Peak Parent Center presents comprehensive view of state and federal laws on students with disabilities
by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — Speakers from the Peak Parent Center from Colorado Springs gave a two and a half hour presentation in Trinidad about both state and federal law on accommodating students with disabilities within the public school system.
Many parents who have children with disabilities find the system established by law confusing and often times frightening. The seminar sought to address parents’ concerns.
“Every child in the U.S. is guaranteed an equal education under the law in the public system,” said Shirley Swope a parent advisor from Peak Parent Center.
The law is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This law requires schools to serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities ranging from autism to physical challenges. Under the law, schools must evaluate students suspected of having disabilities, including learning disabilities. However not every child with learning or attention issues qualifies for special education services under IDEA.
IDEA has been amended several times since it was first passed in 1975. The purpose of IDEA hasnʼt changed though. Its primary goals are to protect the rights of children with disabilities. It ensures students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education just like all other children.
Schools are required to provide special education in the least restrictive environment. That means schools must teach students with disabilities in general education classrooms whenever possible. It also gives parents a voice in the education of their child. In rural Colorado, the organization called the Board of Cooperative Educational Services or BOCES would be the group providing the special education services used by most school districts.
“When a child is found to be having difficulties in school, they will undergo a response to intervention (RTI). The RTI is designed to provide academic and behavioral supports rather than waiting for a child to fail before offering help.” It is from the RTI that the individual education program is built.
Students determined to be at risk should undergo an RTI. They are found to be at risk if they are performing below grade level standards or have behavioral or emotional problems that might interfere with their learning.
The individualized education program (IEP) is developed from the RTI. The IEP is the tool, the map, that is used to realize the education of the student. The building of the IEP is a team activity involving parents, school administration, one regular education teacher, one special education teacher, and a person to explain evaluation results.
The IEP is a written document that is developed for each student who is eligible for special education. “It is truly an individualized document. It is a living document that can be changed if certain parts of it are found to not be working or as the student grows and matures.” said Swope
Usually within 30 days of completing the RTI evaluation, an IEP meeting is called and it is within that meeting the IEP is written determining the child’s needs and eligibility. The IEP will have a statement of realistic goals to be achieved by the IEP team. If any of those goals are not reached, the parents have a right to call for another meeting of the IEP team and reevaluate the document, adjusting it to better match the student’s needs.
For further information on RTI, IEP, or for a better understanding of IDEA, call the Peak Parent Center at 800-284-0251 or visit the website at www.peakparent.org.
Archive for: August 2015
Peak Parent Center presents comprehensive view of state and federal laws on students with disabilities
by Nancy Christofferson
COLORADO TERRITORY — Gray’s Ranch was a growing community when it got a post office on Sept. 1, 1863, almost 152 years ago. Its namesake and owner was James S. Gray.
The ranch was about five miles southeast of Trinidad, at the confluence of the Purgatory River and what was then named Rito San Lorenz, but which today is known as Gray Creek. Gray settled there in April 1861 and built his adobe structures on the west side of the creek. Outside of the fact that Gray hailed from Kentucky and was a Southern sympathizer, nothing much is known about the man.
Colorado became a territory Feb. 28, 1861. The first election for county officers was held Aug. 19 that year. Gray’s Ranch was the local polling place in that election. The first regular election was Nov. 21, 1861 when Precinct 4 again voted at Gray’s Ranch. The precinct included Trinidad. Two years later, in September 1863, James S. Gray was elected Huerfano County Commissioner. After Las Animas became a county in February 1866, Gray was elected commissioner and served from 1867 until 1870 when he resigned. He may have left the area at that time.
When Colonel Alexander Doniphan marched through this region during the Mexican War, two of his soldiers died and were buried on what later became Gray’s Ranch. When Gray’s wife died in late 1861, she too was interred in the little graveyard.
Gray’s Ranch was in Huerfano County in 1861 and was still in Huerfano County when it got its post office in 1863.
After Gray’s arrival in the area, Dan L. Taylor, said to be a former hotelkeeper at Fort Union in New Mexico, opened a general store at the ranch. A stage station was established in July 1861 by the Missouri Stage Company there as well. The site was 47 miles south of the station at Iron Springs which in turn was about 40 miles south of Bent’s Fort. The next station on the way to Santa Fe was Willow Springs, not far south of Raton Pass.
