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

Friday, March 22, 2013

Regional Efforts Impact Wildfire Recovery Funding Approval

The efforts of regional and in this case, statewide and national groups have finally paid off for Colorado and many other states with the approval of Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Thanks to El Paso County's local partnerships with the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, the City of Colorado Springs, the City of Manitou Springs, the Town of Green Mountain Falls, Colorado Springs Utilities and a long list of community and non-profit partners, there has been success in securing federal dollars to assist with post-Waldo Canyon fire and flood mitigation.  It also underscores how important it has been to work working alongside the Larimer County Commissioners, Colorado Counties, Inc., the Colorado Municipal League and the National Association of Counties. I wanted to share with you, a press release that was recently distributed on behalf of the Coalition.  I'll continue to voice my support for needed mitigation dollars and champion healthy forest initiatives that seek to manage our forests and resources more wisely, in order to prevent future fires like the Waldo Canyon (El Paso County) and High Park (Larimer County). Many thanks to our Colorado Congressional delegation members from both the U.S. House and Senate who have worked so hard to make these EWP funds available to our state.

 -Sallie Clark, El Paso County Commissioner District 3, Colorado
Regional Coalition – Funding for Wildfire Recovery and Flood Prevention Group Praises Efforts of Unified Colorado Congressional Delegation

Colorado Springs, CO, March 21, 2013 – Final Congressional approval of $65.5 million for watershed repair and flood mitigation projects in several states means the critical funding is now included in legislation sent to the President for his signature. Members of the Regional Coalition for Strategic Federal Action have been in constant contact with Colorado’s Congressional delegation for months in an effort to secure $17.6 million in additional federal funds for mitigation projects in El Paso and Larimer counties.  The Waldo Canyon Fire in El Paso County and the High Park Fire in Larimer have dramatically increased the risk of flash flooding this spring and summer.

“Members of Coalition could not be more encouraged by this great news for our friends and neighbors most impacted by the Waldo Canyon fire,” said Stephannie Finley of UCCS who serves as coordinator for the coalition.  “Our community came together and worked tirelessly with members of the Colorado Congressional delegation and our Colorado Congressional delegation pulled together in a wonderfully bi-partisan way.   In addition we forged a valuable partnership with Larimer County resulting in an effective Front Range coalition for Colorado.”   Members of the Coalition also noted the exceptional leadership of Commissioner Sallie Clark, Mayor Steve Bach, and Councilman Val Snider in securing this badly needed funding.

The U.S. Forest Service, State of Colorado, El Paso County, City of Colorado Springs Colorado Springs Utilities and volunteers from the Coalition for the Upper South Platte have funded assessments and initial design work to identify erosion control, detention and drainage channel improvements which are critical to reduce the risk of large scale mudslides and flash flooding.  Some of the most urgently needed projects have already been completed.

El Paso County continues to work with private landowners, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), School District 14 and others to protect the City of Manitou Springs and Highway 24 West from significant erosion and flooding issues which also threaten lives and property in the Ute Pass areas of Chipita Park and Cascade.

The City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities have identified projects needed to reduce flooding, sedimentation and debris flow impacts Colorado Springs municipal water supply.  Facilities to collect, store and transport raw drinking water for approximately 70% of city residents were severely impacted by flooding which occurred during a typical summer rain a few weeks after the fire was brought under control.

The money can also be used for qualified flood control projects on private lands and to protect significant structures such as Glen Eyrie Castle and the Flying W Ranch.

Once the bill has been signed by the President, the funds will be transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture which administers Emergency Watershed Protection funds.  It is estimated that the funds could be available for already approved mitigation projects in El Paso County about three weeks after it is approved by the President.

