by Rick Langenberg:
Texas may have “Friday nights” with their football frenzy, Colorado has (Peyton) “Manning-mania,” but little Green Mountain Falls sports “Tuesday night circus time,” with their regular trustee meetings.
In fact, GMF forums have become the prime entertainment spot in the Ute Pass on these special evenings that now attract standing-room-only crowds. But as some locals say: Stay near the back row in case any stray punches are landed.
With frequent hotbed issues these days in Green Mountain Falls, tensions frequently ignite between GMF Mayor Lorrie Worthey and veteran Trustee Mac Pitrone and others. But that’s just part of the biweekly show that has been accentuated by a recall campaign and constant disaster mitigation issues. In their most recent meeting, the trustees nearly set a record: going nearly three hours without a blow-up. But the board just couldn’t clear the no-feud hurdle.
Worthey and Pitrone, in a shouting match style, squared off on Sept. 3 regarding a new proposal to allow the public works department the right to have vehicles towed and impounded that are parked illegally in the GMF maintenance/equipment yard area, off the main drag.
Pitrone, who presented the measure, mentioned this situation as a big liability problem. “The yard is not a parking lot,” said Pitrone, who wants the city to have the right to take action against unauthorized cars parked in this maintenance area. “We are not responsible for the safety of these automobiles.” He stressed the importance of GMF town vehicles being able to enter and exit this area without interference.
Worthey, though, took this plan as an attack against her. During the Aug. 22 flood, the mayor personally assisted a local family and told them they could park their vehicle at the GMF equipment yard. Moreover, she mentioned the lack of emergency plans for citizens living near the creek area as a big problem. The mayor citied this example as another reason why the town needs an emergency response plan for handling disasters She was appalled by Pitrone’s attitude about helping local residents “Can’t we have compassion for our citizens?” questioned Worthey, who said she was trying to assist a local family, who live near the creek, and was worried about their well-being.
She indicated the family at the time of the flood didn’t get much help, and so she told them they could park their personal vehicle in the city yard on a temporary basis. The mayor also referred to previous reports regarding her telling a bunch of people to park there as erroneous. “We can’t worry about the whole town,” blasted Pitrone, who noted that the home in question wasn’t threatened in any way. “Have you ever talked to this lady (the person that parked her car in the maintenance yard),” replied the mayor, who indicated that local citizens found themselves in harm’s way and needed help.
But Pitrone indicated that some respect is needed for city employees who were dealing with a record-breaking flood event. “He (a city employee) might have been a little excited and gruff (at the time of the flood with this resident). We just had lost three bridges,” related Pitrone.
The feud reached a peak when Michael Urban, a representative of the Concerned Citizens of Green Mountain Falls group, made a comment about possibly installing “no trespassing” signs at the maintenance yard. Urban frequently adds a little humorous commentary to many regular trustee sessions.
But on this occasion, any attempt at humor wasn’t appreciated. Pitrone became infuriated and told Urban he planned to have the town marshal “take him out” from the meeting if he said another word. “I have had about enough of you tonight,” said Pitrone. The shouting match then came to a halt, but not before some people in the audience shook their heads in embarrassment or confusion in trying to figure out the latest GMF showdown. At the recommendation of Trustee Tyler Stevens, Pitrone was advised to compile an official resolution regarding his request. He agreed to do this and the matter may be discussed again on Sept. 17.
Work together or pay more money
Ironically, and despite the recent Worthey/Pitrone blow-up, the most recent Sept. 3 session of the GMF trustees featured one of the more civil proceedings in some time, especially when the elected leaders were dealing with some significant issues. But the trustees failed in their effort to reach the three hour barrier without a fight. But unless the town wants to pay more money in legal costs, that scenario may have to change.
Earlier in the discussion, GMF attorney Lisa Tormoen Hickey told the trustees that they are going to have to work together better, limit her time or pay her an additional $4,000 in legal fees for the remainder of the year. She cited escalating costs, mainly due to the board’s inability to work together, compared to past boards.
In a compromise move, the town leaders agreed to limit her time in dealing with the board of trustees, such as no longer requiring her to attend regular meetings. So now GMF Tuesday night circus nights won’t have any legal experts to intervene.