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La Veta judge resigns

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA– At the September 17 meeting of the La Veta town board, it was announced that municipal judge Jytte Hale-Helps had resigned as of September 14.
In her resignation letter, Hale-Helps said “I am beyond frustration in dealing with the general public,” and also said, “I wish to start some new projects which require more of my time and I am therefore prioritizing my commitments.”
Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald said, according to state law, there are no requirements besides a high school education, and the judge does not have to be a La Veta resident.
Court is held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, and the judge’s compensation is $3,400 per year. Applications are available at La Veta Town Hall and will be accepted until October 1.
The board unanimously approved a motion by Trustee Dale Davis to accept the resignation and publicly thank Hale-Helps for her service.
The board approved a proposal from Trustee Dave Molyneaux to purchase a dual-motor sewer jetter system for jet cleaning sewer lines and culverts at a cost of $26,535, delivered.
The mayor explained that GMS Consulting Engineers had estimated the cost to blow out the entire La Veta system would be over $33,000. He complimented Molyneaux on figuring out a way to accomplish this while saving the town money. “This is something that should have been done twenty years ago,” he said.
During Town Talk, Robin Richards addressed “the tree issue.” Richards told the board she felt the public trust had been undermined by way the issue was handled. She read a letter by former Trustee Ken Sajdak proposing a compromise. Sajdak’s letter agreed that work needs to be done to achieve adequate drainage.
He proposed that the project move forward on Poplar Street, including ditching on the east side of the street, except for removal of the large tree on the west side, which he described as a “priceless living asset.”
When all the work is completed, Sajdak suggested the issue of the tree could be revisited. “There can be evidence on the ground, instead of theory,” he wrote, adding that, if the tree is still an issue, it could then be removed. Sajdak suggested the compromise would “restore the citizens’ faith in the integrity of town government.”
Holding a sheaf of papers, Bob Kennemer told the board it was a petition which had circulated in town for two days and contained 104 signatures voting against the removal of the tree.
“There will be more signatures,” he said and promised to deliver the petition to town hall on Wednesday.
When Chip Kraynyk asked if any ideas from the four hearings on the removal of the tree were taken into consideration by the board, Davis replied, “We went from two trees to one tree.”
Rena Kaplowitz told the board, “I am concerned about the level of discourse in this community . . . When a majority of citizens feel a certain way, it should be taken into account.” Kaplowitz cautioned, “Certain opportunities may be slipping through our fingers,” and added, “I honestly want to see things work better.”
The board voted to allocate $500 from the Conservation Trust Fund so the Oktoberfest Committee can have up to eight picnic tables built for Town Park. About the current tables, Sandy Helwig said, “If you have seen them you know the tables are in really, really, really crummy condition.”
Students at the Lathrop Career Academy are building the tables, so there is no charge for labor.