Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – June 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine

Valley Visitors

Intrepid travelers Jose Madeira and Bernardo Maia came to Alamosa from East Timor to learn about fish farming. The pair toured aquaculture centers in the area. The 5-year-old nation has been ravaged by war and has an unemployment rate of nearly 50 percent. Madeira and Maia hope aquaculture can provide jobs, food, and stability for their country.

Negative Nonprofit

Valley Community Fund is in deep trouble. The umbrella organization that raises and disburses money to its member nonprofit agencies is drowning in financial problems. The board laid off three of its four employees and canceled several fundraising programs. Accusations range from mismanagement to malfeasance and several member agencies have left VCF. The board of directors is trying to conjure up a plan to revive the coalition.

ICE Strikes

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency hit the San Luis Valley, arresting 19 suspected illegal immigrants at Worley and McCullough, a potato plant near Monte Vista. Two of those arrested were the general manager and foreman, who authorities say facilitated the purchasing of false identifications. The response to the raid included a candlelight vigil and aid from several Valley agencies for family members left behind.

Brief Briefs

The San Luis Valley will get a third district court judge. Plans are to have the new judge on board by July 1, thus expediting cases.

The Alamosa City Council agreed to hold meetings only within city limits. The change came as the result of a lawsuit over, in part, holding a retreat elsewhere in the Valley.

Mary Gallegos pleaded guilty to embezzlement and official

misconduct. She’s the former Conejos County Jail Administrator and wife of Isaac Gallegos, former sheriff, who was convicted of embezzlement and extortion last year.

The San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center is floating a $6.6 million bond issue to fund more expansions of services and facilities. The hospital bought the Grizzly Inn, which it plans to raze to build an orthopedic center, and some nearby houses, which will become parking spaces. The hospital received $23,000 from a philanthropic group to buy a gamma detection system, used to find lymph nodes.

Work is going slowly on Alamosa’s Main Street. The business district reports low revenues and frustrated customers during the beautification process.

Karla Shriver of Monte Vista was named to the Great Outdoors Colorado Fund board. Bruce McCloskey retired as head of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.<

The city of Alamosa will help Cattails Golf Course build a new clubhouse. The public course wants a $775,000 facility they say will lure tournaments to the Valley.

Alamosa County Administrator Herry Andrews resigned. Hector Chavez, formerly of Colorado Springs, is the new city finance director.

Michael Mumper is the new provost of Adams State College, his alma mater. Joel Shults is ASC’s new director of public safety.

Rep. John Salazar hosted a public meeting on renewable energy in the Valley, during which he promoted the use of solar and cellulose as energy sources. Afterward, he toured the site of a biodiesel plant.

Gov. Ritter attended the groundbreaking for the new solar power plant near Mosca. Solar may be the power source for Alamosa County’s planned new social services building.

Alamosa County offices resumed normal business hours after three >months of reduced hours.

Hospice del Valle celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Former state Sen. Lewis Entz was given an honorary doctorate in state and local government at Adams State’s spring commencement.

Ground was broken for the new park and playground at the Boys & Girls Club in Alamosa.

Costilla County raised its water and sewer rates. The average bill will jump $2 per month.

Steam engine #1744 arrived in the Valley to begin work on La Veta Pass.