City Projects Move Ahead
The Lamar City Council acknowledged that the construction bid for the Pocket Park came in higher than anticipated, but decided to start work on the more affordable portions of the conversion and seek grants to pay for the balance of the costs next year.
The project was estimated by the City of Lamar at $150,000, but this past summer, the only bid received was priced at $315,000 by MonCor LLC. An agreement was reached by concerned parties, including DoLA and the park design team, following negotiations on the price which will see three portions of the construction put on hold pending additional financing. Angie Cue, Lamar’s Community Development Manager, told the council three areas totaling $120,150 would be set aside from the new construction plans. They are: pavers, painting and pergola, or shade coverings inside the park. That leaves the new construction project priced at $194,850.
Cue said, “If the initial funding is approved, MonCor can start the groundbreaking on the park very quickly and we’ll also start work on grant applications to finance the three areas that are on hold. The project is broken down into phases of development and the first phase can start very soon. The pavers would have been the final element of the project in any case.” The pavers are similar to sections of brick which would be inlaid into the flooring. Parks and Recreation Director, Rick Akers, explained that any leftover bricks would be used as replacements in the future. The council approved the amended version of the agreement with MonCor LLC.
Drought Update for Southeast Colorado
Colorado experienced above average temperatures in October and the first half of November combined with well below normal precipitation as weak La Niña conditions have developed. October was the third warmest on record and temperatures across the state through November 14 ranged from 4-10 degrees above normal. While the 2016 Water Year ended with nearly average precipitation, the 2017 water year is off to a dry start with all basins in the state recording well below normal precipitation as of November 14 at the mountain SNOTEL sites.
Statewide snowpack as of November 14 is at 6% of average. This is the worst start to the mountain snowpack season since at least 1986, although daily snowpack records only date back to that year. At this point in the water year, Colorado typically receives 2.1 inches of snow water equivalent however the state is currently at 0.1 inches.
Statewide water year to date mountain precipitation is 34% of average. The South Platte & Yampa/White basins have the highest percentage of average at 42% and 47% respectively. The lack of precipitation has negatively affected the winter wheat crop.
Reservoir storage statewide remains strong at 104% of normal. The Southwest and Yampa/White River basins have the highest storage levels in the state at 112 and 114% of average, respectively. The Upper Rio Grande has the lowest storage levels at 87% percent.
Water providers in attendance all reported storage levels ranging from 70 to 123 percent of average. Demand is above average & providers hope colder temperatures will help decrease the demands.
Otto New Mayor for Granada
Mayor Pro-Tem, Glenn Otto, took his oath of office as Granada Mayor during the Trustees monthly meeting, Wednesday, November 9th. As pro tem, he assumed the seat vacated by former Mayor, C.F. DeForest when he resigned after moving out of the district. Argie Thrall was appointed the new Mayor Pro-Tem by unanimous consent of the Trustees at the outset of the meeting.
During the light agenda, the Trustees confirmed the general election vote for the community, rejecting the proposed sale of the electric utilities to Southeast Colorado Power Association for the second time. The vote, according to town clerk, Jackie Malone, was 105 opposed to 48 in favor of the sale agreement initiated by SECPA earlier in the year.
Holly Town Administrator Leaving Position
Jerry L’Estrange, Holly Town Administrator, presided over his final Trustees meeting, Wednesday, November 2nd. L’Estrange stated he made the decision based on the need to attend to the medical needs for a family member. “I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve done in Holly for the past two years, but family matters outweigh professional considerations in this case,” he stated following the monthly Trustees meeting. L’Estrange was hired first as interim administrator following the resignation of Marsha Willhite in that position several years ago. The Trustees did not state any plans to search for a new administrator at this time. L’Estrange reviewed a checklist of issues facing the town and Trustees, providing most recent updates on each of the concerns and laying out a general forecast on what should transpire in the months to come.
LUB Notes Lefferdink’s Service to the Board
Over 45 years of service to the Lamar Utility Board by the Lefferdink family concluded recently with the retirement of John Lefferdink as LUB attorney, as he made an announcement to that effect earlier in the month. Lefferdink was present on Tuesday, November 15, to receive and recognition of his years of service as well as a commemorative gift.
He stated, “My father represented the board back in 1971 and I started about 1984-85.” He quipped that one of the best innovations the board did was to move the Monday night meetings to Tuesday afternoon for the ‘lunch bunch’. Lefferdink continued, “We appreciated working for the board…the concept of municipal ownership of a power plant is a good idea as it involved local businessmen in the operation. I appreciate the hard work done by all the boards and the LUB staff and enjoyed being a part of the organization.” Referring to his gift of a desk clock/light, he said, “This will be quite a Christmas bonus!” Attorney Don Steerman was selected several weeks ago as the newest attorney for the LUB.
