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2017 YEAR IN REVIEW (part 2)

Deputies Candice Despy, Tony Clemons and Undersheriff David McCain engage in the backbreaking work necessary to cut up the illegal pot plants found last Thursday and Friday. Photo by Eric Mullens.

JULY 2017

July 6

Fire in Huerfano jail deliberately set by inmates

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — Shortly after 12 noon Friday, June 30, Huerfano County firefighters responded to the Huerfano County Jail on a report of a fire inside the detention facility.

Firefighters used an emergency fire hose located inside the jail and fire extinguishers to knock down the small fire. “The fire was intentionally set and we are continuing our investigation this week,” Sheriff Bruce Newman told the World Journal.

The fire was contained to B-Pod, which housed four detainees at the time the fire was set. “Inmates piled up playing cards, notebook paper and shower curtains and then set off the fire by smashing the television and using either the live power cord or something else sparking in the TV to ignite the fire,” Newman said Monday morning. Newman also said two windows in the interior of the jail facility were broken by inmates in association with the fire.

No one was injured in the fire and all of the inmates at the jail were taken to the outside recreation area while the firefighters did their work. According to Newman, clean up of the detention area at the jail took up most of Friday afternoon.

There were approximately 28 inmates in jail at the time the fire was set, but only four were housed in B-Pod which could narrow the focus of the investigation.­

Lopez family tomb vandalized, desecrated

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — Trinidad Police and the CBI are investigating the weekend desecration of the grave of former county attorney and district attorney, Luis Lopez Sr., the father of current county commissioner Luis Lopez Jr. and Trinidad City Councilman Carlos Lopez.

Suspects are believed to have entered the Trinidad Catholic Cemetery from the back, where standard street lighting rather than security lighting is found. The fencing in the area is regular six to seven foot hurricane fencing without any further impediments at the top.

One of the groundskeepers, who lives next to the area believed to have been used as the entry point into the graveyard, was gone both Friday and Saturday evening due to the holiday. The perpetrators had to use a ball bat or a sledgehammer to break the marble cover on the small mausoleum that held several graves where ashes of the deceased were kept.

After gaining entrance to the site, the remains of Lopez were dumped approximately 25 feet from the mausoleum. The wooden urn box, along with the plastic bag that held the cremains, were found hanging from a nearby tree.

Dean Moltrer sworn in as LAC commissioner

by Bill Knowles

LAS ANIMAS — Dean Allen Moltrer was sworn in as the new Las Animas County Commissioner to represent Commission District One. Judge Bruce Billings administered the oath of office at 8:30 in the morning on July 5, 2017, in the county courthouse.

July 13

Train, truck collide at deadly intersection

Near the same railroad crossing that the Miller family died a year ago

staff report

LAS ANIMAS — The Colorado State Patrol is investigating a motor vehicle versus train crash on Las Animas County Road 75.1 near Highway 160, 3 miles east of Trinidad, Colorado, and 500 feet north of the highway.

At around 6 am on Saturday, July 8, 2017, a semi (belly dump truck) was traveling northbound on Las Animas County Road 75.1 when it failed to yield the right of way to a west bound BNSF freight train and was struck. The driver of the semi, Forrest Tincher age 66 of Florence, was ejected from the truck. He was transported to Mt. San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad and later to Parkview Hospital in Pueblo with serious bodily injuries.

Tincher was hauling a load of dirt. The Colorado State Patrol reports no hazardous materials involved.

Three Huerfano inmates face felony charges in connection with jail fire

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — Three Huerfano County jail inmates were advised of charges filed against them in connection with a fire investigators say was intentionally set in the county jail in Walsenburg on Friday, June 30.

All three individuals; Jeremy Romero, Benito Jiron and Victor Salazar appeared via video in 3rd Judicial District Court on Friday, July 7 and were advised on their arrest charges. All three of the jail inmates were charged with Riot in a Detention facility (class 3 felony); First Degree Arson (class three felony); Criminal Mischief ($5,000-$20,000; class five felony); Reckless Endangerment and Obstruction of Government Operations (both class 3 misdemeanors).

Fox Theatre in Walsenburg seeking new operator

by Gretchen Orr

WALSENBURG — Spanish Peaks Community Foundation board members Debi Patch, Hugh Brown, and Gretchen Orr, along with SPCF administrator Mike Peters, met with Huerfano  County Commissioners Ray Garcia, Max Vezzani and Gerald Cisneros on Tuesday, July 11 afternoon to discuss the FOX Theatre and plans for its future. The FOX was forced to close recently due to problems with the projector resulting in declining attendance and weekly losses on movies shown.

Repairing the projector is not an option, as the cost of repairs are close to the cost of replacement, with no warranty in place to cover the next break down.

SPCF, the non-profit charged with overseeing operations at the FOX, and Peters, have been reviewing the financials and researching how to replace the projector, get the theatre reopened, fundraise, and put together a business plan for the future that will allow the venue to diversify its operations to operate effectively as a movie house, music and special events venue, and conference hall.

It is difficult for theatre venues in small communities to operate at a profit. They, like the FOX, rely heavily on volunteers to take tickets, sell concessions, and help out with the myriad other tasks required to keep the theatre in operation.

Ready, set, go! M.O.M. is coming back, bigger than ever

courtesy Jared Chatterley

RATON — Named by Trail Runner Magazine as one of the top five adventure races of 2016, Raton’s 2017 Master of the Mountains (M.O.M.) Race/Relay is shaping up to be quite the event for both local racers and out-of-town competitors.

The M.O.M. adventure race and relay will be held this year on August 26 in Raton, starting at 8 am at the South Boat Ramp of Lake Maloya. Consisting of multiple stages, the first leg of the race course will be a six mile trail run through the rugged terrain of Sugarite Canyon State Park. For the second leg, racers will paddle a roughly three mile course on Lake Maloya at 7,500 feet. From there, competitors will bike 20 miles through the high plains along the Santa Fe Trail through Raton to the N.R.A. Whittington Center, where participants will prove their prowess on a challenging shooting course as the fourth and final stage of the race.

Grant funds approved for Cuchara Mountain Park Strategic Master Plan

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Commissioners Tuesday approved local matching funds for a Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant for development of a strategic master plan for the new Huerfano County / Cuchara Mountain Park.

The 50/50 matching grant will see Huerfano County contribute $25,000 for the project, the same amount awarded by the state. Huerfano County Administrator John Galusha said this week the Request for Proposal for firms interested in developing the master plan remains in effect until the end of the month. He noted, so far, there has only been one firm inquire about the project.

The Spanish Peaks Music Festival sets its trajectory skyward as Aaron Watson blows into the La Veta Airport

by Mary-Ann Brandon

LA VETA — Promoting a music festival is risky business. Just because the music is good is no guarantee that people will buy tickets and attend. Weather, timing, and luck play a huge role in determining success or failure. However, if you can find a top tier artist willing to sign on as headliner, the odds increase exponentially in your favor.

Such is the great fortune this year for the Spanish Peaks Music Festival. They found an artist who is as hot as a stolen pistol and is continuing to ascend the country music radio charts.

July 20

House blown apart in Trinidad by dislodged water heater

TRINIDAD — This Trinidad house was totally destroyed by an explosion early last Friday morning. Fire Chief Tim Howard said he thought heavy rain near the home at 1125 Smith pushed dirt into a crawl space dug close to the water heater in the basement, dislodged the water heater’s ignitor, and causing the explosion..

No one was hurt in the explosion. The family that lives at the residence was not home at the time of the blast. The investigation showed there was an apparent collapse of the basement wall. City of Trinidad Fire and Utilities Departments responded to the scene. As this is not considered a criminal investigation, no other information has been released. Information and photo by David J. Santisteven, Jr.

