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James England resigns from City Council

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG– In the end, it was almost anti-climatic.  Walsenburg City Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem James England, after a long executive session, announced he was resigning from the Council as of midnight August 18.  He is giving up his seat as Finance Chairman immediately.

    England, who has been under fire for taking two no-interest loans from the City, read a prepared statement Tuesday evening, stating that his personal life has changed since he first took a seat on City Council three years ago.  He is now helping to raise his nine month old grandson and has gone back to college.  He said he was unable to put in the time neccessary to serve his constituants.

    England said he is giving a long lead time to his departure to give the Council time to find a replacement, which could be a lengthy process, given  the high drama that surrounded filling former councilman Larry Patrick’s seat six months ago.

    England noted that he did not always see eye to eye with Mayor Bruce Quintana on how change for the City was to be achieved, but felt he had accomplished a great deal in his time on council, including the annexation of Northlands and the beginning of the wastewater treatment plant.

    England emphasized his resignation was not a reflection on anything he had done in his time as a councilman.  He wished the Mayor and the Council the best “on their rocky road ahead.” He concluded that his service is needed more in his private life than in his public one.

    Mayor Bruce Quintana thanked England for his service on the council, saying he had done well, and would be missed.

    In other, less dramatic news, City Councilman Craig Lessar verbally fenced with tow truck operator Frank Gilbert of Daddy’s Pride over a bill Gilbert submitted to the City for $600 for towing two City vehicles from Pueblo to Walsenburg. 

    Concerned over the cost, Lessar checked with competing towing companies in Walsenburg, and even called Gilbert anonymously to check what each would charge to to tow two cars under the same circumstances, and got figures between $325 and $375.  Gilbert quoted Lessar over the phone a price of $350.

    Gilbert took umbrage at questioning of his billing, and pointed out he had towed other City vehicles for free.  When threatened however with the possibility of losing future City towing business, Gilbert said he would accept whatever the Council thought was fair.  The Council thought the price $350 that Gilbert quoted over the phone was fair, and they settled at that.

    Charles and Alicia Bryant told the Council their Skate Park project is in line to receive between $15,000 to $30,000 from the Parks and Recreation District, which could be used for a large portion of the concrete work needed, including some ramps.  The Council adopted a proposal to put a voluntary contibution form for youth activities in the August utility bill.

    City Administrator Alan Hein is in the hospital and not expected to return for several more weeks, so there was no administrator report.