Yes To Marijuana Tax, No To Jail, Justice Center
By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today
Saguache County voters weighed in at the polls yesterday November 8 on a variety of issues. Lining up with the national trend of solid voter turnout, approximately 2,700 ballots were cast countywide.
In local decisions, voters decided to pass Ballot issue 1A which will provide a sales tax on retail marijuana in the county. The official report filed with the Colorado secretary of State stated 1,427 votes were cast in favor of the measure and 1,224 were against. The excise tax of 5%, known informally as the marijuana tax, will allow Saguache County to collect revenue excised on the sale of marijuana. The application of the new revenue generated from the tax will be up to the discretion of the Saguache County Commissioners It has been discussed that the new revenue stream will be used toward such projects as youth services, Land Use code enforcement and various county infrastructures. The new tax will go into effect on January 1, 2017.
In other election news, voters decided to reject Ballot Issue 1B which would have provided revenue generated from a 1 % sales tax increase to be used in support of the Saguache County Sheriff’s Department including staff training, and the maintenance and construction of a new jail and justice center.
There were 1,170 votes cast in favor but the measure was defeated with 1,486 voters declining their support of the initiative.
It was no surprise that both Democratic candidates for Saguache County Commissioners will retain their perspective seat on the Board of County Commissioners as both races were uncontested. Democrat Jason Anderson garnered 1,827 votes and Ken Anderson secured 1,830 votes at the booths yesterday
For complete Election 2016 results tallied from Saguache County, please visit the Colorado Secretary of State’s official website HERE.
New Judge Ulrich Appointed for Saguache County
Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed Anna N. Ulrich to serve as a county court judge in Saguache County in the 12th Judicial District and Kimberly D. Cortez-Rodriguez to serve as county court judge in Conejos County in the 12th Judicial District. Ulrich will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Amanda K. Pearson and Cortez-Rodriguez will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Susan I. Broyles.
Ulrich has been a sole practitioner with Anna N.H. Ulrich, Attorney at Law, LLC since 2006. While maintaining her solo practice, she has also worked as an Assistant County Attorney for Chaffee County. Prior to opening her own practice, she was a research attorney for the 12th Judicial District; an associate attorney at Greene, Meyer & McElroy, P.C., in Boulder; and an associate attorney at Maynes, Bradford, Shipps & Sheftel, LLP, in Durango. She earned her bachelor’s from Trinity University and her J.D. from the University of Colorado Law School.
Cortez-Rodriguez is currently the Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator for the 12th Judicial District, a position she has held since January 2013. Prior to her employment in the court, she was an associate attorney at Lester Sigmond Rooney & Schwiesow in Alamosa. Before joining the firm, she worked as a paralegal and temporary staff attorney for Colorado Legal Services. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and earned her J.D. from the University of Colorado Law School.
Cortez-Rodriquez’s appointment is effective January 10, 2017. Ulrich’s appointment is effective November 1, 2016.
County, City News in Saguache Today
It’s government news round up in Saguache Today.
First, The Saguache County Courthouse will close today at noon, so if you have any business that needs to get done, take care of it this morning, otherwise you’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning, when the building re-opens at 8 a.m.
The building is closing for the county’s Annual Employee Appreciation Picnic, so let’s hope they have a good day for it and enjoy those new picnic table built by Saguache Girl Scout
Secondly, the main entrance and handicap accessible entrance to the Saguache County Courthouse will be closed from September 12 – 30 for repairs to the steps. Residents and workers are asked to please use the West doors for entrance. This entrance can also provide access to the handicap lift, just ring the bell for assistance. The county apologies for any inconvenience.
In Town of Saguache news, residents should mark their calendars for the next Public Meeting to Discuss the purchase of the Dunn Building (Mason’s Building).
The meeting is going to be held on Monday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m., at the County Road and Bridge.
There are people who agree with the Town purchase of the building, and there are people who do not agree with the purchase the building. Please make time to attend this meeting and make your wishes known. During a July Town Board meeting, citizens requested that the issue be put on a ballot and allow the citizens to vote on it. The Trustees, by a nod of heads agreed to put it on a ballot and allow the citizens to vote on it. Since that meeting, certain members of the town board seem to be of the opinion that the Trustees should vote on whether the Town should purchase the building, instead of allowing the citizens to vote on it.
It is very important that residents come and let your thoughts, ideas and wishes be known.
Update from Congressman Scott Tipton
After learning that three million gallons of contaminated water were released into Cement Creek and the Animas River after the EPA breached the mine adit, I shared Coloradans’ concerns about the EPA’s lack of urgency and confusion over why the agency was performing the remediation without adequate engineering expertise on site when the accident occurred.
