Pueblo County, Colorado
Our Past Century
Listing contributed by Jean Griesan.
Our Past Century, Page 1
Our Past Century, Page 2
Pueblo Chieftain 9-20-1999 Our Past Century, 1974 - 1975 - Troubles Spill Into Mid-'70s - With the Watergate scandal, the energy crisis and a recession rocking the nation in the mid-1970s, the picture wasn't any prettier in Pueblo. Job layoffs, labor strikes, inmate escapes from the Colorado State Hospital, troubles in law enforcement and racial protests plagued the community already faced with woes of the recession and the energy crisis. Strikes involving labor unions throughout the city were frequent as workers seeking higher wages or better working conditions walked the picket lines. Among the employees going on strike were workers at Pueblo West Metropolitan District, Pueblo Water Works, the state hospital - and even the Olympia Brewers semipro baseball team. CF&I Steel workers and Mountain Bell telephone employees averted walkouts with last-minute contract agreements. Talk of a nationwide truckers' strike, prompted by layoffs due to high fuel prices, sparked violence in several communities across the nation. Although no violence was reported in Pueblo, police were on standby as a prevention measure. In addition to strikes, Pueblo also faced several layoffs - the largest being more than 1,600 employees at the Pueblo Army Depot. The layoffs were a result of the Army's plans in 1974 to realign the U.S. Army Materiel Command Depot System, which included moving the missile maintenance mission from Pueblo to Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pa. Other layoffs during the time included members of the Southern Colorado Retail Clerks Association and a handful of employees at the doomed Walter's Brewery. While Pueblo faced the reality of losing jobs and the downsizing of the PAD, the Army continued its talk of expanding Fort Carson into Pueblo County all the way to the reservoir. The expansion, which was to have consisted of 21,860 acres in Pueblo County, was proposed to serve as training ground for the Army troops at Fort Carson. Pueblo residents and government officials strongly opposed the proposal, which eventually put a halt to the expansion. Troubles in law enforcement also continued. In 1974, Pueblo County Sheriff Joe Torres was convicted of felony theft and conspiracy involving stolen county funds. He was sentenced to the Colorado State Penitentiary for up to two years, and removed from office. Dan Tihonovich was named to replace Torres and successfully ran for election that November. The state hospital was plagued by a growing number of escapes by dangerous patients, which eventually led to the firing of CSH security chief John Baker. After years of internal problems, the Pueblo Police Department began heading in a new direction under newly appointed chief Bud Willoughby. Despite Willoughby's efforts to change the department, several indictments were handed down as aftershocks to the corruption that plagued the department in previous years. Like most Americans, Puebloans felt the effects of the energy crisis and a recession just beginning. The energy crisis hit hard as gas prices skyrocketed to $1 per gallon, and rationing began in an effort to conserve energy for the long winter months. In January 1974, Pueblo schoolchildren received an unexpected four-day vacation when school officials canceled classes to conserve energy during one cold spell. Officials were concerned there wouldn't be enough heating fuel to last through the month. Gasoline wasn't the only commodity whose price soared in the mid-'70s. The cost of food also steadily climbed and reports were made monthly on how much money would be needed for families to live with such prices. The welfare rolls in Pueblo County also were rising in tandem with unemployment levels. Inflation hit nearly every aspect of people's lives, including recreation where the price for a game of pinball increased from 5 cents to a quarter. Mortgage rates also increased dramatically, exceeding 9.5 percent. Despite the poor economy, Pueblo still managed some growth during this period. Southern Colorado State College earned university status in 1975 and was renamed the University of Southern Colorado. The Belmont campus continued to grow with the addition of the new student center and the beginning of construction of the Psychology Building. The new Centennial High School, which had opened in September 1973, also was dedicated in 1974. Elsewhere, the Pueblo Plaza Ice Arena was completed, as were a new greenhouse complex at Mineral Palace Park, a central fire station and a city-county animal shelter. The biggest construction project of the decade, though, was the Pueblo Reservoir. The reservoir opened to a large crowd on July 1, 1975. It was reported in The Pueblo Chieftain that long before the 4 a.m. opening, hundreds of fishermen and boaters were lined up waiting to try out the waters. The extension of Pueblo Boulevard north to U.S. 50 was completed in 1974, allowing for quicker access to Pueblo West and the North Shore Marina of the Pueblo Reservoir as well as Pueblo's North Side. Construction also began on the Pueblo Mall and the county began preliminary plans for a new jail. Other events during this time period included: Pueblo's J.D. MacFarlane was elected state attorney general in the 1974 election. Sixteen Chicano students at Centennial High School were arrested following a fight between groups of black and Chicano girls. Two teen-age girls fainted during the Tony Orlando and Dawn concert at the Colorado State Fair. Other acts at the Fair included Vikki Carr, Bobby Goldsboro, Charlie Rich, Donna Fargo and Roy Clark. A late August hailstorm caused more than $1 million damage to Vineland farms. The largest drug bust in the state's history - valued at $10 million - was conducted in Pueblo. Gov. John Vanderhoof called for an investigation of the Colorado State Hospital and State Home and Training School as a result of substandard conditions reported at the two institutions. Streaking became one of the most popular fads. Streakers raced through everything from business and athletic events to spring registration at SCSC. They Made a Difference - Henry Reyes, co-manager of Spanish radio station KAPI, was a two-term city councilman, elected in November 1969 and re-elected in 1973. He served a year as council president in 1976. In 1972, Reyes ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner. During his tenure on council, Reyes served on the Colorado Housing Finance Authority and was a Colorado civilian aide to the secretary of the Army. He was chairman of the Pueblo-Puebla (Mexico) Sister City program, which he helped to initiate. Reyes continues to be involved with the Sister City exchange program. Reyes also served as chairman of the Latino Chamber of Commerce and as president of the Pueblo Area Council of Governments. In 1967, Reyes helped to found Fiesta Day in conjunction with the Colorado State Fair, and he served as superintendent of the event for many years. The event, which highlights the Hispanic culture, continues to be a big draw each year, not only for Puebloans but for residents statewide. Reyes grew up in Rocky Ford before moving to Pueblo. Elbert L. "Bud" Willoughby Jr. - Born in Pueblo, Elbert L. "Bud" Willoughby Jr. returned to his hometown in 1973 to become the city's chief of police. Willoughby, who replaced retiring Chief Robert L. Mayber, had worked in the Kansas City, Mo., police force before his return to Pueblo. Willoughby took over a police force plagued with problems ranging from public corruption, organized crime and illegal drugs. The department also lacked credibility among local residents. Although his stay in Pueblo was only four years, Willoughby was credited with helping to change the community's feelings toward the police department and in getting residents more involved with policing efforts. The popular chief started training programs for new officers and anti-crime projects, and used federal grants to bring computers to almost every facet of his department's operations. Willoughby left Pueblo in April 1977 to become the police chief in Salt Lake City, Utah. 1974 - January 2: Richard D. Robb sworn in as district judge. February 3: New Centennial High School dedicated. School opens in September. April 1: New world rail speed record of 234 mph is set at the Department of Transportation High Speed Ground Test Center. April 23: Mrs. Charles T. Perez of Pueblo gives birth to a second set of triplets - two boys and a girl - at St. Mary-Corwin Hospital. June 7: Ten dangerous inmates escape from the Colorado State Hospital. Three were captured two days later. November 22: Army announces plans to cut back 1,620 civilian jobs at the Pueblo Army Depot. December 23: Eight-acre park in Belmont is dedicated in honor of Capt. Drew D. Dix, one of four Medal of Honor recipients from Pueblo. 1975 - July 1: Pueblo Reservoir opens. July 13: Pueblo Country Club golf professional Pat Rea wins the Colorado Open. July: Centennial High School track star Freda Hancock sets a national record for 13-and 14-year-olds with a 10.7-second clocking in the 100 meters at the Mount SAC Relays in California. August 10: Pueblo's Olympia Brewers semipro baseball team goes on strike. December: Holmes Hardware, a wholesale firm established in Pueblo in 1898, announces it will move the store to Denver in January 1976. December 8: USC is accepted into the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference after the Mountain and Plains Athletic Association folded earlier in the fall. December 20: Pueblo Plaza Ice Arena opens. December 31: Stamp machines throughout Pueblo run empty as patrons prepare for the postal rates to increase from 10 cents to 13 cents on Jan. 1.
Pueblo Chieftain 9-27-1999 Our Past Century, 1976 - 1977 - Development Spurs Pueblo - An economic downturn and energy woes consumed the country in the mid-1970s. Americans celebrated the nation's bicentennial, while voting for a change in the country's leadership. Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter ousted Republican incumbent President Gerald Ford as voters decided the country "needed a change." Locally, Pueblo was experiencing higher unemployment and a poor economy. Economic development efforts to sell Pueblo as an ideal site for businesses to locate, along with legal battles and an already suffering economy, were prominent among the local headlines in 1976 and 1977. The Pueblo Depot Activity also was trying to stabilize its troops, as the depot's downsizing resulting in massive layoffs was completed in 1976. Nationwide, the steel industry floundered as 20,000 steel workers found themselves without a job by the end of 1977. The culprit? Cheap steel imports and a shrinking economy, steel mill officials complained. In Pueblo, CF&I Steel Corp. laid off 700 employees because of a dramatic decreases in steel orders. The newly formed Pueblo Development Commission and local businessmen went on job-hunting jaunts, meeting with representatives of prospective companies in quest of diversifying the city's work force. State Treasurer Roy Romer promised special assistance in bringing businesses to Pueblo. Still, the local labor voice remained strong. Both Mike Salardino and Mike Occhiato attributed their victories for City Council seats to 11th hour labor endorsements. Another political highlight was Republican Mel Takaki carrying Pueblo County, a perennial Democratic Party stronghold, in his bid to unseat incumbent Frank Evans for the 3rd Congressional District seat. City Manager Fred Weisbrod, meanwhile, was quietly building up the city's reserves, which climbed from $1.3 million in 1974 to more than $10 million in 1982. In 1984, Weisbrod would be lauded for having the reserves; $6 million of it would be given to Sperry Corp., along with $2 million in land and other assets, in exchange the company's bringing about 750 jobs to Pueblo. The Colorado State Fair's 1977 lineup included country stars Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle and Dolly Parton over a 10-day run. Courtroom drama abounded. District Attorney Joe Losavio, elected in 1972 and re-elected without opposition in 1976, brought indictments against a number of public officials, including County Commissioner Al Hayden and University of Southern Colorado President Harry Bowes, as well as the developer of Pueblo West. In turn, detractors gathered petitions to recall Losavio. Crime news was grisly. City residents shuddered as police found parts of Puebloan Sharon Marie Copp's mutilated body scattered near Lake Pueblo and across the city's East Side. A grand jury investigated the murders of five members a Penrose family. Puebloan Robert Fernandez died during a fight with two policeman, which resulted in misdemeanor charges of criminally negligent homicide being filed against the cops. Murder charges were filed against local advertising agency owner Richard Goodwin, who was suspected of hiring a man to kill his business partner for his life insurance. The American Agriculture Movement, born in Southern Colorado, drew the U.S. secretary of agriculture to Pueblo to meet with farmers at a packed Memorial Hall. Farmers told Ag Secretary Bob Bergland they would strike if parity was not achieved by Dec. 10. The farmers kept their word, joining in a nationwide production boycott. Board of Water Works and Pueblo Police Department employees showed their opinion of proposed contacts, when water works employees walked out for 43 days and police held a "sick-out." Colorado and the nation both went through weather-related disasters. In 1976, the Big Thompson River flooded one night, wiping out U.S. 34 between Estes Park and Loveland and killing 139 people. The next year, the nation experienced the coldest winter since the nation's founding, driving home the energy shortage. Puebloans and Americans elsewhere also will remember the era for Elvis Presley's death; Gary Gilmore's execution; the capture of Son of Sam murderer David Berkowitz; the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty; the shooting death in Aspen of professional skier Vladimir "Spider" Sabich by live-in companion Claudine Longet; and serial killer Ted Bundy's two escapes in six months from Colorado jails, first from a Pitkin County courtroom, then from a Garfield County Jail cell. They Made a Difference - Bishop Charles A. Buswell - Bishop Charles A. Buswell headed the Pueblo Catholic Diocese from Oct. 6, 1959, to October 1980. Known for his interest in liturgy, ecumenism and disfranchised people, Buswell sat on the Vatican II Council from 1962 to 1965 and immediately implemented the council's changes upon his return. Buswell said his two greatest disappointments as Pueblo's bishop were the need to shut down the Catholic school system; and the demise of the Ministry of Christian Service program. Since he retired at age 65, Buswell has traveled to Latin America to protest against government treatment of the poor in Central America; has been active in protests against the testing and use of nuclear weapons; and has worked on housing issues with Habitat for Humanity. Buswell was born in 1913 in Homestead, Okla. He completed his theological studies at the American College in Louvain, Belgium, then served in Oklahoma before Pope John XXIII appointed him bishop of Pueblo. Buswell resides now at Villa Pueblo. Gladys Comi - A Pueblo native, Comi was born in 1926, grew up on Pueblo's East Side and graduated from Centennial High School. She earned an associate of arts degree from Pueblo Junior College in 1947. After she married and had two children, Comi went to work and returned to school. She earned a bachelor of science from Southern Colorado State College, then a master's degree from the University of Northern Colorado. In 1960, she began a 20-year career with the Pueblo Regional Planning Commission. When that agency disbanded, she became the city's community development director in 1980. During her tenure, she was credited with writing numerous successful applications for many federally funded projects. Her community and philanthropic work included service to the Pueblo Beautiful Association, Pueblo County Easter Seal Society, Salvation Army, Pueblo Arts Council, Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, El Pueblo Boys Ranch, Impossible Players, the Historical Pueblo Business Center Association and Pueblo Symphony Association. Comi died in 1990 at age 64. 1976 - January 8: Chou En-Lai, 78, premier of China, dies of cancer. Communist Party leader Mao Tse-tung dies at 82 in September. February 19: A "swine flu alert" is issued nationwide following the death of a Fort Dix, N.J., soldier. June 9: Pueblo County Commissioner Al Hayden says he will resign from the governor's advisory committee on expansion of Fort Carson because his wife owns land within the area the Army proposes to purchase in Pueblo County. July 4: Americans celebrate the country's bicentennial anniversary. October 7: Pueblo Mall opens on the city's North Side. November 8: Utah Supreme Court grants convicted murder Gary Gilmore's request to be executed by a firing squad. 1977 - May 4: The Pueblo Taxpayers Association meets with city officials to call for the repeal of the ordinance setting the city's sewer use fee. September 6: City Council promises to look at setting up a police review board after spokesman Al Gurule charges ongoing police brutality. September 9: Harry Bowes, former University of Southern Colorado president, pleads guilty to official misconduct and is fined $500. Bowes was indicted in July 1976 on 13 felony counts, including tax evasion, perjury, embezzlement and forgery. October 20: Ground is broken for the new $4.3 million Pueblo County Jail. October 28: Pueblo Youth Center, a juvenile detention center, opens in a remodeled two-story building on Colorado State Hospital grounds. November 30: CF&I Steel Corp. officials confirm they are using Korean-made steel to rebuild Blast Furnace E.
