• High-Tea-in-La-Veta
    La Veta preschool and kindergardners enjoy high tea as they study the letter T
  • marijuana
    Retail marijuana is now legal to sell in Walsenburg
  • drop-city-domes
    The Drop City commune celebrates its 50th anniversary
  • John-Salazar-II-takes-oath-of-office
    John Salazar II is sworn in to the Walsenburg City Council.
  • JonathonAndreatta-first
    Jonathon Andreatta celebrates his win at the state wrestling tournament.
  • website-muertos-2
    El Fandango dancer performing for Dia de los Muertos
  • snow-dragon
  • website-WH-bull
    Western Heritage Days parade in Walsenburg
  • Tigerfest-royalty
  • Cimarron-girls-basketball
  • website-slide-rule-salute
    Former math teacher Don Kynion gets a 'slide rule salute' as comes up to the podium to receive his Spanish Peaks Legends award.
  • website-celtic-players
    The Colorado Celtic Connection, a one-night-only band at the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival
  • website-artocade-dragon-2013
    Spike, the Big Red Dragon, from Trinidad's ArtoCade
  • website-suspect-arrest
  • website-cowboys-riding-hard
  • website-cowboys-sunset
  • truck-on-fire
    High winds flipped over this 18-wheeler north of Walsenburg on Monday, Jan. 5

New city manager takes the helm at Trinidad city hall

TRINIDAD — When Gabriel Engeland first arrived in Trinidad from Gilbert, AZ last month, he took over his new office on the 3rd floor at City Hall and hit the brick streets running with municipal business in hand. But, attending to the city’s day-to-day business in a small community also means forging strong business bonds with the leaders of Las Animas County. “It is a very important relationship to have,” Engeland said to the Las Animas County Commissioners March 3 during their regular meeting as he entered his second week on the new job. Later that evening during the regular meeting of the Trinidad City Council, he was introduced to the several personalities that make up the council. Being a city manager in a small, but growing community in southern Colorado with ties to its southern neighbor in Colfax County, N.M., means Engeland may wear several hats at once while learning the ropes of city businesses, but it is not the first time he has done so. During the three years working for the city of Gilbert, located near the Phoenix metropolitan area, he served as an assistant to the town manager, development services director, parks and recreation manager, and economic development administrator. “There’s a lot of differences between Gilbert (the government), and Trinidad (the government) but the one thing that is the same,” Engeland said, “People wear a lot of

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Marshal’s office receives clean bill and new cuffs

LA VETA — Readers may recall that the La Veta Town Marshal recently received a call from dispatch regarding a rogue rooster in La Veta, resulting in Marshal Willburn “arresting the rooster” and jailing him in Willburn’s chicken coop. In a moment of levity, Mayor Doug Brgoch presented Willburn with a pair of rooster sized handcuffs. The town received a letter from Advantage Environmental/Safety Resources that they had inspected and tested the old Marshal’s office for any residual signs of asbestos contamination, after another contractor had removed said asbestos. Both a visual inspection and a final air clearance test were conducted revealing the abatement work was successful with asbestos readings well below the allowable limit. “We now move on to Part B,” said Mayor Brgoch. This final phase focuses on interior finish work such as installing sheetrock. There are no immediate plans for the building. It may, once again, house the Marshal’s office, but Brgoch noted many benefits to having the Marshal’s office located within the town hall, saying it fosters communication and continuity amongst staff. The facility could be rented, or even sold. Selling requires a vote of the citizens, noted Brgoch. Continuing with police matters, Brgoch said that Wilburn had successfully completed his six month probation, meaning he

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Deputy drug bust in Colfax County

Suspect enters not guilty plea to Federal charges Monday staff report

ALBUQUERQUE — Vidal Sandoval, 45, a Colfax County Sheriff’s Deputy from Cimarron, N.M., was arrested Friday, March 13 in Raton by the FBI and the New Mexico State Police (NMSP) according to the U. S Attorney’s office. Sandoval is charged with aiding and abetting drug trafficking. He was taken into federal custody pending an arraignment and detention hearing which was held Monday, March 16. Sandoval is charged with aiding and abetting an attempt to possess cocaine with intent to distribute in Colfax County, N.M. on Feb. 28, 2015. The unsealed search warrant outlines exactly how and why the FBI and New Mexico State Police investigated Sandoval beginning in July 2014. An FBI agent explained how Sandoval stopped two men in a vehicle with Arizona license plates in June in Colfax County. According to the search warrant, he seized marijuana they purchased at a dispensary in Colorado and $10,000 cash. He didn’t provide the men with a receipt for the seizure. A NMSP Officer later stopped the same men for following another vehicle too closely in Cibola County. The men explained how they had already been stopped once before. The officer grew suspicious of the circumstances and contacted Colfax County dispatchers, who informed him that Sandoval had made the initial stop. According to the FBI, when the officer contacted Sandoval and asked him about the case, Sandoval denied taking any cash. The FBI and New Mexico State Police launched an undercover investigation from there. Between December 2014 and February 2015, they ran three undercover operations against Sandoval by pretending to be drug runners. They targeted him by having him conduct traffic stops on them. Through the operations, Sandoval offered them protection by offering to escort drug loads north to the Colorado border and

