2013 Year in Review for Prowers County: May & June

The Prowers Journal is Providing a Month by Month Review of News Highlights from 2013

May 2013 Year in Review

Scheduling changes were made for Lamar’s annual anniversary celebration.  For several years, the Lamar Days events including a BBQ contest and Car and Motorcycle show were held over one weekend at Willow Creek Park.  Conditions continued to grow crowded for the various groups to the point that some changes were made incorporating Cinco de Mayo and the Wild West BBQ and holding a ‘Springplosion’ May 10-11 at the Park.  Sunny and warm weather prevailed with 31 BBQ entries for the contest, sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society.  A smaller car show was held, Spanish dancers performed and vendors sold their wares to the crowds.  Inflatable kid’s rides and other activities were provided for the day’s entertainment.

BBQ at Willow Creek Park

BBQ at Willow Creek Park

Fair skies continued the following week as residents observed Lamar Days, “The Cowboy Way”, including the traditional downtown parade.  The one event that was absent for the celebration was the traditional carnival that operated at the north end of the park.  The lack of kid’s rides didn’t hamper the size of the crowds that came back to the park for a second weekend of family oriented events.  The Lamar Rotary decided to hold their fundraising ‘ducky dash’ contest at Willow Creek Park instead of the murky waters of the Lamar Canal.  Apparently, just as many residents bought ‘dash’ tickets as they did years before.  Rotary members said they’d give some thought to the new way to hold the contest, or revert to the Canal for 2014.  Sunday was highlighted by the Lamar Days Poker Run, sponsored by the El Shaddai Warriors Motorcycle Club.  The city had additional visitors over the weekend as Lamar hosted the Southeast Colorado All-Stars High School Rodeo at the fairgrounds.

Mike Renkin Gives the Ducks a Spin

Mike Renkin Gives the Ducks a Spin

Lisa Nolder, Executive Director of PCDI, Prowers County Development Incorporated, announced her resignation from that position, effective May 31, after four years of service to the county.  The board of directors began the search for a replacement and would announce in August that a new director for the economic development post had been hired.

Lisa Nolder, PCDI Exec Dir

Lisa Nolder, PCDI Exec Dir

By the middle of May, the City of Lamar moved to go to State 2 water restrictions.  Residents were divided into groups living west or east of Highway 287 and were given three days of the week in which they could water their lawns during specific hours.  City Water Director Josh Cichocki offered some statistics that led to the new restriction, stating, “40% of our water used in the summer goes to irrigation.  Of that water, 65% is lost to evaporation.”  He explained the city loses 1.1 million gallons of water a day through evaporation and the watering during morning and evening hours helped reduce the amount of lost water.

The Parkview Elementary School 'Whale'

The Parkview Elementary School ‘Whale’

Just for fun on a windy day, students of Parkview Elementary School, with the direction and assistance of the Division of Parks and Wildlife, created a plastic, hollow whale on the school’s front yard.  Measuring about 100 feet long by about 7 feet high, several strips of black plastic sheeting were taped together to form a whale which was constantly filled with air using several box fans and wind provided by Mother Nature.  Before the whale tried to get airborne, the students were able to mimic young Jonah’s, trooping inside the whale and out again before the project came to a close.

Prowers Medical Center and the Holly Medical Clinic went separate ways in May when the Holly Community Corporation announced that they were signing with the Stanton County, Kansas Hospital for future staffing.  The facility reopened in mid spring to residents in the Holly, Prowers County and Kansas area.

Jim Miller, Owner of Ports to Plains Travel Plaza

Jim Miller, Owner of Ports to Plains Travel Plaza

Arkansas River Power Authority board of directors listened to concerns regarding the cost of the Lamar Repowering Project and its effect on several large power purchasers and ARPA customers in general.  Owners of the Ports to Plains Travel Plaza, Rodeway Cow Palace Inn and Colorado Mills addressed the board during a monthly meeting held in Springfield.  Along with Prowers County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade, the business owners reiterated their concerns that the cost of electricity, coupled with paying on the debt service for the coal-fired power plant, would either drive away existing businesses in Lamar or prevent future businesses from locating in the customer service area.  The main concern expressed was seeking a way to negotiate with Repowering Project bondholders to reduce the rates paid by customers.

