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La Veta enacts fire ban

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA– Tuesday’s La Veta Town Board meeting began with a question by Rena Kaplowitz that, perhaps, has been on many people’s minds in light of the disastrous wildfires that are raging in Colorado. “Does the town have an evacuation plan in case of fire?”
The mayor stated that the town and the fire protection district do have an emergency plan, and Huerfano County Emergency Management also has launched a new emergency notification system called Code Red.
County Administrator John Galusha urged everyone in the county to go to the web site, , and register on the new system. Registration requires name, address and phone number. Emergency notifications using calls can be made to people who are registered.
The town board passed a resolution to ban open burning and fireworks within the corporate limits of the town of La Veta.
Open burning includes: campfires, warming fires, charcoal grill fires, fused explosives, fireworks or any activity that carries the risk of starting a fire. The ban does not include liquid-fueled or gas fueled stoves; fireplaces inside buildings; or charcoal grills at private residences. The ban will last as long as the governor’s statewide fire ban is in effect. Trustee Bill Stark said, “In my opinion this has to be a zero tolerance situation.”
Barb Kowalik, head of the Tree Board, asked that everyone water their trees. “It’s nine cents a week for 30 gallons of water,” she said.
Galusha made a presentation on the Huerfano County Trails master plan, which studied existing trails and lays out plans for future trails. You can view a pdf file of the 121-page Plan at
Galusha requested that the Town Board help identify some possible trail routes through La Veta. Part of the plan involves widening Highway 12 for a bike shoulder. It also identifies a route from Bear Creek to Lathrop State Park. There are plans to pave and stripe bike lanes. Galusha provided the town with a sample resolution to support the Trails Master Plan. He said he would like to apply for funding in the next cycle of grant applications, in April, 2013.
Ryan Pritchett with Armstrong Consultants spoke with the board about possibly reconstructing the La Veta airport. He has written a draft grant proposal that may require a modest match, with the town required to commit to ongoing maintenance (about $7,000 every three to five years).
Town Clerk Laurie Erwin said she has received about ten letters of support for the project from pilots who own property in or near La Veta. Pritchett said a revamped airport would improve access for planes in case of fire emergency and could also accommodate a helipad.
One pilot in the audience said the lights do not work at La Veta or Walsenburg airports right now. Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald said, “I see this being a project that we really need to think about – how to do it right.”
When he asked what the chances are of getting the grant, Pritchett answered, “The critical thing is that the state has been mandated to monitor and fund a safe airport system. La Veta airport is strategic for pilots crossing the Rocky Mountains. If that airport is declared unsafe and closes, it may revert to the previous landowner and go away. I think the state would be interested in supporting La Veta to keep that airport open.”
Upon request by Trustee Stark, a workshop on this matter was scheduled for July 10 at 3:00 pm at town hall.
The board approved a special events liquor license request for Oktoberfest on October 6, 2012. The Oktoberfest committee volunteered to rebuild the Town’s picnic tables and the board gladly agreed to contribute $500 for that project.
Shane Clouse said the committee could also build some new barriers, which are needed for various events.
Trustee Dave Molyneaux told the board that the director of the Francisco Fort Museum has resigned. “The Museum had a managerial hiccup,” he said. Molyneaux said the personnel who are already on staff have agreed to take on most of the duties of the director, and the museum board will try to give them a little more compensation in return.
Friends of the Museum are holding a second fundraiser selling commemorative bricks to pave a sidewalk over an area that is currently covered by pea gravel. Molyneaux said the project will provide “better access for wheelchairs and make it look better.”
The board voted to change the traffic flow of the street on the 100 block of East Garland Street, between the high school and grade school. Traffic will be changed from bi-directional to one way going east.
The board approved a request by La Veta Beautification Committee for the town to pay for trash bags for the cans on Main Street.
The Streets & Alleys committee reported that the town crew will reconstruct Poplar Street and a couple others. Some trees will be removed. “We’re going to put the street where the street belongs,” Trustee Dale Davis told the audience.

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