THIS week starts off with some early warm days and then gets cooler with possible rain mid-week. We’re starting our Monday with Colorado House District 62 candidates Matthew Martinez and Carol Riggenbauch in our podcast studio on the southside of Alamosa.
We’re taping two Valley Pod episodes with the candidates looking to succeed Donald Valdez as the San Luis Valley’s state house representative – the first of which will stream later Monday following our initial roundtable conversation. The second podcast recording is scheduled for Oct. 3. The beauty of the podcasts is you can stream and listen at your convenience. Our podcasts are available on AlamosaCitizen.com or wherever you stream podcasts.
Here are a few more news items to start your week:
1. The election, Douglas County and SLV water
Speaking of the November election, Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon (above) is up for re-election in a race against Democratic challenger Kari Solberg. Should he win – and expectations are that he will in a county that trends toward local Republicans – expect Douglas County to make another full-court press on a deal with Renewable Water Resources. A renewed push, despite clear public opposition including from Douglas County residents, relies on Laydon being re-elected to the three-member board of commissioners, since it is a split public body with Commissioner Lora Thomas staunchly opposed to the idea of exporting water from the San Luis Valley and Commissioner George Teal a key ally of RWR. Laydon needs to win re-election for RWR to move forward. Upcoming campaign finance reports will show how big a bet RWR’s Bill Owens, Sean Tonner and other water exportation enthusiasts have placed behind him.
You’ll recall Douglas County decided not to use its federal COVID relief money to invest in RWR, but rather told its staff and water attorneys it has hired to negotiate and to continue working with RWR on the proposal. The deal was never dead – Douglas County simply took it off its public agenda while staff and attorneys worked on the plan with RWR’s Bill Owens and Sean Tonner. Earlier this month, on Sept. 13, Steve Leonhardt, the lead water attorney hired by Douglas County, met in executive session with the three commissioners to update them on his ongoing talks with Owens and RWR. Once November passes, and should Laydon win, expect Douglas County to again make its case for why its way of life in the suburbs of metro-Denver is more critical to the future of Colorado than the agriculture and environmental assets of the San Luis Valley and the health of the Upper Rio Grande Basin.
2. Alamosa takes up city manager contract
The Alamosa City Council is in session Wednesday evening. Topping its agenda is renewal of a contract for City Manager Heather Brooks, who’s done a whole lot to move the city forward since she arrived in Alamosa in June of 2013. The proposed new contract would give Brooks a cost-of-living increase of 3 percent. Expect it to be approved. Brooks has earned broad support among the city council and has more work ahead as Alamosa continues to position itself as one of the strongest small towns in Colorado in terms of its tax base and quality of life.
3.U.S. Ag Secretary makes a Colorado visit
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Denver on Monday to announce projects in Colorado that “will expand market opportunities for producers and improve soil carbon sequestration, including a project led by the Colorado Department of Agriculture that will provide technical assistance to a diverse range of producers to create products grown
with healthy soil practices,” according to an announcement on the visit. “This visit is part of a historic investment of $2.8 billion by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand markets for climate-smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture in Colorado and across the country, including for small and underserved producers. This investment will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, combat the climate crisis, and strengthen rural America.”
4. Those Adams State Theatre students
Adams State has been performing live theater for decades upon decades, and on Friday, Sept. 23, it opens its 2022-23 season with the performance of “Roosters,” a Latinx play that stars seniors Taylor Anaya-Estrada and Joaquin Rodriguez. We hosted the two students on the latest episode of the Valley Pod and heard how the Adams State Theatre Department under the direction of John Taylor continues to draw students from outside the Valley and into Alamosa. Anaya-Estrada is from Pueblo and Rodriguez is from Santa Fe, and both spoke highly of their time in Alamosa and at Adams State. We encourage you to listen in. It helps to hear from students on the experiences they’re having at Adams State. “Roosters” is the senior thesis project for another student, Aaron Corona who is from Delta. The play lasts about an hour and a half, including a 10-minute intermission.
5. Maestas Case Commemoration
On Oct. 1 there will be a public dedication of a bronze relief statue to commemorate the Francisco Maestas educational desegregation case that dates back to 1914. A committee of academic and legal scholars, including retired-District Court Judge Martín Gonzales, has been working for years to bring the case to light. The upcoming dedication is a culmination of those efforts to tell the story of the Maestas family and others, and the fight to desegregate Alamosa schools in the early parts of the 1900s. You can learn more at MaestasCase.com and you can purchase tickets to a dinner that will occur after the public dedication.
6. That Adams drubbing
We’ve watched six decades of Adams State football but never seen an 84-10 score. Saturday’s drubbing at the hands of Colorado School of Mines had text messages flying between alumni and former Adams State football players. “What is Adams State Football???” came the text from Floyd Roberts, who arrived on the campus of Adams State from Terrell, Texas in 1980, to play wide receiver and graduated in 1984.
The “WOW, unbelievable” was a common refrain among alumni and locals who follow Adams State football. So here’s the deal. We’ve spent a fair amount of time with Adams State Head Football Coach Jarrell Harrison, who is in his second year. We’ve watched from the sidelines and have been impressed with the level of talent and energy and enthusiasm we’ve seen from the Grizzlies. We believe in what Coach Harrison is selling, which is a renewed, full-on commitment to reshaping Adams State football in the Grizzlies era. It’s a team that makes critical mistakes at critical times, but it’s also a team that has talented, committed student-athletes. “Coaches have to be better, players have to be better, everybody has to be better,” the coach said after the game. “We need to play like we love football.” Adams is back on the gridiron when it travels to Durango on Saturday to play Fort Lewis, another struggling football program. The first big test for the young head coach will be to see how his team regroups after an embarrassing Saturday against Mines.
7. The weekend that was
Hardly a weekend goes by that there isn’t some cool event happening in the San Luis Valley. But we must say, this past weekend and annually the beginning to middle of September is among the busiest times of the year. We took in the Alamosa Arts Festival, Stephanie Miner Walk/Run, the Alamosa Farmers Market, the Five Star Riders Car Club Show and Hispanic Heritage festivities at Adams State, the Adams State football game, and the Raise the Roof benefit concert at Society Hall. Whew. It’s been a busy and fun summer and feels like we haven’t stopped dancing and partying since the Dwight Yoakam concert at the Ski Hi Stampede.
Here are a few photos from the weekend that was.