Child injured in ATV accident airlifted

HUERFANO — A 12-year old Denver area girl was injured late Saturday afternoon in an ATV accident on Singing River Ranch, off of CR 580 in Huerfano County. Huerfano emergency dispatch notified Flight for Life of the situation and they were airborne shortly after the center was called about the incident. According to Huerfano Sheriff’s Captain Craig Lessar, the child was brought to the parking lot at the Gardner Community center by private vehicle from the ranch which is an estimated 15-miles from Gardner at 9,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level. Captain Lessar said while moving a patient with possible neck or back injuries by private vehicle is rarely considered a good idea, with the elevations and landing zone opportunities available in the high country, in this case it was probably the best decision that could have been made at the time. No details about the accident were available. SPRHC Ambulance, the sheriff’s office and the Upper Huerfano Fire Protection District all responded to the emergency. By Eric Mullens.

Nick Faris Green Campus draws national interest

Southern Colorado cannabis and renewable energy research center proposed in Walsenburg’s Northlands

WALSENBURG — The location for this proposed multi campus is ideal for several reasons. First and foremost, both medical marijuana (Colorado Constitution Amendment 20) and recreational marijuana (Colorado Constitution Amendment 64) are legal under Colorado constitutional law. As a result of thoughtful scrupulous regulation and enforcement, legal cannabis has blossomed in Colorado. Commercial cannabis cultivation, manufacturing of infused products (MIP) and sales have created hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue and thousands of jobs.

Huerfano County (pop. 6,462) is a pro cannabis county with 56.7% of voters choosing to legalize recreational cannabis in the 2012 election. Walsenburg is the county seat of Huerfano County and is pro cannabis. The city council of Walsenburg unanimously voted to sell 300+ acres of city owned land and approved one of the largest commercial cannabis grow developments in the world. The City of Walsenburg allows for commercial cultivation, manufacturing of infused products and sales of legal cannabis.

The headquarters of The Colorado Cannabis Growers Association (TCCGA) is located at 420 Main Street, Walsenburg, CO 81089. TCCGA has been a strong advocate for legal cannabis within the local community and has been active with moving the local cannabis industry forward through grower advocacy, community service and scholarships. his multi campus site proposal has the full and unwavering support of The Colorado Cannabis Growers Association.

The multi campus site is located at a true cross roads of America in a location in the very center of the United States. Five main highways, including Interstate 25, converge at the City of Walsenburg. During the first half of the 20th century, coal was king in Walsenburg and Huerfano County. After World War II coal mining production went into a rapid and steep decline. By the 1960’s the coal industry was obsolete. For the following sixty years, Walsenburg and Huerfano County went into a severe economic decline.

July 27

Raton armed robbery suspect gives up after chase and trading shots with New Mexico deputies and state police staff report

RATON — An armed robbery suspect who struck the Crossroads gas station on Clayton Road in Raton Monday was captured Tuesday after trading shots with both Santa Fe County deputies and New Mexico State Police.

San Isabel Solar project

400 acre site serves 9,000 homes

AGUILAR — The 30-megawatt San Isabel Solar Energy Center, the ribbon cutting for which was reported on in last week’s World Journal, is the result of a partnership between San Isabel Electric Association, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the project’s owner PSEG Solar Source, and juwi, which engineered and developed the project.

The PSEG San Isabel Solar Energy Center has a 25-year power purchase agreement with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., a wholesale electricity generation and transmission provider, and has a 25-year lease with a private landowner.

Huerfano commissioners leary of DA’s possible tax increase ballot question

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Commissioners Tuesday morning passed a very generic potential ballot question ‘intent’ requested by the Third Judicial District Attorney Henry Solano, regarding a potential tax increase question that may appear before Huerfano and Las Animas County voters in November.

Funding for the two county judicial district is based on population of both Las Animas and Huerfano County. While details of any potential tax question have not been developed, Solano said he was seeking a potential ‘new revenue stream’. County clerks have numerous deadlines to meet prior to any November election and one of those falls at the end of this week, notices of intent to potentially place questions before electors. Commissioner Max Vezzani made a motion saying, Huerfano County intends to participate with a ballot measure in the 2017 General Election. Whether or not an actual ballot measure is presented to the public to raise funds for public safety issues from the DA’s office remains up in the air.


August 3

Heavy rains inundate region Last time for Gardner Chuckwagon?

Last Saturday’s heavy rains caused street flooding and more in La Veta. Above we see Jonathan James (left) and Barb Kowalik bailing water from the back porch and deck of the Francisco Crossing building at Main and Francisco Streets. The pair were able to keep the water from entering the west of the building, which was recently purchased but the new owner was not around. Kowalik is the former manager of the Francisco Crossing. She and James were more than happy to douse this photographer. Photo by Bob Kenemmer

GARDNER — This year is the 75th anniversary of the Gardner Chuckwagon Supper, traditionally held on the first Saturday of August. However, it might also be the last chuckwagon to be held.

After 20 years of heading up the Gardner Chuckwagon, Huerfano County Commissioner Ray Garcia and his wife Jan will be stepping aside after this year’s event, hoping to turn over the duties to someone else. “We’re looking for someone to take over what Jan and I have been doing,” Garcia said, adding they wouldn’t be leaving altogether, and plan to volunteer for the annual event in the future.

Las Animas County Commission approves $1.315 million grant

by Bill Knowles

LAS ANIMAS — With a 3-0 vote, the Las Animas County Commission approved a DOLA contract to continue road repair projects through out the county. The grant is an energy impact grant. With an in kind match of $200,000 and a cash match of $280,000, along with a match of $200,000, and grant of $635,000, the total value of the grant is $1.315 million.

The contract was approved pending procedural amendments that DOLA was preparing. The deadline for the contract was Aug. 1, 2017.

La Veta is short on funds to complete Ryus Ave. bridge project Board votes to sign an overcommitment letter

by Bob Kennemer

LA VETA — At Tuesday’s meeting of the La Veta Town Board, after a short executive session, Mayor Doug Brgoch announced the town had insufficient upfront funds to complete the replacement of the Ryus Ave. bridge. This meant the board, to satisfy the Colorado Department of Transportation, had to submit a letter of ‘overcommitment’, stating the town will come up with the funds under certain conditions.

August 10

Commissioners extend pot/hemp moratorium

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Commissioners Tuesday extended the moratorium banning any new conditional use applications for commercial marijuana or hemp grows in the county through October 21, 2017.

Man arrested in court by DEA now faces federal charges

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — Anastacio V. Montoya was arrested by federal authorities, Aug. 2, in the courtroom of the 3rd Judicial District in Las Animas County while facing state charges for intent to distribute drugs. The 40-year old Trinidad resident now faces federal charges on one count of possession with intent to distribute both methamphetamine and heroin. He has been transported to Denver.

Sangre AgroTech will seek to unlock secrets of medical marijuana at new La Veta facility

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — Late last month WEED Inc., Tucson, AZ, acquired Sangre AT, LLC (dba Sangre AgroTech) with plans to develop the Sangre Bioscience Center on four acres of property along Hwy. 12 in La Veta. Initiation closing of the purchase was set for July 26th according to a WEED Inc., press release. According to information published on Sangre AgroTech’s website, the property includes a 10,000 sq. ft. building which will be home to the Sangre Bioscience Center, where the Sangre scientific staff will continue its five-year Cannabis Genomic Study. Also on the property are a 4,000 sq. ft. building which the companies plan to house Sangre AgroTech’s analytical and extraction laboratories, and a 3,500 sq. ft. facility where the companies plan to house a corporate office center.

August 17

Citizen tip leads deputies to $900,000 plus illegal pot grow in Navajo

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — Sometimes all it takes is one citizen picking up the phone and reporting suspicious activity. Earlier this summer, a Navajo Estates resident did just that, and following a sheriff’s office investigation, two individuals are now in custody and nearly a million dollars worth of illegal marijuana will never hit the streets.

Both suspects remain in the Huerfano County Jail on $50,000 cash only bonds, Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds and warrants from California.

