by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- The La Veta Town Board completed several items of business Tuesday evening before the topic of the Dawn Blanken recall petition was raised by Trustee Dale Davis. Davis said, “I think we need to bring this out in the open. I think we need to talk about it. We need to support, as a Board, our Town Clerk’s decision on the recall petition. And we need to support Dawn Blanken in the recall.” Davis asked each Board member to voice their opinion about the recall, then made a motion in support of the decisions Town Clerk Nancy Culbreath made on the recall petition. The Board voted unanimously in support of Culbreath’s actions. Trustee Jim Fowler added, “We’ve got a good trustee in Dawn Blanken and a good Clerk in Nancy.” The next motion made by Davis, in support of Blanken against the recall petition, did not garner unanimous support. Blanken naturally abstained from the vote and so did Mayor Don Keairns. Keairns explained, “I have not supported the recall. I’ve remained neutral. I don’t have a problem with Ms. Blanken. I don’t feel it’s my place to influence people one way or the other.”
A visibly shaken Blanken, who has been, by her recollection, a target since February 2007, told Keairns, “You’ve worked with me for three years. I think you are entitled to have an opinion about my performance and moral conduct.” Pressed by comments from the audience, Keairns admitted to Blanken, “I do not think that you are immoral or guilty of gross misconduct.”
Regarding attorney fees, Blanken told the audience, “What this has cost the Town is obscene.” Trustee Tracy Webb added that the four (previously 5) people involved in bringing forth the recall petition, and now the lawsuit, are getting free legal assistance from Sandy White. Webb also asked Keairns to clarify with the Town’s attorney who he represents in the lawsuit against Culbreath and Blanken.
On a unanimous vote, the Board passed Ordinance #258, amending Title 13. The ordinance specifies that water meter readings will be taken monthly unless there is inclement weather (a foot of snow was mentioned as an example). If the readings need to be estimated, that will be printed on customers’ bills. The ordinance also makes it unlawful to damage water or sewer structures and equipment, either by malice or negligence. Property owners must keep their service pipes and lines in good working order. And there will be no reduction in rates for frozen, leaking or malfunctioning lines or fixtures. The new language also specifies “occupied” in cases of fixed mobile home parks.
By a unanimous vote, the Board passed Ordinance #259, which modifies fees. The minimum monthly water/ sewer bills will increase in order to cover water and sewer operations and financing. As of the February billing – for January readings – it will be $55.50 per month. The water portion per EQR for the first 6,000 gallons of water will be $27; the monthly water debt service will be $6.50 per month per EQR, whether the water is on or off. The sewage service fee will be $16 per month, and $6 will be collected for sewer debt. Mayor Keairns told the audience, “When we were working on our budget, we found we weren’t even covering our cost to provide water and sewer to the community.”
Donna Adams asked the Board for permission to erect a sign in the vicinity of Town Park and the railroad tracks on Main Street with verbage: “Welcome to La Veta. Home of Doris Tracy, Congressional Medal Recipient”. Adams said Huerfano Hometown Heroes and the Oktoberfest committee will help with funding for the sign. The Board approved the sign request on a vote of 4-2, pending approval of the sign design and colors by the historic preservation committee.
The Board acted on a recommendation from the Francisco Fort Museum Board and voted to appoint Rick Dunn to the unexpired three-year term that was vacated by Jessie Yarbrough. Blanken reported that the Huerfano County Historical Society has officially turned over a $20,000 certificate of deposit to the Fort Board. The Fort Board is conducting a search for a new Museum director.