Archive for: July 2015

HCWCD in new location, accepts audit

by Bill Knowles

WJ  250x55WALSENBURG — The regular monthly meeting of the Huerfano County Water Conservation District convened in a new location, and board president Sandy White moved quickly through the agenda with all board members present except Kent Mace.
HCWCD is now based in the administration building of the Career Building Academy just east of the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center.
In her treasurer’s report, Carol Dunn noted mill levy checks had not arrived, but should be sizable.  “The second half of the taxes are due in June,” Dunn said.  The mill levy checks vary quite a bit, but June’s tax receipts should be about $28,000, which the board will receive later in July.  The HCWCD receives about $250,000 annually in mill levy revenues, disbursed through the county treasurerʼs office.  The board accepted the report on a 4-0 vote.
The grant and loan information report showed the grant from the CWCB for the Upper Cucharas River Watershed Pre-fire Assessment, completed a couple months ago, was $45,000.  Local matching funds totaled $35,000 and $10,000 came from HCWCD for a total project of $90,000.
Phase 2 of that project, the engineering design of sediment control structures, will be funded by a grant of $90,000 from the CWCB, Arkansas Basin Roundtable, and a local match of $4,000 from the Huerfano County Commissioners, and $6,000 from HCWCD.  The project total will be $100,000.
In the June meeting the board learned the total for the entire Cucharas River Watershed Collaborative grant for $245,000 was approved with the Lower Ark Valley Water Conservation District as fiscal agent.  The CRWC grant is a separate project from the Upper Cucharas River Watershed Pre-Fire Assessment.  The CRWC grant is still in the works.
The draft report on the districtʼs audit update is in the hands of the districtʼs board.  A copy of the final report will be delivered to HCWCD after the end of July when it is submitted to the state. The report shows at the end of 2014, the districtʼs liabilities exceeded its assets by about $115,000.  The disparity is due to the large loan the board took from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) in order to buy the William Craig ranch with water rights.  The board voted 4-0 to adopt the audit.
The Redwing Augmentation Facility project is still on hold.
Doug Brgoch reported the upper Huerfano River is running at about 41.5 feet with the lower Huerfano running at about 14.7 feet.  “That means it will be running short on call between Badito and the interstate.  We need to see about 18 feet of flow per second to cover any calls,” he said.
On the other side of Huerfano County, the upper Cucharas River is running at 32.5 feet with the lower river flowing at 37.5 feet and water is currently passing to the Arkansas River.  “We have soggy ground east of the interstate on the Cucharas River,”  Brgoch said.  “Right now the 1888 Killian is still good.  What weʼre seeing here is a bench-mark on what can happen in a year with no snowpack.”
The board voted 5-0 with board member Kent Mace now present, to not oppose water case 2015CW10, filed by Robert and Marilyn Keagle. They applied for an absolute surface water right on spring one, flowing at 15 gallons per minute.  It is a tributary to Pass Creek which feeds into the Huerfano River.

