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Spooky Time in Saguache Today

Trick or Treaters – young and bold – will have plenty of fun to behold when it comes to celebrating the spookiest season of the year in Saguache Today! So grab your Halloween costume and candy bag. It’s time to get your spooky on!

This Thursday, October 31, the afterschool Halloween fun begins at 4:30 p.m. when children are asked to gather at the Saguache Volunteer Fire Department’s station to head out on the hayride. What a great way for the kiddos to get out and collect their goodies in a safe manner. Thanks to the Mountain Valley School Booster Club who join efforts with local firefighters in helping to coordinate this safe, family-friendly event.

The Annual Halloween Costume Contest is serious businsess as pictured here in the 2017 competition at the Saguache Fre Station. Who will claim top prize this year?!

One of the stops along the hayride will be the Oasis Restaurant. Here costumed kiddos will have a chance to enter the eatery’s contest. According to Josh from the Oasis, they will take a special picture of the kiddos all dressed up for Halloween and then post that picture to the Oasis Facebook Page. The ones with the most likes will get a first and second prize. Every kid will also get a special goodie bag with yummy treats. But for Halloweeners not on the hayride, all are welcome to stop in for trick or treating on Halloween night! Things at the Oasis will get going at 5 p.m and wrap up by 7:30.

Meanwhile, the hayride will return to the firehouse for a delicious chili dinner starting at 5 p.m. There is no charge, but donations are welcome. Afterward, there will be the fantastic costume contest! Which outfit will claim the top prize? Find out for yourself and join the competition parade which begins at 6 p.m. at the firehouse located on Denver Avenue and 4th Street in the heart of downtown Saguache. There will be some candy, delicious chili, and hot chocolate.

Photo from Halloween 2017 via Lynn Nowiskee/Saguache Today.

From here, the Halloween fun for the kids continues across the street at the Cozy Castle Cinema when starting at 8 p.m. there will be a special Halloween presentation of the movie “Hocus Pocus,” a Halloween classic! Ticket prices are only $10 and include popcorn and pop!

“The money we raise is to help pay our way to the Fall Leadership Conference in Denver,” stated Booster organizer Crystal Knight. She also gave a “shout-out to Cozy Castle Cinema for always supporting our youth!” Seating is limited for the movie event, so plan ahead by connecting on the Cozy Castle Cinema Facebook Page.

While the kiddos fun is winding down with a movie, the adults will be making plans for babysitting and face-painting, as the adult fun will fire up late-night starting at 10 p.m. at The Village Pub, Pizza and Spirits in downtown Saguache.

The Halloween costume competition is fierce as the judges confer in Saguache Today!

 “The Pub’s Halloween Party is going to a blast of awesome, scary, and funny!” the eatery posted on its Facebook Page. The inaugural event will include a special drink menu, seasonal menu treats, and an adult costume contest. In addition to the food and libations, guests will also have an opportunity to take in a midnight screening at the Cozy Castle Cinema located next door. Movie-goers can pick from the top four film choices to see which one is the winner and the theater will show that movie at midnight on Halloween!

Well, that’s a (mummy) wrap for what’s happening for Halloween this Thursday. Take it all in, and if you take any pictures be sure to #photoshare with your friends in Saguache Today!

Naked Escapee Captured

By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today

UPDATE to the STORY

The escaped inmate was brought into custody at 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28.

An inmate known as James “ Jaime” Stewart who was being held at the Saguache County Jail escaped on Saturday evening. As of Sunday morning, October 27 he was still at-large. According to the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office, Stewart was in for violation of parole and has been known to have violent tendencies. Residents are asked to call 719-655-2544 with any information. DO NOT APPROACH the escapee.

Inmate Escapee James “ Jaime” Stewart is still at large as of Oct 27, 2019

The incident initiated the San Luis Valley (SLV) Alert System which issued voice mails, text messages and email  warnings on behalf of the Saguache County Sheriff Office (SCSO) alerting residents with the following message at 7:18 p.m. October 26, 2019:

“Attention Saguache residents: We have an escaped inmate from Saguache County Jail; he escaped within the last 10 minutes. He is wearing nothing. He is 6’1” tall, 230 pounds, brown hair, and blue eyes. He may be violent, so please do not approach. Please turn on all your outside lights, lock your doors and windows, and call 911 if seen. Thank You. Saguache County Sheriff’s Office.”

