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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – June 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

Water OK

The state health department gave San Luis Valley water an OK after testing the 30 monitoring wells here. Levels of pesticides were judged “infinitesimal” and nitrate “acceptable.” Local farmers were lauded for their management of land and water.

Buying Beds

The Alamosa County jail may get some expansion money from the U.S. Marshal Service, in exchange for 25 beds for federal prisoners. The contract, which has not been finalized, would mean $500,000 for the county facility.

No word as to whether Tommy Lee Jones is part of the deal.

White Flag

One of the Summitville defendants has surrendered. ARCO agreed to pay the state $250,000 for cleanup of the Superfund site south of Del Norte. ARCO was responsible for exploration and evaluation at the site before the mining began, and paid a $95,000 settlement to the EPA in 1997.

Local Star

Del Norte native Kent Rominger was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame. The NASA astronaut holds the record for the most time in space. On a past mission, he carried a banner made by Del Norte’s Mettje Swift, who was profiled in the July, 1999, edition of Colorado Central.

County Boosters

CANDO wants to “do” Conejos County. The Community and Neighborhood Development Office, part of the Department of Local Affairs, has picked the poor Valley county to be a pilot community for its program. CANDO (pronounced “can-due”) promises two to three years of coordination with local agencies and state groups to better serve the needs of the area.

The Next Perrier?

Forget France, Italy, and Calistoga. Thirsty snobs will soon be able to savor the bottled delicacy of San Luis Valley water. Colorado Water Company will begin selling the bottles soon, in packages that promote Valley attractions, such as the Dunes and the Cumbres & Toltec railroad. Prosit!

Jail in Stir

The Conejos County jail has been shut down, the result of a lack of court-ordered maintenance. Prisoners are being farmed out to other facilities in the Valley. Construction on a new jail is slated to begin this summer.

Sands Non-Shifting

The purchase of the Baca Ranch is stalled at present. Rep. Scott McInnis asked the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee for the $24.5 million needed to complete the purchase of the 100,000-acre property to complete conversion of the Great Sand Dunes into a national park. No decision has been made.

Other delays include a lawsuit filed by Gary Boyce’s companies against his partners, Farallon Inc., attempting to stop the sale of the ranch.

American Water Development Inc. also filed suit, winning a seat at the negotiating table.

Route Relief?

The Alamosa City Council is considering an alternate route for drivers wanting to travel U.S. 285 without running the gauntlet that is Alamosa’s Main Street. A bypass is being considered that will allow local traffic to move through town while allowing drive-through traffic to, well, drive through. Public comment will be sought for the plan.

Divvyin’ Up

Redistricting and reapportionment are hot topics across the state lately. Action 22, the political group representing southern/southeastern Colorado, is surveying members and non-members before lobbying the committees that will draw the new lines. The survey results will be discussed and debated at a meeting June 5 in Pueblo.

For info, contact Action 22 at 1-888-799-1799 or at