Pueblo Chieftain 10-4-1999 Our Past Century, 1978 - 1979 - Tough Times, Trouble Marred the Late '70s - Coloradans learned early in 1978 that it was going to be a tough year - the Denver Broncos lost in Super Bowl XII to the Dallas Cowboys, 27-10. It was ugly. Bronco quarterback Craig Morton threw four interceptions before halftime and the two teams combined for a total of 10 fumbles. Outside of Broncoland, 1978 is remembered for runaway inflation driven by skyrocketing crude oil prices that sent the value of the dollar on a rollercoaster ride. Tragedy in Guyana was the big news story of the year. A U.S. congressman and three American newsmen were slain by followers of Rev. Jim Jones. And a few hours later, more than 900 People's Temple members died by suicide or were killed at their Jonestown compound. During the year, the world saw the coming and going of three popes in a span of 73 days. Pope Paul IV died on Aug. 6. Pope John Paul was elected to replace him on Aug. 24, and died of a heart seizure 23 days later. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow then became Pope John Paul II on Oct. 17. He was the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat agreed to terms of a peace treaty in a meeting at Camp David and shared the Nobel Peace Prize. On the Pueblo home front, political peace was scarce in 1978. The top news story of the year centered around a campaign to recall the controversial district attorney Joe Losavio. Chicano activist Al Gurule spearheaded the recall attempt. Losavio unleashed a flurry of court challenges to the effort at every step of the process, but was unsuccessful in preventing a recall election. In the end, Losavio emerged victorious by a margin of 2,900 votes, but the bitter battle left the community polarized. Two weeks before the recall election was held, 10 of Losavio's investigators and agents with the U.S. Department of Health and Welfare executed search warrants by smashing their way into the Pueblo Neighborhood Health Centers offices. Losavio said the warrants were part of an investigation into alleged misuse of Medicaid funds by the health centers. Thousands of individual medical files were removed in the raids. One health center that was searched was a building PNHC leased from Gurule. The lengthy investigation did not result in criminal charges. Another top 1978 story involved Gurule and the district attorney's office. That was the search for John T. Miller, a former investigator on Losavio's staff who was indicted by a county grand jury on charges of conspiracy to possess heroin, a felony, and attempted official oppression. Miller's alleged crimes involved a plot to purchase heroin and use it to frame Gurule. On Nov. 22, the grand jury handed down the indictment against Miller and bail was set at $5,000. When authorities went to arrest Miller, he had disappeared. The organized crime unit said in a letter that it had uncovered no evidence that Losavio was involved in or aware of Miller's plot. In the November general election, Pueblo Democrat Ray Kogovsek won election in the 3rd Congressional District race by a narrow margin over Republican Harold McCormick of Canon City - only 458 votes out of almost 139,000 cast. That year, Gov. Richard Lamm was re-elected to his second term, defeating Republican challenger Ted Strickland; U.S. Sen. Floyd Haskell, a Democrat, was unseated by Republican Rep. William Armstrong; and George Amaya ousted incumbent and fellow Democrat William Gradishar in a hard-fought campaign for a seat on the county commission. Governance of the University of Southern Colorado was shifted to the State Board of Agriculture from the Trustees of State Colleges and University Consortium. The change signaled USC's reassigned role as a "polytechnic" institution. The top international story in 1979 began to unfold on Nov. 4, when Iranian students stormed the American Embassy in Tehran. They took 60 hostages, including Pueblo Marine Cpl. Billy Gallegos, 21. Even before they received official notification, Gallegos' parents, Dick and Theresa Gallegos, learned from a televised news bulletin that their son was being held captive. The 1976 East High School graduate had been assigned to the embassy as a guard. The students were seeking revenge against the deposed Shah, who was undergoing cancer treatment in New York at the time. Urged on by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the religious leader of the Iranian revolution, the students later threatened to kill the hostages if the United States tried to use force to free them. Gallegos came under fire from some critics who thought he was too easy on his captors in statements printed in newspapers and seen on television. The Marine said he and his fellow hostages were being treated well by the students. "Our physical condition is fair. Our mental condition is as well as you can expect from a situation like this. Our needs are met to a certain extent," he said - hardly words of sympathy. Pueblo strongly supported Gallegos. Yellow ribbons were displayed throughout the community as a reminder of his plight. Upon his release in early January 1981, Gallegos received a hero's welcome when he returned to his hometown. Also in 1979, the price of crude oil more than doubled. Gasoline prices skyrocketed. There were long lines and, occasionally, no gas at all. It was a gasless carriage that made tragic headlines in September at the Penrose Apple Day Parade. A team of horses bolted into the crowd, killing Sharon Louise Gillette, 31, and injuring nine others. Mrs. Gillette was the mother of three. In February, headlines reported a plot to assault County Commissioner Al Hayden. John Foderaro Jr. allegedly contacted three ex-convicts to carry out the assault after the commissioner voted against a zoning change sought by Foderaro and his partners in the summer of 1978. At the time of his arrest, Foderaro was the focus of a grand jury probe into organized crime. While out on bail, Foderaro was murdered. The case never was solved. In late September, 19-month-old Jerry Trujillo of Pueblo died after the Colorado Supreme Court upheld District Judge Donald E. Abram's ruling that the respirator sustaining Jerry's life could be removed. Before her son's death, Rosalie Lovato, 20, was arrested on charges of felony child abuse. A DC-7 may be a terrible thing to waste, but suspected drug runners abandoned two of the four-engine cargo planes in Southern Colorado in 1979. In April, a perfectly good but empty DC-7 was found on a flat mesa near Trinidad. On Oct. 16, authorities found a second DC-7 on the runway with its engines running at Pueblo Memorial Airport. There were 22,000 pounds of Colombian marijuana stacked inside the cargo bay. There was no sign of a crew, although two men were arrested later and charged with drug trafficking. At the polls that November, Harold Mabie defeated incumbent City Council President Steve Martinez by 500 votes in District 4 voting. Isaac Duran was elected over a field of three challengers, and Mel Takaki ran unopposed for his at-large seat on council. In other news of note, 19 members of the Colorado-based American Agriculture Movement were arrested while protesting in Washington, D.C. A year earlier, 2,000 farmers had formed a human chain around the White House in an attempt to force President Jimmy Carter to meet with them. The District 60 school board adopted a 1980 budget that called for the elimination of 100 staff positions. FBI fugitive James Harold Hood, 39, was captured north of Pueblo and fatally wounded while being handcuffed by Officer Jerald Thomas. A coroner's inquest ruled that the shooting was accidental. They Made a Difference - Ray Kogovsek - Ray Kogovsek narrowly defeated state Sen. Harold McCormick in November 1978 to become Colorado's representative in the 3rd Congressional District. He was elected two more times before deciding not to seek re-election in 1984. Raised in a Slovenian neighborhood on Pueblo's South Side, Kogovsek grew up in an apartment located over a neighborhood tavern owned by his grandmother. He studied music at Pueblo Junior College and then transferred to Adams State College on a music scholarship. He graduated with a major in business when he realized he lacked patience to teach music. After working at CF&I, he went to work for Pueblo County government. He was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1968 and then to the Colorado Senate two years later. When Congressman Frank Evans announced his intention to retire, Kogovsek decided to try for national office. Upon leaving Congress in 1984, Kogovsek was considered an early front-runner for the Colorado governor's office eventually won by Roy Romer. In 1988, Kogovsek was elected to the National Democratic Committee. Since leaving office, Kogovsek has worked as a lobbyist at the state and national levels. Billy Gallegos - Billy Gallegos was Pueblo's Marine at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overrun by militant Iranian students in November 1979. A 1976 graduate of East High School, Gallegos was assigned as an embassy guard three months before the hostage situation erupted. When the students released a taped interview with Gallegos, he came under harsh criticism for saying he and his fellow hostages were being treated well by their captors. For 444 days, Puebloans prayed for the release of Gallegos and the others. When he returned to Pueblo on Jan. 28, 1981, thousands of Puebloans turned out to greet him at Memorial Airport. One witness observed Gallegos received the warmest display of affection in Pueblo since President Kennedy visited the city in 1962. Ten years after his ordeal, Billy told The Pueblo Chieftain he played down his role. "I'm not a hero," he said. "I'm a survivor. I didn't do anything to be a hero. Sure, a lot of people think I am and put me in that position and on that pedestal. But, I don't feel that way." 1978 - February 15: Leon Spinks wins the world heavyweight title by defeating Muhammad Ali in a split decision. Ali reclaimed the crown on Sept 17. April 29: 5,000 protesters demand an end of production of nuclear-weapon components at Rocky Flats plant near Denver. Daniel Ellsberg and nine other demonstrators are arrested. June 10: Affirmed wins Belmont Stakes to claim horse racing's coveted Triple Crown. July 17: American Indians end their 2,700 miles Longest Walk on steps of the U.S. Capitol. August 26: Robert Fernandez dies of injuries after being hit by police officers Henry Chapman and Timothy Pepin, who went to Fernandez's home to investigate a reported domestic violence incident between Fernandez and his wife. November 18: Cult leader Jim Jones and 900 of his followers die in Jonestown, Guyana. Most apparently committed suicide by drinking a cyanide potion. 1979 - January 16: The Shah of Iran is forced to leave the country and the Ayatollah Khomeini announces plans to return from exile. March 31: The worst nuclear accident in U.S. history is brought under control at Three-Mile Island. April 24: Advertising executive Richard Goodwin is convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his business partner, Thomas Turcotte of Colorado Springs. June 25: Sandinistas oust Gen. Anastasio Somoza and seize control of Nicaragua. December 4: FBI fugitive James Harold Hood, 39, is captured north of Pueblo and fatally wounded while being handcuffed by Officer Jerald Thomas. A coroner's inquest ruled the shooting accidental.
