Tag Archives: Saguache Today

Saguache News – February 15

Ramblin’ Roy’s Fire Under ATF Investigation

By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today

One week ago, on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 5:50 p.m. the first call came into the Saguache County Emergency Dispatch Center about a fire out at the Lazy KV Estates.  Just about the time most residents were settling in for the evening, the call for help rang out at “Ramblin’” Roy Smith’s residence, located east of the town of Saguache.

Roy's Fire_Holmbeck

A fire broke at at Ramblin’ Roy Smith’s home at the Lazy KV Estates on February 8, 2018 completely destroying the Saguache resident’s home and all of its contents. Photo: Saguache Today/Verlin Holmbeck

Friends and neighbors were quick to respond as reported by Smith’s neighbor, Verlin Holmbeck via a community Facebook Page: “the guy across from us & one of my boys & I were right there within minutes.” Fortunately, Roy was able to escape the flames without serious injury. His home and all of its contents were a total loss.

While the fire is still under investigation, initial reports from Smith indicate that the incident was perpetrated as a hate crime, an intentional arson. As a result, yesterday, February 14, an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives  (ATF) was on the scene, to gather additional evidence. As many know, the ATF’s responsibilities include “the investigation and prevention of federal offenses involving the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms and explosives; acts of arson and bombings; and illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco products.”  In other words, there was a concern that the fire could have been intentional and therefore the proper protocols were initiated by local law enforcement.

Roy's Fire3 Holmbeck

A fire completely destroyed the bus/truck vehicle which was the home of Saguache resident Ramblin’ Roy Smith. Photo: Saguache Today/Verlin Holmbeck

“They (ATF) brought a dog with them to the scene to determine if any accelerators were used in the fire,” explained Saguache County Sheriff Deputy Tyler Harford in an interview with Saguache Today.  

After the blaze was extinguished, it was local opinion that got fired up on the social media platforms. Of course, any house fire would be a newsworthy topic in a small town, but when it’s the home of Ramblin’ Roy, the story takes on a different tone. For readers unfamiliar with his story, it’s filled with enough heartbreak and pain, turned into triumph, and back into tragedy to make for a good film. And that’s exactly what a New York City documentary film maker did in 2000.

You can read that full story and more information about the film made about Smith’s life HERE. However, for Saguache friends and neighbors,  Ramblin’ Roy has been part of the local arts and hipster scene for some time, traveling back and forth between Saguache and Salida in recent years. 

Ramblin’ Roy Smith has been a local on Saguache’s arts scene for years.

Therefore, it didn’t take long for the Saguache helpers to rally. It’s impressive to report what has transpired in a week’s time. It speaks to the HEART of Saguache. Not only did Laurie Vigil jump into action and start a collection drive for clothing and other day-to-day necessities, but Chrystal Knight used her keen Girl Scout Troop leader skills to establish a Go Fund Me account for the Saguache resident which will assist in getting Roy back up on his feet, financially. Within days, a new trailer was delivered to his property, to make sure that Roy wouldn’t “ramble” away too far.

But according to some reports, including from Smith himself, he’d have a good enough reason to move along, if his accusation about the cause of the fire pans out to be true.

In fact, Deputy Harford was able to confirm to Saguache Today that Smith stated that “it was members of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), a white supremacist group, that threw gasoline into his bus and that’s what lit it on fire.”

However, initial reports from the scene don’t appear to support that claim.

“No one had seen anybody stop there, or fleeing from the scene,” reported Deputy Harford. In addition, none of Smith’s neighbors reported hearing any yelling or screaming coming from the scene. “As far as I can tell,” he continued, “it seemed to be started from the wood stove that was in the bus (Roy’s home).”

 A Facebook post from neighbor Verlin Holmbeck, who Deputy Harford confirmed lives some 200 yards from Smith’s residence, seems to support that conclusion as well: “my boys & I were right there within minutes, wish I would have seen someone, I would’ve chased em down.”

Of course, the fire is still considered an active investigation, as emergency responders continue to complete their reports. Deputy Harford confirmed that the following agencies responded to the fire: the Saguache County Sheriff’s Department, and the Northern Saguache Volunteer Fire Department, with assistance from additional firefighting personnel and equipment from nearby Moffat and Villa Grove. The blaze was completely extinguished shortly after crews arrived.

