Latest News – August 8

Town Issues Addressed Without Trustee Quorum

By Kathy Bedell, © Saguache Today

It seems the one thing that the Town of Saguache and its residents can agree on is that tonight’s usual Town Trustee meeting for August 8 has been canceled.  From there, the divisions can run as far as the distance between the Sangre de Cristos and the San Juan Mountains, as the discussions of recent events – which no one is 100% clear on yet – continue on various social media platforms. Town officals posted the meeting cancelation notice on its doors to Town Hall as well as on its Facebook Page.

And while opinions may change with the stroke of a keyboard, the Colorado Constitution is a bit more formidable, allowing for solid guidelines and laws when it comes to the business of managing municipalities, which still needs to be carried out at the Saguache County seat. 

Once again, Saguache Today brings you the word straight from the source: Saguache Mayor Greg Terrell. There is also a response from Town of Saguache Trustee Wyoma Hansen who submitted her resgination on July 21. Saguache Today will do its best to continue to update this post as other elected officials weigh-in on the situation.

From the Mayor – August 7, 2017

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Saguache Mayor Greg Terrell

The following is intended to inform the citizens of Saguache of issues concerning the town. I will first cover some of the rules and regulations of local government. Then I will share how those rules and regulations have been applied to a recent situation of which there seems to be a great deal of misinformation being discussed in and around town.

I intend to follow up with a second article that will cover the status of various projects that the town is either planning for or is currently undertaking.

Local Government

There are matters of which a member of a town board cannot speak publicly, specifically confidential personnel issues and what is said in an executive session.

Four trustees, as the majority of a seven-member board, can take control of a board. They can call for a special session at any time, put an item on the agenda, make a motion, can second that motion and, if any four trustees vote yes, that motion carries. An executive session can only occur if a motion is made, it is seconded, and a majority votes yes. A mayor can call for a special session and can put an item on an agenda. However, a mayor CANNOT make a motion and cannot make a second.

A mayor gets only one vote. When the mayor is not present within the town, the mayor pro-tem is the acting mayor. The board can choose another trustee to act as mayor in the absence of both the mayor and the mayor pro-tem.

Any member of a board of trustees, including the mayor, has access to legal advice, professional services, periodicals, other towns’ mayors, trustees, council members, managers and administrators, clerks, state and federal agencies, insurance organizations, law books, videos, and institutions of higher learning. Additionally, there are numerous opportunities for education, training, networking, workshops, etc. These resources are available online, by telephone, hard-copy documents, and videos.

Within short drives of Saguache, training workshops, organization meetings and conferences are offered. The cost of these educational opportunities is, for the most part, covered by memberships and services the town already pays for, i.e. the town’s insurance carrier CIRSA, the town attorney, and Colorado Municipal League (CML) membership. If a board member needs legal advice on any town matter, he/she has immediate access to several attorneys. If there is a need for other types of advice, board members have a wealth of resources available at their fingertips, at no expense to them.

Recent Events

Before delving into recent events, I would like the community to know that I have asked and received legal advice on what I can, and cannot, talk about. I know most of us would rather not have the legal stuff clutter our town issues. Unfortunately, it is the reality of local government which operates under the laws of the State of Colorado.

Why the preamble? Because many of the details of recent events fall into a category of issues which cannot be discussed openly. However, what can be shared with you follows.

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The Saguache Town Hall is located at 504 San Juan Avenue. Photo: Saguache Today

The last Town of Saguache Board meeting occurred on July 11th. There was no board meeting on July 21, as was previously misstated by a number of sources. Between July 12 and July 19, I was out of town, most of that time out of state. Former Mayor Pro-tem Engquist was acting mayor. I did not return to my duties as mayor until the morning of July 20.

On July 17, Mayor Pro-tem Engquist contacted me by phone concerning a personnel issue. Several trustees were aware at that time of this matter. Instead of calling for legal advice, they waited for my return. Having just driven nearly 2000 miles, I was handed the matter in brief on the evening of July 19 and the full matter the morning of July 20.