Pueblo Chieftain 10-11-1999 Our Past Century, 1980 - 1981 - Reagan Era Begins; Iran Crisis Ends - Gold hit $649 an ounce, Bert Parks was dumped by the Miss America Pageant and crises smoldered in Iran and Afghanistan as 1980 began. Puebloans paid particular attention to Iran because one of their own, Marine Sgt. Billy Gallegos, was among the American hostages being held in Tehran by followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Revolution of a different sort was occurring here. That January, the District 60 school board OK'd a radical-sounding approach to education at Jefferson Elementary School. The Individual Education program, also known as the Adlerian School, said that "parents and children, administrators and teachers are equals in a school setting." It further advocated that children have the "absolute right to learn or not learn" and adults shouldn't try to motivate them through good grades or rewards. Pueblo County had 126,000 people in 1980, and an estimated 109,000 of them lived within the city limits. The median family income for city and county combined was $15,900 - nearly triple what it had been in 1960. Pueblo was a good place to live, residents said, because the mall and the University of Southern Colorado were here; there was peace and quiet at the same time as plenty to do; the climate was pleasant and the people were friendly; and the pollution was less than that in Colorado Springs and Denver. Pueblo Regional Planning Commission was raring to go. It forecast 250,000 people in Pueblo by the year 2000, though "plenty of space" would remain between Front Range cities. Mel Harmon, speaking for the Discover Pueblo campaign, predicted, "By the year 2000, Pueblo should have captured the title of being the prettiest city in Colorado and Colorado's mecca for cultural and technical developments." At the same time, the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce's Jada McGuire lamented the community's "no growth/slow growth attitude." In the category of "the more things change, the more they stay the same" are these tidbits from 1980: The Army Corps of Engineers proposed a levee system along Fountain Creek to protect adjacent properties from erosion. Pueblo Area Citizens for Education talked about consolidating school districts 60 and 70. The state agriculture commissioner told legislators that the Colorado State Fair could never become self-supporting and they should abandon the idea it could. Conversion of agricultural lands worried people gathered at Pueblo County High School. They planned to draft recommendations for the state Legislature. Food storage plans and survival schemes got lots of attention. "Mother Earth News," a holdover from the hippie era, offered tips on everything from beekeeping to food preservation to wind-generated power. The year of 1980 saw America's first "test tube baby" lab approved for Norfolk (Va.) General Hospital. Lou Ferrigno, painted green and bulging muscles, looked like he'd escaped from another kind of lab. The former Mr. Universe played the Incredible Hulk on the TV series of the same name. Remember his shirt-splitting trick? Pope John Paul II led the list of men most admired by Americans in 1980, and first lady Rosalynn Carter and Mother Teresa tied for No. 1 on the women's list. Fort Carson's attempted expansion into the canyonlands of Southeastern Colorado - and the local residents' opposition - was the biggest news story of the year in this part of the state. The Huerfano-Pinon Coalition was organized in March 1980, and did its best to block the Army's acquisition of the fragile and historically significant lands. The House Armed Services Committee approved the Pinon Canyon purchase in May 1981. It committed $30 million for 244,000 acres in Las Animas County which would be used for military maneuvers. Although 1981 dawned with the distressing news that Iran threatened to kill its American hostages, the crisis was resolved as soon as President Jimmy Carter left office. Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th president of our country on Jan. 20 - the 444th day of captivity for the hostages; the next day they were free in Wiesbaden, West Germany. Their release was the top story of 1981, while local "no" votes for a firemen's pay increase and a District 60 mill levy increase were No. 2. Also in the top 10 that year was the area's troubled economy. Pueblo County's employment figures were up in 1981, but unemployment - 6.1 percent - still ranked higher than the state average (3.7 percent) and near the national average (7.1 percent). By December 1981, experts were characterizing the nationwide economic climate as "in a slump," and the general public was wondering about the next depression. Wall Street predicted that unemployment would continue to creep up, while industrial production would fall, but economists refrained from using the "D" word. Instead, they said the economy would wait "until spring" to restart. Closer to home, Gov. Richard Lamm announced a statewide hiring freeze, and the Pueblo City Council told City Manager Fred Weisbrod to budget for 10 percent fewer city employees. They Made a Difference - The Rev. Charles Murray - The Rev. Charles J. Murray was ordained in the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1940 and came to Pueblo as an assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. He became pastor there in 1944 and remained at Mount Carmel until 1960 when he became pastor of St. Joseph Church in Blende. Murray is credited with founding St. Joseph and Our Lady of the Assumption parishes, Mount Carmel Credit Union and the Santo Nino Clinic, one of the first health clinics for low-income Puebloans. He also served as a commissioner of the Pueblo Housing Authority for 14 years, and was on its board of directors at the time the Sangre de Cristo housing project was constructed. Twice, Colorado governors appointed him to the state's anti-discrimination commission. Murray also was president of the St. Vincent de Paul store's board of directors, and received the Liberty Bell award from the Pueblo County Bar Association. During the 1970s, he served as an assistant for the Jesuit order in St. Louis, Mo., and became director of the Sacred Heart Retreat House at Sedalia in 1979. He died in 1981 at age 73 in Denver. Sam T. Jones - Samuel T. Jones Jr. founded Sam Jones Agency in 1929. The one-man insurance business expanded into a real estate firm in 1936. Jones Real Estate Agency became Jones-Healy in 1972. Jones was named a lifetime State Fair commissioner in 1972 and was honored by the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce many times. He was a member of the board of trustees of National Jewish Hospital and Research Center in Denver, and received a philanthropic award from the hospital in 1974. He also led a number of fund-raising drives for St. Mary-Corwin Hospital. Jones was inducted into the Greater Pueblo Sports Hall of Fame in 1974 in recognition of the many years he served as president of the University of Southern Colorado's booster club. He was a strong supporter of local high school sports, too, and he served as president of the Pueblo Dodgers minor league baseball team from 1947 to 1958. He died at age 73 in 1981 in Pueblo. 1980 - February 24: U.S. hockey team wins gold medal at Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.; first U.S. hockey gold in 20 years. March 9: Huerfano-Pinon Coalition meets for first time; group wants to prevent Army from acquiring land along the Huerfano River. March 24: City Council unanimously declares southeast quadrant of Downtown a "blighted area," paving way for $23 million hotel/convention center. July 2: Pueblo Diocese's new bishop, the Rev. Arthur Tafoya, is appointed. July 12: Electronics magnate David Packard attends his 50-year Centennial High class reunion. December 8: Former Beatle John Lennon is shot to death outside his Manhattan apartment. December 12: Closing of Alpha Beta Packing plant is announced; plant had been shut down since late October when union workers went out on strike. 1981 - January 20: Ronald Reagan is sworn in as 40th president of the United States. January 21: Fifty-two Americans, held hostage for 444 days in Iran, arrive at Wiesbaden, West Germany; among them is Marine Sgt. Billy Gallegos of Pueblo. March 30: President Reagan wounded in an assassination attempt, press secretary James Brady, seriously wounded. May 2: One-thousand local union construction workers join statewide strike against contractors. May 12: House Armed Services Committee approves Pinon Canyon purchase; $30 million will be spent acquiring 244,000 acres in Las Animas County for military maneuvers. July 3: Pioneer Airlines inaugurates daily service between Pueblo and Denver. December 29: Massachusetts woman gives birth to America's first "test tube" baby.
Pueblo Chieftain 10-18-1999 Our Past Century, 1982 - 1983 - Crippled Steel Industry Stuns Pueblo - Americans were no longer being held hostage in Iran in 1982, but the national economy was still shackled by high inflation, high unemployment and a deepening resentment toward foreign cars and imports. The Reagan administration was knee-deep in Central American politics, nurturing support for Jose Napoleon Duarte's moderate politics in El Salvador, while supplying weapons and money to the Contra soldiers waging war against the Socialist government in Nicaragua. In the nation's major steel cities - Allentown, Johnstown, Aliquippa - the recession had pushed Big Steel into laying off thousands of workers while their chief executives pleaded with Congress to establish import limits on foreign steel. The catch-phrases in corporate boardrooms were "overcapacity" and "downsizing" but they are sterile terms that didn't begin to describe the pain that Pueblo was about to feel in a year where local unemployment would hit 18 percent. Like the steel orders they replaced, the bad news came in shipments. On March 4, CF&I announced that 300 workers (out of roughly 5,500 steel workers) would be laid off indefinitely. In May, the decline in orders prompted CF&I to lay off another 1,500 workers and to "bank" Blast Furnace A, while it waited for the market to improve. A month later, another 500 workers were let go. "Gloom Shrouds U.S. Steelmakers" said a red-ink headline across the top of The Chieftain on June 25. Even so, CF&I officials kept up work on a new $140 million continuous casting machine that would help their tube sales. In hindsight, it was a dream because OPEC was pumping an ocean of cheap oil onto the world market, killing any demand for new oil-field tubing. In October, Pueblo's steel workers agreed to cuts in wages totaling more than $5 an hour - a painful cut they hoped would save their economic lives in the long run. While Pueblo wondered at the future of an industry that had built the Steel City, other parts of the community convulsed as well. District 60 also had too many buildings and too few students, so on March 23, the board voted to close five elementary schools - Thatcher, Fulton Heights, Lincoln, Lakeview and Washington - as well as Keating Middle School. Unwilling to accept the decision, a group of Thatcher parents hired local lawyers Joe Losavio and Scott Schiff to fight the closing in court, claiming the board decision had been illegally made in closed door meetings prior to the public vote. At the same time, the Colorado State Fair was in the financial intensive-care unit. In response, Pueblo's delegation in the General Assembly persuaded state lawmakers to earmark $200,000 in state funds that spring to pay for benefit concerts to boost the fair's revenues. State Rep. Bob Leon Kirscht, R-Pueblo and a former radio personality, hoped the money-rich concert industry could provide a windfall for the Fair. It turned out to be a bad idea. Fair officials booked the country band "Alabama" into McNichols Arena for the first benefit but could only attract 7,600 fans - a financial loss of $25,000. In September, the Fair tried again with superstar Linda Ronstadt. But the singer who made "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me" wasn't lying and only 2,600 fans bought tickets, so Ronstadt canceled her show, leaving the Fair with a loss of $65,000. After that, Gov. Richard Lamm pulled the plug on the concert effort. Promoter Barry Fey came to the rescue in December, however, when he helped bring Willie Nelson for a Fair benefit that sold out McNichols. There was no such benefit for the CF&I, which posted a loss of $23 million in 1982 and ended the year with only half its 5,500 work force. When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose, so it was little wonder that Pueblo was ready to gamble a little when the brand-new Colorado Lottery offices were located here. On Monday, Jan. 24, Coloradans got the chance to buy their first lottery tickets and Pueblo cashed in with $10,000 winners. In February, Colorado Sen. Gary Hart formally announced that he would be a Democratic candidate for president in 1984. The demand for U.S. steel kept falling like a bank safe, however, and in March, CF&I management called on the local unions to accept even deeper cuts in wages. CF&I had lost another $18 million since Jan. 1. Frustrated after a year of layoffs and uncertainty, several thousand steel workers crowded into Memorial Hall on March 25 and soundly rejected any further give backs. It was a defiant gesture in the face of a overwhelming forces. After several local judges excused themselves from the case, a Pueblo jury upheld the decision by the District 60 board to close Thatcher school. Unwilling to quit, the Thatcher parents said they would appeal. On March 11, an arson-caused fire broke out in the dormitory at the University of Southern Colorado, injuring 33 students - several quite seriously. A city that was numb from economic injuries was still stunned by the sight of injured students outside the damaged dormitory. Although The Chieftain put up a $10,000 reward for information on who caused the fire, no arrests were ever made. The city began a formal Crime Stoppers program shortly afterwards. In June, the City-County Health Department reported that a new and frightening killer, AIDS, had been reported in Pueblo County. In November, city voters turned away an effort to install the mayoral form of government in Pueblo, voting to keep the council-city manager form by 2-1 margin. But the worst came in the cold snow of December when CF&I announced that it was permanently closing its blast furnaces, basic oxygen furnace, its coke ovens and its 40-inch, 25-inch, and punch mills. The company had bled losses of more than $45 million over the year. What once had been the largest integrated steel mill west of the Mississippi River would no longer make steel from its basic ingredients. For the thousands of laid-off workers, the announcement had the ring of finality. "My plans are for survival," Rich Bustos, an angry 25-year-veteran of the CF&I told The Chieftain after the announcement. "I've got to keep making house payments and keep my kids in school so they won't have to go through what I did." They Made a Difference - J.D. MacFarlane - John D. MacFarlane is a Pueblo native who graduated from Central High School in 1951, went on to Harvard University and later to Stanford Law School. MacFarlane then joined the district attorney's office in Pueblo and started his political career, serving in the state House of Representatives in 1964-68 and state Senate 1969-72. MacFarlane ran for Colorado attorney general in 1974 and was elected to two terms. During his tenure, he established the office's consumer fraud and anti-trust offices. When MacFarlane left public office, he went into private business until Denver Mayor Federico Pena asked him to become that city's manager of public safety, a job he kept until September 1987. Since then, he has worked as a political and business consultant while living the Denver area. Helen Thatcher White - On Jan. 1, 1983, one of Pueblo's benefactors, Helen Thatcher White, died at age 67. A longtime supporter of Pueblo organizations and charities, Mrs. White gave $1.3 million to the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center to pay for the gallery that is now named for her. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Mahlon T. Thatcher, Helen married William M. White, who later became president of Minnequa Bank. Following his death in 1966, Mrs. White became chairwoman of the Minnequa Bank board of directors as well as banks in Alamosa, Monte Vista, Durango and elsewhere. She also served as president of the Thatcher Foundation. Mrs. White was a devoted supporter of the Pueblo Symphony, Sister City Program, Pueblo Metropolitan Museum and other organizations. She was one of five Coloradans to receive the 1982 Governor's Award for Excellence from the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities. 1982 - March: District 60 school board votes to close five elementary schools and Keating Middle School. April: Argentina invades the Falkland Islands, prompting a war with Great Britain which ends with British troops retaking the islands. May: Worsening sales forces CF&I to lay off 1,500 workers, bringing total layoffs to 2,000. September: Rock singer Linda Ronstadt fails to sell 3,000 tickets to State Fair benefit concert in Denver and cancels show, leaving Fair with $65,000 loss. October: CF&I steelworkers agree to pay cuts of more than $5 an hour. December: Willie Nelson plays at a benefit concert for the Fair at Denver to a full house at McNichols Arena. 1983 - March: Arson fire burns USC dormitory, injuring 33 students. June: Sally Ride becomes NASA's first female astronaut in space aboard shuttle. October: 216 Marines are killed in Beirut when a terrorist drives car bomb into the barracks building. December: CF&I announces permanent closure of three mills and coke ovens, ending the hopes of rehiring 2,000 laid off workers. Company loses more that $45 million over the year.
