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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – June 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

Crisis Continues

The fallout from Alamosa’s salmonella contamination goes on. The final cost, estimated at $600,000, is being alleviated by funding from several sources. The state Dept. of Local Affairs is kicking in a $50,000 grant and the Colorado Health Foundation is giving $50,000 to the county nursing service. However, the crisis uncovered other problems — and expenses. Many of the city’s water pipes are of the ancient iron variety, and will need to be replaced. In addition, Alamosa needs a new water storage tank. The state is giving the city $1 million for it, but the total cost will be about $2.5 million. State Sen. Gail Schwartz and the Salazar brothers all say they’re trying to get more money for Alamosa.

And it appears the people did not escape unscathed. Giardia has also run amok in the water system, as well as other bugs, and some people, mostly kids, are still sick. One death has been attributed to the salmonella outbreak, but no identification has been released except that the victim was a middle-aged man.

The upside is the city’s spirit. Many volunteers passed out fliers and free water. A local group organized a “Pack the Restaurants” event to encourage businesses to reimburse employees for all or part of the expense of a meal out, hoping to help those businesses hurt by the outbreak. Another piece of good news is that the city is considering giving residents a credit or discount on water bills for the inconvenience. A thank-you to Chef Michael DeGiovanni, who prepared a gourmet luncheon for county staff and others who helped during the crisis.

Brief Briefs

The BLM has deferred the sale of oil and gas leases in Rio Grande National Forest. The announcement came after numerous public protests and questions regarding the effects of drilling on water quality and wildlife habitat. A new sale date has not been announced.

The city of Alamosa has decided not to buy Splashland. The five-decade-old pool may have to close permanently. Supporters are seeking another source to fund and run the community gem.

Creede may become a mining town again. A coalition of mining companies may begin silver mining again this summer.

“The Great Thunder Bear,” a sculpture created by local artists Jim Gilmore and Fred Haberlein, was donated to Trinidad State College-Valley Campus. The piece was purchased and donated by LeRoy and Rosalie Martinez.

The Conejos County Long Term Care Unit announced it will close on June 30, leaving families scrambling to find nursing home placements for their elders.

The Alamosa Board of Education is buying 40 acres in town to build two new schools. The new facilities are slated for kids K-2 and 3-5. The old schools could become commercial space.

The Valley has suffered two more casualties. Michael Lukow of Alamosa was wounded in Iraq, and Glen Martinez of Monte Vista was killed.

The Alamosa Police Department moved into a new home, a strip mall near City Market. The former retail slot is still being renovated.

Fort Garland turns 150 this year, and the museum is planning festivities as well as a new exhibit, “Saving the Fort.”

Alamosa’s trash rates may double for commercial pickup. The increase may be spread out over three to five years.

Alamosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Thompson received the medal of honor and the silver star for rescuing a toddler from a pond last winter.

It’s that time of year again: A wildfire kicked up in Costilla County, burning about 200 acres before it was put out. Other small fires have erupted, due largely to the notorious San Luis Valley spring winds.