A year after the spill, I am still alarmed by the lack of accountability we have seen from the EPA. I recognize that the agency has made some progress, but we will continue to hold them to their word that they will take full responsibility for the spill, which includes ensuring clean drinking water and reimbursements for all affected communities.
What we have learned from the Gold King Mine accident is that it is clear we need a better approach when it comes to cleaning up contamination in old abandoned mine sites in Colorado and the West. This is an issue I have been focused on for years in Congress, as I have continuously worked toward passing Good Samaritan legislation. The idea at the heart of the Good Samaritan legislation is to remove existing hurdles that discourage Good Samaritan groups that have the technical expertise to conduct successful remediation from cleaning up abandoned mines and providing our communities and environment with a valuable service.
I have always contended that in order for Good Samaritan legislation to be effective, it must include strong permitting requirements to ensure that would-be Good Samaritans have the expertise and financial ability needed to responsibly take on these complex cleanup projects. But I also firmly believe that Good Samaritan groups must be protected from civilian-led civil lawsuits. Should a Good Samaritan group violate the conditions of its permit, it should be held accountable by the permitting authority.
One year after the Gold King Mine spill, we’re still working to make wronged parties whole and finalize a long-term solution to abandoned mine cleanup, but we’ve also witnessed the resilience and commitment of Coloradans. The resilience in the face of unimaginable, unexpected challenges and a commitment to restoring the health and beauty of our communities are characteristics that make me so proud to serve the people of the Third Congressional District of Colorado. Thank you for giving me this honor.
Political News: Update from Congressman Scott Tipton
Did you know there are 28 million small businesses in America and almost two thirds of all jobs in rural areas are created by small businesses? Those small businesses, especially in rural areas, face greater challenges than their more urban competitors. This is largely because their access to capital, technology and transportation is limited. As National Small Business Week has come and gone, please keep this in mind and make sure to support our district’s small businesses and the people who work hard to keep the doors open and Main Street thriving.
In addition to championing the spirit of National Small Business Week, the Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) received the Excellence and Innovation Center Award as well as winning the Region VIII award! I know firsthand just how important the SBDC’s work is in Southern Colorado. The center has played a vital role in helping entrepreneurs in Pueblo and throughout our communities gain access to job and networking opportunities, business skills training and counseling services.
Last week was also National Teacher Appreciation Week and 20 high schools in Colorado’s Third Congressional District have been nationally recognized as outstanding educational institutions by U.S. News & World Report! This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our incredible teachers. If you have not done so already, please join me and thousands of parents across our district to ?thank a teacher and recognize how important their work is to educate, inspire and guide young people to succeed in life.
Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it plans to commit additional funds for monitoring the water conditions of the Animas and San Juan Rivers. While I welcome the EPA’s announcement to provide additional funds to monitor water conditions I still maintain these resources should have been made available to San Juan and La Plata Counties, and all the affected communities and ecosystems for that matter, some time ago. With the Spring season upon us and mountain runoff churning up sediments which affect river conditions, we need the rapid implementation of accurate and real-time water monitoring systems in order to gauge each river’s recovery and overall health – especially as Silverton, Durango and so many others begin the tourism season.
Included in Congressman Tipton’s report were the following news item links . . . . . In Case You Missed It!
Denver Post: EPA to spend $600K more to monitor effects of Gold King Mine accident: The Environmental Protection Agency plans to spend another $600,000 to monitor the Animas River for pollution in the aftermath of last year’s ecological disaster at Colorado’s Gold King Mine. The infusion of cash was announced this week by U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner of Colorado; the two lawmakers, along with Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, had urged the EPA this spring to devote more resources to studying the river’s water quality. Read more here.
Montrose Daily Press: Heroin hitting DA’s resources: Growing addiction rates and lower prices for heroin have caught public resources in something of a perfect storm: While the drug does not originate in Montrose, its effect is seen here in overdose deaths, law enforcement investigations and at the District Attorney’s Office. U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, concerned with how the “national opioid epidemic” is affecting Montrose and the rest of the 3rd Congressional District, has cosponsored three new bills to help boost prevention and treatment. Read more here.
Bloomberg BNA: EPA Criticized for Size of Gold King Spill Reimbursements: The Environmental Protection Agency has paid more than $1 million in reimbursement for costs paid by local governments in the aftermath of the 2015 Gold King Mine spill in Colorado, where EPA investigators triggered the release of mining wastewater and sediment into a river. “This is par for the course with the EPA,” Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) said in an April 28 statement. Read more here.
