by Larry Patrick
HUERFANO- The Spanish Peaks Community Foundation has received their 501(c)(3) non-profit designation and is quickly moving forward to collect monies for various projects in Huerfano County.
A committee of approximately 15 local citizens put up money to join the foundation. Election of five board members from that group were held last week in Walsenburg. They are chairman Art Bobian, vice-chairman Todd Oberheu, treasurer John Galusha, secretary Keith Varner and director at large Al Tucker. Bobian is also a county commissioner and Galusha is the county administrator.
Al Tucker, one of the organizers, told the Huerfano County Coalition Committee last Thursday that things are moving forward very rapidly now that they have received their non-profit status. Beneficial Living Systems, owner of the now defunct Walsenburg Care Center, has agreed in principle to donate the building to the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation plus an additional $50,000 in cash to assist in getting a new, private nursing home for Walsenburg. The Huerfano County Commissioners and Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center have donated $10,000 each to be used to purchase land west of the hospital for a private nursing home. Two Rivers Water owns the land and is working with the foundation on the 10 acre site. Petroglyph also donated $30,000 this week to the foundation despite the fact they are leaving the area soon, and the Louis Bacon-Moore Foundation donated $4,500. Other donations are being sought to move forward on various projects.
Tucker told the county coalition group that they are working on technical training and physical therapy training programs. Tucker emphasized that this is a foundation, not an economic development group, so they can expand into broader avenues of needs for the Huerfano County area.
The need for a new nursing home is the foundation’s primary project. They have to raise a lot more money to fund the construction of such a facility. A big obstacle is getting the State of Colorado to re-issue a certificate of need that expired after the Walsenburg Care Center closed. The state looks at the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home in Walsenburg as having sufficient beds for the community but Tucker says those are “restricted” beds and not available to everyone in Walsenburg. Medicare also has to look at the number of beds they are willing to license and fund.
The Spanish Peaks Community Foundation has their meetings scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month at the Huerfano County Community Center in Walsenburg. Anyone wanting to donate monies can contact a board member personally as an office has not yet been set up.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward