“New” Guard takes over in La Veta

LA VETA — The La Veta Town Board meeting was called to order last Wednesday evening by Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald. The board took care of approving the minutes and treasurer report, then turned over the town’s business to the incoming board of directors, effective after Fitzgerald administered the oath of office to Mayor-elect Douglas R. Brgoch. Brgoch then convened the second meeting of the evening and administered the oath of office to re-elected Trustees Dale Davis and Shane Clouse. Brgoch thanked the outgoing Mayor and Trustee Logan Taggart for their service. “It’s not an easy position,” Brgoch said. “It takes a lot of time and is rarely to the satisfaction of everybody. So thank you.” Trustee Bill Stark was not in attendance because his resignation was effective April 1. Brgoch conducted the meeting with the ease borne of experience, but at one point, he told the board and audience, “This is kind of Wiki-Mayor – If you need to correct me, correct me.” The board

conducted a public hearing regarding a beer and wine liquor license for Next Door Deli, located at 300 S. Main Street. Brgoch explained that, before granting a liquor license, the board considers the wishes of the adults in the neighborhood, which he clarified includes the entire town, since La Veta is so small. The effects on the competition are also considered. As of the hearing, in La Veta there were five hotel/restaurant liquor licenses, one liquor store, one 3.2 beer license, and one other licensed beer/wine operation. Lance Freeman and Cheryl Bailey told the board that they have operated the deli for two and a half years, and it is a year-round operation. Freeman said they now have a partnership with Francisco Crossing (a new non-profit in town), and they will be renting space from that organization. He explained that the expansion of their business will create four to five new jobs for the community. He said liquor sales will provide a little more profit margin, which will make it easier to stay open year-round. “We want La Veta to be a vibrant community,” Freeman said. There were no public comments during the hearing on the application. Trustee Dale Davis asked if it bothers anyone that most of the liquor licenses are concentrated basically in the same area of town. Later in the business session the liquor license was approved. John Hudson spoke to the board about the pending marijuana ordinance. He said he is opposed to any type of marijuana facilities in La Veta. A former teacher, Hudson recounted the loss of a former student to drugs and told the board, “No amount of money is worth losing a person’s life.” Hudson said statistics show that even partial-legalization has already been detrimental to the state’s school-age youth. One statistic Hudson cited was that, since the legalization of medical marijuana, marijuana-impaired drivers and fatalities are on the rise. He quoted an addiction specialist physician, “Our kids are paying a great price.” Hudson explained that, while alcohol is metabolized out of a person’s system within 24 hours, THC remains in the system for two weeks or longer. He also cautioned about the effect on future tourism: “Will they still bring their kids to this area, or will they take them somewhere else?” Hudson said he conducted an opinion poll of people over the age of 18 in zip code 81055 and found one person in favor of marijuana establishments in La Veta, while 60 people were opposed. He asked the board to reconsider and not allow any marijuana facilities in the town. Several items of business were postponed until the April 15 town board meeting: appointment of the Mayor-Pro-tempore; appointment of the municipal judge; appointment of a board member as liaison to the Historic Preservation Committee; action on a letter regarding the non-historic Welton Ditch call; and appointment of town attorney. Larry Berkowitz indicated his interest in being reappointed as town attorney, but he requested a $10 per hour increase to $205 per hour. Berkowitz informed the board that he has been charging the town $195 per hour for six years, and his standard hourly rate is $345 per hour. The appointment of board members to committees was also postponed. Brgoch said the ad-hoc committees are appointed by the mayor, and they exist to reduce the workload of the board and the amount of time spent in board meetings. He said he would like to first determine the interests of the trustees before making the appointments. The board reappointed Laurie Erwin as treasurer and town clerk. Brgoch explained, “By statute the position is appointed, but by ordinance the position is hired.” Lance Freeman asked if a roll-off dumpster could be placed on Main Street for construction purposes. He said, “I don’t anticipate that it would be there more than a week, maybe two weeks at the very, very most.” The request was approved for a period not to exceed ten days, with the dumpster set back from the corner so there is visibility down the street for drivers sitting at the adjacent intersection. By letter, Dave Steffan indicated his interest in serving on the Historic Preservation Committee. The committee has accepted his membership on the commission, and the town board ratified that appointment. The board approved Resolution 5-14 authorizing a new set of signers on the town’s financial accounts: Mayor Brgoch, Trustee Davis and Town Clerk Erwin. Regarding the vacant trustee positions, Clouse proposed holding a special election to reduce the number of trustees from 6 to 4. Trustee Dave Molyneux said, “I think it ought to have some more discussion put toward it.” So the matter was set aside until the next meeting. The board agreed to solicit letters of interest until the next board meeting. The letters of interest should contain the same information as the self-nomination form, and interested people need to explain why they did not seek election. Brgoch said, “Anyone interested, please send letters of interest.” Visit or call town hall for more information.