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The Harrison School District high school principal who was the target of allegations that he misused student activity funds has left town, taking a job in Boulder Valley Schools.

According to Barbara Taylor, communications director of Boulder Valley Schools, Palmer's first day as principal of Fairview High School is Aug. 1. He will start at a salary of $89,300 plus a standard health benefits package.

Palmer left District 2 after the district -- at a cost to taxpayers of $4,500 -- hired an independent audit of the finances at Sierra High School. Specifically, school board treasurer Jan Bruner leveled accusations of financial mismanagement, citing several glitches in the accounts that Palmer oversaw. The results of the audit have not yet been released to the public.

Bruner and central administrators criticized Palmer for inappropriately using student activity funds for his own use. And, Bruner wanted an accounting of what happened to two certificates of deposits that were cashed in by Palmer but unaccounted for.

In addition, Palmer was criticized for ordering a $31,000 message board that was to be erected outside the high school. The sign was already ordered when the district learned that the high school is prohibited from putting it up because of city restrictions. The sign company agreed to refund only $23,500 of the money that had already been paid, forcing Harrison School District to eat the remaining $7,500.

Palmer's problems -- along with other critical issues facing the city's third-largest school district in southeast Colorado Springs -- were detailed in the May 25 issue of the Independent. But Palmer's got a new pal to defend him.

According to a June 7 article in the Boulder Daily Camera, Mack Clark, the deputy superintendent of Boulder Valley Schools, contacted his new principal after he learned of the Independent article, and questioned him on each point that had been raised.

"I'm completely satisfied with his explanation," Clark was quoted as saying.

After two years of buck-passing and legal wrangling, the county Department of Transportation recently committed to repair the McCrea reservoir dam.

The facility is located adjacent to Fountain Valley School in the Widefield/Security area, with a busy stretch of Fontaine Boulevard traversing the top of the dam. Two years ago, the state declared the dam unsafe and ordered the reservoir drained. It has remained an unsightly, muddy hole ever since.

"It's been a major chore getting the county to make repairs," said state dam inspector Garrett Jackson. "This is a welcome development."

According to Andre Brackin of county DOT, the dam will be lowered to a height under 10 feet, which will remove it from state jurisdiction and free it of having to meet yearly state inspection requirements.

"McCrea was never designed to be a dam, anyway," said Brackin. "All it is, bascially, is an embankment with Fontaine Boulevard. on top. Irrigation and stormwater runoff backs up against it and a couple culverts let the accumulated water exit in controlled fashion."

The redesign project will permanently refill the reservoir and let people resume fishing and ice skating, and the County Parks Department is looking to extend the trail system from Widefield Park to the Fountain Valley School and the McCrea area.

The redesign will also give the county the capacity to widen Fontaine Boulevard. in the future, as traffic volume dictates.

A request for proposals will be put out at the end of July, with the redesign project to be completed in about six months. Construction will begin sometime next year.

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