County deals with honest contractor

by Bill Knowles
WJ  250x55TRINIDAD — Citing an inability to provide gravel at the specifications required by the Las Animas County Road and Bridge Department, Brendt Tamburelli, the owner of Tamrock, stood before the Las Animas County Commission during the regular meeting July 21 and asked to back out of a contract.  He said he would be glad to pay the difference between his bid and the next highest bid for the Gulnare Road project.
“The moisture content of the gravel is too high and the sifters arenʼt accepting that.  Also the gravel that I have on hand is starting to get overrun with weeds and that is not good.  Road and Bridge canʼt use gravel when there are roots in it,”  Tamburelli said.
The Tamrock bid was for $5.99 a ton, $74,875 for 12,500 tons of gravel, the lowest bid for the road base.  The next highest bid was from Leone Ready Mix Concrete at $6.23 a ton, $77,875 for the gravel, a $3,000 difference.
In a special meeting at 1:30 pm, the county commission voted 3-0 to terminate the contract with Tamrock.  In a separate action they voted 3-0 to award the contract to Leone Sand and Gravel.
The commissioners also voted 3-0 to accept a contract with Alta Valley Fuels.  Alta, the lowest bidder for the contract, will provide fuel for the road and bridge department at $2.323 per gallon for 8,000 gallons of fuel for a total cost of $18,584.
The project at the justice center received its third extension.  On a 3-0 vote the commissioners extended the completion date 21 days to August 7.  Previous extensions were for June 15 and July 11.
On a 3-0 vote, the commission granted the Shopping Bag in Weston a liquor license.
The Kiwanis Club hopes to be holding a demolition derby at the fair grounds arena September 26. The annual fundraising event will host several categories for entrants.  The pitch was given during public comment time.  The commission didnʼt take action at the time on the request.
The owner of the Middle Fork Resort in Stonewall approached the county commissioners requesting they help him get a burn permit for a campfire.  He said tourists using his resort wanted to roast marshmallows and hotdogs.  After being refused a permit from the Stonewall Fire Protection District Chief, he approached the commissioners.
Las Animas County Sheriff James Casias also acting Las Animas County Fire Marshall, told the commission he had surveyed the countyʼs fire chiefs.  “None of them wanted the stage one fire ban lifted.”  However the area of the county in the foothills has received considerably more rain than the area east of I-25.  “What is needed is permission from the local fire chief and a burn permit can be issued for a small fire in a safe burn area,” Sheriff Casias said.
The county commissioners adjourned the meeting and entered executive session at 10:01 am.

State Treasurer visits Trinidad

by Bill Knowles
WJ  250x55TRINIDAD — Stopping in Las Animas County, during a summer long tour of the stateʼs 64 counties, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton met with county commissioners and some of the county’s staff to discuss concerns and answer questions.
“We are covering all 64 counties in Colorado this summer to talk to county commissioners and county treasurers to discuss important economic issues:  issues in the counties, issues dealing with the State of Colorado, unfunded mandates, challenges at the county level,”  Stapleton said
The Colorado health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, is a big fiscal challenge said Stapleton.  Currently the exchange is being audited, and when the State Treasurerʼs office sees the audit, they will find out how much money it is losing and see whatʼs not viable about the exchange.  Then it may be decided to switch to the federal healthcare exchange.  However the cost of such a move would probably be prohibitive. 
County budget issues
Chair of the Board of County Commissioners Gary Hill opened the Las Animas side of the discussion bluntly stating two numbers:  they “are looking at a 65 percent to 70 percent loss of the countyʼs assessed valuation over the last four to five years” largely because of oil and gas pull outs and depressed natural gas prices.
Also the county is losing funds because of medical marijuana.  “The county said no to the marijuana thing,” Hill said.  However, “We’ve got   marijuana growing all over … and that isnʼt all medical either.  Itʼs not going to be taxed either and itʼs going to be hitting the streets.  And Coloradoʼs losing there too.”
Marijuana is constitutional in Colorado and even if grow operations in the county were seized, there would probably be no prosecution.  Also the county might have to pay back any damages it caused, so  action against illegal growers is viewed as a possible liability.
Stapleton said the Treasurerʼs office has been involved with the banking issues around the medical marijuana industry.  And, because it is a cash based business, the Department of Revenue has no reliable way to tax it or track tax payments by all of the hundreds of businesses that are operating.  “Itʼs the cash based nature of the [medical marijuana] business thatʼs the problem,” Stapleton said.
Social services
Despite the fact that the county economy is depressed, people are drawing more from social programs.  “Social Services is now our biggest program in the county.  Itʼs outgrown the county general fund,” said County Administrator Leann Fabec. The Human Services Fund for 2015 is about $10.4 million dollars.
Cost of justice
Even as revenue shrinks, the cost of justice doesnʼt. The countyʼs 2015 general fund operating budget is about $6.1 million and in 2016 the revenues will shrink the operating budget to about $3 million.  The county is looking at operating at 30 cents on the dollar.  “Try running a court house and sheriffʼs office on that.  Of that amount [$3 million] in the general fund, the Sheriffʼs Department is asking for about $2.2 million,” said Hill.  That figure is the amount asked for in the 2015 budget.
On infrastructure, the main item Stapleton addressed was roads.  According to Stapleton, the issue of raising the fuel tax was ballot tested and failed by 30 points or more.  If a tax increase fails and voters fight over bonding, how can a county acquire funds for road maintenance, repair, and new projects?
Income drivers
The biggest driver for county income has been the fossil fuel industry.  Historically Las Animas County had been home to coal, then later coal bed methane.  But the market for CBM and natural gas has been heading for a bust cycle as more and more operators have drilled the large plays.  “About 270 workers have gone through layoffs by Pioneer.  This is a loss to school district enrollments, taxes, and spending into the local economy,” Fabec said.
Other big contributers to the countyʼs economy are city and county government, Trinidad State Junior College, and Mount San Rafael Hospital.  However, the largest by far is agriculture, and according to Hill, the largest employer percentage wise.
Competition for new jobs and businesses along the southern Front Range is intense as well.  Las Animas County is feeding from the same bowl as the others.  “We have the railroad, we have I-25, we have water, we have clean air,” Hill said.
“Weʼre competing with so many communities for new jobs, even with bigger communities than ours, Pueblo for example.  Weʼre out for the same kind of businesses they are, yet they have an economic development war chest we donʼt have, and itʼs funded by a sales tax, about $20 million dollars,” said Fabec.
“If you offer people from that [package of incentives] theyʼre going to go there [Pueblo].  We donʼt have that,” said Hill. “Then you lose your work force to bigger money, better jobs.”

