Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – July 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

Nonstop Flights?

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that could make it impossible to sue to stop low-level military fly-overs. An environmental group in California is suing, with other organizations, to stop the training flights, calling for an assessment of their impact on people and wildlife.

Citizens in Crestone and Moffat have negotiated with the Air Force to move the path of training flights over the San Luis Valley. That agreement may become moot if the measure becomes law.

Double Header

The Sargent School District, suffering financial problems, has worked out a plan for survival with the adjacent Monte Vista School District.

The two organizations will share a superintendent, Dr. Tim Snyder. In addition to saving money, school board members hope the one leader innovation will increase communication and the sharing of resources among the schools.

RR Resurrection

Don Shank of Durango, who is head of the D&RG Railway Historical Foundation, has purchased the old rail line between South Fork and Creede. The 21.6-mile stretch of line is in need of extensive repair, and plans are under way to have people “adopt” railroad ties.

Shank plans to create a tourist ride between the towns, a plan frowned upon by many Creede residents and business owners. Creede voters approved a resolution condemning the plan last spring.

Real Science

Milena Pastore has won science fairs and the hearts of Valley farmers with her project, “Welcome to the Collembola Cafe.” The Monte Vista High sophomore discovered an insect that eats early blight, one of the many threats to a healthy potato crop. Her work with the garden flea took first place at the regional, state and international science fairs. She plans to experiment with the insect in the real world next spring.

Wal-Mart Wins

In a move that dismayed many, but surprised few, the Alamosa City Council approved annexation for a new Wal-Mart superstore. The vote followed months of discussion and controversy about the project among city residents and business owners.

Rio Grande County Commissioners, on the other hand, voted to wait on a change-of-use application by a couple who hope to turn their acreage into a gravel pit. Neighbors have objected strenuously to the plan.


Douglass Johnson, former CEO of San Luis Valley HMO, was arrested on felony theft and forgery charges. He allegedly diverted HMO funds to his personal use.