Gray’s Ranch was considered a civilian outpost or fort. Much like Francisco Fort in La Veta, it was fortified mainly because of the same cantankerous Moache Ute Indian Chief, Kaniache. The 1860s saw many raids by this man and his band, throughout Huerfano and Las Animas counties, and even Colfax County where the Moaches’ home base was the agency at Maxwell’s ranch at Cimarron.
Until 1861, mail was carried between Santa Fe and Missouri via the Cimarron Cutoff, also known as the Dry Route of the Santa Fe Trail, that crossed the Oklahoma panhandle. With the establishment of Fort Wise on the Arkansas River, the post office department changed the route to cross the Mountain Branch. It was because of this that Gray’s Ranch was located along that trail at that time. Besides the population of workers on the ranch, the Gray’s Ranch stage station added more souls to the growing settlement.
In 1862 the community got a scare from some Confederate sympathizers robbing mail from stage coaches not far away and federal troops were sent north from Fort Union. As the site where the Denver to Fort Union stage road met the Bent’s Fort road, Gray’s Ranch got a company of soldiers stationed nearby to guard the mail routes. Troops were there again in 1864. That year the station at Iron Springs, just 40 miles away, was burned down by Cheyennes.
In the spring of 1866, Kaniache and his men were on the upper Purgatory and working their way downstream. Along their path they destroyed crops, stole livestock and killed at least one settler. The chief had lost a son and several other close family members to the white man, and he had no love for them. His depredations continued and Colonel Andrew Alexander, who was in the area with his black soldiers of the Third Cavalry searching for a site for a proposed fort, was sent to confront him. Volunteers from Trinidad joined the ensuing fray some miles north of that town and near the Apishapa River. Three soldiers were killed and Kaniache’s Utes retreated. Unfortunately, they retreated into Huerfano County and killed more settlers on their way to the San Luis Valley.
As a result of these Indian troubles, troops were again stationed at Gray’s Ranch to protect the mail between Bent’s Fort and Raton Pass. The pass had the year before been opened as an “improved” toll road with new bridges, grading and the removal of the larger boulders blocking the way.
A few months later, Gray’s Ranch was the scene of a felony. One of the westbound stage drivers up and quit on arrival at the ranch and boarded another stage heading back east after drawing the pay he was owed. A while later, suspicions arose as to the driver’s honesty, and a messenger was sent to the nearest telegraph office, which happened to be in Denver. From there, an alert was put out for the driver so when he turned up in Junction City, Kansas, it was found he was carrying no less than $1,800 in company funds. This quite obviously led to his arrest.
Otherwise, life may have been pretty humdrum at this outpost on the Colorado frontier. In 1870 the stage line, by then belonging to Wells, Fargo (though formerly the property of Barlow, Sanderson), closed some of the stations along the Santa Fe Trail line, but retained Gray’s Ranch. By this time, its post office had been moved to the even-faster growing town of Trinidad.
When the end came for Gray and his ranch is unknown, but by 1885 the only notable thing on the map of the area was the Gray Creek coal mine.
The Gray Creek Coal and Coking Company owned the mine. The company was struggling and in 1890 ceased production although it retained its property.
A man named Harry McIntosh, an early mine superintendent and later fire boss, was said to have taken “the first shovelful of dirt out of the engine road”. Whatever that means. The date for this singular feat could be placed in the early 1880s.
Activity was resumed in the early 1890s and the camp got its own post office in December 1894. It was named Chapel (probably a misspelling of Chappell) and survived for one month before being renamed Graycreek. The mine and ovens were served by a branch railroad built in 1888 by a subsidiary of the Union Pacific.
GCC&C company in 1900 merged with the Victor Fuel Company and three others to operate five mines and 200 coke ovens on 14,000 acres in Las Animas and Huerfano counties. In 1909 this became the Victor-American Fuel Company.
By 1904, the beehive coke ovens were in full production. The coke proved to be of relatively poor quality, however, so the mines and ovens never achieved much of a name, though they soldiered on, working sporadically, until 1927 when operation ceased and the camp abandoned. The railroad and camp were dismantled. The post office had closed in August 1921.
Only a few miners and coke makers had remained until the end.
by Brian Orr
WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Commissioners listened Tuesday to Eugene Carroll, a project manager for Viaero Wireless. Viaero was re-applying for a Conditional Use Permit to build a 150-foot, lattice-style cell tower in Farisita. Viaero had originally been given a CUP in 2012, but ran out of time to construct the tower.
