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Letters to the Editor - page 3

Guidelines for Letters to the Editor submissions: We believe that our letters section is an important forum for open discussion of opinions from all walks of life. The views expressed in this forum are not necessarily the opinions of the newspaper. We strive to be an unbiased paper, with a diverse readership. Our letters section will reflect that. We accept letters that are up to 300 words in length. We reserve the right to edit letters to fit into that space if they are too long, though we will try to give you the option to edit your own first. We will occasionally, and at the editors’ discretion, agree to publish a letter in multiple parts over several weeks, but it is not a guarantee for any letter or letter writer. Personal attacks, libel, ax-grinding, muckraking, and profanity will not be published. No matter the issue, it is possible to convey an opinion in a civilized manner and we will accept nothing less. Self-serving advocacy pieces are not letters. This is especially true during political seasons- candidates and their families cannot write in to ask people to vote for them (or the family member). All letters should be exclusive to the World Journal. If your letter was also submitted to other papers, it decreases the chance of your letter making it into ours. Preference will be given to letters related to local issues. All letters must be signed first and last name, and include your street address and city. We will publish only your name and the city. Letters are due by Tuesday at noon the week you want it published. We reserve the right to not publish a letter at the editor’s discretion, for any reason, at any time. For reference, this set of guidelines is 300 words long.

Letters to the editor, October 4, 2018

Regarding Mr. Baros’ statements Part 1 of 2

In response to some of the letters provided to you the past two weeks, I would like the opportunity to address and clarify some inconsistencies with the statements made by Mr. Jose Baros. I believe the community has the right to hear both sides of the issues that were raised in the two-part letter titled, “Change” which was published on September 6 and 13 in the World Journal.

The first issue that concerns me in the letters addresses the issue of the use of body-worn cameras on the day of the medical call regarding Mr. Baros’ daughter. During the time of this incident, numerous members of our department, me included, were (and still are) having issues with charging and downloading the cameras, making some cameras inoperable.

With that being said, the accusation that the body camera footage provided to Mr. Baros was “edited” is horribly inaccurate. The system we use does not allow anyone on the Huerfano Sheriff’s Office access to edit any footage recorded on body-worn cameras. Mr. Baros has been provided with every piece of information that the Sheriff’s Office has to offer as soon as it has been available.

The second issue raised by Mr. Baros is the working relationship between the Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the District Attorney. I will admit that it has been challenging changing prosecutors so frequently (mostly with Deputy DAs) the past few years, not to mention an entirely new reporting system being put in place that affects the DA office, Sheriff’s Department and Dispatch.

With that in mind, it is my personal opinion that the Sheriff’s Office has a great working relationship with Mr. Solano and his office, regardless of both offices being under-staffed for the majority of the time he has been in office.


~Craig Lessar Captain, Huerfano  Sheriff’s Office, Walsenburg, CO 

Part 2 will run in next week’s World Journal

Letters to the editor, September 20, 2018

Thanks to agencies and individuals

The Spring Creek Fire is the 3rd largest fire in Colorado’s history. The amount of work and time that goes into an incident like this is unbelieveable and involves so many different agencies and groups. There were a lot of individuals who also volunteered their time and resources. it also makes me very proud to see how the people of this community came together to help each other. I am also very proud that as large and severe as this incident was, there were no injuries or death.

I would like to take this time to try and thank these people and agencies that helped during this incident and were a huge help to myself, the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Dept. and the citizens of Huerfano County.

Team Black, Team Blue, the National Guard, the Colorado State Patrol and Capt. Lyons, Pueblo County Sheriff’s deputies and Sheriff Taylor, Custer County Sheriff’s deputies and Sheriff Byerly, Las Animas County deputies and Sheriff Navarette, Huerfano County Commissioners and John Galusha, Harold Willburn and Jim Chamberlain of the La Veta Marshal’s Office, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers, Colorado Division of Parole, all three Huerfano County fire district fire fighters, Red Cross, Southern Baptist Church, DOLA, Huerfano County Road and Bridge, Colorado Department of Transportation, Sheila Machieto, Gay Davis, Billy Carruth, and all the volunteers that fed everyone in Gardner.

If I have missed anyone I apologize as you are just as important as everyone else who helped.

And last but not least of all, my deputies who worked long and stressful hours on top of their normal duties.

~Sheriff Bruce Newman, Huerfano County


Kudos to youth in Walsenburg

The Museum of Friends had an incredible opportunity to work with the 7th and 8th grade Peakview, RE1 students at MOF on September 14 all day.

The theme of the “School-Tour” Program was Huerfano County Pride.

The exhibit on view in the changing gallery is “Libre’s 50th and Friends.” An example of the new Geodesic Buildings at Amazon headquarters in Seattle was shown along with images from Drop City in Trinidad that illustrated how influential this style of architecture is, and how it may have begun right here.

The Drop City artist community inspired Dean and Linda Fleming to start their own in Huerfano 50 years ago. A half-dozen or so of the children were related to artists in the exhibit and were amazed at magazine articles we shared putting Walsenburg on the National Art History Map with such notoriety of these artists and MoF’s collections.

We would like to thank Deb Nott who organized the full-day program with Julie Repka, Patricia Johnson and Annette Lamberson. Maria Cocchiarelli and Cindy Fleury led the groups throughout the museum for the students to get a taste of the collections.

There was so much excitement expressed by the students to get to know the collections and what programs are available for youth at MoF.

The pride of Huerfano County’s Cultural Arts Center and the Museum of Friends was palpable and a majority of the students’ evaluations stated a need for more art programming at MoF and in the schools that they could participate in.

As of yet we have not heard back from Gardner or RE2 regarding “School-Tour” trips to see this exhibit.

Libre 50th and Friends remains on view through September 30. Pplease go to: for schedules, and also call 719-738-2858 to book a tour. ~Maria Cocchiarelli-Berger Walsenburg, CO

Letters to the editor, September 13, 2018

Change, part 2

Editor’s note: This is a continuation of a letter in last week’s World Journal, where Jose R. Baros discusses EMS, sheriff’s and emergency room response to his daughter’s death.

