Big Timbers Community Alliance Goals Detailed at PEP Meeting



George Gotto, Monette Sutphin and Craig Loveless, chairman of the Alliance, detailed the goal of the organization during the monthly board meeting of Prowers Economic Prosperity, PEP, Tuesday, October 2nd.

The Alliance is the third in a series of health oriented, grant funded, community organizations which conducted studies on local health needs, mostly through nutrition programs such as LiveWell Prowers County and Healthy Places. The Alliance is more broad-based in scope and membership, not just limited to Prowers Medical Center, High Plains Community Health, Southeast Health or the services of Prowers County Public Health.

Gotto said that funding is required to move the programs forward, local participation is the key to making the program a success. “The Alliance works with the Family Leadership Training Institute and was chosen to send members to New York as part of the National Parent Leadership Institute.  We’ve established a Thriving Colorado Dashboard website which measures our progress in four areas and we’ve trained about 100 young persons through the FLTI program to become active in the community and they’re looking for areas in which to participate with some running for office or others are joining non-profit groups through which to make contributions.”  He said funding is an issue, but it’s more important to have community buy-in where residents are taking the time to show up to assist in the various programs.

Monette Sutphin currently programs the Dashboard, even though funding for her position has expired, but she told the PEP board she will continue to help input and collate information pertaining to a healthier lifestyle for Prowers County residents. “The information gathered in the Dashboard can be used to help develop a profile that can also be used for economic development,” she explained.

Loveless, CEO of Prowers Medical Center, offered examples of how community members can work together to alleviate health oriented problems when communication lines are expanded among various parties. One pertained to a woman who checked in to a New Jersey hospital over 300 times in the course of a year until it was determined that her health issues stemmed from being homeless.  A residence was found for her and ultimately a situation that was costing over $1M a year in ER treatment was resolved.

He explained that changes in Medicaid and Medicare are requiring varying levels of community involvement in health programs in order to qualify for continued funding for local medical facilities. He said this is an area which will require community input so as not to lose any coverage that has been developed through the Alliance and other programs.

PEP board member, Brenda May of TBK Bank said more efforts are needed to expand community awareness of the Alliance program and not just to health treatment facilities. Loveless added a meeting will be held October 26th and will be attended by the President of Colorado Rural Health Center who can offer insights on future steps that could assist the Alliance.

In other PEP news, the Treasurer’s report was tabled until the November meeting. President Aaron Leiker suggested that the board sent out a request for proposal to local accountants to handle the financial books for the organization.  He proposed that a budget and audit committee begin to work on the 2019 budget and another committee develop a board member and employee policy guide.  Leiker also suggested the board set a date for a strategic planning session during which the suggestions for the development of PEP, made by PUMA representatives three years ago, would be reviewed

Board members voted in favor of letters of support for several initiatives appearing on the November ballot including Proposition 110 for a statewide tax which will provide funding for road development including rural areas and for local questions 1A and 4A pertaining to an ambulance tax and a mill levy to help fund a grant for local school infrastructure improvements.

The board also approved a $1,000 donation from general funds to Ogallala Commons which will host a student entrepreneurship seminar in Lamar this November. Thereafter, the board will seek local donations for continued funding in subsequent years.  The next scheduled board meeting is November 6th.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyFeaturedHealthSchoolTransportation


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