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2008 in Review – first half

    As we get ready to ring in a New Year, it’s always a good time to look back at the year that is about to retire.  here are some of the highlights of what happened here in Huerfano County over the past twelve months-

January 1

BENNA FULFS DIES

LA VETA- Longtime La Veta resident and town trustee Benna Fulfs died in her sleep early on Jan. 1. She was born in Chama, NM on June 26, 1923, and graduated from high school in La Veta.  Fulfs lived in La Veta off and on her whole life, and moved back for good ten years ago.

Janury 10 edition-

NEW WALSENBURG CITY COUNCIL

Mayor Edi Sheldon presided over two City Council meetings on Tuesday night; one with the outgoing council, and one with the incoming.

    The members of the old City Council who were not returning were Jacque Sikes, James Baca, Jerriann Vigil, Cathy Pineda and Alys Romer.  Councilman Nathan Guerrero had earlier given up his seat when he moved outside city limits.

    Newly elected were James England, Susan Blake, Erin Jerant and Paul Alhadef.  Larry Patrick, Bruce Quintana and Mayor Sheldon were the only holdovers from the previous council.

Winds blow bricks off-The brick facade on the building located at 500 Main St in Walsenburg blew apart brick by brick under the intense pummeling of hurricane-strength winds.  Throughout the county, the wind blew over 18-wheel rigs on I-25, and knocked out the power to the southern half of Walsenburg for several hours on Saturday evening.

January 17 edition

Emergency Service Agencies Seek Solutions

HUERFANO- Huerfano County’s emergency services agencies met Monday evening and discussed improving protection for people in the community.  County Administrator John Galusha reported that the County is making progress on developing a waste transfer station.  The County has received a grant for the project, and the City of Walsenburg is assisting with the required match.  The City currently owns the 3.5-acre property and would transfer title to the County for a value of $17,000 in contributed match.

January 24 edition

La Veta teen killed in accident

LA VETA- Ian Taggart, 17, a La Veta High School senior, was killed at around 7:55 pm Saturday evening when his 2004 Jeep Cherokee slid on an icy patch of  Highway 12.  The vehicle turned clockwise and went broadside off the road. Taggert overcorrected and went through a barbed wire fence.  The vehicle rolled once, ejecting Taggart.  He died at the scene.

Walsenburg senior killed in accident

HUERFANO- Walsenburg citizen Mary MacIntyre, 86, was killed Monday evening when her 2000 Ford Focus drifted out of the westbound lane of Highway 160 just west of Walsenburg, and into the path of an eastbound tractor-trailer.  Her vehicle was knocked counter-clockwise and ended blocking all lanes of traffic.  The semi was able to come to a controlled stop at the side of the road.  The driver of that vehicle, John M. Sullivan of Almond, WI was uninjured.

SPRHC ends 2007 in hole

HUERFANO- “Census cures all ills,” stated Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center President Steve Perkins at the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center’s Board meeting on Tuesday night.  The converse of that is true, too.

    Chief Financial Officer Rick Corradino gave his financial presentation for 2007, and the Hospital’s goals for 2008.

    For 2007, SPRHC lost a total of $408,174.  They had projected a gain of $561,238. 

February 7 edition

Apartment complex goes up in flames

WALSENBURG- Flames rolling out of the front door of  the apartment complex at 102 Indiana greeted the Walsenburg Fire Department on an early Thursday morning alarm.

    The five-apartment complex- three of which were rented, to a total of five people- had already been evacuated. The fire burned through the main hallway and up a flight of stairs and on into the attic, but did not get into any of the apartments themselves.  They did however, suffer heavy smoke and water damage.

Peakview addition dedication-

WALSENBURG- The Board of Education dedicated Peakview School’s new addition on Tuesday, Feb. 12.  The dedication was held at Peakview School, 5:30 pm, 375 West Pine Street, Walsenburg.  The ribbon cutting ceremony took place in the gymnasium and the students participated.

 

Crash kills one, injures two

HUERFANO- One person was killed and two were airlifted by flight for life to Pueblo in a car crash at mile marker 42 on Wednesday morning. 

    Trooper Brad Tannerson responded to a call of a rollover accident at southbound I-25, and found the people involved already outside their vehicles.  The two people got into Tannerson’s back seat to await a tow truck.

    At that point, a semi trailer lost control coming up on the accident scene and jackknifed his vehicle, landing on top of the trooper’s car.

