State redistricting commission approves congressional map
The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, after 5,200 public comments and 1,000 individuals testifying, approved a final congressional map that will be submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court for approval. The congressional map can been viewed here.
Alamosa County Attorney Jason Kelly served on the 12-member commission. The group approved a final plan on a 11-1 vote just before midnight on Tuesday. The plan being submitted to the state supreme court was unofficially titled Staff Plan 3 Coleman Amendment.
“What’s important is that all the maps had merit,” said Kelly. The challenge was finding enough common ground among the 12 commissioners to agree on a map, and they finally did after marathon meeting sessions that lasted into the early morning hours.
“It’s a strong vote,” said Kelly. “It’s a strong case for the work that the commission did and the work the non-partisan staff did. They had a ton of work to do.”
Colorado is the only state in the union to use an independent commission rather than the state legislative body to redraw its congressional and state house and senate district maps using the 2020 Census.
“This was the first time in the country’s history that an independent commission had drawn the congressional map, and so we were really trailblazing as a commission,” Kelly said. “It was a great experience. I would recommend it to anyone. It opens a lot of windows of what is going on in the state.”
Large item trash pickup in Alamosa
The city of Alamosa will be offering a large item trash pickup for Oct. 18 through Oct. 21 for city trash customers. Residents should call Alamosa Public Works before Friday, Oct. 15, to schedule pickup time. Phone is 719-589-6631. Pickup of no more than three large items will be offered. Tires, hazardous material or electronic devices cannot be accepted. Refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners must have the freon removed and the red tap placed on them prior to pickup.
Pumpkin Patch Kids
Elementary students from across the San Luis Valley make an annual trek to the pumpkin field of Allied Potatoes in Saguache County. Enjoy this photo gallery from Tuesday’s pumpkin picking with the kids from Center Elementary School and Principal Jared Morgan.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2021
Alamosa County home health care service gets thrown into limbo
Alamosa County Commissioners voted Tuesday not to follow a state board of health rule that requires home health care workers across Colorado to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Now it’s wait-and-see for the Alamosa County home health care program which provides home health care to about 120 individuals across Alamosa county and the San Luis Valley.
“At this point the home health agency will continue to operate as it has in the past and I’m sure the state will provide some direction,” said Alamosa County Attorney Jason Kelly, who met in executive session with Commissioners Mike Yohn, Vern Heerskink and Lori Laske to provide advice on the issue.
Alamosa County’s home health care program is an optional, not mandated service that Alamosa County provides, Kelly explained. He told the commissioners that if Alamosa County wants to keep providing the service, it would need to adopt the policy that was established by the Colorado Board of Health. The state board adopted a rule in August that requires COVID vaccination for all employees, direct contractors, and support staff at 3,800 licensed health care facilities in Colorado. For Alamosa County that meant its home health care administrator and staff.
Commissioner Vern Heersink was the lone commissioner to support a policy recommended by Tammy Garcia, Home Health Administrator for Alamosa County. The plan by Garcia would have brought Alamosa County into compliance with the state health board order. Commissioners Mike Yohn and Lori Laske voted against adopting the policy.
COVID cases spike again in the San Luis Valley
As Alamosa County Commissioners were voting down a state health board order on a COVID-19 vaccine rule for home health care workers, the San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership was reporting an “influx of new COVID-19 cases” reported to it on Tuesday.
SLV Public Health said “the new cases have included people in every county and every age group, from preschoolers to senior citizens.”
“Local hospitals and clinics shared with public health Tuesday that they continue to see a lot of very sick people with COVID-19,” SLV Public Health spokesperson Linda Smith said in a release.
Here are the latest weekly numbers from SLV Public Health. There are currently 228 known active cases of COVID-19 in the San Luis Valley.
- Alamosa County – 72
- Conejos County – 42
- Costilla County – 15
- Mineral County – 9
- Rio Grande County – 57
- Saguache County – 33
A week ago, SLV Public Health reported 148 cases in the Valley.
