SOUTH FORK—If one wants to drink in South Fork in or shortly after the first week of August, the news is that it might be easier.
The Town Board of Trustees approved the bid to obtain a liquor license by the new managers of the Hungry Loggers Restaurant and Tavern, so according to Town Manager Sharon Fairchild, steps taken through the state of Colorado generally take two to three weeks after the local authority’s approval at the meeting held the evening of Thursday, July 12.
No objections were voiced by board members, town officials or attendees. A couple of audience members spoke positively about the new Logger managers’ handling of Boogie’s Restaurant in Del Norte, which has had a liquor license for several years with no problems. Given no report of problems, the control by Tammy Clark and her husband of potentially irresponsible drinkers at that food outlet has been excellent, the evidence seems to show.
Visitor numbers to South Fork have improved in 2012. According to figures given by Marketing Director Ashlee Bratton, 3,351 visited through June, as opposed to 3,245 in the first half of 2011 and 2,651 through June 2010.
For June only of this year, the Visitor Center counted 1,662.
Bratton appealed to the Trustees to approve expenditure for a tethered balloon near the Visitor Center, with flights offered by a balloonist.
First, the expert would have airborne experience scheduled as early as sunrise, Saturday, Aug. 11, in coordination with a drawing for the “Rhythms on the Rio” Music Festival that weekend, and the following Friday, Aug. 17 through Sunday, Aug. 19.
In discussing the cost, Bratton told the board that she favored paying the balloonist $500 for Aug. 11 for use of the device and expertise, and about $1,100 for the second stretch Aug.17-19. Bratton, whose father, Keith Bratton is a trustee, said that, initially, her research had shown the cost for the balloon would be $2,500, but more thorough study revealed that the task would require $1,600 instead. “Hap” Chapman, a longtime South Fork area resident, volunteered a contribution of $100 to the cost, and Mayor Kenneth Brooke and other Board members told the audience that other contributions by citizens or businesses would be welcome to defray costs. Overall, the board did approve of the expenditure.
Chapman also volunteered his field about three miles from South Fork as an alternative landing site. This idea was accepted by the trustees. In discussing the event, the second weekend, six balloons can be expected to show for the event.
More than one South Fork staff job is now available. Building Inspector Matt Raybourn has resigned, giving only two weeks’ notice instead of an expected four. Part-time Land Use Administrator Todd Wright has also submitted his resignation, effective Friday, Aug. 3. And, although not presently budgeted to happen in the near future, the Town Clerk has no assistant, a job that has been filled much of the time in the past.
Police Chief James Chavez is still looking for a full-time officer.
A prospective employee from Texas with law enforcement experience in Bent County, Colo., decided to turn down a job offer, because he did not feel the salary was adequate for supporting himself and his wife. Chavez told the trustees that the only applicants now in the system are fresh law enforcement training graduates, with little or no active on-the-job experience, less than what he would like serving South Fork.
The Board reacted to the job crunch by electing to advertise and post the building inspector and land use positions as soon as possible.
Wright suggested that by advertising both promptly, the town might be able to find someone who can fill both jobs, since each is part-time.
An added complexity Wright pointed out is that the “Smart Code” adopted by South Fork several years ago has a building code that is different the one used by Rio Grande County, so hiring is trickier, and careful oversight is needed to ensure that no errors are made by even a temporary county inspector, or a contractor from Pagosa Springs.
Using the Rio Grande County Building Inspectors will be more costly than having in-house South Fork help. Nevertheless, the board passed a motion to meet with Rio Grande County officials, possibly as early as Monday, July 16.
One expenditure passed at the meeting was to pay the two firms that made the concrete for the dugouts at the South Fork-owned baseball field were owed $1,725 total.
Much of the other construction was voluntary. South Fork Fire Chief Jonathan Gilbert ran the baseball program, and reported 30 kids played, only four with previous playing experience, but lots of fun was had and comradery developed.
A trustee commented, “The $1,725 is worth spending, because it is a one year thing. The dugouts will last a long, long time and the facility will be available for baseball players in South Fork far in the future.”
Marketing Director Bratton said there was unlikely to be a South Fork Farmers’ Market in 2012, as a person designated to give a presentation for one did not show up at Thursday’s meeting.
She did say, however, that fact does not rule out a Farmers’ Market in 2013.