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The Jan. 8 Buena Vista Trustee meeting began with a presentation made by the Chaffee County Youth Alliance Facilitator Liz Sielatycki. Her update on the CCYA process for the Trustees included the strategies developed to combat three major risk factors perpetuating youth use and abuse of alcohol and drugs.

“We are in the planning process of implementation” Sielatycki told the Board “our focus this year is implementing strategies.”

The three major risk factors precipitating teen substance use in Chaffee County were outlined in a document given to trustees prior to Sielatycki’s presentation.

The most concerning risk factor is the ‘Ease of Access’ regarding teens and their access to drugs and alcohol, explained Sieltycki. This major risk factor is compounded by an ‘Early Initiation of Use’, and ‘Favorable Parent Attitudes’ regarding drugs and alcohol.

Trustee Libby Fay questioned Sielatycki on the most prevalent drugs available to teens in Chaffee County.

“It’s unique to different parts of the county,” Sielatycki answered. “Vaping is, basically, an epidemic right now. Vaping is one of those things that seems healthy, or is a good alternative. But it is becoming an issue.

‘Vaping’ is the act of inhaling an aerosol or type of vapor, often flavored, that is produced by an e-cigarette.

Fay also inquired about Chaffee County teen’s substance use, compared to other counties in Colorado.

“It looks different in every county,” Sielatycki acknowledged. “Every county trends in different directions regarding types of use. Chaffee County is higher up there compared to the rest of the state.”

“Although our county data represents higher numbers of certain youth substance use that the state average, I would like to provide clarification as I don’t have access to data specific to other individual county data that that may represent numbers more similar to ours,” said Sielatycki. “After comparing apples-to-applies data, it’s more accurate to say that our region (made up of Chaffee, Lake, Fremont, and Custer Counties) Is number one in the state for youth alcohol use, number two for tobacco use, and number 5 for marijuana use based on survey participants who have ever used (in their lives) across regions of Colorado.”

Sielatycki asked for help from the Trustees to support forming a Buena Vista Youth Council tasked with combating teen substance use in Buena Vista ( A Salida Teen Council has already formed).

“I would love to see a trustee as part of our key-leader board.” Sielatycki stated. “That’s my main ask is that we have a trustee here (in Buena Vista) be a key leader.”

According to Sielatycki and the CCYA, Key leaders remove barriers by discussing the coalition and supporting the programming, as well as assisting in the search for funding to support the strategies that are implemented.

Key Leaders are committed to supporting youth well-being; promoting the coalition and evidence-based work; helping to secure needed resources; and attending quarterly meetings.

“Having key leaders who are involved in this process is going to be critical,” Sielatycki said.

The Trustees were not asked to decide on Sielatycki’s request for a Key Leader during the January 8 meeting, but will consider the request moving forward. They appeared in favor of supporting the Chaffee County Youth Alliance.

Jimmy Tidwell, Chief of Police in Buena Vista, was quick to offer his support for the request to the Board of Trustees. Telling the board of his interactions with Liz on her work visits to the Buena Vista Police Department. “We are on your side, Liz,” said Tidwell.