San Miguel County Is 'Public Health Ready'
by Watch Staff
Feb 04, 2011 | 1339 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TELLURIDE – The San Miguel County Department of Health and Environment has been recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) for its ability to respond to public health emergencies, after meeting the comprehensive preparedness benchmarks required by Project Public Health Ready (PPHR), a partnership between NACCHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As Public Health Director, I must say that our county is extremely proud to have been recognized by Project Public Health Ready for our high level of preparedness,” said San Miguel County Public Health Director June Nepsky. “We will continue to improve our ability to quickly and effectively respond to any public health crisis in San Miguel County.”

San Miguel County Department of Health and Environment has met PPHR’s expectations in three key areas: preparedness planning, workforce competency and demonstration of all-hazards readiness through exercises or response to a real event.

“This honor reflects tremendous effort, dedication, creativity, and cooperation on the part of the entire team of experts on our Task Force, as well as on the part of my staff,” Nepsky said. “Special recognition is due also to our Emergency Preparedness and Pandemic Coordinator, Trisha VanHeltebrake, for her commitment to this project. Our community is taking a leadership role when it comes to emergency preparedness in public health.”

“The public health system is making great strides thanks to the good work of leaders such as June Nepsky in local public health preparedness,” NACCHO Executive Director Robert Pestronk said.

Local health departments recognized by PPHR are thoroughly evaluated and undergo a rigorous peer review. This recognition confirms that San Miguel County Department of Health and Environment has established an emergency response plan, that the plan is connected to other jurisdictional emergency response plans, that agency staff members are trained, and that the plan is exercised and used during public health emergencies.

The mission of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is to be a leader, partner, catalyst, and voice for local health departments in order to ensure the conditions that promote health and equity, combat disease, and improve the quality and length of all lives.

For more information on Project Public Health Ready, go to To contact San Miguel County Dept. of Health and Environment, call 728-4289 or email Nepsky at

Deadline Approaching for SMPA’s 2011 Scholarships

TRI-COUNTY REGION – San Miguel Power Association is once again offering scholarships to this year’s high school graduating class. Each year the co-op awards nine scholarships, totaling $14,000, to graduating seniors from across the region. To be eligible for consideration, applicants must attend school within SMPA’s service territory, be on schedule to graduate in 2011, and plan to attend a secondary education institution.

SMPA offers three different scholarships: A $2,000 San Miguel Power Association Scholarship is awarded to one graduating senior from each of the six high schools; a $500 Tri-State Scholarship is awarded to two graduating seniors; and a $1,000 Basin Electric Power Cooperative Scholarship is awarded to one graduating senior.

Applications are available online at In addition to the application, students must also supply an official transcript of grades, an essay of 250 to 500 words, and two letters of recommendation. They must also demonstrate community involvement and identify an intended course of study. Completed applications should be returned by Monday, Feb. 21 to: San Miguel Power, Attn. Becky Mashburn, PO Box 1150, Ridgway, CO, 81432. Applications may also be sent electronically to For more information contact Becky at 970/626-5549 ext. 212.

Bright Futures Announces Tax Credits Outreach Campaign

COLORADO – Bright Futures for Early Childhood and Families is working with the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) to launch a tax credits outreach campaign to ensure that more low- and moderate-income families take advantage of available federal and state income tax credits.

“Eligible families could receive thousands of dollars from federal and state tax credits this year,” said Cathy James, Bright Futures Executive Director. “Families are facing incredible economic pressures, and can’t afford to leave this money on the table.”

Federal and state tax credits can help offset the cost of child care and other expenses for working families. For 2010, families may be eligible for a number of federal tax credits, including:

• Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps provide a wage supplement for low and moderate-income families (those earning less than $48,362 annually). This credit is worth up to $5,666, and is refundable.

• Child Tax Credit, designed to help families offset some of the costs of raising children. This credit is worth up to $1,000 per child. Families who owe little or no income tax can receive some or all of this credit as a refund if they earned at least $3,000 in 2010.

• Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, designed to offset some of the child or dependent care costs that families incur in order to work. This credit is worth up to $2,100, though the amount that can be claimed is limited by a family’s federal income tax liability.

• The Making Work Pay Credit, designed to increase families' take-home pay. This refundable credit is worth up to $800 for couples.

