City Council Revises Resolution Supporting PMC Expansion

Prowers Medical Center board member Candy Ruedeman provided additional information to the Lamar City Council during their Monday night work session, April 9, as they considered a resolution of support for the $5 million expansion project, providing a 13,000 square foot Outpatient Rehabilitation Center.  Last month, PMC Chief Executive Officer James Fairchild presented a hospital overview to the council, as well as plans for the proposed center.  Monday, the council reviewed about two dozen hospital photos taken by Ruedeman which showed some of the cramped conditions  which medical staff and patients experience during some treatments.  Council woman Bev Haggard was critical of the first presentation, saying, “I sat through an hour of the history of the hospital, but got little information on how the new Center will be laid out.”  Mayor Stagner concurred, saying, “I have a problem with the lack of detailed information about the Center in the presentation.”  But Stagner said he was in favor of the Center as a needed facility in Lamar.  Councilman Kirk Crespin said the Center might become a competitor to other similar, established businesses in Lamar and didn’t want the council’s resolution to be driving out one business in favor of another, stating, “We need checks and balances on this to make sure we aren’t developing a monopoly.”  There was also general concern about a proposed multi seat auditorium which would be used for future conferences.  “How often would this be used?” Mayor Stagner asked.  PMC board member Ruedeman said she also recognized the need for the Center, but did have some questions about the overall use of the facility.  She also emphasized the need for general improvements to the HVAC and electrical system at the hospital which would be upgraded through the bond financing.  Council woman Haggard said she’d like to attend a PMC board meeting to see if more information would be available.  The revised resolution was passed on a split vote, with Haggard and Crespin voting no.  The revision eliminated references of support to the Bond, but recognized the need for the Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility at the hospital.  One section of the resolution stated the citizens should, “become fully informed about the details of the Bond Issue and its effects on them and their community before voting on May 8.”, and dropped the references supporting a yes vote on the Bond Issue itself.

The Lamar City Council hopes to have a new, full-time administer hired by no later than August 27 of this year. With that deadline in mind, the council discussed the timeline required for that result during their work session.  Once advertisements for a new administrator have been sent, the council hopes to have the semi-finalists determined by June 8. From that point, phone interviews will be conducted, followed by in-person interviews, leading to a final selection and offer. The council discussed a salary range with interim administrator Steven Rabe.  Rabe sought comparable salaries for similar sized communities as Lamar and found the range between $74,743 and $108,377. 

The Lamar City Council adopted a proclamation declaring April 19 as Arbor Day and April 14-21 as Arbor Week. The Lamar Tree Board announced related activities in the community for the month, including a presentation honoring Lamar with the 2011 Tree City USA Award, the 21st year the city has received the national recognition.   The Tree Board has planned a class on proper care for trees for Saturday, April 14 at the Lamar Community Building from 8:30 to 11:30.  Thursday, April 19, Tree Board members will bring a number of area 5th grade students to plant trees at the four entrance roadways into Lamar as a beautification project.  The Lamar Tree Board was also presented with the Gold Leaf Award for Outstanding Arbor Day activities by the International Society of Arboriculture Rocky Mountain Chapter. The council also approved appointments to the board for Kim VanHook and Jim Faull. Their terms will expire March 1, 2015. 

Debra Reynolds, Lamar Librarian presented a proclamation for the council highlighting National Library Week, observed April 8-14.  An appointment to the Community Resource and Senior Center Advisory Board for a five year term was made.  Ms Betty Kiniston will replace Elmer Roberts for a five year term on the board.  His term expired last December.  Reynolds noted that 18 year old Wiley student, Alex Gonzales, will be present at the library on Saturday, April 14.  Gonzales recently had his first book printed for commercial sales.   He’ll discuss his achievement and what prompted him to become an author.

 Several public hearings were scheduled by the council for April 23.  One is for the Lamar Eagles Lodge #3898, and another for the Buzzard’s Roost. The Eagles are asking for a modification of premises to conduct an outdoor event in their backyard.   The Lodge is planning to develop the fenced portion of their backyard area into an outdoor garden where events can be held through the year.  The Buzzard’s Roost is requesting a hearing on their applications for a ‘Country Jam’ concert, June 23 and 24, and a ‘Road Jam’ concert for September 15 and 16.  All three public hearings will be conducted at the next city council meeting on April 23.  Chief McCrea said there have been no problems at the Buzzard’s Roost since some concerns were addressed by the council during the bar’s license renewal hearing last month.

Lamar Police Chief Gary McCrea presented the 9th Citizen’s Police Academy class to the council.  The class recently completed a 12 week training period on a variety of police procedures.  McCrea gave special mention to those students who finished with 100% attendance:  Julian Chairez, Virgie Fernandez, Jonathan Hernandez, Maryann Lingle and Sheryln Stephens.  A new class has been set for the next round of applicants in early May.  The classes are free of charge and open to Lamar residents over the age of 18 who meet basic requirements to attend the classes.

In other business, because of the schedule dates of the city council meeting and Memorial Day in May, the council voted to change a meeting date to May 29, 2012.  Councilman Skip Ruedeman is attending a regional meeting in Garden City, Kansas April 10, to address financing to maintain the rail route of the Southwest Chief Amtrak line though three states, including through Lamar and La Junta in Colorado.  Impacted communities are contributing funds to secure a national lobbying firm to help generate federal funding to maintain the route.  Ruedeman said he’d update the council members who are meeting with U.S. Congressional Representative Cory Gardner, Wednesday, April 11 from 7 to 8am at the Lamar Truck Stop during the congressman’s town hall meetings in this area.

By Russ Baldwin


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