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Ups and Downs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

A roller coaster of emotions played out on the HHS auditorium stage Sunday evening, April 12, as an audience watched a group of community members surrender their imaginations to the power of hypnosis. The Dragon Hoopsters fundraising event featured hypnotist Frederick Winters, pictured above in back, taking participants on a roller coaster ride. Looking down from the top of the coaster are Josie Murray, Sharon Jones, Abby Einspahr and Gina Martin. Audience giggles burst out as HHS teacher Cody Jiru, at left, goes in for a kiss with the mic stand, which he imagines to be his beautiful wife.

—Enterprise photos

Holyoke Enterprise April 16, 2015
City Council continues First Pioneer replat discussion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Isaac Kreider   

Attorney Russell Sprague of Colver, Killin and Sprague, LLP addressed the Holyoke City Council at the Tuesday, April 7, meeting with hopes of expediting the approval process for the First Pioneer replat proposal south of Cobblestone Inn on the south edge of Holyoke.

The council agreed to postpone any official decision until the April 21 meeting, citing the need for more discussion on the project.

“We greatly appreciate the effort from the Planning Commission and ask that an approval be made soon,” Sprague said. “There is a certain point of expediency we wish for you to consider.”

In the proposed plan, four commercial lots would be developed adjacent to Cobblestone Inn on its south end. The Holyoke Planning Commission had previously recommended that the council accept the final plat of the First Pioneer replat, which would include curb and gutter and acceleration and deceleration lanes on Highway 385 from Hargreaves Street to Johnson Street. The Planning Commission also recommended the City of Holyoke offer $75,000 to be applied toward these lanes.

“I think the council needs more time to study this further and agree on what all needs to be done,” said Mayor Orville Tonsing.

First Pioneer National Bank president Tom Bennett added that he was concerned that the council might not have all of the necessary information to make a fully informed decision.

With the knowledge that no motion would be made until the next council meeting, a 75-minute executive session was held at the end of Tuesday’s meeting to receive legal advice from City Attorney Al Wall regarding the proposed project.


Concerns arise over wood collection at city cleanup

With the annual citywide cleanup approaching in the next few months, City Superintendent Mark Brown informed the council that the Phillips County landfill has raised its rates for accepting processed wood products.

The council agreed to continue collecting processed wood products during this year’s citywide cleanup, but the city will keep track of the additional costs to see whether it is feasible to collect these items in future years.

Higher rates have resulted because all of the processed wood now has to be shipped to the Sedgwick County landfill to be milled, as it can no longer be burned locally.

“This will have to be a trial year to see if we will continue collecting it,” Brown said, reiterating that it will significantly increase the cost to the city. “It’s a catch-22. We could advertise that processed wood won’t be accepted, but if we don’t do it, we’ll see a lot more junk piled up around town.”


Holyoke VFD to receive higher fireworks donation

Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show will pack an extra bang this year. The council approved an increase in its donation to the show from $1,000 to $2,500.

“They’ve been working hard for this town — all the calls they take and classes they’ve been attending,” said councilmember Scott Murray. “We ought to give them a break and let them enjoy a nice big fireworks show.”


VFD requests vehicle use for weather spotting

Volunteer firefighters Bob Heldenbrand and Stacy Rueter were in attendance to request the use of fire department vehicles for weather spotting purposes.

Following the recent course facilitated by Heldenbrand, the fire department now has a total of 13 certified weather spotters.

Pros and cons of use were discussed, and Tonsing asked when they would start using the vehicles for weather spotting.

“As soon as we receive approval,” Heldenbrand said, to which Rueter comically added, “Weather-permitting.”

Tonsing said the request will require further discussion on the council’s part, and a decision will be made soon.


Officials report

Brown acknowledged that some high school FCCLA students have been working on repainting the “Welcome to Holyoke” signs that are seen when entering town.

He noted that sprinklers have been turned on for city properties, and the city will begin accepting bids for rock to be used for sealcoating streets.

Holyoke Police Chief Doug Bergstrom introduced new senior officer Mark Werts to the council and stated that officer Joe Marcum will be moving into stage three of his training.


