Prowers Journal Year-in-Review, March 2021



March 2021 Year in Review

Atmos Energy Addresses Customer Bills Following Historic Winter Storms

LAMAR, Colorado – Feb. 23, 2021 – Atmos Energy understands customer concerns that the recent extreme weather may affect their natural gas bills, so we want to assure customers that bills in the near term will not include any of the unusually high gas prices from the historic winter storms.

Atmos Energy does not set the market pricing for natural gas. There is no profit added to the gas cost. We have been and will continue working with regulators to find solutions that will minimize the impact on monthly bills. Until those solutions are identified, the gas cost portion of a customer’s bill will reflect normal, seasonal gas prices.  February and March bills may still be higher than recent months based on the amount of gas used during the bitterly cold weather.


City Council Okays Water Distribution Projects

The council re-submitted a Tier 1 Grant application to fund half, or $71,818 of funding need to complete an update to the sewer and water master plan for the city.  The total cost is estimated at $143,636.  This will cover costs for a comprehensive evaluation of Lamar’s current water and wastewater treatment facilities, assessment of distribution and collection systems, capital improvements needed for future wastewater treatment and a rate study for both water and sewer systems.

A loan for $1,089,200 has been secured with the Drinking Water Revolving Fund, allowing the city to move forward on a new water main stretching from Cedar Street to Savage Avenue.   The city will coordinate with the current CDOT 287 reconstruction project to minimize any interference with their project running from Savage Avenue south as well as the train track crossing on Main Street.
By Russ Baldwin


Granada Trustees Receive Update on Packing Plant

Curtis Tempel and Clint States provided updated information for the Granada Trustees on their plans to construct a packing plant west of the community, beginning sometime later this year.  Tempel laid out his initial plans to the Trustees last year and secured the property adjacent to Camp Amache, west of Granada, off Highway 50.

Tempel said, “We’ve been working through the past year and we’ve gotten up to a lot of final stages at this point to move the project forward.”  Some of the next steps involve getting a determination of the ground composition where a pad for the 15,000 square foot building will be located.  Some other factors include the location for a fire hydrant, placement of a water line, a sewer line and probably putting electrical conduit at least five feet underground.  A SECPA power line currently exists, but States and Tempel are considering going underground with it.  They were granted access to the property from the Trustees in order to develop the first stages of a site plan including the materials they will need for the first stages of construction.  Another factor in the project involves having sufficient space along the project roadway for trucks coming in off Highway 50.  The county has no problem with that requirement, explained Commissioner, Ron Cook, who attended the March 10th meeting, “But you will have to contact the state on how this may impact Highway 50,” he said.

Stephanie Gonzales, Executive Director of SECED, Southeast Colorado Economic Development attended, as well as Cheryl Sanchez, Executive Director of Prowers Economic Prosperity, (PEP).  Gonzales told the Trustees the state was ready to assist with a DoLA grant which could amount to $150,000 for the project and SECOG, Southeast Council of Governments offered administrative assistance to the town for help in developing and funding a needed engineering study for the packing plant.
By Russ Baldwin

Ribbon Cutting for New Designation

Council Moves Forward on Airport Administration

The Lamar City Council is moving forward with purchase plans for the municipal airport, having negotiated a purchase price from the Fixed Base Operators, Eric and Tanya McSwan.  The council decided the best course of action, in light of the McSwan’s announcement to end their contract with the city earlier this year, would be to assume operations and develop an Aviation Department which would manage day-to-day activities at the airport.  City Attorney, Lance Clark, will review contract language for the transaction and City Treasurer, Kristin McCrea, has been directed to review the financial aspects of the purchase and cost of running the airport and provide a summary for the council’s next steps.  City Administrator, Steve Kil, told the council during its March 22nd meeting, that the takeover is expected by the first of May.  The agreed-upon price for the equipment and materials is $100,159.  This sale includes two fuel trucks, one for jet fuel and another for everyday needs at a price of $41,000 for current fuel values.  The council has a follow-up meeting on March 31st with the city’s Airport Advisory Board which will provide the group with updates on the transaction.
By Russ Baldwin


Chad Krug, Ed.D. Selected as Lamar School District Superintendent

The Lamar School District held interviews of Superintendent Candidates which also included tours of the district buildings, a community roundtable, and a candidate forum with the Lamar Education Association.  At the conclusion of the interview process and after accepting recommendations from the interview committees, the Board of Education voted to extend a 3-year Superintendent contract to Chad Krug, Ed.D.

Dr. Krug is currently the Assistant Superintendent in the Ulysses, KS school district and has 20 years of experience in education and 17 years of experience in education administration.  Dr. Krug holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Master of Science in Educational Administration, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

The Board of Education looks forward to welcoming Dr. Krug, his wife Kate and their three children Cole (15), Addy (12), and Ty (9) to Lamar.  Dr. Krug will join the Lamar School District team July 1, 2021.

“The Big Dig” at LCC

Lamar Community College, Providing Innovations for the Future

Lamar Community College has been creating new educational opportunities for its students over the past year, while at the same time, the college administration has taken steps to improve the overall lifestyle of students for the summer and fall semester.  LCC President, Dr. Linda Lujan, explained in a recent interview, that while the campus never stopped serving students, a more normal small college experience will be provided in 2021-2022.

“One new addition to the campus is the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Building, now under construction,” she explained, adding the facility will house the college’s Precision Agriculture, Construction Trades and Renewable Energy programs which will be located on two levels, for over 9,400 square feet.“   Dr. Lujan said the project has been in planning for two years and following the design concept, the college went out to bid for a contractor and recently broke ground on the building.  “We decided to postpone a groundbreaking ceremony and will have a grand opening celebration when the building opens later this fall,”

Dr. Lujan was also enthusiastic about four new virtual reality labs, funded through a Career and Technology Education Innovation grant.  These teaching facilities recreate various levels of the human anatomy as an in-depth educational tool which also provides for various animal species for study.  Lujan said the facility can also be used by local health care providers for a detailed study for any future surgical needs.  Other users include K-12 students as well as the local healthcare community.

Other construction projects include the installation of ADA regulated elevators for the Bowman and Administration buildings.  “We will have to replace some current offices where the elevators will be constructed and we’re ready to begin the preparation work by August and ramp up the work for the fall,” she said.  The LCC campus walkway now uses solar lighting funded by the state, replacing the aging system, the former book store in the Betz Building is transitioning into a new student union with the costs paid for from student fees which have accrued over a number of years and the coffee shop, run by Brew Unto Others, will be available for the public as well as the study population.  The campus will see upgrades on general security, using a new camera system as well as exterior doors that require swipe cards for entry.  Hydroponic piping and equipment will be installed in the eastern section of Bowman Building as well as the Trustees Building, one of several controlled maintenance projects, funded though the State of Colorado Joint Technology Committee.
By Russ Baldwin


County Planning Commission Approves GP Aggregate Expansion

The Prowers County Planning Commission voted to approve an amended Special Use Permit application for the West Farm Gravel Pit, to adjust the boundaries of their Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety Permit during a public hearing held Wednesday, March 31st at the Home Ec Building at the Prowers County Fairgrounds.  This will allow for the addition of acreage for their gravel pit operation on property located in an A-1 Irrigated Agricultural and F-1 Floodplain Districts.  The project site is located along the east end of East Maple Street or CR HH.5 as it extends to the east and parallel with the railroad tracks due north of Highway 50.  Most of the project extends to just a small parcel of land beyond CR 12.

By Russ Baldwin


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