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Huerfano County seeks change in work force region

by Larry Patrick
HUERFANO/ LAS ANIMAS- The Huerfano County Commissioners are seeking to align themselves with the southeast region of Labor & Employment instead of the south-central region they have been with for a number of years. A meeting was held with the Las Animas County Commissioners on Monday and with representatives from the State of Colorado to discuss the change.
Las Animas County is already prepared to switch to the southeast region on July 1st. With so many similarities of the two counties, Huerfano County also opted to make a change but will need to get approval from the governor’s office. Both counties feel they have more geographical, social and economic likeness with such counties as Otero, Prowers, Bent and Baca to the east than with those in the San Luis Valley to the west.
If approved, the southeast region would consist of 8 counties and the south-central would drop to 6, a flip-flop in the numbers they have now. Stephanie Steffens, Peggy Herbertson and Betty Velasquez of the state of Colorado felt there should be little problem in making the transition since the financial numbers and services won’t amount to a huge difference to affect either region.
Nine criteria need to be met for the move. Both Las Animas and Huerfano county commissioners plan to submit joint letters to the governor’s office outlining their similarities and benefits of moving to the SE region. Some of the criteria include consistency of the labor market and with secondary and post-secondary education services. Distances individuals need to travel for services is another consideration; coordination of multiple resources and quality services for employees and individuals are others.
Huerfano County Commissioner Scott King said that the two counties share the I-25 corridor and share resources with the health departments and Council of Governments. King said no one really goes from here to Alamosa for government services.
The Huerfano County Commissioners formalized their intentions at their Wednesday meeting this week. Dan Harper of Walsenburg would remain the county rep going from one region to the other if approved. It is hoped that Todd Oberheu of Walsenburg, the south-central rep can move into a similar position for the southeast region since an opening currently exists.
All those in attendance at the Monday meeting felt the change was fair, equitable and transparent. The governor’s office will make the final decision in the coming months.

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