Tag Archives: Saguache Today. SaguacheToday.com

Latest News – August 8

Town Issues Addressed Without Trustee Quorum

By Kathy Bedell, © Saguache Today

It seems the one thing that the Town of Saguache and its residents can agree on is that tonight’s usual Town Trustee meeting for August 8 has been canceled.  From there, the divisions can run as far as the distance between the Sangre de Cristos and the San Juan Mountains, as the discussions of recent events – which no one is 100% clear on yet – continue on various social media platforms. Town officals posted the meeting cancelation notice on its doors to Town Hall as well as on its Facebook Page.

And while opinions may change with the stroke of a keyboard, the Colorado Constitution is a bit more formidable, allowing for solid guidelines and laws when it comes to the business of managing municipalities, which still needs to be carried out at the Saguache County seat. 

Once again, Saguache Today brings you the word straight from the source: Saguache Mayor Greg Terrell. There is also a response from Town of Saguache Trustee Wyoma Hansen who submitted her resgination on July 21. Saguache Today will do its best to continue to update this post as other elected officials weigh-in on the situation.

From the Mayor – August 7, 2017

Mayor Greg Terrell_2 copy

Saguache Mayor Greg Terrell

The following is intended to inform the citizens of Saguache of issues concerning the town. I will first cover some of the rules and regulations of local government. Then I will share how those rules and regulations have been applied to a recent situation of which there seems to be a great deal of misinformation being discussed in and around town.

I intend to follow up with a second article that will cover the status of various projects that the town is either planning for or is currently undertaking.

Local Government

There are matters of which a member of a town board cannot speak publicly, specifically confidential personnel issues and what is said in an executive session.

Four trustees, as the majority of a seven-member board, can take control of a board. They can call for a special session at any time, put an item on the agenda, make a motion, can second that motion and, if any four trustees vote yes, that motion carries. An executive session can only occur if a motion is made, it is seconded, and a majority votes yes. A mayor can call for a special session and can put an item on an agenda. However, a mayor CANNOT make a motion and cannot make a second.

A mayor gets only one vote. When the mayor is not present within the town, the mayor pro-tem is the acting mayor. The board can choose another trustee to act as mayor in the absence of both the mayor and the mayor pro-tem.

Any member of a board of trustees, including the mayor, has access to legal advice, professional services, periodicals, other towns’ mayors, trustees, council members, managers and administrators, clerks, state and federal agencies, insurance organizations, law books, videos, and institutions of higher learning. Additionally, there are numerous opportunities for education, training, networking, workshops, etc. These resources are available online, by telephone, hard-copy documents, and videos.

Within short drives of Saguache, training workshops, organization meetings and conferences are offered. The cost of these educational opportunities is, for the most part, covered by memberships and services the town already pays for, i.e. the town’s insurance carrier CIRSA, the town attorney, and Colorado Municipal League (CML) membership. If a board member needs legal advice on any town matter, he/she has immediate access to several attorneys. If there is a need for other types of advice, board members have a wealth of resources available at their fingertips, at no expense to them.

Recent Events

Before delving into recent events, I would like the community to know that I have asked and received legal advice on what I can, and cannot, talk about. I know most of us would rather not have the legal stuff clutter our town issues. Unfortunately, it is the reality of local government which operates under the laws of the State of Colorado.

Why the preamble? Because many of the details of recent events fall into a category of issues which cannot be discussed openly. However, what can be shared with you follows.

Saguache Town Hall post

The Saguache Town Hall is located at 504 San Juan Avenue. Photo: Saguache Today

The last Town of Saguache Board meeting occurred on July 11th. There was no board meeting on July 21, as was previously misstated by a number of sources. Between July 12 and July 19, I was out of town, most of that time out of state. Former Mayor Pro-tem Engquist was acting mayor. I did not return to my duties as mayor until the morning of July 20.

On July 17, Mayor Pro-tem Engquist contacted me by phone concerning a personnel issue. Several trustees were aware at that time of this matter. Instead of calling for legal advice, they waited for my return. Having just driven nearly 2000 miles, I was handed the matter in brief on the evening of July 19 and the full matter the morning of July 20.

Several trustees asked me to take a specific action. I did talk at length with three trustees that morning and did inform all three that I would take action. Immediately thereafter I contacted the town attorney for legal advice on the matter.

The legal advice I received was not to take any action without due process, meaning a thorough investigation of the situation. To do otherwise could subject the town to potential legal liability. As your mayor, it is my responsibility, along with the town attorney, to protect the town from such liabilities. It is the responsibility of every board member, including the mayor, to follow due process.