Pueblo Chieftain- OpEd: U.S. needs unfair trade practices to end: The proud history of Pueblo is the history of steel making in the American west. Established in 1872, EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel (then known as the Colorado Fuel and Iron Co.) helped build the American West by providing affordable steel and iron to the western territories and the nation’s expanding rail systems. As a company, and as an industry, we are working with members of Congress to urge the Obama administration to take aggressive action to stem the tide of unfairly traded steel products being dumped on our shores. We have strong bi-partisan support and are particularly grateful for the solid support and leadership of Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, both of whom have been strong supporters of the steel mill and are working hard with us to address these current challenges. Read more here.
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: Drones could fight fires, Tipton says: The next big thing in fighting wildfires might be the drone, said U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo. Unmanned aerial vehicles, frequently referred to as drones, could aid firefighters on the ground, as well as help with forest management, Tipton said after a briefing with U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., about the U.S. Forest Service’s use of unmanned aerial systems. Read more here.
Denver Post: Trapper Mine can remain operational following environmental review: Trapper Mine will remain operational and continue to employ more than 180 people following the completion of a court-ordered environmental assessment. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., released a statement Friday welcoming the Department of Interior’s announcement that the assessment had been completed by the April 30 deadline. Gardner, along with Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., had sent a letter to the department in December urging them to complete the assessment in a “timely manner.” Read more here.
Special Session Tonight Regarding Town Administrator
Tonight, Monday, April 25 the Saguache Town Board has set a special session meeting at 6 p.m. to discuss whether to go forward and hire a Town Administrator. This meeting is open to all public and will be held at the Town Hall located at 504 San Juan Avenue.
Recently the Town of Saguache received a $98,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). This grant money is specifically earmarked to enable Saguache to hire a town administrator. At tonight’s special session, if the majority of Trustees vote no, then the town will need to return the grant money to DOLA.
According to the town’s website, Akia Tanara has been working under a contract to jumpstart projects like repairing local sewer lines.
While the town’s old system is not leaking sewage, the pipes do allow sub-irrigation water to get into the system, causing the sewer lagoon to take in over the amount of effluent allowed by the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment. If the problem is not fixed, the town will likely be required to build a multi-million-dollar waste treatment plant. The DOLA grant pays 75 percent of a town administrator’s salary the first year, 50 percent the second year and 25 percent the third year.
The former town board who initiated the possibility felt that this grant makes it possible for the town to hire an administrator without taxing the town budget. The hope is that the position of Town Administrator can be self-sustaining.
“One of the major responsibilities of an administrator would be to write and administer grants for projects—for instance, to fix the sewer system, pave streets and remodel the Community Building and add a commercial kitchen,” said Saguache Town Mayor Greg Terrell. “Not only would grant money pay the lion’s share of the projects costs, but various grants also allow us to add up to 15 percent of the total amount to cover administrative costs. That means the actual cost of an administrator could be zero.”
Saguache Votes Yes on Tax; Elects Mayor, Trustees
By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today
Saguache town residents voted in favor of a 1% sales tax measure to continue funding additional law enforcement presence within town limits. When the tally was complete, Saguache voters caste120 votes in favor, 65 against for the Saguache Sales Tax Increase. Official Report.
According to Saguache Town Clerk Rese Garcia, stated that the tax increase will go into effect on July 1, 2016.
Propelled by an increase in property-related crimes such as auto theft, local residents voted to make the long-term financial commitment for added patrols in town.
So what does that mean? Where do things go from here? According to Saguache Mayor Greg Terrell (more on that race’s results below), the Town of Saguache has committed to the additional patrols through 2016 and now voters have extended that coverage with today’s vote.
Residents may recall that the Town Board of Trustees budgeted $20,000 for law enforcement for 2016. Then, in a special session on January 21 the board voted unanimously to “dip into the reserves” for the additional $30,000 in order to come up with the $50,000 price tag Saguache County Sheriff Warwick presented as the cost for an additional officer. In February, Saguache Town officials inked the final contact with the county and additional patrols within the town limits began immediately.
“We’re looking to get law enforcement back on track,” stated Mayor Terrell referring to the financial commitment of added patrols. So residents will continue to see additional law enforcement presence and with the additional revenue, sustaining that during next fall’s budget discussions will make things a bit easier for the town board.
To that end, the following four candidates received the top votes for town board: LINK.
Loren Aldrich (104 votes) – Loren Aldrich is new to the community. Previously from the small town of Vanmeter Iowa, he brings previous board experience to the table. Loren served on the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Council in Dallas County Iowa.
And finally Mayor Greg Terrell will keep his position as leader of this small, rural community for another four years as voters cast 104 votes in his favorite for re-election.
“Thanks to everyone who voted,” stated Terrell. The incumbent beat out three competitors with 104 votes, challengers had the following ballot counts: Janice Torrez (58 votes) , David Chavez (15 votes) and Dwayne Jett (5 votes).
