WALSENBURG — Colorado is suffering from a shortage of teachers. All 178 school districts are affected. Classes are canceled, schedules changed, class sizes increased, and curriculums altered due to the lack of staff. Huerfano RE-1 has been short staffed this year, and has made do with alternative licensed teachers, substitutes and changes in a number of classes.
Why is this? Colleges are turning out fewer teachers than ever before. People are leaving the profession, and the standard answer is time and money. People can’t afford it. For many, the varied and often conflicting regulations require more time spent filling out paperwork than teaching. Unpaid overtime has become a standard that can’t be maintained. Teachers report they are in the school by 6am and don’t leave until 8 pm. Others take work home and are often up until midnight. By the time the hours worked are factored, their salaries represent a wage at or below minimum wage. On top of that, the joy of teaching is spoiled, for many, by the constant testing and directives from the state.
Rural districts are hurting more than urban districts. The public perception is the two types of districts are treated the same in that both get funding from the state based on student counts. The reality is very different.
What are the facts? First off, 148 of the 178 school districts are rural, yet represent 20% of the student population. One hundred and ten are considered Small Rural; fewer than 1000 students. Fourteen have less than 100 students, 38 have less than 250 students, and 85 have less than 500 students. Sixty districts are either a K-12 site, or in one building. Thirty eight districts operate with a single administrator.
How does this affect education? It has made it more difficult. Doing more with less has become an art form. The state has repeatedly cut budgets. Remember the negative factor? It hurts rural school districts as they stretch their already tight resources in the struggle to serve students. Rural schools have increased poverty rates, higher special education rates, lower than average salaries, higher turnover rates, and teacher shortages. The isolation many rural districts face is another factor. While it may be cheap to live outside the Denver metro area, it also means people travel upwards of 90 miles to shop, or find entertainment. Districts need to provide bus transportation as there is no public transport. Buildings are older, and upkeep can drain a budget with just one damaged boiler or leaking roof.
Against all odds, rural schools can be gems of education. Graduation rates average 83 percent. Schools know their students as individuals and parental involvement is high. Most districts provide post-secondary enrollment.
Next time someone complains about a school or district, remember that rural schools are the MacGyvers of education. Dropped into the back of beyond, they pull out their nub of a pencil and scrap of toast to give rural students the best education money has not yet paid for.
Archive for: January 2016
by Dorothy J. Best
RATON — I know, I know, I know – the last thing you want to read this week is a column on New Year’s Resolutions. Is this modern form of facing the replacement of last year’s calendar still valid? Must we spend the first two weeks of 2016 attempting to lose weight and get more exercise while learning to play the bassoon? Full disclosure here, I spent my pajama clad weekend television binging on recorded Christmas show specials that felt too syrupy to watch before the grand holiday. I will be the last person to judge anyone who does not stick to those pesky resolutions.
Now that post-holiday reality is almost here, I find myself preparing for a large project that requires writing a grant. “What have I gotten myself into?” I sigh. It’s called The Big Read, a program structured by the National Endowment for the Arts, and it’s about reading, books, good books, as a community. Yet with my Nook in one hand and my iPad in the other, my cursory review of the reading list leaves me somber. Don’t get me wrong, the books are great! Some classics, some contemporary, excellent writers, and thought-provoking subjects.
What gives me pause? The theme of many of these books is tolerance. Normally, there’s a scattering of ten or so Christmas cards for our home. This year, there were only two, those annual letters about what life has offered the families of the senders in the last year. Each concluded their missives with a hope that the world will be more peaceful in 2016. I will not launch into my own rant about what we might all do to make peace a possibility, although I will say that tolerance is a start.
Consider reading a book as your New Year’s Resolution. There are thirty-four titles on The Big Read book list, here are a few that speak of tolerance: ‘In the Time of Butterflies,’ by Julia Alvarez; ‘A Lesson Before Dying,’ by Ernest J. Gaines; ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ by Harper Lee; ‘When the Emperor was Divine,’ by Julie Otsuka; and, ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ by Mark Twain. Not all scary, are they? Some of these messages of tolerance are subtle and still entertaining.
Full disclosure again, I have not read all of these books; a few I have not read in decades. The Big Read only requires one to be read by an entire community. I challenge myself, call it a resolution if you want, to read something different this year and reread some books long since cobwebbed in my memory. To binge read and remember what tolerance looks like in the hands of master storytellers.
Jury trial set for May 2016
by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Following a two-hour preliminary hearing that saw three witnesses testify, Russell Bellah of Walsenburg was bound over for trial on a number of felony charges including attempt to commit first degree murder of two police officers.
The preliminary hearing was held Wednesday, December 23 before Third Judicial District Judge Claude Appel. District Attorney Frank Ruybalid appeared for the state and Bellah was represented by state public defender Patrick McCarville.