County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade

County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade

ARPA members replied that no invoices go from ARPA to area customers and the concerns would be best addressed to the six individual suppliers that provided electricity from ARPA to its area customers.  The business owners cited a dwindling population in the region which they said, would just pass along the same electric costs to be shared by a smaller group of customers.  Some of the business owners said they were investigating developing their own sources of electric power for each of their operations but that would not alleviate the electricity costs to their own employees or to the communities at large.

June 2013 Year in Review

Local residents had a chance to enjoy two days focusing on family activities towards the end of June.  The Lamar Fireman’s Family Carnival held at Bicentennial Park had to batten down the hatches and pull down some tents in view of the strong winds that swept across the area that afternoon.  Families still enjoyed such traditional games as balloon darts, ring-toss, water bucket splash as well as grilled hot dogs and drinks.  About 800 persons came out the next night for the first Saturday Family Fun Day at Willow Creek Park, hosted by LiveWell Prowers County.  A number of information booths provided brochures for healthier foods and exercise activities.  People swam in the pool, picnicked on the lawn, enjoyed live music and watched an evening family movie on an inflatable screen once the sun had set.  Plans are underway for another event next year.

Firehouse Carnival 2013 (2)

Family Fun Day 2013 (5)

Drought and dry conditions equaled a fire ban ordinance for Prowers County.  The Prowers County Commissioners voted to reinstitute the 2006 Fire Ban Ordinance due to the frequency of Red Flag days and the persistent drought conditions throughout southeastern Colorado.  The commissioners also approved the first reading of another ordinance, 2013-1 which prohibited any broad-based retail operation of marijuana in the county.

The commissioners began a search for a new director of Public Health for Prowers County, following the contract termination for Justin Lee.  He had been selected as the successor to RN Jackie Brown who held the post in the county for over 20 years.  Lee had been hired in October 2012.

ARPA concluded their legal issues with the environment group, WildEarth Guardians who had brought suit several years earlier against the Repowering Project due to exceeding pollution emission levels when the plant was in operation.  Several factors prohibited the plant from reaching permanent, full capacity of power production, but when it did, associated levels of emissions exceeded its air quality permit.  The agreement resolved two lawsuits.  The settlement came to $450,000 of which $225,000 would be paid to the legal clinic at Denver University, $100,000 to WildEarth Guardians and $125,000 would fund several environment or energy efficient projects to benefit ARPA member communities.

Lamar Repowering Project

Lamar Repowering Project

The Lamar Fire Department announced that they would not be able to sustain their annual efforts needed to collect donations for the yearly 4th of July fireworks display held in town each year.  Lamar Fire Chief Marshall Cook explained that some outside help from other organizations would be necessary to reach the $8,000 annual cost of fireworks.  “Most of our volunteers and paid staff give up their 4th just to put on the display, from early morning set up, to the firing of the display, to several hours of cleanup afterwards,” he explained.  Cook added that in years past, other groups would be out with the department on the primary collection night, going door to door throughout the community, raising funds.  He said the extra help is no longer there and it now takes several weeks to cover the area that was reached in one night.  Because of last year’s fire ban, the display was cancelled and the purchased fireworks were used for the 4th at no extra cost.  Some donations were secured through the remainder of the year, but more manpower would be needed for donations to ensure future 4th of July celebrations.

4th of July Fireworks 2013 (4)

June saw Juniper Village celebrate its 25th year of operation in the Lamar Community.  An open house was held for all area residents.

(Editor”s Note:  July & August News Highlights will be on December 30)

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