Publications in Colorado’s Beautiful San Luis Valley
October 11, 2013
MONTE VISTA JOURNAL DEL NORTE PROSPECTOR SOUTH FORK TINES CENTER POST DISPATCH MINERAL COUNTY MINER CONEJOS COUNTY CITIZEN SLV LIFESTYLES P.O. Box 607 • 835 1st Ave. Monte Vista, Colo. 81144 PH. (719) 852-3531 FAX (719) 852-3387 email@example.com
Dear CPA Judges, The articles included for consideration here were written in response to ongoing difficulties with election issues in my coverage area, issues beginning long ago but first coming to light in 2008. That year Center held an irregular election that was contested in Saguache County District Court. Allegations were made then of voter intimidation and violation of voter rights, but after hearing initial testimony, the suit was dismissed because it was not filed in a timely manner. In 2010, Saguache County was in the headlines for an irregular election, election integrity activists were involved and a state grand jury investigation was conducted. While it was determined there was no intentional wrongdoing on the part of the county clerk and her staff, the Secretary of State ruled that the clerk had violated state rules and laws. She was later recalled. The primary difficulty in the 2008 Center election, the 2010 Saguache County election and the 2013 Center recall election can be reduced to absentee ballots not properly cast, handled and/or counted. In the case of the Center recall election, all three criteria existed. Absentee ballots were not properly requested, affirmation signatures were missing on ballots, some voter signatures could not be verified, and there were residency issues. Also absentee ballots were left exposed with their stubs on election night, raising questions of voter secrecy violations. I was actively involved as a media observer in all three elections, also all recount, canvass and signature verification activities and testified as a witness in the 2008 Center case. Following the March 19, 2013 recall, Center trustees and the mayor were replaced by recall candidates despite many questions about election irregularities, which emerged only gradually. In April, plaintiffs Moe Jones (a recalled trustee) and Marilyn Marks’ Citizen Center filed an election contest suit against those elected in the recall as well as the Center town clerk and treasurer. This case was heard in Saguache District Court and the judge declared the election void from its inception, returning the mayor and former board members to their positions. Center attorneys then appealed the district court decision to the Colorado Supreme Court. This would be big news for a metropolitan area but is really big news for a town of 2,000. Because of the ensuing controversy and relation to broader issues, it was necessary to faithfully advise voters of all ongoing developments and their implications. Until the Supreme Court decides the case, the town cannot make any major decisions and cannot resolve pre-existing lawsuits filed against it. There also are many critical infrastructure matters, including a safe water supply and long overdue state-ordered utility upgrades, hanging in the balance. All the issues mentioned above have been in the forefront of the statewide controversy surrounding the recently passed all mail-in ballot legislation, “gypsy voting,” voter ID and residency requirements but especially suits filed in district and federal courts concerning ballot secrecy. The recent recall of state legislators Morse and Giron highlighted the significance of these election concerns. As one activist has commented, in many ways Saguache County could be the poster child for all that ails Colorado elections. I feel that expanded and continuous coverage of the outcome of this case is obligatory where my readers are concerned, since they will be directly impacted by the outcome. But it also helps document the basis for this Supreme Court decision and the role it will play in elections statewide for years to come. I hope you will keep all the above in mind while considering this submission. Respectfully, Teresa L. Benns Valley Publishing/Center Post-Dispatch
Volume 111, Number 49
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Petitions circulating to recall mayor, three trustees in Center BY TERESA L. BENNS
Toy drive in Saguache underway SAGUACHE — It’s going to be a Merry Christmas AGAIN thanks to the kind hearts of The Flickengers’ who are donating the use of their building on 4th and Denver (the brick building with the muscle man on it) for toy storage during the annual Ute Theatre toy drive. Thanks again to The Ute Theatre for their support in offering the Ute Theatre as a collection/drop off area. Be sure to attend the showing at the Ute Theatre next week of Beethoven’s Christmas, to raise funds for the toy drive. Last year the toy drive contributed Christmas Gifts to 81 children. As was the case last year, donation cans will be placed all over town and some out of town. The donations from the cans are used to buy toys for the ages of children that were lacking from the actual donation of toys. Families from Saguache, Moffat, Center, Monte Vista, Crestone, Poncha Springs, Villa Grove and more benefitted from the toy drive last year. Call Sky at 719-849-3699 to suggest a family who might be in need, or to donate, stop in at the Ute Theatre and see Christine. The 2nd Annual Ute Theatre Toy Drive is a project of The Ute Theatre Company, a Colorado non-profit corporation.
CENTER — CenterTown Manager Forrest Neuerburg confirmed Monday that petitions are circulating in Center to recall Mayor Susan Banning and Trustees Julio Paez, John Faron and Maurice (Moe) Jones. The move to recall the officials came following a decision by a hearing board last week that the town’s water utility is an actual enterprise and that no election can be held to determine if the town can spend money to improve the water system. Those opposing improvements to the water system previously pushed for a special election to be held before water system improvements are made and water usage rates increased. Rate hike opponents have
Photo by Teresa Benns
Trustee Julio Paez. Mayor Susan Banning, Trustee Moe Jones and Trustee John Faron (end) are the subject of a recall vote by opponents of water metering in Center. repeatedly alleged that the town’s only be the beginning of periodic town hall special meeting for local proposed water rate hike, needed to water use increases. Town officials Please see RECALL on Page 5A repay for system improvements, will demonstrated in August during a
Getting ready for the Christmas holiday BGPOA refuses to address election issues
G-7 which includes in its definition of public ways: “all roads over private lands that have been used adversely without interruption for 20 consecutive years.” Karlstrom’s presentation Tuesday was one of a series of appearances and inquiries made concerning the road closure status. He addressed
CRESTONE — The Nov. 29 meeting to discuss possible illegalities in the recent Baca Grande Property Owner’s Association Board election saw no meaningful discussion of the election issues, former board candidate Bruce McDonald reported on his Baca Grande Citizens Action Network website last week. He wrote that the meeting was attended by roughly 55 people and seemed to be evenly divided between those supporting a new election and those who do not. “What was most striking to me is many who did not support redoing the election actually acknowledged that it was probably done illegally,” McDonald said. Others attending the meeting echoed the same sentiments. “Mark Jacobi even said something to the effect, of ‘We need to move forward and not worry about whether it was legal or not.’" Directors Robert Garnett and newly-elected Board member Diana Moats called for the meeting Nov. 15 to discuss the legality of the election process. POA members only recently became aware of problems with the election, they said. The purpose of the special board meeting was to decide: (1) whether or not the election will be done over properly and in accordance with rules and statutes; (2) whether or not absentee owners will have the maximum time allowed by law to get their "secret ballots" and return them so the most members possible will have a voice: and (3) whether the ballots will be processed by independent third-party tellers who
Please see BOCC on Page 3A
Please see BGPOA on Page 5A
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday Partly sunny, with a high near 51. West southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Thursday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 17. West wind around 5 mph. Friday Sunny, with a high near 49. West southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Friday night Mostly clear, with a low around 14. West wind around 5 mph. Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 47. West southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 12. West southwest wind around 5 mph. Sunday Partly sunny, with a high near 43. Southwest wind around 5 mph.
Photo by Teresa Benns
Sky Tall Bear-Wright, acitively involved in the Ute Theatre Toy Drive this year, paints a Christmassy logo on the window of the Ute Theatre Saturday. More photos on page 8A.
Karlstrom requests review of Tranquil Way closure issue BY TERESA L. BENNS SAGUACHE — Dr. Eric Karlstrom of Crestone was back on the agenda for Tuesday’s Saguache County commissioners meeting, requesting that commissioners reconsider a motion made last month concerning the Tranquil Way road closure. Earlier this year, private landowners closed the Tranquil Way Bypass, an access road to the Cottonwood Creek
Trailhead and “The Stupa Road” by placing boulders in the road. This also limits access to those wishing to visit the spiritual center, Kharma Tegsum Tashi Gomang (KTTG). This past summer a group of persistent citizens represented by Karlstrom presented the Saguache County Commissioners with a request to comply with the requirements of Saguache County Resolution 96-
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Continued from Page 1A residents that water rates would be based on a flat rate user fee. As is the case with many other municipalities in the state using the flat rate fee system, heavier users will pay more and conservative users less following the installation water meters in Center. Town officials continue to stress the fact that the improvements to the water system are long past state deadlines mandating metering. They also point out that improvements are necessary to ensure the quality and availability of water in the town. The same group who opposed the dismissal of utility board members last year and called for a special election to contest the dismissal is lobbying against
McClure later sued the town for benefits he felt were owed to him following his dismissal, but lost the suit. His heated protest of the water system this summer resulted in an arrest for making obscene gestures and violating a restraining order. Faron and Jones were elected to the Board in 2010 and Banning was elected mayor in 2012. Since their election, board members have struggled to set the town on a better footing by improving its record keeping and financial procedures and applying for grants to improve aging electric, gas and water utilities. Neuerburg said more information on the recall would become available once petitions are turned in to be vetted and approved.
McDonald noted that during the special meeting there was mention by board members of a legal opinion made available to the BGPOA board by their attorney David Graf. Some board members intimated the opinion
was not favorable to the actions of the POA boarding conducting the election. GREAT SAND DUNES — “If people in the Baca want this Friends of the Dunes are planning to end, they need to stand up, speak their annual Holiday Open House out and support us,” McDonald said. from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Visitor Center. Visitors can enjoy live Classical Chamber Music by the talented study professional judgment panel Adams State University Woodwind session. On Friday I’ll be in Denver Trio of Chelsea Oden (clarinet), again for the Colorado School Hannah Liechty (fl ute) and Rose Finance Project monthly meeting and Stroback (bassoon). The Friends of for a Colorado Association of School the Dunes annual meeting will take Executives legislative priorities place following the Open House. setting session. Holiday shoppers will also receive a 15 percent discount on all purchases from the Visitor Center Bookstore for will be filled for delivery around Creede this day only, thanks to the Western and into the Valley to bring Christmas cheer to others. Join us as we share the joy and celebrate the season of giving!
Continued from Page 1A
Continued from Page 4A performing significantly below grade level the district will find a way to intervene in the students learning by providing extra instruction time in their area of deficiency. The week ahead I have one more busy travel week as
I will be in Bayfield late on Monday afternoon for a CASE regional principal meeting. We will be conducting salary negotiations with the Center Education Association on Tuesday. On Wednesday I will be in Denver for a school finance cost
Creede Ladies Aid Society to have cookie exchange CREEDE—The Creede Ladies Aid Society will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, in the Fellowship Hall of Creede Community Church on Main Street to
Center to consider water rate increase
the improvements of the town’s water system. Members of this group include former mayor Adeline Sanchez, Jennie Sanchez, Mary McClure, former town clerk Bill McClure, as well as several Head Start and Housing Authority employees. Some town residents and officials voiced the opinion that the recall petitions are being circulated in the attempt to re-establish the Center Town Board along the political lines that existed prior to the election of Trustees Banning and Paez in 2008 Following their election, the town board dismissed Town Clerk Bill McClure and County Attorney Mike Trujillo, and later dismissed the entire Utility Board.
are trained in how to ensure no irregularities occur with the handling of the ballots and that they are counted honestly. None of the above issues were addressed.
host their annual cookie exchange. Join in the fun. Make four dozen of your favorite Christmas cookies; bring them to “exchange” with the others, and boxes
CENTER — At its first regular meeting in January of 2013, the Center Town Board will hold a Public Hearing to consider a water rate increase proposal. Presenting information on the proposed changes to the rates will be Leroy Cruz, Water Circuit Rider with the Colorado Rural Water Association (CRWA). The Town commissioned a Water Rate Study with CRWA to provide independent confirmation of existing rates and to make proposals which will allow the Town to move forward with proposed capital projects such as the Town’s Water Tank Replacement and
Refurbishment project. The Town Board will consider the information presented and may take action to increase the current flat rate of $26 dollars now charged in the Town to $30.15. A copy of the Water Rate Study is available for the Public to view on the Town’s website, (www. centerco.gov) and hard copies are available at Town Hall. In addition, requests to have the information emailed will be accepted. For more information, contact Center Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg at Center Town Hall, 294 S. Worth Street, Center, CO 81125, (719) 754-3497.
Friends of Dunes plan open house National Parks Association. The Friends of the Dunes will provide hot drinks and sweets. They will also have information available for visitors who are interested in joining their organization. Lucy Adams, president, said of the event, “We hope folks will come out and enjoy the food and music, see Valley neighbors and friends, and enjoy some time in the dunes.” For more info, please contact Adams at 587-5412 or Kathy Faz, acting chief of interpretation and visitor services, 378-6341. The Visitor Center is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm, and the park is always open.
Volume 111, Number 52
Thursday, December 27, 2012
CSC sanctions Crestone Telecom DENVER — Colorado Securities Commissioner (CSC) Fred Joseph announced today that he has entered a final cease and desist order against a Crestone telecommunications company to stop offering or selling unregistered securities in Colorado. The Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) reported that the sanctions against Crestone Telecom LLC were issued for violating the securities registration provisions of the Colorado Securities Act (“Act”) in
connection with the offer of securities in Colorado. Named in the order are Ralph Abrams, the CEO and owner of Crestone Telecom, and Cheryl Rowe, Investor Outreach Manager for Crestone Telecom. Abrams and Rowe both reside in Crestone. The Town of Center has a lease agreement with Crestone Telecom for transmitters placed on its water tower. Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg said Friday that there is
Year of the Dragon Town certifies recall petitions CENTER — The Town of Center has certified the recall petitions necessary to conduct a special election next year and Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg reported Friday that no issues arose surrounding the certification. The date for the recall election will be set at the first meeting of the Town Board in the New Year, beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8. The town also has rescheduled the ribbon-cutting for transition to a new underground power supply to west Center for Jan. 8 at 12:15 p.m.
no “financial involvement” by the Town with Abrams and his company, commenting that he is not sure how or if the sanction will affect their lease agreement. The Staff of the Division of Securities (the “Staff”) alleged that Crestone Telecom sought investors for the telecommunication company by using the Internet to offer securities to the general public. According to the Internet site, and statements by Rowe, Crestone Telecom provides Internet services to residents in the San Luis Valley in Colorado. Again, according to the Internet site and Rowe, the minimum investment in Crestone Telecom was $5,000, which buys investors 500 shares at $10 per share. Investors are promised “interest” on their investment, and are told that they should have received their full investment back with accrued interest in about five years. The
Staff alleged that these securities were not registered and the offer and sale of the securities violated the registration provisions of the Colorado Securities Act. The cease and desist order, which Crestone Telecom, Abrams, and Rowe agreed to, orders them to immediately and permanently cease and desist offering or selling any unregistered security in or from the State of Colorado or otherwise engaging in conduct in violation of any provision of the Act. The order was made final on Dec. 20. The Colorado Division of Securities is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Colorado Securities Act, the Colorado Commodity Code, the Colorado Municipal Bond Supervision Act, and the Local Government Investment Pool Trust Fund Administration and Please see CSC on Page 3A
Tigger home in time for Christmas
SAGUACHE COUNTY — A northern Saguache County couple received an unexpected surprise recently when a long lost friend reappeared at their front door, some 75 miles from his most recent owners. Jerry and Eve Braden tell the story of his long journey home below. Tigger the golden, long-haired cat was born in 2005. He arrived here at the ranch in a pick-up truck. He was supposed to be in a box my husband gave me, but when I opened the gift box, it contained only…well, you can guess. Where was he, a helpless kitten? Well, he got out of a hole in the box and was behind the gang box. When Jerry got him and went to give him to me, he was tooth, raised hair and claws a-plenty — too many dogs. So Jerry turned him loose in the house. Yeah, this is going to get good. Well, it took time, but finally he and my other cat "Buddy," a quiet,
Celebrate Sylvia Lobato Friday MONTE VISTA – Longtime San Luis Valley journalist Sylvia Lobato is retiring at the end of December. A reception will be held from 2-4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28, at the Valley Publishing o•ce at 835 First Avenue in Monte Vista.
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday A 20 percent chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 25. Southwest wind around 5 mph. Thursday night Mostly cloudy, with a low around -4. West southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm after midnight. Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 23. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph in the afternoon. Friday night Partly cloudy, with a low around -7. West wind around 5 mph. Saturday Sunny, with a high near 23. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
kind, loving, cuddler from way back took him in hand. Buddy had his work cut out for him, but given time, Tigger was matching Buddy well in personality. When it came to balance, coordination — well that’s how he earned the name Tigger. Disney had nothing on this cat; but he was tame, housebroke, and a mouser extraordinaire. It was extraordinary that is if he could catch it, but if luck went his way, well he got it. Life was pretty quiet for many years, just the normal cat and mouse dislike for strange critters and dogs. Then in October of 2011, friends wanted a cat, housebroke, mouser and good. I had been ill, and one cat was okay, but... Well, we knew that he would go to a good home. So Tigger went to stay with Lilly and Scott who lived in Buena Vista. Please see TIGGER on Page 3A
Photo by Teresa Benns
Haskin Elementary School held a Christmas door decorating contest this year and fourth grade math teacher Ms. Evans won first place with her dragon door, more pictures on page 3A.
Please see TIGGER on Page 3A Photo by Teresa Benns
Tigger plays peekaboo in the laundry.
Volume 112, Number 2
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Board sets recall election date Water rate hike approved, marijuana operations banned
BY TERESA L. BENNS
Coloring contest winners announced MONTE VISTA— C o n g r a t u l a t i o n s t o Va l l e y Publishing’s 2012 Christmas Coloring Contest winners. They are Jarious Montoya of La Jara and Jeremy Miller of La Jara. The winners’ gift cards will be mailed to their home addresses. Thank you to all who participated!
Meet with Center Board members
CENTER — In regular session Tuesday evening, Center Town Board set March 19 as the date for the upcoming recall election. They vetted and approved petitions requesting the recall last month. Following a public hearing on a water rate increase for the Town of Center, trustees also unanimously passed a resolution authorizing an increase in water rates from $24 to $30.15. Leroy Cruz from Colorado Rural Water Association (CRWA) made a presentation to the Board regarding the Water Rate Study prepared by his office. The study considered such factors as the current water rates and costs of production, proposed system
improvements and debt (primarily regarding the new water tank and rehabilitation of the existing water tank) and operation and maintenance costs of the system. According to a letter sent to the town summarizing the need for rate increases, projected operations and maintenance projections for 2012 are $257, 527. The expected debt service for 2012 is $9,167 for a total of $266,594. Based on the projected revenue of $297,220, the town has adequate revenue to cover its obligations in 2012 with the rate increasing to $24. The town also must develop a reserve fund to replace 60-year-old asbestos cement pipe and prepare for future improvements as they are needed to the system. The new flat rate beginning
this month will be $30.15. This is substantially lower than the state average of $43. 88 as of November 2011. The flat rate could be adjusted in the future to cover debt service and other expenses. A five percent increased is suggested for 2014 and a two percent increase for 2015-16. Water rate increases are necessary in future years to insure that revenues are available to cover the town’s obligations, Cruz told Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg. Marijuana operations banned The Board also passed a resolution prohibiting marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities and retail marijuana stores within the town.
Ribbon cutting ceremony
CENTER — The Center School Board will be conducting business hours on Thursday, Jan. 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Fyock Community Library. Community members are invited to meet and engage board members about district matters at this time.
Steffens-Steward new editor for Valley Publishing BY TERESA L. BENNS MONTE VISTA — Toni SteffensSteward of South Fork has taken the helm as editor at Valley Publishing following the retirement of former longtime editor Sylvia Lobato Dec. 31. Steffens-Steward will oversee the publication and production of seven Valley newspapers issued from Monte Vista each week. Steffens-Steward came to the Valley seven years ago and now lives in South Fork with her husband Paul and son Sebastian. She graduated
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 29. Wind chill values between -5 and 5. Calm wind becoming south southeast around 5 mph. Thursday night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 8. Wind chill values between -5 and 5. Light south southwest wind increasing to 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Friday Patchy blowing snow and a slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 26. Windy, with a west southwest wind 20 to 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent. Friday night A 20 percent chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -9. West southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday Partly sunny, with a high near 15. West southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the morning. Saturday night Mostly cloudy, with a low around -17. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph in the evening. Sunday Partly sunny, with a high near 13. West southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Sunday night Mostly cloudy, with a low around -16. South southwest wind around 5 mph becoming west northwest after midnight.
The ordinance was worded as follows: “Should the Town Board approve ordinance 442, an ordinance prohibiting the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities or retail marijuana stores within the Town of Center?” Town Attorney Eugene Farish recomended in a memorandum dated Dec. 27 that the town “opt out”, at least until some of the many issues surrounding the legislation can be resolved. The resolution could always be amended or revisited at a later date, he said. Center had previously banned medical marijuana clinics in the town in an earlier resolution.
Center Trustee John Faron, Chris Nelson, Manuel Tafoya, Mayor Susan Banning, John Svensk and John Valdez attended ribbon-cutting ceremonies Tuesday for the new West Center electric substation.
Dissolution of Crestone Fire district goes to vote CRESTONE — After failing last year to receive sufficient votes for its mill levy to sustain operation last year, the Crestone Fire Protection District, originally organized as a special district to serve the Crestone and Baca Grande areas, will vote March 5 on whether the district should be dissolved. The vote came after a petition was circulated and signed last year by local residents demanding that the matter of dissolving the district be put to a vote. Documents accompanying the petition read in part: In order to have become a viable entity the Crestone Emergency Services District (CrESD) required the [acquisition of] the Baca Grande Property Owners Association (“POA”) emergency services assets
and the passage of a mill levy for funding year. “POA members voted not to transfer assets to the CrESD and the mill levy failed to pass. Without the necessary emergency services equipment from the POA or necessary funding, the CrESD simply cannot fulfill the purpose for which it was established, therefore it should be dissolved.” To vote in the election determining dissolution, voters must cast their ballots at the Community Building at 240 N. Cottonwood Street in Crestone between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on March 5. The ballot question reads: “Shall the Crestone Fire Protection District (doing business as the Crestone Emergency Services District) be dissolved?”
Registered voters who cannot vote in person are asked to apply for a mail-in ballot. The requirements to qualify to vote in the election are that a person must have resided in the district for not less than 30 days or they, or their spouse owns taxable real or personal property in the district, whether personally residing there or not. Or if they have been ordered to pay taxes under a contract to purchase they also may qualify for a mail-in ballot. The last day to register to vote in the election is Feb. 4. To apply for a mail-in ballot form, contact Designated Election Official Linda Stagner at P.O. Box 1254, Crestone, CO 81131 or fax it
Toni Steffens-Steward in December from Adams State University with a degree in Mass Communication. She wrote for Valley Publishing for three years while finishing her degree. “I have written all my life,” SteffensSteward said. She is now looking forward to her new position and honing her skills as an editor, a goal she has hoped to attain for a long time. Whether it is newspapers, magazines or books, “I like words,” she commented. “I like making words work for people. For the newspaper I want to use them to
Please see FIRE on Page 7A
Please see EDITOR on Page 8A
Volume 112, Number 9
Shorts Center candidates: request questionnaire CENTER — With the recall election only a few weeks away, Center candidates are asked to request their candidate's questionnaire for publication in the Center PostDispatch if they wish to present their views to Center voters. To receive a questionnaire, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Toni at 852-3531.
Scholarships available to Valley children SAN LUIS VALLEY—The Whittington Adventure Camp offers children an opportunity to learn shooting, hunting skills, camping, wildlife biology, tracking, orienteering, cooking, being polite, getting along, having fun and doing things outside. Sessions last for two weeks and there will be two sessions each for boy and girl participants. The first session will be held from June 8 to 20 and the second will be held from June 24 to July 6. Children from age 14 to 17 can attend the camp. The SLV Friends of the NRA has four scholarships for children from the Valley to attend. Please call Cindy and Moe Jones at 754-2223 in Center for more information.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Republicans examine recording policy SAGUACHE — During the Republican Party reorganizational meeting earlier this month, Commissioner Jason Anderson spoke to the assembly concerning Saguache County Clerk and Recorder Carla Gomez’ request to record commissioner meetings. Initially Gomez made this request in February of last year, but the commissioners declined to record the meetings. Gomez decided to postpone her request until a new board was seated this year. Anderson told Republicans that he wanted to make himself available to them as well as to his own party and that he represents all of Saguache County not just the Democrats. He also stated that he supported the recording of the BOCC minutes but that he is holding his opinion on Gomez’ authority to mandate the
recordings until he has the facts. Saguache County Treasurer Connie Trujillo mentioned that Anderson has been engaging at the courthouse and has shown a willingness to learn and make himself available to his constituents by spending every Monday at the courthouse. Republican Lucky Ford also commended Anderson for his willingness to show up at the meeting and speak. Several Republicans asked Anderson questions concerning his intent in recording the meetings, expressing their desire that it be done. Later, in the political comment period of the meeting, Dottie Eickhorn asked Gomez to explain why the meetings of the BOCC still are not being recorded. Gomez said that she sent a letter of request and recommendation to the BOCC to
record the minutes in addition to the traditional taking of action minutes. Upon receipt of the letter, the new BOCC tabled the request for later discussion and possible vote but was not specific as to when the issue would be taken up. Gomez said she instructed her staff to record the minutes of a recent BOCC meeting to which she was not able to attend but the county attorney told the clerk’s staff not to record the meeting, so in Gomez's absence the meeting was not recorded. Gomez also mentioned that she did not communicate a decree to the commissioners as the minutes of a previous Republican meeting stated, but merely suggested, in writing that she supports the recording of the minutes and that she hopes the commissioners will agree to comply with her request. Gomez requested
that the minutes be reworded to reflect her true intentions. Questions then arose from Sharon Carr about the county attorney's authority to make such a call. Gomez told Carr that she is determined to see this action through and that she will prevail but that it may take some additional time. Diana Moats weighed in by saying that, collectively, the Republican Party should seize on this opportunity to be seen as the proactive force in the county and push this issue to the forefront by making a statement in writing and submitting it to the commissioners while at the same time encouraging others to do the same. (The above was taken from the minutes of the Feb. 9 Republican reorganizational meeting taken by Mike Cowan.)
Cisneros pleads not guilty BY TERESA L. BENNS
La Puente needs wood ALAMOSA – Donate chopped wood for La Puente Outreach families. Contact Sue at 587-3781 extension 23.
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 37. West northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 8. West northwest wind 5 to 15 mph. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 40. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Friday night Mostly clear, with a low around 12. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday Sunny, with a high near 44. West northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the morning. Saturday night Mostly clear, with a low around 15. West wind around 5 mph. Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 47. West southwest wind around 5 mph. Sunday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 18. West southwest wind around 5 mph. Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 43. West wind 10 to 15 mph.
Colorado Legacy Foundation Executive Director Helayne Jones and Colorado Department of Education Commissioner Robert Hammond present the Healthy Schools Champion award to Center Schools Contracted Counselor Katrina Ruggles and Comprehensive Health Program Coordinator Marsha Felmlee last April.
Center Schools receive CDE award CENTER — Center High School and Skoglund Middle School have been named as the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Healthy Schools Champions for the second straight year, Superintendent George Welsh reported Monday. CDE’s Healthy School Champion program utilizes a scorecard tool for schools to examine best practices in eight areas of coordinated school health surrounding school health policies and programs. These areas include health education, physical education and activity, health services, nutrition services, counseling and social services, healthy and safe school environment, health promotion for staff members, and community, family, and student involvement in school. The CDE believes that by
improving school health, these best practices can improve health skills and behavior, relieve anxiety and stress, promote healthy lifestyles and self sufficiency, increase cognitive functioning and performance through better nutritional habits, positively impact the number of failures, absences and disciplinary interventions, increase staff productivity while reducing absenteeism and promote parental and community involvement. Completing the score card is voluntary, the CDE website states. Based on score card results, schools receive monetary and other awards presented at an annual event, and receive on-going recognition and support for their health-related efforts. All schools have free access to the score card assessment tool
and resources provided through the Healthy School Champions’ website. Log on at: www. healthyschoolchampions.org The Score Card is a collaborative effort between the Colorado Coalition for Healthy Schools (a partnership with Colorado Department of Education’s Office of Health and Wellness and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) and The Colorado Legacy Foundation, who manage the program. “A big thank you goes out to Center Schools contracted counselor Katrina Ruggles, and Center Schools secretary and comprehensive health grant coordinator Marsha Felmlee for all the work they do to operate and publicize these programs,” Welsh said.
CENTER — Former Republican commissioner ’s candidate Joe Cisneros, represented by attorney Barbara Zollars, pled not guilty in Saguache District Court last Wednesday to a charge of theft that reportedly occurred in August of 2007. Cisneros, 57, was arrested two days after the November General Election on one charge of theft over $20,000, a class three felony, and two charges of perjury, both first class misdemeanors. The warrant was issued by the District Attorney’s office and executed by Investigator Harry Alejo, who arrested Cisneros in Center with the help of Center Police. The case was filed as the People of Colorado v. Joe Cisneros, indicating that a state agency is responsible for bringing the charges. Cisneros’ bond, set at $25,000, was posted, in cash, the same day. In the statement made for his run as commissioner, Cisneros said he has worked in the past as an ombudsman for the elderly. “My life has always been spent helping and representing Please see THEFT on Page 3A
Volume 112, Number 9
Thursday, March 7, 2013
New park to honor Center veterans BY TERESA L. BENNS
Donors needed for blood drive CENTER – Center High School is looking for 40 blood donors for a blood drive scheduled in May, sponsored by the Bonfils Blood Bank in Denver. Those willing to donate blood are asked to call school counselor Adele Alfson to confirm. Unless 40 donors sign up in advance, student volunteers organizing the event will be unable to schedule the drive. To donate blood, call Alfson at 754-2232.
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 58. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon. Thursday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 23. West southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Friday A 30 percent chance of rain, mainly after 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 51. South southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Friday night A chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 24. South southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. Saturday A chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42. South southwest wind around 5 mph becoming west northwest in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 40 perent. Saturday night A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 16. North wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. Sunday A slight chance of rain and snow. Partly sunny, with a high near 39. North northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent. Sunday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 10. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 44. West wind around 5 mph.
CENTER — While Center already has a community park, dedicated to both play areas and sports fields for school activities, the idea had long been debated, beginning in 2009, about creating smaller park in town for special events on the site of the old Town Hall. Rock Finley and Michael S. Garcia suggested that a “veterans park” be constructed to honor those in the Center area who served their country, perhaps with a memorial. Others held out hope that the recreation area many residents lobbied for years ago could be built on the site, and this was considered. But school officials discovered that the building they, at one time, thought might be relocated to the site, with the construction of the new school, was not workable as a location for the center. Years ago, it was discovered that the old town hall, which then housed social services and the Center Library — also used as the town’s food bank and as an election polling place — was slowly decaying. Moisture had seeped into the adobe bricks used
This PriDian Group drawing shows how the park will look when completed. to construct the building and they were deteriorating. Also, asbestos building materials had been used in constructing the building and that needed to be removed. So social services relocated further downtown in Center and the library was combined with
Center Schools’ Fyock Library collection. With the completion of the new school, the public now has a full-service library complete with a computer center and a meeting room. The school also became the new polling place. Once the old town hall was vacated,
Nothing better than a good book
Trustees, mayor answer candidate questionnaires
The filing also cites State law and BGPOA bylaws regarding the indemnification of board members should they be sued. The filing contends that C.R.S. 7-129-102, Authority to Indemnify Directors, does not provide for “automatic” indemnificationofboardmembers,that Please see BGPOA on Page 2A
Please see ELECTION on Page 6A
Objection filed in BGPOA suit In the filing Janie Thomas, Bruce McDonald, Nigel Fuller and Diane Dunlap primarily objected to giving the board members 20 more days to respond to the Temporary Injunction that has already been awaiting a ruling from the court since Feb. 1. A temporary injunction is a protective order that is supposed to be acted upon by the court fairly quickly.
Please see PARK on Page 3A
CENTER — The following candidate questionnaires were submitted by the three Center Board trustees being recalled -- John Faron, Moe Jones and Julio Paez -- as well as Mayor Susan Banning, who will also face recall on March 19. The following candidates have announced they will be running against the present incumbents: Herman "Dicky" Sisneros, who is running for mayor; former mayoral candidate Michael S. Garcia, former trustee Geraldine Martinez, former Assistant Town Clerk Edward Garcia and Ronnie Vialpondo, all running for trustee positions. The candidates running against these board members and the mayor are reminded to call Valley Publishing at 852-3531 if they would like to fill out a questionnaire. John Faron, Trustee Why did you run for office in the first place? The town of Center was not moving forward. I felt like we needed new leadership. The people of Center chose this Board because... They wanted a change in direction and leadership. They wanted openness and honesty. The people elected me because… They had trust in me and knew that I would represent them honestly, fairly and would listen to their concerns with an open mind.
Americorps and Vista volunteers have helped children at Center Schools form reading clubs to improve their literacy skills.
CRESTONE — On February 27, the four Baca Grande Property Owners Association (BGPOA) members who sued three otherboard members, (Russell Schreiber, Treat Suomi and William Folk), filed an Objection in Part To Extension of Time and a Memorandum In Support of Temporary Injunction with Saguache District Court.
it sat empty for a few years. The town board at that time discussed plans for demolition but the project kept being postponed. Finally, at a special town board meeting held Sept. 21, 2010, then Assistant Town Clerk Ed Garcia
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Continued from Page 1A What has been accomplished by this “new” town board? Look around the town. The town government has been consolidated into the town hall. The Consaul property north of town is being used by the city, not by Headstart and HUD. The parks and sidewalks have been upgraded as well as the electricity in West Center. The town hall was upgraded with modern technology, with thanks to Julio and his crew! What goals have I personally accomplished as Trustee? I requested new stop signs at busy intersections for the safety of students as well as slowing traffic down. Also helped in the process of acquiring a new street sweeper for the town. I built, with the help of Miguel Reyes and Americorps volunteers, the new east fence at the old town hall property to start the renovation on a new park. What have you done to update policies and procedures in the past few years and why was this necessary? We as a board have adopted new policies such as the Nuisance Policy. There are quite a few very old policies that need to be removed or updated. A funny one is that “no hanging is allowed on Sundays.” This is an ongoing and time-consuming process. Why has the town had to raise water rates? After years of neglect it will take time and money to update old water lines, refurbish the water tank that was purchased and used in the 1960's, purchase a second water tank and install anti-backflow devices in each residence. In this economy our present water rates have been insufficient to pay for itself.
What do you feel are the real Moe Jones, trustee reasons and motives behind this Why did you run for office in the recall? first place? A group of people here in Center I ran for office because I saw a need have lost their power and finances for change in the way the town had been running. It was ran for personal gain and not for the good of all of the citizens of Center. The people of Center chose this board because... Rather than the board of trustees running the town it was primarily run by one person and not very much was getting accomplished. The town should be run as a business with good leadership. From many years on the local fire department I saw the need for new ideas and management for the town. The people elected me because… I am a very successful person in the business world of Center. I have John Faron, trustee served the people of Center for over 20 and they want it all back. Those of years as fireman-EMT-Intermediate us on the board that submitted letters and citizens of the town know me and of protest when this faction of people trust my good judgment, knowing were blocking movement of us getting they will be treated honestly, fairly, grants and loans to be able to subsidize and openly. What has been accomplished by the needed water projects. What qualifications do you have this “new” town board? The town board has accomplished to become a board member? I feel very qualified to continue much in the short time we have been serving on the Center Town Board. here, more than the previous 20 I have leadership qualifications, years. New to the town are the town having served as the president of administrator, town clerk, utility the Center Education Association superintendent, water and wastewater during my teaching career. I also supervisor, and also the chief of police served as vice-president on the board and officers. The town also has an of the Hermit Lakes Recreation attorney. The employee handbook has Association. I have been a member of the Center Sanitation Board since been re-written as well as the police the early 1970's and am now the handbook. These were the work of current chairperson. I also served as Mark Garcia, Susan Banning, Lars chairperson for the Center Planning Worker and my self Moe Jones. The former Mayor Sanchez was to be on Commission.
the committee, but did not contribute to the work. Physical improvements include work in the town park, eradicating the old town hall, building the gazebo and planning for the new park to be built there and the grant money to do it. New playground equipment for Chamiso Park has also been installed. This project is all underground and has helped a lot. Gas valves have been installed all over town and the gas audit has been completed, as well as the corrosion protection. Grants for the new water tank and installation of back-flow prevention have been completed along with the water rate study. The electrical line in west Center has been completed. This project was to have been completed fifteen years ago! In addition the town has put new LED. street lighting. The Consaul property is being utilized for the town rather than storage by Head Start and the housing authority. by moving the town shop there, the police department can use the old town shop for storage of their cars. A usable street sweeper has been purchased to clean the streets. Two blocks of downtown Center have been curbed and new sidewalks installed. By eliminating the utility board, the town board has taken the responsibility of running the towns utility entities running them as a business of the town. There are also plans for the Fourth of July fireworks is underway. The former town board had many lawsuits and the insurance was expensive, and after they canceled the policy, we had no insurance. After much work the town has joined
CIRCA and much has been done to get and keep insurance for the town. They are very much into losscontrol and this has helped the town administration. What goals have I personally accomplished as trustee? The Fourth has not been celebrated in Center for decades. I set the fund up at the first southwest bank with any moneys paid to the board members. What have you done to update policies and procedures in the past few years and why was this necessary? As one of the town trustees I have learned a lot about how slow government moves compared to the private sector in business. My number one goal is to speed it up and accomplish goals more timely. Why have we had to raise our water rates? Water rate studies have shown that the water entity has not been in the “black” for some time. Improvements are needed to the water system. Water meters and backflow prevention have been mandated by the Colorado Legislature and the utility board did not do it. The water rates have to rise so the water entity will be selfsustaining and even then, rates will be lower then most of the rest of the state and towns in the valley. The town is about to run out of water if the water tank is no longer usable. The two town wells produce 1750 gallons per minute which is only enough to run one pumper from the fire department. Fire engines each pump 1250 gallons and there are four of them! Not enough water! Please see ELECTION on Page 7A
Support South Fork
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Continued from Page 6A What do you feel are the real reasons and motives behind this recall? The reasons for the recall is because someone wants to stop the town from installing water meters and they see what we have accomplished and they did not get it done. One petitioner was released from his employment from the town, the rest were mostly from the utility board that was released by the town board. When we protested the referendum petition and the hearing judge ruled against them (old utility board), the recall petitions came out, and there is more cost incurred by the town.
Julio Paez, trustee
Moe Jones, trustee What qualifications do you have to become a board member? Our family came to Center in 1968 and has been in business since. I have college degrees in business and economics. I care about the town and the people; perhaps this is the reason I joined the fire department serving as firefighter 1, engineer, hazmat technician, and local secretary. The town needs to be operated as a business, and I have the time to do things during the day that others cannot do. Julio Paez, Trustee Why did you run for office in the first place? The reason I ran for office in the first place was to help improve my town. After I graduated college and moved back to Center, I saw my hometown â€œdying.â€? A lot of people had moved out of town. Nothing was being done to improve the quality of life in the town. There was nothing for our young people to do and to stay out of trouble. The former town administration including police department were not exactly â€œwelcomingâ€? to its citizens. I wanted to bring positive things to the town.
I wanted to lay a good foundation for this town so that we would leave the town in a better place for future generations, our children and our grandchildren. The job to accomplish all of these things is not done yet. The people of Center chose this board because... The people of Center chose this board because they wanted positive change. They wanted the town to be run better and in an ethical manner. They also wanted the town to have its â€œhouseâ€? in order, including financials and personnel. The people of Center were tired of all the lawsuits that the town was getting left and right, which caused the townâ€™s insurance company to finally part ways and greatly increased the rates for getting a new insurance company. But most importantly, the people of Center chose this board because they wanted leadership into the future. All the systems in the town were getting old and outdated. Improvements to all of our systems, including utilities, was long overdue. The people of Center elected me because... The people of Center elected me because they trust me. They wanted someone who is responsible, ethical, and professional in helping run the town. I grew up in Center and consider this my home. I have a lot of family and friends that live in Center. I want to make this town a great place to live in, to raise children, and to retire. This requires that every decision that the town board makes is made in the best interest of the people of Center, keeping the future of the Town in mind. What has been accomplished by this "new" Town Board? This â€œnewâ€? town board has accomplished a great deal since Please see ELECTION on Page 9A
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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Continued from Page 7A 2010. In almost three short years now, the town board has been able to update outdated policies and procedures. The renovation and improvement of the town’s utility systems was long overdue and is now well underway, including new electric poles, new “remote” gas and electric meters that will lessen the chance of human error and misreads, and a new major transformer for the west side of Center. This transformer is of special importance because the people that live on the west side of Center have experienced constant power outages for years. The new transformer should fix this. Other accomplishments include new sidewalks for the downtown area, a gazebo at the old white house property, which is the first piece of the puzzle, as we have applied for a GOCO grant to building a veteran’s park-downtown park. The town board has also brought back the town clean-up program which encourages and helps citizens to keep our town looking clean. We have also made applying for grants a priority to help fund many of the town projects and we have been awarded several grants by now. Lastly, I believe we have helped put together a good professional management team to help run the town. This team has procedures in place, yearly evaluations for all employees, and a sense of accountability that everyone will do their jobs to the best of their ability and in a professional and ethical manner. After all, we are here to server the citizens of Center What goals have I personally accomplished as trustee/mayor? A lot of the goals that have been accomplished have not been just accomplished by me, but by the town board as a whole. We have worked together for the betterment of the town. However, there are smaller goals that I have helped accomplish, such as introducing more technology to the town and to the board that help the operations of the Town run more efficiently. Our town board meetings are “text-less” through the use of iPads and have helped save on paper. There are plans to broadcast the board meetings via the Internet and a community access channel for Center. What have you done to update policies and procedures in the past few years, and why was this necessary? We already began the process of updating all of the policies and procedures for the town. There are a lot of outdates ordinances that go back to the early 1900s, possibly earlier, that need to be updated or removed from our books. The process of “Codification” will help us with this task and is also in progress. Once codification is complete, all of the town’s ordinances will be easily accessible for the citizens to view on the Internet and at town hall. Why has the town had to raise water rates? We had to raise our water rates because the town needs to be able to pay for the improvements that need to be made to our water system. For example, there are water lines that will need to be replaced throughout town. Like the rest of our utilities, the water system is old and outdated and we need to make improvements and perform maintenance on this system. We are also applying for a loan to build a new water tank, as the one we currently have is old and needs major repairs. In order to obtain this loan, we need to be able to show that the water system is bringing enough money to pay
off this loan. What do you feel are the real reasons and motives behind this recall? To put it simply: politics. Other reasons are brought up, such as water issues, but the real reason is politics. People who used to be in positions of authority in the town are not happy that someone else is making the decisions. Most of these individuals work at the Head Start and are from the old utility board that was disbanded and for which we received voter approval in 2011. They saw an opportunity to try to remove the current town board and they took it. All of this accomplishes nothing but only delays progress and good work that needs to be done for the citizens of Center and the betterment of our town. We need to move forward and stop living in the past. Times are different now. We have new problems and new challenges to overcome. The people caught in the middle are the citizens of Center and this is never a good thing. What qualifications do you have to become a board member? Some of the qualifications that I possess to become a board member are organization skills, background in technology management, a desire and passion for helping other people solve problems, and most importantly, a vision to help lead Center into the future. Center Mayor, Susan Banning Why did you run for office in the first place? I ran because I felt it was my civic duty as a vocal believer in justice, abiding by the laws and progress to move the town forward. I ran for the office of trustee because of Centers potential as a law-abiding town, as the third largest municipality, and for changes. I ran because I believed I have the skills necessary to work on the sense of justice, following the laws and to move the town away from intimidation. I had been on another large board so I knew how to read audits, look at personnel needs, write and edit policies, and understood Roberts Rules of Order. I ran for mayor to continue the work that the town council has started in the previous two years. The people of Center chose this Board because... This board has no personal gain involved. Each member of the board is there to work for the betterment of the community. This board has a vision for the future that will help this community grow to meet the future. The current board will not allow this town to become a ghost town with few resources, a bad infrastructure and no water. The Solar Reserve Project is just one of many projects that Center would like to receive its share of the new people, the money and the resources. This requires planning and I believe the people of Center want those kinds of improvements. The people of Center elected me because... I believe that the people of Center knew that I could be a voice for them. I could help find the resources both with people and financially to make some of our dreams come true. Dreams, these dreams and goals! Dreams that mean the town of Center would have improvements in the parks, the Downtown Business District, the streets, the utilities, and our civic and town pride. I think many people thought that I would move the board along to make these dreams into realities. Also, I have
Susan Banning, mayor been told by many citizens that they do not care about the infrastructure of the utilities or want to vote on improvements. They pay their bills and expect the town board to make the necessary improvements to secure their gas, electric and water supplies while being fiscally responsible. What has been accomplished by this "new" town board? The list of accomplishments is long and involves safety, policies, infrastructure, and new personnel. Safety with new LCD street lights, new sidewalk downtown, gas shut off valves around town, new contact chambers for consistent and better mixing of the state required chlorinated water, new playground equipment, as well as a full police department and dispatch, fleet replacement schedule to buy new police cars and other vehicles to replace an aging fleet. The renovated policies and procedures impact each and every area of town government and all of the employees. Infrastructure changes include different pumps at the wells, system for replacing electric poles, west Center transformer, the right staff expertise for the utility jobs, replacement of gas and water lines, secured a half million grant towards the new water tank and found funding for the additional two million at zero percent interest. The new personnel brought to Center have met the need at the time. Kelly Stone, Thomas Masias, Chief Lucero, Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg, Town Clerk Christian Samora and Attorney Gene Farrish have all in their own way and in their time added to the organization, its knowledge, strength and expertise. Mark Garcia started the town down the road of being more transparent, audits on time and a realistic budget. This list barely scratches the surface of what this board has accomplished or what it has planned for the next four years. What goals have I personally accomplished as trustee/mayor? During the campaign last March, I collected a number of needs and concerns while talking to people. One concern was the burnt out streetlights. I discussed with the Town Manager and Utility Superintendent to identify streetlights that needed replaced and had collected some light information which I passed on. Another concern was the alleys and the street crew is working on grading the alleys and removing the cement slabs. The largest concern was the constant electrical outages in West Center. The new transformer is a reality with work from the Ditch Company, CDOT, town board, street crew, utilities and the town manager. After the beginning of the summer, Center did not have a place to take our loose dogs. I kept listening to other municipalities talk about their loose dog problems and when I heard of a solution that Alamosa found in a new dog pound I talked with Forrest Neuerburg.
