MVCC discusses circus concerns

MONTE VISTA— The Thursday, May 2 meeting of the Monte Vista City Council was full of many interesting topics of conversation regarding city business and the future of certain buildings and annual activities. The council delved deep into speaking about the future of the Ski Hi Building, the circuses that come into town and continued trying to figure out solutions for the golf course. They also heard reports from the city manager and Kids Connection.

Circus controversy
Every year the Shriners Circus comes into town. This year, however, another circus will be performing today and tomorrow— the Carson and Barnes Circus.
The circuses have prompted animal activist group PETA to request that the city of Monte Vista not allow the circuses to go forward with their performances with the use of exotic animals. A PETA representative wrote a letter to the city council requesting this action due to allegations that Jordan World Circuses have been found to engage in animal cruelty.
City Manager Forrest Neuerburg explained to the council that he did not believe Carson and Barnes Circus was associated with the Jordan World Circus that the letter referenced. Carson and Barnes is licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and therefore subject to random inspections. Jordan World Circuses lost their USDA accreditation due to multiple animal welfare violations.
However, it should be noted that Jordan World Circus still operates under different circus names and leases animals from USDA approved circuses.
It does not appear that Carson and Barnes is associated with Jordan World Circus. However, Carson and Barnes itself has been fined for over 100 animal welfare violations dating back to 1975.
These situations have prompted many municipalities to enact ordinances restricting the use of animals in circus performances. Carson and Barnes does do performances in some places without the use of animals due to municipal restrictions.
The city council and city attorney Michael Trujillo discussed the issue and largely agreed with many of PETA’s assertions. It was stated that the attitudes regarding certain things in the world are changing, and the city of Monte Vista may need to change with it.
The circuses will continue as planned this year. This is due to legal contracts and leases already having been signed and approved. The council agreed they will revisit the issue in the future and possibly enact an ordinance regarding animal performances at the Ski Hi facility. This does not mean the circus will not continue annually, just that there may be some new restrictions on what is allowed or that the circuses may have to prove certain things in regards to their animals.

Ski Hi multi-purpose building
In other Ski Hi Park related news, the Friends of Ski Hi Park announced that in conjunction with the Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce and city of Monte Vista a request for proposals for the replacement of the Ski Hi Park multi-purpose building had been submitted in late March. Kathy Rogers and Karla Shriver attended the council meeting to announce that Alcon Construction had been awarded the bid. A major factor in choosing Alcon Construction was that they are a local company with a stellar reputation.

Golf course
Neuerburg shared that unfortunately a Department of Local Affairs Grant (DOLA) the city had applied for to help the golf course purchase lawn equipment would not be received. It was recently discovered that DOLA no longer provides funds for the type of need the grant had been submitted for. Councilor Kathy Ellithorpe stated she was not ready to give up on the grant and encouraged reapplying when the application reopened for the proper items. The council agreed they would have a continued discussion with the golf course about the situation and any necessary actions.

Kids Connection
Kids Connection Anika Velasquez provided her monthly report to council. Summer staff hiring has begun, as well as planning the activities and field trip for the summer months.
For March Kids Connection members enjoyed trips to the Fort Garland Museum, a community center to swim, the bowling alley and the Vali 3 Theater. During Spring Break Kids Connection entertained 30 kids at the beginning of the week and ended with 50.
Velasquez also shared that Kids Connection would now be set up to administer medications to any participants that required it. The staff went through medical administration training on May 1.
Velasquez was excited to announce that Kids Connection has received a $5,000 donation from La Llave. It was given due to the dissolution of La Llave and the organization wanted to make sure the money went to programs that truly make a difference and would ensure their legacy lives on.


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