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Students join Hotchkiss trustees at monthly meeting

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Photo by Pat Sunderland Hotchkiss High School students took part in the Nov. 9 meeting of the Hotchkiss Town Council. Pictured with trustees Tom Wills, Pat Medina, Wendell Koontz, Lindee Cantrell, Mary Hockenbery and John Marta are Nolan Egging, student

Student leaders from Hotchkiss High School joined the members of the Hotchkiss Town Council for the trustees' monthly meeting -- a tradition that is repeated in the spring, when the trustees meet at the high school and award two scholarships to graduating seniors.

Student body president Nolan Egging opened the meeting with a quote from John F. Kennedy, while Mayor Wendell Koontz selected a quote from Ronald Reagan appropriate to Veterans Day. Three trustees were recognized for their military service -- Thomas Wills, Lindee Cantrell and Jim Roberts.

Egging provided an update on HHS activities. The volleyball team had its best season since 2009 and the football team had its first winning season since 2013. Several students earned perfect scores on their AP exams. The National Honor Society welcomes donations for a food drive, and winter sports practice started last Friday.

Moving on to town business, trustees agreed to allow Jacqueline Robertson to operate an AirBnB in her home at 511 Aspen Lane. Two neighbors supported the change of use application; there were no objections. The Hotchkiss Planning Commission recommended approval, noting Robertson will make two bedrooms available and will accommodate no more than four adults at any one time. "It seems like a minor impact," said Trustee Wills, who also serves on the Hotchkiss Planning Commission.

Robertson was complimented on complying with town regulations, where others are apparently operating without authorization.

A donation of $500 was approved for the Thanksgiving and Christmas community meals. Anyone wishing to volunteer, or to arrange for delivery of a meal, is asked to contact town hall at 872-3663.

The North Fork Children's Christmas Party asked for, and received, a donation of $200 to sponsor four children.

Jo Edmondson asked for permission to plant trees in the sidewalk in front of her business, ShadeScapes Americas. Trustees were generally supportive, but public works director Mike Owens said main street trees are prohibited by town ordinance, even though other businesses have planted trees. Mayor Wendell Koontz assigned trustees Tom Wills and Mary Hockenbery to work with Edmondson to come up with suggestions for "the right tree in the right location." An encroachment agreement will also be developed, outlining responsibilities for maintenance of the trees and the sidewalks.

A proclamation was signed declaring November Hospice and Palliative Care Month.

Anita Evans provided an update on The Nature Connection. A request for a GOCO Inspire grant has received preliminary approval, but the amount of the award won't be known until later this month. Evans and other Nature Connection representatives will travel to Denver this week to answer questions about the grant, which will help connect students in Olathe and throughout Delta County with the outdoors. Every high school has a Youth Outdoor Network. HHS member Isaac Van Horn said he's enjoyed several outings, plus he's found the meetings and guest speakers who come to the school to be very informative.

Town engineer Joanne Fagan provided an update on the new wastewater line being installed from the Hotchkiss fields to Highway 92. Due to poor soil conditions, Tribble & Sons, the contractor, has had to dig a much bigger trench than anticipated. Fagan said the project should be wrapped up in early December, provided the contractor can get asphalt.

The town is seeking a grant from the Department of Local Affairs to help with the cost of replacing the Hanson Mesa water tank. Fagan showed photos illustrating how ice and a poor paint job have resulted in rust and corrosion. For the benefit of the students in the audience, Mayor Koontz explained that maintaining infrastructure is a major function of town government.

A vacancy on the Hotchkiss Planning Commission was filled with the appointment of Larry Wilkening. The next meeting of the planning commission is Nov. 29; the next meeting of the town board is Dec. 14.

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North Fork
HHS, Hotchkiss
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