The Park and Recreation Board has been established and I am the liaison to help them get started. I talked to people to get several volunteers for the board as well as the Board of Adjustments. For two years, I represented Saguache County municipalities at the San Luis Valley Council of Governments. As mayor protem, I was the chairperson for the Personnel Policy committee as well as the Utility Commission policy. As the mayor, I have talked to a number of people, businesses and groups about our goals and listened to their concerns about the town and its plans. I asked for and collected over 75 letters of support for the Great Outdoors Colorado grant for the Downtown Park. I have received petition letters from middle and high school students regarding a skate park and fourth graders regarding improvements that need to be made. I have led a transparent town council meeting with a revised agenda and rotational voting. I have reminded people to be civil during meetings and added the pledge of allegiance to the beginning of the meeting which is a state norm. I have encouraged our town attorney to lead the town board and the new members through the statues related to meetings and procedures; and to remind us when we are not following the state statues which are numerous. I have led the evaluations of our town manager and town clerk this past year. I have been your mayor and have represented the citizens within town, the Valley and throughout the State of Colorado. What have you done to update policies and procedures in the past few years, and why was this necessary? Many of our policies and procedures were from the late 1980’s and had not kept up with the times, the law, safety requirements or changes in expectations. The other reason this was necessary was to separate the town board as governance from the administrative functions of the town through the town manager’s position. I helped the Utility Board update the job descriptions when the town was looking for a new Utility Superintendent. Then as mayor protem, I chaired the Personnel Policy Committee with Moe Jones, Lars Worker and Mark Garcia. This was necessary because of the changing environment, due process, benefits, office and job professionalism, and even cell phones. Then we worked on the Utilities Procedures so that when a new Utility Commission is seated that the Commission will be able to do its job. The Police Department Procedures were updated by Chief Lucero after he noticed that it was the same handbook as he had worked under in Monte Vista in the late 1980s with a few additions. The Model Traffic Code is supposed to be updated every three to four years but once again had not been done. The Planning and Building Codes as well are being revised by the Planning Commission. The Board of Adjustments was not even a functioning board as required by law and so it needed to be formed and procedures puts in place. The Recreation Board was not a functioning board and so that has been formed and procedures are in the works. There wasn’t a Nuisance Code so hazards to health and safety had to be passed to support neighborly coexistence in town. Finally, the Town has contracted for the codification of
all of the ordinances because many are outdated (ideas about hangings, hitching posts, gun fights, etc) and others contradict each other because old ordinances were not taken out. Why has the town had to raise water rates? Once again the current town board has had to make tough decisions because those decisions weren’t made from 2000-2010. The water rate study indicated that the current price of $24 per month was not enough to make the repairs to the infrastructure (replace water lines, build a new water tank, refurbish the 73-year-old tank, replace pipes and pumps at the wells, etc). The Water Enterprise did not have the necessary reserves or revenue to even replace water lines, etc. What do you feel are the real reasons and motives behind this recall? The real reasons and motives behind the recall are because of disbanding the utility board and the firing of various former employees. This is a vindictive motive because the current board has followed the law to secure low rates for the water tank, reaffirmed the position of the water as an enterprise under Tabor and is proactive. The former Mayor Sanchez and Trustee Martinez were in agreement with the service contract which would allow the improvements and be paid for by the savings. This service contract never had a final vote because the agreement was terminated when it did not comply with state requirements. Former Mayor Sanchez and Trustee Martinez were also in agreement about applying for the grant for the water tank. Trustee Martinez voted for a water tank design. Now they state that it needs to go to the people for a vote. They both understood the severity of the situation. The town has had two water forums; two open meetings with the water engineer; countless articles by the newspaper and in the Center newsletter as well hearings regarding the water tank with the 10-25 people, many who were against the project in attendance. The former utility board and town board of 1998 who purchased the electrical power substation didn’t advertise, have a vote or even secure low-cost financing. Adeline Sanchez was a trustee and she understood that we had to have a substation. The most unfortunate outcome was that they didn’t raise the rates to pay the $600,000 debt plus the six percent interest rate until the town had used all of its reserves. What are your qualifications to be mayor? I am currently servicing on the National Education Resolutions Board. This elected position by the 39,000 members of the Colorado Education Association has only 2 representatives for the entire state. This board has 165 members on it and meets two times a year which last six days. It also has subcommittees of which I am on the Hispanic Education subcommittee. Also, I am a member of the Colorado Education Association resolutions committee (six-member group) which is appointed. Finally, I am the current chair for the San Luis UniServ Council which represents 650 members (fourth year). Previously, I was the CEA board member from the San Luis UniServ Unit for six years and we managed over six million dollars annually. I have been on countless state committees during the past 20 years.
Volume 112, Number 11
Thursday, Thursday, March
Arguments heard in Lobato case BY TERESA L. BENNS
Happy St. Patrick's Day March 17
Fly-in Saturday HOOPER – Join the Colorado Pilots Association at the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool on Saturday, March 16 from 11 a.m.to 3 p.m. for the 2013 Hooper Fly-In . The pool has a private, uncharted dirt airstrip available for use at your own risk. Due to dusty winds, pilots must bring their own tie-downs and chocks. Fly-in participants receive discounted admission and special campsite rates. RSVP to corac@ gmail.com.
HOW'S THE WEATHER?
Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 54. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph in the afternoon. Wednesday night Mostly clear, with a low around 19. West wind around 5 mph. Thursday Sunny, with a high near 59. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the morning. Thursday night Clear, with a low around 22. West southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Friday Sunny, with a high near 62. Calm wind becoming west southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Friday night Mostly clear, with a low around 23. West southwest wind around 5 mph. Saturday Sunny, with a high near 57. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 21. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 53. West wind 5 to 15 mph. Sunday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 18. West wind 5 to 15 mph. Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 51. West southwest wind around 10 mph.
DENVER — Colorado Supreme Court justices wasted no time last Thursday expressing their strong views concerning the Lobato v. Colorado lawsuit, after agreeing to review the decision handed down by Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport in 2011. The suit, first filed against the State Board of Education, Commissioner Maloney and Gov. Bill Owens in 2005, challenges the constitutionality of the finance system for public schools in Colorado and questions the tax structure underlying school finance. In opening arguments Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Fero, representing the state, objected that the court has the ability to simplify what a “thorough and uniform system of education,” mandated by the State
Constitution, actually means. He pled that the provision was not a “mathematically precise standard” and argued that the State Legislature already dedicates 45 percent of its budget to education, leaving it with “limited funds.” "I'm a little bit concerned that the argument is, 'We can't do it,' and therefore becomes an excuse for, 'We won't do it,' when I think the evidence is fairly overwhelming that there's disparate treatment," Justice Gregory Hobbs shot back at Fero. “Setting requirements and not backing it up with a rational investment of funds gives an excuse to avoid [it].” Earlier in the argument, Hobbs deplored a system that would tolerate disparity between Native Americans, Hispanics and rural areas versus better-funded school districts. He also asked Fero if he disagreed with
Former Center High School student Taylor Lobato and attorney Kathy Gebhardt commented to reporters on the outcome of the Lobato v. Colorado hearing by the Colorado Supreme Court last week.
factual findings which show that 36 State and Davis, Grahams and Stubbs, percent of those taking the ACT test attorneys for the Lobato plaintiffs, the in Colorado are not college ready. Please see LOBATO on Page 3A After hearing arguments from the
Newmyer recipient of the 2013 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award COLORADO SPRINGS — Daniel R. Newmyer, a science and math teacher for Center High School, has been selected by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), the NationalAeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Space Foundation as recipient of the 2013 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award, which is given annually in recognition of creative and innovative use of technology by K-12 educators or district-level education personnel. Newmyer, who is a member of the Space Foundation’s elite Teacher Liaison program, was recommended for the award by former NASA astronaut Kent Rominger, who is now vice president at ATK Aerospace Systems, and by the Society for Science and the Public. The award will be presented during the opening ceremony of the 29th National Space Symposium on April 8 at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado
Springs. The ceremony is co-sponsored by Northrop Grumman. About Newmyer Center High School, where Newmyer teaches science and math, is in the Center Consolidated School District 26JT. The district’s demographics include a poverty rate of 90 percent, a minority population of 87 percent and a migrant population of 21 percent. Newmyer created two innovative science programs for the district: Center Scientific Research and Engineering – a program in which students create science and engineering projects that include identifying problems, designing and conducting related experiments and presenting results. Among the students who have participated, more than 120 have won Courtesy Photo regional science fair awards and 10 have qualified for the Colorado State Science Center High School teacher recommended by former astronaut; will be honored at Space Foundation’s 29th National Space Please see NEWMYER on Page 8A Symposium.
Center teen dies at home Candidate says compaints mirror groups concerns CENTER — Center Schools Superintendent George Welsh reported Sunday that tenth grader Alea Villagomez, daughter of Jose and Theresa Villagomez of Center, passed away at her home this weekend. “As best we understand things at this time, Alea was found in her bed Saturday morning and a cause of death has not yet been determined,” Welsh said. Alea attended both the Academic Resource Center and Center High School during the past year. Her brother Nehemiah is a ninth grader at the school. family in their thoughts and prayers Welsh asked school staff and the and to respect the family’s request community to keep the Villagomez for privacy at this time.
BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Despite two articles requesting recall candidates to fill out questionnaires prior to the March 19 election, none of those running in opposition to current Center Town Board members or the mayor have chosen to request the questionnaires. It was not known until the last week of February who would oppose current board members in the recall election. Center trustee Herman Sisneros has announced that he is running for mayor against Susan Banning. Michael S. Garcia, former town board trustee Geraldine Martinez, former assistant town clerk/trustee Edward W. Garcia
and former trustee Ronnie Vialpondo are running for trustee positions, currently held by Julio Paez, John Faron and Maurice (Moe) Jones. In 2008, those running for the town board or defending their board positions also to ignored questionnaires sent by fax and e-mail. After the election and the legal action that followed, when several citizens filed suit against the town protesting election procedures, the allegation was made that the coverage of the candidates who chose to fill out the questionnaires was deliberately onesided. Some candidates falsely stated
Please see RECALL on Page 3A
Thursday, March 14, 2013
CeSD to create new plan CRESTONE — Now that voters have approved the continuation of the Crestone Emergency Services District, (CeSD) the district will be forced to find an “alternative funding source” in order to secure what it needs to operate. The funds will be needed to purchase the trucks, equipment, land and buildings necessary to run the district, and in voting to retain the district, locals agreed to give district officials more time to “figure out a new plan.” The district’s current service plan was dependent on the Baca Grande Property Owner’s Association membership conveying all of its emergency services assets (fire trucks, ambulances, fire and EMS equipment, fire station, vacant
land etc.) to the district for $10 in order for the district to actually provide services and stay within their budget. This was determined not feasible according to POA covenants. Without the POA’s assets, the district must formulate an amended service plan to show how the district will secure these assets and how they will actually be able to provide services if the voters approve their next mill levy request. The new operating plan must be completed before voters are asked to fund the district’s annual $500,000 operating budget with a property tax mill levy election (probably next November). An official vote count for the election will be issued once the 11 provisional ballots are counted.
Continued from Page 1A
court adjourned to make a decision. George Welsh, Taylor Lobato speak “After viewing the hearing I was left with the impression that the high court justices will eventually rule in our favor,” Welsh said. “We should get a Supreme Court decision within the next six months. It goes without saying that lead attorney Kathy Gebhardt, and the family of Anthony and Denise Lobato deserve a gigantic thank you for bringing the issue of school finance adequacy and equity to light.” More unexpected, Welsh continued, is the role Taylor Lobato has come to play in the case. Only a middle school student at the time the lawsuit was filed, but now a junior at Denver University, Lobato has evolved as the face and main spokesperson in the case. Following the hearing last week, Lobato told reporters that during her years at Center Schools, “I didn’t have access to the things other people did. The school tried hard, but they didn’t know the tools were ever out there.” She described struggling to stay abreast of her studies in college after failing to receive a uniform education equal to that of her city-educated peers. “People helped get me where I am today — the State needs to help them,” Lobato said. In turn, Lobato says she feels it is her responsibility to take advantage of “the unique opportunity to represent the students of Colorado.” She added that “the State Legislature has a long way to go,” in order to provide the educational system that will truly meet the needs of Colorado students. School finance law proposed According to Welsh, Sen. Michael Johnston has proposed a revision to the current school finance act to help meet some of the educational deficiencies addressed in the Lobato suit. Key provisions of his proposed
act include an additional $1 billion in K-12 funding if voters approve a ballot question in November. If voters approve this revenue increase the new act would start funding schools during the 2015-16 school year. The act also provides more money for preschoolers, kindergartners, at-risk students, English language learners and gifted and talented students. The act also would establish a new enrollment counting method in an effort to more accurately track student movement. “Current spreadsheet examples show that San Luis Valley school districts would benefit greatly, and the Center School District would have a funding increase of approximately $2,600 per student if the act were to pass as is,” Welsh commented. He added, however, that serious consideration must be given to whether or not this new act will remedy the inadequacies and inequities highlighted by the Lobato v. Colorado lawsuit. Welsh also thanked Center High School Social Studies Teacher Scott Poole for trekking to Denver last Thursday to offer some of his students the opportunity to witness history as the Lobato v Colorado case was argued in front of the Supreme Court. While there, Center High School Senior Tamera Flores was interviewed by Univision Colorado. Flores’comments and a Spanish language story about the case can be found at: http// w w w. s o m o s n o t i c i a s c o l o r a d o . com/2013/03/07/demanda-contrael-estado-2/ The entire Supreme Court hearing is posted at http://www.courts.state. co.us/lobatovstate/ The video of Taylor Lobato’s comments following the hearing are available at: http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=zrzBWPUnUT0
Continued from Page 1A that they had not been asked to fill out the questionnaires, but this was not the case. One candidate supporting the recall, however, has expressed views concerning some of the reasons for initiating the recall in the first place, which is expected to cost the town of Center about $3,000-$5,000. The candidate claims other candidates supporting the recall share these views. Since there has been no other response from the opposing candidates, these views will be summed up here to grant the other side at least some sort of exposure. • Currently it appears the main issue is the installation of water meters and water rate hikes, also the purchase of a new town water tower and renovation of the old tower. Despite water pressure issues and fire-fighting concerns — also the poor condition of the old water tower, which basically was condemned in 2008 — some do not feel that the expense of a new water tower or back-up tower is justified. And they express the concern that water rates will rise over the years once the meters are installed and new water rates go into effect. A recent court action by supporters of the recall committee has placed progress on the water tower installation on indefinite hold. • One serious allegation leveled against current trustees is that of racial prejudice. The evidence offered was that one town trustee had passed out a bogus two-dollar bill with the president’s image on it during the 2012 election campaign. The candidate reporting the incident noted that the present Center Town Board needs to be all-Hispanic if it is to properly represent the town. Currently four of the two board members are Hispanic. • A question was raised about where money now being spent on town projects went before 2010, a question also posed at one time by former town clerk Bill McClure. Because this question implies wrongdoing, it also was put to certain town officials. The answer was that very few records were available when new candidates took office in 2010 to confirm where the money went prior to their taking office. A study of what few records exist and the findings of former town auditor Ron Farmer give little additional information. Reportedly many records were destroyed between 2008 and 2010. In audits between 2008 and 2010, Farmer warned Center that their bookkeeping practices left much to be desired. • Some residents have complained that the nuisance ordinance was not
properly explained and that the town did not specify what they wished to be removed from various properties. When information and discovery were requested from the town, some were not satisfied with the response. The responding candidate described the entire clean-up campaign as a “waste of money, time and effort.” S/he objected that people were expected to put up fences to avoid the fines in the winter “in seven degrees below zero weather” and that not all those whose yards are cluttered were cited or fined. Originally citations of violation of the ordinance were passed out last spring. Those who did not comply were fined in late fall. One of the recall candidates has received a summons to pay a fine for failing to comply with the ordinance. • According to this candidate, the walkways in front of the new town park gazebo have not been maintained and new sidewalks improperly laid cost the town money it could not afford. • Another concern voiced by recall supporters is that town government is not friendly or good to businesses. A few businesses claim they have been fined for various ordinance violations and if this continues they will not be able to afford doing business in Center. • Failure to address improper sewage disposal issues and maintenance problems also were mentioned, but nothing was specified. • Allegations were made that police are not doing their jobs and are not patrolling the town sufficiently, also that police misconduct has been covered up by police administration and town administration, (one officer was dismissed for domestic violence incidents.) The candidate also claimed that police are not escorting funeral processions from the churches, even when they involve former town officials and prominent citizens. • Complaints also have been made about stop signs recently posted, faulting police for not citing those barely stopping at the signs. Some complain that there is poor coverage of the town by police because officers are allowed to live outside the area. (In open meeting discussions about the matter of allowing officers to live outside city limits, it has been stated that adequate housing in Center is hard to come by and that limiting
officer hiring practices to those who live in the town adversely affects the hiring of qualified personnel. Police Chief Bill Lucero says he has personally invited the candidate quoted here to come discuss all his/ her concerns personally but the candidate has never sat down to address these issues.) • The candidate reported dissent among present trustees with decisions made by town manager Forrest Neuerberg. “He is overstepping his position in hiring the [new utility supervisor]” before consulting the trustees, with no review or notice beforehand. “Forrest is on a power trip and is hurting trustees,” s/he said. (When certain trustees were questioned on this matter, they did not confirm this statement.) • The candidate alleged that the town is spending unauthorized funds on repairs to Neuerberg’s home and that this was never discussed in open meetings by the board. (The issue was discussed at two separate town board meetings.) The town purchased the older residence prior to Neuerberg’s hiring last fall as an incentive for potential town manager prospects. It was then refurbished to some extent, since before the purchase the residence sat empty for five years. New windows and some appliances have since been installed to help conserve energy. (The residence is part of Neuerberg’s hiring agreement with the town and the town, as owners, agreed to be responsible for its upkeep. Neuerberg said he also has done some of the repairs himself to save the town money.) • Some residents expressed concern that the mayor has not addressed complaints that some town residents are starting building projects without obtaining building permits. The candidate stated that given all the issues now existing with the present board the situation is not much different than it was in 2010 before new board members were elected and an interim town manager was hired. S/he also commented that it is quite likely that should the recall succeed, the utility board will be re-established, Bill McClure will be re-instated as town clerk/manager to “clean up the town” and former Police Chief LeRoy Torrez will return to office.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
OPINION Center voters face an important decision
While citizens always have the right to request a recall of elected officials they feel are not performing in the best interests of the voters, or who simply fail to do their jobs, those going to the polls Tuesday need to search their hearts and ask themselves honestly if this is really true in Centerâ€™s case. As a reporter I have seem some amazing changes in the Center Town Board these past few years where meetings and the treatment of local citizens are concerned. I feel the town has gone out of its way to make their dealings transparent and offer residents the opportunity to weigh in on employee selection and town decisions, and also express themselves at town meetings. Compared to other municipalities, I think Center residents would be surprised at how much more open, friendly and well run their meetings and town affairs in general are. Certainly the town board is a far more courteous and document friendly body than it was five years ago. Overall, both residents and the press have benefited greatly from the ready availability of information on any subject imaginable. In re-ordering their meetings and agendas and in following Roberts Rules, the town actually stays in compliance with state statutes, something that cannot always be said about every public meeting body in the Valley. But it seems that there has been little appreciation shown for these changes, changes a good number of residents insisted on only a few short years ago. Any disruptions in meetings and public hearings can be attributed to those who back the recall. Yet they were handled patiently and fairly, to all appearances, by town officials â€” even when involving insults, misbehavior and raised voices. It seems that some do not understand the handicaps faced by new trustees and the town manager in trying to recreate the infrastructure of the town, which had been neglected for decades. New employee manuals, an ongoing codification of ordinances, the retrieval of what records could be found, an update of the municipal code, new accounting software, new utility poles and meters, website construction and many other tasks
MY TWO CENTS By TERESA BENNS have required much time and reflection to create. In attempting to overhaul all the above, mistakes have been made and conflicting opinions have been voiced. But to the best of my knowledge, these mistakes were owned and corrected as far as possible and at least the conflicting opinions were heard and acknowledged, unlike what occurred in the past. As the old saying goes, Rome was not built (or re-built as the case may be) in a day. It takes time to right decades worth of slow to no growth and launch new, more effective policies; it takes courage to face challenges and push forward. And not everything will be done to the liking of everyone. No one is suggesting that some things in the past were not good for the town or that credit and appreciation should not be given where it is due. But 35 years of running in place, more or less, is taxing on any organization or governmental body. Three years ago Center voters demanded change at the polls. Now some seem to be saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. But is it true? Is Center today running in place or is it slowly but surely moving forward? Will all the progress that has been made recently really be preserved and all the alleged wrongs corrected if the momentum that has built since 2008 is interrupted at this critical juncture? The people of Center need to carefully ponder these questions before voting next Tuesday.
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Great things going on now The week of March 4-9 was extremely eventful. I would like to begin by thanking all of our staff members for the work they have done to increase our preparedness to administer state of Colorado TCAP tests. We have been doing this by working to ensure all our staff members understand and apply the required rules of test administration. We have also been dong this by finding ways to motivate and encourage our students to put forth their best effort when they take the tests. However, the most important thing we have done is to continually provide outstanding instruction to our students on a daily basis to guarantee they are armed with the skills necessary to be successful on the test. TCAP testing began this past week with our third graders taking the reading assessment. It will continue during the next two weeks as all third through tenth graders will be taking their tests in reading, writing, math, and science. I would also like to take time this week to congratulate our many Center Schools students who excelled at the San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair. Among the many individual awards earned, Center High School students once again brought home the small school of the year award! Outstanding individual performances were put in by Jordan Lobato, Carmen Ruggles, Rebecca Paez, Nick Lobato, Alanna Chacon, Ruben Hernandez, Will Weatherford, Bryan Soriano, Jose Luis Macias, Brittany McKibbon, Daisy Rascon, Elise Rodriguez, Genesis Villa, Brisa Archuleta, Eric Garcia,
Megan McKibbon, Kevin Garcia, Christian Espinoza, Gabriela Bucio, and Ofelia Gonzales. Additionally, Alanna Chacon and Kevin Garcia both qualified to participate in the Colorado State Science Fair. Many thanks go out to our teachers and support staff members who have worked so hard to prepare our students for the success they earned! The past week During the past week I participated in an Early Steps to Childhood Literacy research site visit. The Save the Children Foundation, which is supporting this program in the Center Schools Community, has chosen to use our site as a research site to study how successful our efforts are. From Monday through Wednesday I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time working in our buildings. On Saturday I had the pleasure of presenting the story about our successful turnaround experience we have had at Haskin Elementary School while attending the Lindamood-Bell International Conference in Anaheim, California. Along with Colorado Assistant Commissioner of Education Keith Owen, I presented how local, state, and federal partnerships can make a difference in increasing student achievement, especially if resources are available in the form of dollars and training in scientifically proven processes. Another big item of focus for the district right now is the annual evaluation of the superintendent of schools. This process will be finalized on Tuesday evening and the board of education will
KEEPING OUR FOCUS BY GEORGE WELSH
then have an opportunity to take action on my contract for next year. The week ahead I will be in Denver on Monday for the CASE, CASB, CEAAnchor Group meeting. On Tuesday Iâ€™ll have my monthly marathon of meetings with the SLV Superintendent Advisory Council, District Accountability, and BOE meetings taking place. On Wednesday I will be meeting with teachers to discuss the value of our student survey pilot, hoping to find ways to incorporate student feedback about teachers into teacher evaluation processes. On Friday Iâ€™ll be attending a CDE Consolidated Federal Programs Grant application training session. This will give us the opportunity to begin planning how to spend our federal programs dollars next year, though Iâ€™m sure weâ€™ll also learn about the possible effects sequestration may have on this funding.
My views as a Center Town Trustee BY PEGGY MARTINEZ My name is Peggy Martinez; I am currently Mayor Pro Tem for the Town of Center. I would like to share a few of my experiences with you, as a town trustee. I was appointed trustee in 2006 when longtime board member Stella Sanchez stepped down. I was very excited to become part of this board, wanting to help with town issues and hoped to see some much needed upgrades made to the town. At that current time the present members were me, Geraldine Martinez, Phillip Martinez, Archie Gallegos, Floyd Chavez, Ed Garcia, and Mayor Adeline Sanchez. It became apparent that I would not have a voice on this board. By that I mean that any suggestions made by me were always shot down. In those two years I saw many missed opportunities to apply for grants and funding. Also at this time Town Clerk Bill McClure was sent to prison and later rehired. I questioned wanting to
THE CENTER POST-DISPATCH (USPS 775-900) Published weekly (every Thursday) by ValOH\3XEOLVKLQJ DW)LUVW$YH0RQWH9LVWD&RORUDGR2IÂżFLDO QHZVSDSHURIWKH7RZQRI&HQWHUDQGDOHJDOQHZVSDSHULQ6DJXDFKH&RXQW\ Box 607, Monte Vista, Colo. 81144 0DLQRIÂżFH:DQWDGVDQG6XEVFULSWLRQV 3HULRGLFDOSRVWDJHSDLGDW0RQWH9LVWD&ROR 32670$67(56HQGFKDQJHRIDGGUHVVWR32%R[0RQWH9LVWD&ROR 6XEVFULSWLRQVRQH\HDULQ6DQ/XLV9DOOH\HOVHZKHUHOut of Valley First Class Mailing $115.00 one year6HQLRUVUHFHLYHSHUFHQWGLVFRXQWRQLQFRXQW\VXEVFULSWLRQVRQO\
remain on this board because of the way it operated. When the purchase of the consaul property happened, Mr. McClure called a special meeting to be held at 7 a.m., with no notice to the public. I did phone my neighbors to make them aware of the meeting as we were adjoining landowners. At this meeting a price was negotiated for this purchase, and the board voted to allow McClure to make an offer. When the next town board meeting was held the price that was originally listed for the property was different than the proposed amount at the special meeting. I questioned one of the other trustees and was told that McClure had to up the ante so we would win the bid, with Theresa Chavez from Center housing putting down the down payment of $20,000, (I still do not understand her involvement in the purchase of this property). All the trustees were contacted for approval with the exception of me; I would say maybe because I was opposed
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to the purchase. I also had to sign an affidavit stating I did not make the motion to purchase said property as the minutes had been altered. At this period of time as trustee, I saw no one wanting to make efforts for improvements. Fortunately at the next election Susan Banning and Julio Paez were elected and I saw that the three of us had the same vision for the town, and that was too see it move forward. Although in those early years we still had no luck implementing our ideas, as it was always a 3-3 tie with the mayor breaking the tie. We were fortunate in the next election that Moe Jones and John Faron joined the board. We now finally had a voiceâ€Ś Since that time we have worked together as a team to accomplish many things for the town. We started with changes in employees, and also disbanded the former utility board that was not willing to work with the new
Please see VIEWS on Page 5A
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Volume 112, Number 12
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Judge denies recall election injunction BY TERESA L. BENNS
Two trustee, mayor recalled CENTER — Results for successors to trustee offices were still being counted early Wednesday morning in Center but the recall votes were in, showing that Mayor Susan Banning, Trustee John Faron and Trustee Maurice (Moe) Jones were all recalled from office. Incomplete and blank ballots, also ballots where judges were unable to determine what the voter intended were numerous, one observer reported. Julio Paez remains seated as the only retained trustee. Herman Sisneros was elected as Mayor and Edward Garcia and Geraldine Martinez will replace Trustees Faron and Jones. See next week's Center Post-Dispatch for further details.
CENTER —On March 8 Jennie Sanchez and her supporters filed an injunction to halt Tuesday’s Center recall election. But then Thursday, after a two-day emergency hearing with District Judge Martin Gonzales, the injunction was denied. The initial motion to halt the election stated that the there was “a substantial likelihood that Plaintiff will prevail on the merits.” The group complained that the ballot was illegal and was not put together according to state statute. Gonzales, despite some reservations, ruled otherwise. With the election now accomplished, it is believed Sanchez will file an election contest soon. Sanchez, backed by the former Center utility board, Head Start Director Mary McClure, Center Housing Authority Director Audrey Chavez and former town clerk Bill McClure, among several others,
supported the lawsuit. Boulder attorney Shelley Wittevrongel and Alex C. Myers with Rothberger, Johnson and Lyons of Denver represented the group. Wittevrongel and Myers also filed a lawsuit recently against the town to halt the construction of a new water tower. In the past two years, the group has filed a total of three legal actions against the town, including the injunction. Bill McClure sued separately using another attorney concerning his dismissal as town clerk, that suit was filed in three separate jurisdictions, (state, federal and now the suit is back in the state court). Testimony during the hearing For her first witness Wittevrongel called Jennie Sanchez. Sanchez testified that she has been a lifetime Center resident and a longtime political activist, an election judge for 35 years and a committee chairperson.
She described the ballot as “difficult, confusing, and no way my vote is going to count. I have never come across a ballot like this,” while serving as an election judge, she added. Sanchez maintained that she felt the ballot was illegal. When crossexamined by the town attorney for Center, Eugene Farish, she could not give a reason why her vote would not count regardless of how Farish phrased the question. At one point Sanchez became very irate, talking over Judge Gonzales and interrupting Farish. “I appreciate that you are riled up but do not interrupt me and you and I will get along,” Gonzales told her. “And don’t interrupt the counsel.” Farish then concluded that if anything, Sanchez was confused about how to vote for one candidate out of several on the ballot. Wittevrongel then presented a telephone witness from the
Brennan Center for Social Justice, headquartered at NewYork University. Farish objected to the testimony on the grounds that the witness was not a legal expert as defined by the court. Gonzales, however, allowed the testimony and after offering a variety of credentials, the witness testified that the ballot was confusing and could be better constructed. She suggested that the recall questions be placed first and who would succeed the candidates later, on a separate page. A proposed ballot demonstrating the change in order was presented as an exhibit. She also said the ballot should show how the candidates are related to each other. Next on the stand was former town board member and current candidate in the Center election, Geraldine Martinez. Martinez complained that the votes for those who would succeed
Please see RECALL on Page 3A
Cocaine seized from Center school students BY TERESA L. BENNS
Alanna Chacon, $75 certificate Rural Electric Award Will Weatherford and Brayan Sorzano, $25 certificate Women in Engineering Jordan Lobato, $25 certificate Grand Awards-Behavioral /Social Science Jose Luis Macias — Honorable Mention Biomedical Brittany McKibbon, second-place ribbon/ $25 certificate/ Daisy Rascon, Honorable Mention
CENTER — A drug-related incident at Center Schools last month could have ended badly for both students and administrators, but was resolved after a face-off between Center police and Center school administrators. According to Superintendent George Welsh, the incident began Feb. 12 when a student told a staff member that she thought other students were doing something wrong in the bathrooms. Two teenagers were identified and called into the offices of the high school principal, Kevin Jones, and behavior specialist Jose Chavez, for questioning. Jones and Chavez quizzed the students individually, and also back and forth, to see if their stories remained the same. Jones eventually told the students that if they would just be honest, the matter could be dealt with in-school. Otherwise the authorities would be notified to continue the interrogation. Finally one student admitted they gave the other a bag of cocaine, which was found on the second student. The cocaine was then turned over to Jones voluntarily. Welsh said that the way Jones handled the situation, "by exhibiting trust toward the kids," may have been the only thing that prompted the students to eventually tell the truth. Both students were placed in ISS (in-school suspension) immediately, then transferred to the Center Schools expulsion program until the end of the school year, Welsh said. The expulsion program isolates them from classmates, requires them to complete all school work, and requires them to undergo mandatory drug testing and
Please see FAIR on Page 5A
Please see DRUGS on Page 5A
HOW'S THE WEATHER?
Thursday A slight chance of snow before 9am, then a slight chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 56. Breezy, with a west southwest wind 5 to 15 mph increasing to 15 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. Thursday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 22. Breezy, with a west wind 20 to 25 mph becoming light and variable in the evening. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 49. Breezy, with a light west southwest wind increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. Friday Night A 20 percent chance of snow after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 20. Breezy, with a west southwest wind 15 to 25 mph decreasing to 5 to 15 mph after midnight. Saturday A chance of snow before 3pm, then a chance of rain between 3pm and 5pm, then a chance of snow after 5pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 37. West wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Saturday night A 20 percent chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 13. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph decreasing to 5 to 10 mph after midnight.
Award-winning science and math teacher Daniel Newmyer (center) accompanied his Center science fair students to the San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair earlier this month.
Students win big at SLV Science Fair CENTER — Two Center High School students received a $1,000 scholarship, another student received a $500 scholarship and two students will advance to the state fair competition after competing in the SLV science fair. Jose Luis Macias and Brittany McKibbon won the $1,000 Adams State University scholarships, Ofelia Gonzalez won the $500 Home/ Family Scholarship and Alanna Chacon and Kevin Garcia will compete at the state fair. Local science fair awards include: Water/Soil Conservation
Jordan Lobato, $25 certificate, Carmen Ruggles, $25 certificate Center Soil Conservation Jordan Lobato, $25 certificate and $50, Carmen Ruggles $30 certificate Rio Grande Head Water Land Trust Jordan Lobato, $50 certificate, Rebecca Paez, $50 certificate Veterinary Nick Lobato, $50 certificate Nutritional Award Certificate Alanna Chacon, $35 certificate Consumer Award Ruben Hernandez, $25 certificate Frank Memorial Reward
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Newmyer named Center Teacher of the Year
Continued from Page 1A
the trustees who are recalled was not clear. She said it appeared that one could vote three times, on each square provided for each candidate, for who would replace the trustees. She also voiced fears that such votes would not be counted properly and the selections would unnecessarily confuse voters. The main problem seemed to arise in filling out the initial petitions to run as candidates, since no one trustee was specified for each candidate to run against. This is because all Center trustees are at-large candidates not assigned to any particular district. Also, trustees who were listed to be recalled each had different term expiration dates. When Center Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora was called to the stand, he testifi ed that under Farishs' guidance of, he constructed the ballot as best he could according to state statues. It was noted, however, that the state statutes contain no provision for addressing how the ballot is to be constructed when several trustees are recalled, several candidate are running against them and trustee terms expire at different times. Farish said prior to the hearing that the ballot was submitted to Colorado Municipal League attorneys for review before it was printed. The main concern of the town, he pointed out, was that the ballot was in compliance with the statutes regulating its construction. He emphasized in his examination of Samora that the statues state it is entirely up to the town clerk ”to render all interpretations.” Summarizing the testimony In her closing arguments, Wittevrongel stated that voters have looked at the ballot and say they cannot figure out how to vote. She acknowledged that Samora was laboring under unclear regulations, noting that: “The town clerk had no guidance from the law [because] the recall statute doesn’t cover [Center’s situation].” But she held to the assertion that the town ballot was not in compliance with that clause of the law that governs who succeeds whom, resulting in an “absurd outcome” regarding the election. Wittevrongel says it all would depend on how Farish “advises the town to count the ballots.” In his closing comments, Farish suggested that the plaintiffs based
their case that the ballots were confusing and possibly illegal on skewed principles. “They didn’t bring people here who are disinterested,” he observed, referring to the fact that all those protesting the ballot, attending the hearing and testifying on the issue supported the recall. He stated that in asking witnesses what is confusing, “I’m not getting an answer — nothing prevented candidates from understanding it.” He maintained that the language in the ballot is clear and that only if a candidate is not recalled by the majority of votes (a yes or no vote on the recall was specified in a box beside the mayor’s and each current trustee’s name) would votes not be counted in that particular contest. Judge’s decision On Thursday, Judge Gonzales handed down his decision concerning the legality of the ballot. “Colorado precedent…provides that unless an election regulation expressly declares that strict compliance with its requirements is essential, courts should construe such provisions to be directory in nature and not mandatory. “Imposing a requirement of strict compliance with voting regulations, especially in the absence of any showing of fraud or other intentional wrongdoing, would unduly restrict the franchise,” and here Gonzales referred to several precedent cases. One case mentions that strict interpretation would actually disenfranchise voters, as Gonzales observes, an outcome the plaintiffs clearly did not want. “Substantial compliance with the C.R.S § § 31-4-504 (3) (c) and C.R.S § 31-4-504(7) under the Plaintiff’s proposals would be met if all of the offices subject to the recall were identical as to expiration date. The terms of the officeholders at risk here do not have identical expiration dates. [Therefore] the publics’ will is best expressed fairly and intelligently only if all of the contestants are deemed to be candidates for each office,” (Grubb v. Wyckoff, 52 N.J. 599, 602, 247 A.2d 481, 482 -1968). “Under the nomination process utilized here by both sides (town and nominee) under the differential terms, the town’s ballot is in substantial compliance,” and satisfies the requirements of the statute, Gonzales concluded.
BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — The Center Consolidated School District recently announced that Skoglund Middle School-Center High School mathscience teacher Daniel Newmyer has been named its 2012-13 Teacher of the Year. “Mr. Newmyer has seven years of teaching experience, his last 4 being in the Center Consolidated School District,” Center Schools Superintendent George Welsh said. “He clearly demonstrates a passion for his subjects and continually encourages his students to compete in science and engineering fairs at all possible levels.” When asked about receiving the award Newmyer commented: “The best part about the award is it is one you don’t go after. Other people nominate you and it’s very humbling. I’m honored to be on a list with so many great teachers.” Welsh went on to relate that in his current position Newmyer has personally applied for and secured tens of thousands of dollars worth of grants that have allowed students the opportunity to compete in local, state, national, and international science and engineering fairs, not only guiding his students to participate in these competitions, but helping them win. “The students who do these projects basically cover all the disciplines — writing, research, data analysis, etc.,” Newmyer pointed out. “They engage in all aspects, not just science.” Under his guidance, Welsh continued, Center High School has gone from completely lacking a science fair program at the high school level to securing the San Luis Valley Science Fair Small High School Award for the past four consecutive years, qualifying numerous students to attend state, national, and international competitions, and actually placing for an international award. “It’s good to be in a place where the school board and administration
gives the kids these opportunities, who support things like the science fair, music programs, Knowledge Bowl competitions,” Newmyer said, extending his thanks to the school. He noted that it has been “a busy year,” after receiving the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award and finishing his master’s degree in leadership and space studies with Regis College. “I had a goal to do the Alan Shepard competition for six years,” Newmyer said. “I was fortunate to end up in an environment where I was able to achieve a lot of work towards that goal.” Newmyer will officially be presented with the Shepard award Daniel Newmyer next month. (Comments made by George Welsh in his online column, Keeping Our for this story originally appeared Focus.)
Volume 112, Number 13
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Questions linger following election canvass BY TERESA L. BENNS
Scholarship applications available SAGUACHE — The Minnehaha Chapter # 48 Order of Eastern Star annually offers a $600 tuition scholarship to graduating seniors attending schools in Saguache, Center and Moffat. Students applying must be a citizen of the US, have at least a 3.0 GPA, a transcript of their credits and a letter of acceptance to the college of their choice. Applications for this scholarship may be obtained from the school counselor and are due by the first week in May. Virginia Sutherland is the Eastern Star Scholarship chairman.
CENTER — Although the election canvass totals matched the votes cast for Center’s March 19 recall election, questions remain on why the canvass was conducted without checking mail-in ballot signatures against the State’s SCORE system. Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora and Center Municipal Judge James Sanchez conducted the canvass, counting ballots, but not the actual results of the various races. Recalled candidates John Faron and Moe Jones requested, last week ,that during the canvass the signatures be checked with the system to verify that those who signed the ballot were those who received it in the mail. This comes after reports of rogue ballots being circulated by the recall committee in Center and several challenges made during the election process by watchers. Center Town Attorney Eugene Farish agreed that federal law allows the signatures to be compared with the originals, as did the Secretary of State’s office, and Farish told Jones and Faron last Friday that the signatures would be checked during the canvass this week. But on Monday
Photo by Teresa Benns
Center Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora and Center Municipal Judge James Sanchez count ballots during the canvass of the March 19 Center election Monday. the canvass was set up without any prior notice or intent of performing the signature comparisons. “After looking at the laws over the weekend, Christian didn’t feel like he had enough evidence to conduct a signature verification,” Farish said.
“The election official had to make that call.” Samora stated during the canvass Monday that he did not have to comply with the federal law because the check was optional. When asked if this was true even if challenges
Quiet time at the renovated library
Please see CANVASS on Page 3A
McClure restrainer violation charges going to jury trial STAFF REPORT
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday Partly sunny, with a high near 59. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 26. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 62. West southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Friday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 25. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 61. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 25. West northwest wind 5 to 15 mph. Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 61. West wind around 5 mph becoming south in the morning. Sunday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 26. West southwest wind around 5 mph. Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 57. South wind 5 to 15 mph. Monday night A slight chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 24. South southwest wind 10 to 15 mph becoming light and variable in the evening. Chance of precipitation is present.
were made and irregularities noticed Samora replied that it still was not necessary. Others reported that prior to the canvass Samora commented that performing the signature checks
Photo by Teresa Benns
A Saguache Library patron enjoys quiet time in one of the newly renovated library reading areas. The renovation is ongoing with the reception area and a new meeting room being close to completion.
Business makes tax time easier, more private BY TERESA L. BENNS LEADVILLE — For those dreading the hassle taxes present every year, a new online solution could make this yearly task less stressful and more convenient than ever. Gwyn Brodine has 20 years of tax experience under her belt, including years spent working for H & R Block and in the accounting field. Brodine,
an IRS registered tax professional founded Easy Web Taxes after seeing how much effort clients put into doing their taxes each year. “Before, people came to us,” Brodine said. “They had to make the appointment, get a sitter, bring their materials,” and so on, she said. But with e-mail and now Skype, “There’s no reason for an office visit.” Brodine moved with her family
to Leadville recently and started her tax business, which can serve clients from all 50 states. Brodine’s daughter, Sarah, is also an IRS registered tax preparer, her daughter Rebekah handles the marketing end of things and son Gregory, who is A+ certified and working on his CISCO certification, sees to the tech side of Please see TAX on Page 5A
SAGUACHE — Following a motions hearing in Saguache Tuesday, James Mrzlak, attorney for former Center Town Clerk Bill McClure, requested additional discovery concerning an event connected to an alleged restrainer violation by his client. He also requested that a jury trial for the matter be set and Judge Amanda Pearson set the Saguache jury trial date for July 19 at 8:30 a.m.. A trial date already has been set in McClure’s alleged Rio Grande restrainer violation case for June 4 at 8:30 a.m. Judge Pearson granted Center Post-Dispatch reporter Teresa Benns a restraining order against McClure in 2011 following an incident at the Saguache courthouse Pearson granted the restrainer after reviewing courthouse video showing McClure backing Benns towards a wall and bumping into her with his chest. McClure allegedly became angry with Benns after she took a photo of him examining public documents at the courthouse. Benns filed charges against McClure last summer and fall following incidents she says violate the restrainer. Benns filed police reports stating that in one incident McClure made an improper gesture to her at a public meeting and in another incident blocked her from talking a photo as part of her reporter’s duties at a public hearing. The restrainer says McClure is supposed to remain 10 feet away from Benns at such meetings.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Board members say recall not legal
Continued from Page 1A would simply create too many “problems.” He also indicated that someone from the town had spoken to the Colorado Municipal (CML) League, a lobbying group, about the signature verification and was told by CML’s legal department that it was not necessary. When contacted, a CML spokesperson familiar with the situation said that no formal legal opinion was given the town by CML on the matter in question. Watchers Margaret Faron and Cindy Jones asked Samora at the end of the canvass if he was going to examine any of the challenges made and he indicated he was not. Jennie Sanchez and Adeline Sanchez, and their attorney Shelley Wittevrongel told Faron and Jones that they couldn’t challenge anything once the election was over. Samora explained that some of the votes that appeared to be illegal were actually votes that were not counted, but Jones objected there were still others who voted illegally. Jones requested the Center voters list from Samora last Wednesday but did not receive a copy of the documnent until Monday morning. Jennie Sanchez stated that people who own property in Center, pay taxes to Saguache County and register their cars in Saguache County can vote in town elections even if they do not live in the town itself. Others familiar with election laws say this is not the case, and Farish says it must satisfy a certain complicated composite of factors for each individual. Sanchez accused those questioning the residency requirements of trying to deprive voters of their right to vote. Jones asked Jennie Sanchez why those running against recall candidates were discriminating against non-hispanic board members. Adeline Sanchez replied that the accusation was “garbage” printed in the Center Post-Dispatch, At the end of the canvass, around 2:15 p.m., Samora announced that the newly elected board members and mayor would be immediately sworn in. This was done even though Moe Jones had until Tuesday afternoon to file a recount request, and had actually mentioned to Samora that he would be filing one. Samora said he was told by CML
Rally in the Valley drawing Friday MONTE VISTA—Rally in the Valley will hold its second $500 incentive drawing on Friday, March 29 at 7 p.m. at Alibi’s. Raffle tickets are $25 each, three for $60, five for $100. The only tickets eligible for the $500 incentive drawing are those sold after Feb. 22 and up to the drawing on March 29. All tickets are eligible to win the 2013 Polaris Razor 800 drawing on June 15. Tickets are available at Alibi’s Sports Bar and Grill, Absolute Shine or call 850-1994. The proceeds for this year’s rally will go to the Monte Vista Kids Connection and to replace the Holiday Festival Banners downtown.
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that the waiting period before the swearing in, despite the recount was only a formality and could be waived. Traditionally the swearing in has not taken place until after the next regular board meeting, (April 2) or the completion of any recount, according to laws governing municipal elections. Others dealing with such legal matters maintain the swearing–in was not valid under the municipal code. The CML spokesperson said Monday that there was no discussion with the town of swearing in new board members with a recount request period still running and that no legal opinion was given on the matter. “I have to assume that Samora was pressured by those promoting the recall to swear in the candidates as soon as possible,” Attorney Farish said. The rearrangement of the canvass date without prior notice, the refusal to acknowledge the existence of election irregularities and the obligation of investigating those irregularities, the swearing in of new board members before the deadline had expired to file a recount, the delay in providing requested documents, the approval of the ballot as it stands — all were irregularities existing in previous Center elections and in the 2010 election in Saguache County, conducted by then County Clerk Melinda Myers. At that time, Samora was employed by Myers in the clerk’s office and ran the software programs that allowed the county to download vote results from the M650 voting device then used by the county. Following a grand jury investigation of the clerk’s office, Samora resigned and later was hired as Center’s clerk and treasurer.
BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — After attending the vote canvass in Center Monday and requesting a recount Tuesday, Center town trustee Moe Jones maintains that the election was not held legally and was fraught with irregularities. Although some legal experts claim the town was required by law to allow a recount request period to expire before swearing in election winners, which has been the practice of the town in the past, those who claim to have won the election were sworn in nearly a week before the recount request had period had expired. Jones filed for a recount on Tuesday. Fellow trustee John Faron agreed that the election was most likely illegal. Both men and their wives, watchers at the election, contend that those who are not legal residents of Center cast invalid votes — votes that may later be disqualified in the course of research soon to be conducted by the State. Despite their objection to the town clerk during the canvass of the ballots Monday, no signatures were checked to assure that all who voted were eligible to vote. Cindy Jones and Margaret Faron recalled witnessing several
irregularities at the polls and learned from friends and neighbors of others attributed to those campaigning on the recall ticket. These include recall committee workers who placed reproduced ballots on the windshields of cars and in people’s doors, alleged voter intimidation, sign vandalism and what the Jones’ said they could only be described as “defamation of character” aimed at all those being recalled. Past allegations have suggested that Center Democrats, who often meet at Center Head Start, have carried absentee ballots door to door calling in favors and pressuring residents to vote. When asked to report these practices, residents state that they are too afraid of retaliation to make the reports. Trustee Julio Paez also pointed to some of the same problems in a letter to the editor, published in this issue. Trustee Peggy Martinez, who as a watcher challenged votes cast at the election, wrote a letter earlier this month mentioning some of the issues with the recall. There also were reports that the content of an earlier town board executive session was somehow made known to recall committee members, a serious ethical violation.
One of the complaints registered by Faron and Jones was that Samora gave those being recalled only two hours to write their statements for the ballot on and told them to “make it short and sweet.” In reality, the law allows all recall candidates to write 300 words explaining why they should be retained in office. None of those listed for recall were able to read the statement submitted by the recall committee until the ballots were already printed and in the mail. Both Faron and Jones expressed concerns that those apparently elected will not look out for the best interests of the town by continuing the water tower project, going forward with the town park, the Fourth of July celebration plans and a proposed skate park project suggested by Center school children. ”These were things we were doing for our veterans and young people,” Faron said referring to the veterans’memorial and children’s water play area planned for the town park. “Now the loan for the water tower project is in jeopardy because they filed a lawsuit to stop it and there is a time factor involved.” Margaret Faron said that it wasn’t the losing that bothered them, “but the way they lost, because people were not telling the truth.”
SLV Cattlewomen offering a scholarship SAN LUIS VALLEY—The San Luis Valley Cattlewomen are pleased to announce that they will be offering a scholarship. This is the season when thoughts turn to scholarship inquires. The scholarship is to be offered to young women only (sorry guys this one is not for You). The cattlewomen scholarship may be used by any female wishing
to continue her education after high school, by applying for vocational or trade school, college or university in the agricultural field. The applicant must be an incoming freshman or sophomore of an accredited program. Applicants are selected without consideration of age, creed, ethnicity, race or religion. The scholarship, when awarded, must be
used in the same academic year and be applied toward books or tuition fees. The deadline for the receipt of the application is May 1. This is a $500 scholarship. Contact Lynn Sutherland, president of the SLV Cattlewomen at 55355 County Rd. T, Saguache, CO, 81149 or call 2564279 (leave a message) to request an application or for more information.
Volume 112, Number 14
Board invites public comment CENTER — The Center Schools Board of Education will hold business hours on Wednesday April 10 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Fyock Community Library. Parents, students, community members, and staff members are welcome to stop in to visit with board members at this time to share their thoughts and to build relationships. For more information, call 7543442.
New thrift store opens in Saguache SAGUACHE — The Blue Earth Thrift and Mercantile will be celebrating its grand opening in Saguache this Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., featuring great bargains for local shoppers. There will be refreshments, live entertainment and door prizes awarded throughout the day. The thrift store is adjacent to the Welcome Center on Fourth Street and will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week. For more information, call 6550216.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Candidate claims election fraud
BY TERESA L. BENNS
CENTER — While the recount held at the request of former trustee Moe Jones differed only one vote from the original totals tallied for the recall election, the real issue, Jones says, is not about the counts per se but how they were cast, when and by whom. Jones indicated that he has very serious doubts concerning absentee ballots, the vote counting system, signatures and ballot stubs and questions the validity of the recent recall election. He believes there is more than enough evidence to call the election results into question. Town Clerk Christian Samora, Dora Trujillo, Diana Gutierrez and Municipal Judge James Sanchez began conducting the recount at 8:30 a.m. Signature verifications for mailin ballots began on the opposite side of the room about 10:30 a.m. after the arrival of two Secretary of State office attorneys, Stefanie Mann and Michael Hagihara. Both attorneys are experienced in handwriting analysis, Jones commented later. Marilyn Marks, representing Citizen Center came from Aspen to witness the signature verification and Crestone resident Lisa Cyriacks served a media watcher for the recount.
Photo by Teresa Benns
SOS officials Stefanie Mann and Michael Hagihara check ballot signatures as Aspen election integrity activist Marilyn Marks and former trustee Moe Jones, political activists Mary McClure and Jennie Sanchez observe the process. Jones, his wife Cindy, recalled trustee John Faron and Faron’s wife Margaret, also current trustee Julio Paez were present for the recount and verification. Recall committee members Jennie Sanchez, Adeline
Sanchez and Mary McClure also were already had compiled. His group also in attendance. made a list of mail-in ballot stubs. Based on the 43 signatures the The recall committee group looked SOS found questionable, Jones filed on nervously, sometimes conferring a challenge against each signature, Please see FRAUD on Page 3A adding to a list of mail-in ballots he
Eggs and weed on Saguache County's plate
The Dance Factory presents spring recital SAGUACHE—The Dance Factory of Saguache will present its Spring Recital on Friday, April 5 at 6 p.m. at the Mountain Valley School gymnasium/stage at 403 Pitkin Ave. in Saguache. Twelve numbers will include 25 students ranging in age from three to 71 covering various types of dance. Donations will be accepted at the door to help cover the cost of student scholarships.
HOW'S THE WEATHER?
BY STAFF REPORT
According to a report by Deputy Tyler Harford, the two teens were at the home of adult friends when the younger teen told the women that they were planning to “blow off
SAGUACHE – Chickens and marijuana could spur the Saguache County economy should its commissioners find organic eggs and marijuana beneficial later this month. After Rio Grande County tabled a similar application last week, the Saguache County Planning Commission (SCPC) recommended David and Candace Toews' and Royce and Tamara Nickel's conditional use applications for organic egg production operation last Thursday evening. According to the Saguache County Land Use Department (SCLUD), the applications were recommended with conditions including annual reviews and a comprehensive sketch of the proposed operation. Discussion also addressed limits on producing hens. No one spoke out against the proposed operation, but local organic farmer Tom McCraken, who was at the meeting for other land use reasons, shared his experiences with chickens and egg production, and wished the applicants good luck. The long time Valley farmers submitted conditional use permits to produce eggs for the Wisconsinbased Organic Valley Co-op last month. The couples were introduced to the co-op in 2012 and "after careful consideration and due diligence feel
Please see THREATS on Page 3A
Please see PLATE on Page 5A
Patty La Taille and her dog Maya.
Dog saves owner from potential fire BY TERESA L. BENNS
Thursday Sunny, with a high near 64. Light and variable wind becoming east southeast 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Thursday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 31. South southwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light west in the evening. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 68. Breezy, with a light and variable wind becoming west southwest 15 to 20 mph in the morning. Friday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 31. West wind 10 to 15 mph becoming light and variable after midnight.
BONANZA — Bonanza resident and Chaffee County business owner Patty La Taille can thank her 11-yearold Border Collie/Labrador mix Maya for being able to tell folks today just how special she really is to her owner.
Due to medical problems, La Taille has had difficulty sleeping for some time. She found out just how badly the condition was affecting her recently when she arose early one morning after a sleepless night to stoke her wood stove. Deprived of sleep, La Taille
mistakenly left open a vent on her restored antique stove that should have been closed. She then went back to bed and exhausted, fell into a brief but deep sleep. “Normally, Maya checks on me Please see MAYA on Page 5A
Students arrested for threats, false reporting SAGUACHE — Two male juveniles, ages 14 and 16, were arrested Easter Sunday for allegedly threatening to shoot teachers and students at Mountain Valley School in Saguache. One boy attends Mountain Valley
High School and the other is a student at Moffat School. The older teen was recently released from the Pueblo State Hospital and the younger boy has a history of mental illness. At both schools the teens attended, they were known as loners.
Center town clerk warns board about potential suit BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — A special board meeting was called last Wednesday to decide if the board would approve the Secretary of State’s office decision to verify signatures at the upcoming recount. The recount, requested by Moe Jones was conducted on Friday. At first mayor-elect Herman Sisneros questioned whether the board could vote to disallow the recount, but was informed that this was not an option. He also postponed a vote on the demand by Jennie Sanchez, that the present town attorney, Eugene Farish, be fired immediately. Trustee Julio Paez questioned Sisneros on why he wished the board members to be sworn in so quickly and why the meeting was called initially, since the news concerning the SOS visit came several hours after the meeting was announced. Sisneros responded that he just wanted a “complete board.” Bill McClure commented that Paez and other trustees also were sworn in early, but following the meeting, Paez denied this and news reports from the time confirm his denial. “When Moe Jones and John Faron first got elected on April 6, 2010 (and Peggy was re-elected), they were sworn in at the next board meeting on April 20, 2010,” Paez later recalled. “On the April 3, 2012 election, myself, Herman Sisneros, Chris Garcia and Susan Banning (Mayor) were elected. We were sworn in on the next scheduled meeting which took place on April 17, 2012.” He also added that when McClure was town clerk and he and Susan Banning were elected as trustees April 1, 2008, they were not sworn in until May 6, even though there was a regular scheduled meeting April 8. SOS signature verifications Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora then addressed the board concerning the signature verification process. First he told board members he had made a deal with the Secretary of State’s Office, which reassured him that if the town allowed the SOS to perform the voter signature verification, the Secretary of State would prevent Aspen election integrity advocate Marilyn Marks, called in as a consultant in the case, from “making excessive CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) requests.” Under Colorado law, there is no limit to the number of CORA requests a private citizen or reporter may make.
For all your advertising needs, call Staci
Secondly he warned the board that Marks is well known for filing lawsuits over irregular elections, citing cases in Saguache, Salida and elsewhere. Center has already lost legal insurance as a town, forcing them to find new insurers. The loss of their insurance carrier occurred after lawsuits filed by the former utility board and the activist group headed by Jennie Sanchez, also suits filed by McClure following his dismissal as clerk. Samora told the board they had two choices: 1) They could allow the SOS to come into the town, act as the official judges for the recount and perform the voter verification (which Samora declined to perform during the canvass) at no cost to the town. This would help dispel any controversy surrounding the election. Or 2) they could refuse to allow the count and then be faced with a full-fledged investigation conducted by the State Attorney General’s Office. Samora indicated that by accepting the signature verification option, there would be no further investigation of the matter. Those recently elected to the board voted to accept the SOS proposal, with Paez and Peggy Martinez abstaining from the vote. Former Mayor Adeline Sanchez told them that by law they were required to vote but the trustees still declined. A person in the audience said the trustees were not voting because they did not believe the election was legal or that the board was holding a valid meeting, offering support for that premise. Prior to the close of the 40-minutre meeting, a discussion took place over whether the stubs had been removed from certain mail-in ballots. Election judge Adeline Sanchez said that only a limited number of ballots made it into the ballot box with the stubs before the error was discovered and corrected. Paez and Martinez pointed out that those voters could have been identified, but Jennie, Adeline Sanchez and Clerk Samora, dismissed the issue as understandable human error.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Recall election win based on misleading ballot statement BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER —Center voters, faced with multiple decisions and unaccustomed to the layout of recall ballots, may have believed they were voting for something entirely different than what they actually cast their votes for March 19. In recall elections, those proposing the recall are required to state their case, so to speak, in a prescribed number of words at the top of the ballot. The recall committee composed a statement giving as their reason for the recall the fact that the mayor and three named trustees “exceeded [their authority]” and “attempted to have the Center Town Board pass revenue bonds of $2.8 million on their own authority without a vote of the people.” The statement infers that the people had a strict right to vote on the ordinance and that the town does not qualify as a TABOR water enterprise qualified to issue bonds. The statement may have been confusing to voters, some of whom could have believed that the current water tower project was actually going to cost the town $2.8 million when that project was shelved by the Town Board in August 2012. Later the town approved a much smaller amount for its water tower replacement, $1.6 million — $1.1 million in a zero interest loan plus a $500,000 grant. In wording the ballot the way they did, the recall committee made it appear to voters that: 1) The actual water tower project for $2.8 million shot down by the town was still on the table; 2) It was already determined that residents were entitled to vote on whether the town is a water enterprise, when this is a matter to be determined by the courts; 3) The “town exceeds its authority” in assuming it acts as a (TABOR) water enterprise, when town board documents from the past prove it has always considered itself such an enterprise. The current project plan does not involve issuing bonds so the TABOR act is not a consideration any longer.
Again, number three requires an assumption on the part of the voter which anticipates a decision by a judge, and this case is now before district court. Some have speculated that the recall was an attempt to show the court that voters do not wish Center to act as a water enterprise. Documents below will demonstrate that even if the town had acted on its initial plan, there was no ill will involved because the town board sincerely believed it has always been a water enterprise. Events leading up to the recall It was determined in November, after hearing officer Judy Egbert considered protests from town board members and recall committee members, that the decision to engage in a contract for a new water tower was made at the administrative level and could not be put to a vote. The opposing group then appealed Egbert’s decision in Saguache District Court, where the matter now awaits a hearing. The main complaint from the recall group centered around the town board’s initial choice of firms to help perform an energy audit for the town, install water meters and other energy saving equipment as well as a muchneeded water tower. The Energy Systems Group (ESG) worked with Center Mayor Susan Banning and Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg to coordinate energy saving measures in the town and bring down energy costs. Citizens accused the town of not discussing their plans with ESG in the monthly newsletter or inviting citizens to comment on the project before passing an ordinance to pass the matter Tuesday. “We’ve been having discussions about this since
you were on the board,” Banning told (former mayor) Adeline Sanchez during the July 2012 meeting, after she accused the board of keeping Center residents in the dark. “You’re just going to put $2.8 million on the back of citizens without a hearing on this ordinance?” Bill McClure asked. “I hope there are people with the guts to reject it — that’s a hell of a lot of money to put on people.” Jennie Sanchez also accused the board of acting against the statutes and failing to hold public hearings on the matter. Town Attorney Eugene Farish told Sanchez and her group that the statute did not call for public hearings on the issue and Banning confirmed Farish’s statement. But to satisfy citizens opposed to the engagement of ESG, the board agreed to hold a public hearing on the matter on Aug. 7 at the Center Firehouse. Three items were on the agenda at that meeting: Ordinance 431 acknowledging the water system is an enterprise; a presentation by ESG; bond ordinance 432, authorizing funds borrowed through a third party for the ESG program and Ordinance 433, approving the actual energy performance contract with ESG. But during an executive session, trustees voted to cancel their contract with the ESG and approved the repeal of Ordinance 431, the water enterprise ordinance, as Neuerburg suggested prior to the meeting. Those later involved with the recall committee, many of them previously dismissed from the utility board, denied that the town’s water utility is an enterprise Please see RECALL on Page 3A
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Continued from Page 1A with each other in Spanish, as the SOS officials verified signatures. When the SOS finished the task and allowed Marks to inspect mail-in envelopes and record ballot envelope discrepancies the group protested, but Marks proceeded with Samora’s blessing. Marks requested a log of hand delivered mail-in voters for anti-fraud control purposes that the town clerk is legally required to keep, according to municipal law, but no record of the ballots was made, Samora said. Shortly before the process concluded, Bill McClure entered the room with an attorney’s letter stating that Jones could not challenge the ballots after the fact, since challenges must be made on the day of the election. Technically, Marks said, this is true, but watchers at that time were denied access to basic information about mail-in ballots received, since no log of their receipt was maintained, and they were not allowed access to the signature verification database.
Continued from Page 2A They could not challenge what they could not see, she observed. At the end of the day, Marks reported that the review of the envelopes showed that voter affirmation of the voters’ residence for nearly 100 ballots was not properly filled in. In addition, nearly 300 mail-in ballots were hand delivered, but the names of those who brought in the ballots were not recorded. State municipal law requires that the town clerk must make a record of who delivered the ballots and note the date they were received. There were also reports of a good number of names whose addresses could not be verified as Center residents. Additional anomalies were recorded, some by Cyriacks as she watched judges thumb through mailin ballots during the recount. But the problem that bothered Jones was that during the vote count March 19, all of the absentee ballots with their identifying stubs still attached were exposed for hours at the polling place.
“For three and a half hours those absentee ballots laid out on the table,” he said. “They had cell phones there and they could have been used to record images. Someone then could go through public records and identify the voters.” Marks added, “Judges and watchers did not even need call phone pictures to be able to know how citizens voted. The list of ballot stub numbers is public record and the judges had worked with it all day. It is easy enough to make notes of some targeted voters’ stub numbers and see how they voted, or even memorize a string their stub numbers.” Clerk Samora and Adeline and Jennie Sanchez, deny that the ballots were left out for any length of time and brushed the incident off as human error at the special town board meeting held March 27. They claim that no one would have compromised the ballots, but were reminded by trustee Peggy Martinez that the error still violated voters’ rights to a secret ballot.
The younger teen told the two women to “be prepared.” When Harford spoke to the younger boy’s counselor, she told the deputy that she was very concerned because she though he could carry out his plans. When the younger teen and his mother were interviewed by Harford, the teen denied he and his friend had made any threats or watched Zero Day. The older teen’s mother would not let her son speak to Harford once he was read his Miranda rights. The two teens were arrested March 31 as they played basketball at Otto
Mears Park in Saguache. They were both charged with false reporting of explosives, weapons or harmful substances, conspiracy to commit false reporting of explosives, weapons or harmful substances and menacing. Both were transported to the Saguache County Jail. The younger teen was later released on a $2,000 bond and the older teen was transported to the Alamosa Youth Track Detention Center in Alamosa. Harford said the case is still under investigation.
Continued from Page 1A a teacher’s head and kill as many people as possible,” then commit suicide following the shootings. They also admitted to engaging in Satanicrelated practices. The two boys said they were inspired by the movie Zero Day, based on the school shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton. In the movie, the killers record themselves planning the attack and explain how to make pipe bombs. The movie also explains how the killers conspired to keep their parents from learning about their plans.
SHERIFF’S REPORT The following were provided by the Saguache Sheriff's office for the week of March 26 - April 1. Arrests Martin Leon, 36, Center, failed to display headlights, DUI/D, excessive alcohol content Male juvenile, 16, Saguache, false reporting of explosives, weapons, two counts of conspiracy, menacing Male juvenile, 14, Saguache, false reporting of explosives, weapons, two counts of conspiracy, menacing Logan Yarbrough, 25, Colorado Springs, DUR/S, two warrants for fugitive of justice Rachel Casanova, 28, Saguache, two counts of assault in the third degree, second-degree criminal trespassing Charles Martinez, 36, Alamosa, failure to appear Citations Jacob Jarrell, 24, Lindenhurst, Ill., speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Burke Denman, 61, Santa Fe, speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Tim Regan, 63, Garden City, Kans., speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Anthony Anderson, 22, Durango, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Samuel Ortega, 42, Peyton, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Sheena Goldsborough, 28, Florissant, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Sean Kiley, 43, Mancos, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Holly Beavers, 32, Denver, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Brook Phillips, 43, Wichita, Kans., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Dillon Wilson, 19, Madison, Conn., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Suzande Degross, 53, Villa Grove, speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Randall Ross, 61, Colorado Springs, speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Antonio Klava, 20, Golden, speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Lynn Koglin, 43, Louisville, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone
Owen Genzlinger, 25, Denver, speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Sheri Valdez, 46, Alamosa, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Eduardo Guerra, 24, Denver, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Francesca McConnell, 21, Del Norte, speeding 83 in a 65 MPH zone Julie Farmer, 54, Irvington, N.Y., speeding 64 in a 55 MPH zone Donald Bendell, 66, Florence,
speeding 69 in a 65 MPH zone April Harley, 55, Monte Vista, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Kyle Litwiller, 25, Del Norte, speeding 59 in a 55 MPH zone Mark Cazavelan, 25, Pittsfield, Mass., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Myron Balmer Jr., 52, Grand Junction, speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Thomas Caranese, 35, Aurora, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone
and insisted that any water project should be put to voters for approval. This was the basis for their lawsuit. Hearing on water enterprise During the hearing, Neuerburg traced the evolution of the Town Water System over 90 years and, in the process, produced audit reports from the Town’s CPAs in 1986 and 2003, which recognized the Town’s Water System as an “enterprise.” He also pointed out that even after the passage of the TABOR Act, as mentioned in a 2003 CPA audit report, the auditor states: “The Town of Center does not qualify as an ‘enterprise’except for the operation of its four proprietary funds.’ Page 18 then describes the ‘Combining Balance Sheet – Proprietary Enterprise Funds,’ including water.” Again, in 2009, special master Stephen A. Duree, CPA, appointed by the United States District Court in the midst of a court case involving the town in made the following statement: “Utility Services include the town’s light and Power (“electric”) Gas and water services; each of these services is operated and accounted for as a separate enterprise fund.” Witness Julio Paez also testified that an electric substation was built by the town in 1996 that involved debt incurred, but was not subject to voter approval. When questioned on
the subject, former Mayor Sanchez confirmed that the project did involve bonded debt, but there was no election. She did not know under what authority this may have occurred. Farish then presented seven case histories demonstrating that the courts have ruled in favor of those towns running such enterprises according to the following statute: C.R.S. §31-11-110(1) specifies that “…The grounds for protest may include, but shall not be limited to, the failure of any portion of a petition or circulator affidavit to meet the requirements of this article…” Hearing Officer Judy Egbert announced during the hearing on the enterprise issue in November 2012: “A municipality’s longterm policy is not necessarily determined by a single ordinance. Rather it could be said that actions speak louder than words. The town of Center and its water utility have acted like a TABOR-recognized enterprise long before TABOR existed. Ordinance 436 formally documents a policy and practice that has been in place for a great number of years.” While the recall proposition statement is not illegitimate per se, it only serves to further cloud the entire March 19 election.
Annual tourism conference April 9 ALAMOSA— The San Luis Valley Tourism Association will be hosting the 12th Annual Tourism Conference on April 9, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Alamosa Recreation Center (8666 Rd 109 So.). Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Share “what’s new” in your area/ business; listen to Doug Lewis speak
about the potential for the film industry in the Valley, and be a taste-tester for the “best local dish competition,” brought to you by your favorite local restaurants. For more information or to receive a registration form, call Lynne at 719-580-7841 or email Erin at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Volume 112, Number 15
Meeting on recall election tonight CENTER —Acommunity meeting will be held Thursday evening, April 11 at 7 p.m. featuring both Spanish and English presentations to explain the far-reaching consequences of the election challenge filed Monday in Saguache District Court by Moe Jones and Citizen Center against the town of Center. The meeting will take place at the Center School auditorium. Jones and others will be on hand to answer any questions and provide further details about the suit. Residents do not need to be registered voters to attend. Those attending are asked to bring any and all questions and concerns to this meeting.
Class of 1968 reunion planned
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Judge asked to nullify election Suit serves up a smorgasbord of election violations BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER —Neither a 2008 Center election that ended in litigation, or the hotly contested 2010 Saguache County election prevented politicians in Center from proceeding as usual in last month’s recall election, a practice that finds them in court once again. Former town trustee Moe Jones and co-complainant Citizen Center filed a 25 page complaint in Saguache District Court late Monday alleging that The Town of Center conducted a recall election March 19 that violated voters’ constitutional rights to privacy
and involved the use of undue influence. The suit is asking that the court declare the recall election null and void and vacate any decisions made by those purportedly elected. The lawsuit names the town of Center and Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora as defendants and recall candidates Herman Sisneros, Geraldine Martinez and Ed Garcia II as defendant-contestees. Denver attorneys Jeff D. Baines and Robert McGuire filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs. The complaint asks the judge to issue a summons for defendants to appear in court within 10 days to answer the complaint. The plaintiff’s attorneys also ask in way of relief, among other such requests, “That this court enter a declaratory judgment that the
election be declared void ab initio, that Banning be declared the legally elected mayor of the town, and that Faron and Jones be declared legally elected Trustees of the Town. “[Also] That Samora and the town be enjoined from committing further violations of the municipal election Code and from committing further deprivations of the constitutional rights of the town’s electors, that Sisneros be enjoined from taking any further action as mayor of the town, that any and all actions taken Moe Jones by Sisneros as mayor of the town be declared null and void ab initio, that and Martinez be declared null and Garcia and Martinez be enjoined from void ab initio. taking any further action as trustees A case of de ja vu of town and that any and all actions Remarkably, many of the recall taken by the board of trustees of the town since the swearing in of Garcia Please see ELECTION on Page 3A
Dance Factory recital a big hit BY TERESA L. BENNS SAGUACHE — the Dance Factory in Saguache held its second annual recital Friday with a host of children and adults strutting the skills they have learned from Dance Factory instructor Julia Hammel. Hammel and her assistants presented several skits for the audience to enjoy. Christian Samora served as master of ceremonies for the recital. During the first half of the recital, the audience was treated to We Found Love (Rihanna), performed by Allyssa and Julia Hammel; Strolling Through the Park (Anita Kerr Singers), put on by Paige Hammel, Stephen--- and Ashlyn Willhite; Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Miley Cyrus), performed by Jessica Duran and Jaiden Shellabarger and Putting on the Ritz, (Taco), featuring Sara Fernandez, Alyssa Hammel, Julia Hammel and Cynthia Surface. Part two of the recital included presentations of The Good Ship Lollipop (Shirley Temple Performers) by Elicia Abeyta, Lily Beck, Chase Bouet, Raelyn Bouet, Brandon Hawkins, Caleb Hawkins, Emma Hawkins, and Alexandria Tronque; Put me in the Zoo by Elicia Abeyta, Lily Beck, Raelyn Bouet, Paige Hammel, Heaven Harford, Brandon Hawkins, Caleb Hawkins, Emma Hawkins, Isabelle Lucero, Jaiden Shellabarger, Alexandria Tronque and Ashlynn Willhite; The Nutcracker: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Lily Beck, Heaven Harford, Isabel Lucero, Paige Hammel, Jaiden Shellabarger, Alexandria Tronque and Ashlynn Willhite. Performers also presented the Zumba Mix (Zumba Singer Performers) by Ellen Cox, Julia Hammel. Kelsey Hammel,
CENTER—The class of 1968 of Center High School is planning a reunion. Anyone who was in this class or went to school with this class, at any time, is invited to call Wanda at 852-5000, Bernadette at 754-2459 or Karen at 754-2446.
Workshop on end of life decisions April 20 MONTE VISTA—The Monte Vista United Methodist Church is offering a Workshop “End of Life Decisions” on April 20 from 9 a.m. to noon at 215 Washington St. Presentations will be given by Gene Farish on will preparation, Kevin Rogers on funeral preparation and Hospice on loss and grief. This will be a valuable and informative workshop open to the public. For additional information and to register call 852-3435.
Please see DANCE on Page 3A Stephen Brancato doffs his derby for the crowd after he and Ashlynn Willhite finished their their tap dance routine for last Friday's dance recital skit, "Strolling Through the Park." Photo by Teresa Benns
Saturday baseball game changed C E N T E R — S a t u r d a y ’s doubleheader baseball games with Sanford have been moved back to 1-3:30 p.m., Center High School Principal Kevin Jones announced Monday. The games were rescheduled to accommodate students taking the ACT and attending State Science Fair.
Center board considers rescinding measures Town attorney resigns BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — At last week’s Center Town Board meeting, the newly reconstituted board considered repealing several measures passed by the previous board, but decided to postpone any vote until a new board
member can be appointed. Town Hall was nearly filled to capacity for the meeting. During an executive session held at the beginning of the meeting, the board also accepted the resignation of town attorney Eugene Farish. Members of the crowd in the boardroom awaiting the end of the session engaged in
taunting the press and those recently recalled from office, reminiscent of past less agreeable town meetings held from 2007-2010. When the meeting reconvened, Bill McClure accused the board of falsifying financial documents by misrepresenting the town’s actual bank balance and employee funds.
Former board members denied the allegation. Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora announced that the new auditing system for the town, an expense McClure also protested, would save the town $10,000 a month in billing and payment fees. “The last two audits prove we are Please see BOARD on Page 7A
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Continued from Page 1A election players are the same as those who took part in the 2008 election, with some even acting out the same roles as before. Dora Trujillo was an election judge. Jennie Sanchez, Mary McClure and Bill McClure reportedly collected absentee ballots. Audrey (Teresa) Chavez was registered as a watcher and signed an affidavit stating she is a resident of Center, although she does not appear as a resident on the voter rolls. Adeline Sanchez was an election judge, a post she has filled many times in the past during general elections. Christian Samora is the town clerk, and was a clerk’s office employee for the 2010 election. And the list goes on. While the charges are similar to those listed in the 2008 Center election complaint, the lawsuit filed by McGuire and Baines Monday is a far more comprehensive in defining and detailing election violations. In 2008, Town Clerk Bill McClure refused to allow ballot inspection and no one requested a recount. Far more evidence was available in the case of the recall election. Co-plaintiff Citizen Center’s Marilyn Marks points out, “the violations in Center are not mere technicalities, but serious breakdowns of mandatory election procedures meant to protect every citizen’s vote. We are particularly outraged by the fact that 364 identifiable
Marilyn Marks voted ballots, still containing their detachable numbers were viewed by the election workers, watchers and unauthorized visitors in the counting room.” Marks noted that election workers are required to separate the folded ballot from the return envelope and drop it in the ballot box to be later separated from the identifying stub without anyone seeing the ballot and its envelope or the ballot and its stub. “In this case the workers added insult to injury and exposed the identifying envelope, stub number and the open voted/numbered ballot at the same time to others fighting hard on both sides of the recall,” she pointed out.
The current recall election complaint cites numerous documented violations of statutory election law and various errors, including: • the constitutional violation of voter privacy — 364 absentee ballots of the 475 ballots cast, complete with numbered ballot stubs were left out for more than three hours in the presence of recall committee members and others, including Audrey Chavez, Bill McClure and Adeline Sanchez; • signature discrepancies — Secretary of State Office officials verified that 44 signatures were questionable and (former) trustee Moe Jones identified another nine; • lack of records showing who delivered absentee ballots — 301 ballots were hand-delivered with no indication of how they were delivered; • voter eligibility/residency issues — over 30 voters and counting cannot be verified as Center residents; • duplicate ballot numbers — the complaint lists six different duplicated ballot numbers; • 14 ballot stub numbers voted but not assigned to anyone — these are listed between the numbers 466-490; • 11 ballots voted but not recorded as counted; • two verified instances of voter intimidation — listed in the complaint. It also has come to light that while Clerk Samora certified the election March 25, certificates of election were
Continued from Page 1A Jessica Hawkins, Stacey Samora manager; Julia Hammel, instructor/ Hawkins, tech maser/recording and Robyn Stewart; Party at choreographer; Mackenzie Hammel, specialist and Wendy Hawkins, Mickey’s House (Mickey Mouse assistant stage manager; Barry costume designer/seamstress. Clubhouse/Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen) by Paige Hammel, Ashlyn Willhite; Gone (Scotty McCreary) by Jessica Duran and Jaiden Shellabarger and Beat It, (Michael Jackson) by Ellen Cox, Sara Fernandez, Julia Hammel, Kelsey Hammel, Yvette Reinbsel, Stacey Samora, Robyn Stewart, and Cynthia Surface, (Michael Jackson portrayed by Alyssa Hammel). The behind the scenes crew included Sara Fernandez, advertising; David Hammel, stage and sound
Saguache County Museum to open Sunday, May 26 SAGUACHE—“United We Stand” is the theme for the 55th Grand Opening of the Saguache County Museum, Sunday, May 26. The Museum will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on opening day. The barbeque dinner will be served from noon to 2 p.m. at the Saguache Community Building. Tickets for adults will be $8 and children 12 and under will be $4. This is the museum’s only fundraiser and community support is appreciated. Bill Hazard has been named Grand Marshall for this year’s parade. To take part in the parade, please call Lynn Sutherland at 256-4279. Vendors please call Jeanne Ewing at 719-480-2920 to reserve a booth in the park. Volunteers are needed to help get the museum ready for opening day. Work days will be on the following Saturdays: April 6, 13, 19, and May 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunches will be pot luck. Please contact Dorraine Gasseling at 256-4281 for more information. Getting the Saguache County Museum ready for opening day on May 26 is a community effort. Any help is very much appreciated.
not created until April 1. Sisneros, Garcia and Martinez insisted on being sworn in shortly after the vote canvass March 25, and the person swearing in the candidates is supposed to have the certificates in hand before performing the ceremony. Banning, Jones speak out “This reminds me of the 2008 election,” (former) mayor Susan Banning said during a weekend telephone interview. “This election points to the very reasons why state election policies [on mail-in ballots especially] need to be tightened and shows exactly how corrupt these elections can be. If this can happen in a small town, what could happen in a state or national election?” Banning emphasized that this is not about a sour grapes attitude over losing the election. “If they just didn’t want me to be mayor anymore, I’m fine with that,” she said. “But when people vote, you expect [the election] to be run legally and assume your vote really did count. Instead the laws were repeatedly violated and I know our democratic process was not upheld.” (Former) trustee Moe Jones said in a phone interview Sunday that he has received a great deal of support
for taking the case to court. “People from all over the Valley are telling me that I’m doing the right thing,” he reported. “They have told me to keep going and not let them get away with what they are doing — to stand up and fight.” Jones said that he “definitely did not want to sue the town,” but added, “I have no choice. We need to get the fraud out of this election system.” Marks said on behalf of Citizen Center Monday: “We are doing this because we feel that every person’s voice is of equal importance and no one should be intimidated,” she said “Those using mail ballots should have the same privacy as those going into the voting booth — that vote should be known only to the voter and the Almighty.” Marks also commented that she was shocked by reports that Audrey Chavez and Bill McClure were at the polling place while voters were still casting recall ballots, making “loud, derogatory remarks” about the incumbent board members, trying to “influence judges” and able to eyeball mail-in ballots left open to view with their stub numbers intact. She expressed hope that the suit would be ruled on quickly.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
OPINION Ad hominem attacks weakest defense of all The recent change in Center town government, although it may not be a permanent one, provides a great opportunity for contrast between what Center once was and what it had become under different leadership. And while some may complain of a hostile press, it was never the press that exhibited hostility towards town government, but the members of the board themselves and those who supported them that exhibited such hostility towards the press. During the executive session held last week to discuss the dismissal of town attorney Eugene Farish, those supporting the election of recent board members were allowed to run amok, jeering at and baiting those of the opposition and making intimidating and demeaning remarks about their personal lives and character. This is recorded on tape and was witnessed by several attending the meeting. After a comment was made that the individuals engaging in this behavior were out of line, the local police chief offered a â€œfriendly reminder,â€? given with a smile and a pat on the back, to the most vocal offender. Later, former town clerk Bill McClure suggested to the board that the pledge of allegiance be discontinued at the beginning of the meetings, noting that many do not recognize â€œGodâ€? in the pledge, worshipping Buddah, Allah and other deities. He also commented that there is no equality and justice in America, inferring by the tone he used that the pledge is a pack of lies. This is entirely out of sync, however, with the cry of the recently elected group that the â€œvoters have spokenâ€? and democracy must prevail. Unfortunately for McClure, recent surveys continue to indicate that America still considers itself a primarily Christian nation, so according to this groupâ€™s own alleged standards, the majority should rule. But as observers have seen over the years, that standard is a double standard that applies only selectively and to certain â€œprivilegedâ€? individuals. Forget the crocodile-tear concerns that â€œeveryoneâ€™s vote countâ€? in the recall election â€” Center is saddled once again with the same set of unprincipled, undisciplined puppet masters that ruled the town from the late 1970s until 2010. The ludicrous claim by Bill McClure that last weekâ€™s meeting was the first truly transparent meeting in years tells us volumes. Transparency in the eyes of those he represents is
Great things going on
MY TWO CENTS By TERESA BENNS the freedom of one group â€” his own â€” to relentlessly criticize, vilify and vent, while muzzling the opposition. This was illustrated in the March 27 â€œspecial meetingâ€? where recall committee members were allowed unlimited time to rail against the actions of the previous board, but one person dissenting from this opinion was immediately approached by law enforcement for uttering two sentences. The Latin phrase ad hominem means towards the man or person. Those experienced in the different tactics used in legal wranglings and debate recognize it as an attack on the person, not the issues, to distract others from the importance of what is really being debated or disputed. This false method of argument includes personal attack, abusive language, ridicule of an adversary and charges of inconsistency. Attorneys and debaters who know they have a weak case often resort to ad hominem attacks deliberately, one professor observes. In other words the â€œliesâ€? that the recall committee claim have been circulated by the press and former board members are simply allegations they repeat that cannot be proven by presenting the actual facts of the case. And those with certain agendas feed the uninformed and politically polarized what many of them are often eager to hear and repeat â€” dirt, gossip and half-truths. The former board, appealing to a more enlightened, higher-minded element of Center society, established a code of conduct and observed rules of order that sidestepped those wishing to confuse the issues or engage in personal attack. It is what one would expect of real leaders, not those pandering to the agenda of others. This effectively prevented those acting on their baser instincts from running the show. Well those leaders are gone. And by all appearances last week, so is any pretense of presenting Center as a more cultured, forward-looking town on the road to better days.
One of our major areas of focus this year in the Center School District has been improving our Response To Intervention process for K-12 students. RTI is designed to be conducted to help us meet the needs of our most challenging students, whether they struggle with performance below grade level or are gifted. Susan Banning does a fantastic job of managing this process for Center High School and Skoglund Middle School. Banning works with classroom teachers and administrators to ensure kids in grades 6-12 are getting the individualized instructional services they need. At Haskin Elementary School, Principal Kathy Kulp and Instructional Coach Sarah Vance have been making sure this process works, with a lot of help from parent volunteer extraordinaire Dolores Neuerberg. Because of this focused effort, and by paying attention to following a specific process, I believe our challenged and gifted students are getting better services this year than they ever have in the past. This past week the district calendar committee met to put together a proposal for our board of education to consider for the 2013-14 school year. As always, thanks to great pre-committee work by Director of Instruction Lori Cooper, the process went smoothly. It is looking like kids will start school on Monday August 12. We'll have a week-long break at Thanksgiving, the usual two weeks over the winter holidays, and our spring break should line up with all the other districts in the San Luis Valley (last week of March). Our last day of school for kids should be Thursday, May 22. I would also like to thank Center High School science teacher Russ Braiden for agreeing to chair the committee and coordinate the process. On Thursday I had the opportunity to stumble upon a bunch of Skoglund Middle School students being treated to a Dairy Queen lunch by Mrs. Zimmerman. It seems they were Skoglund Spotlight Students
for the month of March. I would like to congratulate them for their accomplishment, but I also want to thank Mrs. Zimmerman for the care she takes to honor our kids who are doing great things. Finally I would like to take a moment this week to praise and show appreciation for our building secretarial staff. Marsha Felmlee and Debra Lujan manage the Skoglund Middle School and Center High School office while Brenda Montoya and Lupita Ortega do this for Haskin Elementary School. These ladies continually do a great job communicating with our community, supporting our teachers so they can focus on instruction, solving problems so our principals can spend time supporting teachers, and keeping track of kids through attendance, scheduling and grading processes. Our buildings are great places to be and this is due in great part to the wonderful work our office staff does! The past week We had a bit of a short work week, only having students from Wednesday through Friday. On Tuesday, I was in Denver for a Colorado Safe Schools Resource Center Advisory Board meeting. On Wednesday, I spent quite a bit of time in the buildings, but also went to Alamosa to learn more about how our district can prepare students for upcoming job opportunities that could be the result of the construction of the proposed Solar Reserve electrical generation plant in the northeast portion of our district. We also had a board of education work session on Wednesday evening during which our board directors spent some time learning how to utilize their laptops and iPads for the conduct of board work. On Thursday I spent time in classrooms. On Friday I conducted Race to the top of the Valley work, while also working on technology planning financial projects. Big things we are working on The biggest things we are working on right now are the development of the 2013-14 school year calendar, and our 2013-14 academic improvement plan.
KEEPING OUR FOCUS BY GEORGE WELSH We'll begin building the improvement plan this coming Wednesday when our District Leadership Team gets together to meet. The coming week On Monday I will spend a lot of time in buildings while also taking a late afternoon-evening trip to Colorado Springs to watch Daniel Newmyer receive his Alan Shepard Technology in Education award. I'll be back in the Valley on Tuesday for our monthly Superintendent Advisory Council meeting, our District Accountability Committee meeting, and our regular monthly Board of Education meeting. Wednesday is an early release day for students, while teachers will be working in Professional Learning Communities. I will attend an All Valley Teacher of the Year selection committee meeting on Wednesday evening. On Thursday I, will attend an Even Start board meeting in Alamosa, and our District Leadership Team meeting in Center. On Friday I, will be in Denver to meet with the Colorado Legacy Foundation about our San Luis Valley Extended Learning Opportunities grant, and then I will attend the Colorado Association of School Executives Legislative committee meeting in the afternoon. The major focus of this meeting will be the revised school finance act.
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Volume 112, Number 16
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Center insurance pool assigns lawyer BY TERESA L. BENNS
CENTER – Those acting as election judges for the March 19 Center recall election were Marie Barela and Adeline Sanchez of Center, Linda Howard from Alamosa and Creede Town Clerk Rand DePriest.
Trout Unlimited meeting April 27 ALAMOSA—The San Luis Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited will hold itsAnnual BenefitAuction on Saturday, April 27 at the Ramada in Alamosa. Doors open at 6 p.m. for preview of auction items and the auction begins at 7 p.m. There is a $5 admission fee that includes appetizers. A cash bar is available. There will be great deals on artwork by local artists, fishing trips, fishing gear, and much more. Please come support us and bring a friend the auction is always lots of fun and there are great deals. Trout Unlimited’s mission is to conserve, protect and restore North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Any questions may be directed to 378-2751.
CENTER — Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg said M o n d a y, d u r i n g a t e l e p h o n e interview, the town has been assigned an attorney to answer the recent election contest filed last Friday by (trustee) Moe Jones and Aspen-based Citizen Center. The Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency, (CIRSA), is Center’s current insurance carrier. The group is a public entity selfinsurance pool comprised of over 150 municipalities throughout Colorado. CIRSA has assigned attorney Steven Dawes (Light, Kelly and Dawes, practicing local government law in Denver) to
represent the town and town clerk and treasurer Christian Samora, and contestees Herman Sisneros, (mayor-elect), Geraldine Martinez and Edward Garcia II. The town has to first meet its $25,000 deductible with CIRSA before any legal expenses are covered. The deductible which could be used to help cover expenses for the contestees, and representation of the contestees by CIRSA/Dawes, has raised protests from (recalled) trustees Moe Jones and John Faron, also (former) mayor Susan Banning. “If we go back to the lawsuit for the 2008 election, the town didn’t cover my expenses or Julio (Paez’) even though we had been elected
as trustees,” Banning objected. “So why would they cover candidates who haven’t even proven they are elected yet?” Others have remarked that trustees questionably recalled actually have a stronger case for representation by the town than the contestees, since elections in 2010 and 2012 were never contested or even questioned. Both those “recalled” and those purportedly “elected” appear to be equally in limbo, they said, since neither side knows yet who really won the election. Banning observed that when the town used CIRSA during her Please see LAWYER on Page 3A
Little toy, big decision
Mark addresses Center residents on lawsuit BY TERESA L. BENNS
strongly expressed his opposition to the bill, supported by the Colorado County Clerks Association, (CCCA). Last week he told the Colorado Statesman that the clerks were behaving secretively in crafting the bill, accusing them of “hiding from their constituents.” Both Gessler and State Republican Party Chair Ryan Call voiced fears that the bill would create the potential for election fraud. In their testimony, Welsh, Paez and Jones all used examples of incidents during Center elections to illustrate
CENTER — Aspen election integrity advocate Marilyn Marks addressed a crowd of approximately 30 Center residents last week to explain the whys and wherefores of the election contest filed in Saguache District Court April 6. Marks’ Citizen Center non-profit organization is named as a co-plaintiff in the suit against the town of Center filed by (former) trustee Moe Jones. (Former) mayor Susan Banning acted as moderator for the event. Marks went through a detailed but straightforward PowerPoint presentation, using illustrations to outline each problem that occurred during the election. Some of the subjects covered in the presentation can be found below. Goals of lawsuit The plaintiffs ask the court to declare the election “void” and let the people decide on their government. They request a new election with an easy-to-understand ballot, voter privacy, secret ballots, no pressure on voters and guaranteed security of the ballots. Marks then reminded those attending the meeting that Mayor Banning was recalled by 33 votes, Trustee John Faron by 43 votes and Jones by 34 votes. Trustee Paez was retained by nine votes. Approximately 475 voted in the election. Marks reminded the audience that while over half of those voting at the polls opposed the recall, nearly two-thirds of those voting by absentee ballot supported it. “Why the discrepancy?” she asked. Ballot irregularities Some 53 voter signatures were declared unverifiable, she pointed out and almost 100 voters did not confirm their Center address. A total of 301 ballots were hand delivered without records of where they came form. Absentee ballots were mishandled —
Please see TESTIFY on Page 8A
Please see LAWSUIT on Page 3A
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday A 20 percent chance of snow. Partly sunny, with a high near 40. North wind 5 to 15 mph. Thursday night Mostly clear, with a low around 15. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 53. West northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Friday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 23. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 56. West wind 5 to 15 mph. Saturdaynight artly cloudy, with a low around 25. West northwest wind 10 to 15 mph decreasing to 5 to 10 mph after midnight. Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 58. West wind 5 to 15 mph. Sunday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 26. West wind 5 to 15 mph. Monday Mostly sunny, with a high near 59. West northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.
Photo by Teresa Benns
Blue Earth Thrift and Mercantile proprietor, Beth Brown, helps 19-month-old Tristen Benns select a toy from the newly-opened thrift shop's collection.
