The Prowers Journal Year in Review, January 2023


Bennet, Hickenlooper Urge BOR to Allocate Additional Funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper urged the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to consider allocating additional funding from the recent omnibus funding bill for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) or the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) for the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC).

The AVC is a planned 130-mile water-delivery system from the Pueblo Reservoir to communities in Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero, Prowers, and Pueblo counties. The Conduit is the final phase of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which Congress authorized in 1962.

“[T]he Conduit has been one of Colorado’s top priorities for nearly six decades,” wrote the senators. “Continuing to invest in this project will allow the project’s stakeholders to plan for more effective construction and delivery of clean drinking water throughout Southeast Colorado.”

In the letter, the senators highlight the $60 million allocated for the construction of the AVC from the BIL last fall, and ask BOR to allocate additional funds, which could be immediately applied to help advance different components of the AVC.

In October 2022, the senators visited Pueblo to celebrate the announcement of $60 million in BIL funds for the Conduit. The senators and U.S. Representative Ken Buck (R-Colo.) urged the OMB and BOR in July to allocate these funds. In March, Bennet and Hickenlooper secured $12 million for the Conduit from the FY22 omnibus bill. Prior to FY22, Bennet helped secure more than $70 million for the AVC. Bennet and Hickenlooper will continue working in Washington to ensure Colorado has the resources needed to complete this vital project for the region.



Lamar Chamber of Commerce Hosts 103rd Annual Banquet

The 2023 Lamar Chamber of Commerce annual banquet highlighted the community service and economic efforts of individuals and businesses in the local community.

County Commissioner, Ron Cook was presented with the Citizen of the Year Award for his on-going support of community activities including his 26 years of work with popular car shows for Oktoberfest and Lamar Days, his support of Toys for Tots for numerous years, the Prowers County Fairs, 911 parade and many more.  Cook served on the Lamar City Council for nine years, a term on the Lamar Utilities Board and is now entering his third term as Prowers County Commissioner.  The nominating letter also described many ‘behind-the-scenes’ charitable activities he his rendered locally on a personal level.

Rick Robbins, General Manager of Colorado Mills in Lamar received the Humanitarian of the Year Award.  The nominating letter stated that for the past 20 years, Robbins has contributed on many levels to such organizations as Lamar Rotary, Lamar Chamber, Prowers Economic Prosperity, Sparrow House Food Ministries, Cornerstone Resources, HOPE Center, Lamar Eagles Lodge and many of his actions have helped to serve the youth of the area and Lamar Community.

Melissa Bohl received the Beverly Augustine, Business of the Year Award.  Owner/operator of the local flower shop, Thoughts in Bloom, Bohl has helped reach out through her business to the community since it opened in 2004 on South Main Street in Lamar.  A member of Lamar Partnership Incorporated, Zonta, Lamar Honkers and the Chamber of Commerce, she has participated in the annual LCC regional Career Development Event.  Bohl helps promote Lamar by association with the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, an invitation-only event for float decoration based on academic and professional accomplishments.

A new entry for the banquet, the Upcoming Business of the Year award, was presented to Kolby Brubacher, owner of the Colorado Drink Company on South Main Street in Lamar.  A former business teacher at McClave high school, Brubacher entered the business field himself, opening the Colorado Drink Company last year, bringing his expertise as an instructor to create his own flourishing company, serving made-to-order beverages.  That success lead into an expanded menu for food items allowing a new partnership in his operation.  Brubacher’s business has offered material and financial support by donating gifts and clothing for local children and families during the holidays.
By Russ Baldwin



Construction West of the Field

Construction on Escondido Park Soccer Field Continues

Plans to bring the soccer field at Escondido Park up to league status continues with construction on benches and score boards at the site off North 13th Street in Lamar.

Lamar Community College and the City of Lamar collaborated on the project as the college began to develop a full-fledged soccer team and schedule a competitive league for future play.

Community State Bank contributed $50,000 towards a broadcast booth and LCC contributed $80,000 for other, additional improvements.  Last year, $500,000 worth of sod was laid on the field and a recent, Quick-Win grant of $5,000 from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment will be applied to the cost of two soccer goals and benches.

Walls and framework on the latest development were postponed due to recent weather conditions, but by the start of the soccer season, Escondido Park will be ready for league competition, hopefully attracting teams from around the region.
By Russ Baldwin




Sheriff’s Office & Town of Holly Municipal Law Enforcement Contract

The Prowers County Sheriff’s Office would like to notify the public that the Town of Holly has chosen to not renew their contract with PCSO for law enforcement services, moving into the year 2023. This requires the turn back of one of the Office vehicles used for patrol as well as the loss of a deputy. The Sheriff’s Office is working to keep the deputy on staff as PCSO has lost positions over the last 20 years and this would create a short-coming with the services PCSO provides.

