2020 Year in Review – January

2020 Year in Review – January 

Syracuse Dairy Adding Beef Cattle to Holly Operation 

The Prowers County Planning Commission, following a public hearing on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, approved the request from Syracuse Dairy in Holly for an amendment to their Special Use Permit.  The dairy intends to add about 20,000 head of beef cattle on their 610 acre operation south of Holly.  The dairy consists of 8,000 head of dairy cows and the heifer operation has 14,500 head. 

After additional discussion and a reading of the recommendation from the Land Use Office by Michelle Heigel, the commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the amendment.  Some areas addressed in the recommendations determined the special use will not adversely affect public health, safety or welfare.   

The commissioners briefly discussed the application form for future County Enhancement projects.  The Prowers County Commissioners have budgeted $25,000 for the construction of fencing for commercial highway properties.  The fencing is intended to provide a barrier for salvage yard operations from the main highways leading in and out of the county.  The application form needs work, as the Planning Commission had suggestions relating to the percentage of funds that would be allocated to a business request, if businesses within city limits could apply and questions about the type of materials that would be used. 

By Russ Baldwin 

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Lamar School District Superintendent Search Underway 

Following the announcement of retirement by Superintendent Dave Tecklenburg, the Lamar School District has commenced the search for a new superintendent.  The District has engaged the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) to facilitate the process. 

The search process will begin effectively immediately with focus group meetings tentatively scheduled for February 10th.  The focus groups will include selected staff and community members who will help the district develop a leadership profile for the new superintendent.  The board has projected naming the new superintendent on April 13, 2020. 

(Editor’s Note:  The contract with David Tecklenburg was extended until the pandemic situation was resolved)

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Colsman Presenting Award to Talara Coen

 

Alta Vista Receives Irwin Academic Award 

Alta Vista Charter School Principal, Talara Coen, announced the school was selected for the John Irwin Award for Academic Achievement under guidelines from the Colorado Department of Education.  “We’re really excited to have been selected,” she said, adding that the school was also chosen for the annual award in 2007.  “You need to be in the 80th percentile or higher in an aggregate level of academic grading,” she explained.   

The official presentation was made to the school this past Thursday, January 23rd by Melissa Colsman, Ph.D., an Associate Commissioner of Student Learning for the Colorado Department of Education.  Colsman recognized Alta Vista Principal, Talara Coen her 20 years of strong leadership at the charter school.  “Principal Coen noted three important factors for the success of Alta Vista: family involvement at the school, a staff that offers a ‘family feeling’ which creates a strong school climate and culture and the dedicated teaching staff who offer innovative approaches to teaching.” 

The Excellence Awards are named for a visionary of education, former Colorado State Representative, John J. Irwin, and is given to schools that demonstrate exceptional academic achievement over time.  Alta Vista was presented with the award in 2011.
By Russ Baldwin 

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Lamar Council Takes Steps to Fund Economic and Infrastructure Projects 

The Lamar Planning and Zoning Commission approved the annexation of properties at 1408, 1412, 1412.5 and 1416 North Main Street in Lamar.  This is an area of land formally known as Opel’s Pub as well as several adjacent buildings which have fallen into disrepair over the years.  A public hearing was held by the Lamar City Council for comment on annexing the 5.03 acres into the City of Lamar.  A smaller percentage of land, 0.79 acres is currently owned by Peter Patel, and is already within the city limits.  The petition for annexation was received from Patel as co-personal representative of the Mahakali Investments LLC. Following the hearing, the council approved the first reading of the annexation ordinance which recommended the property be zoned as a C-3 Highway Services District. 

A purchase agreement for the Main Café at 114 South Main Street in downtown Lamar was approved by the council.  Angie Cue, Community Development Director, recapped the history of the business for the council.  The Lamar Redevelopment Authority authorized the city to apply for a DoLA REDI grant for the purchase in March, 2019 for $13,500 with an Urban Redevelopment Authority match of $4,500.  The grant was awarded last June and the purchase order was received just prior to the New Year.  The building has been vacant for several years, following a private purchase and attempt to refurbish the facility on the first and second floors which proved too costly at the time. 

Other property programs were on the agenda with the council’s authorization letter to apply for a 1306 Brownsfields Cleanup Grant to safely remove any hazardous materials or ACM, Asbestos Containing Materials, at the former Troy Manor Motel at 1101 South Main Street in Lamar.  Future plans call for the building will be demolished after the removal of hazardous materials from the site, backfill and level and site to grade and repair the sidewalk and any curb and gutter damage that might result from the cleanup.  The city believes bringing the property into a clean-slate status would make it considerably more appealing for a future sale for business development in that part of town while removing a long-standing eye-sore from the main road.   

