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  Volume No. 18 Issue No. 10 October 2021  

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  
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Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In

    Suicide prevention resources and a BHCON of hope
    StratusIQ and Mountain View vie for broadband service
    Center keeping western culture alive
    Falcon Exchange Club — 15 years for the community
    Building and real estate update
  Suicide prevention resources and a BHCON of hope
  By Ava Stoller

   The National Institute of Mental Health states suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44.
   The 2020 El Paso County Coroner’s Report showed there were 178 total deaths (19%) in the county due to suicide.
   Question Persuade Refer is an emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons created in 1995 by Paul Quinnett. The QPR Institute website conveys the intent is to identify, interrupt the crisis and direct that person to the proper care.
   The QPR Institute provides examples of direct and indirect verbal, behavioral and situational warning signs for suicide:
   Verbal: “I’ve decided to kill myself,” “I’m going to end it all,” “Soon I won’t be around,” “I just want out.”
   Behavioral: Putting personal and business affairs in order; taking out insurance or changing beneficiaries; sudden interest or disinterest in church; giving away money or prized possessions.
   Situational: Anticipated loss of financial security; death of a spouse, family member, or friend (especially if by suicide or accident); flare up with friends or relatives for no apparent reason; a recent move, especially if unwanted.
   One clue or warning sign may not mean a great deal, but any warning sign suggesting acute distress, despair or hopelessness about the future, or a desire to “end it all,” is worth asking about.
   The following is a brief summary of the QPR model:
   Question: Don’t wait. If in doubt, ask the individual if they are thinking about suicide. If they are reluctant, be persistent. Remove the audience, talk alone in a private place. Actively listen, and allow plenty of time for a full conversation.
   Persuade: Once the question has been asked, most people thinking of suicide want to talk. Your role is to listen first. Remember suicide is not the problem, only the solution to a perceived insolvable problem. Do not rush judgment. Offer hope in any form. The goal of persuasion is for the person to agree to get some help and help them follow through to said help.
   Refer: The best referral involves taking the person directly to a licensed professional. Second best is getting a commitment from them to accept help, then making the arrangements with a mental health organization. Lastly, give referral information and try to get a good faith commitment not to attempt suicide. Any willingness to accept help at some time, even in the future, is a good outcome. Ask the person who else might help — family, friends, physician or a religious leader. Follow up a few days later.
   Research shows the most effective intervention is to ensure the removal of the means of suicide, especially guns. UCHealth provides lethal means counseling upon discharge and also provides gun safes and medication lockboxes.
   If there is a mental health emergency, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has the Behavioral Health Connect Unit or BHCON (pronounced Beacon) — a co-responder model patrol unit that responds to mental health related 911 calls.
   The BHCON Unit pairs an El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy with a UCHealth licensed behavioral health clinician for a coordinated response to emergency calls.
   The BHCON Unit is funded by a grant from the Colorado Department of Human Services and is a five-year pilot consisting of a partnership with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, the El Paso County Department of Health and UCHealth.
   BHCON has two units covering seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and is primarily assigned to unincorporated regions of El Paso County. In the event that a BHCON Unit is unavailable, there are deputies who have crisis intervention training.
   The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and Fountain Police Department added an additional BHCON unit, with a UCHealth clinician, to cover the Fountain jurisdiction and southern patrol districts of El Paso County.
   The daily duties and responsibilities of the BHCON team include responding to crisis 911 calls, taking referrals from other EPSO deputies to respond to identified individuals, and completing follow up visits and/or phone calls to individuals previously contacted by BHCON.
   El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jennifer Knutson and Dru Wacker, a UCHealth behavioral health clinician are BHCON Unit 2.
   Knutson said, in general, they (deputies) introduce themselves and secure the scene from weapons or other dangers. If the person is aggravated or distressed, the deputy will attempt to de-escalate the individual before bringing in the clinician to talk and evaluate.
   The BHCON Unit does their best to immediately help the individual and keep them out of jail and emergency departments. When an individual is an immediate danger to self or others or is gravely disabled, a licensed clinician or a law enforcement officer can place the person on a 72-hour mental health hold. They also follow up with the individuals or the mental health providers as much as possible.
   Wacker said she works with the individual to create a safety plan — to identify people they can call for support, recognize triggers and employ techniques to calm down. The plan is written and a copy is placed where the individual can see it as a tangible reminder.
   Both deputies and clinicians must apply for selection to BHCON. Knutson said she had to pass a panel interview before she became a BHCON Unit. Dru Wacker stated she applied to her bosses at UCHealth.
   Both shared that patience and active listening are incredibly important aspects of their job.
   From the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office BHCON page, in 2020 the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office received 4,282 mental health calls:
  • BHCON units responded to over 900 calls
  • 55% were treated in place, eliminating the need to remove individuals from their home/school by providing immediate intervention and resources
  • 12% placed on a mental health hold
  • 1,178 follow-up calls were made to successfully reach clients 58% of the time after initial contact to provide continual support

