Progress continues on the mini park at the intersection of Interocean Avenue and Denver Street. This week, roof sheathing was installed in preparation for the next phase of the project: electrical. City Superintendent Mark Brown, pictured on the scaffolding, reported that electrical work is scheduled to begin at the end of the month. On the roof, pictured from left, Jeff Deselms and Rich Wittman nail a sheet into place, nearing the end of the multiday process. — Johnson Publications
Council, fire board join forces to address fire house funding
Representatives of the Holyoke Rural Fire Protection District and the Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department joined the Holyoke City Council for a work session prior to the City’s Aug. 1 meeting. Their goal, to answer the question, “Do you think we can go in together on a fire house?” voiced by council member Kevin Scott at the start of the session.
While the different entities are in agreement that HVFD is in need of a new fire house, revenue sources still need ironed out. Speaking on behalf of the fire board were Mark Lutze, Jim Muths, Riley Dubbert, Bob Koberstein and Carroll Bussell. Josh Young and Lance Murray were again present to represent HVFD.
Both the fire board and the city council have the option to place a mill levy increase on the Nov. 7 ballot, but Scott said he thinks the fire board will have an easier time raising taxes. Lutze noted that the fire board intends to have a ballot item regardless of the building project because additional funds are needed to maintain the department’s fleet. Their last mill levy increase was in 1991.
Lutze provided some strong numbers for people to consider. Their increase seems like something the voters could get behind, but it is clear that the fire hall cannot be funded by the fire board alone.
Scott indicated that he does not think the City has enough time to be well-prepared for something for this year’s ballot. He suggested aiming for November 2018 and taking the time to campaign for an increase.
The City has been working with engineering students from the University of Colorado to design potential plans for a new fire house. Said plans put the fire house at a roughly $1.3 million project.
Although changes can be made to the plans, the general consensus at the work session was that the plans — as good-looking as they were — are far more elaborate than the local fire department needs.
Young reported that he has spoken with two different contractors for estimates on a simple steel frame building. Estimates are not in yet, but attendees were in agreement that such a building is more in line with what is needed. HVFD has also started a building fund and is discussing fundrasing opportunities.
Also discussed at the work session was the potential to apply for grants for additional funding. Individuals from both the City and the fire board noted that most grants are only possible if significant local funding is already in place. Mayor Orville Tonsing said that he is willing to go to the Department of Local Affairs if the City gets a mill levy increase, but there is no sense in approaching them before that.
New flag football program approaches
During the regular meeting of the city council, recreation director Victoria Timm reported that the recently approved background checks will first be done for coaches in the rec department’s new flag football program.
The program for boys and girls in grades 1-4 begins Tuesday, Aug. 22, and will continue through Sept. 26, with practices each Tuesday. Timm reported that she purchased equipment and is in the process of getting kids registered.
When asked why the flag football program was limited to grades 1-4, Timm explained that the Recreation Advisory Committee does not want new City rec programs to encroach on existing programs. In the case of football, South Platte Youth Football League is already a tackle football option for grades 3-6. She is not opposed, however, to looking at an expanded flag football program in the future if there is demand for a non-tackle alternative.
Timm was also recently approached about taking over the women’s volleyball league. As it’s an existing program that already has the necessary equipment and access to the Holyoke High School gym, the program will not have an additional cost to the City.
Old bleacher awnings sold
Prior to the Tuesday meeting, the City received a letter from Rocky Bieber, asking to purchase the City’s three old bleacher awnings from the ballfield at a price of $75 each.
After discussing whether the City had an obligation to advertise the awnings first, they chose to go ahead and make the $225 sale to Bieber.
City Superintendent Mark Brown reported that progress on the mini park continues, and sheathing has since been started. Electric work is scheduled to begin at the end of the month.
Since the July 1 meeting, there have been four power outages July 9, 10, 14 and 29. All departments had a hand in recent seal coating, and Brown noted the process went really well despite some rain.
The water and sewer crew has been working on cemetery and alfalfa sprinkler systems, and the street crews will be working on painting crosswalks. Testing for municipal wells has also begun.
Police Chief Doug Bergstrom reported that the police department handled or generated 163 calls for service from July 13-26. Including code enforcement, they wrote eight citations and five reports and gave out 32 warnings. Code enforcement handled one animal complaint and 11 ordinance violations.
Tonsing noted that he heard Holyoke made 9News, and Bergstrom acknowledged that it had.
Deputy Clerk/Treasurer Tillie Fisbeck reported that the front City office would be closed Aug. 3, 9:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. for Kendon Olofson’s memorial service.
In other business at the Aug. 1 meeting, the council:
—Approved a travel request for City Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Olofson to attend training on preparing for April 2018 elections in Severance.
—Let the Golden Plains Recreation Center/Peerless Theatre Board’s proposal for financial assistance from the July 3 meeting die.
—Excused council member J.C. Peckham from missing the meeting, as it was his third consecutive absence.
—Purchased an HP LaserJet Pro M477fdw color printer for the City superintendent from Printers Paper & More for $559.99.
—Purchased a free-standing water cooler for the City shops from Grainger for $1,128.
—Opted to wait until the County designates an official as the Designated Emergency Response Authority for hazardous substance incidents.