Council accuses Huerfano County of stealing municipal water: No proof offered by Lalander /Daniels
WALSENBURG — Walsenburg’s interim city administrator Greg Sund announced at the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting that a city employee is currently quarantined at home after their spouse tested positive for COVID-19 recently.
Mindful of protecting the privacy of both the city employee and their spouse, no names were mentioned. City administration and elected officials did not say that any extra precautions were being taken and that mass testing of city employees was not being undertaken. Sund said the bi-county health department suggested the employee be tested for the virus.
Sund said the city would continue their practice of recording the temperature and taking down information of general health on what has become a standard form, but did not announce any additional policies or actions, such as closing facilities for deep cleaning. Sund said the city would be monitoring the situation closely and watching results of visitor’s health questionnaire answers and their temperatures.
Water theft accusation:
At the end of the two and a half hour long city council meeting, under the heading Mayor and City Council Reports, Comments and Directions, Mayor Pro Tem Greg Daniels directed administrator Sund to send a letter to an ‘entity’ that was getting services or materials from the city which were not authorized by the city council. When pressed to identify the ‘entity’ Daniels hesitated, and Mayor Brian Lalander entered into the conversation and identified the ‘entity’ as Huerfano County. Lalander went on to explain that city hall had received ‘reports’ that someone was getting water from a fire hydrant located near the city’s water and waste water treatment facilities. Lalander did not elaborate on where the report came from or how Huerfano County ended up as the named suspect in obtaining the water. Lalander did say after the day after the report was received, he and councilman Nick Vigil drove to the location and found a large puddle of water around the hydrant.
At one point during the discussion, a comment was made that the taking of the water was unauthorized, even if it was being done on a ‘handshake’ agreement between the county and the former city public works director.
The World Journal contacted former Walsenburg PWD David Harriman Wednesday morning and he said that he had never entered into any agreement on behalf of the city with the county regarding water. He said three or four years ago, he did authorize the county to use some city water for application of mag chloride to Lascar Road for a Sonic Bloom event, but the county paid back that favor by hauling gravel to the city’s gravel storage site. He indicated this was a one time issue and no informal or formal agreement regarding water to his knowledge was in place.
The WJ attempted to contact Huerfano County Administrator John Galusha and county public works director Melanie Bounds on Wednesday. Galusha had not responded by deadline, and a voice message indicated Bounds was out of her office until September 28.
After lengthy discussion Tuesday night, Daniels put his direction to administration in the form of a motion, directing Sund to send letters to an unknown number of undisclosed entities advising them to stop using all city services, properties or materials in an unauthorized manner. The motion passed with yes votes from Lalander, Daniels, Vigil and Charlie Montoya. Councilmen Clint Boehler and James Hudgens voted against the motion.
In other business:
• City council will conduct a council work session and public tour of the Lathrop Youth Camp buildings beginning at 3:30 pm Tuesday, September 22.
• Council passed Resolution 2020-R-20, which names those authorized to sign city checks and removed those individuals no longer granted such access.
• Passed the form associated with the city’s CARES Act local business relief program but did not fill in the dollar amount range for the payments. Council indicated that figure would be decided upon by the interim administrator and finance director Julie Clayton.
• Approved an MOU between the city, Town of La Veta, Huerfano County and Huerfano County Economic Development Inc. on a 4-2 vote with councilmen Vigil and Montoya voting no.
• Postponed action on the Rock, Sand and Gravel Quarry lease agreement between the city and Huerfano County.