It appears as though the city will soon hire a replacement for Shawna Hodge, the former Main Street Coordinator who resigned earlier this spring. That position has undergone some changes in responsibilities and City Administrator John Sutherland told the council this past Monday, December 14th, that a verbal agreement is being reached with the new person. “The City was successful in recruiting a talented young woman to serve as our Community Development Director. It’s not absolutely formal at this point as the written agreement is being developed, but I’m confident it will happen.” He said he expects the new hire, Angela Cue, to begin her duties on January 4, 2016 at a base salary of $55,000.
Will the City of Lamar join with the Board of Prowers County Commissioners to help fund the $50,000 price tag associated with hiring the Progressive Urban Management Associates to conduct an economic development strategic plan for Prowers County? PCDI has pledged $25,000 to the program and it appears there is some support on the council, as members, Anne Marie Crampton and Kirk Crespin said they believed the program was worthwhile by offering a new direction for the entire county as well as the city. County Commissioner, Ron Cook, explained that the study will take over a half a year in three different stages and lead to some concrete steps for a new approach for businesses development and attraction. “We intend to create additional outreach for all the communities in the county and conduct several public meetings to get their thoughts on the best changes we can make,” he explained. Only the county has pledged $50,000 for another year to help fund PCDI which will remain open, but without an executive director. Several months ago the city decided to use their annual donation in other areas of economic development. The council, as a whole, was receptive to Cook’s presentation and would discuss the matter at a later date. Mayor Roger Stagner commented that it’s a good step in the right direction. PUMA, Cook said, plans to start their program in Lamar in February.
The city’s Information and Technology Director, Thomas Sanchez, reported on the test results of the city’s computer and network systems in light of software purchases made to prevent and detect internal and external penetration from various sources. The city recently authorized hiring a consulting firm to attempt to hack into its computer systems when they conducted a comprehensive audit in November. “We did have some deficiencies of which we’ve already begun remediation,” he explained. Issues with some printers will need to be resolved, as well as some external and internal vulnerability. Sanchez said other problems identified were the servers over which the city had no control including the financial server and the one handled by the emergency call center for 9-1-1. One other trouble area was in social engineering for phishing scans. “They hit us hard there,” he stated, and said changes to correct that area were already underway. He told the council the majority of items found would be corrected by the next audit. Sanchez explained that the audit, by being conducted by an outside source and not an internal one or by a software vendor, was eye-opening and beneficial to the city and his department.
Lamar Police Chief, Kyle Miller, conducted swearing in ceremonies for three officers during the city council’s Monday night meeting, December 14th. They are Officers Cory Forgue, Steve Sanger and Jaime Madrid. Madrid recently joined the force following his graduation from the police academy. Chief Miller added, “We are now at full capacity on the force with 20 officers.” He also noted that although Forgue has been on the force for 18 months, this was the first opportunity to provide him with a public reading of his oath, as was the case for veteran officer, Steve Sanger who recently joined the force. All three officers were pinned by various family members.
All Rite Paving and Crossfire Aggregate Services were awarded bids from the city for the annual purchase of aggregate materials and snow removal services. Bids were opened November 18th for the purchase of asphalt, concrete and road base materials for 2016. Robbins Ready Mix was also approved for some limited purchases for concrete and flow-fill materials. Pat Mason, Public Works Director, noted that five of the materials purchased each year were at a lower cost than the previous year which will generate some savings for the city.
Parks and Recreation Director, Rick Akers detailed the annual agreement between the city and Kelsey Palmer for use of cardiovascular equipment and weight room at the Lamar Community Building. The contract remains the same as the previous year except for a name change through marriage, with Palmer paying the city 10% per month of the revenue she collects from her personal trainer clients.
The council approved the Victim’s Assistance and Law Enforcement (VALE) grant for $9,000 for 2016. The funds will be used to provide the “Victim Rights Act Notification” for the coming year. The city had requested $11,987, but due to lack of funds, the board made the grant for $9,000.
City employees will have an additional option to purchase fuel using the new card services from the State of Colorado WEX Card which is accepted at over 90% of fuel stations nationwide. The services will streamline the current use of three different companies and there are no setup or card fees connected with the new supplier. City Treasurer, Kristin McCrea, explained that the city will consolidate different cards into just the new one which will streamline billing procedures.
The council approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Lamar and State Department of Local Affairs for continued participation in the Colorado Main Street program for 2016, marking the 6th year of partnership. City Administrator, John Sutherland, explained that some changes in focus for the program are developing, with less time spent on checking off boxes on a list of compliances and instead will emphasize working for the success of each town’s programs and goals.
John Sutherland noted that Houssin Hourieh, Lamar Light Plant Supervisor, will see his term as a representative board member to ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority, expire at the end of the year. Sutherland said the city is obligated to advertise the position for a replacement, but he will write a letter of recommendation to consider Hourieh for another term as the city’s representative.
City offices will be closed December 24th and 25th as well as January 1st for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. The city’s free weekend at the Landfill and Transfer Station will be Saturday, December 19th and Sunday, the 20th instead of the last weekend of the month.
(The spelling of Shawna Hodge’s name has been corrected. It was previously written as Shauna-Editor)
By Russ Baldwin
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