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Primero School Board recap of last two months: graduation in July, summer school to be held in person, no emergency powers for the supe.

by Ruth Stodghill


PRIMERO — Due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, the Primero School Board held its regular monthly meetings virtually on April 21 and May 19, discussing topics such as the approval of various work assignments and contracts for next school year, the budget for next year, and a change to the date for graduation.

In staff reports during the April meeting, Superintendent Bill Naccarato told the board the graduating seniors and their families have requested that graduation be tentatively moved to July, depending on the status of the coronavirus at that time.

Principal Blake Byall updated the board about the process of distance learning for students within the school district. “We are actively holding ourselves and our students accountable – even our parents and community. It would have been easy to close down completely, or hand out some information and tell folks that they’re on their own. We didn’t do that. My hats off to our students and teachers right now,” said Byall. “We even have our industrial arts teacher who is online every day right now, teaching virtually about welding. Our P.E. teacher is holding virtual workouts every day, which is truly amazing. Most schools dropped art, music – but we’re hitting all these things as if we’re still here.”

In action items, the board passed a resolution to appoint Jose Esquivias as Athletic/Activities Director for the 2020-2021 sports season.

The board also passed resolutions to approve contract renewal for probationary and 110-Day non-probationary certified teaching staff for the 2020-2021 academic school year on the recommendation of Superintendent Naccarato.

Also passed was a resolution to accept the retirement of Title I teacher Rose Montoya.

Finally, the board passed resolutions to approve the Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021, and to approve a change to the school calendar, changing the graduation date to July 24, 2020 at 7 p.m.

In staff reports during the May meeting, bond project coordinator Richard Garrison updated the board regarding ongoing construction on campus. A number of projects have been completed in the past month, including flooring, refinishing, duct work, tile work, lock work, trim, ceiling tiles, bleacher end caps, drainage, electrical repairs, and storm drains.

Naccarato said the school district has purchased several electromagnetic sprayers to disinfect the campus, which will be beneficial for both the current COVID-19 crisis as well as future cold and flu seasons. The district is also working with Tom Murphy on a tentative plan to televise the graduation ceremony in July.

Principal Byall told the board that Primero is running a summer school program June 1-26 from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Classes will operate within total compliance of the guidelines provided to the district by the State of Colorado, the Colorado Department of Education, and Las Animas County Health Department.

There will not be bus transportation available due to social distancing regulations. Students will be held in individual classrooms of no more than five students per teacher.

In action items, the board passed a resolution to approve contract renewal for the following non-probationary certified teaching staff for 2020-2021 academic school year: Josette Andrews, Roger Diller, Jose Esquivias, Denise Fernandez, Roxann Fernandez, Benjamin Gandy, Brandee Gallegos, Carrie Gongaware, Mary Hill, Gene Langowski, Holly Massarotti, Jamie Odum, Alicia Pratt, Ruth Stodghill, and Stephanie Warren.

The board also passed a resolution to approve renewal for the following at-will classified employees: Gerald Duran, Tina East, Francine Garcia, Cindy McCorkle, Briana Duran, David Lopez, Elise Mangino, Joy Medina, Ed Ortiz, Brian Topping, Tiffany Harris, Briana Duran, Francine Garcia, Elise Mangino, and James Vigil.

The board passed resolutions to approve contract renewal for Special Providers Paula Maldonado and Cindy Abeyta; and contracted staff Kristen Alfonso, Darryl Abeyta, Eric Davies, and Richard Garrison.

The board also passed resolutions to approve re-hiring of the following coaches: Kristen Alfonso, Josette Andrews, Jose Esquivias, Seth Kravig, James Vigil, and Mike Duran, as well as hiring coach golf coach Gerald Duran and Title 1/Elementary Teacher Risa Byall.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board passed a resolution to postpone the gym/remodel dedication ceremony indefinitely; and passed first readings of resolutions to approve Board Policy BEAA regarding Electronic Participation in School Board Meetings; and Board Policy BEDA-E Notice of Virtual School Board Meetings. The board voted down a resolution to grant Emergency Powers to the Superintendent.

The next regular school board meeting was set for June 23 at 5 p.m.

Polis: restaurants can now open for limited dine-in service

by Mark Craddock


OUR WORLD — As of Wednesday, Colorado restaurants can once again open for sit-down dining, albeit with limitations, under new health orders announced by Gov. Jared Polis Tuesday.

And Monday night, Las Animas-Huerfano Counties District Health Department Director Kim Gonzales released local orders mirroring the state order, giving local restaurants the green light for reopening.

A quick polling of area restaurants Wedneday morning, however, showed few if any restaurant owners had opened their doors to customers yet.

“I want to acknowledge the pain our restaurant owners and employees have been through,” Polis said. “and their level of economic activity is very important for the state.”

Of the roughly 300,000 unemployed workers in the state, one in 10 work “in or around restaurants.” “And restaurants also serve an important social function,” he said. “Humans are social beings. Breaking bread is one of the most important ways we have to maintain that social connection. For those who are ready to go out, we want to make sure it is done as safely as possible.”

The new health orders say:

• Restaurants must limit the number of people that can be inside the establishment at a time to 50% of capacity, or 50 people, whichever is less;

• Parties will be limited to eight or less and parties must be seated six feet away from each other. Intermingling of parties will be discouraged.

• All employees must wear face coverings.

• Restaurants should try to increase the ventilation by opening doors and windows and limiting air conditioning, which recycles the air inside the establishment.

• Restaurants should make an effort to reduce congregating inside and outside the establishment.

The state order calls for restaurants to implement symptom monitoring protocols for its employees (including temperature monitoring and symptom screening questionnaires), provide ongoing training on social distancing among workers, and adhere strictly to hygienic practices.

The order suspends certain state rules to maximize outdoor service.

