Briefs from the San Luis Valley
Brief by Marcia Darnell
San Luis Valley – December 2005 – Colorado Central Magazine
Votes Are in
Alamosa voters okayed the floating of bonds to finance a water treatment plant, while Monte Vista voters nixed a mill levy increase. The DA will still be under term limits in the San Luis Valley, while half the SLV’s school boards saw candidates run unopposed. The mayors of Alamosa and Monte Vista remain in office.
Vet Helps Vets
Ralph Outcault donated 42 acres of land to preserve Homelake, the state veteran’s home profiled in the November, 2004 edition of Colorado Central. The Homelake Historic Preservation and Restoration Foundation has already sold the property, appraised at $110,000. Outcault, a veteran of the ETO during WWII, recently gave a building to the San Luis Valley History Museum.
Another Valley philanthropist, Becca Thompson, swam 11 miles nonstop to raise money for breast cancer research. The 15-year-old is a lifeguard in Alamosa.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is once again in need of new management. The train’s operators, Rio Grande Railroad Preservation Company, quit, leaving the choo-choo short of oversight and funds. The railroad is over $800,000 in the hole, but those who love it hope the passage of Referendum C will make a difference.
Citizens for Responsible Development, opposed to the planned Village at Wolf Creek, opened an office in Creede. To the group’s glee, a state court overturned Mineral County’s OK of the development. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service has expressed concerns about the effects of the project on public lands, specifically higher traffic on U.S. 160. The USFS statement is now subject to review, which includes public input.
The San Luis Valley has been excluded from critical habitat designation for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. This means that current irrigation, grazing, levee-building and other ag practices can continue unabated.
The Rio Grande County Commissioners approved a gravel pit in South Fork despite vigorous opposition in the community.
It’s the return of the son of AWDI. Trial is set for Jan. 30 as local companies oppose state regs concerning new water withdrawals from the confined aquifer. The SLV Water Co., Cotton Creek Circles LLC, and Colorado Home Builders Association, all exporters, are facing the politicos in a trial expected to last six weeks.
Farther south, surface water users in Conejos County are uniting to protect their rights. In the same area, the Conejos Water Conservancy District got the go-ahead to form sub-districts.
And in Alamosa, the practice of charging city employees a lower water rate is over. New city councilor April Gonzales raised the issue during her campaign and won.
Conejos held ribbon cuttings for both a new jail and a new parish hall. La Puente in Alamosa (profiled in the January, 2000, edition of Colorado Central) also broke ground for an addition and renovation.
GANAS has formed. The Greater Antonito Native Advancement Society aims to involve community members in service projects.
The Valley now has 211 service, to link callers to health and human services.
Antonito poet Aaron Abeyta has a new book out, As Orion Falls, reviewed in November’s Colorado Central. Del Norte poet Art Washburn has published “Shadow-maker.”
The Alamosa Senior Center opened a new kitchen.
Alamosan Toney Cantu bowled a 300 game at ABC Pro Bowl.
Linda Schoonhoven of Monte Vista joined the board of RiGHT. Denise Christensen is the new children’s program director at Southern Peaks Public Library.
Del Norte Federal S&L broke ground for a new building.
Arlene Varos retired from Conejos County Hospital after 40 years.
Former Alamosa County Treasurer Charlene Cockrum struck a plea bargain for embezzlement. Lois Widhalm is her replacement.
Blanca celebrated its second Harvest Festival.
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