by Carol Dunn
LA VETA — One of the loveliest witches in La Veta stopped by the town board meeting Tuesday night to speak with the board about renewing the lease for the Francisco Center for Performing Arts, Inc. Coral Anderson told the board with a slight cackle to her voice, “I’ve heard the town board meetings are a bit scary, so I came appropriately dressed.”
FCPA is proposing t the town extend its lease to ten years from the current five-year term. “It will help us in terms of seeking grant funds,” Anderson said, adding that it will also give the group security as it invests time and money into improvements to the facility in lieu of rent payments. Those improvements include repainting and recarpeting the theater foyer, lobby, and public areas; adding an additional exit door in the theater seating area; remedying electrical and HVAC issues; and repairing the building foundation.
The lease also requires that FCPA provide for public personal liability insurance. Anderson said, “There are an awful lot of items.”
In a separate matter, FCPA has requested funding from La Veta as part of its 2014 budgeting process, and the two issues were temporarily comingled in the discussion. Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald asked Anderson, “Are you profitable?” Anderson replied, “We … have money and are able to continue. Some through our productions, theater rental, grants, memberships, etcetera.” Trustee Shane Clouse, who has been involved with FCPA for over a decade, said, “Things have been improving steadily.”
Regarding the ten-year lease, Clouse reiterated, “There’s a lot to be done. The biggest thing is the foundation.” Clouse said foxes and skunks have been burrowing under the building and are causing problems. He said the longer lease will allow FCPA to move forward. The board set a public hearing for discussing the lease renewal on November 5 at 6:30 pm.
Trustee Bill Stark reported on the interviews for judge and recommended that the board appoint Cheryle Rey Johnston as La Veta’s newest municipal judge. Stark related that Johnston has degrees from Stanford and Yale and a law degree from the University of Texas. She is also a resident of La Veta. “She is highly qualified and would make an excellent judge,” Stark said. Mayor Fitzgerald administered the oath of office to Johnston, replacing Jytte Hale-Helps, who resigned in September.
President of the Board of Huerfano County Water Conservancy District, Kent Mace, spoke with the board about two ballot issues the district will be presenting to voters in November. Mace said HCWCD is asking the voters to approve de-Brucing the district so it can accept grants in addition to its mill levy revenues. He said approval of a $250,000 grant from the Arkansas Valley Roundtable is pending the outcome of the vote. “Right now we are unable to proceed with that funding,” Mace said. He reported that the district also has a $2.2-million loan pending. “We’re doing this to correct a mistake we made on the question last year,” Mace admitted. “We limited ourselves to 15-year loans, so we are asking the citizens of Huerfano County to extend our ability to take loans from 15 years out to 30 years. We are asking for no new money, just the ability to better handle the funds the voters have already blessed us with.” Mace said he would like to add the Town of La Veta to the list of organizations that publicly support the ballot questions. Trustee Dale Davis said, “Personally I think it’s a good idea.” The board unanimously voted its support of the HCWCD efforts. Mace invited everyone to attend a monthly HCWCD meeting: “We are a functioning water district,” he said.
Town Clerk Laurie Erwin has prepared a draft 2014 budget and requested that a series of budget workshops be set. The board agreed to meet every Wednesday night at 6:30 pm, beginning October 23, until the budget is finalized. Davis suggested that the two 501(c)(3) organizations – FCPA and the Francisco Fort Museum – bring financials to their respective budget meetings with the board, so the trustees can ascertain the best way the town can help them.