Archive for: November 2015

Short Agenda for Raton City Commission Tuesday Evening

By Marty Mayfield

 KRTN Multi-Media


  With just enough for a quorum, Raton City Commissioners took care of a short agenda meeting on Tuesday, November 24th. 

Mayor Pro-Tem Neil Segotta along with Commissioners Don Giacomo and Ron Chavez, heard from City Treasurer Michael Ann Antonucci with the good news that the GRT is once again ahead of budget by $4,312 or .03721%. The city also has a cash reserve of $698,517, which was noted to be better than in recent years, especially at this time of year.  (Link to the November Financial Report)

The designated area for the redevelopment master plan

The designated area for the redevelopment master plan

Phyllis Taylor with Site Southwest, gave a quick overview of the redevelopment master plan explaining that it included the current and ongoing projects like the Multi-Modal Center. The report also includes maps with the affected area highlighted. The complete report is on the City’s web page at ratonnm.gov or right here. Link to Raton Master plan. (Link to the Raton Downtown Master Plan)

Commissioners then passed Resolution 2015-45 adopting the redevelopment master plan and designating a special tax district as outlined in the master plan. This is not a tax increase, but it puts the paperwork in place to move forward with special financing should it be needed for projects in the downtown area. (Link to Resolution 2015-45)

City Manager Scott Berry noted that most of the work had been completed on First Street and that the Pecos and Galesteo work has been completed. He also noted that he met with the Lt. Governor John Sanchez in Albuquerque and will have a follow-up meeting on economic development in December.

Berry also gave out kudos to the public works department, water works and contractors on their work clearing snow especially with the amount snow that fell last week.

Commissioners then adjourned and will meet again in December 8th which will  be last scheduled meeting for the year.

Commissioner Don Giacomo presents the Miner's Day proclamation to Scott Berry, Kathy McQuery and Shawn Lerch

Commissioner Don Giacomo presents the Miner’s Day proclamation to Scott Berry, Kathy McQuery and Shawn Lerch (Link to Proclamation Miner’s Day)


Veterans Day Ceremony in Springer

by Sherry Goodyear
WJ  250x55SPRINGER — The Springer New Mexico’s Veterans Day Celebration was a tearful event for Mayor Fernando Garcia as he marveled at the sacrifices so many have made to assure we remain free.  Garcia said, “People fight for us so we can go on with our day to day lives.”
The ceremony was held in the newly remodeled Luna Community College auditorium, where roughly 200 people were in attendance, including many Springer elementary and high school students.  Springer’s new Girl Scout troop posted the flags and led everyone in both the Pledge of Allegiance and the pledge to the New Mexico flag.  Jordan Romero, a Brownie Scout, posted the US flag while Esperanza Tafoya, a Daisy, posted the Zia flag and Brenna Duran, another Brownie, read through the posting commands.  
Following the posting of the flags, Garcia recognized the veterans in attendance, allowing them the opportunity to introduce themselves and announce the branch of service they were in.  Next, guest speaker Major Tony Cordova of the New Mexico Army National Guard commemorated those who have devoted time, blood, sweat, tears, and for some, their lives, to keeping America free.  He reminded everyone that, “For everyone that dies, ten more are severely wounded or injured.”
The most notable part of the ceremony was the unveiling of two new gates that will soon adorn the first and only POW/MIA Park in the state of New Mexico, which is located in Springer on the west side of town.  Michael Turner volunteered time and talent to build the gates in the way Garcia envisioned.  Garcia presented Turner with a plaque thanking him for his efforts, which will go a long way in revamping the park – one of Garcia’s goals for his term as mayor.
After the Girl Scouts recovered the flags, veteran Floyd Aguilar played a haunting rendition of Taps on his trumpet.   Once the ceremony was over, attendees were treated to a pork roast dinner.

Springer’s newly formed Girl Scout troop performed the posting of the flags ceremony at the Veterans Day celebration at the Luna College auditorium last week. Presenting the flags are:  Jordan Romero with US flag, Esperanza Tafoya with Zia flag and Brenna Duran calling the commands.  Photo by Sherry Goodyear.

