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Economic development committee power struggles

by Larry Patrick

HUERFANO- Two groups are trying to form an active economic development organization in Huerfano County by merging together.  The merger is advisable, because grant funding sources will only recognize one economic group per county.

    The two sides met last week to go over the by-laws of the ongoing Huerfano County Economic Development group to see how many openings are available for new members.  The current organization has only five members.  President Dick Edler said that they hadn’t been able to get anyone else interested in serving with their group and that the five of them have held it together to protect Huerfano County’s ownership in the Spanish Peaks Apartments.  They claimed to have changed their by-laws to allow only five people to serve, down from the original 14 voting committee members and three board members.

    Questions arose over whether the current group has maintained legal status and filed necessary documents to the state and IRS in a timely manner. Some accused them of being defunct, but they claim they are in good standing with the state and IRS with their 501(c)3 non-profit designation. 

    Another issue that arose was whether HCED had had the necessary quorum to be able to change the membership downward.  After discussion, the consensus was that the current board probably did not have a quorum at the time membership requirements were reduced, so there should still be 12 voting committee slots for HCED. 

    The HCED currently has Dick Edler as president, Ed Johnson as V-P and Betty Jo Cordova as Treasurer.  Two members are Wynelle Turner and Betty Ridge.  There were more than twelve people at the meeting  who were willing to serve with the current board so that the two groups could merge together.

    It appeared that the two sides had worked things out enough to try and move forward together.  The by-laws said the group was supposed to meet twice a month and the current group had been meeting quarterly.  So HCED set another meeting at the Huerfano County Community Center to bring in interested people to fill the 12 vacant slots and begin work on bringing economic development opportunities to the area.

    However, the very next day, HCED board members contacted numerous past members of their organization asking them to fill the slots.  They were apparently able to fill up the 12 slots with former members within hours even though there had been no interest by anyone for years.

    The current five members of the HCED feel that they are being railroaded into doing things they don’t want to do and that putting the people currently interested on their board will only lead to the current board being voted out in elections next September. 

    Another new development this past Monday has the HCED board now believing they have the necessary documentation with a letter coming from their attorney showing they are in complete compliance and that by-law changes taking them down to just 5 board members were legal.

    If that holds true, then anyone could attend the meetings or be part of the organization, but the current 5 board members would be the only ones with voting power.  Many hope the matter can be rectified at the Thursday, May 20 meeting to see whether economic development can move forward in Huerfano County with everyone working together.  The meeting is open to the public.

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