In a situation like this one, where they are called to a home that was reportedly “under investigation and not safe” by a party reporting a person “was detoxing from drugs and not breathing,” one wouold think the sheriff’s department would have body cams on and be vigilant in their response. The video showed nothing of this sort, and the focus was only on the bystanders as opposed to the victim. It was painfully clear after reviewing all reports and interviewing everyone I was able to meet with, that my daughter’s case was “just another overdose.”

Whether our first responders and sheriffs department realize it or not, the community looks to them as the first line of defense against our heroin and opiate epidemic. As the first people on the scene, they may not save a life, however every effort should be made to investigate the situation and try to eliminate the drugs and dealers which are killing our own people.

In my quest for the truth surrounding my daughter’s death, my eyes have been opened to the lack of support the sheriff’s office offers its local citizens. I feel strongly that the sheriff needs to resign.

In all honesty and fairness to our county, if that does not happen, it is election year and there is a young qualified citizen running for sheriff who is a lifelong resident of this community who has the ambition and desire to serve this community with the utmost integrity. It’s time for a change in the way things are done, and how our community is served by its sheriff and its officers. I would encourage each and every citizen who has had enough of how we are served to get out and vote this election year for change.

God Bless our community,

Sincerely, Jose R. Baros. Walsenburg, CO


Post Fire Need for Aging in Place Options for area Seniors

As a result of the devastating Spring Fire, the need for a Senior Living Community Facility for Spanish Peaks residents of all income levels is increasing, as are the construction costs. I have observed that many of the residents displaced by the fire are retired and now need to make an unplanned decision to remain in the county and rebuild their home, or move elsewhere.

The availability of aging-in-place options will very likely factor into their decision to stay or move away. Even prior to the fire, I saw an outflow among County residents who needed assisted living and skilled nursing care because they could no longer live independently.

A recent survey of the five county clinics, our local home health agency, and the personal knowledge of our Board members indicates that, over the past two years, 55 adults have needed to leave their familiar home area and in many cases their family and friends, to access assisted living services at least 50-70 miles away.

The result is often a stressful move for both seniors and their family/friends, loss of commerce for local businesses and area service providers, and a premature loss of oral history for the community.

I know that we are a community that cares about their elders. The fire has only highlighted the need for senior living options for our aging population. Now more than ever, we need to raise funds through public and private support for La Veta Village, Inc.which plans to repurpose the Old Cheese Factory structure in La Veta into an non-profit Assisted Living Community open to 18 seniors of all income levels.

I encourage you to support La Veta Village’s mission to help seniors in the Spanish Peaks area live as independently as possible and remain in their community safely and comfortably.

~Jeanne Schwarz Founder and Board Member,

La Veta Village, Inc. La Veta, CO


Thank you for your support

On behalf of the Snowy Range 4-H Club, parents and members we would like to thank Big R of La Veta for allowing us to sell snow cones and hotdogs at their store location all summer and for supporting us like you have. We would also like to thank Cliff Brice of La Veta for their donation and for helping make our snow cones sales such a huge success. Also we would like to thank the people of La Veta and surrounding areas for supporting us each weekend as we sold snow cones and hotdogs throughout the summer, and a huge thank you to all the parents and members who took part in this event each weekend. Sincerely,

~The Snowy Range 4-H Club leaders, parents, and members,

La Veta, CO

Letters to the editor part 2, September 6, 2018

Change, part 1

On June 17, 2018 my world changed forever.  My youngest daughter, Quanisha Nicole Baros, became one of thousands lost to the heroin problem sweeping our country.

Stopping this plague is widely discussed by not only people in our community, but nationwide.

In our small community it is fairly obvious who our dealers are, yet getting law enforcement to pursue getting them off the streets is nearly impossible..

If I, a citizen, can follow these people around and make them nervous, why can’t our sheriff’s officers? They could make arrests based upon information given to them by people like myself who are quite aware of what is going on in our city, however, they don’t.

After speaking to our sheriff numerous times, I’m tired of hearing, “We don’t have the funds, the manpower, and the time.”  The sheriff himself stated, “The DA plea bargains all of his cases out.” The DA says, “I can’t prosecute the cases due to inadequate performances on the sheriff’s department’s part, and also the county commissioners transferred a portion of my funding to the sheriff’s department which leaves me short.”

It has become painfully clear to me that the sheriff does not have a working relationship with the DA, which is a great disservice to Huerfano County.

What upsets me the most is the total lack of integrity on the part of our EMS, sheriff’s department, and emergency room staff in handling of cases like my daughter’s.

I have spoken to all of them, and fought to gather all the reports possible, and found the sheriff’s department to be very unwilling to work with me.

After many attempts, I was able to get a portion of the body camera videos, unfortunately, the one I was given was quite obviously edited, and the other one was missing due to the captain “forgetting” to turn his on when he arrived on the scene.

God Bless our community,


~Jose R. Baros Walsenburg, CO

Editor’s note: Part two of Baros’ letter will run in next week’s World Journal


Always buy Walsenburg

This is in response to Shannon Johnson’s letter in the August 30 issue of the WJ. You should be thankful to the local restaurant owners who are buying local and are supporting the local economy.

If you are upset you can’t get hamburger logs when you shop, then perhaps change the time you go into the store? Both markets in town have enough inventories to mostly keep the shelves stocked. Ask the butcher to get some out of the back. Problem solved!

I would rather go and support those businesses that support the local economy and have a fresh hamburger than a frozen burger which has been cryofrozen for who knows how long. Remember, the owners who buy here ARE LOCAL.

If you haven’t gotten my point- SHOP LOCAL.

~David Tesitor Walsenburg

Card of Thanks – September 6, 2018

Thanks For Active Living Articles

When I retired here there was much said about what we don’t have as a community in Walsenburg. I was thrilled with the newly constructed track west of John Mall High School, but the lack of gym facilities and other related opportunities were undeniable.

Now, four years later, things have changed considerably. Thanks in large measure to the nonprofit, LiveWell Huerfano, under the leadership of Cindy Campbell, the gym facility is available and programs and activities too numerous to outline here likewise have reduced some of the disincentives that one might have to settle here.