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Emergency Response Crews from the Saguache County Sheriff’s Department, and the Northern Saguache Volunteer Fire Department, were on the scene within minutes. Northern Saguache Volunteer Fire Department,Northern Saguache Volunteer Fire Department. Photo: Saguache Today/ Verlin Holmbeck.

As for the ATF’s official determination, it will likely take 6 weeks for those results to come in, which will determine if there was an excessive presence of accelerants (i.e. gas) found at the scene. If you have any additional information that can be helpful to investigators in this case, please contact the Saguache County Sherriff’s Department at (719) 655-2525.

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


Saguache News – February 14

Bring Your Sweetheart to Oasis in Saguache Today

Oasis Valentines day

“The Darkest Hour” Plays the Coziest Cinema!

Does history repeat itself or does art imitate life? will be the “to be or not to be” question in this weekend’s movie line up in downtown Saguache as Cozy Castle Cinema presents “The Darkest Hour” this weekend, Feb. 16 – 18. 

A thrilling and inspiring true story begins at the precipice of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.

The Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache.

The Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache.

Winter 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 – February 7

Tourism Conference on Feb. 21 Benefits SLV Biz


Saguache Chamber President Barry Van Sant provides an update regarding Saguache tourism during the 2017 San Luis Valley Tourism Conference. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell.

The San Luis Valley (SLV) Tourism Association will be hosting its annual SLV Tourism Conference on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Adams State University in Alamosa.

This year’s conference will feature updates from Liz Thomas and Andrea Oaks-Jaramillo with the Valley Initiative Partners; Kevin Wilkins with the SLV Development Resources Group; Jeff Owsley with the Small Business Development Center; as well as representatives from the Counties.  

Also in attendance will be representatives from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve; the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area; SLV Great Outdoors; and Sand Dunes Recreation. If you have a tourism related business, find out how you can be part of Promoting Tourism Together.

Also appearing at the annual conference will be Ty Coleman, Mayor of Alamosa, Colo. For readers who may not know, Coleman is also a published author of a life-changing and thought-provoking book “Jump-Start How To Recharge Your Life.

Featured SLV Speaker Ty Coleman

Registration will begin at High Noon and the conference will be from 12:30 to 7 p.m. Cost for the conference is $40, annual membership in the Association is $35, or you can do both for $65.

The mission of the San Luis Valley Tourism Association is to preserve our environmental and cultural resources by unifying our marketing efforts to promote the San Luis Valley as a tourism destination and thereby developing responsible economic growth for the six counties of the San Luis Valley.

Saguache News – February 5

Conceal, Carry Offered Locally in Saguache 

On Saturday, Feb 17, Kuma Tactical (KT) will be having a concealed carry weapons (CCW) class at the Saguache County Sheriff Department

ccw-classClass starts at 10 a.m. All classes are taught by current law enforcement and National Rifle Association instructors. Kuma Tactical will provide breakfast, the necessary paperwork and your training certificate that you need to apply for your CCW. All you have to do is show up!

KT’s Lead Instructor Saguache County Deputy Wayne Clark will also have range time that usually takes an hour in which you and Clark will go out and shoot. During this time some of the things reviewed include stance, proper way to hold your weapon, failure drills and other things to make you more effective.

The cost for the class is $100. As part of the class less than lethal options will be presented. KT offers a full line of self defense items (stun guns, batons, OC spray etc. ) along with many other survival items.

CO State Patrol Youth Academy

By Trooper Gary Cutler, Colorado State Patrol

This month I want to divert a bit from driving tips and discuss a topic very important to troopers.  The mission of a Colorado State Patrol Trooper is not just enforcing the laws on the state’s highways, and interstates.  We are also very involved in educating the public in various areas.

One way we do this is working with Colorado’s youth.  Once a year for one week in June, the Colorado State Patrol allows teens who are at least 16 years old from across the state a chance to see how state troopers are trained at our academy in Golden. 

The goal of the CSP Youth Academy is to assist in the development of future leaders for Colorado. It is a weeklong adventure for the 45 teens that are accepted.  Some of the academy requirements include that they must be a junior or senior for the fall of 2018, write an essay, have two letters of recommendation, and complete an interview with troopers.