Several trustees asked me to take a specific action. I did talk at length with three trustees that morning and did inform all three that I would take action. Immediately thereafter I contacted the town attorney for legal advice on the matter.

The legal advice I received was not to take any action without due process, meaning a thorough investigation of the situation. To do otherwise could subject the town to potential legal liability. As your mayor, it is my responsibility, along with the town attorney, to protect the town from such liabilities. It is the responsibility of every board member, including the mayor, to follow due process.

Due process of law is the cornerstone of American government. It is the rules, laws, and procedures by which government operates and is established in the 5th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. Due process is based on two principals: truth-in-fact and fairness. Due process is often divided into two general headings: procedural and substantive. Procedural are the rules of due process. Substantive is due process in principal.

All elected officials take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. The Colorado Supreme Court says that whenever a local government board or official takes action, procedural due process is REQUIRED.

Swearing in Saguache Town Board April 2016

All elected officials take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution as did these elected Town of Saguache Trustees did in April 2016. 

On July 20, I informed former Trustee Hanson of the requirement of due process. I told her it required investigation of the issue and gathering evidence, including interviews of various individuals.

Once an investigation of the matter was completed, the facts discovered would then be presented to the board of trustees for review. The town attorney would offer a legal opinion on any potential action. After that, the board could determine what course of action to take. If an action were to be taken, it would require a formal decision by the board.

On both July 20 and July 21, with the town attorney involved at every step, due process was followed. On July 21, I had two phone conversations with former Trustee Hansen. During the first conversation, I advised her of the resignation of the deputy clerk. I asked former Trustee Hanson to contact the town attorney for details concerning both the resignation and the due process in progress.

Sometime after the first conversation, I received information from Town Hall that a citizen had been in an accident and was at a Colorado Springs hospital. I contacted the citizen’s family and was asked to go to the Springs.

The second conversation with former Trustee Hansen occurred as I was leaving town. I asked her if she had talked with the town attorney. She said that she had not. She stated that I had somehow forced the deputy clerk to resign. The fact is, I asked the deputy clerk not to resign, as did the town attorney. The deputy clerk’s resignation was her choice alone.

Former Trustee Hanson then informed me she had resigned as trustee and to check my emails. That was the last time I spoke with her. I did look at my emails and found three resignations. I next traveled to Colorado Springs, during which time I was in communication with the citizen’s family. In short, the citizen was released from the hospital, and I brought the citizen back to Saguache in the early hours of July 22. I saw the email of the fourth resignation at that time.

Why the resignations? I am puzzled. As stated previously, if four trustees object to anything, they can use their powers to call for a special session, put their issue on the agenda, make a motion, second it and out vote the other members as the majority.

If they need legal guidance on a decision, they can call either or both the town attorney and the attorney(s) for CIRSA. I know none of the trustees who resigned called the town attorney, let alone any other attorney available to the board. I know this because I asked. The two remaining trustees have talked with the town attorney.

My suggestion for the community is to ask the following questions of the four trustees who resigned:

1. Did you reach out to any of the numerous resources at your disposal? 
2. Why did you abandon your responsibilities as elected officials?
3. Why, if the matter was important, did you not take action rather than waiting for the mayor to return and then the next day resign?

What Now?

I and the remaining board members, with the assistance of the town attorney, have consulted with CIRSA’s attorneys, CML, and The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) as to next steps. We have also sought the advice and guidance of administrators and clerks in other municipalities here in the Valley.

When a local governance board lacks a quorum (in our case 4 are needed), then the remaining board members must find and appoint trustees until a quorum is reached. Once the quorum is met, then the board must authorize the remaining seats to be filled in accordance with state statutes.

A trustee (not the mayor) is tasked with finding a citizen willing to be appointed and thereby obtain a quorum. Without a quorum, the board is very limited in what it can do, including having a meeting. There were two meetings scheduled, July 24 and August 1. Both had to be canceled due to a lack of a quorum. No decisions can be made by the board until a meeting can be held, except those which are “necessary.”

