Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – July 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

He Went That-A-Way!

The Old West returned to South Fork recently — a bank robbery took place, complete with a diversion and a (temporary) getaway. Rio Grande County Bank was robbed of several thousand dollars at the same time a building was set on fire on Wolf Creek Pass. The suspect was nabbed near Montrose but the money is missing. An accomplice? Hidden treasure? Law enforcement officials are on the trail.

Moment of Glory

D.J. Meis made a successful handoff in the 4×100 relay at the state championships. Big deal, you say? Meis had had his right middle finger reattached the night before. An accident involving a slammed door and a misplaced finger made the surgery necessary and the athletic feat a great moment in Colorado sports.

Thumbs Down

A proposed bypass of U.S. 160 in Alamosa has apparently irritated everyone concerned. Downtown merchants hate the idea of potential customers slipping by their shops. Rural residents hate the idea of traffic being routed by their quiet homes (or in some cases, through their homes). Tinkering of the plan continues.

Leaving the Nest?

The Baca Grande, a subdivision near Crestone, is studying the possibility of becoming a town. Residents requested and received money from the Saguache County commissioners to hire a research specialist.

RR Gets $$

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad will get $800,000 from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce this year. The grant will be used to upgrade the tracks, thereby improving safety and meeting federal rail standards.

In with the New

The Montgomery Ward building in Alamosa went down in a cloud of dust; the downtown site will become a parking area for Main Street shoppers. The city museum and the planned convention center will share quarters, but where and when have yet to be decided.

Haefeli’s Honey Farm in Monte Vista is closed, and the business is for sale.

Sad Time for Spuds

The La Jara Potato Growers Co-op has closed. Low prices led to the shutdown. The plant may re-open if the market improves.

Dunes Update

The pending sale and negotiations between the owners of the Baca Ranch (Gary Boyce and Farallon Corp.) and The Nature Conservancy (acting for the U.S. government) is being held up by the settlement of court actions among the owners.

One owner is trying to stop the sale; another wants to go forward; and one just wants adequate representation in the negotiations. A hearing was slated in late June in district court to try to untangle some of this web. Meanwhile, the Great Sand Dunes became a preserve and absorbed the Forest Service and BLM lands in its area. The lands are accessible to the public, as they always were, and the park is now 48,000 acres larger.

No extra staff has been added yet, and it’s too early to tell if the conversion is bringing in more visitors. Steve Chaney, head ranger at the monument, said that Memorial Day weekend was especially busy.