Saguache County residents testify BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — With the Center election suit as a constant reminder of what can happen with mail-in ballots, several Saguache County residents braved stormy conditions Monday to travel to Denver to testify before the State Legislature. The 100-page bill, SB 1303, would allow same-day registration for Colorado voters and reduce elections statewide to an all-mail-in ballot affair. The legislation passed the House’s State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee by a 7-4 vote Monday evening, split down
partly lines, following over seven hours of testimony. Center Schools Superintendent George Welsh, (former) Center town Trustee Moe Jones, Center Trustee Julio Paez and Crestone Independent Lisa Cyriacks were among those who testified against the bill. The proposed bill would allow everyone to be listed as permanent mail-in voter, would permit inactive/ failed-to-vote individuals to receive mail-in ballots, promotes same-day voter registration and would overhaul the voting system. Secretary of State Scott Gessler has
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Continued from Page 1A tenure as mayor, no decisions about the coverage were ever made outside a regular or special meeting. Yet, Neuerburg said Monday that Dawes would hold a teleconference executive session meeting with board members, and the defendants in the case, to discuss strategy. When asked if the board would appear at a meeting to vote on any decisions made, Neuerburg replied that there would be “no decisions for the board to make.” “But CIRSA doesn’t operate that way,” Banning countered. She added that Dawes and CIRSA representing the contestees in the suit seems to her to be a clear conflict of interest where the town is concerned. During the status conference held Tuesday morning, Judge Martin Gonzales issued a summons requiring the town of Center “to file with the Clerk of this Court an answer or other response to the attached Verified Election Contest Filing Statement… within 10 days from April 16" per state statute. The town of Center’s attorney, Steven Dawes did not call in for the conference. The Plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Baines said he would file a motion for the judge to halt all major decisionmaking by the town board contestees to prevent “major decisions [by the previous board] from being unwound or any critical decisions from being made” prior to the judge’s ruling on the matter. Judge Gonzales said he would consider the motion. Legal opinions Denver attorney Luis Toro is the director for a state-based project of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) watchdog group that holds public officials and organizations legally accountable for unethical activities that undermine the integrity of government in Colorado. Toro commented, last week during a telephone interview, that while representing the contestees may appear to be a conflict, “It’s actually not a conflict yet, it is only a potential conflict.” Toro went on to explain that there are two types of conflicts, waivable and unwaivable. He said
Continued from Page 1A it appears that in Center’s situation the conflict falls within the waivable category, “the kind that lawyers can explain and waive for the protection of the client because there is not a clear and present conflict.” Another attorney asked to comment on the suit (provided s/he not be named) pointed out that “Insurance companies are contractually obligated for what is covered in the policy. They will cooperate on the basis of presumption that the election is legal until it is overturned. The (contestees) can be privy to discussions between the town and its attorney and can discuss legal matters in executive session. But if the town is found to have conducted an illegal election, that [potentiality] may not be listed under their coverage [as compensable].” The attorney then went on to comment that should this be the case, Center “may be left holding the bag for everything.” A costly suit that taxes the town is something Jones and Citizen Center would like to avoid, but feel they may not be able to prevent. “If the contestees are allowed make the decision for the town on how hard and long to fight in court, they are likely making expensive decisions affecting the town’s coffers that benefit them as individuals and are contrary to the best interest of the town,” Marilyn Marks said. Marks also noted that the events in litigation occurred before the contestees assumed office. “How could the insurance company cover these individuals for events that occurred even before they assumed their positions?” she queried. Last Thursday, during a meeting with Center residents, Marks expressed the hope that the suit could be settled quickly with a new election or some other compromise to save the town money on legal cost and the courts’ time. She cautioned that the trustees could easily run up legal bills in a losing battle and leave the town stuck with the cost. She also disagreed with Toro, insisting that the representation of the contestees by the town’s insurance attorneys constitutes a conflict of interest.
Page 3A mishandling. Voting at the polls is a far more secure way of doing things.” Mona Garcia — “I applaud you [Marks]. We need to stay away from absentee ballots. The ballots need to be inspected and the right thing done. I took in my ballot, dropped it off and nobody looked at it. Anyone could do that.” John Faron — “When Mark Garcia was the town administrator he marked who, the time and date, put the name on the ballot so everything was legal.” Mitch Garcia — “Two elections ago some very questionable things happened. This is unjust — absentee ballots have always been a problem. I really applaud your [Marks’] efforts. I oppose all mail-in ballots and hope this lawsuit is successful.” Town clerk Nadine Bocock — “Who hired the
town clerk?” Susan Banning — “Mayor Sanchez and the town.” Adeline Sanchez — “I had no vote as mayor.” Moe Jones — “Mark Garcia was the town administrator who reviewed the applications with the board and hired Christian.” Mitch Garcia — “I encourage the town to take disciplinary action against Mr. Samora and anyone else” who didn’t follow the laws. “We should be concerned as citizens and forget about pointing fingers We need to solve the problem.” During the meeting, Banning had to remind citizens several times to wait their turn to speak. A brief scuffle as citizens exited the event was quickly resolved by Center Police.
they were opened with the numbers still on the ballots. Many of the affirmations on the back side of the ballots were not properly completed. “The Colorado Supreme Court in 1964 said it is the ‘duty of the court’ to void an election if the ballots are numbered and identifiable to the voter, (Taylor v. Pile),” Marks said. “Voiding an election would set aside the March recall election. The court may order a new election.” What do Jones and Citizen Center want? • a prompt resolution • to keep town costs at a minimum • a new fair election • the voters’ will honored • the town to voluntarily ask the court to void the election and hold a new election. Residents respond On ballots, residency: Audrey (Teresa) Chavez —“I have assisted voters in voting for years. [And leaving the ballots out with their numbers showing] was a valid mistake.” Bill McClure — “What about the intent to return, what if I am a student and go to college?" Moe Jones — “If you don’t live in town you shouldn’t vote. Your domicile can’t be in another county. Photo by Teresa Benns Some moved to other places in town Marilyn Marks, Center Trustee Peggy Martinez and Crestone resident and didn’t change their address.” Lisa Cyriacks speak to a Center voter following the Thursday night Peggy Martinez — “Everybody informational meeting. has the opportunity to change their address [when they move].” Absentee ballots Bill McClure — [To Marks]: “You’re trying to deprive the citizens of Colorado of the right to vote by absentee ballot. We have voted absentee ballots here since the 1970s because of working conditions, the weather and so on. I went into the polls three times to check on things. They had to challenge the ballots before the election was counted, not after they lost.” Marks explained that she believes absentee ballots are necessary to prevent disenfranchisement of voters and supports the voters’ right to use them She said however that with absentee ballots there is “far more opportunity for mischief, fraud and
Thursday, April 18, 2013
OPINION Know the law or pay the price It is a general principal in all law based on Roman law, which provides the foundation for the American legal system, that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Cities, states and nations all make laws to maintain order and to promote best practices in government, and citizens and government officials alike are expected to know the law. Lawlessness, corruption and attack from within and without have resulted in chaos, anarchy and government dissolution from the beginning of time. It was what eventually toppled the Roman Empire, but long before that the decline in morals and tendency to debauchery; the love of ease and sporting events, also the lessening of regard for learning had set the stage for the final act and the last curtain call. Americans are facing a similar crisis across the nation and it all begins with a forgetfulness of the purpose the law serves in keeping the wheels of government and society well-oiled and running smoothly. Government officials and citizens alike contribute to this problem and the result is disastrous. If we want to know what happened in the elections held in Saguache in 2010 and last month in Center, the answer is that those charged with overseeing these important exercises in democracy failed to sufficiently educate themselves election law. In Centerâ€™s case these laws are found in the Municipal Election Code. Trustees rely on the town clerk, the town manager and the town attorney to point these laws out to them as issues arise with the board so they may clarify/comply with the law. In the election process, they also rely on judges and to a lesser extent watchers to guarantee that the laws are followed and no abuse is tolerated. But the Municipal Code, of course, deals with things other than just election law. When new trustees were elected in 2010 and a new mayor in 2012, it soon became clear that a great deal of cleanup was needed in the townâ€™s financial and governmental processes to bring them into the 21st century and finally embark on some badly needed upgrades. Hiring guidelines and employee manuals needed to be written. The entire collection of town ordinances and resolutions had to be codified and for years officials struggled just to find them all. Many infrastructural improvements needed to be made to the townâ€™s utilities. In other words,
MY TWO CENTS By TERESA BENNS
they had their hands full. For two consecutive elections, Alamosa officials presided and things went smoothly. But the election laws were not reviewed and adapted as they should have been to Centerâ€™s needs, despite past problems. Some believed the town clerk was keeping abreast of the matter, but apparently this was not the case. The March election proved that despite persistent problems, few lessons had been learned. And what resulted is not â€œjust politics,â€? as one town official commented recently â€” it is a clear-cut case of failure to supervise on several levels, to take the law seriously, and to follow it to the letter. Many believed that the best interests of the town were at stake in this recall. So hands full or not, they should have performed their due diligence to see that those interests were protected. That one (former) trustee (supported by those recalled and other current trustees) is taking accountability by trying to set things right should tell voters who is watching out for them. To trivialize what is not only a difficult but an expensive stand to take by reducing it to political motives is first a disservice to those trying to follow the law. Secondly, it is, perhaps, an attempt to minimize the guilt of others who should have prevented this recurring debacle. Nice try, but ignorance of the law is no excuse. And as the details of the recent complaint filed against the town of Center play out, the true extent of that ignorance will become increasingly clear. Regardless of the outcome, responsible change should not be ending, but only beginning in Center.
Talking about it As the Kid gets older, the talks get tougher. There are complicated discussions about the dealings between boys and girls, what we are doing here and where we go when weâ€™re done. Generally, Iâ€™ve been able to take those conversations pretty slowly. Working through different possibilities and trying to figure out what he really wants to know when he asks questions about life, love and all of those hard to understand topics. But when tragedies happen, especially to children, those talks get even harder. Like many people, I find that I just donâ€™t know how to assure him that the world is a safe place, and that he is safe when a child, about his age, is killed while hanging out with his family. It is such a simple thing, going to the Boston Marathon shouldnâ€™t be any more dangerous than going to school each day. But I canâ€™t even point to that, because he can remember so recently how 22 children werenâ€™t safe at school. The Mayo Clinic, CNN and just about everyone else with a website
has suggestions on how to have those conversations. Those are great tools, and I think we should certainly use them in the conversations. It seems that a large part of those suggestions work to keep our children from feeling afraid. I donâ€™t want the Kid to be afraid for his own safety, but I canâ€™t help but think of how scared I would have been. When I was nine years old, I canâ€™t remember things like this happening. For me school was always a safe place and I can even remember people saying that my generation would never see war. I canâ€™t imagine what my parents would have said or what my other family members would have said. I suppose the biggest thing is that we are talking to the children and that they know its okay to be afraid. Iâ€™m afraid; not just of the possibility that more people, children, will be lost in these types of tragedies, but of the effect they may have on my child in the future. I donâ€™t doubt that my son will still grow up with hope and love in his life. Iâ€™m not giving up on my faith in
THE LONG STORY SHORT BY TONI STEFFENS-STEWARD the future, I still believe that people are good, but there are things that make me worry. Hopefully there will come a time when we learn from these tragedies. Not just how to prevent them at the last minute or by becoming so safety conscious that we lose freedoms. I hope that we can make fundamental changes and have meaningful conversations that bring us to a more peaceful world. Toni Steffens-Steward is the managing editor at Valley Publishing. She can be reached at ValleyPubs@ amigo.net.
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Volume 112, Number 17
Shorts Registration planned CENTER — Registration for kindergarten and pre-school students will be held at Haskin Elementary April 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. Parents or guardians are asked to bring their child’s birth certificate, immunization records and social security card. Pre-schoolers must be four years old on or before June 1 and kindergartners must be 5 before June 1 to register. Children currently in pre-school will be automatically registered into kindergarten, so parents do not have to come to register them. For more information call 754-3982.
Students host bingo SAGUACHE—Mountain Valley School students invite parents and interested adults to a fun night of Prevention BINGO on May 1, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Mountain Valley School gym in Saguache. Healthy snacks will be provided. The evening will be fun and engaging for all. Prizes will be awarded to winners. The evening is made possible through the support of The Saguache County Sales Tax grant, Saguache County Prevention Partners, Get Healthy SLV and Mountain Valley School’s eighth grade health class and high school chemistry class.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Judge declines state's offer to intervene BY TERESA L. BENNS SAGUACHE — Judge Martin Gonzales turned down an offer by the State Attorney General’s Office Tuesday for the secretary of state to act as a special master to investigate the election irregularities reported in the recent Center recall election. Matthew D. Grove, assistant attorney general tendered the offer explaining that, “the secretary anticipates that the expertise of his office could assist the court by conducting an independent investigation and submitting the results of that investigation to the Court.” Gonzales told the attorneys that they would need to conduct their own investigations.
Working his way through a pile of motions filed by both sides, Gonzales decided to accept a new procedural timeline filed by McGuire and Baines, attorneys for the plaintiffs. He also separated the proceedings into both a hearing and a trial, per the motion made by Steven Dawes on behalf of the town of Center. In his motion for separation of the sixth claim for relief requested by the plaintiffs, Dawes objected that it is not related to the other claims and requires a separate trial: “The Sixth Claim for Relief…alleges different relief. It is not brought under the Election Contest statute; rather, it is brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and alleges entitlement to damages for violation
of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. “Defendants and defendantscontestees are entitled to a jury trial on the sixth claim for relief and will be including a Jury Demand in their answer. Defendants and defendantscontestees also seek the opportunity to file a motion for summary judgment on the sixth claim for relief.” The trial is set for the first week in June. Gonzales also denied a motion by the defense that a $10,000 cost bond be posted by the plaintiffs. He then was informed of a motion made by McGuire and Baines that Attorney Dawes be disqualified or restricted in Please see JUDGE on Page 12A
middle school receive healthy school awards
The letter written by the group of purportedly” recalled trustees/mayor and the two current trustees states that: “Colorado Municipal Election Law (Title 31) allows a person to assume municipal elected office in a contested election only after the court has rendered judgment and declared the person so elected, and he has met the qualifications for office, (CRS 31-10-1307). The court has made no such judgment or declaration in this pending matter. The actions of the
CENTER — On April 17 the Colorado Legacy Foundation (CLF) recognized Center High School and Skoglund Middle Schools as 2013 Healthy School Champions at the Healthy Schools and Integration Summit. "The Colorado Legacy Foundation recognizes the demonstrated link between student health and academic achievement," said Dr. Helayne Jones, president and CEO of the Colorado Legacy Foundation. "This is a great opportunity to award healthy schools that have taken the necessary step to promote positive health and wellness for students in Colorado." Thirty-four schools from across Colorado were to be awarded a total of $42,500 based on the results of the Healthy School Champions' Score Card. The Score Card is a voluntary, online self-assessment tool designed to measure best practices in the eight Coordinated School Health components. The Summit is sponsored by the Colorado Health Foundation and hosted in partnership with the Colorado Coalition for Healthy Schools, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Colorado Department of Education. "Our receipt of this recognition is evidence that Center Schools understands that in order to increase student achievement we must also focus on student health and wellness," said Center Schools superintendent George Welsh. Center High School and Skoglund Middle School each received a $2,500 award and a healthy schools champion banner. The Colorado Legacy Foundation (CLF) is an independent nonprofit working in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and public education
Please see COMPLAIN on Page 3A
Please see AWARD on Page 3A
LA VETA – Center High School will play a double-header when they travel to La Veta on April 30, announced Center Athletic Director Kevin Jones. They will play John Mall, a makeup game at 3 p.m. Before playing La Veta at 5 p.m. Both games will be played in La Veta.
Thursday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 64. Breezy, with a light and variable wind becoming west southwest 15 to 20 mph in the morning. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Thursday night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 31. West southwest wind 10 to 15 mph becoming light and variable. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 65. Light and variable wind becoming northeast 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon.
Judge Martin Gonzales
Newmyer named Teacher of the Year High school,
HOW'S THE WEATHER?
Daniel Newmyer was selected as SLV teacher of the Year. CENTER — Skoglund Middle School and Center High Schools Math-Science Teacher Daniel Newmyer was named 2012-13 San Luis Valley Teacher of the Year on Wednesday evening in Alamosa. Newmyer, originally a well driller, has been teaching for the
past seven years, his last four in the Center Consolidated School District. “He was singled out to receive this award because he clearly demonstrates a passion for his subjects and continually encourages his students to challenge themselves by competing in
science and engineering fairs at all possible levels," said Center Schools Supertindent. George Welsh said. Additionally through his nomination submission, Newmyer Please see TEACHER on Page 12A
Trustees complain to insurance company BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Two current trustees, two recently displaced trustees and Center’s (former) mayor registered a letter of complaint recently with the town of Center’s insurance carrier, CIRSA. The letter was addressed to CIRSA director Tami Tanoue. Moe Jones, John Faron, Susan Banning, Peggy Martinez and Julio Paez signed the letter. CIRSA (Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency) is a public entity, self-insurance pool
comprised of over 150 municipalities throughout Colorado. The group recently assigned one of its attorneys, Steven Dawes of Light, Kelly and Dawes to represent, not only the town and Clerk/Treasurer Christian Samora but the two recently elected as trustees — Geraldine Martinez and Ed Garcia II — also Mayor Herman Sisneros. A suit filed earlier this month by Moe Jones and Citizen Center in Saguache District Court describe the three currently serving as mayor and trustees as “contestees.”
Thursday, April 25, 2013
COMPLAIN Continued from Page 1A
contestees purported to be official actions, including actions related to CIRSA coverage, are unauthorized and should be reviewed.” Based on this assumption, the group contends that, “the decision to seek CIRSA insurance coverage in this matter was made in private sessions with some of the contestees without the knowledge of the two belowsigned continuing trustees [Paez and Martinez]. Those contestees involved in the town’s decision-making have a personal stake in the outcome of those decisions, and we are dismayed that CIRSA, the town and Mr. Dawes are taking direction from those who have a clear conflict of interest.” Ordinarily, when matters involving a vote present a conflict of interest for
Julio Paez particular board members, the law requires that those possessing the conflict recuse themselves (abstain from voting). The mayor is allowed to vote in Center, and so three members of the voting board would have been excluded from voting, leaving three members to decide whether the other three contestees should seek CIRSA coverage. Instead, four board members alone apparently made the decision to accept the coverage, yet no known public meeting was called nor was an executive session held reflecting such a decision. “The town and its attorney should be agnostic as to which candidates will hold office after the court decides the election contest,” the letter signers observed. “Effectively the town and CIRSA have chosen sides and are investing town resources to provide personal legal defense counsel for the three contestees in a strategy to fight a protracted and unnecessary legal battle to put the contestees in office. We ask CIRSA to review the situation in more depth.” Because the town currently is without an attorney, who was to be fired by the board April 1, and a
Continued from Page 1A stakeholders to accelerate bold improvements in student achievement through innovation, collaboration, and capacity building. CLF believes that increased student achievement for all Colorado students requires effective leaders in every school, effective educators in every classroom, and healthy and engaging environments that ignite a passion for learning in every student. CLF equips teachers, leaders, and organizations with the knowledge, tools, guidance, and resources to drive improvement outcomes while creating the conditions to innovate together, share knowledge, and explore new possibilities. CLF works to accelerate the achievement of a high-quality K-12 educational system that ensures the success of every educator, leader and student.
Peggy Martinez resignation was accepted from him April 2, any measures requiring legal analysis are not being evaluated. The letter signers conclude: “We believe that contestees should not have attempted to assume office prior to the resolution of the recount and the election contest, and the judgment of the court, and that any actions taken by them are improper and of no legal effect.” Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg was asked to comment on this matter via e-mail Monday but declined. Questions were referred to the town’s attorney. Plaintiffs file motion to disqualify Dawes Robert McGuire and Jeff Baines, representing Jones and Citizen Center in the election contest suit, registered a request with Judge Martin Gonzales Monday that Dawes be disqualified or restricted in representing the contestees/purported recall election winners in the case. The attorneys pled that Dawes cannot both represent the town and contestees at the same time without creating a conflict of interest. The motion to disqualify cites the following statute: “[S]imultaneous representation of parties whose interests in litigation may conflict, such as co-plaintiffs or co-defendants, is governed by paragraph (a)(2) [of Rule 1.7],” C.R.P.C. 1.7, Note 23, which provides that “[a] concurrent conflict of interest exists if… there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer, (C.R.P.C. 1.7(a)(2).
“The town’s strategy in this litigation, as well as its strategy in considering settlement overtures, is apparently being formulated with input from Sisneros, Garcia and Martinez in their capacities as the purported newly elected mayor and trustees of the town.1 Such input is improper under section 31-4-404 because the Defendants-Contestees each have a personal or private interest, namely their interest in retaining the purported elective positions, that will necessarily be impacted by the scope of the town’s litigation positions adopted in defense of the election and Recount. “Plaintiffs-Contestors have learned that Peggy Martinez, a trustee of the town and a member of PlaintiffContestor Citizen Center – who, ironically, is one of the persons least conflicted in this action, since she was neither recalled from nor installed in office at the Election and Recount – has been advised by Town Administrator Forrest Neuerberg that she will be forced to abstain, as a result of her membership in Citizen Center, from participation in any discussion of this case by the board of trustees of the town. “This position is peculiar, as the town administrator appears to exclude from the town’s decision making one of only three trustees whose authority is not in legal dispute on the basis of an exaggerated conflict, while at the same time ignoring or failing to perceive a far more significant and direct conflict on the part of the Defendants-Contestees.” Gonzales will rule on the motion next Monday.
State queries Town of Center on meter law compliance By Teresa L. Benns CENTER — The newly reorganized Center Town Board may think that their water problems are under control, but the state legislature apparently has their eye on what the town is doing to resolve its water issues. Brooke Maddaford, working for the Colorado Legislative Council, (the non-partisan research and committee staffing division of the Colorado General Assembly) recently e-mailed mayor pro-tem Peggy Martinez to see where Center is at in its plans to upgrade the water tower and install water meters. She asked Martinez a series of questions regarding what kind of progress the town has made in implementing its upgrades. The questions asked were: 1) I recently learned that the town of Center residents do not have water meters at their residences' but are instead charged a flat rate that averages $30.15 per month per residence for their water usage. Can you please confirm this? 2) Does the town of Center plan to require the installation of water meters on residents' property per the Water Metering Act? If not, may I ask why? Some water meters have been installed. Those who “won” the recall election campaigned on the platform that the town was too poor to afford water rate increases and meter installation. The newly reorganized board has not yet announced any plans concerning installing the meters. 3) Has the town of Center been cited regarding backflow preventers? Please describe any citations. The recall committee members
filed a lawsuit to stop the water tower project that would incorporate backflow preventers. At one point Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg said the water tower project now could be delayed as long as 2015. It is not known if the town has any citations for not using the preventers. 4) What kinds of water conservation methods does the town of Center currently employ? Watering restrictions have been in place for the town for many years. It is not known what other conservation measures may be in place. Water meter, water tower history Water meters must be installed to comply with state law as the actual installation deadline passed in 2009. Backflow devices to prevent contamination of the town’s water supply, which would be updated if a new water tower for the town could be installed, also are mandated by the state. Failing to meet backflow requirements could result in hefty fines for the town. At a Sept. 4, 2012 board meeting, Trustee Peggy Martinez produced a letter from former utility supervisor Kelly Stone stating that if the meters were not installed, the town would be fined. Extensive research on the matter shows that while the statute requiring water meters is in effect, there is presently no functioning regulatory agency to actually enforce the law. However for the past several years, the town has proceeded on the assumption that the statute must be complied with. At the same meeting Neuerburg commented that former utility Please see METER on Page 8A
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Continued from Page 8A that a special investigator will be appointed at a later date to investigate the situation in Saguache, Marks and Cyriacks said. Saguache County elections continue to be improperly run The 2012 General Election in Saguache has become the proving ground for making the case that elections in Colorado are not run according to the requirements under HAVA and the corresponding state laws and rules that are meant to ensure fair elections. According to standards set by the Secretary of State based on HAVA, "all [software] systems" must be able to produce "a consolidated printed report of the results for each contest of all votes cast" for
Continued from Page 1A representing the contestees/ purported recall election winners in the case. The attorneys are objecting that Dawes cannot both represent the town and contestees at the same time without creating a conflict of interest. Attorney Dawes said he had not read the motion and Gonzales said he had not seen or read the motion either, asking to be given additional time to consider it. He then scheduled another status conference for next Monday afternoon.
Continued from Page 1A was able to provide evidence of his ability to effectively teach to a curriculum aligned to state standards, to engage all students in learning, and to measure student learning on a daily basis. Through Newmyer’s position in the Center School District he has personally applied for and secured tens of thousands of dollars worth of grants that have allowed Center students the opportunity to compete in local, state, national, and international science and engineering fairs. “Mr. Newmyer is not only an outstanding teacher, he is a tenacious competitor,” Center High School principal Kevin Jones said. “He not only guides his students to participate in competitions, he helps them to win!” “Because of Daniel’s influence, Center High School has become one of the premier science, technology, engineering and math institutions in the state of Colorado,” Welsh added. The San Luis Valley Teacher of the Year award is presented annually by the San Luis Valley BOCES. Newmyer is the third Center Schools teacher to win this award since the contest was established. Susan Banning won the 1999-2000 award representing Haskin Elementary School and Shirley Atencio won the 2010-11 award representing Skoglund Middle School.
Continued from Page 5A engaged in unethical and possible illegal activity. They paid many unwelcome visits to voters at their home to unduly influence them. They did the same thing to their employees. And they also did the same thing to people who reside in public housing or rentals. “People who voted by secret ballot in the polling place in Center voted NO for the recall by large margins, and the mail ballot voters subject to sometimes undue influence voted YES for the recall. Once everyone gets a mail ballot in their mailbox, in some communities like mine, the bad guys will be there to intimidate them. They don’t get to say, “I don’t get a mail ballot. I go to the polls.”
each election, including undervotes (occurs when there is no vote cast in that race) and overvotes (when more votes than allowed are cast in that race), as well as "the count of ballots from other sources supported by the system as specified by the vendor." The Saguache vote tabulation system supplied by ES&S did not do this. Saguache elections have become a proving ground for Colorado’s n o n c o m p l i a n c e w i t h H AVA requirements because: The 2012, like the 2010 general election, did not produce an audit trail verifying that all the votes cast in the election were counted. Errors in the tabulation occurred resulting in reporting of inaccurate
results (this was verified by the SOS investigation). The combination of machines used in the Saguache 2012 General Election (and 2012 Primary Election) did not meet the certification requirements of HAVA or the SOS rules including the use of the Unity software required to be used in conjunction with the M-110 vote tabulation machine. The same was also true of the M650 vote tabulator used in 2010. This combination of machines resulted in violations of a voter's Photo by Teresa Benns right to privacy in the use of the Direct Recording Equipment Voting Saguache County Clerk Carla Gomez chats with Deputy Secretary of Systems. (Lisa Cyriacks contributed to this State Suzanne Staiert during her visit to Saguache County last year. Staiert conducted the HAVA hearing April 3 in Denver. article.)
Dear readers this month, the County would like to share more on two topics we get asked about: Reappraisal FAQ On Tuesday, April 16, State of BY WENDI MAEZ Colorado Division of Property Taxation Saguache County Project Manager Curtis Belcher and Saguache County Assessor Jackie Stephens gave an update on the reappraisal project. According to their report, 8782 properties were reviewed for the Reappraisal Orders. The last of approximately 350 special notices of valuations are being mailed to property owners who had not been previously assessed for structures built on their land. According to state law, the property owner is responsible for the past two years of taxes that were omitted from the tax roll. Property owners have 30 days to file a protest if they do not agree with the value of their property. Once a final value has been established for the account, the property owner receives a notification with the amount of taxes due, less the amount they had previously paid for the tax year. A contract is being offered by the Saguache County Treasurer for a 24-month payment plan without penalty and/or interest. Gunnison Sage Grouse - endangered? U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed to list the Gunnison Sage Grouse as an endangered species, and to designate critical habitat (occupied and unoccupied) to be protected. Final decision is slated for September 2013. Saguache County is home to this species of grouse, in two greatly differing areas. Ours are the east-most populations, with habitat and birds extending on west into Utah. The Gunnison Basin population resides in the northwestern portion of Saguache County, with the bulk of that habitat and grouse population in Gunnison County. This population has shown a steady trend of stability and growth in numbers, above thresholds warranting endangered listing. Collaborative efforts have long been in progress through the Gunnison Sage Grouse Strategic Conservation Committee, convened by Gunnison County. Inclusive of multiple public lands agencies, community members from environmental/recreation groups, the business community, stock growers, and reps. of the two counties, this group has made significant progress in developing plans, and implementing measures to protect the bird - that reflect success. Grouse also dwell in Saguache County’s Poncha Pass area. For many years, private property owners there have learned about this unusual resource and taken care to steward their land and operations accordingly, connecting through the Gunnison Sage Grouse Poncha Pass Working Group. It is these outlier populations of grouse, at Poncha and in other more westerly counties that are the concern - small in numbers, more vulnerable, less resilient. At Poncha, the current multi-year drought has been devastating to habitat and ranching, with no end in sight. With only two private property owners within the most critical six tenths of a mile of the one known “lek” (grouse mating area), residential growth and habitat fragmentation, concerns cited by USFWS, are not really the issue. Degradation of habitat due to drought, lack of genetic diversity for a robust population, and lack of resources being applied to solve these issues are the real threats to the ongoing presence of Gunnison Sage Grouse at Poncha Pass. Saguache County’s Planning Commission is studying this issue and reviewing wildlife regulations. Saguache County Commissioners have joined in an alliance and memorandum of understanding with all the counties that would be impacted by the proposed endangered species listing and critical habitat designation as currently stated. Voluminous comments were submitted to FWS, calling into question the adequacy of the science used in their analysis, and, their lack of understanding of current conditions, County powers and efforts in progress. Socioeconomic impacts of listing would be significant to counties and citizens. A study is underway and already appears to be likewise inadequate. When complete, a new comment period will occur. Counties, organizations and citizens will have an opportunity to weigh in again before the final decision. For the Dune Lizard of Texas, also reviewed for endangered listing, FWS ultimately found listing “not warranted.” The key seems to have been enough participation of landowners in establishing conservation easement areas, and, private property owners applying for Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CAA). Such measures ensure that the issue is being addressed locally, and precludes more challenging and complex compliance with Federal procedures in the case of listing. Counties are contesting the quality and accuracy of the FWS analysis, in the first place. Nevertheless, there is a short window for property owners who would be affected to get their conservation easements and CCA’s in place, in case of listing. For more information, please visit: http://www. saguachecounty.net. Contact Land Use Director Wendi Maez at 655-2321, or, firstname.lastname@example.org.
EYE ON THE COUNTY
Saguache commissioner available to answer questions SAGUACHE—Commissioner Jason Anderson wants to remind Saguache County residents that he is available on Monday mornings at the Saguache County Courthouse for those with any questions or concerns. This past Monday, Anderson discussed efforts to implement recording commissioner meetings.
He said commissioners will do a test run of their current equipment to make sure sound quality is good enough to ensure easily understandable recordings. Anderson also reported that he had attended a Colorado County Commissioners Inc. meeting recently to hear other county commissioners’
ideas on the all mail-in ballot bill, HB 1303, now before the State Legislature. Other issues of concern discussed included the contest filed over the Center recall election. Those wishing to meet withAnderson can call the clerk’s office on Monday to make sure he is in. The number is 655-2512.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Motions filed in contest BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Attorneys Robert McGuire and Jeff Baines for plaintiffs Moe Jones and Citizen Center, also attorney Steven Dawes for the town of Center have filed additional motions and supplements to the Center election contest suit. Dawes submitted a motion to declare what Baines had described as a “denial” of their proposed discovery schedule to “moot.” They also requested that Judge Martin Gonzales cancel a telephone conference scheduled for Monday at 3:30 p.m. because in an email to Dawes’ office, Baines, at first, listed the time for the conference as 3 p.m. not 3:30 p.m. Baines called to correct the error within 20 minutes, according to sources close to the attorney. Baines added supplemental information to his motion to disqualify Dawes as the attorney for defendants/ contestees. The three candidates elected in the recall are listed as filed against individually by the plaintiffs. Baines objected that their representation by the town attorney at the same time he is representing the town of Center is a conflict of interest. He requested that the contestees be separated from representation by the town. In support of this he attached two sworn affidavits, one from Trustee Julio Paez and the other from Trustee Peggy Martinez stating that neither trustee was included in numerous decisions made concerning the firing of town attorney Eugene Farish or the public selection of his replacement.
In a private e-mail to Martinez March 30, Trustee Chris Garcia suggested two possible replacements for Farish, asking Martinez which she preferred. Neither of these suggested replacements appeared Thursday evening at the special board meeting held to determine selection of an interim attorney. Nor were Paez or Martinez included in decisions regarding the filing of the CIRSA claim, the approval of the appointed attorney for the case, (Dawes), the waiver of a conflict of interest allowing Dawes to simultaneously represent the contestees or other decisions pertaining to the discussion of the litigation, the affidavits state. Such decisions are usually discussed in either open or executive session. McGuire and Baines also sent a letter to Dawes requesting a litigation hold on any and all written or audio recorded or video recorded materials currently in the possession of the town from March 1 to the end of the litigation process. April 29 status conference Gonzales said Monday he would wait to comment on the defendant’s answer to the suit until the plaintiffs respond to that answer. He also advised the plaintiffs that they should not deal directly with the town of Center but approach the town through its attorneys. Plaintiff Moe Jones delivered a settlement offer to Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg, which Gonzales said should have gone to the attorneys instead.
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Thursday, May 2, 2013
OPINION Great things going on It goes without saying that I should start this week off by congratulating Daniel Newmyer upon taking top honors at last week's SLV Teacher of the Year banquet. Surrounded by great team members and building administrators, and given access to advanced educational technology, Daniel has optimized his circumstances and driven student learning and achievement to higher and higher levels. Congratulations Daniel! Speaking of Daniel, Center High School learned that Class of 2013 member Alexa Lobato is one of this year's recipients of the Daniels Foundation Scholarship (no relation to Daniel Newmyer). This is a very prestigious award and will offer Alexa the opportunity to attend four years of college practically anywhere she chooses to go, and is accepted. Congratulations Alexa! A big thank you goes out to CHS
principal Kevin Jones, Skoglund Middle School principal Carrie Zimmerman and Center schools contracted counselor Katrina Ruggles for setting up an individual merit system that allowed students who have exhibited excellent behavior and academic achievement to attend the 9News Science Day at the Rockies game. Mr. Jones and Mrs. Zimmerman said the kids behaved wonderfully and they even got to see some free baseball as the game went extra innings and the Rocks pulled it out with a walk off hit. I also want to thank Haskin Elementary first grade teacher Kathy Garcia for the expert way she is implementing the use of iPads in her classroom. I had the opportunity to poke into her class last week and saw her students using them to engage in a lesson about how to divide shapes into fractions. What a way to engage kids. Great work Kathy!
Sports for the non-sporting parent
KEEPING OUR FOCUS BY GEORGE WELSH Thank you also to Center High School social studies teacher Scott Poole for arranging to bring in a guest speaker to teach our students about the Holocaust. This is never an Please see FOCUS on Page 5A
Open letter to contestees and Center residents The first few paragraphs of this column are directed to those who supposedly took office following the recent Center recall election. Over the past month, I have watched you dismiss an attorney who helped the town achieve an admirable level of transparency, rehire an interim attorney dismissed three years ago for defending that lack of transparency, hold a host of secret meetings over the phone and in e-mails and conduct an executive session for matters your own attorney (Dawes) clearly stated was not executive session material. Dawes, in his response to the election contest allegations, objects to referencing you as â€œpurportedâ€? mayor and trustees But while he is championing you, you are proving the case for your opposition, and doing it with smirks on your faces. You are your own best advertisement for why Center voters should demand that the courts void this election from the get-go, as the plaintiffs in the election contest suit request. From the first special meeting you held, your total contempt for state laws and meeting protocols and your retaliatory mindset against those you replaced, also the two remaining trustees not in lockstep with your plans, was all too obvious. How can you justify excluding these two trustees from board determinations when they were fairly and squarely elected? And why are some reporting that Center police are â€” once again â€” following citizens and business owners involved in this lawsuit around town, just as they did during the last election lawsuit five years ago? â€œMayorâ€? Sisneros and Trustee Chris Garcia, you both sat through classes given by former town attorney Eugene Farish on the laws governing open meetings, yet you behave as though youâ€™ve never even heard of
the legal obligation to conduct an open meeting. What is it you are so anxious to hide? As noted in a previous editorial, all the progress made over the past few years with the guidance of interim town clerk and manager Mark Garcia and Attorney Farish was handily flushed down the toilet on March 19 when you were â€œelected.â€? The sneers and jibes, cutting remarks made by certain trustees, side conversations in Spanish, unruly and illegal meetings and all the previous chaos that was the hallmark of Center town meetings for years has returned. And the comments below, Center citizens, are for you. When secret meetings and unnecessary executive sessions are the rule, no one in the town ever knows what is being done with their money, on their behalf. Look around your town folks. These are the same elected officials who years ago were crying because they had no money to improve the town, yet found $167,500 to (illegally) purchase the Consaul property they never developed. These are the people who took then Trustee Susanâ€™ Banningâ€™s paychecks from the town, checks she donated back to the town to build a fund for an automatic disabled entry door, and never deposited her contributions into that fund. Banning hoped to help bring the town into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, years after the deadline for such compliance had passed. Instead a cheap outside-to-inside buzzer was installed, and Banning lost hundreds of dollars. So what will they do with your tax money; what rights will you have left if these people remain in office? This is not about politics but performance, and the oath all elected officials are required to take to uphold the State
MY TWO CENTS By TERESA BENNS
In the adventure of parenting I have found that I often have to pretend to be interested, or occasionally become actually interested, in a number of things that I would never have imagined. The distance from Earth to the International Space Station, fuel used in the shuttles and Mars Rover designs have been a lot of fun to learn about with the Kid. Some of the concepts important to keeping bridges up and tunnels clear are pretty interesting, for a while. The topic that has mostly caused my eyes to glaze over and my brain to freeze is sports. Luckily for me, we went through years of only minimal interest, so I could get away with my standing knowledge; things like, â€œyes that one is a soccer ball,â€? and â€œthe basketball goes in the net.â€? More recently, though, the Kid has taken a deeper interest in sports. Now he wants to know about the rules and become an engaged player and spectator. When his soccer coach tells him to be a defender, he says â€œOKâ€? and knows where to go on the field. Maybe I missed something, because I donâ€™t remember learning that with him. I donâ€™t remember him walking me through all of the parts of a game and the different positions. If I need to know exactly how long they think it will take for a human being to travel to Mars and how light speed works (really, Iâ€™m not sure I get this one, but I do pretend), then why donâ€™t I need to know what a defender is or when the goalie is allowed to use his or her hands? It did occur to me that my limited knowledge and expressed interest would have kept him from sharing. Of course, if that were the case I wouldnâ€™t know nearly as much as I do about the tires used on semi-trucks.
THE LONG STORY SHORT BY TONI STEFFENS-STEWARD I think he just has plenty of people to talk about sports with. So, when he suddenly understands what people mean when they talk about the upcoming football season, it must mean that the other kids are talking about it. It means, I suppose, that Iâ€™m no longer the only person he is sharing with. What a wonderful, confusing and interesting thing. Through simple observation, I have learned quite a bit about sports, but honestly most of my concern during games is how the Kid feels about it. Iâ€™m still quite convinced that the game was a win if he says, â€œYeah, I had fun,â€? when itâ€™s all over. As far as I have gathered, soccer is a pretty easy game to understand, so that helps, but the next sport he is interested in joining is baseball. I hear that there is a lot of math involved in that, so I guess, Iâ€™ll just have to wait and see. Toni Steffens-Steward is managing editor for Valley Publishing. She can be reached at ValleyPubs@amigo. net.
and U.S. Constitutions. What this election contest lawsuit will demonstrate is that attempts at voter intimidation continue even among potential witnesses poised to testify in this election contest. Nothing has changed since the last questionable election in 2008. Center is still in the grips of those who will see to it that the previous status quo is kept in place at any cost. I would be the first person to welcome newly elected officials who wished only to improve the town, work for the best interests of its citizens and conduct business in this regard with the maximum level of transparency. But that is not the agenda of the â€œgang of fourâ€? now running Center: they have proven it over and over again in the five short weeks they have officiated. Please forgive me, replacement board members, for continuing to hold you as â€œpurportedlyâ€? elected, but your actions leave me no choice. Your dysfunction and betrayal of the electorsâ€™ trust continues to speak so loudly no one can hear what your insurance attorney is saying.
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Board meets to discuss attorney position, lawsuit BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER â€“ During a special meeting Thursday evening, a motion to hire former Center town attorney Michael Trujillo as interim attorney for the town failed for lack of a second. A matter was tentatively scheduled for a special meeting Monday, where the board agreed to hire Trujillo for the position. Trujillo and then town clerk Bill McClure were relieved of their duties in May of 2010. Trujillo had served as the townâ€™s attorney off and on since the 1980s. Former town attorney Eugene Farish tendered his resignation April 2 after members of the reorganized board made it clear that he would be dismissed. Trustee Julio Paez told Mayor-Elect Herman Sisneros that the decision to hire an interim attorney should be delayed until after the current requests for proposals expires April 30. Paez said if there is still no response by Monday, then hiring an interim attorney should be considered by the entire board. Trustees Ed Garcia II and Chris Garcia were not present for the first part of the meeting to consider the appointment. Following the failed motion the board, Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg and Town Clerk/Treasurer Christian Samora, also Trustees Ed
Garcia II and Chris Garcia, convened into executive session to consider the status of current litigation and seek the advice of the townâ€™s insurance attorney. The executive session lasted a little over an hour but no vote was taken when the board reconvened. The final items considered by the board included the issuance of a nuisance letter making more specific requests of citizens concerning the removal and relocation of items on their property violating the nuisance ordinance. Neuerburg said that on request, the town would grant a two-week extension to those needing extra time to finish cleanup on their properties. He added, however, that it is not sufficient to cover yard clutter with tarps or even screen it out with fencing, in certain cases. The motion to approve the letter passed with a unanimous vote. The board also agreed to move their regular May meeting up one day because of scheduling conflicts. The board will meet for the first time next month on May 6 at 6 p.m. Sisneros declined to consider a request by (former) trustee Moe Jones asking the board to order fireworks for a 4th of July celebration in Center planned earlier this year.
Continued from Page 8A (4:27.64) while Sangre de Cristo took seventh (5:01.14). Sargent led the Valleyâ€™s charge in the 4x800 meter relay in second place (11:14.27) while Alamosa took fourth (11:27.06). Centauri, Alamosa and Sangre de Cristo battled neck and neck in the 800 sprint medley with the Falcons nipping Alamosa for third place as the three finished with times of 2:00.33, 2:00.61 and 2:01.69, respective. On the boysâ€™ side, Antonito junior Chris Romero finished in fourth place (12.05)in the 100 meter dash. In the 400 meter run, Alamosa sophomore Jon Needham took second (53.77) Center junior Ivan Escalon took eighth (56.05). Tyler Reynolds and Victor Enriguez were the Valleyâ€™s only scorers in the 800 as they took fourth (2:07.85) and seventh (2:10.22), respectively. Alamosa senior Gavin Palmer took seventh in the 1,600 meter dash (5:07.61) while Centauri junior Dylan Sowards was sixth in the 3,200 (12:06.92). In the relays, Centauri took second (47.35), Monte Vista took third (46.68), Center took fifth (49.64), Sierra Grande took seventh (49.87) and Alamosa took eighth (50.00) in the 4x100 meter relay. Alamosa took second (1:37.45), Centauri took fourth (1:38.61), Center took sixth (1:42.98), Sierra Grande took ninth (1:44.42) and Monte Vista took tenth (1:45.13) in the 4x200 meter relay. In the 4x400 meter relay, Alamosa dominated with a win (3:43.87), Center took sixth (4:01.02) and Sangre de Cristo took seventh (4:04.85). Centauri took second (9:03.26) in the 4x800 meter relay. If the season ended this last Sunday, these would be the state qualifiers from the San Luis Valley: Class 2A, Boys: Mitchell Stagner, Sangre de Cristo: 800 meter (6th, 2:06.84) Tyler Reynolds, Sangre de Cristo: 800 meter (9th, 2:07.85) Victor Enriquez, Sangre de Cristo: 800 meter (16th, 2:10.22) Troy Fritz, Sangre de Cristo: triple jump (9th, 40â€™ 2.00â€?) Sumner Erhard, Del Norte: 800
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meter (17th, 2:10.48), 1,600 meter (6th, 4:45.56), 3,200 meter (6 th, 10:33.28) John Haefeli, Del Norte: 1,600 meter (18th, 4:53.69) Jericho Ullibarri, Antonito: 1,600 meter (13th, 4:50.37), 3,200 meter (14th, 10:47.09) Noah Trujillo, Antonito: 300 hurdles (9th, 44.80) Chance Canty, Sanford: 300 hurdles (18th, 45.72), High jump (8th, 5â€™ 10.00â€?) Dustin Faucette, Sanford: High jump (17th, 5â€™ 8.00â€?) Ricardo Howard, Sierra Grande: long jump (5th, 19â€™ 10.50â€?), triple jump (5th, 40â€™ 11.50â€?) Antonito Relays: 4x200 (14th, 1:39.51) Sanford Relays: 4x200 (15th, 1:39.66) Center Relays: 4x400 (15th, 3:47.36), 4x800 (12th, 9:19.67) Sangre de Cristo Relays: 4x800 (11th, 9:07.53) Del Norte Relays: 4x800 (13th, 9:19.76) Class 2A, Girls: Kathryn New, Sangre de Cristo: 100 meter dash (3rd, 12.89) 200 meter (6th, 27.10) 400 meter (10th, 1:01.69), high jump (1st, 5â€™5â€?) Marissa Storey, Sangre de Cristo: 100 meter (4th, 12.96), 200 meter (5th, 26.97) Heather Dieckman, Sangre de Cristo: 100 meter (10th, 50.95) Jenna McKinley, Sangre de Cristo: discus (9th, 107â€™ 3.00â€?) Josie Sanchez, Del Norte: 200 meter (16th, 28.08) Kylie Wilkinson, Del Norte: high jump (15th, 4â€™ 10â€?) Kelli Canty, Sanford: 100 hurdles (8th, 17.36) Kelci VanTreese, Sargent: long jump (10th, 15â€™ 4.50â€?), high jump (17th, 4â€™10â€?) Mary Hood, Sargent: high jump (16th, 4â€™ 10â€?) Maya Martinez, Center: shot put (15th, 32â€™ 2.00â€?) Sangre de Cristo Relays: 4x200 (7th, 1:54.59), 4x400 (17th, 4:37.67), 800 Sprint Medley (14th, 2:01.69) Del Norte Relays: 4x200 (1:54.83) Sargent Relays: 4x800 (13th, 11:14.27)
Thursday, May 2, 2013
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Volume 112, Number 19
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Board appoints former mayor as trustee BY TERESA L. BENNS
State Lt. Governor visits schools today CENTER — Lt. Governor Joseph Garcia will visit Center in celebration of Colorado Literacy Week. Community members are encouraged to go to the Fyock Community Library at 3:30 p.m. today to engage the Lt. Governor Garcia on this topic. Garcia will also read a story to school children in the library and tour Center Schools’ new facility.
'Word Search' winner announced MONTE VISTA—The winner of Valley Publishing’s 2013 “Word Search” contest is Mildred Scherzer of Del Norte. She will receive a $50 gift card courtesy of Valley Publishing and the participating businesses.
