M A Y
The Pettys Make a Pit Stop in Lamar
Over 100 motorcycles, riders and support staff and vehicles from the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, rolled into Lamar for a fill-up at the Pit Stop on North Main Street Thursday morning, May 7th. Kyle and Richard Petty, plus Matt Kenseth, Donnie Allison and Rutledge Wood from the racing world, coupled with Herschel Walker of NFL fame, were all part of the 21st Anniversary Charity Ride Across America that came to Lamar for a brief lay-over. The ride helps raise funds and awareness of Victory Junction, a camp created to help improve the lives of numerous children who suffer from chronic or life-threatening illnesses.
Lamar is one of the final stops on the seven leg journey that stretches between Santa Cruz, California to Branson, Missouri. Some stops are for an overnight rest while the one on Thursday was to gas up, stretch some legs, eat some road food from The Pit Stop and mix with the crowd. Over 100 residents managed to slip away from work for a while, during the 45 minute layover. The Pit Stop crew was ready for the riders, putting together a quick bite of breakfast biscuit, sausage, bacon and cheese, plus coffee and fruit drinks for the riders who were assembled on the parking area between The Pit Stop and Burger King. Since 1995, more than 7,500 riders have traveled over 11 million cumulative miles on these trips, raising over $16 million for Victory Junction and other children’s charities.
Plea Agreement Reached in Abling – Alba Murder Case
First degree murder charges against 49 year old Marla Abling of Lamar were reduced to Manslaughter/Reckless, a Class 4 Felony that brought with it a recommended sentence of ten years and three years parole.
Judge Stan Brinkley presided over the plea agreement hearing in the 15th Judicial Prowers County Court in Lamar Tuesday morning, May 12. Abling, who had been facing first degree murder charges in the death of Rory Alba, had been incarcerated at the Prowers County Jail since her arrest in January of 2013. Alba was found dead in her apartment in Lamar on January 23, 2013. He was 45. Abling was represented by Russell Zane, a public defender who had been one of three counsels assigned to her case. The People were represented by District Attorney Jennifer Swanson. Five additional counts against Abling were dismissed in the agreement. Abling was officially sentenced by Brinkley Wednesday, May 27.
Lamar Elks # 1319 Celebrated 100th Anniversary
There were 46 original charter members of the BPOE in Lamar on May 24, 1915, 100 years ago. That membership has ebbed and flowed over the years, but the spirit of the Elks holds as true today as it did back in 1868 when the order was first created in New York City.
The Lamar Elks rolled out the red carpet for a special week-long celebration, leading up to the rededication services on Saturday, May 30. The Old Timer’s Lodge Night was held on Tuesday, May 26, a wine tasting on Wednesday, a special $100 bingo event on Thursday and a calf fry and catfish nugget dinner on Friday. Participants enjoyed a Saturday morning poker run plus the open house at the Lodge through the day. Approximately 200 people enjoyed the Saturday dinner and dance with entertainment provided by long-time troubadour, Gary Phipps, who made a special trip back to Lamar to be with a host of friends.
Fair Board Cleans Beer Garden Hurdle with Commissioners
The Sand and Sage Fair Board, by a three to two vote from the County Commissioners, received approval to apply for a special events permit to host a beer garden during four events in this year’s Sand and Sage Fair. This clears the path for the fair board to request a permit from the City of Lamar before the annual August events begin. After the vote was taken, Fair Board President, Mark Carrigan, said the organization will seek a public hearing date for a permit request to the City of Lamar and make their presentation to the council. Commissioner Henry Schnabel cast the lone vote opposing the request from the Fair Board.
The commissioner’s meeting room was at capacity on Tuesday, June 9, as interested parties presented their opinions on opening the door to officially serving beer on county property during a county sanctioned event. It was generally accepted that illegal alcohol consumption has been a part of past county fairs or other events, usually in parking lots, trailers or campers over the years. But as many times as the idea of legally serving beer during the fair has come up, it has been put down before the matter came before the county commissioners for a vote of approval.
GoCO Grants $1M for Lamar Loop
Emily Nieschburg, coordinator for Healthy Places in Lamar and LiveWell Prowers County, said a Summit meeting at Amache Farms on Thursday, June 18 will be a starting point for new developments for a healthier community. She added the Summit is a unique opportunity in our community to not only inform change but to participate in the change to create a healthier Prowers County.
After several introductory remarks from Nieschburg and J.J. Folsom, Vice President of PUMA, Progressive Urban Management Associates, relating to how a healthy community can help foster its economic development, Nieschburg turned the meeting over to Anne Marie Crampton, Lamar City Council member. “Healthy Places has given some specific focus to the needs of the community for walking trails and the proposed Lamar Loop,” she told the morning gathering of about 30 persons. Crampton said the cost of building the 7.3 mile paved walking path was not within the budget of the city, but funding had been made available, she informed the audience, “We’ve received word that the project will be funded to almost one million dollars from a Paths to Park Grant from GoCO, Greater Outdoors Colorado.