“Local public health authorities would like to thank those who have been conscientious about observing quarantine instructions following exposures to COVID-19. Those who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine following a COVID-19 exposure. Quarantine can vary up to 14 days depending on a variety of factors,” SLV Public Health said in a new release. “As a reminder, if you are fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks since your 2nd shot), you do not need to quarantine after an exposure. Just wear a mask for 14 days and watch for symptoms. If symptoms develop, isolate yourself and get tested.”
Adams State selects elementary school teacher
as its 2021 Exceptional New Alumna
ALAMOSA – Elementary school teacher Carissa Sidor has been named the 2021 Exceptional New Alumna for Adams State and will be honored at the homecoming alumni awards banquet on Oct. 15. Sidor currently teaches fourth grade in Rio Rancho, N.M. She came to Adams State to play soccer and left as a teacher, completing her bachelor’s degree in 2016 and a master’s degree in 2017.
“As soon as I started the classes, I fell in love with it,” she said. “There were about 20 of us who had most of the same
classes together after our sophomore year. We got to know each other and be ourselves because we were a close-knit cohort.”
After graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in interdisciplinary studies with emphasis in child development and mathematics, Sidor was accepted into the Boettcher Teacher Residency, a program that helps prepare teachers for low-income, rural and urban public schools. She completed a Master of Arts in education with an endorsement in culturally and linguistically diverse education from Adams State.
She credits faculty and mentors at Adams State, including then-teacher education advisor Lynn Crowder and Kelly Ozawa for sharing their experience and knowledge. “Kelly Ozawa was actually an elementary teacher, so she would teach during the day to elementary kids and then have classes with us and share her real-life experiences,” said Sidor.
Zacheis Planetarium Schedule
ALAMOSA – Adams State released its latest Zacheis Planetarium schedule and schedule for the Adams State Observatory. Masks are required to attend a show.
September 30 | 5:30 p.m. Lucy’s Cradle: The Birth of Wonder Seasonal Stargazing: Autumn; 6:30 p.m. Lamps of Atlantis
October 21 | 5:30 p.m. Oasis in Space Experience the Aurora; 6:30 p.m. Natural Selection
October 28 | 5:30 p.m. The First Stargazers Origins of Life; 6:30 p.m. Dawn of the Space Age
Adams State Observatory
Adams State Observatory will host free telescope viewings of the night sky at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30; 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16; and 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28. The Observatory is located on the north end of campus behind the baseball field.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2021
Edward “Champ” Atencio is Adams State’s 2021 Outstanding Alumnus
ALAMOSA – Edward “Champ” Atencio has been named 2021 Outstanding Alumnus of Adams State University and will be honored at the school’s upcoming Homecoming Alumni Banquet in October.
A longtime educator and coach, Atencio graduated from Adams State in 1968 and became a teacher at Centennial High School in San Luis. He also became the first coach of the school’s track and field program, and his teams did so well the school superintendent asked him to also coach the cross country program.
“I started with the program and won the league the first year,” he said. His teams would continue to dominate the league, winning six consecutive championships, which prompted a student to remark: “They should call you ‘Champ,’ because all you do is win.” From then on, Atencio says, the nickname stuck.
A health, physical education and recreation (HPER) major, Atencio remembers taking classes with some of the school’s legendary faculty, including the late Jack “Doc” Cotton, Ph.D., emeritus professor of HPER, who was Atencio’s advisor, and Joe Vigil, Ph.D., emeritus professor of HPER.
“One thing they told me was never come late to class,” he says. “Dr. Vigil is probably the hardest professor I ever had. I never went late, but if you went late, he’d lock the door. He would take attendance every day. Well, they all did, but he was a stickler for it.”
Adams State will celebrate Homecoming on Oct. 15-16. A full list of Homecoming events is HERE.
Road Closures for Saturday’s Run of the Century
ALAMOSA – Adams State hosts its Run of the Century on Saturday, Sept. 25, in honor of its 100th year. The following roads will be closed from 8:30 am – 10:30 am to allow for runners to pass: First Street from Edgemont Boulevard to State Avenue, Third Street from Richardson Avenue to State Avenue and State Avenue from the Rio Grande Bridge to Third Street. Please use alternate routes during this time.
