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Walsenburg catches a vision of the future

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- A vision of the future was presented to the Walsenburg City Council on Tuesday, June 21 during the regular council meeting by the former town manager of Fowler. During his time as Fowler’s administrator, Wayne Snider was able to usher the small Otero County town into the 21st century.
On Tuesday evening he imparted his vision of the future to the city council, giving them a chance to imagine a possibility they’ve only flirted with by considering leasing city property for wind farm development. Snider showed them the possibilities of partnerships involving government agencies and private companies. Right now, the small private companies are on the fringes of energy generation and are being shoved off to the side by giant energy corporations who make the rules and influence legislators.
This spring Walsenburg interim city administrator Don Saling and city council member Silvana Lind traveled to Fowler to visit Snider and see his vision of the future.
While there, Saling and Lind, were able to see the 1.2 million dollar solar arrays the town of Fowler and Vibrant Solar Inc. of Denver were building. Vibrant will receive around $440,000 in rebates and $40,000 in energy credits over the next 20 years with Fowler seeing around $20,000 in savings the first year of operation.
Snider first sold the idea of Fowler moving off the grid to the kids at the elementary school about four years ago. The students then went home and sold the idea to their parents. After that, partnerships were formed between Black Hills Energy, which will count Fowler as part of its mandate to produce 30 percent generation from renewables, and Vibrant Solar.
Fowler will purchase the electricity from Vibrant for about half the price it pays Black Hills giving the town the $20,000 in savings the first year. The primary goal is to stabilize utility costs, so several other projects are on the board as well.
There’s a photobioreactor turning wastewater lagoon algae into biochemicals, fertilizer or biofuel and an anaerobic digester turning feedlot manure into methane. A wind farm on land the town owns on Windy Point generates electricity. A project is in the works that will add additional solar panels on school buildings. “The most satisfying part of the whole project for me was getting the school kids involved with this project,” Snider said.
The city council declared June 26 as Broncos day. The Broncos Country Caravan will be in town to meet residents and shake hands. The Broncos Foundation donated $60,000 last year to Huerfano School District for projects at the Community Sports Complex. While in town, the Broncos will visit the sports complex and see what their donation has built. A former player along with the cheerleaders will be at John Mall on Sunday, June 26.
Police report that the Black Diamond Jubilee went well with little or no trouble. But they are gearing up for a long 4th of July weekend that will probably run from Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.
Council members Gary Sporcich and Silvana Lind worked the Youth Advisory booth during the Black Diamond Jubilee. They were raising funds for the committee which will work on projects with youth in Walsenburg. They were able to raise around $50. Sporcich reported that community response to the committee was positive.
Some discussion was given on how to better arrange the various components that make up the jubilee. Concern was voiced about children running from the vendor-music area on 6th street to the carnival at Heritage Park. And participants in the car show were unsure where to park their classic autos with the staging area being in the Dollar General parking lot.
The La Plaza de los Leones Fiesta will be held at Fiesta Park on Sept. 10 and 11, and as part of the festival, there will be a beer garden. The city council approved an application from the organization for a temporary liquor license for the two-day affair.