State to Granada on Landfill-Correct It or Close It

Granada Trustee Jerene DeBono led an open meeting for local residents, Wednesday, April 10, informing them of the changes needed at the Granada landfill as mandated by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, based on a site inspection several months ago. 

DeBono said there were about 19 deficiencies requiring correction and some of those had already taken place.  Others, such as the need for specific earth moving equipment, will be beyond the city’s budget.  Other problem areas such as gates, signage or improved record keeping for landfill use can be corrected at a minimum cost. 

Residents are charged $4 a month for use of the landfill, but record keeping is required for residents, for non-residents who use the landfill and payment plans for those customers must be maintained, according to the state.  Lack of an employee on site during landfill hours was another problem area.  DeBono said, “They were really upset with us that we would still allow people to access the landfill when we didn’t have a maintenance person there,” she explained.  DeBono said there had been some employee turnover which created gaps for an onsite person, but that has since been corrected.  She added, “No one will access the landfill unless that person is there.”  The landfill will be open three days a week; Wednesdays from 11 to 6 and weekends from 9am to 4pm.  The town racked up another major deficiency with a mix of debris and trash dumped into a common burn pit.  Landfill staff will be required to recognize hazardous materials to make certain they are separated from everyday trash.  The town will need to get permission from local authorities when they schedule trash to be burned and an anemometer will be bought to show wind speeds.  The landfill will be closed when sustained winds go over 25 mph.  Some residents use the south entry to the landfill for dumping when it was closed.  That route is being closed off so the landfill will only be open when the manager is on site. 

Purchasing a bulldozer for the landfill will be a stumbling block for the Granada Trustees.  Priced on average at from $40,000 to $50,000, the community does not have the funds to afford the tread-mounted vehicle suggested by the state.  The dozer will also be used to smash down and compact the trash as much as possible and then cover it with dirt.  Some discussion followed about using a front end loader which could also be used for other purposes.  DeBono said the state is aware of the lack of funds in Granada’s case, but still wants a date when the community can make the purchase.   

Additional expenses include the cost for a hydrology study to see if the landfill is having any impact on groundwater.  DeBono said John McMillan is landscaping around the landfill to divert any surface runoff from rain.  Another funding topic mentioned was if Granada could assure the state, they could finance covering the entire landfill with six inches of dirt, if the state decided to close the facility.  “We need our landfill.  I don’t want the town having to go to Lamar or Holly.  We have this facility and if we work hard and follow the rules and regulations, we can keep our landfill,” she added. 

She said she was open to any suggestions on how the community or Trustees could find the needed funds.  DeBono said she was in contact with a woman in Denver who helps find grants for rural communities or such things as affordable equipment.  One other option would be to recycle trash, using the Southeastern Colorado Recycling Center based in Pritchett which serves southeast Colorado communities.  Prowers County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade, mentioned that the county helps fund the organization and it would be worth a call to see what they would charge the town.  Debono said the Trustees have some leeway on the calendar to make these improvements, but the landfill problems will have to be solved, or the state will close the facility.

 Trustee Tom Grasmick continued a discussion from the last meeting regarding the announcement of a two cent/kwh rate hike from SECPA.  The rates recently went from $0.0862 to $0.0985 and Grasmick said he was told that the company may not be able to continue to supply power at that rate beyond 2015.  “We are a dinosaur in the utility business,” he stated, explaining, “We buy electricity and sell it to our customers.”  He added, we’re considered a utility and SECPA will take care of their customers first at a price.  He said the prices are increasing because of pass-along costs when one utility sells power to another.  “My recommendation to the City of Granada is, we sell our system,” Grasmick told the Trustees.  He said it needs to be done before the end of two years, and even though it was discussed before by the Trustees, a real need exists now.  He added, “We need to find a buyer and we need to put this before the Granada residents and find out if it takes council approval to sell it.”  Grasmick said he’s spoken to Rich Wilson, President of SECPA, to speak to the Trustees on their options, perhaps by the May meeting.  A sale leaves open the question if Granada would continue to receive revenue from the sale of electricity if they opt out of ownership.  There was also a question of having to pay for any service calls if the town was no longer the electric provider. 

The Trustees awarded the annual park maintenance contract to low bidders to Ty and Becky Harmon.  Dixie Choat expressed her concerns regarding dead and dying trees in her area which are in danger of falling over in high winds.  She said she’d like the Trustees to take action on a neighbor’s old camper/trailer which, she says, never has up-to-date tags and has become an eyesore.  Granada’s new police officer, MaryAnn Lingle was introduced to the Trustees during the meeting.  Granada Police Chief David Dougherty said she’d been training with him for the next six to eight weeks before assuming a solo patrol schedule.  The Trustees agreed to accept the 5% increase on city employee insurance premiums without searching for a new carrier.  The increase amounts to $312 for a year.  John McMillan told the Trustees he’s meeting with the Corps of Engineers on April 22 to follow up on an assessment of the town’s dikes, particularly any tree growth of varmint infestation which could weaken the walls.  McMillan said he’s cleared the area of a beaver dam recently.  McMillan will attend a mosquito control class put on by the state this spring.  He said he’ll also find out about any environmentally safe control measures against the swarms of pigeons that are nesting on the building due west of the Granada Complex.  Trustee Tom Grasmick mentioned that the numbers are increasing and they’re becoming more of a problem. 

Granada Police Chief Dougherty announced that the town has been awarded the second phase of the CDOT grant for $136,526 for Safe Routes to School, and Cody Cline was selected as the design engineer of the project.  Three proposals from area surveyors are being considered at this time.  The number of nuisance animal calls was halved from the 14 received in February and seven this past March.  He mentioned the dart gun equipment has been received and will discuss how to use the tranquilizer medications with Dr. Dwayne Eaton.

By Russ Baldwin


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