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2008 in Review – second part


Gardner Fire Board reinstates Albano

GARDNER- Gardner fire board held a special hearing Wed. June 25. This meeting was to hear both sides from Fire Chief,  Ken McArthur, and Assistant Fire Chief, Joe Albano, with council present, regarding the charges and suspension placed upon Albano. After hearing testimonies from both McArthur and Albano, the board reinstated Albano by unanimous decision.

Interim Hospital CEO named-

HUERFANO-The Huerfano County Hospital District Board announced that Gary Dickey, currently Colorado State Veteran′s Nursing Home Administrator, has agreed to assume the additional position of Interim CEO of Spanish Peaks Hospital during the time that the Board requires to review applications and select a new permanent CEO.

Re-1 looks at getting a bank loan

WALSENBURG- Tuesday evening was the first time newly-hired Superintendant Michael Doyle sat in “the Big Chair” and made his recommendations to the Re-1 School Board.

    Doyle told the Board that they needed to come up with $250,000 to $500,000 fairly quickly to be used as matching money for various grants, pertaining to the new athletic field.

    Re-1 Grant Writer Gaye Davis has several grants lined up to continue work on the project, but without matching funds from the school district, they will expire in August.

Walsenburg annexes Northlands

WALSENBURG- In a deal 12 years in the making, the City of Walsenburg formally annexed the triangular chunk of land just to its north.  Three of the principal parties that have been pushing the project; Bill Shepard, Tom Powell and Tom Cave, were on hand to hear the final vote to expand the City’s borders, with Mayor Edi Sheldon casting the last ballot with “without question; yes!”

Army may settle for less land at PCMS

SOUTHEAST CO- In a surprise move, the Army announced last week it was changing its plan of pursuing 414,000 acres to expand its Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site to a smaller 100,000 acres-­tract directly south of the military base.

    The Army noted that the scaled-back version of the expansion would not adequately address the full training requirement for Ft. Carson soldiers, leaving the door open for another future round of expansion.

    The army, which wants to fast-track the process of expansion in the next two years, has not ruled out the use of eminent domain to take the land it wants.

Proposed cell tower stirs controversy

HUERFANO- A cell tower was the hot topic on a hot afternoon at the Planning and Zoning meeting.  Mickey Villella was on hand to  discuss the installation of a communication tower in the La Veta area.  He stated the tower would benefit residents by offering coverage from Highway 12 to Cuchara, including all the way to Interstate 25.

Francisco Fort museum

celebrates 50 years

LA VETA-  Francisco Fort Museum marks the 50 year anniversary of its founding. 

    The museum has its roots with Col. John M. Francisco, who had been the sutler at Fort Garland.  He came to La Veta in 1862 to found a ranching operation, and said of the Cuchara Valley, “this is Paradise enough for me.”  His complex had store facilities, pasture for his livestock, living quarters for the postmaster and others. The railroad was extended in 1872 to the site and a town was established at the end of the tracks at Franciso Plaza.

    It is managed by a board of trustees and the collection is owned by the Huerfano County Historical Society. There are two paid employees and most of the work of keeping the property in operation is furnished by volunteers.

Gardner appoints new fire chief

GARDNER- There’s a new chief in town.  Gardner Fire Board members unanimously appointed Brian Sharp as the new fire chief of the Gardner Fire Department during their special meeting  July 23. 

Gas pipeline coming

through Huerfano County

HUERFANO- Colorado Interstate Gas Company is planning to build a natural gas pipeline across the eastern edge of Huerfano County in 2009 and 2010.

    The new 16-inch pipeline will increase the field’s capacity by an additional 130 million cubic feet of natural gas a day.  The new line will tie-in to an existing line at a junction east of Pueblo and continue up the Front Range to its Cheyenne hub.


Walsenburg takes ownership

of Black Diamond water system

WALSENBURG- Despite a last-minute request by Huerfano County Department Fire Chief Gerald Jerant for a two-week delay, The Walsenburg City Council voted Tuesday evening to accept ownership of the Black Diamond Park water system.

    The system, which has been operational for the past two years, required an additional backup pump system to be installed to ensure water pressure in Black Diamond Park in the event of an emergency.

La Veta marshall arrested

LA VETA- Marshall Harold Willburn of La Veta was arrested by Huerfano County Sheriff’s officers on Sunday for suspicion of child abuse.

    The Sheriff’s Department were called to the Huerfano County Hospital on Sunday afternoon to hear a complaint from Willburn’s fifteen year-old stepson and his mother, and went on to La Veta to arrest Wilburn at his home without incident.  Willburn immediately posted bail, and appeared in court Monday morning.

4-H Fair is on

LA VETA- The Huerfano County 4-H Fair is going on now through Sunday.  Activities include the rodeos, animal showmanship & judging of exhibits.  There will also be music, food and fun.