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City approves retail marijuana sales

WALSENBURG — With two staunch opponents of local legislation approving retail/recreational marijuana sales within the City of Walsenburg absent, and the newest council member voting against it, passage of ordinances on second reading regarding the issue passed the Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night on a 6 to 1 vote. Mayor Pro Tem Craig Lessar and council member Silvana Lind, both consistant ‘no’ votes against recreational marijuana sales, missed the council meeting this week. Recent Ward II appointee, John Salazar II, a Walsenburg Police Sergeant, voted against Ordinance 1057 on second reading, but opposition would likely not been enough to carry the day had all members of the council been in attendance. Ordinance 1057 allows retail marijuana stores, retail cultivation facilities, retail products manufacturing and retail marijuana testing facilities within the city limits. Ordinance 1058 which spells out what retail marijuana related activities are allowed in specific city zones, will be addressed at the next council meeting for second reading. Before that ordinance can be voted on, the city council must hold a public hearing. The date and time for that hearing will be announced in the near future. Voting in favor of legal retail marijuana businesses in the city Tuesday night were Rick Jennings, Charles Montoya, Nick Vigil, Troy Reeves, Clint Boehler, and Mayor James Eccher. The seven members present did unanimously approve Ordinance

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Trinidad City Council awards construction contracts Tuesday night

TRINIDAD — “Typically, we like to keep Trinidad money in Trinidad,” Trinidad Mayor Pro-Tem Carol Bolton at the City Council weekly work session March 10. Commercial Street in Trinidad is gearing up for street improvements this Spring while the Kit Carson Park Bandstand will get a makeover. Both projects will be done by a local contractor based in Trinidad. Purgatoire Valley Construction, Inc. of Trinidad was awarded the street project against two out-of-town contractors by the Trinidad City Council March 17 during their regular meeting. Their bid was the lowest at over $1.99 million. Lacy Construction of Crested Butte, Colo. came in with the highest bid at nearly $2.66 million while Avalanche Construction of Canon City quoted city officials with a bid of approximately $2.17 million. The Commercial Street construction project is part of a three-phase public works improvement project in the downtown area which is partially financed by a $1.72 million grant awarded to the city by the Department of Local Affairs Energy Impact Assistance Fund. The city’s Capital Improvement Funds will match the grant with $540,512. The design aspect of the Commercial Street project was awarded in April 2014 to Colorado based engineering firm SGM. According to a summary given to city council members

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Fire and Emergency Services chief tells Raton commission about department

RATON — Raton Fire and Emergency Services Chief Jim Mathews spoke to the Raton City Commission at their regular meeting Tuesday, March 10, and gave them a rundown on activities and duties of the department. RFES has become a multi-task department that includes not just basic fire fighting and ambulance services, but have also been tasked with code enforcement, zoning, hazmat, community training, building inspections including fire suppression systems and a host of other small jobs. Chief Mathews said most of the work being done at the station on West Troy was being done in house by the department’s men under the eye of a contractor, to ensure the construction met code. The department is certified to do CPR and firefighter training, enabling them to train new recruits from their own and other departments. Training includes basic and advanced first aid. He said training for his certified employees is always ongoing and they are working on instructor certifications for other disciplines in the fire service. Chief Mathews joked that

most of the time department heads come asking for money, but he wasn’t here to do that. Instead he gave a run down of monies the department actually brings into the city. Last year, the department added $1,040,000 to the general fund through the various things it is involved in. In other commission business, they approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Colfax County and Raton Police Department for dispatch services and a mutual aid agreement with Springer Fire Department and Raton Fire and Emergency Services. These agreements are renewals of existing agreements that have been in effect for years. They approved resolution 2015-08, the application for the repaving of Hospital Drive, and also approved the cost proposal for engineering services for the drainage issues on Cook and Park Avenues. They also approved the agreement with Raton Country Club to lease the city’s Governmental Liquor License and two permits for Raton Main Street’s Hops and Vines event on April 11, 2015. City Manager Scott Berry said work on the south interchange off I-25 is expected to begin in the next two to three weeks. There will be some inconveniences getting off the interstate into south Raton during the construction process. He noted that Congressman Ben Ray Lujan will be in Raton March 12, for a visit dealing with economic development and veterans’ issues. City crews are gearing up for summer, which includes cleaning out drainage ditches in Raton as well as work on the ball fields. Potholes are also a top priority. The commission then went into executive session to discuss their collective bargaining session that is up and coming. The commission will meet again on March 24 at 6 pm and that meeting will be aired on KRTN AM 1490.

