New Colorado tourism boss makes visit to Alamosa

ALAMOSA — Tim Wolfe, the new director of tourism for the state of Colorado, made his first trek to Alamosa and the San Luis Valley on Tuesday. He visited with Kale Mortensen, executive director of the Alamosa Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other local tourism leads for Creede, Saguache County, and other Valley destinations. One interesting segment of the conversation focused on sustainable tourism and what that looks like for the San Luis Valley.

After his stop at the Colorado Welcome Center off Sixth Street and State Avenue in Alamosa, he ventured to the Great Sand Dunes National Park to learn about its continued growth of visitations. The Great Sand Dunes National Park has already established a new yearly visitation record with October, November and December visits still to be counted. Through September the Sand Dunes has seen 531,226 visitations, surpassing its 2019 record of 528,014 visits, according to Kathy Faz, chief of interpretation and visitor services at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Other Valley destinations are also seeing growth in tourist visits, including Creede. Wolfe said the San Luis Valley is recovering faster from the COVID pandemic than the Front Range.That’s because people have been escaping densely populated destinations and opting for the spacious comfort of places like the San Luis Valley. For Alamosa and surrounding communities, that’s meant better than expected sales tax collections and occupancy of area hotels.

COVID updated figures for the San Luis Valley

SAN LUIS VALLEY – COVID-19 cases have decreased in the San Luis Valley over the past 3 weeks from the equivalent of Level Red to Level Yellow, according data released Tuesday by the San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership. But it said hospitalizations are still extremely high. Hospital admissions for COVID-19 in the San Luis Valley broke previous records for the last two weeks in a row. Hospitals in almost every region of the state are currently pushing the limits of their capacity and patient transfers between hospitals have been very difficult, according to the San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership. SLV Health Regional Medical Center shared this week that of the 38 COVID-19 patients admitted to their facility in August and September, 34 were unvaccinated, 2 were partially vaccinated, and 4 were fully vaccinated.

The San Luis Valley Health Partnership also put out information on COVID boosters after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated authorization for boosters last week. Individuals who received their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine more than 6 months ago may get a booster if they are over age 65; residing in a long term care facility; age 18-64 with underlying health conditions; or age 18-64 with high risk of exposure at work, including first responders and those who work in healthcare, education, agriculture, corrections, grocery stores, and postal workers. The new guidelines do not require the booster shot to be from the same manufacturer as the original vaccine doses.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients are recommended to get a booster dose of any COVID-19 vaccine if their original dose was more than 2 months ago. Additional populations may be recommended to receive a booster shot as more data become available. 

There are currently 172 known active cases of COVID-19 in the SLV. 

Alamosa County – 70

Conejos County – 27

Costilla County – 13

Mineral County – 2.             

Rio Grande County – 43.  

Saguache County – 17

Adams State awards Willis Fasset Jr. Corporate Award to Outcalt Foundation

The Outcalt Foundation has been named the recipient of Adams State’s 2021 Willis Fassett Jr. Corporate Award. Named for long-time Valley resident Ralph Outcalt, the foundation recently awarded Adams State $150,000 for student scholarships, including a full-ride scholarship of up to $25,000 per year for four years, and multiple one-time awards of up to $3,000 to cover direct educational costs that include tuition, fees, books and supplies.

“One of Mr. Outcalt’s legacies and directives for the foundation was to focus on youth development,” said Karla Shriver, trustee of The Outcalt Foundation. “Ralph loved the valley.

He thought it was an extraordinary place, and he was very adamant that we support the education of our youth.”

As a prominent businessman and long-time resident of the Valley, Ralph Outcalt knew Adams State well. “He had a long-term relationship with Adams State and recognized its importance,”said Shriver. “He felt that Adams State was a huge component of the valley and a tremendous asset, not only for education but as an economic engine.”

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