“These credits can help families in Colorado make ends meet, but they must file a tax return to claim the credits,” James said. “Our goal is to help more families learn about the benefits of these tax credits, so they don’t miss out.”

As part of the NWLC campaign, state childcare organizations, social service providers, and advocates will work to educate families about valuable federal and state tax benefits as well as the availability of free tax preparation assistance in their communities. The launch of the campaign coincides with Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, an effort of the Internal Revenue Service to inform the public about the Earned Income Tax Credit and the requirements to claim the credit.

NWLC has developed an online resource for parents and advocates with user-friendly fliers about both the federal credits and individual states’ tax provisions. Materials are available in Spanish and other languages. To learn more about federal and state tax credits, visit

Funds Available for Affordable Housing in Montrose

MONTROSE – The Montrose Association of REALTORS has announced it has funds available for qualified Montrose nonprofit organizations that provide housing services for moderate to low-income persons. Grant applications will be accepted through Tuesday, Feb. 15.

“The Montrose Association of REALTORS has $3,000 available for local housing projects,” said Kim Stone, local chairperson for the Colorado Association of REALTORS Housing Opportunity Foundation (CARHOF). “To date, the foundation has granted $7.2 million statewide to over 100 nonprofit and public agencies.”

CARHOF, a nonprofit foundation created by the Colorado Association of REALTORS, collects interest from earnest money held in home purchases. By law, brokers cannot earn interest on escrow trust accounts. With CARHOF, however, the interest can be collected and made available as grants supporting crisis shelters, affordable housing developments, down payment assistance programs and other housing-related projects. To be eligible for funds, organizations must be based in Colorado, have a housing-related mission, and be a nonprofit agency with a 501(c)3 status or a public agency.

For more information or a grant application, call Modene Gaulke at 249-6213.

Seniors’ Funding Agency Puts Out Request for Proposals

MONTROSE – New ideas and new proposals for services provided to local senior citizens are being welcomed by the Region 10 Area Agency on Aging (AAA), which acts as a funding source and coordinating agency for older adult services (60+) throughout a six-county (Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel) region.

“We have a program budget of $927,000 for the current year,” said AAA Director Lee Bartlett. “Our Request For Proposals is an annual process, and we are very excited to collaborate with individuals and organizations who may have new ideas and new ways of getting things done.”

AAA currently works with 13 contractors from the nonprofit, governmental and private sectors, he said. In 2010, AAA contractors provided 162, 974 units of service to local seniors in the areas of transportation, homemaking, legal assistance, information and assistance, dental prevention, congregate and home-delivered meals, nutrition education, ombudsman services, health promotion, and family caregiver services.

Proposals from individuals and entities seeking to provide services for the 2012 Fiscal Year (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012) are due at the Region 10 Area Agency on Aging, located at 300 North Cascade, Suite # 1, Montrose, CO 81401, by April 1, 2011.

AAA is dedicated to developing a network of services for adults age 60 and over to assist them in maintaining their independence within their communities. To learn more or to obtain a copy of the FY2012 Request for Proposals, contact Lee Bartlett or Michele Gad at 970/249-2436.

Forest Service Accepting Proposals for Title II Project Funding


DURANGO – Project proposals are again being accepted by the U.S. Forest Service for natural-resource projects that benefit lands and resources of the San Juan National Forest and the rural economies of Archuleta, Dolores, and La Plata counties. Project funding is available through the reauthorized Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which funds Title II projects on federal lands or that benefit federal lands. The legislation encourages individuals, nonprofit organizations, local governments and others to propose projects that restore watersheds, decommission or maintain roads and trails, remove noxious weeds, thin tree stands, or otherwise improve the condition of the National Forest.

Potential applicants are encouraged to coordinate Title II project proposals with their local San Juan National Forest office before submittal. The purposes of the Act include making investments and creating employment opportunities through special projects that improve the maintenance of existing infrastructure, implement stewardship objectives that enhance forest ecosystems, or restore and improve land health and water quality. Project proposals that meet the intent of the legislation will be reviewed by the San Juan National Forest Secure Rural Schools Advisory Committee (RAC) in September. The RAC will provide recommendations to the Forest Service on which projects should be funded. The RAC is made up of 15 citizen members and three replacement members representing a wide range of interests.

To be considered, project proposals must be received by close of business on Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, and may be mailed or hand-delivered to Bill Dunkelberger, San Juan Public Lands Deputy Forest Supervisor, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, CO 81301.

