Although the lawsuit between ARPA and City of Lamar continued through most of the year, it took a back seat to recurring news themes focusing on different aspects of economic development within the community and the manner and amount of financial support that would be offered by the City of Lamar and Prowers County. As Prowers County Development Incorporated, the Urban Renewal Development Authority, Lamar Partnership Incorporated and the city’s Main Street Development Program experienced turnover in key positions, discussions began which would impact future funding. Municipal organizations examined how or if there would be continued funding or if a new position would be developed within the city which might supersede economic development efforts for the county at large. We’ll highlight those events and others which made up some of our headlines for 2015.
The Prowers County Development Incorporated Board of Directors accepted the resignation of their Executive Director, Lance Benninghoff, at their monthly board meeting on January 27, 2015. Benninghoff, who held the position for under two years, had taken a position on the Western Slope and his last day with PCDI was February 6th.
The PCDI board began a search for a replacement for Benninghoff which was extended when the board hired George Gotto as Interim Executive Director. The PCDI board held several meetings and invited several out of area speakers to learn how other communities provided funding for their own economic development directors. Before PCDI considered advertising for a permanent executive director, additional meetings were held among city and county officials as well as board members to create a different mission statement that would direct future efforts of any new executive director.
Seven elected officials took their various oaths of office with Judge Stanley Brinkley at the Prowers County Courthouse Courtroom, Tuesday, January 13 before an almost capacity audience.
Only two of the seven, Ron Cook and Sam Zordell actually faced a November challenge for election to their respective offices, Prowers County Commissioner and Prowers County Sheriff. Cook replaced Joe Marble and Zordell replaced former Sheriff James Faull who did not run for re-election. The other five positions went into the November General Election without opposition. They were: Andy Wyatt, Prowers County Assessor; Lorraine Woolley, Prowers County Treasurer; Jana Coen, Prowers County Clerk & Recorder, Joe Giadone, Prowers County Coroner and Judge Larry Stutler, County Court Judge.
Administrator Appointed for Town of Holly
Jerry L’Estrange attended his first trustee’s monthly meeting for the Town of Holly as interim administrator Wednesday, January 7. L’Estrange was hired by the town to fill the vacancy left by Marsha Willhite following her resignation in November. He was to have served in that capacity while the search for a permanent administrator continued, however L’Estrange and the Trustees settled on a more permanent arrangement, hiring him as permanent Administrator later in the year.
PATS Announces Bus Design Winners
Prowers Area Transit (PATS) purchased two new 12-passenger transit buses. These were paid for through CDOT grants and will allow PATS to continue to provide dependable and safe rides for Prowers County residents who wish to connect with local resources and community activities.
Prowers Area Transit announced that Jillian Martinez was the winner of the Design Contest. Her winning design will be on one of the new buses received in April 2015 for the entire time that the transit bus is in service.
Verhoeff Takes Municipal Judge Oath
Attorney Kim Verhoeff was sworn into office as the Lamar Municipal Court Judge on Monday, January 5 at the Prowers County Courthouse with Judge Larry Stutler delivering her oath of office. Verhoeff replaced Stutler who resigned from the Municipal Judgeship late last year. He will retain his county duties. Verhoeff will have a two year term with the city. She was appointed to the position by the Lamar City Council following a brief interview this past November. Stutler was the Municipal Court Judge beginning in 2008. Verhoeff has been practicing law since 1988 and in 1999 became the municipal judge for the Town of Holly. During her interview with the Lamar City Council, she said she didn’t see much of a conflict of interest with city interests and her lawyer’s firm. “Most of my work has been representing children as their advocate in court,” she explained. The council confirmed her appointment on a unanimous vote.
Tractor Supply Opening Mid-February
General Manager Jaime White said he expected the doors to Tractor Supply in Lamar to be open on Saturday, February 14. The 40,000 square foot store has undergone renovations since shortly before the end of the year and the pace was accelerating to meet the deadline. The company, which has stores in 48 states, took over the former Alco Stores on Savage Avenue about a year after they closed in 2013.
White said the store will employ 17 people with 12 sales associates and four department managers who will work either 22-29 hours or 40 hours a week. “We’re bringing in all our shelves on the 19th and that will also start the employee training schedule. We expect a convoy of semis to start arriving with all the merchandise on the 26th,” White explained. He added there were about 100 applicants for the positions that were advertised online and locally. The City of Lamar was anticipating the opening as the new facility would add to sales tax revenues, take residents off the unemployment line and add to revenues at Lamar Light and Power.
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