Carroll said the cell tower would be built with expansion capabilities for other phone carriers, as well as broadband. He also said Gardner was next on Viaero’s construction list, as they head towards Westcliffe.
The commissioners happily approved a 180 day construction permit, with groundbreaking expected to start next week.
Huerfano resident Richard Goodwin spoke with the commissioners about his concern over the accuracy of emergency crews responding to rural addresses. His concern was prompted by the recent death a of friend of his, where the ambulance missed the address, and had to be called back to the correct location.
County Administrator John Galusha spoke up, saying the county had spent over $100,000 over five years to create an E.R. Run Book. This address book is to be used by dispatch for fire, ambulance and sheriff crews, but there are still errors in some rural addresses, where two different directions might be given.
Commissioner Max Vezzani suggested the commissioners get together with the new head of emergency services, Don Mercier, to see what potentially can be done. Vezzani also invited Goodwin to sit in on the meeting.
Finally, the commissioners noted the Civil Air Patrol had done a flyover of the landslide covering County Road 580, leading up to Mt. Blanca. Using the photos to accurately map the size of the slide, the commissioners hope to be able to come up with a plan to reopen the popular road. “There’s a slim chance to get a road up there if the landowner cooperates,” said Vezzani, “but if not, there won’t be a road for the forseeable future.”
by Gretchen Orr
WALSENBURG— The Huerfano RE-1 Board of Education met Tuesday for the first time since school resumed and finalized old business including approval of volunteer and substitute lists, coaches and teachers. The BOE also accepted the resignation of Peakview teacher Teresa England.
Jeffery Higgins, who resigned last spring as Peakview counselor, came back to the district and was approved as the special education teacher. Theresa Martinez was approved as the interventionist at Peakview, Tracie Younger as the district nurse, and Eric Shivery as secondary English teacher at Peakview. The final position to be filled, third grade teacher at Peakview, is close to being filled, pending acceptance of the district offer.
Principals reported dates for back to school nights. Pam Levie said Gardner School will have their family night tonight. Peakview’s will be September 2, and JMHS’s was last night.
Two items of discussion concerned generating revenue for the district. The first was the lease of a vacant facility (the former auto shop) to Gary Vigil for use as his personal storage and automotive shop. The proposed lease has yet to be worked out but Vigil will be responsible for rent, utilities and insurance. The BOE will vote on the proposal at the September 9th meeting. The second revenue generating item concerned selling advertising banners for placement in the JMHS gym to be viewed by fans during the volleyball, basketball and wrestling competitions during the 2015-16 season. The vinyl banners will stay up year round. The cost will be $500, which includes the banner. The objective is to place 20 banners.
The final issue discussed was a proposal presented by Ameresco, a company which does energy feasibility audits. Their proposal includes utilizing Energy Performance Contracts that have the potential to save the district close to 30% or $74,000 a year over 15 years, by upgrading energy-using equipment, and converting it to clean, green and sustainable energy.
Superintendent Moore also informed the BOE he has applied for a $100,000 Diagnostic and Improvement Planning Grant, which would help the district with UIP and education performance reviews.
The district is also taking bids to complete the sports complex locker rooms, and hope to have it done in September. This will allow JMHS the ability to offer the track this spring to host track meets including districts and regionals.
Pueblo County Fleet Manager shows how Pueblo developed fleet of compressed natural gas powered vehicles
by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG — ”This just didn’t happen overnight,” the Director of Pueblo County Fleet Management, Carl Chavez, told members of the Southern Colorado Energy Council during a luncheon Friday, Aug. 21, at La Plaza Inn. “It involves a lot of work going to Denver, talking with politicians, and writing grants, but we were able to open a compressed natural gas (CNG) fill station August 9, in Pueblo.”
It took Chavez 10 years to bring together the reality of a CNG station. He formed a partnership between Pueblo County, Charles Ochs, owner of Acorn filling stations, and Sparq, owners of CNG fill stations, to pull the project together.
“Funding was tricky,” noted Chavez, “We found that most money was available to areas that have dirty air. We have clean air in southern Colorado, so that disqualified us from some federal funding.”
“Then we found we had to have at least ten CNG vehicles in the county’s fleet so the CNG infrastructure would be supported. The state requires its fleets in local area state offices to be CNG powered so the infrastructure is further supported by state vehicles.”
A real roadbock to southern Colorado counties that have low tax receipts is the purchase of new vehicles that can be converted to use CNG.