   BHCON completed 507 subsequent administrative calls to mental health providers ensuring clients received the care they needed.
   When multiple deputies responded to the scene of a mental health related 911 call, BHCON was able to release 577 responding deputies back into law enforcement service while BHCON remained on the scene.
   There are many ways in which professional help can be provided for those in need: Safe2Tell Colorado: students, parents, school staff and community members can anonymously report concerns regarding their safety or the safety of others.
  • Suicide Prevention Line: 800-273-8255
  • Colorado Crisis : 844-493-8255
  • Lighthouse Walk-in Crisis Center: 719-635-7000, 24/7 walk-in crisis support
  • Cedar Springs: 719-633-4114 — provides adult and youth programs, acute inpatient, half-day programs for students, rehab (military only) and psychiatric residential services
  • Diversus Health: 719-635-7000 — programs for addiction, counseling, crisis and psychiatric services.
  • Peak View: 888-235-9475 — mental health, addiction, youth service and outpatient programs.
El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jennifer Knutson and Dru Wacker, a UCHealth Behavioral Health Clinician, comprise BHCON Unit 2. Photo by Ava Stoller
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  StratusIQ and Mountain View vie for broadband service
  By Pete Gawda

   Internet service in the Falcon area will soon be improving. Some areas that had been underserved will be able to choose from at least two competing internet providers, Mountain View Electric Association and StratusIQ.
   Mountain View, a member owned cooperative, recently announced plans to provide fiber optic broadband internet to all of its 51,000 members in portions of Arapahoe, Crowley, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Lincoln, Pueblo and Washington counties. The cooperative will provide internet service to underserved areas. Construction of the system is scheduled to start in November and is expected to take five or six years, according to the article in the August issue of “The New Falcon Herald” — “MVEA is getting into the fiber optic business.” Construction will be done in segments and internet service will be available to some Mountain View members in the second quarter of 2022.
   Densely populated areas in Falcon already have or will soon have optic fiber broadband internet coverage through StratusIQ, a privately owned for-profit company, according to an article in the August issue of the NFH — “StratusIQ expands internet service.” In January, StratusIQ completed a project that offers internet to every address in Latigo Trails.
   Another StratusIQ project that is about 60% complete will provide fiber optic broadband to about 290 homes on North Meridian Road. StratusIQ also has applications pending for two new projects, one in the area of Meadow Lake Airport and the other between Woodmen Road and Black Forest. StratusIQ also serves Paint Brush Hills and Bent Grass. As more new houses are being built in those areas, the service will expand to accommodate them. All of these areas receive electricity from Mountain View and will also be covered by Mountain View's internet system.
   Ben Kley, president of StratusIQ, has called the overlap of services “an overbuild and a misuse of members’ funds” on the part of Mountain View. He said he has met several times with Mountain View officials and offered to coordinate efforts or work together with Mountain View in those areas where he is already or soon will be providing internet service. Kley said he will be able to deliver the same quality of internet service for the same price.
   However, Sarah Schaefer, public information officer for Mountain View, said StatusIQ could not meet Mountain View’s “security and technology needs.” For now, it looks like there will be at least two competing fiber optic internet systems in portions of the Falcon area. Mountain View members will not be required to use Mountain View's internet system, but will be free to use whatever internet carrier they desire.
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  Center keeping western culture alive
  By Timothy Page

   Latigo Trails Equestrian Center in Elbert had its beginnings in 2001, after a 45-acre stretch of land had been donated to the Pikes Peak Range Riders (the previous land owners had filed bankruptcy).
   Since then, Latigo Trails has promoted western heritage through various youth events and activities.
   Their mission statement: “To serve as the focused hub of youth equestrian and agricultural activities through a first-class facility, partnerships, programs and proactive community outreach.”
   Their vision statement: “To instill the core values of the ‘cowboy way’ in the youth of our community through exposure, mentoring and leadership in equestrian and agricultural activities.”
   Along with indoor and outdoor arenas, the center houses retail shops, show stalls, a boarding barn, a restaurant and Stable Strides, an Equestrian Therapy Center that operates on the property and rents the facility for $1 annually.
   The facility offers open riding sessions and hosts a variety of events such as the Winter Buckle Series. “This will be our 12th year (the Winter Buckle Series),” said Bob Harrison, manager of Latigo. “It’s an event for the people in the community at all different levels to compete in horse show events and gymkhana events.”
   Harrison, who has managed the property since the beginning, said the Winter Buckle series is his favorite event. “It’s another avenue for people who want to get into the equestrian world; or for people who are already involved and want to have a place to go and compete,” he said.
   Latigo Trails is a nonprofit so the events, retail shops and the restaurant keeps the center operating, Harrison said.
   The next event is the Spencer Miller Tribute Roping Sept. 11, which raises money to help kids at the facility who want to get into equestrian sports. The event is open to the public.
   Latigo Trails Equestrian Center is at 13710 Halleluiah Trail in Elbert.
   Find out more about Latigo Trails, and all of their events by visiting the website at
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  Falcon Exchange Club — 15 years for the community
  By Timothy Page

