2013 Year in Review for Prowers County: September & October

The Prowers Journal is Highlighting the News Events of 2013 for Prowers County

September 2013 Year in Review

September began with a public hearing to address the proposed new nursing home, planned to replace Juniper Village on South 10th Street in Lamar.  The meeting was held at the Lamar SOS Center.  The proposed facility, named Sage Brush Meadows, was outlined by committee members.  They needed approval to place two questions on the November ballot for approval by voters:  create a public improvement district consisting of Lamar, Wiley and Granada School Districts and seek a $14 million General Obligation Bond for the purchase of Juniper Village and to construct a replacement facility on land to be donated by High Plains Community Health Center.

Panelists at Public Hearing

Panelists at Public Hearing

After a year of planning and a failed first year of seeding 108 acres at Valco Ponds north of the City of Lamar, the city council conducted a public hearing regarding the annexation of the land into the city limits.  The former Valco Ponds would now be known as North Gateway Park.  Following the annexation from the county into the city districts, the park was placed under the administration of the city.  The land’s new designation is Open Land Recreational from vacated Industrial and will be used as a public park.  The city is also claiming the three gravel pits.  One smaller one was filled in earlier in the year.  City Administrator, John Sutherland, said the city is partnering with the Department of Parks and Wildlife on some future projects and management of the property and an annexation impact study has been completed.  Sutherland said the next steps will be to secure grants and funding for future development of the property.  He added that contributions or donations from businesses and citizens can benefit the donor as well, through state tax credits. The park will be used for activities such as fishing, birding, hiking and boating as well as a wild life habitat.  There is no swimming allowed in the ponds and the city’s open beverage container ordinance is also in effect.

North Gateway Park 8-23-13 (5)

Funding plans for the Lamar Reliever Route went on hold with the announcement that the bypass would not be listed among those projects to be funded by RAMP money.  The list of projects showed the majority were in the Front Range with little, if any, slated for southeast Colorado.  CDOT resident engineer, Paul Westhoff, said that the devastation of roads in Colorado wrought by summer floods did not have any bearing on the RAMP allocations, as the reconstruction costs would have different funding avenues.

CIG Sept 2012 1

A forty year tradition came to an end in Lamar with the last CIG gathering of retired employees.  Former workers at Colorado Interstate Gas had been coming to Lamar since 1973 to hold an annual convention and reunion.  Loy Jones, the retiree group’s president said the number of members had been decreasing as their average age was in the early 80s.  Jones said the Cow Palace Inn, under the direction of the owner, David Eddleman and bookkeeper Deana Callahan, proved to be a valuable friend to the group right up to the final year under the new ownership.  Jones said the membership had decreased to just 27 this year and it was time for those friends to say their final farewells to each other and the Lamar community.

SECPA Chief Executive Officer Richard Wilson, Discusses Sale Options

SECPA Chief Executive Officer Richard Wilson, Discusses Sale Options

Granada residents are looking at utility ownership changes in their community.  The Trustees have advised holding a special election next April to determine whether they wish to sell their electric utility system to SECPA.  Currently, the town purchases power from SECPA and resells it to the local customers.  The current contract for power delivery expires in 2015.  The value of the utility is estimated at $450,000 which, if sold, would be put into a reserve fund.  The town would continue to receive a 2% per kilowatt hour franchise fee to pay town employees.

The Wiley Clinic re-opened to the community with a ribbon cutting ceremony on September 9.  It had been closed for several months until the operation was taken over by High Plains Community Health Center.  The Clinic would open for patients weekdays except Tuesday next to the Wiley Post Office.

Wiley Clinic Staff

The playground area and equipment at the Northside Park in Lamar was being revamped with the help of a $90,000 grant.  The City of Lamar, LiveWell Prowers County, KaBOOM and the Colorado Health Foundation pooled their efforts into securing the grant which would cover the costs of a new playground.  Emily Nieschburg of LiveWell explained that a Design Day would be held at the Lamar Community Building during which neighborhood youngsters would be able to voice their ideas on the type of equipment they’d like.  A stipulation to the grant was that the community needed to volunteer their services for a one-day construction effort to erect the new playground, minus work needed to prepare the site.  The build day in September saw almost 300 people from all walks of life, contributing their efforts to erect the playground.

