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La Veta not to replace one lane bridge

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- At its meeting on April 2, the La Veta town board was slated to discuss a Tier 1 grant and work with Huerfano County to study plans for the Ryus Street bridge. However, the discussion morphed to another matter: that the Board had never voted to replace the bridge in the first place.
Trustee Nancy Dick said she talked to an engineer who felt the bridge doesn’t need to be replaced, although CDOT maintains it is obsolete. She said the bridge should be repaired, not replaced (at an estimated cost of $700,000). Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald told the Board, “I like the bridge as it is.” Trustee Ken Sajdak added, “I think most people are amused and think it’s quaint that we have this bridge.” Trustee Bill Stark said, “I think we’re early in the fact finding process. It’s imperative that we get as many visitors into this town, and this is one way to do it.” But Sajdak countered, “This is a lot of money to spend on this bridge. I don’t think we have any evidence that it would increase commerce in the town.” He admitted, “It needs to be repaired. The scouring is an issue that needs to be addressed.” Trustee Dave Molyneaux, who is on the task force to increase tourist traffic to La Veta, warned, “If you increase signage and try to make it more accessible down County Road 450, more traffic will cross that bridge. We will have an issue. To me, the most important factor is the safety of the bridge itself.” Molyneaux called the bridge a “bottleneck for CR 450.” Regarding traffic, Sajdak said, “I would like to know that the county and state aren’t fast tracking this to facilitate access for large trucks for oil and gas development.” And the mayor cautioned, “I believe there’s no need to spend any money to do the bridge until there is an agreement in place that the State will improve the exit (off Highway 160) and the county will improve the road.” In the end, the board voted to cancel the bridge project, with Clouse, Sajdak, Dick and Davis voting yes, and Molyneaux, Stark and Fitzgerald voting no. The vote was unanimous to return the grant money that the town has already received for the project.
Barbara Seawell gave the board details of repeated acts of vandalism since October against her neighbor, Hannah Flagg. Seawell said the tires on Flagg’s truck have been slashed three times, once while it was parked in the Seawells’ garage. A slur was also spray painted on Flagg’s house, and her motion-sensor camera was stolen. “It’s disturbing to know that these menacing people are out there,” Seawell said. A $1,000 reward is being offered for information on the vandal(s). Mayor Fitzgerald said, “This is fully under investigation by the Marshal, and we need all the help we can get.” Flagg told the board, “I’m at a loss. I cannot leave my truck outside. Even in Seawells’ garage it’s not safe. It’s been very difficult emotionally for me. I’ve taken out a restraining order against one person, and that hasn’t helped. When I start feeling comfortable, then something else happens.” In reply, Fitzgerald said, “Hopefully the entire community will help.”
The board approved a request by Wahatoya Community Initiatives to use the community center for Friday afternoon cooking classes between May 31 and October 31. Marta Moore and Kristina Heim explained that WCI is a new nonprofit enabling a local food movement referred to as “Farm to Table.” The cooking classes will focus on how to prepare the food that’s grown locally and will, at some point, involve classes for teenagers. WCI has already brought on four interns, and they were introduced: Kelsey and Eleanor from New Jersey, Deanna from Tennessee, and Anna from Maryland.