In the Public Works Department, the team continued to do the outstanding work that many take for granted, but in fact makes a huge difference in the day-to-day lives of all community members. These accomplishments have been significant in 2016 and have been made possible with the financial and in-kind support from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), GMS Engineering, Bill Long, the Bent County Commissioners, and the County Crew staff as well. We have also enjoyed a continued partnership with the Las Animas School District as well as the city and county on the continued maintenance of the baseball fields.

The public works staff has worked with GMS engineering on several projects which resulted in the replacement approximately 3,000 feet of water mains and associated equipment. The goal is to try to replace at least ? mile of lines per year to keep the lines serviceable. The team continues to be in full support of the Arkansas Valley Conduit Project which will save the city and our neighbors thousands of dollars and prevent future water violations. The department entered into agreements with Fort Lyon and Mountain Prairie to be their Certified Water Operators as well as supporting these vital entities by working on various projects and look forward to the future and continuing this collaboration.

The public works staff has collaborated with GMS engineering and DOLA to request and receive the funding and planning to begin a $1,444,000 sewer project for the city in 2017. In the last 12 months, the team replaced approximately ? mile of sewer mains and associated equipment and plan to continue this in 2017 and beyond.

The city crews have worked with the county to have the county crews chip seal streets in Las Animas since 2004 and this has saved the city thousands of dollars annually. This has allowed the chip sealing of approximately 1 mile of streets annually and was accomplished again in 2016. A working relationship with Richard Orr and the public works staff allowed the teams to pour approximately 130 cubic yards of cements this year to repair and replace drain pans, handicapped access areas, sidewalks and curb and gutters throughout town. One of the most significant accomplishments for the team was the completion of the North Star Lane project between 1st and Carson and North Star Lane which was funded through DOLA at $220,000 of the total cost of $304,735. The Safe Routes to School Project was granted through Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for $335,000 which provided sidewalks and signage to improve the safety of students who walk or ride bikes to school in the community. Finally, the crews placed approximately 680 tons of asphalt in 2016 to repair streets and potholes in the streets.

The Sanitation team hauled 2,880 tons of trash the Otero County Landfill as well as 4,655 cubic yards to our own landfill. This landfill has started to see increased usage coming from not only our own city, but the county, school district, Fort Lyon, Mountain Prairie and others in the area. We have also started the landfill closure process for the old landfill north of town. This landfill allowed us to demolish two buildings in 2016 with all required permits.

Finally, the city crews have maintained the parks, baseball fields, swimming pool and have assisted with the Golf Course staff as needed throughout the year and will continue to do this in the future.

In the Light and Power Department, the year also began with a series of challenges, the first being on Feb. 18, when we lost incoming power for 11 hours when a 2 pole structure was blown down on the main line feeding power into town from the west. This line is called the 69 line. When this occurred it was a significant problem for the city, because it identified that we not only had a vulnerability in the main power feed, but also with the backup systems that included first a reverse feed from the east, as well as our own emergency power generators. When the power line blew down, neither of these backup systems was functional and thus power was out for 11 hours. Due to this identification of the problems, and again in May when lightning struck another 2 pole structure and power was lost for 8 hours, the focus was on repairing the 69 line and more immediately repairing the backup systems. After some investigative work, we found that the problem with the backup power from the east was a relay between Las Animas and Lamar and had that repaired in August at the cost of $35,900.09. With the assistance of HDR engineering from Denver, we were able to troubleshoot the generator failures and repaired them, thus providing a second level of backup power should the need arise again. We also received our Title V Operating Permit on July 1 that is good for the next 5 years.

The line crew rebuilt 2 blocks of transmission line between 6th Street to the Nursing Service building, upgrading the current transmission line with a better product. This rebuild will help prevent some of the numerous outages that were caused by bird strikes in that area. Along with the improvements to the Community Center that the County is accomplishing, the line crew upgraded the underground transmission lines in October.

Finally, with the outages that occurred in February came the realization that the 69 line was in dire need of replacement. That event put into motion a series of events that led us to applying for a $2,400,000 grant through the US Economic Development Administration. We had great support through all the local businesses, elected representatives, and Southeastern Colorado Economic Development in Pueblo, specifically Edie McLish. While all the efforts were successful locally, at the national level the decision was made to not approve the grant, and thus we went back to work finding funding for this necessary project. The next place we turned was to the USDA Rural Utility System funding program. We applied for and have received our first step, the letter of eligibility. Now that that part of the process is completed, we have a few more steps to climb and then hopefully in the upcoming year we will be able to complete this project and bring the reliability of our electrical system to a better level.

While we have had some issues with the electrical system this year, it is also significant to realize that the reliability of our system has been good overall in terms of services provided. In pure numbers, a calculation of 24 X 365 =8,760 hours in 1 year. The total time the electrical grid was down this year was 61.5 hours. This means that of the 8,760 hours possible, 8,698.5 hours of the time the system was fully functioning, a grade of 99.3% overall reliability, while meeting emission standards and as importantly while meeting 100% safety standards for all employees of the light and power company. Keep in mind, that when the electricity does falter, it isn’t in the best weather and the crews are out there in either significant wind, rain or extreme cold doing their best to keep our homes lighted. Overall, I am very proud of the crews and look forward to having the 69 line rebuilt so that we can prevent them from even having to be there in adverse weather at all.