2017 Year in Review AUGUST

L to R: Dr. Figlio, Eric Niemeyer, Sonia Grewal DDS, Jim Farmer


Pediatric Expansion Plans Set for High Plains Health Center

Expansion plans for the pediatric department are closer to fruition. Eric Niemeyer, Executive Director of the High Plains Community Health Center said the Clinic’s board decided last year that the department needed more space as Dr. Figlio gave up his office to become an examination room.  “We have plans from our architect and have hired a contractor and we expect to announce a ground breaking event in the next several weeks.”  Niemeyer said the expansion will allow 2,000 more square feet of space to be added to the building just south of the High Plains Clinic which also serves as the dental clinic.  He estimated construction would take from four to six months and the expansion could allow for another pediatric provider to join the Clinic.  He estimated the cost at $1M and the project would combine the dental waiting room with the one for pediatrics.


Tanya and Eric McSwan at Lamar Airport

New Lamar Airport Managers Begin Their New Career

Eric and Tanya McSwan have entered into a partnership with AirCare in Lamar to become the new Fixed Base Operators (FBO) at the Lamar Municipal Airport. The couple began their new career about a month ago.

Eric McSwan, who graduated from Wiley in 1988, used to work at the airport for the Lyddon family as a teenager and has followed that career path, working as an airplane mechanic at the Air Force Academy and serving as Afghanistan with a helicopter medivac crew. “I knew the Tinnes family and we’ve kept in touch and Danny knew we were ready for something new and different and took us on as a partner at the airport,” he explained.

Tanya McSwan had family in Lamar where she met Eric and has a background in business management. “I feel like our whole lives together, the past 18 years, have been preparing us to come back to this area,” she explained.  Tanya worked in the corporate world for Comcast, managing budgets and planning events.  Eric added, “We’ll be using all our learned skills at this airport.”  He has his FAA license for airframe and power-plant, as well as inspection authorization.  He manages the day-to-day operation at the airport while Tanya takes care of the logistics and finance side.

Hail and Rain Damage Tally for Prowers County

The Lamar Public Works Department, along with local police and fire department personnel, were at work Thursday evening, August 10th, dealing with the aftermath of a severe weather system that hit the county shortly before 7pm last night.  Police officers were posted in high-water intersections, helping traffic safely navigate a course to a higher, dryer roadway.  Public Works personnel were nearby, cleaning out gutters filled with debris to allow the water to runoff into the underground drainage system.  It took only a few minutes at the intersection of South 5th and West Oak Streets, to have the water continue to back up by several yards along South 5th Street near the Post Office, surrounding this reporter’s vehicle which had been parked high and dry.

It’s been a familiar story for summer storms in southeast Colorado with wind from 30 to 40mph, coupled with a heavy, continuous downpour. This time, sections of the county got hit with hail, big enough to cause damage to homes, cars and trees and shrubbery.  Hailstones ranging from ping-pong ball up to softball sizes pelted the area for around 30 minutes after the storm began.  Windows were broken on vehicles and homes while the leaves, stripped from the trees, began to cause scattered flooding problems, as they clogged rain-filled gutters, causing some flooding in low-lying areas that ran from curb to curb at intersections along West Oak Street.

Extensive storm damage, mostly from hail, brought seasonal businesses to the area, ready to assist local residents with insurance coverage repairs for their vehicles and homes and businesses. Throughout the rest of the summer and into the fall months, a familiar sound of compressed-air, nail guns could be heard throughout Lamar neighborhoods as damaged shingles were replaced, house by house, block by block.


Alta Vista, History and Memories Combine

Capturing a Memory

The Alta Vista Charter School observed its 100th anniversary with a celebration geared to trigger some memories for a lot of the older students and provide some younger ones with new recollections for years to come. The school, built in 1917, has served five generations of students from Prowers County.

The school has stood in the same location on County Road LL and was given a comprehensive overhaul and expansion several years ago. Antiquated rooms and support systems were in need of an upgrade which came from a BEST Grant.  Alta Vista became a charter school in 1998, the only country school still in use in Prowers county since 1991 and now serves grades K through 6.

