Saguache News – April 4

Saguache Elects Mayor, Trustees for Town Board

Saguache Town voters went to the polls on Tuesday, April 3 and elected Elvie Samora as Mayor, to serve another four years. Samora is presently the Mayor having been appointed to the position in the middle of what was a tumultuous year of politics for a small town of 500 residents. According to Town Clerk Iris Garcia who posted the unofficial election results on the town’s website, Samora tallied 131 votes, followed by Mike Wheeler with 58 votes and 19-year-old Write-In Candidate Julian Miller captured 6 ballots.

Meet Candidates Town Saguache Today

The Meet The Candidates event held on March 31 in anticipation of the April 3 election was well attended. The political forum is sponsored by the Saguache Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

As for the Board of Trustees, Saguache’s decision at the booth reflected an emerging trend for the 2018 election process – more women in office – as five of the seven choices were determined by the 199 voters who exercised their constitutional rights yesterday. The numbers are as follows.

  • Amber Wilson, 152 votes – 4 year term
  • Wyoma J. Hansen, 142 votes – 4 Year Term
  • Loren J. Aldrich, 132 votes – 2 Year Term
  • Janice Torrez, 123 votes – 2 Year Term
  • Randy Arredondo, 122 votes – 2 year term
  • Timothy H. Chittum, 112 votes – not elected
  • Terry Michael Gillette, 102 votes- not elected

Since almost all the winners are currently serving in their elected positions, it was clear that voters were looking for Trustees with experience and continuity in governance as the Town moves forward on a number of pressing issues, from a new sewer system to complicated water augmentation upgrades. Congratulations to all and thank you for your willingness to serve. 

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Elected Town Board Trustee Randy Arredondo (left) and elected Saguache Mayor Elvie Samora (right) participate in last Saturday’s Meet The Candidate political forum. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

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Saguache News – April 2

Meet The Candidates for Tuesday Election

On Saturday, March 31 a Meet The Candidates event was held as an opportunity for voters to get to know their Board of Trustees and Mayor options for TOMORROW’s Saguache Town election on Tuesday April 3. The event was sponsored by the Saguache Chamber of Commerce and Saguache Today was there to record the event so that voters who did not have an opportunity to attend may inform themselves about the candidates and what they stands for including their approach to leadership. So #InCaseYouMissedIt, click play or watch the video directly on the Saguache Today You Tube channel.

The Town Election will be held on Tuesday, April 3 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. at Saguache Town Hall. So, it’s time to Meet Your Candidates! According to Iris Garcia, the Saguache Town Clerk, who is charged with coordinating town elections, the following is the list of the candidates as they will appear on the ballot.

Saguache Town Hall post

The Saguache Town Hall is located at 504 San Juan Avenue. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

First, up are the Town Trustee Candidates. The top five – out of seven – vote getters will fill the five (of 6!) open Trustee positions. 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.

  • Terry Michael Gillette 
  • Randy Arredondo 
  • Amber Wilson 
  • Loren J. Aldrich 
  • Janice Torrez 
  • Timothy H. Chittum 
  • Wyoma J. Hansen

Candidates for Mayor of Saguache

The following list of candidates was acquired from the Town’s Clerk Iris Garcia:

  • Elvie M. Samora
  • Michael Ray Wheeler
  • Write In Candidate: Julian Miller 

Saguache Today will be reporting the April 3 elections results as they become available from the Town Clerk. For additional information about the Town of Saguache elections, call the Town Clerk’s Office, 719-655-2232, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email townclerk@townofsaguache.org. The Saguache Town Hall is located at 504 San Juan Avenue. 

Meet Candidates Town Saguache Today

The Meet The Candidates event for the upcoming election to determine the Mayor and five Town Trustees was well attended in anticipation of the April 3 Election. The political forum is sponsored by the Saguache Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

 

 

 

Saguache News – April 1

Easter Celebrated in Saguache Today

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St. Agnes Catholic Mission Church in Saguache.