The Regional Coalition for Strategic Federal Action is a group comprised of 12 private & public organizations working with the Washington lobbying firm of Mehlman, Vogel & Castignatti to address high priority issues for all residents of El Paso County. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Federal Sequestration: Cutting some programs won't result in real savings

Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments

by Sallie Clark, 2011-2012 Chair of Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments and Guy Dutra-Silveira, Director of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging

The headlines are full of dire warnings about what will happen if sequestration — across-the-board spending cuts to domestic and military programs — is triggered by the failure of Congress and the President to reach a bipartisan budget compromise by the end of the year. With the 11th hour fast approaching, we can only hope that in the scramble to crunch the numbers, our leaders don’t lose sight of the fact that every program cut will not necessarily produce a cost-savings.

Cuts in discretionary spending for programs that support our seniors and caregivers will actually drive up spending on the flip side. Mandated under the Older Americans Act, these vital programs include services for people over the age of 60 that enable them to continue to live largely independent lives within their communities.

Services provided include home-delivered meals, transportation, help with home safety improvements and classes designed to promote health. With the help of these resources, older Americans are able to take care of themselves longer, and in so doing, delay or eliminate the need to live in costly nursing homes or assisted living facilities. This is a cost that often falls to federal and state government — and thereby the taxpayer — through the Medicaid program. Let’s make fiscal sense. Continue to fund programs that allow an aging parent or friend to live an independent life at a relatively affordable cost of $200-$700 per month, rather than spending between $2,000-$7,000 per month for care in a facility.

Some would say that it is the responsibility of families and friends to shoulder the burden alone. But as anyone who has served as a caregiver for an aging parent knows too well, this care comes at a great personal and monetary cost. Caregivers— particularly women — provide over 75 percent of care giving support in the United States. In 2007, the estimated economic value of family caregivers’ unpaid contributions was at least $375 billion. Unpaid caregivers personally lose about $659,139 over a lifetime: $25,494 in Social Security benefits; $67,202 in pension benefits; and $566,443 in forgone wages. This heavy financial burden impacts their families, their children, the business for whom they work and the amount of taxes they pay.

Given the crucial role that families and friends play in caring for seniors, programs that provide caregiver support are essential to keep these individuals healthy, engaged and effective. These services make it possible for a family member to run personal errands, attend their child’s sporting event, or receive counseling to help them make informed decisions about a parent’s medical or financial future. In other words, these programs allow caregivers to continue to thrive in their multiple roles as parents, spouses, friends and employees.

Bottom-line, these programs don’t just support the elderly and the family and friends who given them care. They are strategically designed using a common sense approach which reduces both private and public health care costs while increasing the quality of life for seniors.

View the 2012 PPACG Annual Report YouTube Video (below) to learn more about the many ways in which the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments impacts our community.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Why Counties Matter" focus of national DC conference

Commissioner Sallie Clark joined more than 1,500 county officials to participate in 2013 NACo Legislative Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. – National Association of Counties delivered a strong Why Counties Matter message to Capitol Hill during the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) 2013 Legislative Conference, March 2-6, in Washington, D.C.

I was able to meet with leaders on Capitol Hill to discuss Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) and its importance to Colorado and the nation to deal with post disaster mitigation efforts, especially important to El Paso County after last summer's Waldo Canyon Fire and concerns of future flooding.

With talk of fiscal cliffs and sequestration cuts dominating the headlines, more than1,500 county officials from across the country gathered in the nation’s capital to demonstrate to Congress and federal officials that the nation’s 3,069 county governments provide the essential building blocks to create healthy, vibrant and safe communities. This includes supporting and maintaining key public infrastructure, transportation and economic development assets; creating and sustaining a skilled workforce to meet the needs of private industry; ensuring public health and public safety needs to protect the public; and implementing a broad portfolio of federal, state and local programs in a cost-effective and accountable manner.

Women of NACo Board with
Congresswoman Michelle
Lujan Grisham from NM
Our message to Washington was to stop making it more difficult for county government to provide for our communities -- work with us. Congressional leaders needed to hear us say that despite a slow-recovering economy and the revenue challenges affecting all levels of government, counties are mandated by state constitution and federal law to provide essential services, and we do that every day. Counties are the foundation for which citizen services are provided. We're the safety net in our communities.

