The Prowers County Commissioners voted to reinstitute the 2006 Fire Ban Ordinance during their meeting this past Thursday, June 20 (correction from June 30). The fire ban was enacted due to the number of Red Flag Days and the persistent drought conditions being experienced throughout southeastern Colorado. The fire ban does not restrict agriculturally oriented burns, although property owners are expected to contact the Emergency Operations Center and inform them of when and where they intend to conduct a burn. This practice keeps the Rural Fire Department informed of the locations of burns throughout the county and keeps them from becoming too numerous on any given day. At the same time, there will be no ban on the sale of fireworks this year in the county. However, County Attorney, John Lefferdink, cautioned the general public that they can still be held responsible for any damage caused by their direct use of fireworks, up to and including charges of arson.
Unanimous approval was given for the first reading of Ordinance 2013-1, Re: prohibiting the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities and retail marijuana stores within the unincorporated area of Prowers County. The ordinance will go into effect 30 days after the first official publication of notice and allows for comments from the public. Commissioner Chairman Joe Marble said the county’s response is based on two past voting cycles in which the residents of the county were emphatic in their desire to prohibit commercial use of marijuana in the county and to forestall the implementation of Amendment 64 in their community.
Jeremy Miller, County Veterans Service Officer, provided the commissioners with a monthly report on his activities. He noted that the current contract with the VA for the medical clinic at Prowers Medical Center will expire as of August 31. Representatives from the Eastern Colorado VA Department will be at the clinic this Wednesday, June 26 from 9:30am to Noon, to conduct a “Telehealth Fair” and discuss how these changes will affect how area veterans will receive future medical care. The VA is currently seeking office rental space in the area from which to continue their operations.
Jenna Davis, LCC Admissions Counselor and Jenna Randle, Marketing Director, briefed the commissioners on the college’s orientation plans for incoming students this summer. Two orientations have been scheduled, one on July 15 and the other on August 16. Davis noted that Lamar Community College has begun an online pilot program for qualifying students. Those who take the program will enroll in 12 credit hours online and receive a $1,000 scholarship. Davis said the usual cost for that curriculum is $2,550. Because the online qualities open communications with other schools within the state system, Davis said the range of studies will be very comprehensive.
Jillane Hixson, Prowers County farmer and Don Turner from Crop Risk Advisors, discussed bringing the drought disaster in southeast Colorado to the attention of state and national leaders. Hixson felt that state representatives aren’t fully aware of the economic implications and impact the prolonged drought has had on farmer and ranchers in this part of the country. “When there are floods, tornadoes, fires or hurricanes around the country, you see news reports of our national leaders being briefed on events from the site. But that’s not happening with this on-going drought and the effects are just as devastating,” she explained. Hixson asked the commissioners to develop a letter that would be coupled with other county commissioners to send to Denver legislators as well as U.S. senators and to Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, for relief efforts and waiver of fees and rentals for equipment and land that sits idle due to the drought.
Several weeks ago, U.S. Congressman Cory Gardner, toured several wheat fields in southeast Colorado and commented on how quickly agriculture conditions were noticeably different during his travels into this part of the state. The commissioners said they would respond and would draft a letter to their counterparts in Otero, Crowley, Baca, Bent and Kiowa Counties, inviting state leaders to tour the region. Turner and Hixson also recommended discussion be opened up on the Farm Bill and offer changes that remove cuts to critical disaster aid programs for farmers and ranchers including a two year waiting period to apply for and receive disaster aid payments.
By Russ Baldwin
Filed Under: Agriculture • Business • College • Commissioners • community • County • Economy • Education • Employment • Environment • Featured • Granada • Holly • Lamar • Prowers County • Transportation • Utilities • Wiley
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