Southeast Colorado Opioid Region 19 holds press conference June 12, 2024

SECOR board members and other representatives from the 9 counties comprising SECOR 19

A press conference was held June 12, 2024 at the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office by The Southeast Colorado Opioid Region 19 (SECOR) to announce 2024 funding and the new universal site for public information about resources available to fight the opioid epidemic. Prowers County Commissioner Wendy Buxton-Andrade serves as Chairman for SECOR, which represents 9 southeast Colorado counties which make up SECOR Region 19.  Counties in the region include Baca, Bent, Crowley, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers and Pueblo.

Over two years ago, the Colorado Attorney General’s office was part of a national lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies accused of willfully fueling the opiate crisis.  As a result of the lawsuit, each state was awarded Opioid Settlement Funds.  The Colorado AG worked with local governments to develop regions in which the funds would be distributed.  SECOR has a governing board who decide how and where the funds will be spent.  In addition to Buxton-Andrade, other board members present for the press conference were: Meagan Hillman, Director of Health representing Kiowa County; Felix Lopez (Vice-Chairman), Las Animas County Commissioner; Rob Oquist, Otero County Commissioner; Terry McMillian & Blaine Arbuthnot, Crowley County Commissioners, and Steve Bryan, Pueblo County Undersheriff.

SECOR 19 board members attending press conference. Left to right:  Terry McMillian (Crowley County Commissioner), Rob Oquist (Otero County Commissioner), Megan Hillman (Director of Health representing Kiowa County), Wendy Buxton-Andrade (Prowers County Commissioner and Chairman), Felix Lopez (Las Animas County Commissioner and Vice-Chairman), Blaine Arbuthnot (Crowley County Commissioner).  At far right is Rose Pugliese, attorney and facilitator for Region 19.

Buxton-Andrade opened the press conference by thanking everyone for coming and introducing the board members who were present.  She also recognized the many providers in attendance, who all work in the field of drug recovery, law enforcement and health care.  She told the audience that when SECOR was formed, everyone on the board agreed on one fundamental goal – to ensure that the money reaches the most affected by the crisis, to ensure that information is easily accessible to those in need and to let those people know that help is available when it is needed.  In the first year, $1.4M  was awarded to SECOR  to be used for projects serving education, prevention, criminal justice, rehabilitation, treatment and harm reduction. This year’s allocation is $4.6M.  The total allocations to the state over 18 years is anticipated to be $467 million.  “We are proud of the millions of dollars that have been invested in community programs benefiting all of our counties within Region 19” she said.

Vice-Chairman Lopez spoke next, reiterating that SECOR 19 had an original goal to make sure the money is used for the people suffering, rather than go to administrative costs.  He said that Region 19 is one of the most-impacted areas in the state and that it vows to use the money to help find solutions for families going through the challenge, stating that with drug addiction, not just the addicts are affected, but also the families and extended families.  He said that individual counties can’t do it alone, but when they partner and collaborate, there is a much better ability to attain the intended results.   He wanted to thank two individuals not on the board but equally invaluable to the cause – Rose Pugliese, Colorado State Representative and Minority Leader and Ty Winter, Colorado State Representative and Assistant Minority Leader, both of whom were in attendance at the press conference.  Undersheriff Bryant spoke of how the opioid epidemic has had devastating and far-reaching effects on individuals, families and communities and that children are particularly vulnerable because of this.  As a result of the epidemic, crime rates have been fueled, putting extra burden on the criminal justice system.

Also speaking were representatives of several local agencies that have benefited from the funds, including Crossroads, Safeside Recovery, Health Solutions, and Southern Colorado Health Network.  As an example of how the funds distributed by SECOR has helped the communities it serves, Dr. Archuleta of Crossroads Turning Points, spoke of how they have been able to expand their services using an evidence-based program and open a recovery residence for men.  Rob Miller with Safeside said they were able to buy a van to help the people on the street, bringing life-saving supplies, and the ability to transport to medical facilities if needed.  His group is unique in that all of their staff have lived experience with addiction, homelessness, incarceration, human trafficking and/or family estrangement.  Terri Schreiber with Schreiber Resource Group presented data showing that per the Colorado Department of Health, Region 19 is among the highest in the state for overdose death rates (47% higher than state average), particularly in Pueblo, Huerfano and Las Animas counties

Ms. Buxton-Andrade ended the press conference by saying “As you can see, this is a labor of love for a lot of us. We want second chances for these individuals that need our help – people who deserve a second chance and deserve to be back in our communities”.   She then displayed one of the new business cards that will be available to all law enforcement agencies and health care/recovery personnel to hand out.  The cards have a QR code on the back that links to the SECOR 19 website and the listing of help that is available to those struggling with substance misuse as well as for providers needing funding for services.

For more information on SECOR 19, visit their website at

By: Barbara Crimond







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