Commissioner Sallie Clark serves as the chair of the Court Subcommitee for NACo's Justice and Public Safety Committee and is a member of the following NACo Committees:

  • Justice and Public Safety
  • Membership
  • Veterans and Military Services
  • Arts and Culture
  • Membership
  • Programs and Services
  • CyberSecurity Task Force
  • Board of Directors
  • Women of NACo 1st Vice President

During the conference, NACo leadership and members met with dozens key Congressional and House and Senate committee offices on to deliver the Why Counties Matter message in person and offer to work collaboratively with their federal partners to meet the needs of the American people. Important federal issues affecting counties and communities discussed included: preserving the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds, replacing the sequestration -- or across the board budget cuts and protecting the federal-state-local partnership for Medicaid.

Colorado Commissioners meet
with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet
to discuss county concerns
NACo President Chris Rodgers, commissioner, Douglas County, Neb., said counties are important because the programs and services provided by counties touch the lives of virtually every American.

More than 2,900 counties own a jail or participate in a regional jail and admit nearly 12 million people each year. Counties provide public health services, including flu shots and restaurant inspections through 1,947 health departments. Counties own and maintain 44 percent of America’s roadways and 228,026 bridges and almost one third of the nation’s transit systems and airports. Counties respond to all disasters and in most cases without assistance from other levels of governments. Counties run the nation’s polling places to keep our democracy strong. Counties own 964 hospitals and spend $68 billion on health care services annually.

“If you vote, drive to work, take the bus, get a flu shot, visit the library, go to the hospital, eat at a restaurant, play in the park, recycle, or call 911– you are interacting with your county government,” Rodgers said.

Commissioner Clark with
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu
at the Louisiana Caucus Meeting
Also during the Legislative Conference, participating county officials heard from national leaders on issues important to counties and communities, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), journalist and author Bob Woodward and economist Mark M. Zandi. See summaries of their remarks below.

In addition to carrying the county government message to Capitol Hill, county officials participated in a variety of educational workshops.

At the conference, NACo also released a short video, Why Counties Matter, which shows many of the services counties deliver to communities. The video and infographic is available to view at:

County News coverage of 2013 Legislative Conference speakers is available at:,-2013-Legislative-Conference.aspx

The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,069 counties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public's understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. For more information about NACo, visit

2013 Legislative Conference

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
Holder thanked NACo President Chris Rodgers and other county leaders for pursuing smart justice initiatives in their communities. He detailed how many grants the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded to county governments for re-entry programs. The sequester will cost DOJ $1.6 billion over seven months with grants to local governments taking a $100 million hit.

NACo 1st Vice President
Linda Langston with
Commissioner Clark and
USDA SecretaryTom Vilsack
Sec. Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Vilsack highlighted the effects of sequestration on rural America and the need for a new farm bill. He called the sequester “bad policy” but said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will try to minimize disruption in its implementation of funding and program cuts. “It is a difficult, horrible process but it is the law,” Vilsack said. One of his major concerns is food inspection. He said “front-line” and support staff account for 87 percent of USDA’s food safety inspection budget. “There is no way, based on how the sequester is structured, that I can avoid furloughing food safety inspectors.” On the farm bill, Vilsack urged NACo members to use their Capitol Hill visits to discuss the “importance of getting this bill done.”

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Senate Republican Conference Vice Chair
Blunt gave the opening general session a self-effacing assessment of Congress’ performance leading up to the implementation of sequestration. The first-term senator served seven terms in the House of Representatives and started his political career with 12 years as the Greene County, Mo. clerk. “The last time the United States Senate passed a budget, nobody had an iPad,” he said. “The continuing resolution, that’s something most of you wouldn’t try to get away with where you work .” He welcomed the budget cuts that have been part of sequestration. “We’re appropriating more money than the law says we’re allowed to spend,” he said. The key to keeping that under control, he said was recognizing what level of government is best equipped to handle a problem. “The common sense solution comes from the level of government that’s closest to the problem,” he said.

Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho)
Risch decried the federal spending problem that he saw as a symptom of Congress’s distance from the taxpayers. “There’s a cavalier attitude about money. I don’t get it,” he said. “This isn’t Las Vegas, this isn’t make-believe money, it’s real money.” He said there was no proposal being debated in Congress that he felt could control spending. “The solutions are too common sense,” he said. “Congress is not designed to handle these things, he said. “It will rise to the occasion in a crisis, though.” He suggested a modest 1 percent decrease in spending over several years to return the federal budget to balance. “We can ease our way out of this, but it’s not likely going to happen,” he said, because the federal budget process is accustomed to growing. He compared the U.S. debt crisis to Greece’s with two main caveats — the U.S. is larger and can’t be bailed out by the rest of Europe, and the U.S. credit limit is higher.

Bob Woodward, Associate Editor, The Washington Post
Woodward shared his views on Washington through the prism of his 40 years of covering U.S. presidents. “If we were to spend time asking what we should worry about most in this country… my answer to the question is secret government,” he said. "Nixon tried it, and there’s an increasing tendency toward secrecy in the current White House."

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.)
Terry spoke to the need for expanded broadband Internet access when he addressed the general session. “The digital divide in rural areas is truly a lack of infrastructure,” he said. “It’s difficult to incentivize businesses to spend millions of dollars to bring infrastructure to a few people. We need to acknowledge there’s a divide between rich districts and those experiencing poverty.” He said part of the solution for expanding access in rural areas would be to equip more community centers with state-of-the-art technology. Terry cited his local cable provider’s success in expanding broadband access for children. “Those children who start using computers, their parents learn along with them,” he said.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

El Paso County Reaches Out to Veterans and Military Familes

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the 50th Anniversary of the The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) dinner with my husband, Welling Clark. In addition to being presented with a challenge coin and a certificate of appreciation, I was able to share with those in attendance, the work we are doing in El Paso County and the Pikes Peak region to assist and support our military famlies and veterans. Here are just some of the efforts being made to offer the needed resources to our men and women in uniform who are serving and have served our country so admirably.

El Paso County is proud to be home to five military installations and we have many partnerships and programs in place to ensure that both our veterans and active duty members of the military (more than 75,000) are proud to call El Paso County home. Approximately 1/3 of our area's 640,000+ population is related to the military in some way.
The El Paso County Veteran's Services Office is the busiest and most productive County Veterans Services office in Colorado with more than 8,500 office visits in 2012.  It is a recognized leader in assisting residents of the State of Colorado who served honorably in any branch of the U.S. military as well as their families.  While the County Veteran's Services offices were established by Colorado State law, the Board of El Paso County Commissioners has a proven record of providing sufficient local funding (over $250,000/year) and staff support to keep this office among the top performing offices in the nation in terms of securing for local veterans and their families the benefits they have earned through military service.  In 2011 more than $350 million dollars was received by the veterans and dependents for disability and death payments.

The El Paso County Department of Human Services has a Child Support Program for members of the military. Through a federal grant child support staff works directly with Schriever and Peterson Air Force Bases, the Air Force Academy, and Fort Carson staff and service members to provide enhanced child support services to active duty service members and their families.  The El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS) also created the Child Welfare Military Unit which is specifically focused on collaborating with our local military installations to protect children in military families by providing appropriate services for military families.  About 7-10% of the referrals DHS receives involve an active duty member of the military. Through the forged relationships and consistency in caseworkers, DHS is better able to serve these military families, our national heroes, with the focus of protecting children and keeping the families intact. The military has also been an extremely active and critical partner in the "Not One More Child Coalition and Initiative" which I started and co-chair with 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May, in coordination with the Department of Human Services. Our primary goal is a proactive approach to child abuse prevention with the goal of not seeing one more child in El Paso County die due to abuse or neglect. We have developed a multifaceted program and educational video through this initiative.  