Other business

In other business April 7, the council:

—approved special event permits for the Phillips County Fair Board for beer gardens at each night of the auto races April 11-Aug. 8.

—agreed to pay the bill for the Phillips County Feasibility of Development Improvements study conducted by a group from the University of Colorado.

—allowed the Holyoke swim team free use of the pool Saturday, May 30, to host the first meet of the summer season.

—accepted a plan renewal quote from the Colorado Employer Benefit Trust.

—granted a travel request for City Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Olofson to attend a free liquor licensing training for clerks with the Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division in Fort Collins May 19.

—granted a travel request for Jason Redman to attend the Van Diest Supply Company 2015 Spring Mosquito Workshop in Brighton April 15.

Holyoke Enterprise April 16, 2015

Airport receives grant for taxiway PDF Print E-mail
Written by Isaac Kreider   

To help with the construction of a partial parallel taxiway, the Holyoke Airport has received a $665,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.

“The Holyoke Airport provides an important connection to the Eastern Plains and drives local economic development,” said Colorado Senator Michael Bennet in a press release announcing the grant. “These resources will help the airport improve existing services and plan for future growth.”

A 3,300-foot taxiway will be built east of the airport’s 5,000- foot runway. The taxiway is needed to allow planes to turn off after landing and avoid having to back-taxi down the runway.

“The FAA has a big issue with back-taxiing, as it can create a hazard for other planes coming in to land,” said Holyoke City Superintendent Mark Brown. “To get a bigger airport, we had to show the need to get one, and we are seeing the need.”

Brown said he receives weekly phone calls from various people wishing to fly into the Holyoke Airport. He has often had to tell them “no” because they are generally too large to facilitate.

Plans for the airport taxiway are shown. The top highlighted portion designates the parallel taxiway that will be built east of the runway, and the lower highlighted area shows the extension of the current taxiway and turnouts.

He noted that the runway is designed for up to 18,000-pound planes, but some are coming in at 36,000 pounds. The FAA says not to discourage these larger planes, as long as the pilots are notified of the current specifications, unless they are exceedingly overweight and unsafe for the airport.

“Some are 55,000 pounds or more, and I have to direct them to Sterling, Akron or another larger airport,” Brown added.

Pointing out that most of the oversized planes are groups wanting to come to the Holyoke area to hunt or golf, Brown said the airport just needs to be able to accommodate larger aircraft for any reason that may arise. Sometimes they are for other area companies such as Seaboard Foods.

“We are very fortunate to have what we do out here, and we want to be able to facilitate them,” Brown said. “We have a working master plan, and we are working through it.”

Another part of the project is to extend the current taxiway and turnouts that lead to the runway in order to align with the taxiway that will be built. A certain distance is required between the two surfaces, and the current turnoffs are not long enough to allow this distance.

The airport beacon is currently in line with where the taxiway will be built and will be moved to the west side of the runway, closer to the cemetery.

When funds allow, this master airport plan will extend the taxiway the rest of the length of the runway. Additionally, the plan includes a 2,500-foot extension of the runway and taxiway to even better facilitate the larger planes that are looking to land here.

More hangars are also included in the master plan, but Brown said some things in the plan will not likely come to fruition for some time, and the plan just needed to include everything for a best-case scenario to avoid delays and backtracking down the line.

Brown pointed out that the proposal was approved in 2010 and was largely in place last year, but the city was unable to move forward with the project at that time.

Now that the project is progressing, the city and Armstrong Consultants Inc. are beginning to seek bids for the construction.

“It will certainly create a great revenue flow into the community,” Brown stated. “Construction crews will be coming in to town for a few months, and then there will be the added traffic that we expect at the airport.”

Holyoke Enterprise April 16, 2015

Spring break March 21-25 in new school calendar PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Spring Break 2016 was set for March 21-25 as the final piece of the 2015-16 school calendar that was adopted by the Re-1J Board of Education at its April 7 meeting.