Frank Ruybalid wins DA race

HUERFANO- Former District Attorney Frank Ruybalid defeated incumbent Lee Hawke in the Democratic primary elections on Tuesday for the position of District Attorney of Huerfano and Las Animas Counties.  As there is no other candidate competing for the seat, Ruybalid has essentially won the election.

    Ruybalid received 361 votes in Huerfano County and 660 votes in La Animas County, while Hawke received 171 votes in Huerfano and 342 votes in Las Animas County.

Judge Haskins Trujillo

announces resignation

WALSENBURG- Huerfano County Judge Ellen Haskins Trujillo has announced that she will leave office in January, 2009. Haskins Trujillo’s reason for leaving is that it is time to move on. 

    Haskins Trujillo was appointed in 2005, and will complete her term.  She has practiced law in Huerfano County for over 25 years.

Bronco Day in Walsenburg

Walsenburg- Several hundred fans donned their orange and blue attire to welcome the Broncos to town. It was part of their Country Flag Campaign and goodwill tour. Walsenburg was chosen as a host rural city which supports their favorite team.

Alhadef and Pineda resign

WALSENBURG- Mayor Edi Sheldon brought the Aug. 19 meeting to order, and accepted of the resignations of Councilman Paul Alhadef, and of long time employee Cathy Pineda.

    Councilman Paul Alhadef has decided to plow new ground on a recently purchased farm near Pueblo.  Cathy Pineda has resigned after 29 years of service to the city, having filled many different positions.

La Veta opposes cell tower

LA VETA- At the La Veta Town Board meeting Tuesday, trustees voted unanimously to oppose the erection of a 180-foot cell tower visible from downtown.  The letter to Huerfano County Planning and Zoning will list the reasons for opposition as: adverse impact on the visual corridor, conflicts with the County’s land use guide, and obsolete technology.  Trustee Jim Fowler summed up the feelings of many when he said, “Scenic beauty is one of the few things La Veta has to sell.”

August 28

Pole canyon wind farm approved

WALSENBURG- In a last-minute decision, the Planning and Zoning Board for Huerfano County approved a recommendation to go ahead with the Pole Canyon Wind Project, with eleven conditions.  According to PCW representative David Hettich, some would be no problem, some needed to be negotiated, and some were unacceptable.

SPRHC Interim CEO resigns

WALSENBURG- Even as the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center Board prepares for interviews in its search for a new Chief Executive Officer, their interim choice, Gary Dickey, announced at Tuesday’s Board meeting that he would be leaving Sept. 19.  His reasons for leaving are personal.

September 4

Walsenburg loses two more cops

WALSENBURG-  Police Chief Larry Baldonado informed the Walsenburg City Council on Tuesday evening that two more City police officers are leaving the force for better paying jobs in Pueblo.  This leaves the Walsenburg Police Force down by five officers.  “Pay is the issue; the biggest issue,” said Chief Baldonado.

La Veta courted by another carrier

LA VETA- Commnet Wireless has presented a proposal to the La Veta Town Board to place six flat panel antennae on the Town’s second water tank.  A proposal by Alltel Wireless is already being considered by the Town Board for a flat panel on the first water tank.  According to Commnet representative Mike Sharlow, the panels would provide service for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

September 18

Walsenburg adopts comprehensive plan

WALSENBURG- Martin Landers of Plan Tools walked the Council through an hour’s review of the draft Comprehensive Plan, which will help guide Walsenburg for the next 20 years. The Council then adopted the resolution accepting the plan.   The Council also established zoning districts in the newly added Northlands, approved paving a select number of streets, putting the City’s pastures up for lease and approved renewing the liquor license for Kay’s Liquor.

Cell tower opposition rallies

LA VETA- Concerned citizens hosted a rally last Wednesday at Ricky Tim’s Quilt Studio in hopes of educating the public on what the infamous 180 ft. cell phone tower will really mean, not only for La Veta, but also for the county.  Although no County Commissioners attended the meeting, four members of the Planning and Zoning Committee were present.

Huerfano County declared a disaster area

 WASHINGTON– The following counties in Colorado were designated as primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by drought that occurred during the period of Jan. 1, 2008, and continuing.  Those counties are: Adams, Arapahoe, Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Crowley, Douglas, El Paso, Elbert, Huerfano, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Otero, Park, Prowers, Pueblo, Teller, Washington and Weld.

September 25

SPRHC hires new CEO

HUERFANO- The Huerfano County Hospital District Board is pleased to announce the hiring of Todd B. Oberheu as Chief Executive Officer of Spanish Peaks Hospital.

     According to Board President R. David Zehring, M.D., Mr. Oberheu comes to the facility from Covenant Hospital in Plainview, Texas, where he has served in a number of management positions over the past 14 years, including most recently that of Chief Operating Officer.