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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – March 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

More Targeted

Attorney General Ken Salazar has added three names to Colorado’s lawsuit over the Summitville mess. Dennis Washington was a founder and officer of the corporation that constructed the waste pile and heap leach pad at the mine site south of Del Norte. He is named in the suit, along with two other contractors. Other defendants include four previous operators of the mine site, as well as the company that built it.

Cleaning Water Costly

The EPA said less, and Alamosa will comply. The environmental agency lowered acceptable levels of arsenic in municipal drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10, and that will cost city water users. The water supply in Alamosa and East Alamosa will have to be cleaned up, and that means higher bills for consumers. City officials expect the work to take four to five years.

Chief Checks Out

Center Police Chief Hugo Chavez resigned after the town board questioned his overtime accrual and meal ticket expenses. A public meeting between the parties seemed only to exacerbate the dispute, and Chavez resigned a few days later.

Rocky Approval

Saguache County has approved a gravel pit, but is letting its operator know he’s on rocky ground. Kenny Skoglund must follow a long list of regs, including operating hours of 8 to 5, Monday through Friday; building a berm around the pit; keeping water on site at all times to dampen the dust; and taking responsibility for subcontractors’ actions.

The county commissioners also promised to yank the permit if residents’ complaints aren’t addressed quickly and fairly.

Tater Plant Totters

Colorado Gourmet, a potato marketing firm, has shut down, the second spud business to close in the area this year.

Meanwhile, John Smart, who was convicted of fraud for taking investment money for a new potato processing plant, was ordered to pay $860,000 to his victims. The ripped-off investors in Sunshine Potato Flakes expressed satisfaction with the finding, saying it’s time farmers got respect and recognition.

Community Accord?

Alamosa city officials, Alamosa Community Development Corp, and groups requesting money for projects are meeting to brainstorm ways to save money and resources. Seven groups want a total of $15 million for community projects, far beyond the city’s budget. Alternate locations are being proposed, along with other ways to share and share alike.

In another rare occurrence, the Alamosa County commissioners said they won’t try to have the county ranked larger by the state. The higher rank would mean higher salaries for the commissioners, who say the county can’t afford it.

And Montgomery Ward is goin’ down — truly. The city of Alamosa bought the old Wards building downtown and will raze it for parking and a pedestrian area. The project is part of a multi-phase revitalization plan.

ASC Earns A

Adams State College won approval for its teacher training program. ASC is the first school in the state to face the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. The passing grade was awarded for the design of the school’s program, the active roles of its leaders, and the support from Valley schools.