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U.S. Senator Ken Salazar yesterday outlined the priorities for the San Luis Valley that he said will guide his work for the senate. Salazar spoke about agriculture, natural resources, tourism and renewable energy at a public meeting in Alamosa yesterday. The priorities were included in Salazar‚€™s regional plan for the valley, one of ten plans developed for regions covering Colorado. He said that getting the 2007 Farm Bill signed by President Bush is at the top of his list for agriculture. Priorities for natural resources include protecting Colorado Rio Grande Compact entitlement, helping with restoration on the Rio Grande and Alamosa Rivers, monitoring development near Wolf Creek Pass, drilling on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge and San Luis Hills, and advocating for the Summitville cleanup. Promoting the valley as a tourist and recreation center includes capturing some of the 300,000 visitors who visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve annually, getting them to visit other attractions in the valley, Salazar said. Salazar also encouraged Conejos County to begin promoting the area‚€™s history, much as Costilla County has already done.
A measure introduced by Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff of Denver, to help Colorado‚€™s poorer school districts to obtain grants for repairs, easily cleared the 13-member house education committee yesterday. The bill, HB1335, calls for transferring $30 to $40 million for five years from what it earns from state trust lands, combining it with other monies the state allocates for school construction, including a settlement agreement. The lands generate money from royalty payments for such things as oil and gas development, which has been growing exponentially in recent years because of a boom in natural gas development. The 1998 settlement called on the state to allocate $190 million over 11 years. Romanoff said that the time has come to find a new way to repair schools that have been crumbling for decades.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission is proposing another electrical transmission line route into the San Luis Valley in order to maintain sufficient power to the valley. Mark Murray of Tri-State, the wholesale cooperative that includes San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, gave an update on the power expansion project during the 2008 Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference in Monte Vista earlier this month. Murray said that the valley is only fed by one transmission line that comes over Poncha Pass. Tri-State is proposing to bring in another line from another source, a substation on the other side of La Veta Pass. Bringing in power from another source will improve the system and prevent voltage collapses, Murray said. The next phase for the projects involves seeking public input about where the new transmission line should go. Those public meetings will begin in May.
Ricardo Olguin-Melendez, 31, and Bernardino Herrera-Hernandez, 46, have both been released from Pueblo hospitals following a rollover accident on Interstate 25 that occurred north of Pueblo a week ago. The two men were passengers in a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Salvino Fuentes-Dorado, 54, who lost control of the vehicle that was hauling a heavy load of scrap metal to Pueblo from Midway. Both survivors were ejected from the vehicle. Fuentes-Dorado died at the scene. The three men have local addresses, but state patrol investigators are working with immigration officials to determine their citizenship status.
Charlie Chick, 61, a long-time San Luis Valley businessman, has announced that he will seek the Rio Grande County Commission District 3 seat. Chick will run as a republican. He moved to the valley from west Texas in 1998 and has been in retail all of his life. He has lived in the valley for the last 20 years and in Del Norte for the past 10 years. Chick is married and has two sons and a daughter and five grandchildren. Chick served for two terms on the Alamosa City Council beginning back in 1991.