St. Agnes Catholic Mission Church in Saguache will be celebrating Easter Mass at 8 a.m. today, April 1. Everyone is welcome at the service.

St. Agnes Church is located right off Highway 285, across from The Saguache Market. The historic church is part of the San Juan Catholic Community, with Rev. Derreck Scott serving as Pastor and Administrator. Their district office is located at 425 Batterson Street in Monte Vista, CO and can be reached by phone at 719-852-26673 or email at sanjuancatholiccommunity@gmail.com.

Easter Egg Hunt in Saguache Today

Today there will be an Easter Egg Hunt in Saguache Today, April 1 at Otto Mears Park. Children of all ages are invited to join the fun starting at 11 a.m. There will be an egg hunt, drawing for prizes, balloon toss, and giveaways. 

Saguache News – March 31

Have a Blessed Easter in Saguache

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Easter Services for St. Angus Catholic Church in Saguache will be at 8 a.m. Easter Sunday. Photo: Saguache Today

 

Saguache News – March 30

Meet Candidates on Saturday for Town Election 

With the Town of Saguache Election just days away on Tuesday, April 3, it’s time for a political roundup report. Vote_electionTomorrow, March 31 there will be a Meet The Candidates event sponsored by the Saguache Chamber of Commerce at the Road & Bridge conference room starting at 2 p.m.

 

The event gives candidates for Town Trustees, as well as the Mayor of Saguache an opportunity to describe their background, qualifications and reasons they are running for office. Saguache Today will be there to report on the event and share that information for voters who will not able to attend the forum. 

The Town Election will be held on Tuesday, April 3 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. at Saguache Town Hall. So, it’s time to Meet Your Candidates! According to Iris Garcia, the Saguache Town Clerk, who is charged with coordinating town elections, the following is the list of the candidates as they will appear on the ballot.

Saguache Town Hall post

The Saguache Town Hall is located at 504 San Juan Avenue. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

First, up are the Town Trustee Candidates. The top five – out of seven – vote getters will fill the five (of 6!) open Trustee positions. 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.

  • Terry Michael Gillette 
  • Randy Arredondo 
  • Amber Wilson 
  • Loren J. Aldrich 
  • Janice Torrez 
  • Timothy H. Chittum 
  • Wyoma J. Hansen

Candidates for Mayor of Saguache

The following list of candidates was acquired from the Town’s Clerk Iris Garcia:

  • Elvie M. Samora
  • Michael Ray Wheeler
  • Write In Candidate: Julian Miller 

Saguache Today will be reporting the April 3 elections results as they become available from the Town Clerk. For additional information about the Town of Saguache elections, call the Town Clerk’s Office, 719-655-2232, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email townclerk@townofsaguache.org. The Saguache Town Hall is located at 504 San Juan Avenue. 

 

 

 

Saguache News – March 26

Trail Maintenance Backlog Finally Addressed 

When you are home to the highest summit of the La Garita Mountains range, people are bound to be drawn to Saguache County’s beloved San Luis Peak which provides a daily dramatic backdrop for those living in Saguache Today.

San Luis Peak map1

The San Luis Peak, a lofty 14,022 fourteener which is located in the Gunnison National Forest portion of the La Garita Wilderness in Saguache County will be getting some much needed trail work at the end of this summer.

And while most Continental Trail adventurers may only see the San Luis Valley from a birds-eye view as a vantage point along the popular route, it’s good to know those hikers will see some improvements to the trail this season. In fact, it’s all part of a larger, national trail maintenance that will be put into motion this summer. And fortunately, that includes a 14er in Saguache Today!

Last month, Saguache County heard some good news from Washington’s D.C.  On Friday, Feb. 16, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the selection of 15 priority areas to help address the more than $300 million trail maintenance backlog on national forests and grasslands.