CENTER — Former mayor Adeline Sanchez, whose term as expired in 2012, was appointed to fill the trustee vacancy created by Herman Sisneros. Sanchez has served two previous terms as mayor and completed several stints as a town trustee over the past 30 years. In her reasons for running, given prior to her appointment, Sanchez stated that if appointed she “would be of service to the board members to help them make the transition.” Sanchez served with Trustees Geraldine Martinez and Ed Garcia as mayor during her previous terms. The vote to appoint Sanchez was
4-2, with Victor Duran receiving two votes. Nadine Bocock, who also applied for the position did not receive any votes. Questions for board During the citizen comment period, former mayor Susan Banning presented a set of questions to the trustees, requesting a reply by Wednesday. She asked the board to state whether: • Town Attorney Mike Trujillo will be representing the town town trustees and acting mayor Herman Sisneros in the election contest suit; • the town would not be better off to simply ask for a new election rather than prolong expensive election contest litigation; • the town has discussed with its
present insurance carrier, CIRSA, how the election contest suit will affect the town’s monthly insurance rates, and projected longterm costs of the suit; • if the town and candidates lose, the candidates will need to reimburse CIRSA for their legal fees; • fraud, gross negligence, intentional wrongdoing etc., is covered by CIRSA; • the board intends to discuss the settlement offer made to the town last month by Moe Jones. Regular business • Police Chief Bill Lucero reported that the drug takeback program held earlier this month yielded five pounds Please see SANCHEZ on Page 3A
Southern Peaks league champs
Saguache SO needs victim advocates SAGUACHE —The Saguache Sheriff’s Office and Center Police Dept. Victim Response Teams are in need of dedicated volunteers in all communities throughout Saguache County. Volunteer advocates assist law enforcement with crime victim issues and provide support services. Applicants must be age 18 or older. Prospective victims’ advocates will be subject to a criminal history background check.
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Courtesy Photo
Thursday — A chance of snow before 9am, then a chance of rain. Some thunder is also possible. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 57. Light and variable wind becoming south southeast 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible. Thursday night —A slight chance of rain before 5am, then a slight chance of snow showers. Some thunder is also possible. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light and variable. Chance of precipitation is 20%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. Friday — A 20 percent chance of showers after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 62. Light and variable wind becoming east 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. Friday night — A 20 percent chance of showers before 9pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 34. East wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west northwest after midnight. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
Center High School baseball coach Lloyd Garcia and the Viking Baseball squad secured the 2013 Southern Peaks League championship in undefeated fashion after sweeping a couple of games from the Sierra Grande Panthers on Saturday in Center.
Town answers discovery request by Center plaintiffs BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Following a discovery request last month from plaintiffs Moe Jones and Citizen Center in the ongoing election contest suit, the town of Center and their attorney Steven Dawes replied with little discovery in hand. The plaintiffs are represented by the Denver law firm of (Robert) McGuire, (Jeffrey) Baines LLC. A request for all the envelopes to mail-in ballots cast during the election, needed to verify signatures was treated as if it were a Colorado Open Records Act request. It was submitted to the plaintiffs with signatures redacted, (blanked out), and not in accordance with lawsuit discovery rules, the plaintiffs' attorneys said. Pieces of paper used in way of signature cards for those who voted at the polling place likewise were redacted. Earlier Dawes, on the town’s behalf, objected that the plaintiffs were asking for information under the CORA laws that should be sought under discovery. Now the defendants are using the CORA laws to attempt to justify redaction Please see REQUEST on Page 3A
Assistance available to low-income families BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — During the town board meeting Monday, Brian S. Garrison from the San Luis Valley Housing Coalition (SLVHC) addressed Center trustees on the assistance available to low-income families for housing rehabilitation. According to an SLVHC flyer, the program is available to oneperson households earning $33,400 or less, two-person households with an income of $38,200 or less, three-person households making $42,950, four-person households bringing home $47,700 and fiveperson households with an income
of $51,550 or less. Garrison said some adjustments could be made for various situations regarding household size. To qualify for the loans, applicants must reside in Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Saguache or Mineral counties or the cities of Del Norte or Monte Vista. Repairs covered under the loan include exterior repairs, inside renovations, roof repairs, plumbing repairs, electrical work and other structural or mechanical repairs. The program is offered to families in order, “to bring about a safer, more Please see SLVHC on Page 3A
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Up, up and away
Continued from Page 1A
Brian Garrison sanitary and energy efficient living environment.” Homeowners would secure 0-5 percent low interest loans with a promissory note and Deed of Trust on their home, which would be released when the loan is repaid. Payments could run anywhere from $80 to $200 a month, Garrison said, depending on the family’s monthly income. In applying for the loan, a credit check would be run and monthly expenses/household income would
be considered. All credit and other information obtained from applicants remains confidential. Those applying for the loans must own their own home and use it as their primary residence. Manufactured homes are included under the loan program but must be permanently attached to a proper foundation and taxed as real estate. Rehabilitation loans from SLVHC can be used to attach a trailer home to a permanent foundation. Any building code, health and safety violations must be corrected before cosmetic repairs can be made to the home. Garrison said he would be willing to work with families whose credit score is not currently high enough to qualify for the loans, to help them raise the score in order to qualify. Once a family qualifies for their loan, SLVHC sits down with them and reviews bids from contractors, to help select the most reasonable bid. For more information on the home rehabilitation loans, call 5879807. Or visit their website at www. slvhousingcoalition.org
Blancett to share experiences DEL NORTE—Rancher Tweety Blancett returns to Del Norte to share her experiences with drilling operations on and near her New Mexico ranch. Courtesy Photo
Center High School math teacher Diego Martinez made it possible for CHS student Megan McKibbon to travel to Albuquerque to tour a gliderport, get in the cockpit of a glider, and work a professional glider flight simulator. McKibbon received the trip as a reward for outstanding progress in math this year after earning twice as many credits as the average math student.
Continued from Page 1A of discovery items. Both the Center PostDispatch as well as private individuals have submitted CORA requests for information to the town regarding the suit. Several of these requests have been refused or the town has exceeded its three-day time limit required by law in replying to the requests. If the time limit is exceeded for some reason, the one who holds the records is required to offer the reasons for the delay, but no reasons for such delay have been forthcoming from the town. Former Saguache County clerk Melinda Myers employed the same tactics during the 2010 election controversy (during the
Continued from Page 1A of prescription medications. Lucero said he also is working with utility department employee Holden Wright to determine where stop signs should be placed in the town. • Utility Supervisor Thomas Masias said that the training on the town’s new streetsweeper is complete and it is in operation. The town planted 300 saplings on the Consaul property, he reported, and when they have realized some growth the trees will be planted in the town. Street repairs also are being planned and the town’s equipment recently passed inspection, he said. Sisneros said the town has received complaints concerning sewer plant odors. Wright said the problem would be discussed at the Sanitation Board meeting and measures would be taken to address the problem. The board also agreed to reactivate the town’s siren at 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. weekdays, but leave it off on weekends.
time that now Center Town Clerk/ Treasurer Samora was working for Myers). She also refused to deliver other requested items, including videotapes, or demanded exorbitant fees to deliver such items. Her failure to honor CORA ultimately cost the County $100,000 cash and the transfer of a $180,000 claim against the voting machine vendor in order to settle the suit, a result that should have been unnecessary, according to Marilyn Marks, the plaintiff in that case. In his response to the discovery request, Dawes is demanding $1,800 from Moe Jones and Citizen Center in
order to make copies of approximately one month’s worth of videos requested by the plaintiffs. This despite the fact that the Center Post-Dispatch, in an unrelated case, was told by Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg that such tapes were readily available and able to be easily copied. Also in his response, Dawes claimed that the video files could be corrupted ,which would require an extended effort on the town’s part to extract the necessary information. According to Neuerburg and Samora, however, the videos are saved to a computer file and kept for about six months.
The presentation "Do Fracking and Ranching Mix?" Will be held at the Del Norte High School Auditorium on Saturday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m.
Judge grants Center plaintiffs' motion to use handwriting expert BY TERESA L. BENNS DEL NORTE — District Judge Martin Gonzales, in a phone conference conducted from the Rio Grande Courthouse, granted plaintiffs Moe Jones’ and Marilyn Marks’ motion Friday to employ a handwriting expert in their election contest case. The motion was granted during an emergency hearing Friday morning after controversy arose between the plaintiffs’ attorneys and the attorneys representing the town of Center over whether or not the expert could view the signatures. Initially the defendants’ attorneys had agreed to allow Marks and fellow Citizen Center member Lisa Cyriacks to view the ballot envelopes containing the signatures, but had not agreed to allow the expert to examine them. When the plaintiffs requested their expert be allowed to inspect the signatures, the defendants refused to allow the inspection. Attorney for the Plaintiffs Robert McGuire then filed the motion for an emergency hearing to place the matter before Judge Gonzales. Gonzales pointed out that the signature issue had been well expressed in the original complaint and that the defendants should not be surprised at the request for inspection. During the teleconference,Attorney Sophia Tsai for the defendants basically objected that the plaintiffs had earlier failed to force the issue where the expert was concerned and
pointed out that the hearing on the case was only a week away. There was talk of delaying the court date but it was decided that the date should remain in place. McGuire also told Judge Gonzales that he believes time is of the essence because the town of Center cannot conduct business properly until it is decided whether or not the two trustees and mayor now seated were certainly elected. Gonzales did require that a protective order be issued for the expert, identified as Joseph Fanciulli, to protect voters’ signatures. Fanciulli will be allowed to make one copy of each questionable signature. The copies must not be distributed and are to be destroyed once the litigation process is completed, Gonzales said. Fanciulli’s resume shows him to be well-qualified in the field of document examination having spent 20 years with the Lakewood Police Department in the field of document crime, eventually receiving his detective’s shield. He also has testified in numerous states as an expert witness, taken classes offered by the Secret Service and FBI on examining questionable documents, has presented papers at various seminars in his field of expertise and has provided training for others in both the Denver metro area, nationally and internationally. The Jones/Citizen Center et al v. town of Center et al case goes to court in Saguache on June 3.
Continued from Page 1A campaign and also was distributing derogatory campaign literature from the store. Other customers had informed the Center Post-Dispatch, months before the recall election, that the store appeared cluttered and unkempt and the employee turnover rate was high. The following is listed under “civic and political activities” on Family Dollar’s “Code of Business Conduct” site “Family Dollar encourages its Associates to become involved in civic affairs and to participate in political activities. Such involvement, however, must be on an individual basis, on an associate's own time, and at his or her own expense. associates must also make every effort to ensure that they do not create the impression that they speak or act on behalf of the company. “…Any violation of the code, including the failure to report any violation of the code, may subject an associate to disciplinary action, up to and including discharge of the associate and may also result in civil and/or criminal liability or prosecution.” According to unconfirmed sources, a recent audit of the Center Family Dollar also shows funds missing from the store. Other reports, attributed by some to former Family Dollar employees, say the store is possibly on a closure list. Town tax revenues increased dramatically when Carters Market and Family Dollar opened their doors, as routinely reported at town board meetings. The loss of business would mean a significant decline in revenues for the town. Other residents pointed out that the store’s closure would be crippling for lettuce workers and Tierra Nueva residents, many of whom must shop in-town because they have no transportation. According to its 2012 Annual Report, Family Dollar closed 56 stores last year. When asked if she had been
contacted by town residents concerning Sisneros, Banning confirmed Tuesday that she has received several emails, also several text messages implicating her in his alleged dismissal. Attempts to contact Herman Sisneros were unsuccessful. Numerous attempts were made to contact various Family Dollar store officials Tuesday for comment. Finally, Family Dollar’s public relations manager at corporate headquarters in Western North Carolina issued the following via email: “As this is an ongoing human resources matter, we are unfortunately unable to comment at this time.”
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Problems with Center recall also noted in 2011 election
BY TERESA L. BENNS
CENTER — During the April 1 election in Center in 2008, controversy arose concerning absentee ballots taken door to door by campaigners who then had the ballots voted and later returned them to Town Hall. The origin of the ballots and the methods used to explain the voting process and voter choices to some Center residents were later questioned in an election suit filed by both winning and losing Center candidates and others who felt their voting rights had been violated. That suit was dismissed in District Court for failure to file in a timely manner by the statutory deadline. The election contest suit filed in the March 19 Center recall election that goes before Judge Martin Gonzales on Monday has met all its deadlines, but the outcome remains to be seen. A demonstration, however, of what happened in past elections in Center could shed some light on the present allegations and put things into perspective. In the wake of election irregularities and alleged voter intimidation, Town Clerk and Administrator Mark Garcia took steps in 2010 to ensure that what happened during the 2008 Center municipal election, which resulted in allegations of vote fraud, wouldn’t recur during the special election tentatively set for Jan. 11, 2011. That election was held to determine if the powers once vested in the Center Utility Board should be transferred to the town. Garcia appointed Alamosa City Clerk Judy Egbert to conduct the election, and many Center residents openly commented on how smoothly the election process went and how courteously Egbert and her staff treated voters. As Egbert recalls, some
of the same problems experienced in the Center recall election also were encountered in 2011. In an e-mail Egbert wrote: “Most of the ballots were cast by mail. I don’t have the numbers, but I will say that the most common reason a mail-in ballot was rejected was due to some sort of deficiency in the affirmation on the return envelope.” Egbert reported that she cannot remember the exact number, but said it was “more than just a few.” According to state law, the ballots must list both a P.O. box and a residence address but some did not have both. “There were many that contained either the residence or P.O. Box, but not both,” Egbert said. “This became a decision for the judges, and they agreed to allow those with the residence address but not the PO Box; but reject those with only a PO Box.” Attorney Shelley Wittevrongel questioned this move by Egbert’s judges, stating during a 2012 town board meeting that Egbert “disenfranchised 63 Mejicanos” whose votes were not counted because of their failure to complete the affirmation questions. Egbert also said she feared that individuals passing out absentee ballots different from those printed by the town would confuse voters. In letters faxed to Bill McClure, who was circulating “about 40” of the ballots, she explained that she provided a different absentee ballot form for voters than he did because it was in compliance with forms approved by the Secretary of State’s Office. “While on the surface it appears that the form you showed me may in fact be sufficient in many cases, you should be aware it is missing identifying data that could result in the inability to determine the voter’s eligibility,” she wrote. Egbert advised McClure
Judy Egbert to let voters make their own absentee ballot applications. In another letter Egbert pointed out to McClure that permanent mail-in voters automatically receive a ballot and do not need to fill out a “separate absentee application.” One of the voters McClure was trying to help had filled out an application in addition to receiving an absentee ballot using a different address. Egbert said the voter would be allowed to vote, but could have permanently altered his residence address on the registration rolls. Peggy Martinez made several challenges during the 2011 election, Egbert noted, and these were sent to the District Attorney’s office in Alamosa. “I have not received any communication back from the DA and don’t know the status of these cases,” she said. Some of the voters in question in 2011 also were challenged by Martinez in the recall election, but District Attorney David Mahonee said their registrations were in order. Egbert said she acted only as a consultant for the 2012 election and commended then newly appointed Town Clerk Christian Samora for doing “a great job on his first election.”
log on to www.centerpostdispatch.com
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Alamosa DA says Center challenges check out
Continued from Page 1A constitutional guarantee demands something more. Colorado could achieve a constitutionally thorough system of education with adequate funding. Colorado could achieve a constitutionally uniform system of education with an equitable method to distribute available funds.” Center Consolidated Schools Superintendent George Welsh responded to the decision Tuesday in an email sent to Center parents and administrators. “Many people are asking me exactly what this means and the best way I can describe it is that because of the court’s newly minted definition of 'thorough and uniform,' for the remainder of our generation we will not likely be able to rely on the Colorado judicial branch of government to ensure is an equitable and adequate system of finance to support our education system.” Colorado funding compared to other states In 2011, Bruce Caughey, deputy executive director for CASE, the Colorado Association of School Executives, posted the following facts to an online education publication: “Parents from Denver Public Schools and Englewood Schools, tired of the lack of adequate programs and services to meet their childrens’ educational needs have also joined the suit. Plaintiffs’ amended complaint highlights the following alarming facts and statistics: • In 2007, Colorado spent $1,919 less per pupil than the national average of $9,963; in 2003, it spent $551 less than the national average; • In 2007, neighboring state Nebraska spent $3,265 more per pupil than Colorado and Kansas spent $2,285 more per pupil; • In 2008-09, state funding was
provided for only 48,000 of the approximately 101,000 students whose dominant language is other than English and who are functioning below grade level; • In 2009, Colorado ranked 51st, including the District of Columbia, for its contribution to special education; • K-12 funding for FY 2009-10 was reduced by 2.4 percent and could decline by as much as 8-12 percent in FY 2010-11; Colorado Department of Education (CDE) projects that more than $2.8 billion is needed to bring Colorado in line with national averages in per pupil spending and teacher salaries and to fund basic educational programs, such as fullday kindergarten.” Welsh says elected officials must resolve funding issues “On a final note regarding the opinion, I think the court has seriously opened the door to all folks to question whether or not current statute surrounding school accreditation, required attendance time, and high school graduation standards are constitutional. In the end the majority of the court simply did not have the will to require the legislature to fulfill its role. “So where do we go from here? We do what is right. We continue to fight for adequate and equitable funding for our kids. Unfortunately we can no longer rely on our court system to make sure this happens, so we will have to be the ones to find ways to ensure that our elected officials no longer pass unfunded mandates or ask us to do things we haven’t been given the resources to accomplish. We also have to be the ones to seek statewide support for education by electing people who reflect this value and by acting on ballot questions that will help to bring about real change.”
Mini music festival Saturday, June 8 DELNORTE—Wildwood Sounds is hosting the fourth Mini Music Festival on Saturday, June 8. Ten musical acts will perform all day into the night, along with
other entertainment. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. at 850 Grand Ave. in Del Norte. For more information Stephen or Konnie at 657-4757.
BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Six Center voter eligibility challenges submitted by Center recall election watcher Peggy Martinez were cleared recently by Alamosa District Attorney David Mahonee who says the voters all are registered in Saguache County. Mahonee declined to identify the voters challenged by Martinez citing the right to protect their identity and saying that they “have done nothing wrong.” He indicated during an interview in Alamosa Friday that he had no idea who had made the challenges, as Martinez ‘signature was not readable on the challenge forms. Saguache Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora submitted the forms to Mahonee’s office March 26 following the March 19 recall election as required by state statue. All the forms submitted challenged voters on the grounds of residency. Age and citizenship also are listed as other reasons for challenging voters. Mahonee says he cleared the challenges by checking the signatures
David Mahonee and addresses against the registration rolls made available by Saguache County Clerk Carla Gomez. When asked if he had cross-referenced the names to determine if the voters had vehicles registered to the address listed on the registration or had filed income tax returns from that address, Mahonee commented that his office typically doesn’t go “that far” in such investigations. Mahonee said his investigator Harry Alejo did ask Clerk Gomez for other types of information concerning the voters but Gomez told him that
the information he requested could not be released. “The normal types of complaints we receive are that someone voted twice or that they live outside of town.” Mahonee said. “Every single time we’ve checked it out it wasn’t done intentionally and no charges were filed.” State laws usually used in d e t e r- m i n i n g w h e t h e r v o t e r residency has been established include such indicators as place/ type of employment, income sources, residency of spouse/ parents, residence for income tax or other purposes, motor vehicle registration, amount of time spent at the residence and other determining factors. An election contest suit filed against the town of Center by former Center trustee Moe Jones and Aspenbased Citizen Center is set for a court hearing June 3. The plaintiffs allege, among other things, that certain individuals who voted in the election did not legally reside in Center.
Forest Service road 949 to be closed until July 3 CRESTONE — The Saguache Ranger District plans to close Forest Service Road 949 and the South Crestone/Willow Lake Trailhead from May 29 through July 2 while construction workers make improvements to the road and trailhead. In order to ensure public safety, the closure extends 300 feet on either side of the road and 300 feet around the trailhead. The road and trailhead may be opened earlier
For all your advertising needs, call Staci,
than July 3 if the work is completed sooner than anticipated. The planned work includes upgrading the rough FSR 949, modifying the trailhead area to improve parking and vehicle flow, installing a new ADA accessible toilet, improving drainage around
the trailhead and installing a new information kiosk. The work is mostly being paid for through Title II funds from the Secure Rural Schools Act. For more information concerning the closure and the planned improvements, contact David Hosack at 655-6122.
Volume 112, Number 23
Call for vendors
SAGUACHE—Vendors needed for Toy Drive / Motorcycle Rally June 15 for the Annual Ute Theatre Toy Drive in Saguache. Space is free this year, vendors need to contact Christine for confirmation and booth reservation. 970-596-4521 by June 10.
Yard sale Saturday
MONTE VISTA—The veterans History Center Museum at Homelake will be having a yard sale Saturday June 8 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Square dancing June 23
MONTE VISTA—Rio Grande Squares Square Dance Club will host a dance on Saturday, June 23 at Sargent Elementary School Gym, 7090 County Road 2 East, Monte Vista. Dancing will be from 3 – 5:30 p.m. Dennis Farrar is the caller. A potluck meal will follow the dancing. Square dancers are invited to join them for an afternoon of dancing, fellowship and good food. For more information call Sylvia at (303) 517-8199 or Charlie or Mollie at 852-9849.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Judge admits testimony of handwriting expert BY TERESA L. BENNS SAGUACHE — Following opening statements in the Center election contest hearing in Saguache Monday, a battle continued between opposing attorneys in the case over the admission of the expert witness testimony from the plaintiffs handwriting analyst Joseph Fanciulli. Attorney Robert McGuire for the plaintiffs and Center counsel Steven Dawes went back and forth much of the day concerning whether or not Fanciulli would testify. Dawes grilled Fanciulli concerning his qualifications and took issue with the fact that he had no certification in the field and had not continued his training past the 1980s. Dawes shot back that Fanciulli had time and expert testimony in the field and would make a good witness. Dawes asked Judge Martin Gonzales to disqualify him as an expert witness. He noted that Fanciulli had not made a conclusive decision on many of the ballots and asked what his testimony would be worth to the courts. McGuire cut in and pointed out that Dawes and his assistants had attempted at every turn to prevent Fanciulli from viewing the signatures
Photo by Teresa Benns
Denver attorneys Robert McGuire and Jeff Baines, representing Moe Jones and Marilyn Marks (right) discuss Tuesday's trial outcome with their clients. and making a thorough examination of the copied ballot envelopes until finally his time for doing so had run out. Gonzales then relented, admitting him as a technical but not scientific expert. Fanciulli was slated to present his signature analysis conclusions on Tuesday. Under questioning by McGuire, he explained to the court in
great detail the determining factors he uses to detect signature variations in his profession and how they would be rated. He also told the court some of the signatures verified as questionable by the Secretary of State’s Office probably could be cleared. McGuire noted that Dawes will call his own forensic handwriting expert to testify.
Future Center basketball stars
HOW'S THE WEATHER?
Thursday A 10 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 77. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon. Thursday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 42. East southeast wind around 5 mph becoming northwest after midnight. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Light and variable wind becoming northwest 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Friday night Mostly clear, with a low around 42. West northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday Sunny, with a high near 84. West northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday night Mostly clear, with a low around 45. West northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Sunday Sunny, with a high near 86. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Sunday night Mostly clear, with a low around 46. West northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Monday Sunny, with a high near 85. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south southwest in the afternoon.
Witnesses called The plaintiffs began examining witnesses on their list by calling Bill McClure to the stand. McClure confirmed he was a watcher for Herman Sisneros during the recall election and that he had circulated petitions in the town to initiate the
Please see TRIAL on Page 2A
Center parolee charged with attempted murder BY TERESA L. BENNS
Center High School basketball coaches Scott Poole and Mark Jones put on a great youth skills basketball camp two weeks ago and are already playing summer ball with their teams.
State releases report re-evaluation DENVER — A report released Monday by Cherice Kjosness of the State Division of Property Taxation (DPT) shows progress made in the reevaluation of Saguache properties and suggests a plan of corrective action to continue the process. According to the report, Kjosness investigated the 2011 taxpayer complaints against the Saguache County Assessor, testified and
presented exhibits establishing that in spite of the efforts of the Saguache County Assessor in 2011 and 2012, there remained a significant number of omitted improvements in several property classes. Curtis Belcher was the assigned manager of field operations. Mike Kerrigan was assigned the collection of data, analysis and valuation of the omitted commercial properties.
After considering all evidence and testimony presented, the board ordered a reappraisal of the classes of property with omitted improvements for 2013 per state statute. As part of the order, the board required Saguache County to develop a plan of reappraisal to be reviewed by the property tax administrator and to be Please see PROPERTY on Page 3A
CENTER — Center Police arrested a Center man last month on numerous charges after he reportedly assaulted a girlfriend and refused to let her call for help. Joshua Martinez, 33, was convicted of stabbing a man to death in Center in 2008. He was released on parole for murder only two months ago, Saguache Undersheriff Tristan VanZalinge said. A c c o r d i n g t o Va n Z a l i n g e , Alamosa District Attorney David Mahonee has filed formal charges against Martinez. Martinez is the grandson of former mayor Adeline Sanchez. The incidents that led to his arrest happened in Sanchez’ home while she was on vacation, a close relative of the victim said. Martinez was charged with parole violation, criminal attempted murder, second-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, obstruction of telephone service and domestic violence. His bail was set at $50,000. An advisement hearing was held Tuesday for Martinez in Saguache County Court, Judge Amanda Pearson presiding, and he was advised of his rights. During the hearing, Victim’s Advocate Ellen Cox spoke on behalf of the victim, telling the judge that while the girl’s ordeal was truly terrifying, all she wants is for Martinez to get help.
TRIAL Continued from Page 1A
PATRICIA MARIE HAEFELI, 93 DEL NORTE—Patricia Marie Haefeli, 93, passed away on June 2, 2013 at Casa Illuminaria in Del Norte. She was born on March 17, 1920 in Del Norte, Colo. to Garhart and Marion Stoeber. Patricia graduated from Del Norte High School. She married John Edwin Haefeli and worked with him for many years selling honey. Patty enjoyed gardening and giving programs on bee keeping to anyone that had the time to learn. She also enjoyed going to the cabin to fish and relax. Patricia is survived by her children John (Judy) Haefeli of Monte Vista and Dr. Patricia Edelen (Dr. Garnet) Smith of Kailua, Hawaii, her grandchildren; Tom (Laura) Haefeli, Vinci (Sean) Mills, Heather Haefeli (Steve Dennis), Brent (Nellie) Edelen, Steven (Ramona) Smith and granddaughterin-law Jennifer Smith, her great grandchildren, Frannie Edelen, Rose Edelen, Fenn Smith, Jasper Smith, John Haefeli, Luke Haefeli, Emilee Haefeli, Rylie Mills, Maclean Mills, Haley Martinez, Madilyn Martinez and Alexia Martinez, along with her
siblings, Ernest (Donna) Stoeber, Hugo (Barbara) Stoeber, Josephine Beiriger, Bernice Feck, Mae (Pete) Peterson, Joe (Chiryia) Stoeber, Mike (Joan) Stoeber, Bobby Stoeber, Leola (Jim) Geiser, Lianna (Bob) McKinley, Bertha (Bill) Plane, Midge (John) Gallihugh and brother in law Gerald Langston along with numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, her daughter Jo Ann Marie Haefeli and son Jay Douglas Haefeli ,as well as her siblings; George Stoeber, Bessie Beiriger, Edward Stoeber, Charles Stoeber, Emma Katherine Stoeber, James Beiriger, Theresa Langston and Floyd Beiriger. A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday June 7 at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Monte Vista with burial following in the Monte Vista Cemetery. A vigil with recitation of the rosary will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, also at the church in Monte Vista. Arrangements are in care of Rogers Family Mortuary of Monte Vista. For online condolences please visit www. rogersfunerals.com.
SHERIFF’S REPORT The following were provided by the Saguache Sheriff's office for May 20-27. Arrests Joshua Martinez, 33, Center, parole violation, criminal attempt, second degree assault, murder in the second degree, menacing, reckless endangerment, obstruction of telephone service, domestic violence Aimee Hancock. 30, Loveland, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone RamonArchuleta, 49, Saguache drove vehicle while under FRA suspension Blanca Ibarra, 30, San Luis, Ariz., speeding 64 in a 55 MPH zone, drove without valid driver’s license Amanullah Mommandi, 66, Denver, speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Ian Appleby, 28, Rowayton, Conn., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Ian Crow, 26, Lakewood, speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Aragon Bencomo, 45, Gypsum, speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Joshua Bowen, 35, Denver, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Gerald Neese, 67, Thornton, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Bradford McRown, 37, LosAlamos, N.M., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Jeremy Stilley, 36, Durango, speeding, DUR Michael Walker, 65, Santa Fe,
Thursday, June 6, 2013
N.M., speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Christopher Semrod, 43, Santa Fe, N.M., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Joseph Romero, 48, San Antonia, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Gregory Vannucci, 46, Ottumwa, Iowa, speeding 69 in a 65 MPH zone Tyler Cox, 21, Los Vegas, Nev., speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Jose Quintana, 36, Farmington, N.M., speeding 83 in a 65 MPH zone Jill Shoemaker, 34, Ft. Collins, speeding 80 in a 65 MPH zone Chad Fisher, 45, Gilbert, Ariz., speeding 77 in a 65 MPH zone Cole Sweetser, 29, Richland Hills, Texas, speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Stuart Bishop, 24, Englewood, speeding 77 in a 65 MPH zone Jimie De Monte, 24, Boulder, speeding 77 in a 65 MPH zone Geoffrey Bogner, 39, Fountain, speeding 60 in a 45 MPH zone Dennis White, 72, Boulder, speeding 75 in a 65 MPH zone John Havens, 56, Evergreen, speeding 84 in a 65 MPG zone Dean Dodson Sr., 36, Kayenta, Ariz., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Aric Parker, 25, Boulder, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Allen Markowitz, 69, Pepper Pike, Ohio, speeding 83 in a 65 MPH zone
recall. He testified that he made no misrepresentations on any of the petitions, nor did he carry batches of ballots to the polls, sign other people’s ballots, or pick up ballots from the post office. Jennie Sanchez also testified that she made no misrepresentations on the petitions she circulated and that the petitions were properly signed and witnessed. Geraldine Martinez later stated the same., both denying any sort of wrongdoing. Mary McClure also said that she had circulated petitions properly and had done nothing wrong. She did tell the court, however, that her daughter Robin, who’s “voting address” is in Center, has lived in Monte Vista for five years and her son Andrew, though listed as living at her address, lives elsewhere in town. Nadine Bocock was questioned more extensively and did say she carried absentee ballots to the polls for friends and relatives. She also told McGuire that she has nothing to do with the Center Housing Authority. Adeline Sanchez was also questioned more widely and extensively, especially concerning her activities as a judge. She said she was aware of the duties of another judge, Marie Barela, who helped voters fill out signature forms so
they could vote. Sanchez said every voter filled out a form. She said she had been gone only for a few minutes to the lady’s room while acting as judge. When asked if she had brought her cell phone to the polls she said “yes.” But she denied calling anyone from the polls or taking pictures of election materials. Sanchez said she did not notice any voter affirmation forms that had not been filled in all the way and said that she had called out the names of all voters who voted. Later she said she did notice that some voter affirmations were not filled in all the way on absentee ballots. But she said she asked Town Clerk Christian Samora about this and he said as long as the signatures were on there, they were okay. Even though she was on the recall committee, she got to be a judge, she said, after Samora called her and asked her to become one. McGuire asked her if she felt this was a conflict of interest and she said “no.” After being questioned on several other matters, Sanchez left the stand. Michael Hagihara with the Secretary of State’s Offi ce also testifi ed at the hearing, but his testimony will be examined after the forensic witness has begun his analysis.
Volume 112, Number 24
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Judge voids Center election No intentional wrong doing found BY TERESA L. BENNS
Call for vendors SAGUACHE—Vendors needed for toy drive /motorcycle rally June 15 for the Annual Ute Theatre Toy Drive in Saguache. Space is free this year, vendors need to contact Christine for confirmation and booth reservation. 970-596-4521 by June 10.
Elks in need of vendors
ALAMOSA—Vendors are sought for the Alamosa Elks 1297 Centennial Celebration Saturday, July 13, at the lodge. Booth spaces are $5 apiece. Phone 589-2362 for more information.
SAGUACHE — After winding up testimony from Town Clerk Christian Samora and hearing closing arguments from both sides Thursday, District Judge Martin Gonzales rendered a timely decision Friday morning on the March 19 Center recall election. Gonzales based his decision strictly on the ruling handed down in the 1964 Colorado Supreme Court decision Taylor v. Pile: “If any absentee ballots are “numbered in such a manner that the vote of any person thereafter may be determined by comparison with the number on the ballot and the poll
registration book is contrary to the state of Colorado's constitutional and statutory guarantee of a secret ballot and, therefore, void ab initio [from the beginning].” Gonzales commented in his ruling: “While this court cannot find that any violation of the secrecy of the ballot actually occurred, this Court has a duty under Taylor v. Pile to declare the election void ab initio, simply because under the circumstances the secrecy of the ballot could have been violated. Taylor v. Pile does not require that a contestor of an election show that anyone actually learned how an elector voted. Quite the contrary, the simple fact that votes were revealed on ballots being counted that still had their identifying stubs attached is sufficient.”
A new election must be held within 90 days. Gonzales said charges of vote fraud, intimidation, electioneering, and intentional wrongdoing either were unsubstantiated or could not be sufficiently proven. He did, however, give some credence to the signature analysis presented by handwriting analyst Fancuilli, although he noted it would be impractical to impose signature verification requirements on a small municipality. The newly reinstated board agreed there are hard tasks ahead of them and they are sailing into uncharted waters, since very few elections have been voided and boards reinstated under the law. “We’ll do what we have always done and just try do the best for Center,” Mayor Susan Banning said
Triathletes participate in Center
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. Light and variable wind becoming southwest 10 to 15 mph in the morning. Thursday night Mostly clear, with a low around 49. Southwest wind 5 to 15 mph. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. South southwest wind 5 to 15 mph. Friday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 43. West wind 5 to 15 mph. Saturday Sunny, with a high near 83. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south southwest in the afternoon. Saturday night Mostly clear, with a low around 42. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Sunday Sunny, with a high near 83. South southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Sunday night Mostly clear, with a low around 42. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Monday Sunny, with a high near 83. West northwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Monday night Mostly clear, with a low around 42. West southwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light west northwest. Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 83. Southwest wind 5 to 15 mph.
Kat Thaden crosses the finish line.
HOOPER — On Saturday June 1, 35 triathletes competed in the Center Beginner Sprint Triathlon at the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool in Hooper. Phillipa Conrad, Adrienne Shafer, Sarah Mapes, Hannah Lohman, Connie Murelle, Annette Lujan, Andrea Salazar, Cherrye Williams, Brigitte Nadon, Nita McAuliffe, Becky Reed, George Welsh, Louise Vazquez, Zoraya Vazquez, Julie Faucett, John Naranjo, Glenna Clayton, Miguel Cendejas, Dave Jackson, Tommy Archuleta, Aaron Horrocks, Mary Reinhardt and Kat Thaden completed the full sprint triathlon. Kathy Mortensen, Rae Jean Maestas, Kim Leonard, Celeste Salazar, Jose Manriquez, Denise Montoya, Becky Forster, Karrie Kooiman, Tanya Sutak, Karen Lemke, Elaine Patarini and Liz Drake, all completed their legs of the triathlon as relay teams. Most of these competitors were participating in a triathlon for their very first time. The Center Beginner Sprint Triathlon takes place each year on the first Saturday in June and part of the event includes a 16week training process. The event is annually supported by many local businesses including Sand Dunes Recreation, Kristi Mountain Sports, the Center School District, and Azteca De Oro Restaurant in Center. This year a team of 12 Americorps workers also supported the event by setting up, sagging routes and breaking down the event.
with first-degree attempted murder. CENTER — A man reportedly The victim, Pedro Portillo, 19, was run down outside El Centro Bar in later reported by relatives to have Center Friday evening was initially undergone surgery and to be holding listed in critical but stable condition his own. and his alleged attacker was charged In addition to attempted murder,
Special meeting erupts in altercation BY TERESA L. BENNS
Rafael Sanchez, 22, of Center was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, two counts of felony menacing, DUI/D, driving
CENTER — A special meeting held Saturday at the CenterTown Hall in Center was interrupted by a scuffle between Bill McClure and Melvin Martinez, who were ejected from the meeting by Center Police Chief Bill Lucero. The altercation occurred after Jennie Sanchez called Martinez’ wife Peggy, a town trustee, a “wh—e” in Spanish and McClure allegedly repeated the comment while lunging toward Martinez “with a closed fist.” Martinez then reportedly punched him in the chest. The audio of these incidents was recorded and turned over to Center Police. Audrey (Theresa) Chavez also referred to Martinez as a "sl–t." Lucero did not insist that either Sanchez or Chavez leave the meeting following the comments. Chavez later raised her middle finger to the reinstated town board members while Chief Lucero was addressing Sanchez’ name-calling. Nadine Bocock-Martinez, who testified at the trial last week, also was restrained then ejected from the meeting for disruptive behavior, protesting that, “It’s a public meeting; I can say what I want.” Early on in the meeting, Mary McClure announced that the meeting was illegal and she didn’t know if the reinstated board was sworn in. Adeline Sanchez claimed she saw no notices for the special meeting, as required by law. The meeting was the first one held following the decision by Judge Martin Gonzales Friday to void the Center election and reinstate the previous board. Recall committee members attended the meeting to voice their protests and promised a reversal of roles following the
Please see ARREST on Page 2A
Please see MEETING on Page 3A
Center man arrested for attempted murder BY TERESA L. BENNS
in a phone conversation last weekend. Trial highlights Tuesday’s election contest trial opened with testimony from the plaintiff’s handwriting analyst and expert witness Joseph Fancuilli. Fancuilli went into fascinating detail about why many of the ballots he examined were suspicious, relating the indicators analysts look for to determine the validity of a signature. While some of his opinions about ballot authorship were less than probable, his overall opinion was that a good number of the signatures on voted ballots were likely forged. He qualified his conclusions, however, by saying they are based on “a limited amount of handwriting.” On Wednesday the attorneys for Please see TRIAL on Page 2A
RICHARD ALLEN CUTTER, 69 MONTE VISTA—Richard Allen Cutter, 69, resident of Monte Vista and formerly of Durango, passed away in a tragic accident on Saturda,y June 8, 2013 in the mountains of Colorado doing what he loved, flying. Richard was born on January 20, 1944 in Flushing, New York, the son of James and Kathryn Kenady Cutter. Prior to enlisting in the United States Air Force, Richard was a commercial pilot out of Tennessee. He served for more than eighteen years in the Air Force and Reserves as a Pilot Instructor and was stationed in Albuquerque, N.M and Tucson, Ariz. Richard enjoyed electronics, photography, history and especially restoring Corvair cars. He was a member of the Corvair Club and the Commemorative Air Force. In his younger years, he enjoyed the outdoors, fishing and camping with his family. Above all, his pride and joy were his grandchildren. Richard is survived by his brother Roger, his three sons Mike, Matt and Mark, their immediate family Brenda, Wendy, Nancy, Kara, and his three grandchildren Jessica, Kevin, Reece
and one granddaughter-to-be. Please join his family for a celebration of his life to be held at the Rio Grande Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Friday, June 14 at 1 p.m. Interment with military honors will follow services in the Homelake Veterans Cemetery. Arrangements are in the care of Rogers Family Mortuary of Monte Vista. For online condolences and register book, please visit www. rogersfunerals.com.
Ox Cart fire burns near Poncha Pass PONCHA PASS, Colo. – A twoacre lightning-caused fire, reported on Saturday, is burning on the Rio Grande National Forest east of Poncha Pass. Firefighters from the San Luis Valley Interagency Wildland Fire Management Unit are on the scene. The Ox Cart Fire is burning in a mixed conifer forest with some individual tree torching occurring. Smoke from the fire is clearly visible from U.S. Highway 285.
Firefighters were able to fully contain the two-acre Squirrel Fire burning northwest of Bonanza on Saturday. Fire patrols will continue to monitor the burned area for several days. The public is reminded that conditions are dry and fire danger is very high. Individuals are requested to report smoke on public lands to Pueblo Dispatch at 719-553-1600 or by calling 911.
SHERIFF’S REPORT The following were provided by the Saguache Sheriff's office for the weeks of May 27- June 10. Arrests Ross Montano, 25, Center, violation of a restraining order, criminal mischief Michael Dyas, 63, Crestone, firstdegree burglary, false imprisonment, two counts of felony menacing Jeffrey Phillips, 35, Moffat, DWAI, reckless endangerment Saul Gutierrez, 42, Alamosa, fugitive of justice Rafael Sanchez, 22, Center, firstdegree attempted murder, DUI/D, drove vehicle with excessive alcohol content, reckless endangerment, prohibited use of a weapon, two counts felony menacing Citations Amber Lee, 28, Kirtland N.M., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Laberta Martin, 48, Cortez, speeding 39 in a 35 MPH zone Kevin Nichols, 59, Golden, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Miles Payne, 20, Aurora, speeding 83 in a 65 MPH zone Jolene Wilson, 33, Yalltahey, N.M., speeding 86 in a 65 MPH zone Breanna Voorhis, 18, Pagosa Springs, speeding 89 in a 65 MPH
Continued from Page 1A with excessive alcohol content and prohibited use of a weapon. He is being held without bond in Saguache County Jail. At a special town board meeting Saturday, Police Chief Bill Lucero gave only brief details about the incident. He declined Monday to provide any further information concerning the investigation.
zone Randel McFarland, 57, Salida, speeding 59 in a 50 MPH zone Francisco Ramirez-Mercado, 18, Denver, speeding 74 in a 55 MPH zone Nathan Hunsaker, 33, Ft. Lewis, Wash., speeding 79 in a 65 MPH zone Robert Gonzales, 28, Leadville, speeding 83 in a 65 MPH zone Dameon Roybal, 20, Del Norte, speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Kay Abbott, 48, Littleton, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Andrew Barrows, 48, Highland Ranch, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone
Continued from Page 1A Center presented their handwriting expert, Darla McCarley-Celentano. Her background sounded much like Faniciulli’s. She has served a four-year part-time internship with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, with a total of 18 years in the field. While McCarleyCelentano questioned Fancuilli’s training and credentials, she admitted that experience in the field also was very important. She testified that there is only “weak probability” concerning the likelihood that the majority of ballots were not cast by the actual voter. She accepted only a few signatures as likely candidates for actual validity questions and said the majority were inconclusive, owing mainly to a lack of comparison signatures. Tuesday’s election contest trial opened with testimony from the plaintiff’s handwriting analyst and expert witness Joseph Fancuilli. Fancuilli went into fascinating detail about why many of the ballots he examined were suspicious relating the indicators analysts look for to determine the validity of a signature. While some of his opinions about ballot authorship were less than probable, his overall opinion was that a good number of the signatures on voted ballots were likely forged. He qualified his conclusions, however, by saying they are based on “a limited amount of handwriting.” Witnesses testifying Tuesday • Christina Garcia testified that she believes that Nadine Bocock intimidated a Center resident concerning how he voted. Another witness also testified that she was afraid of what Bocock might do. • Marilyn Marks testified that while helping the SOS go through the ballots at the recount in March, she spotted several unusual looking ballots and some affidavits that were completely blank, commenting she never had seen this. When working with Fanciulli she said over 80 items were flagged for a limited review. She also said that while she is not an expert in municipal elections, she “knows as much as the officials.” • Peggy Martinez testified that
Thursday, June 13, 2013 while she was a watcher, Bill McClure made derogatory remarks about recall candidates that she believes was electioneering. She also said she saw Bocock approach a voter entering the building and appear to present him with campaign literature. She said the judges and Samora were “socially preoccupied” during the counting. She also said that absentee ballots were counted first on election night and she saw people inside the polls using their cell phones. She concluded by pointing to those working at Head Start (and Center Housing Authority) as reliant on funds from the town, and therefore interested in serving on the board to guarantee that funding. Samora testimony On Wednesday the attorneys for Center presented their handwriting expert, Darla McCarley-Celentano. Her background sounded much like Faniciulli’s. She has served a four-year part-time internship with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, with a total of 18 years in the field. While McCarleyCelentano questioned Fancuilli’s training and credentials, she admitted that experience in the field also was very important. She testified that there is only “weak probability” concerning the likelihood that the majority of ballots were not cast by the actual voter. She accepted only a few signatures as likely candidates for actual validity questions and said the majority were inconclusive, owing mainly to a lack of comparison signatures. Christian Samora then took the stand to testify for the defense. He said he had the experience necessary to run the election, had taken training and had trained the judges. He told Dawes the election, basically, was run by the book and that he had gone back to correct any minor irregularities that may have occurred. When Baines questioned him for the plaintiffs, Samora admitted that the ballot stubs were left on envelopes and were counted with the stub numbers on them. He said that he allowed Adeline Sanchez to be a judge knowing she was on the recall committee because another judge could not serve that day. Baines asked Samora whether he could have refused to certify the
election, and he answered yes. He also asked if Samora knew that under the Help America Vote Act, any elected official can access the SCORE system to verify signatures, and Samora said he did not know this. Closing arguments In closing arguments Thursday, Robert McGuire told the judge there were two ways to decide the case, on the basis of Taylor v. Pile or Erickson v. Blair and Title 31 issues. McGuire leaned to Taylor v. Pile, telling Judge Gonzales: “Your honor, Taylor v. Pile does not deal with the situation where anybody looked at how anybody voted or anybody found out how anybody voted or there was anything in the opinion that anybody tried to find out how anybody voted.” He argued that the Colorado Supreme Court decision decides the case only on the possibility that someone could have done so. McGuire ended his argument by stating that if people cannot believe that government is validly elected, then there is no legitimacy to what government does. He asked the court to set aside the election and return the prerecall trustees to their lawful positions. Attorney Steven Dawes argued that Taylor v. Pile is not a case of absentee ballots, so the case should not be decided on that basis. He pointed out that Samora followed the municipal election code and that there was no statute on the books requiring him to follow the uniform election code and count signatures. Because the uniform election code did not apply, “the signatures don’t apply. There was no obligation to consider an SOS verification,” he told Judge Gonzales. He accused plaintiff’s attorneys of trying to impugn the credibility of election judges and added that there was “zero” evidence anyone had seen the ballots. He described Samora as “scrupulously objective” in selecting election judges. He concluded by telling the judge that if the last election is set aside, it would be “an insult to Samora and the electors of the town.” Gonzales told the attorneys he knew how difficult the trial process had been and thanked everyone for their efforts. He also asked for briefs on the Taylor v. Pile decision and how it applied to the case.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Center board places clerk Reinstated board fires town attorneys on administrative leave BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — In a 4-2 vote Monday taken after a special board meeting executive session, the Center Town Board placed Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora on two weeks paid administrative leave. Trustees Chris Garcia and Herman Sisneros voted against the action. Also during the executive session, the board decided to look for a new attorney concerning the possible appeal of the election contest suit. The town is seeking a separate attorney for election contest matters because of a perceived conflict of interest by town attorney Eugene Farish in representing Moe Jones. A special meeting to discuss hiring choices and attorney engagement will be held Wednesday June 12 at 5:30 p.m. Other actions/discussions by the board Monday included: • A unanimous vote by the board extended the Dept. of Local Affairs grant for the town’s water tower construction in order to allow
litigation to be completed concerning the status of the town’s existence as an enterprise. The vote was preceded by a lengthy discussion engaging the public, who voiced their belief that the town’s water needs must be addressed as soon as possible. • Dates for the upcoming recall were discussed but a decision was tabled until the June 18 meeting. Mayor Susan Banning assured concerned Center residents that the election laws will be scrupulously followed in the recall election and only trained, objective and experienced judges will be allowed to serve. • The town did not receive the Great Outdoors Colorado grant for their downtown park but can reapply in August if greater detail concerning particular features of the park are included in the grant application. The town hall was filled to capacity for the meeting and many citizens commented on election issues as well as the water tower construction. The board encourages Center citizens to attend future meetings and to sign up for the comment period.