In addition to the one to four foot tall flowering plants, law enforcement seized growing supplies from the location. “We know there’s more (illegal grows) out there,” Walsh told the World Journal this week, “ but without citizen help they can be hard to locate.”

Raton literacy drive gives out over 200 books

by Carol Bridge

RATON — The Raton Coalition for Early Childhood Literacy gave out over 200 books to local children during the recent back to school bash at the Convention Center. Kids swarmed the booth and with a little help chose a book provided by the Three Rivers Literacy Initiative. Carol Woodworth, Sue Downing, and Ellen Fish, along with others from the group, assisted with the project.

Controversy in Cuchara Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting

by Caitlin Dunn

CUCHARA — Controversy rocked the normally placid Cucharas Sanitation and Water District meeting on August 11.

Marshall Moore spoke on behalf of Scott Lynch and the Cuchara Inn and reported Lynch wishes for the board to do “what the board needs to do” by studying their rules and regulations and making sure that they are treating recipients of their water fairly and equitably.

At the moment, Cuchara Inn is being charged 0.3 EQR for their water, whereas a comparative study showed that a similar hotel in La Veta would only be charged 0.15 EQR. Moore stated that this difference is “not equitable; it is not fair” and urged the board to make sure the rules and regulations are being honored with their current system.

Chairman Gerald Van Nort stated the District has been utilizing this system for roughly 25 years and that their last rate study was most likely performed in the 1990s. Moore told the board to consider “the prosperity of this county” and to reevaluate as soon as possible.

A member of the public added that since the Inn is no longer open 12 months a year, their previous EQR rate is no longer fair.

Van Nort stated the district is currently waiting on a preliminary report in order to do the rate study; the study should be conducted in October.

Board member Tom Lewis added that if they attempt to do the study themselves, they will be challenged because they are not professionals in that field. Board member Jim Berg weighed in and said that he finds the board’s inaction regarding rules and regulations “absolutely disgusting,” adding that doing the rate study is not truly going to solve the issue. “This board needs to step up and get involved in this thing… What matters is today, and we need to fix it,” he said.

Trinidad smoke lounge owners file lawsuit against City of Trinidad

by Dave Santistevan,

with additional editorial research and material provided

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — Owners of the Feed Your Head Shop and 420 Smoke Lounge (which was located at 419 East Main Street in Trinidad’s downtown) have filed a lawsuit against The City of Trinidad, Mayor Phil Rico, The Trinidad Police Department, the Trinidad City Council, and Third Judicial District Attorney Henry Solano.

The lawsuit claims that wide-open and loose city policies forced the shop to close after opening last fall.  The lawsuit was filed in state and federal court

August 24

Clouds slow the show, but don’t stop it

Eclipse still an out-of-this-world event.


Felony kidnapping and assault charges filed

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — A Walsenburg man is in custody following an investigation into a kidnapping, robbery and assault case investigated by sheriff’s deputies Sunday, August 13 on West Seventh Street.

At 5:30 am August 13, deputies were dispatched to 808 West Seventh St., where a 29-year old woman reported she had been abducted, held against her will, and assaulted by the resident of the home, Daniel Montez. The victim told investigators she had gone to the address and the suspect tried to rob her, drug her inside of the home, hit her and held a gun on her.

Sheriff Bruce Newman said deputies obtained a search warrant and searched the residence, which he described as filthy. While no firearm was recovered, ammunition was found, and the sheriff called off the search due to concerns about staff health and safety inside the highly unsanitary conditions of the dwelling.

Montez is being held on a $100,000 bond on charges of first degree kidnapping, two counts of third degree assault, false imprisonment, aggravated robbery, menacing, possession of drug paraphernalia and theft ($50 to $300).

Junior Olympian

Maestas 1st in Hershey USATF
National Junior Olympic Championships

By Sherry Goodyear

RATON — When asked what he likes most about throwing the javelin competitively, soft-spoken Diego Maestas says, “Winning.” And, while Maestas has only been competing in Track and Field events since the spring of this year, winning is something he has been doing a lot of.

In Lawrence, KS at the Hershey USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships (USATF) held the last week of July, 900 track and field athletes from 16 regions all over the United States came to compete against the best of the best. Maestas was not the favorite for the javelin and, while each javelin thrower got to throw six times total for nationals,

Maestas did not earn the lead and ultimately first place until his sixth and final throw.

“It was very stressful,” his mother says of the competition. At 163 feet, Maestas’ sixth’s throw was a record for the boys ages 13-14 division competition for javelin throwing and he is currently ranked third at the national level.

August 31

Double stabbing in La Veta brings in Flight for Life

Mystery surrounds stabbing incident at Cuchara River Farm

by Eric Mullens

LA VETA — Shortly after 10 pm Saturday, August 26, emergency services in La Veta and Huerfano County were advised of two unresponsive men at the Cuchara River Farm, 317 W. Virginia St., owned by Matthew and Kristina Heim.

La Veta Marshal Harold Willburn said a juvenile female who had been hired to care for chickens on the property went to the house Saturday night to let those inside know she was there. When she walked in the open door she found Marlin Crockett, 32, and Mike Williams, 39, both lying in pools of blood in the home’s dining room. No one else was in the home according to law enforcement. The young female notified the Heims, and, according to Marshal Willburn, they called the Huerfano Emergency Dispatch Center. Both men were out of the hospital by Monday, August 28, Willburn said.

Willburn also reported neither of the men remember anything about the events that happened Saturday night.

Trinidaddio Blues Festival dazzles once again

by Joy Gipson

TRINIDAD — It all started in the late 1990’s when Neal Sexton ran his fledgling Trinidad business, Colorado Card and Curiosities, and DJ’d a Blues hour on KCRT. That’s when Sexton’s brainchild for the Trinidaddio Blues Festival was an embryo and started to gestate in his vivid imagination. The infant Blues festival was born in 1999, and was held at the historic Trinidad train station on E. Elm street. It was small but made a big impact. The second year it was bigger, and by the third year had to be moved to Central Park where it has been held for the last sixteen years. On August 26, Central Park was packed with a crowd of 5,000 Blues lovers and all of the VIP seating was sold out. What a difference nearly two decades of Trinidad’s love affair with the Blues has made!

Peakview out of priority improvement status

Re-1 superintendent’s seat

by Michael Moore

RE-1 Superintendent

WALSENBURG — I am elated today. Congratulations Peakview students, teachers, staff and parents! Peakview School is no longer in the accreditation status of priority improvement due to satisfactory assessment scores which moved the school into the high improvement category just three points shy of the Performance category. What this means is that the district will no longer have to hire an outside management group to work with the school. This also means that many of us who believed we were already on the right track toward improvement were rewarded because of fidelity to our curriculum, sound instructional strategies, belief in our teachers and administration, and the undying belief that we could do it. And we did!

The competition was fierce at this year’s Master of the Mountain race

by Bob Wick

RATON — Saturday, August 26 was the 5th annual Master of the Mountain Adventure Relay in Raton. The relay included a six mile trail run, three miles of paddling, 20 miles of paved and unpaved bicycling, and a timed shotgun course.

A total of 63 competitors took part in this year’s relay, many coming to Raton from out-of-town and out-of-state. Participants can compete individually or as teams.

The events took place at Sugarite Canyon State Park, on public roads, and the NRA Whittington Center. With the help of many partners, volunteers, and sponsors, the event is hosted by the Raton Parks and Rec Department and Sugarite Canyon State Park.

