Burn ban passes, security cameras discussed


By Ruthanne Johnson
MONTE VISTA— In a unanimous vote on Thursday, Sept. 6, the Monte Vista City Council passed a city-wide ordinance banning the residential and commercial burning of garbage (refer to ordinance specifics in the city’s press release on Page 3A). By Ruthanne Johnson
MONTE VISTA— In a unanimous vote on Thursday, Sept. 6, the Monte Vista City Council passed a city-wide ordinance banning the residential and commercial burning of garbage (refer to ordinance specifics in the city’s press release on Page 3A).
Loren Howard, CEO of Ciello and SLV REC, stepped up in Thursday’s meeting with a generous offer to install security cameras at key locations throughout the city. The idea came to Howard after a meeting with Monte Vista Police Chief John Rosecrans, who said cameras would help prevent, as well as solve crime. Howard said the cameras would not be a stretch for his crew since they are currently installing fiber optics throughout the city. The footage, he added, would only be available to the police department and city.
In September, the contract of Local Business Assist owner Ron Douglas came due as a freelance economic business developer for the city. Douglas gave a PowerPoint presentation of startup businesses he assisted with opening and existing businesses he said he has coached. He asked the city to extend his contract and increase his current pay of $4,125 a month to his normal fee, which is nearly double.
Local businesses Douglas said he has facilitated with their opening include Next Level Fitness right on Highway 160, SLVoices.com, Wise Bounty (water filtration sales) and Stretches Barbershop just across from Stars and Strikes Bowling Alley. Businesses he said he has helped that are still in the process of opening include Red Door Books, American Diesel, G&H Embroidery, Ruben’s Appliance, Lunatic Performance and Tsunami Asian.
Douglas said he is currently working on updates to Monte Vista’s old police and Valley Publishing buildings as well as the defunct ambulance bays behind the old police station for businesses wanting to move in. He is also looking at 117 Adams Street— which was recently donated by Rio Grande Savings & Loan to the city’s Urban Renewal Authority— for a Wyoming-based sushi restaurant that he has been courting for Monte Vista. The URA will be accepting requests for proposals from anyone interested in opening a business in the Adams Street location, including the sushi restaurant.
Douglas said he also recently met with folks from American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains about donating its long-closed church at 256 Broadway for his startup company Mentoring Giants, which he wants to open as a business training center for entrepreneurs. “We will be bringing in people from all over the country to do business training,” said Douglas. “I figure an average of about 200 people a month, which is a conservative estimate.” The building will need renovations before the business can open.
Another project Douglas said he has been working on is partnering with the data company Gadberry. The company’s software, he said, can hone in on demographics that could ultimately help Monte Vista bring in national chains such as Home Depot, T-Mobile and FedEx. “The software allows you to pull up the demographics of cities where, for example, Home Depot opened a store and then compare that to Monte Vista’s demographics. It’s sort of a reverse engineering, which can help us present to companies we want to move into town.”
Some residents had concerns about Douglas’ track record. Community garden owner Wanda Hawman expressed her concerns over the city budget and upcoming expenditures that will need to be dedicated towards fixing or rebuilding the Ski Hi Complex. Jim Poston asked Douglas for proof that he had talked to the businesses listed on his PowerPoint presentation.
SLVoices.com and Wise Bounty business owner Martha Lock spoke up on Douglas’ behalf. “We would not be in existence without Mr. Douglas’ help,” said Lock. “He has spent lots of time coaching us. He helped us understand how to market our water filters and how to price them. If there was one thing that Mr. Douglas has done, it’s that he has given us the confidence and knowledge to build our own business. He is doing Monte Vista a fantastic service.”
City Manager Forrest Neuerburg satisfied Hawman’s concerns by letting her know that money for Ski Hi is coming from grants as well as an entirely different part of the city budget than what is being used to pay Douglas. “We just received a planning grant from the Department of Local Affairs for $75,000 to be used towards the planning project for the development of the Ski Hi Complex,” said Neuerburg. Certified engineers have also signed off that the building is sound for now.
In the end, city council agreed to extend Douglas’ contract on a monthly basis until further discussion. The decision, however, was not unanimous. Councilmember Kathy Lorenz voted no to extend his contract, saying she would have liked to hear more personal testimonies during the meeting from businesses that he had helped.
Councilmember Kathy Ellithorpe commended Douglas’ work. “I know that Monte Vista citizens can be a tough sale,” she said. “But I think you have done an amazing job. I personally don’t know of anyone who could fill 10 buildings in six months with local people and businesses that will contribute to our tax base.”
In other city council business, USAF Staff Sgt. Richard Nagley, President of the SLV Veterans’ Coalition, presented his organization’s work with veterans to the city council and asked for support. The organization, Nagley said, helps San Luis Valley veterans get the assistance they need, from finding a home or a job to support such as food and gas gift cards and even suicide prevention. With the help of a grant through the Colorado Health Farming Foundation, the SLV Veteran’s Coalition was recently able to help a woman veteran move her farming operation, White Crow Ranch in Fort Garland, from an incubation phase to being operational. “Her small ranch teaches veterans the basics of owning a small farm,” said Nagley, “and provides them with a much-needed retreat.”
Nagley said the veteran’s coalition has been operating with only one paid staff member since its inception several years ago. “We need to expand and to do that we need additional staff and increase the number of volunteers,” he said. “To accomplish this, we are here asking for financial assistance.”
The city council will likely discuss details of financial assistance during the next council meeting.