Barriers to Sonic Bloom

WALSENBURG— The Huerfano County Commissioners spent almost an hour listening to representatives of the Sonic Bloom Music Festival outline their plan for bringing 4,000 to 6,000 people to Huerfano County around the Summer Solstice. Jess Greis, representing the festival, plopped down thick booklets before each commissioner, detailing who is behind the festival, and how they do things. They are basing their estimation of 4,000 to 5,000 attendees from previous year’s numbers, where growth was approximately 400 more concert-goers each season. With this location being a straight shot down I-25 from Denver and Colorado Springs, the high-end estimate is 6,000 people, and over 2,000 cars. This is a number that makes Commissioner Max Vezzani uncomfortable. “I worry this will be too much for our infrastructure,” Vezzani said. Representatives of the county ambulance service and the Sheriff’s office were on hand, and echoed Vezzani’s concern. Greis said he understands their concern, and the festival is working hard to alleviate them. They are hiring two separate private security agencies to help with crowd and traffic control, and

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City of Trinidad answers ACLU police lawsuit filing

DENVER — Attorneys for the City of Trinidad last week filed an answer to an American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado lawsuit against the municipality and two detectives filed on January 8th in U.S. District Court. The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of two women swept up in a mass drug arrest of suspects named by a confidential informant, Crystal Bachicha, who was working undercover for Trinidad police in 2013. Although the charges against the two women, Danika Gonzales and Felicia Valdez, a probation officer and school district employee respectively, were eventually dismissed, both lost their jobs after their arrests were announced. The ACLU lawsuit said, “None of the 40 arrests that were made as part of the 2013 drug sting resulted in a drug-related conviction”. The City of Trinidad’s contention, spelled out in their answer to the suit, said defendants TPD Detectives Phil Martin and Arsenio Vigil, “acted with probable cause and/ or a reasonable, articulable suspicion.” The answer also said, the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity from a lawsuit against them in U.S. District Court. All in all, 40 people

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Raton City Commission will allow construction of new assisted living facility

RATON — Country club residents were upset, to say the least, with the city commission’s decision not to overturn the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission which will allow BeeHive Homes, an assisted living franchise company with facilities in 14 states, to build an assisted living facility on the property west of the old ARF Products Inc. television assembly franchise plant. The property owners in the country club addition have created covenants for the country club area that restrict the type of facility that Bee Hive is proposing to build in the area. The owners claim the planning and zoning commission has a duty to follow the city zoning ordinances and not allow a business to locate in a residential area. Federal law does not allow discrimination against the elderly and therefore allows for assisted living facilities in residential areas, but the covenants the country club property owners have in place do not allow multiple dwelling living facilities. The sentiment by the property owners is “not in our backyard.” Several of those speaking out are not against Bee Hive locating in Raton, just not in that location. They suggested the El Portal property should be considered as a viable location for this facility. Property owners felt this kind of facility would be a detriment to their area and cause their property

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Trinidad City Council denies marijuana business application

TRINIDAD — Trinidad City Council unanimously denied a business application to the owner of The Spot Riverside recreational marijuana dispensary following a pubic hearing during their regular meeting Tuesday, March 3 at city hall. Robert Lucero, owner of Colorado Cannabis Associates, LLC / dba The Spot Riverside, appeared before city council where he was questioned by Trinidad City Attorney Les Downs about his background as a business owner, and the specifics of the multiple marijuana-specific related licenses he currently holds. Lucero is the owner of The Spot 420 recreational and medical dispensary in Pueblo West. He is in the process of renovating the Trinidad location at 453 Commercial Street with the hopes of opening the store at the end of March. Trinidad City Mayor Joseph Reorda originally made the motion to postpone the application, but was quickly changed to a motion of denial by Anthony Mattie and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Carol Bolton. Downs and Lucero confirmed during the public hearing that the Colorado Department of Revenue granted Lucero a license to operate the Trinidad facility. Municipalities that allow for the operation of recreational dispensaries in Colorado under Amendment 64, have their own set of guidelines established for the business license application process, and have the freedom to approve or deny an application. Downs questioned Lucero about a

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