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Trustees Take Action on Holly Well, Consider ARPA Proposal

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The Holly Trustees voted to refurbish the town’s south well which has been out of service for several months. The decision was based on new and more specific information they’ve received concerning high sediment levels in water produced by the well.    Recent and clearer pictures from the shaft now indicate that the level of sediment at the base of the well is only two feet, not twenty feet as was first believed.  It’s also possible that there is not a hole in the casing as was earlier assumed.  This is good financial news for the town, comparatively.  A complete rebuild was estimated at $20,000 and drilling a new well could cost as much as $200,000.  The time needed to secure a grant to finance the project, as well as find a new location for the proposed well could have taken almost a year.

There will be a cost for the work which isn’t presently specific,  but the Trustees felt that with the new information, their best option would be to get a reading on the type of sediment they’re dealing with, either iron bacteria or iron sulfide. J.W. Neal, Interim Field Services Supervisor, said he’s sent water to be tested, but problems will develop if you treat the water for the wrong contamination.  He expected to get results in about five days.  Jerry L’Estrange, Town Administrator, said following the vote, that the well will be shocked once they determine the chemical content of the water and refurbish the check valve and pump and check that the water quality is acceptable before it’s distributed to customers.

Last month, Jack Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Southeast Colorado Power Association, proposed to the Trustees an operations and management agreement to handle the town’s electric service, similar to their agreement with Granada. This would require a break with Lamar Light and Power.   The community would still have final say in all matters for utility service, but SECPA would provide most of the repairs, conduct an inspection for a status update of the electric infrastructure and make recommendations for equipment purchases at the direction of the Trustees.  That topic was continued on the May agenda, but Administrator L’Estrange told the board he had received a similar offer from Rick Rigel, General Manager of ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority.  “ARPA stated they would like to intercede and get Lamar Light and Power to make a similar contract for the town to consider. I haven’t had a chance to read the 13 pages of the draft agreement between us and Lamar which I received a few minutes before we began our meeting,” he explained, noting SECPA’s was only three pages in length.  He added that he will review the draft and report his findings to the Trustees.  L’Estrange said he and the board have had discussions about the Holly employees receiving line training.  He stated he was in contact with the ARPA Operating Committee of which he is a member as are the other 11 municipal and utility managers of the six member group comprising ARPA.  “We discussed the potential for intra group training for employees.  It was mentioned they’d rather have our personnel allow their staff to handle the hands-on portion of bucket truck work and instead be trained for ground operations, mainly because of liability issues.”

He added, “We’d like to standardize this work and look to the larger towns such as Lamar and La Junta, and Las Animas has a very large department. We and Springfield were the lesser group. We have the need but not the sophistication they have.  We’ll try to line up a program so we can participate.  The whole conversation was geared to safety issues for our employees.”  L’Estrange said he’ll have copies for the Trustees so they can do a comparison with the two proposals and discuss the matter at length during a future workshop.

Under the Crew Report, Neal detailed a list of projects undertaken around the town.  Compact fluorescent light bulbs have replaced the flag pole lights in the cemetery and some lighting at the ballfield has been repaired.  “We had some people doing donuts in their cars out at the airport, so we had to re-level the field and we’ve put up a gate,” he stated.  The town parks are being prepared for spring with weeding and mowing and the pool has been filled, but the chlorine sensor may need some work.  A crew replaced the paper towel dispensers at the ballpark restrooms with electric hand dryers.  People were clogging the toilets with paper towels.  The general operation of the town landfill was complimented by the state and county inspectors.  Neal said they paid a visit to assess the operation and Holly got high marks compared to several other landfills in the vicinity.  A road crew dug out the hole on 7th Street and filled it with road base, but a gas leak on Santa Fe Street has saturated the dirt and they’ll have to wait until it dries before repairing that section.

Cathy Garcia, Representative for Senator Gardner

Cathy Garcia, Representative for Senator Gardner

Cathy Garcia, the Regional Director for U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, detailed some of the senator’s recent projects for the Trustees during their May 4th meeting.  “Senator Gardner is continuing to propose legislation for sanctions against North Korea and has co-sponsored what is termed ‘Red Tape’ legislation,” she explained.  This is a proposal to eliminate one unnecessary regulation for every new bill that’s introduced.  She said this one is getting bi-partisan support in Congress.  Garcia added the senator is also working on economic development legislation for rural areas that provide tax credits to corporations that invest in those regions.  She said Gardner is attempting to reduce the wait period between the time a veteran makes a medical appointment with the VA to the time they’re actually treated, sometimes as long as several months.  He’s also working to improve the Choice program that allows a eligible veteran to receive available treatment in their own area instead of having to travel to a Front Range hospital for the same level of care.

In other action the Trustees approved Ordinance 512, a franchise agreement with Atmos Energy for another term, approved an application for an animal/fowl permit for a residence on Pawnee Street. All the conditions will be met to allow for six game hen chickens and two ducks for 4-H programs and a six foot privacy fence is planned for the residence.  Tracy Kirmer was re-hired as the town swimming pool manager as well as five lifeguards for the season.  The Trustees voted to approve an annual ARPA/Town of Holly scholarship for three students who will receive $500 from ARPA and $500 each from the town for the other two.  They are: Andrea Lopez, Hayden Davis and Christopher Weisenhorn.  The Trustees went into executive session to discuss the hiring of a Field Services Supervisor.

By Russ Baldwin

 

 

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