This year’s mens’ Master of the Mountain is John Kabler, and the womens’ Master of the Mountain is Kelley Krengiel. Krengiel also won the individual women 39 and under category, Michelle Hopper took the individual women 40 and over win, Andrew French came first in the individual men 39 and under race, and Kabler won the individual men 40 and over race. Team Limp claimed the prize for two person relays, D-Lux took three person relays, and Carpe Diem 4 had the best time in the four person relay race. For a complete list of results, course details, and more information please visit:


September 7

Cuchara Mountain Park ribbon cutting informal and well attended

by Bill Knowles

CUCHARA — A final effort finished off a fundraising effort by the Cuchara Foundation pulling together the final $50,000 of a $150,000 drive that allows the county to take possession of the 42-acre Cuchara Mountain Park, located at the old Cuchara ski resort.

The ribbon cutting Sunday afternoon was well attended by many who had contributed funds and labor to the making of the park. The county is also in possession of the old ski shop and two small lift buildings on the acreage.

Also present for the ceremony was the John Mall Panther Brigade marching band under the direction of Ben Pollack.  The band played the fanfare “Sunrise” from Thus Spake Zarathustra, a tone poem by Richard Strauss, followed by the Colorado fight song, “Glory Colorado”, “Crazy Train” (yes, Ozzy Osbourne’s), and the Panther fight song, along with the performance of a drum roll leading to the ribbon at the entrance of the park, being cut.

Water rate discussion continues in Cuchara

by Caitlin Dunn

CUCHARA — At the August 16 meeting of the Cucharas Sanitation and Water District, the board continued its heated discussion of commercial water rates from its August 11 meeting.

Marshall Moore spoke to the board and said that the basic issue concerns the district’s rules and regulations, and the board is responsible to correct “a problem that’s been going on for years.” He thanked board member Jim Berg for his leadership and asked the rest of the board to “do what’s right.

People helping the young people of Colfax and Union counties

by Carol Bridge

RATON — It has a long name but a simple goal, and that goal is to improve the lives of young people in the Raton and surrounding area including Union County.

The Justice Advisory Continuum Program, or JAC for short, has been assisting the youth of the area for about nine years. It is made up of three segments, Boys Council, Girls Circle, and Restorative Justice.

Begun by a group of people concerned about the well being of young people in the community, Fermin Ulibarri, Mayor Joe Apache, and Judge Warren Walton began to explore ways to help at risk youth in a proactive way. They worked with state lawmakers to develop a grant funded program with referrals from the juvenile court system to attempt to intervene. The City of Raton was designated to be the funding recipient and organizing entity.

The 108th Trinidad Roundup Rodeo

by William J. Bechaver

TRINIDAD — At the 108th Annual Trinidad Round Up Rodeo, the hottest thing in the rodeo arena wasn’t even the record breaking temperatures.

And this year, the hottest stars in the arena wouldn’t even be the competitors, but the rodeo stock provided by the McCloy Rodeo Company, the producers and stock contractors for the event.

Two dozen cowboys signed up to compete in the bull riding, the most popular event at the rodeo. When all was said and done, not one of the competitors would stay on their bull for a qualifying eight-second ride. Final score: bulls – 24, cowboys – Nothin’! Since nobody qualified, nobody got paid.

All of the events were equally exciting and competitive.

September 14

Skeletal remains found in Huerfano County Sept. 9

Three agencies working on the investigation

by Eric Mullens

HUERFANO COUNTY — Huerfano and Costilla County authorities, along with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are working together to determine the identification of human remains discovered Saturday, September 9 by three hunters in the CR 420/421 area high above the Sulfur Springs Guest Ranch.

Huerfano emergency dispatched notified the sheriff’s office and Huerfano Coroner Vonnie Valdez of the discovery around noon Saturday according to Valdez.

It took some time to determine which county had jurisdiction regarding the case. According to Huerfano officials, the remains were discovered on the Huerfano County side of the Forbes Trinchera fence line, which marks the county line between Huerfano and Costilla.

The case is under active investigation. Costilla County Undersheriff Ricky Rodriguez issued a press release on Tuesday saying, “ On September 9th, 2017, Sgt. Paul Quintana with the Costilla County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office in recovering human remains discovered by hunters, in Huerfano County near the Costilla County line. The remains have not yet been identified, but an ongoing investigation is taking place by Sgt. Quintana along with assistance from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The identification of the remains may take a few months, and is currently being handled by the El Paso County Coroner.”

Tempers flare at Cucharas meeting – good, bad and ugly

Two members asked to resign or be recalled, accusations of “fascist liar” made

by Carol Dunn

CUCHARA — The Cucharas Sanitation and Water District received some good news at its September 8 meeting when Marshall and Kay Moore donated a parcel of land to CSWD adjacent to a potential reservoir site, which was identified in the 2017 Cucharas Collaborative Storage Study. But much of the rest of the meeting was consumed by contention as local water customers voiced their frustration with waiting for the board to address water rates, particularly for commercial establishments, which one Cuchara resident characterized as “not appropriate” for the unique Cuchara area. The fee schedule is part of the rules and regulations, which CSWD staff and leadership have been updating for over a year.

A citizens group of about a dozen people decided to petition for a recall election if board members Tom Lewis and Chair Gerald Van Nort do not resign, and it appears that effort will go forward.

At one point, as captured by a recording, Lewis hollered “liar” several times and called Jim Littlefield a “fascist liar.” Littlefield replied, “I want the public to know that we gave you the opportunity to resign.”

Las Animas County Planning meeting on road closure contentious

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — The Las Animas County Planning Commission heard from several people representing both sides of the issue concerning the vacating of a section of County Road 85.5 last Monday afternoon.

About 40 people attended the meeting and about seven spoke to the planning commission voicing either their disapproval or support for the closure of about seven miles of the county road.

The closure hearing wasn’t the first time the commission has heard from residents who live on the Pecos River Ranch and Resort and the San Francisco Ranch. This is the third time area residents have sought closure of the road.

Miner’s Colfax Medical Center will present symposium in Salt Lake City

by Carol Bridge

RATON — Miner’s Colfax Medical Center (MCMC) is nationally famous in black lung diagnosis and treatment because of its aggressive leadership in serving the victims.

Black lung is a disease that miners get when they breath too much coal or other mining dust. It causes breathing problems, bronchitis, and early death. This disease is well known in the region because of the many people who worked in mines. Because of the action of unions, the mine owners were forced to provide better ventilation in mines and are now being forced to pay for diagnosis and treatment.

MCMC will be hosting a national symposium about black lung disease September 27, 28, and 29 in Salt Lake City.

September 21

Walsenburg selects new city administrator

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — Following a meet and greet with city staff and department heads last Friday and a day-long interview session on Saturday, the Walsenburg City Council announced September 19 they have selected the new city administrator.

Councilmember Greg Daniels praised interim administrator Steve Rabe, and the hiring process he created to fill the position. “It was set up so professionally by our interim,” Daniels said, “it took us over an hour to determine which was the best, Rabe did a fantastic job putting this together.”

Mayor Jim Eccher read a press release announcing James Toth of Valparaiso, Indiana had been offered, and had accepted, the position as Walsenburg City Administrator. “He is currently scheduled to officially begin work with the city around the 23rd of October,” Eccher said, “with formal approval of his employment agreement expected to occur at the council’s next regular meeting on October 3.”

Complaint voiced about sheriff’s office during LAC commission meeting

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — A resident of Las Animas County addressed the Las Animas County Commissioners during their regular meeting last Tuesday, concerning homeless people and squatters on property near his and the harassment he faces because of his efforts to keep them from his property.

John Kinney and his partner have owned 40 acres near the town of Model for the past four years. He came forward in the public arena to state his grievance with the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office and the way it has so far handled the issue of vagrants and squatters on his land and acreages owned by his neighbors.

“We’ve had squatters where we’ve had restraining orders on them for putting feces in our water source or flattening our tires. We’ve made the sheriff’s department aware of everything, but they don’t seem to help at all,” Kinney said.

“We’ve had vagrants come onto our property and threaten our lives with knives and we’ve called the sheriff’s department, they’re not interested in coming out at all.”