For example, my specific area of interest was a running club and local options for related recreational events. It is hard to believe that we just held our fourth annual Marathon of the Legends Team Relay that attracted 53 runners from as far away as Boulder and Alamosa and closer to home, from Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Trinidad and La Veta. And, yes, supporting Downtown Walsenburg Revitalization, those people spent money at local hotels, coffee shops and gas stations.

While it is appropriate that the race participants receive the accolades, enough can never be said for the civic minded event volunteers that devote their time and energy and sometimes money and in kind contributions to prove that, “Yes, Walsenburg can!” – put on a Marathon or a Duathlon, for instance.

So – in the case of the Marathon of the Legends event, thanks to Donna Allenbaugh, Carrie Andreatta, Susan Botelho, Tony Botelho, Bob Kennemer, Stirling Lathrop, Huerfano Deputy Sheriff Eric Medina, Donna Pennington, Keri Powers, Michael Reynolds, DaLonna Sandoval, Gary Weston, and Karen Wilson.

And finally, thanks to the World Journal for publicizing these events that make known the opportunities and enhance the image of our region as a desirable place to live. Of course we all have more work to do to build on these enhancements, but that four year difference is unmistakable.

~Ben Wiley, Walsenburg


Thanks to La Plaza and Staff

I would like to thank the La Plaza staff and Nick Agnes, for the great set up, excellent food and service that was provided for us the 18th of August for a 1965 Girls get together!

In attendance were: Virginia Benivedez, Roberta Bustos, Rita Chavez, Margaret Garcia, Sherie Huebner, Joyce Kunkendal, Vonna Matheny, Kathy Russell, Jann Vail, Sharon Vezzani, and Toni Wallace.

~Toni Wallace Loveland, CO


Letters to the Editor: August 30, 2018

There is still good in this world

Last night Maria and I were returning home from the state fair, it was dark, after 10 pm, as we passed over the 6th st.railroad tracks our tire blew out. Now what, stuck on a dark desolate street with no light I opened the trunk and fumbled with the latch to remove the spare tire. No sooner had I got the tire out when Bill and Linda Beverly pulled up to help. With little cell phone light we were just putting the spare in place when Huerfano County Sheriff Jacob Jenkins pulled up to see if he could help. With his trusty flashlight he illuminated the work area and put the finishing touches on the loosened lug nuts. Just then Bill’s mechanic friend David Stanley pulled up. We got home safely thanks to wonderful friends and our community sprit, need I say the very reason I call Huerfano County my home. Mahalo Nui Loa, good deeds are not taken for granted.

~Brendt and Maria Berger

La Veta, CO


His Honor, Mayor Rico, just doesn’t get it…(pt 1)

With extreme disappointment I read the article, “Trinidad mayor replies to ethics complaints” on page 26 of the August 23rd edition of the World Journal newspaper. Frankly, I was hard pressed to see the point of Mayor Rico’s visit to the World Journal offices to “straighten out the record”. In my opinion, the record was already crystal clear. Mayor Rico was recently called out by his city council colleagues for having acted inappropriately in his capacity as mayor. More importantly, Mayor Rico totally missed the point of charges against him and the ensuing ethics hearings. In the first complaint, filed by Councilman Goodall, it was asserted that the mayor acted tastelessly at a recent convention of the Colorado Municipal League when he chose to cast a personal and private ballot for the election of League officers (including Councilman Lopez) without the prescribed input of the other councilmen (Goodall and Lopez) who were in attendance at the convention. At the time of his recent ethics hearing, Mayor Rico, contended that, because he has a seat on the CML policy group, he believed it was his chosen right to individually act on behalf of the city council without the prescribed input of the other council representatives in attendance. Worse yet, Mayor Rico refused to show his ballot to either Goodall or Lopez saying his vote, though cast as a representative of the Trinidad City Council, was a “private matter.” In the second ethics hearing held on August 8th, for which I served as chairman, Mayor Rico was charged by Councilman Joe Bonato with an ethics violation for having hosted, and/or facilitated, two private meetings about Ft Carson and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. In each of these meetings, the only city council people aware of or included in the meetings were Mayor Rico and, by his invitation, Councilwoman Miles. Submitted with all due respect

~Councilman Anthony Mattie

Trinidad, CO

(Part 2 next week)

An open letter to the Sheriff

We moved here a little over 2 years ago, just in time to find out that the citizens had fired the police department. Evidently a reflection of deep distrust in the ability of the police to be effective any longer. A very scary position for the community to be in! It doesn’t take long for the criminals to start to feel comfortable, and soon run the show. Before long more good people get scared and stop speaking up.

In the past several months, l have had occasion to witness the effort being made by you and your deputies to correct this long neglected problem. I feel proud, honored, and heartened to watch you all help to take this town back! Please keep up this hard work. Soon the people will regain trust, start to feel safe again, and help you take back our community! Thank You.

Mike Horn, a concerned citizen, with new found faith.

~Mike Horn Walsenburg, CO


Leave some for the rest of us

To the restaurant buying up the logs of hamburger at the grocery store:

Why don’t you order your meat like other places instead of buying all the hamburger logs at the grocery and taking away from the locals?

~Shannon Johnson Walsenburg, CO


Sales Tax Increase

Let’s face the truth folks. The terrible working conditions the Huerfano County Court is currently forced to operate under on a daily basis are an embarrassment to all of Huerfano County residents. There is nothing to be proud of except the exceptional people who persevere and do their jobs under such adverse conditions. They are to be commended.

Some people are upset because we thought we were originally told there would be no taxes used to construct the new justice center building. Some people do not like the location. Some just don’t think we need a new justice center. Some want a scaled down building. An idea to continue 5th Street through the Justice Center parking lot has been offered to satisfy the majority of folks who did not want to lose 5th street.

Putting all that aside, the bottom line is this – no matter how much we talk and talk the building is going up where it is planned. We were told at the meeting on August 21st that the state of Colorado could, as a last resort, force the County to provide a safe environment for the court to operate in. If that happens and the sales tax is not approved the next step could be an increase in property taxes to provide the funding. The County would have no choice.