Walsenburg Relay for Life

WJ  250x55WALSENBURG — Fourteen teams from workplaces, places of worship, schools, and more participated in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Huerfano event on July 18, 2015 at Huerfano Community Sports Complex- John Mall Field.  More than 100 registered participants raised almost $21,000 to support the Society’s lifesaving mission. 
The following teams and individuals were recognized with special awards:
The Holy Rollers were the top fundraising team with team captain, Terry Warlick, being the top individual fundraiser.  The team, Social Butterflies, was the most high spirited.
Food, fun and entertainment reigned at the event.  The evening featured a moving luminaria ceremony in which luminaria bags lined the track in honor or in memory of loved ones.  The names of loved ones were read, celebrated and remembered.
The Relay For Life program is a community event where teams and individuals set up campsites at a school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team has at least one participant on the track at all times.  Cancer survivors and caregivers take a celebratory first lap to start each event.  Four million people participated in more than 6,000 events worldwide last year.  The money raised supports groundbreaking cancer research, education and prevention programs, and critical services for people facing cancer.
“It was very inspirational to see people from all parts of our community fight back against cancer,” said Bernice Angely.  “Together, we celebrated those surviving cancer, remembered loved ones lost too soon, and took action to finish the fight once and for all.”
The American Cancer Society appreciates Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center for their continued support and sponsorship of Relay For Life of Huerfano County.
Donations can still be made by visiting the Relay For Life of Huerfano County event’s website:  www.relayforlife.org/huerfanocountyco.
We are looking forward to next year!  Relay For Life of Huerfano County is seeking volunteers to assist in planning the 2016 Relay.  If interested, please contact Stacy Reavis, Community Manager-Relay For Life at: 719-630-4967 or stacy.reavis@cancer.org. Photos by Edie Flanagin.

