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Year in Review: July and August

July

WPA Properties Sold to Become Local Community Corrections Center

Old WPA Building

Old WPA Building

The Prowers County Commissioners have sold the East Maple Street properties to open the way for a community oriented corrections facility which will be owned and operated by Doug Carrigan. The decision followed several weeks of negotiations for the property at 800 East Maple Street, consisting of five, one-story sandstone buildings situated on 3.55 acres which border the railroad tracks to the south.  They were built during the Great Depression in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) project which helped create jobs for thousands of unemployed people across the country.

The idea of a small scale community corrections facility was presented to the community during a Lamar City Council work session in early March. Carrigan, who has operated a similar facility for years in Sterling, Colorado, outlined his plans for a smaller operation for the WPA site which would hold approximately 30 clients and employ about 12 persons.

 

Search Underway for Veterans Service Officer for Prowers County

Jeremy Miller announced his resignation as the Veteran’s Service Officer for Prowers County to the Board of Commissioners on Monday, July 11th. Miller will leave at the end of July to relocate to Hays, Kansas where he will assume the Veteran’s Service Officer for western Kansas.  Tammie Clark, the Director of the County Public Health Office, said an advertisement for the open position will soon be announced.

 

LCC Dorm Dedication Set for Friday Morning.

Gathering of Officials for Ribbon Cutting

Gathering of Officials for Ribbon Cutting

“We’ll have five college presidents on hand for the cornerstone laying at the new dorm this Friday,” stated John Marrin, the departing President of Lamar Community College. Marrin was paying his final visit with the Prowers County Commissioners this past Monday, July 25th.  He was describing the 10am event that will open the new dorm for the fall semester at LCC, where he served as president for seven years.  Marrin announced his retirement earlier this year and a search for his successor was finalized recently with the hiring of Dr. Linda Lujan who will assume her duties on the first of August.

Marrin said the five will be comprised of himself and Dr. Lujan as well as past presidents, James Rizzuto, Linda Bowman and Bette Matkowski.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony which will be highlighted by the placing of a cornerstone at the new residence hall by Cornerstone Lodge No. 90 off Lamar and they will be assisted by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Colorado. A time capsule will also be installed and will contain the histories of the Masonic Lodge as well as the college and the new dormitory.  It’s expected the capsule will remain sealed until the year 2116.

Marrin stated, “We already have 25 persons signed up for the new dorm which can accommodate up to 31 students and we expect to have it filled to capacity by the time the fall semester begins on August 19th.” He said he was excited to see the dorm finally completed, mostly through the efforts of the college’s Foundation which sought donations for the construction costs, approximately $1,250,000.  Marrin told the commissioners the revenue generated through added enrollment and dorm fees will help fund the planned second and third dorms which will be built in proximity to the first one.  “We’ve already laid out the infrastructure for electric wiring and water and wastewater mains while we were constructing the first dorm,” he explained, which will save time and money through this additional foresight.

Marrin and the commissioners exchanged their appreciations for the good working relationship between the community and the college. Marrin stated, “It’s the community’s college, really, we aren’t separate from the town.  We’re all in this together.”

 

Curtis Lane Porter, Prowers County Court Judge

Curtis Porter was sworn in as the new Prowers County Court Judge Friday, July 1st in the courtroom where he will preside. Porter Replaced Judge Larry Stutler who resigned his position after years on the bench.  Stutler said during his farewell reception at the courthouse just hours earlier on Thursday that he and his wife, Leah, plan to visit relatives in Arizona.  Porter, with his father and mother, Larry and Stella looking on, was sworn in by Judge Stan Brinkley with Judge Mike Davidson also attending.  Davidson is relatively new in his career as District Court Judge for the 15th Judicial District in Baca, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Prowers Counties, as Brinkley administered his oath of office last October. 

August

 

Dr. Linda Lujan Named LCC Interim President

Dr. Linda Lujan, New President at LCC

Dr. Linda Lujan, New President at LCC

Maricopa Community Colleges Chancellor Rufus Glasper announced the appointment of Dr. Linda Lujan as Interim President of Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC). The appointment will be effective in July, when Dr. Maria Hesse, the college’s current president, moves to a new position at Arizona State University. Dr. Lujan has a Ph.D. in Community College Leadership from Colorado State University; an M.A. in Educational Technology Leadership from George Washington University; a B.A. in Human Resource Management from Colorado Christian University; and an A.A.S. in Management Information Systems from Arapahoe Community College.

 

Expanded Beer Garden Approved for Oktoberfest

The public hearing for the requested Oktoberfest beer garden detailed an expanded area, encompassing about two-thirds of the Lamar Chamber of Commerce parking lot for the September 24th event. In past years, the beer garden’s seating area was located under a tent, adjacent to the stage by the Enchanted Forest.  This year’s proposal, as outlined by Chamber President Vickie Dykes and Lisa Carder, Chamber office manager, would place the beer drinking area within the confines of a fence that would run from the old locomotive up to the chamber offices, east to the beer garden serving area and then south to the edge of the parking lot and back west along the sidewalk that borders the train display.  The proposed fence line would not interfere with the Welcome Center visitors.  After some deliberation, the council approved the Chamber’s request on a unanimous vote.

 

Harbart Selected as New Prowers County Veteran’s Service Officer

Gary Harbart

Gary Harbart

Gary Harbart, former U.S. Army veteran, has been selected as the new Veteran’s Service Officer for Prowers County. Tammie Clark, Director for Public Health and Environment, made the announcement to the Prowers County Commissioners during their August 29th meeting.  Clark said Monday was also the first day on the job for Harbart.  His position includes the Vital Statistics and Records office for the county, positions formerly held by Jeremy Miller who resigned earlier this summer to take a similar position representing veterans in the western half of Kansas.   Harbart said he comes from a military background in his family, “After I graduated from LCC, I enlisted in the army and became a Field Artillery Surveyor, directing fire missions for eight inch howitzers.  I’ve lived in La Junta and Colorado Springs and returned to Lamar.   After the service I was employed at the Ft Lyons Corrections Center and I enjoyed the work there.”  Harbart said his father served in the army during the Vietnam era and his son, a marine, is currently stationed in Hawaii.

 

High Bidding Delays Local Construction Projects

 

Lamar City Administrator, John Sutherland, imparted some disappointing news to the Lamar City Council and audience during the August 22nd meeting; the bids for construction for the proposed downtown Pocket Park and the first phase of Highway 287 construction came in over expectations and current available finances.

“We had only one bid for the Pocket Park construction,” he said, adding it was at three times the expected cost of construction, estimated at $150,000. “The city is going to have to go back and look at a new approach for finances on this matter.

“There were four bids from construction companies for the Highway 287 renovation project going through the downtown area, and the lowest bid of the four came in 25% higher than our cost estimate for that portion of the project,” said Sutherland, as he discussed what could now be a delay in that project which was expected to begin this October. CDOT Resident Engineer for southeast Colorado, Brian Long, said the first phase of the project was estimated at $10M and the low bid was at $12.5M.  “Part of the problem is at this late date in the year, a lot of construction companies are already booked for projects and they probably set a premium price on accepting the bid on this project,” he explained.  Long said he’s making calls for more information on the new scenario and there appear to be a couple of options at this point.  “We can try to find the extra funding in the budget and pay the low bid, or probably our best option would be to go to re-bid and see if we get lower prices in the second round.  I think that’s what would happen, and it would mean saving the taxpayers money through that course, but it would also probably delay the project until next year.”  Ultimately, the state accepted the lowest bid with the project now expected to begin in the spring of 2017 and would be comprised of two phases instead of three.

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