The enormous amount of work that has been done by Judge Appel and his associates along with our three County Commissioners and County Administrator to steer us to this point cannot be overstated. Literally years of effort have been expended to plan a court building that will meet the needs of Huerfano County for years to come.

Like it or not, sooner or later, one way or another, Huerfano County taxpayers are going to foot the bill for a new court building. A sales tax is the least painful way to do that. Vote yes for the sales tax increase and let’s take this as a giant step toward our combined goal of improving Huerfano County.

~Richard Goodwin,

Taxpayer Walsenburg, CO


Justice for all

Huerfano county residents have a unique opportunity to provide Justice For All. Whether a defendant, witness, juror, or spectator, safety and privacy are a necessity and can ONLY be accomplished with a new courthouse. And because of the hard work put forth by our law enforcement officials we can make a fair trial possible at a cost estimated to be only 30% of the cost to be paid by local residents. Check out the facts for the new Huerfano County Justice Center:

Best of multiple sites: No cost for land, Prison, Lathrop detention center, Washington school, and many other options.

Closest to jail. Closest to other county offices. Shared parking with downtown merchants and events.

Best suits down town. 1% sales tax (not property) starts January 2020. 30% of project funded by residents, 70% of project from other sources. 30% of project funded at no cost under grants available today. 40% of project funded by non-residents 1904 Court house (115 years old IF we start today)

Technology has changed since 1904. Victims, inmates, jurors share same common area. Potential future lawsuit for violence, unfair judicial facilities SAFER: Secure prisoner transfer, Secure prisoner holding. Criminals and victims have separate areas for conferences and proceedings. Jurors away from victims, criminals, and lawyers.

Current employees left in the basement in unhealthy conditions. Consolidate public access areas and security areas. Safer to pay taxes (do business) with the rest of the county officials

Please support our new justice system need for a new court house for ALL!

~JC Copeland,

Walsenburg, CO


Steve Pearce is a bad choice (pt 1)

Steve Pearce, New Mexico Representative at the US House of Representatives and candidate for New Mexico Governor spent a day in Raton campaigning. Pearce, as is usual in an election year, has made many promises to Ratonians, many of them are about undoing much of the damage wrought by the current Governor, Susana Martinez to the local economy. Since Pearce and Martinez share many of the same ultra right wing economic and social philosophies, one must wonder how their terms as governor might differ. During Martinez’ term as governor Raton has suffered several blows to its citizens and the future of the community, among them – education, medical care, mental health and tourism. Education: The Martinez’ nominees that control the New Mexico Public Education Department punished the Raton Public School District severely for shuttering two underused schools by slashing the school’s budget. This move by a party that seeks to install charter schools in place of public systems will have a negative knock on effect for years. This budgetary punishment necessitated laying off 15 essential staff members and closed 4 essential programs – the result of which is still being felt in the achievement levels of students. Already struggling, these draconian cuts to the public school system will continue to affect the young people who depend upon local schools to prepare them for the future. Pearce’s solution to our struggling schools and his promise to ‘Let teachers teach’ is a thinly veiled support of Charter Schools. Albuquerque school systems might be able to withstand the siphoning off of students and funding but the Raton School District can not. Mental Health- Governor Martinez essentially dismantled local mental health and addiction agencies all over the state at the start of her 8 year tenure and replaced them with out of state corporate providers which have proven to be unable and unwilling to service the state and Colfax County. Locally, her actions were devastating to the local, grassroots organizations and resulted in a severe crisis in Raton’s ability to assist people with mental health or addiction issues that continues to this day. Pearce promises to restore funding to local mental health agencies. This will be difficult promise to keep as he consistently votes to cut Medicaid and Medicare which are the main revenue providers in this branch of medical care.

~Gene Sisneros

~Roy Fernandez

Raton, NM

(part 2 of this letter in next week’s WJ)

Letters to the Editor: August 23, 2018

Gravel butt

Another early morning and I’m out the door for my daily fat burning walk. I always count my blessing to find any lost change.  My neighbor and I almost have a playful contest going who can find the most. This morning there isn’t even a disregarded penny, but I found a perfectly good wood screw.

Considering I do small building projects, I can use that screw. In fact, isn’t a wood screw maybe worth a few pennies? So, I’m doin’ pretty good!

Not doing too bad, and I still have some ways to go to get home. The weather is good, and the neighborhood is quiet, and the yards well kept, but… the gravel. Why is the gravel such a mess? It can and was meant to look good, as well other things, but don’t the home owners know how to keep it from spilling all over into the sidewalks and street?

My eyes tuned in to still more gravel mess most of the way home. Even the public ways are overfilled with gravel; our tax pennies. Don’t home owners care? It must be put in an area that is deeper dug out first, make a taller border, or don’t overfill. There must be a way, because of traffic, to make it more foot and tire proof…mmm… how to do that? I don’t know. It just looks bad.

Wait! How much is gravel worth? It’s in the street, so nobody must want it. I have use for a small amount in my walkway around the house. So, I slip a piece of gravel off the street in my pocket. It’s early enough and not many people out to be embarassing, so I gathered more gravel – only ones that strayed from a home, meaning it’s in the street. In most cases, it is hard to tell from which home.

The home owners obviously won’t miss it, so if they are willing to disregard those pennies, I’ll take them!

No doubt, this walk is taking longer. Instead of getting lighter from burning fat, I’m weighted down with gravel. So, I’m getting my gravel butt home, and next time I’ll bring a bucket with me.

~Lisa Low, La Veta, CO


Iconic Dental donates mouth guards to Panthers Football team

On Friday, August 10th, Dr. James Shoff and his team at Iconic Dental fitted the entire JMHS Panthers Football Team with professionally molded mouthguards. Dr. James’ staff came in on their day off to create the molds for the mouthpieces for each of the 28 football players. The Iconic Dental team worked hard to make sure that the mouthpieces were ready for pickup on the following Friday, the same day of the Panthers first scrimmage.