The city’s after school program, Kid’s Connection is now in full swing to the tune of between 65 to 70 children a day, and the Sargent School District recently donated five Smartboards to the program. Kid’s Connection is also having its annual Poker Night benefit at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Monte Villa Inn. The initial buy-in per person costs $50, and the evening is being hosted by Three Guys Farms. Visit the Kid’s Connection Facebook page for more information.
Loren Howard, CEO of Ciello and SLV REC, stepped up in Thursday’s meeting with a generous offer to install security cameras at key locations throughout the city. The idea came to Howard after a meeting with Monte Vista Police Chief John Rosecrans, who said cameras would help prevent, as well as solve crime. Howard said the cameras would not be a stretch for his crew since they are currently installing fiber optics throughout the city. The footage, he added, would only be available to the police department and city.
In September, the contract of Local Business Assist owner Ron Douglas came due as a freelance economic business developer for the city. Douglas gave a PowerPoint presentation of startup businesses he assisted with opening and existing businesses he said he has coached. He asked the city to extend his contract and increase his current pay of $4,125 a month to his normal fee, which is nearly double.
Local businesses Douglas said he has facilitated with their opening include Next Level Fitness right on Highway 160, SLVoices.com, Wise Bounty (water filtration sales) and Stretches Barbershop just across from Stars and Strikes Bowling Alley. Businesses he said he has helped that are still in the process of opening include Red Door Books, American Diesel, G&H Embroidery, Ruben’s Appliance, Lunatic Performance and Tsunami Asian.
Douglas said he is currently working on updates to Monte Vista’s old police and Valley Publishing buildings as well as the defunct ambulance bays behind the old police station for businesses wanting to move in. He is also looking at 117 Adams Street— which was recently donated by Rio Grande Savings & Loan to the city’s Urban Renewal Authority— for a Wyoming-based sushi restaurant that he has been courting for Monte Vista. The URA will be accepting requests for proposals from anyone interested in opening a business in the Adams Street location, including the sushi restaurant.
Douglas said he also recently met with folks from American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains about donating its long-closed church at 256 Broadway for his startup company Mentoring Giants, which he wants to open as a business training center for entrepreneurs. “We will be bringing in people from all over the country to do business training,” said Douglas. “I figure an average of about 200 people a month, which is a conservative estimate.” The building will need renovations before the business can open.
Another project Douglas said he has been working on is partnering with the data company Gadberry. The company’s software, he said, can hone in on demographics that could ultimately help Monte Vista bring in national chains such as Home Depot, T-Mobile and FedEx. “The software allows you to pull up the demographics of cities where, for example, Home Depot opened a store and then compare that to Monte Vista’s demographics. It’s sort of a reverse engineering, which can help us present to companies we want to move into town.”
Some residents had concerns about Douglas’ track record. Community garden owner Wanda Hawman expressed her concerns over the city budget and upcoming expenditures that will need to be dedicated towards fixing or rebuilding the Ski Hi Complex. Jim Poston asked Douglas for proof that he had talked to the businesses listed on his PowerPoint presentation.
SLVoices.com and Wise Bounty business owner Martha Lock spoke up on Douglas’ behalf. “We would not be in existence without Mr. Douglas’ help,” said Lock. “He has spent lots of time coaching us. He helped us understand how to market our water filters and how to price them. If there was one thing that Mr. Douglas has done, it’s that he has given us the confidence and knowledge to build our own business. He is doing Monte Vista a fantastic service.”
City Manager Forrest Neuerburg satisfied Hawman’s concerns by letting her know that money for Ski Hi is coming from grants as well as an entirely different part of the city budget than what is being used to pay Douglas. “We just received a planning grant from the Department of Local Affairs for $75,000 to be used towards the planning project for the development of the Ski Hi Complex,” said Neuerburg. Certified engineers have also signed off that the building is sound for now.
In the end, city council agreed to extend Douglas’ contract on a monthly basis until further discussion. The decision, however, was not unanimous. Councilmember Kathy Lorenz voted no to extend his contract, saying she would have liked to hear more personal testimonies during the meeting from businesses that he had helped.
Councilmember Kathy Ellithorpe commended Douglas’ work. “I know that Monte Vista citizens can be a tough sale,” she said. “But I think you have done an amazing job. I personally don’t know of anyone who could fill 10 buildings in six months with local people and businesses that will contribute to our tax base.”
In other city council business, USAF Staff Sgt. Richard Nagley, President of the SLV Veterans’ Coalition, presented his organization’s work with veterans to the city council and asked for support. The organization, Nagley said, helps San Luis Valley veterans get the assistance they need, from finding a home or a job to support such as food and gas gift cards and even suicide prevention. With the help of a grant through the Colorado Health Farming Foundation, the SLV Veteran’s Coalition was recently able to help a woman veteran move her farming operation, White Crow Ranch in Fort Garland, from an incubation phase to being operational. “Her small ranch teaches veterans the basics of owning a small farm,” said Nagley, “and provides them with a much-needed retreat.”
Nagley said the veteran’s coalition has been operating with only one paid staff member since its inception several years ago. “We need to expand and to do that we need additional staff and increase the number of volunteers,” he said. “To accomplish this, we are here asking for financial assistance.”
The city council will likely discuss details of financial assistance during the next council meeting.
The city’s after school program, Kid’s Connection is now in full swing to the tune of between 65 to 70 children a day, and the Sargent School District recently donated five Smartboards to the program. Kid’s Connection is also having its annual Poker Night benefit at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Monte Villa Inn. The initial buy-in per person costs $50, and the evening is being hosted by Three Guys Farms. Visit the Kid’s Connection Facebook page for more information.


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