Trinidad City Council calls in Cougar Canyon performance bond

“They didn’t perform, we want our money back”
by Bill Knowles
WJ  250x55TRINIDAD — The Cougar Canyon development took a hit Tuesday evening when, during a regular meeting, the Trinidad City Council, voted 7-0 to call in a performance bond for the residential part of the unfinished development. 
A performance bond is required by the city as part of the planning process.  It calls for real estate developers to put up the bond to cover the city’s cost of the infrastructure.  It is used to cover the city’s cost in case the development doesn’t get finished. 
The bond covers the golf course, clubhouse and motel, making the bond worth about $3 million to $4 million to complete the infrastructure for that area.  Developers did do some of the work however, installing utilities, curb, gutter, and sidewalks to a portion of the development.  One area has only two homes but most don’t have any utilities.  The City Public Works Director Mike Valentine told city council members at a workshop that using the developers figures about $3.5 million in work still needs to be done.
There are 147 platted lots at the development but the rest of the residential area has never been platted.
“We asked them to perform, they didn’t perform.  We want our money back,” Mayor Joe Reorda said after the vote was taken.
In other business, the council passed on a 6-1 vote an emergency ordinance allowing for the adoption of the current marijuana map in its current definition in order to preserve the historic downtown district.  They also voted 6-1 on an ordinance calling for the adoption of the current marijuana map.  The emergency ordinance is only good for 31 days, that’s why the first reading of a regular ordinance was passed.
The only dissenting vote was cast by council member Liz Torres.  “I just don’t really see the point to basing everything around one school.  There are marijuana businesses at every entrance to the city.  So I’m thinking, why block out the center?  Does it really matter, probably not.” 
Another emergency ordinance prohibiting the licensing of medical, retail and another marijuana facilities in the Cougar Canyon development site where the hotel should be along with a regular ordinance stating the same thing was passed on a 7-0 vote.  A hearing date for consideration of the ordinance was set for Aug. 4.
The Kiwanis Club received a special permit for alcohol to be served at the Wild Turkey Federation banquet on Aug. 1. 
The Trinidad-Las Animas County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also received a special permit for alcohol to be served at their fundraiser dance on Aug. 8.
Stephen Hamer addressed the city council when they took comments from the audience.  He noted that he had asked the city for an evacuation plan in case of wildfire.  “I am disappointed. It’s been a year and nothing.  I’ve been told that it’s being worked on but nothing yet,” Hamer said.
The council put the evacuation plan on agenda for a workshop.

Cougar Canyon Cougar_ 001

Cougar Canyon entrance stands as a reminder of what once was east of Trinidad

In Loving Memory of Brenda L. Decker

Brenda L. Decker passed away July 26, 2015 in Albuquerque, NM. She was born March 23, 1969 the daughter of Roger and Onofre Sandoval. She was a resident of Raton and a member of St. Patrick-St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

She was preceded in death by her father Roger Sandoval, Sr., paternal grandparents Alfonso Sandoval and Tillie Grano, maternal grandparents Leandro and Prudencia Sandoval.

She is survived by her husband Dennis Decker, Sr., son Dennis Decker, Jr. and grandson Brayden Decker, sons Brandon Decker and Jonathan Decker, mother Onofre Sandoval all of Raton, NM. She is also survived by her sister Darlene Jaramillo and Jerry Miller and sons Max, Jr. and Eric of Raton, NM, brothers Terry Sandoval of Raton, NM, Roger and Edna Sandoval and family Kayla and Kendra of Raton, NM, Mike and Dodie Sandoval and son Michael, Jr. of Las Cruces, NM, mother-in-law Flora Decker of Pueblo, CO, father-in-law Jerry Decker of Raton, NM, brothers-in-law Kenny and Sheila Decker and family of Albuquerque, NM, Peter and Hope Decker and family of Weston, CO, Steven and April Decker and family of Pueblo, CO and numerous nieces, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends.

Brenda leaves behind her loving family whom she loved very much. She enjoyed the outdoors, wildlife, card games and listening to her favorite music as well as watching her sons and grandson play sports. She was a diehard Pittsburg Steelers fan who loved fishing with her family and playing bingo.

