Tag Archives: Saguache traffic

Saguache News – February 21

Gator Park Celebrates “Mr. Bo Mangles” 

See you later alligator! Unless you find yourself in the heart of the San Luis Valley (SLV). And then you could very well be setting your eyes on the only albino alligator in Colorado. Say hello to Mr. Bo Mangles!

Bo Mangles Alligator

This Saturday is “Mr Bo Mangles” day. He’s the ONLY albino gator in the state and at the Colorado Gators Reptile Park. Find out how to get free passes: LINK.

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 the their own sections of the tour.  Feel free to pet these tortoises, but watch your step, there are several low “tortoise fences” too keep each tortoise in his or her section.  

Colorado Gators in the snow?! Photo: Colorado Gators Reptile Park.

Colorado Gators in the snow?! Yep, you can find them right in the middle of the San Luis Valley! 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. Oh and by the way, this Friday & Saturday, Feb. 23 & 24 is Mr. Bo Mangles Day and the park has a special they are promoting on their Facebook Page. Connect and find out how to get free passes.


Saguache News – February 20

Library Programs in Saguache This Week

There are a couple events coming up at the Saguache Public Library this week, that should be on your calendar.

Are you in a conflict with your landlord? Or maybe having tenant issues? Is your family in need of some legal advice regarding custody issues? Then be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to get some FREE legal advice.

On February 22, the library will host its free virtual legal clinic, which is offered the last Thursday of each month. This program provides confidential one-on-one legal advice for low income, unrepresented residents of the San Luis Valley by videoconference. Attorneys can answer legal questions, help with court forms and explain the law and procedure for many legal issues, such as family law, landlord/tenant law, protection orders, consumer law/collections, probate and small claims.  This clinic is first come, first serve and runs from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Saguache Public Library, 702 Pitkin Avenue.


Get lost in the stacks at the Saguache Public Library.

Then on February 23, it’s the “Fourth Friday at the Library” program. And if you know any stamp lovers, or perhaps are one yourself, then make plans to attend! The Friends of the Library will welcome Sarah Fernandez who will be sharing her knowledge of stamp collecting. What’s your favorite stamp?

Come and enjoy Sarah’s show-and-tell from her own stamp collection. And if you’re a collector or have a special stamp that you’d like to share, please bring them along. This will be a very interesting meeting! The program will start at 6 p.m. with finger foods provided by The Friends of the Library. If you can’t make this Friday’s event, consider joining the fun for future programs, which will include an author’s night n  March and an old fashioned hootenanny in April.

In other library news the Friends of the Library 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 – February 19

Common Core Standards Under Review

By Joyce Rankin, Board of Education, 3rd Congressional District

Joyce Rankin

Joyce Rankin is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District, which includes Saguache and 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. She may be reached at joycesrankin@gmail.com.

Remember “Common Core”? That term first appeared in 2010. It referred, at that time, to the controversial Math and English Language Arts Standards that Colorado, along with 41 other states, adopted for the K-12 grades. Is common core working in Colorado and are we ready to accept new nationally created science standards to align with them?  Just how common are Colorado K-12 students?

Colorado state law requires a review and revision of the Colorado Academic Standards every six years with the first review to be completed by July 2018.  The Colorado Department of Education (CDE), along with input from a committee of teachers, subject experts, and interested citizens, is reviewing and making recommendations.  The State Board of Education (SBE) will vote on the revisions.

Saguache students Makayla Sisson (left) and Ryker Poor (right) sketch out their initial plans. Photo: Telluride Fire Festival.

At the January SBE board meeting we heard from committee representatives who reported on the work progress in areas of Music, Science, Social Studies, Reading, Writing and Communication.  Recommendations included minor changes to the existing Colorado Standards. However, in the field of Science, committee members suggested that we revise the current Colorado standards in favor of the new “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS). These nationally created standards are a sequel to the Common Core Standards in Math, and English Language Arts, and are being considered as replacements for Colorado’s current science standards. The creators of NGSS assert that there is a need for a new “conceptual framework” which will align with Common Core Math and English Language Arts.

Currently, there are no assessments to test against these new standards so teachers and states will have to adopt new curriculum materials and tests to incorporate the new NGSS standards. There will, of course, be a cost to local districts. Prices will include teaching materials, assessments, textbooks, teacher training and ongoing professional development.

Nineteen states have adopted the new standards. However other states have rejected them in favor of keeping their current state science standards. Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Wyoming are among those rejecting NGSS. A few of the objections, beyond the fact that they are a national “one-size-fits-all” approach, include: leaving out content in Chemistry and Physics, teaching man-made climate change and the overall lack of basic science knowledge.

Colorado adopted Math and English Language Arts Common Core Standards in 2010.  Are our students doing better academically because of these standards? Are we ready for a dramatic change in Science standards? 

I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Joyce Rankin may be reached at joycesrankin@gmail.com.

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.

Roy's Fire2 Holmbeck

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!