Continued from Page 1A upcoming recall election. They refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance as did Trustee Herman Sisneros. Sisneros, his mother and other recall committee members accused the entire reinstated board of causing Sisneros to lose his job as manager at Family Dollar last month by filing email complaints with the company. Adeline Sanchez demanded that Trustees Julio Paez, Peggy Martinez, John Faron, Moe Jones and Mayor Susan Banning produce emails sent to the store. Banning advised her and any other interested parties to fill out Colorado Open Records Act requests. But unless any alleged emails were mailed by the trustees and the mayor in their official capacities, or emailed from a town hall related email address, the requesters have no right to the information by law. Sisneros also threatened lawsuits against the town (regarding the emails) and the Center PostDispatch for reporting about his dismissal/resignation from Family Dollar. “I tried to bring the community together, we know what happened and the reasons for it,” Sisneros said. “We won’t act like you guys,
Democratic party central committee telconference meeting CENTER— The Saguache County Democratic Party Central Committee will hold a teleconference meeting on Monday, June 24 at 7 p.m. for the following purposes: • Treasurer’s report • To consider approval of reimbursement of expenditures of treasurer for attendance at the County Party Officer’s Summit on June 22 in Blackhawk, Colo. Each Central Committee member has one vote, unless also holding a proxy. Central Committee member unable to attend contact Barb Tidd to complete a proxy form. A quorum is required to conduct business. For the call-in number or for more information, contact Barb Tidd 2218434 email@example.com or Lynne Thompson 754.9163, sheebalt@ yahoo.com.
we are professionals.” Those attending the meeting later reported that at one point Sisneros gave the middle finger to the Center PostDispatch reporter photographing the meeting. Audrey Chavez also accused Moe Jones of circulating photos around town of the condition of dumpsters at Family Dollar, but Jones denied the allegation. He explained that he had taken photos of the dumpster in the course of gathering evidence for the town’s lawsuit with Conley Waste Management. He said he then disposed of the photos once the town had copies. During the meeting catcalls were made by Audrey Chavez that the group was there to “take back our town” and she told the reinstated board members that they were “outsiders” and not welcome. Trustee Garcia commented on Sisneros’ job situation that “politics is politics but when it gets personal…We are going to stick around and stick you out.” Applause from recall committee members followed.
By Teresa L. Benns CENTER — During a special meeting Saturday, the reinstated town board voted to dismiss CIRSA insurance attorney Steven Dawes and interim town attorney Michael Trujillo, appointed by board members now declared illegally elected. The vote on Dawes passed 4 to 1 with trustees Herman Sisneros and Moe Jones abstaining. The Trujillo vote passed 5 to 2. Judge Martin Gonzales ruled Friday that the March 19 recall election was void ab initio, or from the beginning, and Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg noted that this was the same as if Trujillo was never appointed. The board then reappointed former Town Board attorney Eugene Farish to the position, despite protests by Sisneros and Trustee Chris Garcia. Neuerburg and Sisneros argued that the board should wait to dismiss Dawes until he could file an appeal of the decision, then in preparation, to void the election, which in turn would place a stay on the execution of Gonzales’ decision. The stay would restore the candidates elected during the recall to the board. Adeline Sanchez objected that the vote to dismiss Dawes would pose a conflict of interest. The board decided not to wait and to fire the attorneys anyway, to limit further legal expenses for the town. Lawsuits filed earlier by recall committee members already have resulted in the town being cancelled by one insurance carrier. Neuerburg, also members of the recall committee objected that Dawes cannot be fired in this way because he works for CISRA, not the town. In court, however, Dawes opened his witness examinations by stating that he was representing the town of Center. Also a letter received by the Center Post-Dispatch from Dawes’ firm April 22 clearly states that, “This law firm represents the Town of Center (“the town”)…” In an April 10 email to board
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members, Neuerburg announced: “This afternoon we had a conference with the attorneys who will be representing the town on our behalf and CIRSA’s…” Among other requests, Mayor Susan Banning asked both CIRSA and Neuerburg to provide her with: • any documentation of the authorization for Mr. Dawes to represent the town of Center; • any agreement that exists between Mr. Steven Dawes (or his firm)
and CIRSA related to the abovementioned case and • any understanding or correspondence related to Dawes’ representation and CIRSA’s presumed coverage for the personal legal fees of contestees Herman Sisneros, Geraldine Martinez and Edward Garcia. To date, no proof has been provided that the full board ever voted to hire Dawes.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
CIRSA attorneys file FIRE petition for contestees
Continued from Page 1A
Contestees ask Judge Gonzales for stay BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Late Wednesday June 12, new attorneys appointed by Center’s insurance firm, Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court on behalf of Center recall election contestees. Eric Ziporin of Senter, Goldfarb and Rice, LLC is now representing contestees Herman Sisneros, Edward Garcia and Geraldine Martinez. Last week, the newly reconstituted Center board dismissed CIRSA attorney Steven Dawes, who previously represented the contestees. The appeal asks for a reversal of the decision made by Judge Martin Gonzales June 7 declaring the Center recall election void ab initio (from the beginning), and returning Mayor Susan Banning and Trustees Moe Jones and John Faron to their seats on the town board. If the Supreme Court accepts the case, a stay would be placed on the decision, meaning that Sisneros would return as mayor and Martinez and Garcia would serve as trustees until a ruling is made. As of press time, there was no decision by the Supreme Court on whether it would hear the case or not. On Tuesday June 18, the contestees’ attorneys requested a stay from Judge Martin Gonzales, a move recall committee members mentioned at Wednesday’s meeting. Recall committee supporters claim Gonzales did not consider a civil rule of procedure when deciding the case. The stay, if granted, would replace the
Continued from Page 1A town is currently paying for legal fees. During the meeting Mayor Susan Banning announced that an appeal of the election contest has been filed with the Colorado Supreme Court. In an e-mail, Bryan explained what his role will mean to Center as it courses through on-going litigation surrounding the election contest. “The law firm of Garfield & Hecht, P.C. (G & H) has been asked to represent the Town of Center as special counsel for the limited purpose of analyzing potential conflict of interest and insurance coverage issues as well as advising it in instances where its full-time municipal attorney, Gene Farish, either has a conflict or is unable to provide legal services and advice to the Town.” According to Bryan, one such area of potential conflict may be the pending district court and Supreme Court proceedings in which the Town is a defendant. The firm’s role, he said, is to ensure that the Town has an independent legal advocate providing advice to the Board and acting as a liaison with the attorney appointed by the Town’s insurance carrier, a role that would typically be occupied by Mr. Farish. “Garfield & Hecht is not representing any individual Board members, Town staff, nor any insurance company, but rather independently represents the Town as an entity,” Bryan noted. “There are complex insurance coverage issues involved in this matter due to the makeup of the parties, the orders issued by the courts to date, and the overall subject matter.” Due to the ongoing litigation, he explained, G & H cannot comment on any settlement negotiations,
current board with Sisneros, Martinez and Garcia. Attorney involvement increases A total of 12 attorneys, including recently hired Christopher Bryan, have represented the town and/or its various board members over the past three months. Consideration of the appointment of Marni Kloster, Esq. as insurance defense counsel for pending litigation was listed as an agenda item for Center’s June 18 board meeting. “This is unprecedented — it is history in the making,” Mayor Susan Banning said Wednesday following the meeting. “Attorney Bryan said there has never been a litigation debacle like this before in Colorado with all its many layers of complex conflicts of interest. Every time I turn around there is another set of attorneys involved.” Those attending the special meeting Wednesday objected to the excessive attorneys’ fees Center will face over the suits. Members of the recall committee referred to the current board and its decisions as invalid. Bill McClure told the board that recently rehired Attorney Eugene Farish is “not wanted” and also is “incompetent” to handle the town’s business. Laurie Garcia objected to press coverage of her husband Edward Garcia, one of the three contestees who served as trustees prior to the reinstatement of the former board. Police Chief Bill Lucero removed political activist Jennie Sanchez from the meeting at the request of Mayor Susan Banning and Trustee Peggy Martinez for repeatedly speaking out of turn. Sanchez objected to her removal, stating that she had the right to speak out at a public meeting. She later filed a complaint with Lucero.
fire if necessary to prevent it from threatening or damaging private property or other resource values.” Blakeman said that although folks on the Salida side of the Oxcart fire are uncomfortable with the slowmoving burn and the fact that the Forest Service is allowing it, those in Saguache County don’t seem that bothered. “Fire has been up there many times before,” he said. “We
will make sure it is doing what we want it to and have a plan in place.” When asked if beetle kill pine was a concern, Blakeman pointed out that the entire west side of Saguache County is full of beetle kill spruce, but says that oddly enough they don’t pose near as much fire danger. Once their tops are off, he remarked, there is not as much to burn. “If trees have lost needles, the risk of
fire moving through the tops of the trees is significantly reduced,” he commented. “It wouldn’t be like a raging crown fire.” Blakeman said he is looking forward to the monsoon season soon in hopes it will forestall any more fires in the area. For Forest Service fire updates, go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/ riogrande
to dedicate the church. This church served the northern end of the Valley until 1876, when its administration was transferred to Del Norte. In 1968 the administration of the church fell to the St. Francis Jerome Parish in Center. The original church burned to the ground in 1912 and it took some 12 years to rebuild it. The present Church was not completed until 1923-24. A convent also was located on the church site where local nuns
offered religious instruction there in the springtime. Once the church was rebuilt, the original San Juan Fiesta held on the Feast of St. John the Baptist June 24 became a much-anticipated local event, held on the church grounds. Horse races, cock pulls, baseball games, horseshoe contests and traditional Hispano meals celebrated the event. The day concluded with a dance in the evening.
the Fire Adapted Communities and Firewise Communities/USA® programs, and provides resources to help Coloradans proactively protect
their homes and properties from wildfire. For more information, visit the CSFS website at http://csfs. colostate.edu.
Continued from Page 1A in Center, followed by a procession from the church to the park and the presentation of Fiesta royalty. The Fiesta has a long, proud history dating back to the early part of the 20th century. San Juan Church and fiesta San Juan Bautista Church in La Garita was built near its present location from logs and adobe in the early 1870s. Bishop Machbeuf himself reportedly came from Denver
Continued from Page 2A
content of the fuels on the ground is comparable to the dry air around them, they can quickly spread large fires. To help prevent ignitions this summer, Lebeda says Coloradans should avoid burning slash, flicking cigarette butts, driving ATVs through dead grass, leaving fire pits unattended and engaging in other activities that could start a fire. He also reminds landowners that early summer is a great time to address basic wildfire mitigation, such as mowing tall grasses around the home, relocating wood piles more than 30 feet from structures and clearing decks and gutters of pine needles – all steps that are necessary to maintain an effective wildfire-defensible space. “Attention to details makes a real difference,” Lebeda said. strategy, or potential outcomes The CSFS is the state lead for at this point. “Our focus is on providing the Town Board with independent legal advice as needed to help the Board comply with Judge Gonzales’ order of June 7 and to ensure that the Town can continue to lawfully conduct business and act in the best interests of its citizenry.”
Garage sale time, call
Thursday, June 20, 2013
OPINION Cooler heads really can arrive at an acceptable solution One of the last things Judge Martin Gonzales said before rendering his decision on the recall election is that most people look at the real world through emotions, but the law cannot view the world that way. And in reality, no one who hopes to accomplish anything lasting and meaningful can afford to let emotions get in the way of their goals. Sandwiched in between the allegation-ridden, disruptive Saturday and Wednesday special meetings in Center was a relatively uneventful and productive meeting that gave hope of perhaps setting emotions aside to deal with pressing community issues. Using the contrast between different meeting styles, we can see what a difference a reasoned approach makes in helping a community move forward seeking common goals. Some misconceptions were dispelled concerning both the GOCO grant for the downtown park and the water tower construction. Some town residents seemed to understand, perhaps for the first time, that the water tower project would not cost the town $2.8 million dollars, but instead would consist in a $500,000 Dept. of Local Affairs (DOLA) grant and a $1.1 million zero-percent interest loan to the town with built-in loanâ€“ forgiveness properties. By listening to DOLArepresentative Christi Culp speak with Mayor Susan Banning and other board members, residents were able to ask intelligent questions and finally achieve a common meeting ground: Center really does need a new water tower and community need outweighs the cost factor, which, after all, isnâ€™t as bad as anticipated. It even became clear that the refurbishment of the old water tower, which many prefer to keep as a landmark, cannot be covered by grant rules and therefore must be budgeted for in some other way. Credit goes to Trustee Julio Paez, who asked Culp if it was possible to receive an extension (it was) on accepting the funds and was able to save the project for now, avoiding reapplication. This is important, because funding availability for next year is uncertain and interest rates are expected to rise. Yet before the present board was reseated, the recall board intended to allow the grant arrangements with DOLA to die a natural death. Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg
MY TWO CENTS By TERESA BENNS confirmed this several weeks ago. But why was the simple question Paez posed that night about extending the grant never brought up? Had a series of meetings such as this been held last year and had moved into even friendlier channels, then perhaps there would never have been a need for a recall election. At that one meeting, with the pro and con sides equally balanced, Center residents abandoned any pretense of â€œsidesâ€? and came together for the common good. And whatâ€™s more, it worked. But it could have happened last summer, if calmer heads had ruled. But emotions and misinformation drove the recall initiative and continue to obfuscate and complicate the outcome. Now that Center is knee-deep in attorneys and drowning in legal fees, fingers are pointing at the current trustees for placing the town in a precarious financial position. But blame must be equally shared in this situation. Had the laws governing municipal elections been better followed and understood then enforced, no recount would have taken place. Had the town accepted Moe Jonesâ€™April settlement offer for a fraction of the costs now on the table, these expenses would not have snowballed. And the outcome would have been the same as that handed down by Judge Gonzales â€” agreement to a new election. When emotions are left out of the equation, the legal and common sense path to resolution becomes so much clearer. Town resident Mona Garcia put it all in perspective for those at the meeting by first explaining the importance of the water project for the entire town, then asking this pertinent question: â€œWhy canâ€™t we all just grow up?â€?
Great things going on Center Schools summer school programs are officially in full swing. Sarah Vance, Haskin Elementary grades 3-5 principal, is supervising a summer reading academy focused on supporting students who are performing below grade level in reading. Once again, highly trained staff members are utilizing Lindamood-Bell intervention techniques to support our kids in increasing their reading comprehension and fluency skills. Additionally, Haskin Elementary School special education teacher LJ Garcia is supervising Skoglund Middle School's math and reading summer school Student attendees to this program are getting basic support in math and reading fundamentals including division, multiplication, number facts, and descriptive writing. Haskin Elementary also has an enrichment\book study program taking place for two weeks during which students are reading "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" while discussing such deep topics as racism, the Holocaust, and general life-long struggles. Haskin Elementary 4th5th grade teacher Colleen Hurst is doing an excellent job of guiding this enrichment group. I would like to remind everyone that our cafeteria is open to the public between now and July 3. We are serving free meals to all community children up to age 20. Parents and adults are also welcome to join in for a nominal free. Dianna Valenzuela and her crew do a great job preparing healthy, nutritious meals, and I am also very impressed with how they are taking care of each other, and themselves. They take time to exercise each day as a group during their mid-morning break time. Keep up the great work ladies! Finally, this week I want to thank the Center Schools custodial staff, and especially Tony Garcia, for the great work they are doing keeping
our grounds looking wonderful. It wasn't until late summer last year that we got all of our landscaping done in relation to our new building project. This summer is the first opportunity we have had to learn what it will take to keep the grounds looking beautiful. Tony is our head groundskeeper and he has been doing a great job maintaining the landscape while also learning how to care for and feed the beautiful plant life that occupies our school grounds. The past week Last week I attended our monthly San Luis Valley superintendent advisory council meeting as well as the regular June board of education and district accountability committee meetings. On Wednesday I participated in interviews designed to hire a new BOCES migrant education director. I also took some personal vacation time late in the week during which I joined in on the 75-mile Ride the Rockies leg from Alamosa to Salida (actually I cheated and left from Center). I then spent some time working around my house and yard on Friday. Big things we are working on Middle and High School summer school are in full swing. After last week's board meeting I believe we now only have one certified teacher opening left to fill. We'll be finalizing our 2013-14 budget in the next week or so. We'll also be completing our Federal Programs grant application in the next week. The coming week Short of having an Even Start Board meeting during the middle of the day on Wednesday I have an extremely open week. I will be working on my To Do list which includes finalizing this year's Race to the top of the Valley expenditures, setting up our first valley wide iPad pilot meeting, and contacting next year's All Valley PLC leaders to plan some training. I hope to take an afternoon or two
KEEPING OUR FOCUS BY GEORGE WELSH off this week to spend time with my family, or to work on my home improvement projects. 'Extra points Though a little late, I would like to wish all the fathers, and father figures, a happy Father's Day. It is probably impossible to replace the caring and nurturing spirit of the typical mother, but in the time I have been in Center I have noticed that many of our best and brightest kids usually can be traced to a significant father figure in their lives. These Dad's come in all types. Sometimes they are traditional. Sometimes a grandfather or uncle fills the role. Sometimes a family friend or even a Center Schools employee steps in to support the child. Good fathers teach their kids the value of hard work and effort, and to be willing to take risks. They show them it is okay to fail as long as you try your hardest, and they show them how to prioritize the truly important things in life. We have many great fathers in our community and that allows us to work with some truly wonderful kids here at the Center School District. I wish you all a happy Father's Day week and I thank you for all you do to support your kids and our schools!
Letters to the editor Letters are welcome and encouraged. They should be fewer than 300 words, and they are subject to editing for length and clarity. All letters must be signed by the author and include a phone number and address where the author can be reached (these are not for publication). We will accept one letter per person, per subject, per four issues. We reserve the right to reject letters for reasons we believe are appropriate. Please send letters to Letter to the Editor c/o Valley Publishing, PO Box 607, Monte Vista, CO 81144 or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 112, Number 26
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Center's insurance coverage in question BY TERESA L. BENNS
Fire ban in place CENTER â€” To protect the health and welfare of its citizens, the Center Town Board passed a resolution instituting a fire ban in the town during a special meeting Monday. The local ban follows passage of a county-wide ban last week by County Commissioners and the Saguache Sheriffâ€™s Office. For specifics about the ban, contact the town of Center at 754-3497.
CENTER â€” A publicly circulated email demanding redress of recall election errors and threatening litigation if ballot secrecy problems were not addressed was sent to Center town officials March 28 by Aspenbased Citizen Center, but was never reported as an insurance claim. No evidence was discovered that the town ever conveyed this claim to its insurers (CIRSA), a failure to report an apparent â€œnoticeâ€? of an insurable event in the timely manner
required under their insurance policy. Limits of coverage under the townâ€™s municipal insurance policy issued by CIRSA were discussed in an executive session held during a special meeting of the Center Town Board Monday. No public meeting discussions on the coverage followed the executive session. In a June 8 letter to CIRSA, Mayor Susan Banning requested documents detailing coverage by the company, but received no reply. Under the terms of the insurance policy, Center
officials are required to immediately forward to CIRSA any notice of claim or event received involving a â€œviolation of civil rights.â€? A â€œclaimâ€? includes a notice regarding an â€œintent to sue.â€? The policy states that a failure to comply with these conditions may result in a loss of coverage. Monday afternoon, Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg shared public records showing that no letter of acceptance, denial or a reservation of rights was ever received from CIRSA following his one and only April
The West Fork Fire boils up in the La Garita mountains over the weekend, as beetlekill spruce stoke a fire officials say could burn for months. See related story on page 2A.
would be the same 125 years ago as they are today: The Windsor Hotel and the pharmacy, which has known many names and owners over the decades. Miners and trappers coming into the town would visit the pharmacy for painkillers and other medicinal remedies and supplies they might need on the trail. Cowboys would buy liniments for sore muscles after a Please see SODA on Page 8A
Please see COURT on Page 7A
Smoke clouds from the Oxcart Fire, now at 1,100 acres, billow over the Poncha Pass area.
Photo by Jack Connors, Rio Grande National Forest
Pharmacy restoring historic soda fountain BY TERESA L. BENNS DEL NORTE â€” Rio Grande Pharmacy owners Richard and Angelia Campbell now are renovating their nostalgic soda fountain to complete the historic drugstoreâ€™s two-year facelift. The classic fountain is a â€œwork in progressâ€? Angie Campbell said, but will be open soon for coffee service. Barstools are in and will be in place soon.
Before the fountain can be completely redone, Campbell said, its 1924 plumbing will need to be modified and a handicapped accessible restroom added. No date for completion is set yet, but Campbell says she hopes work on the fountain will be finished by August or September. Historic past In 1887, as shoppers walked down Main Street in Del Norte two things
BY TERESA L. BENNS DENVER â€” The Colorado Supreme Court agreed Friday morning to hear the Center election contest case, but ordered that the board currently serving shall remain in place. Plaintiffs Maurice C. Jones and Citizen Center, a Colorado non-profit corporation, were directed to answer in writing on or before July 8, in order to explain why the relief requested in the petition to the court should not be granted. Christian Samora, Herman Sisneros, Geraldine Martinez and Edward Garcia were given 15 days to reply to the court. Jennie Sanchez and Mary McClure were granted permission to file an amicus curae brief in the case. The court also invited the Secretary of Stateâ€™s Office to file an amicus brief. In a special meeting held Monday evening, Mayor Susan Banning announced that the Supreme Court placed a stay on the recall election until it can render a decision. The tasks assigned to the newly appointed election committee were modified in open session to exclude any tasks previously related to the recall, with Banning commenting that to keep the board in place with its original agenda might â€œbe in violation of that stay.â€? The Supreme Courtâ€™s document reads that: â€œPursuant to C.A.R. 21(g) (2), all further proceedings are stayed until further order of this court except the following orders, which shall remain in effect during the pendency of this matter: (2) The portion of the trial courtâ€™s order of June 7, 2013, that declares the town board as constituted March 18, 2013, to be the governing body for the Town of Center until completion of the election recall process.â€? In a recent edition of their publication Carenelas Unidos, the recall election committee officially commented as follows on the granting of the petition to hear the case: â€œThe Supreme Court does not take all cases; in fact they take only a few.
'JSTU"WFr.POUF7JTUB (719) 852-3531
Please see INSURANCE on Page 3A
to hear Center case
SAGUACHEâ€”The Saguache County Landfill and Recycling Center will be closed until further notice beginning Sunday June 30, in order to comply with The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regulations. Notification will be sent out regarding the expected reopen date. They apologize for the inconvenience.
10 report of the claim, raising the question of whether the town is indeed insured for the Jones claim, based partially on violations of votersâ€™ civil rights. Neuerburg made the report after receiving legal notification from plaintiffs Jones and Citizen Center that a suit had been filed April 8. Separate and apart from the concern over the lack of timely notification, the Center PostDispatch has investigated and
Fires scorching San Luis Valley Court agrees
Landfill temporarily closed
On behalf of the San Luis Valley, we would like to thank all those who have played a part in managing, containing and fighting the West Fork Fire Complex. Thank you for your commitment to the safety of one another, your commitment to public service, your professional stewardship of the land and for working with our communities. We are honored to have you protecting our homes.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Recall election date set SOS to supervise BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Following an executive session June 18, the Center Town Board voted to set the official recall election date for Sept. 3, appointing the Secretary of State’s Office and Saguache County Clerk Carla Gomez to supervise the election. During the session, convened for attorney/client privilege, the board also discussed the hiring of Marni Kloster, provided by its insurance company Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), to represent the town. The board approved hiring Kloster in open session. As the result of another executive session discussion, the board voted in open session to appoint a three-person rule-setting committee to prepare for the election. Trustees Peggy Martinez and Chris Garcia were appointed to the committee. Crestone resident Lisa Cyriacks, who has experience in conducting and reviewing elections, also will sit on the committee. Trustee Garcia has not yet accepted his appointment. Mayor Susan Banning said the committee will conduct public meetings and allow public comment. She also said that the committee would deal with things, such as appointing a designated election official, finding a better place to conduct the election than the back room at town hall currently used, compiling a list of election judges, verifying signatures of absentee voters, providing better support for Spanish-speaking voters, training watchers and other projects. These recommendations would then be brought to the town board for consideration. Audrey (Theresa) Chavez objected to Cyriacks serving on the committee, alleging that she is a supporter of the currently presiding trustees. “What part will the clerk [Christian Samora] play in this?” Trustee Herman Sisneros asked. “We still have one.” Samora is due back soon from a two-week paid administrative leave. “We will set a special meeting just for the election and you can recommend Christian be appointed as the designated election official,” Banning suggested. “Anyone can assist the committee in any part of this.” A lengthy discussion over a proposed election newsletter issued by the town, how it would be written and by whom, then followed. It ended in a decision by the board to limit the newsletter to a timeline of events from June forward, the last two paragraphs of Judge Gonzales’ ruling on the election and the fact that stubs were left on absentee ballots. Those who wish to review Gonzales’ entire decision on the recall can obtain a free copy at town hall or download it from the town’s website, www. centerco.gov Mounting expenditures During the citizens' comment period of the meeting, several Center residents made known their concerns about the town’s rising legal fees and other expenses and how they would be paid. Mike Garcia told the board that it lost money on a $44,000 cement job that must be redone, complaining that the contractors have not yet made good on their work. “That cement job is as flaky as the government of this town,” Garcia said. Melvin Martinez complained that, “With the money we are wasting on lawyers and the recall election, we could have bought police cars.” Victor Duran asked the board
why the town is still “providing representation for Geraldine Martinez and Edward Garcia when they are no longer board members? Who is responsible for (attorney) Mike Trujillo’s fees since he was not hired by the town?” Trujillo was engaged by those elected in the recall election, but Gonzales ruled that election void. Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg told the board, “I don’t have a hard tally for the costs of litigation, but I am monitoring it closely. It is a very big concern.” He listed some legal expenses already directly incurred by the town, and Banning estimated the actual cost as somewhere around $80,000, to date. That amount, however, does not reflect the actual fees paid to the town’s insurance attorneys by its insurance carrier, CIRSA, only deductibles and town attorneys’ fees. “We need budget amendments to deal with that,” Neuerburg said, indicating such amendments could be made in August or September. “We’re stretched, doing okay, but I have a concern about expenses.” The town’s insurance coverage pays per incident, each incident requiring the payment of another $25,000 deductible fee, but it is not clear in the policy what constitutes a separate incident. Contestees filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court two weeks ago and also filed a petition for a stay with Gonzales on June 17, adding to the amount already spent on legal expenses. If granted, the stay would replace the current board with those elected during the recall — Sisneros, Martinez and Garcia. If plaintiff Moe Jones wins his suit against the town, the insurance company would be required to pay his legal fees, now estimated at over $200,000. The next regular town board meeting was set for July 2 at 6 p.m.
INSURANCE Continued from Page 1A
found that the Town has received no acceptance of coverage for the lawsuit. Generally, before proceeding to litigation, the insured has documentation of whether the claim is covered by insurance. The town can provide no documentation of such coverage, leaving critics to wonder whether any insurance coverage exists. Following Monday's executive session, Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg said during a phone interview Tuesday, he could not confidently state that CIRSA coverage does exist in sufficient amount to cover the losses. “More information should be forthcoming soon,” Neuerburg remarked. Citizen Center’s email In a March 28 e-mail sent by Marilyn Marks to Center Town Attorney Eugene Farish and copied to several others, Marks stated the issue of stubs not removed from voted absentee ballots during the March 19 Center recall election was “a violation of …constitutional rights” and “is a problem for the town and/ or its voters to solve, preferably not in court. However, if the town does not take the initiative to resolve this matter, I will encourage numerous Center mail ballot voters to ask the state district court to void the election, and encourage them to seek recovery of their attorney’s fees as part of their section 1983 claims.” In her email, Marks attached the 1964 Supreme Court decision (Taylor v. Pile) later relied on by Judge Martin Gonzales in deciding the election contest case. “The entire litigation and controversy could have been avoided with no cost, if the town had been willing to recognize before, during or after the recount that it had violated voters’ rights and just opted not to certify the recount for that reason,” Marks commented to the Center Post-Dispatch Tuesday. “A new
election would have been required, just as the judge ultimately ordered, after the parties spent hundreds of thousands on attorneys to reach the same result.” Marks further noted that even after the suit was filed on April 8, plaintiff Moe Jones offered a settlement that would have cost about $20,000 and would have involved a voluntary new election respecting voters’ privacy rights. The town refused to discuss the proposal. After Gonzales’ ruling, they again approached the town to attempt to settle the fee portion of the case that has not yet gone to trial, but the offer was again denied. ”We do not understand the town’s preference for expensive litigation over out of court resolution of disputes,” Marks concluded. If CIRSA had been made aware of the situation and the email to Farish, its policy indicates that the company could have called for an investigation and even potentially settled the claim with citizen center, effectively pre-empting any court action. Financial concerns: possible loss of coverage Many Center residents have expressed concerns that legal costs of the current election contest lawsuit and other suits will adversely impact the town’s ability to stay afloat financially. Should CIRSA decide
that the unreported March 28 threat of litigation actually does constitute a violation of their policy, the town might be left holding the bag for its own defense, Clerk Samora’s separate defense and that of the contestees, judging from reports of similar cases. These expenses could easily top over $500,000 including fees for multiple attorneys and the money potentially owed to Moe Jones on the “equal protection” portion of the case. That case has yet to be tried in Gonzales’ court and has nothing to do with the issues now under consideration by the Colorado Supreme Court. In addition, the town may stand to lose CIRSA as an insurer. The town lost its previous insurer last year owing to excessive claims on its policy, and some town officials have expressed concern that this would make it difficult to find yet another insurer. Even if CIRSA continues its coverage for Center, however, the town may see a rise in its premiums, officials speculate. One out-of-Valley insurance specialist, on learning of the unreported email, commented that this omission gives the insurance company “every reason not to pay their claim.” Recipients of the March 28 email from Marks were unavailable for comment.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Attorneys, Center board sits legally No recall election pending ASPEN — According to a news release from Center town attorneys Christopher Bryan and Mary Elizabeth Geiger, Garfield & Hecht, P.C., the current town board sits legally and the Sept. 3 recall election is stayed until further notice. Bryan’s clarification of Judge Martin Gonzales June 7 decision in the election contest case was issued Tuesday. Gonzales voided the March 19 Center recall election and ordered that a new recall election be held within 90 days.
Contestees Herman Sisneros, Geraldine Martinez and Edward Garcia appealed Gonzales’ decision to the state Supreme Court and on June 21 the court agreed to hear the case. The resultant Supreme Court Order stays both the recall election and district court action on the second half of the claim brought by plaintiffs Moe Jones and Citizen Center. “The current town board of trustees is the valid and legal governing body for the town of Center…since June 7 and can hold meetings and conduct town business. Unless and until this judgment is further stayed and
overturned by court order, the town must follow it,” attorneys wrote in the news release. They added that it is their opinion there was “no automatic 14-day ‘stay’ of the judgment — a waiting period before the judgment is effective…Rules of Civil Procedure do not impose an automatic 14-day stay. The current town board of Trustees was immediately able, after June 7, to hold meetings and conduct business…In fact the Judgment entered by Judge Gonzales effectively required it.” According to Mayor Susan Banning, a state Supreme Court decision in the case could “take months.”
Baker teaching concealed carry class in July SAN LUIS VALLEY —Firearms expert John Baker will offer a concealed carry weapons classes from 9 a.m to 5 p.m at his residence, 22500 CR 59 in Moffat July 6-7 and 13-14. Baker is an NRA Life training instructor, Chief Range Safety officer certified semi-auto and revolver instructor and Baker is a Chief Range Safety officer. He also is a home firearm safety, pistol, semi-auto and revolver, rifle, shotgun, personal protection (basic – advanced certification) instructor and has been a certified peace officer since 1971. Learn from an experienced Instructor who has defended his life and the lives of others with a firearm. A manual is included with the course.
This is an eight-hour firearms safety course not an NRA course. The course covers Colorado state law, firearms safety, safety examination, shooting fundamentals, malfunctions, imminent danger, use of deadly force, self-defense tactics, and reciprocity. One hour of range practice is included. Cost of the course is $100. Pre-registration is required. Students must provide: • 100 rounds factory ball, (FMJ) ammunition (the right caliber for each personal handgun, no reloads), brimmed hat, firearm, shirt with collar. All firearms will be safety inspected. • Two magazines for semiautomatics; single stack, three to four. • Ear protection/ provided, eye
protection, (safety, shooting/ plastic lens glasses) or/ provided. • County Sheriff’s of Colorado concealed carry license application provided at the class. • Springfield XD 9 mm semiautomatic pistols and revolvers are available for use, no fee. No loaded weapons/ magazines will be allowed in the classroom. This course is designed both for the beginner and the experienced. All classes are small and offer personal instruction. Private instruction also is available for three or more. A certificate will be issued upon completion. Lunch, drink, coffee, tea and water provided! To register, contact John Baker, 719-256-5148, or 5882008.
Continued from Page 1A The court will decide the case quickly. Because the citizens of Center need to know who has authority to run their town, the Supreme Court uses rapid process. Lawyers expect a decision within 60 days.” The publication says it is possible that that Mayor Susan Banning was only declared as officially running the town since June 21. The amicus curae brief filed by Sanchez and McClure states that, “There has been no finding by the district court that the absentee ballot stubs at issue had any impact on the election… There is no evidence that ballot secrecy was actually violated in this recall election.” The decision issued by judge Martin Gonzales, however, reads as follows: "The critical point is that the election judges had access to the list throughout the course of the day of the election, during which time they could have made a mental or physical note of the absentee ballot numbers corresponding to specifi c voters, and these same election judges proceeded to count the votes on the entirety of the absentee ballots with the ballot stubs (including ballot numbers) attached thereto. The absentee voters’ constitutional right to a secret ballot
was violated as soon as the election judges viewed the first ballot with a ballot stub attached. The election was fundamentally fl awed from that point forward and must now be declared void ab initio." Attorneys for the town wrote in a response last week to a motion for stay filed in Saguache District Court that, “None of the actions that the current town board has taken have been self-serving or directed at the election. They have simply addressed time-sensitive matters and ensured that the town had legal counsel who were competent and would act in the best interest of the town…Contestees seem to ignore the fact that they operated the town and made a variety of decisions during their brief tenure with the town, even though the litigation was ongoing. As such, as explained above, the status quo is actually the town board as it existed prior to the invalid recall election. The best interest of the public lies with the town’s being able to operate, even while this matter is contested.” The motion in district court was pre-empted by the Supreme Court’s decision to grant the defendants’ petition to hear the case.
Volume 112, Number 27
Thursday, July 4,2013
CIRSA assigns Center a claim number Coverage still in question BY TERESA L. BENNS
Oxcart fire nears total containment
CENTER — After the conclusion of a district court trial, settlement offers and a state Supreme Court appeal, town of Center insurers have finally assigned the town a claim number and confirmed that they are reserving rights in the litigation. Reservation of rights means the insurance company can opt out of
its coverage if the claim does not meet specific terms set up within the policy in the manner determined by the insurer. In the course of their letter, addressed to Mayor Susan Banning and Center trustees, Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) described a number of scenarios that would preclude them from providing coverage to the town. In the first page of the letter CIRSA warned the town that while it will continue to defend them in the state Supreme Court case, it may not
provide coverage for the following: • those not fitting the description of any elected or appointed official, trustee or employee, (coverage does not apply to any loss arising out of the actions of any elected or appointed official, trustee, director, officer, employee, volunteer or judge of a member entity “while acting outside the scope and performance of their official duties.)" • those found not guilty of wrongful acts (actual or alleged errors or omissions, a negligent act, any law affording protection for civil rights or
a violation of the state Constitution); • unless there is ultimate net loss Center is legally obligated to pay; • in the case of damages sought by the plaintiffs, which are excluded from the policy or limited; • punitive damages awarded for conduct considered willful or wanton, (disregard of someone’s rights, or conduct callously indifferent or motivated by evil intent); • any involvement of the town with the contestors, their agents or Please see CIRSA on Page 3A
Center teacher elected to attend NEA assembly
SAGUACHE COUNTY — According to Mike Blakeman, public affairs specialist, SLV Public Lands Center and fire public information officer, the Oxcart Fire is now 95 percent contained. The total acreage destroyed by the fire remains at 1,152. “Increased humidity and some rain have greatly reduced fire activity,” Blakeman said. “Smoke may continue to be visible from time to time due to pockets of burning fuels inside the containment lines.” According to Blakeman’s report, the spot fire on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is fully contained. The fire is burning near North and South Rock Creeks six miles southeast of Poncha Pass. No structures were lost in the blaze.
BY TERESA L. BENNS
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Photo by Teresa Benns
Independence Day A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. North northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the morning. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Thursday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 48. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph. Friday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming west northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Friday night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 49. West northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Saturday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Saturday night A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 48. West northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
Kids enjoying great fun in Crestone at a previous Fourth of July parade. Don't miss the celebration.
Get ready for Crestone's celebration CRESTONE — This year’s Fourth of July Celebration in Crestone is already shaping up to be a fantastic downtown-wide celebration with a variety of events to please everyone. There will be a 5 km “Run, Walk, or Crawl” race; opportunities for kids to decorate themselves to join the parade; vendors and music in the park; the noon parade with the theme of “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Ride Again”; a water event after the parade; and the Sixth Annual Crestone Indie 600 [foot] Soap Box Derby. Vendor fees are $30 for a 10 x
10 space and $50 for a 10 x 20 space. Everyone in neighboring communities is invited to participate. Here’s what to do to get involved: • Rent a booth space for merchandise, ideas, or services. • Get in shape for the race to win that prize ribbon. • Make a parade float (defined as any decorated vehicle). • Organize or be a parade marching unit, anyone costumed and walking. • Be a parade equestrian unit, any animal(s) leashed, controlled and poop-scooped for the 10-block route.
• Build a soap box car and make sure it has brakes. To join the parade, just show up at the lineup area on Copper Avenue at 11 a.m. July 4. The Soap Box Derby requires pre-registration and a $5 youth, $10 adult entry fee, which will be used as prizes for adult and youth design and speed. Gretchen Nelson at Town Hall, 256-4313 or crestone@fairpoint. net, is the Fourth of July celebration coordinator. Please contact her for information, to volunteer, or to rent a booth space.
CENTER — Center Schools’ Response to Intervention Coordinator Susan Banning, also Center’s Mayor, was elected by the state membership of the National Education Assoc. (NEA) recently to represent Colorado at NEA’s national congress this week. Banning will represent southern Colorado for eight consecutive years and was recently reappointed to the NEA Resolutions Committee’s Hispanic Education subcommittee. There are 105 Colorado delegates attending the assembly. "I am involved in Colorado Delegate Assembly and the National Representative Assembly because rural Colorado rarely has a voice to support rural public education and its issues," Banning said in an e-mail from Atlanta Monday. This year Banning is a contact for the state of Montana, and said previous state contacts have taught her a lot about how “similar concerns can be solved by working together.” This year the NEA Representative Assembly (RA) is being hosted in Atlanta, Ga. from June 26-July 6. The assembly has between 8,500 and 9,000 delegates, selected from every state as well as international and federal (military base) schools. The theme of this year’s RA is “NEA: We Educate America.” Those attending the assembly will hear speakers on social justice, practice and preparation for meeting the demands of 21st-century education
Center schools approve 2013-14 BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER – Despite federal and state budget cuts and other challenges, the Center Consolidated School District will begin the school year with over $400,000 in reserve funds and will not be eliminating any currently employed staff members. The final budget approved for the coming school year was $7,399,476.
The school's non-appropriated reserve amounts to $436,630. General fund appropriation was $5,534,518. The pre-school fund was listed at $100,000, governmental designated-purpose grant funds at $883,219, the pupil activity special revenue fund came in at $31,500 and the transportation fund at $345,955. A total of $19,968 was budgeted for the
building fund, $306, 966 for the food service fund and $177,350 for the pupil activity agency fund. “We've done this tightly and that now puts us in a better position to be ready for the auditors,” Supt. George Welsh told the board. “The $400,000 reserve is pretty amazing considering where we were six weeks ago." Please see BUDGET on Page 3A
Susan Banning Please see BANNING on Page 3A
OBITUARIES RONALD DEAN PAULSON, 80 MONTE VISTA—Lifetime resident of the San Luis Valley Ronald Dean Paulson, 80, died at his home surrounded by his loving family on Thursday, June 28, 2013. Ronald was the oldest son born to Oscar and Arabelle (Etherton) Paulson. He graduated from Del Norte High School where he met and married the love of his life, Wanda Dunnington Paulson on February 3, 1951. The couple made their home in Del Norte, where Ronnie worked for the Del Norte Ford Motor Company and farmed, while Wanda worked as a telephone operator. Leslie, Randy, Roy and Rodney were all born on land they farmed in Del Norte. In January of 1958, they purchased the family farm outside of Monte Vista. There, they were blessed with two more children Kimberly and Rock. Ronnie was a hard-working farmer, who grew various agricultural crops and also raised cows, sheep, chickens, pigs and horses. Ronnie worked various other jobs such as driving a mail route to help support his family. Ronnie loved farming, taking his family on camping adventures in the mountains, playing card and board games, reading, singing, playing the organ, storytelling, watching western movies and horses. He lived for family get-togethers and any opportunity to give his grandchildren a teasing. Ronnie believed in strong family values, honesty, commitment, and hard work. He took pride and joy in his children including: Leslie (Dick)
Bennet of Montrose, Colo.; Randy (Aleece) Paulson and Roy (Joy) Paulson all of Monte Vista, Rodney (Betty) of Center, Kim (John) Brown of Rio Rancho, N.M. and Rock (Terri) Paulson of Monte Vista. Ronnie was loved and admired by 14 grandchildren: Chris (Tisha) Bennet, Cindy Bennet, Cari (Cameron) Dillon, Boe (Heather) Paulson, Amy Paulson, Noah (Lindsey) Paulson, Adam (Stacey) Paulson, Bryan (Lacie) Paulson, Aubrey (Jake) Pargin, Brandon Paulson, Chad and Chase Brown, Ryan and Rafe Paulson, 21 great-grandchildren, three sisters-inlaw, two brothers-in-law, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and numerous lifetime friends and neighbors. Ronnie is preceded in death by his wife, Wanda Dunnington Paulson, his parents Oscar andArabelle Paulson and brothers Jim and Hank (Betty) Paulson. Ronnie’s family was honored to have been loved and cherished by him. His legacy of integrity, honesty, loyalty and hard work and love he had for his family will live on with us forever. Viewing will be held on Wednesday, July 3, from 9 a.m.. to 5 p.m. at Rogers Family Mortuary in Monte Vista. The Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, July 6 at 10 a.m.. at the Rogers Family Mortuary in Monte Vista. Donations can be made to the Paralyzed Veterans Association. Arrangements are in care of Rogers Family Mortuary of Monte Vista and online condolences may be made at www.rogersfunerals.com.
Bessey waives advisement DELNORTE—Double Homicide suspect Daniel M. Bessey waived formal advisement last week and was expected in 12th Judicial District Court at 3 p.m. June 25 to listen as attorneys argued motions. Prosecutors have charged Bessey with 20 offenses, including two counts of first-degree murder, for the February 13, 2012, shooting deaths of John Salazar, 54, and Sarah Beasley, 29. The accused has yet to enter a formal plea. Salazar and Beasley were shot to death by someone wielding a small-caliber handgun during the early morning hours as Salazar was leaving for work as a custodian at Bill Metz Elementary School in Monte Vista. Investigators from the Monte Vista Police Department and other agencies quickly identified Bessey as a person of interest, due to the fact that he is the father of Beasley’s youngest child and there was a custody case pending;
BY TERESA L. BENNS
DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court granted a request by attorneys for plaintiffs Moe Jones and Citizen Center to delay their response to the court’s decision to hear the case until July 22. Attorneys Robert McGuire and Jeff Baines requested the delay owing to an inadvertent error by the defendants ‘attorney, Eric Ziporin with Senter, Goldfarb and Rice to notified. If you have questions call the access transcripts from the decision rendered by Saguache District Judge camp manager at 873-5311. There are still openings at this Martin Gonzales on which to base the time. Registrations are available on line at www.beavercreekcamp.org. The first-second, seventh-eighth and ninth – 12th camps remain as previously scheduled.
garage sale time
SHERIFF’S REPORT The following were provided by the Saguache Sheriff's office for the week of June 25-July 1. Citations LaCrecia Smith, 27, Alamosa, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Estrebarto Palma-Loya, 61, Pagosa Springs, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Charles Gallagher, 48,Alamagordo, N.M., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Benjamin Lincoln, 43, Santa Fe, N.M., speeding 69 in a 65 MPH zone John Kunkler, 49, Sandy, Utah, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Robert Cealschlager, 19, Santa
Fe, N.M., speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Jason Walker, 34, Dickinson, Texas, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Donald Lodell, 67, Littleton, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Juan Vega-Meraz, 33, Henderson, Nev., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone
however, a number of other possible suspects were identified and vetted in the months after the homicides. Investigation is continuing. Salazar’s family told them the defendant was upset about child custody issues, while Deputy Public Defender Jill Allen contended that Bessey and Beasley got along well with each other and often exchanged text messages. The defense contends that Bessey and Beasley were planning a future together, despite the fact that the woman was living with Salazar and Bessey was living with a woman in Saguache. A key piece of evidence against Bessey is a flashlight found near Salazar’s body the morning of the killings. Bessey admits it was his flashlight, but claims he dropped it after he finished making a repair on Beasley’s car several days beforehand. Bessey also claims Beasley called him or texted him to let him know the flashlight was at her place. Investigators subpoenaed phone
records of both Beasley and Bessey and found no records of any communication between the two. One of Beasley’s children told investigators that he and his brothers were playing in the family’s yard the day before the killings and did not notice the flashlight. The two older boys told investigators they saw their mother shot to death, but could not identify the shooter, who was dressed all in black and wearing a ski mask. The two older boys are in the care of their father’s relatives and the baby, Edward, is still in Oklahoma, where he was taken by Bessey and his woman friend between the date of the homicides and Bessey’s arrest in January of this year. Bessey remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bond, including $25,000 cash up front. Twelfth Judicial District Judge Martin Gonzales has been assigned to the case, while Jack Roth of the Colorado attorney general’s staff is lead prosecutor.
