Vets Honored by County Commissioners/Grasshopper Population on the Rise in Southeast

Two local veterans were honored during the Prowers County commissioners meeting Thursday, April 6 in recognition of their service to their country. It was a prelude to the theme for National County Government Month: Serving Our Veterans, Armed Forces and their Families.

The morning pledge of allegiance was led by Pete R. Hernandez who served in the National Guard from 1972-1994. Hernandez was called to active duty in 1990 and served in Iraq. He was discharged in 1994. Hernandez honors his own comrades as he plays Taps at the funerals of local veterans. Commissioner Marble remembered that it was he, while in the service, assigned to the local Armory, who handled the enlistment paperwork for Hernandez and two of his friends who also enlisted at that time, Ray Orosco and Jim Abitia.

The invocation was led by Frederick George Haven who served in the U.S. Army from 1951-1953. He was a gunner in an artillery division during the Korean War conflict. Certificates of appreciation for their services were signed by the commissioners and presented to both veterans.

In 2009, the county had 754 veterans and the county realized $3,677,000 in VA benefits. Of that, $2,168,000 was paid in pension and compensation benefits. $1,327,000 was for medical care, $81,000 for insurance and indemnities and $102,000 was for vocational rehabilitation and employment services.

Prowers County may be on the edge of an infestation of grasshoppers. A 2010 USDA map of rangeland-at-hazard in Colorado showed the greatest potential for infestation in Bent, Kiowa and Cheyenne counties, as well as a portion of western Prowers County. Extreme dry weather conditions are contributing to grasshopper growth, according to Wilma Trujillo, S.E. Area CSU Agronomist and Bruce Fickenscher, the agent for Range and Livestock for S.E. Colorado from CSU. Fickenscher said the spring was the best time to rid the area of hatchlings as it would be more efficient and less costly if they were poisoned in their early growth stage. Trujillo said the grasshoppers prefer rangeland to farmland. Of the 100 known species of grasshoppers, only five types feed on crops. She said that 8 adult grasshoppers, on a pound-for-pound basis, consume as much food material as a cow. Both agents urged landowners to pay attention to grasshopper population early in the growing season. It will be up to farmers to handle their own fields, and Fickenscher said the expenses for chemicals could be paid out on a cost-share basis. He added that, “eight to 15 grasshoppers per square yard is a cautionary status. Anything over that means you’ll be dealing with an infestation.”

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Linda Fairbairn, Director of Social Services for Prowers County, read a proclamation to that effect, signed by the commissioners. She cited statistics from the Colorado Children’s Campaign, showing that the level of child abuse in Prowers County, based on percentages per thousand children, is ranked at 15%, against the 9% statewide. Fairbairn said a brief fact sheet is being distributed at elementary schools and will also be circulated by other means. Fairbairn also presented a poster being distributed reminding residents on the current need for foster parents in Prowers County and contacts for those interested in qualifying.


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