Heritage Defenders Submit Resolutions to Council on Library Policy Changes


Quizno’s Restaurant, at 113 East Olive Street in Lamar, occupies a building which has been in existence in the community for numerous decades, dating back to 1947 as the former Allen & DeLoach Tire Shop. The building, according to Angie Cue, Community Development Director, still contains single-pane windows on the east, south and west sides, that do not insulate very well, either from summer heat or winter chills.  The owner, Allen Anderson, has determined that he could save about 24% in energy costs in the winter and 18% during the summer with window replacements.

As well as cost savings, the new windows would help make customers more comfortable when dining inside and would also use safety glass, which is not the current case. The total cost of window replacements is $19,480. The Lamar Redevelopment Authority recommended the incentive application and awarded Quizno’s $3,900 for the project.

Ms. Belinda Groner, representing the Heritage Defenders organization, expressed the group’s concerns regarding the Lamar Public Library to the Lamar City Council during their August 27th meeting.  This has been an on-going situation as the group feels more safeguards need to be employed to prohibit adult content literature being accessible to school students through EBSCO, a search engine available to local middle school students from the state library.  The Lamar Library has no contract for the subscription with EBSCO, but only pays the annual fee for the service.

Heritage Defenders submitted several petitions and resolutions of their own for the council’s consideration that recommended changes in source material, based on their claim that the library, “has been unknowingly streaming sexually explicit material and inappropriate sex toy advertisements” through the website. Groner said the pornographic materials become accessible through the website ads, claiming, for instance, a click on information about unicorns, leads to these types of adult-oriented pictures and literature.  As another safeguard, the resolution wants any future subscription to contain provisions in which the contract would be approved by the Library Advisory Board, City Council/Attorney and library staff.  This would make the information provider accountable for their content in compliance with state and federal laws.  Councilman Kirk Crespin recommended that level of enforcement be brought to the attention of the city’s risk advisor, CIRSA.  A second resolution keeps the actions of the library under local, not state control which can be enforced due to Lamar being a Home Rule City.

Groner requested a private meeting be set up within the next 30 days between the Heritage Defenders, the City Council and Mayor Roger Stagner, who replied that action would come under the advisement of Garth Neischburg, City Attorney and the Defenders would be advised of the outcome, as the meeting from his ruling, may not have to be made private.

The library had several agenda items before the council as Librarian Susan Lathrop explained the library’s web site and calendar are hosted at no cost by the Colorado State Library which employs a consultant to manage the site and train library staff. At the time, the local library trains an employee to develop and post local content to the site for about 30 minutes per week.  The MOU between the library and the CSL is reviewed and renewed every two years.  The council approved the agreement renewal.

The council approved a $5,000 grant eligibility form from the CSL for supplemental funding for the library through 2019. An amendment enacting some changes to the Library Internet/Computer Use Policy was approved, based on requests from the City Administrator, John Sutherland, Mayor Roger Stagner and members of the public.  The changes are intended to make the policies more concise and easier to understand.  The changes were made following a review of similar policies from other Colorado libraries and as an outcome of committee meetings to which a member of the Heritage Defenders participated.  Although council approved the application for the grant, at the urging of Heritage Defenders, the changes will go under review with the Library Board for discussion of any potential changes that may fall more in line with the Defender’s objectives.

Lathrop outlined the change in a library policy which will allow some children to read away their overdue library finds at a rate set by the library. She said some students may not be able to pay their fines and their families may not allow them to check out books for fear of late charges that cannot be paid.  Instead of continuing a policy that is potentially detrimental to having students make use of library materials, the amendment offers a means by which a problem could be resolved.  However, students would still be responsible for any lost or damaged items.  The Library Advisory Board recommended a rate of $1 per hour of reading, not to exceed the actual cost of the book.  The council approved the recommended paragraph which will go into effect in 2019.

Parker Heating and Air was awarded a bid for installing insulation and a heater for the Parks Maintenance Building for the City of Lamar. Bids were sent to eleven contractors and two were returned to the city.  Only one bid was complete.  The cost of the project is $12,152.87.

In a cost-cutting move, the council approved an audit agreement with SpyGlass Group LLC to research and identify every service line of the city’s telecom bills. They will assume the duties of the City’s I.T. staff to find where those lines terminate and whether they provide a service still needed by the city.  This is done periodically to ensure the city is being billed accurately but due to limited staff and time, the process hasn’t produced much result.  SpyGlass services have been used before by Prowers County.  The fee to the city will be derived from a percentage of savings found by the company in a one year agreement.  The audit would take about 90 days to complete the lines provided to the city by Secom, Verizon and Century Link.

Following the annual Labor Day break, during which the city offices will be closed on Monday, September 3rd, the council’s monthly informal breakfast will be held at Daylight Donut.  City Administrator Sutherland reminded the meeting of some future activities including the annual 9/11 Tribute and parade on Saturday, September 8th and the Lamar Memorial Air Show/Fly In at the airport between 8am and Noon on Sunday, September 9th.

Lamar Parks and Recreation Director, Rick Akers, said he had been contacted by a representative of a group of people who fly radio controlled airplanes in the area. They had inquired about the city providing two asphalt airstrip runways at Escondido Park, adjacent to the Greenbelt.  The cost of the 100 foot long runways would be about $2,000.  Akers said he spoke with Public Works Director, Pat Mason, who said if it were done, would have to be placed at the rear of his annual calendar of projects, depending on time and funding.  The council will review any insurance liability issues as there are some houses in the vicinity.  Akers said the north/south and east/west runways would be nearer to the west and north side of the soccer fields.

Mayor Stagner said Lamar is now officially the only city in the state that is designated as Monarch City USA, honoring the butterfly that frequented this region. “We were the only city to sign up, so we have the designation,” he said, adding that signage will be posted and milkweed, a plant favored by the Monarch will be planted in some, yet to be designated, areas.  In other news, Oscar Riley, liaison to the Airport Board, told the council the airport is recommending changing the current name to, “Southeast Colorado Regional Airport” and asked for a letter of support for that action.  Approval from the FAA may take up to two years, he cautioned.

Early Work on the Loop Along Willow Creek

A shorter, but a completed Lamar Loop was discussed by Administrator Sutherland, based on the current funding available for the project. It would be scaled down slightly from nine miles to 7.9 miles and portions of the trail, under the new proposal, would be concrete, allow users to ride or walk the site which would encompass the City of Lamar.  Sutherland laid out the pathways for the council, adding that it includes a safety crossing for Main Street.  “This is not a finished project,” he said, explaining that the Loop will continue to be improved based on future funding.  A portion of the project got underway about ten days ago, just east of the tennis courts along Willow Creek.

Sutherland also discussed the potential development of a lot which has been abandoned for the past six years. The city acquired the land through abandonment and a property lien and due to recent interest in the land, the council decided to conduct an open bid on the property. Information on the auction dates and minimum bid will be published in the near future.

By Russ Baldwin

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