by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night formally accepted the resignation of Ward III council member James Baca and said they would immediately advertise for a replacement.
The council voted 7-0 to publish the vacancy and indicated they would take applications for the position through March 15. The council said they would like to have a qualified list of candidates to choose from as soon as possible and were hopeful they would be able to make an appointment at the next regular council meeting on March 19.
City Administrator David Johnston has selected WPD Sgt. Gary Hornsby as interim police chief, and outgoing chief James Chamberlain has begun training with Hornsby to ensure a smooth transition.
Hornsby’s seventh anniversary with the Walsenburg Police Department is March 12 and he begins his interim term as police chief on March 15. Hornsby, Chamberlain and WPD Lt. Kurt Liebchen attended the meeting Tuesday night and Hornsby told the council he will be formally applying for the chief of police position. He said his time as interim chief will be a live audition for the job.
“I do appreciate the opportunity you have me to serve the city as an officer and as police chief and I want to thank you all,” Chamberlain told city council members. Mayor Larry Patrick thanked Chamberlain for his years of service, calling him ‘ a great stand-up guy.”
Council member Erin Jerant thanked Chamberlain for his service not only to the police department, but his service to the country with three overseas deployments as a member of the USAF Reserve.
Nick Vigil, Patrick and others also expressed thanks for former councilman James Baca’s service twice on the city council.
In other business the city passed a motion donating $500 as a sponsorship to the upcoming 2013 Arkansas River Basin Water Forum that will be held beginning April 23 in Walsenburg.
The city council approved a limited service agreement with Black Hills Energy for $500 for a draft RFP concerning leak repairs on the six inch steel high pressure feeder gas main.
Council also approved a residential property landlord consent agreement with San Isabel Electric Association regarding deposits and electric service to two residential rental properties the city owns on the city ranch east of Walsenburg on CO Hwy. 10.
A proposed resolution concerning secure back-up electronic data storage for the city’s computerised records was removed from the agenda and will be addressed at a future meeting.
During the administrator’s report, Johnston said an inspection program would begin soon to look at the city’s 300 fire hydrants. He also briefed the city council regarding the proposed Career Building Academy that would like to begin training and educational operations at the old Lathrop Youth Camp site. This program would be open to young people age 16 to 24 and would teach building trade skills, provide continuing education in a paid work environment as well as offering life skills.
Chief Chamberlain said the group has requested a letter of support of the program from him, and the council gave him the go ahead to write that letter. Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman is also writing a letter of support and Chamberlain pointed out the program is not just for kids who are in trouble. The proposal has received early support from Kaspia Group, which could benefit from an ongoing home building training program and local school districts who could see financial per-pupil benefits from the state.