Social and Cultural Commons Government Services and Institutions
La Veta’s town board consists of an elected Mayor and an elected board of six trustees. Unlike most scenic towns in the Rockies, La Veta has not been transformed by tourist development as volunteers. They run the town’s business, which in many cases involves interpreting and enforcing town municipal codes, including zoning ordinances. We also have an appointed unpaid judge, a volunteer fire and emergency services department, Park and Tree Board, and Historic Preservation Committee. Paid positions are a Town Clerk, assistant Town Clerk, one maintenance worker, a water systems employee, the town marshal, two deputies, and a code enforcement officer. Additionally, an attorney, auditor, engineer and numerous other service providers are hired by the town on a contract basis. All of these positions are held at the pleasure of the town board, and indirectly at the pleasure of the town citizens, who elect the board. One can say that the town board is an important part of our social commons. And our schools, which serve preschool through 12th grade, are also an integral part of our commons.
Arts, Music and History
La Veta is home to a variety of artists, artistic organizations, art galleries, and events. Venues include SPACe (Spanish Peaks Art Council), Francisco Center for the Performing Arts, La Veta Fine Arts Gallery, Pinion Hills Pottery Gallery, Parkside Gallery, La Veta School of the Arts, and Sammie’s Hall.
Annual events include the Children’s Art Workshop, Art in the Park, Francisco Fort Days, the artist studio tour, and Oktoberfest. Many local musicians play in the park, at gallery openings, at the Blue Rooster Saloon, and at the Parkside Gallery. House concerts featuring a variety of music are also popular. La Veta also has become the hub for the annual Spanish Peaks International Celtic Festival, bringing musicians from other parts of the world. Though most of these venues are private, most of the events are public, and the artistic environment contributes to the commons by enhancing a sense of community.
Library, Museum, Parks and Other Public Assets
The La Veta Public Library is well supported and, thanks to grants and citizen donations, has been
expanded to include a new addition.
La Veta has many old stone buildings and houses from times past, and the La Veta Town Hall is a reworking of the old railroad depot. The Francisco Fort Museum, located in the original fort plaza where the town began, is operated and maintained by a board of volunteers. It includes 11 rooms of displays featuring many antiques and artifacts, as well as the Ritter schoolhouse, saloon and a 130-year-old cottonwood tree planted by the town’s founder, Colonel John Francisco.
La Veta’s streets, sidewalks and adjacent greenways are amenities owned by all town citizens. We have a beautiful town park, plus Charlie Park, a skateboard park, Nature Park, and ball fields. Walking access to open spaces around the nearby state and town lakes are also important elements of our commons.
Recently, volunteers built a volleyball court and basketball court north of the Community Center.
Preserving the quality of these assets requires maintenance, which is mostly paid for with tax dollars and administered by town government, although grants, citizen donations, and volunteer efforts also play a strong role. For example, over the past four years, over 120 trees and hundreds of perennial shrubs and flowers have been planted in the greenways by the La Veta Park and Tree Board and other volunteers. Additionally, beautification of the town entryway with trees, shrubs, and river rock was paid for with a grant of $11,000 from the Huerfano Parks and Recreation Department, and involved hundreds of hours of volunteer time and effort. These improvements complemented new sidewalks, important safety enhancements, which were paid for with a large GoCo grant (Colorado lottery funds designated for parks and recreation).
Unfortunately, public and private snow movers have pushed snow onto the sidewalks—and over the greenways and into the edges of our park, damaging landscaping and fencing. These piles of snow block the sidewalks and pose a hazard for pedestrians. We hope private citizens and town employees will take better care moving snow in the future. Citizens should expect full and fair enforcement of town codes, which are in place to maintain the integrity of our public spaces.
The trimming of our town trees is another issue. Trees that may come in contact with power lines are trimmed by the local electricity provider, San Isabel Electric Association. The maintenance of other town trees is contracted out by the La Veta Park and Tree Board. While this work is vital to our safety, improper tree trimming weakens a tree structurally, exposing it to disease and detracting from the tree’s beauty. All private and utility tree workers in the town of La Veta should be required to utilize proper tree trimming principles when they trim the town’s trees.
When public assets are not properly cared for, citizens can become disillusioned and lose their sense
of community pride. Also, businesses that abuse the commons without penalty gain an unfair advantage over competing businesses that respect the commons by covering their own costs rather than passing costs on to the public.
Social Diversity and Sense of Community
Considering our sparse population and remoteness, the La Veta area is fairly diverse and attracts interesting and talented people from numerous walks of life. However, the community lacks racial diversity, and many people in their 20s and 30s leave the area to find employment.
La Veta exhibits a strong sense of community and does not have the degree of social intolerance that often characterizes small towns. It is common to see people of different political, cultural, economic levels and spiritual orientations interacting with one another at numerous locations, particularly at the Ryus Avenue Bakery. We also have the La Veta Inquisition, an underground paper which provides a satirical review of ongoing town matters. There are many activities that bring people together. The arts thrive in La Veta, including frequent live music performances including school sports, 4H, rodeo, the Huerfano County Fair, Friday senior lunches, Rotary, church events, concerts, open mike performances, library and museum programs, and theatre productions. In addition there are the arts activities mentioned above, and numerous volunteer organizations such as the town government, fire department, school board, park and tree board, museum board, library board and the historic preservation committee.