Less Water, Higher Water Restrictions for Lamar Residents

City Water TankLamar is feeling the impact of the current drought and lack of ditch water, moving to more stringent water restrictions two weeks after the first Stage was approved. The Stage 2 water conservation resolution, approved during the city council meeting May 13, allows properties east of Highway 287 to water only from Midnight to 6am and after 6pm to Midnight on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Properties west of the highway will be allowed to water on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday during those hours. There will be no watering on Fridays.  The new restriction, according to Josh Cichocki, City Water Manager, is a lack of water coming in to the city from the canals or project water.  He said the city is waiting for several entities to take their water at the same time to lessen the amount of water lost to the city during the transfer.  There were some questions from the audience and from the council about verification of those residents who use well water and need not abide by the restrictions.  Another question arose about some residents who use sprinkler systems that cannot be programmed to meet the restriction dates.  Cichocki said some common sense allowances will be made in those cases while the systems are being corrected.  Violators will be given a written warning first by Code Enforcement Officers.  A second offense will result in a $100 fine when it falls within 30 days of the first notice.  The next sized fine will be $200 if it occurs within 90 days of a violation notice.  Cichocki suggested that residents who have swimming pools call him at 336-2001 for guidance on their use through the restriction period.

The Lamar City Council met as the Lamar Redevelopment Authority Board prior to the city council meeting this past Monday, May 13. The board moved to approve the ownership change of a new business, Brew Unto Others with a Cause. John and Leslie Miller have sold the property at 119 South Main to new owners, The Bridge at Main, LLC. The Redevelopment Board approved funding for $26,000 to the Millers to install a fire sprinkler system at the business site. The owners of The Bridge at Main, LLC will adopt the loan agreement.  The business name will not be changed.

On other water matters Cichocki briefed the council on bids solicited by the city for use of 300 shares of Lamar Canal and Irrigation Company. The Utilities Board leases the shares directly to the city which sub-leases the shares to a Lamar Canal user. The high bid came from Spitz Cattle Company, Inc, which was approved by the council at $52.10 per acre foot delivered. The action was based on information received by the Water Advisory Board.  The winning bid was almost twice as large is the other submission.

The council discussed the requested waiver of a carnival license fee for $305 as presented by Bobbi Ketels, secretary of the Lamar Chamber of Commerce. The carnival will be held to coincide with the Colorado State High School Rodeo Finals at the Prowers County Fairgrounds. The carnival will set up June 4-5 and break down the facilities June 10-11 if it comes.  Ketels said the negotiations are still not final and the chamber would have to pay the license fee if the council did not waive the amount.  Apparently it is a make or break deal with the carnival owners.  The chamber, she said, is also paying for the porta-potties that will be placed at the fairgrounds.  In past years the chamber would receive an override from carnivals, a percentage of their profits beyond a threshold point in earnings based on ticket sales, not the concessions or games that accompany the carnivals.  She said that point is also being negotiated.  Kirk Crespin, council member, added that there has been past concern regarding setting a precedent of waiving fees, especially for for-profit organizations and making sure that they apply equally to every request or not at all.  “We have the fees in place for a reason,” he said.  Councilman Skip Ruedeman moved to approve the waiver, but it died for lack of a seconding motion.  Councilman Oscar Riley proposed a waiver of a $75 minimum fee which passed on a six to one vote with Crespin voting no.

The Rodeo Finals will be conducted June 5-9. Lamar Fire Chief, Marshall Cook, discussed how in past years, the council granted a discount for ambulance standbys at rodeo events. The council granted the $100 discount while requiring the hourly fees will be paid to the EMS crews as before.

Federal funding is still needed to improve the train track and other facilities for the BNSF/Amtrak railroad through Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. An alternate route has been proposed which eliminates passenger service through southeast Colorado in lieu of freight service lines. Following an explanation of how the funds would be used to maintain the local rail service by Councilman Ruedeman, the council approved a resolution for $10,000 to hire a Washington, D.C. consulting service, Ralston & Bird LLP. $300 million is needed for Amtrak to preserve the Southwest Chief on its existing route and of that $112 is needed for immediate required repairs, plus ongoing maintenance needs for the passenger line connecting La Junta and Albuquerque. La Junta and Garden City, KS have each contributed $10,000 for the lobbying firm and several other cities which may be impacted are also contributing similar amounts.

The City of Lamar will contribute $32,000 as a CDOT grant match for funding for Runway End Identifier Lights at the municipal airport. The match will constitute 10% of the cost of the $320,000 project. The current wiring system is buried directly in the ground. The grant will fund new wiring insulated in conduit. The REIL system has been unreliable because of chronic electrical surges and power outages. The lights are located at the ends of the four runways at the airport, and various components have been replaced in the past, but malfunctions continue to occur.

Bob Ward Bobby Ward, Chief Building Official submitted his resignation after 30 years of service to the city, effective August 17, 2013. His letter noted his thanks for support from his wife and family and friends, as well as almost 100 contractors he has worked with during his career. Ward noted that he will continue inspections for the Town of Holly and said he’d like to assist the city in its search for his successor.  He took the time to name numerous persons who had served on committees and boards during his years of employment with the city, and thanked them for their dedication and service to their fellow residents.  

A public hearing was held for a transfer of ownership for a Tavern Liquor License for Lamar Lanes, LLC for Philip H. Hall. The council approved the transfer on a unanimous vote.   Manager David Nish told the council his employees will continue to verify the age of patrons at the bowling alley. 

Wii games can be played at the Lamar Library. Librarian Debbie Reynolds explained to the council, that some additional space has been created in the library’s youth section following the recent remodeling project at the library. While Wii games had been available before, it was used only for special programs. Now the games may be played in the Teen Room. Equipment will be checked out at the circulation desk and noise from the games will be kept to a minimum for other patrons. Reynolds said other libraries around the state have been using games of this nature to attract youth to the library and all its facilities.  Reynolds said the library has scheduled an open house for June 1.

Two proclamations were read and approved by the council. The first declared the week of May 6 -12 as National Nurses Week. The proclamation had been signed by Mayor Roger Stagner on April 26 at Prowers Medical Center. The council ratified his action. The second proclamation recognized the benefits derived from the Relay for Life event, sponsored each year in Lamar by the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life week will be observed May 26 through June 1, at the outset of the annual Relay held at Savage Stadium.  The proclamation was presented by Chrissy Stegman and Many Manly from the Relay committee.

City Administrator, John Sutherland, briefed the council and audience on several future events including the Philanthropy Days Workshop set for this Wednesday, May 15 at Lamar Community College, the Good Morning Lamar Breakfast on May 17 at the Lamar Elks Lodge will serve to kick off this year’s Lamar Days activities, including Saturday’s parade on May 18 and numerous events in downtown Lamar and at Willow Creek Park. City offices will be closed for Memorial Day, May 27, which will move the next city council meeting to Tuesday, May 28. The Community Conversation Night is set for the former Lincoln School, the Project HOPE Center on Thursday, May 30 between 6:30pm and 8:30pm. This will be the third meeting hosted by Sutherland and the public is urged to attend to ask questions regarding City of Lamar activities.

By Russ Baldwin

Brought to you by: Colorado East Bank & Trust


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