Private visitation will take place Thursday August 6, 2015 from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Alderette-Pomeroy Funeral Home Chapel. Recitation of the Most Holy Rosary will take place Friday August 7th at 9:00 a.m. at St. Patrick-St. Joseph’s Catholic Church recited by Deacon Thomas Alderette. Mass of the Resurrection will be held at 9:30 a.m. with Father John Trambley as the celebrant. Funeral arrangements for Brenda L. Decker are under the direction of the Alderette-Pomeroy Funeral Home of Raton.

Down Under Basketball for RHS Sophomore

By Marty Mayfield

KRTN Multi-Media


It’s along ways to go to play basketball but RHS Sophomore Sydni Silva says it was “The time of my life. An opportunity that no one should pass up.”

Silva traveled to Brisbane Australia, a 13-hour flight, to play basketball in the Down Under Sports Girls basketball program. She played on a team named the Wildcats made up of girls from Idaho, Montana and New Mexico. Silva played post and wing positions for the team. Rebecca Nead, a coach from Idaho, coached the Wildcats.

During the three-day tournament held July 17-19 the girls played teams from both America and Australia with each team being guaranteed 10 games over the three days. The games consisted of two 15-minute quarters.

During the trip Silva had the privilege to meet the President George O’Scanlon and vice president of the Down Under Sports program and experience some of the food which she noted had a different taste. The one exception was the Hot Chips better known as French Fries in America.


A bit about the Down Under Sports programs 

…to use the common language of sports to bridge the continents.
George O’Scanlon, President

International Sports Specialists, Inc. (ISSI) was founded in February 1989 based upon the dream of a New Zealander by the name of George O’Scanlon. George fell in love with athletics, especially American football (gridiron) as a young man growing up in his native country of New Zealand. His desire over the years has been to promote gridiron, not only to the people of New Zealand, but also to Australia where he lived for many years. For over twenty years, ISSI has had the opportunity to share the land Down Under with tens of thousands of individuals from across the United States. The overwhelming success of the Down Under Bowl was a springboard for ISSI’s establishment of the Down Under Hoops Classic and eventually the Down Under International Games. From its first Down Under Bowl in 1989, when four states produced a handful of teams, to 2008 when ISSI sent athletes from almost all 50 states to compete in the Down Under Bowl, Hoops Classic and International Games, the goal has been the same; to use the common language of sports to bridge the continents.

The number of athletes desiring to participate in these events has continued to grow each year and ISSI anticipates further expansion. Some prior standouts of the Down Under Bowl include Jake “The Snake” Plummer past quarterback for the Denver Broncos and Ahman Green, running back for the Houston Texans. Many top universities also have Down Under Bowl Alumni.

ISSI hosts the annual Down Under Sports Tournaments which provide a forum for athletes from other countries to compete head to head in the sport they love. The Down Under Sports Tournaments have included competition in football, cheerleading, basketball, volleyball, golf, cross-country, track and field, free style wrestling, and swimming. ISSI’s goal is to continue to provide athletes who excel in their sport the opportunity to experience the culture, beauty and grandeur of the land Down Under all within the framework of spirited and intense competition in many different sports.

The Wildcats team that Sydni plyed with.

The Wildcats team that Sydni plyed with.


Sydney with the ball playing against one of the Australian teams

Sydney with the ball playing against one of the Australian teams

Sydni Silva with her Down Under coach from Idaho Rebecca Nead

Sydni Silva with her Down Under coach from Idaho Rebecca Nead

Sydni met the George O'Scanlon President and J. Brian Pella Vice President of the Down Under sports organization

Sydni met the George O’Scanlon President and J. Brian Pella Vice President of the Down Under sports organization

Sydni had the opportunity to visit with the local wildlife at the Currumbin Sanctuary, Gold Coast  in Austrailia

Sydni had the opportunity to visit with the local wildlife at the Currumbin Sanctuary, Gold Coast in Austrailia




In Loving Memory of Doris A. Troyer

After a battle with cancer, Doris Ann Troyer passed away on July 30, 2015 in Raton, NM at the age of 69. She leaves behind her husband, Ronald Troyer; her daughters, Kimmie Brownell and husband Jason Brownell, Becky Sanchez and husband Zeke Sanchez, and Karen Rojas and husband Victor Rojas; her sons Kip Maynard and wife Jill Maynard, Chad Troyer and wife Shelly Troyer, and Joseph Troyer and wife Shelly Troyer; and her late son Chip Maynard.

