From the Editor

I spent some time in prison last month.

Admittedly it was of my own free will and not because of any errant criminal behavior. My three hours spent touring the agricultural and manufacturing facilities at the Colorado State Correctional Facility were eye-opening to say the least.

I first became curious about the facility after learning that some local food producers and distributors were buying products from the prison and was hoping to get a first-hand look in order to share the story with Colorado Central readers.

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Raising Crops … and Hopes

cci, colorado correctional, wild horses

Story and photos by Mike Rosso

It is one of the largest agricultural operations in Colorado, encompassing nearly 6,000 acres. It includes a goat dairy, corn fields, vineyards, floral greenhouses, cow dairy, tilapia fish farms, composting operation, a wild horse training program, and it is all located in Fremont County, just outside Cañon City.

Most of the workers are paid just a few dollars a day but gladly take on the physical tasks with few complaints. That is because the workers are all inmates, serving out sentences at the Colorado State Correction facilities and their employer is Colorado Correctional Industries (CCI), a for-profit division of the state prison system.

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NEEDED: Reliable Repair Manual for Fixing Everything

by Martha Quillen

Sometimes it seems as if nothing works the way it’s supposed to anymore: banks, economies, Toyotas, airplanes, oil rigs, Microsoft Windows, America’s health care industry, and America’s food supply.

Cell phones snap, crackle and pop – then drop your call.

You turn on the news, and the satellite signal gets lost. Finally, twenty minutes later, the signal returns – just in time to catch the anchors signing off.

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News from the San Luis Valley

by Marcia Darnell

Hot Dog Crisis

Cities face a lot of difficult issues: water, crime, finance, natural disasters. Alamosa, however, faces a struggle over a hot dog cart. Linda Pardue wants to sell her Hebrew National dogs in parks and at public events. The city council is unsure how to handle the request, and has asked for more time to research this complex dilemma.

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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

Leadville Women Murdered by Stalker

LEADVILLE -A Leadville woman was shot to death in front of her home by a man against whom she had a restraining order.

Yvonne Flores, 58, who worked as a teaching assistant in Leadville, was shot twice on July 7 by Anthony Medina, 58, who then took his own life, according to the Herald-Democrat.

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Hitchin’ in the USA – (Not a Cautionary Tale)

by Mark Kneeskern

Have you ever woken up on the floor of a one-room rock house in the Chihuahuan Desert, knowing that sixty years before a Mexican mercury miner woke in the same rock house that he built with his own two hands?? Have you scratched and yawned, going outside to find your bike has a flat tire, realizing that you’d have to hitch hike for the first time in your life to get to work, a job that entails floating on a watery border, back and forth between a “developed” nation and a “developing” one?? Did you then rush out the door with a personal flotation device strapped to your back, stumbling to the road between prickly pear and lechuguilla to receive a ride from a beautiful, sleepy-eyed creature with whom you would fall in love and spend many happy years?

I have.? Just once.? That’s all it took to hook this boy.? I thought, “So THIS is what hitchhiking is like!”

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Water Update

by John Orr


Most of Colorado’s water users – municipal, agricultural, recreational and industrial – depend on annual snowmelt for their supplies. So it’s no wonder that many across Colorado watch the snowpack closely through the beginning of the water year and then anxiously anticipate the runoff. Will it come off too fast to be stored or will there be enough to fill? Will there be flooding? Will the holes and rapids along the whitewater sections be navigable?

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Restaraunt Review

by Patty LaTaille

6380 U.S. Hwy 285
Poncha Springs, CO (719) 539-2903

Grimo’s restaurant has been a mainstay in Poncha Springs since 1985 – continuing to be family-owned and now operated by Frank Grimo. It’s a delightfully stereotypical “Italiano” sort of place; complete with a red, white and green striped outside awning, red linen tablecloths and napkins, bottles of wicker-wrapped Chianti bottles and sparkling colored Christmas lights. (Think of visiting your Italian grandmother’s house in years past, but without the plastic covers on the furniture.) Good smells, good food – and Italian operas or Frank Sinatra crooning in the background.

