2018 Year in Review – January

Debris from TL Tucker Buildings


As we do each year, The Prowers Journal posts past news items of event that will prove to have a bearing on our social, economic, entertainment or health-oriented lifestyles.


Pilot Flying J Truck Stop Opening January 13th in Lamar

Pilot Flying J representatives are planning what is called a ‘soft’ opening of their new store at 708 North Main Street in Lamar on Saturday, January 13th. It will be a normal day of activity with no special events planned at this time.  The new truck stop will feature a Dunkin Donuts store as well as a drive-thru window, PJ Fresh restaurant and a store to serve gas diesel customers 24 hours a day.  It’s estimated the stores will add $2.2 million annually to local and state tax revenues.

Construction work began in July 2017 and the Lamar location, at the intersections of Highway 287/50 and Highway 385 was a factor in determining the Colorado site.
By Russ Baldwin


Lamar Chamber Holds 97th Annual Banquet

A Lamar citizen and a local business were recognized for their service to the community during the 97th Annual Lamar Chamber of Commerce Banquet, held Wednesday, January 24th, at the Lamar Eagles Lodge. The event also introduced the incoming president for 2018, Kendra Cope, as well as the board members who will serve for the New Year.  Ginger Coberley, outgoing chamber president thanked her board for their service through 2017.

The Citizen of the Year award was sponsored by Robinson Printing, with Bob DeLancey, owner of KVAY Radio introducing the nominee and reading the nominating letter for this reporter (Russ Baldwin) who offered thanks to the community and his family for the honor of being considered as well as the recipient.

A relatively new award has been included in the annual chamber banquet festivities for the third year now; the Business/Organization of the Year award which is selected by Chamber director.  This year’s award was sponsored by Theron Hammer of Edward Jones and was presented by Bob DeLancey to Don Compton and TJ Sanders of Olive Street Station.  Compton thanked his employees for their service over the past five and a half years at his businesses in Lamar including the Pit Stop and Rivals on North and South Main Streets.


Atmos Energy Begins Natural Gas Pipe Replacement Projects in Lamar

LAMAR, Colo. – Atmos Energy is investing millions of dollars to replace aging infrastructure throughout Colorado to further increase the reliability and safety of our natural gas delivery system. In 2018, these pipe-replacement efforts will be focused in Greeley, Durango and Lamar, Colorado.

“Over the next several months, we will be upgrading natural gas pipelines located in city streets including the gas line that connects to our customers’ meters,” said Jennifer Altieri, Atmos Energy Director of Public Affairs. “Residents can expect to see construction signs throughout their neighborhood and door hangers on their homes notifying them of any activity that is about to take place.”

Atmos Energy’s pipe replacement projects are currently underway and are expected to continue through April, 2018.

Night Work for Atmos Crew on Parmenter Street

City Council Seeks Means to Reduce Electric Power Rates

The Lamar City Council, during their final meeting of 2017, gave thought to a means by which Lamar Light and Power customers could realize reduced costs for their electricity purchases. The general population of the City of Lamar had issued past comments that should the lawsuit against ARPA by the City of Lamar be resolved in Lamar’s favor, the city should find some way to offer relief for the high rates customers had been paying ever since the cost of the construction bonds for the Lamar Repowering Project had been included in their monthly utility bills.

On Wednesday, December 27, the council adopted Resolution 17-12-03, “Authorizing the Payment of $350,000 Per Year from the City’s General Fund to the Lamar Utilities Board for the Purpose of Reducing Electric Utility Rates Paid by Lamar Light and Power Customers.”   This past November, the council adopted a resolution to accept the Settlement Agreement ending the litigation with the Arkansas River Power Authority over the failed LRP.  The City will receive $350,000 per year for the next 26 years.  The question of the fairest means of reducing customer rates is one that will be forwarded to the Lamar Utility Board for consideration.  The utility board, through the resolution, will be provided with the $350,000 on the expressed condition that the Board use the money to reduce electricity utility rates to all of its customers.  If that condition is not met, the resolution states that the funds will not be transferred from the City’s General Fund.


City Gets Briefed on ARPA Bond Reduction Plan

Now that the litigation between the City of Lamar and ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority, has been settled, ARPA is looking for a means to reduce the size of the $140M in outstanding construction bonds for the Lamar Repowering Project. ARPA General Manager, Rick Rigel, explained the process ARPA is considering to the Lamar City Council during its January 22nd meeting.

Five bond refunding requests were approved during the construction phase, amounting to the $140M which is being paid off by customers of Lamar Light and Power until the deadline of 2043. Rigel explained, “We think there is a real opportunity to get back into the bond market now that we have all of our outstanding litigations settled, and maybe can resolve in some significant savings for us.”  Goldman Sachs has been hired to underwrite the bonds, according to Rigel with the hope to improve the city’s credit rating from a BBB minus to a flat BBB rating.

Not all of the refunds would be resolved as some limitations have been imposed, such as the 2010 bond of about $16M which would not be settled until 2020. Rigel felt it would be too costly to extend the bond payments until 2047 as had been suggested which would only increase the interest payments.  He added that these actions would probably not lower the current rates to customers, but could help stabilize them against any increases, something that has not occurred since 2011.  He said some savings might develop from the sale of the hardware, property and equipment the city received from the ARPA settlement.

As with other transactions, all six member communities would have to be unanimous in the agreement which includes Lamar, Trinidad, Las Animas, La Junta, Holly and Springfield. Rigel said a document for consideration will be developed for the members and he would have a progress report for the city council in March.  The approval would include the legal opinion that the Organic Contract and Power Sales Agreement are valid and enforceable.

Front Entrance to Adult Health Center

Adult Health Clinic Closed

The Adult Health Clinic at 2221 Wellness Way in Lamar was closed Thursday, January 18th following an inspection of the facility by Building Code Inspector, Craig Brooks.

Felten Group of Denver, an engineering firm, was requested to do an assessment of the building which also took place on Thursday, January 18th. The facility is approximately five years old.  Following the assessment, Brooks and Lamar Fire Chief Jeremy Burkhart also viewed the crawlspace under the building and determined that the facility was no longer safe to enter.

Brooks said he found four of the six support columns in the crawlspace, basically metal supports on concert footing, had apparently failed and were crumbling and twisted.

The staff of the Adult Health Clinic was told to leave the building and signage was posted on the front door regarding the closing. Steps have been taken to continue medical services for the patients. The facility is operated by the High Plains Community Health Center and a press release on the situation is expected.

By Russ Baldwin



Filed Under: Consumer IssuesFeatured


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