“Restaurants, although encouraged to continue curbside pick-up/delivery, are allowed to provide dine-in service, subject to the CDPHE’s Guidance for Restaurants and Food Services,” the local health order reads. “Restaurants wishing to provide dine-in services shall complete the Restaurant Compliance Check List provided by the (local health department) as well as comply with all local and state guidelines for social distancing.”

The two-county health department says local restaurants wishing to return to dine-in business must fill out an online form at the following address:

A complete list of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidance for food service can be found at:

In addition to restaurants, Polis announced protocols to open state campsites, ski resorts wishing to offer spring skiing and summer day camps for children.

Amid pandemic, Huerfano unemployment dropped 1% – April figures give best glimpse yet at COVID-19 job losses

by Mark Craddock


LAS ANIMAS/HUERFANO — In April, amid public health orders that all but shut down the nation’s economy and put nearly a half-million Coloradans on the unemployment rolls, a strange thing happened. Huerfano County’s unemployment rate dropped 1%.

That is but a small silver lining amid a dark economic cloud. The county’s unemployment rate for April still stands at 12.4%, just above the state’s non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 12%.

On Friday, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment released its unemployment numbers for April, 2020, the first full glimpse into the economic impacts of Gov. Jared Polis’ March 26 Stay at Home order.

“As we’ve been saying for the last nine weeks, the April jobs numbers would be the most telling indicator of COVID-19 impacts on our state’s economy,” Cher Haavind, deputy executive director of the Department of Labor and Employment, said in a May 22 press conference. “We went from a record low to record high unemployment in a matter of months which is, quite frankly, unbelievable.”

In the past nine weeks, Haavind said, her office has processed over 479,000 unemployment claims statewide and has paid out more than $800 million in pandemic unemployment assistance and just over $500 million in regular unemployment benefits.

Colorado’s unemployment for April stood at 12%, with roughly 365,000 Coloradans out of work. In March, the unemployment rate was 5.4%. In April of 2019, the state’s unemployment rate was 2.8%.

In Las Animas County, the unemployment rate rose from 7.6% in March to 10.5% in April. In April of 2019, the county’s unemployment rate was 3.8%.

Huerfano County’s unemployment rate dropped from 13.4% in March to 12.4% in April. In April 2019, Huerfano County’s unemployment was 6.9%, then among the highest in the state. In mid-April, the CDLE reported Huerfano County’s March unemployment at 12.1%, but that figure has since been adjusted up.

Historically, Huerfano County’s unemployment numbers are among the worst in the state, but the April 2020 statistics show Huerfano coming in at 22 among the state’s 64 counties. April’s highest unemployment rate was in Pitkin County, which grew from 5.8% in March to 23.1% in April. The lowest unemployment rate in the state is in Cheyenne County, which dropped from 3.6% in March to 2.4% in April.


Historic Numbers, Uncertain Future

CDLE Senior Economist Ryan Gedney said Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 11.3%, while lower than the 12% non-adjusted number, still remains the highest unemployment rate “since comparable records began in 1976.”

“The state’s previous high unemployment rate was 8.9%,” Gedney said. “That was from September to December of 2010. In comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate in April was 14.7%. That is the highest monthly unemployment rate for the nation since comparable records began in 1948.”

Such unprecedented economic numbers are a driving force behind efforts to reopen the economy as quickly as is safely possible. But CDLE Chief Economist Alexandra Hall said it’s impossible to tell at this point what the economy is going to look like moving forward.

“(April) is the first full month of unemployment data since the Stay at Home order and we have only nine weeks of claims data,” she said, “so at this point it is really unknown what a recovery would look like. Typically, we consider unemployment to be a lagging indicator, but here we consider it concurrent. But we just don’t have enough information yet to know what this looks like. There are lots of questions about what a recovery looks like, what the duration and severity will be.”

Refusal to Work

With Gov. Polis’ April 26 announcement of “Safer at Home,” a series of orders which have gradually allowed many businesses to reopen under strict public-health guidelines, some workers have been reluctant to return to work.

Haavind said that, to date, her office has received 1,000 complaints from 640 employers regarding employees refusing to return to work.

She said that legitimate reasons for refusal include unsafe conditions in the workplace, employees who are members of a high-risk group or who are in a household with members of a high-risk group, or those who cannot get day care because of the health orders.

After investigating the claims, the CDLE has pulled unemployment benefits for 15% of those workers, roughly 150 people statewide, she said.

Against a backdrop of 479,000 Coloradans on unemployment, that works out to about 0.03% of all claimants.

Upcoming Events for week of May 28, 2020


COVID-19 Test site info

PUEBLO — The Pueblo Community Based Test Site at Colorado State Fairgrounds (enter through Gate 4 off Mesa Avenue and Gaylord Avenue). will be open today, Thursday, May 28 and tomorrow, Friday, May 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We still have the capacity to perform up to 250 self-swabs. Testing is free and limited to the first 250 people per day.

Tests are available to anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to include fever (100.4 or higher), shortness of breath, cough, headache, chills, body aches, muscle pain, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. Additionally, the following individuals who are asymptomatic can be tested:

Health care workers and first responders Anyone over the age of 65
Anyone who has had contact with a person testing positive for COVID-19

African American, Latino and American Indian Tribes
A resident of a long-term care facility and anyone experiencing homelessness.

The tests are self-administered and all those being tested must be able to conduct the test themselves. Anyone being tested must be in an enclosed vehicle. No bicycles, motorcycles or walk-ups are allowed.


Online Borderlands Talk: Nepantla- Embracing Borderlands Poetics

OUR WORLD — Join us on Zoom Thursday, May 28, 6 to 7 pm. We will hear from Jessica Helen Lopez, Spoken Word Artist, Educator, and City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate, Emeritus

Read a poem. Hear a poem. Write a poem honoring the borderlands within us and around us. Poetry performance and workshop/ discussion with Jessica Helen Lopez.

