Dias Selected to Lamar City Council

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Felix Dias Takes His Oath of Office

Lamar resident, Felix Dias, was elected by a split ballot vote by the City Council as the Ward III replacement for Ron Cook during the January 26 meeting.   Cook became a Prowers County Commissioner following the November General Election.  Dias was sworn in as the newest council member by Judge Larry Stutler and began his new duties that evening, although he abstained from any voting.

The council reviewed the Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan.  Parks and Recreation Director, Rick Akers, said the Britina Design Group has been working on the plan for 13 months.  Akers said it was developed through a lot of community input, based on various meetings with Lamar citizens and organizations and civic groups.  The plan has been designed to meet the needs of the town’s citizens from young to old.  Akers added, “The city began its involvement with the project back in 2013 with $10,000 from the Conservation Trust Fund for an initial study.”

City Administrator, John Sutherland added, “The Plan is made up of large scale concepts right now.  You can consider this as a map that will point us in more specific directions on what we want to have in our city.”  Mayor Roger Stagner indicated he wanted to meet to discuss some portions of the Plan and take action for adoption at the February council meeting.  As part of the process for improvement to the city’s recreational outlets, council members approved a resolution for a $1M GoCO grant application for the construction of the proposal Lamar Loop, one of three early projects included in the Plan.  Akers explained that Healthy Places Initiative would contribute $200,000 as a grant match.  Wheels Park, which will convert Bicentennial Park into a facility for skateboarding, inline skating and BMX style bike competition, would receive a $100,000 matching grant and $30,000 would be used as a grant match for the proposed Pocket Park between the Shore Arts Center and Daylight Donut.

The Loop is a planned eight mile, multi-use exercise trail that circumnavigates and connects neighborhoods to each other with tie ins to other exercise areas of the city.  Various citizens voiced their approval and need for the Loop.  Mary Minor and Arvenia Morris said they would feel more protected from traffic using the Loop.  Morris added, “I spend time with my grandchildren on their bikes and using the Loop will be a safer place.”  Mayor Stagner also read a letter of support for the grant from the Prowers County Commissioners.  Akers said the application for consideration will be sent to GoCO in March and if it is approved, the work on the Loop could begin by August or September.

City Administrator, John Sutherland, told the council that a new title and job description has been developed for Shawna Hodge, the city’s Main Street Coordinator for the past five years.  Sutherland stated that her duties and responsibilities have grown beyond the initial scope of work when she began in 2010.  He said the new position description is for Community Development and Urban Renewal Manager.  Hodge will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of the city’s efforts at business attraction, retention and redevelopment opportunities and programs.  The description also includes urban revitalization activities including design, promotion, economic restructuring and organization of the city’s business and industrial districts, including Main Street.

The council also approved a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Local Affairs, City of Lamar and Lamar Partnership Inc. Board of Directors to allow the city to continue to take part as a Colorado Main Street Community in the state program.  Downtown Colorado Inc. will continue to offer educational opportunities and technical assistance programs to help develop economic growth in the downtown Lamar area.

A memorandum of understanding with Prowers Medical Center was approved by the council.  The agreement will allow use of the Lamar Community Building in the event of a Mass Medical Emergency.  The two year agreement may be lengthened in the future.  The agreement establishes the Community Building as a government authorized Alternate Care Site, where supportive care can be given to victims of a large-scale mass casualty such as a tornado, or a bio-event.

Lamar will receive a $3,000 grant for the municipal animal shelter.  The council ratified an earlier vote to authorize the funds to help defray expenses to spay and neuter the dogs before they leave the shelter.  The grant is through the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act to run from February 1 of this year until January 31, 2016.

The council approved several financial requests from the Lamar Library.  $6,000 was approved for a licensing renewal for what is known as the 2015 Overdrive Advantage program which allows the library to purchase digital materials for use by local patrons.  Lamar Librarian, Debbie Reynolds, told the council, “This has become a very popular feature.  Last year we had 5,776 users and my goal is to reach 500 users in one month.”

The Global Road Warrior license renewal for $220 was approved.  This provides information about 175 countries which can be used by students and business or pleasure travelers.  The council authorized a new digital magazine database for such titles as Time, Sports Illustrated or Consumer Reports.  The advantage is that several patrons can access the digital magazine at one time.  Four additional security cameras are being added to the library.  The cost, $1,180, will be covered using leftover Library Sales Tax Funds.  Two cameras will be set up in the library and two for the Cultural Events Center.  Reynolds explained that the circulation desk and the HUB Children’s Computer Center are not completely covered.

The council tabled the request from Kim Verhoeff, Lamar Municipal Judge, to keep community service fees in the city.  A resolution put before the council would keep charges of at least $100 for every person required to perform community or public service to the city.  The fee, enacted by state statute, covers oversite and insurance costs for each individual sentenced by the courts to public service.  Stagner noted that this would deprive the county of the revenues which they use to cover insurance and oversite of the community service work.  “I believe they’re down by $20,000 already on this fund and this action takes away from Peter to pay Paul,” he explained.  The council plans more discussion on the request.

The informal monthly city council breakfast will be held Wednesday, February 4, from 7am to 8am at the Lamar Community College cafeteria.  All interested citizens are encouraged to attend the informal breakfast sessions.  City offices will be closed for President’s Day on Monday, February 16.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessCollegeCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEntertainmentEnvironmentFeaturedHealthLamarProwers CountyPublic SafetyRecreationSchoolTourismTransportationYouth


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