Rain, summer events come to life in the 59th District


After our poor winter snowpack, continued drought in the spring, and fires around the state, we were excited to see the beginning of our monsoon season starting in late June.

Having spent most of May and June traveling around the 59th District conducting town hall meetings, Barbara and I decided to just relax and enjoy the beauty of the Western Slope in July. We traveled to Gunnison for the Cattlemen’s Days parade and had a short visit with former Lt. Gov. Mike Callihan and his wife, Deborah. Although the Blue Mesa reservoir is low, we were pleased to see the runoff of the Gunnison, and rain followed us over Coalbank, Molas, and Red Mountain passes.

When Wolf Creek Pass was closed due to the fires, the people of Pagosa Springs were worried about how it would impact their tourist season. We decided to help out by spending a day there, enjoying lunch and then heading to see the very funny play “Spamalot” at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. It was a beautiful venue with an appreciative audience, talented actors and very helpful employees. We joined the town in celebration as the pass reopened and tourists returned.

I have returned to Pagosa three times since then.

During one visit, I met with the Republican Women for a discussion about the bills passed in the legislature this year.

On another trip I attended “Colorado’s Moment,” a symposium sponsored by Pagosa Verde, a geothermal development project engineered by Pagosa local Jerry Smith, where I learned a great deal about the opportunities geothermal energy can provide throughout the district. As Smith explained, geothermal uses the earth’s heat to generate energy and is a clean, cost-effective, and non-weather-dependent source of power. The conference was attended by local and international industry experts, including local biomass advocate JR Ford, who addressed the scientific, economic, and environmental aspects of geothermal use and renewable energy. I hope to sponsor legislation next session to create incentives for the use of this exciting renewable energy resource in Colorado.

Finally, we enjoyed attending the 4-H exhibits and kids’ rodeo at the Archuleta County Fair.

In Durango, we have enjoyed exploring our home town by attending the comical play “39 Steps,” put on by Merely Players, meeting the people who grow our food at the farmer’s market, walking on the Animas River Trail, seeing our friends and neighbors at the La Plata County Fair and shopping downtown. I look forward to taking my fishing pole to the Animas, then heading off to Lake City for hiking and fly fishing. We were in Silverton for the Great Western Brass Band Festival at the new Silverton School, and we also hope to see the Bar D Wranglers before they close for the season. Finally, no year would be complete without a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad — but that can wait until the fall colors.

I have enjoyed exploring the far reaches of the district this summer — it is such a beautiful area, and it offers so much variety. The greatest asset of the 59th district is our community, a diverse mix of people who were born here, moved here many years ago, or who come from other parts of the country and have made southwestern Colorado their home. I have lived in this district for 39 years, and continue to feel excited about its future and the future of Colorado.

In other news, two of the bills I sponsored went into effect last week.

SB 246 addresses the problem of poor access to healthcare in rural areas by creating rural family medicine residency programs, which will help retain and recruit doctors to areas like southwestern Colorado.

HB 1232, which also went into effect last week, provides free fishing licenses for wounded active-duty military members in the Warrior Transition Battalion. This will provide another rehabilitating outlet for soldiers who return from war with mental and physical injuries.

As always, I am honored to be your state representative and look forward to continuing to serve all of the citizens of this bountiful district.