The event is free and open to the public. Register for this meeting at

Please consider supporting the Border- lands Lecture Series by contributing at Our Online Borderlands Lecture Series is generously supported by the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.


Free self-paced tutorials through TSJC online

OUR WORLD — TSJC is offering some noncredit Continuing/Community Ed classes through Ed2Go (Cengage). The link to the website to sign up is:

The classes are all self-paced, tutorial- type and the following courses are available at no charge if people enroll by Tuesday, June 30.

• Creating Web Pages
• Creating WordPress Websites
• Fundamentals of Supervision and Management
• Twelve Steps to a Successful Job Search
• Keys to Effective Communication
• Managing Customer Service
• Marketing Your Business on the Internet
• Personal Finance
• Small Business Marketing on a Shoestring

• Individual Excellence


Mental health support for senior citizens

OUR WORLD — Senior Health Advocates Colorado wants you to know we are here for you during this difficult time. You may be feeling isolated, scared, or just want to talk. You may have a friend or relative you are concerned about or perhaps you need support in some other way. Please reach out to us. We care about you and want to support our community. Call us at 719-680-4883 or Email us at: or For more information, check out our website and Facebook page: or

Stay safe and reach out should you need anything. We want to help. Senior Health Advocates Colorado is a member of the Trinidad Las Animas Chamber of Commerce. We are a voluntary group of professionals dedicated to community health and wellness. We recognize the difficulties older adults may have navigating the health care system, associated support services and advocating for themselves.

Our mission is to ensure that seniors in Southern Colorado are provided with services required by law and by standards of decency and dignity. Our goal is to assist you by providing guidance, support, education and advocacy.”


Learn to Hunt webinars

OUR WORLD — Interested in learning how to hunt but not sure where to start? Know someone who might benefit from some hunting tips and tricks? We’re here to help with our upcoming Learn to Hunt webinar series, Thursday nights at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

Big Game Hunting Tactics – May 28 – We will discuss three hunting tactics to try in the field and when you might want to try them.

Secondary Draw, Leftover Licenses, and OTC Licenses – June 4 – New to Colorado in 2020 is the Secondary Draw. Let’s talk about how this works, as well as left over and over the counter options for this coming fall.

Hunt Mentors and Hunt Community – June 11 – A challenge to new hunters, or hunters new to Colorado, is finding people to hunt with. We will discuss opportunities to find mentors and fellow hunters. LtFsRLmFUg9sh5AtLQ



Dorcas Circle re-opens

WALSENBURG — The food pantry at Dorcas reopened on Tuesday, May 26, 10 a.m.; we ordered enough food to support 400 giveaways, if there is still food left we will give out the remaining food today, Thursday, May 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Please pull your car in front of the thrift store, we will ask for your information there, after we get your information we will ask you to pull forward, our staff will load your car for you.

The thrift store will open Tuesday, June 2 and will run normal hours every Tuesday and Thursday through the month. Shoppers will be required to wear a mask for entry, and we will be limiting entry to four customers at a time. God bless, and we look forward to seeing all of you.


Care and Share distribution

WALSENBURG — The next Care and Share food distributions will be Friday, May 29, 11 a.m. at the Huerfano County Community Center.


Gardner Farmers Market 10th Season

GARDNER — The 10th season of the Gardner Farmers Market will run every Saturday from May 30th to October 17th, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. under the Pavilion next to the Methodist Church.

Due to Virus, we ask:
1. Please wear masks, or please follow current County/State guidelines
2. Maintain 6 feet separation from customers and vendors
3. Hand sanitizer will be available to sanitize your hands.
4. Please point to items you want to purchase and the vendor will package your items.
5. If you are sick, please stay home. Have a neighbor purchase items for you, or contact us.

Gardner 1/2 Price Programs:
1. Vegetable 1/2 Price Program: Fresh Vegetables and Items that are primarily made of Vegetable are 1/2 Price if you are Low Income. 2. Duane Martin 1/2 Price Protein Program: Meat, Eggs, Cheese and any Item primarily made with Protein is 1/2 Price if you are Low Income.
* Thanks to supporters, Shii Koeii Farm was able to raise money to fund these programs for 2020!

Vendors Confirmed for May 30th:
L&M Ranch, Lamb Items Available (Pork and Beef sold out), Lamb Prices:, 719 890-4848,
Karen Shaw-jams & jellies, Elderberries, Handcrafted Soaps, Socks, Felted Dryer Balls, Baskets
Danny’s- FREE FUDGE opening day!, Pickled Products, Granola, Beef Jerky, Fudge, Baked Goods
Shii Koeii Farm-lettuce mix, radishes, winterbor kale, rainbow chard, garlic scapes, greek oregano, chocolate mint, chives, for goat share members: hard goat cheese & chevre in 5 flavors, fresh breads: sourdough, pretzel, seeded wheat, roasted chile & cheddar, bread & roses skin care: hand salve, face cream, sunscreen. Questions: 865-247-9749 or
Red House Pies- Large & small sweet & savory pies, $7 small, $18 large, Special Order: 865-247-9515 or TK Ranch-Eggs
For more information: Gardner Farmers Market, 865-247-9749 or


La Veta Village food services

LA VETA — La Veta Village has two programs to help with food needs during Covid-19 alerts. If you are 60 or older or high-risk, safety-trained volunteers will shop at Charlie’s with your grocery list and deliver to your home. This service is available to anyone in the 81055 zip code or in Navajo ranch. Contact Susan at 719-989-8361 or email

Also, La Veta Village offers a free food pick-up for persons who qualify by income level or because of unemployment. Please register for a box by Wednesday at 5 pm for a pick-up the following Saturday. The next pick- up is Saturday, May 30. Email or call Rebecca 719-746-2329.

