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On Christmas Eve 2022, freezing temperatures and frigid weather conditions caused the town’s 75,000-gallon water tower to crack. The tower sprayed massive amounts of water, creating some damage to surrounding landscaping.

Town of Cheyenne Wells Begins Infrastructure Improvements

By Raina Lucero

May 31, 2023

Cheyenne Wells, Colorado town clerk, Debbie Roths Knudsen sat down with the Kiowa County Independent on Friday to talk a bit about the exciting and much needed improvements to the town’s infrastructure which have been going on throughout town recently.

Knudsen who stepped back into the role of clerk in January after leaving in 2012 to pursue other ventures, began by detailing the not so welcome surprise the town received last Christmas Eve. The freezing temperatures and frigid weather conditions caused the town’s 75,000-gallon water tower to crack. The tower, which was originally erected in 1916 sprayed massive amounts of water, creating some damage to surrounding landscaping. Knudsen stated, “Water went everywhere, it took a few days for all the water to melt down and dissipate out of it.”

The town had to then call upon the company which does their annual inspection of their water towers to put together an estimate of what it would cost to fix the damage, for their insurance agency. However, the company who does their inspections was facing a back log due to similar events happening in Kansas leaving the town with only one tower for use. Because of the back log the repairs to the tank have only just been fixed this month.

Luckily, Cheyenne Wells has another, larger 250,000-gallon water tower that was built in 1993, Knudsen went on to tell us that “Through the winter months this was enough water for the town, however if the event had happened through the summer there would have been a need for water restrictions.”

The tank is now usable and has a 4-inch insulated pipe, “We should not see that type of incident happen again on that tank in our lifetime.”

Last summer the town’s 37-year-old water well had to be replumbed due to an internal breakdown resulting in water restrictions throughout town while it was being worked on. This emergency expense was not covered by insurance and was covered by town funds.

Because of these two separate events, the Town of Cheyenne Wells has been looking ahead at what they can do with their water infrastructure to mitigate future costs to repair outdated and/or damaged utilities. Today, the town is in the application and engineering process of applying for a grant to leasing a few irrigation wells which would change over to a municipal, as well as a water treatment, followed by then piping everything into town. If awarded the grant the project would happen in the 2024-2026 timeframe.

“Water is a commodity and to the rural areas of our state water is gold and we want to latch on to what we can to ensure we have enough water for the future.” States Knudsen.

The town has also recently completed the first phase of chip sealing projects to be done, “We were only going to do a certain number of streets but because the streets are in such disrepair, we included 3 additional streets.”

For unknown reasons chip sealing has gone by the wayside as Knudsen put it, “Because of the lack of chip sealing over the years, our streets have started falling apart. Our public works crew worked with McCormick’s to fill cracks. A-1 Chip Seal Company was contracted to do the chip sealing with the help of our public works crew. A-One, Town Council and staff worked together to repair and brighten up many of our street’s infrastructure in Town. It has been a busy and rewarding time!”

The town is working on other infrastructure grants to improve drainage which will include curb and gutter for a large portion of town. Working in tandem with the Wells Rural Development which is a non-for-profit created last year, the town is also looking at grants that will help address the lack of affordable housing.

Knudsen was excited to announce the town will be seeing bright new colors in the near future as Some Girls and a Mural will be coming to town to paint new entrance signs which have become rusted in their old age. “We want to add some color to our town and keep it alive”. Some Girls and a Mural are working to get a design to the town and are in hopes to have this project done early this fall.

Finally, Knudsen stated, “I cannot express enough how amazing our community volunteers are. For an example, Ellette Eiring does a fantastic job at keeping our trees and flowers looking great at Medicine Arrow Park.” Over the last couple of years, the town has put quite some effort into the maintenance and appearance of the large public park.

Cheyenne Wells Mayor, Kara Uhland, Mayor pro-tem Carlton Pelton, as well as trustees, Rex Hyle, Mark Galli, Sherry Jones, and Jerrod Lamb are dedicated to ensuring members of the community can be proud to call Cheyenne Wells home whether they live there now or come back to visit.

The dedicated work team in Public Works are Town Superintendent Aaron Crum and PW Jeff Miller & PT PW Leif Joosepson & Lyle Miller, Janitor/Painter Jeannie Smith, and City Hall staff; Debbie Knudsen Town Clerk Administrator & Deputies Karen Miller and McKenzie Stewart Smith.

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