HUERFANO- The Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch was evacuated for the second time in the span of eight days due to major flooding of Bear Creek, which cuts right through the camp. One hundred and fifty seven scouts, leaders and staff were evacuated during a heavy downpour by the Huerfano County sheriff’s office, the Huerfano and La Veta fire departments, RE-1 school district and the Trinidad ambulance. Five scouts were sent to the Spanish Peaks Regional Medical Center for scrapes, bumps and hypothermia. Please see the July 24 edition of the HWJ for further details and first hand accounts of the evacuation, and the efforts made to rescue stranded and injured campers.
WALSENBURG — With two-thirds of the members present, the Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night voted unanimously to put a sales and use tax increase before city voters in November. Council passed Ordinance #1044 on first reading that will ask voters in the November General Election a yes or no question regarding a one percent increase in the sales and use tax. The text of the ballot question approved was; “Shall the City of Walsenburg, Colorado sale and use tax be increased annually by approximately $352,000 by increasing the sale and use tax rate one (1.00) percent from three (3.00) to a total of four (4.00) percent for the purpose of offsetting general fund expenses with the tax increase sunsetting and ending at midnight December 31, 2019.” Council members Silvana Lind, Nick Vigil, Mayor Jim Eccher, Cathy Pineda, Craig Lessar and Clint Boehler voted in favor of the ordinance. Council members Rick Jennings, James Baca and Charles Montoya did not attend the meeting. Walsenburg voters have, in recent years, turned down council’s
WALSENBURG—The decorations were up, the tables set, the a/c was blasting away as 150 Huerfano Democrats invaded the Huerfano County Community Center on Saturday evening. The election year fund raising event was attended by the party faithful, candidates for local, state and federal offices and by a 160 year old Huerfano celebrity, Mother Jones (aka, Carolyn Newman). Red white and blue festooned the community center gym, patriotic music and a power point showing historic pictures of Mother Jones played in the background as the attendees awaited the arrival of their keynote speaker. The appearance of Senator Mark Udall stirred the waiting crowd to action as many of the attendees moved to shake the Senator’s hand. Udall graciously posed for photos and listened attentively to the many people wanting to greet him. No one, however, was as well received as the dinner’s namesake, Mother Jones. Udall allowed “Mother” to tie a red bandana around his neck to show his solidarity with the labor movement as the union miners did during the
The upper Bear Creek flooded around 3am Tuesday morning, sending a wave of water through the women staffer’s cabin, the maintenence shed and the kitchen. At one point, female staffers had to climb on to their cabin roof to escape the floodwaters. By 5am, a general order of evacuation for the entire camp was decided upon. Boy scouts and staff are now at the Huerfano Community Center in Walsenburg. Mored information as the story develops.
WALSENBURG— Huerfano County’s primary election was by mail-in ballot, and had a 59% participation rate, which is probably one of the top counties in the state, according to County Clerk Judy Benine. In contested ticket slots, results are as such: Democratic County Commissioner candidates- Gerald Cisneros received 569 votes, and Della Duran received 517 votes. Cisneros will move on to the general election, where he will face Republican challenger Keith Varner (who was uncontested, and received 470 votes), as well as independent candidates Oress DeHerrera and Fred Rodriguez. Democratic ticket county coroner candidate Vonnie Maier Valdez received 743 votes, and Ed Wolahan, received 303 votes. Republican County Coroner candidate Rebecca Mitchell received 314 votes, and her challenger Clint Boehler got 224 votes. Maier-Valdez and Mitchell will face off in the general election on November 4th. For uncontested ticket slots, Republican Wilma Martinez received 434 votes for county assessor, and Republican Jim Chamberlain got 458 votes for sheriff. Democratic candidate Nancy Cruz received 967 votes for county clerk and recorder, Debra Reynolds received 998 votes for county treasurer, Louise ‘Chuky’ Sandoval got 949 votes for county assessor, and Bruce Newman received 932 votes for sheriff. Huerfano County’s voting for state races is as follows; for US Senator, Democrat Mark Udall received 878 votes, and Republican Cory Gardner got 500 votes. For District 3 congress, Democrat Abel Tapia got 826 votes , and Republican Scott Tipton got 443 votes.