The mayor can authorize certain things for the town to continue to operate. I did authorize, upon CIRSA and the town attorney’s recommendation, that the town administrator find and fill the clerk position with an “Interim Town Clerk.” The requirements were as follows: must be local, must have good accounting skills, and must have professional writing skills. The town administrator did hire someone last week who met all those requirements.

This position will last until a town clerk is hired and appointed by the board. The board must agree by vote to advertise for and follow procedure in hiring a town clerk. Since the town clerk’s resignation in March, the board has been reluctant to begin this process. It is my hope that once the board seats are filled, that this process can begin. The town’s bills will continue to be paid. These bills can later be reviewed by the board. The only other matter I have authorized is the formal extension of the town’s annual audit which was requested by the town’s auditor, Pete Blair.

Moving Forward Takes a Team

We still have projects in motion. We still have statutory requirements to meet. We still have the daily operation of the town to handle. The participation of citizens in the process, by seeking out the facts and basing any action on that which is in the best interest of the town, are the traits of good local government. Citizens have a choice, by their actions, which path will be taken. The town can either be an environment of hatefulness, polarization, and stagnation, or it can be an environment of problem solving, teamwork, and securing the town’s future.

Sincerely,

Greg Terrell, Mayor
Town of Saguache

 

Bebuttal from Wyoma Hansen, (resigned) Town of Saguache Trustee:

The following letter was posted to a local facebook Page by Wyoma Hansen, one of the four Town of Saguache Trustees who submitted their resignations on July 21.

In response to Mayor Terrell’s letter dated August 7, 2017.

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Wyoma Hansen

I encourage the citizens of Saguache to ask Linda Ahrens about her resignation.

Answers to the questions that Mayor Terrell wanted the citizens to ask the four trustees that resigned. Following is my response to the questions:

1) I did reach out to different organizations, reviewed Colorado Revised Statutes and talked with individuals that work or have worked in town government organizations. From my conversations and research, I determined that working with the Mayor was the best way to resolve the issues, but this has not happened.

2) Abandon is a harsh term to use in reference to my resignation. I resigned because unforeseen chain of events that were happening on my watch, that I will not tolerate.

3) We were following the mayor’s advice and when he returned, the events took an unexpected turn, which blindsided the trustees.

Some of the events involve confidential personnel issues. I would like to encourage Mayor Terrell to be a leader, work with the four board members and resolve the issues.

My suggestion for the citizens of Saguache is to ask the following questions of the remaining board members and Mayor Terrell.

1) When will a forensic audit begin on the town finances? Due to the number of employees that have been involved in the finances an audit should be done immediately to protect the town and new employees.

2) Do you feel the State of Colorado Attorney General’s office should be brought in to review the town’s records and business practices?

3) Why was there no effort by Mayor Terrell to meet with the four board members to resolve the issues?

4) When will you be holding a town meeting to discuss the issues?

I apologize for long messages, but posting on Facebook seems to be the only venue that the Mayor responds to.

I am impressed with the outline of time and energy Mayor Terrell has spent on the issues. Did he ever say I tried to work with the four trustees, in the letter? Seems like it would of been a simple solution for a leader.

I believe it is time to move on and get beyond the he said, she said articles. I hope the citizens of Saguacge remain involved in what is going on.

Sincerely,

Wyoma Hansen

Latest News – August 7

Community Meal Planned Thursday in Park

Come and have Supper With Your Neighbors this Thursday, Aug. 10, at Otto Mears Park, weather permitting. This community gathering is sponsored by the Saguache United Methodist Church, and in case of bad weather, it will be held at the Saguache Methodist Fellowship Hall, 6th & Christy Ave.

Saguache United Methodist Church

Saguache United Methodist Church is located on the corner of 6th and Christy Streets in Saguache.

The meal is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  and will include ham salad and chicken salad sandwiches. Attendees are also welcome to bring a side dish to share.

A free-will offering will be taken to help the local food bank or the needs of community members. Hope to see you there for an evening of good food and conversation!

Latest News – August 5

Saguache Art Festival !

Mark the Calendar – it’s only two weeks away! The 8th Annual Saguache Art Festival will be on Saturday, Aug. 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  This year’s festival will feature more than 20 artists and crafters, with music and food throughout Downtown Saguache.