Pueblo Chieftain 10-25-1999 Our Past Century, 1984 - 1985 - Pueblo Economy Begins Recovery - The mid-decade Reagan years 1984-85 proved the nascent time of Pueblo's present prosperity, the beginning of an economic improvement period. Puebloans were still suffering from the shock of inflation, steel crisis and the "Reagan Recession." Unemployment rates reached double digits, and local governments, instead of dealing with surpluses as they are now, were looking for ways to stay afloat. Puebloans worked to restore their city's job market. Sperry came to town in 1984, prompting excitement and hope. And even though one, albeit giant, company could not and did not turn around the local economy, Pueblo's economic development received a nice liftoff. "The main implication was the sign that Pueblo, beset by a stagnant economy, was on the move again," The Pueblo Chieftain wrote of the move here by Sperry. "With more jobs, more dollars, and the hope that even more employers would locate here." The diversified Pueblo of today shows that statement to be prophetic. The one-industry town that was adrift in 1984 has changed radically in 15 years. But the old CF&I showed a touch of change itself in 1984, saying it was profitable for the first time in a while. And at City Hall and in the county commissioners' chambers, November 1984 elections and retirement brought fresh membership. John Bramble became city manager, replacing Fred Weisbrod. Jim Brewer became the first Republican county commissioner in decades, and joined former District 60 administrator Sollie Raso as newcomers at 10th and Court. Also in that November 1984 election, casino gambling west of Pueblo was defeated by voters. Current Pueblo City Councilman John Verna pushed the idea and then-Gov. Richard Lamm pushed back even hard. Voters agreed with Lamm. Nationally in that 1984 election, President Ronald Reagan wiped out former Vice President Walter Mondale, taking 49 states. Mondale and the Democrats tried something different, a female on the top ticket. But, Geraldine Ferraro offered no answer as Republicans won their fourth presidential election in five tries. In June 1984, Dan Lee was forced from his office as Colorado State Fair manager for embellishing his resume with a college degree, a high-ranking enlisted post in the U.S. Army and executive titles that none of his previous employers could recall him holding. The job was taken over by Jerry Robbe. At the University of Southern Colorado, President Lyle Wilcox's management style was described as "authoritarian, autocratic and elitist" and he quit in August 1984. Union Avenue began to spruce up in 1984, and the Vail Hotel reopened as a senior citizen apartment complex. Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Tihonovich and an aide, Ed Lutes, were indicted by a grand jury, accused of taking weapons from the department's evidence room. In 1985, charges against both men were dismissed. The mess led to a huge 1986 Democratic field of sheriff's candidates, and former police officer Larry Buckallew won the race by running as a Republican. Buckallew left office under indictment in 1991, and one of his chief aides, Dan Corsentino, succeeded him. In 1985, new president Bob Shirley reorganized USC, eliminating 20 academic programs and reducing six others, re-established admission standards, eliminated football, baseball and four minor sports. He also sliced $1.6 million from the administration budget. Despite Sperry, Pueblo's economy remained sluggish in 1985, and the jobless rate dipped under the 10 percent mark in just one month that year, to 9.9 percent in September. The state figure for the fall months was 5.8 percent. Target announced in April 1985 it would build a 550,000 square-foot distribution center in Pueblo, and planned to open it in July 1986. Local, state and federal governments promised $3.1 million in tax incentives to Target, and the company promised 350 initial jobs. The city and county both raised their mill levies in 1985, to combat the still weak local economy. The city's raise was its first in 14 years, to generate $400,000 more revenue. Near-perfect weather made the 1985 State Fair a record-breaker in attendance and in the $128,000 spent on the Junior Livestock Sale. Robbe, who turned out to be a master at getting interesting and exciting attractions at the Fair, moved from interim manager to manager. Near-perfect weather became near disastrous just two months after the Fair closed, when a slow-moving storm dumped a record 16 inches on snow on Pueblo on Nov. 14. The storm closed schools and many businesses. A long cold spell lasted through the end of December. The year ended in tragedy, as Pueblo narcotics officer Dennis Yaklich was gunned down in the driveway of his Avondale home on Dec. 12. Yaklich had returned home early from a shift, and was hit at least four times. Police looked in vain for suspects, and District Attorney Gus Sandstrom revealed a list of several Pueblo lawmen who were allegedly also targeted for death - including Sandstrom himself. In early 1986, one of Yaklich's assailants, Charles Greenwell told acquaintances about his part in the assassination. He quickly confessed on Feb. 26, 1986, and told of a murder-for-hire plot hatched by Yaklich's wife, Donna. She offered Charles and his brother, Eddie, about $50,000 each for shooting her husband, claiming he had abused her often. Charles Greenwell is now doing 20 years; his older brother, Eddie, is doing 30 years because he plotted the murder for a year with Donna Yaklich. She was arrested in March 1986 when she returned to Pueblo from a Jamaican vacation, and received a 40-year prison sentence after her conviction for conspiracy to commit murder in July 1988 in one of Pueblo's most sensational trials ever. They Made a Difference - Sollie Raso - Sollie Raso is a bear of a man who coached sports, was the principal of Central High School and served two terms as a Pueblo County commissioner. His gravely voice, easy smile and wink made him many friends and admirers over the years. But his outspokenness and close-to-the vest attitude concerning policy decisions as a commissioner from 1984 through 1992 also made him a few enemies and caused his loss in the 1992 Democratic primary. Raso was defeated that year by Richard Martinez. A lot of Raso's fellow Dems were steamed at his disregard for Kathy Farley, then a fellow Democratic commissioner, and the fact that Raso often sided with Republican commissioner Jim Brewer. Perhaps Raso's most interesting hour as a commissioner was during the time when the state was coming down hard on the county for its job training office operation and Raso went head-to-head with the Governor's Job Training Office director Les Franklin in 1991. The two men traded barbs in the media and discounted the other's sincerity and grasp on reality. The state said the office misspent more than $1 million and the county countered that it discovered $213 in wasted funds. Before Raso ever entered politics, he made a name for himself as a popular teacher, coach, principal and administrator in School District 60, where he worked for 35 years through 1981. He was president of the Colorado High School Athletic Association in 1970, and was named to its Hall of Fame 20 years later. Raso, the son of immigrants, still lives in Pueblo. Jack Seavy - Jack Seavy was viewed as a candid, gruff, to-the-point judge who said the law was not to tinker with, and if politics were the ticket of selecting a jurist, he never would have made it. Seavy first desired to become an engineer, and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for two years. He then decided to follow his father's footsteps and become a Pueblo lawyer. His father was Vasco Seavy, a man who usually has the word "legendary" placed before his name in news stories. Jack Seavy fought in Europe as a paratrooper in World War II, and five years later, in 1950, graduated from the University of Colorado law school before joining his father's firm. The younger Seavy was first appointed to the bench in 1962, but was voted out months later. In 1969, with the law changed to its current non-political "yes" or "no" vote for sitting judges, Seavy was again named to the bench. He was not the type of man to schmooze or kiss babies in return for votes. Seavy had more than his share of controversial cases, but he concentrated on the complexity of the issues and left the discussion to others. Seavy heard the notorious O.D. Woolsey murder trial in the 1970s, and the double-murder conviction of William Houchin in 1986. But it was the May 1988 case of Donna Yaklich that garnered Seavy the most attention. She was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for hiring two men to shoot her police officer husband, Dennis, and Seavy shocked most observers when he meted out a 40-year term for Yaklich. Seavy died May 31, 1989, after battling cancer for a year. Almost 400 people attended his services, and judges and lawyers alike praised Seavy for his keen grasp of the law, his fairness and his ability to treat defendants as individuals who were not guilty until proven so. 1984 - January 17: U.S. Supreme Court OKs recording of TV shows at home with videocassette recorders. June 12: State Fair Manager Dan Lee is forced out after it is discovered that his resume was a sham. Rancher Jerry Robbe succeeds Lee. July 12: Democrats pick a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, to run as vice president in November. September 29: Air show at the Pueblo Memorial Airport is a huge success, drawing thousands. October 31: Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two of her Sikh body guards. November 6: President Ronald Reagan crushes Walter Mondale for the White House, 59 percent to 41 percent. Locally, Jim Brewer becomes the first Republican county commissioner in decades. 1985 - March 13: Mikhail Gorbachev takes over as head of the Soviet Union. April 12: Target announces that it will build a 550,000 square-foot warehouse in Pueblo and promises 450 new jobs by fall 1987. June 30: A 17-day hijacking drama ends in Beirut when Party of God Shiite terrorists release 39 American hostages. One American, Navy diver Robert Stethem, was killed on the first day of the hijacking. November 14: A 16-inch snowstorm hits Pueblo, causing school and many businesses to close. December 12: Pueblo narcotics police officer Dennis Yaklich is gunned down in the driveway of his home. Three years after his slaying, his wife, Donna, begins serving a 40-year prison term for conspiracy to murder him.
Pueblo Chieftain 11-1-1999 Our Past Century, 1986 - 1987 - Businesses Find a Home in Pueblo - Americans watched in disbelief and horror as the space shuttle Challenger exploded barely a minute after liftoff. Two months later, the world was terrified by the worst nuclear accident in history at a Soviet Union power plant called Chernobyl. But the big news in Pueblo as the 1986-87 era opened was an economy poised to boom. Although unemployment rates hovered at just below 12 percent for most of the two-year period, 1986 brought announcements of new jobs to come at the industrial park at Pueblo Memorial Airport. Atlas-Pacific promised about 100 jobs following a move from California. McDonnell-Douglas picked Pueblo as a site for building rockets and officials said about 200 workers would be needed by early 1988. Kurt Manufacturing of Minneapolis decided to expand its precision-machine operations with a new plant in Pueblo. Target Stores opened a statewide distribution center here in August 1986 with nearly 300 workers and the promise of a payroll topping 500 by the end of 1987. A new Target retail store opened that year, too, after Pueblo's second Wal-Mart opened on Pueblo Boulevard and Northern Avenue. But there was bad news, too. The Do Ray Lamp in Colorado City closed in December 1986, putting about 130 people out of work. Several years later, though, Columbia House opened a music-club distribution business in the same building. The following December, officials of Phonetica One, a maker of high-tech toys that had opened in August, ran out of money after only four months in operation. Workers stayed on assembly lines without pay for a while, hoping to save the company and their jobs, but both became history in 1987. Most of the new businesses came to Pueblo in large part because of incentives offered by the city. The tax breaks, free land and other enticements were made possible by proceeds from a temporary half-cent sales tax earmarked for job creation at the industrial park. Voters agreed to extend the tax in 1986 following a bitter campaign between city and business leaders who wanted a five-year extension, with all of the money to go to job creation, and a senior citizens' group called Citizens for Human and Economic Progress whose members thought some of the money should go to human-service needs and capital improvements within the city. In 1987, BF Goodrich, Trane and Kaiser Aerospace and Electronics announced plans to build plants that would put about 800 Puebloans to work, and McDonnell-Douglas announced an expansion of its Delta rocket-assembly plant that would add another 250 jobs to the local payroll. But that year also brought the controversial closing of three schools in District 70, where angry patrons launched an unsuccessful recall campaign. Rural voters that year also agreed to a one-cent county sales tax. The Colorado State Fair under the guidance of new manager Jerry Robbe broke attendance records in both years - topping 500,000 for the first time in 1986 and adding about 100,000 more to that figure the next year. Civic, government and business leaders continued their quest for a hotel-convention center. The city in 1987 agreed to commit hotel-tax revenues from the next 20 years to bolster the proposed convention-center complex. On the political front, the '86-87 era brought many changes. A new president in the Philippines. Corazon "Cory" Aquino, took office after the long reign of former President Ferdinand Marcos, and was named Time magazine's woman of the year in 1986. Democrats and Republicans alike were surprised when two Republicans were elected to local office - Larry Buckallew replaced 12-year-veteran sheriff Dan Tihonovich and political newcomer Jim Brewer won a county commissioner's seat. City Manager John Bramble resigned under pressure in 1986 after barely a year on the job. He was replaced temporarily by Lew Quigley, an assistant city manager who had worked his way to that post from the parks and recreation department. City Council named Quigley to the post permanently in 1987 and he has held the job since then, drawing fire several times - as he is today - over his salary increases and raises he has sought for managers that work directly beneath him. Both years brought hotly contested battles between the city and union workers over pay raises, and local or statewide investigations into Pueblo Action, SRDA director Isaac Duran and Our House, a community corrections center. While the Iran-Contra affair was coming to a boil nationally with new, unsavory revelations coming almost daily from Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, Puebloans were more enthralled by the case unfolding against Donna Yaklich and two neighbors who claimed she had hired them to kill her husband, police narcotics officer Dennis Yaklich. In rural Southern Colorado, the court cases capturing headlines were related to water, not murder. The city of Aurora finally won legal rights to transfer a portion of the Rocky Ford Ditch rights it had purchased earlier in the decade. The high-dollar, high-profile deal led shareholders in other major ditch and canal companies along the Arkansas River to give up on the risky business of farming in favor of the profitable business of selling water. Aurora is shopping in the lower Arkansas Valley again this year, pitting neighbors against each other and forcing everyone who lives there to reassess the role and value of agriculture in a changing economy. Canadian Maurice Strong had big plans for rights to 200,000 acre-feet of water tied to a ranch he owned near Crestone but he finally gave up after a fight that created scars still tender today. By the time his scheme no longer was a threat, rancher Gary Boyce reignited the fight with another plan to sell San Luis Valley water to thirsty cities uninterested in potato farmers and whooping cranes who depend on it. They Made a Difference - Lew Quigley - Lew Quigley was named Pueblo's city manager on Jan. 7, 1987. An 11-year-veteran of city government, the white-haired, affable Quigley replaced John Bramble, who resigned under pressure the previous October. The appointment was termed temporary at first, but City Council members opted not to undergo a national search for Bramble's replacement after Quigley had been on the job for two months. As Council President Mike Occhiato said then, the disruption and expense of a search didn't make sense because "Lew has the experience and the ability we need. And he certainly has the personal appeal." City employees were pleased with the appointment. Many said they preferred his easygoing style to Bramble's all-business approach. It didn't go unnoticed that Quigley abolished the special parking place set aside for the city manager and parked with his underlings in a lot across from City Hall. His salary that first year was set at $60,500 - $6,000 less than Bramble was earning. He earned $100,476 this year and probably won't get a raise next year following angry complaints from citizens and some City Council members nearly two weeks ago. Councilman Al Gurule even suggested Quigley should resign over the issue. Quigley had requested a raise of $10,000 for himself and raises between $10,000 and $16,000 for other administrators. He based the request on a comparison to how much union workers will be paid next year after raising their average pay to 85 percent of what's paid in comparably sized cities. He agreed to freeze his own salary but is still pushing for bigger raises than those suggested by council members during a meeting last week. The issue will be settled later this month, when council votes on next year's budget. Frank E. White - Frank E. White's voice and influence were behind many of Pueblo's historic moments, such as the creation of the City Charter in 1954, as well as in the predictable yearly battles seeking higher wages for city employees and better funding for senior-service programs. White was at the forefront of a bitter election battle in 1986 over the city's temporary half-cent sales tax. Government and most business leaders wanted to extend the tax for five years and use all the proceeds for economic development at the airport industrial park. White's group, Citizens for Human and Economic Progress, wanted the tax to be extended indefinitely, with some of the profits to be shared with human-service organizations and much-needed capital improvements. The city won, but White was credited with etching accountability into the process of deciding how the sales-tax money would be spent. A career firefighter who made a second career on the Civil Service Commission, White died July 8 of a heart attack at the age of 84. He was a World War II veteran, a tireless worker in the Democratic party and an avid exerciser who spread his political message to all who would listen each day at the YMCA. Former City Councilman Sam Corsentino said at the time that White had been "a champion for the city, one of those special people you really can't replace. Frank was always active and looking out for the best interests of the city and city employees." 1986 - January 28: The space shuttle Challenger explodes 74 seconds after liftoff. All seven crew members are killed. February 28: Donna Yaklich, the widow of slain police narcotics detective Dennis Yaklich, is named as a suspect in the Dec. 12, 1985, ambush-style killing. April 11: Edmund Vallejo, a 30-year-veteran in School District 60, becomes the first Hispanic superintendent in the district's history. April 26: A major accident at a nuclear power plant at Chernobyl in the Ukraine releases deadly radiation throughout the Soviet Union. September 6: The Colorado State Fair and the Junior Livestock Sale set attendance and bidding records under new manager Jerry Robbe. Attendance for the 11-day-event broke 500,000 for the first time. October 27: City Manager John Bramble resigns under pressure. 1987 - June 3: School District 70 votes to close Excelsior Middle School and Boone and Baxter elementary schools, prompting a recall drive that was thwarted by challenges to recall-petition signatures. October 19: Puebloans agree to a one-cent countywide sales tax after a campaign that promised property tax relief in exchange. November 10: "Black Monday" brings the stock market's worst crash in recent history. December 11: The Pueblo Depot Activity is named one of three potential sites for destruction of Pershing missiles as part of the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty signed by United States and Soviet government and military officials. December 24: State Sen. Harold McCormick announces plans to introduce a bill that would give the University of Southern Colorado and the city of Pueblo the flexibility to enter into a joint venture for developing land near the campus for a golf course and housing.