Included on the list was Colorado Fourteeners and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail programs (details below) which has a nearby trailhead and access point in Saguache County, for the San Luis Peak which is part of the La Garita wilderness area. More on that specific local project – including job and volunteer opportunities – is listed below, but first things first.

How did maintenance get backlogged with trail system? 

“The trail maintenance backlog was years in the making with a combination of factors contributing to the problem, including an outdated funding mechanism that routinely borrows money from programs, such as trails, to combat ongoing wildfires,” Secretary Perdue said, adding:  “This borrowing from within the agency interferes with other vital work, including ensuring that our more than 158,000 miles of well-loved trails provide access to public lands, do not harm natural resources, and, most importantly, provide safe passage for our users.”

Focused trail work in these areas, bolstered by partners and volunteers, is expected to help address needed infrastructure work so that trails managed by USDA Forest Service can be accessed and safely enjoyed by a wide variety of trails enthusiasts.  About 25 percent of agency trails fit those standards while the condition of other trails lag behind.

“Our nation’s trails are a vital part of the American landscape and rural economies, and these priority areas are a major first step in USDA’s on-the-ground responsibility to make trails better and safer,” stated Secretary Perdue.

Bishop Investigation_Forest Sign

This trail-head access point located one mile west of the Town of Saguache is also popular among summer hikers and is part of the Rio Grande National Forest and The San Luis Resource Area, which is managed by the US Forest Service.

This year the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Systems Act which established America’s system of national scenic, historic, and recreation trails. A year focused on trails presents a pivotal opportunity for the Forest Service and partners to lead a shift toward a system of sustainable trails that are maintained through even broader shared stewardship.

The priority areas focus on trails that meet the requirements of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016 (PDF, 224KB), which calls for the designation of up to 15 high priority areas where a lack of maintenance has led to reduced access to public land; increased risk of harm to natural resources; public safety hazards; impassable trails; or increased future trail maintenance costs. The act also requires the Forest Service to “significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance” and to aim to double trail maintenance accomplished by volunteers and partners.

“Our communities, volunteers and partners know that trails play an important role in the health of local economies and of millions of people nationwide, which means the enormity of our trail maintenance backlog must be adequately addressed now,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke. “The agency has a commitment to be a good neighbor, recognizing that people and communities rely on these trails to connect with each other and with nature.”

Each year, more than 84 million people get outside to explore, exercise and play on trails across national forests and grasslands and visits to these places help to generate 143,000 jobs annually through the recreation economy and more than $9 million in visitor spending.

The 15 national trail maintenance priority areas encompass large areas of land and each have committed partners to help get the work accomplished. Specific details regarding the San Luis Peak project are listed after these national trail details:

  • Colorado Fourteeners: Each year, hundreds of thousands of hikers trek along over 200 miles of trail to access Colorado’s mountains that are higher than 14,000 feet. The Forest Service manages 48 of the 54 fourteeners, as they are commonly called.
  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico: The trail’s 3,100 continuous miles follows the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada, including more than 1,900 miles of trails across 20 national forests. The trail runs a diverse route with some sections in designated wilderness areas and others running through towns, providing those communities with the opportunity to boost the local economy with tourism dollars.
  • Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and Adjacent Lands, Montana: The area includes the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Great Bear Wilderness Areas and most of the Hungry Horse, Glacier View, and Swan Lake Ranger Districts on the Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana on both sides of the Continental Divide. There are more than 3,200 miles of trails within the area, including about 1,700 wilderness miles.
  • Methow Valley Ranger District, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington: Methow Valley is a rural recreation-based community surrounded by more than 1.3 million acres of managed by the Forest Service. The area includes trails through the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Areas and more than 130 miles of National Pacific Crest and Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trails.
  • Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Eagle Cap Wilderness, Idaho and Oregon: This area includes more than 1,200 miles of trail and the deepest river canyon in North America as well as the remote alpine terrain of the Seven Devil’s mountain range. The area also has 350,000 acres in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the largest in Oregon.
  • Central Idaho Wilderness Complex, Idaho and Montana: The area includes about 9,600 miles of trails through the Frank Church River of No Return; Gospel Hump; most of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness areas; portions of the Payette, Salmon-Challis, Nez Perce and Clearwater national forests; and most of the surrounding lands. The trails inside and outside of wilderness form a network of routes that give access into some of the most remote country in the Lower 48.
  • Wyoming Forest Gateway Communities: Nearly 1,000 miles of trail stretch across the almost 10 million acres of agency-managed lands in Wyoming, which include six national forests and one national grassland. The contribution to the state’s outdoor recreation economy is therefore extremely important in the state.
  • Northern California Wilderness, Marble Mountain and Trinity Alps: There are more than 700 miles of trails through these wilderness areas, which are characterized by very steep mountain terrain in fire-dependent ecosystems that are subject to heavy winter rainfall and/or snow. As such, they are subject to threat from flooding, washout, landslide and other erosion type events which, combined with wildfires, wash out trails and obstruct passage.
  • Angeles National Forest, California: The area, which includes nearly 1,000 miles of trails, is immediately adjacent to the greater Los Angeles area where 15 million people live within 90 minutes and more than 3 million visit. Many of those visitors are young people from disadvantaged communities without local parks.
  • Greater Prescott Trail System, Arizona: This 300-mile system of trails is a demonstration of work between the Forest Service and multiple partners. The system is integrated with all public lands at the federal, state and local level to generate a community-based trail system.
  • Sedona Red Rock Ranger District Trail System, Coconino National Forest, Arizona: About 400 miles of trail provide a wide diversity of experiences with year-round trail opportunities, including world-class mountain biking in cooler months and streamside hiking in the heat of the summer.
  • Superior National Forest, Minnesota: The more than 2,300 miles of trail on this forest have faced many catastrophic events, including large fires and a major wind storm downed millions of trees in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 1999. A similar storm in 2016 reached winds up to 85 mph and toppled trees on several thousand acres and made the western 13 miles of Kekekabic Trail impassible.
  • White Mountain National Forest Partner Complex, Maine and New Hampshire: Approximately 600 miles of non-motorized trails are maintained by partners. Another 600 miles of motorized snowmobile trails are adopted and maintained by several clubs. Much of that work centers on providing safe public access to the mountain and valleys of New Hampshire and Maine.
  • Southern Appalachians Capacity Enhancement Model, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia: The more than 6,300 miles of trails in this sub region include some of the most heavily used trails in the country yet only 28 percent meet or exceed agency standards. The work required to bring these trails to standard will require every tool available from partner and volunteer skills to contracts with professional trail builders.
  • Iditarod National Historic Trail Southern Trek, Alaska: In southcentral Alaska, the Southern Trek is in close proximity to more than half the state’s population and connects with one of the most heavily traveled highways in the state. The Chugach National Forest and partners are restoring and developing more than 180 miles of the trail system, connecting the communities of Seward, Moose Pass, Whittier, and Girdwood.

For more information about the USDA Forest Service, CLICK

San Luis Peak To Benefit from Trail Project

San Luis Peak

The San Luis Peak Backcountry Project will take place this summers. Job opportunities are available and volunteers are needed. Photo: 14ers.com

Even its unique, set apart location from the rest of the San Juan Mountains, makes San Luis Peak stand out in its more wilderness setting, situated to the east of the other fourteeners. But thanks to a national trail maintenance commitment from the US Forest Service, this prominent 14,022′ fourteener which is located in the Gunnison National Forest portion of the La Garita Wilderness in Saguache County, will be getting some much needed work at the end of this summer. Here are the details and contact information.

The San Luis Peak Backcountry Project will take place from August 30 – September 2. Volunteers interesting in siging up to help will get to explore one of the least-trafficked Fourteener routes in the state on this four-day backpacking project. Due to the remoteness of this peak and the commitment needed to make it to the trail-head, coordinators recommend only experienced volunteers register for this project. 

