Van Zalinge named new Center police chief


CENTER — At the Center Town Board meeting July 17, town trustees announced they have completed the selection process for their new police chief, voting to appoint Tristan Van Zalinge to the position. Sgt. Tim Arellano served as interim police chief until the new chief was hired.
Van Zalinge served most recently as a Monte Vista Police Department corporal. He has eight years of experience, working as a police officer in Center, a sheriff’s deputy and later undersheriff in Saguache County, also a sheriff’s deputy in Rio Grande County.
Town Administrator Brian Lujan welcomed Van Zalinge to the town and said he is looking forward to working with him.

Water warning
Lujan said Monday that trustees discussed the current water situation at the last meeting, agreeing the town is under a “water warning.” This means watering ordinances are not being followed by town residents. He estimated residents are using approximately 1.2 million gallons of water a day. Despite recent rains, the drought continues, weather experts caution, and water saving measures should continue as well.

New utility provider
The town has agreed to sign on with a new utility provider, Lujan reported, choosing Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN), a not-for-profit wholesale electricity supply organization of NMPP Energy. Created in 1981, MEAN provides cost-based power supply, transmission and related services to 69 participating communities in four states: Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming according to the company’s website.
The board voted to sign on with MEAN after previously considering Guzman Energy out of Denver. Prior to the vote, the town received its supplemental electric from Xcel. The switch is expected to save the town about $100,000 a year, Lujan noted.
Lujan explained that MEAN member communities benefit from local control over power supply options, as the company describes on its website. Each MEAN member community has a voting representative, meaning Center will have a say in how decisions are made regarding its utility operations. Over half the small municipalities in Colorado are now MEAN members.
The electric provider also will offer the town help from other municipalities in Colorado enrolled as members during emergency situations.  The town is also looking to purchase natural gas from the NMPP, but talks are in the preliminary stages, Lujan said.

Water meters
A request for quote in installing the town’s water meters has been sent in, Lujan reported, and trustees have set water meter goals. The town will apply for a 50/50 grant from the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) in December and hopefully the organization that recently provided a zero-interest loan to the town or its new water tank will then also provide a zero-interest loan for the meter installation.
The request for quotes will give the town “solid financials” to go on, Lujan said, before deciding who to contract with. The actual installation will take about six months once the grant and loan are secured, but may not begin until next spring, after the ground has thawed.

Fourth of July
Lujan described the town’s July 4th celebration as “a big success” and thanked sponsors for their support. He said he is looking forward to planning the event for next year and invites anyone with suggestions and ideas to bring them to the town.


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