Springer’s newly formed Girl Scout troop performed the posting of the flags ceremony at the Veterans Day celebration at the Luna College auditorium last week. Presenting the flags are: Jordan Romero with US flag, Esperanza Tafoya with Zia flag and Brenna Duran calling the commands. Photo by Sherry Goodyear.

Springer will be home to the first, and only, POW/MIA park in the state of New Mexico.   Pictured above: the left hand gate for POW park - made by artist Michael Turner.  Photo by Sherry Goodyear.

Springer will be home to the first, and only, POW/MIA park in the state of New Mexico. Pictured above: the left hand gate for POW park – made by artist Michael Turner. Photo by Sherry Goodyear.

Bank plans open house reception and 2016 calendar distribution

WJ  250x55WALSENBURG/TRINIDAD/RATON — During this time of year, you can be certain that temperatures drop, leaves fall, days get shorter, and The First National Bank in Trinidad, along with its branch facilities, are busy making final preparations for its 30th annual open house reception and calendar distribution.  The 2016 Historic Collector’s Series Calendar will be available on a first come, first served basis at the open house reception set for Thursday, December 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  As in past years, separate receptions will be held in Trinidad, Walsenburg and Raton, New Mexico.  The 2016 calendar is distributed as a free gift to the community; all residents are encouraged to attend the open house and receive a complimentary calendar.
The 2016 calendar entitled “Pioneering Industries” represents The First National Bank in Trinidad’s 30th Annual Historic Collector’s Series Calendar and provides a retrospective look at early businesses and the vital role they played in the growth and development of the community.  These industries brought dramatic changes to the lives of settlers.  Imagine life without electricity!  It was the La Veta Flour Mill that first supplied power to the town of La Veta.  It opened in the early 1880s to address the milling needs of regional farmers in Huerfano County, but beginning in 1910, the mill served two purposes, operating during the day as usual, but after dark the water wheel turned to generate electricity.  The Trinidad Electric Transmission & Railway and Gas Company began operating electric cable cars in Trinidad from 1911 to 1923. Soon electricity began to power street lights and electric light bulbs in homes.  Early businesses provided lumber and bricks to build more comfortable dwellings.  Hughes Brothers Lumber Company operated tree cutting operations in both Huerfano and Las Animas Counties and hauled lumber throughout Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.  Others focused more on the everyday consumer.  Remember the Mason Candy Company?  They sold candies for roughly 70 years in downtown Trinidad. Or the award-winning saddle maker who received high praise throughout the West?  Do you recall the beer brewery in Trinidad?  It started due to a chance conversation in Kansas City during 1877.  Or Hausman Drug Company, which opened its doors at the corner of Main and Commercial Streets in 1905 and served the public for decades?  It was A.R.F. Industries who first brought cable television into homes of the residents of Raton, making it only the second town in America to have cable TV.  All of these companies were started by people who traveled great distances to settle in an unknown place.  They shared a common entrepreneurial spirit that began to shape the community as western expansion progressed.
Many of the black and white photographs featured in the 2016 calendar are over 100 years old and come from private collections.  These photographs were digitally enhanced using a colorization process, allowing the viewer to enjoy these old images in a new way.  Trinidad historian Cosette Henritze authored the text, and artist Emily Williamson created several fine acrylic paintings to complement the colorization process.  Both ladies will be in Trinidad to autograph calendars during the open house.  Sherron Mason Hudson, a LaVeta resident and direct descendent of the Mason Candy Company family, contributed to the 2016 calendar.  She and her husband, John Hudson, will be in Walsenburg to autograph calendars during the open house; and Roger Sanchez, calendar contributor and director of the Raton Museum, will be on hand to sign calendars at the Raton open house.
The First National Bank in Trinidad cordially invites all area residents and guests to attend the open house. “The annual event has turned into a wonderful tradition for area residents,” remarks Virginia Cusimano, Sr. Vice President and Huerfano County Branch Manager.  “People come for calendars and refreshments but often stay to reminisce with old friends or meet new ones.”  The event is planned for Thursday, December 3rd, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at all three locations: The Huerfano County Branch, 135 W. 6th Street in Walsenburg; The First National Bank in Trinidad, 100 E. Main Street in Trinidad; and The First National Loan Production Office at 1247 S. Second Street in Raton.  Come join the celebration of our “Pioneering Industries.”