Pueblo Chieftain 11-8-1999 Our Past Century, 1988 - 1989 - Spirits Ebb and Flow on News of the Day - With mixed results, a game Pueblo continued its bid to overcome two decades of economic woes as the 1980s came to a close. Hundreds of miles away, another kind of human drama helped the city keep its perspective on other important aspects of life. Five-year-old Lindsi Werner of Pueblo was among those on the ill-fated Flight 232 that crashed into a Sioux City, Iowa, cornfield on July 19, 1989. Nearly half the 290 passengers died. Lindsi walked away largely unharmed. (She was traveling to the East with a grandmother, who also walked away from the crash.) "I can't believe that anyone could survive an accident like that. But they did and that's all that counts," a relative of Lindsi said afterward. Three months later, another distant tragedy would find Puebloans and the rest of the nation anxiously glued to their TV screens and telephones. On the evening of Oct. 17, as the nation settled in for the start of a World Series game in San Francisco, an earthquake struck the City by the Bay. Relief came to one Pueblo family when their relocated son called to say he was safe, having driven from the hardest hit area only minutes earlier. In Pueblo, the only tremors came from the local economy, still very unsettled despite job gains in the middle of the decade. Unemployment reached a decade low but still hovered around 10 percent. Pay hikes were minimal. A state study found Pueblo wages grew 3.7 percent from 1982 through 1987 compared to a 22-percent jump in Colorado Springs. Local welfare rolls posted record highs. The city's population base was shrinking, ending the decade with about 98,000 people, roughly its 1970 population rate. And the remaining population was getting older. The percentage of seniors in Pueblo had risen to 16 percent by decade's end, far above the state average. Then in December 1988, the federal government played Grinch by announcing the pending closure of the famed Pueblo Army Depot. Already whittled down to 650 workers from a Korean War-time high of 8,000, the depot now faced the prospect of losing all but 75 workers. The news came as the depot carried out one of its final missions, serving as a missile destruction site following the latest U.S.-Soviet Union arms reduction pact. Pueblo's spirits rebounded six months later when WATS Telemarketing announced plans to start a 400-person telemarketing center in the Minnequa area. WATS received an astonishing 3,600 job applications. Another big boost came in late 1989 when the federal government selected Florence as the site for a massive new federal prison complex. And still more encouragement came from Pueblo Memorial Airport, where TWA was fulfilling Pueblo's desire for expanded commercial air service. Elsewhere, a 1988 state water court ruling allowed Pueblo to bank water for a city three times its size. Opponents argued that move was too speculative. And in July 1989, Pueblo Community College broke ground on $7 million academic building, the school's first new construction project in 35 years. Not surprisingly, as 1989 came to a close, the Pueblo economy was voted the city's No. 1 news story of the decade by The Pueblo Chieftain. No. 2 was Pueblo native Billy Gallegos' hostage ordeal in Iran. Human dramas played out in other venues in 1988 and 1989, one of the most memorable coming in November 1989 with the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the symbolic end to the Cold War. Locally: In the most-watched trial in Pueblo history, a jury in May 1988 convicted Donna Yaklich of conspiracy in the murder-for-hire of husband Dennis Yaklich, a police officer. She was sentenced to 40 years in prison. In the town of Ordway, east of Pueblo, two prison inmates escaped in a helicopter that was hijacked by their wives and forced to land inside the prison grounds in August 1989. The fugitives were arrested after a brief shootout in a Nebraska the same day. In politics, then-Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee campaigned in Pueblo as part of his failed run for the presidency. Democrat nominee Michael Dukakis visited the week before the 1988 election won by George Bush. The next year, a campaign gimmick by a pair of candidates for the Pueblo Board of Water Works backfired. Voters rejected the candidates, whose mailings took the form of water bill refund checks. And all Coloradans hoped for quick fortunes with the advent of the Lotto weekly jackpot drawings, approved by the Legislature following a veto by Gov. Roy Romer. The first drawing for $1.5 million took place Jan. 28, 1989. Pueblo wasn't so lucky with winter weather. February 1989 proved the coldest in 84 years with the city enduring an average temperature of 24 degrees and also 12.6 inches of snow. Twice, the daily highs peaked at minus 1 degree. "Cars wouldn't start, batteries went dead and pipes froze," summarized Rafael Gallegos, head of the National Weather Service office in Pueblo. The previous winter wasn't much better. January 1988 was the snowiest month since 1948. Through it all, though, the community's main focus remained on the roller-coaster local economy, seemingly on the rebound one month and then down the next. Even quality-of-life studies split on Pueblo. In March 1988, a team of University of Kentucky researchers launched a citywide fiesta when their nationwide study ranked Pueblo as the best place to live in the U.S. The ranking was cited heavily in subsequent marketing efforts. Two months later, Money magazine ranked the city No. 260 on its annual list of the nation's top 300 cities. Money based its rankings heavily on crime and health care; the University of Kentucky gave most weight to housing prices. They Made a Difference - Tony Fortino - Tony Fortino's selection as Pueblo Citizen of the Year for 1988 was simply another chapter in the life of a man once good-naturedly roasted as "the only city councilman to serve for 30 years without ever getting elected." A successful car dealership owner, Fortino helped launch the Pueblo Economic Development Foundation, co-founded the Pueblo Community College Foundation and served on civic boards ranging from the state highway commission to the local zoning board. And in 1988 he was only warming to the challenges. His more recent pursuits extend to the successful promotion of a Downtown hotel-conference center and, following his return to the state transportation commission, the massive rebuilding of the Interstate 25 and U.S. 50 region. Addressing his love of PCC a few years ago, the Centennial High graduate recalled his upbringing: "I didn't get to go to college. That's probably why I lean toward PCC. When I talk to students, I tell them, 'You can't make it the way I did, without an education. In today's world you need a college education.' " Fortino, a World War II veteran, returned to Pueblo and began working his way up from salesman at Jackson Chevrolet. In 1959, he was named full partner with Bob Jackson, son of dealership founder R.L. Jackson. Fay Kastelic - While falling short in her bid to return to Pueblo City Council at age 81, the cheery Fay Kastelic hasn't met many barriers she couldn't overcome. Age barriers don't stop her. She was 71 when she first won a council seat. The year was 1989 and she upended incumbent councilman Mike Salardino in a spirited campaign. She was re-elected four years later. The glass ceiling couldn't contain her. She was a homemaker until age 43 when, needing a job because of her husband's failing health, she went to college and was hired to teach at the now-closed Excelsior Junior High in Avondale. She rose to become District 70's highest-ranking female administrator. Health concerns only slowed her. A life-threatening bout with cancer forced her to leave council after her second term but, as her campaign this year showed, she's come back strong. And through all, the transplanted Texan has steadfastly pushed her vision for a pro-growth, progressive Pueblo, including helping to organize the Pueblo 2010 Commission. 1988 - February 4: Ronald Lee White of Colorado Springs shoots to death a Hampton Inn motel clerk. White is later sentenced to death in an unrelated murder. February 9: The first Delta rocket assembled at the Pueblo's new McDonnell Douglas plant soars into orbit carrying a missile-defense research satellite. May 23: Donna Yaklich is convicted for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in murder-for-hire of her police officer husband, Dennis Yaklich. July 3: U.S. Navy warship shoots down Iranian airliner carrying 290 people. July 29: Donna Yaklich is sentenced to a 40-year prison term. August 8: Colorado Lottery removes director Sherry Harrington amid concerns over her dealings with bidders for new Lotto jackpot game. December 29: Closure of Pueblo Depot Activity is announced, with 90 percent of remaining 625 jobs to be axed. At its peak during Korean War, the depot employed 8,000. 1989 - January 28: Colorado hosts first Lotto drawing offering $1.5 million prize. May 30: WATS Telemarketing announces plan to open 400-worker site in Pueblo. July 18: Pueblo Community College breaks ground on $7 million academic building, school's first new construction project in 35 years. August 18: Daring helicopter escape succeeds at state prison in Ordway. October 17: Earthquake hits San Francisco just before World Series game. October 26: Fire ravages Anderson Carpets and Mack's Saddlery on Union Avenue. November 9: "Iron Curtain" falls as East Germany tears down Berlin Wall.