If you would like to volunteer, call 719- 746-2329. To donate, go to


For the Love of Spanish Peaks Country auction

HUERFANO — Now through Sunday, May 31: For the Love of Spanish Peaks Country Auction is brought to you by the La Veta-Cuchara Chamber of Commerce and the Spanish Peaks Business Alliance; Huerfano County’s leading non-profit, community led organizations designed to support and educate local businesses and non-profit entities.

We have partnered to create an online auction and storefront for small businesses in Huerfano County to sell gift cards, services and products online. Please support your favorite businesses by bidding on items and buying their gift cards, products and services through the online auction.


Book Nook book delivery

LA VETA — The Book Nook is happy to announce a book delivery service for the locals of La Veta. For five dollars you will receive three books of your choice in genre, author, etc. If you are friends with us on Facebook simply leave a message with your information and preferred method of payment. We now have a PayPal to make secure online payments or you can leave cash or a check made out to Friends of the Library on your front porch. We will send you a confirmation message and date of delivery with estimated time. The books will be wiped down and placed in a new paper bag for your protection. We are still waiting for approval from the County Health Department, so keep an eye out on our Facebook Page to see when this service will become available. We hope this service can bring some joy into your or your loved ones lives. Happy reading, friends!


La Veta Public Library curbside service

LA VETA — La Veta Public Library (LVPL) would like to offer curbside service for our patrons during social distancing requirements. Patrons will reserve Library materials online via our catalog, or by calling in. Library staff will retrieve the materials, bag them, label them with the patron’s name, and place the bag on a table setup between the Library’s Main Street porches, at the edge of the public sidewalk. Patrons will collect their materials from this table. There will be two times each day when reserved materials will be ready for pickup: 10 am and 1 pm. Any unclaimed materials will be brought back into the library building at 4 pm. The service will run Monday through Friday.


First La Veta Farmers Market

LA VETA — The first La Veta farmers market for the 2020 season will be Thursday, June 4, 3- 5 p.m. on the grassy area in front of Francisco Fort Museum on Main St. COVID regulations may be in effect so please check the La Veta farmers market FB page for details as the opening date gets closer!


Walsenburg Farm & Makers Market on Sunday

WALSENBURG — The first market of the sea- son will be Sunday, June 7, 12 to 3 p.m. at Heritage Park, 400 Main Street. Strict social distancing and masks will be required. Let’s work through this together and build our com- munity. Love and light to all. Find more information on Facebook


Virtual free legal clinic

HUERFANO COUNTY — Despite the COVID-19 closures of libraries across Colorado, the Virtual Pro Se Clinic (VPC) clinics will still be held as scheduled. The next clinic in Huerfano County will be Tuesday June 9, 4 to 5 p.m.. Please contact the Spanish Peals Library at (719) 738-2774 to be added to the signup sheet.

We’re able to do this and keep clinic patrons safe because our volunteer attorneys al- ready work remotely. As a work-around, instead of clinic patrons coming in-person to your local public library (which is closed), the volunteer attorney will call each clinic patron’s telephone directly, during the clinic hours, using the phone number provided. Although VPC clinic patrons will see a slight shift in how our free legal support is delivered, they should experience no significant disruption in service.

There couldn’t be a more important time to get this kind of free legal support to your community than right now. If you have questions about unpaid rent, employment issues, end-of-life documents, custody/parenting time issues or any other Colorado civil issue, please contact your Spanish Peaks Library at (719) 738-2774 to be added to the sign-up sheet. Space is limited.


Ann Gethen’s Solo Show at SPACe

LA VETA — Accomplished artist Ann Gethen is showing a collection of new oil paintings in her solo show at SPACe. This will be her final solo show, so be sure to take a look at her landscapes from North, South, East, & West in the USA. In addition, the 2020 Artists’ Choice show and The Changing Climate show are also on display, until Saturday, June 13. Art- work from all the shows will be offered for sale online and images can be seen on the SPACe website. To learn more, visit the website Members may contact SPACe for special showings, call 719- 742-3074 or email


Francisco Fort Museum news

LA VETA — Francisco Fort Museum, due to the corona virus, is closed until further notice. Additionally, Francisco Fort Days, scheduled for July 25 and 26 are canceled. However, during this closure the museum will see much ac- tivity. The east wing and part of the museum grounds will be renovated, along with various repairs. Exhibits will be rotated and new ones added. Be sure to visit our Facebook page, our Instagram page, and our website (francisco- as we are taking the museum virtual and will soon be adding will soon be adding photos and videos of, and about, many of our artifacts, exhibits, historical figures, and events.”


SCCOG (AAA) senior Services and Care & Share

HUERFANO COUNTY — The Agency on Aging coordinates food distribution in Huerfano and Las Animas Counties and is provided through South Central Council of Governments. All Agency on Aging programs are for residents 60 years or older, assessments and reservations required. Please make reservations/cancellations one day in advance. Call 719-738-1182 or 719-738-2205 for assessments, reservations, and questions.

Take out lunch meals are provided in Walsenburg Monday through Friday at the Huerfano County Community Center. Also available are homebound meal deliveries Monday through Friday in Walsenburg and Tuesday and Friday in La Veta.


Summer adult art workshops at SPACe

LA VETA — SPACe will have adult workshops this summer with a maximum 6 students per workshop since we will enforce social distancing. Sign up soon to reserve your space.

June 20 – Coni Grant, Plein Air painting,

June 27 – Kim Mackey, Painting in the Studio,
June 23 – Kathy Hill, Intro to ScratchArt;
July 14, 21, 28 – Kathy Hill, Traditional Watercolor Painting. Contact Rena at 719-742-3074 for information.


