Tag Archives: Saguache San Luis Valley Colorado

Saguache News – May 10

EUREKA! A Cry of Joy & Satisfaction!

Publisher’s Note: Saguache Today welcomes a new contributor as Saguache County Clerk and Recorder Trish Gilbert keeps residents informed about what’s happening up at the courthouse in her “Clips from the Clerk” column. Enjoy and learn!

Clips Clerk Saguache

As custodians of public records, the Saguache County Clerk and Recorder’s office respectfully requested funding assistance through a grant for digitizing our old books, aperture cards, microfiche and other documents – indexing of the documents, providing permanent archiving of our historical documents and for our web hosted public access site.

Saguache County is where the West was settled.  Our county is economically depressed with no significant tax base to generate revenue for badly needed services such as this project.  Our records go back to the 1800’s and some of our books are in very poor condition with an occasional page missing.  We are dedicated to preserving this important history, but without digitizing, our old books are at risk of further deterioration and even loss of important information.  Approval of this grant request for Saguache County will now link our past with the present and take us forward into the future of technology for historic preservation while providing state-of-the-art services to our citizens.

We also requested enough funds to add a slipsheet printer, and a Laser Jet Printer as well as a Public Search Workstation, to include maintenance and Internet services.  Some of our office equipment used for recording is outdated.  At present we have just one public search station.  We will also purchase a light table for viewing recorded plat maps.


The Saguache County Courthouse houses hundreds of historic documents that will now be digitized and saved for generations to come!

Our Board of County Commissioners is very excited about this project and eager for us to get started.  They realize the seriousness and historic nature of these documents and would like to see them preserved in timeless quality.

A lot of time and careful consideration was given to this grant application.  Our entire staff was involved throughout the process.  Ben and Desiree kept the daily operations of the clerk’s office going while Jane made important contacts for letters of support from recording stakeholders such as the Abstract Office, title companies, searchers, etc.  – we even received a letter of support from the Saguache County Museum.  There were many demands on everyone’s time.

We deeply appreciate the Electronic Recording Technology Board’s approval of our full request of $181,553.89!

No strings attached.  The grant money we receive will be at no cost to the taxpayer.   No in-kind contributions and no payback of grant funds.  Eureka!


Saguache News – May 5

Cinco de Mayo Celebrated in Saguache Today

Today’s Cinco de Mayo Festival puts the spotlight on Saguache’s vibrant Hispanic population by celebrating food, fun and culture. A fundraiser for the Saguache Volunteer Fire Department, come and join the fun this Saturday, May 5 in downtown Saguache as 4th Street is turned into a fiesta of fun!Cinco Saguache

 According to community organizers, the day will feature food vendors, arts and entertainment, a car and truck show, and fun for the kids like making a God’s eye yarn craft and face painting.

The downtown area will be closed off to vehicle traffic, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. during the festival. There will also be additional kid’s activities at Floyd smith Park, located next to Town Hall on San Juan Avenue. So roundup the gang (and a few chairs)! and celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Saguache.

Saguache News – May 3

New Bus Line Plan Moves Forward

By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today

Transportation. It’s usually at the top of the list for needed improvements in Saguache Today. Getting from one end of the San Luis Valley to the other can be a real chore for coordinating medical appointments or shopping trips, especially if you don’t have your own wheels. But there’s good news.


No matter the season, getting from one end of the San Luis Valley to another can be challenging for those who do not have their own vehicles.

According to Saguache Chamber of Commerce President Barry Van Sant, the newly established Western San Luis Valley Transit Committee (West SLV) has made significant strides in bringing a new bus line to the valley, perhaps as early as June 1.

“As a remote community, with few services, it was a natural fit for the Chamber to pursue CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) about this initiative and investigate the possibilities of bringing transit service to the important Gunbarrel travel corridor,” said Van Sant.

Those efforts are now more than a year in the making, and include coordinated efforts from the Town of Saguache, the Town of Center, the City of Monte Vista, the Town of Del Norte, Rio Grande County, Saguache County, and the Saguache Chamber, all of whom entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by establishing the West SLV.

