Prowers Journal Annual Year-in-Review, July 2021



July 2021 Year in Review

Council Okays MOU for Regional Housing Project

The Lamar City Council, during its Monday, July 26th meeting, approved a Memorandum of Understanding to opt into the Southeastern Colorado Workforce Housing project by a split vote with one dissent.  The MOU is not binding on the city which can decide later to remove itself from the project which intends to construct at least 70 new houses and duplexes among the six counties in southeast Colorado served by SCEDD and SECED.  Brent Frazee explained that the cost to Lamar would run between $67,000 and $80,000 for up to seven houses which would be built and sold to essential employees in an effort to stimulate commercial housing construction.  The city can also choose as few as two units for construction and still remain in the program.  The city’s share of funding would amount to 4% of the money received from the American Recovery Plan enacted to counter economic shortfalls brought about by the pandemic in a given community.  Frazee explained the city would be reimbursed for costs, essentially the TAP fees associated with developing a property on city-donated land.

A new City of Lamar seal was highlighted for the council, which was created by the city’s communication director, Martha Alvarez.  She said the seal represents a blend of modern and traditional and is intended to showcase pertinent aspects of life in Lamar: wildlife, energy, transportation and agriculture.  The last logo was updated in 2016.
By Russ Baldwin

Granada Making Housing, Water, Employment Gains

Granada received some welcome news as additional funding for their municipal water infrastructure project has been approved.  The trustees began discussions on the upgrades as far back as 2016, but work on the project was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as earlier efforts to secure grant funding, estimated then at $800,000.  David Frisch and Dannah Koeniger from GMS provided an update during the July 14th meeting.  Koeniger said she has been able to find four specific grants to pay for a major portion of the project with the now estimated cost at $1,320,000.  An earlier report outlined the project in 2016.

‘The funding will pay for new water main projects, one south of Hwy 50 between Amache and Broderick Streets and another north of Hwy 50 between Half and Oak Streets.  Other improvements, as outlined in the GMS proposal include replacement of fire hydrants, valves and water service connections in portions of the town.  Also included in the project are improvements to the booster pump station, a well pump installation, pump house and vault improvements, a new 219,000-gallon ground level welded steel storage tank, reroofing the raw water storage tank and painting the exterior of the elevated water storage tank.

Granada qualifies for particular grants based in part on the average low income of the community and lower valuation of the houses in the town compared to the rest of the state.  Granada has approximately 230 water use customers.  The last water improvements were in 1980 and 2000.”
By Russ Baldwin


Lamar Fire and Emergency Services Needs Volunteers

Lamar Fire and Emergency Services continues to operate with reduced volunteer staff, according to information provided by Chief Jeremy Burkhart in his monthly update for the Lamar City Council.  He added that Lamar is not alone is this problem as volunteerism has generally declined around the country which creates an additional workload for paid staff with some days, mostly weekends, when no volunteers have signed up to be on call. Year to date with these shortages, Lamar Fire and Emergency services has been short almost half (45%) of the time in paid staff alone.  This impact is felt department wide whenever they are short staffed.

The Department is accepting applications for volunteers who are 18 years or older, have a valid Colorado Drivers License and can pass a pre-employment physical and drug test.  Volunteers will assist in emergency medical services, fire suppression, technical rescue, community outreach and hazardous materials response.  All training and gear is provided as well as a stipend for call days.

Call 336-4321 and check out the third rider program to get a better understanding of the department’s operations or visit  Year to date, the department has responded to 206 fire and fire-related calls, 710 for ambulance and 916 total calls for 2021, averaging five calls a day.


Lamar Marijuana Ballot Questions Approved on First Reading

Voters in the City of Lamar will have two marijuana-related questions on their November 2, General Election ballot this year.  The Lamar City Council, during their July 12th meeting, presented the two ordinances creating the questions.  One deals with authorization to establish and operate medical and retail marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities and the sale of medical and retail marijuana products within city limits.  The ordinance for the second, follow-up ballot question, concerns a new special sales tax and excise tax to be place on the sale of retail marijuana products and accessories.

