Tag Archives: Saguache

SLV Tourism Conference Next Week

Have you started a new business in the valley and are wondering how to get the word out? Are you interested in what’s happening with tourism in Saguache Today? Have you been wondering what’s hot at the Sand Dunes, and what’s not in Alamosa?

The opportunity to network with other businesses and find out what’s new regarding tourism in the San Luis Valley abounds at the annual conference. Come and get your name tag on next Thursday.

Then it would be worth your while to attend the San Luis Valley (SLV) Tourism Association’s annual Tourism Conference next Thursday, Feb. 21 at Adams State University in Alamosa. Did you know that the Colorado Tourism Office recently re-designated the area as the Mystic San Luis Valley Region? Come and find out what that will mean for tourism at this year’s conference, which will feature presentations about:

  • A Discussion Panel regarding the new Colorado Tourism Office region: Mystic San Luis Valley.
  • Representatives will provide updates regarding each county’s tourism efforts as well as the San Luis Valley.
  • Teamwork with Zombies – there’s always a surprise at the SLV conference?!
  • Dark Skies Updates and Discussions
  • Guest Speaker – Chris Castilian, Exec Director Great Outdoors Colorado

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

Registration will begin at high noon and the conference will be from 12:30 to 7 p.m. on February 21. Cost for the conference is $40, annual membership in the Association is $35, or you can do both for $65.

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Workshop for Food Entrepreneurs


If you’ve ever thought about starting your own business that involves growing food, then here’s some news you can use. Or maybe you are already in the food-growing business but can’t seem to get the right answers about what the rules and regulations are for growing and selling food, please know that help is available.

Many fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in and around Saguache Today!

And for all of you San Luis Valley farmers, pull your head out of the seed-bag and take advantage of this upcoming opportunity to get all of your information in one session – from the experts! Next week’s Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) workshop is perfect for anyone looking to make their agriculture dreams come true in Saguache Today.

“I hope this workshop inspires entrepreneurs and help their businesses thrive,” said Danielle Trotta, Business Development Specialist with the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “Workshop speakers are actively engaged in the food system, and they are excited to share their expertise with others.”

A variety of food companies call Colorado home, and the state continues to be an incubator for food entrepreneurs. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is organizing an upcoming workshop to help food and agricultural businesses get started and grow. 

Saguache is part of the major hay-producing San Luis Valley region. It is also second behind potatoes as the Valley’s most harvested crop. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, “Colorado Food and Agriculture Entrepreneurs” will be presented from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the CoBank Center for Agricultural Education in Fort Collins, Colo.

 This one-day workshop is designed for start-up businesses and producers considering a path into the food and agriculture industry. The workshop is organized to be fast-paced and packed with vital information needed to begin a food or agricultural business. The agenda includes topics such as resources for start-up businesses, business organization and finances, building a brand, working with retailers, labeling and beginning production factors. 

Guest speakers include:

  • Mike Hardin, Director of Business and Licensing with the Secretary of State’s Office.
  • Peter Mohr, Director of Operations for Naturally Boulder.
  • Dawn Thilmany and Becca Jablonski from the Department of Agriculture Resource and Economics at Colorado State University.
  • Brianne Rael with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
  • Many more experts from state and county entities critical to establishing a food business. 

Registration is $55 per person per workshop. Registration includes the program, workshop materials, a light breakfast and lunch. Online pre-registration is required for each event, and processing fees for electronic checks and credit card orders apply. Seating is limited and space is expected to fill fast.                                                                                                                                 

For complete agendas, more information and to register, visit www.coloradoproud.org or contact Danielle Trotta at (303) 869-9176. The workshops are sponsored by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Valley Packing and Catering and Colorado State University Agriculture Resource and Economics Department.

Rich, green pastures and farmland sit at the base of S Hill in Saguache Today. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

Small Business News at Chamber Meeting

The Saguache Chamber of Commerce’s first general meeting of 2019 will take place tomorrow, February 5. The evening will also feature their first presenter in the popular Chamber speaker program. Come and find out what’s new with the Saguache Chamber and hear from Tom Monaco, Director of the San Luis Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Join the fun! Join the Saguache Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

Monaco has hit the ground running since becoming the new director for the SBDC in June of 2018. Over the last six months, he has traveled extensively throughout the San Luis Valley, introducing himself and the services offered through the development center.  

The SBDC is administered by the Small Business Administration whose mission is to promote the growth of small businesses by providing counseling and training services to start, sustain, and save existing small businesses.

“We at the SBDC can assist you with business planning, looking at financials and determining the value of the business, as well as looking at possible sources of financing,” said Monaco.

Come learn more about Monaco and his passion for small businesses. Find out about some of the exciting training programs and seminars he has been putting together for you to attend in 2019.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the County Road & Bridge at 305 3rd. St. in Saguache. The Chamber monthly meetings (as always) are open to the public. Please contact the Chamber at info@saguachechamber.org or call Barry at 719-322-7298 if you have any questions about this meeting or if you’d like to be part of the Chamber Speaker Program in the future.

Villa Grove Trade: New Year, New Owners

The Villa Grove Trade stands at the northern gateway to the San Luis Valley.