   Since 2006, The Falcon Exchange Club has been focused on making a difference in the community.
   The National Exchange club was founded in 1911 in Detroit by Charles A. Berkey. The name comes from the idea to “exchange” ideas and information with like-minded people on how to better serve the community.
   In Falcon, the club has been doing just that with projects addressing child abuse prevention, community support, Americanism and youth recognition.
   The Exchange Club’s national mission is the Child Abuse Prevention program, bringing awareness to child abuse in the community and helping victims of child abuse by sponsoring various events and programs throughout the year.
   The Falcon Exchange Club’s signature program is Angel Tree. Starting around Thanksgiving, members set up Christmas trees throughout businesses in Falcon; the trees are decorated with gift requests for kids.
   “The generosity of the community is just mind blowing,” said Andy Conder, president of the Falcon Exchange Club. “We ask for gift cards for the older kids and gifts for the younger kids, and we’ll get literally several hundred gifts and thousands of dollars worth of gift cards.”
   Many of the kids are in foster care or going through an adoption process, and some are receiving Christmas presents for the first time.
   Americanism is the promotion of patriotism and appreciation for the freedoms everyone has in America. The club promotes this through “Freedom Shrines” that they place in local schools. The “shrines” are important documents in America’s history to help kids learn more about the country.
   The Youth Recognition program is exactly what it sounds like. The Exchange Club recognizes the achievements of students in the community, from high-performing students to students who have struggled personally or those who have overcome disabilities or health issues. Many of those students have managed to push through the tough times and finish high school. The club presents these awards to students so they can compete for scholarships with other students across the state and the country.
   The Community Support program covers the remainder of their projects in Falcon. They help support firefighters, police officers and veterans through various means. The club helps homeless veterans find a place to live, and they provide protection for police officers through body armor that is donated to them from Shield 616.
   The club is about 18 strong right now, but they’re hoping to bring in more members.
   “The COVID lockdowns in the last year-and-a-half pretty much curtailed our activities by quite a bit,” Conder said. The Angel Tree program was all they could do last year.
   If anyone is interested in more information on the club, contact Andy Conder at 719-337-6990 or email him at
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Deborah and Edward Ritchy property
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a request from Deborah and Edward Ritchy for a variance of use to allow a 20-acre parcel, zoned residential rural-5, to be used as a business event center. The property is located about 0.25 miles north of the Goshawk Road and Hodgen Road intersection and is currently developed with a single-family dwelling, two livestock barns and two outbuildings. The variance allows for the existing 1,488-square-foot barn to be used as a wedding and reception event space, called Black Forest Meadows.
   Falcon Park N Ride project
   The commissioners unanimously awarded a contract amendment and change order to Alfred Benesch & Co. for construction management, inspection activities and public relation services for Meridian Road/Falcon Park N Ride improvements for $283,310. This is the third amendment to the contract since the initial contract was awarded to the same company in 2019. The original contract amount was for $727,241; the first amendment added $34,714.70 to that amount, and the second added $12,770, for a total contract amount of $1,058,034.70.
   Circle A minor subdivision
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request from Andres Daniel B Trust for a minor subdivision to create three single-family lots on a 14.87-acre property. The property, zoned RR-5, is located on the west side of Goshawk Road, about 0.5 miles north of Hodgen Road.
   Norwood Foundation property
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by Norwood Foundation to rezone 313.774 acres from planned unit development to RR-5. The property is located west of Goodson Road and about 1.1 miles north of the Meridian Road and Ayer Road intersection.
   Meridian Ranch subdivision
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by Meridian Ranch Investments Inc. for a sketch plan amendment to 197 acres of the Meridian Ranch subdivision. The amendment increases the maximum residential density from 4,500 to 5,000 dwelling units for the entire acreage. It also re-designates 152 of the 197 acres from a maximum density of two dwelling units per acre to four dwelling units per acre; re-designates 45 of the 197 acres from a maximum density of three dwelling units per acre to nine dwelling units per acre; and adds a 3-acre neighborhood park. The property is currently zoned PUD and is located about 0.25 miles west of Eastonville Road and about 1 mile north of the Eastonville Road and Stapleton Drive intersection.
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