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La Vetas Man on Main for January 14, 2010

Grandote closure revisited


by Gary Rollins

LA VETA- What better way to spend a Saturday evening in January in La Veta than at the Community Center.  Last Saturday, I was one of a couple of hundred local citizens who converged on that venue to openly discuss, face to face with the entire Town Board, the largest of the problems spelled out in an open letter from Fuller Western Real Estate′s founder, John Fuller.  That letter, released right before Christmas, detailed the concern and exasperation Fuller had experienced in dealing with La Veta′s Town Board since he built the handsome office building on Main Street a couple of years ago.  His viewpoints were deemed sufficiently serious to warrant the calling of a special meeting to clear the air.

    The only topic on the agenda to be discussed that evening was the closure of Grandote Peaks Golf Course, which was announced in mid-December by the facility′s owner, Dr. Randy Briggs.  His decision appears to be final.

    Mayor Mickey Schmidt spelled out the rules for the evening′s discussion and clearly stated no other subject was to be discussed.  When I arrived, I was pleased to note most people had left their pitchforks and flaming torches outside, but it would be an accurate description of the assembled group to say many were angry, most were distressed and the majority appeared to be frustrated with the sequence of events that had led to the decision to close Grandote Peaks.  Although the questions were asked in a respectful manner, the people felt they deserved straight answers to simple questions.  The thought that entered my mind was:  A pox on both of their houses.

    Over the course of the next two hours, a lengthy recap of the sequence of events was spelled out by the Town Board and the fact that Grandote Peaks was not officially represented to present their side of the story served as an impediment to affixing final responsibility for who should be considered at fault.

    One question that stands out from the many raised dealt with the legal fees incurred to date and it was Mayor Schmidt’s guess-timate that the sum was in excess of $48,000.  It is difficult to describe the sound of a room full of people gasping as they heard that number.

    Another question dealt with whether or not the Town Board had aggressively pursued a reconciliation path that brought them face to face with Dr. Briggs.  The response was that many meetings had taken place.  All were unproductive.

    However, Don Keairns, who had been silent during the very active back-and-forth exchanges between the audience and the Board members, did say that during his two-year service on the Town Board, he was unaware of any time that Dr. Briggs had occasioned to meet with the full Board.  Keairns also mentioned that Dr. Briggs had recently sought to meet with him and his wife Mitzi on a social basis, and regarded that as a positive sign.

    Nobody went home happy.  The concern is both deep and sincere.  And it may well be that the ultimate resolution will not come in a future Town Hall meeting, but at the ballot box in April.

    It is frequently said there are two sides to every story.  In this case, there may be three sides and the facts may continue to become known in the weeks ahead.

    What’s at stake?  Only La Veta’s future.  If there was ever a time to become intently interested in the issues, this would be the time.  The La Veta natives are restless.

    And for good reason.­

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