November Election Results from Prowers County
Prowers County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade ran unopposed for her seat in District Three and will remain in office for a new term. Tom Grasmick ran unopposed for the District One seat left vacant by Commissioner Henry Schnabel who decided not to run for re-election. Grasmick hails from the Granada area and will take office in January along with Buxton-Andrade and Ron Cook who was not up for re-election this cycle.
The contest for the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s office was won by Attorney Josh Vogel who was running on the GOP ballot. He will replace Jennifer Swanson who was term limited in her seat. Vogel defeated Democratic challenger Rodney Fouracre.
Derelict Demolition Continues, Street Improvements are On-going
Twenty-one down and five to go; that’s the tally for derelict houses being brought down in the City of Lamar so far this year. Pat Mason, City Public Works Director, provided the estimate for the Lamar City Council during a Monday night work session. “We are continuing to work on our street and city improvement project,” Mason said, adding, “We have another house planned for demolition this week.” That work got underway Tuesday morning, November 8th, as the long-abandoned, two-story structure in the 400 block of West Elm Street came tumbling down.
Lamar Receives $1.3M from Inspire Grant
The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded the first round of implementation funding for six Inspire Initiative pilot communities, totaling $13.5 million in grants. GOCO’s $13.5 million in funding will leverage $9.7 million in local matching dollars.
Lamar will invest in transforming North Gateway Park and Willow Creek Park, both of which are easily accessible from the Lamar Loop trail. Eighteen programs and associated pathway opportunities will bring new experiences to youth like fishing, camping, and biking, and will give them the gear to do it with an affordable outdoor gear library. The coalition will partner with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to run a “Train the Trainer” program, which will bring in experts from both organizations to train local residents in delivering high-quality outdoor education programming.
Groundwork Starts on Lamar Pocket Park
Preliminary construction work on the proposed Pocket Park for downtown Lamar has begun. An excavation crew from Carrigan Construction was on the scene, Thursday, December 1st, scraping away the top most layer of asphalt and dirt, making way for a sand base which will be more concrete friendly, according to Mark Carrigan.
“We should be on hand for several days, taking care of the preliminary work, and once we’re done the MonCor crew will follow us to begin laying down a concrete base.” The entrance to the parking area has been closed off to motorists for some time now, but the park has been a host site for numerous downtown and community related events for the past year. At this point, though, the park will be off-limits to that that type of gathering while work is underway.
Commissioners Receive Update on Community Corrections Project
Doug Carrigan and his brother, local contractor, Mark Carrigan met with the Prowers County Commissioners to provide an update on Doug Carrigan’s planned community corrections facility. It will be housed in the refurbished WPA buildings on East Maple Street in Lamar. Within the past six weeks, a brand new, green metal roof was installed on all the buildings on the property, approximately 4.5 acres bordered by the railroad tracks to its south.
“I’ve been delayed on this project for a while as I’m finalizing an expansion project for the facility I own in Sterling,” Carrigan explained for the commissions during their December 19th meeting. Carrigan made several presentations to the Lamar community earlier this year, laying out his plans for a local corrections facility, operated on a smaller scale to the one he owns and manages in Sterling. He stated that some health problems with a liaison at the State Department of Justice has also slowed the project, but the state is supporting his efforts. “The Joint Budget Committee is in favor of developing these types of programs, especially in rural areas,” he explained.
Hospice Receives Holiday Donation
The Lamar Area Hospice received a timely holiday gift of $41,000 this week, a donation made by the committee organizers of the annual summer ‘Backyard Bash’ and the Angel’s Open Golf Tournament.
The two events have helped fund local hospice activities for a number of years. The presentation was made to Hospice Executive Director Deb Pelley at the hospice headquarters on West Olive Street in Lamar this past Monday evening, December 19th. This year’s donation surpassed last year’s by $10,000.
Rose Ann Yates said the difference was derived from sold sponsorships, “And the response was fantastic.” Pelley said the donations will be used for operating funds, “It literally takes care of patients, paid staff, buys meds. It’s how we operate.” She said this will help fill financial gaps created by various national health care guidelines. “We are one of the few rural hospices that are surviving right now and I attribute that to our fundraising committee.” She explained that some hospice groups are either merging or shutting their doors. “We are able to continue without watering down our service. We don’t have to do that and one of the reasons is this fundraising committee. There is no one else on the planet like them.”
Pelley added that 2016 was a good year for contributions and they were greatly needed. “This past year, we received $81,000 in donations.
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