2012 in Review – November and December

November 2012 in Review


Voter from the LCC Wellness Center on Election Day, November 6


The national election and the local election were on everyone’s mind as the final weeks and months before November 6 inched along during the late summer and early fall.  A number of political forums were conducted for the Prowers County Commissioner’s race, mostly in October, affording an opportunity for interest residents to either attend or tune in to help determine for whom they would vote, and not just for candidates, but also for Amendment 64, a proposal to legalize recreational use of marijuana was put before state voters.  Holly residents would also face a choice whether to raise their city sales tax by an additional 2% to help maintain the general and utility fund.  As the voting was tallied the night of November 6, it became apparent that there would be a new face on the commissioner’s board as had been expected with one open race for District 3.  Wendy Buxton-Andrade defeated Jillane Hixson by a vote of 3,190 to 1,519.  Henry Schnabel, in a considerably closer race, out-voted challenger Don Suefer, 2,408 to 2,326 in the initial count.  The marijuana measure also passed, but not by the voters in Prowers County and Holly residents approved the sales tax increase.  Oaths of office for the new and returning commissioner would be administered on January 8, 2013. 

City Crew Painting Downtown LIght Poles Behind Wind Barrier


As promised, the light pole painting project began on Main Street in Lamar, with 28 poles getting their first coating.  Crews set up fabric guards around the poles so the painting project wouldn’t become wind born, coating some of the downtown businesses in the process.  The flower pots, benches and trash containers would be removed from their locations, fixed up a bit where needed and replaced with their new matching coat of paint.

Community members turned out for a synopsis of a historic building overview for downtown Lamar.  An architectural firm had been hired to conduct an in-depth study of 72 buildings of which, 20, could achieve some level of historic designation or listing at the local, state or federal level.  Shawna Hodge, Lamar Main Street Coordinator, hosted the gathering which included photos and some general history of some of the downtown buildings, some of which dated back to the early 1900s.  Historic designations could help develop local heritage tourism sites and funding for signage of points of interest for local residents or tourisms passing through the area, or those who visit with the intent to view such landmarks.

 December 2012 in Review 

Personnel developments at Prowers Medical Center maintained a community-wide interest.  In late October, the PMC board of directors voted not to renew Dr. Barry Portner’s employment contract with the hospital and Dr. John Abbott was appointed the new medical Chief of Staff during the November 27 monthly board meeting.  This marked the second occasion in which Abbott served in that capacity.  The board’s actions regarding Portner’s future relationship with the hospital were brought up during the December 20 board meeting when the vote was made official.  Portner’s employee contract would not be renewed, but he would retain all medical privileges for the length of that agreement.  The meeting, set for that purpose only, became briefly heated when Portner’s attorney, Mark Davis, introduced additional elements regarding the way Portner’s case had been treated.  Davis told the board there would be legal action taken in the future.  As the reasons for the board’s actions were taken in executive session, they could not legally be brought before the public.  

Lamar Light and Power Plant


The Lamar Utility Board voted to approve a reclassification of General Service Large Class power users, impacting the seven top power customers of the power plant.  This offered some relief to the size of payments made to the Light Plant, and at the same time, general customers would see a 7% decrease, on average, of the cost of power they paid, per kilowatt hour of usage.  The Light Plant and ARPA would see their legal battles with WildEarth Guardians continue into 2013 regarding overages in emissions at the Repowering Project.  Modifications to the coal plant’s boilers will be put into effect next spring, in hopes of running at full capacity which staying on the safe side of emissions as outlined in the Clean Air Permit.  Even if the plant was running in permissible levels, the higher cost of energy produced by coal, as opposed to natural gas would mean that ARPA would continue to pursue long term power purchase agreements, keeping the plant offline.


Prowers County Development Incorporated board members reviewed their 2012 and 2013 budgets and decided some overhead costs could be reduced with a move away from their Main Street location in Lamar.  The Rodeway Cow Palace Inn had office space available at a lower monthly rate than was currently being paid, plus insurance and utilities would be eliminated and phone line charges would be reduced.  There was the added benefit of ample parking for staff, board members and clientele and visitors.  With the help of board members, some Prowers County equipment and volunteers from Lamar Community College, the office furniture was loaded and moved to the new headquarters by the second weekend of December. 

