Press "Enter" to skip to content

News from the San Luis Valley

Governor, new Senator visit Alamosa

by Marcia Darnell

ALAMOSA – It is a rare event that draws 150 small town residents to see and hear a couple of politicians on a weekday afternoon. But concern over losing a hometown hero in the U.S. Senate looms large, so the meeting room in Alamosa was standing room only.

The occasion was Gov. Bill Ritter’s introduction of his pick for Ken Salazar’s replacement, Michael Bennet.

Bennet, the former head of Denver Public Schools, worked the crowd before the meeting began, shaking hands and introducing himself around the room. He offered his San Luis Valley credentials, saying he and his family, including daughters age 9, 7, and 4, have long been visitors to the Medano-Zapata Ranch. He also assured the crowd that he’s keeping the senator’s office in Alamosa, and retaining the staff.

“I am Ken’s student, John’s student, your student,” he said of his new job. “More unites us than divides us.”

He called Ken Salazar “the conscience of Colorado.”

He recapped his record as DPS chief, pointing to increased graduation rates and early childhood education. He then talked about the future, pledging bipartisanship, which he said produces “the best ideas.” His priorities, he said, are improving the economy and ending the war.

The governor made promises, too. While warning that impending budget cuts are “deep and protracted,” he said he wants to preserve government services of “life, safety, health,” with “as little damage as possible” to higher education.

Ritter said he wants to see the school dropout rate decrease, as well as improved health care in the state.

Roads will be a big issue, he said, since transportation dollars cannot be counted on this year. Colorado will have $375 million less for maintenance of roads and bridges. The state houses will try to address this, he said, citing the FASTER plan.

“There is a sacred trust” between elected officials and people, said Ritter, and Bennet “meshes with the transformational time we’re in.”

The ensuing Q&A session kicked off with queries about Bennet’s stand on environmentalist issues. He said his record will be similar to Salazar’s, and reassured the pro-environment members of the crowd by revealing his wife is an environmental attorney.

On immigration, the new senator spoke of his mother, an immigrant, arriving here with her family in 1950. The governor answered questions about solar power, saying the state and federal governments are considering financing options for installation in homes and businesses.

Bennet also answered a question about decreasing the income gap in America by pointing to education as the key. He also addressed the question of the Army’s expansion on the Front Range by saying the military has no eminent domain.

Water issues were also brought up – a big topic is in the Valley. Both Ritter and Bennet pledged no cuts in water funding.

Bennet remarked that when he was introduced in Washington, D.C., Sen. Salazar told him, “Don’t forget about the San Luis Valley.” His brother, Rep. John Salazar was also there, and said, privately, “Don’t forget about the San Luis Valley.” The warning was repeated by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt. So, said Bennet, it’s unlikely he’ll forget about the San Luis Valley.

Since the meeting, Sen. Bennet has been assigned seats on the committees on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Homeland Security and Government Affairs; and Aging.

Library Friends Call for Submissions

ALAMOSA – The Friends of the Southern Peaks Library are launching what they hope to be an annual literary publication as a showcase for local and regional talent. ?The Friends want San Luis Valley residents, as well as writers throughout Colorado, to submit their creations for the anthology.

Accepted will be submissions in poetry, short creative pieces, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as black and white photographs, puzzles, and recipes. ?Content must be appropriate for all ages. Deadline is April 1, 2009. ?Submissions will be returned only if the author includes a stamped, self-addressed envelope. ?Authors will retain individual copyrights, as will be acknowledged in the anthology.??No payment will be made for accepted material, but full credit for the author will be given in the publication.

Submissions can be made by dropping them off at the library or mailing them to Southern Peaks Public Library, Attn: ?Friends of the Library, 423 Fourth St., Alamosa, CO 81101. For more info,call Salai at

Southern Peaks, 589-6592.

Saguache 4th St. Business District Named to Most Endangered List

SAGUACHE – The 4th Street business district in Saguache was named to the Colorado’s Most Endangered Places 2009 List. ?The list is a part of the Endangered Places Program, a program of Colorado Preservation, Inc. ?The Endangered Places Program’s purpose is to empower local communities to build awareness and provide assistance for historic preservation.

Nominations from across the state are

reviewed by preservation professionals on a regional and statewide basis, evaluating the significance and level of endangerment.

Several of the buildings anchoring the 4th Street Business District date to the towns incorporation date of 1874. ?Serving as the trade and business center for much of the historic San Luis Valley, the town represents both in history and in architectural detail, an example of an early Colorado frontier town.

The program provides the Saguache Downtown Revitalization Partnership with technical assistance to help in the revitalization efforts of 4th Street.