Saguache News – August 5

St. John Church Gets New Life

Several dozen Catholic faithful, along with historic preservationists packed the St. John the Baptist in La Garita on July 28 to celebrate the most recent milestone of a new roof and ongoing efforts to restore the historic structure.  

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The pews were full at the St. John the Baptist in La Garita on July 28 as the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center celebrated Mass along with a new roof and cross for the historic building located in Saguache Today.

Father Pat Valdez, a San Luis Valley (SLV) native and former Pastor of Sangre De Cristo Parish in San Luis, Colorado celebrated Mass, followed by a community lunch. Afterwards attendees were treated to a presentation entitled. “Remembering Our Catholic Ancestors in the San Luis Valley,” by Kathy Archuleta, whose family’s foundation – the Archuleta Family Foundation – has been instrumental in helping the Pueblo Diocese, who own the facility, keep this part of the SLV’s history alive!

The San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center’s 2018 Summer Events continues at the end of this month with another presentation scheduled for Wednesday, August 29: “Passion of St. John the Baptist.”  

For readers unfamiliar with the center, it is a unique 10-acre site that offers a historical view of cultural traditions and a Catholic way of life brought from old Spain by the first Hispano settlers who traveled to the Spanish northern frontier from New Mexico.

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A new roof and cross for the church’s steeple were celebrated with Mass, a community meal and presentation about the Catholics influence in the San Luis Valley on July 28. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

As noted on the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center’s website, it’s a place of panoramic beauty, in the northern portion of the San Luis Valley, protected by the rugged San Juan Mountain Range to the west and looks across the vast valley floor towards the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east.

As a visitor, you can trace the path of the Hispano settlers when you see St. John the Baptist Catholic Church; as you pause at the site of the ruins of the old convent, now a monument dedicated to San Juan Bautista; as you wander through the rows of graves in the Carnero Creek Cemetery you can see family inscriptions and old gravesite markers; and finally, as you look upon a recent addition to the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center, a Rosary Walk dedicated to Saint John Paul II.

And if you like scenic natural beauty to accompany your spiritual quests, then the view from the “top of the hill” will not disappoint.  

In 2007, a revitalization of the church and the surrounding property was inspired and guided by Father Joseph Vigil of the San Juan Catholic Community.  Through his efforts, a renewed pride emerged for the treasure and beauty of the tradition and history of the church.   As a result, the interior of the church has been restored, and the grounds now include walkways, a monument dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and a rosary walk dedicated to St. John Paul II.  

Then according to their website, early this spring, the Pueblo Diocese accepted the Archuleta Family Foundation’s request to donate and manage replacement of the church roof.  Not only did they give the approval to more forward but offered wonderful support in the efforts at the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center. They were fortunate to receive great work from ZTEC Construction who traveled each day from La Jara, Colorado. 

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With thanks to the Archuleta Family Foundation, the roof to the St. John the Baptist Church in La Garita was replace this spring. Photo: San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center webiste.

During the roof replacement, it was discovered that the steeple’s cross was very weather-beaten and needed to be replaced.  A new cross was built by Ed Kulp with the help of his wife Kathy.  It was Ed who envisioned the concept of the St. John Paul II Rosary Walk and also constructed the decade monuments.  Ed and Kathy are closely involved with the Archuleta Family Foundation in maintaining and planning events for the Spiritual Center. When the cross was ready to be installed, Fr. Stephen Injoalu, from the San Juan Catholic Community in Monte Vista, blessed the cross.

Collectively, the St. John Church and surrounding features comprise the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center, dedicated to the courageous Hispano people who settled in La Garita and to the Priests and Sisters that supported them in their Catholic faith.  It is also dedicated to the Penitentes who helped keep the Catholic faith alive in the absence of priests during the early settlement.

So if there are any Saguache Today readers who are looking for a “place of peace, prayer and reflection in the San Luis Valley,” head toward La Garita and the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center and take advantage their next program, the last one this summer on August 29!

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Hollyhocks are in bloom along the St. John Paul II Rosary Walk at the San Juan Catholic Spiritual Center in La Garita. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell


Saguache News – August 2

Protect Your Land – Help From Forest Service

It’s good news, but there is a deadline. Colorado landowners who want to protect environmentally valuable private forest areas that could someday be threatened by development or conversion to other non-forest uses – and who desire to receive monetary compensation in the process – now have the opportunity to submit proposals to protect their forestlands.

Saguache Today_Pine Tree

The purpose of the Colorado Forest Legacy Program is to protect environmentally important private forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. For more info, CLICK.