New state redistricting maps released
DENVER – The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission released its third and final congressional staff map which keeps the San Luis Valley in the sprawling Third Congressional District. It also released the second Colorado legislative redistricting map, and this one puts the San Luis Valley in Senate District 6 and keeps the San Luis Valley in House District 62.
The redistricting commission has to adopt a congressional redistricting map by Sept. 28 and submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court by Oct. 1.
The state senate and house district maps need to be adopted by the redistricting commission by Oct. 11 and submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court by Oct. 15.
The 2020 Census Data is used to prepare the staff maps. Individuals and groups have been able to submit their own map recommendations, and the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission has been holding statewide meetings to get feedback on the maps.
Find more on the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission HERE:
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SEPTEMBER 22, 2021
(First day of Autumn photo by Ryan Scavo for The Citizen)
Alamosa County delays decision
on COVID vaccine requirement
for home health care workers
ALAMOSA COUNTY – Alamosa County Commissioners on Wednesday delayed a decision on a proposal to require local home health care workers to be vaccinated for COVID-19. County Attorney Jason Kelly said he was hesitant to provide legal advice to the county commissioners on the topic during a public meeting. As a result, the commissioners tabled their decision until they meet in executive session with Kelly on Sept. 28. The executive session is closed to the public.
The Colorado Board of Health in August passed a rule that requires the COVID vaccination for all employees, direct contractors, and support staff at 3,800 licensed health care facilities in Colorado. That rule now is being debated in Alamosa County for its home health care workers who fall under the state health board’s rule. If the county decides not to follow the rule, it could put in jeopardy state licenses for local home health care providers. The commissioners were looking to Kelly for advice on how to proceed.
Tammy Garcia, Home Health Administrator for Alamosa County, pleaded with the commissioners to adopt the policy. She said there are 120 patients in home health care in Alamosa County.
Kelly told the commissioners that their options are to adopt the state health board rule or decline to take action in which case Alamosa County would not be in compliance with the state health board requirement.
SLV Health, the regional hospital system with 765 employees, came into compliance with the state board of health rule when it adopted a policy that requires all of its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Forty percent of new COVID-19 cases
SAN LUIS VALLEY – With the return to school, children and youth have been an increasingly large portion of COVID-19 cases, according to San Luis Valley Public Health. The SLV regional epidemiology team provided data that showed 40% of new cases between Sept. 12 and Sep. 19 were under the age of 19. As of Sept. 21, there were 148 known active cases of COVID-19 in the San Luis Valley.
- Alamosa County – 32
- Conejos County – 23
- Costilla County – 22
- Mineral County – 4
- Rio Grande County – 46
- Saguache County – 21
SLV Public Health’s Bev Strnad told Alamosa County Commissioners on Wednesday that there are four current outbreaks in Alamosa County: La Puente, Ortega Middle School, Sangre de Cristo schools, and Evergreen Nursing Home. La Puente hasn’t seen any new cases in a week and is in a resolution phase; Ortega Middle is on remote learning until Sept. 28; and Sangre de Cristo 7th grade class is on remote learning until Sept. 27, according to Strnad. Evergreen Nursing Home has two current cases, she said.
Four new police officers get to work in Alamosa
ALAMOSA – Alamosa has four new police officers following their completion of a 16-week field training program. Police chief Ken Anderson introduced officers Steven Bagwell, Mollee Heeney, Jareb Aziz and Brett Crowther to the community during the Alamosa City Council meeting on Sept. 15. Bagwell is an Alamosa High graduate and spent eight years in the Colorado National Guard; Heeney is a Colorado Springs Air Academy High School graduate and graduate of Adams State; Aziz is a Centauri High graduate and worked previously for the Alamosa County Sheriff’s office in the detention center; and Crowther is a Sanford High graduate and son of former state patrol officer Blake Crowther.
Adams State receives grant to address
employment needs of displaced workers
DENVER – Adams State University will receive $850,000 in funding over three years to help workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic earn postsecondary credentials and degrees. The grant was awarded by the Colorado Department of Higher Education, through its Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) Community Partner Program. Because the pandemic displaced many workers, the state expanded COSI’s grant opportunities to support Coloradans who were laid off or furloughed, experienced decreased earnings, had job offers rescinded, or could not enter the workforce because of adverse economic conditions. The Back to Work grant is designed to create a path to workforce opportunities for affected workers by providing support in accessing and completing credentials that align with the needs of the Colorado workforce.
