Retiring Employees Honored with Resolutions

Linda Smith, second from left, is recognized with a formal resolution for 30 years of dedicated service to Fremont County by Commissioners Dwayne McFall, Tim Payne, and Debbie Bell.

Three long-term Fremont County employees who are retiring received recognition in the form of official resolutions by the Board of County Commissioners during regular session on Dec. 26.

Department of Human Services Director Steve Clifton, DHS Agency Administrator Linda Smith, and Denise Miller all were recognized with a cumulative total of almost 80 years of work at Fremont County.

Clifton began work with Fremont County DHS on Feb. 1, 1994, and had almost 49 years of work and dedication to the field of human services. Smith, a valued employee since Oct. 1, 1987, provided the county with behind-the-scenes expertise in human services and its financial intricacies. Miller worked in various positions throughout the County, including at the Administration Building and at DHS, since Sept. 4, 1991, and retired from her final position at DHS.

All three were honored by the Commissioners for their decades of dedicated service and for making a difference in the lives of Fremont County citizens.

“Thank you,” said Board Chair Debbie Bell. “You will be missed.”

Clifton and Smith worked over the past year on completing a formal transition plan to provide a smooth and seamless shift when incoming Director Stacie Kwitek and her team officially take over on Jan. 1, 2018.

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Sid Darden Named 2017 Employee of the Year

Sid Darden was named 2017 Fremont County Employee of the Year during the regular Board of County Commissioners meeting on Dec. 12.

Darden, a 30-year employee of Fremont County, works in the Department of Public Health and Environment. He received multiple nominations and won the honor in a year that saw a record number of nominees. He was cited for his dependability, efficiency, positive attitude, and attention to detail. Earlier this year, Darden stepped in as Acting Public Health Director and served for several months in that capacity.

“His skills do not end with just his office work,” one nomination for Darden read. “He also projects a warm, cheerful attitude to our clients and amongst all of our coworkers. I have seen him resolve conflicts and handle other difficult situations with remarkable patience and admirable tact. In the community he goes out of his way to help people succeed. He loves people, works hard, and always tries to lift the spirits of those around him.”

The Employee of the Year is nominated by county line staff and voted on by the eight Elected Officials. In addition to Darden, other Fremont County employees nominated by their peers are:
Danielle Adamic, Building Department
Don Alder, Department of Transportation
Jerry Alexander, Sheriff’s Office
Lysa Collins, Department of Human Services
Sid Darden, Public Health
Ken Dear, Facilities
Lisa DeLawter, DHS
Krystina DelDuca, Administration
Ken Garrett, Sheriff’s Office
Sean Garrett, Planning & Zoning
Carrie Hammel, Sheriff’s Office
Ryan Hileman, Department of Transportation
Matthew Kay, Public Health
Kate Kirst, Clerk & Recorder
Dan Moon, Department of Transportation
Alberta Newell, Clerk & Recorder
Kara Reichert, DHS
Carie Rutherford, DHS
Alexis Schechter, DHS
Roxanne Schuster, DHS
Kylie Stuard, Assessor’s Office

Congratulations to all!

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Extension Agent Honored

Fremont County Extension Agent Tommy Covington, right, receives the prestigious Alton Scofield Award from Bill Nobles, Peaks and Plains Regional Director for CSU Extension.

Fremont County Extension Agent Tommy Covington recently was recognized for his lengthy, distinguished career in CSU Extension.

Covington received the Alton Scofield Award, which recognizes outstanding performance by an Extension professional throughout their Extension career. Throughout his 22-year career in Fremont County, Covington has tirelessly exhibited an unparalleled level of leadership through the County Extension Office, 4-H Programs, and the community at large.

His years of energy and effort spent serving the community and the youth of Fremont County extend far beyond his work with Extension. Tommy’s 19 years of service on the Florence-Penrose Re-2 Board of Education, including his many years of service as President of the School Board, serve as witness to his enduring commitment to the education and growth of Fremont County’s young people.

The Fremont County Commissioners congratulated Covington on his honor.

“We are so proud to work with Tommy on many different levels,” said Commission Chair Debbie Bell. “He truly has earned this. It’s nice to see him receive the recognition he so richly deserves.”

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Sobering Center Opening in November

The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a contract for services with St. Thomas More Hospital to open the Fremont County Sobering Center. The center will open the first week of November.

The center will offer a safe place for citizens to sober up providing they have medical clearance. The agreement is the result of a year-long effort by community partners including law enforcement, human services, public health, substance abuse specialists and the medical community, especially St. Thomas More Hospital. Currently, those in need of sobriety are directed either to the hospital or the Fremont County Jail, using countless resources that could better be used elsewhere.

