Water Restrictions Discussed/Carnival Coming to Lamar for State High School Rodeo

Events are moving forward to host a full-scale carnival in Lamar during the Colorado State High School Rodeo finals, June 5-9, but it won’t be at Willow Creek Park. If all goes as planned, a carnival will be set up at the Prowers County Fairgrounds, corresponding with the scheduled rodeo, in town for the annual contest. The Lamar City Council granted permission to the Lamar Chamber of Commerce request to use the City’s parking lot area near the Sports Complex instead of the traditional site, adjacent to Elmer’s Garden near the Home Ec Building. Bobbi Ketels, Chamber of Commerce secretary, said a contract will be provided for the council’s review. The parking lot site was selected as a safety issue, she explained, as the rodeo operators were fearful the noises from the carnival could spook the animals and possibly cause an injury. They had requested that the carnival be silent during competitive events, but that would be financially restrictive on the carnival, so the move to the Sports Complex was the most agreeable solution. Ketels said it would be in operation Friday through Sunday in June, from Noon to Midnight on each day.

Lamar resident, Nancy Eddleman, asked the council to review trimming some shrubbery in Willow Valley, near her home, which restricts the view of motorists at an intersection. Eddleman said drivers have to pull out into the street, pass the normal stopping point, in order to see any oncoming traffic. She also expressed concern of excess watering of a vacant city lot near Cedar and First Streets. Eddleman asked the council if, during these times of limited precipitation, it was prudent to have a watering schedule that was so active. “Do we have any knowledge at this time on the status of our water supply, if we need to have some kind of water restrictions enacted in the city,” she asked. Lamar Water/Wastewater Director, Josh Cichocki, replied that at this point the city’s wellfield is in decent shape. He replied that the levels are, “down a bit but at this point, they’re several feet away from the point that we need to enact a city ordinance on water use.” He added that recent usage is up, but it’s a static level that is being maintained with the supply and the current use. He also said that the dip in water supplies will coincide with the point at which the city begins to recharge the wellfields. Cichocki invited Eddleman to visit his office where he’d explain the status of the wellfields and the process by which Lamar receives and distributes its water supply. He told the council, the city is still a few weeks away from installing a SCADA system which provides realtime monitoring of the amount of water being used throughout the city. On another matter, City Administrator John Sutherland announced that the city will receive 1,000 new water monitoring meters, a project in coordination with Honeywell Building Solutions providing various forms of energy conservation in some of the City buildings. The new meters will be radio read for a quicker and more accurate profiling of water usage from city water customers. Cichocki cautioned that there may be some “sticker shock” for some customers with older meters, as they may have provided less-than-accurate water usage readings for some residences, about 50-60 Chichocki estimated. The engineer said he’d have a more accurate city water status for the council at their next meeting when any enforcement of water restrictions could be considered. Mayor Roger Stagner, echoing some concerns he voiced about voluntary water usage several months ago, asked the media to remind residents that they could begin to take voluntary water conservation measures on their own without waiting for a city ordinance to do so.

The Lamar Fire Department will buy a new command vehicle, priced at $24,911. As explained by Fire Chief, Marshall Cook, the department is down to only one from the three vehicles usually in the field. All are aging and becoming costly to maintain. The proposed vehicle, a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 4X4, will be purchased through state bidding and is financed in the 2013 budget. The price includes a 5.5 foot cab and some basic electrical wiring for equipment hookups.

The Lamar Police Department will receive a new Code Enforcement truck. Police Chief Gary McCrea reviewed the bids received by the city for the vehicle which also went through state bidding. The low bid of three went to Spradley Motors for a Ford F150-XL. McCrea said the two-wheel drive unit will be able to have its warranty work provided by Tri County Ford in Lamar. The other locations that bid were several hours out-of-town. The purchase price was $15,675.

Debra Reynolds, Lamar Librarian, provided an update on the Interlibrary Loan Policy to the city council. The new provisions outline restrictions on the lending of library materials when a card holder has neglected to pick up their request or returned it beyond the lending date. The first violation restricts use of the library for 30 days, followed by a 90 day limit for the second offense in a year and a year’s restriction of interlibrary loan privileges for a year for the third offense. Reynolds said the average cost of shipping and handling an interlibrary loan is about $17 which is not charged to the patron, but those expenses can mount over a period to all the involved library departments. The Lamar Library Board approved the measure and the council approved it as well.

In other actions, the council approved a salary increase to $83,000 a year for City Administrator, John Sutherland, as outlined in his contract agreement with a performance review following his first six months of employment; a meeting date for the council was changed to Tuesday, May 28, so as not to interfere with the annual observance of Memorial Day; the council approved a 60 month lease for a Xerox copier for the City Clerk’s office; a resolution was approved which sets the interest rate paid on City of Lamar Light and Power customer bills. The interest rate on water deposits had not been updated for the past twenty years and had been higher than recommended by the Public Utilities Commission. The PUC has set the new interest rate at 0.34% for 2013 and it will now be reviewed every January; the council approved the annual request from Lamar’s Relay for Life Group to hold their June first event at Savage Stadium and waive the curfew ordinance for the overnight gathering.

Several calendar highlights were presented to the council and audience including the latest Sales and Use Tax for the city which showed a 5% year to date increase over 2012; City Administrator Sutherland said a closing date on ownership of Valco Ponds is expected by the end of the month. One delay was on the cost of revegetation of the 100 acre site adjacent and east of the Arkansas River Bridge. Sutherland said there was only a several hundred-dollar difference between the city’s projections and those provided by current land owner, Tim Brubaker. Brubaker said he’s write the check for the higher of the two estimates which will allow for another re-seeding of the property following the failure of last year’s efforts. The current spring Friends of the Lamar Library book sale will run through this Wednesday at the Cultural Events Center. Tuesday hours are from 9am to 7pm and Wednesday is bargain day, with a bag of books for only $2. The city-wide clean up date will be on April 20 and the Ports to Plains conference will be held in Washington, DC later this month with councilwoman Bev Haggard attending.

By Russ Baldwin


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