Superintendent Bret Miles explained that the week prior to that was also considered, but the week selected aligns with the schedules of other BOCES schools that are involved in combined distance learning classes and other programs.

Friday, March 25, is also Good Friday, so there will be no additional day for that Easter week as was the case for the 2014-15 calendar.

The newly adopted calendar includes 173 student contact days and 190 staff contract days.

In the 2015-16 calendar, the first day for students will be Thursday, Aug. 20, while teachers will have inservice days Aug. 12-14 and 17-19. The last day will be Friday, May 27, when students will be dismissed at noon.

Teacher inservice days in which there will be no school for students are set for Mondays, Sept. 28, Oct. 26, Nov. 30, Jan. 4, Feb. 29 and April 25.

No school will be held Fridays, Oct. 16 and March 4, for comp days for parent-teacher conference commitment.

Other vacation days include Monday, Sept. 7, for Labor Day; Nov. 25-27 for Thanksgiving; noon Dec. 18-Jan. 1 for Christmas; Monday, Feb. 15, for Presidents Day; and March 21-25 for spring break.

Superintendent transition plan on school website

The superintendent transition page is now live on the school district’s website. As Bret Miles transitions out of the superintendent position June 30 and John McCleary moves in July 1, there will have been a plan followed to make the transition smooth.

The transition plan can be found at, where it says Superintendent Transition in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

Miles told the board that McCleary had met with several people in the community March 30 and also took a facility tour with Robert Jacobs. He has also met with principals and district office staff. He attended the April 6 Technology Committee meeting, as well as the April 7 board meeting.

The transition plan shows numerous other specifics for McCleary to become acquainted with the district and its policies and goals in preparation for assuming the role of superintendent.

As part of the transition, some upgrades will be done at the district superintendent house. A mandatory contractor walk-through is scheduled for Friday, April 24, at 2 p.m. at the home at 607 E. Johnson St. Requests for quote/proposals will be due May 5, with project substantial completion set for June 19.

Parent-teacher conference turnout is good

Elementary Principal Kyle Stumpf and JR/SR High Principal Susan Ortner both shared positive reports from the March 2 and 3 parent-teacher conferences.

Stumpf said he had five paraprofessionals who assisted with bilingual conferences, which was a definite benefit. The attendance rate for grades K-6 was 96 percent, he added.

Ortner reported the number for spring junior high conferences was the best ever at 82 percent, and the high school numbers tied the best ever spring attendance percentage with 73 percent.

She also noted the increase in attendance for Hispanic parents and said paraprofessionals were also available in the JR/SR high to translate if needed at the conferences.

Other business

In other business April 7, the school board:

—approved a resolution approving the plan to create an innovation school zone, directing the superintendent to take any and all action necessary to obtain designation as an innovation district.

—approved two-year contracts for Susan Ortner as Holyoke JR/SR High principal and for Kyle Stumpf as Holyoke Elementary principal.

—accepted resignations for second-grade teacher Kortney Firme, who will be teaching first grade in Fleming; and from vo-ag teacher and FFA adviser Clay Christensen, who wil be moving to Wyoming.

Firme’s resignation is effective June 1 and Christensen’s June 30.

—added Austin Tharp to the baseball coaching list as a volunteer.

—ratified the closing of school March 12 and 13 due to the state basketball tournament in Pueblo.

—acknowledged Dan O’Neill and Kwik Stop for the mugs and gift certificates given to the HHS boys’ state basketball team, including players, managers and coaches, as they headed to the state tournament.

—heard a report from BOCES board representative Jon King. He noted there will only be step moves in salaries for BOCES staff for the coming year, with no staff salary increases.

He also reported on a Boulder teacher partnership plan in the works with districts in the area. Boulder has an abundance of teacher applicants. In the proposed plan, some of those might be offered positions in this area. After successful completion of two years in this area, they open themselves for a potential position in Boulder.

King also reported there is an upcoming meeting of the Colorado High School Actitivities Association Legislative Committee, of which he is a member.

—received a winter sports summary from athletic director Sandra Rahe.

Holyoke Enterprise April 16, 2015