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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – June 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Cyber-hood Booting Up

Milt Trosper, the Valley’s answer to Bill Gates, is planning to build a wired community on the west side of Monte Vista. The development will include a business plaza and at least 100 “smart” homes, for starters. Further plans include a computer training center, corporate headquarters, restaurants and, naturally, a golf course.

All utilities, including electricity and phone service, will be computerized, says Trosper, and immune to the expected crash caused by the year 2000. Construction is set to begin this summer.

Another Judge Goes

For the second time this year, a Valley judge has been busted for driving while ability impaired. Jean Paul Jones, Alamosa County court judge, has been placed on administrative leave after being cited April 15.

Saguache County court judge James Mrzlak resigned in February after his second DWAI offense. The same Colorado State Trooper cited both jurists. Good work, George Dingfelder!

Museum Grows

Fort Garland, the historic military post located in the town of the same name, is growing. A 29-acre parcel adjacent to the fort was sold by the Fort Garland Revitalization Committee for $75,000.

Historians believe the parcel is an archeological site and will provide insight into the daily lives of the soldiers posted at the fort in the last century. An archeological dig is scheduled at Fort Garland this summer.

Bird Obit

A rare whooping crane was killed on its annual migration to the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge last month. The 15-year-old whooper hit a power line and died in her fall to the ground, according to Rick Schnaderbeck, assistant manager of the refuge.

Only four whooping cranes are known to remain in the Colorado flock. And power lines are everywhere.

How Small Is It?

Small-town election results can be scary — or funny, depending on your perspective. Voters in Hooper passed a 2 percent sales tax by a 20-19 margin last month. That can be seen as a one-vote margin, or a more impressive 52 percent.

In contrast, the same voters decided to increase the mill levy by a whopping 22-17 votes.

Backing Off

Sonic booms and terrified cattle could again become facts of life in the San Luis Valley. Low-level training flights by the Colorado Air National Guard are awaiting approval by the FAA, but state legislators have been debating two resolutions asking the Guard to limit those flights. The resolutions have been withdrawn to make their wording less strong, following objections of Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

Among other restrictions, the resolution would ask the Guard to get permission from the counties before scheduling training flights.

Summitville Studies

A report prepared by Colorado State University on the effect of contamination of the Alamosa River on animals shows that copper is accumulating in animals who drink the water. Sheep, the focus of the study, are amassing copper in their livers and wool, the report says.

The river was contaminated with copper and other toxic substances after leaks from the leach pit mining operation run by Galactic Resources Ltd. of Canada. Summitville, 25 miles south of Del Norte, is now an EPA Superfund site.

The state of Colorado, which is financially responsible for 10 percent of the cleanup cost (which is at $120 million so far), is vowing to return the Alamosa River to a state of cleanliness capable of supporting fish. Issues of Valley water will be discussed at a public Colorado Water Quality Commission meeting on June 10 in Alamosa.