The John Mall High School Panthers Football Team wants to extend our sincere gratitude to Dr. James Shoff and his team at Iconic Dental! We truly appreciate the support and the generous gift to the football program.

The John Mall High School Panthers Football Team kicks off their season on Saturday, September 1st at St. Mary’s High School in Colorado Springs at 1:00 pm. GO PANTHERS!

~Ricardo Bobian Walsenburg, CO


Thanks for making the coal camp tour a success

Editor: Many thanks to the World Journal for publicizing the Historical Society’s coal camp tour last Saturday. We had twice as many people as we anticipated… from Alamosa, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and possibly others from out of the county.

Thanks to all who helped in any way. At the Walsenburg Mining Museum: Margaret Gleisberg, John Carlson, Angela Treece, and Kay Beth Avery (absentee help). Research: Judith Pierce, Jill Tamburelli, and Pat Romero. Speakers: John Van Keuren (Hastings and Berwind), Sharon and Max Vezzani, Rosalie Vigna, Clara Quartiero (Pryor, Rouse, Lester). Added information: Gary Micheli, Will Prator and to anyone I may have omitted.

Thank you. ~Carolyn Newman, organizer Walsenburg, CO


Thank you from the Huerfano 4-H Ambassadors

On behalf of the 2018-2019 Huerfano County 4-H Ambassadors we would like to thank the following sponsors for donating to the 4-H ambassador program this year.  Thank you to Dana and Carol Kelley, Lee Soap Company, Performance Builders and Roofing, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Leone, Peak Performance Vet Clinic, Shawna Chamberlin, Mr. and Mrs. Eric Riggio-Guadagnoli and Carol Riffio and Tinker Guadagnoli. Without the help of these generous donors the 4-H Ambassador program wouldn’t be possible. Also we would like to thank Paul Richards of KSPK for allowing us to go in and record a radio spot to help us promote the Huerfano County Fair.

Thank you, ~Lexi Riggio-Guadagnoli, Sr. Ambassador; Cori Beth Topping, Intermediate Ambassador; and Mattie Bjourm, Jr. Ambassador La Veta, CO

Letters to the Editor: August 16, 2018

Celebrating Aguilar a Huge Success.

The residents of Aguilar would like to give a great big shout out to Barbara Kindig and Deb Scamahorn for a job well done. The Celebrating Aguilar Street Festival and Car Show was a huge success. The Town Park looked amazing thanks to our Mayor Marc Piano, Paul Zubal, and their group of volunteers who worked tirelessly painting and repairing the benches, pavilions and coal cart. Thanks to Zeke and Susan Shoop for providing the Petting Zoo and Pony Rides for the kids. You’re awesome!

We’d also like to thank all of the parade participants, car show entries, entertainment, vendors & sponsors. It’s because of your continued participation and dedication that this event keeps getting better every year.

Lastly, THANK YOU to the American Legion and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary for facilitating the Beer Garden in addition to your continued support of our Beautiful Little Community.

It was a great day in Aguilar; hope to see you all next year.

~Colorado Homestead Properties Aguilar, CO


Thank you all for your generosity

It is with profound gratitude that I write to thank the community of Huerfano County and beyond for the outpouring of support that you showed to Richard and Amber Godfrey who lost everything they owned in the two fires that they survived within one month.

Special thanks go to Ann Altemeier and Derick Kelly who agreed, right off the bat, to help organize a benefit event.

Secondly I have to thank our dear friend Tommy Tutone who rerouted his summer tour to come to La Veta for a concert. Ken Saydak and my husband, Fred James, did not hesitate when asked to perform.

Karen McGee came up with the brilliant idea of having a silent auction and she worked like a demon to organize that event. Jess Howard came on board and helped round up silent auction items and donations.

Thanks to the Francisco Center For the Performing Arts for donation of the venue.

Ed and Deb Donnovan hosted the private silent auction and dinner party at Deerprint Wine and Bistro. Thank you to the entire staff of Deerprint who gave up their Saturday night income in order to raise funds for the benefit. Mathew Tate, in particular, contributed a considerable amount of his time to set up and serve the guests.

Allan McKisson very generously loaned Tommy his prized acoustic guitar for the show.

Folks donated abundantly and, in total,we were able to raise $10,271 to help Richard and Amber get a little closer to being back on their feet.

I will never forget those of you who so willingly contributed to help a couple who did nothing to deserve this tragedy that befell them. The kindness shown to Richard and Amber makes me proud of this community that has been our home for more than a decade now. I want to express heartfelt thanks to all the individuals, area businesses and artists who gave so generously, bought tickets to the show, provided goods and services, and attended the silent auction/dinner party.

Finally, to Gretchen and Brian Orr, I want to thank you for your unflinching support and coverage of Richard and Amber’s tragic loss and for your dedication to providing much needed information to the community, during and after the disaster.

~Mary-Ann Brandon La Veta, CO


Kindness alive and well in Walsenburg

A young man in our community displayed tremendous morals and values which I am very grateful for. We all should be! His name is Armando Ruiz and I want to deeply thank him and his parents.

I had a day like we all have. I was tired and my mind was on many other things. When I left Safeway, I accidentally left my wallet with cash, credit cards, identifications, photos, and a Battle Coin I received on one of my tours in Iraq (which carries a lot of significance for me). I mistakenly placed it in my cart and left it there.

It was late and dark when I left Safeway to head home. When I started unloading groceries, I immediately noticed I didn’t have my wallet. Panic and distress set in. I started picturing all the phone calls to credit card companies and the reacquiring of identifications that I was going to have to do. Additionally, I thought of the money I had in the wallet.

Little did I know, when I was starting to slightly panic, that there would be a hero to emerge! I called Safeway immediately and was told by the manager that Armando found it in the cart return and immediately returned it to the manager, who put it in the store safe. He could have easily taken it and no one would have known!

Doing the right thing when no one is looking is one of the greatest tests of good character and values. Armando possesses those qualities and is a force for good in our humanity.

I deeply appreciate him for saving my wallet and my sanity! When I met him to give deep thanks, he was very humble and expected nothing in return. What I immediately noticed about him was his hard work ethic, pure honesty, and humbleness.

