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City council appoints businessman Treasurer

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — The city of Walsenburg has a new municipal treasurer and a new police officer.
Ralph Gary Crandell was appointed to the position of City Treasurer during the Tuesday night meeting of the Walsenburg City Council. The motion made by Craig Lessar and seconded by Nick Vigil, passed with council members Erin Jerant, Rick Jennings and James Baca voting no.
The reason the appointment fell to the city council is that no one came forward in the November 2011 election cycle to run for the position.
Crandell has 40 years experience in private and non-profit business management, accounting and bookkeeping and has past experience in the administration of federal, state and local grants.
He and his family have been residents of the community since 2009 and he is currently employed with the Western Convenience Store located in the Northlands.
Rookie police officer Joshua Berzanji was introduced to city council members and city staff Tuesday night by Walsenburg Police Chief James Chamberlain. Berzanji graduated from the police academy in Arapahoe County and is a United State Marine Corps Reservist. Tuesday night was the young bilingual officer’s second night on duty with the police department.
Councilman Gary Sporcich asked a question of the new officer saying, “are you going to be a citizen, a resident first, or a cop first?” There was a moment of silence as the question hung in the air. It was finally broken when Walsenburg City Clerk Wanda Britt, in an apparent attempt to help Sporcich save face, added, “He means more approachable.” The officer answered to the effect that while a resident of Walsenburg, he has been hired to uphold the law.
During his meeting with the city council, Chamberlain also recognized Lt. Kurt Liebchen, who has been with the department for 15-years.
Chamberlain was before council to field questions regarding the recently released 2010-2011 crime statistics survey. He told the council that increased training in drug and alcohol interdiction would continue as the report reflected a large increase in drug and alcohol related criminal activity.
There was discussion, in light of late 2011’s burglaries in the city, that the serial number recording sheet available at the police department could be sent to all city utility customers in a future mailing so they would have the form to record the identification numbers of valuable possessions.
It was made clear the form shouldn’t be returned to the city, it is a device for the resident’s use in case they become a burglary or theft victim and an aid to police to help identify an owner’s property if recovered.
In other business the city scheduled a utility committee meeting for 5:30 pm Tuesday, February 28 to discuss the price at which the city sells water. This was in light of the proposed wind farm project and the amount of water contractors might buy for it. This, of course, will depend on the amount of water the city might have available in the spring.
On a unanimous vote, the city council approved a water rights memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the state.  The MOU is regarding water rights and diversions of the Ritter Decree that allows supply to the Northlands area during the period from April 1 through October 15. Council also approved a resolution that adopts the Huerfano County Multi-Jurisdictional All-Hazards Mitigation Plan.
Two items of new business: a credit card contract and the municipal cleaning contract were removed from the agenda so the city attorney, Dan Hyatt, could review them before the council votes. The items are expected to be returned to the agenda at a future meeting.

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