When Kinney and his partner had his property surveyed so they could mark the boundaries of their land, the vagrants called the sheriff and reported that Kinney had threatened them with guns. According to Kinney, the sheriff came out “immediately” and arrested him and his partner. When they were jailed, Kinney said that their Miranda rights were not read to them, nor were they told what they had been arrested for.

They each had to put up $5,000 bail. Their trial is on the 27th of this month for felony menacing.

“They sit out there and call us queers and faggots. I just felt it necessary that you guys (the county commissioners) know that the sheriff’s department has been useless for us, and we are the tax-paying citizens,” said Kinney. “There is something seriously wrong with our sheriff’s department when they take the word of squatters and vagrants and ignore us in our pleas for help.”

Raton schools improving performance across the board

Longfellow School commended for A+ grade from NMDOE

by Carol Bridge

RATON — The Raton School Board met in regular session on Monday, September 18, with congratulations all around to the district schools for attaining achievement goals.

Kim Sanchez, principal of Longfellow School submitted a document to the board that showed that not only Longfellow but all of the Raton Schools have made progress. She told the board these improvements have been building for the last four years and thanked superintendent Andy Ortiz for his support. Ted Kamp, board member, asked Sanchez to inform the board about what the school needs to continue making these kinds of strides.

September 28

Old Blind Dogs follow

The John Mall choir teamed up with the Screaming Orphans from Donegal, Ireland for last Friday’s Hooley in downtown Walsenburg. This year’s festival theme was Crossroads of Tradition, well exemplified by Ireland’s Screaming Orphans and Scotland’s more traditional The Old Blind Dogs. Photo by Brian Orr.


Screaming Orphans Record haul of can tabs out of Trinidad to support Ronald McDonald House

by Daniel Leonetti TRINIDAD — It was a record haul. Cori Cushman, Ronald McDonald House Manager, couldn’t believe her eyes. She produced a weight scale and weighed the heaping four barrels of glistening tabs from aluminum cans. The weight was over 200 pounds.

“For an individual,” she said, “this is a record. The town of Dolores, CO, has mobilized in the past, collecting almost 300 pounds. But I never expected this from Donna.”

Donna Leonetti, the Las Animas County Treasurer, had been collecting tabs for seven years as a gesture to help offset the expenses for families with critically ill children that stay in the 11-room Ronald McDonald House, established in 1987.

The collected of tabs, a pure form of aluminum, are recycled by Koscove Metals in Colorado Springs and the recycling company matches donations that are collected for the Ronald McDonald House.

Suspected Ecstasy pills, guns found by deputies

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — A call by a concerned citizen reporting an argument between a young couple in a business parking lot on Sunday, September 10 has led to Huerfano Sheriff’s Captain Milan Rapo to seek a felony arrest warrant against a Durango, CO man.

Captain Rapo and HCSO Deputies Paul Saunders and Clay Klipfel responded to the citizen’s call on a Sunday morning at the Safeway parking lot where they contacted 25-year old Zachery Blackmore and 22-year old Shana Hofmeister. Upon making contact Capt. Rapo ran the license plate on the couple’s Dodge Ram pick up truck and they came back assigned to a BMW car. When a computer check of the pair’s names came back, both were wanted on extraditable misdemeanor warrants from Durango. Blackmore had three active warrants and Hofmeister had one. Both subjects were placed in custody on the warrants and Blackmore told Rapo there were also firearms in the vehicle. Rapo began to secure the firearms and as he moved one of the vehicle seats forward to retrieve a rifle, he observed a bag of suspicious pills.

“At that point everything stopped,” Rapo said. He applied for a search warrant and after it was signed, took custody of the three handguns and the one long gun. All of the weapons came back clear, indicating they were not stolen. The search warrant also yielded numerous zip lock baggies containing anywhere from 10 to 50 pills each. In total, 575 blue pills and other pills of various shapes and sizes were seized. Rapo said some of the pills had a Starbuck stamp on them and others had stamps similar to children’s vitamins, and others even bore the Warner Bros. film company logo.

All of the pills, suspected to be ecstasy or MDMA, have been sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for testing.

Blackmore and Hofmeister were both transported to Durango on their active warrants prior to the execution of the search warrant.

Smarter than the average bear

Colfax Commissioners discuss airport, trains, waste, bears, and more

by Carol Bridge

RATON — Commissioners met in regular session at the Colfax County Courthouse on September 26 to transact the bi-monthly business of the county.

The Angel Fire Airport Board was a main topic of concern as it attempts to stabilize the advisory board and staff the facility. Discussion surrounded the current way advisory board members are selected, how long the term should be, who nominates the appointees, and if the appointees serve the entities that nominated them, or if they are to act independently. County manager Mary Lou Kern and county attorney Terrence Kamms put together a revised policy that was clarified by suggestions from both James Sauble, chairman and James L. Newton, vice chairman.

Bears in Colfax County are proving they may be ‘smarter than the average bear’. Newton reported that bears are disturbing the rubbish in Ute Park and making a mess in and around county dumpsters. The Ute Park bears have outsmarted many fences, latches, and lids to leave messes everywhere. OCTOBER 2017 October 5

Deputies serving warrant may have come under fire

Tense moments for law enforcers in wake of Las Vegas sniper attack

by Eric Mullens

HUERFANO– Huerfano County law enforcement faced some tense hours Tuesday after deputies serving a search warrant in a rural part of the county south of Gardner heard four to six gunshots they believed were fired in their direction. The incident began when Undersheriff Dave McCain, Captains Milan Rapo and Ray Walsh, accompanied by deputies Clay Klipfeld, Ben Bounds, Candice Despy and Dee Pacheco were executing a search warrant on a property off of CR 620 after about 9:30 am.

The resident of the property, 47-year old Chad Carbert, had been to the sheriff’s office earlier to report some guns had been stolen from his residence. A background check was done and it was found Carbert was a convicted felon who isn’t allowed to possess firearms. When a pistol and three rifles were found, Carbert was transported to jail by Bounds and Despy. The other deputies continued to search the homemade domed structure Carbert lives in. Around 10:30 am those deputies at the scene reported hearing the gunshots. Bounds, Despy and Sheriff Newman returned to the area and began searching for a possible shooter.

Newman said no one was found but the shots were believed to have come from around the old Bucci Ranch property located off of CR 620. No one was injured and a search of the ranch property, which overlooks the area where deputies executed the search warrant, did not turn up any evidence of anyone in the area or evidence of shots having been fired from that location. No hunters or target shooters were found as deputies searched the area throughout the early afternoon.

Carbert was booked into the jail on the possession of weapons by a prior offender change and bond has initially been set at $15,000.

Welcome Center funding slashed from $67k to $3k

Trinidad could be left holding the bag to pay for county services

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — The Trinidad City Council received its first look at the budget process during their regular meeting last Tuesday. City manager Greg Sund gave a PowerPoint presentation at the end of the evening.

One of the cuts that has been made was done by the state. In the past, the sate has been financing the Colorado Welcome Center at $67,000 annually. They reduced the funding to $3,000 for 2018. Sund noted he would be looking at the tourism board to now share the costs of the welcome center.

The city has also lost around $85,000 in revenues from the county to cover dispatch costs for 2017, with the county putting up just $45,000 rather than the $130,000 they had budgeted in previous years. According to Sund, following meetings between the city and the county, the county said they were unwilling to commit to how much money they would be spent on dispatch for 2018. Sund indicated the city would probably not seek to renew the contract with the county for 2018 if they weren’t able to meet the obligations outlined in the document.

Raton man arrested on charges of 4th degree criminal sexual penetration courtesy Colfax County Sheriff’s Office

RATON — On September 11, deputies of the Colfax County Sheriff’s Office arrested Arturo Ruiz of Raton, NM.

Ruiz, a former assistant basketball coach for Raton High School, was charged with five counts of Criminal Sexual Penetration in the 4th degree (child 13 to 18 years of age by school personnel). The charges stem from a tip through Raton Crime Stoppers.