By Kathy Bedell, © Saguache Today

“We stumbled on this opportunity,” said Allen Plumley who along with his partner Jamie Williams became the new owners of Villa Grove Trade on January 1, 2019. “I don’t think it was something we were looking for when we came to the valley.”

And maybe that’s just how these Old West stories are supposed to go, the less planning the better! Regardless, the pair now steps to the helm of one of the most historic businesses, as well as the established port of entry at the northern end of the San Luis Valley. Villa Grove Trade has been a general store since 1882 and includes a restaurant and retail area that promotes local food, artists and musicians. The business also includes The Inn @ Villa Grove.

The new owners hail from Hutchinson, Kansas and both have restaurant management experience. They have been working on site with the former owners Amber and Jeff Shook since last summer.


Meet Allen Plumley (front) and Jamie Williams (back), new owners of Villa Grove Trade

“Jamie started working here in mid-June, and my sister had worked here before,” said Plumley in an interview with Saguache Today in December. Plumley arrived in late summer after discovering that the place was up for sale, which accelerated the pair’s plans to move west to Colorado. 

“Originally there was somebody else that was going to buy it,” explained Plumley, confirming earlier reports that Villa Grove Trade was going to be bought by a Sous-Chef-from-Boulder.

Yes, for those who may not have heard, it was the tongue-wagging news that the long-time owners of Villa Grove Trade were going to be selling the place to a Sous-Chef-from-Boulder that manifested more than a few puzzling looks.  As expected, there were concerns that things would change, drastically.

“It wasn’t something that a lot of locals weren’t looking forward to,” stated Plumley.

It’s a one-stop-shop at The Villa Grove Trade, from food to lodging, to arts and crafts!

But who could blame the Shooks for wanting to sell the place – to anyone!? Hadn’t they done their time, 15 years in all? Running the only game-in-town for food and lodging can wear on folks. Sure it’s fun when the summer visitors pass through with their tips and tale tall adventures. And no doubt, there’s always time for a visit when the locals pop in for pancakes and coffee. But those 15 years that Amber and Jeff ran The Villa, also included some lean times. You wonder how you’re going to get through February, then March and maybe even as late as June until the money starts to flow again along with the spring run-off. So it’s nice when friends and neighbors see hard-working people like the Shooks get the pay-off in the end.

“I just want to sit and rock my grand babies,” Amber said during an October visit. “But we’re not going anywhere. We’ll still be here in Villa,” she added. That was back when the other buyer was the front-runner.

But the San Luis Valley has a strong spiritual reputation for a reason. So it was a comfort for many to learn that the winds of fate had changed direction and that people with a more congruous vision would be buying the place. For now, it doesn’t seem like there will be too much will change at the northern end of the SLV.

“Our plan and our vision is probably not too different from what Amber and Jeff have;  we plan on keeping it the same,” Plumey confirmed.

New owners (left to right) Jamie and Allen takes the reins from former owners Amber & Jeff.

While regulars can expect to see the same menu, like any new owners the pair will introduce some new items as well and perhaps some extended hours during the summer, including a weekly dinner night. Of course, a good meal is nicely paired with live music, another mainstay regulars can continue to look forward to. Sounds like The Villa will be grooving again come this March, with Jeff agreeing to help set up the local gigs.

As for now, you can find the Villa Grove Trade open with the same hours which are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Daily, closed on Tuesday.  The establishment is located officially at 34094 Highway 285 in Villa Grove, CO 81155. You can also stay connected through the Villa Grove Trade Facebook Page.

Congratulations to the new owners, Allen and Jamie! And many thanks and best wishes to Amber and Jeff. Much peace and joy to all!

Journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, LLC a digital media company in Leadville, Colorado which publishes Leadville Today and Saguache Today. She may be reached at info@saguahcetoday.com

State Determines Funding for Saguache Schools

Progress is moving right along for the construction of the new Mountain Valley School in Saguache. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

By Joyce Rankin, Colorado Board of Education

During our monthly meeting, as the first week of the 72nd legislative session began, the State Board of Education walked across the street to attend the State of the State address. Jared Polis, our new Governor, reiterated his primary education related promise. “Our top priority this session is empowering every single Colorado community to offer free, full-day kindergarten while expanding free preschool to 8,000 more Colorado children.” The state already pays for kindergarten students to attend for half day classes. Many school districts offer full-day kindergarten, using district funds and parent paid tuition to pay for the additional half day. If the state agrees to pay for free full-day kindergarten for all kindergarten students in Colorado, the estimated cost will be an additional $250 million per year.

In the first week of the new session, 107 new bills were introduced. Seventeen of these involved Education. Of the seventeen, five were sponsored by Democrats, four by Republicans and 8 were bi-partisan. From their introduction the bills will pass through the Senate and House committees, and to both Senate and House Chambers before they become law. Many never get that far, but for now, legislators worked into the night to get their five bills written and submitted by the January 10 deadline.

Rep. Joyce Rankin

In addition to following all the legislative activity at the Capitol, the State Board of Education met for two days. One of our duties involved a vote to approve the monthly allocation of state funds to the 178 school districts in Colorado.

