Kara MasonKara MasonApril 16, 20183min514

Las Animas County Sheriff and one-time Senate District 35 hopeful Jim Casias is calling it a career. The Trinidad native is retiring in coordination with his 70th birthday, according to a local news report.

Journalist Steve Blocks reports for the Chronicle News that Casias is taking leave later this week and officially retiring May 2:

“It is with great emotion and gratitude that I inform you of my decision to retire as the Sheriff of Las Animas County. I will be taking medical leave on the 19th of April and my official date of retirement is May 2, 2018,” (Casias wrote in an email.)

Casias went on to say, “It is fitting that on this date of May 2, I will be celebrating my 70th birthday and it is fitting to retire. I will truly miss you all and am ever so humbled in serving you as your sheriff for four terms. I have enjoyed being in Law Enforcement for 35 years. I will await what the LORD has planned for me. Thank you all. God bless and watch over all of us. Thank you ever so much.”

There’s so far no word what Casias will take up next, if anything. He had unsuccessfully challenged Republican state Sen. Larry Crowder in 2016 for his seat in the legislature.

Casias, a Democrat, was one of the 55 Colorado sheriffs who backed a lawsuit against Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2013 for signing what was considered “extreme gun legislation” among some.

He lost to Crowder in 2016 with 36 percent of the vote. During his campaign, Casias told the Chronicle News that water, broadband and jobs were issues he would have addressed at the Capitol.

Prior to being elected to sheriff in 2002, Casias held a variety of jobs in southeastern Colorado, which has served him well.

“Being a coal miner, a construction worker, a police officer, a deputy and evolving to become the sheriff of this county — I’ve always had dedication to public service,” he told the newspaper. “I’ve never called myself a politician, because I work for a living. I go out with my men, I do the job, I go to court with them, whatever comes up I work with them. I’m the sheriff, but I’m your deputy. You pay me to do what I have to do.”


Kara MasonKara MasonFebruary 14, 20183min2595

A lot of marijuana is being sold in Las Animas County — the most per capita in the state, in fact.

According to a recent report from the Colorado Department of Revenue, the county near the New Mexico-Colorado border sold $43.9 million worth of recreational cannabis last year. That’s more than neighboring Pueblo County, which has been dubbed by some the Napa Valley of pot.

Greg Sund, Trinidad’s city manager, told the Cannabist the city is having to constantly re-evaluate how much it’s expecting to get in revenue from recreational marijuana sales.

And with those sales has come other economic development. The publication reports hotel stays are up as well.

But this isn’t the first time Trinidad and Las Animas County have seem booms. The southern Colorado town was a coal town and just like during coal’s heyday, Trinidad officials say they know they can’t ride the wave of marijuana money forever.

Last year, PULP Newsmagazine spoke with now-former economic director Jonathan Taylor, the first ever economic development director for Las Animas County.

“Without the progressive policies of the City of Trinidad in its relationship to cannabis, Trinidad’s economy would not be as robust as it is today. So, it is the primary reason for all of this growth,” he told the monthly news organization.

And as for the future of cannabis in the county, he said it looks bright. But it’s not forever.

“It is never smart to throw all your eggs in one basket in dealing with the local economy. It is just a matter of time before New Mexico legalizes it, which will have a tremendous impact on Trinidad. However, the city has positioned itself on sustainable budgetary path,” he said. “In the short-term we are using this industry to update all of our necessary infrastructure to increase outside investments while the revenue is present.”


John TomasicJohn TomasicOctober 6, 201615min416

Larry Crowder and James Casias are locked in a tight contest for a Senate district seat that may determine the balance of power at the state Capitol. It’s a race charged with ideological power, even though Crowder and Casias line up very closely on the political spectrum. Crowder is an older man with deep roots in southeast Colorado and dedicated to serving the public interest. Same with Casias. The men use interchangeable phrases when taking about the challenges today’s information and service economy poses to the residents of the hard-pressed western prairieland that makes up the district, where farming, mining and drilling have shaped life for generations.