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Changing of the Guard in La Veta

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- The La Veta Town Board changed players on Tuesday night after conducting old business. In the “old” portion of the meeting, the board finalized a ten-year lease with Upon the Rock for 2,500 square feet of land at the La Veta Cuchara Airport. Upon the Rock, represented by Mark Brunner, is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. It plans to erect a metal building and lease part of it as airplane storage. The lease is for $300 per year with two possible renewal periods of ten years each. Mayor Don Keairns told Brunner, “Good luck with that.”
The board also approved new water rates for the town. Ordinance 264 amends the existing municipal code and sets the rates at $26.18 per month per EQR for all users on the system plus $3.00 per thousand gallons of water used. Trustee Dale Davis said, “I think it’s a savings for anyone with more than one EQR. I think it’s a good deal for the commercial people.” Davis warned that engineers have said it costs the town from $2.71-$3.15 to produce a thousand gallons of potable water and added, “To me it’s a losing situation. I hope it works. I hope we make enough money to make things solid.” Trustee Jim Fowler, who is leaving the board, told Davis, “You can change the water rates down the road if you’re not making enough.” The ordinance passed on a 4-1 vote with Davis voting “no.”
The board authorized payment of $1,000 to architect Tom Zimmerman for work he performed on behalf of the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) for a potential grant to renovate the Marshal’s office. It was explained to the board that the grant is not forthcoming, and the HPC feels obligated to pay Zimmerman for assessment work and design drawings to re-do the building’s façade. The HPC originally intended to compensate him from the grant proceeds. A grant reviewer visited La Veta to see the marshal’s office and “he suggested we withdraw the application.” Payment was approved on a 3-2 vote with Davis and Fowler voting “no.”
The board went into executive session for 14 minutes to discuss a personnel issue. No action was taken after the board came back to session.
As the “old” session came to an end, Trustee Tracy Webb thanked the Town for the opportunity of serving and said, “I’ve learned a lot in the four years that I’ve been on this board.”
Town clerk Laurie Erwin presented gifts to the trustees leaving the board. She told them, “Thank you for your hard work. It takes a lot to serve on the board.”
Mayor Keairns then administered the oath of office to Mayor-elect Jerry Fitzgerald, finishing with a handshake and wishing him, “Good luck.” Mayor Fitzgerald administered the oath of office to the new Trustees: Bill Stark, Dave Molyneaux, Ken Sajdak and Nancy Dick. At the conclusion of the swearing-in, a round of cheers and applause erupted from the gallery.
The board approved Bill Stark as Mayor Pro-tem, Laurie Erwin as Town Clerk and Municipal Court Clerk, and Jytte Hale-Helps as Municipal Court Judge. The board retained Larry Berkowitz as Town Attorney for the time being.
The board set the new signers on the Town’s checking and investment accounts as: Mayor Fitzgerald, town clerk Erwin and Mayor Pro-tem Stark. Fitzgerald also presented his list of committee assignments to the trustees. He suggested each committee meet before the next board meeting, April 17.
Arvin Van Ry, Rio Grande Scenic Railroad Manager of Special Projects, spoke with the board about the railroad’s plan to construct an historic model of a water tank so the steam engine can be serviced at the depot, rather than outside town. The 9,600 gallon tank, painted in “Rio Grande colors” similar to town hall, will be a replica of one that stood at Jacks Cabin, CO around 1956 and later at Villa Grove, CO. It would be located within the historic district, so a representative will meet with the HPC to get its agreement with the plan. The railroad will need to apply for a water tap and pay a connect fee, which together will total $5,000. Van Ry said the engine requires 6,000 gallons each time it is serviced, three times a week. At first, Mayor Fitzgerald gave his opinion that one EQR would be appropriate. (A residential EQR is based on 6,000 gallons per month.) However, the trustees discussed it and agreed that perhaps three EQRs may be more in line with the water usage of 216,000 gallons over 12 weeks.
Van Ry said guests of the train and other tourists will get to see the steam engine being serviced, and trustee Davis said, “I think it will be a real tourist attraction.” The board gave a preliminary nod to the plan, and railroad representatives will meet with the Police-Code-Building-Railroad Committee on April 6 to fine tune the details.
The board accepted a liquor license application for Alys’ Restaurant and set a public hearing for April 17 at 6:45 pm.

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