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County Sheriff pledges to protect La Veta residents

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- As the La Veta Town Board meeting came to order Tuesday evening, Sheriff Bruce Newman took the floor to tell the audience that the Sheriff’s Department will do everything it can to ensure the safety of the town’s residents in the absence of two deputies. Deputy Jason Vaughn and Marshal Harold Willburn were both released from service last week. (See related article in this edition of the Huerfano World Journal.) Town Clerk Nancy Culbreath confirmed that ads have been placed in newspapers advertising for the open law enforcement positions. When asked why the two men were let go, Mayor Pro-tem Larry Klinke told the audience, “We are an at-will state. We can terminate without cause.”
Pursuant to a question posed at the last Town Board meeting, Rob Saint-Peter was on hand to elaborate on the Town’s water treatment as it relates to microbial contaminants, particularly cryptosporidium. Saint-Peter described the State requirements for testing municipal water to determine if additional treatment is necessary. He said La Veta has always adhered to the rules. “We monitored our source water every two weeks for E. coli as it entered the treatment plant,” he said. [Ed. note: E. coli is an indicator of the risk of cryptosporidium.] “The results were sent directly to EPA,” Saint-Peter said, adding that La Veta received a Bin Classification of 1, indicating low risk. He said, “EPA decided no additional treatment is required.” Because of the elevation of the lakes, Saint-Peter said no natural drainage flows into them, “Only what we pipe into them from the Cucharas River.” Of EPA, he said, “They gave us a clean bill of health.” Saint-Peter described the direct filtration water treatment system the Town uses: an upflow clarifier, then a regular filter with 2” to 3” size rock, followed by progressively smaller gravel, then 6” of garnet sand, and finally three feet of anthracite coal. Saint-Peter has operated La Veta’s water plant for 18 years. “We’re old friends,” he said.
Shane Clouse presented the Board with a plan to build a covered walkway between the Francisco Center for the Performing Arts and the restrooms located next door in Harmon Hall. The group would also like to expand the size of the deck. Clouse said that, during inclement weather, patrons get wet walking to the restrooms. Clouse was querying the Board for any objections before going to the historic preservation committee with the plans. He will then return to the Town Board seeking final approval.
Trustee Dawn Blanken reported that the Francisco Fort History Museum Board (FFHMB) wants to hire a Museum Associate to work 30 hours a week in the museum’s gift shop from May 30 to September 5. They may be able to divide the work between two people, and they plan to advertise the position as soon as possible. The Town Board approved the hiring. As the Town Board previously requested, the Friends of FFHMB resubmitted their plan for the Commemorative Brick Garden, which will be located immediately north of the gift shop. The announcement of the project now states, “Once purchased and installed the bricks become a donation to and the property of the town of La Veta.” The option to place symbols on the bricks has been removed.
The Board declined to grant a setback variance to Craig Taggart for his property at 303 E. Ryus. Taggart wants to replace an existing garage with a new building. Klinke told Taggart, “You can leave it where it is, and you can do anything you want to it where it is, as long as you don’t change the footprint.”
A.R. Miller questioned the Board about the water and sewer bills for his RV Park. Although he shuts off the water on November 1, he said he is still being billed a $30 per month sewage fee. The Board referred to the Town Code, which says debt and service fees will be charged whether or not the water is turned on. Trustee Laurie Erwin suggested the water & sewer committee research the situation and address it at the next meeting.
The Board approved two commercial redevelopment permit applications and accepted one for public comment. Don and Netta Easter will have a restaurant, retail business and indoor/outdoor food concession at 305 S. Main St. Jon and Sandy Dolak will have a café, retail space, Internet store and “treatment rooms” at 205 S. Main St. The new application by Doug and Pat Burns describes the development of cabins and RV sites at 404 Oak St. A public hearing was set for May 3 at 6:45 pm.