News from the San Luis Valley

by Patty LaTaille

Update on the La Veta Pass Transmission Power Struggle

In the latest round of opposition to the utility companies promoting a new transmission line proposal, an employee of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Engineer and renewable energy expert Richard Mignogna recently testified regarding the Public Service Company’s application to amend its 2007 Colorado Resource Plan to modify/delay solar resource acquisition.

According to the Valley Courier, Mignogna recommended the PUC approve the request to defer acquisition of 250 megawatts concentrating solar power until the 2011 Electric Resource Plan process. He claimed “the San Luis Valley to Calumet to Comanche transmission line will affect solar resource development in the Valley, the solar market has changed, and it might be beneficial to a pursue smaller project, such as 50 megawatts.”

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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

Expanded Motorized Routes Challenged

DENVER – Five environmental group are suing the U.S. Forest Service alleging that by approving expanded motor vehicle routes in the forest, it violated several federal laws.

The group would like to remove 500 miles of expanded motor vehicle routes in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests.

The expanded routes are being challenged as “unauthorized and unanalyzed” by the Center for Native Ecosystems of Denver, the Wildlands CPR of Montana, the Wilderness Society, the Quiet Use Coalition and the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, according to a Mountain Mail article.

According to the lawsuit, the expansion allows for “motor vehicle travel on approximately 500 miles of routes that have never been designated” in previous travel management plans. The groups are seeking an injunction to halt the forest service from initiating the expansion on routes that have not been analyzed under the Environmental Policy Act.

A courtroom proceeding and conference on the lawsuit are scheduled for May 4.

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Central Colorado Census Data

We decided to brave the U.S. Census Bureau website (not for the faint of heart or Mac users) to see how the population numbers have changed over the past decade in our neck of the woods. Overall, Colorado gained 727,935 souls for a grand total of 5,029,196. Here in Central Colorado we saw mostly modest increases although many rural communities in the San Luis Valley saw drops in their populations. Also, despite its apparent growth, Salida actually lost population although other communities in Chaffee County saw gains. Lake County and Leadville also saw a decrease in their numbers. Cañon City’s increase is not due to more prisoners – they are not counted in the census.

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Home to Find the Grace in Each Day

By Susan Tweit

Richard and I are home for a while, no small feat given the way our lives have been recently. We’ve been talking about how long it’s been since we’ve been home for more than a few days, enough time to reestablish any semblance of normal routine. (Whatever normal means when you’re living with brain cancer.)

Mid-December, I decided. Richard agreed.

Before my mom broke her hip at home while in hospice care and we began going to Denver every ten days to help, and then every week, and then every few days.

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You Don’t Need to Run Away to Join the Circus Anymore

By Nathan Ward

On a sunny day last summer, I looked up just in time to see a wildly tall woman stepping down F Street, a figure so tall that she had to bend down just to look in the tops of the downtown store windows. Then, acrobats raced by twirling, spinning, flipping heels over head. Then more clowns, young and old, short ones, tall ones and then unicycles spun by. The circus was in town!

The circus holds such a mythical place in human history that just the sight of circus people stirs the soul into an air of anticipation. I ran outside to greet the woman on stilts that turned out to be Jennifer Dempsey, founder of the Salida Circus. She was leading the entire local circus troupe to perform in the park and help raise awareness for Project Education Sudan, a non-profit that builds schools and hope in Southern Sudan.

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A Farmer far Afield – Imagine

By John Mattingly

I believe it was Sartre who said, “The only people who have time to rock the boat are people who aren’t rowing. On the other hand, we all understand the need to drop your oars when you see the boat is headed over a hundred-foot waterfall.”

It does seem that the threshold for “dropping one’s oars” has lowered considerably in the last few decades, meaning people complain about smaller and smaller matters, confusing preference with priority, and this has contributed to the contentiousness of our political theater.

In the past, I’ve had a knee-jerk negative reaction to all government for several reasons.

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The Civil War and Us

 By Ed Quillen

The American Civil War, whose sesquicentennial begins this month, started years before there was a place named Salida, and even its nearest battles were hundreds of miles away.

Even so, there’s a big stone memorial that faces F Street from Riverside Park behind a park bench. The letters are getting indistinct, but they remain legible if you get close: “Our Honored Heroes. 1861-1865. Erected by Salida Circle No. 12 Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic Department of Colorado and Wyoming, A.D. 1916.”