February 21 edition-

Huerfano Champions move on to State finals-

SANFORD- Twelve area wrestlers advanced to state. The John Mall Panthers finished second overall with 133 points, narrowly beating Center by two points.  Regional team champion was Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School with a staggering 204 points; the team crowned five champions.

 

Walsenburg begins Comprehensive Plan

WALSENBURG-Walsenurg City Council approved the contract with Plan Tools for $65,000. They will work with Walsenburg on developing its comprehensive plan, to guide the City’s endeavors for years to come.

February 28 edition

Northlands outlined to new Board members

Tom Cave and Bill Shepard  explained the Northlands petition to create a Northlands General Improvement District (GID), an overseeing and managing body, which would issue $3 million in bonds to build a new sewer line linking to the sewage treatment plant for both Walsenburg and Northlands.  It was estimated it would take the Northlands GID 10 or more years to pay off the bond, and then turn the sewer line over to the City of Walsenburg.  All management and upkeep of the system would be up to the  Northlands GID, and Northlands would be a neighborhood of Walsenburg.  The Walsenbu­rg City Council would be the Board of Directors for the GID, but the GID would be a separate entity.

March 6 edition-

Bill and Sally Hix survive plane crash

FLORIDA – A Florida vacation turned out to be more than Bill and Sally Hix of Walsenburg, and their passenger Joe Piper bargained for.  On Wednesday, Feb. 27,  their single engine Cessna Cardinal in which they were traveling ran out of fuel, and crashed into a large oak tree near the Quincy-Gadsden Airport in Florida.   Everyone aboard survived the crash with only minor bruises and cuts, but when Bill stepped out of the aircraft, he fell 40 feet to the ground, breaking his wrist and knee.  He then crawled to a nearby highway in search of help. 

Re-1 Superintendant resigns

WALSENBURG- Dr. David Gray, Superintendent of the Re-1 School District, announced his resignation to the School Board by e-mail on Thursday, Feb. 28.  He will stay his contractually obligated 30 days.  His letter to school board members said in part, "I believe I achieved most of the goals I was brought here to complete," he said. "But, it has become apparent to me that the current board needs to hire its own superintendent that shares the same values and interests."

March 13 edition

End of an Era-Alys Romer closes ALYS’

WALSENBURG- Alys’ Fireside Cafe, owned and managed by Alys Romer, closed, as Alys planed to move back to New Jersey. She opened the Cafe in Walsenburg in 1995.  On Saturday evening, she served her last portion of whiskey pudding before closing her doors for good.

    “I’ve had a great time here,” Romer said. “I’ve made a lot of friends along the way.”  She left to go back to New Jersey to help take care of her ailing father.

Doug Mann found dead

CUCHARA- Local resident Douglas Mann, 54, was found dead on the grounds of the Cuchara Ski Resort on Monday.  An investigation as to the cause of death was ongoing.

Pole Canyon Wind farm launched

WALSENBURG-   On Tuesday, Mar. 11, about a dozen people joined the Huerfano Planning and Zoning Commission and the County Commissioners for a joint public hearing on the preliminary application for construction of Pole Canyon Wind Farm, a renewable wind energy facility.

    The project site would be northwest of Walsenburg on the north side of highway 69 on 5800 acres currently zoned for agricultural use and used for cattle production.  Cattle production would continue after the initial construction. 

March 27 edition

Precso hearing draws a crowd

WALSENBURG- Around 200 persons attended the March 24 Joint Public Hearing on proposed coal bed methane production in Twin Lakes Ranch.  One person spoke in support of methane extraction in the county, arguing that it would benefit the economy.  Nineteen persons raised questions and concerns about the impact.

   

Re-1 Picks Martinez as interim Super

WALSENBURG- The Re-1 School Board decided on Wednesday, Mar. 19 to hire Principal Patricia Martinez as the interim Superintendent for the district.  Martinez, who is a 28-year Re-1 veteran, was to fill the seat until July, as the School Board searched for a permanent replacement. 

April 3 edition

Mickey Schmidt elected Mayor

LA VETA- Mickey Schmidt, the current mayor of La Veta, who inherited his seat when Mayor Glen de St. Jean abruptly resigned in 2006, was elected mayor on Tuesday.  Schmidt received 209 votes, and his rival Sid Popejoy, received 67 votes.

Walsenburg moves to shut off delinquint accounts

WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg City Council listened to City Administrator Eric Pearson Tuesday evening, who said the City was confident enough in its meter readings and new bookkeeping system that city crews will now move forward with connects and disconnects.  Pearson noted that out of 1,800 clients, 800 are now delinquent.