I think we can all learn a powerful lesson from this fine gentleman! He shines light and doesn’t cast darkness. He shows us by example (not just words), how to be a force of good for others.

We all may worry about the future, but with fine young men like Armando, I don’t despair. I am confident we are in good hands with valued and principled people like him. God bless you Armando for being on this beautiful planet with us!

~Rex Vehrs Walsenburg, CO


Thanks for help with senior appreciation day

Dear Editor, I want to shout out a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who helped pull off a very successful “Senior Appreciation Day,” held for the first time last weekend, Saturday, August 11, 2018 at the Walsenburg Community Center.

Thanks to committee members, Jan Novak, Debbie Channel, Veronica Maes, Summer Faris, Ellen Vigil and Arleigh Bailey, who gathered monthly for the last five months planning this event. Thank you to Veronica Maes, her mother, Ramona Duran, and sister, Stella Noga, for cooking an awesome breakfast, serving over fifty breakfast dishes. Afterwards, Veronica did a great job calling BINGO, where vendors and at least forty participants had a good time playing and winning prizes.

Thanks to all those people in the community who bought raffle tickets to help raise funds for prizes given away at the event; especially Debbie Channel and Kay Whitley who donated $150 in cash and gift cards. Of course the event wouldn’t have been successful if it weren’t for the following businesses that also brought prizes and spent their Saturday morning playing Bingo, and helping all the seniors who attended:

Iconic Dental, Walsenburg Health Department, Department of Social Services, Sangre de Cristo Hospice, La Veta Village Senior Community, Mountain Creek Home Health, Vigil Family Chiropractic, Digicare Hearing Solutions, Pikes Peak and Southern Colorado Council of Governments, Center for Disabilities, American Legion Auxiliary, National Assoc. of Hispanic Nurses/SECAHAC, Rocky Mountain Eye Center, Live Well and lastly Spanish Peaks Health Center Clinics, Physical Therapy Dept., and SPVCLC Admissions services.


~Elisa Ingoldby, Senior Appreciation Committee Chair La Veta, CO


SCCOG went above and beyond

Dear Editor:

I would like to thank the staff at the South Central Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging kitchen at the Huerfano County Community Center. They went above and beyond their usual fabulous service! For two weeks they doubled the average number of lunches served daily to include the Red Cross staff and evacuees. Yvette, Nancy, and Carol did not bat an eye when approached to take on these additional meals. For many weekday evenings both Yvette and Carol stayed beyond their normal schedule to serve dinners provided by local restaurants and prepared meals when they were not provided. Yvette also prepared breakfast burritos for some mornings. Carol was an administrative wizard keeping track for the Red Cross of meals served. I cannot say how grateful I am to have them as part of our team and welcoming all to the facility.

In addition, I also would like to thank my mother, Ramona Duran who helped me on the Fourth of July to prepare and serve lunch for the Red Cross. I am truly blessed by wonderful, hard-working people who truly care for others. I speak for all of us when I say it was an honor to serve during this time of need. It is efforts like this that have been seen all over Huerfano County that let us know we are in a great community. Our prayers for quick recovery for all those affected by the Spring Fire.

~Veronica Maes

SCCOG Huerfano & Las Animas Counties AAA Director


Senior Appreciation Day off without a hitch

Dear Editor:

After a few months of planning and a few weeks’ delay, the planning committee pulled off a successful and well attended “Senior Appreciation Day” on Saturday, August 11th at the Huerfano County Community Center. There was a lot time, planning, and effort put into this event.

I want to recognize our committee chairperson Elisa Ingoldby and thank her for her extra efforts which included a lot of her own time. Even with some of the struggles we faced, she kept us informed and on track. She went above and beyond her duties to ensure that our goal of a perfect day was met.

There were many vendors who supported our event and we greatly appreciate them joining us to share their services and the door prize donations for drawings we had throughout the event.

The Area Agency on Aging was honored to serve a breakfast of french toast, sausage, eggs, oranges, milk, juice, and coffee. With great efforts from my sister Stella and my mother Ramona, we served about 75 people. I cannot thank them enough for their support of me and providing such a great meal! My mom also donated some handmade items that we raffled prior to the event to raise money for prizes for the bingo game that I had the pleasure of calling on Saturday.

We want to thank the Sayre Senior Center in Trinidad for lending us their bingo machine. My dad Frank, on behalf of the Eagles, previously donated their original bingo cards. We also use them for our monthly birthday bingos after senior lunch in the dining room at the community center.

I would also like to thank SCCOG employees that helped to ensure we had everything we needed for the event – Yvette, Nancy, Dan, Johanna, Dorothy, Katie, and Lourae.

Our organization is privileged to serve seniors on a daily basis, but especially proud to have a special day to show our appreciation for all they have done and the legacies they have given to our community. Our seniors are fantastic!

~Veronica Maes

SCCOG Huerfano & Las Animas Counties AAA Director


Speed limit device needed on E. 5th St

I want to alert the city and and county to a really bad problem on the second, third and fourth blocks of East 5th Street going eastbound towards Highway 10.

I spend time there sometimes and yesterday, the 13th of August, semi-trucks and orange D.O.T. trucks were screaming past the 400 block going much, much faster than 30 mph. I would say they had to be going around 50 mph or more through there.

There is a 30 mph sign on the right side of E. 5th, going east, at Rito Ave., but it is completely covered by a tree. After that there are three more blocks of residential area that need another 30 mph sign – or a flashing device to remind drivers to stay at 30 mph.

It may be very wise to place a state patrol officer there around the 300 block and they will be writing plenty of tickets, and also maybe a device like Pueblo has that shows the speed limit and then shows your speed below and warns you to slow down.

It has gone on for a very long time, but I was appalled and alarmed at how fast the D.O.T. drivers were going heading east on 5th Street yesterday. There are houses all the way to the curve and it is very dangerous for so many to fly through there. People, children, and pets are at risk all of the time.

PLEASE look into this or contact the state patrol and the county as I will so we can make that street safe again.

