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Walsenburg ditching Police Department is Off The Table

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG– After flirting with the idea of combining the Walsenburg Police Department with the County Sheriff’s Office for months, the Walsenburg City Council definitively closed the door on that option Tuesday night. 

    As the topic came up for discussion under new business, Councilman James England quickly moved to table the matter.  Councilwoman Erin Jerant asked if he meant to get rid of it, as opposed to just postponing it.  England responded in the affirmative.  Studies bore out that there would be no real cost savings in the move, and if the City were to ever take law enforcement back, the start-up costs would be enormous.

    The City is now looking into cutting back the number of active police officers to ten, which Police Chief Larry Baldonado feels is a safe operating level. 

    In other business, City Administrator Alan Hein updated the Council on the Martin Lake valve replacement project, saying that barring bad weather, the project should be completed in 40 days.

    Plans for the wastewater treatment plant are still being whittled down to try and make the project affordable.  Hein is hoping to shave $1 million from the proposed cost, and says he has knocked off $800,000 so far.

    Hein ran through a list of grants, loans and proposals the City has out on various projects, including an infrastructure grant or loan to get the proposed new grocery store built, and an Enterprise Zone grant to advertise Walsenburg Wild Waters.

    He also ticked down a list of water rights projects that will come into play for 2010, including the Grandote proposal, where Dr. Randy Briggs would like to change his use of Walsenburg water from irrigation to municipal water.  Then there’s the refilling of Martin Lake, the proposed Raw Water line, the Corsentino well augmentation, the Mexican ditch headgate issue.  Whew.

    Finally, MaryAnn Romero of the US Census Bureau took time to talk about how important it is for all people to get counted by the census.  In the 2000 census, only 48 percent of Huerfanos participated, which cost the County tens of thousands in Federal funding.  It is estimated that each person is worth $876 a year in funding to the county.  The Council understandably is urging everyone to participate, and proclaimed 2010 to be the year of the Census.

    Finally, Mayor Bruce Quintana commented on the closing of the CCA prison in April, saying things are not as bad as the local media have portrayed it.