EAST SPANISH PEAK — A year ago, on June 19th, what began as a lone tree smoldering from a lightning strike days earlier, flared into what quickly became the most destructive wildfire in Huerfano County in over a century. Beginning on a ridgeline above the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch (SPSR) located at the end of Bear Creek road, the fire, within an hour of being spotted, turned into an out-of-control conflagration that had scouts fleeing for their lives. Evacuations of large swaths of southern Huerfano County followed, with Walsenburg and La Veta on three-hour standby for evacuation. Firefighters from across the country poured in, and the Colorado National Guard was sent in to help any way they could. Air tankers dropped retardant, and a small fleet of helicopters dipped and dropped water from wherever they could find it. La Veta’s schools were turned into fire command headquarters, and their football field sprouted 100’s of tents, with a population rivaling the town’s. In all, over 13,750 acres burned, 750 firefighters responded to help, thirteen houses were lost,
WALSENBURG— Huerfano County Commissioners began their Wednesday meeting by stating they are in the process of gathering information that could lead to a declaration of a Stage 1 fire ban for the unincorporated parts of the county by next Wednesday. The Stage 1 fire ban would include fireworks (“selling, possessing, discharging or using any type of fireworks or other pyrotechnic device, to include sparklers.”) The ban would also include building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire EXCEPT a fire within a permanent constructed fire grate in a developed campground. The ban would include smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or a developed recreation site. Operating a chainsaw, blasting, welding, or other activities which generate flame, must have mitigation equipment on hand. The commissioners strongly suggest that all planned controlled burns be reviewed by a qualified representative of a fire protection agency. In other business, the commissioners decided to keep the user fees at the Huerfano County
WALSENBURG — A 52-year old Walsenburg man was bound over on three felony charges following a preliminary hearing Monday in a case stemming from an alleged assault April 10, 2014 in a dark rental house at 222 W. Fourth Street. Kent Hill appeared in court, free on bond, represented by public defender Patrick McCarville. District Court Judge Leslie Gerbracht conducted the two-hour plus show cause hearing and bound the defendant over on charges of attempt to commit second degree murder (class 3 felony), second degree assault (class 4 felony), and first degree burglary (class 3 felony). Prosecutor Andrew Hall presented testimony from four law enforcement witnesses, including Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Cory Daniels, whose curiosity may have prevented the victim from further harm in the alleged assault, and the victim himself, Walsenburg resident Justin Gehre. Law enforcement officers Daniels, Cpl. Joe Albano (HCSO), Officer Mario Solano and Cpl. John Salazar (WPD) testified to their actions and the capture of Hill the night of the
Six individuals named in suit
WALSENBURG — Citing unreasonable seizure and arrest, excessive use of force, and failure to train and/or supervise, Amanda Daniels filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Walsenburg and a number of police officers and commanders on May 15, 2014. According to Walsenburg Administrator David Johnston, the defendants were served with notice of the lawsuit on Friday, June 13, 2014. City officials have made no formal comment on the lawsuit, Johnston said with the late service, the city’s insurance provider’s attorneys had not read the lawsuit as of Monday, June 16. No dollar amount is specified in the suit, in which Daniels demands a jury trial, however, the statute the suit is filed under indicates a monetary judgement over $100,000 is sought by any party against any other single party. Daniels is represented in the case by her attorney, Adam J. Schultz of Pueblo, CO. The
LATHROP PARK — A Denver man with family ties to Walsenburg drowned Friday evening when he attempted to swim out the island in the middle of Horseshoe lake at Lathrop State Park when he disappeared under the water. The victim was not wearing a life jacket. Rescuers recovered Charles Alan Chacon III’s body from Horseshoe Sunday afternoon after an extensive search that spanned the entire weekend. Officials began searching for the victim, a 24 year-old male, Friday afternoon after a friend reported the victim missing around 2:30 p.m. Boat Rangers from Lake Pueblo State Park were assisted by the Pueblo County Dive Team in searching for the victim. The search lasted late into the evening Friday and all day on Saturday. Windy conditions Friday and Saturday made the search extremely difficult. Sunday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife brought out high tech sonar to aid in the search. The victim’s body was located at 8:30 a.m. with the sonar and recovered by 1:30 p.m. by the Pueblo Sheriff’s dive team. An autopsy has been planned. Official cause of death was determined by the Huerfano County Coroner to be fresh water drowning.