Canyons and Plains announced Wayfinding Project near completion, heard Cynthia Nieb on grant writing.

Canyons & Plains President Chad Hart opened Thursday’s meeting at the Kiva with two success stories. The first was the regional summit at Bent’s Old Fort last spring. It had been raining a lot in the spring, and the planners were fearful they would be knee-deep in mud. Then the rain stopped, and didn’t start again until the program was over. Hart said the meeting was both entertaining and successful.

Judy Walden, the producer of the three-minute promotional videos for television and internet which have been so successful, was happy to announce the Wayfinding Kiosks are now in production in Pueblo. She was very happy to have found a woman with roots in Southeastern Colorado to produce them. Cathy Grasmick is head of the Mass Service & Supply LLC in Pueblo. Her father is from Rocky Ford and her mother from Ordway.

Mass is a construction company which has done work for the Colorado Department of Transportation before. They have constructed federal and state projects for 20 years. Mass did the addition to the Woodruff Memorial Library in La Junta and some work at the La Junta Jr/Sr High School.

Joseph G. Bolita of Las Animas, Colorado passed away peacefully on December 13, 2017 at the Fowler Health Care Center.

Joe was born at Fort Lyon, CO on May 23, 1923. His parents were J.A. and Frances (Banta) Bolita. He had one brother, Jim Bolita.

Joe was raised on a 40-acre property known as “Breezy Acres”. He attended school in Las Animas and excelled in multiple sports. He attended Creighton University on an athletic scholarship.

Joe joined the U.S. Navy during World War II and proudly served on a naval destroyer. After the war he returned to Las Animas and began his career at Fort Lyon Veterans’ Hospital where he remained until retirement.

In 1948, he married Jeanne Scott. She predeceased Joe, passing away in 1988. After Jeanne’s passing, he became acquainted with Leota Burger and in the early 2000’s they became best friends and companions, adopting each other into their respective families.

Joe was an avid golfer, making many lifelong friends at both the La Junta and Las Animas golf courses. Life was better when Joe Bolita was your friend. His radiant smile and booming voice made him special. He will be missed by many, not only by his and Leota’s families, but by the good people in Las Animas whose lives he touched.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents J.A. and Frances, his wife Jeanne, brother Jim, nephew Gregg, and loving companion Leota. Survivors include nephew Paul; sister-in-law Billie; great nephews and niece Gary, Mark, and Lindsay, and their families; niece-in-law Diane; and one cousin, Jimmy Bolita.

There will be a small graveside service on Jan 6, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at Las Animas Cemetery. Horber Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

The kiosks will be constructed at the Pueblo location this winter and installed in the spring at Towner, Sheridan Lake, Chivington, the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site, Haswell, Sugar City, Ordway, Crowley, Olney Springs, Campo, Two Buttes, Big Timbers, Boggsville, La Junta, and Rocky Ford. The project budget totaled $158,850. Federal funds were $127,080, with a 20 percent match from all participating communities of $31,770.

The 29 new panels will connect with gateway installations located at Eads, Granada, Springfield, and Fowler. Travelers will be able to locate local interpretive information in 18 communities and use Southeast Colorado regional “You are Here” maps in five key locations - the four gateway communities plus La Junta.

La Junta City Manager Rick Klein introduced the new La Junta Urban Renewal and Economic Development Director Cynthia Nieb, his champion for the City Park Wall Project with the Colorado Historical Preservation Association. “It was a long process, but we got it done,” said Klein. “She was my champion.”

Nieb continued the meeting by defining historical preservation. “Today ‘historic preservation’ means attention to cultural landscapes, the role of historic buildings in comprehensive sustainable development, downtown revitalization, heritage tourism, the contribution of historic sites, trails, and corridors to outdoor recreation, and economic development.” She then went around the room getting ideas from everyone about what they would like to do relating to historic preservation in their particular areas. The Southern Mountain region, which includes the counties of Las Animas, Huerfano, Pueblo, and the San Luis Valley, sent representatives to participate in the conference and get tips on organization.

She described the four stages in successful project development. The are as follows: Stage 1 - Research, define and prioritize goals and needs (why?); Stage 2 - Find the right team to lead the project (who?); Stage 3 - Determine your scope of work, budget, and timeline (What? How?); Stage 4 - Find the right funder at Rural Philanthropy Days. She cautioned against trying to change the mission of the grantor. Find the grantor that finances your type of project. She also said she would help Norman Kincaide, who asked about finding money to help Rocky Ford finish its Fire and Police Department city building, although that is not in the historic preservation purview.

She said to celebrate the past, the present, and where we’re going. Developing a project and writing a grant is involved with what we want and who we want to be. To build our region economically, we need to educate the people about what the region has to offer - the Koshare Museum, Bent’s Old Fort, the dinosaur tracks, the southern Red Rocks Canyon area - and what there is to do here (trails, biking, birding, golf, etc.). Educating the young people working in the convenience stores is important.

Training is needed; getting people involved is key. People cherish places infused with memories. “The future is ours to create,” said Nieb. “Other than the Four Corners area, this area has the richest history of any place in Colorado. You have everything you need to pull people in.” Show us the money? When you write your grant, remember to show a public benefit - put in the research and time to show who will benefit. Chase the best people to establish your routine - you need people who can be on time and on or under budget. You need to know what needs to be done now and in what sequence to attack the scope of work - a timeline is needed. Southeastern Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days is coming up in Lamar June 13-15; Nieb suggested you get your project ready in April and May and take it there to match up with a grantor.

Nieb said her friends who work with historic preservation grants in Denver were thrilled she was coming here. “They want to give you money! I will help with the statement and role-play to quiz you with the same questions they will ask. This is an incredible opportunity.”