On this trip, volunteers will perform valuable restoration work and light trail maintenance. On Day One you’ll meet up at the trail-head and backpack about 5-6 miles before setting up camp near treeline. On Day Two and Three you’ll hike a short distance from base camp to the project work-site. Return to camp each evening to enjoy the solitude of the La Garita Wilderness and the camaraderie of your crewmates. You will pack up camp and hike out on Day Four.

  • When: Thursday, August 30 through Sunday, September 2
  • Project type: Overnight backpacking, trail maintenance
  • Food: Colorado Fourteener Initiative (CFI) will provide all food from dinner on Thursday through breakfast on Sunday. If you have special dietary restrictions please contact hannah@14ers.org or plan to bring your own meals.
  • What to bring: CFI will provide a full packing list of necessary equipment, including your own backpacking gear (backpack, tent, sleeping bag, etc.). What not to bring: CFI will provide all trail tools necessary for the project and all cooking/kitchen equipment.

 

 

 

 

Saguache News – March 23

SLV Conference: 2017 Highlights Branding

By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today

The San Luis Valley Tourism Association (SLVTA) held its annual conference in Alamosa at Adams State University on February 21. Saguache Today was there to find out what’s new in the valley and also spread the good news about what’s happening in Saguache Today.San Luis Valley Assoc Logo

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” was one of the primary themes among all the various agencies and tourist-related businesses represented at the annual conference. A spirit of cooperation, combined with the competition was encouraged, resulting in a relatively new buzz word for many rural Colorado communities: “coopetition.”

The SLVTA   is comprised of six counties: Saguache, Alamosa, Rio Grande, Conejos, Costilla, and Mineral. Each area has wonderful, unique things to offer, from towering mountain ranges, and flat prairies, to hot springs spas and rough and tumble rodeos. The regions rich heritage is celebrated with the renovation of historic buildings and tourist trains, to new cultural-agriculture projects which are keeping generations tethered together through community gardens and eclectic music venues. 

The area represented by this tourism association is big and wide spread. But, as attendees learned during a lighter moment in the conference, the SLV is also so tightly knit together, that it was discovered that the Great Sand Dunes Ranger’s father/physician delivered the mayor of Antonito’s mother-in-law!

And so, in that spirit of coopetition about 60 key players and SLV partners came together for a catch up, of sorts at the annual conference. Saguache Today will be bringing readers those updates in preparation for the summer tourist season. It’s good to know what’s happening whether it’s the new community garden in Conejos County or when the theater season kicks off in Creede.

So, read on, and stay tuned to find out what’s happening in the valley and what the future of tourism looks like.

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The San Luis Valley Tourism Association drew a good crowd during their annual conference last February. The organization comprises of representatives from six counties who are all part of tourism in the SLV. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

SLVTA Highlights “Keep It Cool” Campaign

Jay Young with the San Luis Valley Tourism Association (SLVTA) and owner of Colorado Gators Reptile Park in Mosca, kicked off the annual conference with an overview of the tourism association’s 2017 activities and marketing efforts. Since the group is relatively new, much of the focus in 2017 was on branding and marketing strategies.

Last year, explained Young, the SLVTA put into play the monies secured from a Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) grant. A majority of those funds went into the “Keep it Cool” Campaign, which included a SLVTA map and brochure. Over 100,000 were printed and placed in the Colorado welcome centers, as well as distributed in the Grand Canyon corridor, encouraging Arizona residents to come up out of the summer heat. Part of those CTO monies also helped to purchase two billboards in Denver from April – August 2017, during the warmer months. Many people mentioned seeing the signs, reported Young.  The SLVTA also purchased print ads in Discover Taos and Colorado.com magazines. The 2017 “Keep It Cool” campaign was touted a success bringing more people into the valley to visit.SLVTAKeep Cool

Looking ahead into 2018, while the CTO grant funds will not be available for this year’s budget, the SLVTA’s marketing efforts are still keenly focused, just on a smaller scale to stay in line with the budget. The “Keep It Cool” campaign continues offering visitors a reprieve from warmer temperatures. All in attendance at the conference predicted a busier summer season for 2018. Is your business ready?

