Several months ago the City of Cortez convened elected officials, citizens and staff to work on a plan to raise public awareness of water issues in our community and to begin brainstorming ways we can all work together to more wisely use this precious resource.
Our mission is “The conservation of water through advocacy, education, demonstration, and collaboration with citizens in the Montezuma Valley.” Our tagline: “Water Is Our Future!”
On April 11, the program was launched with a presentation at City Hall by Seth Arens, a climate scientist working with Western Water Assessment. He discussed the drought cycles we have been experiencing along with the gradual increase in temperature in this region and how that affects the amount of snowfall, snow melt, increased evaporation, and an increase in wildfires. The purpose was to raise awareness. The committee was pleased with the turn-out. If you missed this event, watch it on the city website. Click on the “City Council Live Stream” link – lower left corner of the homepage – then “Special Meetings in session.”
Residents in Cortez average 200 gallons of water per person per day (this includes landscaping consumption) so Marketing Director Jon Brooks assembled 40 five-gallon jugs to illustrate this. It is currently on display at the Rec Center. Drop by and take a look; it’s eye-opening!
The next water program will be given by Annie Barrow, manager of Horticulture Outreach Programs with the Denver Botanic Gardens. She will present “Water-Wise Landscaping” at City Hall on April 22 at 6:30 p.m., sharing ideas on plant selection and ways we can have beautiful landscapes while still being mindful of the water we use. David Temple, local resident and certified master arborist with over 40 years experience in our area, will conduct “Tree Selection for Water-Wise Landscaping” at Four Seasons Nursery on April 27, and on that same morning Vic Vanik, who has over 50 years experience in the horticulture industry, will hold his class “Grow Your Own Groceries.” He’ll discuss ways to grow your own fruits and vegetables while being water-wise.
Interested in adding shrubs to your landscape? Attend Ric Plese’s presentation “Shrubs for the High Desert” at Cliffrose Garden Center on May 9 at 6:30 p.m. Ric has a degree in horticulture with over 35 years in the field. Please call Cliffrose to reserve a space, 565-8994. There is no charge for these workshops.
“Water is our future” is a new tab on the city website, cityofcortez.com, and we hope citizens will check it frequently to learn about water-wise workshops and demonstrations, including demonstration garden locations, tips and links to information to help us all use our water more thoughtfully. For comments, questions or ideas on how to contribute to the “Water Is Our Future” effort, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With warmer weather, we will begin to see an uptick in the number of panhandlers in our community. We’ve already had a number of citizens contact city hall expressing their concern. While offering money may seen the compassionate thing to do, it is not, and you may in fact simply be enabling folks to purchase drugs or alcohol. Cortez is a giving community and has a number of programs in place to help folks who are down on their luck.
One of the oldest entities providing services is the Good Samaritan Center. Established decades ago by the faith-based community, the center provides food, hygiene, and baby supplies. In 2017, it served over 7,000 clients, with a third of those being children. You can visit its website, goodsamaritancortez.org, to make a donation or drop off non-perishables and frozen meats and fresh produce at their 25 S. Beech St. storefront. Kristen Tworek, executive director, can be reached at 565-6424 for additional information.
Though The Bridge Emergency Shelter will be closing April 28, it accepts donations year ’round. Visit at thebridgeshelter.org or call 565-9808 to visit with Laurie Knutson, executive director.
Lunches for those needing a meal are available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through Hope’s Kitchen at the Methodist Church, and Grace’s Kitchen at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They serve from noon to 1 p.m. A sandwich sack lunch is also available on Saturdays at St. Barnabas from noon to 12:30 p.m. Rather than a hand out, why not offer a hand up and share this information with those you would like to help? In addition, keep in mind that all of these organizations rely on donations and volunteer help, so there are many ways you can share and express your compassion for those in need.
In closing this month’s column, I’d like to remind everyone that the city’s annual Clean-Up Week will run May 6-11 with a Team Up 2 Clean Up Day on May 4. If you’re able, please meet with fellow citizens at the Parque de Vida Shelter at 9 a.m. Gloves, bags and lunch will be provided. For additional information, visit email@example.com. And a gentle reminder: If we would each make it a point to pick up that stray plastic bag, empty water bottle or other trash on our city streets, every day would become a clean-up day and our community would be more attractive.
Karen Sheek is the mayor of Cortez, a position elected by Council members. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or during her office hours from 12:30-1:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.