While in the youth academy, teens will get to experience a long list of activities.  These include defensive driving on our state patrol track, firearms safety, self-defense tactics, traffic stops, building searches, team building, and ethics in law enforcement, just to name a few.  At the end of the week there is also a special field trip for the participants.  Past years have been visits to the Bronco’s football facilities, and Rockies games.

The academy is not just for teens interested in law enforcement.  The week long class will help them in their future endeavors.  It will also be an experience they will remember the rest of their lives.  If they want to continue with a career as a trooper, well, we won’t complain. 

The academy is free of charge.  It is paid for by private donors.  For more information contact Captain Lawrence Hilton at 303-273-1882, your local Colorado State Patrol Office, or visit our website: LINK.

This year’s youth academy is June 17-23.  Applications are due by March 7, 2018.

Next month we’re talking distracted driving. As always, safe travels!


Saguache News – January 31

Join the Fun Under the Big Top

Step right up ladies and gentlemen and prepare to be amazed! Please direct your attention to Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache Today, where the crowds are sure to be dazzled as the film house presents “The Greatest Showman this weekend, Feb. 2 – 4. 

Inspired by the imagination of P. T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman” is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

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 – January 24

FREE Legal Advice Thursday at Library

Tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 25 there will be a FREE Legal Clinic at the Saguache Public Library! Private, one-on-one legal assistance with an attorney is available for low-income San Luis Valley residents who have no attorney.

Legal issues that qualify: Family Law (pre-decree); Landlord/Tenant Law; Protection Orders; Consumer/Collections; Probate; and Small Claims Court. Call the library at 719-655-2551 to prequalify. Early sign-in begins at 4:30; clinic runs 5-7. First come, first served.

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Saguache students listen intently as Penny-the-librarian reads during storytime at the Saguache Library. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell.

In other library news a special Thanks! to the work of the Friends of the Library for providing so many worthwhile programs throughout the San Luis Valley.  The group is looking for new and renewing members to join up. Memberships range anywhere from $5 for individuals, $10 for families, $25 for sustaining members, $50 for super friends,  and $100 for gold members.  Stop by the library and fill out a form; All donations are tax deductible. 

Memberships along with two bake sales, and three root beer float bar sales are the primary means for raising money for the library.  The donation’s received from book sales in the library, as well as the Hogs and Hot Air Community Meal and the Holiday Bazaar Christmas tree and paintings also help raise money. 

With that money the Friends have purchased such items as new computers, computer friendly chairs, books on CD, replaced the back door to the library and purchased new books.  With a decrease in tax revenue for the library they are hoping for more contributions during 2018 to use as matching funds for future projects.  Please donate your time, talents or hard cold cash to their efforts in Saguache Today!

Saguache News – January 22

SLV Cattlemen Call Meeting for Disappearing Livestock

By Kathy Bedell, © Saguache Today

Missing Livestock. For many residents, these two words usually conjure up one of two images: outlaw-cowboy rustlers or visiting-alien mutilators. But for San Luis Valley (SLV) ranchers, the disappearance of over 300 head of cattle in recent months means one thing: lost income.


The San Luis Valley Cattlemen’s Association will be holding a special meeting concerning the “Disappearance of Livestock” on January 25, 2018 in La Jara, Colorado. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell.

And that’s why the SLV Cattlemen’s Association has called a meeting this Thursday, Jan. 25 from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Centauri High School Band Room, located in La Jara, Colo.

 The San Luis Valley Cattlemen’s Association is facilitating the community meeting to discuss the growing disappearance of livestock in and around the San Luis Valley and Northern New Mexico.   Joining the conversation will be representatives from the Colorado Brand Commission, Colorado Brand Inspectors, Law Enforcement (Colorado State Patrol and County Sheriff’s Offices), Federal agencies including the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service, along with New Mexico Brand inspectors.

According to the State Board of Stock Inspection Commissioners’ reports there have been an alarming increase in reports of cattle simple disappearing without a trace.

“There’s always an expectation for ranchers that one or two might not come home due to natural causes,” explained Erin Nissen in an interview with Saguache Today. “But the sheer number of missing livestock in the area, has people concerned.”


