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News from the San Luis Valley

by Marcia Darnell

Back to Work

The lockout at Harborlite Corp. is over, and 29 union workers are back on the job. The lockout began Oct. 8 when negotiations between the plant owners and the Teamsters broke down. Both sides say issues remain, but resolution is closer. Harborlite operates a perlite mine 20 miles southeast of Antonito and a mill in the town.

Home Improvement

Recession? Hard to tell in Alamosa, where city improvements are all the rage. The city ponied up $10K to expand its annual rodeo, with a plan to upgrade it into a PRCA event. The city is also consulting with teens on ideas for a new skateboard park, and plans are moving forward for a new city hall/library complex. And a new traffic light will go up at Colorado 285 and West Tenth St.

Good news for swimmers: Splashland may re-open this summer as the property of the Institute of Ecolonomics. Bad news for joggers: the city will have to remove some trees along the Rio Grande levee to prevent weakening of the dike.

And They’re OFF!

Election season started early this year, with candidates declaring as ‘09 was still warm in its grave. Among those throwing hats into the ring are R. Marshall Boyd Sr. for Rio Grande County Assessor; Lois Widhalm for Alamosa County Treasurer; Mike Norton for Sagauche County Sheriff; Sandra Hostetter for Alamosa County Assessor; and Mike Adcock for Alamosa County Sheriff.

Brief Briefs

•Alamosa’s first Ice Festival was deemed a success, drawing spectators (and spenders) downtown to view the ice sculptors and their creations. Next up: the Artwalk, March 27.

• The Costilla County Sheriff’s Department has been short-handed since two deputies were fired and two more quit. Other agencies are stepping up to help protect and serve.

• Former Rio Grande County Sheriff John Kammerzell was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the new U.S. Marshal for Colorado.

• Traffic will get hairier in Alamosa, as Adams State will close two streets and convert another to two-way flow. Expect many fender-benders during the adjustment period.

• Colorado’s oldest irrigation ditch needs work. The San Luis People’s Ditch, dating from 1852, scored a $40K grant from the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable to ameliorate flooding.

• Crestone may get an actual city center, as a USDA loan of $796,000 will build the Crestone Mercantile, with a grocery, laundromat, diner and more slated to open this summer.

• Alamosa County gave the green light to a new solar plant at the north end of the county.

• The Moffat School drama seems to be over, as principal Michelle Hashbarger has been reinstated, and former superintendent Eli Dokson will serve again until a new superintendent is found. Charlie Warren, who instigated the controversy, resigned as superintendent.

• Yet another person has been charged in the massive theft from the Alamosa Housing Authority. Doris Abeyta, 50, acting executive director, is facing charges of embezzlement and money laundering. Restitution of nearly $1.3 million has been set against Patricia Martinez, who was director from 1989 to 2007.

• The SLV Museum is protesting — again — its annual allocation from the Alamosa County Marketing District. The museum got $24,000, which the board says is less than half what it needs to operate for the year. As yet, there have been no threats — as there were last year — to turn the museum into a strip club.

• Ruth Ann Woods of South Fork, former president of Trinidad State Junior College – Valley Campus, was appointed to the state board of community colleges.