Council Approves Zoning Changes, New Police K9 Will be a Pit Bull

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The Lamar City Council covered a lot of territory during their May 14th meeting this past Monday. In a related article highlighted in The Prowers Journal, the council approved an ordinance on first reading for a Power Purchase Agreement between the City and Tri-State G & T and terminating the Power Supply Agreement with the Arkansas River Power Authority.

The council also approved a motion to ratify a phone poll approving First Amendment to a Non-Disclosure Agreement among Lamar, ARPA, Tri-State G & T, San Isabel Electric and Southeast Colorado Power. The amendment enabled Lamar to discuss power rates with the rate consultant.

The council followed the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission and passed an ordinance to re-plat 1301 North Main Street in Lamar, amended Maxwell Subdivision of Forest Park Place.   The application was submitted by Doug Thrall for business redevelopment.  Peter Page, the adjoining property owner, has agreed to cede 25 feet of the adjoining property to match the 25 feet Thrall has also agreed to cede for a street to provide access to the development.

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Another ordinance was passed based on recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Commission to re-plat the Lot-Line at 212 Cottonwood Circle Lots 11 and 13, block 2, which would adjust 11 feet onto lot 12 from lot 13 to accommodate a utility easement and retaining wall. Both properties are owned by Warren Camp.

Mayor Stagner and Bart Gruenloh

Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner presented Lamar High School student, Bart Gruenloh, the “Key to the City” for his Wrestling State Championship in the 220 pound weight division.Stagner and Lamar Police Chief Kyle Miller also welcomed Jared Penaflor, as Lamar’s new officer.

Officer Jared Penaflor

Miller received permission to accept a contract so the Lamar Police Department will receive a new K9 now that they have located a company that will provide the dog, a pit bull,  and training and handler training free of charge.  The Department will cover per-diem and lodging for the trainer.  The company is Sector K9, LLC out of Ellis County, Texas and trains canines for law enforcement agencies.  Chief Miller said he expected it would take from six to 14 weeks to receive the K9, depending on how many other departments are ahead of Lamar’s request.  “The pit bull will be used for drugs only but will not be trained to sniff out marijuana,” he explained to the council.

Following a public hearing, the council approved a special event permit for the Sand and Sage Round-Up Fair Board to host a beer garden for the fourth year during the annual Sand and Sage Fair. The dates for the beer garden are August 4th and again from August 9th to the 11th.  The council also approved a Temporary Modification of Premise Application, following a public hearing, for Desiree Ellis, owner of Desiree’s to extend the current premise to the alley adjacent to the east side of her building during the downtown car show set for August 17-18th.  Love’s Country Store #38 had its 3.2% liquor license renewed from a previous hold action by the council from this past March.  The store received a citation for selling to a minor.  The Love’s District Manager has since become an instructor and will conduct training to all employees and verify the classes with the City.  The renewal was approved with that stipulation.

The council will offer support of the Prowers County initiative to increase the County sales tax by 0.25% to establish a fund to pay for the cost of maintaining ambulance service to county residents. The tax funds will combine with the revenue the two departments have generated through regular service charges.  The two services designated as recipients of the benefits of the funds are the Holly Fire and Ambulance District and the Lamar Emergency Medical Services.  Should the increase pass on the November ballot, the increase will go into effect in 2019.  The increase is expected to generate $400,000 to cover the cost of ambulance operation in the county.

The council ratified an earlier phone poll to award the annual Concession Stand contract to Snowball Express for the Ball Field Complex. The city will receive 10.5% of gross sales from the stand.  This will mark the third year for the contract for Snowball Express.  Another bid of 11% of sales was submitted by 3SG.  Councilman Anne-Marie Crampton cast the dissenting vote against Snowball Express in open session.

CGI Communications will do an upgrade on the city promotional video for Lamar. The current issue has become dated and as many as four new videos, at no cost to the city, will be provided. City Administrator, John Sutherland, said a lot of forward progress has been made in the city since the originals were produced.  Community Development Director, Angie Cue, will be contacted to list new elements to use in the videos.

Emily Neischburg and students from the One Step Up program headquartered at Lincoln School, the HOPE Center in Lamar, received approval from the council to display several ‘bug-like’ sculptures they completed with artist Jeremy Cooper at the skateboard park currently under construction at Willow Creek Park. The city’s risk advisor, CIRSA will be contacted for advisement of their introduction into the public.  Cooper said this was the student’s project, almost from start to stop.  “They contacted me with their ideas, found and helped assemble the parts used for the sculptures and came up with their own ideas for the bugs.”  The students will work with the city’s Park and Recreation Department on their placement.  Some council suggestions included using other areas of the park for display as well as the college and the Pocket Park downtown.

Jay Brooke of the Sage Brush Meadow Nursing Home group submitted the service plan proposal to the city council to create a “Lamar Health Service District” to be voted on in the November elections. Brooke said there are a number of steps to be followed in order to place the question of a 1% city health district sales tax on the ballot. One of those was the adoption of a resolution by the city followed by 200 signatures of city residents/property owners.  Councilman Kirk Crespin voiced concern with the wording of the resolution letter prepared by the group, stating it sounded like an endorsement for the nursing home.  Crespin said he didn’t want the council to be in a position of appearing to support a commercial venture when there are two other facilities the new home would compete against.  The group had amended a portion of their ballot which would sunset the 1% sales tax once the construction bonds had been paid off instead of reducing the tax to one half a percent thereafter.  Jillane Hixson suggested amending the resolution so it addresses the council’s concern and allowing the petition to move forward.  She and Brooke said the voters can decide in November whether they want a new nursing home facility in Lamar.  City Attorney, Garth Neischburg said he could make the needed changes and bring the document back to the council for additional review.

Administrator Sutherland highlighted future calendar events including this Friday’s Chamber Brat BBQ on East Beech Street from 11am to 1pm; the Lamar Days Parade at 10am beginning on East Olive Street, the Lamar Lions Pancake Breakfast on Saturday from 6am to 9am at the Masonic Hall; Lamar High School Graduation on May 20th; City Offices closed for Memorial Day Holiday; May 28th, council meeting moved to 29th and Rural Philanthropy Days set for June 13-15 in Lamar.

By Russ Baldwin

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