Pueblo Chieftain 11-15-1999 Our Past Century, 1990 - 1991 - 1990s Start Off Rocky - The final decade of the 20th century dawned with tumultuous times for Pueblo and the rest of the nation. Locally, violent crime was up, unemployment soared, the population continued to drop and inflation soared to its highest level since 1981. After months of trouble in the Middle East, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait brought some tense moments to the Persian Gulf region and by late 1990, the U.S. began preparing to send troops to the region as the threat of war loomed. When Iraqi president Saddam Hussein failed to pull his troops out of Kuwait by Jan. 15, the U.N. Security Council ordered military strikes against Iraq. What began as a crisis eventually evolved into war as thousands of troops were sent to the gulf. Puebloans played an active part in the peace-keeping operations in the Middle East. In January 1991, a National Guard unit based at the Pueblo Depot Activity was one of the first guard units sent to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield. In the next few months, Puebloans stationed all over the world were being sent to the region. Locally, many professionals including several doctors were called up from National Guard or reserve duty to go to war. At home, a group of military parents who called themselves MOMS held support meetings and staged rallies in support of the troops abroad. The Pueblo Chieftain also began running letters daily from servicemen and women who had written home to their families. The mortality of the war hit close to home when 19-year-old Scott Rush was killed when his bunker collapsed on him on Jan. 19, 1991. Services for Rush, who attended Morton Elementary and Vineland Middle School, were held at Imperial Memorial Gardens. The troubles in the gulf also brought the threat of terrorist attacks at U.S. airports, including Pueblo Memorial Airport, which had heightened security during the ordeal. The war was not the only event to cause concern among Puebloans during this period. The city received a crushing blow when the 1990 census indicated that the city population had dipped below 100,000. City and county leaders were outraged by the count and asked for a recount. A recount was conducted but the numbers only increased to 98,163, still well below the 100,000 mark. The city received another blow in November 1990, when struggling CF&I Steel Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing was said to be a result of the company's efforts to come to grips with its massive pension obligation to retired workers. A few months later, District 60 and St. Mary-Corwin Hospital announced staff cuts, while Dana Corp. announced that it would be laying off employees. Troubles also rocked Pueblo's Job Training program when state officials claimed the county owed the state $1 million because the agency apparently had trained people who were not qualified for the program. The county admitted there were administrative problems but said the office had used a more general interpretation of federal guidelines in deciding who qualified for job training. The accusations against the department resulted in the resignation of two job training administrators, including its director. Violent crime also was on the rise in Pueblo. In December 1990, 22-year-old Angela Fabrizio was murdered and her body found several days later at the Ludlow Massacre Monument near Trinidad. Michael Benson, a former member of the Pueblo Crusaders semipro football team, later was arrested in Arkansas for her death. The Fabrizio murder marked the beginning of a string of homicides in Pueblo, including seven in the first six weeks of 1991. The rash of murders continued and Pueblo ended 1991 with a stunning 13 for the year. There were three more in the county. After months of denial, Pueblo law enforcement agencies finally acknowledged a gang problem in the city. The admission came following a series of stories published in The Chieftain in August 1991 on youth gangs in Pueblo. But, not all was doom and gloom in Pueblo during this period. In August 1990, Kaiser Aerospace announced it would bring 450 jobs to the city and eventually increase the work force to 1,000. Also, Doane Products, a maker of dog food, agreed to come to the Airport Industrial Park. The company was said to bring 45-50 new jobs to the city. Down the road, construction began on the federal prison complex in Florence. The complex would include four prisons and administration and central plant buildings. In August 1991, Pueblo became the gracious host of the Bambino World Series. Fans set a national attendance record for the seven-day tournament, including a one-day record of 6,100 for the finals that featured Pueblo's own team. The 1991 Colorado State Fair marked the first year of the Fair's expansion to 17 days. More than 1 million visitors attended, making it one of the best ever. The hefty attendance also made it the 16th largest show in the country. Fair officials also began seeking $5 million to build an indoor arena that would be used to "weatherproof concerts," which had been held at the Grandstand. The new arena also was expected used to host more off-season events. In the area of education, preliminary plans began for an educational alliance between District 60 and USC. The alliance was being developed to link the public school system with the university and save money by sharing certain resources. A contract between the two entities was signed in late 1991 with implementation expected in early 1992. District 60 also began a search for a new superintendent after Edmund Vallejo announced his retirement in the summer of 1991. In the November 1990 election, Colorado voters approved legalized limited-stakes gambling in the old mining towns of Cripple Creek, Central City and Black Hawk. Voters also approved term limits for state officials requiring legislators and state office holders to serve no more than eight years in office while congressmen and senators could serve up to 12 years A year later, Pueblo would elect a new sheriff, Dan Corsentino, and its first female county commissioner, Kathy Farley. Mrs. Farley replaced George Amaya, who retired after serving 12 years on the board. Corsentino replaced former Sheriff Larry Buckallew, who did not seek re-election following his indictment months earlier on 12 charges that he misused his office for personal gain. Other news of the period: A tornado ripped through Limon on June 6, 1990, destroying 117 homes, 23 businesses and causing more than $12.4 million in damage. No one was seriously injured or killed. Dr. Harold Carmel was named the new superintendent of the Colorado State Hospital. He replaced the retiring Dr. Haydee Kort. Pueblo voters approved the extension of a half-cent sales tax for economic development during a special election. The vote also lifted restrictions on how the money generated from the sales tax could be used. Police Chief Bob Silva announced that he would retire on Jan. 3, 1992. Silva had been a member of the Pueblo Police Department for 34 years. Plans continued to progress regarding the destruction of mustard gas at the PDA. It was hoped that the weapons would be destroyed by 1997 or 1998. The Woolworth store closes Downtown. The honor farm buildings were torn down following controversy regarding the Satanic ritual murder of a 4-month-old Pueblo boy by his uncle. The honor farm had been considered a gathering place for Satan worshippers. USC wrestlers Mannie Garcia, Mark Villalobos and Andy Pipher won NAIA national titles. Garcia also became USC's first wrestler to finish the season undefeated at 16-0. They Made a Difference - Haydee Kort - Dr. Haydee Kort was the first female superintendent of the Colorado State Hospital. A native of Argentina, Dr. Kort and her husband, Gregorio, came to Pueblo in 1961 to begin helping the state hospital prepare for the release of many of the hospital's 6,000 patients. The releases came as part of new federal guidelines requiring patients to be placed in least restrictive settings. Dr. Kort later was promoted from staff psychiatrist to chief of medical services. In 1976, she took a leave of absence to become the acting director of Fort Logan Mental Health Center. She later resigned from the state hospital to become the first full-time medical director of Spanish Peaks Mental Health Center. In 1977, she returned to the state hospital to become its first female head, succeeding Dr. Charles Meredith. She remained as superintendent for the next 13 years, retiring along with her husband in July 1990. While serving as superintendent, Dr. Kort was honored by various groups and organizations for her work at the hospital. In 1984, she was the first recipient of the Governor's Service Award and in 1988, she was named Colorado's top mental health administrator. Edmund Vallejo - Edmund Vallejo served as School District 60 superintendent from 1986 to 1991. He began his career with the school district in 1955 when he was hired to teach junior high English. During the next 31 years, Vallejo would work as a teacher, counselor, reading specialist, school principal and district administrator. He was named principal of Keating Junior High in 1970 and also served as principal at Risley before leaving in 1975 to earn his doctorate. Vallejo returned as an administrator and became one of the leading candidates for the superintendent's job in 1981. However, it came as a surprise to many - including Vallejo - when he was overlooked and the job went to outsider Phillip Schoo, instead. Four years later, Vallejo would be named interim superintendent after Schoo resigned. In 1986, Vallejo was named superintendent following a nationwide search. As superintendent, Vallejo worked in cooperation with University of Southern Colorado President Robert Shirley to develop an educational alliance between District 60 and USC. Prior to being named interim superintendent, Vallejo had considered the presidency job at Pueblo Community College. Although he retired in 1991, Vallejo remains very active in the Pueblo community, serving on numerous boards and committees, including his chairing of the Blue Ribbon Panel that was set up in 1988 to study prospective sites for a new jail and judicial center. 1990 - March 3: Henry Garcia, 46, becomes Pueblo's first Lotto millionaire after winning a $3 million jackpot. March 27: Legendary University of Southern Colorado basketball coach Harry Simmons dies. May 7: Julie Pitts becomes Pueblo's first female firefighter in its 101-year history. May: Sheriff Larry Buckallew is indicted on 12 charges that he misused his office for personal gain and procured illegal weapons for friends. October 5: More than 1,000 marijuana plants valued at $500,000 were confiscated from a Baxter cornfield. November 6: Kathy Farley was elected Pueblo's first female county commissioner. 1991 - January 10: The new $10 million academic building at Pueblo Community College opens. March 2: Groundbreaking held for new Risley Middle School. May 11: First Lady Barbara Bush speaks at Pueblo Community College graduation. May 16: Ronald Lee White, 35, is sentenced to death shortly after he pleads guilty to the murder of his roommate Paul Vosika in 1987. June 19: Belmont Lanes is destroyed by fire that began as a grease fire in the kitchen. June 28: Walkingstick Golf Course opens with 150 golfers waiting for tee times on the 7,147-yard, par-72 course at USC. October 16: Denver Nuggets play an exhibition game against the Indiana Pacers at Massari Arena. Pacers win 129-115. October 30: America West Airlines pulls out of Pueblo after City Council voted against a plan to subsidize it.
Pueblo Chieftain 11-22-1999 Candidate Clinton Visits Pueblo - Bill Clinton's hard-fought presidential win, Oregon Steel's purchase of CF&I Steel Corp. and escalating gang problems held Pueblo's attention during 1992-93. It was a time of refocusing, both nationally and locally. Clinton not only returned Democratic leadership to the Oval Office after 12 years of Republican dominion, he also became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win in Colorado since Lyndon Baines Johnson's victory in 1964. Clinton made two campaign stops in Pueblo en route to the White House. In his race against incumbent George Bush, Clinton's campaign theme was based on investment and growth, which he said was necessary to bring the country out of a long recession. There were worries over the national economic slump, and Puebloans, too, were preoccupied with frustration over slow local business activity. Clinton's first triumph in Congress came when he signed the Family Medical Leave Act in February 1993. The global economy also was struggling. Japan was hit with a recession, western Europe was marred by high unemployment and Russia battled inflation. Along with worldwide economic woes, American citizens faced the news of a two-month standoff in Waco, Texas, between the FBI and David Koresh's Branch Davidian cult. The stalemate ended on April 19, 1992, with a death toll of at least 79 cultists and four federal agents. Puebloans learned they had a local connection to the tragedy when county officials reported Koresh owned barren property near Pueblo's airport and likely had visited the courthouse in recent months. Local news included increasing youth violence. A 17-year-old boy was killed, apparently by two members of his own gang who believed he had talked to police about another crime in which they were involved. The shooting was the city's first modern-day gang murder. Months later, another 17-year-old youth was shot to death as he lay in his own bed. His parents said his life was taken because he wanted out of the gang. Another shooting was notable because of the weapon used and the involvement of a parent. A youth, in front of his father, emptied an Uzi assault-type handgun into a carload of six other youths on Pueblo's East Side. In response to increasing youth violence, police set up new community policing procedures. Schools were going through critical changes, too. Officials promised to get more money to classrooms through an Alliance between School District 60 and the University of Southern Colorado. The alliance listed its objectives as site-based management, smaller bureaucracy and elimination of duplicate services. School districts 60 and 70 both approved charter schools as an innovative way to improve the quality of education. Complicating any efforts to improve education was the issue of a lack of money. Voters statewide rejected an additional 1-cent sales tax for schools, as well as a school-voucher issue. In District 70, voters also turned down a $22 million bond issue to pay for improvements and a new high school in Pueblo West. Both local school districts said financial problems would force them to close schools, cut programs and lay off employees. The huge layoffs and program cuts never happened. But there was action to create new administrative leadership. In District 60, the board bought out Superintendent Leonard Burns' contract for $200,000, and appointed Henry Roman as the new superintendent. Two new board members - Dennis Flores and Judy Weaver - were elected to the board. In the rural District 70, incumbent board member William Bolt was beaten by challenger John Spearing. Spearing also led a parents' campaign to defeat a proposal for a four-day school week, which had been recommended to save money. In 1993, the University of Southern Colorado's enrollment topped out at 4,000 after recovering from a slump that begin in the 1980s. Enrollment had plunged to a low of 3,590 in 1987. Meanwhile, the city and county governments attempted the first of what they said would be many cooperative money-saving measures in the combining of emergency dispatch centers. Talks between government leaders in 1992 led to a cooperatively run dispatch center for most of the following year. But by December 1995, Police Chief Ruben Archuleta announced the city was pulling out of the city-county arrangement. They Made a Difference - Tony Zeiss - Pueblo Community College president Tony Zeiss left Pueblo in December 1992 after seven years. Zeiss led an effort that paved the way to PCC becoming a comprehensive junior college, with its credits in academic courses transferable not only to cross-town University of Southern Colorado, but other colleges in the state. Zeiss oversaw an unprecedented growth at PCC. When he arrived in 1982, the college had an enrollment of 1,500 full-time and part-time students. In 1992, it served more than 18,000, including students attending extension centers in Canon City and Cortez. Eva Baca - Photo: Eva Baca, a prominent Pueblo educator, retired in 1993, leaving a heritage of selflessness at a small school in one of the city's poorest, isolated neighborhoods. She was principal of Eastwood Elementary School for 11 years before moving on in 1983 to become the District 60 Chapter 1 reading program coordinator. As a principal, Baca was known for making strong connections to families. Instead of holding fund-raisers like popcorn sales, she would spend summers writing grants to get more money for the school. She strove to improve education in the small school. Before Mrs. Baca arrived, it was one of the District 60's lowest scoring elementaries. She improved the scores by implementing new programs and supporting teachers' efforts to improve themselves, even if it meant taking on substitution duties herself. When the school burned in 1988, Mrs. Baca returned to give input into rebuilding the school. In recognition of her longtime dedication, the school was renamed as Eva Baca Elementary School. 1992 - April 29: Widespread rioting erupts in Los Angeles after a jury acquits four white police officers of assault in a videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King in 1991. June 1: Trans World Airlines discontinues service to Pueblo, less than a year after American West Airlines left Pueblo. TWA's move leaves Pueblo without jet service. July 28: Prisoners begin arriving at the new federal prison near Florence, dubbed the "Alcatraz of the '90s." August 12: U.S., Mexico and Canada sign the North American Free Trade Agreement. December 22: University of Southern Colorado announces a plan to save debt-ridden Nature Center of Pueblo. December 28: Denver Broncos fire head coach Dan Reeves. 1993 - February 25: Oregon Steel Mills purchases CF&I Steel. February 26: Bomb explosion in an underground parking garage beneath the World Trade Center in New York City kills six people and forces the temporary closing of the complex. Six members of a radical Islamic group are indicted for the bombing by late March. March 5: Employees at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo learn the state plans to cut 20 percent of the 600 beds at the hospital and send more patients into the community for treatment. March 11: Janet Reno becomes the first woman U.S. attorney general. April 11: Pope John Paul II visits Denver to participate in a Roman Catholic World Youth Day festival. An estimated 400,000 attend an outdoor Mass on the final day of the four-day event. August 3: District 70 school board unanimously approves forming Colorado's first charter school. August 10: Longtime Pueblo educator Henry Roman is named District 60 superintendent. November 2: Pueblo voters narrowly approve funding a Downtown hotel and convention center complex. Picture Caption: Presidential candidate Bill Clinton greets Puebloans during a 1992 campaign speech at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center.