Even if a county were able to purchase ten new basic vehicles for $250,000 they would still have to fund an additional $80,000 to $100,000 to up fit the vehicle to use CNG.
Lee Merkel, from the Department of Local Affairs acknowledged that DOLA may be able to find grants that would allow a county to purchase new vehicles. Once ten vehicles have been purchased and “up-fit” to burn CNG, the county would be ready to build a fill station at a cost of $1 million. This is where a partnership like Chavez pulled together in Pueblo County comes into play. Grant funding, matches, and in kind work are important to government grant making agencies and private funders.
Karen Wilson, owner and operator of the La Plaza Inn, wanted to know where people fit in the scheme of things. “What place do regular drivers fill, where do they come in? So far this sounds like they’ve been excluded.”
“There are about 150,000 CNG powered private vehicles on U.S. roads right now. With the development of this kind of infrastructure more drivers will have more places they can refill their vehicles,” Chavez said, “People are taking advantage of the low cost of CNG, with the average price per gallon conversion being about $1.66 per gallon.”
“And,” Chavez said “natural gas burns cleaner.” The importance of CNG vehicles and stations is the savings in both fuel costs and slowing damage to the environment. Private owners can convert a newer vehicle from gasoline to CNG for about $7,000, with grants available for up to $7,500. But there aren’t many qualified gaseous conversion technicians in southern Colorado. Since most insurance companies and grant makers require certified conversion technicians the market is currently hindered.
If a CNG station is placed here in Huerfano County, it will anchor the I-25 side of U.S. Highway 160.
Sentencing set for October
by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — In a soft, nearly inaudible voice, Marissa Jackson pleaded guilty Friday, August 21 to causing the death of four-year old Alani Tatiana Reyes-Cueva in a plea agreement reached with special state-appointed prosecutors.
Jackson answered yes to Third Judicial District Judge Leslie Gerbracht’s questions concerning if she was entering the plea willingly and if she understood all the factors in the plea agreement.
The agreement called for the defendant to plead guilty to child abuse resulting in death, and to a combined count of child abuse covering other children in the Walsenburg household at the time Alani was fatally struck down during the night of August 3, 2014. Jackson entered into the agreement with the knowledge the prosecution had agreed to a 32-year prison sentence cap on the class two felony charge and a presumptive sentence of one year on the class two misdemeanor that will be served concurrent with the felony charge in the state department of corrections.
The State of Colorado was represented at the hearing by Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Kowert.
Judge Gerbracht set a sentencing hearing in the case for two hours beginning at 10 am on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. At that hearing, it is expected defense attorney Adam Shultz will present mitigating circumstances in favor of a lesser sentence for his client. Jackson could be sentenced to a minimum of 16-years on the felony charge. The maximum sentence for this class two felony is 48-years.
The mood was tense in the courtroom on Friday as the judge announced a plea agreement had been reached and she was prepared to accept it. Judge Gerbracht asked the defendant if she was ready to move forward and Jackson, clutching a crumpled tissue, lowered her head, staring at the defense table and then looking up at the ceiling of the district courtroom. “I can’t answer this for you,” Shultz said to his client in a whisper. Jackson let out a long sigh, “Yes, I’ll plead guilty,” she said.
The victim in the case was the daughter of Jackson’s then-boyfriend Donavan Cueva, who had been out of the home the couple shared at 227 E. Eighth St., Walsenburg, for at least a week, working as a landscaper in the Denver area, when, prosecutor’s and investigator’s say Jackson struck a deadly blow to the little girl which caused a fatal closed head injury. There were a total of six small children in the home with Jackson, Alani and two of her siblings and three of Jackson’s children. The couple did not have any children together.
In the preliminary hearing forensic photographs of the victim showed the child had bruises covering her body showing apparent results of prior physical abuse.
Police and EMTs responded to the home at about 10 pm Sunday, August 3, 2014 on a report of an unresponsive child. The toddler was rushed to Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center where she was pronounced dead.
Walsenburg police and agents from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation began intensive efforts to solve the little girl’s murder. Jackson and others, including the child’s father, were interviewed by investigators and the home was searched for evidence of a crime.
Jackson was questioned by investigators for hours late into the afternoon and early evening Monday, August 4, 2014. During the interrogation, Jackson made and signed a formal statement. Walsenburg Police Chief Tommie McLallen said there was enough probable cause to warrant an arrest and did so at the end of the interview. “The decision to arrest was based on her interview and the totality of other statements, and evidence we obtained during the investigation,” he said the evening of August 4.
