Hotchkiss council hears Hillman House request

By Eric Goold


The regular meeting of the Hotchkiss Town Council last Thursday evening, Aug. 18, was gaveled to order by Larry Jakubiak, mayor pro tem.

The other five trustees and deputy clerk Ginger Redden navigated a 29-item agenda with aplomb and all votes were unanimous.

The first item of business was a request from the Hillman House Trust, represented by Celeste Waske. The trust manages a collection of local volunteers who are building a home for Mike Hillman, a Hotchkiss resident who was injured in an orchard accident in late May.

Hillman is rehabilitating at Craig Hospital in Denver.

"He's doing extremely well under the circumstances," Waske said. "He is expected to come home Nov. 3, so we have two months to build this house and we will do it."

The trust has raised enough money to purchase a plot and Waske said they hope to break ground next Wednesday, providing everything comes together.

"Because we are strictly donation and fundraisers, we're going to have a hard time raising the money if we have to pay the full $9,600 for the water and sewer hookups," Waske said. "So we are requesting at your mercy if it's all possible to waive those, to reduce them, to allow a payment plan, whatever you see fit that could happen."

Jakubiak pointed out that council has a yearly budget of $5,000 for donations, which he said is already at $3,500. What's left of that might likely be used around Christmas time.

"Plus, council you need to know we would be starting a precedent," Jakubiak said. "We need to think for the town. If we do it for one precedent, we start doing it for others. This kind of stuff can sometimes bite us in the behind, it really can, and it has in the past, so we try very hard not to start a precedent."

Trustee Tom Wills said that the town has a donation policy, although it is rarely employed.

"It says that we don't donate for the specific benefit of individuals," Wills said. "We try to give it to something that has the largest benefit, the benefit of the whole community."

Wills went on to say that a donation could not be made out of the water and sewer funds, because they are a free-standing business. Water customers in Hotchkiss would end up seeing it on their bills.

During discussion, trustee Mary Hockenbery and members of staff raised the possibility of allowing the trust to pay for the water and sewer taps on an extended payment plan.

"They'd pay for it, but with an extension. Over a year or two years," town clerk Marlene Searle said. "Of course our attorney would have to have an agreement. We've had two situations in my 35 years where we've taken payments."

The council decided to consider all of its options and then to vote on the matter in the next scheduled meeting.

"We'll be thinking on this. I personally kind of think the precedent setting is not going to work, I just want you to know. As a town we have to be responsible for our people," Jakubiak said. "But we can look at a payment plan. We can look at building fees. We would like to help with the things that we can."

In other matters, the council voted to donate $100 to help fund a brochure about the West Elk Loop Scenic and Historical Byway.

Trustees also heard the first readings of Ordinance 2016-04, Franchise Agreement with Black Hills Energy and Ordinance 2016-05, Cross Connection.

The work session to discuss the Building Code Amendment was set for Sept. 22. John Caven, the new building inspector for the town, will be in on those discussions.