Bank Calendar front page.

Bank Calendar front page.

Cosette Henritze

Cosette Henritze

Emily Williamson

Emily Williamson


Local safety nets strained by legalization of pot

By Debi Sporleder
WJ  250x55HUERFANO — There are many entities to consider when discussing the topic of pot, and this article looks at the affects experienced by the Huerfano County Department of Social Services and local churches.  
One common thread voice across the board, even outside of these two focus groups, is the definite rise in homelessness and new people walking the streets in Huerfano County.  
At the DOSS, there has been a definite rise in case load, but they have no hard data to say it is a direct result of pot legalization.  According to Sheila Hudson-Macchietto, director at the Huerfano County DOSS, the increase in case load, along with the struggle of staff turnover in the last 12 months, times have been tough.  Currently, they are fully staffed and  Hudson-Macchietto anticipates they will soon have their new people trained and be able to handle the caseloads at the current level.  “We have adequate administration funding for the current staff, however, if case loads continue to increase, we would not have sufficient funding to hire more staff to administer these programs,” Hudson-Macchietto says.  
Hudson-Macchietto explained how she relies on county, state, and federal funding for her programs.  Administration of all programs are 80% state/federal and 20% county funded.  Food Assistance and Medicaid program benefits are 100% federally funded, Temporary Aide to Needy Families is a Block Grant consisting of federal, state and county monies and Child Protection Services are 80% state and 20% county funded.  
Of the churches representatives who responded to the call out for information, each had pretty much the same response; the homelessness has definitely increased.  
Morgan Ministries has seen a slight increase in people coming in for handouts, but their offices aren’t as visible in La Veta as most churches.
Several churches reported on the homeless who are often coming in on Sunday’s, sometimes interrupting services, asking for help.  Each church says they weigh each case individually as to what, if any, help they will or can offer.  
Aggressive behaviors have also been witnessed by a couple of churches when those asking for help feel their needs haven’t been met.  Some of the homeless have responded with physical threats, and one pastor even had someone sitting on their front porch, expecting a room, when they got home.
Three Huerfano area churches who have requested anonymity, have also increased security inside their churches, one including installation of a security system.  
While all pastors had basically the same overall response to the increase in those asking for help, Debbie Reynolds of The Full Gospel Church in Walsenburg said it best: “As a church pastor, I believe that we as a community can pray and continue praying for wisdom and strength to be light houses in our community.  Matthew 5:14.  A ray of hope for the hopeless.  After all, let’s ask ourselves the question, where and what would we be without our Lord Jesus.”  Continuing, she said we need to “…not only [be] looking or thinking that we are doomed because of the changes in our laws legalizing that drug, but take the opportunity to be a witness of God’s grace to us all, remembering where much sin abounds, grace much more abounds.  Amen!”  Romans 5:20
There were two overwhelming responses from all the pastors:  1. There is a need to show Jesus in every circumstance.  Even though they may not be able to help a person monetarily at that moment, they count it a blessing when they can help someone with a legitimate need, as often as the Lord leads.  2. Discussion has been started on ways to be of help to these people, one of which is a need for a food bank in La Veta and a soup kitchen in both Walsenburg and La Veta.  
While our locals have seen a change in surroundings since the legalization of pot, there are statewide studies going on right now.  One such study is from The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) group formed to disrupt drug trafficking, has published statewide reports showing adverse affects of legalized pot in Colorado, including traffic deaths, impaired driving, youth and adult use, emergency room admissions. Go to www.rmhidta.org, and click on “Reports” in the red menu bar. 
As with everything, always check all sources; some of the conclusions drawn by this group are disputed.  According to a report in the Denver Post,  data within the RMHIDTA reports may be skewed, noting that a broad Colorado Healthy Kids Survey found that marijuana use rate among Colorado high school students appears to have decreased from 2009 to 2013.   www.denverpost.com/news/