Covid-19 2020 cancellations in La Veta

LA VETA — Art in the Park’s cancellation was announced last month and other La Veta festivals/activities are also being can- celled. Mitzi Kearns, sent this statement, “Due to the devastating effects of the Covid 19 virus and the uncertainly about the future as well as our desire to keep all of our citizens as safe as possible, the committees for the La Veta All Class Reunion (July31-Aug 2) and La Veta Oktoberfest (October 3) have regrettably decided to cancel both of the events for the 2020 year. We appreciate everyone’s support and will proceed with plans for ever bigger and better celebrations in 2021.”



Cash Mob for Tees Me Treat Me

TRINIDAD — Join us Friday, May 29, 6 p.m. for the Trinidad Historic Main Street’s Virtual Cash Mob featuring Tees Me Treat Me
* We will host on Facebook Live. Be sure to scroll down the fb page at 6 for the live video.

*Della will be showing a variety of unique items that are at the shop. If you like an item, be the 1st person to commit and make a comment, on the video, that you would like to purchase. (Some- times there are multiple available.) A member of the team will comment “confirmed” and then contact you though private message.

* Della will contact you the following day for payment and to ar- range pick-up.
* List of sample items will be updated soon
The Heritage School at Trinidad State Junior


Friday night Solidarity in Sight & Sound

TRINIDAD — Please join us every Friday night at 8 pm in “Solidarity In Sight and Sound”. At 8 pm from your residence, your driveway or front yard we would ask that for 1 minute you shine a light, wave a flag, honk a horn, sing a song or play an instrument so that the whole city can hear you; hear your neighbors, your friends, your family.

Even though we are all apart during this time, we as a community have never been closer together. Each one of us is fighting the same battle, feeling the same worries and fear, missing our loved ones.

The Trinidad Police Department would like our community to know that you are not alone…we are not alone! Of course, we would ask everyone to practice social distancing and no fireworks or firearms should be used to make a noise, this event is about all of us coming together for 1 minute to let us all know that we are ok and that we as a community will be ok.


Apishapa Heritage Center summer opening

AGUILAR — Apishapa Heritage Center located at 131 E. Main St. will open for the summer on Saturday, May 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a celebration of our diverse heritage of the Town of Aguilar. Our summer hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturdays. Appointments are encouraged. contact information at : or 719-680-1393


Virtual Canvas & Conversation

TRINIDAD — There will be a virtual Canvas & Conversation held Monday, June 1, 6-8 p.m. hosted by Mt. Carmel Wellness & Community Center. The cost is $25 per person which includes paint and canvas. Pick-up paint and canvas from Mt. Carmel. Note: Brushes not provided. Register in advance for this meeting: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Call to register: 719-845-4894.


Western Engraving Class at TSJC

TRINIDAD — Western Engraving happens Monday to Friday, June 1 to 5, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Trinidad State, sign up soon! For more information go to Tuition is $300. The class is limited to 10 students. To Register: Contact Donna Haddow 719-846-5724 or


Mt. Carmel Wellness free virtual classes continue including fun kid’s classes

TRINIDAD — Mt. Carmel Wellness & Community Center brings you FREE virtual programs and classes to help you remain active and connected during this challenging time. These classes are available to anyone through the Zoom app. You can participate using your computer or smartphone.

See our weekly wellness schedule, followed by instructions to log-in on your computer or call-in from your phone. Get the schedule by signing up for the weekly email at: “Mt. Carmel of Colorado”

Contact Laura at (719) 845-4894 with questions.


Care and Share food distribution

TRINIDAD — The next Care and Share food distribution will be held Wednesday, June 3, 10 a.m., at the Las Animas County Fairgrounds


Food pantry in Segundo

SEGUNDO — For those in need during this crisis situation, we invite you to come visit our food pantry on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 12 noon at The Lord’s Chapel Segundo.


SCCOG (AAA) senior services and Care & Share

LAS ANIMAS COUNTY — The Agency on Aging coordinates food distribution in Huerfano and Las Animas Counties and is provided through South Central Council of Governments. All area Agency on Aging programs are for residents 60 years or older, assessments and reservations required. Please make reservations/cancellations one day in advance at 719-846-3336. Call 719-845-1133 ext 208 or ext. 225 for assessments and questions.

Take out lunch meals are provided in Trinidad Monday through Friday at the Sayre Senior Center. Also available are homebound meal deliveries Monday through Friday in Trinidad and Tuesday and Thursday in Aguilar.

There will be a regular Care & Share distribution at 125 E. Main Street. This distribution is for Aguilar/Ludlow area residents only (proof of residency required). Every Thursday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. there will be an emergency food distribution for those in dire need.

For all distributions, please do not show up too early, bring a pen, and stay in your vehicle. Please wear a mask.


TSD Free Summer Lunch Program

TRINIDAD — The free Summer Lunch Program provides nutritious lunches for kids and teens all summer long! The free lunch es will begin Monday, June 15, and run through Friday, August 7 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Eckhart Elementary School, 1021 Pierce Street. Due to the Covid 19, lunches will be curbside pickup. In bad weather you may pick up lunches in the cafeteria by the double doors where the benches are located. Kids and teens 18 & under eat free; adult Meals $3.75. For more information about summer lunch call 845-2051or 846-3324


Ugly Pet Portrait fundraiser

TRINIDAD — Get a one-of-a-kind portrait of your pet! We have some amazingly talented people who volunteer at Noah’s Ark Animal Welfare Association. They help make our day-to- day operations possible. We love our volunteers – they are awe- some! Some of our volunteers are pretty good artists… and there are many more who… let’s face it, should probably keep their day jobs when it comes to creating artwork. Nonetheless, this eclectic team is dedicated and they have decided to join together for a fun, unique new fundraiser for Noah’s Ark — introducing the Ugly Pet Portrait Fundraiser.