Schaefer Selected as Interim Lamar Librarian
Todd Schaefer, a substitute teacher for Wiley Middle and Junior High School and a board member of the Lamar Library, was appointed to replace Debbie Reynolds, the former librarian. Schaefer had been a board member for just over a year and has lived in Prowers County with his young family for the past three years. “I haven’t had a lot of experience in this area, although I offer a background in business and management,” he offered on his second day on the job, June 2. He became the interim librarian after discussing the vacancy with other board members and following an interview with city officials.
November’s Frigid Polar Vortex Impacts Area Spring Foliage
Despite the welcome rains from this spring, some Prowers County area residents have noticed that some of their trees are in distress, losing leaves as if it were already fall. According to Shelly Simmons,
Assistant District Forester of the Colorado State Forest Service, La Junta District, a part of the situation stems from the intense cold snap we experienced this past November, 2014.
National newscasts were paying particular attention to what was termed a Polar Vortex, extremely frigid temperatures which followed warmer than usual weather through parts of the nation, Colorado included.
On November 10 last year, there was a temperature drop of over 50 degrees from day to night and trees and shrubs had not completed the ‘hardened off’ transition for the winter. Many conifers and deciduous trees showed immediate freeze damage with straw-colored needles or flash-frozen leaves. The effects on some of the trees wouldn’t be recognized until the spring. Some evidence is black, shriveled shoots or buds. Evergreens may have dry buds and brittle twigs. If the twig or branch is soft and supple it should be able to sustain new growth through this spring. If the bud is dry and brittle, it will be dead. Sycamore trees, for example, have shown damage from the sudden fall freeze, showing a condition called anthracnose, a fungus which causes a rapid wilting of newly emerging leaves. Infected leaves will often curl and turn brown and eventually drop off the branches. If the tree is healthy enough, a second crop of leaves may be produced by mid-June to early July. This second set of leaves can be protected with fungicide sprays if a cool and moist condition exists.
Donations for Veterans at Ft Lyons a Success
Lamar Lions Ken Callison and Dick Ramsay said they were overwhelmed by the amount of local support and donations for the Ft. Lyons Veterans Center in Las Animas. They were recently informed that the storage areas were filled to capacity at the Center. “Our 24th load went out last week,” said Ramsay, and although any future donations aren’t earmarked for the Center, any additional items dropped off at the Rodeway Cow Palace Inn, will be used to help others in need throughout the area, such as the Salvation Army.
“We started this operation last August with just an idea and a few donations,” explained Ken Callison, the other half of the team that got the donation ball rolling on behalf of the homeless and homeless veterans who came to the Ft. Lyons Center to try to get their lives turned around. Items have ranged from small furnishings to clothing, to kitchen needs or any other room for a house. “We’ve become accustomed to seeing price tags still on some of the clothing,” said Callison, “including ladies skirts or sweaters.” The Center is open to men and women who are housed at the former prison facility which was refurbished into a residential center almost two years ago for homeless people from around Colorado.
Southeast Colorado is Drought Free
Spring rains have upgraded the drought status of south central and southeast Colorado as Drought Free, according to the report released July 16 by the U.S. Drought Monitor. June precipitation totals across that region were near to slightly below normal across most of the southeast plains with slightly to well above normal precipitation experienced over and near the higher terrain. This, along with above normal to well above normal precipitation across the area for the 2015 water year thus far, has helped erase drought conditions across all of south central and southeast Colorado.
Widespread precipitation across the area over the last few months has helped to replenish soil moisture across the area. The latest CPC and VIC Soil Moisture calculations indicated normal to slightly above normal conditions for this region with well above normal conditions indicated over and near the eastern mountains. The rainfall has kept faire danger generally low across most of south central and southeast Colorado as well.
Marrin takes over as Action 22 Board Chair.
At the July Board meeting held at Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek John Marrin, President of Lamar Community College and board delegate from Prowers County took the reigns as Chair of the Action 22 board. Marrin was Chair-elect but stepped in after Betty Clark-Wine resigned.
Marrin has been President of LCC since 2008 and active in Action 22 most of that time. He is a graduate of Chadron State College in Nebraska and Regis University in Denver.
Marrin sees great value in Action 22 as an advocate for Southern Colorado and says, “With the help of Bob Stovall as Interim Director, Action 22 is continuing the good work of Cathy Garcia. With help from the Board the selection of a new Director and continued service to members will be priorities.” One of key goals is to make sure the organization is responsive to and serves its members.