A legend  moves on

by Colette M. Armijo
WJ  250x55RATON — On Friday, November 13, the International Bank Family bid farewell to Frances Cardenas as she embarked on her retirement. After serving for 32 years at International Bank, it’s hard to believe someone so vibrant and full of energy is moving on to the next chapter of her life.
Frances began her banking career in 1969 at First National Bank Pueblo, and moved to International Bank Raton, in 1975.  She paused her career in 1977 for 6 years to give birth to her son and daughter.  Returning to International Bank in 1983, she managed to juggle being both a home maker as well as an integral member of the bank’s team.  Holding various positions throughout her tenure, Frances said her good byes as the supervisor of bookkeeping.
Her colleagues celebrated throughout her last day with an open house at the bank so the entire community could be a part of the festivities.  After hours, she was treated to an evening at Mulligans where she joyfully shared stories of the ‘good old days’ at International Bank.  She reminisced about the days when technology was not the way it is now and the sacrifices that had to be made to get the tasks done.  Her advice to the rest of the International Bank team was to enjoy what they do and don’t take the ups and downs of the job too personally.  We wish Frances an enjoyable retirement adventure ahead!

Frances Cardenas at here retirement ceremony with co workers.

Frances Cardenas at here retirement ceremony with co workers.

Raton had role in licensing territory’s horseless carriages

by Bill Johnston
WJ  250x55RATON — Though America’s love affair with the automobile originated and grew most rapidly in the country’s major population centers, New Mexicans were far from passive onlookers.  Horseless carriages were already trickling into the Territory by the turn of the twentieth century and within a decade there were enough of them puttering around the larger towns to cause some Territorial politicos to think that they needed to be licensed and regulated.  This had already been done in other states, with New York leading the charge way back in 1901.
It wasn’t the Territorial Legislature that was the first to act in New Mexico, however.  Those top dog politicians met only once every two years, and even then for a session that lasted just a few months.  Rather, it was the city fathers in several New Mexico towns who concluded that these useful new horseless buggies should require licenses.  Over the years, there have been competing claims as to which town jumped on the bandwagon first.
An article in the December 1934 issue of New Mexico Magazine, p. 15, relates a story by Raton resident W.A. Chip Chapman that he was the holder of New Mexico’s first license plate.  Chapman’s picture, along with photos of the license plate and one of his registration certificates, accompany the story.  The tag shown is a leather plate with aluminum numerals.  The pictured registration receipt shows that the governing ordinance was No. 169, and that the license number was No. 100R.  His claim was that Raton was the first local New Mexico jurisdiction to license automobiles, that he got the first license, and therefore he had the first New Mexico license plate.  But did he?
The Raton Daily Range for February 1, 1911, reported that ordinance No. 169 requiring the licensing of automobiles and motorcycles had been passed the previous evening, i.e., January 31, and publication of the ordinance took place in the February 1 and February 2 editions of the Daily Range.  The ordinance states that it was to become effective five days after its passage and publication, which would have made it effective on February 7, 1911.
But it turns out that the city councils of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas had all enacted and put into effect motor vehicle licensing ordinances the year before, in 1910.  And all three of them required the display of license plates beginning in that year.  Moreover, the Raton ordinance is a verbatim copy of the older Albuquerque ordinance, with only the paragraph numbering and the name of the town changed.
Consequently, there were many Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Vegas municipal plates in use long before Raton even passed its ordinance.  But even though Chapman apparently bamboozled the editorial staff of New Mexico Magazine with his story, his license plate is of enormous historical importance, given that it was one of no more than about three hundred license plates issued during the Territorial era.  After the 1934 story was published, Chapman’s tag faded into obscurity, leaving one to wonder what became of it.
Eva Mae Sproule was Raton’s longest serving City Clerk, holding the office without interruption for more than four decades, from May 1958 until her retirement in March 1999.  A few months after she died in December 2011 at the age of 84, some of her effects were donated to the Raton Museum.  There, in a large envelope, was Chapman’s license plate, along with the registration card that had been pictured in the 1934 magazine article.  A photo of this recovered treasure appears with this article, and the plate itself now resides in the Raton Museum.
Shortly after New Mexico achieved statehood in 1912, the first state legislature passed an automobile licensing law which mandated all cars in the state be registered with and obtain a state license plate from the Secretary of State.  The four cities which had been licensing autos on a municipal basis were permitted to continue doing so only until March 15, 1913, bringing Raton’s plates to an end after barely two years of use.    
For several years the Chapman tag was the only territorial license plate known to survive from any city, but earlier this year another Raton municipal plate— identical to Chapmans except for the number— surfaced in a Raton antique shop.  The New Mexico Transportation History Project (NMTHP) raised the sixteen thousand dollars required to purchase the plate for its collections.  
This exceptionally rare artifact, bearing the number 109R, would have been issued in early February 1911, within days– or perhaps even hours– of Chapman’s plate.  Unlike Chapman’s, however, the registration card was not with it, and as the registration records no longer exist within the city’s records the original owner has not been identified.
Although the licensing ordinances of the other three cities tell us what their license plates looked like, not a single one of those is known to survive today.  The two Raton tags, therefore, hold their place in history as the oldest surviving New Mexico license plates.
Bill Johnston, a writer for over fifty years, is the author of the book Early New Mexico License Plates.  
Do you have a question about an old New Mexico license plate?  Contact the author via e-mail at NMhistory@totacc.com or by regular mail at NMTHP, P.O. Box 1, Organ, NM  88052-0001.