This month the Colorado State Forest Service is accepting Forest Legacy Program proposals from Colorado landowners. The program authorizes the CSFS or U.S. Forest Service to purchase permanent conservation easements on private forestlands to prevent those lands from being converted to non-forest uses.

The application deadline is August 31, 2018, for federal fiscal year 2020 funding. Proposals must be submitted by standard mail. (Note that this is an extension from a previously released deadline of July 28.)

image006 (1)The purpose of the Colorado Forest Legacy Program is to protect environmentally important private forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. The program provides an opportunity for private landowners to retain ownership and management of their land, while receiving compensation for unrealized development rights.

Forestlands that contain important scenic, cultural, recreation and water resources, including fish and  wildlife habitat and other ecological values, and that support traditional forest uses, will receive priority. Landowners who elect to participate in the program are required to follow a land management plan approved by the CSFS. Activities consistent with the management plan are permitted, including timber harvesting, grazing and recreation activities.

The Colorado State Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee will evaluate proposals and recommend to the state forester those proposals that have sufficient merit to forward to the U.S. Forest Service.  Forwarded proposals will then compete at a regional and national level for funding.

For additional information or to obtain an application packet, contact Carolyn Aspelin at 970-491-1869. Applications also are available online HERE.


Help do your part to protect the natural beauty of Saguache Today.

Saguache News – July 30

Tour Highlights Severe Drought

Last Monday, July 23, Colorado agricultural leaders, including Lt. Governor Donna Lynne and Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown, attended a “Drought Impacts Tour” designed to highlight the challenges Southwest Colorado farmers and ranchers are facing given the continuing drought and recent fires. 

Jonathan Patcheck, a brand inspector from Southwest Colorado speaks during the drought tour about the impacts of the drought and the 416 fire on his ranch

Jonathan Patcheck, a brand inspector from Southwest Colorado speaks during the drought tour about the impacts of the drought and the 416 fire on his ranch.

The tour by the Colorado Drought Task Force was comprised of representatives from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, and Local Affairs and Public Safety. The intent of the tour was to assess conditions. hear directly from those most impacted by the persistent drought and wildfires, and become informed on how the State can help with both response and recovery. 

“The Drought Tour offered us the opportunity to see first-hand the impact the exceptionally dry conditions have had on soils and crops. Colorado farmers and ranchers are often faced with challenges outside of their control such as the economy, market prices, and drought. 

Right now, we are facing all three and if there is something we, as a state, can do to help them through these tough times, it’s important that we look into it,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown. 

Commissioner Brown listened to farmers and ranchers from Southwest Colorado as the Drought Tour makes a stop in Hesperus

Commissioner Brown listened to farmers and ranchers from Southwest Colorado as the Drought Tour makes a stop in Hesperus.

The tour included discussing public lands grazing sites, as well as private producers and ranchers – ranging from small to large operations.  The Isgar Ranch in Hesperus, Colorado, was also part of the tour where the group heard from ranchers about how they are navigating water shortages, crop loss and high costs of feed. The day also included discussions on drought impacts related to fire, flood, tourism, wildlife, economic and public health.  The tour wrapped up with a listening session where the public could have their voices heard and directly liaise with decision makers. 

Southern Colorado has been experiencing below normal precipitation conditions since last fall.  Currently, 13 percent of the state is classified as in exceptional drought, while 27 percent is classified in extreme drought, an additional 21 percent is experiencing severe drought according to the US Drought Monitor. Governor Hickenlooper activated the Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan on May 2nd to facilitate agency response.

During the Drought Tour on Monday Commissioner Brown looks at a water sample taken from Hermosa Creek on Sunday after a small rain.

During the Drought Tour on Monday, July 23 Commissioner Brown looks at a water sample taken from Hermosa Creek on Sunday, July 22 after a small rain.

Saguache News – July 27

Check in to “Hotel Transylvania” in Saguache Today

If you’re looking for the perfect “staycation,-” of summer fun, then there’s no better place to stay than “Hotel Transylvania” And you’ll find the utmost in hospitality if you watch it at Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache, this weekend, July 27 – 29.

“Hotel Transylvania” is a 2018 American 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by Sony Pictures Animation and ready to serve up the kind of FIVE STAR fun movie-goers have come to expect, so don’t miss it!

Welcome to “Hotel Transylvania”, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up and no humans are allowed. One special weekend, Dracula (Adam Sandler) has invited all his best friends – Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Werewolf family, and more – to celebrate his beloved daughter Mavis’s (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday. For Dracula catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem but the party really starts when one ordinary guy stumbles into the hotel and changes everything!