The town of Holly is an incorporated statutory town in the State of Colorado. The Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) provide guidance for Incorporated Cities/Towns within the State. Per C.R.S. 31-4-102(2) “The Mayor of the city shall be its chief executive officer and conservator of the peace, and it is his special duty to cause the ordinances and the regulations of the city to be faithfully and constantly obeyed.”…”The Mayor has and shall exercise, within the city limits, the powers conferred upon the sheriffs of counties to suppress disorders and keep the peace.” This meaning the town’s mayor is responsible for law enforcement in the absence of a contract for those services or a police chief/department, which incorporated towns statutorily provide.

Sheriff Zordel would like to express that non-emergent calls will be given to the town office, and PCSO will respond accordingly to emergent calls as appropriate and investigate them as normal. However, there will not be deputies within the town for the contract required 160 hours a month, and response times will likely vary due to this. PCSO provides dedicated law enforcement services within the unincorporated areas of the county and will respond to emergent calls within the towns of Holly, Wiley, and Hartman as we always have.  This is the first time in 20 years the contract has not been renewed.



Lamar to Host Portion of Hemming Great Race, 2023

Lots of vehicles pass through Lamar every day, but residents are going to look twice at the type and number of vehicles that stop in town for a lunch break on Saturday, July 1st.  Lamar is one leg of a 2,300-mile Hemming’s Great Race spanning the miles between St. Augustine, Florida on June 24th and ending on Tejon Street in Colorado Springs on Sunday, July 2nd.

Local preparations are underway with various organizations preparing to assist the stopover, including the Colorado Welcome Center and next-door neighbor, Lamar Chamber of Commerce.  The website notes that the first cars will start arriving at about 11:45 Saturday, take a lunch break and resume their journey along Highway 50 into Pueblo for an overnight stay at the Union Depot area and then hit the road for the final leg of the journey into Colorado Springs by1pm for the Tejon Street finish line.

There are five divisions of vehicles with $150,000 in prize money, including $50,000 for the grand prize.  Additional details will be made available by March 18th according to former Lamar Mayor, Roger Stagner.
By Russ Baldwin



Rick Robbins Presenting Certificate to George Gotto with May Gotto at right

Rotarian George Gotto, Honored for his Special Service

The Lamar Rotary Club held a very special program this past Thursday, January 19th to honor long-time Rotarian, George Gotto, as he recapped his thoughts on 39 years of vocational service as Santa Claus to Lamar and Prowers County.

Gotto began his role as Santa in 1984, usually just donning his seasonal suit for family and some friends in his Wiley community, but as the years progressed, demand and his since of community service, especially after he joined Rotary, increased how he carried out his role as jolly old, Saint Nick.

“Area youth is a major concern of Rotary,” he told the January 19th gathering of friends and associates, which is one reason why Rotary has expanded its annual efforts to produce a Santa themed day in December.

“My wife May was shopping at Montgomery Wards in Lamar around 1984 and found the original Santa suit in a close-out sale display, all for $60.  I got the suit, plastic boot spats and a plastic belt and a pretty good wig and beard which is used as my hair was still dark back then,” he explained, adding that in subsequent years as his hair color started to shift, he used liquid white shoe polish to embellish his look, until he just turned all white.

“All this began as fun, but after a while, with the role, you become aware of how youngsters will react to you and around November, I’d start looking forward to putting on the suit again.”  Gotto has had eight suits over the past 39 years including handmade boots and a leather belt made for him by friend, Gary Peyton.  “It’s not the hair or the beard, but the kids will check out the belt and boots and if they’re real, that’s what makes the difference for them,” Gotto said.

“Putting on the suit fosters my belief I can become who I really want to be,” a situation he said that came from a church meeting when those present were asked to write down who they wanted to be and he wrote Santa Claus.  “When I put on the Santa suit, I believe I am being held to a different standard than I would be as just George Gotto.”
By Russ Baldwin



Lamar Prowers County Youth Council Holds Open House

Members of the Lamar Prowers County Youth Council hosted an open house this past Friday, for their new, permanent location at 120 South Main Street in Lamar.  Students, council members and volunteers and interested community members were greeted by the students as well as Courtney Neuhold, who recently became the executive director of the organization.

She provided an overview of the council which is open to students in K-12th grades in all four school districts in the county and are served by two facilitators in each district.

“We serve Lamar and there are headquarters in our other towns, Wiley, Granada and Holly, each with their own meeting schedules, although we do host activities at our new locations for all students,” she explained.

The newly remodeled facility stretches from Main Street to alley providing ample room for some racks and shelves for games and books, desks, a small kitchen in the read and some arcade games such as Pac-Man.
By Russ Baldwin


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