Nearly two hours later another phone voice message came into Saguache Today:

“There has been a male party who has escaped custody from the Saguache County Jail this evening, October 26 around 7 p.m. He is 6’1” tall, 230 pounds, brown hair, and blue eyes. He left his clothing around the jail, so unknown clothing description now. He has mental issues and may fight law enforcement. Please do not approach. If seen, please call 911 or Saguache County Sheriff’s Office at 719-655-2544. Please keep all doors and windows locked and call and suspicious activity in. Thank You. Saguache County Sheriff’s Office.”

As of this morning’s post (8 a.m.) no word from authorities about whether the escapee had been captured or turned himself in. However, with the temperature reported at 43 degrees in downtown Saguache during the time of the incident, residents pondered on the local social media feeds how far a naked guy could go. And with overnight temperatures in the teens, in addition to a slight trace of snow, all are hopeful to have a peaceful ending to the situation. However, neighbors in Saguache Today and residents throughout the SLV should remain on high alert.

Saguache saw overnight temperatures in the teens with a slight trace of snow.

Of course, once the initial official notification was put into motion, the keyboard commentators – and critics – got busy. And as is now the standard in today’s 21st-century world, residents in this small town of about 500 people, had a wide array of opinions regarding the situation. After all, it was the third jailbreak from Saguache in less than one year.

A prisoner escaped from Saguache County Jail on November 21, 2018 was able to elude deputies for nearly a day. Then on December 20 at 11 p.m. two inmates at the Saguache County Jail escaped at 11 p.m. but were later recaptured by the Monte Vista Police Department and a Saguache County Detention officer.

“He can always walk back in if he gets too cold and try again later since they have an open-door policy,” posted one resident. Another blogger referenced Deputy Barney Fife a TV character from the 1950s comedy program “The Andy Griffin Show,” which chronicled the challenges of wearing the badge in a small town.

However, the reality for 21st-century law enforcement in rural Colorado paints a different picture. Under the constant pressure of budgetary constraints as well as staff recruitment and retainment, Saguache Sheriff Dan Warwick holds the keys to what the fact-finders consider to be the second oldest jail in the entire state, built in 1957. It’s in poor shape and was rated as a “high priority” in 2015 by the Underfunded Courthouse Facility Commission.

And nobody is denying it. Not the residents. Not the deputies. Not Sheriff Warwick. Not even the inmates could deny the facility needs an update. But they can’t get the vote. And if you can’t get the vote, you can’t get the money.

It’s “high priority” for the Saguache County Courthouse and Jail

Even with state officials threatening for years that they will “come in and shut it down,” in addition to Saguache County being listed as a “high priority” by the state, the last ballot initiative to address the jail was voted down by the Saguache County electorate. The November 2016 Ballot Issue 1B would have provided revenue generated from a 1 % sales tax increase to be used in support of the Saguache County Sheriff Office including staff training, and the maintenance and construction of a new jail and justice center. The measure was defeated with 1,486 voters opposed and 1,170 votes cast in favor.  

Three years later, Sheriff Warwick and his staff continue to endure unsafe situations with inmates, as does everyone who uses the courthouse, from staff to the public it services. But as Saturday night’s incident tallies another score in the “escaped inmate” column, the situation has escalated public safety concerns.  

In the short term, all sights are set on capturing the inmate and returning things to safety. In the long run, stay tuned as voters can expect to address the jail/courthouse issue again on the 2020 ballot.

CLICK to Sign Up For SLV Alert Notifications – it’s FREE

That said, most San Luis Valley emergency responders agree that Sheriff Warwick made the best decision on behalf of public safety during the initial moments the community was most at risk during Saturday night’s escape. He understands that seconds count in situations like this. And with the SCSO staff in all-hands-on-deck mode, the professionals who manage the SLV Alert System were able to assist by managing the message to residents – immediately!

SLV Alert has established relationships with other law enforcement agencies in the valley, including the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office. They have established protocols in place. Their scripts contain the vital information relayed directly from law enforcement officials managing the active situation. And this time it worked; it worked very well. SIGN UP TODAY!

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