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The Saguache Arts Festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 19 in Downtown Saguache.

Saguache Art Festival maps will be available throughout Downtown. The Saguache Hotel will display art and antiques, 4th Street Diner will feature local artists and always amazing pie. Antiques Etc. will have eclectic antiques and local glass art. The Fentons will do a live pottery demonstration at their studio on San Juan around the corner from the Village Pub, serving up pizza, pasta and a full bar. The Magpie features Judith Page’s mixed media artwork and artifacts from Africa and the Middle East. The Range will exhibit painting by Gaby Wolodarski, an artist from Montevallo, Alabama.

Around the corner visit Smith Market Gallery to see the work of Byron Williams, maker of baskets and embellished gourds. Across the street from Smith Market is Teri Rill’s studio, with a tree trunk carved into a bouquet. More artists and crafters will be set up at tables throughout the Downtown area. 

The 8th Annual Saguache Arts Festival is sponsored by the Saguache Chamber of Commerce.

Meet The Artists:

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Saguache artist Kelsey Pedersen Photo: June Savage.

Visit Hauck/Pedersen, in business in Saguache for over two decades, showcasing figurative expressionist art. Kelsey Hauck displays paintings, collage, sculpture, 100’s of works on paper, and antiquities throughout her 1886 storefront building.  Hauck has lived throughout the Southwest and has traveled widely in Europe. She came to Saguache in 1993 with her late husband Doug Pedersen.

Pedersen and Hauck met in 1966 in New York City when he hired her at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s first Education Department. Both artists have a strong interest in philosophy, classical music, education, and organic food. Their artwork deals with the human condition.

A world-renowned artist, Hauck has made Saguache her home for more than two decades. Today, she continues to create works of collage magic, and is happy to have visitors to her studio, The Hauck/Pedersen Fine Art Gallery located at 313 – 315 4th Street in downtown Saguache. www.hauckpedersen.com

For the serious art collector the journey to this 100 year-old mercantile building provides a face to face interaction with the art and the unique environment in which it was created. So next time you’re downtown, be sure to stop in and see what people have been talking about for years!

 

 

Latest News – August 4

Emergency Responders’ Exercise Set for Tomorrow

This is a TEST, this is only a TEST! Certainly something to keep in mind if you happen to see an increased level of emergency responders about town and at the Saguache Airport tomorrow, August 5.

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When it comes to Emergency Responders and Fire Rescue, it’s that all for one effort that help keep residents safe in Saguache Today. Support them!

This collaborative exercise is being conducted by Northern Saguache County Ambulance District in cooperation with the Baca/Crestone Ambulance and REACH, the air medical service based out of Buena Vista. OThis training will simulate how Saguache officials would deal with an emergency situation at the local airport, involving injuries or fatalities to people. In order to maximize the benefits of the exercise, emergency officials are asking local residents to participate as “actors.” This is only a TEST. 

According to a Facebook post initiated by David Hammel with the Northern Saguache County Ambulance District, the group is “looking for at least 8 volunteers to help with a training on Saturday Aug. 5. Volunteers can be both kids and adults.”

People interested in participating should wear clothes which they don’t care are ruined or possibly destroyed. Volunteers are asked to meet at the firehouse in downtown Saguache on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 8 a.m. The main exercise will take place at the airport but will involve transporting “victims” back into town. The day will cap off with a community BBQ for everyone who participated back at the firehouse.

Come and support your local emergency responders. The life you save could be your own!

Sign Up for San Luis Valley Emergency Alerts

If you would like to receive Emergency Alerts please register on this site. San Luis Valley 911 has moved to a new system called Everbridge and has moved away from Code Red system. Residents are encouraged to sign-up to receive notifications. Here’s the info:

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Get alerted about emergencies and other important community news by signing up for our Emergency Alert Program. This system enables us to provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods.

You will receive time-sensitive messages wherever you specify, such as your home, mobile or business phones, email address, text messages and more. You pick where, you pick how. 

Remember this is also a good thing to signup for if you have a relative or friend living in the valley that you want to be alerted about in case of an emergency. Sign up today!