For just $20, you’ll get an original, one-of-a-kind portrait of your pet, drawn by a “possibly-talented” NAAWA volunteer! Your pet is NOT ugly… but keep in mind that the artwork you get back, well… it may not be Mona Lisa quality, but we can assure you that it was made with lots of love! And there is nothing ugly about love!

So set your bar nice and low, and support NAAWA with a gift of $20 today! Just remember to upload a fairly good picture of your pet at the time of order. Please also remember to provide your email address and mailing address so we can send your pet’s portrait to you.

Get your order now because this FUNdraiser ends June 20, 2020! Email: to request your application.


Bianco Grant Foundation seeks applicants

courtesy Dave Santistevan Jr.

LAS ANIMAS — To the 2020 high school graduates of Las Animas County. The Bianco Grant Foundation is accepting applications for college bound students. This grant provides $500 per semester for up to four years. To apply, please pro- vide the following:
1. Cover sheet (include basic contact info, name, address, and telephone number, as well as your parents’ contact info.)
2. Letter of interest-one page only (include extra-curricular activities in school, and your future endeavors, college and work.)
3. Two letters of recommendation (from school, work, or volunteer work)
4. Copy of high school transcripts

You may send these items by mail to: 1123 Willow, Trinidad CO 81082, or email them (in one folder) to:



Colfax County Rapid Response meeting

RATON — The next meeting of the Colfax County Rapid Response volunteer firefighting community based organization will be tonight, Thursday, May 28, 7 p.m. at the Colfax County Courthouse, 230 North 3rd Street. Currently we engage in Wild land and Structural fires. When called upon we serve a civic duty, which is to protect the communities and citizens in Colfax County. Colfax County Rapid Response meets on the second and forth Thursdays.


Walk to Remember lost loved ones

RATON — The Josie Barela Memorial Walk to Remember Lost Loved Ones will be held Friday, May 29, 6 a.m.. The walk starts at Fairmont Cemetary from 6-6:30 a.m. then proceeds to Mt. Calvary with prayer in between and safe social distancing.


Raton Ministerial Alliance food distribution

RATON — The next food distribution will be held Friday, May 29, 10 a.m. until supplies are gone at the City Market building, 907 S. 2nd Street. Everyone is welcome.


Moonlight Hike at Capulin Volcano

CAPULIN — Take a ranger guided hike at Capulin Volcano under the full moon Saturday, May 30, 8 p.m.. Subjects include night time biology, lunar geography, astronomy, and the park after dark. Come and experience Capulin Volcano in a new light! Reservations required. Call 575-278-2201 for information and reservations.


Colfax County Republican Party caucuses

UTE PARK — The Republican Party of Colfax County announces the Ward Caucuses, County Central Committee, and the County Quadrennial Convention will be held on Sunday, May 31, 2 p.m. at the Pine Ridge Hotel, 29656 Highway 64 in Ute Park, NM. The meeting will be held outside and social distancing will be respected. The primary purpose of this convention is to elect County delegates to attend the Quadrennial Republican State Convention. Republican Candidates are also invited to speak.


New Mexico primary election info

NEW MEXICO — The New Mexico Primary Election will be June 2, 2020. The voter registration deadline for this election was Tuesday, May 5. The deadline to request an absentee bal- lot online is Thursday, May 28 by midnight. The deadline to return a completed absentee ballot is Tuesday, June 2.

Early voting begins Saturday, May 16 and continues until Saturday, May 30. In-person absentee voting will be held from Tuesday, May 5 through Friday, May 29.


Full Moon Hike at Capulin Volcano

CAPULIN — Take a ranger-guided hike at Capulin Volcano under the full moon, Saturday, June 6, 8 p.m.! Subjects include night time biology, lunar geography, astronomy, and the park after dark. Come and experience Capulin Volcano in a new light! Reservations required. Call 575-278-2201 for information and reservations.



Commissioners hear: Colfax County COVID rate of spread continues to abate

by Sharon Niederman


RATON — Colfax County Emergency Manager Tom Vigil reported on May 18, 2020 to the County Commission that the rate of COVID-19 spread continues to drop in the Northeastern Preparedness Region, now standing at 1.05. The New Mexico statewide rate of spread as of last week is 1.16.

Rate of spread measures how many new cases of COVID-19 develop from a single positive. “At 1.0, the virus begins to taper off,” Vigil says. “If you take Santa Fe County out of the equation, the rest of the rural northeastern counties would be at .08.”

Vigil reiterated that of the five positive cases attributed to Colfax County, one case was not located in the county and the other four are the result of a road trip.

“We don’t have community spread,” Vigil said. “It’s a good sign. We can take a deep breath as we ease up a bit.”

In addition, Vigil reported expanded testing is available at four sites in Colfax County: Raton, Springer, Cimarron, and Angel Fire, with 24-36 hour turnaround results.


Philmont season discussed

While Philmont Scout Ranch has charted a July 1 opening date, a meeting is scheduled sometime this week to include Philmont, NM Department of Health, and Colfax County regarding summer plans. Ordinarily, 26,000 scouts from all over the country attend summer camps outside Cimarron. While Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office has spoken to issues of summer camps, Philmont is in a different league, and the scheduling of Philmont events, if there is to be a summer program, will be addressed at this meeting. Another imperative issue to address is fire status, Vigil says. The meeting is not open to the public or the press, he says.


County Commission Staff Returns to Regular Hours

While several of the nine employees attending to county business have been working remotely, Colfax County Executive Director Mary Lou Kern recommended staff return to their offices full time, 7 am- 5:30 pm, while practicing safety measures, and the county offices remain closed to the public. Following an hour-long debate as to which entity had the authority to make this change, the county commission voted in favor of Kern’s recommendation. Commissioner Roy Fernandez dissented, offering the point of view that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s directive that employees work remotely as much as possible ought to stand until the Governor’s next announcement due June 2. County staff will report for regular office hours beginning May 26, 2020.