Raton plate 109R, found recently in a Raton antique shop.  As the registration card was not with it, the original owner has yet to be identified.   Bill Johnston photo.

Raton plate 109R, found recently in a Raton antique shop. As the registration card was not with it, the original owner has yet to be identified.
Bill Johnston photo.

Registration card 100R for Chapmans automobile, which was an electric car of unspecified make.  (The card seen here is from a later renewal.)  Joanna Wood Ray photo.

Registration card 100R for Chapmans automobile, which was an electric car of unspecified make. (The card seen here is from a later renewal.) Joanna Wood Ray photo.

Kudos to Kebler

by Nancy Christofferson

WJ  250x55Julian Abbot Kebler was one of the four men 
credited with establishing the mighty Colorado Fuel and Iron Company with its many subsidiaries. 
However, he might be best remembered by his work with the company’s Sociological Department.     
Unlike his longtime cohort and boss, John C. Osgood, Kebler did not have a “rags to riches” story. After completing his education in Ohio, he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and immediately found work as a surveyor. In 1879, at the age of 21, he took a job with a railroad in Chicago and transferred with that company to Iowa. Two years later he was appointed superintendent of a coal company in Missouri.
In 1881, he became acquainted with Osgood. At the time Kebler was working as superintendent of both a coal mine and its associated rail line. In 1884 he became superintendent of Osgood’s coal company and once Osgood began exploring mining potential in Colorado, Kebler went along. He then took over managing the Denver Fuel Company which managed the Sopris coal mine west of Trinidad.
Osgood, Kebler and their partners in 1886 incorporated the Colorado and Utah Railway.
In 1888, Denver Fuel was consolidated with others to form Colorado Fuel Company under the control of Osgood. Kebler was named second vice president and general manager.
In 1901, Kebler announced the creation of the Sociological Department of the CF&I. This followed a coal miner’s strike and may have been an attempt to offer the miners some relief from their labors and end their complaints. Kebler was named president, assisted by Dr. R.W. Corwin as superintendent.
Kebler took his new job seriously. As Dr. Corwin wrote, “Sociology is not a passing fancy or matter of sentiment. It is a science and a necessity.”
The first programs set up by the new department were kindergartens to educate not just small children but the families of (mostly) European miners, reading rooms, night schools for the men, and recreation.
To provide facilities for these programs, clubhouses were built in the camps. The first in Huerfano and Las Animas counties was at Starkville and called Harmony Hall, built in 1901 and opened in February ‘02. Harmony Hall had “two large rooms, one used for 
kindergarten and the other for library, reading room and recreative purposes, besides two smaller rooms, one of which is equipped as a kitchen and the other utilized as a wardrobe [closet],” according to the 
CF&I magazine of the time. “By means of a folding far superior to county operated schools. CF&I hired architects to design schools with large, functional rooms that were brightly lit with plenty of windows and electricity, easily cleaned and equipped with fire escapes. One new design for these buildings was the “Osgood School”.  This plan, adopted in 1901, was used in some of the larger camps and included a large vestibule, rooms of about 30 by 30 feet to seat 50 students each, high ceilings, two exits, partitions, plenty of ventilation, and a belfry. Both Rouse and Pictou camps had Osgood Schools.
The kindergarten program included education in domestic sciences. Rooms therefore included space and furnishings suitable for sewing, weaving, basketmaking and tatting classes, as well as for musical practice. The products of these handicraft sessions were touted by the company at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904 and several industrial expositions.
The department also published a weekly newsletter or magazine called Camp and Plant. This went to a monthly publication after a few years, but included photos of the camps’ facilities. It also sponsored the annual employee and family picnic each summer and presented Christmas candy and gifts to employee’s children each Christmas.
Kebler may have felt strongly about offering recreation and education to the company camps, but he did not have the opportunity to follow through. By 1902, he had become CF&I president when Osgood stepped down to avert financial disaster. During his first year in charge, the mines and camps at Hezron, Tabasco, Primero and Tercio were opened, and new coke ovens were built in Tabasco, Segundo and Tercio. Primero was the company’s largest mine and produced more than 400,000 tons of coal in its first five months.
Kebler was president for just two years, from August 1901 until August 1903 when he was forced to retire due to failing health. He remained on the board of directors. In his quest for recuperation, he traveled through the east for two months before returning home to his home in Denver, apparently well. However, on Nov. 20, 1903, he suffered a stroke and died at the age of 45.
In his honor the company renamed its mine at 
Tioga camp for him in 1919. The mine operated until 1953.