Walsenburg Police Chief Tommie McLallen, WPD Captain Vince Suarez and Huerfano County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Ray Walsh were called to testify by the prosecution.
McLallen and Suarez were questioned about the day of the incident, July 22, and their response to a disturbance call in the 500 block of W 11th Street. Both officers testified they responded to the area and met with the victim, Rose Marie Bellah, the victim’s 73-year old mother, in her car a short distance from her home. They testified they followed her car into the driveway and both officers said they heard a “pop”. Both testified they saw the defendant on the porch of the home holding a long gun, that turned out to be a .22 rifle. When the pump action firearm was later taken into evidence, it still had one fired shell casing in the chamber.
The city officers testified to struggling with, and using their tasers on the defendant before they were able to take him into custody. McLallen testified the victim told him she and her son had been in a verbal argument that turned physical. McLallen said the victim told him her son pushed her against a vehicle at the residence several times, threw a flowerpot at her that crashed into the side of the vehicle, and struck her seven or eight times with an open hand.
The officers testified the defendant was holding the rifle in their general direction and at one time held it vertically, resting it on his shoulder pointing skyward until he eventually leaned it against the doorframe of the house.
Defense cross examination brought out the fact neither officer saw the defendant shoot at them and that no spent bullet was ever recovered from the scene.
HCSO Cpl. Walsh was called to testify regarding an alleged death threat the defendant made against McLallen and Suarez while he was at a hospital appointment at SPRHC on December 3, 2015. Walsh testified Bellah said he was angry at McLallen and Suarez because they had beat him in front of his family and he was going to contact someone in the Sinaloa drug cartel to take care of both officers and their families. Revelation of the alleged threat caused the preliminary hearing to be rescheduled from December 14 until the 23rd.
The court found probable cause to bind the defendant over for trial on the felony charges; two counts of attempt to commit first degree murder; two counts of attempt to commit first degree assault (both class 2 felonies); two counts of second degree assault (class 4 felonies); possession of a weapon by a previous offender (class 5 felony) and third degree assault of an at-risk victim (class 6 felony). Bellah faces 15 total charges including misdemeanors.
McCarville waived formal arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty to all charges on behalf of his client.
A motions hearing in the case was set for 1:30 pm March 31, 2016; a status conference for 8:30 am May 9, 2016 and a five-day jury trial was set to begin with jury selection at 8:30 am May, 23, 2016.
Bellah was remanded to the custody of the county jail where he is being held in lieu of a $100,000 c/s bond
WALSENBURG— On Thursday, morning, December 24, Walsenburg police were paged out to check on a man slumped over the steering wheel in a black pickup at the corner of Kansas Ave and Tyler St.
When officers attermpted to contact the man, he woke up and took off, quickly losing his pursuers.
Within minutes, reports started coming in of a black pickup heading north on I-25 at a high rate of speed. The pursuit reached the city of Pueblo, where the truck struck a police car that was blocking an offramp, bouncing him back on to the highway, where he continued to speed northwards, causing several minor car crashes around him. No serious injuries were reported. Northbound I-25 near central Ave. was reduced to one lane for a short time.
The driver, who had a female passenger with him, were eventually stopped just north of the Indiana exit, by police.
The two occupants were arrested, but their identities have not been released. The man was wanted for warrants in Pueblo County, but it was unclear what for.
Abie Montoya, age 72, died Friday, January 1, 2016 at his home in Clayton, New Mexico.
Rosary will be recited at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 by Deacon P. Louis Montoya and Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Clayton with Fr. Joel Bugas as Celebrant. Burial will follow in the Clayton Memorial Cemetery by Hass Funeral Directors of Clayton.
Abie Montoya was born on March 19, 1943 in Clayton, New Mexico to Abran “Abie” Montoya and Pauline Sintas Montoya. Abie served in the Army National Guard during the Vietnam War. He married Lupe (Ulibarri) Montoya in Clayton, New Mexico in 1965. Abie worked for the Public Service Company and later for the Town of Clayton at the power plant. He was a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Abie was preceded in death by his parents, by a sister; Theresa Montoya and a nephew Richard Garcia.
HIS WIFE: Lupe Montoya of Clayton, New Mexico.
1 DAUGHTER: Penny Montoya and Frankie Archuleta of Amarillo, Texas.
2 SONS: Phillip Montoya and his wife Anna of Bernalillo, New Mexico and Mark Montoya and Judy Copley of Clayton, New Mexico.
4 GRANDCHILDREN: Phanael Montoya of Bernalillo, New Mexico and Jeffry Montoya, Aaron Archuleta and Justin Montoya all of Amarillo, Texas.
5 BROTHERS: Leroy Montoya and his wife Katie, Tommy Montoya and his wife Luciene and Robert Montoya and his wife Joy all of Clayton, New Mexico, Frankie Montoya and his wife Connie of Amarillo, Texas and Paul Montoya of La Junta, Colorado.
