By Mike Rosso
Wow, another year has come and gone and we are now staring down the barrel of the late Twenty-teens.
As most readers are aware, we combine the January and February issues so that we can take a break from deadlines for a few weeks.
We’ve had quite the year in Salida and Central Colorado. Politics in this city nearly became a contact sport, beginning with the decision by the previous city council to divest the city of the Salida Natural Resource Center Development Corporation, a nonprofit created to oversee development of the Vandaveer ranch property. With a new slate of councilmen and new mayor, the future of this valuable piece of Salida real estate remains uncertain. And, speaking of real estate, housing costs locally and around the region are rapidly rising, not in any small part due to the desirability of our mountain communities and the lifestyles they afford. Affordable housing will continue to be a major topic in the coming year.
January 5 saw the unfortunate passing of local forester, father, musician and recreation specialist Brett Beasley at the age of 47 after becoming lost in the backcountry above Turquoise Lake. His death shook the city of Salida as his network of friends and co-workers was vast. A local trail was renamed in his honor.
Leadville saw its share of controversy in the area of law enforcement. First, its former police chief Michael Leake pled guilty to felony weapons charges for illegally selling guns, seized as evidence, to Denver area pawn shops. Then, Lake County Undersheriff Fernando Mendoza was fired and later convicted of multiple sex charges.
In March, our region lost another one of our more colorful residents when Curtis Imrie unexpectedly died at the age of 70 while attending the Western Stock Show in Denver. He was known for both his skills as a burro racer and his quixotic runs for statewide political offices. That same month, the Bulgarian artist Christo decided to fold up his curtains and announced he would no longer be pursuing his big art installation for the Arkansas River, citing among other things, the election of Donald Trump as president.
A controversial gravel pit application by a former Chaffee County commissioner created petitions and heated discussions between neighbors and advocates of the pit in an issue of local land use rights.
The spruce beetle continued its assault on the forests of the region but we were spared any major forest fires due to the large amount of precipitation received this past year.
A hiker who was rescued from the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve in February was found dead in the same park four months later.
A group of German exchange students on their way to Salida in August were detained and jailed overnight in Denver and sent back to Germany the next day on a visa technicality, causing an uproar in Europe.
Internet and phone outages continued in Central Colorado, knocking out 911 service and causing headaches for those who depend on the communications lines for commerce. We’ll be writing more about this issue in the upcoming year.
Despite the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, multiple busts of illegal grow operations on private and public lands occurred in 2017.
The 2017 local elections saw a big change of the guard in Salida, with nearly 70 percent of voters opting for new faces. Meanwhile, in Custer County two of three county commissioners were recalled and replaced, and Buena Vista voters approved a $29.5 million school bond to rebuild parts of the high school and middle school.
The new year is bound to bring unexpected news and events and we will do our best to report on them in a fair-minded and objective manner.
We’d also like to thank all the talented artists and photographers who’ve offered their works for our covers: Tim Brown, Linda Gibas, Beth Johnston, Denise Micciche, Jessica Vogel, Grant Collier, Aaron Atencio, J.C. Leacock, Beatris Burgoin and Sarah Woods.
A big shout-out also to those who’ve help with our print and online production; Mary Cuyler, Jamie Ferguson, Mark Wiard, Jeff Rowe, Helen Brieske, plus Ron Diller and the women at Colorado Correctional Industries.
Lastly, we’d like to thank all of our advertisers and readers without whom, there would be no Colorado Central Magazine.
Happy new year!