The average age of the Hotchkiss town council took a plunge last week, as members of the Hotchkiss High School student government took seats alongside council members for the regular town meeting.
The joining of the two entities began last spring, according to HHS assistant principal Glen Suppes, when town council was invited to hold one of its meetings at the school.
In return, council invited members of the school's student government to sit with them at a meeting at Town Hall.
Their first consideration was a proposed mill levy increase. Delta County Libraries is seeking voter approval of a mill levy increase of 1.67 mills in the November election to fund library operations. The increase is about $27 per year for a $200,000 house, said trustee at large Bill Crank. For a $300,000 house the increase would be $37-$38 a year.
Crank explained that the district is currently funded by a mill levy approved in 1997, which now provides the district about $900,000 a year. With devaluation of properties in the county, added Crank, the library district expects to lose about $140,000 this year. Currently, said Crank, there is not enough money coming in to keep up with expanded programming, current hours of operation and all the other services and products libraries now provide, such as e-books and movies.
They also need money for maintenance and basic upkeep. "We don't even have a full-time janitor for the libraries," said Crank.
Crank said it was appropriate to have students present for the trustees' vote. "I've seen many of you at the library," said Crank.
Trustee James Roberts said that some entities operate on volunteer hours. Why can't the libraries?
Library board member Katie Gnauck replied that many of the services library staff provide, such as ESL and GED preparation classes, are specialized and not suited for the average volunteer. "Volunteers are great for book sales," said Gnauck, "but we need trained people."
After discussion, during which both students and councilors agreed that libraries are important to local communities, council and student government members voted unanimously to approve the letter of support.
Appropriately enough, many of the items on the agenda dealt with school issues.
Hotchkiss High School assistant principal Glen Suppes reported that student enrollment is down about 20 students, at 210 students, but that number could still rise. Of those students, 73 are earning college credits.
Three agenda items later, council voted to approve a request from Suppes for a $500 donation to the Hotchkiss Bulldog Booster Club. The booster club has helped fund many projects lately, including planting grass on the infield of the baseball park and rebuilding graduating photo displays in order to preserve the pictures.
The booster club supports the entire school, and not just athletics, said Suppes. Support from the town is felt by visitors and students, and "is always greatly appreciated."
Later on, Suppes thanked council for its support of two $500 scholarships, which council approved last month. Scholarships will be awarded to one female and one male graduating student. The selection committee will include council members and school staff members. Suppes said applications will be available in January, and scholarships will be announced by the high school in March.
"We want kids to know they have the town's support," said Mayor Kuntz. "We believe in you guys, and I hope you believe in yourselves."
Suppes said he is "stunned" by the rising cost of college, and grateful to the town for its support. "The needs are out there," said Suppes.
In other business:
• Trustees approved a request for a special events liquor license to the Cocker Kids Foundation to serve beer and wine at its Oct. 5 fundraiser auction at Heritage Hall.
• Planning commission member Tom Wills said the town planning commission is busy creating a town sign code. "It's about time the town gets one," said Wills. The draft is expected to come before the town before the end of the year.
Wills reminded everyone that the planning committee is seeking applications for the commission seat held by Mary Hockenbery.
• Public works director Mike Owens received a hearty round of applause when he reported that the Horse Park Water Treatment Plant upgrade project, which began six years ago, is almost complete. The project brings the town into compliance with current regulations.
Owens added that now that the big project is done, the department is working to catch up on a backlog of small tasks.blog comments powered by Disqus