The Prowers County Lodging Tax Panel made the move with PCDI as Panel board members used their Main Street office space for their monthly meetings.  Along with the new address came the idea for a representative logo for the organization which had been in existence for six years.  An at-large contest for the community was held with $400 awarded as prize money for the logo which best represented Prowers County.  The board members decided to award the prize to two area students for their artwork.  One winner was selected for developing the concept of using a puzzle as the logo, and the other student for their concept of a rural setting.  The logo will be put into use early in January of next year. 

Shayla Brown’s Concept for the logo


Some retirements came to light as the year drew to a close.  Chana Reed, Lamar Chamber of Commerce office manager announced she would retire in December after 21 years service to the chamber.  Through almost two decades, Reed maintained her office hours at the chamber while serving on several board and committees.  She helped organize the first Cal Ripkin World Series ballgames to Lamar several years ago, was nominated by the governor to serve on the board for GOCO, representing southeast Colorado interests and helped coordinate parades, Lamar Days events, rodeos and special events around the community.  The Lamar Chamber board of directors conducted a search for her replacement and selected Paula Thornton.  As has been the past case for several residents, Paula Thornton grew up here, spent years away from Prowers County and then decided to return to make this area their home once again.  

Despite the passage of Amendment 64, legalizing Colorado citizen’s possession of one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes, the new law and criminal activities had not yet matched each other’s pace.  In mid December, Lamar police arrested a Greyhound bus passenger while he was transporting eleven pounds of marijuana in a pillow case.  One of the department’s K9 dogs was called in to sniff out the drug, an event which was conducted in fairly regular fashion for the latter part of the year, often with pretty good results.  The poundage however, was considerable and the Denver resident was charged and arrested following the search.  Amendment 64 would not go into effect in the state until the new year, but Lamar and Prowers County officials were adamant in following federal regulations regarding the use of drug and the negative vote the amendment received from Prowers County in the November General Election.  The Commissioners directed County Attorney John Lefferdink to draw up an ordinance prohibiting retail sales of marijuana and grow sites in the community.  State regulations on amendment 64 are expected next July and communities have until October of next year to act on their own community interests. 

National Weather Service Satelite Photo Between Lamar & Garden City on November 10, 2012


2012 was going into the record books at one of the hottest and driest years on record.  Summer temperatures in southeast Colorado exceeded 100 degrees on numerous occasions and by comparison, temperatures in the upper 90s at times could feel cool.  It remained dry with rainfall and precipitation lagging behind levels from earlier years.  The snowpack which helped feed ditches and streams in the region dried up sooner than had been expected.  The effects of the dry spell were not lost on local residents as a televised documentary on the Dust Bowl of the 1930s focused on the High Plains area.  It detailed the economic and ecological hardships that would impact the people of the land for years to come before more educated means of using the land were accepted. Present day residents got a literal taste of that time. Because of blowing dust, a portion of Highway 287/385 between Lamar and Springfield was temporarily closed on November 10, but not before the limited visibility had contributed to a motor vehicle accident, injuring a local resident.  A National Weather Service satellite view of that area on that day showed waves of wind-blown dust between Lamar and Garden City, Kansas, appearing to be brown waves of water, approaching the shore.  Despite the dryness local residents were treated to their first white Christmas in years.  The evening of the 24th, a storm system moved over the area bringing light snow to southeast Colorado, giving about a two inch blanket to enjoy for Christmas morning in Prowers County, along with single digit temperatures in the evening. 

The events of a passing year always play a role in how the New Year will be determined.  There are now some new faces mixed with the current ones in some key positions in the community which will help guide us through 2013.  As downtown Lamar is basing a portion of its future economic growth by relating to the history of the buildings lining Main Street, our community can improve by combining our experiences of the past with some of the new ideas that will be offered us in the year to come.  May we make the best of the time we’re given for 2013.

By Russ Baldwin



Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessChamber/Local BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEnergyFeaturedHealthLamarLaw EnforcementPoliticsProwers CountyUtilitiesWeather

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