If these guys know, they ain’t talking! According to the State Board of Stock Inspection Commissioners reports there has been about an increase in missing livestock. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

Nissen is a fourth generation farmer/rancher in Saguache County whose family operates Nissen Farms, LLC, a family owned and operated farm and ranch in Saguache County produces “high quality agricultural products.” She also serves as Secretary for the SLV Cattlemen’s Association and is hoping to get the word out to as many ranchers and other affected by these recent occurrences.

Of course, most who make a living on the open range would attest to a stray heifer or young steer that may go wandering off. And yes, sometimes those can be chalked up to being dinner for some pack of coyotes, but when it comes to the official report of a herd of “24 mixed yearling steers” simply disappearing in Larkspur last September from the JA Cattle Company, it changes the conversation.

Especially for seasoned Brand Inspectors. These are the state employees charged with protecting the Colorado livestock industry. The Brand Inspection Division employs 58 brand inspectors located throughout the state including 10 supervisors. The annual budget for the division exceeds $4.5 million and is completely funded by fees paid by livestock owners and brand assessment fees levied every five years.

And if you ask them, they’ll tell you they’ve seen a thing or two over the years. But this fall’s increase in reports had even the most senior inspectors shaking their heads.

Point in case as reported to the state commission was a herd of 49 calves that went missing from a ranch in Creede last October. Then within the same month, approximately 35 head of black steer and heifer calves, 6-7months old disappeared from the Stirrup Ranch in Canon City. And just a few days later, a bit closer to home in Saguache, 16 black cows and calves went missing 3 miles west of Moffat on County Road T.

Nissen reported in her interview with Saguache Today that she has not heard of any mutilations being associated with the recent livestock disappearances.

“There has always been a lot weirdness in the valley about with livestock mutilations,” she explained. “But when you look at the numbers, from my perspective, it’s got a bit more of a human aspect to it.”

Therefore the focus of Thursday’s meeting will involved the mysterious disappearance of large herds, the cases where no bodies were found, where there’s no proof of what happened, where the cattle simply disappeared.


While ranchers are keeping an eye to “hoofs-on-the-ground,” sky watchers like Photographer John McEvoy of Del Norte have been busy documenting things “appearing” in the skies above the San Luis Valley, like this image taken on December 4, 2017. McEvoy explains: The “Three Objects” were not discovered until after I was editing the image. It was made during a monthly, full moon drum circle where we gather at Elephant Rocks BLM Area. The image was made on Dec. 4, 2017 at 6:07 p.m. There are no others like it. I was uncertain as to if the objects were birds, or not. Seems to be the most likely explanation – except – the bottom right of the photo, there is clearly a bird and it looks like a bird – not a “disc” like the other three.

Last November, the largest herd of 46 was reported to have vanished from the Double X Cattle Company as they were out running in the Cumbers Forest Allotment. In total, 114 head of cattle went missing in Colorado during the month of November. And those were the ones that were officially reported.

Nissen stated that while there is theft, and ranchers anticipate some of that especially in certain mountain regions that they run their herds in, this is above normal.

“I would keep in mind, that there might be a few more than normal go missing this year because the weather has been so warm and there’s no snow up high,” explained Nissen.  “So the guys that do run up higher, there’s been no snow to force the cows down. And when they’re down the’re easier to round-up.”

But even the weather is a far reach to explain the 84 head of cattle reported to have disappeared just last month in December 2017, including a herd of 24 from Del Norte, 16 near the Bear Creek and Mosca Forest Allotment from the Beebe Ranch, 12 mixed cows and calves 15 miles south of Norwood and 19 from the Twin Gates Corral in Capulin, Colo, located west of La Jara. 

“People are very concerned,” concluded Nissen, encouraging all interested parties to join them this Thursday, January 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Centauri High School Band Room, located in La Jara, Colo.

The SLV Cattlemen’s Association is headquartered at 6118 Lane 5 North. Mosca, CO 81146 Contact 719-480-2600. Connect with them on Facebook.

Journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, A Media Company located in Leadville, Colorado which publishes LeadvilleToday.com and SaguacheToday.com. Inquiries may be directed to info@sagauchetoday.com.

Missing Livestock Meeting SLV Cattlemen Assoc