The investigation revealed Ruiz had sexual relationships with at least two Raton High School girls while he was a coach for the school.

All evidence suggest Ruiz’s illegal sexual contact did not occur on school premises, nor during any school or sports functions.

Ruiz was hired by Raton High School in November of 2015 and served as a part-time assistant basketball coach until January of 2017.

October 12

Four students suspended for Peekview locker room incident

Huerfano County Sheriffs Office investigating

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman said this week he has assigned an investigator to look into the alleged attempt to video record Trinidad middle school female athletes changing clothing in the Peakview middle school locker room last week.

“There’s not much we can say at this point,” Sheriff Newman told the World Journal Tuesday. The sheriff said he has assigned the RE-1 SRO (School Resource Officer) Deputy Dee Pacheco to the case and Captain Ray Walsh will be assisting her. Deputy Pacheco met with school officials at Peakview Tuesday, but had no comment about the session.

According to school officials, there were no images of any persons in the locker room when the phone ran out of memory and shut off. The sheriff’s office would not comment on any details of the ongoing investigation. When first confronted about the incident, the boys have allegedly told school officials they set up the phone to record any possible thefts from the locker room.


It was announced at the board of education meeting this week the four students were serving a Monday through Thursday suspension (effective this week). And that the students are suspended from taking part in two football games, which happened to be the last two games of the middle school football season. The students have been asked to write letters of apologies to the Trinidad schools. “I have already done so on the district’s behalf,” Moore said.

No More Silence – Domestic Violence Awareness

by Colette M. Armijo

RATON — Saturday, October 7, community members turned out in their numbers to support Raton’s 23rd Annual Walk/Run for Domestic Violence Awareness. This event is a joint effort of the Raton Professional Business Women and Raton Kiwanis Club. All proceeds from the walk/run benefit the local domestic violence agency, Alternative to Violence, and are used locally to assist families suffering from domestic violence.

Future Farmers of Hoehne compete in district and regional contests

by Madison Cummings

Hoehne FFA Reporter

HOEHNE — The Hoehne FFA chapter competed in the District/Regional Range Judging contest held in Kim, Colorado, on September 27. Both Ag II and Ag III classes competed in the competition and did very well.

The Ag II class was first place in district and second in region for the beginner competition.

October 19

World Journal purchases The Signature

The two papers will be combined, beginning November 2

HUERFANO– Gretchen and Brian Orr, publishers of the World Journal newspaper, have come to an agreement with Renee and David Rinehart, publishers of The Signature newspaper, based in La Veta, CO, to purchase The Signature newspaper and all its assets, advertising contracts, and subscriptions. The first combined issue of the newspaper will be out on November 2.

“We see this as a win-win issue,” said Renee Rinehart, when asked how she would explain the sale to readers. “You guys want to grow, and we want to hit the game-show circuits,” added David Rinehart (we think he’s kidding.)

Massive pot raid in Navajo

Five properties involved; 10 arrested; value in the millions

by Eric Mullens

Tony Clemons (left) and Clay Klipfel are shown escorting two of the ten people arrested to waiting patrol vehicles for transport to the Huerfano County Jail. Photo by Eric Mullens.

HUERFANO — Ten individuals are in custody following the execution of search warrants for illegal marijuana grow operations discovered last week on CR 510 near Navajo Ranch.

Originally Huerfano County law enforcement provided agency assists in the execution of an arrest warrant with agents from Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Thursday, Oct. 12 at. Huerfano Sheriff Bruce Newman said the subject of that arrest warrant was either not on the property or escaped before he could be arrested. Two people ran from the initial property, one was caught and one got away.

As law enforcement entered the property, large marijuana fields were discovered. Sheriff Newman said similar construction of fences, irrigation and processing facilities tied all of the grow operations together. He said investigators were still working to determine who exactly were the ‘official’ tenants of the five properties.

HCSO Captain Ray Walsh said this week that 9,830 pounds of live plants were removed from the properties. That weight did include stalks and branches, but does not include the hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of drying and processed marijuana that was also found. Local investigators believe the bust is worth, conservatively, $2 million.

LAC budget woes could force state intervention

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — Financial discussions in the regular meeting of the Las Animas County Board of County Commissioners last Tuesday focused on the impact of declining county revenues. The board heard how the decrease in funds and the associated reduction in hours county offices are open, have resulted in a drop in the county work output over the past ten months.

The drop in revenues is the result of several things, including the loss of revenues from gas and coal production due to global economics, and a loss of property taxes from coal and gas workers moving away from the county.

The reluctance of county voters to approve either a sales tax, a mill levy increase, or a de-Brucing ballot item has also been a major factor in the current crisis, which is forcing the state to indicate they will come down to Las Animas County and remedy the situation.

Cuchara Sanitation and Water District meeting boiled over

Two new board members appointed amid controversy over high commercial rates

by Bob Kennemer

CUCHARA — In what several attendees said was the most contentious meeting in the CSWD history, two of the three remaining board members appointed two new members to fill vacancies left by recently resigned board members, Tom Lewis and Art Price. There is evidence the two new members were pre-selected by board president Gerald Van Nort and Henry Harnly, as it was alleged the four had been meeting in days leading up to the board meeting this past Friday.

When it was noted that two of the four possible candidates were not present at the CSWD meeting, Van Nort said, “Oh, both candidates are here,” which resulted in an outcry from the standing room only audience of approximately 35 people.

The meeting was heated from the very start as board member Jim Berg questioned Van Nort, stating that before two new board members could be instated the board first needed to accept the resignations from the previous two members. Berg said, “Why are you doing this? It is disrespectful to the district and to our community. We know what you are up to!” Van Nort replied that he was tired of this, “ongoing babble.”

House fire in Walsenburg claims one

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG– Huerfano Sheriff deputies first received a call Tuesday night about a structure fire at the 800 block of Andreo. Upon arriving, the building was already fully engulfed, with doors and windows blocked. Sgt. Corey Daniels and deputy Jacob Jenkins managed to kick in a door to peer inside, but could see nothing through the flames.

Huerfano County FPD firefighters were on scene within minutes, but were only able to attack the fire from the outside.

Neighbors reported there was only one person living there with her dogs, and that she boarded up her windows and doors to keep from being broken in to.

It wasn’t until the next morning that investigators were able to check the smoking rubble, and found the remains of Martha Griego and her two chihuahuas.

Federal judge dismisses Montoya drug case

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — Last week, United States District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson dismissed charges against Anastacio Montoya, who was indicted by federal authorities on July 27, 2017, on two counts of possession of methamphetamine and heroin with intent to distribute while he was residing in Trinidad, CO.

October 26

Early morning fire leaves seven homeless

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG—While no one was injured, a family of seven lost all of their possessions and home in an early morning fire Monday, October 23 at the Dakota Campground located in the Northlands area of Walsenburg. Huerfano County Fire Protection District Fire Captain Fred Partee said firefighters were notified at 4:07 am and the first arriving deputies began door-to-door notifications of neighbors. HCFPD initiated a fire attack and requested mutual aide from Upper Huerfano Fire Protection District in Gardner. “Due to heavy fire conditions and the fire’s rapid progression, a defensive strategy was implemented. The residence of origin was a complete loss. At least two other neighboring residences/ properties were heat damaged from heavy radiant heat but crews were able to make a stand and those residenc

Colfax County proposes to move magistrate court

by Marty Mayfield

KRTN Multi-Media

RATON — Colfax County Manager Mary Lou Kern has presented a proposal to New Mexico Courts to move the Raton Magistrate Court from its existing location on Savage Avenue to the Colfax County Judicial Center in south Raton.

Las Animas County’s loss:

How low can it go?

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — The county has seen a loss of about $2,575,477 million in revenue since 2010 from a high of $7,913,852 to $5,338,375 projected revenues in 2018. This is due mainly to a mill levy freeze approved by the voters in 2005 for five years and then a refusal by the voters to adjust the mill levy in elections following the 2009 fiscal year.

