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Council proclaims 'Shop Hotchkiss'

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Hotchkiss mayor Wendell Koontz officially declared the second Saturday of each month, beginning on Oct. 10, as "Shop Hotchkiss Day." The proclamation reads, in part, that small, local businesses are the backbone of the economy and are essential to communities. The town's diverse businesses "clearly serve a vital role for the community of Hotchkiss," help create jobs, reduce environmental impacts and improve neighborhoods.

The proclamation was one of numerous items on the Oct. 8 agenda.

Resident Ann Robertson received approval of a variance request seeking release of covenant restrictions for the property located at 202-204 Bridge Street, which she recently purchased. Roberts resides in an apartment on the property and plans to open a massage studio in the existing office building. The property has only one water tap. Robertson assured the town that her customer water use won't amount to much. In 1996 when the apartment was added to the existing building, the agreement between the town and prior owners stated that they could use just one tap, so long as only one business and one residential apartment were occupied.

Planning commission recommends approval, said trustee and commission member Tom Wills. The request was unanimously approved, with condition that the town "is only approving the specific use of a massage therapist's office or the equivalent."

"Good luck to you guys, and we look forward to seeing you open," said Mayor Koontz.

Trustees also unanimously approved liquor license renewal applications for Tucker Ray, LLC, and Dillon Companies Inc., doing business as City Market. There were no reported issues from the town or the state liquor license division.

Neither establishment was represented at the meeting. Trustee Larry Jakubiak noted that the application for Tucker Ray was incomplete. It was approved contingent upon receipt of missing information and presentation of a copy of the lease.

Mark Stewart was granted renewal of a permit to allow the Outdoors Alive/Wounded Warriors organization for disabled veterans to access hunting on town property at the wastewater treatment plant. The renewal is contingent upon another lessee, Jerry Thompson, having no objection to the permit.

Trustees approved a $500 annual renewal of the town's gold membership to the Hotchkiss Booster Club.

Trish Thibido with Delta County Economic Development requested a $500 annual donation from the town, as it has given in the past, and asked trustees to consider doubling the donation.

DCED, a non-profit resource for economic development in the county, has recently increased its staff and is reaching out to investors and the community, said Thibido. In addition to partnering with the Office of Economic Development's Region 10 to leverage funds for the broadband initiative, "We've been involved with a number of different things and we're taking on a number of new initiatives," said Thibido.

Among its long list of accomplishments, DCED brought in $400,000 in grants to businesses that resulted in 18 jobs and $2.6 million in business expansion, said Thibido. They are also seeking to invest in renewable energy projects and looking at options for bringing more new business to the area.

Trustee Jakubiak suggested the town give the $500 it has given in past years and not spend extra money due to recent mine layoffs until the impact to the town are known. "I still believe in the $500, but I don't personally believe we should double that.," said Jakubiak.

Wills said he believes it's appropriate because times are tough, and recommended the issue be part of the upcoming 2016 budget workshop scheduled for Nov. 2.

Trustees agreed to submit a letter of support and consider of a cash donation of up to $250 and an in defined amount of in-kind donations for the North Fork Pool, Parks and Recreation District for construction of a shade structure to be utilized for picnics, reunions and more, as per its master plan. The NFPPR board is applying for a Great Outdoors Colorado mini grant, said director Lenore Cambria. Cost is estimated at $45,000, 25 percent of which must be matched with cash and in-kind donations.

"The rec district does provide great opportunities for adults and kids in the valley," said trustee Wills.

Cambria said that the district will apply pickle ball lines on the Apple Valley tennis courts in the near future. That creates the opportunity of pickle ball tournaments, said Cambria.

As part of the ongoing discussion on broadband, "Obviously there's still a lot to be discussed and understood on this point," said Mayor Koontz.

Trustees approved a draft letter to Delta County identifying two potential anchor points within the town -- a private connection at Town Hall, and one Consumer-Neutral Location (CNL) at the Public Works Department. When asked for specifics on the private anchor point by trustee Jakubiak, Koontz said nothing has been committed to and the subject is still up for discussion.

The letter, addressed to Delta County, specifies that nomination of the two locations is not a commitment to funds or resources, but solely for budgetary purposes for project grant-holders Region 10.

Trustee Wills cast the sole no vote. Past discussion has suggested the town may sell the public works property in the future. "An anchor point... might be an issue," said Wills. He also noted that the K-8 School has expressed an interest in being an anchor point and wanted to pass that information on to Region 10.

The town will include the topic in discussion at the Nov. 2 work session, which will also include discussion of the draft 2016 budget. Michelle Haynes with Region 10 said she will plan to attend the meeting, and said she heard some "inconsistencies" from the board during discussion.

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