Funds from the grant will be used to provide programming/services and financial support for program participants, while supporting infrastructure and build-out programs for jobs and programs highly impacted by the pandemic and unemployment.
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SEPTEMBER 17, 2021
moves into fifth year
ALAMOSA – Featured regional artists spent Friday morning setting up new installations for the city of Alamosa’s ArtScape program. Alamosa showcases 15 artists each year through its annual rotating program. You can see the displays and other activities during the city’s Arts Festival which goes through Saturday. This is the fifth year for the city to showcase the work of regional artists throughout Downtown Alamosa. The art installations can be purchased. Over the past years, the city of Alamosa has purchased eight pieces to display in city buildings.
This year’s artists:
- Charlotte Zink, “Side by Each” displayed on the corner of Hunt & Main.
- Amyas Maestas, “Morning Swim” displayed on Main Street in front of Wild Roses.
- Huberto Maestas, “Two on a Lure” displayed in front of Thai Hut.
- Bianca Maestas, “101-B” displayed on Main Street in front of Caton’s.
- Damian Radice, “Play Ball” displayed on Main Street in front of El Super Taco.
- Sandy Friedman, “Only God Knows” displayed on the corner of Main and San Juan next to Woody’s BBQ.
- Gregory Fields, “Germination” displayed on Main Street in front of Alamosa Home.
- Kirk Seese, “Fire & Water” displayed at Purple Pig outdoor seating.
- Jim Johnson, “Satos Horse” displayed on Main Street and State Avenue east side of Alamosa State Bank.
- AJ Davis, “Under the Lovers Moon Pocket” displayed south of Rubi Slipper.
- James Cable, “Forever in my Heart” located at Pocket near Hospice.
- Kasia Polkowska, “Lotus Emerging” displayed at the corner of Main and Edison in front of Big John’s.
- Annette Coleman, “She Holds up the Sky” displayed on the corner of Hunt and Main near Valley Lock.
- Cie Hoover, “Balance in the Fray” in front of Treasure Alley on Main Street.
We caught up with Gregory Fields this morning:
State Parks and Wildlife seeks proposals
for wildlife habitat program
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) issued a 2021 Request for Proposals for its Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program (CWHP). The CWHP supports the state parks and wildlilfe mission by offering funding opportunities to private or public landowners who wish to protect important wildlife habitat on their property, and/or provide wildlife-related recreational access to the public. The CWHP is an incentive-based program which uses conservation easements, public access easements, and fee title purchases to accomplish strategic wildlife conservation goals and/or public access goals. Priority is given to proposals for conservation easements and public access easements over fee title purchases. Funding for the 2021 cycle is approximately $11 million and is made possible by revenue generated from the sale of the Habitat Stamp, hunting and fishing licenses, and through a partnership with Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).
The landowner, or a third party representative, must complete a project proposal form (“Proposal”) that addresses one or more of the following Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s 2021 funding priorities:
- Public access for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing
- Big game winter range and migration corridors
- Protecting habitat for species of concern (specifically those Species of Greatest Conservation Need, as identified in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Statewide Action Plan)
- Riparian areas and wetlands
- Landscape-scale parcels and parcels that provide connectivity to conserved lands
All application materials are here: https://cpw.state.co.us/cwhp. Proposals must be received by 5 p.m. on Thu., Oct. 28, 2021. Email completed proposals to Wildlife.RealEstateProposals. Applicants will receive a confirmation email acknowledging receipt.
Adams State English Department
hosts high school writing contest
The Adams State University English Department is hosting its first high school writing and digital media contest for San Luis Valley juniors and seniors. The contest offers high school juniors and seniors, with the chance to win scholarships to Adams State up to $1000 and the opportunity to have their writing published in the university’s literary journal, The Sandhill Review. Judges will include faculty from English, communications and media as well as creative writing, literary criticism, communications and media students. Categories of submission include fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, visual digital narratives, and literary criticism and analysis.
Deadline: Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021 at midnight. For more information email Michelle Le Blanc or leave a voicemail at 719-587-7386.
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