6 SISTERS: Jo Jo Talley of Clayton, New Mexico, Vera Garcia and her husband Steven, Christine Godinez and her husband Mark, Florine Mestas and her husband Charles and Rosella Padilla and her husband Jake all of Amarillo, Texas and Rosie Miller and her husband Joe of San Antonio, Texas.
And numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Demetrio Padilla, age 46, died on Thursday, December 31, 2015 in Clayton, New Mexico.
Funeral Services will be held at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, January 5, 2016, at the Trinity Fellowship Church in Clayton, New Mexico with Terrell Jones, pastor officiating. Burial will follow in the Clayton Memorial Cemetery by Hass Funeral Directors of Clayton, New Mexico.
Demetrio Padilla was born on March 31, 1969 in Clayton, New Mexico to Herman Padilla and Lucy (Cruz) Padilla. A lifelong resident of Clayton, Demetrio graduated from Clayton High School in 1987 and attended the Luna Vo Tech School in Springer where he studied welding. His favorite hobbies were hunting, fishing and painting cars. He was preceded in death by his dad in 1991.
HIS MOTHER: Lucy Padilla of Clayton, New Mexico.
1 SISTER: Rachel Padilla of Clayton, New Mexico.
1 NEPHEW: Joshua Padilla of Clayton, New Mexico.
HIS GIRLFRIEND: Jennifer Summers of Clayton, New Mexico and her Children; Jonathan Summers & Kristen Holland and grandchildren; Isaiah Reed, Isabella Reed, Israel Reed and Sebastian Reed.
AUNTS & UNCLES: Margaret Vigil and her husband Higinio, Robert Cruz and Alfonso Cruz and his wife JoAnne all of Clayton, New Mexico, Mary Lopez and her husband Joe and Joseph Cruz all of Guymon, Oklahoma, Frank Padilla of Texas, Joe Padilla and his wife Lisa of Eagle Grove, Iowa, Johnny Padilla of Colorado Springs, Colorado and Tony Padilla and his wife Effie of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Numerous Cousins, Including: Sylvia Johnson and her husband Stephen and their children Loraina Vigil and Jeremy Vigil all of Rye, Colorado, Daniel Vigil, Jesse Cruz and Tyler Cruz all of Clayton, New Mexico.
January 04, 2016
Sean Ridolfi: (22) Magistrate Bench Warrant failure to appear on charge of resisting/evading or obstructing an office.
Alonso Chavez: (18) Arrest Warrant absconded /Juvenile Detention Order probation violation
Patrick Mastrantoni: (37) Magistrate Bench Warrant failure to appear on charges of burglary/unlawful taking of a motor vehicle/DWI (2nd offense) resisting /evading /obstructing an officer
Jason M. Brack: (19) 8th Judicial Warrant violation of condition of probation on charge of robbery/ Resisting/evading/obstructing (2counts) /concealing identity
Amanda Lynn Velasquez: (25) Municipal Bench Warrant failure to appear on charge of unlawful use of license/evidence of insurance/ Bringing contraband into jail/possession of controlled substance and drug paraphernalia
Wallace Goss: (48) Magistrate Bench Warrant failure to comply with probation conditions on charge of battery
Jose Flores-Soto: (52) Magistrate Bench Warrant for failure to comply with probation conditions on charge of Aggravated DWI/ Municipal Bench Warrant for failure to appear for unlawful use of license/ Magistrate Fugitive Warrant for Immigration violation-Deported Felon
Fidel Chavez: (65) Magistrate Warrant for failure to appear on charge of driving while license suspended and no proof of insurance
Patrick Gallegos: (20) Magistrate Bench Warrant for failure to appear on charge of possession of marijuana/ Magistrate Fugitive Complaint from State of Colorado for trespassing
David Morgan: display of registration and no evidence of insurance
Michael Tomsco: expired registration and no proof of insurance
Joseph Sedillo: no evidence of insurance
Jose Morales: invalid suspended driver’s license
Victor A. Romero: battery
Abraham Priego: shoplifting
Towing vehicle obstructing traffic
By Marty Mayfield
As the sun rose over Lake Maloya on January 1st, 2016 it was an overcast, foggy and snowy day but by late morning the clouds broke and the sun shined bright as polar bear plungers began to arrive at the boat dock for the 2016 Polar Bear Plunge sponsored by the Raton Parks and Recreation Department and New Mexico State Parks.
28 brave souls had signed up to take the plunge into the 30 degree water by the 1:00 p.m start time of the third annual polar bear plunge. The ice was only about four to five inches thick so park rangers initially held it to two jumpers at a time. Instructions were given to the spectators and participants and the spectacle began as the kids took to the water first. Participants were often heard to say “that was cold” as they exited the water.