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The caboose

by Forrest Whitman

This column is dedicated to two Colorado Central readers I ran into in a Salida coffee house. They tell me they are planning to go hoboin’ this fall. This column might prove useful to them. I love hearing hobos spin yarns, at least when they are fairly sober. I had an uncle who was a hobo for a while. He’s gone off to the big Rock Candy Mountain now, but at least some of his information is still good today. My recollections from my own time on the rails as a brakeman is dated, but possibly useful. I’ve also interviewed four hobos out there right now so some of this column is hot off the rails. If it’s of no use, well as the hobos say, “What the hell; it’s free isn’t it?”

Where did all the hobos go?

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Cultural Climate Change Down on the Ground

by George Sibley

We’re hearing a lot about “climate change” these years – apparently an article of faith, like God: something you believe in or you don’t, or don’t really believe in but pretend you do, or sort of do believe in but pretend you don’t, as suits your politics and political friends in other more immediate matters.

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An adventure in book publishing

By Hal Walter

My little jab at the Literary Industrial Complex – Wild Burro Tales – Thirty Years of Haulin’ Ass – is nearly reality. Soon the book will be available in local retail establishments and on

This collection of stories had its origins in my adventures on the Western Pack-Burro Racing circuit. But this experience grew to include a fascination with equus asinus, my exploration of using these animals as backcountry packers and saddle donkeys, and as therapeutic riding animals for my son Harrison. While the book is full of adventures, the process of putting this volume together is another story worth telling.

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A Farmer Far Afield – Debt Is A Four-Letter Word

By John Mattingly

Four-letter words are effective, on occasion.

I don’t fall in with the pageant of people who claim all debt is bad. It would not surprise me if humans invented written language for the purpose of keeping track of debts. Marks on baboon bones (See Ishango baboon bones, Stone Age Africa) from over 20,000 years ago indicate early homo sapiens were keeping track of borrowings. Debt is as old as civilization, so if one has any faith in civilization, one must concede that there is good debt and bad debt.

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Review: Mother Jones: Raising Cain and Consciousness

By Simon Cordery

Published in 2010 by University of New Mexico Press

ISBN 978-0-8263-4810-4

$21.95 paperback; 224 pages

Reviewed by Virginia McConnell Simmons

Social, political, and economic gulfs that are seldom probed in depth by popular histories exist between the mansions of mining kings in cities and the shacks of anonymous miners in ghost towns. This new biography of Mother Jones will offer readers an understanding of the underlying issues, attitudes, and clashes in strikes and elections.

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Locally Grown Foods – (or, Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is)

by Bill Hatcher

I mean, how hard could it be? You take some seeds, you put them in the ground, add a little water, make sure they get plenty of sun, and voila! Instant veggies for garnishing every meal! Maybe give a few to friends. Maybe even sell some at the local farmer’s market.
That was back in March. And now, well, I guess my little experiment in gardening now looks more like an attempt made by early hunter-gatherers. But thank God there are several intrepid local farmers willing to provide the rest of us poor Neanderthals with some of their sunshine-fresh bounty.

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The Crowded Acre – “Mama’s Boy”

by Jennifer Welch

“OK, it’s time,” I say to my husband and my dad. The three of us walk outside to the pen where our three baby goats live. We pull out Mama’s Boy and I look into his sweet, unsuspecting eyes. I think about all the times I swore I would never do this to any animal. Things change, time goes on; all I can do is try to keep up. “Hold him down for me guys …”    

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Lightening the Carbon Footprint of Our Food

by Susan Tweit

After a holiday weekend spent cooking for a house full of visitors from age 10 to 81, I have food on my mind, in particular, ways to lighten the carbon footprint of what we eat. According to Stephen Hopp in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, agriculture consumes about 17 percent of the United States total energy use, second only, Hopp notes, to our gas-guzzling vehicles.

Producing our food is energy-intensive for three main reasons: the distance it is transported from farm to table – an astonishing average of 1,500 miles, how much processed food we eat, and our energy-intensive farming methods, especially synthetic fertilizers.

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