The Prowers County Commissioners continued their policy of community outreach this past Thursday, April 18, holding their regular meeting at the Granada Complex. The commissioners periodically hold their meetings in Granada, Wiley and Holly to stay acquainted with representatives in those communities and afford the residents an opportunity to meet with the commissioners. Students from the Granada school system also attended the meeting for a portion of their day. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by student council members, Adam Hopper, Tarin Kemp, Shelby Holden and Johnny Gallegos from the junior high school. The commissioners and their guests explained how the county government system was organized and funded through taxes, their job descriptions and answered questions from the students regarding gun safety legislation and school security, concerns about job loss through the current drought, immigration laws for the county and how they impact our economy and increased costs for electric power. The meeting was also attended by Marsha Willhite, Holly Town Administrator.
Staffon Warn, Rural Fire Chief and Emergency Operations Manager and Natalie Musick, provided a quarterly update on operations. New outdoor warning sirens have been installed in Wiley and Kornman and seven wireless activation systems for Lamar are planned. The cost of installation is quoted at $1,750. Warn said he’d like to place a siren at Alta Vista Charter School, as well as near the VFW Hall, south of Lamar, on Memorial Drive.
The Rural Fire Department had 22 calls for the first quarter of the year including nine grass fires, three tree fires, four motor vehicle accidents and two for fires, as well as four false alarms. The department also responded to two mutual aid calls. An approved grant for the Colorado State Forest Service Volunteer Fire Assistance was approved and will fund installation of two hydrants on the Granada Water System in two rural areas north of Highway 196.
Paul Westhoff, CDOT Resident Engineer detailed funding needs for the Lamar Reliever Route, commonly known as the by-pass. CDOT has a program called RAMP, Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships which prioritizes use of a project’s funds, spending a portion of the funds as needed within a five year time period. Westhoff explained that $150 million has been estimated for a number of state highway improvements, including the Reliever Route Project for Prowers County and the City of Lamar with a 20% match requirement among CDOT, Lamar and the County. He said a funding mechanism termed devolution, or development value, would offer the city and county a means to finance their matching share. Westhoff said the first part of the process would be to determine the development value of the Reliever Route road, and from there, the project would move forward on several levels simultaneously. The project has been given a five year timeline which includes environmental assessments and the engineering design. The most feasible option, he explained, would be to begin construction on one phase of the project, such as a bridge, while engineers are doing a design on the roadway and continue in that mode, for the segments which are next in line for construction.
Conditions at the Granada Landfill were reviewed by Trustee Jerene DeBono for the commissioners. The town has been cited for deficiencies by the state health department and, as DeBono recounted for the Trustees last week, has been told that they must be corrected or the landfill will be closed. No specific timeline has been mentioned, although the affordability of some of the improvements, such as the purchase of a bulldozer, will be a hindrance unless outside funding or an alternative can be found to the recommendations. Holly Town Administrator Marsha Willhite and Pat Mason, Lamar Pubic Works Director, were present for the meeting and offered advice from their past, similar experiences. Willhite said Holly, like other communities, must have sufficient dirt on hand to cover the working cell at the landfill and funds to enact covering and shutting down the site, as well as maintaining it for the next 30 years. “We’ve budgeted between $30,000 and $40,000,” she said, but added that because of other past needs for the dirt, the monetary figure has been adjusted. DeBono stated that she believed in 2003, the county had promised to offer assistance to Granada, at no cost, with equipment and manpower, if they had to close their landfill. Mason explained that because the landfill cap and base must contain a specific percentage of clay, communities usually need to purchase that type of dirt when called for. Well tests also have to be conducted for thirty years after the landfill is closed. DeBono felt that the town’s landfill plan is so dated, that the best course of action would be to develop a new one. The cost of hiring a recycling firm was also discussed as this could reduce the amount of refuse put into the landfill.
Electronic refuse disposal was also discussed with Lamar City Administrator John Sutherland and Pat Mason discussing a state mandate on the proper way to dispose of computers, screens, TV’s, cell phones and other electronic devices which had become a part of our everyday life. The state mandate set July 1 of this year prohibiting disposal of these items in a landfill. There is an exception that reads, “A board of county commissioners that does not have at least two electronic waste recycling events per year, or an ongoing electronic waste recycling program may exempt its residents from the ban.”
Lamar owns the landfill off CR14, while Holly and Granada make use of their own for their customers. Sutherland proposed a joint meeting among all entities to discuss what options would make the most ecological and economic sense for all parties. Pat Mason said the city had held some community recycling events in years past and 15 years ago, the fee from a certified collection agency was about $15,000. “Now a community can get credited on some of the gold, platinum and other precious metals that are used in some of these components and that will be subtracted from the recycling cost,” Mason explained. He said it could bring down the cost for two semis’s to haul away the items to about $6-7,000. “Today’s costs would run about $14 for a 27 inch TV or around $0.30 a pound for hauling,” he added. Sutherland said a central site should be selected in the county and proposed a joint meeting to explore all options of the recycling venture.
By Russ Baldwin
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