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La Veta approves new historic preservation guidelines

by Carol Dunn
A couple dozen people braved sub-zero temperatures Tuesday night to attend the La Veta Town Board Meeting and were rewarded by a fast-paced and affable meeting.  The Board approved a new ordinance governing the Town’s Historic Preservation District.  Ordinance 257 revises the original ordinance passed in 1998.  It lists 48 contributing and landmark structures that may qualify for funds from various sources for maintenance.  The ordinance also specifies membership, meetings, procedures for designating structures, and a corrected description of the Historic District boundaries.  Historic structures can be nominated by the owner, a resident of the Town of La Veta, or a Historic Preservation Committee member.
    The Board discussed repair of the outlet on the north water reservoir, also referred to as the “Dam Project.” Mike Graber has submitted a proposal of $207,000 for the engineering alone.  Mayor Don Keairns reported that former Mayor Mickey Schmidt suggested contacting the dam inspector for a timeline on when the repair needs to be done.  “There may be less expensive alternatives,” Keairns said.  “And we may have an opportunity to increase the capacity of the south reservoir.”  Trustee Dale Davis added, “We will have to find our own funding sources.” And Trustee Jim Fowler suggested getting another engineering firm to look at it and give the Town a bid.  The Trustees expressed interest in having a meeting with the dam inspector to discuss the Town’s options.
    Regarding zoning on the railroad property, Todd Cecil, VP of Real Estate Development with Permian Basin Railways, communicated to the Town that he would like to be involved in the next workshop about the zoning.  Mathew Abbey was on-hand to represent the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad Lease with the Town for ticket booth space at Town Hall.  Keairns said, “This is basically the same lease we had last year.” Mayor Pro-tem Larry Klinke suggested changing the term of the lease to cover the entire year – instead of just March through December – but to leave the annual lease amount at $4,000.  The Board and Abbey both accepted that change.  Abbey asked Town Clerk Nancy Culbreath for monthly invoices to help his office remember to make the lease payments on time.
    The Board accepted the intergovernmental agreement on fire hydrants as revised during a meeting with Mark Brunner of the La Veta Fire Protection District on January 25, 2011.
    The Town Board ratified the appointments of two trustees to the La Veta Regional Library District Board of Trustees, as recommended by that Board.  Mary Jean Fowler replaces Jytte Hale-Helps, with a term expiring 12/31/11.  Rick Sciacca replaces George Hugh, with a term ending 1/11/14.
    The Board approved renewal of the liquor license for Sammie’s at 124 N. Main St. and accepted the report of changes, including a new conference room and lockable storage.  From the audience, Kelly Popejoy encouraged a round of applause for Dave Molyneaux for being a “true go-getter.”
    Trustee Laurie Erwin reported that she and Trustee Tracy Webb are gathering surveys from other Towns to be used as reference material when working on La Veta’s Comprehensive Plan.  A public meeting for the community will be held on February 12 at 10:00 am at the La Veta Community Center.  Erwin encouraged residents to attend, saying, “A big turnout would be helpful.”
    In the past, the Board has discussed paying employees for “comp time” in lieu of overtime.  Four employees requested not to be paid for comp time, opting instead to take equal time off.  The employee handbook suggests that comp time off should be taken during the next pay period.  Davis suggested a personnel workshop with the employees to set some guidelines on how much comp time can be accumulated and when it has to be used.  The Board then voted to reimburse three employees for accumulated comp time, up to 40 hours each; the total amount approved was $1932.40.
    Keairns told the audience that only about one-third of the water meters were read in January.  “Depending on what happens in February, if we have some nice weather, maybe we can get them all read,” he said.
    The Board approved a request by Shannon Shrout to be able to serve as an occasional school bus driver as long as it doesn’t affect his regular job with the Town.  Erwin said he has been working for the school since 2004.
    Klinke suggested that two new circuits should be installed for space heaters at Town Hall, because it gets very chilly for the office employees during bitter cold weather.  Currently, running more than one space heater at a time trips the circuit.  The Board approved the work as long as it costs less than $500.
    The use of Town Park was approved for the Stonewall Century Bicycle Ride sponsored by Spanish Peaks Cycling Association – August 12 at 11:00 am to August 13 at 7:00 pm.