Saturday, May 16, 2009


Sallie Clark, El Paso County Commissioner , Colorado Springs, Colorado

Ten or twenty years from now when we look back on the events that made news in 2009, I suspect we’ll find that an event in Denver on April 30 should have made bigger headlines. The signing of State SB141 was barely mentioned by most of our local media. It’s not surprising; the legislature passes and the Governor signs many bills and only a handful make the front page. But I’m convinced that ten or twenty years from now, when we look back, we’ll view the signing of SB141 as a major milestone.

SB141 created the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District. It marks an important turning point in local history – the day we all took joint responsibility for Fountain Creek. The District is a legal entity that stretches across both El Paso County and Pueblo County lines. It provides elected representatives in both counties a way to solve the long standing and complex problems that result when more and more homes and businesses use water in El Paso County and then release that water down Fountain Creek to be re-used in the Arkansas Valley.

In signing the bill, the Governor noted, “This represents an incredible collaborative accomplishment between two counties, over an extremely contentious issue.” In truth, it took years of negotiations. The sixty-page legislation signed into law last month was painstakingly written and rewritten. With legal assistance from Pueblo County and Colorado Springs Utilities, El Paso County’s own Assistant County Attorney Cole Emmons and Water Authority Manager Gary Barber worked many long days; attended many late night and early morning meetings and spent hours in consultation with lawyers and elected representatives throughout the Watershed area to come up with the final legislation.

No one said it would be easy, but when we see Fountain Creek transitioning from a public concern to valuable asset, it will be worth everything that went into making it happen. Just as Cherry Creek and Confluence Park are shining examples for the Denver area, Fountain Creek can become our own shining example for both Pueblo and El Paso Counties as envisioned by former Sen. Salazar when he established his “Crown Jewel” plan. The new district will receive $50 million in gradual funding through Colorado Springs Utilities payments for mitigation improvements of Fountain Creek as a result of the Southern Delivery System. In addition, it will now be eligible for additional grants as a State designated watershed authority.

This was truly a collaboration of 3-1/2 years of hard work—by El Paso and Pueblo County Commissioners and City Council Members from Pueblo and Colorado Springs, small cities and towns throughout the region from Palmer Lake to Manitou Springs to Fountain, environmental groups, Congressional representatives, the military, councils of governments, utilities from both Pueblo and Colorado Springs, water agencies from El Paso County and the Lower Arkansas Valley, and an extensive amount of participation of many others. Our Fountain Creek Visioning group met month after month and year after year to come up with a consensus on issues such as water quality, the environment, and land use planning, just to name a few. While it’s too long a list to mention all the players, the process—sometimes cooperative and sometimes contentious, provided a venue to work through ground breaking good-neighbor agreements. This relationship building exercise also had a positive impact on the future of water availability to our entire region.

And especially unique to Colorado’s political climate, this piece of legislation crossed party lines with Representative Marsha Looper (R-El Paso), Senator Abel Tapia (D-Pueblo) and Representative Sal Pace (D-Pueblo) carrying the bill. They reached across the aisle to assure that SB141 passed unanimously, just as County Commissioner Dennis Hisey (El Paso) and I, along with Commissioner Jeff Chostner (Pueblo) and former Pueblo Commissioner Loretta Kennedy, Vice Mayor Larry Small (Colorado Springs) and Councilwomen Barbara Vidmar and Vera Ortegon (Pueblo) had done to establish a strategic plan and draft the template language for the bill. All of those involved in this process deserve a special thanks for staying the course when it would have been easier to just walk away. As a result, I’m convinced that the commitment and collaboration that started years ago will continue and one day in the not terribly distant future that instead of being a liability, Fountain Creek will be a destination which includes parks, trails and most importantly a beautiful waterway as an asset to our partner communities.

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Sallie Clark, El Paso County Commissioner District 3, Colorado Springs, CO

Sallie Clark was elected to serve as an El Paso County Commissioner in November of 2004 to represent District 3 and was re-elected in 2008. She was elected and served as Board Chair of the Commission in 2006 and currently serves as Vice Chair. Her district encompasses western El Paso County, including the City of Colorado Springs, the City of Manitou Springs, the Town of Green Mountain Falls, and the unincorporated areas in the western portion of the county, including the Turkey Canyon area on the south, the area just south of the Air Force Academy, and the Ute Pass area on the far west to the El Paso County line.

Sallie became a military wife in 1980 when she married Welling Clark. In 1985, the couple settled in Colorado Springs. She has family roots in Colorado; her father was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado and she spent every summer on her grandmother’s farm there. She loves Colorado, and continues to appreciate our open spaces, mountain scenery and especially the Pikes Peak area. She enjoys hobbies such as cooking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, tennis, golf and reading. Sallie has owned her own business since 1986. She operates Holden House Bed & Breakfast Inn, located on the historic Westside. Her local interest in public service began with the well-known issue to save Fire Station 3.

In addition to her service on the Colorado Springs City Council, she has served on various local and state organizations and committees. These include the State of Colorado’s Travel and Tourism Authority, Organization of Westside Neighbors, School District 11 Business Sounding Board, the Westside Schools Task Force, the National Fire Protection Association 1710 Committee, Council of Neighbors and Organizations, Springs Community Improvements Program Public Safety Committee, the Dr. Lester L. Williams Fire Museum Board, the Colorado Restaurant Association-Pikes Peak Chapter, National League of Cities Public Safety Committee, the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” Committee, and with her husband, founded the Colorado Bed and Breakfast Association in 1987. She is also an instructor and small-business consultant for aspiring bed and breakfast innkeepers. Sallie previously worked in the medical profession and the cancer field, prior to opening her own business over 23 years ago.

Sallie received the "2002 Woman of Distinction Award" from Soroptimist International, was named one of the Denver Post’s People to Watch 2001, has been awarded the “Best Civic Leader", "Best Role Model” and “Best County Commissioner” from the Colorado Springs Independent Newspaper, and is a past recipient of the "Tourism Industry Award" from the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. Sallie received the Colorado Springs Business Journal’s “40 Achievers Award“ and was nominated for the publication’s “2004 Women of Influence Award”. In 2005 and 2008, she was nominated for the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber’s “Athena Award”. In 2006 she received the “Accolades” award from the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber and the “Award of Distinction” from the American Heart Association for the Pikes Peak area’s Go Red for Women campaign. She served as campaign chair for 2006 and 2007 for United Way and received the Elected Official of the Year from the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce in 2008.

In addition to her many volunteer activities, Sallie serves as liaison to the offices of the Sheriff, Treasurer, Coroner, and Surveyor. She is currently a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) Justice and Public Safety Committee and serves as the State’s Child Welfare Allocations Committee representing Colorado Counties Inc. Her additional Commissioner duties include the El Paso County's Citizen Outreach Group, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Department of Human Services, the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment and the El Paso County Emergency Services Agency, among others. She is the third woman to have served as Commission Board Chair in El Paso County and also served as Vice Chair in 2005 and currently in 2009. She was elected in 2009 to serve as Vice Chair of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA).

“It’s a privilege take an active part in our local government”, says Commissioner Clark. “I’m honored to represent and serve the citizens of El Paso County.”