Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – December 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

Political Protest or Personal Grudge?

Someone stole a pickup belonging to a Rio Grande County Sheriff’s deputy and pushed it off a 250-foot cliff into Burro Creek. Deputy Glen Loveland’s ’97 truck was totaled.

Victim to Suspect in a Minute

Some days you just can’t win. A flagman working on U.S. 160 was hit by a car and had to be transported to the hospital, where medical personnel discovered a stash of marijuana in his boot.

Bummer.

Swift Setback

Mettje Swift’s sculpture project honoring the Old Spanish Trail was vandalized. Someone spray-painted over the stone creation that adorns U.S. 160 near Monte Vista. Swift deemed the “work” uncreative and invited the vandal to join her team and learn how to work better.

Status Quo OK

Voters said things in Alamosa are just fine, thank you. They reselected the incumbents on the city council and turned down a referendum that would have cut taxes (and probably city services as well). Turnout for the mail-out election was 60 percent.

San Luis Valley voters nixed Referendum A, the highway plan which passed statewide.

And Bonanza will remain a town. The residents voted 11-10 to disincorporate, but the issue required a two-thirds majority to pass.

Water Ways

The San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District received a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board to form a master plan to clean up the Rio Grande in the Valley.

Fallen cottonwood, gravel bars and other debris are clogging the great river, creating a disaster scenario if spring runoff is heavy.

The Valley chapter of The Nature Conservancy is asking GOCO to join in the water war. The proposed $50,000 grant would be used to hire a water policy person to work toward preserving flow and diversity in Valley waterways.

Concerns over poor water quality and service have prompted East Alamosa residents to petition Alamosa for annexation. Public hearings are the next step in the process.

Dept. of Axes

The director of Head Start in Costilla and Conejos counties was fired and the program closed. The program was ruled deficient this year, and placed on high-risk status by the regional administration.

It’s final. George Bartholomew, operator of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, is out. The railroad will be led temporarily by Leo Schmitz, executive director of the commission which oversees the narrow-gauge railroad. Bartholomew is suing, alleging breach of contract.

Another recall petition is going around. This time the target is Alamosa County Commissioner Bob Zimmerman. He’s accused of abuse of authority, malfeasance, misuse of government funds and mismanagement.

Disaster Prep Means Bucks

The San Luis Valley has been designated a FEMA project impact community for 2000. This means the Valley will assess problem areas for natural disasters and partner with agencies to try to prevent them. It also means $150,000 in seed money to do so.