Readers can stay connected to the Visit San Luis Valley Facebook page, which is the most up-to-date communication method and maintained by SLVTA board member, the fabulous Kat Hazleton Olance who is also the president of the San Luis Valley Museum Association.

Later in the conference, the six counties that represent the SLVTA were given an opportunity to update attendees about what is happening in their areas and what’s on the horizon for 2018. Since each report is rather detailed, we’ll be breaking it up a bit at a time through the spring season. For today’s closing report, Saguache Today brings you the latest from the Gator Park!

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The new Gator Lagoon is complete at the Colorado Gator and Reptile Park located in Mosca off Highway 17 in the beautiful San Luis Valley.

Colorado Gators Reptile Park – is one of the Valley’s most unique attractions!  The Park originally began in 1977 as a fish farm, using geothermal water to grow tilapia for human consumption.  All of the tilapia are sold live, but of course not all of the fish live to go to market; so in 1987 the owners purchased 100 baby alligators to eat the dead fish.  Soon people found out about the alligators and wanted to see them so in 1990 Colorado Gators opened to the public.  Before long people were dropping off their unwanted/illegal pet alligators.  Today Colorado Gators is an alligator and reptile rescue, home to 300 alligators, crocodiles, caiman, and hundreds of other reptiles including giant pythons, rattlesnakes, huge lizards, turtles and tortoises, and so much more!  

Colorado Gators Reptile Park is located in the heart of the SLV and is “the only high-altitude alligator farm,” now a full blown tourist attraction. The idea stemmed from convenience, really, as the site was originally a fish farm and the best way to dispose of the remains of that venture were gators.  Today they also offer classes in gator wresting. Now, that’s got to be on somebody’s birthday wish list!

And if you’re looking for something a bit more subdued but that will capture the attention of your friends and followers, then remember, every visitor to Colorado Gators has the opportunity to meet, pet, hold, and take pictures with a little alligator!  For $2 visitors can buy a bucket of “Gator Chow” to feed the alligators, and occasionally there will be dead fish available to feed to the alligators as well!  The park also has several large African Sulcata tortoises that wander freely throughout their own sections of the tour.  Feel free to pet these tortoises, but watch your step, there are several low “tortoise fences” to keep each tortoise in his or her section.  

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Mr. Bo Mangles is one of 5 albino alligators on display at Colorado Gators. There are only about 50 albino alligators in the world. Photo: Colorado Gators Reptile Park.

Two of their most popular exhibits are the albino alligators, including Mr. Bo Mangles, and Morris the Hollywood alligator from “Happy Gilmore.”  Some of the other reptiles you can see at Colorado Gators Reptile Park are:  fearsome Nile crocodiles, Burmese pythons, a 17′ reticulated python, anacondas, red tail boas, 3 species of rattlesnakes, monitor lizards, tegus, geckos, iguanas, box turtles, snapping turtles, and caiman.

Who knew, a zoo, right in the middle of the San Luis Valley?! For more information visit: Colorado Gators. The Colorado Gators Reptile Park is located at 9162 CR 9 N Mosca, CO 81146. Phone: (719) 378-2612 Connect with them on Facebook

That’s all for the first report from the SLVTA Annual Conference. Stay tuned for more updates and feel free to send Saguache Today your news. ST primarily focuses on things happening in Saguache and Saguache County, but we’ll do our best to help spread the word about things happening throughout the valley. You can email documents, photos and video to info@saguachetoday.com.

Kathy Bedell is a Colorado journalist who owns The Great Pumpkin, LLC, a digital media company located in Leadville, Colorado. She publishes two online news sites: Leadville Today and Saguache Today.