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La Veta Town Board vacancy filled

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- At the August 2 La Veta Town Board meeting, Mayor Don Keairns reported that the Town’s attorney advised the Board can appoint a successor trustee or order an election, and that it is not necessary to formally accept Trustee Dawn Blanken’s resignation. Jerry Fitzgerald, who has been volunteering at Town Hall, had offered to fill the vacancy until the April election, and Keairns said, “I think it would be a good appointment.” The vote to appoint Fitzgerald was unanimous and was met with applause from the audience. Fitzgerald will continue to volunteer in the office until Labor Day. He was sworn in by the Mayor immediately after the vote and took a seat with the Board. Trustee Laurie Erwin said, “I would like to thank Jerry for his hard work. He worked a few days with CJ, and he has done a very, very good job helping us.”
The Board discussed accrued employee annual leave, which is paid every year on the employee’s anniversary date. Trustee Fitzgerald commented that the present policy specifies that leave does not actually accrue until the anniversary date. He then moved to change the policy to allow “inter-year accrual of vacation.” The motion passed with Trustee Dale Davis voting no.
Trustee Erwin apologized to Marshal Baumgarner and the public for comments she made during the workshop on the Marshal’s overtime. She explained that subsequent research showed her arguments at the meeting were incorrect. Keairns announced that Deputy Marshal Patrick Lira started work for the Town today, August 2 and added, “We’re back to a two-person police force.”
Keairns told the audience that interviews have been conducted for Clerk and Deputy Clerk. “They were both real good candidates,” he said. One candidate, Christal Copley, has been helping out at Town Hall as a volunteer and was taking minutes during the Board meeting. A special personnel meeting will be held Thursday, August 4 at 7:00 pm at Town Hall.
Keairns read aloud a letter from Nancy Culbreath: “In my exit interview with Mayor Keairns, I reported to him that I had not felt that I had been verbally threatened or harassed during the course of my employment. But I did state that I felt I was working in an adverse work environment.” Keairns said, “I think part of it was just the stress of recall issues. She was taking it home with her, and she didn’t want to live like that. She’s a good person.” In CJ Smith’s letter about rumored harassment, she said, “There has not been anything like that here to my knowledge.” Trustee Jim Fowler said a water department employee alleges he was harassed and that he had given four letters to Mayor Keairns about it in the past year. Keairns said he could not recall receiving any letters and said he would speak with the individual personally.
Barb Kowalik reported that the First Baptist Church on Main Street plans to remove a large tree, which the Tree Board opposes. She referred to it as a “downtown tree,” which is tall, in good health, but could use some trimming.
Erwin announced that the budget process will begin in mid-September and put the different committees and Boards on notice to start planning for that.
Trustee Tracy Webb reported that, of the 998 surveys mailed, 99 have been returned so far. She said they were numbered so they wouldn’t be reproduced, but there is no record of which number went to which household. “There is no tracking,” she said, but you can choose to sign it if you want. Even if you don’t live in Town, you may complete the survey as long as you live in the 81055 zip code. The committee would like to have the surveys back by the end of August.