by Brian Orr
LA VETA- It seemed anticlimactic at the La Veta Town Board on Tuesday evening, when the 6:30 public hearing concerning the chronic non-attendance of Trustee Larry Klinke was cancelled.
The reason for the cancellation was revealed in new business when the Presiding Officer Jerry Fitzgerald read aloud Klinke’s resignation letter.
Klinke’s letter was short, stating “I am resigning from my position as a town trustee effective this date due to the death of my mother-in-law and the need for Deb and me to spend further time in Florida. The decision was not arrived at overnight or due to the machinations of others.”
Klinke had missed multiple board meetings, public hearings, budget meetings, and did not participate in any committees in 2011 or half of 2010.
Things heated up however, shortly after that, when the subject of reimbursing former trustee Dawn Blanken for her legal expenses came up.
Trustee Dale Davis noted he had tried to get the board to pay her legal bills months ago, and that “If you’re gonna serve on the town board, the town board oughtta back you.” He then moved to pay Blanken’s bills of $3,480.79. The motion was approved unanimously by the board, to applause, but not universal approval.
Audience member Gary Flanders told the board he strongly disapproved of their action.
Later, Kelly Popejoy told the HWJ that since the recall petition had been hung up by the valid petition name count, and had not undergone judicial review, that the petition was never valid. Popejoy continued, saying because the petition was not valid, Blanken had not needed legal advice, and any advice she had received was as a private citizen, which should not have been paid for by the board.
Another contentious decision that came before the board was the granting of a commercial development permit to Alys Romer to open a restaurant at 604 S Oak.
Romer’s potential neighbor, Sara Dearmin, told the board she objected to having a restaurant and drinking establishment right next to where she is raising her children. “My boys’ bedroom will be 15 feet away from Alys’ patio. What happens after people have had a few drinks?”she asked.
Romer and her business advisor Mickey Villella, explained that the restaurant would be a private dining club, capable of only seating 15 people at a time, and that the patio wouldn’t be used eight months of the year, and she would be closing by 9 pm.
Multiple citizens came forward to support Romer’s effort to open a new restaurant, calling it a great asset, and a good thing, and that they did not want to lose Alys from that community.
Fitzgerald suggested that Romer and Dearmin take a half hour break and discuss the matter in private, before the board made a decision. The two parties retired to a separate room, and a short time later emerged, with Dearmin leaving the meeting with no comment.
Villella told the board no agreement was reached, but that Romer would make every effort to be a good neighbor. The board voted 4-0 in favor of the permit.
In other business, the board heard from Mark Brunner of the La Veta Fire Protection District about the possibility of the town extending the five-year time period alloted to the LVFPD to build a new fire station on town land.
Brunner reported that the 12,000 square-foot facility was expected to cost $1.6 million to build, and that grants and funding had not met that goal yet.
Rather than putting up a sub-par facility within that time constraint, Brunner wanted an additional five years on the land grant to make sure the LVFPD could raise the funds and build the facility they needed. “We’re excited about it, but we need a little more time to build it,” Brunner said. The board agreed to his request, extending the time frame to 2020.
A separate request by Brunner to place a building at the La Veta airport to be used as an aircraft hanger and storage facility was tabled, to allow Brunner and Trustee Jim Fowler to discuss technical details of the building size.