Court delays response time for plaintiffs
Beaver Creek camp changes SOUTH FORK – Due to the West Fork Complex Fire, the Beaver Creek Youth Camp Commission has rescheduled the cancelled third and fourth grade camp for July 28-August 2. The fifth and sixth grade camp has been rescheduled for July 21-26. Previously registered campers will be
Thursday, July 4,2013
plaintiffs’ attorneys’ response. McGuire and Baines explained in their request for a postponement of the response that “The respondents need the official trial transcript to adequately prepare their Answer brief because only the official transcript can be cited and because the respondents rely heavily on the
trial transcript in their arguments, both as to the validity of certain factual findings made by the district court and formulation of issues presented to this court.” Prior to the delay, estimates on when the Supreme Court will hear the case ranged from a few to several months.
Thursday, July 4,2013
Continued from Page 1A attorneys; • interference with CIRSA’s investigation or handling of the case; • and “Further, to the extent that the Contestors claims ere neither made nor reported to CIRSA during the coverage document’s period, or to the extent that any covered party had knowledge of, or reasonably could have foreseen circumstances likely to give rise to the Contestors’ claims, the Coverage Document does not provide coverage and CIRSA has no duty to defend or indemnify Center against the lawsuit.” The CIRSA letter was written to the Town prior to the appearance of last week’s article in the Center PostDispatch citing the town’s failure to report receiving a notification of an intent to sue in late March. Lawyers’ response Attorney David H. McConaughy, with the firm Garfield and Hecht, P.C., now covering the town, thanked CIRSA for the letter. But he inquired why this was the first time the board has seen the coverage letter, which the town originally requested from CIRSA as far back as April. “This late response also raises some concerns as to how CIRSA has made a determination
Continued from Page 1A of coverage and reservation of rights,” after and not before the court hearing and recent Colorado Supreme Court appeal. He then posed the following questions: Was a similar reservation of rights sent to the contestees? Will the contestees be covered if they lose the Supreme Court case? McCanaughy also told CIRSA the town will be directing CIRSA attorney Marni Kloster to examine settlement offers made by Moe Jones. However, these offers both have since expired. McConaughy also raised conflicts of interest concerns and asked how CIRSA will address these. The attorney chided CIRSA for its accusation of “improper conduct” on the part of the town concerning the firing of CIRSA attorney Steven Dawes, pointing out that Dawes was indisputably conflicted and was “compelled to withdraw.” McConaughey also told CIRSA’s director Tami Tonoue and litigation supervisor Pat Merrill that they are ignoring their duties to the insured (the town) “to have qualified litigation counsel in place during the pendency of the case without interruption.”
Continued from Page 1A and take an active role in shaping policy. They also attended a Dr. Seuss read-in and performed community service earlier this week, helping to restore an older Atlanta school. Eighteen months ago, Banning was elected as one of two NEA Resolutions Committee members to fill a vacancy on a 150-member NEA committee. She was placed on a 9-12 member Hispanic Education subcommittee a year ago and was just re-elected for a two- year term in April. NEA’s Resolutions Committee meets twice a year — in February and three days before the Representative
A s s e m b l y. T h e R e s o l u t i o n s Committee then presents its work to the entire RA at an Opening Hearing on Resolutions during the Assembly. Center Consolidated Schools Supt. George Welsh described Banning as a “leader amongst teachers in the State of Colorado.” Banning has worked for years with state education agencies and state legislators on behalf of Center Schools, Welsh noted. “ We s u p p o r t t e a c h e r a n d administrator membership in their professional organizations,” Welsh said. “It helps them to become better staff members and provides them a global view of education.”
Discussion during the budgeting approval process included questions about principals' contracts, cafeteria funding and the technology fund. Welsh also gave an update on the possible availability of Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funds for this year. School board member James Sanchez questioned a principal's contract revision, commenting that, "Incentives should be given at the end of the year," but not as a salary item. "I'm old-fashioned maybe, but it looks like we are bribing them to do their job." School Board President Michael Lobato responded to Sanchez, explaining that, "We're giving them more work. We can't give them raises so we give them incentives." When extra work is assigned without a raise, staff members sometimes transfer to other schools. “With the budget restrictions we have now, we are taking money from other areas,” Sanchez objected. "A $1,000 [increase] wouldn't make me go to another school." Lobato commented that Alamosa pays principals $6-7,000 more than Center and in Denver it can be as much a $30,000 more. The principals' salary packages passed on unanimous votes following the discussion. Accountant Betty Casanova told the board that for many years Center had to allocate much greater amounts of General Fund dollars to cafeteria funding than it currently does, noting that the cafeteria has a fund balance of some $51,000. Sanchez told Casanova that he knows that several cafeteria programs in the Valley are running in the red and complimented cafeteria staff for keeping costs down. In discussing technology director Julio Paez’ budget for the school year, Welsh told the board that to cut costs and for practical reasons the school hopes to purchase iPads versus laptops for students in grades six and nine. Students in grades four and five currently are using four-yearold netbooks, and Welsh hopes to also get iPads for them. Welsh said by taking advantage of a three-year
Royalty crowned at fiesta
Photo by Teresa Benns
Former San Juan Fiesta Queen Jasmine Palacios and newly crowned queen Maizie Trujillo were honored at the San Juan Fiesta held in Center's downtown park recently.
log on to wwww.centerpostdispatch.com
purchase agreement for iPads, the school can “keep our reserves over $400,000 and we won't be hurt on cash flow in the early fall. The first payment won't be due till January.” Lobato told the board that while attending a recent Colorado Association of School Boards meeting with 21 board members from all over the state, “they were amazed we do these tech things for kids in our budget.” The availability of SRS funds from the county this year also was discussed, with Welsh informing the board that a bill now before the U.S. House and likely to pass could fund SRS at a five percent
lower rate for the coming year. If the bill passes, Welsh said, the school could receive between $200,000 and $600,000 in funds. “I feel pretty good about getting it,” he said. “There's a good chance we will know by August.” Before adjourning, the board signed a petition supporting a ballot measure to be introduced by Sen. Johnston this year that would increase long-term sustainable school funding for small rural schools with high poverty rates. The measure would allot $2,500 more per pupil per year than rural schools in this category currently receive.
Thursday, July 4,2013
OPINION LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Justice still not served Now that the Center election show and no-tell is in intermission Iâ€™d like to revisit the unconstitutional excesses committed down the road at the countyâ€™s namesake. Iâ€™ve already extolled the nonconstitutional disenfranchisement of every voter in the town of Saguache by the not-so trusties who unilaterally voted to remove the duly elected Tina Serna. These fewer-than-five canceled her election quickly, uncontested and unquestioned (and unanswered!) and with none of the spectacle or tiers of protections and processes afforded in the Center debacle! Nor is this hyperbole since every single voter in Saguache has been misrepresented by removing Ms. Serna without clear cause or transparent procedure. Indeed, even those who didnâ€™t vote for her as trustee were not overtly voting against her, either. In other overturned elections an exacting process of petitions, reviews, appeals and oversight was required, ultimately culminating in an explicit vote with specific intent-and by far more than the fewer-than-five who
employed none of these constitutional courtesies! This is what was afforded Melinda Myers in her time! There are also the unconstitutional excesses against Ms. Serna, personally! For itâ€™s been more than six months â€“from frosty winter to fiery summer-with no apparent due process for her. Where are any indictments, presentations of charges, transparent and public confrontation of evidence, witnesses and accusers? Where is the clear determination of outcome and verdict by constitutionally selected peers-who would still number more than fewer-than-five? Where is the scrupulous attention to detail and determination of real malfeasance before undoing a lawful election as almost every election has received, and for which no such election questions exist with Ms. Serna? Indeed, where is the First Estate with 1st amendment mention while the 5th, 6th and 14th amendments are so ignored so close to home? Jeffrey H. Miller, Saguache
Getting ahead It seems like everyone is always trying to keep up and then get ahead. We want to make sure we have enough, just in case. Money and time are both things that we try to stash away, but generally just donâ€™t have enough of at the end of the day. We run around like crazy trying to make money and save time and we teach the next generation to do the same things. The Kid schedules himself just like I do, he worries and he worries. I think sometimes that the primary lesson I have given him in life is to overthink everything he does. I want him to learn to have fun and lighten up as well. He should know that the little moments are just as valuable as the things we worry about. Fortunately, living where we do there are many things he can do for fun, and without having to pay very much. Those are the things I believe he will remember and he will hopefully share with others. People donâ€™t move to the mountains to get rich, but to have a life in the middle of the most beautiful place you can find. We can enjoy the surrounding beauty of the area and learn to live simple lives. As our surroundings have been threatened by a huge fire, these small mountain town values are even more important. We can hold onto the things that really matter and know that there is enough forest to last through any disaster.
THE LONG STORY SHORT BY TONI STEFFENS-STEWARD Our children will play in the mountains, they will ski and bike and have picnics and hikes. They will enjoy all of the same things that have motivated all of us to live here. It is important to be stable and to be financially secure, but finding peace and happiness here are things that we can achieve. Of course, money does still matter and happiness and hiking donâ€™t necessarily pay any bills. People in the area are worried and rightfully so. Tourism has been affected by the fires and with projections saying it may smolder until the snow falls, we all worry how much of an effect it will have. Eventually, everything will be normal again and our visitors will return. People will come back to find beautiful scenery and fishing and all of the mountain things
Citizens need to demand answers on litigation costs Given the concern expressed by Center residents about the costs of the election contest litigation, it is time to revisit some unanswered questions that could help them better understand where Center is heading financially and why. Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) recently issued a reservation of rights letter describing a number of scenarios that would potentially preclude them from providing coverage to the town. If the contesteesâ€™ representation is not covered by CIRSA â€” either because CIRSA decides certain claims are contrary to the terms of the townâ€™s coverage and/or its officials neglected to report an intent to sue when the claim could easily have been settled â€” the onus is on Center. The company may require the town to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneysâ€™ fees, (including any legal expenses it may eventually owe Moe Jones and Citizen Center). In addition, either CIRSA could pull its coverage from Center entirely, or the town will experience a hefty hike in its insurance premiums. So if this is indeed the case, who will pay for the consequences of this legal nightmare? None other than Center taxpayers, who probably will see their taxes rise to essentially bankroll what the Supreme Court may formally decide was an illegal election. The irony here is rich indeed. Four recall candidates campaigned on the pledge to deliver Centerâ€™s poor from increased utility rates and spendthrift town officials. And now escalating legal costs to defend their claim to election far surpasses the very excesses they protested. Throughout the entire litigation process, contestees have accused both the town and the press of trying to penalize them by denying their right to legal representation, when they havenâ€™t understood the dynamics behind the questions raised on this subject. But it has never been a personal issue; it has been an ethical and a legal issue, and is only one
of several that must be addressed if taxpayers are to dodge the proverbial bullet. Nor by raising this question is anyone trying to deprive the contestees of legal counsel. The recall committee should be willing to stand behind its candidates. In the past, these same individuals have not hesitated to finance several lawsuits against the town and have ready access to attorneys, as witnessed in its recent amicus brief filed with the Colorado Supreme Court. It must be remembered that Herman Sisneros, Geraldine Martinez and Edward Garcia were specifically named in the election contest suit as â€œindividuals,â€? as candidates for election. The events taken to court happened before recall election votes were ever counted. So if the focus is on legal expenses for contestees, it is not because of any perceived bias, but comes only from the language of the election contest suit itself. The distinction between public officials and individuals is an important one that must be clearly set out. A town official acts in an official capacity at board meetings, in other meetings when representing the town, during the course of town functions, in writing letters on the town letterhead or sending emails in the course of business, while driving town vehicles or using town equipment to conduct town business and so forth. None of the above is true when one is only running for public office, even as a trustee. If a town official decides as a private person to host a barbecue at his/her home for friends and during that barbecue event someone is injured, even if another town official or two was invited, that event would not be covered under the townâ€™s insurance. There is no question here of the town covering anyoneâ€™s expenses; it is simply excluded because it was never a town-sponsored event. The same applies to coverage of costs for the contestees, which now, as it turns out, the town may be forced to reimburse. They ran as
MY TWO CENTS By TERESA BENNS private persons independently of the town. And if they arenâ€™t willing to stand good for any expenses that the town may eventually owe for their portion of the costs, they become part of the problem, not the solution. Moe Jones sued the town at his own expense, and CIRSA has refused to reimburse him. Contestees and the town were not forthcoming in the events that led to their representation by CIRSA. Decisions to spend the townâ€™s money on this litigation were made secretly, arbitrarily by those then in charge, even in (probably illegal and) improperly convened executive sessions. No expense has been spared to defend the contestees, who have now appealed to the highest court in the state. Citizens need to stand up and demand answers. They need to insist that the justification for these legal expenses is presented to them in terms they understand and can either agree or disagree with. It is not a matter of fixing blame â€” members on both sides are clearly at fault here. It is a matter of stopping the madness before it bankrupts the town. As my German great-great grandmother once said about saving money to come to America, if you donâ€™t open your mouth, youâ€™ll be opening your pocketbook.
Please see TONI on Page 5A
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Continued from Page 1A Dick Wolfe, Werner wrote: “The Saguache Creek surface water users are being severely injured by the over-pumping of wells in the confined and unconfined aquifers south of Saguache Creek and also near and along Saguache Creek below Hwy. 285.” Werner complained that he felt those then forming Subdistrict 1 were the very ones pumping from the creek and their solutions would only compound problems for surface water users. He asked the state to “take responsibility and enforce the laws we already have,” laws favoring the rights of surface water users. He suggested that surface water users be compensated for the pumping injury to their water source with “wet water” from outside the system to make up for the depletion of surface water. Wolfe responded by saying the state was working through the courts and the legislature to arrive at a model “acceptable to both sides,” stating that the legislature had instructed the Division of Water Resources to “permit the use of underground water consistent with preventing material injury,” but noting that “any reduction…shall be the minimum necessary.” Since then, Werner feels, little has been done to address the problem. Drought predictions Craig Cotten, division engineer for the Division of Water Resources in Alamosa says that while progress is being made, it has been hampered considerably by the drought. This in turn prevents the state from compensating for injuries to surface water users in a more substantial way. “Surface water rights are limited by the drought, which is the main problem,” Cotten said during a phone interview last week. “If we come out of the drought, there will be more available for surface water diversion.” He noted that with the exception of two semi-normal years, the drought has affected the Valley for the last 10 years. “There are a lot of different ideas about when it is going to end,” Cotten continued. “Some scientists say we are on the verge of a 50-year drought,” similar to what affected the Four Corners area in the 1300s, driving away the Anasazi native Americans there. Others believe that the drought will ease up in the near future. But Cotton pointed out that all scientists seem to believe global warming, is exacerbating the drought situation. Subdistrict 1 The main goal of Subdistrict 1, now in place, Cotton explained, is to “replenish the injury wells are causing to surface water” and also to “replenish the deletions to the Rio Grande by pulling actual water into the river every day” to repair the injury done by well pumping. This will be accomplished by releasing water “every day” from the Rio Grande Reservoir stored up above. In the meantime Subdistrict 1 will be paying farmers and ranchers $300 per acre to take their land out of production and avoid pumping, to help rejuvenate the aquifer. As for the remaining formation of additional subdistricts, Cotton said it is moving forward and progressing with the necessary models despite some “very complex” problems. “They’re getting sued a lot and have to put working on the models aside to work on the lawsuits,” Cotten said. However he says he hopes to see the models completed soon.
Steve Vandiver with the Rio Grande Water Conservation District wrote in an e-mail last week, “The well owners that are in the court approved Subdistrict #1, which encompasses 3,300 wells north of the Rio Grande, are currently and have been for the last two years replacing their depletions to the Rio Grande. This is done on a daily basis at the time, place and amount of injury.” Vandiver explained that when these two processes are done,
“surface users will have full compensation for well impacts on their water rights. It will depend entirely on how much opposition there is to the rules and the formation of the Subdistricts in the water court since that is what has delayed our efforts thus far.” While Cotten said he truly sympathizes with farmers and ranchers suffering through the process, only time will tell what Mother Nature and the water courts will do.
Photo by Teresa Benns
Subdistrict 1 is now restoring depletions to the Rio Grande by pumping water into the river from Rio Grande Reservoir.
Town lawyers bicker with plaintiffs, each other BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — There are now officially a total of five outside law firms litigating the Center election contest case, most supplied by the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), insurance company for the town. Another law firm was added to the list last week to represent the interests of CIRSA itself. So far attorneys on board include: 1. Christopher Bryan and Mary Elizabeth Geiger, Aspen, with Garfield & Hecht, P.C., co-counsel for the town of Center, (independent); 2. CIRSA appointed attorney Eric Ziporin with Senter, Goldfarb and Rice, Denver, representing contestees Sisneros, Martinez and Garcia; 3. CIRSA appointed attorneys Marni Nathan Kloster and J. Andrew Nathan, with the firm of Nathan, Bremer, Dumm and Myers, representing the town of Center; 4. Robert McGuire and Jeff Baines, representing plaintiff and town trustee Maurice Jones; 5. and now Seth Rider and Cathy Greer, with the Denver firm of Baldwin, Morgan and Rider, who are defending CIRSA. According to one estimate, the town is spending approximatley $20,000 weekly in attorneys’ fees. Although an undetermined percentage of these fees should be covered by CIRSA,
certain costs may be excluded from their coverage. In addition, Eugene Farish of Monte Vista is the acting attorney for the town. Attorneys Shelley Wittevrongel and Alex Myers, who filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court appeal, also are involved in the case. And interim town attorney Michael Trujillo also plays a role in the litigation, although the extent of his brief involvement in the case remains unclear. Letters between attorneys over the past few weeks show they are contesting various points in the case and are even accusing each other of ethical and civil procedure violations. Attorney Marni Kloster now has written three letters to McGuire and Baines on the town’s behalf instructing Jones and Citizen Center to refrain from communicating with the town and its trustees on matters of settlement and other issues. In a July 3 letter, Kloster also accused Citizen Center directly of “violat(ing) the rules of civil procedure, the rules of ethics, and [acting] in an intentionally disingenuous and/or dishonest way.” McGuire has not yet responded to the letter. But in a previous letter he told Kloster that her allegation that his client Jones’ participation in executive Please see LAWYERS on Page 6A
Continued from Page 2A 48 patented Feb. 10, 1880 is H.B. Scutt’s Wooden Block; number 139 is Saw Tooth Ribbon Wire with teeth that vary in size and depth, patented by Pat T. Allis, July 26, 1881; and, number 141 patented by C.A. Hodges Aug. 2, 1887 is 10-Point Spur Rowel. This book was donated to the Museum by Bill and Gladys Sizemore. Barbed wire is also known as “the thorny fence.” The invention of this wire “changed life in the wild west as dramatically as the rife, six-shooter, telegraph, windmill, and locomotive. The new fencing changed the West from vast and undefined prairies/plains to a land of farming and widespread settlement.” Joseph Glidden is known as the “King of the Barb”. Many patents were issued prior to and during 1873-1874 and his was clearly the best design: “a method for locking the barbs in place, and invented machinery to mass-produce the wire.” Cattle learned to keep their distance from the painful barbs. Native Americans called it “the Devil’s rope” as it them kept off lands they always used. Military use of barbed wire dates back to 1888, when the British began using it. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders used it during the Spanish American War to defend their camps. Today barbed wire is used “to protect and safeguard military installation, to establish territorial boundaries, and for prisoner confinement.” It protects construction sites and warehouses and keeps out intruders. During the first weekend of May in LaCrosse, Kansas barbed wire collectors gather at a convention to buy, sell and trade barbed wire. For more information about barbed wire, please go online to http://inventors.about.com/od/ bstartinventions/a/Barbed Wire.htm. Thanks to Judy Bunker for her help with this article. The Robertson Mill
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Continued from Page 3A The Robertson Flour Mill, is “believed to be one of the few remaining water-powered grist mills in Colorado, and is the lone survivor of an important early industry in Saguache County.” Otto Mears constructed a mill of sorts in the 1860’s to provide flour to the agricultural pioneers in this part of the San Luis Valley and the Indian Agency. It was inadequate as grain needed to be shipped 80 miles to Conejos to be milled into flour. Enos Hotchkiss arrived in Saguache in 1873. He had the “vision to see problems and energy to solve the.” So Hotchkiss built the grist mill. “Much of the original machinery was hewn from hardwoods. He diverted water from Saguache Creek, turnimg the mill wheel which operated two mill stones as well as the other machinery by means of leather belts, wooden cogs, and pulleys. The mill opened in August 1873. Customers included the Tabegauche Utes, led by Chief Ouray. Hotchkiss sold the mill in 1886 to George Robertson of Pueblo, who installed a modern roller system utilizing silk fabric producing a high grade of flour; including “Labelle Soft Wheat Flour, White Rose, Pride, and varieties of graham, chop, and bran”. Robertson Flour sold for $2-$2.20 per hundred weight. In 1905, it won first prize at the State Fair. Robertson operated the mill until 1909 passing it on to his son. It ran full time until 1917, then intermittently until 1925. The mill is now privately owned. Tours can be arranged by contacting John Stephens, 719-221-3869. The mill is a National Historic Site, designated by the United States Department of the Interior’s National Park Service in September 1978. (Information about this mill was provided by the Nomination Form for the National Register of Historic Places, Data Sheet PH0665703.)
sessions where legal matters were being discussed was a violation of attorney client privilege simply didn’t wash because Sisneros, also Susan Banning and John Faron, all receive a monthly stipend from the town so are equally conflicted. He claims Kloster’s argument is moot given the fact that the presence of Attorney Farish, who himself declared that he has a conflict of interest in representing the town, “destroys any claim of attorney-client privilege for whatever discussions have taken place in those executive sessions. Mr. Jones’s additional presence may be inconvenient, but
it would violate no privilege, as it appears likely that no privilege even exists.” McGuire also advised Kloster that his client Citizen Center, in seeking Colorado Open Records Act requests, is not seeking discovery and that her requests cannot be denied without breaking the law. Attorney Rider responded to a letter from Garfield & Hecht questioning the reservation of rights issue and claiming that the contestees were owed a defense under Colorado law. He also indicated that any reservation of rights information relayed to the contestees could only be conveyed
with their approval. Attorney David McConaughy, with Garfield & Hecht, recently queried Rider and Greer as to their client’s refusal to answer questions concerning the fees the town now owes CIRSA, including deductible fees, and asks for a copy of all (redacted) invoices. He also formally requested answers to letters sent to CIRSA by town trustees and Mayor Banning on April 19 and June 8. In addition, McConaughy asked Rider to provide documents explaining CIRSA’s internal conflicts in a way that is understandable to town trustees.
Election suit costs will rise futher BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Center Town Attorney Marni Kloster postponed consideration of a third settlement offer received from Moe Jones and Citizen Center and told their attorneys Robert McGuire and Jeff Baines the town would fight them through a second trial. Kloster is one of several attorneys appointed by Center’s insurer, Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), to represent the town in the suit. In a letter to Baines and McGuire dated July 3, she advised the plaintiffs that they are misrepresenting her decision to postpone acceptance of the recent offer (until the outcome of the second trial is known) by referring to it as a refusal to settle. “Once again, the Plaintiffs have made inaccurate statements in their correspondence,” Kloster wrote in her letter. “[They] have once again asserted that the Town of Center has rejected the recent settlement demand, which is completely untrue.” In a previous letter, Kloster made it clear that CIRSA, not the Town, is responsible for making all decisions concerning the course of the litigation.
“The only way the Plaintiffs could possibly recover attorney’s fees would be if they were to substantially prevail on the 42 U.S.C. §1983 claim and then be awarded such fees, Kloster continued. “Since Plaintiffs have not prevailed on that claim, there is absolutely no legal basis for them to currently demand attorney’s fees.” It is common practice, however, for litigants to
“settle out of court” pre-trial, even though no such judgment has been made, in order to avoid mounting legal expenses. Attorney David McConaughy with Garfield & Hecht, co-counsel for the town, told CIRSA attorneys Seth Rider and Cathy Greer July 2: “I have sent a request to [contestees’attorney] Please see SUIT on Page 8A
Volume 112, Number 29
Fire ban lifted SAGUACHE —After consultation with the Forest Service/BLM and having received beneficial rainfall that has greatly reduced the fire danger, Saguache County Sheriff Mike Norris announced Monday that the recent fire ban is canceled. This cancellation will remain in effect within the unincorporated areas of Saguache County until conditions change requiring implementation of new fire restrictions, Norris said.
Barbecue set for fire department MOSCA – The Mosca-Hooper Fire Department's annual barbecue will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at the fire station in Mosca. Donations are appreciated.
Friday afternoon farmers markets
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Dispute erupts over definition of contestees BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER – The firm Garfield and Hecht, P.C. issued a public announcement July 8 that addresses the role of the town’s insurance carrier (Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency - CIRSA) in its defense of contestees in the current election contest litigation. Garfield and Hecht, P.C. and attorneys Chris Bryan and Mary Elizabeth Geiger are not CIRSA attorneys, but were hired by the town independent of its representation by CIRSA. In their announcement, the attorneys state that: “The town does not and cannot decide which parties in the litigation CIRSA will provide with insurance defense counsel. All such coverage and counsel decisions are solely made by CIRSA.” In the announcement, the attorneys clearly
distinguish that CIRSA’s decision to represent the contestees in this litigation was its own decision, “not the town’s.” The reason for this CIRSA decision, the firm said, is that the allegations made against the contestees as they appear in the complaint filed with the court by trustee Moe Jones and Citizen Center “were made against them in their then-capacity as members of the Town Board of Trustees.” Because Bryan and Geiger claim the contestees were sued in their capacity as trustees, they believe the suit triggered a “duty to defend” principle built into the law that entitles them to legal counsel. CIRSA’s defense of the contestees has been a source of controversy since the election contest was filed. On receipt of the announcement, Citizen director Marilyn Marks wrote an email response to Bryan and
Geiger, countering their contention that the contestees were sued as actual trustees. “It is abundantly clear that we did not name Sisneros, Garcia or Martinez in their official capacities, but as individuals, as candidates (contestees) who had no official duties whatsoever when the election activities in question occurred,” Marks wrote. “There were merely candidates, who legally could not have had any official duties related to the election in which they were candidates. We have made this clear in our pleadings and our communications with the town, and are curious as to why the town continues to state otherwise.” In examining court filings made by Jones and Marks’ attorneys Robert McGuire and Jeff Baines, the term “in their individual capacity” appears on all submitted court documents
Pirates of Penzance coming to Center
SAUACHE—Locally grown vegetables and Palisade peaches will be available at downtown Saguache Farmers’ Markets every Friday afternoon beginning July 26 and running through Oct. 4. Sponsored by Saguache Works, and supported by a Saguache County Sales Tax Grant, the Farmers’ Markets will run from 2 to 6 p.m. at the new “Pocket Park” adjacent to the Ute Theater. Prepared food, baked goods, arts and crafts items, and live music will be featured as well. Booth spaces are filling up quickly, and 4th Street merchants are excited to be a part of the festivities. Interested growers, producers or other vendors are invited to call Tracy Benton at (806) 543-8337, or stop by the Welcome Center at 404 4th St. for an information packet. Mark your calendars and plan to attend a festive community event while purchasing wonderful foods grown and prepared by your friends and neighbors.
Computer classes offered in Crestone CRESTONE — Computer animation classes will be offered July 23 - Aug. 15, Tuesday and Thursday 11a.m - 12:30 p.m. and computer graphics classes Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. at YES (the former Crestone Charter Building. Classes are for all ages, but students must be computer literate. Cost of the classes is $120 for each Eight-week course. There is a discount for taking both classes. Please register early by emailing erisklein.com or calling 970-290-5058. The classes will be taught by a former Trinidad State Junior College graphics design teacher.
Actors Luis and Armando Salazar pose in front of the Ute Theater in Saguache during their billing as The Pirates of Penzance. CENTER — The Saguache Community Theater Company will be performing its very own rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan's Tony Award winning Pirates of Penzance at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Center Schools Auditorium. This light operatic production that first premiered in 1879 is being directed by Virgina Drake,
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Sue Vaughanand Corliss TaylorDunne. Its story concerns handsome Frederic (featuring the voice talent of Brian Ayala) who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. Frederic meets Mabel (played by Louise Vazquez and Harley Wharton) and the youngsters fall
instantly in love among the hilarity that ensues at the docile seaside resort where one would not expect to encounter actual pirates. The production will also feature the acting and singing talents of Ellen Cox, Sara Fernandez, Luis Salazar, George Welsh, Becky Reed and Zoraya Vazquez in supporting roles.
referring to the contestees. Marks also notes in her e-mail that the actual status of the contestees is further clarified in the plaintiffs’ motion to disqualify attorney Dawes. “As candidates, the contestees had no official duties whatsoever when the election activities in question occurred,” Marks pointed out. CIRSA attorneys defending the contestees hold that despite this fact and despite Judge Gonzales’ ruling on the invalidity of the recall election, the defense of the contestees is justified because because the Colorado Supreme Court could knock down Gonzales’ decision. This means, however, the decision not to cover the legal expenses for the contestees would not be made unless the Supreme Court appeal failed. Please see DISPUTE on Page 3A
Saguache County, other declared disasters SAN LUIS VALLEY— The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 14 counties in Colorado as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by the recent drought. The counties are: Alamosa, Gunnison, Moffat, Rio Grande, Conejos, Jackson, Montrose, Routt, Delta, Jefferson, Rio Blanco, Saguache, Garfield and Mesa. “Our hearts go out to those Colorado farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Colorado producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.” Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Colorado also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are: Adams, Clear Creek, Fremont, Mineral, Arapahoe, Costilla, Gilpin, Ouray, Archuleta, Custer, Grand, Park, Boulder, Denver, Hinsdale, Pitkin, Broomfield, Douglas, Huerfano, San Miguel, Chaffee, Eagle, Larimer and Teller. Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are: New Mexico: Rio Arriba and Taos. Utah: Dagett, Grand, San Juan and Uintah. Wyoming: Albany, Carbon and Sweetwater. Please see DISASTER on Page 3A
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Thursday, July 18, 2013
Center attorney threatens Monte Vista teen killed in accident legal action over videos BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER – Center’s CIRSA appointed insurance attorney, Marni Nathan Kloster has threatened to sue plaintiff Citizen Center for videos posted to Youtube by the group which she characterizes as spreading “false and defamatory information” about the town. “I could recite the numerous inaccurate statements contained in this video, but upon a brief review, you can clearly see them for yourselves,” she wrote July 8 in a letter to plaintiff attorneys Robert McGuire and Jeffrey Baines. “Once again, Citizen Center’s tactics and conduct is neither professional nor appropriate…(and) the town may have no choice, at some point in the future, but to take legal action.”
In a July 9 e-mail to co-plaintiff Moe Jones, Citizen Center director Marilyn Marks wrote: “It is hard for me to believe that Kloster and the town board is wasting time and the town’s money with such ridiculous threats and correspondence.” Marks’ attorney Robert McGuire wrote back to Kloster, commenting: “We do note for the record that we are surprised by your suggestion that a governmental entity such as the town of Center has any capacity to be defamed. We respectfully urge you to revisit whatever analysis may have led you to this conclusion before allowing your client to act upon it.” Marks posted a third video on her TheCitizenCenter.org site recently in answer to Kloster’s protest.
SHERIFF’S REPORT The following were provided by the Saguache Sheriff's Office for the weeks of July 1-15. Arrests Jason Irwin, 30, Crestone, child abuse, sexual assault on a child Michael Garcia, 38, Pueblo, unlawful use of controlled substance, two counts of resisting arrest, contempt of court Diego Sebastian, 43, Center, violation of restraining order Adeleyna Casias, 27, Center, failure to appear Robert Trujillo, 38, Center, introducing contraband (felony) Brian Jones, 27, Moffat, criminal mischief, second-degree criminal trespass, possession of burglary tools, theft, third-degree burglary Citations Tonya Brockman, 31, Lakewood, speeding 39 in a 35 MPH zone David Roepke, 61, Alamosa, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Nora Mund, 36, Longmont, speeding 69 in a 65 MPH zone Mark Cook, 52, Fountain Hills, Ariz., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Juvenile male, 17, Lakewood, speeding 69 in a 65 MPH zone Christopher Di Rito, 30, Highland Ranch, speeding 69 in a 65 MPH zone
Farmers' Market every Saturday ALAMOSA—The Valley Farmers’ Market welcomes locals and visitors to downtown Alamosa every Saturday through October 5, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Farm fresh products from Colorado and surrounds states, baked goods, handmade crafts, live music, cooking demos and family events create a lively community market. Starting this summer the market is also offering a booth by Acme Sharpening. Bring your knives, scissors, garden tools or saw blades for on-site sharpening! July 20 will feature a performance by Skin Your Teeth, a Reggae band out of Denver as well as “Bees Make More Than Just Honey” pollinator crafts and beekeeping expertise by Karen Lemke. The Market accepts cash, debit cards, and SNAP. For more information see www.alamosafarmersmarket.org
For all your advertising needs, call Staci,
Drew Snow, 37, Boise, Idaho, speeding 69 in a 65 MPH zone, no valid driver’s license Ivan Begay, 41, Kayente, Ariz., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Christopher Fuentes, 52, Tijeras, N.M., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Galen Tuggy, 34, Calif., speeding 39 in a 35 MPH zone Richard Stice, 36, Broomfield, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone John Tekrowdy, 32, Littleton, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Joshua Lazaroff, 41, Denver, speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Bridget Krentzea, 33, Littleton, speeding 49 in a 40 MPH zone Patrick Minot, 28, Denver, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Brooks Mayo, 23, Jackson, Tenn., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Alison Pearl, 25, Los Angeles, Calif., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Michelle Kunkel. 40, El Prado, N.M., speeding 59 in a 55 MPH zone Zackery Davis, 21, Broomfield, N.M., speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Warren Churchill, 25, Lakewood, speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Juan Del Castillo, 27, Angel Fire, N.M., speeding 84 in a 65 MPH zone Chaitanya Teppa, 31, Superior, speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Glen Hammond, 52, Farmington, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Michael Crouch, 29, Louisville, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone
MONTE VISTA – Monte Vista teenager Kaylie Thompson, 16, died Friday night in a car accident about seven miles northeast of Monte Vista. Colorado State Patrol (CSP) troopers responded to the single vehicle rollover accident on July 12 at 7:25 p.m. on Rio Grande County Road 3 East just north of Rio Grande County Road 5 North. CSP investigation revealed Thompson was driving a 2009 Pontiac sedan southbound on RG County Road 3E when it went off the west side of the road. Thompson
over corrected the vehicle, according to the CSP report, causing it to come back onto the road and go out of control, then go off the east side of the road where it collided with a utility pole. The vehicle then rolled one half time and collided with a metal granary. The vehicle came to rest on its top in a ditch, according to the CSP report. Thompson was partially ejected from the vehicle and sustained fatal injuries. Rio Grande County Coroner Rusty Strohmayer pronounced her dead at the scene. Investigators are still trying
to determine whether speed and distracted driving contributed to the crash, but do not suspect drug or alcohol use. A seatbelt was not in use, according to the CSP. This is the second fatal crash in the San Luis Valley in the last month in which lack of a seatbelt contributed to the driver sustaining fatal injuries. The crash remains under investigation. A funeral for Thompson, who was a Monte Vista High School student, is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17, at the Sargent Community Church.
490 arrested Fourth of July weekend Law enforcement cracks down STATEWIDE—Hundreds of Colorado drivers were arrested over this year’s Independence Day weekend, as The Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies throughout the state participated in the Fourth of July enforcement period by enacting saturation patrols and setting up DUI checkpoints to ensure that this year, nobody slipped through the cracks. “Educating Coloradans on the dangers of impaired driver is our number one goal,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of
Transportation Safety at CDOT. “While we’re relieved that 490 impaired drivers were taken off the road this weekend, we strive to have zero impaired drivers on the road at all.” Of the 490 drivers arrested, the highest number of arrests over the six-day enforcement period took place in Denver (69) Aurora (45), and Colorado Springs (32). Preliminary reports show that there were nine fatalities due to crashes, one of which has been preliminarily reported as alcohol-related. The good news is the number of alcohol-related fatalities has dropped considerably. In 2012, there were seven alcohol-related fatalities. “Nearly 100 law enforcement agencies across the state participated
in the Fourth of July DUI crackdown,” said Colonel Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “And Coloradans can expect even tougher DUI enforcement over Labor Day weekend, with more patrols and checkpoints in place throughout the state.” CDOT and the CSP urge drivers to plan ahead and establish a safe ride home before they leave for their celebrations and events – whether that is riding with a sober driver, calling a cab or using public transit. The Heat Is On runs the entire year with 12 specific DUI enforcement periods centered on national holidays and large, public events. More details about the DUI enforcement plans and arrest results can be found at HeatIsOnColorado.com.
Crews making progress on West Fork Fire Complex SOUTH FORK – Officials working on the West Fork Fire Complex announced that the fire was 66 percent contained as of Sunday morning. At 6 p.m. Sunday the Great Basin Incident Management Team 1 handed off responsibility to manage the Papoose and West Fork fires to Phil Daniel’s Colorado Type 3 Incident Management Team. The complex
will remained staffed with adequate resources to patrol and monitor the status of the two fires as well as serve as an Initial Attack (IA) force should the need arise. Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) were also scheduled to be lifted at 6 p.m. An interagency Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) arrived Monday to begin their initial
assessments. The goal of a BAER team is to assess the after effects of a fire(s) and develop a strategy for emergency stabilization and rehabilitation. Everything from erosion protection to what needs to be done to make trails, roads and campgrounds safe for people to reenter damaged sections of the forests. Please see FIRE on Page 3A
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Continued from Page 1A All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas July 3, 2013, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity. The Obama Administration remains committed to helping the thousands of farm families and businesses struggling with natural disasters. Actions taken by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2012 to provide assistance to producers impacted by the drought included: Extended emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, freeing up a record 2.8 million acres and as much as $200 million in forage and feed for ranchers during a challenging time. Purchased $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken, and catfish for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks, to help relieve pressure on American livestock producers and bring the nation’s meat supply in line with demand. Reduced the emergency loan rate, from 3.75 percent to 2.250 percent, as well as making emergency loans available earlier in the season. Allowing haying or grazing of cover crops without impacting the insurability of planted 2013 spring crops. USDA worked with crop insurance companies to provide flexibility to farmers, and one-third of all policyholders took advantage of the extended payment period. Authorized $16 million in existing funds from the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to target states experiencing exceptional and extreme drought. Transferred $14 million in unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program
Continued from Page 1A (ECP) to help farmers and ranchers rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought. Authorized haying and grazing of Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easement areas in drought-affected areas where haying and grazing is consistent with conservation of wildlife habitat and wetlands. Lowered the penalty on CRP acres used for emergency haying or grazing, from 25 percent to 10 percent in 2012. Simplified the Secretarial disaster designation process and reduced the time it takes to designate counties affected by disasters by 40 percent. Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, Federal Crop Insurance, and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online athttp:// disaster.fsa.usda.gov. Secretary Vilsack also reminds producers that Congress has not funded the five disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. These are SURE; the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and FarmRaised Fish (ELAP); the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP); and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). Production losses due to disasters occurring after Sept. 30, 2011, are not eligible for disaster program coverage. FSA news releases are available on FSA’s website at www.fsa.usda.gov via the “Newsroom” link. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 202509410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 3778642 (Relay voice users).
And ultimately, CIRSA already has confirmed, the cost for the contestees’ defense could then be billed to the town. Marks believes, however, that Bryan and Geiger’s announcement
implies that Citizen Center “initiated a complaint that created financial impacts for the town on behalf of the contestees’ personal legal bills.” She has asked that the law firm’s announcement be corrected to “address
the misstatements about Citizen Center’s legal claims” and better explain the consequences of CIRSA’s decisions concerning the defense of the contestees and its resulting “negative financial consequences to the town.”
Center attorneys file additional request BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER– Center attorneys filed a petition for review with the Colorado Supreme Court July 8, asking that co-plaintiff Citizen Center not be allowed to file public records requests and requesting the court to drop the claim concerning violations of voters’ constitutional rights. The petition, filed by Marni Nathan Kloster with the firm Nathan, Bremer, Dumm and Myers states: “The town has, in an abundance of caution, responded to the [Colorado Open Records Act] requests, even though the town believes they may be improper and/or in violation of this Court’s stay… Clarification of the scope of this
Court’s stay would be helpful to the town in determining how to respond to Plaintiffs’ repeated and likely ongoing demands made on the town.” “I am perturbed with the trustees that they continue to complain about Citizen Center’s CORA request related to CIRSA coverage and for information on the financial impacts on the town regarding the massive attorneys’ fees going into this case,” Marks commented in a July 9 email. “Our members have a right to know how the town is spending its money.” Concerning the constitutional rights claims, Kloster continues: “Additionally, the town wishes
to make clear that it is in no way indicating that it believes the Plaintiffs’ currently bifurcated and stayed 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim has any merit… If anything, the District Court clearly found that Plaintiffs’ assertions as to fraud, undue influence and intentional wrongdoing were unsupported by the evidence, which implies a lack of merit to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim.” Marks questioned the town’s ability to “address anything about the 1983 claim that has not even been put in the docket in the trial court,” adding that the current trustees seem to “have put money ahead of any principles.”
Cause: Lightning Total personnel: 289 Resources Include: One Type-1 hand crew, one Type-2 hand crew, 14 engines, two water tenders, and 136 overhead personnel. A i r R e s o u r c e s : t w o Ty p e 3-helicopters. Information Traplines: The information traplines have been discontinued. The information updates and maps will continue to be available on InciWeb and the incident blogspot. Beth Lund’s Great Basin IMT 1 would like to thank all of the communities, businesses and agencies for their kind support of our firefighters. Additionally they would like to extend thanks to all of the local
businesses and agencies for assisting them in sharing the changing status of this incident with the visitors and residents of this beautiful area. For more information: Fire Information Phone: 569-4149 As of Sunday, this number goes to voice mail only. Calls will be returned as quickly as possible. Hours of operation: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Email: WestForkFire.EastZone@ gmail.com Blog: http://westforkfirecomplex. blogspot.com/ | Website: http:// inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3436/ Twitter: @RioGrandeUSFS | Facebook: https://www.facebook. com/GreatBasin Photos: http://s1286.photobucket. com/user/WestForkComplex/library/
Continued from Page 2A Public health and safety: There may be smoke across parts of the fire for the next several days to weeks. The rains and monsoonassociated winds have gone a long way towards clearing the air. For the Colorado Smoke Outlook, visit: http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/ colo_advisory.aspx or http://www. colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx for more information. Fire statistics: Location: 14.5 miles north/ northeast of Pagosa Springs, CO Start Date: 06/05/2013 Complex Size: 109,615 acres Percent Contained: 66 percent Windy Pass: 1,417 acres Papoose: 49,628 acres West Fork: 58,570 acres
log on to www.centerpostdispatch.com
D e r h e a T m g n Ali i p e v e K
7th ANNUAL FUNDRAISING DINNER & AUCTION Saturday, August 10, 2013 Del Norte Schools Bus Garage
Dinner by Ron Martinez of Mountain View Restaurant
'LQQHUSP$XFWLRQWRIROORZ Tickets $1200 Available at Rio Grande Hospital & Rio Grande Hospital Clinics In honoring Dr. Norman Haug’s Dream, Rio Grande Hospital & Clinics would like to express our “Thank You” to Mr. & Mrs. Alan Davey, Mr. & Mrs. Larry Martz and Dr. & Mrs. Dale Berkbigler for their contributions to “Keeping the Dream Alive”.
“With a smile and a helping hand, we will provide quality healthcare for the communities we serve.”
Volume 112, Number 31
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Attorneys file answer brief with Supreme Court BY TERESA L. BENNS
The second half of the article on CIRSA that ran last week will appear in next week's issue.
Auditions Tuesday SAGUACHE—The Saguache Community Theatre is holding its final audition for “The Sage of the Golden Horseshoe” at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 6 at the Historic Ute Theatre, 410 4th St., Saguache. There are several male roles still to be filled. Set in the late 1880’s, the “Saga” is an hilarious rendition of a widow and her son desperately trying to hold onto their small-town stable after they have been threatened with foreclosure. Along the way, the townspeople, sheriff, banker, and a fortuneteller attempt to come to their aid. This production is scheduled during the annual Saguache Fall Festival, September 20 and 21. Rehearsals will be two to three days a week, plus a lot of fun and laughter. Please call Virginia Drake at 5804443 with questions.
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 79. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west southwest in the morning. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Thursday night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 51. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light and variable in the evening. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Friday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 81. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph in the afternoon. Friday night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 51. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Saturday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Calm wind becoming west southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Saturday night A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 50. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.
DENVER — Attorneys filed an answer brief with the state Supreme Court last Thursday on behalf of Center Trustee Moe Jones and Citizen Center/Marilyn Marks laying out the reasons why the court should rule for upholding the integrity of secret ballots. The 57-page brief presented by Robert McGuire and Jeffrey Baines spelled out similarities between Taylor v. Pile and the Center case in detail and refuted various statements made by petitioners who claimed in their appeal to the Supreme Court that
the two cases are dissimilar. An attached affidavit by Marilyn Marks also demonstrated the importance of a conclusive decision by the court, given the federal case filed last year. Marks filed the suit against Secretary of State Scott Gessler, also several Colorado county clerks who dispute the constitutional guarantee to a secret ballot. In summary, the brief detailed reasons why the case is not a matter of first impression as defendants allege. The attorneys noted that, “this court examined virtually identical facts, issues and arguments in Taylor v.
Pile” in 1964, adding that the decision is routinely disregarded by Colorado election officials. “The history of the ballot in Colorado shows that the right to secrecy in voting is meant to shield voters’ choices as much from the prying eyes of election insiders as from the general public,” the brief stated. “This case presents a compelling opportunity to reinforce that Taylor is good law and that Colorado voters still enjoy a constitutional right to vote by absolutely secret ballot.” The brief argues that the district court correctly followed Taylor v.
