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A settlement is reportedly in the works for the lawsuits against Jensen Farms in Holly, the farm identified as the source of a nationwide listeria outbreak last fall that killed at least 30 people. According to attorneys for Jensen Farms, and for 39 people who were sickened or who had a family member die, the deal could be worked out by this fall. The settlement could also include a company that manufactures and imports food-processing equipment and a company that did a safety audit of the farm. The plaintiffs in the case could still pursue claims against others who were allegedly involved in the distribution and sale of the cantaloupe. The federal centers for disease control and prevention said last December that 30 people died, 146 people were sickened and one woman suffered a miscarriage in connection with the outbreak. The Federal Food and Drug Administration has said that dirty water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment were probably to blame for the outbreak last fall.

Jessica Nevarez, 16, of Alamosa, was identified yesterday by the Colorado State Patrol as the Alamosa High School student who died last Friday in an accident on Alamosa County Road 8 South about 3 miles southwest of Alamosa. Nevarez died when her Dodge sedan collided with a semi tractor-trailer head-on. According to the investigation into the incident, Nevarez was traveling westbound on the co-op road when she drove into the eastbound lane, striking the front of a semi driven by Brock Canty, 38, of Sanford. Nevarez was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from her vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators will continue to determine if she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Speed was not a factor for either vehicle in the accident. Nevarez is the 4th Alamosa teen to die this spring.

Both northbound lanes of I-25 were closed for about an hour yesterday north of Pueblo after a semi tractor-trailer dropped a large load of gravel long the interstate, causing a car to roll over and another to slide off the highway. The driver of the semi was identified as Joseph Herrera, 67, of Colorado Springs. He was not injured, but was cited for spilling a load and failing to comply with Colorado Department of Public Safety rules and regulations. The accident occurred about 9:55am near mile marker 108. The semi was pulling a belly-dump trailer that releases its load through an opening at the bottom of the trailer between its wheels. That somehow opened and gravel was strewn across both lanes of traffic. Traffic was backed up from the site of the accident seven miles north of Pueblo all the way to the Eagleridge exit. Snowplows and street sweepers were used to clean up the interstate.

The Concerned Parents and Community of Trinidad organization, a group that is trying to oust Trinidad Schools Superintendent Manuel Rodriguez, will continue its efforts in the wake of the resignation of a school board member. Linda Vigil resigned from the school board last week in the midst of the divisive campaign to oust the superintendent. Vigil was re-elected to a second term on the school board last November. She said she wanted to make sure that she waited until the end of the current school year before she announced her resignation. Vigil said that her decision was not influenced by efforts to remove Superintendent Rodriguez, who was hired by the school board in March. Vigil voted in favor of hiring Rodriguez. The group trying to oust Rodriguez presented petitions bearing 1,000 signatures expressing no confidence in Rodriguez to the school board on April 24th. The same group recently began collecting signatures for a recall petition on school board president Charlene Bertollino, but hasn’t received enough signatures yet to go forward.

In a coordinated effort, all San Luis Valley counties and federal land management agencies in the valley are initiating stage 1 fire restrictions beginning tomorrow. Stage 1 fire restrictions prohibit all open fires, campfires, charcoal-fueled fires or coal or wood burning stove fires unless in an established fire grate in a developed campground. Smoking is also banned unless in an enclosed vehicle or building, in a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area cleared of all flammable material. Also prohibited is the operation of any internal combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed. And welding or operating an acetylene torch with an open flame is also prohibited. For more information, call the SLV Public Lands Center at 719-852-5941.