Due process of law is the cornerstone of American government. It is the rules, laws, and procedures by which government operates and is established in the 5th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. Due process is based on two principals: truth-in-fact and fairness. Due process is often divided into two general headings: procedural and substantive. Procedural are the rules of due process. Substantive is due process in principal.

All elected officials take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. The Colorado Supreme Court says that whenever a local government board or official takes action, procedural due process is REQUIRED.

Swearing in Saguache Town Board April 2016

All elected officials take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution as did these elected Town of Saguache Trustees did in April 2016. 

On July 20, I informed former Trustee Hanson of the requirement of due process. I told her it required investigation of the issue and gathering evidence, including interviews of various individuals.

Once an investigation of the matter was completed, the facts discovered would then be presented to the board of trustees for review. The town attorney would offer a legal opinion on any potential action. After that, the board could determine what course of action to take. If an action were to be taken, it would require a formal decision by the board.

On both July 20 and July 21, with the town attorney involved at every step, due process was followed. On July 21, I had two phone conversations with former Trustee Hansen. During the first conversation, I advised her of the resignation of the deputy clerk. I asked former Trustee Hanson to contact the town attorney for details concerning both the resignation and the due process in progress.

Sometime after the first conversation, I received information from Town Hall that a citizen had been in an accident and was at a Colorado Springs hospital. I contacted the citizen’s family and was asked to go to the Springs.

The second conversation with former Trustee Hansen occurred as I was leaving town. I asked her if she had talked with the town attorney. She said that she had not. She stated that I had somehow forced the deputy clerk to resign. The fact is, I asked the deputy clerk not to resign, as did the town attorney. The deputy clerk’s resignation was her choice alone.

Former Trustee Hanson then informed me she had resigned as trustee and to check my emails. That was the last time I spoke with her. I did look at my emails and found three resignations. I next traveled to Colorado Springs, during which time I was in communication with the citizen’s family. In short, the citizen was released from the hospital, and I brought the citizen back to Saguache in the early hours of July 22. I saw the email of the fourth resignation at that time.

Why the resignations? I am puzzled. As stated previously, if four trustees object to anything, they can use their powers to call for a special session, put their issue on the agenda, make a motion, second it and out vote the other members as the majority.

If they need legal guidance on a decision, they can call either or both the town attorney and the attorney(s) for CIRSA. I know none of the trustees who resigned called the town attorney, let alone any other attorney available to the board. I know this because I asked. The two remaining trustees have talked with the town attorney.

My suggestion for the community is to ask the following questions of the four trustees who resigned:

1. Did you reach out to any of the numerous resources at your disposal? 
2. Why did you abandon your responsibilities as elected officials?
3. Why, if the matter was important, did you not take action rather than waiting for the mayor to return and then the next day resign?

What Now?

I and the remaining board members, with the assistance of the town attorney, have consulted with CIRSA’s attorneys, CML, and The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) as to next steps. We have also sought the advice and guidance of administrators and clerks in other municipalities here in the Valley.

When a local governance board lacks a quorum (in our case 4 are needed), then the remaining board members must find and appoint trustees until a quorum is reached. Once the quorum is met, then the board must authorize the remaining seats to be filled in accordance with state statutes.

A trustee (not the mayor) is tasked with finding a citizen willing to be appointed and thereby obtain a quorum. Without a quorum, the board is very limited in what it can do, including having a meeting. There were two meetings scheduled, July 24 and August 1. Both had to be canceled due to a lack of a quorum. No decisions can be made by the board until a meeting can be held, except those which are “necessary.”

The mayor can authorize certain things for the town to continue to operate. I did authorize, upon CIRSA and the town attorney’s recommendation, that the town administrator find and fill the clerk position with an “Interim Town Clerk.” The requirements were as follows: must be local, must have good accounting skills, and must have professional writing skills. The town administrator did hire someone last week who met all those requirements.

This position will last until a town clerk is hired and appointed by the board. The board must agree by vote to advertise for and follow procedure in hiring a town clerk. Since the town clerk’s resignation in March, the board has been reluctant to begin this process. It is my hope that once the board seats are filled, that this process can begin. The town’s bills will continue to be paid. These bills can later be reviewed by the board. The only other matter I have authorized is the formal extension of the town’s annual audit which was requested by the town’s auditor, Pete Blair.

Moving Forward Takes a Team

We still have projects in motion. We still have statutory requirements to meet. We still have the daily operation of the town to handle. The participation of citizens in the process, by seeking out the facts and basing any action on that which is in the best interest of the town, are the traits of good local government. Citizens have a choice, by their actions, which path will be taken. The town can either be an environment of hatefulness, polarization, and stagnation, or it can be an environment of problem solving, teamwork, and securing the town’s future.

