by Sherry Goodyear
SPRINGER — If asked, most residents of Springer would’ve said that it is a safe, quiet place to live, but that perception was shattered in the wee morning hours of Friday, January 15, 2016. The Springer Market, located on Maxwell Avenue, was receiving its tri-weekly bread delivery when the truck driver realized the glass in the windows of the two front doors were broken out, and all the plate glass windows along the front of the building had holes in them. Suspecting gunfire to be the source of the broken windows, the driver immediately called 911.
Officer Jessica Medina was the lone officer on duty when the call came in, so she asked Municipal Judge Lance Lacey to accompany her to the store. Store owners, Bud and Cindy Valentine were also called, and the investigation into what exactly had happened began.
The front doors of the grocery store were shattered. According to Mr. Valentine, they found glass all over the sidewalk in front of the store, but it was also tracked around the store, into the alley, and for many blocks away. Evidently when the perpetrators crawled through those windows, broken bits of glass clung to their clothes, and dropped like breadcrumbs as they made their getaway. Broken glass wasn’t all the thieves left in their wake. Several packages of stolen meat were also dropped: one behind the grocery store, one behind the Valentine’s house a couple of blocks away, and one in the alley behind the police station — a Hansel and Gretel trail down Colbert Street.
It wasn’t until the sun came up on the day of the crime that the store owners began to realize just how much damage had been done, because the meat thieves hadn’t contained their destruction to gaining access to the food they wanted to steal — they also went on a vandalistic rampage, breaking all the windows in the Springer Market, and then breaking windows in Potter’s Beauty and Antique Shop next door, and in Two Feather’s Restaurant on the corner, as well as across the street in the Brown Hotel, where windows in the top story had been broken out. In addition, it took awhile for investigators to realize it wasn’t a gun that had done the damage, but rather hammers, one of which was found in a nearby dumpster. Roy Ackerman, who owns the vacant Brown Hotel, discovered the vandals had broken out a window in the back of the hotel. Once the vandals gained access, they went through the hotel, ripping a sink fixture off the wall and breaking various light fixtures before smashing several windows out in the second story of the building.
“If I could use one word to describe all of this,” Mr. Valentine said, “It would be ‘senseless’”. His wife refused to comment because she is so disturbed by the devastation. So far just how much money it is going to cost to replace the windows in the four buildings the vandals struck remains to be seen, but the low estimate is somewhere in the $20-25K range. “If it was just an issue of them being hungry,” Valentine continued, “All they had to do was ask me for some meat, and I would have given it to them. I have done that before. Why did they have to destroy everything?”
To help deal with the aftermath of the destruction, Rodney Hood and his crew from H and H Meat Packing Plant west of town came as soon as they received word of the vandalism, and brought sheets of wafer board and covered up all the broken windows until they can be replaced. Valentine said it was a great help because he thought he would have to make a trip to Raton to buy supplies, but here came Hood with the items necessary to cover up the damage.
In a time when small towns like Springer are economically struggling, it is anybody’s guess just what these vandals/ thieves were thinking on that cold January night. Stealing meat is one thing, as is breaking one window to gain access to that meat, but the idea of these perpetrators going on a hammer welding rampage just for the heck of it makes those who try their hand at running a business shudder at the disrespect and inability to understand just what business owners go through to make their often struggling businesses succeed. The sheer monetary damage they caused is bad enough, but with boarded up store fronts, the owners of these businesses are reeling at how quickly Springer’s pleasant main street façade was given the appearance of a war zone. So far those responsible for single-handedly destroying the face of Springer’s Main Street are still at large.
Archive for: January 2016
by Sherry Goodyear
by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — The Las Animas County Commissioners, after meeting with the county’s attorney, decided they will pay sheriff’s deputies and detention officers for the second half of December. The decision will also pay for overtime through the 15th of December, including the Thanksgiving holiday.
The total payout to the sheriff’s budget from the county’s contingency fund will amount to $53,000 after billings for payroll and overtime from the sheriff’s office have been received by the county’s treasurer. This follows an approval by the county commission to transfer $12,300 from the commissioners’ budget to the sheriff’s budget during a special meeting on Dec. 29, 2015.
However the issue took a quick turn when the sheriff’s office released a statement to the press indicating a possible legal challenge to the action. County commissioners, during questioning at the Jan. 19, 2016, regular meeting, stated that as overtime for the December 2015 pay period was filed with the federal government’s Wage and Labor Board, a possible investigation of the matter could arise. “We have to pay for the overtime and wages,” Commission Chair Mack Louden said.
