MV City Councilman Foster resigns his position

Richards requests a memorial stone for Homelake veteran Blake

MONTE VISTA — A City Council meeting was held Thursday, Nov. 17. City Manager Gigi Dennis was at the meeting and announced that Councilman Larry Foster had resigned his position.

“Mr. Mayor and council, we received a letter from Councilman Larry Foster, effective midnight Nov. 14,” Dennis said. “He is out of the country right now, but we still need to collect some of the city equipment that he has.”

Dennis explained how a couple of different options were available to the city to fill his position.

“One, is by Charter, Mayor you can just appoint someone, or you can all ask for letters of intent,” Dennis said. “You can interview candidates. We can send out questions to go with the letter of intent, it’s pretty open as far as whatever you would like to do, or you can leave it vacant until the next election.”

Mayor Becker said, “I personally think we should go out with letters of intent, because there is no one here to appoint right now.”

Councilman Jason Lorenz, Councilwoman Martha Lock, and Mayor Pro Tem Victor Sigala, all agreed that letters of intent should go out.

Becker spoke about getting one letter or getting a few.

“If we get one, then we will go according to plan, but if we get more than one, we can go through with a little bit of an interview process,” Becker said. “I think that’s what we should do.”

No motion was held but it was agreed upon to accept letters of intent from interested parties, who reside within the City of Monte Vista, and are interested in being a City Council member. Letters will be taken until the second City Council meeting in December, which falls on Dec. 15. 

Bob Richards, owner and operator of local radio stations in Monte Vista, also took the podium at the meeting to speak to council members about an interview that he had with Homelake resident, George Blake, a 101-year-old veteran, who was also a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack that took place in Hawaii.

Richards held a short presentation and spoke to council members about creating a stone, to honor a poem that Blake had written after the Pearl Harbor attack.

“Meet George Blake,” Richards said, as he presented council members with a small slide show. “Today he is 101 years old, he is a Pearl Harbor survivor, and currently is a Homelake resident. There are very few things that I have done in my career that I was so moved that I felt like I had to take action, and this interview is one of those things.”

Richards went on to talk about how Blake was only 19 when he obtained his parents’ approval to serve in the armed forces.

“He chose to go to Pearl Harbor and he was there on that fateful day of the Pearl Harbor attack,” Richards said. “He lost four friends who were attempting to put a machine gun up on top of a roof. The Japanese zero flew right into the roof, where they were attempting to put the machine gun, and killed all four of them.”

Richards explained that many years later Blake returned to Pearl Harbor and attended a survivor’s ceremony. The ceremony inspired Blake to write a poem about his survival at Pearl Harbor.

Richards addressed council members and asked for permission to read the poem to them, and all council members agreed.

“Why you, not me,” Richards said. “Out of the western sky they came, engines roaring, exhausts aflame. The sky was filled with attacking flights, strafing, and bombing with all their might. It was Sunday morning, and we were at rest, but when alerted we did our best, and when the attackers did retreat, 3,500 casualties lay at our feet. Now, when with reverence I attend, the December memorials once again. I gaze at the list of the young who died, and with pained emotions I have cried. The tears I shed upon my cheek pose the question whose answer I seek. Why you and not me. By Staff Sgt. George W. Blake, Harbor Defense, Pearl Harbor US Army.”

Richards spoke about how Blake was an exceptional person to interview, and with emotion in his voice Richards said, “I spent 90 minutes with him, and when I was done with him, and after I read this poem, I thought to myself, this poem needs to be memorialized somehow. I started to think about how we might do that, and how the radio station could help do that. There’s a couple of things we could do. One would be to put it in our memorial park on a slab of stone somehow. We could also perhaps put it over at Homelake. I think that his 102 birthday is Jan. 29. What a great birthday present for this man for us to at least be able to tell him we are going to memorialize this poem in some way shape or form, be it at homelake or somewhere.”

Richards spoke about how he could raise the money through the stations to help pay for the stone. He also mentioned that the Polished Edge is now doing stones and carvings, and how maybe they could reach out to the polished edge to help with the stone.

Richards ended his presentation by saying that he wanted to ask if the city would be willing to help with the stone and get involved, or he might just work with Homelake on his own to do that.

“If you would like to help, please let me know,” Richards said. “It has become a passion of mine now to get this gentleman the due that I think he deserves to this point, that he hasn’t necessarily received. Thank you for your time.” 

Councilman Lorenz asked Director of Public Works, Rob Vance, who was present, if there was a place that the stone might be able to go in the Memorial Park, and Vance stated that there would be plenty of room to put it in the park. No decisions were made but Mayor Becker thanked Richards for his presentation and Richards stepped down. 

The 2023 budget for the city was also approved unanimously.   

City Manager Dennis also spoke at the meeting regarding Kayla Smith’s prior request for the Vali 3 theatre building.

In a previous meeting, Smith held a presentation for council members regarding a request to be given the Vali 3 theatre building, with the intention of creating a Performing Arts Academy with the building.

Dennis explained that Smith needed a chance to redo an RFP for the request that she made, and that she would need until the middle of December to do this.

Dennis also explained that Council members could either approve the request for extra time for Smith, or they could put the proposed idea into the community for the theatre again, to see if there were other interested parties in the theatre, but Dennis recommended that a longer timeframe should be given for interested parties to obtain an RFP for the building.

A motion was made to put the Vali 3 theatre back up for a period of 3 months to the public, with interested parties being able to submit an RFP, with a deadline for submissions by March 1, 2023. 

The next City Council meeting will be held on Dec. 1.

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