Under the public-school finance act of 1994 (Section 22-54-115, C.R.S.), the State Board is responsible for determining the monthly amount of money each school district receives from the state.  At our January meeting, we certified the December 2018 calculations and distribution. All districts and state distribution amounts were listed. The calculations for January through June 2019 will be certified at the February meeting.  All information is available on the State Board of Education website. Here are examples of the state distribution for districts in three counties that I represent: Roaring Fork SD with 5524 students, $1,825,907.67; Garfield 16 with 1163 students, $681,911.92; Meeker with 700 students, $191,591.25; Rangely with 483 students, $288,488.64 and Moffat County with 2106 students, $595,107.88. Throughout all of Colorado, the December distribution totaled $367,678,953.24. (Publisher’s Note: for Saguache and Moffat School District Numbers, connect HERE.)

In another vote, the State Board approved a Charter School appeal for the SKIES Academy. The SKIES Academy Charter application was initially granted, but later revoked, by the Cherry Creek School District.  The State Board found that this was not in the best interest of students, families and the community and remanded the Charter to go back to the local district to work together for a resolution. Charter SKIES Academy, based at Centennial Airport, will be a hands-on, project-based curriculum for 6-8 graders.  It will focus on students desiring a possible career in aerospace engineering, piloting and other aspects of aviation.

Thus we begin the first month of the 2019 legislative session and the first State Board Meeting of the New Year.

Enthusiasm for education never gets old in Saguache Today!

Joyce Rankin 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 the 29 counties she represents.  The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. 

Trooper Tips: A Call to Action

On November 11, the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office reported this one car rollover on CO Highway 285 at mile marker 107, just North of Villa Grove. A reminder to practice safe driving habits as the icy winter months come on. Photo SCSO

By Trooper Gary Cutler                               

Over the 2018 holiday season this year, Colorado had a wakeup call.  Starting Christmas Eve, and continuing through the next 72 hours, Colorado lost a total of 9 lives in 7 crashes.  Those killed ranged from teenagers all the way to grandparents.  The news talked about the loss of lives, people talked about it around friends and family; but pretty much Colorado went about its daily life after hearing the news.

If these people had been killed in a different way, say they were shot during the same period of time; the outcry from the public would have reached the heavens.  But, for some strange reason, deaths in traffic crashes have been accepted as something that just happens.  It needs to be acknowledged as a true, tragic issue, and needs to be stopped.

On December 27 2018, when Troopers heard of the fifth person dying that single day, we decided we had to step up and get the public to act on preventing crashes; it starts with a message to Coloradoans that it has to stop.  The Chief of the Colorado State Patrol, Matthew Packard, made a video with a powerful statement to the residents of the state.  He hearkened that we need a call to action to help protect the public from dying senseless deaths.  We hope this will be the beginning of a movement to protect the public.

The State Patrol is seeing crashes involving DUI/DUID, lane violations, speeding, exceeding safe speed, and being inattentive to driving as some of our most common reasons for fatal crashes. Another reason we have dying in crashes is some people still refuse to wear their seatbelt, and we know it would have saved their life.  I want you to know it’s not just limited to fatal crashes; Coloradoans need to be aware there are way too many crashes as well.

The State Patrol is in charge of traffic safety in all unincorporated areas throughout Colorado.  There are 5 State Patrol districts with subsequent troop offices within them, strategically positioned throughout the state to handle crashes.   During that deadly 72 hour period, fatal crashes happened in all 5 State Patrol districts.

The State Patrol is focused on eliminating crashes, yet crashes continue to plague the state.  The fatal crashes are worse in some counties, than others; these are El Paso, Adams, and Jefferson.  Weld County in particular leads the state in both fatal and injury crashes.  The crashes aren’t a metro or rural area problem either; both areas have far too many crashes.

I listed the top problem violations where drivers are not taking responsibility to drive safely seriously, but this isn’t the entire list of areas with issues.  It takes every agency, every corporation, every household, every person in the state to lower the amount of fatal and injury crashes we are experiencing.  You have that responsibility.

Over the next few months my articles will focus on the causes of the crashes throughout the state this past year.  We will also look into what steps you can take to walk away from a crash if you are unfortunately involved in one.

What I want everyone to know is that traffic crashes are preventable and that is why we call them crashes and not accidents.  Also survivability in a crash is exponentially raised by the use of seatbelts.

As always, safe travels!

It’s Movietime in Saguache Today

“Nutcracker” with Twist Playing in Saguache 

It’s a twist on a seasonal classic for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms which is what is playing this weekend at Cozy Castle Cinema: in downtown Saguache. Disney brings the Christmas classic into the 21st Century in this 2018 American fantasy adventure film

In this weekend’s film, Young Clara needs a magical, one-of-a-kind key to unlock a box that contains a priceless gift. A golden thread leads her to the coveted key, but it soon disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. In that world, she meets a soldier named Phillip, a group of mice and the regents who preside over three realms. Clara and Phillip must now enter a fourth realm to retrieve the key and restore harmony to the unstable land.

 

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.