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From theEditor – War and Circuses

Since our last issue the world has seen tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, near-meltdowns at nuclear reactors, no-fly zones, allied bombing of Libya, new protests in Bahrain, Syria, Egypt and Yemen, forest fires in Colorado and Charlie Sheen.

We’d like for our April issue to be a respite from all that but we do have to warn you – we have two pieces discussing one of the greatest tragedies in U.S. history, the Civil War.

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Book Review

The Present Giver
A Memoir, by Bar Scott
Alm Books
223 pages, paperback
ISBN-13: 978-061544069

Reviewed by Annie Dawid

Recently decamped from Woodstock, New York, to Westcliffe, Colorado, at least for part of each year, singer-songwriter Bar Scott has published her first book, The Present Giver: A Memoir, which tells the story of her son, Forrest, who died in 2002 at the age of three and a half, from cancer. Scott informs the reader of this fact on the frontispiece of her beautifully designed book, adding, “If this were a novel, I would be reluctant to disclose that the central character dies in the end. But this is not a novel, and Forrest’s death was not the end.”

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regional restaurant review

by Lum Pennington

Teocalli Tamale
311 1/2 Elk Avenue
Crested Butte, CO
(970) 349-2005

This winter in Salida has been an anomaly: endless weeks of sunny, warmish weather with hardly a snowflake in sight. When even my Toyota began to whimper, longing for a cool slick of snow and ice in its treads, we struck out in search of “winter wonderland,” suspecting we’d find it in Crested Butte.

Admittedly Crested Butte is a long way to travel for lunch – especially since Salida offers so many terrific culinary options. But hey, we were in need of snow. And we found it – and the reward we knew we’d get at Teocalli Tamale.

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Down on the Ground with the Debris of America

By George Sibley

Jobs. I thought that was what the election last year was about – creating jobs, I mean. The party that was more or less in power, the Democrats, had promised jobs but weren’t producing them fast enough, so we the people turned the job of jobs over to the other party whose promises to create jobs had not been tested. Not for two years anyway, not since the eight-year reign of the second Bush, which had seen the creation of very few jobs despite less desperate economic times. But that was then; this is now, and two years is a long a time for Americans to remember an old mistake.

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Water Update

Water Update by John Orr

Denzel Goodwin

The Upper Arkansas Valley said goodbye to cowboy, rancher and visionary Denzel Goodwin in February just before his 87th birthday. Goodwin (along with attorney Ken Baker) led the petition drive in the late 1970s that established the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. Goodwin led the organization for 25 years and also served on the board of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District for 16 years. He helped found the Fremont County Water Users association in 1956. He also served as a Fremont County commissioner and on the Cotopaxi school and fire district boards.

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Thoughts from a windy March

By Hal Walter

Hearing an owl hoot in the middle of the day is considered by some an omen of death or at least serious bad luck, which I suppose would make sense since I heard the owl on the day after my 51st birthday.

Misfortune? It’s relative. Death? I suppose I’ve reached to point of understanding none of us are getting out of here alive, and odds are my time here is more than half up.

Before we dwell too far upon the negative, let us also take comfort that owls can bring messages of circumspection. And that can be a good thing. Owls are also a symbol of higher wisdom. And I figured at this point this owl didn’t care what time of day it was, just so long as the damned wind didn’t carry its voice away.

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Going to Extremes in Buena Vista

by Elizabeth Battaglia

Now in its fifth year, the Adventure Xstream Series is returning to Buena Vista and gearing up for another eventful – and extreme – race day. Three different disciplines are offered depending on the racer’s level of experience: the sprint, sport and adventure categories. Each one offers a challenge for every level of experience. All of them will test the competitor’s outdoor skills as a solo racer or as a team.

On May 14 Buena Vista will be opening its doors and hosting this event. Over 200 competitors are expected, coming from all different areas in Colorado and from many divergent backgrounds.

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Book Review

La Sociedad: Guardians of Hispanic Culture Along the Rio Grande
By José A. Rivera
University of New Mexico Press, 2010
ISBN 978-0 8263-4894-4
Photographs by Daniel Salazar et al.

Reviewed by Virginia McConnell Simmons

In 1900, led by Celedonia Mondragón of Antonito, his Hispanic neighbors organized the Sociedad Protección Mútua de Trabajadores Unidos, which soon had 65 chapters called concilios throughout rural southern Colorado, northern New Mexico, and a few places in Utah. These buildings once bore, or still bear in many cases, the fading initials SPMDTU for brevity’s sake, as the facades often tended to be small.

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