by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night approved the long-awaited Indiana Avenue street and drainage improvement project contract to a local firm whose bid came in lower than engineering estimates.
On a unanimous 6-0 vote, the council approved the $361,708.30 bid from Walsenburg Sand and Gravel for the estimated 90 day project expected to commence by the end of this month. The GMS engineering estimate for the street improvement project was $370,394. Six construction companies bid on the project.
Councilman Dennis Hoyt was absent from the meeting this week as he is deployed with the American Red Cross assisting with relief efforts in Texas.
Without any public testimony for or against, the city council passed two annexation ordinances and accompanying resolutions involving property on the west and southeast parts of the city. The AZTK Annexation involves 9.89 acres of land in the industrial park area near the wastewater treatment plant and the county waste transfer site. Markus Prom, AZTK president said the property would be used for marijuana cultivation.
The other annexation approved on first reading is the Le Rube LLP/Wahatoya Farm Annexation which involved three parcels of land at the current county-licensed marijuana cultivation business located just west of the city limits on U.S. Hwy 160. Zack Burrell, a part owner of the business, testified in favor of the annexation. The three parcels of land involved are .23 acres; 1.51 acres, and 5.71 acres. Second reading for both annexations are set for Tuesday, September 19.
Interim City Administrator Steve Rabe presented the list of finalist candidates for the position he is temporarily filling. He said in a memo to city council he interviewed a group of seven semi-finalists on the telephone during the week of August 21. Based on his interviews, Rabe presented the list to the council which was then made public. The finalists for the job, who will be interviewed in person by the city council on Saturday, September 16 beginning at 9 am are; Louis Fineberg of Trinidad, CO; Michael Foote of Reading, PA; James Toth of Valparaiso, IN, and Fred Ventresco of Limestone, Maine. It is estimated each interview will take 90 minutes.
Rabe has provided an outline of questions for the council to ask of the candidates, and a review of the position offer sheet was done Tuesday evening. Rabe told the council the pay range ($67,500 to $71,750) was acceptable to all of the candidates. The start date for a new city administrator is October 23, 2017 or earlier.
After some discussion concerning compensation, the council unanimously passed Ordinance 1103 on first reading which sets the pay for the elected city clerk at $1,200 per year, which is on par with that of the elected city treasurer. There have been no candidates come forward for either position, both of which are open for election this November. It is expected at the council’s next meeting a full time city position of deputy clerk will be created.
In other business:
Council approved a special events permit allowing alcohol service at the Re-1 school administration building on East Fifth Street on September 23 for a buffet between concerts associated with the 2017 edition of the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival.
Council approved the retail marijuana business license renewal for High County Ranch LLC; a Tier 1 cultivation operation (limited to 1,800 plants or less) at 1500 U.S. Hwy. 85/87.
Council directed Rabe to continue efforts to sell off surplus vehicles in a sealed bid process. The city will retain the right to accept or decline any bid and two city council members, Craig Lessar and Greg Daniels will observe the formal bid opening at 1 pm Friday, September 22. Details regarding minimum bids and other information will be provided by the administrator’s office.
Council unanimously approved the entity account resolution from Stifel, Nicolaus & Company which ads finance director Mark Ellis’ name as a signatory of the city’ account with the firm regarding firefighter pensions.