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Rick Jennings fill vacant Council seat

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg City Council avoided a costly election Tuesday evening by rounding up Ward Two resident Rick Jennings to fill Larry Patrick’s vacant seat.  Jennings,46, is a lifelong Walsenburger, and currently works in La Veta in construction.  Jennings said he had been approached by several councilmen and urged to run, and he felt he should do something for the community.

    Former City Councilwoman Cathy Pineda had also submitted a letter of intent for the seat, but withdrew at the last moment at the advice of the Colorado Secretary of State, citing the Colorado Constitution, which bars councilmembers from serving three terms without a four-year break in between.

    Larry Patrick, who held the seat until he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor, added his name to the list for seat, despite the harsh treatment he received last Council meeting from Mayor Quintana, who had accused Patrick of mishandling City financial guidance and being “anti-poor”.  Patrick, knowing full well what his chances were, had added his name to the list primarily to bug Mayor Quintana.

    Besides picking a new Council member, the City Council also appointed Deputy City Administrator Beth Neece the additional job of Deputy Clerk, to back up City Clerk Lori Sheldon.

    Speaking of City Clerks, former City Clerk John Zgut, who was term-limited out was presented with an honorary clock by the Council for his years of service.  Mayor Quintana said that Zgut had done a great job, and had served Walsenburg well.

    In committee meetings, Councilman James England  reported the City is seeking $2,000 put with a matching amount from the County, to put towards a ‘half-price day’ at the County waste Transfer station.

    City Administrator Alan Hein reported to the Council that the City is working with the anticipated new grocery that’s trying to open up in town.  The bid to construct an offramp into the parking lot came in much higher than anticipated, so the City is looking doing a lot of the work itself, and then hopefully being reimbursed with grant money from the CDBG.

    Hein said a meeting with the contractor for the City’s wastewater treatment facility went well, and together they feel the cost of constructing the building can be reduced $500,000 to $750,000.  Some cost-saving ideas are to use a metal building or a pre-cast concrete building, and having City crews do some of the construction.

    The Martin Lake valve replacement project, which has been on hold pending approval from the State has finally been given the green light, and construction should begin by the end of the week, and is anticipated to last 60 to 90 days.

    Hein reported the City is applying for a grant to re-do a preliminary engineering survey for Northlands, as the first two PER’s have been rejected because of  discrepancies between the two.

    Hein supplied the Council with an inventory of vacant and blighted property in Walsenburg, of which 18 building matched that description.  The City may now pick and choose which ones it would like to take action on.  The City has budgeted $10,000 in it demolition fund, which is estimated could remove  three to four of the structures.  City Attorney Dan Hyatt urged the Council to do testing on any buildings it is considering bulldozing to see if they have any asbestos inside, which can balloon a demolition pricetag way past the budget.

    In other business, the Council voted to renew Ranch Manager Butch Corsentino’s contract. They added James England, Jacque Sikes and Councilman Craig Lessar’s names to who can sign City checks, and are donating two splash passes to the Walseburg Golf Course’s silent auction.

    Roberta Bustos spoke in the citizen’s forum part of the evening, telling the Council about all the services the Walsenburg Outreach Clinic has to offer; “This is a little gold mine for the City- and the County,” Bustos said, noting they do free cholesterol screenings, programs for children, and help with prescription costs. “These are wonderful programs,” noted Councilman James Moore.

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