The commission found around $53,000 in a contingency fund within the general fund from the 2015 budget and set that aside to cover the last pay-period for December 2015. The commissioners took the responsibility to cover some of the overspending out of funds that will have to be paid back by the county.
A press release from the sheriff’s department, written with the assistance of the Colorado State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Southern Colorado Fraternal Order of Police; Lodge 51, also threatened a lawsuit. It referenced the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office Budget Issues and was dated Jan. 3, 2015 (the date should have been Jan. 3, 2016).
In the document, the sheriff’s office disputes the $53,000 total in overtime expenditures the county alleges, stating that the real number is closer to $7,000 for 2015. The county commission has claimed that the sheriff’s office is eight percent over budget for overtime in 2015. It also states the resolution passed on Dec. 29, 2015, stopping both compensatory pay and overtime pay, was illegal.
The resolution however stopped wages for Dec. 16 through Dec. 31, 2015, including holiday pay, not for the entire month of December, as the press release alleges.
Money and Politics
The reversal by the county commission however, will allow the sheriff’s staff and deputies to be paid for the Thanksgiving holiday as well. Christmas and New Year holiday pay and overtime pay will also be covered as the sheriff’s office remits vouchers to the county. Even with this help, the sheriff’s office will still be about $100,000 to $150,000 short for 2015.
The county will close out the books on the 2015 budget by the end of January 2016 or February 2016, after all the accounts payable billings have been processed.
As for a political agenda being worked to impede the run by Sheriff James Casias for Colorado Senate District 35, county administrator Leeann Fabec told the World Journal that’s not what’s happening. “A year ago, in December 2014, we sent him a memo for the first time saying ‘this budget year (2015) is tight. Your allocation is $1.7 million, you cannot overspend your budget. If you overspend your budget the county cannot, by law, backfill you. This was before he even announced he was running for anything. This has nothing to do with him running for office.”
In July 2015, the county sent the sheriff another letter alerting him that he was already running over budget for the first six months of the year. “He was notified that he had to start cutting his expenditures and should institute cost cutting procedures,” said Fabec. He never took the steps asked for by the county to contain his expenditures.
He was also made aware that overspending his budget is in violation of Colorado budget law which states in §29-1-110 that… ‘no officer, employee, or other spending agency shall expend any money or incur any liability, or enter into any contract which, by its terms, involves the expenditures of money in excess of the amount appropriated.’ The sheriff said he would take care of the situation.
The stresses on the county budget will only increase through 2016 with 2017 becoming worse as property valuations continue to fall. Already the county has seen a decrease in its mill levy from 9.357 percent in 2015 to 8.71 percent for 2016. The 2016 valuations are what set the amounts collected by the county for the 2017 budget.
As funds from the contingency are used to cover the over expenditures from the sheriff’s office, the county will have to approve their use by taking action and voting on them.
“Here’s what the county did by using the contingency fund,” county attorney Dixie Newnam said. “If you had a brother that took out a loan and was unable to pay it back and he asked you to help, your choices would be to either give him the money to pay off the loan or you could step up and pay the loan for him. That’s what the commissioners did. They took the responsibility to pay the wages and overtime for the sheriff’s office.”
by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — The Las Animas County Board of County Commissioners began filling slots on various committees and quasi-governmental agencies during the Jan. 19, 2016 regular meeting.
Commission Chair Mack Louden was chosen on a 3-0 vote to continue sitting on the executive board for the Southern Colorado Council of Governments, a position he’s held for five years. Commissioner Gary Hill will also return as the primary representative from Las Animas County to the Board of Directors of the Otero Partners, Inc. (OPI), for 2016.
The OPI is the managing entity for the economic development of both Otero and Las Animas counties. They manage both a business loan fund and a revolving loan fund. Leeann Fabec, the Las Animas County Administrator, was chosen as the alternative. Daniel Berg represents Otero County.
Kristee Coberly, the Las Animas County Treasurer was chosen to represent the county on the OPI Loan Review Committee with Commissioner Anthony Abeyta filling in as the alternate. It was noted by Abeyta that Las Animas County had no loans out with OPI. Part of qualifying for a loan with the partners is a refusal by a bank to grant a loan. The regional loan fund has seen a decrease in requests for loans to establish new businesses in the two county area.
Abeyta, on a 3-0 vote was also appointed to represent Las Animas County on the Third judicial District Community Corrections Board. The board was established by Third District Judge, Claude Appel. The board works with inmates coming out of corrections to parole, helping them to locate housing, work, and education.
Abeyta was also chosen as the proxy from Las Animas County to work with the Sunflower Valley Pipeline Association. The association is a mutual ditch, irrigation, telephone, electric company or like organization located in Trinidad, Colorado.
Kim Chavez was appointed on a 3-0 vote by the commission to sit as a member of the Southern Colorado Regional EMS and Trauma Advisory Council (SCRETAC). The council develops and supports a regional EMS and Trauma care system to improve the health and safety of residents and visitors within the region.
The commissioners also voted 3-0 to award the contract for the renovation of the Department of Human Services at Fort Wooton to Maxwell Builders. For the county it has been a lot of work, because of the historical implications of the building that is to be renovated. “I am excited to have reached this part, the approval of the contract,” noted Fabec.
Road and Bridge Supervisor, Phil Dorenkamp, delivered the road inventory report to the commission. The report was approved with a 3-0 vote and will now be submitted to the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Highway User’s Tax Fund (HUTF). There are a lot of highway miles in Las Animas County according to Dorenkamp. “We have 3,235 lane miles in the county. That would stretch across the country from California to New York with some left over.”
by Brian Orr
WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg City Council moved forward in their quest to find a new city administrator, stated interim administrator Lew Quigley. Ads are being placed, with the hope that the council will be able to interview candidates in February, and having someone start in the position by April 1. No foolin’.
Quigley mentioned he has had people call for more information, but to date, no one has applied.
LiveWell Administrator Cindy Campbell told the council about a meeting LiveWell and CDOT are holding at the Huerfano County Community Center to get community input on a million-dollar grant to build bike lanes and safer crosswalks throughout Walsenburg. The meeting was held Wednesday night, after presstime.
Planning and Zoning member David Roesch told the council the Tiny Homes neighborhood project, set to build in the football field behind the Spanish Peaks library, is still on track to break ground in the spring, with a future problem being a planned six-foot wide drainage pipe needing to be sized down into the city’s three-foot wide drainage pipe. Problems with the size reduction would be rare, but with a massive storm, it could lead to flooding issues downhill.
Council members ended the meeting with general grousing about trains in the Walsenburg area, with their new habit of stopping, then backing up, then stopping again, then slowly going forward. It was mentioned that the tracks in town are literally coming apart, and the railroad ties are rotting away, forcing the trains to slow down to 10 miles an hour.
The tracks are managed by Union Pacific,which have not returned the city’s calls about what is going on.
by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — The Trinidad City Council moved through the agenda quickly, finishing business in just over an hour during their regular meeting Jan. 19, 2015.
A contract with Blue Diamond Builders for roof repair at the Rice Building, the new home for the Trinidad Police Department, in the amount of nearly $44,000 was approved with a 7-0 vote.
The city approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Main Street giving it a budget cap of $25,000. And an Inter-Governmental Agreement between CDoT and the city was approved for work on the Sopris Trail. Funding for the project is a $565 thousand grant the city matched with $135 thousand
Deborah Bernhardt was appointed to the Arts and Culture Advisory Commission. Howard Lackey was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and Martha Fitzgerald was appointed to the Tree Board.
by Kara Burton
SPRINGER — The Springer Lady Devils basketball team has had two busy weeks of competition.
In the first round of three day tournament play at the Evangel Christian Academy Tournament in Albuquerque, they faced Mesilla Valley Christian School, and out scored the Sonblazers in three of four quarters to win the game with a score of 60-34.
The Lady Devils kept the momentum rolling in the semifinal game against the tournament host team, Evangel Christian Academy, winning 91-44, with good teamwork proving to be the winning factor as four of the Devils scored in the double digits.
The win put them into the tournament championship against the Espanola JV Sundevils. An intense four quarters led to overtime where the Lady Devils ended up losing with at least three of their starting five fouling out.
Back at home in Springer, the Lady Devils played the Questa Lady Wildcats in a challenging game with an enormous amount of fouls and injuries. The Lady Devils came out on the losing side and were unable to take the coveted Cowbell from the Wildcats.
To end the week, the Lady Devils traveled to 1A Grady where the teams were closely matched and played an exciting game. The Lady Devils came out slow in the third quarter, outscored 18-10. The Devils fought hard to narrow the margin and win the game, but just did not have enough time, losing 58-45.