The 4th Judicial District which covers both El Paso and Teller counties, created a Veterans Court, which provides an alternative to incarceration for U.S. military veterans with trauma spectrum disorders who have been charged with a lower level felony.  With the permission of the 4th Judicial District Attorney's office, eligible veterans are moved from the traditional courtroom environment into the Veterans Court. Program participants agree to actively engage in treatment and counseling, make regular court appearances, and are carefully supervised. Program staff assists participating veterans in accessing mental health and or substance abuse treatment, and connect them to educational, housing, and employment resources.

The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) which encompasses El Paso, Teller and Park counties, continues to work with the region's military leadership and local jurisdictions to address the effects of such rapid growth on the surrounding community, including the development of the Fort Carson Regional Growth Plan, a comprehensive analysis of the broad range of impacts of ongoing growth and deployments and ensure quality of life in the region as Fort Carson’s population doubled over the last 7 years. Through PPACG, the region has the Network of Care for Service Members, Veterans and their Families.  This web site provides the military and veteran community with a one-stop source of information and referrals on a wide range of issues including housing, education, employment, and mental and physical health; traffic on this website has quadrupled since its launch in May 2011.  Following an assessment report that drilled down on the behavioral health, social services, employment and reintegration needs of active duty military, veterans and their families, PPACG, in partnership with the National Homeland Defense Foundation and many other entities in the region, established the Peak Military Care Network (PMCN) to provide an integrated system of care for military members, veterans, and their families. This coordinating effort ensures that all former and current members of the military and their families receive the highest standard of care for their behavioral health, social services and community integration needs.

  Partnerships between the El Paso County Commissioners, Sheriff and Fort Carson leadership were were thrilled to create the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex which opened just last month. The Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex is a joint project between the U.S. Army, El Paso County, the El Paso County Sheriff and the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.  The 400 acre site sits on Army land near Interstate 25 just off mile marker 132 and will be used as a training facility for our local law enforcement as well as a range for the public and military to enjoy.
The Pikes Peak Work Force Center administered through El Paso and Teller counties has six veteran employment specialists, all veterans themselves, on staff who assist veterans and transitioning service members in their job search. The Pikes Peak Work Force Center has trained more than 100 veterans over the last 12 months in high demand occupations through the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs, administered by the PPWFC.   The Pikes Peak Work Force Center delivers a federal job search workshop designed to educate veterans on special federal hiring authorities designed to make the hiring of veterans more attractive to federal agencies. Last year more than 6,000 veterans visited the PPWFC, and more than 5,000 were matched and referred to a job vacancy.   The Pikes Peak Work Force Center sponsors an annual “Hire Vets First” job fair every November around the Veterans Day holiday. The Pikes Peak Work Force Center collaborates with the military base transition offices at our local military bases, assisting our service members in their transition to the civilian workforce. The Pikes Peak Work Force Center regularly visits the Crawford House Homeless Veterans Shelter and provides employment assistance to our community’s homeless veterans.The Pikes Peak Work Force Center connects veterans with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, often through the El Paso County Veteran Service Office, so veterans can apply for health, education and disability benefits they may not be aware of but are entitled to receive.  

These are just some of the efforts we, as a region, do to reach out to our military, veterans and service member families. We will continue to serve those who protect our freedoms each and everyday.

*Commissioner Clark also serves on the National Association of Counties (NACo) Veterans and Military Services Committee and is a military wife of Navy veteran, Welling Clark.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Commissioner Sallie Clark participates in NACo Smart Justice Symposium

This week, I had the chance to build on my participation with National Association of Counties (NACo) and explored justice and public safety priorities such as juvenile justice reform, workforce development, jail population management and related jail heathcare issues at the 2013 Smart Justice Symposium, held Jan 31-Feb. 1.
Hosted by Los Angeles County, our NACo Justice and Public Safety (JPS) Committee discussed these critical priorities with justice and public safety experts from across the country and considered how county officials can best shape federal policies and funding levels to ensure that services for communities are efficient and effective.

