Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – February 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

A Second Helping

The bustling metropolis of Center is about to bustle even more. A second potato processing plant is planned for a fall opening. Center also has a carrot-processing plant.

The facility is to be funded by a coalition of San Luis Valley potato growers and warehouses. They hope to produce a line of peeled spuds that are hashed, diced or sliced for fries and vacuum-packed.

Center was reportedly chosen for the site of the new plant because of its new agricultural wastewater treatment plant.

Another Warehouse

Meanwhile, Gov. Roy Romer wants to build a human processing plant — a prison — in the Valley. State officials are predicting a shortage of beds in Colorado prisons by 2004 and are proposing two or three new prisons. Romer wants one of them to go up in the Valley because “it has the greatest pocket of unemployment” in Colorado.

The Valley already has a community corrections facility.

Wood Heat

Demonstrations over logging on the Taylor Ranch are escalating. Recent incidents include the sawing of seven power poles on the ranch and the arrest of a Costilla County man for felony menacing.

Two of the power poles were severed and dropped across a logging road. All the poles have been repaired. Eli Rael was allegedly angry because a county road grader was parked across the road leading from the ranch. The grader prevented logging trucks from driving into Chama, N.M. Rael is accused of pointing a shotgun at a truck driver.

Logging in the Valley may soon require more security guards than a prison.

Black Mark on Creede

Kevin and Terry Hobeck only lived in Creede a month, but their arrest, and the subsequent press coverage, is having a lasting impact on the town.

The two were sentenced to federal prison in December for possessing machine guns. The couple was allegedly also providing a haven for felons and planned to build a resupply depot for militia groups.

The Denver Post referred to the Hobecks as a “Creede pair” and the couple’s brief residence in the small town was played up in the media. Residents of the tight-knit town are upset, understandably, considering the reputation that Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, has grown in the last decade.

Booze with a Twist

The term “conflict of interest” apparently means something different in Monte Vista. The city council approved an application for a new liquor store in town. The fun part was when Michael Trujillo, county court judge, questioned his daughter, the applicant, about her proposed venture. Judge Trujillo plans to fund the building and act as his daughter’s landlord. He acted as her attorney during the application process.

Perhaps in the future liquor purchases will constitute community service for offenders.

More Eerie Events

Another calf mutilation was reported in Saguache County in December. A ranch foreman discovered the dead calf, which had half its face and its rectum excised. Sheriff’s officials said there were no tracks around the body and no blood or tissue fragments in the area.

A horse in similar condition was discovered Christmas week near Alamosa. Like the calf, the horse emitted no odor and no scavengers had disturbed the body.

Firewood for the 4th of July?

A happier occurrence is the outcome of October’s freak twister which touched down near Creede. The U.S. Forest Service, custodians of the tornado site, took public comment on what to do with the 500 acres of dead trees that resulted from the twister.

Proposals from the December public meeting will be considered and a policy draft submitted in January. Removing the timber is necessary to prevent an infestation of spruce beetles.

Although it’s nice to have government listen to The People, one wonders why immediate, free wood-gathering wasn’t an option. By the time the feds decide what to do with the wood, winter may be over.