Category Archives: Uncategorized

Christmas Trees: Cutting and Care

Know Your ABCs, Get a FREE Christmas Tree!

Of all the great things there are about knowing a 4thgrader, you can add one more to the list: A Christmas Tree. Fourth graders may get a free Christmas tree permit when they present a valid Every Kid in a park pass. These passes may be obtained at

While the official Saguache Christmas tree arrived last Friday, if you’re looking to harvest one for your own home, permits are now available at the Saguache Ranger District Photo: Lynn Nowiskee/Saguache Today.

The free permit is only good at Rio Grande National Forest offices, which includes the Saguache Ranger District, 46525 State Highway 114, Saguache, CO 81149. Be sure to bring the paperwork – and the student! –  when you apply for your free tree permit!

For everyone else who is preparing for the “Tannenbaum” season, permits are available as well as the Saguache Ranger District Office. The Christmas tree permits cost $8.00 each, with a limit of five permits per household.

Christmas tree permits are valid only for trees growing on land managed by the Rio Grande National Forest. All trees must be at least 100 feet away from any campground, picnic area or road and can be up to five inches in diameter at shoulder height. Cutting trees within designated wilderness areas or the Conejos Canyon is prohibited.

For more information concerning Christmas tree cutting permits, contact the Saguache Ranger District at 719 655-2547 or see the information below::


The Cost of Democracy in Saguache

By Trish Gilbert, Saguache County Clerk & Recorder

For the general election, the state will reimburse 90 cents per active voter. Since Saguache had 3,801 active voters on election day, the reimbursement amount will be $3,420.90.  

In terms of determining the costs to participating entities, there are a few ways counties go about allocating costs, but the first step is to itemize the costs and determine which entities (if any) are responsible for a share of the costs. Keep in mind that the county is also responsible for a portion of the cost because county races and a question was on the ballot. Saguache County allocates costs based on the number of voters in each jurisdiction. There’s no one right or wrong way to go about allocating costs.

Following is the cost break down for the 2018 GeneralElection:

To summarize, the cost per voter for the 2018 Saguache County General Election was $11.32. Yes, there is much more to an election than a paper ballot and envelope. In the midterm election, the state of Colorado came in with the second highest turnout in the nation having over 62% active eligible voters cast ballots.

Saguache County had over a 61% turnout.  Your vote is your voice.  Congratulations!!  Give yourselves a pat on the back for participating in this important process. You showed the nation that Saguache County VOTES!


The (Hand)writing’s On The Wall

Is Cursive Really a Curse?

By Joyce Rankin, Colorado Board of Education

Cursive writing is defined as a style of penmanship where some characters are written and joined together in a flowing manner.  It is generally used to allow an individual to write faster. I distinctly remember practicing penmanship in the sixth grade from my teacher, Mrs. Johnston.  She had beautiful handwriting and we tried hard to copy her lead. She wanted everyone’s handwriting to be perfect and we practiced daily. It was the closest thing to “art” that we had in her class.

Cursive writing instruction over the years has declined. For some classrooms that’s because of the amount of curriculum teachers must cover but more recently with the adoption of the Common Core Standards in 2009, it just isn’t required. Instead, students are taught keyboarding skills and encouraged to type.  The controversy regarding whether or not cursive writing should be taught in the classroom has resulted in research that leans toward bringing it back.

Research has revealed that motor and visual skills or eye-hand coordination, is improved with the practice of forming the letters when writing in cursive. For young children, it also benefits dexterity between the hands and fingers and enhances the connection between hand and brain. There may be an analogy to the skills of a surgeon, dentist, computer technician or artist.

Handwriting skills or cursive writing begins around third grade or age eight and is then continued and refined through elementary grades. There are many penmanship activities that a kindergarten and pre-k student can do to strengthen the skills necessary for handwriting and higher learning potential.

In 2012 Florida researchers found a 4-year-old’s fine motor writing skills are more predictive of later achievement than early math or language skills. They studied 1,000-second graders and compared their pre-kindergarten writing skills.  Students with better penmanship in pre-k had higher scores in both reading and math in second grade and also had higher scores in general on standardized tests. Those with strong handwriting marks in pre-k had an overall rating of B average as compared to an overall C average for the students that did poorly on writing tasks in pre-k.

Researchers also found that learning to write in cursive can make students better readers and writers. The continuity of letters in cursive writing help to guide students eyes from left to right. This reinforces the same pattern used in reading. The ability to write in cursive also helps with spatial skills because one automatically leaves spaces between words while writing in cursive. Writing in cursive also eliminates common letter reversals because the movement and flow required to write letters in cursive make it impossible to write a letter backward.

