FORT GARLAND — Edward Eugene “Champ” Atencio has declared his candidacy for Costilla County Commissioner, District 1.
Atencio is a lifelong resident of Costilla County, having grown up in Fort Garland. Atencio graduated from Sierra Grande High School and attended Adams State College (University), receiving a B.A. degree in 1968 and a M.A. in School Administration in 1975 from Western State College in Gunnison.
He also earned another degree in 2010 from Colorado State University in Athletic Administration.
All of those degrees were accomplished for one reason: “I wanted to be a better teacher,” Atencio noted, “that was always my goal.”
In 1968, Atencio did his student teaching under the guidance of Eppie Jaramillo. “He really influenced me,” Atencio said, so did my parents.
“They had no education, but they were smart and worked very hard. It was my mother who said that because of the way I loved sports and children, I ought to be a teacher and coach.”
In 1978, Atencio started receiving awards from the Colorado Coaches Association. He has received 64 awards from the association. Atencio has also received plaques from Scholastic Coach, Franklin Life, National Honor Roll for Coaches, and twice for Who’s Who in American High School Teaching.
He was also on the Fort Garland Water and Sanitation District Board for 24 years.
Atencio took Centennial High School track and field teams to the state meet 31 times and the cross country team to 18 state meets.
Atencio coached for 43 years and cross county for 23 years.
In 2010 and 2011, Atencio received three rings from the Colorado Coaches Association for 18 or more top 10 finishes as a team in boys track and boys and girls cross country.
In 2011, Atencio received the Warren Mitchell Award as the top track and cross county coach in Colorado.
Atencio served on advisory boards for the Colorado High School Activities Association and was very active in the Southern Peaks Association.
In 2013, Atencio received the Educator’s Hall of Fame award from Adams State University.
In 2019, Atencio received the Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame Award in recognition of his service to high school athletics and coaches of Colorado.
Atencio was a classroom teacher for 36 years, an athletic director for 31 years and a coach for 43 years.
Since his retirement in 2003, Atencio has been a substitute teacher.
He expressed his admiration and pride for the people of Costilla County. Costilla County is the best place in Colorado because of the land, water, traditions, the Spanish language and culture and most of all the children, the adults, and the senior citizens.
Atencio intends to focus on creating local jobs and helping all senior citizens and all children. Children are the future.
He believes all citizens of Costilla County are unique and the hardest-working people in the state.
Atencio believes that grant writing and getting grants is the key to any county. It brings monies for jobs, county projects, repairs, needed buildings, restoration, preserving history, roads and bridges, helping farmers and tourism.
He stated that he has always loved politics, “Everything you do in America involves politics in one form or another.”
Atencio said that protecting our water is critical to all counties in the San Luis Valley.
As far as education in concerned, we must keep pre-school to college for all people.
Education is essential to having a productive community.
“Once students graduate from college, we must find them jobs here in the Valley,” Atencio said. “We can’t afford to let them leave the Valley.
“We must create jobs for them.
“Costilla County is a wonderful place to live. It would be an honor and a privilege to represent the people of Costilla County.
“I feel that I can do a great job as a commissioner; I am retired and can devote all the time it takes to do a great job.