Music festival reverberates for Saguache County Commissioners

Photos by Patrick Shea

SAGUACHE/VILLA GROVE — The bulk of Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick’s report to the county commissioners on Sept. 6 reflected his experience as Incident Commander for the Seven Peaks Music Festival over Labor Day Weekend.

“The event went overall very, very well,” Warwick said.

The Sheriff said they didn’t have any trespassing in Villa Grove, “and I think the businesses received added business from the event. That’s always a good sight.”

In addition to making two arrests, Warwick noted one odd issue. “We had a guy come in with a weapon and blew through the security stop point. But there was enough of a response that he turned around and ran right away. He left the scene very quickly. Security teams and law enforcement went in that direction. Within minutes, the guy went back through the security gate and was flying down the highway as quick as he could go.”

Warwick continued, “We had an evacuation that same day because of weather. We had a little crash that same day. So, we were put to the test.”

The crash on Friday night sent three people to the hospital. A 27-year-old Denver man rolled his Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) several times and was ejected along with his three passengers. Event and county medical crews responded quickly and transported them to San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center in Alamosa and The Heart of The Rockies in Salida to treat minor and serious injuries.

As Jail Commander Ken Wilson noted, “We have these kinds of crashes every Labor Day Weekend. This one happened to be at the festival.”

From the community perspective, business owner Kelly Marshall printed debrief sheets for residents to fill out. Marshall runs Kelly's Barber Shop in Villa Grove and spearheaded an information gathering meeting with officials and residents a month before the festival.

Piled at the post office and delivered around Villa Grove, Marshall's one-page survey requested compliments, concerns, and incidents. Like the meeting Sheriff Warwick scheduled for Sept. 15 with Colorado State Patrol, firefighters, and other active participants, Marshall’s information gathering will accommodate a deep debrief and guidance for future events.

At the close of Warwick’s report, commissioner Tom McCracken thanked the Sheriff for his help with the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) raid at the KV Estates last week.

Before Warwick and other department heads gave their reports, a group of citizens from Crestone spoke against a cell tower erection during the public comment period. Commissioners welcomed more input and urged residents to send information in advance of a special meeting to address issues prior to the regular board meeting on Sept. 20 when the Land Use application will come up again for discussion and approval or denial.

During the extensive exchange live and via ZOOM, County Attorney Brad Crowell asked to make a statement at the end of the discussion. Commissioner Chairperson Lynne Thompson gave people time to speak with the understanding of an isolation discussion during another meeting next week with the residents.

“Here’s government at work,” Crowell explained at the end of the public comment period. “What can we do to try to find a compromise and do what’s best with our heart in the right place to be educated so the board can make the best decision? I hope the conversation can shift toward that because we’ve got to live together. Or, we can continue to rattle the sabers and threaten the board that everyone is going to get sued. I’m getting that from both sides.”

County Administrator Wendi Maes worked with the board to gather information for commissioners and schedule another meeting with Crestone-area residents before they vote on the Conditional Use application on Sept. 20.

Photos by Patrick Shea

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