Although the Lady Devils lost both of their games this past week, they are working to improve their game and are looking forward to their next opportunity to come out on the winning side of a game.
Patrick McClure Cherry, age 47, of Anchorage, Alaska passed away in Clayton, New Mexico on January 26, 2016.
Cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held in Alaska at a later date. Cremation arrangements were under the direction of Hass Funeral Directors of Clayton.
Patrick McClure “Mac” Cherry was born on July 5, 1968 in Socorro, New Mexico.
He worked for the State of Alaska in Anchorage, and was an avid sports fan, golfer and fisherman.
Mac suffered from leukemia, and came to Clayton for the last days of his life to live with family.
Mac was the son of Mae Cherry of Clayton, and the brother of Kimila Cherry of Anchorage, Alaska and Alexander Cherry III of Anchorage, Alaska. Patrick’s father, Alexander Cherry, Jr. passed away in 2006. He is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
By Marty Mayfield
The JV Lady Tigers and JV Tigers had a tough go as the Lions from Santa Rosa dominated the court Thursday evening, January 28th as Raton began district play this week.
The boys played their game at the Russell Marcy Academy while the girls were in Tiger Gym. The boys kept it close for a quarter before the Lions turned up the heat and in the third quarter ran off with the game scoring 26 points in the quarter.
The girls also struggled as turnovers and missed opportunities turned into points for the Lady Lions. The second half of the game Raton was held to only eight points while Santa Rosa knocked in 24 for the win.
Santa Rosa 17 15 11 13 58
Raton 12 9 3 5 29
Santa Rosa 14 12 26 15 67
Raton 7 7 9 13 36
During the girl’s varsity game the Lady Lions played a tight defense that held Raton to single digits scoring in the first half of the game. When Raton managed to get the ball down the court, turnovers or missed shots resulted in the Lady Lions taking it back down court for points. The second quarter was the toughest for Raton as they were held to only four points while Santa Rose dropped in 20.
The Lady Tigers did better at the line posting a 9 of 16 shots while Santa Rosa could only muster 7 of 19 attempts on the night. The Lady Lions held Raton scoring to a minimum as none of the girls managed to score more than seven points in the game. The second half of play was a closer scoring game as Raton stepped up the defense and held Santa Rosa to only 10 points in the third and 14 in the fourth. Despite the much better play in the second half the second quarter deficit was to much to overcome for Raton and when the final buzzer sounded it was a win for the Lady Lions.
Santa Rosa 13 20 10 14 57
Raton 8 4 11 10 33
Santa Rosa High Point
Sharmaine Benally 19 3 of 5 free throws
Free Throws 7 of 19 attempots
Raton High Point
Andie Ortega 7
Free Throws 9 of 16 attempts
The Raton varsity boys started the game out better than any of the other teams, but it wasn’t long into the first quarter before Santa Rosa put on the press and started to pull away. By the end of the first quarter the Lions had taken a 15 point lead. The Santa Rosa press forced Raton to turnover the ball often and when Raton did get down the court the Lions out rebounded the Tigers missed shots. By the end of the first half it was a 52-24 game.
Second half action for Raton was a turnaround game as they came out and started finding the basket and working the ball inside. Raton broke the lion press and managed to put in 18 points with nine of those coming from Jason Parker who popped in three 3-pointers before the Santa Rosa defense could figure out a way to slow him down.
The Tigers continued their scoring ways into the fourth and the defense began to work as they outscored the Lions 13 to 7. But once again that first half was more than the Tigers could come back from with the final buzzer sounding a 74-55 win for the Lions.
Santa Rosa 25 27 15 7 74
Raton 10 14 18 13 55
Santa Rosa High Point
Christian Chavez 23 5 3-pointers
Javante Chavez 20 4 of 4 free throws
Free Throws 10 of 14 attempts
Raton High Point
Jonathan Cabrieles 18 1 of 6 free throws
Jason Parker 13 3 3-pointers
Jesse Espinoza 12 1 of 5 free throws
Free throws 4 of 17 attempts
Jim E. Johnson, “J.J.” passed away unexpectedly on January 17, 2016 at the age of 73.
He was preceded in death by loving wife, C.J. Johnson.
Survivors include son D.J. Johnson, sister Helen, brother James and several friends.
Memorial Services will be held Friday, January 29, 2016 at 5 pm at the Comi Chapel with Pastor Cary Nelson officiating.
Inurnment at a later date.
Arrangements made under the direction of the Comi Funeral Home.