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News from the San Luis Valley

by Marcia Darnell

Outdoor Adventure

Winter fun proved treacherous for three in February. Wayne Brown’s snowboard outing led to his getting lost in Mineral County for three days after a snowstorm. He was found safe and in the process of hiking out. In Conejos County, a couple from New Mexico were also found safe. Donald and Carol Bonney took refuge in a yurt after getting lost while cross-country skiing.

Nature Negotiation

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, perhaps inspired by President Obama’s “let’s have a beer and talk it out” example, hosted a roundtable of 23 participants Feb. 17 over the controversy surrounding the proposed Village at Wolf Creek. No solution was reached, but Salazar vowed to listen to all sides and study the environmental review before deciding whether to sponsor the land-swap legislation.

Further Fallout

The embezzlement scandal at Alamosa Housing Authority is like The Blob: it just keeps growing and growing. So far, four people have admitting to stealing more than $1.3 million from the agency, and a fifth has pleaded guilty to money laundering. Many of those charged involved family members, including Doris Abeyta, who admitted to swiping almost half a million bucks and instructing her mother to lie to the grand jury when the investigation commenced. Adjudication of the cases is still in progress.

Gravel Voice

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is seeking public comment on its proposal to restore 13 old gravel pits in the park. Plans are to restore the habitat and streams in the area and replenish cutthroat trout to the streams.

Brief Briefs

• It’s lawsuit time! The 2008 salmonella outbreak in Alamosa has sparked 29 parties to sue the city. Negotiations with the city’s insurance carrier are ongoing.

• Creede won the 2010 Governor’s Arts Award for its cultural and artistic vitality.

• Terry Uyeki, widow of late Alamosa city manager Mike Hackett, has asked that the wetlands area of Alamosa Ranch, which he helped the city acquire, be named Hackett Preserve. He died of cancer in July.

• Doris Tracy of La Veta received a congressional gold medal for her service as a pilot with the WASPs during World War II.

• Alamosa County is mulling another bid for a solar plant, this time by Lincoln Renewable Energy, for a 225-acre spot off the Co-op Road south of town.

• The Valley came up short on its application for $98 million in rail upgrades. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation instead gave all the money earmarked for Colorado to the Boulder Turnpike improvement.

• The Alamosa City Council extended its moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries for another 90 days while developing regulations for the providers. The city planning commission recommended the dispensaries be limited to commercial business zones.

• Trinidad State Junior College scored $2.4 million from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. The money will be used to enroll more students in its nursing program.

• The towns of Manassa and Monte Vista must chlorinate their water, says the state. Both water systems have tested positive for coliform, a class of bacteria.

• Alamosa will request $150,000 from GOCO for a new skate park in town. The Costilla County Senior Citizens Club will get $72,000 from the feds for equipment and furniture.

• WWII veteran Dorothy Brandt received the Patriot of the Year award from Safari Club International. She enlisted in the military at the age of 16.

• Adams State College President David Svaldi was named to the governor’s steering committee to improve higher education in Colorado. Rick Needham is the new chief of police in Monte Vista.

• Alamosa County Court Judge Michael Trujillo was appointed to the board of Caring for Colorado Foundation. Marta Shoman is the new dean of Trinidad State junior College ­- Valley Campus. And Beverly Maestas is the new superintendent of Centennial School District in San Luis.