Seven sessions were held over the two days addressing:
  • Latest innovations and successes on juvenile justice reform
  • Pretrial justice programs and how they can improved public safety and help counties better manage jail populations
  • Workforce development plan and strategies to curb recidivism
  • New national health care law and how it relates to county jail populations strategies to curb child sex trafficking
  • Relationships between counties and their state in the management of jail populations
The Smart Justice Symposium is part of NACo President Chris Rodgers' presidential Smart Justice initiative which aims to build knowledge and capacity for successful justice policies and practices among the nation's counties. It also provides a closer examination of the need for intergovernmental collaboration and public partnerships in an effort to create safer communities and spend taxpayer money more effectively.

The NACo Smart Justice Symposium builds on the focus of NACo's Justice and Public Safety platform and legislative agenda. The opportunity to hear directly from experts on many of the critical justice and public safety issues affecting counties across the country and the critical matters explored at the meeting will improve and enhance public safety in states and local communities.

In my role as NACo's JPS Court Subcommittee Chair, I participated in panel discussions and facilitated a workshop and conversation on pretrial services, offering alternative sentencing options that can help to reduce jail populations. In addition, along with our chair of the JPS Committee Nancy Schouweiler, Commissioner from Dakota County, MN, I was able to tour a portion of the Los Angeles County jail facility whose Sheriff's Department and County Supervisors are responsible for housing approximately 18,000 inmates at various locations with a budget of nearly $3 billion per year. LA Supervisor Don Knabe and Sheriff Lee Baca both presented at the Symposium.  To see a full agenda of the Smart Justice Symposium, visit

*Commissioner Clark serves on the NACo Justice and Public Safety Committee as the Court Subcommittee Chair.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Highway 24 West after the July 30th storm event post Waldo Canyon Fire
A collaborative effort which includes the Board of the El Paso County Commissioners has sent a letter to all members of the Colorado Congressional delegation urging them to support $19.8 million in requested funding for Colorado Emergency Watershed Protection. The Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Assistance legislation under consideration in the House of Representatives supports recovery for Super Storm Sandy but does not include funding for mitigation efforts in the disastrous Waldo Canyon and High Park wildfires in Colorado.

We have been working collectively behind the scenes to secure additional funding for fire mitigation. To date, El Paso County and Colorado Springs have received approximately 1.2 million in Emergency Watershed Protection dollars to fund necessary project and protect precious lives and properties in eminent danger of flooding post fire. But that amount is far short of the amount approved for our state and necessary for both Waldo Canyon and High Park restoration efforts to prevent and reduce future flooding due to the burn scar areas. Be assured that there is a collaborative effort in communicating our local concerns to both our State and Congressional delegation.

The letter highlights urgent needs in areas affected by the Waldo Canyon burn scar including:

*El Paso County is working with private landowners, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), School District 14 and others to protect the City of Manitou Springs and Highway 24 West from significant erosion and flooding issues which also threaten lives and property in the Ute Pass areas of Chipita Park and Cascade.

*The City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities need additional funding to reduce flooding, sedimentation and debris flow impacts on facilities critical to collecting, storing and conveying raw drinking water to approximately 70% of city residents.

*Additionally, the Navigators and Flying W Ranch need additional funds to protect public and private facilities, including significant historic structures such as Glen Eyrie Castle.
If EWP funding for the Colorado wildfire recovery not included by amendment to Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Assistance the process will become much more difficult and the outcome more uncertain.

In addition to the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, the Colorado Springs Mayor’s Office, Colorado Springs City Council, Regional Business Alliance, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Larimer County Commissioners, City of Greeley, Town of Green Mountain Falls, City of Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Counties Inc., and the Colorado Municipal League are all signatories on the letter.