Pioneer puts 640,000 acres of mineral rights up for sale

TRINIDAD — Pioneer Natural Resources, which laid off over 100 employees last month, announced last week they would be putting a block of 640,000 net acres of mineral rights up for sale. On June 1, Pioneer had sold its Eagle Ford shale business to Enterprise Products Partners for $2.15 billion. The acreage up for sale is in Elbert, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Bent, Crowley, Cheyenne, Lincoln, Prowers and Washington counties. The land has been valued at over $300 per acre. As a package deal, the mineral rights could go for $100 to $200 an acre, which could make the sale go for between $64 million to $128 million. Bids are due on July 9, and the sale is expected to close August 14. Potential buyers for the rights could be Anadarko Petroleum, Devon Energy, Southwestern Energy, Chesapeake Energy and Newfield Exploration. According to Oil and Gas Investor, the next likely move on Pioneer’s part is to sell 198,000 acres of assets in northeastern New Mexico. The selling of these assets reflects Pioneer’s shift away from the Raton Basin and over towards the Permian Basin in west Texas.

Pot grow prohibition proposed

 Huerfano County wants to put on the brakes

WALSENBURG — Huerfano County Commissioner Max Vezzani, who last month proposed stricter conditions on condition use permits for marijuana production facilities, on Tuesday proposed placing a moratorium on any new conditional use permits for this industry for 18 months. “This is a new industry, and it’s pretty divisive in the community,” Vezzani said, explaining his proposal. “I’d like to see how much revenue this brings in, what kind of problems might crop up, and see what law enforcement says before doing more. A year to 18 months would give us time to get information and see how this works for Huerfano County before we accept any additional permits.” Currently there are nine conditional use permits issued for marijuana grows in unincorporated Huerfano County, where the moratorium would take place. Walsenburg, and potentially La Veta, would control any grows in their cities. There is a temporary moratorium on issuing CUPS already in place, put there to allow the commissioners time to place stricter conditions on owners

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There’s a new Marshal in town… not!

LA VETA — After a brief executive session on Tuesday night, the La Veta Town Board voted to postpone the start date of Jim Chamberlain as the town’s new deputy marshal for eight weeks or more. Apparently Chamberlain suffered a broken foot this past weekend while working on the family ranch. The board voted to allow Chamberlain eight weeks to get back on his feet, or rather on his foot, before starting his new position. This start date will require the approval of his primary physician. It is possible the job offer could be rescinded after eight weeks, but the board will wait until then to revisit the topic. A public hearing was held prior to the formal board session to review a request by Lisa Northup for a re-development permit for her property just west of Main Street on Francisco Street. No comments were received either pro or con and the request was approved allowing Northup to install a one chair beauty salon operation. Previously the board had approved a real estate and professional office at the same location. Mark Hornberger, project representative for GMS Engineering, provided the board with an update on the sewer

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City council votes to set up Walsenburg Historic Preservation Board

WALSENBURG — After a delay of nearly one hour, the Walsenburg City Council got down to business Tuesday night when the fifth member of the group arrived making an official quorum available for the session. City council adopted three ordinances this week on first reading, including Ordinance 1067 that established a Certified Local Government to be known as The City of Walsenburg Historic Preservation Board. The ordinance says the city desires to protect and preserve the city’s historic and cultural heritage by designating historic landmarks and districts saying that will enhance property values and stabilize historic neighborhoods. Council and administration made it clear in discussions that no property owner would be forced into preservation activities. The decision to partake in building preservation or designation will be up to the individual property owner. The board will be made up of five members appointed by majority vote of the city council. The ordinance said no Walsenburg mayor, city council member or planning and zoning member may serve on the board. “It is the intent of this provision to avoid conflicts of interest where a board member also sits on a body that serves to review any board actions

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Small airplane crash east of Raton kills pilot and wildlife specialist

New Mexico State Police and Raton Fire and Emergency Services were called to a small airplane crash at about 6:48 am Friday, approximately 4.4 miles south of US Hwy 64/87, and about 17 miles east of Raton. State police have turned the investigation over to the National Transpotation Safety Board. NTSB said on their web page they were investigating the crash of a Cubsetter CC-18 aircraft operated by the USDA. The USDA has been doing work to curb damage by wildlife in Colfax County. Roland Herwig a spokesman for the FAA did confrim two fatalities in the accident and that the FAA is assiting the NTSB in the investigation. The USDA reported that Kelly Hobbs (54), a pilot with the Wildlife Services program, and Shannon “Bubba” Tunnell a state wildlife specialist with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture were the only two aboard the single-engine plane when it went down. Hobbs started with the federal program in 1992 as a pilot and had logged more than 13,500 hours of flight time with work in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Tunnell has been

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“Sounds like it’s a go”

 Huerfano commissioners give final approval to Sonic Bloom festival

 WALSENBURG — Sonic Bloom representative Jess Gries informed the Huerfano County commissioners that the final stipulations they had laid down before allowing the three-day music festival to proceed have been met. Gries ticked off the items the commissioners had stipulated: weed mitigation, a fire plan with equipment and trained personnel in place, dust mitigation – a coating of magnesium chloride will be applied to County Road 650 a few days before the event, and a contract with the Huerfano ambulance service. Sheriff Bruce Newman has signed off on their security plan, and the traffic plan has been approved by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Commissioner Max Vezzani asked what the status was of the $95,000 security bond the county required, and Gries replied he had copies of it. The commissioners asked for the originals. “Well, it sounds like

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La Veta hires Chamberlain as new Deputy Marshal

LA VETA — There’s a new Marshal in town, but he isn’t really all that new. Former Walsenburg Police Chief Jim Chamberlain was hired by the La Veta Town Board at their regular meeting Tuesday night. Chamberlain will start on June 16 as the town’s deputy marshal at an annual salary of $30,000. In other old business, the board heard an update from engineer Mark Hornberger on the sewer project. Hornberger stated with the improved weather the work crews are getting back on schedule. Current work is focusing on the realignment, repair and replacement of manholes throughout the town. At the next board meeting Hornberger will provide a financial update. Prior to their meeting the board held a public hearing pertaining to a request from Audie Barrett, who had asked for a variance to place a storage shed in his backyard closer than the allowed setbacks. No comments were received pro or con. The board granted the variance. The board had a

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Martra land deal with city expected to close soon

 WALSENBURG — During this week’s Walsenburg City Council session, city administrator David Johnston said the land sale between the city and Martra Holdings Inc., is about ready to be finalized. Johnston said the Martra deal may close before the city’s annexation plans to extend the city limits to the east get underway. He asked the council to consider holding a special session in the near future to begin the annexation process. The Denver-based construction and property management firm plans to purchase approximately 330 acres of the City Ranch to construct individual greenhouse suites for marijuana cultivation. An ordinance to eliminate the city clerk’s term limits will be before council for approval soon. While this item has been turned down by Walsenburg voters in the past, as have ballot questions to change the clerk’s position from elected to appointed, it is expected council members will talk to constituents to educate them on the issue. Council member Rick Jennings said the city needs to explain to voters how much money is invested in the training of the city clerk. Council members agreed Walsenburg City Clerk Wanda Britt has

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Jackson arraignment set for Aug. 5 in district court

WALSENBURG — Marissa Jackson appeared briefly in court Tuesday morning for what was to be her arraignment and plea to charges of child abuse resulting in death in the August 3, 2014 death of her then-boyfriend’s four-year old daughter. The arraignment was reset for 9 am Wednesday, August 5, 2015 and agreed to by both the prosecution and defense. The state is represented by special prosecutors Dan Edwards and Cynthia Colbert of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and Jackson is represented by attorney Adam Shultz. Jackson told the court she understood her rights and her attorney had explained the speedy trial clock did not begin until she had formally entered her plea to the charges filed against her. She remains in custody in lieu of a $100,000 c/s bond at the Huerfano County Jail. Senior District Judge Scott Epstein under assignment from the state court’s administrator’s office presided over the hearing.

Commissioners approve another marijuana conditional use permit

WALSENBURG — Stating, “I’m not sure I’m doing you any favors by approving this,” Huerfano County Commissioner Max Vezzani made the motion at Tuesday’s meeting to approve a Conditional Use Permit for Acme Growers, LLC. Keith Bouchard and Johnny Padilla, representing Acme, had gotten in their CUP application before the new rules had been approved, and so were held to a more lenient standard anyone else following them would be held to. Two problems became quickly apparent with their application; they did not have a source for water, and their insurance for the business was not in place yet. Bouchard noted they had a permit for a domestic use well on site, which would be enough for commercial or agricultural use, but did not have another source, such as hauling water, lined up. Padilla said in their research, they found it might be possible to use ‘graywater’, water that had already been used once for some purpose (other than flushing toilets) but had not yet been recycled. “This could be good for Buffalo Ranch and all of Huerfano County,” Padilla said. The commissioners noted any plan to use graywater must first go

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