Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – July 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Water Bill Passes

House Bill 1011, sponsored by San Luis Valley legislators Rep. Lewis Entz and Sen. Gigi Dennis, passed the state senate just three days before the end of the ’98 session. The bill will require any groundwater pumped out of the Valley to be replaced.

This law effectively puts the kibosh on Stockman’s Water Company, which plans to export 150,000 acre-feet of water a year to the Front Range. Stockman’s owner, Gary Boyce, claims the action is no obstacle and is expected to appeal the law in water court.

Landmark Sold

After years of plans, debates and discussions, the Monte Vista City Council sold the town’s historic Fassett Building for $130,000. The new owner is Pagosa Springs businessman J.R. Ford, who plans to put in an art gallery, ice cream shop, and several specialty shops. A transportation museum already occupies the building. The second floor will be converted to office suites.

The building, erected in 1898, is named for its builder, Lillian Fassett, one of Monte Vista’s earliest settlers. She served as the town’s first postmaster and one of its first business owners. The building is listed in the state register of historic places.

The restoration and development of the Fassett Building is expected to vitalize downtown Monte Vista.

Neater, Greener Landfill

The San Luis Valley’s biggest Earth Day celebration was at the Saguache Landfill, which was renamed the San Luis Valley Regional Recycling Facility. The landfill received a $35,000 grant from the state Office of Energy Conservation and was designated the recycling center for the Valley.

The center features a “reusable alley,” where people can offer used — but not trashed — items for pick-up by others. A forklift with an 8-ton capacity dominates the facility and the center’s office was built from recycled materials.

With its new facilities, perhaps the landfill could become a tourist center in the San Luis Valley.

Common Ground

Alamosa County Republicans and Democrats are uniting to battle a common enemy — term limits. Both party organizations asked the county commission to place an issue on the November ballot to eliminate term limits, mandated in 1984 by state Amendment 17.

A similar ballot issue failed in 1994.

Commissioners Survive Recall

All three Conejos County Commissioners survived a recent recall effort and are retaining their seats. The entire board was slammed by county residents after they fired the county public health nurse, Lois Booth. Incensed voters say the popular Booth was fired without cause.

County Clerk Andrew Perea determined that many of the signatures on the recall petitions were invalid, and none of the petitions carried enough signatures to force an election. Perea, however, also suffered slings and arrows after his findings were announced.

Booth has filed suit, saying she was fired for refusing to give employment to a relative of one of the commissioners.

Quack, Quack, Baaaaaaaaaaaa!

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a study saying that there have been no health risks to Valley residents as a result of Summitville mine runoff. State officials studied sheep and ducks in the Alamosa River basin and determined that humans are safe.

The findings are disputed by team members of Summitville Technical Assistance Grant. They say the studies tracked only copper, not manganese, and weren’t long enough, only three months. Few ducks were found along the river for the study, and critics say that, in itself, is evidence of pollution.