Saturday, June 17, 2017

Experience of fire


Thank you for answering the call


Fighting fire is something I am familiar with. My dad fought them all of his life. My younger sister spent years battling them for the United States Forest Service. I mark various watershed events in my own life by the experience of fire.

All the time I was growing up in a small town in southwestern Colorado, a strange, faceless phone with no dialing mechanism hung right on my dad’s side of my parent’s bedroom. I think there might have been as many as eight of them (exactly alike) hanging in various locations (homes and businesses) around the small town of 800 residents.

All of them were the property of the local volunteer fire department.

Whether it be night or day, the loud, unremitting, urgent ring would sound continuously at the breakout of a fire -- until someone picked up and answered the call.

If the call was judged not to be a prank, or false alarm, then the lever on the black box next to the phone was shoved over, all the way to the right, and the fire siren down at the town hall would begin its mournful summons of the 25 or 30 volunteer firefighters in the area.

Later, of course, heavy, boxlike pagers were worn on volunteers’ belts and the siren (that also served as the noon whistle, because it was necessary to test each day), became obsolete. I am not sure what they use today in that town.

The volunteers serving on that department – all by choice – and all continuing to work their regular jobs or at businesses to pay the bills and feed their families, would drop everything when the siren wailed.

I considered that carefully this week, as we continued to evaluate how fortunate we are, and what a debt we owe, regarding firefighter’s response and effectiveness when called to serve. When everyone else is running out, they are unselfishly, and usually anonymously, running in.

Of course, this month we are marking the 15th anniversary of Hayman Fire, the fifth anniversary of the Waldo Fire and fourth anniversary of the Black Forest Fire, three of the most destructive fires in the history of Colorado.

I suppose we should be out lining the roads, making signs and remembering to mark the firefighters recent efforts, as well.

Wouldn’t it also be appropriate to also recall the locals, and on a regular basis, the efforts of people like Pineville Hot Shots Kathi Beck, Tamera Bickett, Scott Blecha, Levi Brinkley, Douglas Dunbar, Terri Hagen, Bonnie Holtby, Rob Johnson, Jon Kelso or Missoula smokejumper: Don Mackey, and McCall Smokejumpers: Roger Roth, Jim Thrash and Helitack Robert Browning, Jr., and Richard Tyler who all perished on Storm King Mountain in 1994?

Or perhaps Oregon wildland firefighters: Zach Zigich, Retah Shirley, Jacob Martindale, Danial Rama, and Bart Bailey who suffered the same fate, in the van crash near Parachute, as they were coming to help us out during Hayman?

After all, it might be night or day, and they may have to drop what they are doing to hear our urgent ring.

Much like that faceless phone of my youth, we might forget about them for the most part, and never remember their names, or what kind of sacrifices they may have to make.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Be careful with those bees




Swarm on the rocks gets moved without incident


It can be somewhat unnerving when swarm of bees show up, flying all around on your front porch. Marianne Roane had that problem last week when the little buzzers started relocating on rocks near her front porch at her townhome in Monument.

Neighbor Bob Jackson helped her out by calling a bee guy to come and take a look.

The bee guy, Ed Buckley of Buckley Homestead Supply, came by that afternoon and moved the swarm into a cardboard box, with the help of Hadley Buckley and a younger Ed Buckley.

“It’s all very natural,” said the older Ed Buckley. “Half of hive stays with the old queen, and half goes with a new one.”

He said it wouldn’t be much of a chore to move them into the box, because as soon as he found the queen, all the rest would follow.

Sure enough. After scooping several hand-fulls into the box, as Buckley said, the bees started to signal “in here, she’s over here.”

The rest followed, and as far as anybody could tell, no one was stung in the process.





Saturday, June 3, 2017

As I walked out in the streets of Norpaso ...


Because we can’t describe where we live, let’s rename it


“I’m not my name. My name is something I wear, like a shirt. It gets worn. I outgrow it, I change it.” Jerry Spinelli

I think there once was one of the those green signs on I-25 that said something about Gleneagle Drive, right on the highway. Now, of course, Gleneagle Drive never touches I-25. You have to take North Gate Blvd., go through two roundabouts headed east to the light to Struthers Road, take a left, and then turn right on Gleneagle Drive. Thursday, local fire departments set fire to the old Gleneagle Golf Clubhouse. Donald Wescott Fire Protection District was in charge of the training exercise.

That is the thing about names around here —if you wait long enough, some change.

That can create confusion. Last week, I thought about that when considering the various districts and jurisdictions, and responsibilities.

In my 20+ years in the area, I have seen quite a bit. It is possible to recall when you could count the total population in the Tri-View Metropolitan District, on your fingers, and maybe even one hand. Town (meaning Colorado Springs) was miles away to the south. Woodmoor was sort of out in the country then, Black Forest was just that, Palmer Lake and Monument were the only real towns.

And of course, Gleneagle was sort of like the Gaza Strip, a small, self-governing territory with a golf course and pool, east of the United States Air Force Academy, with several homeowners associations including Gleneagle Civic, Gleneagle North, Academy View, Sun Hills, and several others. It relied on service by Donala Water, fire protection by Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, your choice of gas companies (several options), power from Mount View Electric, policing by El Paso County Sheriff, education through Academy District 20, and mail service through the Colorado Springs Post Office in Briargate.

Areas to the North were similar, Woodmoor having its own security and fire service, a restrictive homeowners association, and other such elements of responsibility and jurisdiction. But, though it was close, Woodmoor, was not part of Monument, and relied on Lewis Palmer School District 38, that originally served Monument and Palmer Lake. Baptist Road was the dividing line between District 20 and District 38.

So let's complicate this with a few more things. Palmer Lake's rural postal routes originate out the Monument Post Office, the Douglas County line is right at the top of Monument Hill, Tri-View Metro District was created to take care of roads, water, and parks in Jackson Creek, one of the newer areas of Monument, the Monument Town water system just takes care of the part of town west of I-25, and there are several different other districts between there and Palmer Lake. Fire service is handled by Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (which now also includes Woodmoor). The city of Colorado Springs recently annexed about half of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District. Other residential areas have developed east of Woodmoor including Kings Deer, Bent Tree, Ridge at Fox Run, etc...

And what is the Tri-Lakes? Maybe about seven or eight old-timers can tell you what the three lakes are.

It is not necessarily surprising when someone has to call around to see who takes care of a problem with the neighbor's pet. Just a few weeks ago, I chuckled a little when the Drug Enforcement Agency described a marijuana grow as being at Monument home, when it was nearly five miles northeast of the city limits. But the El Paso County Sheriff labeled a problem last week at the Brewery on Woodmoor Drive as being a Colorado Springs address.

I would like to petition you folks right now to change the name of this area. We have outgrown it. And we can't even describe where we do live. Let's do something that reflects the combinations that we have become. Something that accurately reflects our diversity, and history. Yet, it needs to be simple and all-encompassing. May I suggest Norpaso.