As the population in the valley grows, transportation needs do as well. So West SLV is staying ahead of the curve and in partnership with the Chaffee Shuttle acting as the fiduciary agent, the group has submitted a proposal for a $25,000 CDOT grant. These monies will allow the group to hire a transit consultant to investigate and research the routes, potential ridership, and pricing for the development of an ongoing public transit service.

According to the Chaffee Shuttle’s Executive Director Connie Cole, West SLV will likely secure those funds in the fall, initiating a more formal study. However, in the short term, something else in the transportation world has shifted, creating the opportunity to bring in an interim shuttle service with a target start date of June 1. The Eagle Line Shuttle will provide service from Del Norte to Salida and from Saguache to Alamosa once a week.  

For readers who may not know, the Chaffee Shuttle was created in 2003 stemming from Salida’s Neighbor to Neighbor program that Director Connie Cole has been running for the past 19 years. In 2017, this transportation system provided more than 15,000 FREE rides to Chaffee County residents and visitors, taking them to the doctors, to Wal-Mart and yes, even to the liquor store. Although the service is free, donations help offset operating and vehicle maintenance costs.

Chaffee Shuttle Winefest

The Chaffee Shuttle is taking this group of ladies to Winefest! Photo: Chaffee Shuttle.

It’s been a popular service. So much so, that last year Bustang announced that they would be stepping in and carving out a couple of the shuttle’s routes. Bustang is the increasingly popular luxury transportation line which connects the major corridors in Colorado, offering free wi-fi and comfortable accommodations for its passengers. Its success along the 1-25 and I-70 corridors is a testament to the shifting norms regarding public transportation.

“Bustang is going to take part of my bus routes that run from Alamosa to Salida to Pueblo, and from Gunnison to Denver,” stated Cole in an exclusive Saguache Today interview.

And that’s great news for West SLV because as Bustang absorbs those routes, it frees up three buses from the Chaffee Shuttle fleet. And if all of the rest of the moving pieces fall into place, that could mean wheels on the ground sooner, rather than later for the newly developed Eagle Line Shuttle.

One of the initial challenges will be drivers. Down the road, funding might be available, however to get things rolling now, West SLV Transit is currently seeking two volunteer bus drivers to run these routes. One driver would be located in Del Norte, the other in Saguache.  Those who are interested in volunteering one day a week to drive the Eagle Line Shuttle should contact Connie Cole, at 719-530-8980.

Chaffee Shuttle bus

The Shuttle! Coming soon to a bus stop near you in Saguache Today? Stay tuned!

But that’s not the only way readers can help. You can also take a brief transportation survey. Not only will this data provide some information on the short term needs, it will also demonstrate community support for future funding opportunities. In other words, a few minutes of your time, will mean expanded transportation opportunities matter to you! Thanks! The survey can be found HERE.

For more information about West SLV Transit contact Saguache Chamber President, Barry Van Sant at 719-322-7298.

 “These leaders are working hard to provide transportation to their communities,” stated Cole. “The program is being successfully talked about and moving forward!” Please show them your support!

Writer Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, LLC, a media company located in Leadville, Colorado which publishes SaguacheToday.com and LeadvilleToday.com.


Saguache Today – April 26

WildFire Season Has Begun in Saguache Today

With wildfires burning homes and causing evacuations throughout Colorado this week – in addition to statewide snowpack levels being below normal, with much of southern Colorado under extreme drought conditions – the Colorado State Forest Service wants to remind homeowners living in the wildland-urban interface to prepare for wildfires before they arrive.

Saguache Today_Fremont Fire_Kim

Smoke from the Hayden Pass Fire in July 2016 could be seen on the other wide of the Sangre de Cristos in Saguache. Photo: Saguache Today/Kim Rodriquez

While there is no guarantee firefighters will be able to save a home from a wildfire, the odds increase if homeowners and communities take proactive steps to reduce their fire risk, says Lisa Mason, CSFS forestry education specialist.

“Fire risk reduction efforts are much more effective when neighbors work together to reduce hazardous fuels around their homes and throughout the community,” Mason said.