The ad hoc group quickly found that a traditional detoxification center was not financially feasible, so began searching for a new idea. The sobering center is a model currently in use in several other communities throughout the United States, but is new to Colorado.

“The most important thing we are going to do is to continue care and offer them a hand in getting – and staying – sober,” said Commissioner Debbie Bell. “Fremont County is providing a Care Manager, a new employee by the name of Pat Cox, who will talk to folks when they’re ready to leave the center.”

Cox also will follow through with clients. He will offer to help them with whatever kind of assistance they might need, whether they are homeless, in need of food or warm clothing, Medicaid, AA meetings, addiction counseling, all the way up to inpatient treatment services. He is making the connections and finding the resources to help folks create a life without alcohol.

“The Sobering Center will be much more than a place to sober up,” Bell said. “We truly believe it will be a place to change lives.”

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Sen. Gardner Tours Flood Area

Sen. Cory Gardner, center, tours the Hayden Pass Fire burn scar with Fremont County Emergency Manager Steve Morrisey, left, and Fremont County Commissioner Dwayne McFall. (Photo courtesy Sunny Bryant)

Sen. Cory Gardner toured the Hayden Pass Fire burn scar watershed June 24 with County Commissioner Dwayne McFall and other local officials. McFall organized the tour to seek assistance in receiving federal funds to help pay for flood mitigation efforts in the Coaldale area.

The Hayden Pass Fire burned more than 16,500 acres in July 2016. Parts of the county now are in danger of flash flooding because nearby creeks fill quickly when it rains, and because burned materials wash down and choke culverts and waterways, redirecting water elsewhere. Wildfires not only burn away natural materials that slow the rain down and hold it in place, but they also sear the ground to a hard, baked finish that is difficult for water to penetrate.

The fire mostly burned on federal lands, so Fremont County is seeking federal funding to assist with the aftermath.

More than a dozen homes are in the danger zone. Some of those already have sustained flood damage. Certain projects can be undertaken to mitigate the threat of flooding, but such projects come with hefty price tags the county cannot afford alone. Officials hope Sen. Gardner will pressure federal agencies to assist with funding the projects. The cost to clean the area affected by the burn scar and flash flooding is estimated at $2.5 million.

Others on the tour included Sheriff Jim Beicker, Fremont County Emergency Manager Steve Morrisey, and Fremont County Manager Sunny Bryant.

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Fire Protection, Zone Change and More Approved

Four public hearings brought little citizen comment as the Board of County Commissioners approved a quarry, an outfitter business, a fire protection garage, and a zone change during the May 23 meeting.

Yevoli Cobblestone Pit, located southeast of Florence, received a Conditional Use Permit to quarry and haul stone. A maximum of 10 trucks per day are allowed during the operating hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Loco Mountain Outfitters came into compliance with a Special Review Use Permit to continue its operation southwest of Texas Creek. The business uses an existing ranch house as the base camp for guided hunting trips for a capacity of six hunters and three guides two months each year.

Deer Mountain Fire Protection District will build a new, heated garage for fire equipment in the Indian Springs Subdivision. The 1-acre site recently was given a subdivision waiver and approval for fire use by the Commissioners. The existing garage will remain.

Journey Quest, a nonprofit rafting and outdoor wilderness ministry, received a zone change from Agricultural Forestry to Rural Highway Business for property near U.S. Highway 50 and County Road 27 near Texas Creek. The parcel is 6.29 acres and lies along the banks of the Arkansas River.

In other business, the Commissioners:

-       Proclaimed May 29 through June 4, 2017, as Family Safety Week in Fremont County.

-       Adopted the Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Indian Springs.

-       Accepted a proposal from Armstrong Consulting for Engineering and Planning Services at the Fremont County Airport for a five-year term.

-       Renewed Optional Premises Cultivation license for Cˆ3 Colorado Springs for a grow located at 685 Highway 115 #B.

-       Ratified the chairman’s signature on Change Order 29 for the Fremont County Justice Center Kitchen ad Laundry remodel. The change saved the county more than $14,500.

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DHS Director Honored by State

Tom Massey, deputy executive director for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance, right, presents a certificate to Steve Clifton, Fremont County Department of Human Services Director. (Photo courtesy Carie Canterbury, Cañon City Daily Record)

Long-time Fremont County Department of Human Services Director Steve Clifton recently received high recognition from the state.