Latest News – August 3

Mayor Addresses Town Resignations in Letter

Last week, the Town of Saguache was a buzz of news that “something” had happened on July 21, but no one seemed to know anything more than that. And while the social media platforms continue the discussion under veiled accusations, the Town of Saguache’s Mayor Greg Terrell finally released an official statement yesterday.

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Saguache Mayor Greg Terrell (left) listens to a town resident during a visit to the 4th Street Food Store in Saguache, Colorado. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

Saguache Today had reached out to Mayor Greg Terrell last  week and while he didn’t respond at the time, here is his thoughtful point of view on the situation. Also please note that the next Town Trustee meeting is next Tuesday, August 8 at the Saguache County Road & Bridge meeting room at 6 p.m. As always, they are open to the public. There has also been discussion from citizens that someone will be in attendance to live stream, Saguache Today will keep you posted on that opportunity to join the conversation.

Letter from the Mayor of Saguache 08/02/2017:

I received the resignations of four Town Trustees on the afternoon of Friday, July 21st. Each one of these Trustees has been a valued and committed member of the Town Board. Their work dedication has benefitted the welfare of our Town. Trustees Hansen, Wilson, and Torrez brought to the Board a vast experience from Federal and County government, and private sector management. Being life-long residents of Saguache, their unique insight will be missed on the Board. Trustee Engquist deserves special praise. She has spent considerable time, energy, and expense representing and working for the Town of Saguache. Her devotion to the best interests of the citizens of this Town will be felt for many years, her mark on the Town, for generations. I sincerely thank them for that service, and for the privilege of serving with them. I hope that citizens will reach out and thank them all for their service.

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Saguache Mayor Greg Terrell

I have waited until now to make a statement about the resignations that occurred on the 21st, in hopes that I might have a more clear understanding. At present, I have no more insight or clarity, than I did on the 21st. Three of the former Trustees stated the resignations were due to “an unforeseen chain of events.” Having no forewarning and having no further information or explanation, I am left puzzled, confused, and dazed. Former Trustee Engquist referred in her resignation to “actions taken today concerning the Deputy Clerk.” The Deputy Clerk resigned earlier on the 21st. I can only speculate that the Deputy Clerk’s choice to resign was the action referred to by Trustee Engquist. I have not spoken with Trustee Engquist since, so I remain puzzled. I know I certainly did not desire for the Deputy Clerk to resign. I did, in fact, express to the Deputy Clerk my earnest desire for her not to make that choice, prior to her insistence that she resign.

I am disappointed in all the resignations. I sincerely wish that the former Trustees had remained at their posts. The Board’s responsibility is to set policy and solve problems. The Board currently lacks a quorum, so until that is resolved, neither can happen. Their four votes on the Board could be making a difference. That is the true disappointment I now feel.

My hope now, is that citizens will come forward to serve on the Town Board, with the intent of the best interest of the Town. The Town’s business does not stop. The Town is still faced with problems to be solved, and a future to envision, and work toward, to function as a Town.

Again, I ask citizens to come join the remaining Board to take action and put forth the effort needed to solve our problems and keep the Town providing services and structures that benefit everyone’s well being.

Yours sincerely,

Greg Terrell, Mayor
Town of Saguache

Latest News – August 1

Flowers – and Flooding – Greet Hollyhock Festival

The 6th Annual Saguache Hollyhock Festival saw a bit of sunshine last Saturday which was a welcome reprieve from relentless rain Saguache has been seeing for more than a couple of weeks.

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Byron Williams garden at the Smith Market Gallery won the blue ribbon in the Hollyhock Garden category. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

While some of the gardens experienced a pretty good hail lashing the day before the July 29 event, most sprang back to life with some tender, love and care from their owners. Garden tour-ists seemed to make a goodtime of it regardless, exchanging gardening tips and of course, conversations about the weather .

