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California gang makes a showing in Walsenburg

by Bill Knowles

WALSENBURG— Members of the notorious Los Angeles street gang MS-13 were seen in Walsenburg this week.  During the police report at the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday a local businessperson spoke about having several members of the notorious MS-13 gang enter her business.  She credited several customers who also were in the store with stalling any incidents that may have happened, “just by being there.” 

    The Mara Salvatrucha gang was started in Los Angeles by Salvadoran immigrants who came to the United States after the Central American civil wars of the 1980’s.  Many of the gang members were deported from Los Angeles after being arrested resulting in more members being recruited in MS in their home countries and then immigrating back to the U.S.

    “These guys are the real deal.  They are real gangbangers and very dangerous,” Police Chief James Chamberlain said. 

    Chief Chamberlain advised anyone who may see a member of the gang in town to call the police.  He also indicated that no one really knows why members of MS-13 were in Walsenburg.

    No trouble between the gang members and customers or the business owner was reported. 

    The new interim City Administrator, Donald James Saling, was introduced during the regular City Council meeting Tuesday.  Saling comes to Walsenburg with 27 years experience in city management and public administration, all in Pueblo and Pueblo West.  He is currently serving as the South Region All Hazards Homeland Security Coordinator. 

    After receiving his undergraduate degree in Business Management from Metropolitan State College at Denver in 1979, Saling went on to receive his Masters in Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver in 1982.  He began his career in city management in 1983 in Pueblo.

    Currently, Mr. Saling, is serving on the Board of Directors of Pueblo Crime Stoppers.  He is a member of the Rotary Club of Pueblo West.  And he is red carded as a member of the Pueblo County Wild land Fire and Search and Rescue teams.

    The city also brought the new City Clerk Wanda Britt, on board.  She began working for the city on Thursday, Sept. 16.

    Mayor Bruce Quintana announced during the meeting that the city would be accepting letters of intent for the vacant Ward Two seat.  The seat was opened when James England resigned in August.  The city has 60 days from August 18, to fill the seat or, according to statue, the city will have to hold an election to fill the seat.

    A special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 29, so the city council can receive results of the annual audit.  Mayor Quintana told members of the city council and city residents in the council chambers that there was more bad then good in the report.  “They found inconsistencies for 2009.  And these errors they found, some we were able to correct but others go back, way back.  However 2010 looks good and 2011 could look up.”

    Charles and Alisha Bryant were given the go ahead, on a 7-0 vote by the city council to proceed on phase one of the new skate park that will replace the old tennis courts at City Park.  The $30,000 phase will involve the construction of a 33 foot long stressed concrete half pipe. 

    Project Coordinator Charles Bryant told the city council that the construction of the skate park would proceed along a definite plan.

    “The skate park will be built in three phases for a total estimated cost of $180,000.  Each phase will see the next highest skill level built.  It will proceed from the novice level to the advanced level so that users can get acquainted with what they need to know before moving on to the next higher level.”