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City Council hears water request for Black Hills project

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council reviewed a request for water from Tim Williams and Ray Pfaffenhauser of Huerfano Peaks Sand and Gravel. The water requested would allow them to make a competitive bid for the concrete work needed by Black Hills Energy on the proposed Busch Ranch Wind Farm.
The amount of water requested by Williams would run between 300,000 and 400,000 gallons. However Black Hills Energy, in a request for bid (RFB), indicated that the contractor who was awarded the bid would use around 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of water on the project. The reason for the discrepancy between the two stated amounts of water was not clarified.
The water would be used on road work that, when completed, would allow the very large trucks used to haul the towers and blades of the wind turbines to turn off Highway 10 on to County Road 130 in Eastern Huerfano County. Other road work would include dust mitigation on the county road. Water would also be needed to mix the concrete for the footings needed to mount the towers.
Acting City Administrator Beth Neece told Williams and Pfaffenhauser that the city had an ordinance dictating the cost of water in one thousand gallon increments. The water would be metered from a fire hydrant.
Before the city council can make a decision, they will need to hear from two other local subcontractors who are also actively seeking a contract with Black Hills Energy for the project. They will also need to speak with Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte about augmentation of the water. Witte will also need to approve the use and sale of the water.
Black Hills Energy is scheduled to begin phase one construction of 16 wind turbines in March 2012. They expect to have that part of the project completed by the end of the year.
The city is still looking for a city treasurer and former city council member Dave Mockmore has been the only person to submit a letter of interest so far. The city has spent about six weeks advertising for a person to fill the important position. Former City Treasurer Jacque Sikes ended her term at the start of the new year.
The first city council meeting on Jan. 3, began the 60-day countdown for finding a new treasurer. If the council can’t find a person to fill the position by March 3, they will have to hold an election. The election process will cost the city an estimated $10,000. Although Mockmore is interested in the position, the council voted 5-3 against appointing him as the city’s treasurer.
Police statistics for the month of December 2011 were released by Walsenburg Police Chief James Chamberlain during the city council meeting. The report shows that under the category of “crimes against people,” assaults were the most prominent activity with 57 being investigated by the Walsenburg Police Department for the year to date.
Harassment was the next most active crime with 50 cases being investigated by police for the year to date. Only one case was occured in the month of December.
Assaults also led the list in the domestic violence category with 20 cases being worked by police in the year-to-date column. A total of 36 arrests, summons, or warrants were issued for various domestic violence categories over the course of 2011.
Child abuse showed a decrease when cases worked by police in December 2010 were compared to those worked in December 2011. In December 2010 two cases of child abuse were investigated compared to one in December 2011. However 11 cases of child abuse were handled by police for all of 2011.
The city council was also interested in the headway police were making in their investigations of people knocking on doors in the Spanish Peaks housing area and then soliciting money. In an effort to separate the money from the victim, the door knockers are telling stories about sick family members and the need for gasoline to get them to the hospital or to repair a broken down vehicle.
Chief Chamberlain told the city council that victims should call officers quickly and in a timely manner. One elderly couple waited about 25 minutes after the scammer left before calling the police. The delay allowed the scammer to move on and disappear before police arrived.
The city council also voted 5-3 to donate a requested $2,500 to the Crossroads Turning Points, a non-profit working toward the rehabilitation of substance abusers. The southern region of Crossroads services Huerfano, Las Animas and Pueblo counties.
Referrals to the center come from various law enforcement agencies as well as families of substance abusers. Most of the 668 referrals, 390, came from the Trinidad Police Department in 2011. Walsenburg Police made nine referrals in 2011.