City council seats new members, passes budget

by Eric Mullens
WJ  250x55WALSENBURG —  The new Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night passed the $14,040,918 municipal budget for the coming year with $6,328,500 noted as pass-through  funds in the Northlands General Improvement category.
The budget was approved with two of the three newest council members, Greg Daniels and Dennis Hoyt, voting against the budget which includes increases in utility rates that will show up on consumer’s bills in February.  The 2016 budget also includes a 5.1 percent pay increase for city employees, making up in part, for a ten percent wage cut they had taken previously  
Council passed Resolutions 2015-R-29 to Adopt the 2016 Budget (5-2;  Daniels/Hoyt voting no); 2015-R-28 Approving Appropriation of Funds (5-2; Daniels/Hoyt voting no) and 2015-R-30 the resolution levying general property taxes, once again at 9.756 mills.  That item passed 7-0.  Walsenburg Administrator David Johnston said despite efforts to lower General Fund deficits, the TABOR pay back facing the city is expected to continue for at least the next four years.
The coming year’s city budget shows anticipated appropriations of $1,448,705 in the General Fund; $1,606,960 in the Gas Fund; $1,600,718 in the Water Fund; $1,103,582 in the Sewer Fund and $1,012,500 in the Street Improvement Fund. Council member Craig Lessar was selected by unanimous vote to continue as Mayor Pro Tem. Lessar has voiced concerns that realignment and improvement of Pennsylvania Avenue must be a priority in the 2016 street improvement fund.
Other fund appropriations for 2016 include $4,500 Fire Pension Fund; $15,020 Conservation Trust Fund; $370,200 Capital Improvement Funds; $426,933 Internal Services Fund; $116,790 Water Park Fund, and $6,510 Downtown Development Fund.
The final piece of business conducted by the ‘old’ city council prior to new members and officials being swore in was approval of an extension of MinitMart’s (former Acorn) temporary beer license through January 17, 2016. That item, and the usually routine approval of finance reports and disbursements were the last 9-0 votes to be recorded by the city council as new council reflects three city wards, instead of four.  “This is the smallest city council Walsenburg has had in 125 years,” Johnston said.
It was a council session that saw three members ending their council careers, Silvana Lind, Don Lewis and Rick Jennings, although later in the meeting, Jennings would continue his public service career being appointed a member of the Walsenburg Historic Preservation Board.  Patricia Burgess was also appointed unanimously by the city council to that board.
Huerfano County Judge Gary Stork administered the oath of office to Mayor Jim Eccher, Treasurer James Moore, City Clerk Wanda Britt and council members Greg Daniels Ward I; Dennis Hoyt Ward II and John Salazar II Ward III.
The newly seated seven member council put off two decisions in their inaugural session, deciding to choose a newspaper of record at their next meeting and deciding to interview the Municipal Judge candidates before making that two year appointment.
A question concerning the parameters of the newspaper of record bid request has been raised by World Journal publishers Gretchen and Brian Orr and council members decided to study the issue further before selecting a newspaper to publish Walsenburg legals.  This item was discussed at length during the Tuesday evening meeting.
Council members also chose to interview those who submitted letters of interest in the position of Municipal Judge.  Those candidates include the current Walsenburg Municipal Judge Cathy Mullens of La Veta, and attorneys Patrick Avalos, Daniel Kender and Carla Sikes, all of Pueblo and non-attorney Joel Shults of Walsenburg.
Council approved, on first reading, Ordinance 1081 that will allow used car sales by a person holding a current, valid Colorado motor vehicle dealer’s license in C-1 and C-2 commercial districts. 
Council also approved Resolution 2015-R-31 designating the main entrance to City Hall, the bulletin boards at the county clerk and recorder’s office and the library as designated locations for posting of city related meetings, public hearings and ordinances.