Sincerely,

Greg Terrell, Mayor
Town of Saguache

 

Bebuttal from Wyoma Hansen, (resigned) Town of Saguache Trustee:

The following letter was posted to a local facebook Page by Wyoma Hansen, one of the four Town of Saguache Trustees who submitted their resignations on July 21.

In response to Mayor Terrell’s letter dated August 7, 2017.

Wyoma Hansen_Saguache Today

Wyoma Hansen

I encourage the citizens of Saguache to ask Linda Ahrens about her resignation.

Answers to the questions that Mayor Terrell wanted the citizens to ask the four trustees that resigned. Following is my response to the questions:

1) I did reach out to different organizations, reviewed Colorado Revised Statutes and talked with individuals that work or have worked in town government organizations. From my conversations and research, I determined that working with the Mayor was the best way to resolve the issues, but this has not happened.

2) Abandon is a harsh term to use in reference to my resignation. I resigned because unforeseen chain of events that were happening on my watch, that I will not tolerate.

3) We were following the mayor’s advice and when he returned, the events took an unexpected turn, which blindsided the trustees.

Some of the events involve confidential personnel issues. I would like to encourage Mayor Terrell to be a leader, work with the four board members and resolve the issues.

My suggestion for the citizens of Saguache is to ask the following questions of the remaining board members and Mayor Terrell.

1) When will a forensic audit begin on the town finances? Due to the number of employees that have been involved in the finances an audit should be done immediately to protect the town and new employees.

2) Do you feel the State of Colorado Attorney General’s office should be brought in to review the town’s records and business practices?

3) Why was there no effort by Mayor Terrell to meet with the four board members to resolve the issues?

4) When will you be holding a town meeting to discuss the issues?

I apologize for long messages, but posting on Facebook seems to be the only venue that the Mayor responds to.

I am impressed with the outline of time and energy Mayor Terrell has spent on the issues. Did he ever say I tried to work with the four trustees, in the letter? Seems like it would of been a simple solution for a leader.

I believe it is time to move on and get beyond the he said, she said articles. I hope the citizens of Saguacge remain involved in what is going on.

Sincerely,

Wyoma Hansen

Latest News – July 20

Supplemental Food Distribution in Saguache Today

Food Box Canon CityThe next Supplemental Commodity Distribution and CSFP will be today, Thursday, July 20, from 2 – 3:30 p.m. at the commodity building at 505 3rd Street in Saguache and this morning in Center from 10:30 a.m. to 12 Noon at the Kiwanis Building at 5th & Broadway.
Everyone is welcome for the supplemental distribution!
If available, please bring proof of income, residency, and photo id. If you are having someone pick up for you, don’t forget to send in your proxy form.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
  

Seniors Saving Money with SHED in Saguache Today

Saguache County seniors are taking advantage of the SHED (Saguache Healthy Elders Discount) program and saving hundreds of dollars every week at the 4th Street Food Store.

The weekly truck arrives with more food to re-stock the shelves at the 4th Street Food Store in downtown Saguache. Photo: Saguache Today/Lynn Nowiskee.

To sign up for SHED membership, you must be 60 years of age or older and reside in Saguache County.  Members receive a 20% discount on all food purchases at the nonprofit grocery.  Ride-share and/or grocery delivery service also is available through SHED.

The program, started last fall with generous support from the Saguache County commissioners, is intended to help seniors on fixed incomes who earn too much to qualify for other assistance but still struggle to make ends meet. 

Participation is increasing steadily as awareness of the program grows.   Nearly 40% of our customers now are taking the SHED discount, and we encourage eligible residents to do so as needed.

From squash to cherries, summer’s fruits & vegetables are coming soon to 4th St Food Store.

With the discount, on prices already significantly lower than those offered at comparable health or local food stores, low-income residents no longer need to drive 100 or so miles roundtrip to shop for healthy choices.

That saves time, gas money, wear and tear on vehicles, and it keeps more tax dollars in Saguache County.

The 4th Street Food Store, a nonprofit project of Saguache Works, is dedicated to providing affordable access to fresh, healthy food, to supporting Valley food producers and to creating jobs for area residents. Lower prices, and SHED discounts, leave very little margin to cover overhead expenses and to pay store staff.   Saguache Works very much appreciates, therefore, those senior customers who can afford to pay full price and decline to take food discounts.

To sign up for SHED, or to inquire about ride services, stop by the 4th Street Food Store, at 404 4th St. in downtown Saguache, or call 719-655-0216.