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.

Saguache News – July 26

Nature’s Rights Recognized in Crestone

On July 9, 2018, the Town of Crestone’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the rights of nature. Crestone, Colorado now joins dozens of communities, cities, and nations around the world that recognize nature’s inherent rights.


Nature like this outta have some rights, and now the Town of Crestone has made it official! photo: Saguache Today/Brennan Ruegg

“We humans can no longer fail to acknowledge, to protect, and to preserve the rights of nature,” said Crestone’s Mayor, Kairina Danforth. “Our community is humbled to join in this clarion call to recognize officially that nature, natural ecosystems, communities, and all species possess intrinsic and inalienable rights which must be effectuated to protect life on Earth.” 

In addition to recognizing the rights of nature, the resolution also highlights the long-standing relationship between the Crestone community and its natural environment, which it states provides them with “nourishment, inner peace, and spiritual renewal.” The resolution goes on to state that residents “reciprocate these gifts by serving as stewards of the natural environment.”

In conceiving and drafting the resolution, Crestone consulted numerous experts, including longtime Crestone visitor and “Earth Jurisprudence” advocate Myra L. Jackson, leading rights of nature group Earth Law Center, the U.N. Harmony with Nature program, and the attorney who drafted Santa Monica’s rights of nature law, Marsha Moutrie. Additionally, the local newspaper, the Crestone Eagle, fostered important community dialogue on the initiative.

Crestone Mayor Kairina Danforth

Crestone’s Mayor, Kairina Danforth and the Town of Crestone’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the rights of nature.

Said Ms. Jackson of the resolution, “In a rural town such as Crestone, where the beauty and vibrancy of nature is a transcendent value and prime attractor, recognizing the rights of nature is a way for a municipal government to make visible our deeply felt desire to live in harmony with nature.” Ms. Jackson added that she is working with other towns who are encouraged by Crestone’s success. “The courage of Crestone’s Mayor and Board of Trustees has lit a fire.”

Crestone is nestled along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which enclose one side of the San Luis Valley—the world’s largest alpine valley and a region renowned for its natural beauty. Crestone has about 150 residents, although more than 2,000 people live in the greater Crestone-Baca area. Over 2,000 people per year also visit Crestone for spiritual enlightenment from the town’s 23 spiritual centers, representing Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Native American traditions, and other belief systems.

Crestone’s resolution builds from the broader “rights of nature” movement, whose premise is that nature must not be considered mere “property” under the law. Instead, advocates believe that nature should—and inherently does—possess legal rights just as humans and other entities currently enjoy. Ecuador and Bolivia recognize rights of nature nationally, as do dozens of local governments in North America. Specific ecosystems are also recognized as legal entities possessing rights, including the Atrato River and Amazon rainforest in Colombia and Whanganui River and Mt. Taranaki in New Zealand.

“I congratulate Crestone on promoting a new paradigm in which humans and nature thrive together as equals under the law,” said Grant Wilson, Directing Attorney of Earth Law Center, who spoke on the rights of nature at a community event in Crestone and also helped shape the resolution. “I look forward to the day in which all governments join Crestone in recognizing the rights of nature, which I believe is our planet’s next great rights-based movement.”

In case you didn’t know . . . Earth Law Center ( works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. This includes advancing the inherent rights of rivers through initiatives with local partners to secure rights recognition.Great Sand Dunes_Saguache Today_Ruegg


Saguache News – July 25

Hollyhocks Celebrated July 28 in Saguache

The tourist season is in full swing in Saguache Today. And nothing says summer is in bloom like the 7th Annual Saguache Hollyhock Festival which will be held Saturday, July 28 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

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The Town of Saguache’s official flower – the Hollyhock – will be celebrated with great fanfare and affection at the 7th Annual Hollyhock Festival on July 28. Photo: SaguacheToday/Lynn Nowikowski.

Presented by the Saguache Chamber of Commerce, this event has grown in popularity, finding many San Luis Valley residents joining in the celebration of Saguache’s official town flower!  So if you’re looking for the shade of the tall trees and haven’t stopped into downtown Saguache for a while, be sure to include this self-guided walking tour in your plans to see what’s new.

Hollyhock Festival goers will begin their route at Otto Mears Park in Saguache. Check in at the Community Building anytime between at 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. More than a dozen gardens, some with Hollyhocks, some without, will be on display as gardeners compete for generous prizes.