Administrator/Principal – Talara Coen provided some details from a busy hallway during the open house this past Saturday, August 26th.  “Lori Blacker came to me with an idea for our 100th anniversary just about a year ago with the intention of offering history and entertainment to alumni and the community in general,” Coen explained.  “We put together an advisory group of 15 people that took the ball and ran with it as more of a labor of love than anything else.”

The celebration, which ran from 4pm to 7pm, offered history and entertainment, from a kid’s pickle barrel train and jumping booths outdoors, to lots of ways to remember past school years, teachers and friends from all the writings and photos which lined the school hallways. Many area residents who were students just found a quiet corner in a hallway or classroom and just reminisced on times gone by.  Other events included a tour of the school provided by alumni, a memory book of past times, live entertainment consisted of violin music and a meal and a history-based skit rounded out the entertainment.

Coen said one of the oldest attendees was Audrey Coats was went to Alta Vista back in the 1920s, adding, “She’s in her 90s now and talked about a school that had only outhouses, no electricity and for a while she was the school’s custodian, living in the basement. This event has offered a glimpse at such a rich history and I’ve had the chance to meet so many people who attended in the 1950s and 60s who showed up this evening.”

Coen said that although the committee asked for some historical memorabilia, one added feature was conducting in-person interviews. “They lined up a number of people to visit with including Glenda McWilson and her parents who will be featured in our historical skit.  Apparently her dad made a $17 bid for her mom’s box lunch which was unheard of in those days and they were married for 59 years.  We found out a lot of that type of human interest history we couldn’t have gotten in other ways, so the committee just did an excellent job of providing this kind of information for tonight.”

The doors are open for new memories, as Coen said enrollment has a few openings for the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th grades, “We’re at 134 students now and that’s the most we’ve ever had since I’ve been here,” she stated.

In some ways it’s more telling than ironic that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Alta Vista Charter School offers some of the latest teaching and infrastructure innovations you could imagine; from motion sensor classroom lighting to computers and smart boards, which have replaced the old-time blackboards from years ago.  But, if you sit at one of the desks and gaze out the window, you’d view corn growing in the field just yards away from the school building, a sight which has mostly remained unaltered for the past century.


Senator Gardner Tours Camp Amache, Offers Support with NPS Project

Granada High Students with Senator Gardner at Amache Museum

The National Park Service is considering taking steps to manage Camp Amache in Granada. U.S. Senator, Cory Gardner, visited the site and the Amache Museum in Granada Monday, August 21st to get a better understanding of the scope of the Camp and the private efforts that have allowed the site and the museum to be developed and maintained.  Gardner heads the sub-committee for National Parks, Forestry and Mineral Rights, so he is the ‘go-to’ representative in Washington, DC to help aid development of the project.  “I want to do anything and everything I can to help,” the Senator told the gathering at the museum, adding, “This is who we are and we need to preserve this historical site.”

Following a tour of the 640 acre site due west of Granada, the Senator and several staff members were given a tour of the museum, which according to John Hopper, museum curator, houses the largest private collection of Camp Amache memorabilia and artifacts in the country. While the Camp itself is mostly open acreage with some historical markers, a rebuilt guard tower and water tank, the compact  museum offers a look at day to day life from the World War II years in which 7,500 Japanese-American citizens were housed until the end of the war.

John Hopper, Amache Museum Curator, said he’d supply as much information as Senator Gardner needed for the National Park Service and the students added they would work with his office on language for a speech the senator intended to make in the Senate on behalf of their efforts. This included letters of support from local governments and representatives.  He added there will be future informational meetings and perhaps an on-site meeting so others can view the preservation work done at the site.

Hopper added, “This is the most pristine Camp of this nature in the country. 85% of the camp can still be accessed with locations of barracks, other buildings, roads and the cemetery.  We’ve had visitors who can look at a site or the recreated barracks and describe exactly where furniture was located, how the rooms were laid out, where the school playing fields were located.”  Hopper said the museum would be happy to donate their artifacts to the National Park Service which includes original photos, letters and some rare 16mm film of the site which has been transcribed to dvd’s.  He felt that the NPS would have greater funding resources to maintain the site for years to come, as the museum and preservation work on the camp is done mostly through private donations.


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