Fresh Fruits Available at 4th Street Food Store

In other food news, Saguache Works posted on the Facebook Page the following information:

Are you looking for cases of fresh western slope produce? Suzanne, who supplies our 4th Street Food Store with Colorado western slope produce, is taking orders. Apricots and cherries are in now! Perfect for canning or freezing, too! Suzanne can be reached at (970) 985-8692 (sorry, no texts). Call her to set up an order and make arrangements to meet for pick up. Saguache Works would also like to extend thanks to Suzanne for helping us supply fresh Colorado produce to our community!

Cherries_4th Street Food store

Summer’s fresh fruits and vegetables are available at the 4th Street Food store in downtown Saguache Today!

Latest News – July 17

School Hosts Community Meeting Wednesday

Mountain Valley School (MVS) will hold a BEST Grant and 2017 bond election information meeting at the Saguache County Road and Bridge Building, 305 W. 3rd at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19.

Mountain Valley School Sign

Mountain Valley School District will take the bond issue to voters in order to secure the matching funds for the BEST grant. 

In May, the district announced that they were awarded a $27 million grant from the State of Colorado’s BEST program. The next step will play out at the polls as voters decide if they are willing to pass a $3.7 million bond this November to build a new school and athletic facilities for students and the community.

The receipt of the BEST grant is contingent on the matching contribution through the bond issue. In other words, it will ultimately be up to voters whether the project moves forward.

According to documents on the Colorado Department of Education’s website, MVS proposed a complete replacement of Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade educational facilities.

 

The purpose of Wednesday’s meeting will be

  • Celebrate the success in obtaining the BEST grant.
  • Review the proposed plan for the school.
  • Discuss the 2017 bond election.
  • Questions and answers.
  • Everyone is invited to learn and provide their input.

What is a BEST Grant:

Established in 2008 with the signing of C.R.S.22-43.7, BEST provides an annual amount of funding through the Colorado Department of Education in the form of competitive grants to school districts, charter schools, institute charter schools, boards of cooperative educational services, and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. BEST funds can be used for the construction of new schools as well as general construction and renovation of existing school facility systems and structures.

Latest News – June 22

Supplemental Food Distribution in Saguache Today

Food Box Canon CityThe Supplemental Commodity Distribution and CSFP will be today, Thursday, June 22, from 2 – 3:30 p.m. at the Commodity Building at 505 3rd Street in Saguache.

Today in Center distribution will be from 10:30 a.m. noon in at the Kiwanis Building at 5th & Broadway.
Everyone is welcome for the supplemental distribution!

The next TEFAP Commodity will be tomorrow June 23, at the Saguache Commodity Building, 505 3rd Street from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

If available, please bring proof of income, residency, and photo id. If you are having someone pick up for you, don’t forget to send in your proxy form.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
  

Seniors Saving Money with SHED in Saguache Today

Saguache County seniors are taking advantage of the SHED (Saguache Healthy Elders Discount) program and saving hundreds of dollars every week at the 4th Street Food Store.

The weekly truck arrives with more food to re-stock the shelves at the 4th Street Food Store in downtown Saguache. Photo: Saguache Today/Lynn Nowiskee.

To sign up for SHED membership, you must be 60 years of age or older and reside in Saguache County.  Members receive a 20% discount on all food purchases at the nonprofit grocery.  Ride-share and/or grocery delivery service also is available through SHED.

The program, started last fall with generous support from the Saguache County commissioners, is intended to help seniors on fixed incomes who earn too much to qualify for other assistance but still struggle to make ends meet. 

Participation is increasing steadily as awareness of the program grows.   Nearly 40% of our customers now are taking the SHED discount, and we encourage eligible residents to do so as needed.

From squash to cherries, summer’s fruits & vegetables are coming soon to 4th St Food Store.

With the discount, on prices already significantly lower than those offered at comparable health or local food stores, low-income residents no longer need to drive 100 or so miles roundtrip to shop for healthy choices.

That saves time, gas money, wear and tear on vehicles, and it keeps more tax dollars in Saguache County.

The 4th Street Food Store, a nonprofit project of Saguache Works, is dedicated to providing affordable access to fresh, healthy food, to supporting Valley food producers and to creating jobs for area residents. Lower prices, and SHED discounts, leave very little margin to cover overhead expenses and to pay store staff.   Saguache Works very much appreciates, therefore, those senior customers who can afford to pay full price and decline to take food discounts.

To sign up for SHED, or to inquire about ride services, stop by the 4th Street Food Store, at 404 4th St. in downtown Saguache, or call 719-655-0216.