OF late, news coming out of the San Luis Valley is as steady as a water stream at Zapata Falls. Here’s a follow up to last Friday’s bombshell out of Adams State and few other nuggets to get the week started:

1. Sudden departure of Cheryl Lovell catches Adams Staters off guard
Joe I. Vigil called over the weekend inquiring about the departure of Cheryl D. Lovell as president of Adams State. Vigil, one of Adams State’s most recognizable names, had formed a good bond with Lovell during her time as school president and wondered what had gone wrong.

The decision by Adams State Trustees to terminate the contract with Lovell, the school’s 11th president, seemed sudden and jarring to followers of the university. Kent Buchanan, who Lovell hired to serve as vice president of academic affairs, was named acting president. Trustees Amanda De La Rosa and Jennifer Mueller will head up a search committee for an interim president, the university said in announcing Lovell’s departure.

“The faculty appreciate the board’s desire to seek a new day for Adams State University and resolve in acting quickly to achieve positive change during the summer months,” said Nick Saenz, professor of history and faculty senate president.

Faculty members had been vocal with their concerns about Lovell, her leadership and management style. There was also a growing chorus of dissatisfaction among classified employees and exempt staff at Adams State. In the end the noise of discontent grew too loud for the Trustees to ignore.

To her credit, Lovell got Adams State tracking in the right direction financially, and she was able to court Adams Staters like Joe Vigil and others off campus who found her demeanor more engaging than those who worked with her on campus.

Questions abound as to what type of leader is the right fit for Adams State. After Beverlee McClure crashed and burned three years into her presidency at Adams State and Lovell made it a year longer but never really had the support of a majority of campus constituents, it’s a fair question.

One thing remains clear: Alamosa and the San Luis Valley need Adams State to succeed. It’s a major economic driver and adds tremendously to the quality of life in south-central Colorado. Here’s hoping the Trustees find the right fit in the next person.

2. Construction heads up: US 160 in Monte Vista
The Colorado Department of Transportation announced a temporary closure of US 160 in Monte Vista while crews repair a railroad crossing near the intersection of Second street and US Highway 160. The three-day closure will begin on Monday, June 13, and continue through Wednesday, June 16. Traffic will be detoured south on North Broadway Ave (CO 15) at the intersection of US160 and US 285. Motorists will travel south to 6th Street, where they will head west to Henderson and then travel north to US Highway 160.

3. ICYMI: Cumbres & Toltec delays opening
Given the red flag warnings for the San Luis Valley, management for Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TSRR) did the responsible thing when they delayed opening day to July 1. 

“In 50-plus years of operation, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad has maintained an excellent safety record and established a hard-earned reputation for a proactive and vigorous approach to fire safety,” said Scott Gibbs, president/CEO of the C&TSRR. “It was a difficult – but vital – decision to proactively postpone our start date. Our mission is to preserve an important part of our nation’s history, while ensuring the safety of our passengers, employees, local communities and the environment through which we travel.” 

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad was scheduled to open for the season this coming weekend, June 11, and its delay no question is a setback for the towns of Antonito and Chama, N.M., and all the merchants that rely on the railroad’s summer tourists.

The decision was made out of an abundance of caution and in the highest regard for the railroad’s stewardship of the land where it operates, operators of the scenic railroad said in the announcement.

Passengers with reservations for June departures are being contacted directly by the C&TSRR. People who choose to rebook their June reservations for a later date in 2022 will receive a gift card for 10 percent off in the Gift Shop. Passengers can also opt for a full refund. 

Due to the unprecedented conditions, the railroad encourages all passengers to check the website for updates the day prior to a scheduled departure: www.cumbrestoltec.com.

4. Alamosa School District bosses have a busy summer ahead
Alamosa Superintendent Diana Jones and her trusty Assistant Superintendent Luis Murillo have a lot on their plate heading into summer break. The duo recently led the school district through a strategic action plan and development of a “Profile of a Graduate.”

Now in June, Murillo will convene a committee in conjunction with the district’s Teachers Education Association to study the transition to a four-day school week. Then there’s the integration of Alamosa Online Schools and Alternative Education in Alamosa and rolling out that new organizational structure for the new school year in 2022-23.

You can get caught up on all these meaty topics by listening to this episode of The Valley Pod, where Jones and Murillo explain it all.

5.How water works: An important series by the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable
The Rio Grande Basin Roundtable does a great job of explaining how water works in the San Luis Valley and across Colorado with a running series of articles that are published monthly on  AlamosaCitizen.com. The latest article looks at the Yampa River. Past articles have gone in depth on water augmentation in the San Luis Valley and work being done to improve snowpack and refined streamflow forecasting.

You can find all the articles here and watch for more each month. They are educational and beneficial in understanding the water puzzle of the Upper Rio Grande Basin and other critical river basins in the state.

6. Weekend Photos
Great to see people out and about at the 2022 Summer Fest on the Rio held at Cole Park. Here’s a photo gallery from Linda Relyea.

ABOUT THE TOP PHOTO: A weekend sunrise captured by local photographer C. Claire Lara.

Leave a comment