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City council puts off lift station decision

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Ignoring the advice of the old saying, the Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night decided to take a long, hard look into the mouth of a potential ‘gift horse’ before agreeing to take possession of it.
The gift horse in question is the not yet constructed lift station that would service the new Chaé Organics factory operation proposed to be built west of the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center.
The La Veta-based company wants to relocate to the new location and expand the operation with the help of USDA economic development grants and the issue of the lift station dominated city council discussion in the work session prior to the regular Feb. 7 meeting.
The agreement to accept the company’s lift station as a city lift station was an agenda item for city council action, but following discussion of potential future costs, the council voted to look deeper into the issue at a work session scheduled at 6 pm Wednesday, Feb. 15.
The motion was passed on a vote with only ErinJerant voting no. She told the council she would not be able to attend a February 15 work session.
Huerfano County Administrator and Spanish Peaks Community Foundation board member John Galusha was at the city council meeting and presented information on the issue and the grant application. Council member Erin Jerant, who led the discussions in the work session, asked Galusha if he could supply information about potential costs for possible future repairs or parts replacement for the lift station. Galusha answered simply, “no”.
During the work session Jerant said, “ We must, for our citizens, start running this city like a business.”
During the regular meeting, Galusha said one of the important steps in the grant application process was the city’s acceptance, by agreement, of the lift station following construction and operation by Chaé Organics’ contractor after three months.
With the scheduled work session, regular meeting and two executive sessions, the council met for nearly five and one half hours.
Mayor Larry Patrick said the executive sessions dealt with personnel performance issues and confidential discussions regarding water issues with the city’s water attorney Tim Beaton. Patrick said Tuesday the city council took no formal action following either executive session.
Dr. John Davis had appeared before the city council Tuesday seeking a possible agreement regarding the city granting him some water for his cattle operation. Davis sought water from a city water right to fill his cattle pond once or twice a year, saying that he has allowed the city to have 60 to 80 acre feet of his water a year as it flows through his property downstream.
Patrick said this issue was discussed in the executive session but no action was taken.
George Purnell, Walsenburg’s John Mall Junior/Senior High School principal and Theresa England, a district language arts instructor, spoke to the council during the citizen forum. They talked about improving communication between the school district and all parties in the community, especially elected bodies such as the city council and the county commissioners.
Council also looked at the letter and resume submitted by Ralph Crandell for the city treasurer’s position. The council took no action and indicated they wanted the administration and finance department to interview the potential candidate for the position. During the last city council meeting, acting city administrator Beth Neece reminded council members they did need to act within 60 days of Jan. 3, 2012 to fill the treasurer’s position or the city will be required to hold an election for treasurer. The cost of that election has been estimated at $10,000.
Former council member David Mockmore earlier this year filed a letter of intent with the city for the treasurer’s position but the motion to approve his appointment failed on a five to three vote.
The city council did act on some items before them; they hired the Rubin Brown firm as the municipal auditor; signed a contract with the Farnsworth Group for engineering services for the CDOT project to widen the turn lane near First Choice Market; passed Resolution 2012 R 4 extending the moratorium prohibiting the sale or growth of medical marijuana within the city limits and passed Resolution 2012 R5 adopting the Huerfano County Emergency Response Plan for the city.