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Syrian refugees in Huerfano?

WALSENBURG— From small ideas, sometimes great things can come. Two local women, Dale Lyons and Hosanna Fox, talked with the Huerfano County commissioners on Tuesday about the possibility of helping Syrian refugees fleeing that country’s civil war, resettle here in southern Colorado. There are currently 10 million refugees fleeing the war zone, which amounts to 50 families an hour. The Obama administration has announced it expects to take in up to 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year, and is looking for communities in which to place them. Lyons said many of these people were the Syrian middle-class business owners, teachers, and educated people who have been forced from their homes. Lyons wasn’t asking for anything from the commissioners others than being open to the idea of having them come here, and assisting with an exploratory committee. The commissioners sat for a moment after the presentation, and then Max Vezzani said, “Wow, this is an entirely different world for us.” “Of course we have compassion,” he continued, “but where do we start with this? Will these people get on our welfare rolls? Wil

l they be hosted by families? We don’t have many jobs here as it is.” Lyons admitted she did not have the answers, which is why she wants to create an exploratory committee. “This might not be a realistic goal; I’m aware of that,” she said. Chairman Ray Garcia summed it up with, “Bring us more information.” In other business, James Williams of Invenergy asked the commissioners to grant a transfer of a conditional use permit for the Cordova wind project, a wind turbine farm located in eastern Huerfano county, by the existing Busch ranch wind farm. Invenergy wants to change up the route of its power cables to a closer substation, nine miles instead of 18 miles. “Lower cost and less impact,” Williams said. The 60 megawatt project is before the Public Utilities Commission, and is waiting for their green light. 34 turbines are slated to be built along the Huerfano/Las Animas county line, with up to 20 on the Huerfano side. The commissioners agreed, provided Invenergy establish a $74,000 community development agreement. “We’re a county of 6,500 people, and a great many are on food stamps and medicaid. We need help where we can get it,” said Vezzani. Williams appeared unfazed by the request. If approved, the project is slated to be completed by the end of next year. Finally, the commissioners presented a plaque of appreciation for 32 years of service to Joleen Musilli, who recently retired from the county treasurer’s office.