Pueblo Chieftain 11-29-1999 Our Past Century, 1994 - 1995 - Gang Violence Erupts Throughout Pueblo - For many Puebloans, 1994 will be remembered as the year when kids were killing kids. By year's end, five local teens were dead from gunshot wounds received in gang-related violence. Shock waves from the killings were felt in essentially every neighborhood and segment of the community. In the aftermath, police, schools, churches and families questioned "why? And why here?" Others wondered who would be next. Police Chief Bill Young ordered a crackdown on gangs and vowed zero tolerance for youth violence. While investigators worked around the clock to identify suspects in the new homicides, the courts were equally busy processing three gang members suspected in a 1973 gang-related murder. The first was sentenced to 35 years in prison. A citywide coalition of youths marched for peace and an end to youth violence. Parents and students also marched in an unsuccessful attempt to keep District 60 from closing Hyde Park and Spann elementary schools. The district said the unpopular move was necessitated by declining enrollment. Federal Judge Sherman Finesilver ruled that the school closures did not discriminate against Hispanic children, as parents in both school communities claimed in a suit filed after the closures. Pueblo's economic recovery continued to make steady gains in 1994. Unemployment was at an all-time low (4.7 percent) and there were a record number of jobs in the county (56,160). Pueblo's CF&I produced more steel during the first quarter of 1994 than it had in 10 years, helping to boost new owner Oregon Steel's overall revenues for the quarter by 44 percent. Southern Coloradans joined the "Republican revolution" that resulted in the GOP taking control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, by electing Republican Scott McInnis to represent the 3rd Congressional District. At the state level, Southern Colorado Republican winners included: Sen. Gigi Dennis, Rep. Larry Schwarz and Rep. Joyce Lawrence as well as incumbent Republicans Mike Salaz of Trinidad and Ken Chlouber of Leadville. Gov. Roy Romer and Pueblo County Commissioner Kathy Farley were among those Democrats who escaped the Republican bloodbath. City officials began a lengthy search for a developer to oversee the construction of the Downtown hotel/convention center. The Army approved construction of a $750 million incinerator at Pueblo Chemical Depot. And the State Fair Events Center neared completion. The Federal Trade Commission denied a merger of Pueblo's two hospitals. A report that followed the merger denial said it will be difficult for both to survive. The year 1995 was tailor-made to be reported in headlines. Topping the national news stories were the Oklahoma City bombing; the televised trial of O.J. Simpson for the murders of his ex-wife Nichole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman; and the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. President Bill Clinton visited Pueblo in September and spoke for 20 minutes to an audience of about 10,000 gathered at the PCC campus. The president's visit brought some national attention to Pueblo. Money Magazine brought more when it ranked Pueblo the best place to live in Colorado and the third best place in the West, behind Seattle and Las Vegas. It was community confidence that one could take to the polls, and civic leaders did. Voters in Pueblo County bucked the statewide trend to cut taxes and approved a $12.7 million Historic Arkansas Riverwalk Project, funding for a high school in Pueblo West, and a healthy tax increase to support the library district. Meanwhile, progress on building the Downtown hotel/convention center muddled on. Plagued by contaminated soil and endless negotiations with the current developer, Intra Financial Corp., proposed start-up dates were rolled back. Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo's future looked alarmingly uncertain in the final days of 1995. There was serious talk about closing the hospital. In November, 116 workers were laid off to make up part of an expected $7.75 million shortfall in the hospital's budget. In December, CMHIP superintendent Dr. Harold Carmel resigned to accept a position in Virginia. Ruben Archuleta replaced Bill Young as chief of police after Young accepted the chief's job in Tyler, Texas. Archuleta, a respected veteran of the Pueblo Police Department, was a popular choice among the officers who had voted no confidence in Young. In politics, the Republicans gained a senator when Colorado's. Ben Nighthorse Campbell switched political parties in midterm. Locally, Hispanics fared well in the off-year elections, with Al Gurule and Cathy Garcia being elected to City Council and Maria Subia gaining a seat on the District 60 school board. District 70 voters brought in two candidates who campaigned hard against the district's administration, shifting the power base against Superintendent Mike Johnson. At its first meeting after the election, the board voted to reverse two personnel actions taken by Johnson. At a later meeting, the board fired and rehired its legal council in one night. On a more harmonious note, George Strait christened the Colorado State Fair's newly completed Events Center with a sold-out concert in April. They Made a Difference - Judith Pierce - Judith Pierce Indiana's loss was Pueblo's gain when Judith Pierce relocated to Pueblo in 1960. Perhaps it was her native state's lack of topography that drew Pierce to the mountains, canyons, flora and fauna of Southern Colorado. In one of her frequent interviews in The Pueblo Chieftain, Pierce explained her almost spiritual attraction for her adopted state. "I felt like I was coming home when I saw the mountains," she said. "It was eerie; I had never been here before." Mrs. Pierce died Oct. 26, 1995, after a lengthy battle with Parkinson's disease. She was 61 and enjoyed a local, national and international reputation for her tempera, ink-resist paintings depicting native women in flowing rebosos or blankets bearing intricate geographical designs. Four times she was awarded the juror's meritorious award at the Colorado State Fair, and she won national awards as well. In a 1988 interview, Mrs. Pierce talked about her attempt to paint a world that could be. "I think the art I'm doing now is compensatory," she said. "By that I mean it's not real. I'm compensating for what the real world is now. I don't like it. I hate the violence. I'm just sick of men's cruelty, of the politics and the drugs. My paintings reflect the world as I would like it to be; beautiful people in a beautiful place." For three decades, she was a mainstay in the local art community and frequently gave her work for the benefit of such groups as the Pueblo Library District, the YWCA and Parkview Foundation. Ruben Archuleta - During his three decades with the Pueblo Police Department, Ruben Archuleta frequently seemed to be the right cop in the right place at the right time to make an arrest. His file in The Pueblo Chieftain is stuffed with stories about Archuleta and Rosco (his service revolver) successfully capturing another bad guy. On April 12, 1995, Archuleta again was the right cop in the right place at the right time when he was chosen chief of police to succeed Bill Young, who resigned to take the helm of the Tyler, Texas, police department. Archuleta's longtime work in criminal investigations, as well as his tough stance on juvenile crime earned him a reputation as one of Pueblo's most formidable police officers. His selection also was popular with the officers on the street - who had voted no confidence in Young's administration. During his stellar career, Archuleta frequently was on the forefront. As a rookie cop, he was president of the police recovery team of scuba divers. In 1978, he graduated from the FBI academy, an opportunity usually reserved for officers destined for greatness. At one time, Archuleta was assigned to the state attorney general's Organized Crime Strike Force and worked closely with the federal drug enforcement administration. On that assignment, he helped arrest two of the state major drug traffickers and confiscated $11 million in cocaine and heroin. Archuleta backed his officers. He resigned as police chief briefly in December 1996 when he came under fire from the governor's office over his handling of a police officer who had used the National Crime Information Center computer to check up on the chairman of the State Fair Authority and then made a traffic stop of the chairman on a pretext. He also challenged the constitutionality of a new federal law barring gun ownership or possession by past misdemeanor violence perpetrators, even peace officers and members of the military. After his retirement, Archuleta served as an adviser to governor-elect Bill Owens. Archuleta was proud of his Hispanic heritage and frequently reminded people of his San Luis Valley origins. 1994 - April 24: Stephanie Chavez, a 15-year-old East High School sophomore, is shot in the head while riding with friends near the West 18th Street viaduct. She is the first of five teens to die that year from gunshot wounds. July 27: Aurora truck driver Ronald Brewton dies when his truck slams into a bridge abutment, closing I-25 for nine hours. The next day, I-25 again was closed for 12 hours when a fuel tanker overturned and spilled hundreds of gallons of gasoline. September 6: School District 60 opens its first charter school. The Pueblo School for Arts and Science has 323 students walk through its doors. September 30: Francisco Duran, 26, of Security, opens fire on the White House with a semiautomatic rifle. He later was sentenced to 40 years in prison. November 8: Republican Party gains control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. November 16: City's Urban Renewal Authority unanimously selects Radisson for the Downtown hotel-convention center. 1995 - February 28: The $5 billion Denver International Airport opens. March 3: Colorado U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell turns Republican. March 9: Lea Gonzales, a 14-year-old Pitts Middle School student, dies of injuries she received in an auto-pedestrian accident while crossing Pueblo Boulevard. Her death resulted in a redesign of the crossing walk. April 19: A truck bomb explodes by the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are indicted in connection with the bombing. July 4: Jerry Murphy (in photo) - Pueblo Independence Day celebration draws 16 Medal of Honor recipients. July 24: Loral Co. announces it will close its Pueblo Industrial Park plant in early 1996. September 20: President Bill Clinton visits Pueblo for 20-minute address at PCC. Picture Caption: Pueblo voters in 1995 approved a $12.7 million Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo project near the city's Union Avenue historic district.
Pueblo Chieftain 12-6-1999 Our Past Century, 1996 - 1997 - City Bustles With Commercial Growth - The years 1996 and 1997 saw a flurry of activity Downtown, in the Union Avenue Historic District, on Pueblo's North Side and in Pueblo West, continuing controversy swirling around the Colorado State Fair and a change in leadership at the University of Southern Colorado. They also witnessed the tragic murder of two Pueblo priests by a young man later ruled insane, a five-month shutdown of Risley Middle School due to chemical contamination of the ventilating system and the advent of a United Steelworkers' strike. Spring 1996 brought the beginning of an explosion of business activity at the north edge of the city. Albertson's supermarket opened in April on U.S. 50 West; Sleep Inn opened in June near Pueblo Mall; and plans were announced for four more hotels and a restaurant on the west side of the Eagleridge Boulevard exit of I-25. But that was just the beginning. Sam's Club opened in August, construction progressed on Eagle Hardware, and ground was broken in September 1996 for Eagle Ridge Shopping Center, which would include Home Depot, Office Max, Barnes and Noble, Petsmart and Circuit City. Cinemark USA announced in November that it would open a 16-screen theater in the same shopping center. Ground was broken in September for a high school in Pueblo West. Voters had rejected a bond issue for the school's construction in 1994, but approved a $9.8 million bond issue in 1995. The school, needed to keep pace with Pueblo West's dramatic growth, would be built in two phases. Work was well under way on the Gorsich Advanced Technology Center at Pueblo Community College. The center was funded by a $3.7 million bequest from Fred Gorsich and $5.5 million from the state. It promised to put the college at the leading edge of rapid product development programs. Robert Shirley, who had led the University of Southern Colorado for more than a decade, announced in July 1996 that he would retire at year's end. Shirley thought his most valuable contribution to the school came early, in the form of reorganizing USC's academic and athletic programs, student services and administration. Les Wong, the school's new provost, would fill in for Shirley until a replacement could be found. Tito Guerrero III was the man, and he started as president a year later, on July 1, 1997. He came to Pueblo from Corpus Christi, Texas, where he had been provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The city was shocked in August 1996 by the brutal murder of priests Thomas Scheets, 65, and Louis Stovik, 77, in the St. Leander Church rectory where they lived. A 20-year-old neighbor and parishioner, Douglas Comiskey, was arrested for the crime but later determined to be not guilty by reason of insanity. Comiskey had been treated for schizophrenia before the murders, and psychiatric examinations indicated he was incurably insane when he stabbed the priests to death. On a happier note, Pueblo saw the birth of HARP - then called the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk Project - in the fall of 1996. Voters had approved a $12.7 million bond issue for the project nearly a year earlier. An appearance by President Bill Clinton that election season also pleased some Puebloans; more than 15,000 of them turned out at Pueblo County Courthouse to hear him speak. Construction began on a Downtown civic center that year. Officials from Sunstone Hotel Investors and Mortenson Construction Co. gave verbal OKs to contracts that had been in negotiation for months. A "first-class, full-service" hotel was promised. Colorado State Fair manager Jerry Robbe, 62, resigned in October in the face of the Fair's $6 million debt, and in December 1996, the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee asked for the resignation of all 11 Fair Authority members; Gov. Roy Romer rejected that idea. Public Service Co. of Colorado gave citizens a 1997 New Year's gift in the form of a 22 percent natural gas rate hike - the biggest rate hike ever approved in the state. The increase took effect Jan. 1. Also noteworthy at the state level was the announcement that Douglas County was No. 1 among the country's fastest growing counties - it had a 13 percent growth rate in 1996 - and Colorado was the fifth fastest-growing state in the nation. The state's population reached 3,822,676 at midyear 1996. The Colorado State Fair continued to make headlines in 1997, with the hiring of two new managers and the firing of one of them. The Fair Authority was revamped, the Fair was taken back under the governance of the state and bailed out by the Legislature. And criminal charges were filed against the Fair's former vice president, Judy Pryor, and its former finance director, Patty Chambers, for misuse of credit cards. By the end of 1997, a new Fair manager had been hired. Ed Kruse, a former National Western Stock Show administrator and manager of the Boulder County Fair in Longmont, was tapped for the top job. Economic development also continued in 1997. Many new businesses were under construction or opening to serve Puebloans. Among the highlights were groundbreaking for Ashland Chemical's $40 million plant at the Airport Industrial Park, opening of the new Pueblo Convention Center and the beginning of hotel construction next door, and Dr. Malik Hasan's announcement in early December 1997 that his Foundation Health Systems Inc. would create 1,200 new local jobs, most in claims processing. An announcement also was made of a $1 million challenge grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to help complete expansion of and improvements to El Pueblo Museum. Planners envisioned the museum as an "anchor" for the Downtown area. But the news in education was not as good. Fourth-graders' scores in the Colorado Student Assessment Program revealed that many students weren't doing well in either reading or writing. Only 44 percent of the District 60 students tested were proficient or advanced in reading, and only 63 percent of the District 70 students tested were proficient or advanced. Administrators from both school districts pledged that scores would improve. A blizzard hammered Southern and Southeastern Colorado in October 1997 - a week before the traditional Halloween first snow. The storm dumped 12 to 24 inches of snow, which fierce winds then piled into drifts as high as 10 feet on the plains. Highways and roads were littered with immobilized cars, thousands of cattle died of hypothermia or suffocation from wind-blown snow, and many area residents lost electricity and telephone communication. Several people died as a result of the storm. Voters hammered Pueblo Library District two weeks later, turning down a $14 million bond issue the library sought - but didn't thoroughly explain - for the renovation and expansion of McClelland Library. The voters also soundly defeated a cent sales tax that would have provided the city extra money to build a $15 million police building and make other capital improvements. And four newcomers were voted into City Council: Corinne Koehler, Bill Sova, Bob Schilling and Rich Golenda. A strike by the local United Steel Workers of America also started in 1997. It followed record second-quarter production, shipments and operating income for the mill since it had been acquired by Oregon Steel in 1993. The CF&I division accounted for $119.5 million - more than half of Oregon Steel's $204.4 million in revenue. The strike, which also followed the sale of the wire mill to Davis Wire Co., was the first at the Pueblo plant since 1959. It began Oct. 3, after members of locals 2102 and 3267 rejected the company's final contract offer and voted to strike because of what they said were unfair labor practices. Steelworkers picketed outside the mill, and representatives of the union and Oregon Steel met with a federal mediator in Denver. Gov. Roy Romer appealed to Oregon Steel's president to settle the strike, and Bishop Arthur Tafoya issued a pre-Christmas appeal to both sides to resume talks when they stalled. Both pleas were in vain, and the strikers entered the new year of 1998 along with the rest of their community. CF&I had a work force of 1,300 before the walkout, but Oregon Steel said the plant could be operated with 900 workers and filled most of the jobs. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt an order by a lower court to redraw House District 60 in the San Luis Valley to give Hispanic voters more influence. That decision opened the way for a complete revamping of area districts, and the plan that resulted proposed to merge Pueblo's East Side with the San Luis Valley. They Made a Difference - Owen McKinney - Owen G. McKinney, whose service to Pueblo included 18 years on the Board of Water Works and 18 years on Parkview Hospital's board of directors, was born in Durango and reared in Pueblo and later Denver. He graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in business administration, and returned to Pueblo at age 33 as a salesman for Johns-Manville. Ten years later, in 1955, he started the concrete block manufacturing company that bears his name. McKinney served as president of the United Fund of Pueblo in 1963, was named to the then-Regional Planning Commission in 1964, and also served on the Pueblo Development Foundation and the Southern Colorado State College development board. In the 1980s, he was co-chairman of a $2.8 million fund-raising drive to benefit both Parkview and St. Mary-Corwin hospitals. He served on many boards related to his profession, and also served on Gov. John Love's economic advisory committee. McKinney died in 1997 at the age of 84. Samuel Ingo - Samuel F. Ingo, a longtime District 70 teacher, principal and administrator, was a lifelong Puebloan who attended Riverview School as a boy. He graduated in 1929 from Pleasant View High School, earned a degree at the University of Denver in 1933 and started the same year as teacher and principal at Pleasant View Elementary School. In 1935, he moved to Blende Elementary where he was a teacher and principal for 18 years. In 1959, he added principal's duties at Pleasant View elementary and junior high. In 1962, Ingo headed all the St. Charles Mesa's elementary schools. Ingo was active in sports as a youth and an adult, despite the fact he had an artificial leg; he'd suffered a farm accident as a teen-ager. Ingo was active in many education societies, and was a member of Phi Delta Kappa. He helped pioneer North Mesa Elementary's non-graded, continuous progress approach to learning that attracted many observers from throughout the state. He died in 1996. 1996 - January 13: Neighborhood Housing Services of Pueblo is awarded $500,000 by a Texas financial agency to revitalize declining neighborhoods. January 30: Lake Pueblo brims with the most water in its 21-year history; expectations are it will get even fuller before water is released in the spring. March 9: Actor George Burns dies at the age of 100 at his Beverly Hills home. March 13: Bad air forces closure of Risley Middle School; chemical contamination of the ventilating system is to blame. July 16: District 70 school board decides to keep School District 70 Technical Academy open despite rising costs of proposed new home at BF Goodrich. September 11: President Clinton speaks at campaign rally at Pueblo County Courthouse. 1997 - March 1: Historic Arkansas Riverwalk Project is awarded $200,000 from state energy-impacts grants program. March 17: National Paideia Conference begins at University of Southern Colorado; Pueblo School for Arts and Sciences operates under paideia philosophy. June 2: Attendance meager at a "Y2K bug" seminar led by Minnequa Bank computer expert. June 15: Pueblo's new $8 million convention center celebrates grand opening. October 24: "Blizzard of '97" buries Southern and Southeastern Colorado. November 22: Ground is broken for new Buell Children's Museum at Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center. Picture caption: Excavation work was a common sight on the city's North Side where new businesses opened in 1996 and 1997.
