BASKING in the January sun, it feels like early spring with temps this month running about 4 degrees higher so far than what’s considered historically normal for the San Luis Valley. December was warmer than normal as well, twice reaching into the 50s. The week ahead is more of the same, with daytime highs into the mid-40s some days. Here are more news bits to kick off the second week of January:
1. Friends on both sides of the political aisle
As a Republican in a Colorado Senate controlled by Democrats, State Sen. Cleave Simpson finds himself in an oddly comfortable spot. In his two years in office, he’s managed to carve out a reputation as a leading bipartisan legislator who Republicans and Democrats alike can work with. When the state senator from Alamosa reports for duty at the Colorado Capitol this week, he does so representing a new state senate district that was carved out as part of the 2021 Colorado redistricting process. What isn’t changing is his focus on water and rural Colorado. Full story HERE.
2. Subdistrict 1 back in the spotlight
The new year likely will bring a new amended Plan of Water Management for irrigators in Subdistrict 1 of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District. The subdistrict’s board of managers in December approved a new amended plan that ties the allowable groundwater pumped to the natural surface of water of the property. This is a huge change that values snowpack, and if there isn’t any, irrigators can expect to pay a handsome fee to get surface water from a neighbor. The plan will get a hearing and vote before the Rio Grande Water Conservation District on Jan. 17. If approved there, as is likely, the amended Plan of Water Management then gets filed with Colorado Division of Water Resources for its blessing, or not.
We frequently note the activity of farmers in Subdistrict 1 because it is the subdistrict that pulls from the unconfined aquifer of the Upper Rio Grande Basin and is under state watch to reduce its groundwater pumping to recover water flows in the unconfined aquifer. It’s also the Valley’s most lucrative corridor for irrigated agriculture, and as such, the bellwether for farming in the Valley. The amended Plan of Water Management is a way for farmers in the subdistrict to try to stay in business while making gains in recovering the unconfined aquifer. More to come in 2023.
3. Adams State president search on track
Adams State’s president search committee is on track, having just finalized writing the leadership profile for the position and preparing to market the job through a national search firm, said Mark Martinez, co-chair of the Adams State President Search Committee.
“It’s a big ask, but it’s a national search and so we’re trying to nail what we’re after,” Martinez said of the work that went into developing the leadership profile. There was an emphasis on creating a sense of place around Alamosa and the San Luis Valley so that potential applicants can see themselves here and are inspired to apply, Martinez said.
A strong fiscal manager, a strategic vision for Adams State, and someone who displays “soft skills” to build morale and create a positive work environment are attributes the committee will be looking for.
Adams State has hired WittKieffer, an executive search firm, to market the position and manage the application process. Martinez said a new president for Adams State should be in place by mid-May when the spring semester comes to a close.
4. Where the Alamosa school board president stands on 4-day week
What’s the big deal? asks Heidi Richardson. The president of the Alamosa school board acknowledged she’s been in support of a switch to four school days from the start and doesn’t see the change to be drastic. “We’re not going from five (days) to four. We’re going from four-and-a-half (days) to four,” she argued at last Thursday’s school board meeting. “Our half days on Fridays are not being attended. I don’t want to say it’s a joke, because there are some kids that are benefiting from that half day. The attendance is very poor on that half-a-day.”
What to do with the 2,000-plus students in Alamosa schools on the one week day that they’re not in school has been a topic of discussion among school officials. Richardson had some thoughts on that as well. “I used to ditch school to go to work,” the school board president quipped. “I’m sure Big R and City Market will be thrilled if we do this.”
Photo courtesy Maroon Pride AHS girls
5. Mean Moose pride
The Alamosa girls basketball team showed the grit and resilience over the weekend that is long a hallmark of the San Luis Valley and its people. The team took the floor for two games in wake of the death of their head coach Erik Melgoza and carried with it the heart of the Valley.
Melgoza’s family announced over the weekend that Alamosa High School will host a memorial service for him at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15. “Words cannot express how honored we are to witness the amount of love held for our dad,” said his children, Blaze Melgoza and Jordan Mallard. “Reading all the messages, personal stories, articles, and memories shared, further illustrates what a great man Dad was, and highlights the impact he had on so many lives.”
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