By Darrell Arnold
LA VETA- With an inspiring outpouring of love and generosity, the citizens of La Veta and the surrounding area convened at Sammie’s Restaurant last Saturday night for an old-fashioned, pot-luck dinner and dance in support of Dr. William Cluff, whose La Veta Clinic is facing serious financial difficulties.
Dr. Cluff has served as a family-practice physician in Huerfano County for nearly 20 years working through the Spanish Peaks Regional Health and the La Veta Clinic, which he established in 1997. Crushing malpractice insurance costs of almost $40,000 per year and lagging Medicaid reimbursements have forced Dr. Cluff’s business into near foreclosure.
If the clinic were to close, Dr. Cluff’s patients, most of them elderly, would face real challenges in getting to other, far less convenient, sources of medical treatment.
Facing the thought of losing their clinic and beloved local doctor, the people of La Veta rallied and staged the Saturday night fund-raiser. Close to 200 people, ranging in age from two to 96 and representing a cross-section of the community’s social, occupational, religious, and political persuasions, settled in for a fantastic evening of feasting, fellowship, camaraderie, music, and dancing.
Many supporters contributed quality items to an entertaining silent auction that generated nearly $4,000, and many others donated more than $8,000 to the Bill Cluff Fund. This fund has been set up at the La Veta branch office of the Community Banks of Colorado, and any and all area citizens are encouraged to make additional donations.
Wrapping up an emotional speech of appreciation during which he thanked the community for their heart-felt efforts on his behalf, Dr. Cluff generated a rafter-shattering, crowd-wide cheer when he declared, "I’m not going anywhere."
Thanks go out to all those who attended, brought food, and donated auction items and money. Thanks too, to those who contributed time, effort, and music in staging the event Pat McMahon, Kristi Arnold, Brent and Babs Seawell, Johnny Watson, Fred James and Mary-Ann Brandon, and the band the Taints, with Fred James, Steve Hohn, "Fingers" Farrell, and Lenny Campanero.
Also, a great big thank you very much to Dave and Sandra Molyneux for generously donating Sammie’s Restaurant as the venue.