by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- The La Veta Town Board announced at its meeting on Tuesday that, after interviews, it has made the decision to hire Patrick Lira as the Town’s new Deputy Marshal starting July 13. Trustee Tracy Webb told the Board that the Colorado Attorney General’s office confirmed that Lira’s certification is current, and the standard psychological testing as well as the physical are pending and will be completed before Lira starts work.
La Veta Schools Superintendent Bree Lessar presented a proposed memorandum of understanding between the Town and Clark Bell to renovate the baseball field. Mr. Bell and the McCormick Foundation have together committed a total of $10,000 over three years to rejuvenate the field. The Town will irrigate the field and provide police patrol. Alcohol and tobacco use will be prohibited there. The school district will schedule the use of the field and take care of regular maintenance.
Several months ago, the Town Board asked Blanca Telephone Company (BTC) to submit a proposal for its planned fiber optic project, and BTC has drafted a sample ordinance instead, apparently ready to discuss it with the Town’s attorney. However, Trustee Dawn Blanken gave her opinion that BTC should be discussing the document with its own attorney so the Town doesn’t end up paying to refine the agreement for BTC. Blanken read a portion of an email from attorney Larry Berkowitz which said he was directed by Mayor Pro-tem Larry Klinke and Mayor Don Keairns to begin discussions with BTC. Mickey Villella, who works in the telecommunications industry, provided some advice to the Board regarding the agreement. Villella said that in his experience, the government entity typically says, “It’s our property; it’s our document.” He asked, “What are the benefits for the Town, and what is the just compensation for any company to come through and use Town streets and property?” Referring to the sample ordinance, he said, “It’s one sided, but not from the Town’s standpoint.” He also noted that the term “franchise” is used, which indicates an exclusive right to use the property, as opposed to a non-exclusive “easement.” Trustee Webb suggested Mayor Keairns contact Alan Wehe and confirm that BTC will pay all the Town’s attorney fees related to developing an agreement. Trustee Laurie Erwin volunteered to be the point of contact with Wehe from this point forward, and Mayor Keairns said he would contact Berkowitz and tell him to stop work on the agreement.
Regarding water rates, the Town Board will be getting professional help from Colorado Rural Water on July 13 at 10:00 am. The CRW consultant helps communities set water rates and will be providing his assistance at no charge. He will be auditing three years of water information and helping the Town establish its new tiered water rates.
The Town finally has a draft ordinance to establish a Railroad Support District, which is intended to be applied to areas adjacent to or near the railroad tracks in the Town which may be used to support railroad operations. The ordinance will be discussed at the next Town Board meeting.
Mayor Keairns said he has discussed the Town’s water situation with Rob Saint-Peter and, “Right now we’re still holding our own at the headgate. We’re taking in slightly more than we are producing.” Keairns said Saint-Peter does not recommend enacting water restrictions at this point.
Rena Kaplowitz told the Board, “A lot of people are not watering their trees.” She added, “This is an investment. It’s very discouraging to see the shape some of the trees are in.” Kaplowitz said two-thirds of people are good about watering their trees, and about one-third are not. “We’re going to lose some trees,” she warned. When the subject of cost came up, an audience member stated, “It costs under 15 cents a month to water a tree.” Trustee Blanken concurred, saying the newer trees that are less than four years old only require 20 gallons of water per week for the first two years. She also pointed out that people with Town-furnished trees did agree to water them. From the audience, Chip Kraynyk offered advice on watering, saying young trees need water frequently and shallow, while older trees need deeper watering less frequently.
Trustee Webb requested a $250 budget for the Comprehensive/Three Mile Plan in order to get the survey mailed. The budget was approved on a 5-1 vote. The Board approved the application by the Historic Preservation Committee to get a grant to assess restoration of the building which houses the Marshal’s office.
Mayor Keairns said the Town’s water attorney notified him that Cucharas Sanitation and Water District has filed a substitute water supply plan. Keairns suggested, rather than paying the Town’s water engineer to review the plan, “Let’s trust that the State is going to do due diligence on it.”
Trustee Webb told the Mayor that she is concerned about the way the board meetings are being run. She suggested that, out of respect, the Board members should be addressed as “Trustee” rather than by first name. She also lamented that sometimes trustees talk over each other and audience members snicker and make comments when they have not been recognized by the Mayor to speak. Immediately after her comments, she was addressed by her first name by someone from the audience who was not first recognized by the mayor to speak.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward