Lamar City Council Enacts Water Restrictions

City Water Tanks South of Lamar

Acting on a recommendation from the Lamar Water Board, the city council voted in favor of implementing Stage 1 Mandatory Water Restrictions, effective Thursday, May 2.  The decision was based on current drought conditions and lack of ditch water, although the city’s well system is in good shape and has adequate supplies. 

The restrictions state that water use will be only on even numbered days between 6pm and 10am and prohibits use of hose washing of sidewalks, walkways, patios, driveways, parking areas or other impervious surfaces; washing cars is permitted only by a hose with a positive shutoff or by bucket, and the car must be parked on a grass surface.  Flowers, trees, shrubs and vegetable gardens may be watered with a bubbler system, drip irrigation or hand held nozzle during the allowed hours.  New radio-read water meters are starting to be installed throughout the city and residents will find notices on the front doors of their homes announcing their water may be briefly interrupted during the changeout.  Rick Akers, Parks and Recreation Director, said some city properties may be irrigated past the allowable hours, but only because the immense land space cannot be watered in so short a time span.  The new irrigation system at the golf course can be regulated so as to only water the greens and not the entire course.  Josh Cichocki, City Water Manager, told the council the well field has the capacity to pump beyond the 2.3 million gallons that was used last week, but the levels of the wells dropped by ten inches over the past two weeks because of increased usage.  Violators of the restrictions will first be given a verbal notice, but continued violations will be met with a fine. 

Paul Westhoff, CDOT Resident Engineer, presented an overview of the department’s funding system to move forward on the Lamar By-pass, now known as the Reliever Route.  What is known as RAMP funds, or Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships grants is available so long as the city and Prowers County will make a 20% match of the costs of the program.  In addition, CDOT will become responsible for maintenance of Lamar’s Main Street.  Federal funds for a five year, statewide road improvement system total $1.5 Billion and the projected cost of the bypass is around $130 Million.  One year of the five year period is almost gone, Westhoff explained, stating the council has until the end of April to make a pre-application for the funds.  The county and the city will be in partnership for the project with the city taking the lead.  The council approved the application, but wanted some written guarantees regarding the financial liability they are assuming with the no-cost application.  The Prowers County Commissioners recently heard the presentation from Westhoff and said they would follow the city’s lead. 

Correction:  CDOT is currently responsible for maintenance of Main Street in Lamar as well as a portion of East Olive Street. Editor. 

Responsibility of maintaining city sidewalks between the property owner and City of Lamar was discussed by the council.  A person recently tripped and broke their wrist in front of a business located at 119 North Main Street in Lamar.  Under the city’s ordinance, the property owner is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks, but requires an official notice of repairs from the city as well.  Pat Mason, City Public Works Director, explained that he was looking for guidance in the matter from the council.  A tree root is believed to be responsible for pushing the sidewalk up as much as two inches in some spots.  Concrete and bricks will have to be reset and the root may have to be moved.  Mason said there was concern taking out the root could either kill the tree or if it’s a main root, cause the tree to become unstable.  The city will send a letter to the property owner informing them they have five days to get a repair quote, or the city may do the work and bill the owner for time and materials. 

Mason said the April 20 Lamar Clean Up Day went smoothly and plans are underway for an October date for a fall cleanup.  The volunteers and city crew were done by 2:30pm and enjoyed an appreciation lunch at Willow Creek Park.  Mason said a tonnage tally on collected refuse is a couple of weeks out at this point.   

Volunteers and Workers Loading the Heavy Items

City Clerk, Linda Williams, thanked her volunteers for their efforts on the city’s silent auction, also had this past Saturday.  Williams said 21 people bid on 145 items and 64 were sold for a profit of $510.12.  Lamar Police Chief Gary McCrea issued perfect attendance certificates to students who attended this winter’s Citizen’s Academy classes.  Residents take part in a 12 to 14 week course in which they are taught the basics of police work, one night a week.  McCrea said the new course will begin May 2. 

May 13 was set for a public hearing on a request to transfer ownership for a Tavern Liquor License-Malt, Vinous, & Spirituous for the new owners, Philip H. Hall and David B. Nish, of Lamar Lanes LLC on South Main Street.  The property changed hands earlier in the month. 

Car Show Entry from 2012

The 18th Annual Rod Run Car Show was discussed.  Organizer Ron Cook said the event has been underway for 25 years now and will be held at Willow Creek Park May 17 – 19.  The council approved a request for an overnight parking permit to accommodate no more than four vendors.   Some of the traditional events include Poker Runs for charities, the traditional No Booze Cruise with Cops on Friday night from Sonic Drive In and a Saturday night race at Lamar Speedway.  There are 29 sponsors for this year’s event. 

The council approved moving the city employee voluntary vision insurance to a new carrier, Anthem/EyeMed, and approved a contract renewal with Unum Group for employee life insurance, long term disability, voluntary life and short tem disability products.  The city’s concession contract with the Lamar Savage Booster Club was renewed.  The city will continue to receive 8% of the net income of food sales for the 2013-2014 year. 

The council approved a proclamation declaring April 30 as Arbor Day.  Janell Martin of the city’s tree board explained that because of the current drought, 150 trees are being planted in the city nursery and they will be planted in the future when conditions are more favorable to growth. 

Kevin Taylor of Honeywell Building Solutions provided an update on energy upgrades on city buildings for the council.  Lighting upgrades are complete as well as sealing doors and windows at the Lamar Community Building and City Hall Complex and the fire alarm system at the Senior Citizen has been upgraded.  HVAC improvements are ongoing including roof top cooling systems at the community building.  Similar improvements are final for the Lamar Airport, bookmobile garage and fire department. 

City Administrator John Sutherland reminded the public the council’s informal monthly breakfast will be held May 1 at 7am at Rancher’s Restaurant and another Community Conversation is set for the HOPE Center at Lincoln School for Thursday, May 30 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.  The annual Good Morning Lamar Breakfast will be held from 6:45am to 7:45am at the Lamar Elks Lodge.  City offices will be closed on Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day and the council meeting is moved to May 28.

By Russ Baldwin

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