This year’s garden winners for the 2017 Saguache Hollyhock Festival could be found on the same street, but a few blocks apart. The winner in the Hollyhock Garden category was Byron Williams, artist and owner of the Smith Market Gallery. “The judges must have seen them before all this rain, when they were at their peak,” Williams said in front of is artists shop at the corner of 5th and Denver Streets. And while there were plenty of the official town flowers gracing his garden, many seemed to be bowing in homage to the ancient settlers who brought them here.

The blue ribbon top prize in the garden category went to Sarah Krantz and Dave Smalley for their entertaining and whimsical garden at 655 5th Street.

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The see-saw feature in Sarah Krantz and Dave Smalley’s whimsical garden was one of the things that garnered it the top prize for the garden catagory.

From the campfire feature to the fake alligator in the newly-formed swamp created from all the recent rain, most visitors left with a smile. But for those who really wanted to throw their heads back in laughter, it was the giant hand-crafted see-saw feature that took the cake!

And while all of the floral beauty could be seen outside, the festival’s homage to the Hollyhock continued inside the Saguache Community Center as well.

“We’ve seen about 100 people, so far,” stated Committee Member Sarah Krantz and that was only at 12:30, with two and a half hours left to the celebration. There was plenty of fun for the kiddos with Hollyhock doll making with Lacey Reed, face-painting by Town Administrator Pam Fye and the Saguache Girl Scouts kept busy making windsocks to place in gardens.

The locals show up to support the fundraising efforts from the Saguache Volunteer Fire Department serving up some delicious hamburgers and frito pie with some of those roasted chilies on top.

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The 6th Annual Saguache Hollyhock Festival brought good crowds out to the Saguache Community Center last Saturday, July 29. Want to see more photos? CLICK

The Friends of the library served their famous root beer floats and Don Baker of Evergreen Apiaries was on-hand extracting some of his delicious honey for tasting and to buy!

 In the Hollyhock art contest which is open only to residents of Saguache, it was Wade Collins who took the top price for his piece: Offering. In the youth contest which artist Samantha “Sami” Robinson’s painting “The Hollyhock” garnered the blue ribbon.

“We want to expand the art competition for next year,” said Hollyhock Committee Member Caroline Irwin. “We are hoping to get more students involved by offering some kind of art class earlier in the spring, so that they can submit work for this show.”

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The face painting with Town Administrator Pam Fye was a big hit with the kiddos!

There has also been some discussion about having a separate category for those artists who do not live within the town of Saguache, which would cast the net of submissions a bit farther as well.

That’s a wrap for the 6th Annual Saguache Hollyhock Festival report. Next up on the Chamber of Commerce event calendar is the Saguache Arts Festival, which will be Saturday, August 19. Stay tuned to Saguache Today for coming details.

 

Latest News – August 2

Saguache Among Public Health Grantees

Last month, The Center for Sharing Public Health Services (the Center) announced it has selected eleven public health teams to participate in a new funding initiative focused on cross-jurisdictional sharing (CJS) in public health. CJS occurs when jurisdictions, such as counties or cities, collaborate to deliver public health services across boundaries. By working together, public health agencies can build economies of scale that improve effectiveness and efficiency.

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Members of the San Luis Valley team, from left to right: Kathleen Matthews, Kimberly Bryant and Della Vieira.

As part of the program, the eleven teams will receive grant funding and one-on-one technical assistance from the Center. The Center will get the opportunity to observe progress and to capture learning that it will use to develop and disseminate new tools and resources and to provide technical assistance to other jurisdictions that are considering or adopting CJS approaches.

“The teams were selected because their work focuses on areas the Center has prioritized for further study,” explained Gianfranco Pezzino, co-director of the Center. “For example, several of the teams are composed of smaller jurisdictions interested in using CJS strategies to provide a broader range of public health services.”

“In another example, some of the teams are working toward system-wide public health improvement at the state level, using a CJS approach,” added Patrick Libbey, who is also a co-director of the Center.

The following public health team, which includes Saguache County, is one of the eleven that have been selected to participate in the new program. To read the full report, readers can visit the Public Health Sharing website.  

Colorado: San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership – This partnership, which comprises three frontier and three rural counties, will develop and implement a cross-jurisdictional data collection and management system. The following counties participate in the partnership: Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Saguache and Rio Grande.