Palace Holdings, LLC has developed plans for renovating and upgrading the Cow Palace Inn along North Main Street in Lamar.  The municipal incentive offer is $145,475 for a proposed Clarion Inn and Suites Hotel.  The city will roto-mill grade and prepare 125,733 square feet of existing asphalt parking lot surface and once the surface is prepared, the city will install a new 3-inch hot mix asphalt surface to the area.  The city won’t begin work until renovation and construction of the new Clarion property is near completion.  The offer from the city is good for one calendar year from January 13, 2020.  The council tabled the incentive until there is more clarification in the agreement regarding the scope of the work.  

By Russ Baldwin 

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Holly Electric Rates to Remain Unchanged 

Holly Mayor, Calvin Melcher, cast the tie-breaking vote for Ordinance 530 during the January monthly meeting to prevent the raising of rates and tariffs for municipal electric customers.  The four to three split had Trustees Corey Stephens, Jacob Holdren and Joshua Reinert in favor and Larry Sitts, Anthony Moldenhauer and Rod Swisher opposed.  The tie was ended with Mayor Melcher’s vote opposing the rate increase which would have impacted the current monthly rates paid by Holly customers.  The increase had a smaller adjustment on the base kilowatt per hour charge which was increased fractionally for six different classes users. 

The proposed increase was recommended following an independent study conducted for the town by Nebraska Municipal Power Pool (NMPP) which suggested the across-the-board adjustments to help offset expenses for needed future upgrades to the town’s power infrastructure.  Several residents, those mostly with agricultural interests, asked for clarification as to how their operations would be impacted by the rate increase, especially for peak usage periods during field irrigation.  Some rate increases last occurred in 2009 and again in 2014.

By Russ Baldwin 

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Lamar Council Okays Renovation/Construction Projects for the City 

More infrastructure improvements are planned for Lamar as Mayor Kirk Crespin signed a construction agreement, contract and bonds for the Lamar Main Street Water Distribution Phase II Project, estimated at $1,674,813.  The bid for the project was awarded to K.R. Swerdfeger of Pueblo.  The project is expected to last about 14 months and will replace the existing asbestos cement water distribution system along Main Street/Highway 287 (approximately between Park and Cedar Streets and between Savage Avenue and Saddle Club Drive).  The work will also include installation of water mains and service lines as well as fire hydrants and connecting the new lines to the existing water distribution system.  Public Works Director, Pat Mason, told the council that purchase of materials will begin the project which should break ground off Saddle Club Drive in either late March or early spring. 

The City of Lamar is upping the cost of using the landfill by Commercial Refuse Haulers.  City Public Works Director, Pat Mason, outlined the new rate at $70 per ton or 3.5 cents per pound, up from the current $60 now being paid.  The city recently purchased a set of scales for the landfill which altered the measurement of refuse to weight instead of bulk cubic capacity.  Joel Woelk of DW Waste Management has placed a bid with the town of Holly for refuse collection as that community expects to close their landfill by April of this year.  Woelk, at the Lamar council meeting on January 13th, asked if he could use the Lamar landfill as a dump site and what he would be charged.  The council proposed raising the rates by $10 per ton on current charges to offset wear and tear on landfill equipment, the possibility of hiring additional staff and the impact the new refuse collections would make on the landfill capacity to hold more material.
By Russ Baldwin 

 

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John Hopper

John Hopper Awarded the Prestigious Beveridge Family Teaching Award.    

LAMAR, CO – John Hopper, teacher and dean of students at Granada Public Schools and dual-enrollment instructor for Lamar Community College (LCC), has been awarded the Beveridge Family Teaching Prize by the American Historical Association (AHA). 

This biennial prize is AHA’s most prestigious honor for a high school instructor, and was announced January 3 at the AHA Annual Meeting in New York City. 

“I have been blessed with many great students over the years and love teaching in Southeast Colorado,” said Hopper. “The support that I have received over the years has made my teaching and life a very rewarding experience. I would not trade my occupation with any other nor would I wish to teach anywhere else but here.” 

Hopper’s nominators described the transformative impact he has had on his students and community throughout his 28 years at Granada. They attested to his innovative and dynamic teaching, including his use of distance learning to include students from remote rural areas. Most impressively, Hopper has guided students for more than two decades in the award-winning work of unearthing, preserving and sharing the history of the Amache Japanese Internment Camp in Granada.

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