News from the San Luis Valley

by Marcia Darnell

Can’t Fight City Hall

A coalition of Alamosa residents was unsuccessful in convincing the city Council not to build a new city hall/library/firehouse complex. The council voted to move forward with the bidding/building process. The anti group was successful at garnering enough signatures on a petition to force a vote. The issue of funding the new complex will be on the primary ballot this summer.

In another town feud, Adams State College won the right to close parts of two city streets as part of its renovation. Stadium Drive will close, as will a one-block section of Richardson Avenue, despite the opposition of drivers. ASC also demolished the old Casa del Sol apartments on campus.

Strike Finding

The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Harborlite was in the wrong during its dispute with Teamsters, resulting in last year’s 15-week strike. A judge ruled the company’s lockout of the employees was unlawful, and ordered back pay for the 29 workers.

Rakhra Mushroom Farm had its own walkout March 16, as employees picketed to protest the planned replacement of longtime manager Lynn Mortensen. Rakhra employs 280 non-union workers. The dispute was peacefully resolved after two days, with Mortensen keeping his job.

Chamber Changes

And it’s back into the pool. The Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce merged with other economic entities to form the Alamosa County Economic Development Corporation. The Chamber has merged and spun off repeatedly in recent years, struggling to stay afloat. Perhaps this new avatar, under the direction of John Eland, will be more successful.

Another big change to the economic picture in Alamosa was delivered by the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, which will run from La Veta only to Fort Garland this summer, and limit operation days to weekends and concert dates.


• San Luis elected its first woman mayor, Theresa Medina, 60. Center elected new town trustees John Faron and Maurice Jones. Blanca, Del Norte, La Jara and Manassa all had uncontested races.

• The SLV Ecosystem Council wants to hire an appraiser for the mineral rights on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. The group hopes to buy the rights to protect the land.

• KRZA, the Valley’s public radio station, went off the air after troubles with its transmitter on San Antone Mountain. It’s happened before, so listeners know how to adapt.

• Presiliano Romero, one of the Alamosa Housing Authority employees who embezzled from the agency, received a 21-month sentence in federal prison for his part in the crime. Another, Jeffrey Guntle, 47, got five years’ probation for money laundering in the scheme.

• Former Manassa police chief Charles DeHerrera received a sentence of probation and community service for misdemeanor pleas resulting from domestic violence.

• A new nursing home, the Rio Grande Inn, opened in Conejos County.

• The SLV Regional Airport in Alamosa recieved a $250,000 CDOT grant to improve the runways.

• Marguerite Salazar, Alamosa, was appointed the new regional director of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

• Jeff Babcock of Alamosa was appointed to the state Interoperability Executive Council, formed to facilitate public safety communications.

• Donathan Archuleta, 15, of Alamosa became world champion at the National Reined Cow Horse World Show (Reserve Youth Limited).

• A “Tea Party” rally in Alamosa was peaceful, drawing protestors, counter-protestors, office-seekers, interested observers, and children of all groups.

• Hildred and Jack Simpson of Alamosa celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.