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2017 Year in Review – MARCH

 

 

 

Nidey Back on Council

The Lamar City Council filled the vacancy created by the resignation of former councilmember, Felix Dias, during their March 13th meeting. The council appointed former councilman, Keith Nidey Sr. for Dias who represented Ward lll, but who had to resign as he had moved out of boundary of his service area last year.  Nidey will fill the position until the end of Dias’s term.  Mayor Roger Stagner said he was the lone applicant for the position and the council appreciated his return.

Holly Historical Society Recaps Decade Following Tornado

March 28, 2017 was the tenth anniversary of the Holly Tornado. In remembrance of that night, the Holly Historical Society presented “The Holly Tornado – Ten Years After” at the Holly Theater on March 28 .  This program was free to the public.

The evening included Tom Magnuson of the National Weather Service who explained the conditions that caused the storm. Lee Merkel, of the Department of Local Affairs, described the steps that were taken in the immediate aftermath.  There were photos and videos from several sources that showed the effects of that tragic night.

New LED Lights Will Be Mounted on Sidewalk

New Lights for Main Street

Lamar residents began to notice some changes along Main Street; new light poles placed along the sidewalks instead of the center median. The new LED lights will cut back on electrical costs while the old ones, situated along the center median, are to be stored at the Lamar Light Plant.  Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh, told the Lamar Utilities Board several months ago, the old lights will be stored as replacements for the ones that will not be changed out, north of the Lamar Canal.

 

Renovations for LCC Lecture Halls Nearing Completion

Work crews began putting the finishing touches to the two lecture halls at Lamar Community College. According to Sean Lirley, Director of Facilities Management, The Bowman building construction was complete in 1968. This is the first renovation/improvement of the halls since 1968.

Large Lecture Hall View from Bottom to Top

Working with a grant of $642,815, the renovations included removal of all asbestos from the floor and ceiling tiles, a completely new lighting system and more spacious and comfortable seats. Lirley said a few seats were sacrificed to accommodate a larger sized model.  He noted the lighting system was improved considerably and now features a computer system which can automatically time when lights can be controlled at points of the day.  They can also be controlled to a percentage of brightness, depending on the requirements of the lecture hall.  The Small Lecture Hall has fixed seating for 58 persons, while the Large Hall has fixed seating for 141.

Plans had been underway for the renovations for about two years and once funding had been secured, work began in October of last year and the project is expected to be completed on April 17th. LCC President, Dr. Linda Lujan, informed the Lamar City Council, that a community open house was set towards the end of summer, before the new fall semester begins.

Although the architect, mechanical and electrical engineers were out of Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Lirley said that the majority of hands-on construction was local; using MonCor LLC as the general contractor with work done by Maggart & Sons, Electra Pro and Cook’s Floor and Wall.

 

Water and Landfill Issues are Growing Concern in Granada

The Granada Trustees are faced with two expensive issues that will impact the town’s residents in the future. The Trustees discussed their revenue options to upgrade the aging water lines in the community, a matter that is being carried over from last year; and how to afford to bring the town’s landfill into compliance with state regulations, again with only limited funds available needed to correct those deficiencies.  The Trustees met in regular session, Wednesday, March 8th at the town complex.

The main concern is being able to repay a zero percent, 30 year, Drinking Water Revolving Fund Loan which could save 80% of the cost of the two phase project. Last year, a rough estimate of the complete project, wells and pipeline, would cost approximately $2.2M with $1.17M for the distribution system and administrative costs and another million dollars for rehabilitating the tanks and drilling a fourth well.  Consultants from GMS Engineering want to touch base with the Trustees to get a determination on a possible grant from the Department of Local Affairs which would help pay down costs.  Even with grant funding, the cost to the community would be in the neighborhood of $600,000.

Landfill issues are also proving to be an expense for Granada, as well as numerous small communities in southeast Colorado and around the state. Landfill upgrades have been a concern for Granada as far back as 2011 when over a dozen deficiencies at the site were noted by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE).  Some pertained to record keeping but others were focused on the landfill operation in general.  Following a February 28th meeting in Lamar which was open to all area communities, the issue of costly improvements has become more timely.

Hemp in Agriculture

A Hemp Road Show was held at Lamar Community College. The program offered three speakers who described the history of hemp agriculture and production in the U.S. and its recent resurgence in the farming community.  The meeting focused on the mechanics and production of hemp as an agricultural crop in Colorado presented by farmer Rick Trojan.  The second half detailed the progress of agricultural hemp development in the state as viewed by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and information on attempts to de-list it as a restricted product through changes in national legislation.

Mitch Yergert of Colorado Department of Agriculture

Mitch Yergert, the Director of the Division of Plant Industry for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, responsible for the regulations that pertain to growing hemp in the state and he detailed the regulatory process for the growth of hemp and how it complies with the current farm bill.  He provided some aspects of the recent interest in hemp, “Amendment 64 passed in 2012 while allowed the use of recreational marijuana in Colorado and it included a provision which would regulate hemp separately.  The Industrial Hemp Act was passed in 2013 gave jurisdiction to the State Department of Agriculture to oversee its growth and production.  Our farm bill authorizes institutions of higher education and our departments to oversee hemps production and development in Colorado.”

Yergert explained that efforts are underway to regulate hemp on a national, uniform level. “We had 30 states and one Indian tribe attended a September gathering in Denver which discussed bringing the hemp industry under some unified regulations.  The goal is to have hemp viewed as a basic ag commodity crop such as corn or wheat.  When this happens we’ll see the easing of some regulations pertaining to financing a crop, insurance coverage, credit and the availability to develop a commodity market,” he explained.  He said because of its regulations, marijuana can show it was a $1.3B crop in the state last year, with taxes applied to it to help education and communities and the creation of 30,000 more jobs.  Hemp cannot show those numbers at this point and that is needed to develop legislation that can move the crop forward.”  He said a lot of development is also needed in the permitting process for the production and manufacture of hemp products.

John Finamore, the Executive Director of the National Hemp Association, echoed Yergert with having similar goals for hemp’s nationwide recognition and regulation. “Our goal is to have hemp equal to other traditional crops which opens the doors to financing, credit, manufacture and marketing, but before that happens we need national legislation which de-schedules hemp as an illegal drug.”  He added, “We started developing industrial hemp in the farm bill during the last legislative session and we’re working ahead for 2017’s farm bill with bi-partisan support growing for it in the House and the Senate.  We have a caucus in congress that supports this level of development for hemp.  It all starts for us when its legal listing is changed with law agencies at the federal level.”  He said the lack of support mainly comes from the lack of understanding of what the plant is about and the potential for so many uses.

He compared its potential to the market value of marijuana at this point. “I would estimate that the marijuana industry is seeing around $30B profit by 2025 with added growth when more states adopt it for recreation purposes.  In Colorado last year, there was $1.3B profit for a state with about five million people and of course, not everyone used it.”  He said hemp’s potential would dwarf marijuana’s as there’s a totally open market for everyone in the nation for the uses and products that hemp can deliver.  “Almost every person in the country can find a hemp product in their daily lives, from medicine to construction materials and a growth in the food industry.  Everyone has a use for it and this will multiply the agricultural growth rate in our country.”  He concluded his remarks saying investor growth is required to start the machinery rolling and the development on a processing industry to meet future demands for the products that are manufactured from hemp.  Education on what hemp is and isn’t compared to marijuana is going to be a major factor is moving forward.

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