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Minutes hang like hours

by Carol Dunn
CUCHARA — At the March 8 meeting of the Cucharas Sanitation & Water District the board was asked if it might consider putting the meeting agendas and minutes on the district’s web site. Cuchara resident Jim Berg said doing so would be “a convenience and service to the constituents.” Chairman Art Pierce answered that his concern would be the ongoing expense to update the web site with the information twice a month – once for the agenda and again for the approved minutes.
The district has an independent contractor edit its web site and has only budgeted $95 for the entire year for website maintenance. One invoice has been received, and the expense is already over budget. Pierce also said the district has not had significant requests for minutes of meetings.
There was a suggestion that the web site have a sign-up page where customers can ask to be added to an email list to receive agendas and minutes monthly. On a related note, Marshall Moore told the board that the merchants’ web site has changed to:
David Rinehart of The La Veta Signature newspaper told the board he finds it “disrespectful and annoying” that he cannot get copies of the minutes until after they are approved at the subsequent board meeting. This policy is part of the district’s rules and regulations, but Pierce told Rinehart the board would consider changing the rules. Director Jim Howard said, “The rules of operation for special districts are different than county commissioners and municipalities.”
Pierce reported on the exit interview conducted by the auditors, Dixon & Waller, on February 28. Pierce said, “He seemed real impressed with things. We’re in good shape financially.” The auditor complimented the district’s accounting, and Pierce added, “Kudos to Jennette and Sandy.”
In contrast to most of Huerfano County, there was snow in Cuchara on the day of the meeting. General Manager Bob Northup said the crew is hoping to have to plow more snow soon. Pierce noted, “Cuchara is way behind on snow. We may mull over some restrictions for summer.” This brought up a discussion about the district’s water right and whether it is allowed to use that water if it’s available, drought or not. Colorado’s water law is a system of “use it or lose it.”
Northup told the board that even in 2002, the driest year in Huerfano County in memory, the district had water, but the river dried up just downstream of Cuchara. A voluntary program of conservation measures was suggested to start with. “We may make a priority list to operate from,” Pierce said. The board will discuss this further in April.
Northup told the board he has verbal consent from Red McCombs’ daughter for the permanent easement required to proceed on the Cuchara water tank project. Director Jim VanLue suggested that Northup get something in writing, even if only an email. Northup said the signed easement is in the mail.
The district workers have pioneered a road to the water tank site, and core samples will soon be taken so the engineers can design a foundation for the tank.
VanLue told the board that he had spoken with Robert Beck, who donated a plot of land for the Britton Ponds project. According to VanLue, Beck believes the project was supposed to be completed within two years or the land would revert back to Beck’s ownership. Northup said it took almost two years for the Forest Service permit to go through, severely delaying the project. He is planning to burn a brush pile soon at the project site with Paul Branson, a member of the fire department. VanLue and Northup will follow up with Beck immediately.
Northup said he met with Marshall Moore, Cal Sandbeck and Melanie Bounds about vehicle access to a property in the Spanish Peaks subdivision. There is a county road, but the county does not maintain it. Northup said he would meet with the county commissioners about making the road passable. “At the very least for fire escape and egress,” Pierce suggested.
Northup said the district recently purchased ice trekkers and winter coats for the field crew.
On a request by Marshall Moore, the Board said they would consider at the April meeting donating money for a sponsorship for the Cuchara Country Music Fest.
The district will be hiring a part-time office position and a full-time field position. Northup expects to make the hires in April. The Board will assist with interviews for the field position.

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