Prowers County Board of Commissioners meeting July 9, 2024

During the morning work session, the commissioners heard monthly updates from Cheryl Sanchez of Prowers Economic Development and Gary Harbert, Veterans’ Service Officer.  Ms. Sanchez thanked Mark Westhoff, outgoing County Administrator for all the assistance he has provided as part of the PEP Board.  Westhoff has submitted a letter of resignation to the County effective August 8, 2024.  As such, there will be an opening on the PEP board which the commissioners will discuss at the July 23rd meeting, per Westhoff.  She reported that there have been several business incentives awarded and that construction for both the McClave State Bank and Arby’s is progressing quickly.  A vacant building on E. Olive Street has been purchased and will be remodeled for an existing area business.  A new RV park in Wiley is in development and a restaurant in Holly is under new management.  The PEP July business spotlight was Lamar Lanes, who are undergoing a remodeling and upgrade to the business.  Mr. Harbert presented his department’s most recent numbers which include how many veterans have been served in a number of ways; benefits applied for, help with signing up, veterans being transported for medical appointments, etc.

During the afternoon session, Michael Yerman with My Rural Planner gave an update on the Southeast Colorado Regional Housing Authority’s intergovernmental agreement and budget.  A large grant was received which will help with the construction of several new homes.  He requested that the commissioners vote to approve the IGA and budget that is between Prowers, Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa and Otero counties that make up the housing authority.  They voted to do so unanimously.

Lisa Schlotterhausen with SCEDD (Southern Colorado Economic Development District) spoke to the commissioners about the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and how it will positively impact the SE Colorado region to improve access to reliable internet.

Thomas Dunagan, Prowers County Coroner was on the list for public appearances for the meeting and a group of citizens were in attendance to observe the meeting to see what he wished to speak to the commissioners about.  He told the commissioners that his attorney had still not given him the information he feels will back up his assertations that he was treated unjustly at the last public hearing and therefore he requested an executive session with the commissioners on August 13.  Westhoff told him he would add it to the agenda for that date. Dunagan promised to have a full packet of information available to them at that time.  He had questions for the commissioners regarding his receiving a recent legal summons for potential litigation regarding money he owes the county and the commissioners deferred to their legal counsel, Rose Pugliese, Esq.  She reiterated that she has not been able to communicate with his attorney, nor has she gotten any of the promised material.  Several citizens in attendance expressed their displeasure with his requesting the meeting be one of executive session, since they felt that as taxpayers they deserved to know what is going on and didn’t want things decided “behind closed doors”.  They were assured that no decisions are made during executive sessions and Ms. Pugliese confirmed that these sessions are necessary so the commissioners may confer with their legal counsel before making a decision in a later public meeting.  Cindy Vigil, one of the persons speaking out said that she represents as group of people and that “they are asking questions” regarding the coroner situation.

Among the many action items was to consider approval of updating the Prowers County Fairgrounds Facility Rental Agreement and Fee Schedule.  Several recent rentals to the buildings have resulted in extensive cleanup and repairs being necessary due to damage and has shown that several renters have disregarded the strict “no alcohol” policy.  As such, it had been discussed at previous meetings to increase the rental fees as well as requiring a large deposit in order to rent a building or the fairgrounds, which is refunded immediately if renters follow the rules.  Several meeting attendees felt that the high deposit would make it impossible for many people to afford and that they didn’t feel it fair for innocent renters to be punished for the actions of a few.  As of this writing, no decision had been made concerning this.

The next Board of County Commissioners meeting will be July 23, 2024 at 1 pm.

By: Barbara Crimond


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