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La Veta Town Board opposes LATN and ballot questions

by Carol Dunn

LA VETA- At its meeting on October 18, the La Veta Town Board discussed the low altitude tactical navigation (LATN) training area which has been proposed for Southern Colorado.  Trustee Dawn Blanken told the Board that Cannon Air Force Base estimates the training will involve about three flights a day at an altitude of 200 feet above ground level over the area which will include La Veta.  One audience member who had lived on a ranch said aircraft noise during exercises over the designated Military Operations Area since the 1990s has caused the loss of calves, primarily because flights were much lower than the agreed upon compromise of 500 feet.  Others encouraged the Board to support the military in its training efforts.  One gentleman suggested that the proposed flights’ interference with elk reproduction might be a good thing for the area.  On a vote of 5-2, the Board passed a resolution opposing the LATN.

    The Board passed a resolution opposing Amendments 60, 61 and proposition 101 as appearing on the Colorado November 2010 ballot.  The Board passed a resolution amending the Town’s employee policies and procedures, making the day after Thanksgiving a holiday, replacing the Veterans Day holiday.

    The Board approved a temporary (120-day) liquor license for Kurt Reuss, who has taken over operation of the La Veta Inn.  His application for a hotel and restaurant liquor license at La Veta Inn was accepted, and a public hearing was set for December 7 at 6:45 pm.  Reuss said he has not closed on the property yet and is operating under a lease agreement.  Mayor Don Keairns told him, “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

    Joan Hanley and DeEtta Lessar presented a request to the Board for permission to install the Doris Tracy Memorial on Town property between the library and the fitness center building.  From the audience, Bert Rosen told the Board that the fitness center was once a dry goods store owned by Doris Tracy’s parents.  In describing the memorial statue, Joan Hanley said, “Several women in this community had mothers who were in World War

    2.”  When Trustee Jim Fowler pointed out, “That land was donated to the Town to give a clear view of the museum,” Hanley improvised a little soft-shoe dance describing the way the monument will “flow” so it will not obstruct views.

    Fowler told the Board that there is a party interested in leasing land at the airport to build a hangar.  “This is the second or third show of interest I’ve had,” he said.  The Board approved having the attorney review and update the Town’s lease policy.

    In response to allegations circulating about “blatant misuse of power” by Trustee Dawn Blanken, Trustee Tracy Webb explained that this theme began in April with a letter from Dr. Charles “Randy” Briggs to the Town demanding that the Board take action against Blanken for researching tax issues that affected the Grandote Peaks Golf Course and Country Club.  (See Huerfano Journal, May 6 edition.)  Webb then read the May 5, 2010 reply from the Mayor and Town Board to Briggs which said the Board found “no grounds for further action.”  Webb later told the World Journal, “That was a unanimous vote of the Board.”

    The Board agreed to pay meal expenses for an architect to meet with the Town’s Historical Preservation Committee in regards to changes on the Marshal’s office building.  Webb, on behalf of the Inn of the Spanish Peaks, offered to provide free lodging for the architect while in Town.

    The Board received a request to replace the pole light on the north lawn of the library with a down-directional dark-skies light.  Webb reported that the Museum Board will present the rest of the museum procedures to the Town Board by the November 1 meeting.

    The Board approved a proposed amendment to the Town Code Title 13, which addresses water fees for mobile home parks.  The amendment specifies that a space in a mobile home park will be allotted .5 EQR.  If the space is unoccupied, the EQR fee will not be charged.  If a trailer is connected to the water system, it will be charged for the EQR, even if it is not being lived in.  The amendment passed unanimously.

    Fowler reported that the dirt work around the water plant is done.  He said the staff are watching for leaks at the Town Lakes and will continue clearing the brush at the dam.  The sewage lagoon needs a new aerator, and the power lines to the aerator also need to be replaced.  Fowler said the tank in the water building will have a new floor welded into it in November, when water use is down.  A fire hydrant is leaking at Francisco and Oak Streets, which Fowler suggested be repaired as soon as possible.  The sewer project west of Oak Street is just about ready to go to bid.  However, Fowler said GMS Engineering has revised the cost estimate from $10,000 to $21,000-$22,000 because a longer section needs to be replaced.

    The Town Board will meet with the water attorneys about the Mexican Ditch water right on November 18 at 6:00 pm.  The Board approved 6-1 to proceed with the design of the required return flow structures when the time is appropriate.

    At the beginning of the meeting, after the minutes and financial reports had been accepted, Mayor Keairns read “a brief statement as a housekeeping matter about the open meeting law.” Keairns reminded the Board that no more than two trustees can meet to discuss public business without notice being given of the meeting.  However, he said, “It appeared in the newspaper last week that there had been a meeting of a majority of the trustees after the public meeting had been adjourned.  Such meetings cannot be tolerated by the Town.”

    There was no mention of what the trustees were talking about after the meeting.  But reached at home Trustee Dale Davis told the World Journal, “We were just socializing.  They wanted to know how Rosemary is doing.  We were just gabbing, like people do.”

    Keairns said he was directing the Town Clerk to lock meeting rooms immediately after public meetings adjourn.  He continued, “I thank everybody for their cooperation in advance and would especially ask our former Mayor to use his influence to end this unfortunate practice.”  After Keairns’ statement, an audience member asked about the emails that are sent among trustees to discuss public business “away from the public view.  You all talk on email all the time.” Keairns said that emails all go through the Town web site and so are a matter of public record.  That process was not elaborated upon.  As the Board was reviewing bills at the end of the meeting, Keairns was asked if he felt he had ever “hung around after meetings and talked to other trustees.” “I probably have, yes,” he answered.

    The next Town Board meeting will be held Nov. 1 because of the election on Nov. 2.