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Las Animas County looking at alternative transportation

by Bill Knowles

TRINIDAD — The Las Animas County Commission received a report from County Administrator Leeann Fabec looking at the development of alternative methods of Transportation. The Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) is funded through the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

The project is a joint venture between Huerfano and Las Animas counties, that when completed, will link the two counties together with walking and bicycle trails. Las Animas and Huerfano have submitted a joint application for a grant, about $300,000, with the two counties putting up a match of about $37,000 each for a feasibility study.

The building of trails and bicycle routes across the Front Range that will ultimately link Trinidad with Walsenburg has been a priority for both CDOT and the State of Colorado. According to Fabec, the building of trails and bicycle paths will turn southern Colorado into a tourist destination because of the largely undeveloped beauty of the region.

The Perry Stokes runway project is moving forward, with bids coming in on the runway work. Three bids have been received, “However,” noted Fabec, “the lowest bid was $1.5 million more than the engineers’ projected cost. It was pretty shocking, considering the high bid was for $2 million more.” CDOT doesn’t have anymore funds available.

“That means the county, instead of coming up with $260,000 will have to come up with $450,000, to meet the match.” Fabec said. She is hoping to come up with around $150 thousand from the Capital Improvement Fund for the match. The FAA is looking at finding around $6.3 million for the project, about $1.8 million over the original $4.5 million they had budgeted in the grant.

When completed, the project will give Las Animas County the premier runway between Pueblo and Albuquerque.

The sheriff’s department released its quarterly report to the county commission. Notable in the report was a 66 percent increase in burglaries across the county over this time last year. Although several arrests have been made, so far the sheriff’s department has only been able to charge any suspects with possession of stolen property. However, they are working on linking the suspects to the burglaries so they might be charged.

New vehicles are on their way to the sheriff’s department and will arrive by the end of June. After they have been outfitted and made road ready they will start service by the end of the summer.

Other activities in the sheriff’s department include the arrival of a firearms simulator. The graphics are interactive and will allow real time training of officers without expending ammunition, while increasing their training hours.

The commission went into executive session at 10:40 am.

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