~Marie Whitmarsh

Walsenburg, CO


4-H Livestock Sale an amazing time

Dear Editor:

Again, I just had the wonderful experience of attending our Huerfano County 4-H Livestock Sale and, for those who may not have attended, I am compelled to share how important this is to our area. What a beautiful tribute to all that is good about our country, our kiddos and the people who support the very backbone of what makes our country great. More than whatever happens in board rooms, council chambers or congressional halls, it is what happens in our small towns and sale barns.

Even though I cannot afford to bid with dollars, I bid with heart for every kid there! And if tears were worth dollars, oh my goodness, what a stunning bidder I would be! Thank you to the many parents, leaders, bidders and buyers that make that happen. And most of all, thanks to the kids who demonstrate the work ethic, grit, compassion, and perseverance that give me faith that there is a new generation that will still embrace and uphold the traditions that not only reflect value back to our communities, but to the world that life is good, and people care!

Good luck at the State Fair. You are all winners!


~Sandy Dolak La Veta, CO

Letters to the Editor: August 9, 2018

Saying thanks to the Century riders

Dear Editor:

This Saturday the 15th Annual Stonewall Century bicycle ride will take place. The Spanish Peaks Cycling Association decided to have the ride to bring riders and their guests to the area in order to help the La Veta and Cuchara businesses. Our riders understand the potential problems the day of the ride will bring if it rains. When you see the riders on Route 12 between La Veta and Segundo, please wave and say hello and thank them for being here. A number of riders are bringing friends or family to tour our friendly, little towns. We will have several vendors at the town park and the SPAce gallery will be open. We will have live music in the park. Come on out Saturday and check out the vendors and visit with our riders.

Thank you

~Kent Hay- Event Director, Stonewall Century ride


Take action now or future is grim

To all concerned and the citizens of Huerfano county;

Mud slides are the reality now for our county. There is an announced freeze on reconstruction, no plans for rebuilding for the valley or the burn scar, only a reference to federal assistance. Insurance companies are offering only 75% payment for losses while claiming there is now a freeze on issuing any new coverage for our zip codes. The devastation is real, now dealt from the hands of those who are responsible for protecting us.

Let us work, as if we are the trained surgeons our constituents place their physical health with. We must grade, dozer, install terracing, contour plow, sprig and drill the seeds of cover now, before the end of the potential calamity of our next Spring groundwater run off. We have a great inventory of heavy equipment and knowledgable people to operate. We need to seed indigenous ground cover, and ultimately our forests but without soil, all this is a very, very long-term recovery where maybe the fifth or more generation will see any results. We must, if we can, borrow against our future, lest it becomes ruin for our county, our citizens! If we do not, generations of Huerfano citizens will face poverty with all its horrible indicators including poor nutrition, poor education, poor health, crumbling or non-existent infrastructure and a lack of services.

How do we accomplish this? An immediate series of recovery municipal and county bonds before an election in November, when it will be too late. Emergency assistance from the Federal Bureau of Land Management, State Wildlife, State Department of Agriculture, our Legislature all need to be met personally and request their immediate services. Without leadership, your leadership, our future is grim!

~Tom Lewis Cuchara, Colorado


Raving no more

We would like to acknowledge, with thanks, the Board of County Commissioners’ decision not to approve the awarding of permits for raves to be held on County Road 541, Gardner in the future. This decision was due to the raves’ organizer’s decision to ignore certain conditions in their permit regarding volumes and the duration of same, thereby causing great irritation and loss of sleep to the residents of County Road 541.. These out-of-order raves have also been an unnecessary problem for the Sheriff’s Department. What we want for 541 is peace and prosperity.

On behalf of the residents and others in Gardner who care,

~Dave Wisecarver, Jack Yule and Mike Joroff Gardner, CO


Thanks from the Gardner Chuckwagon

The 76th annual Gardner Chuckwagon Supper was a success! The board of directors would like to give a huge shout out to all the volunteers who helped and to those who came to enjoy the event. We fed over 400 people this year and sold more than 170 pounds of the delicious meat. Carissa Cardenas received a scholarship to further her education and a $500 donation was made to the Upper Huerfano Fire Protection District in support of their services during the Spring Fire. Don’t forget to join us again next year on the first Saturday in August from 2-5 pm.

Thanks, ~Rhonda Schafer, Paul Coe, Viron and Randee Huff, Bob and Sherry Freese and Jesse and Dena Jaminet Gardner, CO


Thanks to all who helped during the Spring Fire

Dear Editor, We would like to communicate our thanks to the firefighters who reisked their lives, to the information officers who kept us updated job well done!; To all of those who cared enough to come looking for us to make sure we were safe.

To the Red Cross and the volunteers who provided the evacuees with shelter, security, food and comfort; to the mainence man who kept the Walsenburg Community Center clean and displayed compassion and kiness; to all the Rns, LPNs, and mental health personnel who kept up with illnesses, sores and took their time to keep people calm at at ease; to the Sheriff and his staff whom we credit with patience, professionalism and security; to the National Guard which took their situation seriously; and a special thank you to the 4H group who so generously took care of all the animals and transported these animals back to their homes; to SCCOG for providers who took care of us, helped us shower.

However, to the backbone of the Walsenburg, La Veta, and Gardner and surrounding area we give distinctive Thank Yous, those who volunteered to launder clothing; those who spent their own money to buy personal items not provided by the Red Cross, those who cooked (especially the marvelous cook at WCC) and looked after firefighres;’ these restaurant owners who gave time, money, and food.

If you have been left out, we apologize for the oversight.

We were sensitive. We were compassionate. We were sympathetic. We were empathetic. We calmed, we lived, worked, cried, laughed and hugged one another. We spoke of more than names. We are bound by this horrific disaster.

So, why do we really stay? Even after eighteen years?

Because the population of our community (Huerfano and beyond) stuck together, were tenacious but most of all formidable, We truly faced the essentials of life.

We stood tall.  We kept our dignity.

We are so proud to be part of our community and for “stepping up”!

Thank you. ~William and Connie Bartley Walsenburg, CO


A perspective on what the fire might have been

Dear Editor and residents of Huerfano County:

I know that we all have ten thousand thank-yous for the many good things that have occurred because of our horrific fire, but I want to add one more perspective.

As Moms are wont to do, many have heard over the years about my son that I so adore and respect. Steve knew from the time he was a little kid that he wanted to be Smokey Bear’s best friend and prevent forest fires. He put himself through college (a forestry degree with fire science and fire weather behavior concentration) while working on the Pike Hotshot crew. He has been at NIFC (National Interagency Fire Center) in Boise for many years now. They often must make decisions based on budget spreadsheets that sometimes make no sense to those with boots on the ground and houses going up in flames but have to be made from some place hundreds of miles away.

With over 30 years in the Wildland Fire “business”, Steve has a well-seasoned perspective on fire fighting in the West. As we all were living through the Spring Fire, his spread sheets gave even more grave predictions than what actually happened. With all his experience, Steve told me this was not only the most unpredictable and dangerous fire in Colorado history, but that it was quelled with the most EXTRAORDINARY firefighting efforts he has ever seen. It was a monster that could not be stopped; Cuchara was a town that couldn’t be saved! Yet it happened. And this where the absolute kudos and gratitude must go to our local firefighters. Our Chief, David DeTray did an outstanding job of leading his team. The working relationship our local fire professionals had with the most capable “Black Team” led by Shane Greer made miracles a reality!

To all those involved: A most heartfelt Thank you!

Sincerely, ~Sandy Dolak La Veta, CO

Letters to the Editor: August 2, 2018

Thanks to the WJ for fire coverage

Thank you all. And a Huge Thank You for the great job on fire coverage both in print and on social media. I would certainly hope you are in line for a long list of press awards. But truly, the greatest award has to be the kudos from your loyal readers/followers. You were the voice of truth, reason and calm in a very chaotic situation. What a fine job… thank you so much.

~Sandy Dolak La Veta, CO

Thank you from Huerfano Fire Protection District

We just want to thank the community for their support and donations. We recieved water, snacks, financial support and even a chainsaw. The support from all over has been very overwhelming. We would also like to thank our firefighters for the numerous hours spent protecting our communities. We can’t thank you enough.

~Huerfano Fire Protection District Walsenburg, CO

Gardner Fire Dept is Thankful

Dear Editor,

Gardner was a community in crisis during the Spring Creek Fire, and the outpouring of support and donations were nothing short of amazing. We want to thank all those who helped at the Community Center to feed their friends, neighbors, firefighters, National Guard, and law enforcement during this difficult time. Myra Trujillo mobilized a workforce of incredible volunteers who rose to the occasion and worked tirelessly to be sure all were fed and informed on a daily basis. They made sure the firefighters had food and supplies, delivering meals to the station on a daily basis. Neighbors helped neighbors move animals who were in danger. We were all witness to many people doing selfless acts of kindness, expecting nothing in return.

There are so many others to thank. We received monetary donations from all over the country, many from those who used to live in the area. We received packages in the mail of hygiene supplies, granola bars and socks. We received countless cases of water. We received cards of thanks for our efforts. We received homemade cards from children thanking us. It is hard to express in words how important and appreciated all the donations, kind thoughts, words of encouragement and gratitude were to each and every one of us. There are still hurting people who have lost homes, or freezers full of food, or animals, or suffered damage to their homes and property. Hopes and dreams have been shattered. We are grateful to live in a community that will continue to support and care for each other, even after the immediate crisis is over. We are proud to be firefighters in this community of people who uplift and encourage one another.

~Upper Huerfano Fire Protection District Gardner, CO

Special Thanks are Due

Special thanks are due for Huerfano Gardens, Ideal Gardens, and Jeanette Kossen for their generous donations of bedding plants to the nonprofit Fox Theatre, and additional thanks go out to Huerfano Gardens for their donations to the nonprofit Museum of Friends (MOF).  The plants were used in the outdoor planter boxes downtown. The quantity was more than generous and the quality was outstanding. They are much appreciated by many and help to beautify downtown – Thank You!

~Margo Boodakian Walsenburg, CO

Thank You to Spanish Peaks – Bon Carbo Volunteer Fire Department

On July 10 an employee of the Walton Company relayed to us that he had seen smoke coming from our area, and he called Pioneer Resources. We immediately called the Bon Carbo Fire Department and found that they had already been informed and were on their way. Also responding were personnel from the Stonewall Fire Department.

The response by the departments was very quick, with the crews on the scene in short order. They immediately climbed very steep hills in rugged terrain, pulling up hoses to extinguish the fire.

It was very hot that day and the teams remained on site until the fire was contained, which was well into the evening and night. Some returned the next morning as well to assure that the fire was extinguished.

There were many firefighters, and unfortunately we do not know specifically those that were involved. We would like to convey our thanks and sincere appreciation to everyone that responded so quickly and worked so hard to contain the fire.

We also want to thank our good neighbors who showed care and concern for our safety by assuring we stayed informed of the situation.

Thanks to all of you.

~Charles and Agnes Hagen Bon Carbo, CO

Rave leaves residents restless

5:30 am, July 29th, Sunday morning. I have been up all night hearing the sounds of the drum and music from a rave, run as a commercial venture in our agricultural and residential area. The County Commissioners issued a permit for this event, with the specific condition that music cease at 2AM. This condition was violated on the nights of the 27th and 28th. The Sheriff’s office and other County officials were notified of this violation numerous times. But on both days, the music continued through the early morning hours and into the next day: nothing was shut down.

Permission for the event was based on conditions, one of them having to do with the cessation of music at a specific time. When this was violated, rights of residents in the area to have peace and quiet in the airspace of their own home and land were, in turn, violated. I assume that the permission for the event should have become null because mandatory conditions were not met. Either the County chose not to act to enforce its clearly stated condition, or did not have the power to enforce them. Either case is deeply disturbing to citizens of the County. We have the right to be informed which of these two conditions prevailed.

When local government agencies ignore infractions of their own conditions, whom are they really serving? Certainly not I sitting here exhausted after a night with no sleep.

~Nancy Joroff Gardner, CO

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