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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – June 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

Champ Honored

Alamosa artist Bob Booth will unveil a life-sized bronze of Jack Dempsey on July 22. The sculpture of the Manassa Mauler will reside at the Jack Dempsey Museum in Manassa.

Miniatures of the statue, which will help the project, are available for $1,000 each.

Grocery Challenge Met

A group of Alamosa residents lost a suit to stop Safeway from building in their neighborhood. After the old Ortega Middle School was sold to the corporation, the city council rezoned the area to make way for a new superstore. Plaintiffs in the suit charged the action was “spot zoning,” which is illegal. District Judge Robert Ogburn disagreed.

New businesses are said to be interested in the area, too, which could create a lot of congestion on that block of Main Street.

Local Boy Makes Good

Ken Salazar, San Luis Valley native and current state Attorney General, is doing what many here hoped he would when he was elected. Salazar warned Stockman’s Water Co. that if it tries again to pump water out of the Valley aquifer, they’ll face a fight with the state. He promised to use the full resources of his office to stop any attempt by Gary Boyce, owner of Stockman’s, to sell water out of the Valley.

Salazar’s family owns a ranch here, but not in the area threatened by Stockman’s plan. Salazar, it seems, is just doing the right thing.

Shot Down

Costilla County failed in its attempt to halt logging on the Taylor Ranch, also known as La Sierra. The county claimed that the logging (3,000 acres so far) threatens water flow, soil, and wildlife on the ranch.

U.S. District Court Judge John Kane refused to issue a restraining order, saying the county didn’t prove its case.

Blanca Recall Set

The long-simmering Blanca situation will come to a boil June 29, the date set for the recall election of Mayor Myrrl Smith and Town Trustees Brenda Ritter, Ted Baldwin, and Lucian Velasquez. Smith is charged with abuse of power, the trustees with holding office illegally.

A previous recall effort against Mayor Smith failed.

Meanwhile …

In San Luis, three people, including the town clerk, were arrested on charges relating to a string of burglaries in the area.

No To Rocks

The Rio Grande County Commissioners denied a conditional use application for a proposed rock crushing operation near Del Norte. The commissioners said the business would be incompatible with the area and its residents.


A Texas-based company has approached the Alamosa City Council about building a potato mulching factory at the county landfill. This could bring badly needed jobs to the Valley and create a solution for the disposal of cull potatoes, spuds too small to sell. Cull potatoes are now dumped, creating pollution and contributing to late blight, a potato disease.

Junior Enterprise

A group of hard-working elementary students in Antonito built a greenhouse as part of their studies. The project is teaching the kids math, agriculture, marketing, and other skills.

Sounds like a productive semester.

Engine Passes Test

Old 169 performed under pressure — 300 psi. The steam locomotive, which greets visitors to the Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce, was fired up (its boiler, that is) to meet requirements for a restoration grant.

Supporters of the project hope to eventually run the train to Antonito, and possibly up to Creede, creating a tourist train for the Valley.

Lynx To Nix Lifts?

A proposed triple lift at Wolf Creek Ski Area may be delayed or halted because of the release of lynx in the area. The endangered cats could be threatened by the construction, according to environmentalists.

The Forest Service will make a decision on the project after it gets a report from the Fish and Wildlife Service.