Pile by declaring the election void ab initio and holding, as a result, that the pre-election board of trustees remains the governing body of the Town. Consequently, according to Taylor v. Pile itself, “[a]ll proceedings and orders thereafter entered [by the contestees who were seated as a result of the recall election] were void.” According to McGuire and Baines, the district court exceeded its jurisdiction only in ordering a new recall election without first requiring renewed compliance with statutory Please see BRIEF on Page 3A
Former Center student Lobato receives CASEY award BY TERESA L. BENNS DENVER — Center graduate Taylor Lobato, who took the spotlight as a Valley spokesperson in the high profile Lobato v. Colorado lawsuit was presented with the annual Colorado Association of School Board Executives Award last Thursday. In the past, the CASEY award has been presented to governors, state legislators, mayors of Denver, and significant state education policy leaders. As Bruce Caughey, Executive Director of the Colorado Association of School Executives commented during the awards ceremony, Taylor is “the person who has become the name and face of the Lobato lawsuit…and she is an inspiration.” Caughey went on to say: “The name Lobato represents a great deal. It is a name from the San Luis Valley of a loving and caring family unit and an extended family that cares a great deal about education and our youth. It is a proud name that represents farming traditions in the Valley and its historic roots. It is a name that has come to prominence in the past decade due to the family's role as the lead plaintiff in the Lobato lawsuit, under the direction of Attorney Kathy Gebhardt. The Lobatos are role models
for the kind of American spirit that makes this a great country and Colorado a great state. They care about what is right and are prepared to fight for it.” Center Schools Superintendent George Welsh introduced Lobato, noting that he had known her since the day she entered Center Schools as a kindergarten student. “Taylor’s receipt of this award is a direct result of the dignified way she conducted herself as the main spokesperson behind the Lobato v. Colorado lawsuit and the power of her testimony in court,” Welsh began. “Though the wonderful family of Anthony and Denise Lobato ended up being listed first on the lawsuit, thereby giving it the name we have become so familiar with, if not for the dozens of families who stepped forward to sign on as individual plaintiffs the lawsuit would never have taken flight.” Although the Lobatos and other plaintiffs in the case lost the suit, Welsh says he believes “the end result of the Lobato case WILL be a better, more adequate and more equitable public education funding system for Colorado. Lobato v. Colorado told the stories and put the facts in front of everyone, and now we all need to work Please see LOBATO on Page 3A
Photo by Teresa Benns
Taylor Lobato, winner of the CASEY award last week, celebrated her cousin Anna Kulp's graduation this May at the new Center Schools' complex.
Town answers resident's questions on lawsuit Aurora hiker BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — At the June 25 town Board meeting in Center, Center resident Victor Duran submitted a list of questions to Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg and the town board concerning the actions taken by the town in defending the election contest suit. Earlier this month the town answered the questions concerning the town’s dealings with the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) and other issues as follows. Q. Judge Martin Gonzales ruled the recall election void and said a new election had to take place, so why is the town still fighting this case? Who is responsible for the best interests of the town and all the money being spent on this case? A. The town board did seek to move forward on the election as ordered by Judge Gonzales by setting a date for the recall election and forming a committee to create best practices for that election. However, the Colorado Supreme Court chose to hear an appeal
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of the case, which appeal was filed by the contestees (Ed Garcia, Geraldine Martinez and Herman Sisneros). In deciding to hear the appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court stayed the election so the town can take no further action on the court-ordered election until after the Supreme Court has made a decision. The town’s liability insurance company, CIRSA, has provided defense attorneys to the town; currently CIRSA is paying for this. There is a one-time deductible the Town must pay to CIRSA which is $25,000. As CIRSA provided the attorneys for the town in the case before Judge Gonzales, that $25,000 has been incurred; now the town is beyond its deductible. (Fact: Trustee Moe Jones presented the town with a settlement offer of $20,000 in April, $5,000 less than the deductible expense and the offer also provided for a new election. The contestees, then sitting as the board, did not respond to the offer and decided instead to continue with court proceedings. The attorneys representing Sisneros, Martinez and
Garcia now have decided they do not want a new recall election, and in their recent answer brief sent to the Supreme Court, Jones/Citizen Center attorneys McGuire and Baines state they believe that Judge Gonzales exceeded his authority in ordering a new recall election per state law.) Q. Why is the town providing legal representation for Geraldine Martinez and Ed Garcia when they are no longer board members? A. CIRSA chose to provide insurance defense counsel for these individuals; the town had no say in that decision. The town has not seen any documentation from CIRSA regarding CIRSA’s decision to provide counsel to these individuals. The town had no decision making authority in that initial decision or the continued representation and the contestees had a legal right to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. (Fact: According to a reservation
dies in Saguache County
SAGUACHE — In a press release last Wednesday, Sheriff Mike Norris reported that a hiker from Aurora, Michael Cormier, 56, was found dead Monday, July 22 in the Crestone/ Willow Creek area. The hiker was reported missing July 19 and search and rescue crews were dispatched July 20 the to Willow Lake area above Crestone where he was reported to be camping. The team could not locate Cormier and returned July 21, but still was unable to find any trace of him. Search and rescue teams recovered Cormier’s body Monday after a helicopter crew spotted his remains from the air. It was determined that Cormier fell 200-300 feet while attempting to climb in the area of Kit Carson Peak. Weather may have been a contributing factor in the accident, Norris said. Cormier was an experienced climber who had scaled Please see LAWSUIT on Page 3A many fourteeners.
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Thursday, August 1, 2013
Continued from Page 1A of rights letter sent to the town of Center by CIRSA officials in late June, CIRSA may not provide coverage for those not fitting the description of any elected or appointed official, trustee or employee, (coverage does not apply to any loss arising out of the actions of any elected or appointed official, trustee, director, officer, employee, volunteer or judge of a member entity “while acting outside the scope and performance of their official duties.” Several other exceptions to coverage by CIRSA also are listed in the letter. Plaintiffs Moe Jones and Marilyn Marks with Citizen Center have opined that the town has decisionmaking abilities concerning CIRSA
Continued from Page 1A coverage but is not exercising them.) Q. If the judge ruled all transactions void and null, then who is responsible for Mike Trujillo's fees since he was not legally hired by the town? A. The judge’s decision did not state that all transactions were null and void. If you review the ruling, you will see that the ruling itself placed the preelection town board back in place and also ordered a recall election. There were a number of other aspects of the judge’s ruling, but nothing in the judge’s ruling “nullified” any actions taken by the board seated as a result of the initial recall election and acting from the time of the election until June 7, 2013, the date of Judge Gonzales’ order.
(Fact: Judge Gonzales’ ruling does not state that the contestees' actions were null and void ab initio, but Taylor v. Pile, the case on which the entire decision was based does. In their recent answer brief to the Supreme Court, Robert McGuire and Jeffrey Baines note that not only does ab initio mean that the election itself never occurred, but point out that in the 1964 case Taylor goes onto state that: “[a] ll proceedings and orders thereafter entered were void.”) The answers to these and many other questions can only be conclusively determined once the Colorado Supreme Court justices render their decision.
“I cannot tell you all how absolutely honored and humbled I am to be here receiving such an honor. Since this journey began, my eyes have been opened to what it means to have the name of this case match my very own name. I have done my best to tell my story and share my experiences, hoping that one day those structuring the fate of our education system would understand what needs to be done to make it better.” She thanked Welsh, attorney Kathy Gebhardt and other mentors for helping her to make her journey to success as a law student at Denver
University. She ended her acceptance speech by begging educators and others to continue fighting for Colorado students and schools. “Please, do not stop. Your students need you. The fight is a frustrating one. It has been for me and I cannot imagine what it has been like for you. Thank you. The students in our state are accomplishing amazing things and that is all thanks to you…I will be here supporting you, and together, we can continue the fight for our students and eventually we will win.” (Center Schools Supt. George Welsh supplied the speech transcripts
Wagon train rides through Valley BY JOHN MCEVOY DEL NORTE – Once again it is time to hit the sometimes dusty trail and have some cowboy fun in the Valley. Western-themed events in the Valley over the next two weeks were
recall procedures. Petitioners also agree that a new recall election should not be held. “Petitioners’ argument that adherence to secrecy in voting under Article VII, § 8, should be subject to ‘substantial compliance’instead of the bright-line ‘duty to void’ enunciated by Taylor must be rejected,” the brief continues. “Substantial compliance is not appropriate for evaluating failures by election officials to preserve the personal, constitutionally guaranteed right of voters to secrecy in voting that Taylor recognized as ‘so fundamental to our system of government.’” “Socorro Aguilar’s experience demonstrates why…only absolute secrecy of the ballot can truly
safeguard any voter’s right to freely vote her conscience without fear of retribution.” In the district court trial, one witness testified that Nadine Martinez-Bocock told Aguilar, “I know how you voted. I saw how you voted.” Aguilar testified that MartinezBocock intimated that her (Soccorro’s) legal status was being investigated. McGuire and Baines also requested reimbursement for attorney fees, citing state and Constitutional claims. If granted, the award itself would be made by way of the case’s remand to a lower court. The petitioners’ attorney Eric Ziporin and associates are expected to reply to the brief within the next two weeks.
Photos needed for newspaper special
Continued from Page 1A together to find and support political solutions to the problems it exposed.” Welsh gave a vignette of the poised woman he described in his introduction by telling his audience that in the final days of the Lobato suit, “The Taylor Lobato I know — the one who was at that moment also grappling with the reality of suffering a crushing defeat after an 8-year effort to improve educational opportunities for ALL students in Colorado — that Taylor held her emotions in check and delivered an outstanding message to the media just moments later.” In accepting her award, Taylor said:
led off with the Kit Carson Wagon Train and Trail Ride benefiting the Wounded Warriors Project. Alice Lenich, of Colorado Cowgirls, headed up the ride for the second annual event that began in South Fork, rested for a day in
Del Norte and then proceeded onto Monte Vista for the Ski Hi Stampede Pro Rodeo. There were fewer wagons and riders this year than expected, but that did not stop Lenich from being enthusiastic about the whole thing. “It’s fun.” said Lenich. “Everybody loves to kick back and play cowboy.” “We are 100 percent thrilled to be here,” said Loftis. “The people have been fantastic, friendly and helpful and we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves.”
SAN LUIS VALLEY—Valley Publishing is seeking photos from the 70s, 80s and 90s featuring well-known people from around the Valley. Some of the photos received will be chosen for a special Looking Back section to be included in the Lifestyles newspaper in August. Please email scanned photos to ValleyPubs@amigo.net or bring them in to the Valley Publishing office at 835 1st Ave. to have them scanned.
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Alice Lenich, front right, rides with the others during the Kit Carson Wagon train and Trail Ride to Benefit the Wounded Warriors Project.
7th ANNUAL FUNDRAISING DINNER & AUCTION Saturday, August 10, 2013 Del Norte Schools Bus Garage
Dinner by Ron Martinez of Mountain View Restaurant
'LQQHUSP$XFWLRQWRIROORZ Tickets $1200 Available at Rio Grande Hospital & Rio Grande Hospital Clinics In honoring Dr. Norman Haug’s Dream, Rio Grande Hospital & Clinics would like to express our “Thank You” to Mr. & Mrs. Alan Davey, Mr. & Mrs. Larry Martz and Dr. & Mrs. Dale Berkbigler for their contributions to “Keeping the Dream Alive”.
“With a smile and a helping hand, we will provide quality healthcare for the communities we serve.”
Volume 112, Number 33
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Attorneys reply to McGuire/Baines' answer brief BY TERESA L. BENNS
It's back to school for Center students BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Regular classes for Haskin Elementary school begin Monday and Jump Start classes for high school and Skoglund Middle School also begin Monday for Center Schools students. Class times this year will run from 7:52 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Kindergarten classes will be staggered Monday and Tuesday to ease beginners into their classes. There also are five preschool morning slots left for those wishing to take advantage of pre-school classes. Every grade level has a supply list, which can be found in the elementary school lobby.
DENVER —In a response that exceeded the designated word limit by double the allowed amount, legal counsel representing contestees Herman Sisneros, Ed Garcia and Geraldine Martinez filed their response brief late Friday with the state supreme court. Attorneys Eric Ziporin and Jennifer Kemp, with the Denver firm Senter, Goldfarb and Rice, submitted their 10,032-word response with a separate motion to exceed the word limit, set by the court at 5,700 words. The response answered the brief submitted over two weeks ago by Moe Jones/Citizen Center attorneys Robert McGuire and Jeffrey Baines. The response begins by stating: “The evidence established no more than the “potential” that secrecy was compromised.” It goes on to emphasize that “Taylor v. Pile involved only in-person voters,” and
generally reverts to the fact throughout the brief that the votes involved in Center were absentee ballots and must be viewed differently. As stated in the Sanchez/McClure amicus curae brief, Ziporin/Kemp note: “[Marilyn] Marks is not a party to this litigation, nor is she an elector of the town of Center. Her interest is limited to the furtherance of her own political agenda, which is irrelevant to the outcome of this case.” Absentee ballots and the election code They also agree that, “The district court erred when it determined that the election should be set aside,” and hold that according to state statute governing municipal elections, “No express provision mandates the timing of the removal of the stubs containing the ballot number from an absentee ballot. The statute states only that the ballot is removed from the envelope and then ‘cast and counted
in the same manner as if such absent voter had been present.’ “When voting in person, the voter shall give his name to the judge who then announces the name and compares the number on the attached stub to the number previously listed in the registration list. Only then can the stub be removed and the voter can place the ballot in the box. When counting absentee ballots, however, no such comparison must occur,” (see COLO. REV. STAT. § 31-10-1007.) They further maintain: “The Election Code rather than Taylor v. Pile is applicable to this case…C.R.S. § 31-10-1538 provides that the Election Code ‘shall be liberally construed so that all legally registered electors may be permitted to vote and so that fraud and corruption in municipal elections may be prevented.’ Invalidating this election because the numbered stubs were removed after the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ votes
Center schools back in session
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday Sunny, with a high near 83. Calm wind becoming west northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Thursday night Mostly clear, with a low around 45. West northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Friday Sunny, with a high near 84. North northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the morning. Friday night Mostly clear, with a low around 44. Calm wind becoming west northwest around 5 mph. Saturday Sunny, with a high near 83. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Saturday night Mostly clear, with a low around 48. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Sunday A 10 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. West wind around 5 mph. Sunday night A 10 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 51. West northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Monday A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the morning.
Haskin Elementary students enjoy their first day at Center Schools.
Sanchez/McClure amicus curae brief claims SOS backing BY TERESA L. BENNS DENVER — An amicus curae brief filed by attorneys for Jennie Sanchez and Mary McClure with the state Supreme Court late Friday claims the women are supported by Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who filed a brief with the court late Monday. “These amici curiae [referring to Gessler's brief and the brief filed by the Colorado Lawyers Committee] are aligned with the residentsin that both ask this court to reverse the District Court’s Judgment for voiding the recall Election based upon a technical irregularity that did not impact the
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outcome of the election,” the brief, filed by attorneys Alex Myers and Shelley Wittevrongel stated. The Myers/Wittevrongel document lists Jennie Sanchez as a Latino voters’ advocate who in the 1990s helped Center win a re-drawing of House Dist. 60, on the grounds that the Latino residents in the town of Center (and Saguache County) are part of a racially polarized population. Mary McClure “is viewed as a leader and advocate in the Center community, particularly with respect to issues that impact low-income families. She has never held public office.” The main points made in the
Scott Gessler Please see SOS on Page 3A
on absentee ballots were counted would be contrary to this provision.” Taylor v. Pile ‘no longer sound’ Ziporin/Kemp also object: “No Colorado case has relied upon Taylor’s ‘duty’ to void an election in the 39 years since it was decided.” They then go on to say: “Taylor v. Pile is far from settled law,” arguing that the Taylor Court “acknowledged its holding depended on jurisdiction, rather than the constitutional question…The question of the constitutionality of the ballots which retained their numbered stubs was not raised by the parties, but by the intervening district attorney.” While conceding that, “Taylor shares factual similarities to this case, including the presence of removable numbered stubs,” Ziporin/Kemp state from case law: “Taylor is no longer sound based on changing Please see REPLY on Page 3A
Saguache Library celebrates 50 years BY TERESA L. BENNS SAGUACHE — On Saturday the Saguache Library celebrated its 50th anniversary with an adobe-making demonstration by Joey Gallegos from the Fort Garland Museum and a potluck dinner. The library provided a pit-roasted pig and those attending contributed southwestern dishes, including Spanish rice and beans, posole, green and red chili, sopapillas, homemade tortillas, enchiladas, taco casserole, salads, biscochitos, pies and other delicacies. Gallegos shared the history of adobe in the world and the Valley. Chad Draper, an archaeology student at Adams State University, added information about the excavations going on at old Fort Massachusetts near Fort Garland, and recounted the building of an horno (traditional adobe oven). Dick Lovato emceed the celebration. “The celebration was great,” Library Program Director Penny Bruce said. “The rain didn’t make a dent in it. The history of adobe brickmaking was really interesting and we had a fabulous meal.” About 130 individuals attended the event, she added. According to the flier released in honor of the anniversary, the library began as a small building with little space and no reliable heat source in the winter. In 1962, Ruth Gotthelf donated $35,000 for a new library on the condition that it would be built in the traditional Spanish American (adobe) style. The town donated a part of the Otto Mears Park block to the county to serve as the library’s new home. Job supervisor Dan Howard built a territorial style adobe structure with Please see LIBRARY on Page 3A
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Other amicus curae briefs filed in supreme court case BY TERESA L. BENNS DENVER — in addition to the amicus curae brief filed by Jennie Sanchez and Mary McClure, also the Secretary of State’s Office, three other briefs were filed with the state Supreme Court last Friday in the Center election contest appeal. One of these briefs was filed by the Colorado Lawyers Committee (CLC) mentioned in Sanchez’ and McClure’s brief — a nonpartisan coalition of 59 Colorado law firms providing pro bono legal services to improve conditions for children, the poor and other disadvantaged communities through advocacy, negotiation and litigation. CLC filed along with two other groups: Common Cause, “a national non-profit citizens’ advocacy group that works to ensure open, honest and accountable government at the national, state and local levels,” and the Vet(erans) Voice Foundation, “founded in 2009 to mobilize veterans to become leaders in our nation’s democracy through participation in the civic and democratic process.” CLC brief The joint brief opens with the statement that the trial court “declare[d] the Election void ab initio, simply because under the circumstances the secrecy of the ballot could have been violated,” (judgment June 7, 2013). “[The] Amici agree with petitioners that this was error. The trial court’s ruling threatens all elections in Colorado…[and that] the mere possibility of a secrecy violation cannot outweigh the fundamental right of the people to be heard…The Taylor court did not explicitly label secrecy itself as a ‘fundamental right.’” Only the right to vote itself is fundamental, the brief continues, and along with the petitioner’s reply and Sanchez and McClure, points to the Municipal Election Code and substantial compliance as the governing laws in the case. With contestee attorneys Eric Ziporin and Jennifer Kemp, the brief argues that, “The trial court’s ruling will make modern elections unworkable.” The brief points out that already the disabled, assisted by an election worker or judge and veterans faxing or emailing their ballots from overseas vote by “methods
which are neither secret nor anonymous… By the trial court’s rule, any election which included such unsecured overseas votes would be subject to challenge and void for the obvious possibility that a judge could note how some individuals had voted.” The three organizations petition the court to “reverse the trial court’s holding, and clarify that, in the absence of fraud or illegality, the mere possibility that voter secrecy could have been violated is insufficient to void the results of an election.” Five Counties, Samora Yet another amicus brief was filed by five county clerks who, along with Sec. of State Scott Gessler are involved in litigation with Citizen Center, headed by Marilyn Marks. Marks’ group alleges the counties use bar-coded ballots or other means to track ballots. These include attorneys representing county clerks from Eagle, Boulder, Larimer, Jefferson and Chaffee Counties. The brief holds, with the other briefs supporting the contestees, as follows: “The Court of Appeals determined that the ballot secrecy provision protected an individual voter’s identity only from public disclosure.” The attorneys interpret the Colorado Constitution to read: “that an individual voter’s identity is to be protected from public disclosure, because this clause coincides with the election officials’ viewing of marked ballots.” The brief notes that: “The balancing of voter secrecy and availability of public records was further addressed in rules promulgated by the Colorado Secretary of State in April of 2013… Taken to its extreme, Plaintiffs’ position could even invalidate State statutes that permit voting by mail ballot.” In conclusion, the brief states: “Colorado Constitution Article VII, §8 bars only public disclosure of the identifiable contents of ballots.” Center Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora’s attorneys, Overturf, McGath, Hull and Doherty, P.C., also filed a motion with the court requesting that defendant Christian Samora respectfully requests that the court “deny the respondents’ request for attorney’s fees,” because according to court rules they are not entitled to these fees.
SHERIFF’S REPORT The following were provided by the Saguache Sheriff's Office for the week of Aug. 5-12. Arrests Onitsed Rojas, 24, Center, domestic violence, third-degree assault, criminal mischief, resisting arrest Citations Kirby Feldkamp, 22, Lakewood, speeding 39 in a 35 MPH zone John Henry Parker, 43, Denver speeding 44 in a 35 MPH zone
Kelly Elliot, 39, Colorado Springs, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Thomas Herod Sr., 66, Austin, Texas, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Timothy Johnson, 21, Centennial, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone Caleb Nelson, 23, Boulder, speeding 89 in a 65 MPH zone Russell Parker, 52, Copley, Ohio, speeding 39 in a 35 MPH zone Robert Elste, 19, Boulder, speeding 74 in a 65 MPH zone
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Minutes approval questioned BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — Last Tuesday’s regularly scheduled board meeting opened with the reading of a letter from a Center High School graduate during the citizens comment period refuting rumors concerning Center Mayor Susan Banning. Town Clerk and Treasurer Christian Samora read the letter, written by Alexa Lobato, who wrote: “I am writing this as a member and vicepresident of the Center High School graduating class of 2013.” Speaking of the class’ senior trip to Denver, Lobato said: “I rode the school bus to and from our activities. On the ride home I was sitting in the middle of the bus and did not observe or hear inappropriate behavior from the students or from the sponsors.” Banning was a sponsor on the bus during the trip. Lobato continues: “The senior trip was an activity our class worked hard to earn and plan. It was a wonderful way to celebrate our friendships and hard work over the past 13 years.” Allegedly inappropriate activities were reported to Supt. George Welsh by a recall committee sympathizer at the time of the trip, and he confirmed earlier this summer that
after interviewing students, no one could positively state that anything inappropriate occurred on the bus during the trip home. Welsh also commented that during that same time frame, he received requests for Banning’s dismissal based on the allegations. Also during the comments segment of the meeting, Michael S. Garcia told the board they need to take a hard look at their town staff because they are not handling town matters in a competent manner. May 7 minutes approval tabled Center Trustee Moe Jones questioned whether the board should approve minutes for the May 6 meeting, since the voiding of the election by Judge Martin Gonzales June 7. Town Attorney Eugene Farish said the minutes should be preserved in order to reflect what was done, but to approve them would be “a violation of a court order.” The precedent case in the Center election contest, Taylor v. Pile also nullifies all official actions taken by any presumptive board when an election is later declared void ab initio. The approval of the minutes was tabled until the Aug. 20 meeting.
Tr u s t e e H e r m a n S i s n e r o s commented that the minutes would be approved when the recall contestees regain their contested seats. Budget Mayor Banning asked Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg why the fuel and oil accounts are 152 percent over budget, the vehicle budget is 343 percent over projected costs and other accounts appear to be over budget as well. Neuerburg said he would bring Banning an answer at the Aug. 20 meeting. Banning noted that the majority of the vehicle expense was due to police cars that are continually falling apart and need to be repaired. Utilities Thomas Masias and staff spoke with the board about the upcoming replacement of old utility poles. Twelve of the poles will be set this year. Trustee Jones asked if the crew could check comparable costs for running wires underground, mainly in the downtown area, versus overhead, and Masias said he would look into it. The crew said they could do two poles a day and will be replacing 12 of the worst poles. This leaves 28 left to replace. They also discussed bracing systems for the poles with the board.
Look good, feel better cancer program Aug. 21 ALAMOSA – Cancer can rob a Center, 1921 Main Street in Alamosa. information and to register, please call woman of her energy, appetite and Registration is required and space 630-4960, or register at the Oncology strength. But it doesn’t have to take is limited, so register early. For more Center at the hospital. away her self-confidence. Look Good…Feel Better is a free program that teaches beauty techniques to women in active cancer treatment. Cancer patients experiencing the appearance-related side effects of treatment, are welcome to attend the upcoming Look Good…Feel Better workshop on Wednesday, Aug. 21, from 2–4 p.m., at the San Luis Valley Health Education and Conference
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Thursday, August 15, 2013
Continued from Page 1A double adobe walls and a pitched roof. Saguache residents helped with the construction. “Many to this day,” the flier notes, remember the 12 x 6 x 4 wooden forms filled with adobe mix laying out to dry along Pitkin Avenue. The original dedication ceremony took place on May 18, 1964. The anniversary Saturday also
Continued from Page 1A coincided with the completion of recent renovations to the library, which began a year ago with a new exterior paint job. Conservation Trust funds were used to repair the underfloor, install new carpet, apply new interior paint, add new bookshelves and a enlarge a doorway. Renovations to the meeting room were completed courtesy of a Coors
Foundation grant. A new front desk also will soon grace the library’s entryway. For those who were unable to attend, the library has copies of the program, which includes a short history of the Library building, as well as written memoirs by several of the men who worked so hard and well all those years ago.
conditions… We believe the time has come to interpret absentee voting legislation in light of the realities of modern life and the fundamental character of the right of suffrage.” They contend that, “Colorado Courts have not declared the right of absolute secrecy as fundamental.” In closing The brief than goes on to assert that the District Court erred in reinstating the former board members and in calling for a new recall election. They end their arguments by reasserting: “Absolute secrecy of ballots is not contemplated by the provisions of the Colorado Constitution...Counting of the absentee ballots substantially
complied with the Election Code… [and] The application of strict compliance to this case needlessly disenfranchises voters.” Finally Ziporin/Kemp deny that McGuire/Baines can now request attorney’s fees since they did not file a motion for these in the beginning. They also deny they have any right to present oral arguments before the Court, citing it is against the rules. In the end they request the reinstatement of Sisneros as mayor and Garcia and Martinez as trustees and request the nullification of the order for a recall election issued by District Judge Martin Gonzales.
Drop off locations for Habitat cans ALAMOSA – Partner with Habitat for Humanity and drop off empty, bagged cans at one of the following official recycling locations. Alamosa; City Market, Safeway and Villa Mall parking lots Monte Vista: Jack's Market and Safeway La Jara;
Jack's Market Del Norte; Jack's Market Antonito; Main and Third Manassa; Donald's Service on Main Street Center; South Broadway and East Fifth. Contact 589-8678 for more information about hosting a recycling site.
Schools in session, please drive carefully
Photo by Teresa Benns
Joey Gallegos from Fort Garland Museum demonstrates the craft of adobe making for those attending the 50th anniversary celebration for the Saguache Library, constructed in 1963 with adobe bricks.
Continued from Page 1A brief are: • Sanchez and McClure organized the recall effort in Center to prevent the presiding board members from drastically increasing water rates which low-income Center families cannot afford. • Plaintiff co-complainant Citizen Center is “an outside special interest organization [which] filed an election contest suit seeking to block the [election] results from taking effect.” • Voiding the recall election will unnecessarily restrict the elective franchise in Center and violate the right to vote because the ballot stub irregularity at issue did not affect the purity of the election. • (“The power to reject an entire poll is certainly a dangerous power, and it should be exercised only in an extreme case, that is to say, a case where it is impossible to ascertain with reasonable certainty the true vote.” (internal quotations omitted)); People ex rel. Johnson v. Earl, 42 Colo. 238, 250,94 P. 294, 298 (1908). • “’The secrecy of the ballot is not so important as its purity . . .’ Clanton v. Ryan, 14 Colo. 419, 425, 24 P. 258, 260 (1890). • “The ballot stub irregularity in this case was a technical, harmless, and temporary error that occurred after the ballots were collected and was quickly fixed by the town clerk.” • “Voiding the election results now, under these circumstances, allows a single citizen and an outside special interest group to use the court to defeat this “’a free and fair expression of the popular will.’…Voiding the recall election does not further the purpose and policy of Colorado’s secret ballot requirement. • Even if the recall election were properly voided, requiring the recall petition process to start over rather than immediately setting a new recall election will, as a practical matter, defeat the recall effort. The brief concludes by observing that: “While a defeat would be
tolerable and accepted if resolved at the ballot box, it would be patently unfair to the Center community if it were to occur through an unnecessary delay imposed by the court—particularly at the request of Respondent Jones, who would avoid his own recall as a result of the delay.” Gessler’s brief “By submitting this amicus curiae brief, the Secretary is not advocating for a particular outcome in support of either the petitioners or the Respondents. Rather, the secretary believes that the trial court erred in its legal analysis of the contestors’ ballot secrecy claim and advocates only for the application of the correct legal standard in this case,” the brief states.
Just as the others submitting amicus briefs opposing the district court’s ruling attest, however, Gessler’s attorneys repeat the litany of “substantial compliance,” “Erickson v. Blair” versus Taylor v. Pile, unintentional failure to remove ballot stubs and failure to show fraud or undue influence. They then conclude the brief by requesting the court to “reverse the district court’s decision voiding the Election ab initio, and remand this case to the district court with instructions to apply the appropriate legal standard to the Contestors’ claim for violation of the ballot secrecy provision in Article VII, Sec. 8 of the Colorado Constitution.”
Thursday, August 15, 2013
OPINION Secret ballot decision by Supreme Court last hope for election integrity When the â€?election warsâ€? in Saguache County first began in 2008, the intent was to raise awareness about the danger of absentee ballots and their potential role in election fraud. That war was lost even though several Center area residents testified before the state legislature that these ballots in the past have proven to be the source of manipulation and have been used to intimidate voters and falsify votes. Now the case before the state Supreme Court will decide the fate of secret ballots. If that is lost, then no candidate in this state will ever know whether they truly won or lost any future election. Because clerks and their staff in every county will then possess powers never anticipated in our State Constitution and will be open to every kind of influence and manipulation from outsiders. These candidates will be in precisely the same position of Center residents who for decades have been at the mercy of an inner circle that tightly controls the way ballots are designed and worded, how they are sent, the way they are collected, who collects them, who sees them, who counts them, who has access to them and ultimately who can and cannot view them when there is any question of irregularity or fraudulent activity. Saguache County now has a Colorado Open Records Act â€œpolicyâ€? that prevents those examining ballots from making their own copies and, without fear of legal reprisal, from obtaining sufficient records to rule out fraud or error. In addition, recent legislation makes it impossible to view this information until it is too late to organize any comprehensive challenge to a botched election, or notify the public in a timely manner that such an election has even taken place. So we already have lost a portion, then, of our voting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment; also rights necessary for a truly free press to make the people aware of a potentially fraudulent or miscounted election. This is not even taking into consideration the huge threat to fair and honest elections posed by electronic voting devices, which can be and have been easily hacked, often register false results and sometimes fail to count ballots voted. Saguache County has been the poster child for these issues and still state officials ignore the problem. And unfortunately the Secretary of Stateâ€™s Office has generally chosen to back the clerks and defend their performance with the plea of â€œsubstantially compliantâ€? elections.
MY TWO CENTS By TERESA BENNS Election rules passed by the Secretary of Stateâ€™s Office (SOS) recently also make it more difficult to enforce existing laws. While the SOS did send a team to verify signatures on Center ballots, it now appears that his office has switched sides. In the Supreme Court case, owing to Sec. Gesslerâ€™s litigation with Citizen Center, (which is suing Gesslerâ€™s office and five Colorado county clerks to prevent the use of bar-coded ballots), he now will ask the Court to overturn ballot secrecy in favor of ballot â€œpurity.â€? In short, the insensitivity of Front Range politicians and elected officials to the needs of rural Colorado have already made it nearly impossible, considering the circumstances, for the voters in this county to address its election dilemma. Nor can they demand the transparency necessary from county and municipal governments to enable the press and others to monitor elections. Certainly no one can override the legislature or predict the decision of the supreme Court, which will either leave open a window of hope or seal the coffin on secret ballots and fair elections. This decision is not about Dâ€™s versus Râ€™s, Gessler versus Marks or even Jones and Citizen Center versus the town of Center. It is about whether, when any of us cast our ballot, we can do so knowing it will not be used against us in any way. And those ways could include selling our choice via data mining, releasing it to various government agencies or simply passing it off to other key groups and individuals. The supreme court then, in the final analysis, will decide not only the future of Center elections but all Colorado elections, and will set a precedent for similar decisions across the nation. In an era of heightened surveillance and loss of privacy, is it really a good idea to lay Coloradoâ€™s ballots on the chopping block?
Log on to
Great things going on Recently the singular focus of the Center School District has been preparing for our first day of kids for the 2013-14 school year. In considering what it takes to do so I would like the community to understand that Center Schools employees spend the entire summer preparing to teach kids. The custodial staff, led by director of facilities Richard Brandt, has ensured that our wonderful facility looks brand new once again. Julio Paez, director of technology, and his staff of adult and student workers have made sure all district technology has been serviced and devices that will be in the hands of our kids have been refurbished or replaced. Mike Phillips, director of transportation, and his staff have been working hard to service all our vehicles, and even spent part of the summer replacing a bus engine in order to free up dollars to be spent on instruction of kids. The business office staff led by Betty Casanova, director of finance, established a 2013-14 budget, turned over the fiscal year, and are now ensuring all equipment, supplies, and materials are being ordered that will be needed to educate our students. Our cafeteria staff, led by Dianna Valenzuela director of food service, ran a world class summer program and have been preparing to meet revised meal standards so they can ensure our kids are well fed and ready to learn. Finally, many of our instructional staff members invested hundreds of hours of their personal time preparing to teach our kids by exploring the new Colorado Sample Curriculum and aligning their lessons to it, by attending staff development opportunities in reading intervention, evaluation of students, use of technology with students, and many other areas of need and interest. Meanwhile, Center Schools kids have been preparing to learn as well.
How many of you know that most of our students in grades 6-12 give up several days of their summer vacation to take NWEA tests to ensure we have the most current data we can get our ands on to guide our teaching? Additionally, by doing this we save hours and hours of instruction time once we get rolling by not having to give up class time to administer these tests! Big things we are working on Now that school has opened the Center School District will be focusing on teaching the new Colorado Sample Curriculum. In doing so we will work with teachers from all over the San Luis Valley to develop common tests to measure student achievement of the curriculum and to share the best instructional strategies and resources for doing so. This work will begin this coming Thursday and Friday, Aug. 15 and 16, when we'll get together with the rest of the Valley at Sangre De Cristo School District. Because of this important work we school will not be in session on these days. The past week This past week we had the pleasure of welcoming new teachers to the district and training them in how to use curriculum and how to effectively plan to deliver lessons. On Tuesday I traveled to Denver to chair the Colorado Safe Schools Resource Center advisory board meeting. Thursday and Friday were all staff inservice and work days, as our staff gathered together to review student achievement results that will be released by CDE later this week, and to prepare their classrooms and work spaces for kids. As an aside, the good folks from the Center United Methodist Church once again welcomed our staff back with a grand luncheon in their building. I am not sure how long this tradition has been in place in Center. However, I have now not failed to miss one for the past 18 years! Additionally, on Thursday
KEEPING OUR FOCUS BY GEORGE WELSH education leaders from all over the San Luis Valley gathered in Alamosa to prepare for the work that will take place on Aug. 15 and 16. Many of the faces saw around the table were our very own Center School District teachers who have been asked to guide their colleagues in this work this year. Our mission and core beliefs As stated last week the mission of Center Schools is to seek to develop independent, self-motivated, adventurous, learners armed with the skills necessary to meet the challenges they will face in their future. This means we fully understand we are preparing our children for jobs that may not yet have been invented? How do we do that? We do so by making sure our kids are confident and skilled in the basics of reading, writing, and calculating numbers. However, we also teach our kids to take positive risks, to value the process of learning, to adapt to fast paced change, to work collaboratively, and to become effective problem solvers so they will leave our school armed with college level and work world skills. Center Schools is making great progress toward the achievement of this mission and I believe we have just the staff to do so. The Center community is very fortunate because of this.
Take a chance and laugh With 24-hour news stations and reality shows generally devoted to only those people who represent exactly what we donâ€™t want our children to be, there is always room for a little fun. The Kid found that fun while watching The Lone Ranger at the drive in theatre in Monte Vista. He had overheard me saying that the movie had received bad reviews and that many people were not pleased with much of the movie. Still, he wanted to see if you could really see Creede in it. My husband and I agreed and off we went. Of course, Monte Vista, after dark in August, is not exactly summer weather. My husband and I shivered in our camping chairs, to make
sure we were able to enjoy the full, authentic experience. The Kid wisely sat in the back of my SUV cushioned by his beanbag and a blanket. We, thankfully, did manage to stay dry, as we went on a day with little rain. Though our expectations were understandably low, we all found the movie to have enough humor and flash to successfully distract us from reality for a moment. Isnâ€™t that what these big blockbuster movies should accomplish? Johnny Deppâ€™s representation of Tonto strayed HE ONG TORY HORT from what many people would be BY TONI STEFFENS-STEWARD comfortable with. Though blood and guts was kept to a minimum, there was plenty of violence in the movie. Maybe it wasnâ€™t as rough as I thought, Some moments had me worried that Please see FUN on Page 5A the Kid would get upset, but he didnâ€™t.
Volume 112, Number 35
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Town auditors note irregularities in finances BY TERESA L. BENNS
CENTER — While the town of Center was in substantial compliance with general accounting activities and their records appeared fairly reliable, auditors from Wall, Smith and Bateman said they would be back Sept. 17 to discuss Center football additional issues. at Salida During a town meeting last Tuesday, auditors reported that problems with 7 p.m. Friday the Light and Power Fund and t certain standards adopted in 2012 Blood drive coming up by the county were not followed, resulting in discrepancies in some RIO GRANDE COUNTY— budgetary areas. United Blood Services will be coming to South Fork and Del Norte for blood drives. Please come donate on the following dates: Sept. 4, South Fork Community Center, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sept. 5, Del Norte High School commons area, 1-5 p.m. Please remember to eat first, drink water and bring photo ID. Sixteen and 17 year-old donors need a minor donor permit signed by their parents or guardian in order to donate. Contact 1-800-827-4376 to make an appointment, or go online to www.bloodhero.com or www. unitedbloodservices.org to sign up. Del Norte students can talk to a NHS student to sign up.
Certified Public Accountant Karla Willschau assisted by CPA Jessica Bogner presented the audit to the board. “You’re one of the lucky municipalities,” Willschau told board members. “There’s not much long-term debt here.” She then gave an overview of 2012 finances for the town, including several departures form general accounting standards that required budget adjustments. One of these was the town’s 100year depreciation of its light and power plant, which Willschau said exceeded the plant’s actual expected lifespan. Because the depreciation
had to be shortened to 60 years, she advised the town, it would consequently reduce the town’s capital assets from $2.3 million to around $2 million. The auditor also said that “the town did not perform physical inventory accounts for the Light and Power Fund, Natural Gas Fund and Water Fund at year end,” contrary to accounting principles generally accepted in the U.S. “to assure that inventory values are correctly reported in the financial statements. The amount by which this departure would affect the assets, net assets and
Farmers Market draws large crowd
HOW'S THE WEATHER? Thursday Sunny, with a high near 84. North northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Thursday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 50. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 83. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the morning. Friday night Partly cloudy, with a low around 51. South southeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Saturday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. West northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Saturday night A 10 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 50. South southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Sunday A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Sunday night A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 48. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.
expenses of the business-type activity and each major enterprise fund has not been determined.” Of concern was the fact that “Expenditures exceeded appropriations in the General Fund by $49, 453, and the Street Improvement Fund by $81,485, during 2012. This may be a violation of Colorado State statues.” Willschau also pointed out that the town agreed to abide by 2012 General Accounting Standards Board (GASB) principles that prohibited the town Please see AUDITORS on Page 3A
Recall contestee Garcia arrested BY TERESA L. BENNS
CENTER — Recall contestee Edward Garcia, 54, was arrested Aug. 20 on three felony counts and one misdemeanor count after his wife alleged Garcia abused her July 28-29 at the couple’s residence. Garcia was charged with seconddegree assault, false imprisonment, felony menacing and reckless endangerment. He was also arrested for domestic violence in 2009, was charged with harassment and completed 36 sessions of domestic violence education. After completing the classes, the 12-month deferred charges were dismissed. Garcia is one of three contestees, who recently filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court, requesting he be reinstated in his office. Judge Martin Gonzales voided the March 19 recall election June 7, removing Herman Sisneros as mayor, also Geraldine Martinez, Adeline Sanchez and Garcia as trustees. Center Police Sgt. Tim Arellano responded to a call from Garcia’s Photo by Teresa Benns spouse Aug. 17. She reported that on The Saguache Farmers Market along Fourth Street was a crowd pleaser for those seeking fresh local the evening of July 28, her husband Edward became “highly intoxicated” produce Friday. and “whipped” her with the buckle end of a belt, kicked her with steeltoed boots and poured vinegar on her. She also said he punched her, kept her from leaving her home and noted. Ceramic pieces and lithics, also 1800s was located at the dig. threatened to kill police and anyone BY TERESA L. BENNS SAGAUCHE — A research dig trade beads from Italy and Belgium Volunteers uncovered cone-shaped else who got in his way if she reported metal jingles the Spanish used on the incident. located somewhere in the Baca Grants were among other finds. Tree dating was also used at horse bridles, some small and some area along the Old Spanish Trail has provided some delightful clues about the site to determine that some of much larger, which still bore the the travelers and settlers who first the pinon trees there are around marks of delicate stamp work. The came to the Valley, archaeologist 500 years old. Krall said their age jingles also were traded, then sown could be determined more precisely into Native American pow-wow Angie Krall revealed Sunday. Krall, with the San Luis Valley because “there was a great die-off costumes. A large array of lead ammo from Public Lands Center, gave a in the late 1500s” owing to severe various periods was unearthed at the PowerPoint presentation to an drought. She estimated there has been three site as well as what is believed to audience gathered at the Saguache Museum summarizing her crew’s clusters of occupation at the site: one be a circa 1795 Springfield musket progress on the dig this past summer. beginning in the late 1700s, another in hammer, also an 1808 musket butt Some 25 volunteers help categorize the 1820s-1830s and a third beginning plate. Blades form Green River or and collect the finds at the site, she about 1853 into the 1860s, with buffalo knives, dated by Dr. Charles “everyone sharing tool technology, Hicks of Santa Fe, N.M., to the said. Volunteers used metal detectors to weaponry and [trade] beads.” But Hudson Bay trade era (1820s) were locate artifacts, dredging up many old evidence of far earlier occupation by also buried beneath the first layer of metal point arrowheads, gun parts, Native Americans was also found dirt at the site. One of the little-known facts Krall knife blades, metal tools, wagon parts, at the site. Edward Garcia Iron scrollwork, similar to Spanish awls and other treasures. Some 350 Please see GARCIA on Page 3A of these artifacts were located, Krall designs, preserved from the 1700s, Please see DIG on Page 3A
Baca Grants research dig yield artifacts
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Thursday, August 29, 2013
Continued from Page 1A mentioned during her presentation was that Hispanic settlers kept Native American slaves, until Colorado joined the union and American authorities “put a stop
Continued from Page 1A to it.” Krall ended her presentation with saying that “the Valley was an incredible cultural faultline” for early trade. “It’s been a joy,” she
concluded. Krall asked anyone who knows of private sites in the Valley of possible historic significance to contact her at 852-6242.
from transferring funds back and forth from certain restricted accounts but that this had occurred despite the enactment of the standards. An omitted management discussion and analysis, also required by governmental accounting standards, was cited, although the report said the auditor’s “opinion on the basic financial statements is not affected
by this missing information.” In rounding up the audit report, Willschau announced that she would return Sept. 17 to read a letter to the governing board containing “a lot of [additional] findings; it’s a rather long list.” The town also had “a lot of findings” in 2012, they noted, but did not indicate if any of these were being successfully addressed in 2013.
Continued from Page 1A In his report, Sgt. Arellano said that he viewed photos of Garcia’s wife taken shortly after the incident that showed “her face to be extremely swollen. I observed bruising to her eyes, face and neck. The photos taken were date stamped July 29,” the day she was able to escape the home.
Other witnesses confirmed the incident, also reporting “continuous harassment and unpleasant visits from Edward.” Garcia’s wife alleged that her husband 'has “many knives' and has “purchased more guns.” Garcia was released from the Saguache County Jail last week on a $50,000 bond.
Photo by Teresa Benns
Spanish scroll work uncovered from an historical excavation site along the Old Spanish Trail.
Energy rate study begins in Center BY TERESA L. BENNS CENTER — An energy rate study planned years ago by the town of Center is finally underway with the hiring of a Nebraska firm to assess Center’s electric, water and natural gas systems. “This will establish a legal basis for looking at the town’s rates and evening out rates for customers,” Town Manager Forrest Neuerburg said in phone interview following the meeting. Rates have not been adjusted since 2005, he added. Professional engineer Phillip Euler with the Nebraska Municipal Power Pool addressed the Board last Tuesday giving an executive summary of the utility situation, explaining that he would review the town’s utilities, collect data and make a model. He said that from what he could tell so far, most of the town’s problems with their electric rates could be traced to on-demand commercial and industrial customers. “You had $1,691,000 total revenue [last year], a number bigger than the budget,” he observed. “It’s not profit, but a margin.” He explained that 70-80 percent of the costs of an electric utility goes to “the cost of power and delivery.” In 2011-12 Center’s actual electric fund was “fairly constant,” Euler said, except for weather variations. Many of the expenses can be chalked up to maintenance costs, he said. Center is in good shape with no debt and a little over $1 million in cash reserves. While some complain the town is charging customers
too much for electricity, Euler explained the actual situation is more complicated than that. He estimated some customer’s bills could vary per type of usage, with Neuerburg ssaying the goal is to make these rates fair for users. Euler said he would know more by the end of the month concerning which bills may rise and which may decrease. Euler also noted that the town sold more natural gas than it bought — a “physical impossibility.” But he says it can be explained by an adjustment in “unbilled revenue.” The gas study, Euler explained, shows that “something’s going on — I haven’t gotten to the bottom of the issue yet.” Mayor Banning asked Euler why the figures appear to show the town has overcharged customers for gas.
Euler told her it is because he doesn’t yet “know where the numbers are coming from.” Bill McClure challenged Euler’s statements, saying his bill is 22 percent higher than it should be. “Then something is wrong with the billings or sales — it’s nothing to do with dollars,” Euler responded. “I just don’t know which numbers are wrong. I don’t think customers were charged erroneously.” He said that he suspects that Xcel energy may be wrong in its billing process, noting the company had “three major billing adjustments” last year. After hearing Euler out, the board agreed to bring him back for further analysis and comment in October, voting to pay his travel expenses.