On the horizon for Terrrell and the town board are continuing efforts to address the town’s antiquated infrastructure. He believes the most pressing issue facing Saguache Today is water. Mayor Terrell and the board are currently researching to find the best possible solution in terms of cost and implementation that will insure that Saguache’s water supply will be able to meet the needs and budget of the users and fulfill the requirements of the State of Colorado. Stay Tuned!
The newly elected Mayor and Town Board Trustees will be sworn in and take office at the next town meeting which will be held on April 19 at Town Hall located at 504 San Juan Avenue. Congratulations and Best of Luck to all!
Deputy Diagnosed with Cancer, Funds Sought to Help
It’s times like these that you can always count on small town folks to come together. With that in mind, please consider donating to the GoFundMe page established for Saguache County Deputy Steve Hansen.
On January 5, Deputy Hansen was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer and underwent emergency surgery over the Christmas holiday. As of this post, Steve has now had a total of 3 surgeries and is anticipated to undergo at least 6 months of Chemotherapy.
The 37-year-old officer has no family history of this disease, and the diagnosis is a complete shock to family and friends. Deputy Hansen’s wife Kristen is a teacher at Mountain Valley Schools in Saguache they are the parents of Ron and Wyoma Hansen
Earlier this week a GoFundMe account was established by Kristen’s mother who understands the financial constraints that such a medical emergency can represent to rural families who choose to serve in rural law enforcement and schools.
“Steve being a police officer and my daughter a high school teacher in a rural school district, both do not have occupations with high paying salaries,.” its states on the fundraising page. “Like most young couples, they live from paycheck to paycheck.”
There is no way of knowing how much financial hardship these two hard working people are going to be up against with this unexpected Cancer diagnosis. Steve and Kristen appreciate any assistance with their situation that can be provided. If financial assistance is not within your ability, please help with prayers: Miracles happen with prayer, the family stated on the GoFundMe page.
For readers who may not be familiar with this online fundraising avenue, GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events and people. In Deputy Hansen case, the funds donated through this secured site will help defray medical costs associated with his medical treatment and other expenses that the family will incur during Steve’s treatment and absence from work.
Human Remains Found in Saguache County
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been requested by the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) to assist in the recovery of human remains located between highways 17 and 285 in Saguache County.
A CBI team along with the SCSO recovered the human remains late last week. The investigative efforts now shift to the identification of the remains by the team.
Additional details will be released as information becomes available.
About Colorado Bureau of Investigation: Created by the Colorado Legislature on July 1, 1967, CBI was intended to support and assist local, county and state criminal justice agencies through the provision of professional investigative and forensic laboratory services, as well as the management and administration of criminal justice records and data sharing.
Town of Saguache April Election Deadline Near
It’s 2016 – The big Election Year! And while a majority of the focus and media attention will be on November’s Presidential Election, local elections matter just as much, if not more so, especially in small, rural communities like Saguache.
To that end, here’s a simple reminder about the Saguache Town election which will be held – 12 weeks from today – on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.
The Town of Saguache Board of Trustees includes a mayor elected at-large and 6 Trustees elected at-large. This April, voters will fill 4 (four) of those positions, including the Mayor.
According to the Town of Saguache website, some of those terms are for two years, and some are for four years. Officers can serve a total eight consecutive years. Municipal elections are non-partisan. In order to be eligible to be a candidate you must be: a U.S. Citizen, a registered town voter, at least 18 years of age on Election Day, and a Town of Saguache full-time resident for (1) year prior to the date of the election. Petitions are available now and require obtaining 20 signatures from Saguache registered voters. According to the Town’s website, deadline for petitions is Monday, January 25, 2016.
For information about running for office, call the Town Clerk‘s Office, 719-655-2232, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To pick up a packet in person, please go to the Saguache Town Hall at 504 San Juan Avenue.
It’s Vote Time! Saguache to Elect New School Board
At the local level, in the election for Director, Member-At-Large for the Mountain Valley School District, Saguache County voters will check the boxes for three of the four names on the ballot: Christan R Archuleta, Mona Kay Lovato, Randy Arredondo, and Lacy N Reed.
The only statewide ballot question for today’s election – Prop BB – asks voters if the state should keep $66 million dollars in marijuana taxes, which it has already collected, to spend on schools and drug-abuse prevention? A vote against Prop BB forces some $25 million in refunds, ranging from $6 – $16, depending on the filer’s income.
The best of luck to all who have run for office or canvassed for a cause. Saguache Today will be reporting the latest results as they become available, on the website, and via Social Media on Facebook and Twitter. Stay Tuned!