April 17 edition

State Reps tour threatened land

HUERFANO- Nine Colorado state legislators came down to Huerfano County last weekend to tour Tim Williams’ ranch, which is at risk of being gobbled up by the proposed Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site expansion. The Williams family homesteaded their ranch in 1914, and four generations still live on the property.

April 24 edition

Jail Break-sort of

WALSENBURG-On Monday, April 21, a detention officer at the Huerfano County jail was having two jail trusties help him empty the jail’s trash into outside dumpsters.

    One of the trusties- Ricky Bobian, 34, when told to return to the jail asked for five more minutes outside.  The officer refused, at which point Bobian took off running down the alley behind the jail.  The officer gave chase, but Bobian was able to get away.

    This was the first time in the jail’s nineteen year history that an escape occured.

May 8 edition

Conservation mill levy passes

WALSENBURG- The question of increasing the mill levy of the Upper Huerfano Conservation District was answered with a definite “Yes” by landowners on Tuesday.  Of the 509 ballots, 281 were “yes” and 228 were “no.” Voter turnout was about thirty percent among voters with addresses in Huerfano County.  The District had been receiving about $5,000 annually from its mill levy, which was originally passed in 1982.  It was estimated that the increase will raise an additional $28,609 annually for the District’s general fund.

May 15 edition

Tes’ Drive in burns

WALSENBURG-  Tes’ Drive-In, an iconic landmark eatery in Walsenburg, caught fire early Thursday morning, May 8, which left the interior gutted.  The Walsenburg Fire Department responded to a fire call shortly after 7 am and found the kitchen in flames.  Six of the City’s fire trucks and 11 firefighters rolled out, and the Gardner Fire Department supplied four additional firefighters.  By 9:15 am, the fire was out, leaving the interior charred and the shell of the restaurant still standing. 

 May 22 edition

La Veta goes online

LA VETA- Tuesday the La Veta Trustees announced the new town website:   www.townoflaveta-co.gov.   There, one can access the Municipal Code, forms, Town Board meeting agendas, minutes, and more.

May 29 edition

Re-1 hireD new Superintendent

WALSENBURG- The Re-1 School Board hired Michael Doyle as the new school superintendent, effective  July 1, 2008 for a two-year contact, at an annual salary of $93,000.

P&Z Board recommends denial of Presco app

WALSENBURG-At their May 27 meeting, the Huerfano Planning and Zoning Commission recommended to the County Commissioners denial of the four Conditional Use Applications submitted on February 5 by Presco, Inc., and they recommended adoption of 17 conditions to be applied to any future drilling applications in Huerfano County.

June 5 edition

Steve Perkins resigns as SPRHC President to run for Commissioner

WALSENBURG- Steve Perkins, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Spanish Peaks Regional  Health Center, announced his resignation on Tuesday, so that he could devote more time and attention in his bid to become a Huerfano County Commissioner.

June 12 edition-

Library plans moving along

WALSENBURG- It was reported that work is progressing on the new Spanish Peaks Library, with the geothermal heating and cooling system being installed.

June 19 edition

La Veta Town Board reject Grandote application

LA VETA- On a vote of five to two, the La Veta Town Board rejected the preliminary plan application by Grandote Golf & Country Club for redevelopment of Lots 28-35 and 37-38, Filing #1.   Citing the increase in the platted density from 83 lots to 93 lots as its reason for rejection, Mayor Mickey Schmidt elaborated, “This is a back door plan to increase the number of lots on the same land.”

County considers a 1 1/2 perecent sales tax

HUERFANO- The elected officials of Huerfano County met Monday and discussed a proposed county-wide sales tax increase of 1½ cents to fund dispatch operations for emergency service providers.  Since emergency services are provided to people traveling through the area, as well as residents, those in attendance agreed that it makes sense for passers-through to help fund those services. 

Libre celebrates 40th Anniversary

LIBRE- By any measure conceivable, the celebration at Libre this last weekend was a triumphant success. The revelry began on Friday with an art exhibition and ended with poetry and relaxed conversation at the Waterfall Party on Sunday.  And, throughout it all, the feeling that informed this event (which drew hundreds of guests, if not more) was that of an epic family reunion.

Uranium contamination at Pinon Canyon

LAS ANIMAS- State Rep. Wes McKinley of Walsh last week made public the results of soil samples he took while touring the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site and had analyzed.  What his lab found was unusually high concentration of uranium at four different sites across the 238,000 acre site.

   The second six months of 2008 news will appear in next week’s paper.

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