by Carol Dunn
LA VETA— At the La Veta Town Board meeting on August 8, Marshal Loren Youngers and Trustee Shane Clouse were sworn in by Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald.
La Veta has not had a full complement of board members for over a year and has been without a Marshal since May 15 when Gerald Bumgarner was released from his duties. Clouse promptly took his seat with the other trustees and participated in the meeting. Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald thanked Chip Kraynyk “… for making the run and making it an interesting race.” Town clerk Laurie Erwin publicly thanked the election judges for their work. Clouse was appointed to two committees: streets & alleys and police, code enforcement, buildings & railroad.
The board discussed the dam repair project and the pressing schedule it is on. Trustee Dale Davis told the board, “I would like to keep it local and only take bids within 20 miles of La Veta. I would like to see us keep people in our area working.” However, the Mayor expressed his doubt that the town could refuse bids and offered, “We have the opportunity during the bid award to decide who we want to do the job. We are not limited to the low bidder.” He also told the bj15
oard that Rob Saint Peter does not feel that the scheduled completion date of November 16 is that important. Davis suggested having a meeting with Chris Manera of Colorado Water Engineers and not rush into the project. However, the board voted 6-1 to proceed with the bid process, with Davis voting no. The project documents will be put out to bid on August 16.
Before he left the town board, Jim Fowler was invested in getting the town to work on problematic sections of its sanitary sewer collection system. Fowler was in the audience Wednesday as the board discussed the next logical step in this process – the preliminary engineering report (PER). However, the town is strapped for cash to undertake the $28,500 study, so the board has made inquiry to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for $18,500 in grant money to do the PER. The mayor suggested the board meet with Lee Merkel of DOLA to discuss the request. The difference between the requested grant and the cost of the study would be the required local match.
Trustee Bill Stark told the board the Red Cross would like to use the community center as an emergency shelter. He said the Red Cross would carry the requisite insurances and take responsibility for liability issues in the event the community center is used. He asked the board’s permission to allow the police, code enforcement, building and RR committee to enter into the agreement. It was clarified the community center would be an alternate location to the school. The board agreed to the agreement.
During Town Talk, Dale Lyons gave a five-minute presentation on behalf of a task force that evolved out of the Community Forum. The Forum was established under one of the conditions the Huerfano County Commissioners set for Shell exploration and development. Lyons explained the task force wants to promote economic vitality in our community as related to oil and gas production. She said the guiding principle of the task force is stewardship, adding in a quip, “There ain’t gonna be no second chances.” The task force is going to develop a strategic plan that will address a long list of impacts that are expected to occur with oil and gas development. “Who’s gonna monitor this stuff?” she asked. She said a boom-bust cycle will affect all the communities in our County, including La Veta. The task force will seek to minimize the risk of boom-bust – a lot of money moves through the area, then the source(s) of that wealth leave. On behalf of the task force, Lyons requested the support of La Veta Town Board to: 1. Allow a full presentation on the subject at a later date; and 2. Include the task force in future economic sustainability discussions.
In response to Lyons’ presentation, Mayor Fitzgerald encouraged her to sponsor a public meeting for the entire community. But Trustee Davis said, “I think Dale is doing a real good job of communication. It can be good if we work together.” Davis said Shell will be sponsoring a public meeting in La Veta in mid-October.
Nonetheless, Lyons was told the La Veta Community Center will be available to hold a separate public meeting for the seasonal residents before they return home to their permanent residences.
Erwin reported there will be airplanes at the La Veta airport around mid-September, when pilot instructor Mike Mann brings his mountain flying class through the area. Erwin said the only request, so far has been that the town mow the runway. This drew laughter from the crowd, followed by a comment about the poor condition of the runway. The mayor said anyone who lands on any runway does so at their own risk.
The mayor reported the town received a letter of complaint by Michael Scott about the senior luncheons held every Friday at the Community Center. He said Scott was under the mistaken impression that the town runs the luncheons. Because it does not, the mayor reported he discarded the letter and spoke with the group that organizes the luncheons. He told the board he thought the matter was settled. When questioned further about it, he did say Scott does not attend the luncheons but was representing the complaints of a few people who do attend. One of the complaints was the lunch should be free rather than cost $3.00. Trustee Ken Sajdak said, “The world is full of people who talk crap. Why are we giving credence to his statements?” Trustee Davis suggested a public meeting be held after the next luncheon, about 1pm, to discuss the situation. He invited the other board members to be in attendance.
The board approved a liquor license renewal for La Veta Liquors at 105 West Francisco Street. The manager of the establishment has been changed to Sarah Dearmin.
The Streets & Alleys Committee is tasked with correcting drainage issues on town streets, and there are certain situations which meet with citizen resistance. Trustee Davis explained information obtained recently from the town of Ridgway. He told Barb Kowalik, chair of the Tree Board, that Ridgway does not use a special gravel, they use class 6 road base with magnesium chloride added as a cohesion agent. “But it kills trees,” Davis added. Trustee Dave Molyneaux told the audience, “They’ve been putting dirt and rock on these streets every year since I was this tall [indicating a very short person], and every time we have a water event, the whole thing washes away.” Kowalik told Davis that she does not want mag-chloride on the street, and the discussion faded away.
On a suggestion by Trustee Davis, the board agreed to eliminate the personnel committee.
Trustee Sajdak was reappointed to the Water and Sewer Committee.