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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – January 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine


Florida recounts — they’re not just for Bushes anymore. Recounts were demanded in the District 60 race for state representative, where challenger Jim Snook took the seat from Al Gagliardi by only 91 votes, and in Rio Grande County, where Wendy Mellott lost her race against Vern Rominger for commissioner. In Conejos County, the recount totaled 1,672 votes to eliminate term limits for the coroner, and 1,674 to retain them.

Is Starr Available?

The Valley D.A. has asked for a special prosecutor to decide whether Rio Grande County Sheriff Desi Medina should be charged with domestic violence. Carla Medina, the sheriff’s wife, filed a complaint against him and got a temporary restraining order. An outside judge will be needed for the hearing on extending the restraining order, as all the local judges have recused themselves.

The incident stems from a wrestling match over a gun on Oct. 11. Desi Medina has declined to discuss the matter on advice of counsel.

Gimme the Max

In another legal case, a convicted car thief asked District Judge Robert Ogburn to give him the maximum sentence for his crime. Frank Valdez said that when he’s incarcerated, he takes the medication for his mental illness, and when he’s out, he doesn’t, which leads him to commit illegal acts. He asked for six years inside, and Judge Ogburn complied.

The Shank Show

Creede has fired its latest salvo against railroad developer Don Shank. Citing a ’70s zoning law, the city has filed suit to prevent Shank from doing non-railroad business on the railroad’s land. Shank, of course, is fighting the suit. He has also initiated a request for mediation between himself and a member of the Creede town board to resolve the issues surrounding his tourist rail line, expected to open in 2002.

Rosy Rails

And it’s good news for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The Antonito-Chama line, on shaky financial ground lately, finished the year in the black, making over $400,000 in profit. Operators say that revenue will be put into repairs and upgrades of existing equipment and rails.

Son of Superstrain?

Two cases of “flesh-eating” bacterial infections near the Sand Dunes last summer were unrelated, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment. The two men were infected with different strains of strep. Both are recovering, and no new cases have been reported.

More Growth

Alamosa business leaders are planning to build a convention center.

The group is approaching the county and city for support and money, and scouting for sites downtown. The old Safeway (soon to be empty) is the current favorite.