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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – October 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

Relic No-Shows

What if they opened a time capsule and nothing was there? That’s what happened when crews began demolishing the 80-year-old Ortega Middle School on Main Street in Alamosa. Legend had it that there were timely treasures behind the double cornerstone of the building. When it was opened before onlookers, though, it was empty.

The old building, once the town high school, will be replaced by a Safeway.

Wetlands Growth

The Nature Conservancy has added almost 800 acres of wetlands to its Mishak Lakes preserve. The area, formerly the Blair property, is home to geese, ducks and migrating Sandhill cranes.

Rail War

The proposed tourist train between South Fork and Creede has degenerated into name-calling and protests, necessitating legal intervention. Don Shank, owner of the 21-mile rail line, fenced off a popular area in the middle of town and posted “no trespassing” signs, saying the property was legally his. On Aug. 21, protesters took to the streets of Creede and tore down the fencing, leading the sheriff to issue 20 citations.

Shank replaced the fence, which was then removed by city crews. The area in question is now a playground and parking lot, as well as the arena for the Days of ’92 mining competition every July. Shank also posted signs along the Palisade campground, which the Forest Service told him to remove.

The fight spread to the op-ed pages of the Mineral County Miner, with multi-page letters to the editor. A public meeting the next week drew about 90 people for a relatively quiet discussion of the concerns on both sides.

Dues over Dunes

The Saguache County commissioners relented in their decision to withhold Action 22 dues. The board had withheld its $591 dues to the political organization because Action 22 declared support for expanding the Great Sand Dunes into a national park. The commissioners were against the move, saying it would deprive the county of thousands in property taxes.

Recall Returns

Summer’s over, so it must be time for another recall petition. A committee in Antonito is making a third attempt to recall three town trustees for allegedly abusing their power. Two previous petitions were ruled invalid — which means they were deemed either incomplete or inaccurate.

Another Appeal

The Moffat School Board is also unwilling to give up. It’s appealing the injunction against its action to shut down Crestone Charter School. The alternative school remains open for now.

Disaster Dollars

Gov. Bill Owens has asked the USDA to grant disaster status to all six counties in the San Luis Valley. A late spring freeze, summer drought, and a severe hailstorm add up to some hard times for agriculture.