Sunday, August 18, 2013


The Waldo Canyon fire may have been over a year ago, but the remnants of last year remain and continue to threaten our community. The recent flash flood events in Manitou Springs and up Ute Pass are enough to demonstrate that we're not out of danger related to post-fire impacts. And, I consistently am asked as I meet with folks what's being done to help prevent the flash flooding that destroyed homes and businesses and created an unsafe situation for motorists up Highway 24 west, resulting in the untimely death of one Teller County resident. So I want to share with you, some of the emergency watershed projects that are taking place up above the City of Manitou Springs and the downhill communities of Cascade and Chipita Park, both located in unincorporated areas of El Paso County.

  Recently, I participated in a media tour of the work that continues in the upper watersheds of the Waldo Canyon fire burn scar.  We were able to provide information on detention basins, mulching, and hillside stabilization projects that help protect the lower parts of the canyons as Mother Nature heals herself through regrowth of vegetation.  The group was able to visit a series of detention basins being constructed in the canyons that slow the water down and spread it out; lessening the destruction downstream.  Estimates indicate these basins kept over 11,900 tons of debris from entering the lower parts of the canyons in the past week.  As with any large issue, this effort takes cooperation.  And we have plenty of that in El Paso and Teller Counties.  There has been a huge collective effort since the fire that involves private partners, non-profit groups, and City, County, State and Federal governmental agencies.  Together, our Waldo Canyon Fire Regional
Recovery Group (WCRRG) has garnered over $30 million of combined funding that is being utilized this year.   It is a big job that will continue for many years.  We are all in this together, and are in it for the “long haul”.   While we can’t be certain how much rain will fall and where, we can be absolutely assured that we will work together to continue to move forward.

Here are some useful Links from the media tour. In addition, I'll be working to update you on being prepared for flooding, flood clean up and more about what's being done by various entities to protect our downhill communities by reducing sediment and flows from the burn scar damage resulting from the Waldo Canyon Fire which took place in 2012.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Colorado Commissioner Sallie Clark elected as officer & 2nd VP to National Association of Counties (NACo)

On July 22, 2013 in Tarrant County, Texas, Commissioner Sallie Clark was elected to serve as Second Vice President of NACo at the annual summer conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Elected officials representing counties from all over the United States chose El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark to serve as 2nd VP of the National Association of Counties (NACo).  NACo is the official organization representing approximately 3000 counties in Washington D.C.  Placing her name in nomination for the NACo office, Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks of Tarrant County Texas told conference delegates, “Sallie Clark is a woman who has been tested by fire.  Her county like many communities across our nation has had a devastating natural disaster this year. Over 700 homes and thousands of acres were destroyed by 2 wildfires and through it all, Sallie has been strong and worked hard to help her community recover.”  As her main nominator, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe added, “Sallie Clark is a great representative for El Paso County and Colorado and she will be a great representative for all of us working to maintain local control for critical county services.”  Commissioner Sally Heyman from Miami-Dade Florida added, “We come from different parts of the country and different political parties but we share a common passion for public service and helping others.”
"This gives me the opportunity to ensure that Colorado concerns are heard clearly in Washington,” Commissioner Clark commented. ”Colorado citizens know why it is so important for the federal government to adopt responsible management practices that reduce the risk of wildfires and why it is critical to maintain our roads and bridges.  Our leaders on Capitol Hill must also be aware of the need to support our military and veterans and understand the importance of maintaining local control over the services that directly impact the lives of our citizens.  These are the kinds of issues that we work on at NACo everyday and I look forward to making a difference as we address these and many other issues during my years as an officer in NACo leadership.”   Because NACo leadership is structured as a “straight line of succession,”  Commissioner Clark will serve a one year term as 2nd Vice President, moving up to 1st Vice President at the NACo conference next summer and will become President of NACo in 2015.”We’re excited to have Sallie representing Colorado in NACo leadership,” noted Commissioner Dennis Hisey, Chair of the El Paso County Board.  ”There were four good candidates for this important office.  Sallie worked hard on her campaign.  She had a lot of help and support from Commissioners all over Colorado as well as all over the country who have come to see her as a creative problem solver who will make things happen.”
Commissioner Clark represents El Paso County Commissioner District 3 on the Board of County Commissioners.  Her district includes all of the Westside of Colorado Springs as well as Manitou Springs and the Ute Pass area extending to the Teller County line.   She was appointed last year to serve on the NACo Board of Directors last year by President Chris Rodgers from Douglas County, Nebraska.  She also serves on numerous NACo steering committees and policy groups.
For more information on Commissioner Sallie Clark, visit or

Friday, May 17, 2013

Large Counties take their voices to DC and the Hill

Recently, I had the opportunity to accompany NACo’s Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) “fly-in” for county advocacy that brought county leaders from the nation’s largest counties to Washington, D.C., where we met with members of Congress and their staff and Administration officials to discuss the legislative and policy priorities that affect large metropolitan counties and their residents. LUCC Chair Helen Holton (Council Member, Baltimore City) led the event, which took place from May 7-9, helping to impress upon key lawmakers and officials NACo’s message of Why Counties Matter.

While in Washington, we met with Democratic and Republican leadership from the House and Senate, as well as key staff from the House Appropriations Committee and House Ways and Means Committee. In these meetings, LUCC leaders discussed priorities for the FY2014 appropriations process, the Marketplace Fairness Act, tax reform issues including municipal bonds, and healthcare programs including Medicaid.

LUCC leaders also met with the Congressional Urban Caucus and one of its leaders, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), to identify shared priorities and to set the groundwork for future collaborations between LUCC and the Congressional Urban Caucus. In this meeting, NACo’s theme of Why Counties Matter was highlighted, including an emphasis of counties’ role in transportation and infrastructure, justice and law enforcement, and workforce readiness.

-with Congressman Scott Tipton

In addition to meetings which included House Speaker John Boehner and Senator Mark Udall's office, I was able to meet with Colorado Congressional members Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn and Diana DeGette to discuss county concerns over the proposed elimination of tax exempt bonds which would have a detrimental impact on taxpayers, utilities, school and fire districts and local governments, especially considering that 75% of all national infrastructure is financed using this tool. My good friend from Miami-Dade County, Commissioner Sally Heyman introduced me to Congressman Gus Bilirakis who serves as vice chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

-with Congressman Gus Bilirakis
Location:Washington DC