R-32-J, CMC weigh sites and possibilities

Salida School District R-32-J officials are continuing discussions and meetings on how to meet building needs being pushed by a growing student enrollment.

At the same time, the school board and school officials and staff members are addressing questions on the possibility of the district joining the Colorado Mountain College tax district.

Among the potential locations for a new school campus are Marvin Park, Holman Avenue and Vandaveer Ranch in Salida and a site north of Chaffee County Fairgrounds in Poncha Springs.

One possibility is to build a structure that would serve both the district and CMC.

Vandaveer is in the discussion, though because of the lack of utilities and services on the 100-acre property, it is considered a long shot at best for a combined school-community college location.

A point to keep in mind, however, is what transpired when CMC was considering putting a building at the Buena Vista Airport some 15 years back. The town secured a rare federal economic development grant to extend utilities to the campus.

Such grants are only available to help meet critical community needs such as those involving education or health care. A similar grant for taking utilities to Vandaveer to serve a combined CMC-school district facility could be a possibility as well.

That the district and college would be joining forces and working together on a joint project would be a key selling point in any grant application.

It is still early in the process. And R-32-J voters have yet to decide whether or not to join the CMC taxing district – expected to be a ballot question in November – and would also have to approve a bond question for a new school building.

Neither of the two potential questions is certain to get voter approval. To their credit, district and CMC officials are involving the public in the process, something that will be essential in getting citizen support.

Look for more meetings and more discussion in coming weeks and the next few months as possibilities are discussed and considered.

Congratulations to ...

• Mike Bowers of Salida, who is retiring after a 50-year career in law enforcement. Mr. Bowers started in 1969 with the Colorado Springs Police Department then worked in the Colorado Department of Corrections, spent 28 years with the Salida Police Department and most recently 12 years with the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office. Along the way he was appointed and then elected to two terms as a Salida city councilman.

• Athena Kintgen of Salida, recently named Boys & Girls Clubs Colorado Youth of the Year following state competition in Denver. Just 17, Ms. Kintgen has overcome a number of challenges including a hearing loss and growing up with an alcoholic parent. She was cited as a role model at the Salida club, teaching sign language and becoming involved in the Extraordinary Teen Council and Family & Youth Initiatives. She now moves on to regional competition in Dallas, Texas.

• Andy McBride of Salida, who on March 28 became a United States citizen, receiving her Certificate of Naturalization at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Centennial. She has lived in the U.S. for some 34 years, the past 16 years in Salida. She was one of 42 people from 26 countries to gain citizenship that particular day.

• Susan Jesuroga, recognized for her efforts at the Salida Museum over the past seven years, as past president and volunteer. She and husband Rich are moving to Florida.

— MJB