Following the 2010 general election, the Lamar City Council placed a moratorium on the commercial sale of marijuana based on that ballot question.  It is currently being enforced.  Both 2021 ballot questions must be passed by the voters in November for the legalized sales AND for the tax in order for the sale to take place.  A portion of the ordinance for sales, reads, “Furthermore, if either the Establishment and Operation of Marijuana Businesses measure or the Marijuana Tax Measure is not approved by voters then the moratorium established in 2010 will continue,”.  If both are approved, the city council can then create ordinances which regulate permitting, licensing, tax, zoning signage or other facets of sales or manufacturing.  If any one of the two questions fails to pass the ballot, the moratorium will remain in effect.  The council passed both ordinances on first reading.
By Russ Baldwin


Sand and Water—Fun in the Sun

The City of Lamar hosted dozens of area residents for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening of the newest features at North Gateway Park.

The July 3rd event showcased the work the city has accomplished on Pond #3, the eastern-most pond at North Gateway Park, just off the Arkansas River and Highway 50.

There’s a new pavilion and rest rooms, a launch area for small water craft and a sandy beach has been created which provides a wading/swimming area for small fry, safely roped off from the deeper areas of the pond.

Aqua-holics did a brisk business, renting out their varieties of water craft, from a huge inflatable raft that could hold ten persons comfortable, to kayaks, canoes and a paddle boat.  Their crafts can be rented by the hour.

City crews, earlier in the week, completed addition amenities at the first pond, creating an ADA compliant sidewalk connecting the first pavilion to a rest room and beyond to the floating dock, providing easy and safer access to these areas.
By Russ Baldwin


Lamar School Board Provides Mascot Forum Update

The Lamar School District Board of Education held a community forum on July 15th to provide information related to SB21-116 which prohibits the use of Native American mascots by Colorado schools beginning June 1, 2022.

The Board of Education notified the public of the following:

  • The Board never voted to change or replace the mascot. SB21-116 was introduced as legislation on February 23, 2021 by Representative McLauchlan and was subsequently approved in the House and Senate. Governor Polis signed the bill into law on June 28, 2021.
  • The Board does not believe the Lamar High School, nor the community of Lamar, represents or uses the mascot in a negative or derogatory manner.
  • This bill will impose a fine of $25,000 per month for districts failing to comply with the law beginning June 1, 2022.
  • The high school will maintain the current mascot/logo and associated imagery through May 31, 2022.
  • The Board recognizes that NAGA and Noble Savages are raising funds to file an injunction and lawsuit in an effort to overturn the law.
  • The Board does not believe it would be financially prudent to contribute any district funds towards covering legal fees associated with filing an injunction or a lawsuit, as there is no guarantee of the timeframe or costs associated with reaching a settlement or court decision.  District funds must be prioritized for the education of the students, as well as recruitment and retention of quality staff.
  • Should the law NOT be overturned by January 15, 2022, the Board of Education will appoint a committee of stakeholders, alumni, and students to solicit recommendations for a mascot change. A new mascot will be selected by March 1, 2022. It is necessary for the Board to begin taking these steps in early 2022 to allow sufficient time to implement the changes by the June 1, 2022 deadline.
  • If the law is overturned prior to May 31, 2022, Lamar High School will remain the “Lamar Savages” with no changes to the logo.

Approximately 125 community members attended the forum, with approximately two dozen people speaking offering feedback. Following the public comment period, a poll was taken asking the community members to choose one of the following:

▪ Keep the “Savages” name and adopt a new logo that does not include any Native American imagery.

▪ Change both the name and logo for the high school.

Ninety-three individuals voted to maintain “Savages” and adopt a new logo; 6 voted to replace both; and 26 individuals provided a written-in response of “keep both”. It has been widely discussed that the Board should have included an option to “keep both”, however if the law is overturned, Lamar High School will experience no changes to the current mascot. If the law remains in place or a lawsuit has not been settled, the district will have no choice but to make the necessary changes to avoid substantial fines, or the risk of substantial fines.


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