Pueblo Chieftain 12-13-1999 Our Past Century, 1998 - 1999 - City Grapples With Labor Turmoil - When 1998 began, the continuing struggle between Oregon Steel and roughly 1,000 locked out steel workers dominated the news. Although the striking workers had voted to go back to work just before Christmas, company management said it had already hired replacements. On Jan. 14, Oregon Steel renamed its Pueblo operations Rocky Mountain Steel Mills, ending the 126-year-old CF&I heritage. A new name, however, changed nothing in the bitter dispute with former CF&I steel workers. They won a victory in February when the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Oregon Steel had not bargained in good faith. But the company disputed the decision, beginning a long struggle that both sides expect to end in the courts. The steel fight had a galvanizing effect on Pueblo's labor unions, however. When Pueblo Democrats conducted their precinct meetings in the spring, steel workers attended to support a slate of candidates. Among them was former steel worker Matt Peulen, who challenged two-term incumbent Kathy Farley for her county commission seat. Even though Mrs. Farley, a lifelong Democrat, had enjoyed labor's support in previous elections, Peulen narrowly defeated her in August, signaling a revival in the political power of Pueblo unions. In District 60, the annual contract negotiations with the Pueblo Education Association fell apart over the spring and summer. In a bitter atmosphere, a group of parents and teachers started a recall campaign aimed at board members Judy Weaver, Mary Lou Jackson and Jack Rink. Ultimately, the state Labor Department was asked to mediate the dispute, leading to a final contract in November. Tensions in the district continued, however. When the school board gave Superintendent Henry Roman a lukewarm endorsement in December for a contract extension - Weaver and Jackson voted against one - it triggered a new storm of criticism. Even so, the recall campaign died for lack of support. Acknowledging that the school board vote played a role in his decision, Roman announced his retirement the following spring. He retired on June 30. The city economy also was rattled as QualMed, the health maintenance organization created by local physician Malik Hasan, reported financial losses and began laying off employees. QualMed was part of the larger Foundation Health Systems and in the spring, Hasan tried to soothe worries about the long-term future of QualMed's offices Downtown. That effort ended in July when Hasan announced his retirement from FHS, confirming that QualMed was up for sale. By the year's end, QualMed still employed 650 people, but no one was expecting it to have much of a future. The Downtown got a boost when the new Pueblo Marriott opened its doors on Aug. 13, completing the Urban Renewal Authority's long campaign to erect both a hotel and convention center. In October, popular police chief Ruben Archuleta retired and the city named Jim Billings to head the department. The November election brought a Republican into the governor's office for the first time in 24 years when state Treasurer Bill Owens was elected over former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler. In the local elections, city voters turned down a request from City Council to let it keep an estimated $3 million in surplus revenue for the year, plus all surplus revenue for the next four years. Council had promised to spend the money on street repairs and other basic improvements, but voters chose a refund instead. In the county, District 70 lost its campaign to win approval for a $13.5 million bond issue, despite an overcrowding problem in the Pueblo West schools. On Dec. 11, the city was stunned by two murders - Julie Padilla, 15, was beaten to death in her East Side home and Albert Joe Herrera, 26, was also beaten to death in an unrelated murder on the South Side. New Year's Day brought more violence at a South Side home when Thomas Courtney, 31, shot to death Shawna Thomas, 22, her father, Richard Thomas, and wounded the girl's stepmother, Alicia Walters, before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. The new year would bring more horrifying violence to Colorado, but Pueblo police were able to end one haunting murder investigation on April 19 when they arrested a suspect in the murder of 15-year-old Emily Grubbs. The teen-ager had been strangled to death along the Nature Trail on Jan. 25, 1997. Police arrested Adam Mark Thompson, 17, and he pleaded guilty to the murder later that summer. In the Colorado General Assembly, lawmakers were divided over a proposed law to relax restrictions so that law-abiding citizens could carry concealed weapons. The debate came to a shocked halt on April 20, however, when two students at Columbine High School in Littleton went on a shooting rampage that killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher before killing themselves. That same month, City Council made the embarrassing announcement that the $3 million tax surplus that voters were expecting to be refunded had been miscalculated. Instead, there was only $630,000 to be returned. The public reaction took a few months to build, but then retired educator Warren Abbate announced his intention to put a question on the November ballot to dramatically cut city taxes and eliminate council's ability to refer revenue issues to voters without a petition campaign. On April 29, heavy rains swelled Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River, prompting flooding in the region, particularly downriver in La Junta. In Pueblo, city crews worked to keep the Fountain from washing away the riverbank behind the Target Store at the Pueblo Mall. The water tore out a sewer line along the river. When the storm was over, it had done more than $4 million in damage to the region. Pueblo's revitalized labor movement scored another victory when Commissioner Richard Martinez resigned from the board of commissioners to serve on the state Parole Board. In the all-Democratic contest to appoint a replacement, union supporter Loretta Kennedy won the job. Questions about QualMed's future were answered in the spring as the FHS officials began laying off workers in Pueblo. In May, a new health insurance billing company, The TPA, announced its plan to move into one of the QualMed buildings employ several hundred workers. In June, a former Puebloan, Simon Gonzales, shot his three daughters to death in Castle Rock before dying in a gunfight with police. Distraught over his divorce, Gonzales had purchased the gun despite the fact that his ex-wife had a restraining order against him. Gov. Bill Owens responded by putting the Colorado Bureau of Investigations back in charge of conducting background checks on gun buyers. Over the summer, the Colorado Department of Transportation began serious work on the $63 million project to improve traffic around the Interstate 25 and U.S. 50 interchange, including widening Colorado 47 and extending Dillon Drive to connect the Pueblo Mall to the new commercial developments north of Colorado 47. In the fall, City Council found itself fighting several ballot questions in the November election, but the most radical was Abbate's proposal to cut property taxes, franchise fees and limit council's authority. Much of the debate in the campaign focused on the miscalculated tax refund and City Manager Lew Quigley's administration. City voters agreed that Abbate's plan would cut too many city services, however, and solidly rejected it . But the former CF&I steel workers and other labor groups continued to get out the vote for their candidates, helping re-elect Al Gurule to council, along with former Councilman Pat Avalos and newcomer Ted Lopez Jr. District 70 voters, however, approved a $26.4 million bond issue to build needed schools in Pueblo West and remodel older buildings around the district. Voters from Districts 60 and 70 approved the annexation of 400 Pueblo West families by the rural district, ending a three-decade-old dispute. Although he had rebuffed any calls for his retirement or resignation during the election campaign, Quigley surprised council later in November by announcing his intention to retire in November 2000. They Made a Difference - Robert Rawlings - Bob Rawlings, publisher and editor of the The Pueblo Chieftain, has continued a family tradition that began when his grandfather, Frank S. Hoag, first became publisher in 1904. Rawlings, 75, was born in Pueblo but grew up in Las Animas. He was a Navy officer in the South Pacific during World War II and graduated from Colorado College after the war. He joined The Chieftain and Star-Journal as a reporter and switched to advertising sales in 1951. While his uncle, Frank S. Hoag, Jr., was publisher, Rawlings moved up to become general manager in 1962. He became publisher and editor in 1980. Believing that The Chieftain has an important voice in Southern Colorado, Rawlings has been active in community and state affairs. He has been a member of the Air Force Academy Foundation, the University of Southern Colorado Foundation, the El Pomar Selection Committee and the Colorado Forum. He also founded the Robert Hoag Rawlings Foundation and the Southern Colorado Community Foundation. Recognized many times for both his personal and financial support for civic projects, Rawlings was voted "Citizen of the Year" in 1993 by the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce; "Colorado Newspaper Person of the Year" by the Colorado Press Association in 1989; "Colorado Business Leader of the Year" in 1994 by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry; and was named a University of Colorado Living Legend in 1997 for his accomplishments. Rawlings was inducted into the Pueblo Hall of Fame in 1999. Maggie Divelbiss - Maggie Divelbiss, executive director of the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, has built a reputation as Pueblo's first lady of the arts since becoming director in 1989. Divelbiss was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., but was raised in Pueblo. She graduated from Pueblo Catholic High School in 1949 and the University of Northern Colorado in 1953. She taught in both District 60 and Pueblo Catholic schools before joining the arts center staff in 1974. Divelbiss was active with the Broadway Theatre League and the Junior League while working as a center staffer. In 1989, the center board hired her to be the new executive director as a reward for her "tireless" work on behalf of the center. The Chamber of Commerce named her "Citizen of the Year" as well. Divelbiss has presided over the expansion of the arts center, most recently the 10,000 square-foot Buell Children's Museum, which will open its doors in June. 1998 - January 25: Denver Broncos win their first Super Bowl, beating the Green Bay Packers 31-24. February 25: The regional National Labor Relations Board in Denver rules Oregon Steel did not bargain in good faith and should rehire the locked-out former CF&I steel workers. August 11: Matt Peulen defeats incumbent Pueblo County Commissioner Kathy Farley in Democratic primary. October 12: Deputy Chief Jim Billings is appointed police chief, replacing retiring Ruben Archuleta. November 25: District 60 and the Pueblo Education Association reach a contract agreement after mediation by the state Labor Department. December 19: U.S. House of Representatives votes to impeach President Clinton on charges of obstructing justice in connection with his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. 1999 - January 31: Denver Broncos defeat Atlanta Falcons 34-19 for second Super Bowl title. February 12: U.S. Senate fails to convict Clinton of obstructing justice. March 24: U.S. warplanes join in NATO attacks on Yugoslavian forces in Kosovo. April 20: A dozen students and a teacher are shot to death at Columbine High School in Littleton by two schoolmates, who then commit suicide. June 30: District 60 Superintendent Henry Roman retires after 30-year career. July 30: Adam Mark Thompson pleads guilty to the murder of 15-year-old Emily Grubbs on Jan. 25, 1997. November 2: City voters turn down the Abbate plan to cut taxes. District 70 voters approve a $26.4 million bond issue. December 6: Gov. Bill Owens visits Bessemer Elementary to recognize the school's two years of outstanding improvement in reading scores. Picture caption: Fountain Creek runs over its banks near East Eighth Street last spring.
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