Lamar Council Opens Willow Creek Park for Lamar Days/Cinco de Mayo

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Mary Moore and Connie Gangwish from Lightkeepers Ministries outlined their plans to the Lamar City Council, to create a non-profit women’s homeless shelter at the former Troy Apartments on South Main Street in Lamar.  Moore has researched various, similar shelters in Pueblo to learn the logistics of their operation.  Gangwish has said she’ll provide information and training for drug and alcohol prevention.  Both women, Lamar residents, are seeking start up and sustaining funding to help remodel a portion of Troy Apartments at the outset and increase additional living space as they move forward with their project.  Gangwish said they are not duplicating the work of the Domestic Safety Resource Center, but will provide accommodations for from three to five days for women and their children who need a place to stay while they plan their next steps. 

City Administrator John Sutherland provided some future calendar updates for the council, including the April 22-23 Arkansas River Basin Water Forum in La Junta at Otero Junior College; the semi-annual citywide spring cleanup for Lamar will be on Saturday, April 26 from 7am to 4pm; the Southeast Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days Listening Tour is set for Wednesday, April 30 at the Lamar Community Building; Cinco de Mayo and the Wild West BBQ Cook Off and  Car Show will be held at Willow Creek Park May 9-10, National Train Day will be observed on Saturday, May 10; the Colorado Municipal League Spring Outreach Meeting will be held by RSVP on Wednesday May 14 at the Lamar Community Building; Wake Up Lamar will run from 6:45 to 7:45am at the Lamar Community Building instead of the Lamar Elks Lodge this year and the annual Lamar Days, Car Show, Parade and Lion’s Breakfast will be on Saturday, May 17.  This year’s Lamar Day’s theme is, “Celebrate Lamar Days with Windmills and Wagons”.

Bert Davis, City Human Resource Manager, and City Administrator, John Sutherland, explained the need for a requested increase in health insurance premiums for city employees.  An alteration was needed when the city went from being self-insured for health and adopted a fully insured plan with the County Health Pool.  Original rates were derived by rates for the Health Pool and the City’s enrollment numbers, similar to what had been charged before.  However, enrollment numbers have altered and the premiums now leave a monthly shortfall of $2,700 in funding the total health insurance premium.  A monthly premium increase of $28.40 was requested and it would be shared between the city at 75% and employees at 25%.  Employees will pay an extra $7.10 per month with the city picking up the balance of $21.30.  The annual budget has funds to cover the additional premiums for 95 employees that are covered from the insurance package.  The council voted to accept the additional payments.  

The council approved a request for an overnight permit for the annual Wild West BBQ Contest for Willow Creek Park.  Organizer Diane Pool said regional contestants will be in Lamar May 8-10 for the event which had been held at the Prowers County Fairgrounds until it was moved to the park several years ago.  Toni McPherson, BBQ Chairperson, said this marks the 10th anniversary of the contest in Lamar.  She said the entry numbers are running close to past years events.  She added that under KCB rules, judges for future cooking contests must be certified through the Kansas City BBQ Association.  A green chili and the Backyard Grillers contest will be held again this year. The Lamar Chamber of Commerce, represented by new office manager, Lisa Carder, requested an overnight parking permit for some of the vendors who will attend Lamar Days May 16 and 17.  The request was approved. 

Following some discussion, the council approved spending $61,200 for a 615C Scraper from Wagner Equipment to excavate cells and cover daily refuse drop offs at the city landfill.  The current Case tractor and Holcomb Scraper has aged and repairs to both pieces of equipment are becoming cost-prohibitive.  The trade in of both pieces against the cost of the new unit would save $124,800 and the cost of the new scraper would be $138,000 under the annual budget. 

City Councilman, Skip Ruedeman and his wife Candy are moving from Lamar.  His resignation leaves a vacancy for Ward 2 in the city.  The council has 30 days following his date of resignation, April 14, to find and appoint a replacement to fill the unexpired term.  An official announcement regarding the vacancy and how to apply for consideration by the council will be made available to the public.  

April 17 was declared Arbor Day in Lamar by the city council and April 14 – 20 was designated Arbor Week.  Members of the Lamar Tree Board presented Mayor Roger Stagner with the annual proclamation.  The Tree Board announced that Lamar has received the designation of 2013 Tree City USA for the 23rd time. 

The council approved a proclamation presented by Lamar Librarian, Debra Reynolds, designating April 13-19 as National Library Week.  She outlined some of the highlights of the Library and stated that new computer equipment will be made available in the children’s section of the library. 

Because the annual observance of Memorial Day falls on a council meeting date, the replacement date for the bi-monthly meeting was set for Monday, May 27. 

Rod Dunn was re-appointed to the Building Codes Variance Board for a five year term, expiring in 2018.  A public hearing was set for April 28 for the Olive Street Station, modification of premise application.  Owner, Ken Roe, plans to expand his current location to include what was the service station portion of the building to be used as increased storage for his business. 

The council adjourned into executive session for discussion of a personal matter, and separately to discuss and develop strategy for negotiation and provide instruction to its designated negotiator(s) on a litigation matter. 

By Russ Baldwin

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