by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG- Following an executive session Tuesday night, the Walsenburg City Council voted to make Assistant Administrator Beth Neece the Acting Administrator for the duration of the current city council’s term which expires in early January.
When the new city council, which will be made up of at least six of the current nine members, convenes in January, they can decide to seek a permanent administrator.
Neece has worked under four administrators in her three years as Assistant Administrator. She has had to dodge numerous attempts in the past two years by some on this city council to eliminate the office of Assistant Administrator.
She has been pursuing her master’s degree to become a city administrator in the future, and she has been getting a lot of valuable experience with the city. A grant is paying half her salary for a two-year period, making her the least expensive employee to Walsenburg taxpayers.
The vote Tuesday night was 6-1 with Craig Lessar voting against the motion to make Neece the Acting Administrator. One person on the city council known to have been working behind the scenes to eliminate her position voted for elevating her to the new position. Neece agreed to take on the added responsibility with no increase in pay.
The council at the same time made a motion to increase the salary of City Attorney Dan Hyatt from $820 per month to $2,000 per month effective immediately. The reasoning behind the increase is to give Neece more access to Hyatt for the time being since Hyatt has been a city administrator in the past.
Lt. Kurt Liebschen told the city council that a preliminary hearing for the infamous Dougherty gang will be held on Sept. 20 at the Huerfano County Courthouse. The Doughertys were apprehended in Walsenburg last month after a nationwide hunt. The Dougherty’s are currently being housed in the Huerfano County jail after having spent prior time in Pueblo. The family trio were cited for 76 criminal charges during a hearing in Walsenburg.
Walsenburg Wild Waters closed for the season on Monday. Three employees worked every day the water park was open this season. Financial information for the summer season is not yet available. The council voted to donate leftover packaged food items from Walsenburg Wild Waters to the John Mall Jr. Class to be used in the concession stand for athletic events this season.
The city agreed to renew their contract with Cirsa, their insurance carrier, for 2012 at a cost of $106,400. At the same time, the council agreed to continue its participation in the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) which provides funds to residents needing help in paying their heating bills during winter in Walsenburg.
Getting an emergency extension to continue supplying water to the Northlands area was approved by the city council. The extension goes to Oct. 15 of this year while the council seeks a permanent change of use in water rights for the Gomez Ditch with the Water Court of Colorado. It will allow a permanent supply of water to Northlands until a sewer line can be built in that area.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward