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Funnel clouds spotted; wind damage reported PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Holyoke and Amherst sight funnel clouds Friday evening; Haxtun and Paoli sirens sound Saturday

Phillips County put the tornado sirens to the test Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16, as multiple funnel clouds were sighted, but no known tornado touch-downs were recorded.

Strong wind or possible microburst destruction was reported in the southeast part of Holyoke, with the most significant being the roof of the old bus garage that was peeled off the building on the southwest corner of the football field.

Storm activity was in the air early Friday evening, May 15, when marble-sized and larger hail pelted Holyoke around 6:20 p.m.

Police Chief Doug Bergstrom said he and his staff were out watching the storm, as the area was put under a tornado warning by the National Weather Service.

Amherst resident Sharon Greenman said the funnel clouds just north of her home, over the community park in Amherst, were “way too close for our liking.” She added that the funnel activity was one of the most scary things they’ve dealt with in the 18 years that they’ve lived in Amherst.

Eerie funnel clouds hover over the north edge of Amherst Friday evening, May 15, about 6:30 p.m., just before funnel clouds were also sighted near Holyoke. No known reports of tornado touch-downs were recorded in the weekend storm activity.

About 6:30 p.m. Friday, the Greenmans sighted the black funnel clouds and watched their eerie rotation. Sharon said the clouds would move, then stall, move, then stall for probably a good 15 minutes. While none of the clouds touched down, Greenman said they certainly had the potential. “It was scary,” she added.

Holyoke’s tornado siren sounded at 6:50 p.m. when Bergstrom said a funnel cloud was sighted one mile north of town. Another police officer was on the west edge of town, and a funnel cloud above town was seen there as well.

Bergstrom said that as far as he knows, none of the funnels touched down. In addition to the school’s old bus garage/maintenance building roof, a street sign in that vicinity was pulled off the pole.

Part of a tree fell on the east side of town, said Bergstrom, and a 6-8-inch-diameter limb was lost in a yard on East Johnson Street on the south side of town.

Holyoke’s tornado all-clear siren sounded at 7:22 p.m., 32 minutes after the “take cover” siren was activated.

Saturday afternoon, May 16, at 12:38 p.m., the Haxtun and Paoli tornado sirens were activated due to funnel clouds south and west of Haxtun.

All-clear sirens sounded about an hour later as the tornado threat passed.

Residents are cautioned to heed the sirens in such cases of severe weather activity.

Holyoke school maintenance personnel Dusty McConnell and Stan Kreider (in utility vehicle) assess the damage Friday evening, May 15, when the roof blew off the old bus garage and onto the track and football field on the southwest corner of the school lot.  

—Enterprise photo

Holyoke Enterprise May 21, 2015

Special meeting has council rejecting replat negotiations PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Holyoke’s City Council decided that it is no longer interested in negotiating on the First Pioneer replat or the O’Neal drainage pit. The decision was made at a special council meeting Wednesday, May 13.

This action entails having City Attorney Al Wall reply to Rupert and Claire O’Neal’s attorney Steven Taffet of Taffet Law, P.C., to inform his clients of the decision.

“We’re so far apart on the matter, I don’t think we’re ever going to narrow this gap,” said Mayor Orville Tonsing. “I cannot see putting City money into a development for someone to make money on it.”

Following a 52-minute executive session Wednesday, councilmembers discussed two letters from Taffet which Wall received earlier in the week. One letter was in regard to the First Pioneer replat, and the other was regarding the storm water storage pit east of Cobblestone Inn.

The replat is First Pioneer National Bank’s proposed four-lot development of a commercial subdivision south of Cobblestone Inn between Scheunemann and Hargreaves streets. This land is currently owned by the O’Neals.

“Both letters threatened litigation if we don’t come to an agreement,” Wall said.

Recent negotiations have been unsuccessful in reaching any resolutions between the two parties regarding financial contributions and responsibilities for the development project.

Taffet expressed in his letter on the replat that “the project is now stalled indefinitely due to the imposition of unreasonable conditions not required by state and engineering authorities or by prevailing surface conditions.” The letter also claimed that the city has not engaged in meaningful negotiations to reach an agreement on the replat proposal.

“I feel this council was trying to willingly and openly work with them,” stated councilmember Scott Murray. “But now I cannot foresee everyone agreeing on something.”

In Taffet’s letter concerning the O’Neal pit, he described how the O’Neals believe the city has continued unlawful use of the pit property despite requests to refrain from doing so.

Wall responded to Taffet, in a letter May 14, stating that the city has worked with the O’Neals in the past to resolve drainage issues, has encouraged development with the approval of two final plats and has granted certain exemptions to the City’s subdivision regulations, and therefore, the developer should be the one to bear development costs.

Additionally, Wall wrote in the letter that “the city believes it has a perfected easement for the use of the city’s drainage pit for as long as the city deems appropriate.”

With the looming threat of litigation, a second motion was approved by the council May 13 to allow Tonsing to sign an attorney engagement agreement with Murray Dahl Kuechenmeister & Renaud LLP of Denver.

Taffet’s letters stated the O’Neals were planning to be represented at the Tuesday, May 19, regular city council meeting to engage in a final effort to reach an agreement with the city on these issues.

Holyoke Enterprise May 21, 2015

Show and Shine remains heart of Dandelion Daze event PDF Print E-mail
Written by Isaac Kreider   

In just about one month, Holyoke Chamber of Commerce will be hosting perhaps its biggest Dandelion Daze to date Saturday, June 20. This will be the 15th annual family event, and it all began with a simple car show that remains the staple of the day’s list of activities.

Once again, the show will be spread around the shaded lawn of the Phillips County Courthouse in downtown Holyoke.

Each year, the event schedule continues to expand and thrive. This time around, Holyoke will be buzzing with added activities around town, but the Dandelion Daze “Show and Shine” car show remains the heart of the celebration.

“Can it get any better than a car show for Father’s Day?” said Casey Blake, chairman for the car show. “It’s an exciting day, and it’s always a surprise on what we’ll get for the show.”

Blake said they usually don’t receive many preregistrations. But when the day comes, he knows the show will always be an awesome success.

Averaging between 50-60 cars each year, the Dandelion Daze show brings a wide array of entries. There are all the common makes — Chevy, Dodge, Ford, Chrysler — but each year, there are typically a few rarities like Victory, Kaiser, D&M and Shelby, some dating back to the 1910s. Occasionally there are a few motorcycles also.

Along with some local car owners who enter the show, entries come from all over Colorado and usually some from parts of Nebraska and Kansas.

The Chamber has hopes that an antique 1959 American LaFrance fire truck from Sterling might be making its way to the show this year.

“Out-of-towners love it right downtown at our courthouse,” said Holyoke Chamber of Commerce executive director Mary Tomky. “Different car people at the show have said Holyoke is the best-kept secret in northeast Colorado.”

Tomky said that the community shouldn’t want it to be kept a secret. If the event continues to grow as it has, it won’t be a secret much longer.

“Regulars and first-timers to Holyoke have been very impressed with the community,” Tomky said. “Many of them who have come to Dandelion Daze like the idea that it’s become a family event and not just a standard car show. It really makes a difference in their decision to come.”

As usual, registrants of the 2015 Dandelion Daze car show will cast votes for the top 15 entries. Awards will also be given for people’s choice and overall winners. These two will be featured on next year’s event logos.

Holyoke Enterprise May 21, 2015