Glenwood Springs allocates funding for mental health staffing at Roaring Fork schools

City Council appoints new members to several boards and commissions

YouthZone in Glenwood Springs is located at Ninth Street and Blake Avenue.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Sin taxes could soon help address a reported increased need for youth mental health care in the Glenwood Springs area.

During the Glenwood Springs City Council’s regular meeting Thursday, council members unanimously approved a $335,000 funding request made jointly by YouthZone and the Roaring Fork School District.

“We’re expanding our model to make sure we have a community mental health provider in all our schools that our students can access for free,” said Anna Cole, RFSD’s chief of student family services.

Cole said the school district works with the Aspen Hope Center to staff the schools as well as YouthZone for community-based services such as substance use counseling, diversion programs and juvenile detention screening.

YouthZone Executive Director Jami Hayes said the organization experienced a significant spike in school-based referrals — from 2% on average before July 2021 to 35% after July.

“We are swimming upstream together to make sure our kids are not engaging with the juvenile justice system,” Hayes said.

YouthZone serves children from Aspen to Parachute, but Hayes reported referral increases were largest in Glenwood Springs, rising from an average of 95 to an average of 135 in fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The increased need in counseling hours accounts for more than one additional full-time mental health counselor, she added.

The joint request of $335,000 could help both the school district and YouthZone fund the staffing needed to meet increased mental health demand, with $260,000 of the request going toward sustaining mental health providers at Two Rivers, Yampah, Glenwood Springs Elementary School, Sopris Elementary School and Riverview School. The remaining $75,000 could bring an additional mental health provider at YouthZone dedicated to youth and families in Glenwood Springs.

Council member Ingrid Wussow made a motion to approve the request by budgeting $260,000 with the city’s tobacco taxes and $75,000 with the city’s marijuana taxes. Council Member Tony Hershey seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Colorado Animal Rescue

Garfield County is decreasing funding for Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE) as it diverts some funding to a new animal shelter in Rifle, but demand for CARE’s services haven’t decreased, Executive Director Wes Boyd told council members Thursday.

In 2021, the organization cared for 1,035 animals, including 629 pet adoptions — 12 chickens, 9 mice, 3 Guinea pigs, 3 birds, 8 rabbits, 287 dogs and 307 cats.

Through community programs, CARE distributed more than three tons of pet food, mailed out about 500 free pet ID tags, hosted vaccine clinics for about 120 pets and distributed about $5,000 in vouchers for pets to be spayed or neutered, Boyd said.

Although the organization is primarily supported through fundraising, Boyd said its second largest source of monetary support is Garfield County. As that revenue stream tightens, Boyd said CARE would be interested in pursuing a future partnership with the city of Glenwood Springs.

His presentation was not accompanied by a request, but Mayor Jonathan Godes encouraged Boyd to submit a grant request to the Financial Advisory Board, which is currently reviewing community grants for 2022.

Glenwood Springs City Council unanimously appointed several new and returning board and commission members during its regular session Thursday.

The appointed and their seats are listed below:

Tourism Management Board appointees

Suzanne Emery, who is currently serving on a tourism seat, was switched to a lodging seat

Justine Smith, tourism seat

Loretta Ayala, tourism seat

Sharon Brady, reappointed to resident seat

Brandon Cambron, restaurant seat

Arts and Culture Board appointees

Kyle Jones, reappointed to board seat

Ty Hess, youth representative seat

Jacqui Edelmann, alternate seat

Jordan Callier, alternate seat

Housing Commission appointees

Giovanna Kennedy, regular seat

Annemarie Glenn, alternate seat

Historic Preservation Commission appointees

Grant Stephens, regular seat

James Larson, regular seat

Marianne Ackerman, alternate seat

Transportation Commission appointees

Betsy Suerth, regular seat

Jon Harman, regular seat

Airport Commission appointee

Alan Arnold, reappointed to regular seat

River Commission appointees

Hunter Causey, regular seat

Kyle Holt, regular seat

Christopher Sharrow, alternate seat

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.