The CSFS offers numerous resources to help private landowners reduce wildfire risk, with specific recommendations including:

  • Remove all flammable vegetation within at least 15 feet of any part of a home or other structure, including decks.
  • Reduce the density of standing trees within 100-200 feet of all structures.
  • Ensure adequate access for fire and emergency equipment and be sure that the house number is posted and easily visible to emergency responders. 
  • Keep grasses and weeds surrounding the home mowed to a height of less than six inches, through regular and ongoing maintenance.
  • Regularly clear pine needles and leaves from gutters and decks, and trim overhanging branches.
  • Stack firewood and locate propane tanks at least 30 feet from and uphill of structures.
  • Have an evacuation plan and a designated meeting place that all family members are familiar with.
  • Prepare a “grab and go” disaster kit with necessary family/pet items including important documents/photos, clothing, medications, food/water, phone charger, etc. so you are ready for immediate departure.
  • Make sure that you are signed up for  the San Luis Valley 911 Emergency Alert Program.

“Remember that addressing wildfire risk is not a one-time effort, and that flammable vegetation grows back over time,” Mason said.

For more information and resources on protecting homes and communities from wildfire, including how to become a Firewise Community, visit csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation or call a local CSFS field office.

The F provides professional forestry assistance, wildfire mitigation expertise and outreach and education to help landowners and communities achieve their forest management goals. The CSFS is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University and provides staffing for the Division of Forestry within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. For more information, visit csfs.colostate.edu.


Saguache News – April 18

Students Must Pass Civics Test – Can You?

By Joyce Rankin, Colorado Board of Education

“An informed citizenry is the heart of a dynamic democracy.”

                                                                                    Thomas Jefferson

Joyce Rankin

Civics is the study of the rights and duties of citizenship. The United States Citizenship Civics Test is the test all immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship must pass. Unlike Colorado some states are requiring that students pass the test before receiving a high school diploma.

Currently only 24 percent of U.S. high school students are proficient in civics. Proficient is defined as “competent or skilled” however a passing grade in many states, and for those desiring citizenship is 60 percent, which, I believe is a pretty low bar. According to a recent study a third of all U.S. citizens can’t name even one branch of our federal government.* An organization called the Civics Education Initiative believes that high school students should be required to pass the 100 basic facts immigration test. I would add that if those entering our country need to earn a score of 60 percent, shouldn’t current citizens be able to answer all 100 of the questions correctly?

Under current Colorado law (C.R.S. 22-1-104), Colorado students are required to take and satisfactorily pass a Civics course to graduate from High School. Remarkably, in Colorado, this is the only graduation requirement in state law. The actual law states: The history and civil government of the state of Colorado shall be taught in all the public schools of this state.  Note the word “shall” in this statement.  It’s critical, when reading bills, to note “shall” as opposed to “may”. Both terms are used in bill writing and, of course, have very different meanings.  You seldom see the word “shall” because Colorado is a local control state. This bill however states that history and civil government “shall”, or “will be”, taught. The bill goes on to state that: Satisfactory completion of a course on the civil government of the United States and the state of Colorado, (which includes the subjects described in subsection 2 including history, culture, and contributions of minorities, including, but not limited to, the American Indians, the Hispanic Americans, and the African Americans), shall be taught in all the public schools of the state.

In the previous paragraph you may have noticed that students are “required to take and satisfactorily pass” a Civics course. What does satisfactorily mean? That is left up to the school district.  Some districts may require a higher standard to pass than others. Is one correct answer “satisfactorily passing”? It depends on your school district.

Some people believe that there are too many tests given to students and we can’t possibly add another. I believe that next to reading and math, being a good citizen should be the foundation of our educational system and our country.  Our state should rise to the challenge and require high school graduates to not only be able to pass the test but understand the history and responsibilities behind the answers.

* There are three branches of Government: Legislative, Judicial and Executive.

Joyce Rankin, a retired teacher, is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District, which includes Saguache 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.

Saguache News – March 31

Have a Blessed Easter in Saguache

Easter_St Agnus Altar

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


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.

SLV Conference_crowd_2

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!


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.  


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.