I picked two key reasons why students should be taught handwriting from a list of twelve posted and cited by Amanda Witman in 2015. First, the brain engages differently when we write something by hand as opposed to typing it on a keyboard or by touching a screen. Studies show that writing improves memory; students retain learning better when working with new ideas through handwriting instead of typing.

Secondly, being able to write effortlessly enables the mind to focus more fully on a topic. Struggling with handwriting takes valuable brain energy away from any writing task, but when that skill is mastered, it makes all the difference. Skilled, fluid script is an asset to learning!

So, for grandparents who have asked me why cursive writing is no longer included in your grandchild’s education, know that there are many online resources to help you teach them. And who knows? It could help you find those lost car keys.

Joyce Rankin, a retired teacher, is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District, which includes Leadville and Lake County. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district.  The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol.

Whether it’s handwriting or arts and crafts there are many benefits – and fun – for students developing hand-to-eye coordination.

Avalanche Conditions Near Saguache

Avalanche Conditions Near Saguache Today

Avalanche Sangre de cristos Saguache Today CAIC

The crown of an avalanche is visible near the shade line on this easterly-facing slope. This was the only avalanche spotted in the Sangre de Cristos which probably occurred on 11/20/18 according to Ethan Greene with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

By Ethan Greene, Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC)

Saturday’s storm took longer to reach the Southern Mountains than expected. The avalanche danger was slow to rise on Saturday, Nov. 24 but probably caught up as snowfall rates increased in the late afternoon and strong winds continued to blow overnight. Three-day totals in the North San Juan zone are: 5″ on Lizard Head Pass, 12″ around Telluride, 14″ on Red Mountain Pass, and 5″ on Slumgullion Pass. In the South San Juan zone: 8″ on Molas and Coal Bank Passes, and 7″ on Wolf Creek Pass.

Snow totals in the Sangre de Cristo Range are sparse with only a few inches recorded at below treeline sites. Wind-loading is likely the biggest issue today. Wind speeds were fairly sustained in the 15 to 30 mph range in the Northern San Juan zone during the two events, with much higher gusts. Overnight there was a significant period with winds from the north and northeast. With winds coming from the southwest, northwest, north, and northeast over the last few days, there will be recent wind slabs on lots of little terrain features. I highlighted north, northeast, east, southeast, and south as most of the new wind pillows will be on these aspects.

The spike in avalanche danger is probably much less across the Southern San Juan and Sangre de Cristo zones. There are a few reports from above treeline areas, and there was enough snow and wind to increase the avalanche danger. The avalanche danger has been reduced to LOW(Level 1) in near treeline areas to account for the modest snow accumulations and lack of avalanche activity.

With time, decreasing wind speeds, and no precipitation, the avalanche danger will slowly decrease across the entire Southern Mountain region. The danger from Persistent Slab avalanches will also decrease, but much slower than the storm instabilities. Make sure to think about where the old snow is resting under the snow that fell or drifted over the last few days. Triggering avalanches on steep shady slopes, especially with recent drifts, is a problem that won’t go away anytime soon.

Late November Conditions on Monarch Pass
The CAIC Backcountry Avalanche Forecast for The Sangre de Cristo Range

You can trigger dangerous avalanches above treeline today. A few inches of new snow and strong winds built stiff slabs in alpine areas. These new wind drifts will be most common on slopes that face northeast, east, and southeast. Look for and avoid any areas where you find warning signs of an unstable snowpack such as shooting cracks in drifted snow.
If you trigger an avalanche in wind-drifted snow the avalanche could step down to weak layers near the ground resulting in a larger, more dangerous avalanche. This is particularly true on northeast and east-facing slopes where the two avalanche problems overlap.

How to Support CAIC

The Friends of CAIC are hosting the 11th Annual CAIC Benefit Bash on Dec. 1, 2018, at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge as we come together to support the CAIC in their continued efforts in avalanche forecasting and education throughout Colorado. This winter’s party will feature great music from Rapidgrass, incredible beer from Breckenridge Brewery and the members of Summit County’s United Brewer’s Association (SCUBA), and dinner provided by 5 Star Catering! Tickets are available for pre-purchase for $50. Entrance fee includes one door prize ticket, two drink tickets, access to the winter’s largest gear giveaway and silent auction and a performance by the band Rapidgrass. Click here to get your tickets in advance because this event will sell out.CAIC Avalanche Map

It’s Movietime in Saguache Today

“Nutcracker” with Twist Playing in Saguache 

It’s a twist on a seasonal classic for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms which is what is playing this weekend at Cozy Castle Cinema: in downtown Saguache. Disney brings the Christmas classic into the 21st Century in this 2018 American fantasy adventure film

In this weekend’s film, Young Clara needs a magical, one-of-a-kind key to unlock a box that contains a priceless gift. A golden thread leads her to the coveted key, but it soon disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. In that world, she meets a soldier named Phillip, a group of mice and the regents who preside over three realms. Clara and Phillip must now enter a fourth realm to retrieve the key and restore harmony to the unstable land.


The Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache.

The Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache.

Showtimes are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. & 7 p.m.; and Sunday at 4 p.m.

Ticket prices are $7 with children 3 and under free. The Cozy Castle Cinema is located at 403 4th St, in downtown Saguache. 719-221-4159.

Giving Thanks in Saguache Today

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone in Saguache Today!


Saguache Serves Up Gratitude on Sunday

Saguache’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner will be held this Sunday, Nov. 19 at the Community Building. The event begins at 5 p.m. and includes all the traditional fixings, from turkey to stuffing to potatoes, all top off with some pumpkin pie!Sag Thanksgiving

Everyone is invited and the meal is FREE! The community building is located at Christie & 7th Streets.

The Thanksgiving dinner will be sponsored this year by HEART of Saguache/KV. Last year’s meal was a big hit! The food was delicious and prepared and served by a group of volunteers, bringing grateful hearts together under one roof.

Video from 2015 Thanksgiving Community Meal

Come and join the table this Sunday as the community building fills with lively conversation and laughter as generations of families from diverse cultural backgrounds and beliefs break bread together in honor of the national day of gratitude. 

This year the entire cost of the meal – will again be picked by The Colorado Trust, a health foundation dedicated to ending inequalities that affect racial, ethnic, low income and other vulnerable populations.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Always a packed house, this year’s Thanksgiving Community Meal in Saguache is on Sunday.

Bad Weather Driving Safety Tips

Bad Weather Driving – Some Call It Ski Season

By Trooper Gary Cutler

It’s that time of year again, which means snow storms are on the horizon.  Bad weather isn’t all that bad, because with it comes all of the fun activities we like to do in Colorado such as skiing, sledding, skiing, hiking, and skiing/snowboarders.

I joke about the ski season, but when we see a good snowstorm, that’s when skiers and snowboarders head to the slopes in larger groups than normal.  Let’s talk about the situations where we just have to get around in snow storms.

Reduced speed is always a key factor in staying safe when driving on snow, or ice packed roadways.  It’s winter, so make sure you take that extra step to have the time to drive to your destination safely, which means slower than normal speeds.  Bad weather doesn’t necessarily mean we have to have bad driving.

One situation that worries me is black ice.  Ice is the unseen danger that is often a factor in winter time driving.  I’ve seen people going lower speeds when they are on snow packed roads only to speed up to, or beyond the speed limit once the road clears.  The road may still be wet, and with cold temperatures, that means it can and often freezes to the road surface.  Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not still there.


The Veterans Day storm left roads icy and snow packed on Monday morning across the San Luis Valley.

Slick roads also mean it’s harder to stop when less than favorable road conditions exist.  Give that extra distance needed to stop when snow or ice is present.  It’s hard to give just one correct distance for bad road conditions.  Use good common sense and the rule of thumb that it could take double the distance on wet roads and up to as much as 10 times the distance on snow and ice packed roadways to safely stop.

Also be prepared to travel in bad weather.  This means having enough “survival gear” to make it through a dangerous situation if you get stuck on the roadway.  This doesn’t always mean you’re stuck because you have crashed or slid off the roadway.  It could be just that the weather is so bad the roadways have been shut down and you are stuck with everyone else traveling with no way to get off the road for a while.

Even when you are just going on a short trip, there can be situations where you need emergency equipment with you.  The items that can save a life are blankets, flares/emergency triangles, water, shovel, food/snacks, and cell phone.  I probably don’t have to remind anyone to make sure they bring their phone though.

Here are my final tips for winter driving.  When roads are dry, drive as if it’s raining.  When roads are wet, drive as if it’s snowing.  When roads have snow on it, drive as if it’s ice.  When roads have ice on it, think about staying home that day.

So there you have it, a few simple tips to help keep you safe when driving in bad weather this year. As always, safe travels!

Roll Over_saguache Sheriff

On November 11, the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office reported this one car rollover on CO Highway 285 at mile marker 107, just North of Villa Grove. A reminder to practice safe driving habits as the icy winter months come on. Photo SCSO