between Pikes Peak YMCA/Camp Shady Brook and The Remount Foundation. Both organizations provide summer camp for children of fallen/injured soldiers. The Y will add a couple more horses next year -– thanks to RHRUP. Remount provides additional services, such as equine therapy for PTSD, TBI and other internal and external injuries.
   
   More information is available at https://remountfoundation.org and https://ppymca.org/camp-shady-brook or https://nvrha.org (click on 5th Annual Ranch Horse Round Up).
  
Travis Eliston and Drew Joyner sit atop their horses watching one of the clinics at this year's Ranch Horse Roundup in July in Colorado Springs. Photo by Finn Muetz
 
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