Students given taste of local government

By Tamie Meck


Students given taste of local government | Hotchkiss, HHS, council,

Photo by Tamie Meck For the past four years the Hotchkiss Town Council and Hotchkiss High School Student Council have held joint council meetings. Sitting at the front table are, from left, freshman class president Bruce Turnbull, trustees John Marta, Tom

As happens twice a year, the Hotchkiss town council welcomed members of the Hotchkiss High School Student Council at the April 14 town meeting. Students partook in the proceedings and witnessed the swearing in of trustees James Roberts and Larry Jakubiak and John Marta.

In addressing old business prior to the swearing in, trustee Tom Wills noticed an error in the minutes of the March 10 meeting. "I have one correction, which is kind of apt since it deals with Hotchkiss High School," said Wills, who pointed out an item approving a "donation to the Hotchkiss Grad Night Party in the amount of $1,500. I think that was $150," said Wills.

Council also thanked trustee Dustyn Foster, who served on council the past six years and did not seek re-election due to the demands of his job at the mines. "He's never been afraid to pull up his sleeves and get his hands in there and get dirty," said mayor Wendell Koontz. "Dustyn has served with quite a bit of distinction and I thank you for all you've done for the Town of Hotchkiss and for the community."

"It's been a privilege," said Foster.

Following swearing in of trustees, council went through the annual formality of appointments, including of Koontz as mayor, Marlene Searle as town clerk, Lynn French as municipal judge, Bo Nerlin as town attorney, and Jakubiak as mayor pro tempore.

Senior class president Gratia Fisher reported on the good news at Hotchkiss High School. "It's a very busy season," said Fisher. In sports, the Bulldog track teams are doing very well and setting a lot of new personal records. Several athletes have qualified for the state meet, which is just five weeks away. The baseball team remains undefeated and is ranked in the top five in state.

The drama club held its annual spring play last Thursday and Friday, and a band and choir variety program is scheduled for May 6. Students are also undergoing a lot of testing. Prom is scheduled for April 30, and this year's theme is "X-Games." The annual town clean-up, in which students traditionally participate, is scheduled for April 21, and the biannual mock car crash is scheduled for April 29. Art students are sending works to shows throughout the state. "And that's all of the good news," said Fisher.

Don Chance, the new marketing president for First State Bank of Colorado, came before council to request a closure on First Street between Bridge and Main streets from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, May 6, to accommodate the annual bank barbecue. The event draws upward of 800 people, said Chance, who extended an invitation to the town.

The combined meeting also provided the perfect opportunity for the town to announce its annual scholarship recipients. Each year the town awards a $500 scholarship to a graduating male and female student. This year's scholarships were awarded to Mae Anderson and Andrew Oviedo.

Oviedo was participating in the play and was unable to attend the meeting. He will attend Colorado State University and study economics and sociology. Among his accomplishments, he has volunteered for five years at the Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery and for many years at his church and at the Hotchkiss Elks Club.

Anderson plans to major in nursing at Metropolitan State University in Denver. She has volunteered in the community for several years, including for 4-H and other organizations, said Koontz, "and has logged over 600 hours of volunteering at Hotchkiss K-8."

Scholarships recognize students who demonstrate community spirit and volunteerism within the community, explained Mayor Koontz. From Thanksgiving and Christmas community dinners to roadside cleanups, students give their time to improve the community. "We want you to know that we're proud of all of our HHS students," said Koontz. While he is not a member, Koontz acknowledged the selection committee's difficulty in narrowing the field to two finalists. "This was a very hard choice between all these applicants," said Koontz.

Trustees also approved a two-year lease of its shares of Overland Ditch water to the Kuntz Ranch. The Kuntz family has been granted two-year leases of the shares for many years, said Searle. In return for use of the water, they pay all associated dues and costs.

In recent years the town has also leased its 848 shares of Fire Mountain Ditch water to Stan Baker on Barrow Mesa. Two years ago another party bid on the shares, but due to the cost of getting the water to their property, the water went unused, said Searle. Another party recently expressed interest in leasing the water, but now neither party interested in the lease, said Searle.

With just one party, Baker Ranch, LLC, interested in using the water, council voted to forego putting the shares up for bid and give a two-year lease to Baker Ranch. In two years they will consider putting the shares out for bid again.