Detention Staff Requests Additional Compensation

County commissioners received an unsigned complaint from detention staff workers regarding their work schedules and rate of pay. In essence, detention staff workers continue to work full time schedules, while those working remotely elsewhere have abbreviated hours yet receive full compensation. In addition, the letter stated, detention staff deserve additional hazard pay due to the extra risk of their jobs. Commissioner Fernandez agreed with the need for additional compensation; Kern stated this issue will be visited, with consideration of a bonus, July 1 for inclusion in the new budget.

LAC Commissioner support variance on business reopenings

by Bill Knowles


TRINIDAD — The Las Animas County Commission, during Tuesday’s regular meeting, approved a letter of support from the City of Trinidad to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) seeking a variance that will allow the city’s restaurants to reopen and serve drinks in the dining areas only. Drinking while eating will also be allowed outside at an establishment at a patio or deck. The area’s bars will remain closed.

Businesses began putting pressure on both the city and county a few weeks ago as some business owners began to question the reality of a pandemic. During Tuesday’s meeting Moose’s owner Nancy Lackey told the county commission that a lot of the problem was in misunderstanding or confusion surrounding information released by the county and public health.

“There are too many rungs to understand. I understand that for an establishment to serve alcohol they will need a variance and that the county and city have been working on a variance. The city has only been considering outside dining. Staying open takes time and inventory we just can’t open on a dime. The frustration has been that hasn’t been any real public communication. By not knowing this escalates to emotion. We need information,” Lackey said.

“The Department of Revenue has stated that in a variance, if the establishment is licensed and they have a patio, they can serve liquor if people are dining outside. This has to be in the variance in order to server food and liquor outside,” Lackey said.

The county commission passed a letter of support for a variance being filed by the City of Trinidad, with a 3-0 vote.

Just prior to the vote on the letter of support for a variance from PHO 20-28, County Commissioner Luis Lopez took a moment to make some comments on why the emergency orders are the way they are. “Declaration of Emergency statutes were in place a long before (the virus) began… So our hands tied by statute.”

“This (variance) … is the next way to move forward. During a declaration of emergency statements must come from the incident commander not the commissioners.

“Commissioners can’t make public statements. … (Public statements) happen everyday at Kim’s 10 a.m. meeting. This (Variance) is the way to move forward to reduce restrictions,” said Luis Lopez.

Commissioner Felix Lopez pointed out the variance impacts four sectors; restaurants, recreation, places of worship, and fitness facilities. “Model plans have been approved by variances in Mesa County and several other counties.” He implied that the variance Las Animas County was considering is based on the approved plans written by other counties and passed, and approved by the CDPHE. Variances can be approved within a three to five day window.

Not only is Las Animas County looking at a variance locally, but the Huerfano County Commission is looking at the passage of a variance there as well. Las Animas and Huerfano Counties Public Health Director Kim Gonzales said she was requesting approval from the state for both counties, as well.

In other actions

The commissioners also passed with a 3-0 vote to approve a letter of opposition to the state’s Joint Budget Committee’s decision to suspend the exemption on property tax for real property for seniors and disabled vets. This is being looked at by the JBC in their effort to balance the state’s budget. The exemption was approved by the state’s voters who support the exemption because they understood the sacrifice disabled veterans have made.

The commission also passed a letter of support for SB 20-003 which is languishing with the state senate’s financial committee. The bill calls for a $4 million transfer from the general fund to Colorado Parks and Wildlife for development of Fisher’s Peak State Park. Impacts of the coronavirus on the state’s budget along with a state constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget may kill the appropriations bill for the park.

The county commission argued, however, that the funding is needed to help jumpstart the economies of both the county and the City of Trinidad. The funding should help address the loss of an estimated 20% to 30% of local budget revenues.The letter of support passed 3-0.

The commission went into executive session at 10:15 am.

Governments try for variance request to CDPH&E via letter

Counties, cities, health officials from both Huerfano/Las Animas counties expected to sign


by E. E. Mullens

HUERFANO / LAS ANIMAS — A letter to the executive director of the state health department, signed by the Huerfano County Commissioners Tuesday morning, is expected to contain a host of signatures before it is sent to Denver this week.

The letter contains signature blocks for the boards of county commissioners from both Las Animas and Huerfano counties, the bi-county public health department director, the CEOs of Mt. San Rafael Hospital and Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center, and each of the mayors and city council members from Walsenburg and Trinidad.

The letter was also approved during the regular session of the Las Animas County Commissioners Tuesday morning.

The letter will be sent to Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director of the CDPH&E and requests a variance from some provisons of Governor Jared Polis’ Executive Order D2020-044 ‘Safer at Home’, and CDPH&E’s Order 20-28. A variance, if granted, would allow the two counties to implement their own re-opening plans for restaurants, places of worship, and fitness and recreation facilities, thus, as the letter says, “restoring the balance between community health and the local economy in a manner and time frame that best meets the needs of the local communities.”

The letter says in part, “We believe it is appropriate to loosen restrictions in ways that are slightly different than what has been outlines in the ‘Safer at Home’ orders. Our local public health agency will still regulate social behaviors , events, types of business that may reopen and travel into and around each county to control disease transmission.”

The letter says both counties medical facilities have adequate hospital capacity to address COVID-19 and other medical issues in the service area. Both Mt. San Rafael and SPRHC submitted letters to go along with the overall variance request letter to Director Ryan. The letter says both counties will continue to test people who have possibly had exposure to the virus and/or are displaying symptoms of the disease.


