New County Social Services Director Hired, Public Hearings for Bypass, Nursing Home Discussed


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The Prowers County Commissioners announced that Lanie Mirelas, from the Social Services Department of Burlington, Colorado in Kit Carson County, has been selected to replace Linda Fairbairn as Director of Prowers County Social Services following her retirement at the end of the year.  The commissioners noted that Mirelas, who was not employed as the DSS in Burlington, will begin her position on September 16 and will train with Fairbairn to eventually take over her duties after December 31. 

Following the recent signing of the Environmental Assessment for the U.S. 287 Lamar Reliever Route, or bypass by the Colorado Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Commissioners met with Paul Westhoff, CDOT Resident Engineer, for an update on a calendar of events connected to the Reliever Route. 

Westhoff said beginning September 2, a 30 day public comment period will be held and a September 19 public hearing has been scheduled at the mezzanine in the county’s annex offices on East Cedar Street.  The hearing will be conducted between 5pm and 7pm without any formal question and answer period, but formal comments will be available from the public following about a half hour information session, he explained.  Once the 30 day comment period has expired, he said responses to those comments should take about two months to develop and submit a final copy of a FONSI, (Finding of No significant Impact) for final review and publication at the end of December. 

Westhoff said about $3 million has been budgeted for the Reliever Route design, but the actual construction funds, called RAMP funds, may still not be made available this year.  He told the commissioners, a target date for any funding announcement may come later this fall.  If no construction funding is allocated, the project design will be shelved for several years pending any required updates and future funding. 

The commissioners are especially concerned about funding, as the county’s share of the project will have to be budgeted out over several years and will be developed in conjunction with the share provided by the City of Lamar.  Commissioner Joe Marble said several IGA’s or Intergovernmental Agreements will be required among CDOT, Prowers County and the City of Lamar, plus separate IGA’s between the city and county.   

The bypass or Reliever Route has been a concept that dates back almost 30 years and would carry truck and car traffic around the downtown portion of the city using a two lane highway that could be expanded to four lanes.  It would also provide for two access points into the city.  Documentation on the EA and bypass is available at 

A public hearing regarding the creation of a PID, Public Improvement District within Prowers County has been set for September 4 at 6pm at the Lamar Resource and Senior Center on East Olive Street in Lamar.  The creation of the district is necessary to allow the construction of a nursing home which will replace Juniper Village and the purchase of the current nursing home, located on South 10th Street in Lamar.  A $14 million bonding issue for the construction of the nursing home needs voter approval during the November 5 general election from voters and eligible property owners as well.  The proposed site for the new home is on land owned by High Plains Community Health Center and situated at the medical complex acreage along South Memorial Drive and Kendall Avenue in Lamar.  The group spearheading the initiative needs to meet several key elements for the project to come to pass and the September public hearing is necessary to meet the various criteria.  The commissioners discussed some of those key elements with Jillane Hixson, a member of the group and Jay Brooke, Director of HPCHC during their Tuesday meeting.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEnvironmentFeaturedHealthHot TopicsLamarPoliticsProwers CountyTransportation


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