KaBOOM Northside Park 9-13 (10)

The Lamar City Council approved changes to the weed ordinance which drastically reduced the waiting period between notifying residents of violations on their property and taking action to clean up the grounds using city work crews.  Property owners were now given 48 hours to take action, following a notice from the city of their violations.

Front Yard of Abandoned House in Lamar

Front Yard of Abandoned House in Lamar

The second annual Tri State 9/11 Remembrance program was greatly expanded from the first observance, moving from a simple ceremony on the steps of the Prowers County Courthouse to a full length parade along Main Street in Lamar to the Prowers County Fairgrounds and a number of displays which honored veterans and first responders from three states.  Several last minute adjustments were needed to accommodate some gaps created by those responders who remained in the Front Range because of drastic flooding and highway and bridge washouts due to heavy rains in the area.  Plans are already underway for a 2014 observance, according to organizer, Doug Harbour.

911 Tribute Header Pic

Regarding veterans, on September 4, the former Ft. Lyon prison reopened as a home to a project geared to helping homeless veterans and the homeless in general around the state.  Bipartisan legislation designated the site as a supportive residential community for the homeless, housing 80 residents by late fall; plans call for those numbers to increase to 200 by the end of 2014.

The Boy Scouts 223 Troop Help Out Some Thirsty Riders

The Boy Scouts 223 Troop Help Out Some Thirsty Riders

Pedal the Plains came to Lamar in September.  Approximately 800 bicyclists rode into town on Friday, September 20, arriving from Eads, stayed the night in tents or motels and left the next morning to continue the last leg of their journey to La Junta.  For several months prior, various community groups planned the logistics for the overnight stay, from pitching tents in Savage Stadium to providing food and entertainment at the Lamar Chamber of Commerce and shuttle busses to allow the riders to get from one place to another.

October 2013 Year in Review

The murder trial of Marla Abling became a local focus again in the year, as her public defender attorneys presented a case in court to have charges dropped under the ‘Make My Day’ law in Colorado.  Abling had been held on $150,000 bond since the beginning of the year when murder charges were filed against her in the death of Rory Alba.  Judge Stan Brinkley ruled that the facts presented by her defense team did not meet all of the four criteria of the ‘Make My Day’ statute and the charges would remain in place.  Her trial was continued until the early part of March, 2014.


ALCO stores announced they were closing their facility located at the corner of Savage Avenue in Lamar on January 26, 2014.  The Senior Vice President for Store Operations, Ricardo Clemente, stated that the business was not meeting financial requirements due to low sales and the operation would cease at the end of January.   Ironically, since the announcement of its pending close and a slight discount of all goods, the store actually saw more foot traffic, given the increase in the number of cars in the parking lot.

Kristin Rau

Kristin Rau

Kristin Rau was hired by the City of Lamar as treasurer, replacing Linda Rohlman who resigned the position several months earlier.  Her position was confirmed at a subsequent city council meeting in October.

With the announcement that Prowers County Sheriff James Faull would not seek re-election next November, several candidates began to make their intentions known as his successor.  One of the first to voice his intention to run was Sam Zordel who began working in the Sheriff’s Department in 1996 and is now Senior Deputy.

Another candidate, David Reid from the Lamar Police Department also decided to run for the position.  Reid joined the Lamar force in 2003 and became Sergeant in 2008 after having served on the drug enforcement team for several years.  Undersheriff Ron Trowbridge also stated his intention to campaign for the position.  Several other candidates were pondering putting their names on next November’s ballot as the year drew to a close.

(Editor’s Note:  Happy News Year from the Staff.  November & December will be Highlighted on the First)

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