Simmering Silt politics reach boiling point
Remember the tongue-in-cheek bumper sticker that said “Silt Happens”?Well, Silt is happening again, but not many folks are smiling. The most recent chain of events, in order, are:-Susan Jane Ohlson, the 37-year-old wife of town manager Craig Ohlson, was cited on Monday for vandalizing community development director Janet Steinbach’s car.-Embattled building inspector Dick Barrows resigned on Friday.-Thursday night during a special meeting, the Board of Trustees suspended Ohlson with pay until Wednesday night, when it holds another meeting to discuss his future.”We’ll go into executive session to discuss personnel issues,” said Mayor John Evans. “We’ll finalize what we want to do with our town manager.”The hood and door of Steinbach’s 1997 Honda were “keyed” the night of July 22 during a contentious Silt Board of Trustees meeting, where citizens voiced several complaints about the way the town is being run.Police Chief Paul Taylor said his detective had a long list of suspects to interview when it began its investigation into the vandalism. Ohlson’s name was about halfway down the list.”She was number nine,” Taylor said.Taylor said Ohlson confessed and was cited for criminal mischief. She will appear for arraignment in municipal court on Aug. 8.She was not available for comment. Steinbach also declined to comment on the incident.As for the building inspector, Evans said Dick Barrows resigned to take a job on the Front Range.”Dick had been considering moving for several months,” Evans said.Some comments during the trustees’ July 22 meeting centered on Barrows, and the way he did his job.”Some people felt he was inflexible, and was a bit strict in interpreting the building code,” Evans said.Barrows was hired about a year ago.Evans said people have also been complaining about what they consider Silt’s unreasonably high building permit fees.”The trustees will look at it,” Evans said. “Last Monday (July 22) was the first time we heard it.”Evans said he couldn’t comment about why the trustees suspended Ohlson because it’s a personnel issue. Ohlson was hired in 1996 after the trustees didn’t reappoint Jim Yale to the town manager position, Evans said.Beyond the Silt’s immediate personnel issues, the town has struggled with water problems all summer. Evans said the drought, recent annexations and a water plant that needs to be expanded combined to create the current problem.”It’s been like a merry-go-round,” Evans said.Many residents use untreated water for irrigation and to water their lawns. When the untreated system began experiencing problems earlier this year, including an irrigation ditch that went dry, residents had to start using treated water on their lawns.”That has taxed the treatment plant,” Evans said. “And a 100-year drought has also put a lot of pressure on.”To come up with some water solutions, the town appointed a committee to look at the problem and present some solutions. The committee is made up of two trustees, town staffers and a water engineer.”We need to do something fairly soon,” Evans said.Also on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting is a proposal from the parks and recreation volunteer committee to exempt Silt’s two new soccer/baseball fields from water restrictions. A motion to exempt the fields from the ordinance died on a 3-3 vote at the July 22 meeting.Committee member Deanna Bauer said sod will be laid Tuesday and Wednesday, and it must be watered three times a day, every day, for three to four weeks. The existing ordinance allows residents to water every other day.”We are very sensitive to the current drought conditions,” Bauer said. “However, this park had to be finished for multiple reasons, including grant deadlines and the potential for erosion damage.”Bauer said the water would come from the town’s irrigation ditch system, and a committee has met with engineers to set up a watering schedule. She said the two fields would be divided up into several zones, and each zone would be watered 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Bauer said the watering schedule has been set up to minimize impacts on residents who also use the irrigation system.Bauer was instrumental in rounding up $139,000 in grants and in-kind services to build the $152,000 soccer fields. The land was donated to the town by the developers who built the Flying Eagle subdivision.The sod costs about $20,000, Bauer said.
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The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is working with local businesses and organizations to celebrate the spirit of Strawberry Days with a Berry Special Weekend from June 18-20, according to a news release.