November 16, 2022
(Graphic by Crystal Ashike)

La Plata and Archuleta Counties approve dissolving San Juan Basin Public Health

By Sarah Flower

The two counties overseeing San Juan Basin Public Health Department voted unanimously to dissolve the health department on Tuesday. La Plata and Archuleta counties now have a year to decide what is best for their residents.

After 74 years of sharing a public health department, Archuleta and La Plata Counties voted unanimously on Tuesday to dissolve San Juan Basin Public Health Department. Philosophical differences divided the two counties during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April of 2021, Archuleta County Commissioners initiated the dissolution of the health district.

La Plata County Commissioner Marsha Porter-Norton assured residents that the district would be thoughtful about dismantling

“We’re not tearing something down, we’re taking something that is excellent and making it even better,” Porter-Norton said in a county commissioners meeting.

Both counties will need to decide what will be the next move. La Plata county officials appear to be planning to create their public health department. It’s unknown whether Archuleta County will create its own or join a neighboring health district. Archuleta County Commissioner Ronnie Maez said that making decisions will be difficult.

“You have to make a decision at some point in time and the thing is, whatever decision you make you have to suffer the outcome and move forward with progress,” Maez said.

Colorado Law states that the district has a year to dissolve. County officials gave the final deadline of Sunday, December 31, 2023.

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