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Year in Review: May and June

May

Renovation Work on County Courthouse Begins

Materials are Hoist to the Roof

Materials are Hoist to the Roof

Materials for a new roof was hoist to the top of the Prowers County Courthouse. A construction crew and crane hauled materials to the roof in early May. The old roof was stripped down to the concrete and a new surface was added.  Workers began digging away at the old curbsides between the parking lot and sidewalk along South 4th Street. A new topping for the parking lot was planned, as well as new curbing and sidewalks for the perimeter of the courthouse.  Long years of use and especially weathering had taken its toll on the sidewalk where patching over the cracks just wouldn’t suffice any longer.  The majority of the cost is being grant funded.  Additional repairs included restoration of the ceiling in the third floor courtroom, repaving the east parking lot as well as replacing curbs and gutters and long range plans called for an overhaul of the HVAC and electric system throughout the entire building.

 

Skateboard Park Site Confirmed

Proposed Area Looking North from Edge of Skateboard Park

Proposed Area Looking North from Edge of Skateboard Park

The proposed skateboard park for the City of Lamar, termed Wheels Park, has finally found a home. The skateboard park is an idea that took shape about two years ago when area kids were asked what type of outdoor activity they would enjoy in their town.  One of the answers was a skateboard area to replace the one at Parkview Elementary School that was taken down six years ago.  That one was a rudimentary effort, consisting of several wooden and sheet metal ramps set on the concrete playground area in back of the school.  The Healthy Places group ran with the kid’s idea and the city developed a cost estimate for a full scale production that lacked an area and funding.  And now, it appears both will become available.  Several site recommendations had been made, each with pros and cons balanced between location and feasibility.  Bicentennial Park, Escondido Park, the horseshoe pits near the Enchanted Forest, the ballfield complex and Willow Creek Park had all been considered.  The Lamar City Council toured the second site at Willow Creek Park during their work session on May 9th and decided on that as the best selection.

Funding is almost guaranteed for the project. Lamar was chosen as one of six Colorado communities for an Inspire grant, based on health-oriented needs for outdoor activities for local youngsters.  A coalition has been working on the complete grant proposal which will be submitted by October and the size of the award, perhaps as much as $5 million for the proposed projects should be announced in December.  However the anticipated total amount did not materialize, but total construction of the skateboard park was funded as of early December with an announcement from GoCO.

Brase, Specht Honored as LCC Alumni of the Year

Lawrence Brase with LCC President John Marrin

Lawrence Brase with LCC President John Marrin

(Lamar, Colorado; May 17, 2016) Lawrence Brase and Dale Specht were selected as the 2016 Lamar Community College Outstanding Alumni of the Year. They were honored LCC’s Annual Antelope Night held on May 6. President John Marrin introduced Brase and Specht, remarking on their personal successes since their time at LCC as well as their continued support of the college and all of Southeast Colorado.

“Both are outstanding representations of what LCC students can become,” remarked President Marrin.

Lawrence Brase was born and raised in the Wiley area. He graduated from Lamar High School in 1964 and from Lamar Junior College in 1966. While at the college, he was a member of Red Heath’s Livestock Judging legacy and served as Student Government President his sophomore year. Upon graduation from LCC, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Vocational Agriculture from Colorado State University and graduated from the Colorado School of Banking.

Dale Specht and John Marrin

Dale Specht and John Marrin

Dale Specht grew up in the Sheridan Lake area, graduated from Lamar High School in 1979, and attended LCC in 1980 – 1983. He also served in the Colorado Army National Guard during this time. After LCC, he went on to graduate from Adams State College in 1987 with his accounting degree and has been employed as an accountant in Lamar since 1988. He started his own accounting firm, Stagner & Specht, LLC in 2003.

Specht is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Lamar Elks and Eagles lodges. He has also organized and managed the Lamar Weekend Warriors youth baseball team and recently assisted with improvements at Merchants’ Park.

 

National Park Service Interested in Acquiring Management of Camp Amache

NPS-Logo

Granada Trustees are pondering the variables they expect to encounter with the recent offer from the National Park Service to manage Camp Amache. The former internment camp, used to incarcerate approximately 7,500 Japanese-Americans shortly after World War Two, is listed as a National Historic Landmark.  Originally a 10,000 acre span, very little remains today of the original camp.  Preservation efforts by local high school students under the direction of teacher, John Hopper, have helped to maintain some artifacts from that period. A small museum depicting life at Camp Amache during the war is on display on Highway 50 in Granada.  The Trustees were first approached by NPS representatives with the idea during their meeting in April.  The Trustees discussed the offer with Jerene DeBono during their monthly meeting, May 11th.  While the Trustees felt that the change could mean a higher level of interest for visitors with the NPS, they have some concerns about how the transfer would impact the community.

 

Syncora Drops Lawsuit Against ARPA Ratepayers

Syncora Guarantee Corp. of New York, a bond insurer for the Lamar Repowering Project, has seen its lawsuit against the Ratepayers recently dismissed in court. The lawsuit was filed in August 2015 against Colorado Mills, the Ports to Plains Truck Plaza and the Rodeway Cow Palace Inn.  The suit alleged that the defendants, through their earlier suit against Syncora, had undermined the ability of ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority, to pay its bondholders for construction costs on the failed coal powered plant.