Different from request abandoned last week:

The letter outlined what makes this request unique to rural counties. “Our local public health director has concerns with our health department’s alibility to meet the requirements for a request for a variance, specifically the ability to have enough staff and resources to isolate and quarantine, mass test, enforce restrictions, and maintain safety with adequate PPE.” The strict state rules for a formal variance request quashed a similar move by officials last week. But this week’s effort explained why those strict rules may not be appropriate for the south central region. “However,” the letter says, “these concerns are not due to the total number of cases in our counties, but due to a lack of appropriate and necessary resources that need to be obtained from the state. We feel that our request should not be denied solely based on the fact that our small counties are being provided the necessary and continually requested resources.”

The letter says the Las Animas/Huerfano Counties Public Health Department endorses the proposed alternative restrictions, “provided (state) resources are available.”

The letter also says monitoring will continue with the determination on whether or not the alternative restrictions are working based on keeping the proportion of positive tests to less than 10 % of overall tests conducted and staying below he threshold of less than three COVID-19 hospitalizations, in each county. The letter said, “If respective numbers for either of these measures exceeds the stated limits, actions will be taken to increase physical distancing practices in our counties, and it may be necessary to reissue local Stay at Home orders.”


Included in the letter were, what Huerfano County Administrator John Galusha called the latest statistics from this morning. According to the document, Las Animas County’s first positive case of COVID-19 was reported April 2, with Huerfano county’s first case reported on March 23. To date, LAC has had five positive cases (2% of all tests conducted) and Huerfano County has had three positive cases (7% of all tests conducted). Two cases in each Las Animas and Huerfano counties required hospitalization and, according to the letter, all but one individual has been discharged from hospital.


A plea for local reopening:

The final paragraph of the letter spells out the feelings of all the signatories. “Our residents, and specifically our small business owners, have significantly suffered during the Stay at Home and recent Safer at Home Orders. They deserve the opportunity to be involved in the implementation of a local reopening plan, and to be able to implement it as soon as it is safe to do so.”

It is expected many, if not all, of the elected and appointed officials’ signatures will be included as the letter makes the rounds of mid week government meetings in the two county area.

Raton seniors graduate, making the best they can

by Marty Mayfield

KRTN Multi-Media

RATON — On Friday May 15, 2020 beginning about 2 p.m. the Raton High School Seniors, one at a time, walked across the stage in an empty Tiger Gym to receive the honor of graduate.

Seniors were allowed two guests to be in the gym for pictures as they walked across the stage to be presented with a diploma by a Raton School Board Member. The pandemic even hampered that as diplomas were not able to be printed and delivered to the school in time for the presentation. Diplomas will be mailed out to seniors as a later date.

Later in the evening seniors gathered their vehicles in the parking lot at Raton High School and listened to the first ever graduation ceremony on KRTN Radio. As the speeches were read on the radio, horns could be heard as they mentioned the Class of 2020, a class that will be remembered for a long time, not only for what they did, but what they didn’t, get to do.

Valedictorian Tori Anne Platero noted in her speech that “this was not the way we wanted our senior year to end.” She went on to say this year has been one of the weirdest times and not knowing how to feel about it. She went on to tell fellow seniors “no matter who you are, no matter what you want to do, after this, keep going don’t let anything, least of all what happened this year stop you on your journey. We didn’t plan it to end here and it won’t.”

The ceremonial school key was handed down to the junior class president April Vigil by senior class president Rachael Sandoval. The ceremony came to a close, all students in their vehicles, listening to Salutatorian Jennifer Acosta as she gave her speech. A walk down what she had hoped would be a memory lane of events that never came and now celebrate their graduation that ended in a way they never expected. “It is up to us to take this experience and learn that things don’t always go as planned. But we must always cherish the moments we’ve had, the memories we’ve made together, and the lifelong friends that will forever be on my family’s Netflix account. Class of 2020, remember we cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”

With that, the Class of 2020, proceeded down Tiger Drive one last time with a police escort that took them up Second Street, around on Third Street, and back up First Street where they embarked their own way on the journey of life.

Bystanders cheer on Raton seniors as they drive through town as part of their ‘graduation walk.” Photo by Sharon Neiderman

Colorado schools see a bit of relief from CARES

by Bill Knowles


COLORADO — About $121 million bucks. That’s what Colorado schools can expect to receive from the federal government to offset the costs of responding to coronavirus closures, including what schools took on as costs, ie laptop purchases, development of new curriculum for online learning, and extra cleaning of school buildings.

Colorado’s share of the pie comes from the $13 billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which is part of the CARES Act. The funds go to states, who then allocate it to school districts based on how many students in a district are experiencing poverty.

Out of the $121 million, the Colorado Department of Education gets to keep 10% of the state’s portion for K-12 education. That’s about $12 million, and state leaders are considering the best way apply the funding for the best impact.

Some have considered putting the funds to use building out the state’s internet infrastructure, with 65,000 student who currently don’t have internet access following the switch from brick and mortar buildings to online learning. But $12 million just isn’t enough to do that.

As for the districts, most of them are waiting for more state guidance. Charter Schools are one issue. They currently receive funds from the state but the extra funding from the CARES act may have to be share with the charters. And U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has issued guidance that directs school districts to share relief money with private schools.


To whom and how much

Here’s how the Colorado CARES Act school district allocations will be divided up to local area districts in both Huerfano and Las Animas Counties:

First the state wide total is $121,993,782. Of that Denver Public Schools, the state’s largest public school district, will receive $22,908,618, and the Colorado Department of Education will receive $12,000,000. That’s at the big end.

Somewhere in the middle, Trinidad School District #1 will receive $298,250. Huerfano RE-1 will see $211,667. Moving down the list La Veta RE-2 will get $87,156. Aguilar will be allocated $64,646 with Hoehne getting $60,838, and Primero will get $31,251. Branson will see $10,575 and Kim gets $1,102.

Included in the CARES Act is funding for preschool, higher education, and a fund that the governor can use to address the education needs of his choosing that Gov. Jared Polis can apply to education as he decides, though he hasn’t said how he’ll spend Colorado’s $44 million share.

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