“Fremont County is always at the very top,” said Tom Massey, deputy executive director for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance. “Steve and his team always leads the state in the metrics we use to measure all the good work he and his staff do. We always appreciate his cooperation and collaboration.”

Massey presented Clifton with a certificate honoring “his dedication and hard work serving the residents of Fremont County and representing the interests of human service agencies statewide for the greater good of all Coloradans.” It was signed by Susan Birch, executive director, HCPF.

Clifton accepted the certificate on behalf of his staff.

“From the front desk to eligibility staff to supervisors, they all work very diligently to get these things done promptly,” he said. “They are the ones who do all the work.”

The presentation was made during the annual Executive Directors Meeting on May 18. The Fremont County Department of Human Services hosts the event to allow state officials to tour local offices and meet with staff to share legislative and other updates.

Other state officials present included Jerene Petersen, the deputy executive director for CDHS, and Anne-Marie Braga, director of Local Public Health Partnerships, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Fremont County Commissioners Debbie Bell, Tim Payne and Dwayne McFall, County Manager Sunny Bryant, and County Department of Public Health Director Rick Miklich also attended.

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April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

Joining a national effort to raise awareness about this important issue, the Fremont County Commissioners proclaimed April 2017 as Fremont County Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month during the regular Board meeting on Tuesday, March 28.

Mick Stumph of the Fremont County Department of Human Services appeared before the Board to read the proclamation and ask for Commissioner support.

“We must come together as partners to keep children safe, ensure that the voices of our children are heard by all, and extend a helping hand to children and families in need,” the proclamation reads in part. “Children are key to Fremont County’s future success, prosperity, and quality of life. While children are our most precious resource, they also are our most vulnerable.”

Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month also will be celebrated with two simultaneous events at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 7. The entire community is invited to either the Macon Plaza event in Cañon City or the Rialto Theatre event in Florence. Commissioners Tim Payne and Dwayne McFall will read the proclamation at Macon Plaza, while Commissioner Debbie Bell will present the document in Florence. Child welfare workers and others also will attend the events.

The Department of Human Services has brightly-colored blue and silver pinwheel gardens available to businesses and homes to celebrate the month, as well. For more information call DHS at (719)275-2318.

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Fremont County Public Health now offers livesaving measure for overdoses

Fremont County Department of Public Health & Environment (FCDPHE) began distributing Naloxone to the local community on Feb. 8. Distribution and screening is on a confidential, appointment only basis. Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a safe and effective prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose, which can be caused by prescription analgesics (e.g., Percocet, OxyContin), and heroin. Naloxone will only reverse an opioid overdose, it does not prevent overdose deaths caused by other drugs such as benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax®, Klonopin® and Valium®), bath salts, cocaine, methamphetamine or alcohol. However, naloxone is effective for multi-substance overdoses such as a combined opioid and alcohol overdose. It cannot be used to get high.

The appropriate and intended use of Naloxone is to save lives. Area law enforcement officers routinely carry Naloxone which they credited with saving numerous lives. Individuals interested in the program may contact FCDPHE at (719) 276-7450 to schedule an appointment, screening and training (M-Th 7:30am-5:30pm). All information is kept strictly confidential.

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Officials Meet with Colorado Attorney General

Four Fremont County elected officials met with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and members of her staff to discuss addiction issues in rural communities. The Feb. 7 meeting also included other community leaders from the court system, treatment agencies, and medical personnel.

General Coffman said they were on a “listening tour” and asked to hear local concerns and successes surrounding addiction, particularly the rise in opioid and other prescription addiction.

Sheriff Jim Beicker, who organized the meeting, said the Fremont County Detention Facility works closely with the state to provide treatment to offenders beginning during incarceration, and then moving that treatment into community-based agencies. He also described the use of new treatments to save lives and said the protocols, including Narcan, have saved at least six people locally.

County Coroner Randy Keller said his office deals with the end result of serious addiction. He is seeking to help reverse that trend.

County Clerk and Recorder Katie Barr said she has a general interest in addiction issues. She attended to offer her assistance in the ongoing efforts.

County Commissioner Debbie Bell described the current ongoing efforts to bring some sort of detoxification facility to Fremont County. She said the collaboration is an uphill battle, because although the facility would save time, funding, energy, and resources, ultimately similar services around the state are closing.

General Coffman and her staff took copious notes and pledged to work with agencies and organizations on local initiatives, rather than try to push through new statewide programs. She said she was pleased to see the community working together strategically to address the local issues.

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