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U.S. Senator Wayne Allard, in a telephone press conference yesterday, said that high fuel prices in the U.S. are being controlled by OPEC countries that are limiting their production to drive up the cost of oil. Allard said that Saudi Arabia comes to mind. He said they get their fuel out of the ground relatively cheaply and then sell it to us for $115 a barrel. Senator Ken Salazar said Wednesday that the oil rich monarchy could increase its 10 million barrel-a-day pumping by at least 2 million barrels. He said that we should be looking at coercing our friends in the Middle East to produce more oil then they are. Salazar said, ‚€œSaudi Arabia can produce 2 million more barrels a day than it is, while we are spending billions of dollars [on the war in Iraq] to bring stability to that region. Allard and Salazar also agree that the U.S. government should stop buying oil for filling the strategic petroleum reserve, which holds a 70-day supply of oil in deep caverns along the Gulf of Mexico.
Alamosa County Sheriff Dave Stong told Alamosa County Commissioners this week that even with the departure of the Alamosa Police Department from the county law enforcement center, the problems plaguing the overcrowded detention center are still in place. Stong said that sheriff‚€™s office staff members who previously had offices behind the security door leading to the detention side are now able to move into some of the area formerly occupied by the police department. Stong asked county officials for financial assistance to cover remodeling expenses as he has no money in his budget for remodeling the jail. Stong is proposing to open up the area behind the security doors for a dormitory-style inmate area that would be used for minimum-security inmates. Stong said the facility remains a felony-only facility because of space issues. He said the only inmates in the facility on misdemeanor charges are those specifically sentenced to jail.
The fire that began Wednesday morning between Monument Lake and North Lake on Colorado Highway 12 in Las Animas County was caused when heavy winds blew tree branches into a power line on land owned by Gene Aiello, according to Las Animas County Sheriff James Casias. The fire, which consumed 112 acres of grass and brush, two outbuildings and a vehicle owned by Aiello, was fueled by winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour in the area. Crews had completely contained the fire by Wednesday night, but stayed out in shifts overnight to make sure the fire didn‚€™t jump the firebreaks. Only a few hot spots remained as of yesterday afternoon. More than 50 firefighters and volunteers helped with backhoes and bulldozers to surround the fire and move bush out of the fire‚€™s path, according to Casias.
Alamosa County is in the top tier in the state when it comes to foreclosures, according to Alamosa County Treasurer/Public Trustee Lois Widhalm. Widhalm says that foreclosures are coming in constantly. She said that her office had a bit of a break from foreclosures after state statutes changed and lending institutions renewed a thrust to prevent homeowners from reaching the foreclosure stage, however, it was a short-lived reprieve she said. Widhalm‚€™s office has received 9 new foreclosures since the middle of March. She also has 18 continued foreclosures. Her office has completed 12 foreclosures that included 9 public trustee deeds and 1 redemption by an owner.
State Representative Rafael Gallegos says he is determined to seek state-level assistance to keep the long-term care unit nursing home open at the Conejos County Hospital. The hospital announced last week that it will close the nursing home in June. Gallegos said that he is worried about the closure and about the uncertain futures for the 23 residents of the facility and the 36 staff members. Gallegos says he is concerned about unemployment and poverty in Conejos County and the San Luis Valley. Unemployment in Conejos County is 9% with many elderly members of the community on fixed incomes.