On Tuesday Gypsum Town Council members had a meeting quite different from the usual routine - they convened at the gun club.
Four council members - just enough for a quorum - met at the Gypsum Shooting Sports Park at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than usual. Official business was light duty. The meeting was scheduled as an opportunity to get a tour of the facility and shoot some trap. The trap shooting was canceled due to the rain, however.
"This is the first Tuesday night we've had rain since April," said Mayor Pro Tem and Gun Club President Dick Mayne. "I know because we have a (shooting event) every Tuesday."
Nonetheless, the other three council members - Beric Christiansen, Tom Edwards and Pam Schultz - received a history lesson from Mayne about the Shooting Sports Park and plans for its new facilities.
"We meet at places like the gun club about every other year," said Town Manager Jeff Shroll. "We had it at the sewer plant the year before, after its $4.5 million expansion. It's a chance for the council to see parts of the town they normally wouldn't."
What is now the Shooting Sports Park was literally a dump when people started using it as a shooting range in the 1950s, Mayne said.
"I used to work in the one trap house and set up targets for the old-timers," he said.
The land was owned by the Bureau of Land Management and leased to the county until it was annexed by the town in 2000.
"Until then, the gun club didn't want to invest much sweat equity into the place because the property could change hands at any time," Mayne said.
Since then, the club has installed sewer and water connections and a variety of shooting ranges among other things. There are currently five trap houses, two pistol ranges, at least two rifle ranges and an archery range. There are also lights for nighttime trap shooting.
"It's a pretty unique club," Mayne said. "The town philosophy is to try to accommodate as many shooting sports interests as we can. People stop in from all over the country during hunting season and some people come up from Denver regularly."
Mayne said most of the improvements at the site have been made in the last 10 or 12 years since it was annexed. The next grand plans are to scrap the current club house and build a new one with two stories.
"We hope to have construction drawings by November so we can apply for grants by December and maybe start building next spring," he said. "The Division of Parks and Wildlife conducts hunter education classes here and the new building would allow us to host two events at the same time."
The club has about 250 active members and another 200 that are inactive. A diversity of professions, trades and skills are represented among that group, which has been the main reason the club has been able to make many of the improvements.
"We have members who are excavators, masons electricians and plumbers," Mayne said.
A few Eagle Scout projects have also improved the park.
The current clubhouse was built in the '50s. It's made of cinder blocks and the foundation is cracking. Mice used to get in until a new door, windows and roof were added in recent years.
"We also want to re-orient the parking," Mayne said.
The town helps fund the bigger projects and club membership fees and donated labor cover the routine maintenance. Membership costs $100 for a calendar year. Members who contribute labor earn $50 renewals.
The unusual location of the council meeting was naturally the source of a few laughs.
At one point, Gypsum Creek Middle School teacher Torrey Kadetz addressed the board about the school's upcoming Civil War battle reenactment. He told the board he would be requesting a few thousand dollars to help about half the eighth-graders cover the cost to participate.
Last year's Battle of Shiloh in Maloit Park in Minturn was quite a success, Kadetz said. The students dressed in full costumes and fired plumes of flour from fake muskets as pyrotechnics sent debris flying through the air.
"This year's class is already asking if they get to do that this spring," Kadetz said. "Half of them are on the free-and-reduced lunch program, so I know they'll need help to afford this."
Shroll asked how many parents had a problem with their children using fake weapons.
"Not here in Gypsum," Kadetz said. "Upvalley had a few, though."
"I guess we are the town having a meeting at the gun club," he said.
In other business:
• Leaders from the Eagle County Ambulance District and Western Eagle County Ambulance District presented their plans to merge as one entity under the banner of ECAD within the next year. The merger will ultimately have to be approved by a special district election but WECAD manager Chris Montera doesn't anticipate a problem, as the mill levy will drop by 3 mills. For more details on the merger, search "ECAD, WECAD" on the Enterprise website, www.eaglevalleyenterprise.com.
• The council approved a donation of $250 to the Eagle River Watershed Council for the annual river cleanup. The cleanup will cover about 70 miles of river this year on Sept. 29. See page 10 for more information about the event.
• The council passed the first reading of an ordinance to further define the municipal code regarding parks and playgrounds.
• The council discussed the recent acquisition of property at 461 Railroad Ave. The town paid approximately $136,000 for four lots and two buildings that have been vacant for a long time. Shroll said there are no specific plans for the property at this time except to revitalize business in that area of town.