New Walsenburg city council, from left to right: Dennis Hoyt, John Salazar II, City Clerk Wanda Britt, Judge Gary Stork, who swore the new council in, Greg Daniels, Mayor James Eccher, and Treasurer James Moore. In the background are Charles Montoya, Craig Lessar and Clint Boehler.  Photo by Eric Mullens

New Walsenburg city council, from left to right: Dennis Hoyt, John Salazar II, City Clerk Wanda Britt, Judge Gary Stork, who swore the new council in, Greg Daniels, Mayor James Eccher, and Treasurer James Moore. In the background are Charles Montoya, Craig Lessar and Clint Boehler. Photo by Eric Mullens

Walsenburg’s 2016 budget reflects water, sewer, and gas rate increases New rates in February 2016 bills

by Eric Mullens
WJ  250x55WALSENBURG —  Walsenburg City Administrator David Johnston presented his annual budget message to city council Tuesday night, and while city department heads didn’t get everything they wanted, local rate payers are expected to get something they didn’t want; increased utility costs.
The city will face financial challenges in the coming year.  Johnston said preliminary work continues to identify the scope of necessary work needed to repair the five city dams, the raw water line, and the water storage tank on East Spruce St. as required by the state.
Revenue projections for the year 2016 include a modest increase designed only to offset increased operational costs, Johnston said in the budget letter.  “Natural gas department rates in the 2016 budget have been increased ten percent,” he said.  Johnston said this increase had been planned for this year, but was delayed.  “Water and sewer rates are projected to increase by five percent in each department due to increased maintenance and repair costs,” he said. 
Johnston said the new budget includes a 5.1 percent across-the-board wage increase for all city employees. 
“City administration has undertaken to provide all necessary services in as cost-efficient a manner as possible,” Johnston said in the budget overview.  “For the first time since 2009, the 2016 budget anticipates the hiring of additional personnel in the police and gas departments.  Due to budgetary revenue restraints, the city continues to be unable to perform services at the same levels provided in recent years,” he said.
Johnston told the city council the budget has been under construction for several months and the document presented Tuesday night was the fourth revision from the initial 2016 budget.  “It has been among the goals of the city administration to restore city services to levels expected by the city’s residents; operate the city’s General Fund at a surplus- not a deficit; return the city to a position of prosperity, strength and resilience; plan, maintain and achieve expansion of the city’s infrastructure; build and maintain trust and cooperation among the city council, city administration and the citizens they collectively serve, and, adequately provide for the employees of the city,” Johnston said.
Johnston said the coming year promises to be one of growth for Walsenburg with bid packages and bid requirements being assembled for the Northlands project.  “If all goes well,” Johnston wrote, “the sewer project should be completed early in the third quarter of 2016, if not before.”  He said the long-awaited project should open over 550 acres of the city to commercial and residential development.
 Johnston said the Love’s Travel Center, to be built at the south entrance to the community off of I-25, will be under construction in April and should open for business in the fourth quarter of the coming year.  Addressing the Martra Holdings purchase of land on the City Ranch,  Johnston said the company hopes to have infrastructure for its 98 greenhouses under construction sometime within the first three months of 2016.  “Each of these projects should bring new employees and families to the Walsenburg area, and in turn, should create the need for other supporting businesses along the city’s main thoroughfares,” Johnston said in the Nov. 17th dated budget message.
Also in the budget message, the administrator said while the city has made good headway in its efforts to recover from the effects of the recent recession and poor economy, the community still is suffering from a declining population.
“The General Fund does not yet enjoy a positive fund balance but is reducing the deficit each year,” Johnston reported.  He said assessed valuations in the city show a marginal increase and sales tax collections within the city limits are also trending upward.