The initial lawsuit also named the City of Lamar, as Syncora claimed the city’s efforts to withdraw from the ARPA member municipalities were financially harmful as the power authority would not be able to fully repay bondholders should Lamar withdraw its membership with ARPA. Syncora had claimed the three ratepayers brought the city into their lawsuit under threats they would sue the city if it didn’t join the ratepayers in their legal action.  The city is continuing their lawsuit against Arpa/Syncora as it wants to eliminate payments on bonds used to finance the defunct power plant, approximately $110M, which is being paid off by ARPA customers, residents of the City of Lamar.

The ratepayer’s case against ARPA was dismissed in May, 2015 by a district court judge, who ruled the ratepayers case against the organization either had no standing or failure to state a claim upon which relief could have been granted. When that happened, Syncora filed a lawsuit in federal court against the three ratepayers.

 

JUNE

 

25 Year Anniversary for Lamar Welcome Center

Welcome Center Main Entrance

Welcome Center Main Entrance

Area residents enjoyed a tour of the Lamar Welcome Center during its 25th anniversary come and go open house, Tuesday, June 14th. Tourists making a stop at the Center happily enjoyed the refreshments that accompanied information from the staff regarding where they were and what they would find at their destination during their visit to Colorado.

Director Leslie Stagner Shares a Moment with Staff and Lamar Police Chief Kyle Miller

Director Leslie Stagner Shares a Moment with Staff and Lamar Police Chief Kyle Miller

The Lamar City Council highlighted the work of the Center for its 25 years of service to southeastern Colorado with the signing of a proclamation during the June 13th meeting. The proclamation detailed the economic importance of tourism-generated revenue to the state, noting that direct spending from travelers in Colorado in 2014 amounted to $18.6 billion and helped support 155,000 jobs in the state.  International travel to the United States is the nation’s Number 1 services export and ranked in the top five for Colorado.

Judy and Dean Douglass at Center

Judy and Dean Douglass at Center

Leslie Stagner, who has served as the Center’s director for just over a year, said a lot of that service and goodwill stems from the dedication of her staff of 38 volunteers. “Many are senior citizens who are happy to devote either several hours a day or a week to helping out here seven days a week,” she explained, adding that they fill in whenever she has to attend meetings that are held out of the area.  “We have had a lot of visitors for the open house, including Lamar residents who had never been to the Center before, but decided to visit to learn more about us,” Stagner commented.

 

Curtis “Lane” Porter Appointed to Prowers County Court

Porter Receiving the Oath of Office from Judge Brinkley

Porter Receiving the Oath of Office from Judge Brinkley

On Thursday, June 9, 2016, Governor Hickenlooper appointed Curtis “Lane” Porter to the Prowers County Court. Porter will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Hon. Larry E. Stutler, effective July 1, 2016. Porter is currently a Deputy District Attorney in the Fifteenth Judicial District, where he has worked since 2009. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in 2005 and his law degree from the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville in 2008.

 

Judge Stutler Retires

Friends, colleagues and well-wishers were on hand on the third floor of the county courthouse to pay their respects to Judge Larry Stutler Thursday afternoon, as he was officially retiring as Prowers County Judge on June 30th.

Judge Larry Stutler

Judge Larry Stutler

Stutler said he came to Lamar in 1975 to do a clerkship with George McLachlan and was later hired back as an attorney. “I came back in 1976 and then was with that firm for a number of years.  I also practiced with Stan Brinkley and then went on my own in 1993.  Shortly thereafter, in 1995, I got a judgeship in the County and have been at that ever since.”

Asked if he could pass along any one item that would assist incoming Judge Porter Lane who is scheduled to sworn in as his replacement, Judge Stutler replied, “I think you just have to not take yourself too seriously and exercise some patience which is difficult to do on certain days. I think Lane is a good selection, he’ll do a good job.”

 

North Gateway Park Receives Floating Dock

First the restroom and now the floating dock has been set up at North Gateway Park in Lamar. Crews from the City of Lamar Public Works Department and Colorado Parks and Wildlife spent Wednesday and Thursday, June 22-23rd, putting the dock together at the park and assembling the final sections once they were floating in the main pond.  The city had received the parts several weeks ago, but some landscaping was needed along the shore to accommodate the early assembly efforts.

Securing the Land Dock to the Floating Deck

Securing the Land Dock to the Floating Deck

Lamar received funding in 2014 from the GoCO, ‘Fishing for Fun’ grant. Lamar’s share of the $300,000 award was $48,000, according to David Miller, CPW Technician.  “It was a little less than we expected, but it will cover the costs of our projects,” he explained.  Some of the funding has already been used to purchase the permanent chemical restroom that was installed at the park last week.  The final portion of the three part project is a shade shelter which will be erected, probably later this summer, in the vicinity of the dock.  He said the dock, known as a ‘Super Deck’ cost $35,000.

 

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