Mayor pro tem leaves gap in Meeker town board

MEEKER — He’s served on the Meeker Board of Trustees for almost five years and held the office of mayor pro tem for close to a year, but Chris Ham has never faced a public election.
As an interested citizen, he was appointed to fill an empty trustee seat. When that position came up for election, there was no one to run against him, so he kept the position.
“This isn’t the way the democratic system is supposed to work,” Ham said during a farewell statement at his last official town meeting Oct. 8. Ham is moving to Grand Junction, where his wife, Heidi, former Meeker Recreation District director, took a job in May.
“In my time here I have not been voted on by the public once. That’s disappointing to me. It’s not how I expected to end up mayor pro tem of the town.”
Ham has enjoyed working with the other trustees and town staff, getting out and talking to people in town about the issues. He hopes his departure will spur others to get involved in local government.
“It would be great if people would participate, at least by voting, if not by getting involved in town council,” he said.
The town will appoint a replacement trustee to fill the remainder of Ham’s term. Interested citizens should contact the town for further information. If no one is appointed within 60 days, the seat will go into election process.
Town Manager Sharon Day updated the board on a recent meeting town staff had with Colorado Department of Transportation officials regarding the installation of a stoplight along Market Street.
“We know we have a traffic problem,” Day said.
Proving that to CDOT may be another matter. The department requires a week-long, 12-hour-per-day traffic study that will cost the town between $5,000-10,000. According to CDOT officials, they only have enough funding to install one traffic light per year in the state. If the traffic study proved Meeker has a need for a stoplight, there would be 35-40 requests ahead of the town. Day recommended going ahead with the study this year and budgeting for the stoplight in next year’s budget.
“It’s just a matter of time before we have a serious accident,” Day said of the current traffic conditions along Market Street.
“Nobody can cross that street safely, nobody,” added Trustee Chuck Mills, who lives on Water Street.
In other business, town staff unveiled the proposed annual budget for 2009. Copies of the budget are available for public perusal. The public hearing for the budget’s approval will be held Nov. 18.