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Guest column from OWN: Who we are and what we do

       By Welling Clark, President, Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN)

       The Avenue Task Force (ATF), a group of community, government and business leaders on the Westside, kicked off a “Donate to Charities that help … not Professional Panhandlers” video on YouTube. The link to the video is https://youtu.be/rZGbUZCirQg. (Note: The period after the “u” is not a typo.)
       The ATF (a citizen-driven effort) was formed to influence policy decision-making and law enforcement in an area known as “The Avenue,” aka “No Man's Land.” The ATF's mission is to protect our area's economic vitality and tourism corridors. It is composed of elected officials,
Attendees at the March meeting of the Avenue Task Force watch the first screening of a video related to the "It's OK to Say No" campaign that's intended to help people avoid misguided compassion regarding panhandlers.
Westside Pioneer photo
senior public safety staff (fire/rescue and law enforcement), businesses, and residents. About 95 to 99 percent of the money given to professional panhandlers goes to purchase drugs and alcohol.

       “It's OK to Say No” signs going up on the Westside
       Westsiders will soon see signs going up around the Red Rock shopping center and Old Colorado City area. The signs are to discourage the giving of money to the professional panhandlers in the area. If you truly wish to help someone, donate to charities that help… not professional panhandlers.
       The goal is to help people get off the street and into a better life and to make this a better community for all of us. See the Westside Pioneer article on this subject.

       Welcome new OWN 2015 board and officers (elected at the town hall March 12).
       OFFICERS: President Welling Clark, Vice president Mary Gallivan, Secretary Jim Thompson and Treasurer Terry Brunette.
       FULL BOARD (in parentheses - the year that the seat is up for election):
       Area 1, Chad White (2016); Area 2, Open (2018); Area 3, Mary Gallivan (2017); Area 4, Open (2018); Area 5, Welling Clark (2017); Area 6, Terry Brunette (2016); At-Large 1, Linda Schlarb (2016); At-Large 2, Bonnie Lapora (2018); At-Large 3, Jim Thompson (2017).

       Interested in forming a Neighborhood Watch?
       Neighborhood Watch is a voluntary program whose goals are for citizens to make themselves and their homes less vulnerable to crime and to increase cooperation between citizens and law enforcement to make their communities safer.
       The Neighborhood Watch members would need to observe, communicate and focus on security...
       Observation of their surroundings, keeping an eye out for their property as well as their neighbors since they are the best experts on what is normal and acceptable for their neighborhood.
       Communication with the Police Department on crimes and suspicious activities at 444-7000 or 911 in an emergency, then communicate with their neighbors.
       Security of homes by assessing and possibly upgrading physical security measures, lighting and other features to create the safest environment possible.
       For more information, please contact CSPD Crime Prevention Officer Sid Santos at 385-2117 or at santosis@ci.colospgs.co.us.

       El Paso County discount programs through NACo
       As a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo), El Paso County is able to offer its Prescription/Health Discount and Dental Discount programs, providing county residents savings of up to 75 percent on prescriptions, 75 percent on health services and 50 percent on dental care. Here is brief information on the three programs:       
  • Prescription Discount Card - open to any county resident, with or without prescription coverage. Even if you have insurance, you may save money on medications your existing plan does not cover. For more information, call toll-free 1-877-321-2652 or 520-MEDS (6337). To get a card and print it online, go to nacorx.org       
  • Health Care Discount Program - includes discounts on prescription medications, vision care, LASIK & PRK vision procedures, hearing aids and screenings, prepaid lab work, prepaid diagnostic imaging and diabetic supplies. For more information, go to http://www.NACoHealth.org or call 1-877-573-2395.       
  • Dental Discount Program - open to uninsured and underinsured county residents. For more information, go to careington.com/co/NACO or call toll-free 1-877-354-NACo (6226). Don't forget to mention promo code "NACo."

    (Posted 5/18/15; Opinion: Guest Columns)

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