Community development highlighted at PEP meetings

Communities in Prowers County have the opportunity to highlight economic developments for the coming months at Prowers Economic Prosperity Board of Directors meetings. As PEP’s board of directors continues to focus on critical care housing in the county, other areas of growth are highlighted in a new round of programs, according to Dr Linda Lujan, chair of the Lamar Community College and Cheryl Sanchez, Executive Director of PEP. City leaders from Wiley, Holly and Granada will also be presenting updates from their communities on a monthly schedule.

Lamar Mayor Kirk Crespin provided a long list of activities, covering areas such as the recent groundbreaking event for the 54-room Cobblestone Hotel on North Main Street, at a CPW3 archery range- D proposed across the river and dog park at North Gateway Park which underwent major upgrades over the past summer. “There have been delays in the Best Western Inn and Suites project, but the city is still discussing the progress of this construction with the managers. “

“We still have our housing issues in Lamar and we spoke with representatives from the North Plains Development group for a senior housing complex in town,” he said. He said affordable senior housing, once occupied, would help open up the market for these vacant homes to be offered for sale. Another plan calls for the construction of a cluster of 12 homes valued at $ 350,000 along Memorial Drive, along with 27 plots available for the senior housing project.

The city has met with the architect responsible for submitting construction plans for the main cafe at 114 South Main and the plan to annex additional land within Lamar boundaries is still under discussion, a project that Crespin and the former administrator of town, Steve Kil had worked at. Crespin said new director Robert Evans will begin his new role on Monday, November 1.st.

A letter of intent with the Mini-Mart Corporation was signed to expand their operation right next to the former Troy Manor in the vacant lot, a step towards a firm contract for the development; part of the WHO property at the intersection of North Main and Anderson Street has been purchased by the city which is in talks with a fast food company and development is expected to move forward in the coming weeks .

Other plans include an interest in owner leasing or selling the Sutrak property in the industrial park, but there is a difference in price expectations, but the door to further discussion remains open; development of a 15-week winter sports program for local youth to experience on Friday afternoons which could take place at the Lamar community building, expansion of the town’s forest farm, adjacent to the HOPE center on North 10e Electric vehicle charging stations on the street will be built near the Lamar Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, progress continues on the city’s new water / wastewater treatment center and regional airport of Southeast Colorado is working to improve the track, self-service refueling and the facility. will host nearly 300 Marines for training exercises over two weeks, set for the second week of November. Crespin said he hopes this annual event can be hosted by Lamar in the future.

The mayor said that he and LCC president Linda Lujan had had preliminary talks to use ARP and DoLa funding to create an incentive program, aimed at bringing home markets to the Lamar region, in an operation more viable retail. We would like to work on a long term educational program for them instead of short term cash distribution and this is an idea that we will take to city council for discussion.

Other interests were discussed by board members, with Prowers County Commissioner Tom Grasmick asking about the city’s plans for marijuana sales if the two ballot questions were approved in November. Crespin and Anne-Marie Crampton responded that it will take the city about a year to sort out the issue of zoning bylaws and where stores could be established and how many can be allowed to open. “Right now,” they said, “anything of that nature will be put in place by the city’s transfer station and a series of public hearings will be held on the zoning issues, as well as who receive operating licenses; large or small groups or large companies, or how many stores will be allowed. Grasmick asked if the city had given any thought to a potential impact on local health systems as well as the county jail population limits.

Commissioner Ron Cook noted the expansion of the group mail return center in Grenada with 15 new employees as well as 25 new employees for the new mail overflow project. “The county has been working on further broadband development, we talked about placing power lines with Xcel Power east of Lamar, which could translate into new wind turbines,” he said. The county has also developed funding for businesses to erect fences along their property lines, the meat packing business in Wiley has opened and a new health clinic is expected to open there by the start. 2022. Work continues on the Grenada packaging plant under development. by Curtis Tempel, the county recently purchased an automatic cart / stretcher for the Holly Volunteer Ambulance Service and they are working to hire people to provide grant writing services for economic projects.

“In contrast,” Cook explained, “the county courthouse has once again a pigeon problem since the dismantling of the Lamar Repowering project last summer.” This was an issue that was addressed by another group of Commissioners years ago, but has come home to roost again, now that the birds are looking for a new home.

PEP Executive Director Cheryl Sanchez said thirty people attended a recent virtual career fair and she had five interviews with those who wanted to start a home-based business. She is also helping the Wiley community with a GoCO Recreational Development Planning Grant.

By Russ Baldwin


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