The incident proved emotionally difficult on law enforcement and emergency medical personnel. “In 15-years you see a lot and this is the worse case we’ve worked in this office in a long time,” said Chief McLallen. “It has been hard…everyone in this office has played some role in the investigation,” he added at the time of Jackson’s arrest.
The defendant was remanded to the custody of the Huerfano County Jail following the plea hearing last week.
by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council unanimously approved an ordinance and resolution concerning the First Ranch Annexation in a special session Tuesday, August 25.
The eight members attending the session passed Ordinance 1075, which annexes 550.24 acres of the city-owned ranch into the city limits of Walsenburg. The vote came during the council meeting portion of the evening following a public hearing on the issue.
Walsenburg City Administrator David Johnston was the only person to testify during the public hearing, questioned by municipal attorney Dan Hyatt regarding the findings of fact laid out in Resolution 2015-R-23; which was also unanimously approved in the special session.
The ordinance appears in full in the legals section of today’s World Journal, and will come back before the city council in another scheduled special session on September 9th. The city council will meet in regular session the day before, but adminstration wants to ensure the legal timelines are met, thus the scheduled special session was necessary. Following the special session, if the ordinance is approved as expected on second reading, there will be a 30-day period before the ordinance goes into effect.
Michael McCoy representing Martra Holdings attended the special meeting this week but did not testify. McCoy, in response to a question concerning closing on the company’s purchase of land on the city ranch, said he estimated that date would be around October 9, 2015.
Council also passed Resolution 2015-R-24 making some changes to the city’s personnel handbook regarding paydays in relation to holidays and approving a specific dollar amount uniform and equipment stipend for police officers who have been employed with the city at least one year. Councilman John Salazar II, a Walsenburg police officer, abstained from the vote. Resolution 2015-R-25 was approved in an 8-0 vote that calls for establishment of a Public Improvement Fund bank account for money raised through the PIF from Northlands businesses.
Council election news
Walsenburg residents Gregory Daniels and Troy Reeves have turned in petitions for the council election in Ward One; incumbent Clint Boehler’s current term will expire in 2017. Dennis Hoyt turned in his petition for Ward Two; incumbent Craig Lessar’s term expires in 2017. John Salazar and Don Lewis, both serving on city council via appointment in Ward Three, have turned in petitions to run for the open seat this November. Incumbent Charles Montoya’s term expires in 2017. Incumbents Mayor James Eccher, Clerk Wanda Britt and Treasurer James Moore have turned in election paperwork and are unopposed for their respective offices.
Official write-in candidates have until August 31 to file the paperwork necessary to have a blank write in line included in the 2015 city council ballot.
Richard Baca, our dearly beloved Husband, Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather, went home to our Lord and Savior on August 27, 2015.
He was born in Trinidad, CO, on December 1, 1934 to Emilia and Sartonino Baca.
Richard loved the Denver Broncos and never missed a game.
He loved watching his Western movies and shows.
He enjoyed listening to his Spanish and country music and requested a song every Sunday and dedicated it to his wife.
He was an avid sportsman and loved playing baseball in his younger days.
He was a great fisherman.
Richard and his wife Lucille, were always having a good time, and never left the dance floor until the very end.
Before leaving this world, Richard asked the family to care for his wife, the love of his life.
Preceding him in death are parents Sartinino and Emilia Baca, son Filbert Baca, brother Albert Baca, sisters Dora and Rosie, mother in law Lucia Armijo and father in law Felix Fransua.
He is survived by wife of 61 years Lucille Baca, daughters May(John) Ortiz, Isabel Baca, Anna Gonzales (Edward Martinez), sons Richard (Virginia) Baca, Felix Baca, sister Jennie, brothers and sister in law, Mike (Rose) Armijo, Nash Montoya, and his grand and great grandchildren whom he loved very much. Also surviving are his numerous nieces, nephews, cousins other family and friends.
Funeral services are Friday, September 4, 2015 with Rosary at 9Am at the Comi Chapel, followed by the Funeral Mass at 10Am at Holy Trinity church.
Inurnment will follow at the Trinidad Catholic Cemetery.
Honorary escorts ae Orlando Baca, Edward Ortiz, Patrick Ortiz Edward Martinez Victor Herrera, Hector Herrera, Dustin Castellano, Felix Baca, Richard Baca, Matt Lovato and Chris Gerardo.
Arrangements made under the direction of the Comi Funeral Home.