Clock tower in limbo; council holds off on solar project

The clock tower at the south end of Main St. might take on a different look after it is finally restored.
The marble structure was part of the Main Street Project in 2016, serving as welcome to Yuma as motorists turned off Highway 34.

It was knocked over last year by a utility vehicle backing out of a driveway.
The process began toward getting it restored. Dan Baucke of Baucke Monuments, and also a council member, warned at the time it would be a long lead time before the new marble arrived.
City Manager Scott Moore told the Pioneer the insurance company providing coverage has done everything required, “and have been patient with the prolonged restoration of the clock and associated structure.”
However, the project has been delayed, with Moore saying it was due to a miscommunication with the ordering of the granite. He added the new clock has been ordered and should be here in November.
As for the granite, it might not be ordered at all as the Kenny Mitchell family presented an alternative design at last week’s Yuma City Council meeting.
Moore said it was because of that proposal, the granite order has been placed on hold until the council reaches a decision on what design to utilize.
The Kenny Mitchell family made a donation towards the purchase of the original clock that went with the marble structure, and has stayed involved.
Family members were at last week’s meeting proposing a new metal structure featuring a “Y” as well as the clock.
Sallie Strand said the family appreciated what was there, but said the new design could be completed in a more timely fashion and would involve local work.
“We have really good public support through social media for what we have proposed,” Strand said, adding it would be nice to get it done before Christmas.
Gay Henry, who said she initially drew the design on Kleenex said some have commented the “Y” is “too school.” However, she said she feels the school is an important part of the community, and Yuma already has plenty of “Welcome” signs at the edges of town. “I just think it would be a neat asset to our town,” she said.
Other family members also spoke to the council supporting the project and getting the clock back up. Matriarch Dorothy Mitchell asked for differences to be put aside and get the project done.

Solar agreement temporarily tabled
The Yuma City Council tabled an ordinance moving forward with a solar energy project at the wastewater treatment plant, last week during it’s regular meeting.
All seven members were in attendance — Mayor Ron Swehla, Mayor Pro-tem Marc Shay, Terri Frame, Dan Baucke, Tim McClung, Jerome Benish and Marylu Smith-Dischner.
The ordinance outlined the lease and easement agreement with SE Municipal Colorado, LLC, also known as Sandhills Solar. The solar panels would sit on about 20 acres not being used by the city. The solar energy company would pay $500 per acre, with that rate increasing each year for 25 years.
Besides the lease revenue, City Manager Scott Moore said the city would save about $6,000 per year in what it pays to electric wholesaler MEAN.
McClung asked what would happen if the solar panels were damaged, such as in a hail storm, and resulted in contamination.
City Attorney Kathryn Sellars said there was nothing in the agreement about environmental damage. She said the company would have insurance and could make a claim is such a situation arose. Sellars said the city could revisit that issue with SE Municipal Colorado, and adjust the agreement.
The council unanimously approved tabling the ordinance’s first reading.

La Terraza
A public hearing for the liquor license renewal for La Terraza LLC was held during last week’s meeting.
Police Chief Jerry Thompson said police witnessed consumption of alcohol after 2 a.m., which is a violation. He said police visited with the owner, notifying them there was a violation, but police planned no charges. The proper state agency also was notified, and Thompson said the state suggested communication and education.
Owner Humberto Vasquez??? told the council his establishment was not selling alcohol after 2 a.m., but thought patrons could still drink it. He said last call now is one hour earlier.
Smith-Dischner asked Thompson how the council factored into this situation. He said the council is the local licensing board, and it makes a decision first and then it goes to the state.
The council unanimously approved renewing La Terraza’s liquor license.

More meeting
• The council approved resolutions outlining contracts with Concrete Specialties for sewer line and water line work.
The sewer line work will be in the Apache Drive and Grant St. area at the far north end of town. There is $50,000 budgeted for the project.
The water line work is between Ash and Birch streets along Second Ave, along with more work done along N. Main St., possibly as far north as Benson Ave. There is $200,000 budgeted for the project.
• A purchase for the Electric Department for $5,383.50 from Western United was approved.
• The council approved renewing the city’s health insurance for 2024 with CEBT. Moore said there would be an increase of about $30,000 based on current participation.
• The council also approved renewing property and casualty insurance with CIRSA for 2024, at an 18-percent increase. Moore said the premium would be $192,934 based on current city property.
• The council’s next meeting is September 19.