Doris was born on September 26, 1945 in Phoenix, AZ, to father John Heatherly and mother Chrysteen Heatherly, who preceded her in death. She grew up in a large, loving family with two sisters, Lois and Brenda; and two brothers, Johnny and Tomm.

Doris married Ronald Troyer on June 2, 1979 in Camp Verde, AZ. Shortly after they married they relocated to Raton, NM, where they raised their seven children.

Doris was a devoted housewife with a love of horses, hunting, cooking, and gardening. She was an active member of the National Rifle Association and for years ran the scoreboards at all national shooting events held at the Whittington Center. Doris and Ron relocated to Pie Town, NM in 2006. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014 and remained a brave, iron-willed woman, even throughout her final months. 

Doris requested to be buried and will lay in the Troyer family plot in Maxwell, NM. She is survived by many grandchildren and great grandchildren and will be greatly missed.

New Mexico Back to School Tax Free Holiday

New Mexico Back to School Tax Free Holiday

Press Release from New Mexico Taxation and Revenue – 

back-to-school-shopping-daysComing soon to a retail store near you is the annual New Mexico Gross Receipts Tax Holiday. This year it’s August 7-9, and if you have school-age children, it’s nothing short of a bonanza. For that weekend the state suspends collection of gross receipts tax on sales of qualifying items so you can buy the items tax free. Because many merchants also absorb the tax on a number of non-qualifying items, you are the beneficiary all around. 

The tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on August 7, 2015 and concludes on August 9, 2015 at midnight.

During that time the law provides a deduction from gross receipts for retail sales of qualifying tangible personal property; in effect allowing the retailer to sell the items “tax free.” 

B-200.18, List of Taxable and Non Taxable Items for New Mexico’s Gross Receipts Tax Holiday contains list divided into categories, but please note that within some categories there is a set dollar maximum. To qualify for the deduction, clothing or shoes must be priced at less than $100 per unit. The price limit for desktop, laptop, tablets or notebook computers is $1,000, and for related computer hardware it is $500. School supplies for use in standard, general-education classrooms must be under $30 per unit. There are items specifically excluded by statute in all categories. Those items are always taxable.  

For more specific information on the legislation, definitions, types of sales, (rain checks, exchanges, refunds, gift cards, layaways, Internet, mail order and telephone sales) please see FYI-203,Gross Receipts Tax Holiday.

Taxation and Revenue New Mexico

1100 South St. Francis Drive 
Santa Fe, NM 87504
(505) 827-0700

~ The State of Colorado will not be offering a tax free, back-to-school holiday.

In Loving Memory of Barbara Ruth Price

Barbara Ruth Price, Age 91 was called home by the Lord on July 13, 2015.

Barbara was born in Brilliant, NM on March 22, 1924 to Daniel and Helen (Jarrett) Jamison.

The loves of her life was family and friends. Her beautiful smile and kindness will be missed.

Preceding her in death are parents, Dan and Helen, Brothers George and Billie Jamison, Sisters Carrie Price & Willadean Wadlington.

She is survived by her husband Alva and Sister Danette Monet. Sons Terry and wife Pat of Phoenix, Troy and wife Pauline of Farmington,  Delton and Frances of Santa Fe. 8 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

A service of worship celebrating Barbara’s life will be presented Saturday August 8th at the Raton United Methodist Church at 10:00 am.

In lieu of flowers please donate to the Raton Fairmont Cemetery.