August 2023 Year in Review

 

 

Nominating Ballot Petitions Indicate a Crowded Candidate Field for Lamar Council

There may be a crowded field for Lamar City Council elections this November as evidenced by the record request for petitions to be placed on the approaching ballot.  City Clerk, Linda Williams, said out of the fourteen application requests, twelve had been returned to her by the deadline of 4pm, Monday, August 28th.  “I will be curing the signatures to determine the sufficiency on each application and should have the results before the next council meeting on September 11th,” she said during the August 28th council meeting.  Williams didn’t give a ward by ward breakdown on the numbers, but there are five open positions with one in Ward One, two in Ward Two and one in Ward Three as well as for the mayoral seat.  Kirk Crespin said he deliberated over running for the position again and decided to run once more.  Twenty-five signatures were required for each of the ward candidates and the mayor-at-large required 50 signatures for that seat.  It’s not known at this point what type of candidate forum, if any, will be held.
By Russ Baldwin

 

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Canyons & Plains Virtual Adventure Released

Factor Earth Explore, in partnership with the Canyons & Plains Regional Heritage Taskforce and the Colorado Tourism Office, has released the latest virtual tour of one of southeast Colorado’s heritage sites, Amache National Historic Site.

Anyone can now use their smartphone or computer to experience 360o images of our state’s newest National Park Service site. Each image contains pins to click on to discover and reflect on the historic events that occurred at Amache, one of the ten sites where Japanese Americans were forcibly detained during World War II. From 1942-1945 over 7,500 people were incarcerated at the site which is now preserved just west of Granada, Colorado.

This adventure is one in a series of Factor Earth virtual experiences being produced in conjunction with Canyons & Plains. Others currently available on the platform include Bent’s Old Fort, Boggsville, and the State Parks of the Canyons & Plains Region. Upcoming adventures will feature the Santa Fe Trail, Fort Lyon, and Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.

These free virtual experiences are funded, in part, by the Canyons & Plains Regional Heritage Taskforce and a Tourism Management Grant from the Colorado Tourism Office.

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Lamar Council Targets Meeting Protocols for Review

Dust off your, “Roberts Rules of Order”.  The Lamar City Council discussed the means by which citizens can be made aware of the differences of the types of meetings conducted by municipal officials and the levels of interaction between the council and the public.  The council decided to review the basic format structure of various types of meetings to clarify and codify just how they will be run and provide that information to the general public when in attendance.

Mayor Kirk Crespin, during the August 14th session, gave a general overview of the types of meetings held by the council, from the regular bi-monthly council meeting to special meetings, joint meetings, emergency meetings, public hearings executive and/or work sessions, town hall meetings, social events and how public comments are regulated.  The council has stated that helping community members be aware of the purpose and format of the meetings, will assist them with their interaction with the council.  Crespin explained, “We aren’t going to make any changes at this time, if any, but we want to have full disclosure for the public and guidelines set for public comment once a meeting is underway.”  He pointed out that there can be some give and take between the public and the council at a work session, but different rules apply during a formal city council meeting.  Crespin explained that format does not allow for comment from the audience.  Once finalized, the city will issue a codified Resolution of “City Council Community Engagement Guidelines” for greater citizen’s awareness of meeting protocols.
By Russ Baldwin

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Lamar Leaders Seek Economic Opportunities at Ute Powwow

Lamar Mayor, Kirk Crespin and Rob Evans, City Administrator, expressed optimism for future talks with representatives of the Southern Ute and Mountain Ute tribes during a recent tribal council and powwow held in Towaoc, Colorado earlier this month.

The initial meeting was the result of the city and Prowers Economic Prosperity hiring J.B. Cisneros to find new revenue sources for funding, especially among regional tribal organizations, an area with which he is well acquainted.  It’s an untapped source of funding and according to Cisneros, the first venture of its kind for Colorado.  JB Cisneros is an analyst for CERF, Community Economic Resilience Fund.

Crespin remarked that both parties feel there could be a mutual benefit from a future alliance for economic development for both parties.

“This is a first venture for all of us,” Crespin said, adding that he could see a future bond through shared interests in both communities, Lamar and nearby Cortez, Colorado.  Tribal members are considering an investment in southeast Colorado to diversify their economic portfolio.  Initial interests centered on vocational training in building trades for their youth as well as health care courses, both of which are offered at Lamar Community College.  Tribal members also have expressed an interest in agricultural ventures with their turn-key development with processing blue corn products through the mill and packing plant they constructed as well as manufacturing and marketing their own line of blue corn products.

Lamar can help with water infrastructure ventures.  Crespin said the Ute tribe has built up a considerable volume of water in their Navajo Reservoir, but has a limited delivery system.  Lamar could assist them in grant development.  The Ute tribes are eligible to receive grant funding larger than Lamar’s potential in that area.

Both sides expressed concerns about the loss of youth in their communities.  Tribal leaders said that it is not easy to have young members return to their reservations once they have left, while Lamar and other towns have noted an increase in ‘boomerangers’, those who moved away as younger adults, but have expressed desires to return to their hometowns after being away for several decades.

Crespin told the PEP board that Lamar is planning to host Ute members in the future to help establish an on-going dialogue between both groups.
By Russ Baldwin

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Workforce Development Committee Strategizes to Grow the Local Workforce

Prowers Economic Prosperity’s (PEP) Business Expansion, Attraction, and Retention Committee has embarked on tours of industrial businesses in Prowers County. The goal of these tours is to better understand the needs of the local business community and determine how PEP and others in our region can provide assistance. According to business owners in Prowers County, the biggest obstacle they face in growing their businesses is the dwindling supply of skilled workers.

It is widely recognized that when workers are employed, the economy flourishes. Workers earn money, which they then inject back into the local economy, fueling its growth. We share concern about the negative effects of high unemployment rates on the local economy. The County is also anticipating a surge in demand for workers during the construction phase of transmission lines and renewable energy projects scheduled to commence in 2024–2025. This project is expected to bring in a workforce of approximately 500 to 600 individuals during the construction phase.

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