A failure to pass the de-Brucing question and a one percent sales tax question this year could result in further layoffs, closures, and loss of services at the courthouse.

But even more can happen. The state department of taxation will send people to Las Animas County to do the jobs local elected officials are now doing. The state will also apply a special mill levy and collect the tax to pay back the State of Colorado to manage the operations of the county. And even though the county’s staff will remain on the job, they will still be paid.

Law mandates what work the county’s elected officials and employees do. From the clerk’s office to the treasurer to the assessor, it is all governed by state law just as public safety is. And according to that same law, if the taxpayers of Las Animas County can’t take care of their business then the state will step in and do so and charge the taxpayers for it.


November 2

Walsenburg has a new water feature

Water main break geysers water into the air on Main Street

Walsenburg residents’ first clue that something was amiss was late Friday night, when water pressure dropped all across town. Anyone driving in front of the courthouse Saturday morning was treated to the sight of water geysering up through a cut in the road, and hydrants spraying above and below to try and relieve pressure. Walsenburg City Administrator James Toth states that Walsenburg Mayor Jim Eccher has conferred with CDOT officials, and that repairs have been completed. Photo by Dan Harper.

Springer, New Mexico – a town torn apart

Citizenry dueling it out in cyberspace

Staff Report

SPRINGER — Anyone familiar with the Springer Facebook community is probably aware the town is torn. In one camp, there is town trustee Anna Phillips and her supporters, and in the other camp is ex-mayor Danny Cruz and his supporters. Phillips is said to be one of the administrators behind the Facebook page, “We the People of Springer,” and Cruz created the opposing Facebook page, “We the “Real” People of Springer,” “Real” in this case referring to people born and raised in Springer instead of “transplants” or in Cruz’s words: “Outsiders, carpet baggers, and pot-stirrers” to name a few.

The Springer City Council met Thursday, Oct. 26, right around the time another Facebook page rose up – “Concerned Citizens for a Better Springer Government” which seems dedicated to getting documentation into the hands of Springer citizens so they can judge for themselves.

Trinidad School District fast tracks firing of district CFO

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — During their regular meeting on October 25, the Trinidad School District terminated the district’s Chief Financial Officer Danni Gardner based on the allegation of her “falsifying information on her application.”

She didn’t include information that she had been terminated from a job with the State of New Mexico in October 2012. However Gardner filed a lawsuit against New Mexico stating the termination was unjust. She won the lawsuit and was offered back her job. She declined the offer and went to work for the Trinidad School District.

During discussion, Superintendent Scott Mader said he took a closer look at Gardner’s background after he observed erratic behavior during the times he had interactions with her as chief financial officer.

November 9

Election night and the voters were feeling generous in Las Animas

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — Election night, and the voters of Las Animas County were feeling generous, passing all three ballot referendums the county and the DA were asking for along with the de-Bruce question that will allow both entities to keep what they bring in on taxes.

Raton High School is positively pink!

by Autumn Archuleta

RATON — Raton High School’s annual Pink Week was a huge success. Every year RHS FCCLA members plan, organize, set goals, and delegate responsibilities that lead to the amazing success of this annual event.

This fundraiser is an annual event that all students of RHS look forward to every year. It is so much fun for students whether they are planning, helping, or just enjoying. FCCLA looks forward to planning this legacy event every year and hopes that we are able to keep this tradition alive in support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

In the Weeds

Firm approved to open a cannabis research facility in La Veta

by Bob Kennemer

LA VETA — After a 20 minute public hearing the LVTB approved a commercial redevelopment application for Sangre AgroTech. The company is currently based in Tucson, Arizona and has the official name of Weed, Inc. “This will be an agricultural lab,” according to Patrick Williams, Ph.D., who serves as the President and Chief Science Officer for Sangre AgroTech.

Williams said the facility will be located at 5535 State Highway 12, where the Feed Store Church was previously located. “This lab will be used to study the genome or genetics of the cannabis plant so we can find out which parts of the plant could be used to treat human disease,” said Williams. There was a certain amount of concern and confusion from audience members, who some thought the business was going to be a commercial marijuana grow operation.

November 16

Arrest made in Mandy Vanlandingham murder case

by Marty Mayfield

KRTN Multi-Media

RATON — It has been a long time coming, but the arrest of Alejandro Azamar Nolasco, who is suspected in the murder of Raton’s Mandy Vanlandingham, came Wednesday, November 8 in Tyler, Texas. Nolasco was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at his brother’s residence in Tyler, Texas according to Raton Police Chief John Garcia.

Nolasco is being charged with one count of murder, one count of burglary, one count of stalking and one count of tampering with evidence. After months of work, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on a mound of evidence, the district attorney’s office felt it had enough evidence to move forward with the case and in cooperation with the Raton Police Department a warrant was issued by district judge Emilio Chavez.

The ICE was notified of Nolasco’s whereabouts, and Nolasco was arrested without incident. The extradition process will begin to get him returned to Raton for trial, according to Garcia.

Vandlandingham was murdered on the morning of Wednesday July 20, 2016 at her residence on Sugarite Ave. While police had a good suspect they had to wait for evidence to be processed by a backlogged state crime lab before charges could be filed and an arrest could be made. Once theevidence was processed, all other parties involved in the case had to review it before a warrant could be requested for the arrest.

Cuchara water district board reorganizing

One board seat left to fill, following three resignations

by Bob Kennemer

CUCHARA — With the recent resignation of three members from the Cuchara Water and Sanitation District board, including the board president, the district moved ahead and held a budget hearing as well as their regular monthly session on November 9.

Following the budget hearing the board went into regular session, with new board member and President Shella Snider accepting a request from Paula Berg to make a comment. Berg said, “The feeling in this room is so improved. I give credit to Shella’s leadership.”

Trinidad City Council amends 2017 budget by nearly $5 million

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — The Trinidad City Council voted 6-0, with council member Liz Torres absent, to approve the first reading of an ordinance seeking a budget transfer of nearly $5 million from the general fund to five separate funds due to increased expenditures in the five budget areas. This increases the 2017 budget from $38,951.291 to $43,905,741, a total increase of $4,954,454.

The money to cover increased spending for the departments included in the budget amendment was taken from the general fund and totaled about $3 million. The departments receiving the increased funding are: power and light about $100,000; the water and sewer fund by around $544,500; the lottery fund increased spending for 2017 of $15,000; the tourism fund’s expenditures increased by $15,000, and the capital projects fund spending increased by $1,115,000 over the course of 2017.

November 22

Gas will pass once again in Las Animas County

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — At a meeting at La Quinta Inn on Thursday, Nov. 16, elected officials from Las Animas County and the City of Trinidad learned of the purchase of XTO interests in the county by Timber Creek, an energy company.

Purchased were 61,000 net acres, over 500 wells and all associated operational infrastructure (such as lease and surface equipment, gathering systems, compressors, personal property, fixtures and appurtenances). Additionally, as part of the transaction, joint petitioners state that XTO will permanently release to Timber Creek the transportation on Colorado Interstate Gas associated with the gas production assets.

One Room Schoolhouse

Giving thanks around the world

by Pam Levie

GARDNER — Each day before Thanksgiving Break, for 29 years, the Gardner School has held a One-Room Schoolhouse reenactment with twists to enhance the day including contemporary activities. What remains traditional is that the students are mixed in classrooms from first through eighth grade and the once Gardner School seniors are invited to return to assist teachers (We love to reunite and hear the alumni’s accomplishments). Students are encouraged to dress in the style of the “olden days” and in past years some even rode horses to the event. Each of the seven simulated One-Room Schoolhouses is named after a schoolhouse that existed in the area more than 60 years ago, Malachite, Chama, Rahn, Farisita, Pass Creek, Redwing, and Gardner.