The celebration of Saguache’s official flower commemorates the dedication of early settlers who brought the hollyhocks and old-fashioned roses to the area. In addition to the delightful tour, master gardeners will hold a plant clinic. So if you’ve been wondering what’s been going on with your green thumb, this is the place to do it!  And be sure to bring the kids along for a special session on how to create a Hollyhock doll; of course the adults are welcome too! There will also be Hollyhock plants which will be potted and available to buy for your garden!Hollyhock Festival

In addition to the beauty created by Mother Nature, local galleries will have their artwork on display, many pieces highlighting the delightful Hollyhock. Artists’ work will also be displayed in the Community Building, all featuring glorious Hollyhock in various mediums – painting, needlework, carving, etc. Be sure to be there at 2 p.m., when the winners of the best adult and juvenile Hollyhock art will be announced. It all leads up to the grand announcement of the first, second and third place prizes will be awarded for the best Hollyhock garden and the best general garden.

As part of the Saguache Hollyhock Festival there will be breakfast, snacks and lunch available in the Community Building as a fundraiser for the Saguache Volunteer Fire Department. So fuel up before you tour the gardens, or when you come back for the awards and announcements. In addition, those World Famous Root Beer Floats will also be offered by the Friends of the Saguache Public Library.

Hollyhock Festival Doll

Children enjoy making Hollyhock dolls from the town’s official flower while sipping on a homemade root beer float from the Friends of the Library.

Once you are finished touring the gardens, you’ll want to make a day of it! From downtown’s Magpie Art Gallery, the Hauck Pedersen art gallery and The Range to Antiques, Etc., the Fenton Studio Pottery, and Smith Market Gallery just a few blocks off main street, if you haven’t visited in a while, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see a thriving arts community in Saguache Today.

There are a lots of new and thriving businesses on 4th Street, Saguache’s downtown business and arts district. Be sure to visit the Welcome Center, along with the 4th Street Food Store, and Blue Earth Thrift Store, and don’t miss out on the Wapiti Coffeehouse located behind the thrift store.  Wander over to see a movie at the Cozy Castle Cinema or have a bite at The Village Pub.

So make it a lovely day of gardens and small town enjoyments at the 7th Annual Saguache Hollyhock Festival on Saturday, July 28. The Hollyhock Festival is presented by The Saguache Chamber of Commerce with the generous support from many sponsors – Thank You! 


The garden competition includes a Hollyhock and general garden category. Pictured here is one the past winners. Photo: Saguache Today/Lynn Nowiskee.


Saguache News – July 24

Driver Licenses Services Gets Upgrade

By Trish Gilbert, Saguache County Clerk & Recorder

REMINDER TO PLAN AHEAD! Vehicle Services Transactions Unavailable August 1-5.

The State of Colorado is replacing the Colorado State Titling and Registration System (CSTARS), originally installed between 1983 and 1986, with a new system, Colorado DRIVES, which will allow for faster transaction processing, additional online services and better county-to-county integration. The DRIVES system was successfully implemented for driver services on February 21, 2017.

This is a 35-year leap in technology!

After an 18-month project, on August 6, 2018, all Colorado title and registration services will be available via the new DRIVES system. In advance of the deployment, services including motor vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, International Registration Plan (IRP) and ownership transfers will not be available August 1-5, 2018 due to the conversion from the old to the new system.

Clips Clerk Saguache

Colorado driver license services, both in-office and online, will be unavailable August 2-5, 2018. State driver license offices will be closed.

Extended wait times in some county motor vehicle offices may occur this summer as employees prepare for and adjust to the new system. The Colorado Division of Motor requests your patience during this implementation process. As always, we encourage the use of online services, allowing Colorado residents to skip the trip to the DMV entirely. 

Cutover dates:

New services with DRIVES:

Increased online services including:

  • Improved online vehicle registration renewal
  • Out of state emissions extension
  • Emissions waiver application
  • Generate prior receipts
  • Duplicate registration receipt request
  • 2% rental upload spreadsheet fee estimator
  • Document uploading
  • Personalized plate request
  • Change of address
  • New registration
  • Instant emissions uploads from AirCare Colorado
  • Better county-to-county integration
  • Faster transaction processing

“We apologize for the inconvenience this closure may cause and look forward to providing the state and county employees with a modern, user-friendly system for driver and vehicle services which will allow them to provide Coloradoans with great customer service.” – The DRIVES Team

dmv line

The line at the Department of Motor Vehicles could be getting a bit shorter – or eliminated altogether – with the new upgrades to be put in place this August.