The City of Lamar is advertising for a replacement councilmember for Felix Dias who recently resigned his seat. Dias remains in Lamar, but a recent address change to another district prevents him from serving on the council. Dias had represented residents of Ward lll along with Beverly Haggard. The ward is located west of Eighth Street running south to intersect the south city limits and extended north to intersect the north city limits. Application forms are available from the City Administrator’s office and must be returned by 4pm, Tuesday, February 15th. Mayor Stagner, Administrator Sutherland and council members stated they appreciated the service that was provided to the city by Dias.
Sutherland said a council work session has been called for Monday, February 6th at 6:30pm during which time the state Inspire grant from GoCO wil be discussed along with law enforcement matters.
Sutherland also brought up the pending ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority trial known as Part 31, between the City of Lamar and ARPA regarding payment of performance bonds. That jury trial will begin in Pueblo on Thursday, March 6thh and is expected to last the month. Sutherland mentioned, “They said to us, they would like to see a representative of the city present at court every day.” Mayor Roger Stagner said the schedule is still developing, adding, “I know they want me and councilman Kirk Crespin there for the whole thing and the closing of the trial, as we will be expected to testify at some point.” He said he expects City Attorney Garth Neischburg to be on hand as well. Crespin explained, “It might be a good experience to have one councilman attend to see what’s happening and see what it’s like.” The City of Lamar asked for their day in court to have the bond payments dismissed, to be removed from membership in ARPA and to be free to broker electric rates with an outside provider. The city’s prime contention is that utility customers, for the past several years, have had to pay an estimated five to six cents for each kilowatt of power they consume to pay down the bonds used to construct the failed power plant.
Sutherland also mentioned that City Development Director, Angie Cue, has some additional information on economic and business interests for the city. “Angie has reached a point where she has some information to share with council in a more informal, quiet way. We plan to schedule meetings with individual councilmembers over the next week for the discussions to stop in and visit with her. There is some solid information about what’s been going on and we’ll see about setting times for a visit. Several months ago, the City entered into a contract with business developer Buxton Group out of Texas to conduct an analysis of retail buying habits in the city and determine from them what would be a good ‘fit’ for a business franchise or other commercial operation to locate to Lamar.
Mayor Stagner also noted that the city will meet with Prowers County officials to formulate plans to remove derelict buildings. The county will offer aid with that project if both parties approve. The city and county have a long history of lending equipment to each other for various projects. Stagner said the county has some trucks with a larger hauling capacity than the city does and they may offer assistance on a project at no charge. He said he’d keep the council up to date on any talks that develop. Over the past couple of years, the city has taken a more aggressive approach to tearing down derelict and abandoned residences within the city limits. Approximately 24 of those were taken down in 2016.
By Russ Baldwin
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