Tank and Tummy Closed by City Order
The Tank and Tummy store on South Main Street in Lamar has been ordered closed by the City of Lamar since the beginning of June.
Lamar’s Building and Codes Inspector, Jeremy McEndree, stated that there have been on-going problems with a leaky roof and the situation had reached a point where the City of Lamar and the Prowers County Health Department felt the closing was the next step. McEndree, who has been with the city’s Building and Codes Department for the past several months, said perishable foods have been removed from the shelves and the building has been barred to the public and employees until the repairs have been resolved. He did not have a timetable on that matter from the new owners. In early December Tank and Tummy, completely refurbished, opened as ‘Rivals’, under the ownership of Don Compton, who has owned the Pit Stop in Lamar for the past several years.
Wagons for Sale at Sand and Sage Fair
History buffs and/or wagon enthusiasts made offers on silent bids for five wagons owned by Prowers County during the August Sand and Sage Fair.
July 21st, commissioners Wendy Buxton-Andrade and Ron Cook, along with Big Timbers Museum curator, Kathleen Scranton, viewed seven wagons which have been parked outside on the south side of the Transportation Museum for the past several years. The wagons had been stored at the Prowers County Fairgrounds since their purchase around 2005. Most had been stored inside the Centennial building, but several were left outdoors due to lack of space.
Thirty wagons, buggies, carts and a 1901 Oldsmobile were purchased by the county for $67,848 from the estate of Fred Crussell in 2005-2006. Now, five were up for silent bid. Apparently they have not weathered as well as the majority of the collection and have a lesser historic significance than those in the main group of vehicles. The commissioners were estimating of the seven on hand, which two to keep and which five to sell.
Lamar VFW Attempts to Re-Group
The deadline to close the Lamar VFW Post #3621 was August 1st, mandated by the VFW Adjutant General, John Hamilton. His decision for the group’s charter revocation is based on two years delinquent filings from the post for back taxes and quarterly reports on Post activities. The group owed about $5,000 to the state.
Local VFW members attempted to re-group following a July 16 meeting at the VFW parking lot on South Memorial Drive in Lamar, called by interim Commander, Don Peters. Earlier, Peters stated, “The building is locked as the state headquarters came and took away the keys to the building.” He added that the letter to close the post came at the same time that the local organization had requested a needed debit/credit card to pay off their delinquent fees. “We found out that they wouldn’t accept a check and we didn’t have a Post card that we could use, so while we were waiting for the application and card to come through, we received our notice.”
New LCC Dorm Closes in on Construction Costs
LCC President, John Marrin, told the Prowers County Commissioners the college is about $300,000 shy from the target price of $1,250,000 needed for construction. Marrin added, “We’re working with the city and the county and that should help reduce the overall costs.”
The college president had said earlier that some infrastructure work could be donated through in-kind contributions from those entities as well as Lamar Light and Power. Joint meetings have been held in past months to outline those areas. “The college is waiting on construction documents and the code reviewer and architect are going over final blueprints before we submit our plan to the state board in November,” he explained. Marrin told the commissioners the project should be finished in time for next year’s fall semester. “There will be no problem filling the dorm as soon as it’s open. This is one of the best investments we could make,” he said.
PCDI Warehouse Property Sold
Prowers County Development Incorporated board members voted unanimously during an August 7, 2015 special meeting, to approve the sales contract for the former Big R warehouse properties on East Washington Street. At the request of the selling agent, Randle Realty, the purchase price and buyer will remain confidential until the buyer completes his due diligence, which should take no longer than 60 days. The property had a tentative closing date of Oct. 2, 2015. An extension may be made if necessary and agreed upon by the buyer and PCDI.
During their June monthly meeting, the PCDI board decided to lower the asking price of the property. Randle Realty has listed the property for the past several years with an asking price of $365,000. Board members voted to list the property at $195,000. Randle Realty, through Sharon Wilson, had the property listed on several websites as well as throughout the southeast Colorado region.
Patriotic Mural to be Displayed at Prowers County Fairgrounds
The artistic contributions of five area youngsters will be incorporated into a 34 foot long mural which will grace the rear wall at the entrance to the Prowers County Grandstands. The Prowers County Commissioners recently approved the design during their August 25th meeting. The mural is a feature of this year’s annual 9/11 Tri-State Tribute for first responders and military service people which will be held on September 12 at the fairgrounds, following a 10am parade.
Area students were encouraged to design a patriotic theme for the mural which will be painted by Lamar High School art instructor, John Gersick. The students who had their submissions selected are Felicia Salgado, Aubrey Lawrence, Greydon Martinez, Logan Mesa and Marissa Garcia. The Southeast Colorado Arts Council took the top five representations for submission to the commissioners and sections of those art works will be incorporated into the mural. Gersick intends to have the mural completed in time for the annual event.
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