Local outfitter arrested, charged on 21 counts Outfitter alleged to have charged hunters $3,000 each for hunt  

by Bill Knowles
WJ  250x55TRINIDAD — A lengthy investigation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife law enforcement officials has resulted in the arrest of outfitter James Hirschboeck, 53, of Trinidad. 
Hirschboeck has been charged with 13 counts of providing unregistered outfitting services for big game wildlife, two counts of providing an illegal hunt for big game wildlife for profit, one count of menacing with a deadly weapon, four counts of hunting on private property without permission, and one count of unlawfully taking and possessing a 5×6 bull elk. 
Assistance in the investigation was provided by the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  CPW officers arrested Hirschboeck at his home on October 30.
According to investigators, Hirschboeck was not registered with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.  DORA is the state agency that licenses and regulates outfitting services.  He allegedly charged hunters nearly $3,000 each for outfitted hunt.
Local wildlife officers received numerous complaints from more than 15 out-of-state hunters and four Las Animas County landowners in 2014 and earlier this year regarding Hirschboeck and his company, Colorado Elk Adventures.  CPW officially opened its investigation in February this year.  During the 2015 second rifle season, CPW investigators went undercover and booked outfitted hunts with Hirschboeck’s company. 
On Oct. 17, the investigators met Hirschboeck in the local Wal-Mart parking lot in Trinidad, and followed him to his lodge where there were 12 other hunters who had also paid Hirschboeck for guided hunts.  Upon arrival, the investigators observed that Hirschboeck’s property was strewn with alfalfa hay; a practice typically used for baiting deer and elk. 
The investigators spent three days under the guise of hunting while documenting evidence, and speaking with the guides and other hunters.
“It was obvious that many of the hunters were not happy with the services Hirschboeck provided as they were not as described in advertisements or conversations with Mr. Hirschboeck,” said Bob Holder, CPW lead investigator for the arrest.  “These sportsmen and women complained to me or took other avenues to vent their frustrations.  Those other options included contact with legal counsel.  At least ten hunters left early and only two received refunds on their hunts, to my knowledge.”
Investigators also witnessed Hirschboeck threaten a third hunter with two hammers and a mace after he had confronted Hirschboeck about illegally hunting on private land and asked for a refund.  The investigators also received first-hand accounts of how a bull elk was killed by one of the hunters on private property, then dragged to the area Hirschboeck had leased.   
The investigators finished their undercover work on October 20.  Search and arrest warrants were issued and CPW, USFWS and the sheriff’s office made the arrest.  Hirschboeck is facing thousands of dollars in fines and possible jail time according to a CPW press release.
“The vast majority of hunters and legal outfitters are excellent stewards of our state’s natural resources,” Holder said.  “Cases like these rob every one of those resources, and CPW will not tolerate anyone who takes advantage of our hunters and fishermen, or those who disrespect our wildlife.”