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Booze, marijuana and money: all in a night's work in Hotchkiss

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The Hotchkiss Town Council made quick work of a lengthy agenda on June 8. The council approved the first reading of two ordinances that will be officially adopted within the coming months. The first regulates the possession and use of marijuana within the town. The town has previously passed two ordinances regulating the use of marijuana, once in 2014 and a second ordinance in 2016. However, Marshal Dan Miller brought it to the attention of town attorney Bo Nerlin that the two ordinances were at odds with the criminal code. Nerlin explained to the council that this new ordinance is an effort to remove the out of date code and to incorporate changes that were made into the criminal code.

The second ordinance was also up for a first reading and deals with the use of off-highway vehicles driven on town roads. The ordinance is in line with the state laws, Marshal Miller explained, and just gives the town "teeth" to enforce the law. Once the ordinance passes, those who have a valid driver's license and who have vehicle insurance will be able to drive an OHV on town roads.

The two ordinances will be up for discussion once more at next month's meeting on July 13.

Tracy Ihnot, communications director for the Delta County Libraries, was at the meeting soliciting a donation for the summer reading program at the Hotchkiss library. The request raised a discussion over which entities were appropriate for the town to give charitable donations to.

As trustee Tom Wills pointed out, the town has on the books a donation policy that prohibits the town, a taxing entity, giving funds to another taxing entity, such as the library district. "It's probably time for the council to actually look at the donation policy again," he said. "We've adopted this policy and haven't always followed it strictly."

Mayor pro-tem Larry Jakubiak pointed out that the town only has $2,241 left in its donation budget for the year and reminded trustees that donations for the community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners have yet to be made. "The summer reading program is a wonderful program," he said, "but the days of us donating 100, 200 or 300 bucks is gone."

Trustee Mary Hockenbery agreed. "I really do love the summer reading program, but if it's our policy, and since we have restricted funds, we should follow the policy," she said.

Town clerk Marlene Searle pointed out that the policy actually states that funding requests from taxing entities will not be considered for charitable donations, but, on a case by case basis, may be considered on their merits by the trustees. With that, Hockenbery moved to donate $50 for the Hotchkiss reading program.

In discussion before the vote, Wills said, "Now we're just bypassing the issue. It's meaningless." He was the only trustee to not vote in favor of the donation.

The council also approved the new fee schedule (see related story published May 31). The new fees go in effect July 1.

The council granted a special events liquor license to the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce to run a beer garden during the Delta County Fair. Fair board member Sheila Maki was in attendance at the meeting, along with Darnell Place-Wise, the executive director of the Delta chamber. Maki explained that for three years the fair board has tried to get a beer garden going at the fair. She said it was her understanding that the county attorney would not agree to the fair board operating its own beer garden due to potential problems with "the county name being associated with alcohol," Maki said. She said the fair board has asked several other entities, including the Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce, and all turned them down.

The Delta chamber will handle all of the logistics of the beer garden, including organizing, ordering, staffing and security. "It's a pretty significant job," Place-Wise said. The fair board will receive a portion of the garden profits, with the DACC keeping the rest. Place-Wise said the beer garden will be open Aug. 5 during the demolition derby and then again Aug. 9-12 for the rodeos, concert and other evening events.

The council also granted a hotel/restaurant liquor license to Richard Omer, who is opening a restaurant at 170 E. Bridge Street, the former location of Past Times. Omer explained that his restaurant, Saddleback, will feature light, healthy fare and craft beers. He will open early next month, he said.

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