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Senator Mark Udall told a sparse audience of about 30 people at a town hall meeting yesterday morning in Pueblo that “We’re focusing on jobs and the economy”. Udall has been touring the state during the senate’s august recess and he said that voters are most worried about reviving the economy. Udall ticked off a list of legislative objectives – leaving aside whether democrats and republicans will be able to agree on them. He wants to reach a settlement on the national debt ceiling and spending cuts to encourage business investment. He also supports legislation to offer tax credits for businesses to encourage hiring, and he would reform the income tax tables to raise more revenue from higher income groups. As for U.S. manufacturing, Udall sees new technology, electronics, medical research and other innovative industries as the future, but the days of building a local economy around heavy manufacturing are probably gone, he said.

The federal government reauthorized the Secure Rural Schools Act and Communities Self-Determination Act back in 2008 when lawmakers were also working to save the banking industry, however, the act is set to expire at the end of this year, leaving small school districts, who have also had their state funding cut, wondering how they’ll make ends meet. The act in the last three years has sent more than $14 million into the San Luis Valley for school districts, county government and forest projects. The act was initially passed in 2000 to blunt the impact felt by counties from a 70% decline in the revenue they received from the forest service. The act has also contributed to forest-related projects which are devised and forwarded to the forest service by advisory committees made up of business and conservation interests and community officials. U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both democrats, have called for the reauthorization of the act, but said the odds are 50-50 given the tough economic times. A spokesman for Representative Scott Tipton said the congressman supports the act, but has serious concerns about its efficiency and was exploring ways to make it more cost-effective.

Loren Howard, the general manager of a municipally-owned utility in Michigan, has been named the new CEO of San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative to replace the retiring John Villyard. Howard will take over the post in November. He has worked for 24 years at the Holland Board of Public Works. Holland says that he will bring an ongoing commitment to economic growth, a well-managed organization and always keep the needs of the co-op’s members at the forefront of everything the co-op does. Howard was one of 8 finalists for the job. The utility serves 30,000 residents with electricity, water and broadband service while also overseeing wastewater treatment.

The Alamosa City Council this week granted a 132-day contract extension to Bassett Construction for the municipal complex project. The original contract was for 365 days and would have ended around October 13th or 14th. The municipal complex project encompasses a new city hall/library and remodel of the existing city hall for public safety departments. The city hall/library portion of the project will still be completed in October, with those departments moving in at that time, however, the remodel of the existing city hall to accommodate the police department will not be completed until the end of the contract extension. After the 132-day extension, Bassett Construction will be assessed a $500-per-day fine if the project is not completed.

The Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center Foundation 1st annual Benefit Golf Tournament, four man scramble, will take place at the Grandote Peaks Golf Club in La Veta on Saturday, August 27th. Registration will begin at 7am with a shotgun start at 8am. Cost is $100 per golfer. There will be prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, the longest drive, longest putt, closest to the pin and more. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. For more information, call 719-738-5135.