The Title II Project application form is available by going online to San Juan National Forest home page at:  On the right side of the page, click on Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act Title II Projects.

For more information, contact  Elysia Retzlaff at 385-1253.

St. Patricks Church Seeking Donations for Annual Auction

TELLURIDE – This year Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church will celebrate 115 years of existence in Telluride. The ebb and flow of the church life has in many ways reflected the ebb and flow of the Telluride community, from boom to bust.

For the past 32 years they have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, with their annual Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner/Auction. This is their largest fundraiser of the year and much of the money raised goes directly back into the community through the church’s many local outreach and assistance programs.

Anyone interested in donating items in support for the auction should contact Deacon Mike at 728-3387. Cash donations are also appreciated

Tri-County Health Network Has New Executive Director

TELLURIDE – After a nationwide search, Tri-County Health Network’s Board of Directors has announced Lynn Borup as its new Executive Director. TCHN is comprised of a group of health care providers in southwest Colorado within the counties of Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel, and includes: Montrose Memorial Hospital, the Basin Clinic, Uncompahgre Medical Center, Telluride Medical Center, Midwestern Colorado Mental Health Center, and the Local Health Initiative, a program of The Telluride Foundation. As TCHN’s Executive Director, Borup will be responsible for running the day to day operations of the Network to achieve its mission of coordinating and integrating services to improve the quality of healthcare and health outcomes at a lower cost to all persons who access the TCHN providers.

"I couldn't be happier that Lynn has accepted the position of Executive Director of the Tri-County Health Network,” said Gordon Reichard, TCHN boardmember. “I believe her unique set of skills and leadership will be critical in leading the TCHN to become a trendsetter for population health management, improving the quality of care, and providing a safety net insurance plan for the regional employed but uninsured population."

Borup is a healthcare executive with over 15 years of leadership roles in the nonprofit and for- profit arena working with healthcare providers and insurance companies. Her experience includes extensive work with hospitals, rural health clinics, Federally Qualified Health Clinics, medical directors, physicians, clinicians, and insurance companies. She is knowledgeable in the development and implementation of provider web-based applications, focused on improving provider communication and information technology development, while reducing cost of care. 

Borup brings over five years of experience as a vice president at Colorado Choice Health Plans, a non-profit community health plan that arranges for healthcare coverage in the most rural areas of Colorado. At Colorado Choices she expanded the Plan’s Commercial service area into 16 new rural counties, expanded Medicare Cost Plan licensure into nine new counties and introduced, launched and managed the operations of the Children’s Health Plan Plus (CHP+) program in 16 rural counties. Additional experience includes serving as the Network Services Director at WellPoint, the nation's largest health insurance company, based on membership, with over 33 million members and nine years as Chief Development and Compliance Officer at Inland Empire Health Plan, a public, not-for-profit Medicaid health plan serving over 450,000 members.

 The Tri-County Health Network will initially assist the Network members to complete connectivity to the regional health information exchange hosted by the Quality Health Network in Grand Junction. QHN has been recognized in Colorado and nationally as one of the leaders in health information exchange resulting in some the best healthcare outcomes and the lowest cost in the nation. In addition to the health information exchange launch, Borup will lead the development of a regional electronic disease registry which will allow Network members to share outcomes and compare health information across the Network.

“I am honored to have been chosen to help lead TCHN through the initial phase and beyond in meeting the healthcare needs of the Tri-County region,” said Borup.  “And believe we can successfully position TCHN as the model for rural healthcare reform.”

The tri-county area is an officially designated “Health Professional Shortage Area.”  All of the Network members are nonprofit organizations with unique designations; three of the participating clinics are classified as true “Frontier Clinics,” serving remote Western Slope rural populations with no alternative health care services within a 100 mile radius and a population density of 4 people per square mile; the Uncompahgre Clinic is classified as a Federally Qualified Health Center, which provides medical services to persons of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay. Colorado and Telluride state healthcare experts refer to the Basin Medical Clinic as the most rural medical clinic in the state. Previous to the creation of TCHN, the Network members did not have a collaborative working relationship. Consequently, numerous gaps in coverage and scope of services existed. The Network members agreed to participate in a planning process to develop an integrated delivery structure, coordinate care utilizing existing services, and expand services to address unmet needs. 

For more information on TCHN, contact the Telluride Foundation at 970/728-8717.


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