La Plata's Uncharted Progress: Beyond City Limits

February 12, 2024

Ever wondered about the impactful work behind the scenes at La Plata County? Explore the heart of our community with Ted Holteen, the Public and Governmental Affairs Manager. La Plata County, spanning unincorporated areas outside Ignacio, Bayfield, Durango, and the Southern Ute Tribe Reservation, is actively engaged in diverse projects. From funding initiatives for affordable housing to enhancing road infrastructure, the county is dedicated to fostering a thriving community. By Sadie Smith. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank.

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Hi, I'm Eric Eicher, employee-owner and president of Alpine Bank Durango. At Alpine Bank, we believe in the power of community and connecting you with the resources you need to work, live, and play in our community. I hope you enjoy this edition of "Community Insights."

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at La Plata County? Join us as we dive into the heart and soul of this community with La Plata County Public and Governmental Affairs Manager, Ted Holteen. After nearly three decades as a local resident and three years in his current role, Ted is a passionate advocate and spokesperson for all of the incredible work happening right here in La Plata County.

Perhaps I'm a bit biased as someone who lives in La Plata County and has for quite some time. And yes, I work for the government of La Plata County. But biased or not, I believe La Plata County is one of the greatest places in the United States to live.

However, that doesn't come without all the hard work going on behind the scenes. La Plata County is continuously working on a number of projects for the betterment of the community. It's important to note that La Plata County includes the unincorporated areas, which consist of all the land outside the cities and towns of Ignacio, Bayfield, Durango, and the Southern Ute Tribe Reservation.

There are just so many different departments working for the people of La Plata County. It's from our senior center, our senior services. We provide meals in Bayfield and here in Durango, and we do Meals on Wheels throughout La Plata County. There's also transportation transit for our seniors. And again, that's something else. All of this can be found again on the La Plata County website.

La Plata County recently established a dedicated public health department, a significant milestone that has expanded overall employee roles by about 25%. This move comes after San Juan Basin Public Health was dissolved by its board of directors last year. According to statute, the responsibility to provide public health services fell on the individual counties. The new public health department will encompass the broad spectrum of services previously provided by San Juan Basin Public Health. From rigorous restaurant inspections to onsite water testing and waste management, La Plata County's commitment to public health goes deep into the essentials that ensure the wellbeing of the community. One of the major projects La Plata County is focused on is housing and housing access. Affordable housing has been a huge challenge to tackle and has become a focal point for many local governments.

Affordable housing for our workforce is one of the top priorities for all local governments right now. We're no different at all. Certainly, our road and bridge, our infrastructure is challenging. Each year, things get very expensive, and we're very limited in our budget for our Road and Bridge Department, Public Works in general. But we have some wonderful people in those departments, and they really do incredible work given the resources that they have. Those really are a couple of the really big issues that we deal with here at the county on a day-to-day basis.

Addressing the challenge of affordable housing is not just about providing shelter, it's about sustaining a workforce that makes La Plata County the vibrant community that it is.

Also, again, back to affordable housing. It's one of the priorities for the Board of County Commissioners, and they have committed a lot of money this year to HomesFund, to the Regional Housing Alliance, to the purchase of the Adventure Inn for bridge housing, millions of dollars. And these are vital projects that will ensure that we have a workforce here in La Plata County. We all love to live and play here. A lot of us have to work here, too.

We're proud to present "Community Insights," powered by the Local NEWS Network and sponsored by Alpine Bank. With "Community Insights," our mission is to foster a stronger and more connected community in La Plata County and beyond. For more information about this and other stories, visit Thank you for watching this edition of "Community Insights." I'm Sadie Smith.


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