Colfax County to be TIGER 9 grant applicant

by Holly Mayfield

KRTN Multi-Media

RATON — Colfax County is the grant applicant for $17,526,115 in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) discretionary grant money for fiscal year 2017. The grant will be combined with $9,189,000 of non-federal matching funds for a total project cost of $26,715,115.

The TIGER 9 grant provides funding to help communities with the rebuilding of their infrastructure. The funds will be use to eliminate an old signaling system along 16.6 miles of track, replace a broken culvert, replace rail and ties, and install a new rock slide fence.

November 30

State’s CR 510 pot cases going up in smoke

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — While the burden of proof in a preliminary hearing is lower than that of a criminal trial, and evidence in a preliminary hearing is weighed in favor of the prosecution; Third Judicial District Deputy DA Steven Sullivan failed to convince the court this week that there was probable cause to bind over all six defendants arrested in connection with a large illegal marijuana operation busted by the sheriff’s office in October.

New Mexico lawmakers announce over $2.5M in federal funding for the Raton water treatment plant

special to KRTN

Multi-Media and

the World Journal

WASHINGTON DC — — U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan have recently announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded funds, totaling $2.58M, to help the City of Raton in northern New Mexico upgrade its water treatment plant.

“The Raton Water Treatment Plant has served the City of Raton well since 1947, but it is long past time for the system to be upgraded and repaired,” Rep. Lujan said. “This funding will not only allow Raton to make those improvements, but will also address important health and safety concerns for the water plant’s employees.”

Eagle Nest man cuts deal in death of daughter

special from Colfax County Sheriff’s Office to

KRTN Multi-Media and the World Journal

RATON — On November 27, 2017, Mariano Araica-Avalos of Eagle Nest , NM, pled “No Contest” to one count of abandonment of a child resulting in death, a second degree felony, in the 8th Judicial District Court. A part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to a cap of six years maximum incarceration. Araica-Avalos’ sentence will be determined after he completes a pre-sentencing evaluation.

On January 26, 2017, the Colfax County Sheriff’s Office arrested Araica-Avalos for the March 19, 2016 death of his daughter, 8-month-old Arayah Araica. He was charged at that time with abuse of  child resulting in death.

Trinidad school board hires new financial officer and takes on the bullies

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — The Trinidad School Board approved the hiring of a new chief financial officer during their regular meeting Nov. 15. Lisa Zuech will join the school district for $75,000 a year. This follows the firing of Danni Gardner last month over issues involving her application.

Zuech will be joining the district at a critical time as it struggles to put together a workable budget for the 2018 school year. Already behind in budget preparation, the district is also involved in negotiations with staff and teachers over pay and benefits for the following year. So far the district has cut about $875,000 in costs for next year.


December 7

Plea bargains offered to remaining five CR 510 marijuana defendants

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — On Friday, Dec. 1, the remaining five defendants in the October 2017 marijuana bust conducted by the sheriff’s office on CR 510 waived their preliminary hearings in light of a plea deal offered by the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Trinidad scores in ADA case: Hamer appeal likely

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — Although 10th Circuit Court Magistrate Judge Nina Wang said “there is no dispute that Stephen Hamer was impaired in his ability to get around the City of Trinidad due to curbs and sidewalks not being wheelchair accessible,” she dismissed his lawsuit Friday Dec. 1.

However, Hamer’s attorney, Andrew Bizer, says due to the difficulty of the issues, an appeal of the decision is likely.

December 14

Double murder in Weston Victims not yet officially identified

by Bill Knowles

LAS ANIMAS COUNTY — The Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Trinidad on Tuesday issued a press release regarding a double homicide that occurred near Weston on Friday, Dec. 8.

Las Animas County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a residence in the Weston, Colorado area on a reported shooting after 7 pm Friday night. Deputies contacted Kenneth Norton, 64, at the residence and following the initial investigation which included discovery of two deceased victims, Norton was taken into custody.

Colfax County and Raton stand together against chemical abuse

by Carol Bridge

RATON — The second, and as yet unnamed, Colfax County and Raton inter-agency meeting of those concerned about drug abuse occurred December 7.

A large group of area leaders met in the Center for Sustainable Community building to voice concerns, and to explore solutions to the serious chemical abuse problem the region is experiencing.

Walsenburg to begin nuisance ordinance enforcement

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — While the City of Walsenburg does not plan to update their 11-page 2013 nuisance ordinance (Ord. 1022), they do plan to finally begin enforcement and a plan to implement enforcement steps was presented to the city council for review at their last regular meeting.

December 21

RE-2 Schools moving forward with facilities taskforce review of a possible new campus

Other choices include remodeling the current campus or repairs as needed (Part one of two)\

by Bob Kennemer

LA VETA — The bulk of the RE-2 Board of Education meeting this past Monday focused on the need to replace or rebuild the district’s aging facilities. For the past year, a facilities task force, headed by board member and facilities chair John Albright, has been reviewing and discussing the options for dealing with the fact most of the current school buildings are at their life’s end and must be repaired, renovated or rebuilt. All of these choicse come with costs and several other issues.

DA releases ID on the two Weston victims

by Bill Knowles

WESTON — The identity of the two victims in the Dec. 8, shooting near Weston has been released by the DA’s office as part of their investigation.

David Lee Norton, 33 and Destiny Levario, 29, both from Weston, have been identified as the deceased. The cause of death has not been released although the original call to 911 indicated a possible shooting.

December 28

Family, law enforcement concerned about missing Walsenburg man

by Eric Mullens

This is a Facebook photo of Michael Sanchez. If you have any information about this missing person contact the Huerfano Sheriff’s Office at 719-738-1600 or the dispatch center at 719-738-1044.

WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office has opened a missing persons case regarding a 34-year old Walsenburg man who mysteriously disappeared over 10 days ago.

Michael Sanchez of 530 Alfredo St., reportedly left his home on foot at approximately 2 am, Saturday, December 16. According to close family members, Michael does not have any drug, alcohol, financial, or mental issues that could have caused him to simply walk away from his family, including his three sons. An aunt, Bernadette Sisneros, spoke to the World Journal on Tuesday, December 26, and said she nor other family members believe Michael has any known enemies in the community. “He gets along with everybody,” she said.

LiveWell Huerfano County takes home community stories contest win

by Susan Botelho

WALSENBURG — Not long ago, checking the spelling of a word meant flipping through the big Webster dictionary. Now it’s a simple key stroke. Life is easier having the Internet at our finger tips. We used to sit around the campfire sharing our tales, but now we tell stories through videos, sometimes engaging thousands of people with stunning visuals, not just words. LiveWell Huerfano County understands the power of visual storytelling first-hand as the first place winner of the Kaiser Permanente Colorado “Our Community Stories” contest.

We called on our friends and community members to help by voting and vote they did! Our video was seen by 19,000 people, shared, liked and commented on hundreds of times; giving us the votes we needed to win. LiveWell Huerfano County took first place, winning not only bragging rights, but a $2,000 community story award for the recreation center from Kaiser Permanent Colorado.

Raton Board of Education

Athletes are impacted by crumbling infrastructure, stricter eligibility requirements for fall sports, and possibility of no summer school

by Carol Bridge

RATON — During the recent Raton Board of Education meeting members heard about infrastructure problems that affect student athletes.

Justin Malana, former track coach, gave information about the present condition of the running track and options about replacing or restoring it. Costs to replace or restore the track are estimated at $120,000 for a minimal basic surface which does not address the underlying foundational problems, to over $300,000 to construct a new track. The use of the water cannon to irrigate the grass on the field has led to erosion of the track over the years and this issue must be addressed in order to protect any future tracks either new or restored.

High school principal Duncan Ware explained state rules for sports and other extracurricular activities eligibility has changed.

Previously, students could be eligible with one ‘F’ on their report card, however, from now on, students will not be eligible if they receive even one failing grade.

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