Honoring success from all around House District 59

Editor’s note: State Rep. Mike McLachlan is recovering from his recent surgery. His daughter, Kate McLachlan, wrote this week’s column on his behalf.

Because my father, Rep. Mike McLachlan, has been away from the Capitol and because he’s previously spoken at length about his work at the state Legislature, I’d like to take this opportunity to focus on the recent accomplishments of some of the exceptional residents in the 59th district. I can’t think of a better time to reflect on the positive people and events that surround us. We have several things to be proud of and several great people to recognize.

The Pagosa Springs Pirates won the 3A high school boys basketball state championship in March, capping an impressive 23-3 season and beating the No. 1-ranked Kent Denver Sundevils, with a final score of 53-49. This is the first state championship for the Pirates since 1960, ending a 53-year drought. The Pirates’ point guard, Kain Lucero, also received the tournament MVP award. Congratulations to all of the boys and coach Randy Sorenson for this terrific achievement.

Durango had its fair share of exciting sports news, as well, last month. A record seven skiers from the Purgatory Freestyle Team qualified for the United States Ski Association Junior Nationals in Park City, Utah, March 4-10. We’re all very proud of the qualifiers: Coleman Bader, Natalie Lyon, George McQuinn, Jimmy Pope, Hannah Smith, Sadie Smith and Nathan Youssef. All the athletes who competed had strong finishes at the competition, but some notable performances were Hannah Smith’s 12th-place finish overall for women and George McQuinn’s 10th-place finish in male aerials.

On April 3, the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross held its fifth annual Breakfast of Champions. Seventeen fearless Southwest Colorado residents and three brave dogs were honored for their courageous and selfless responses during times of crisis. Our gratitude and thanks go out to Burch Frost, Joel Flaugh, Jim Owens, Tyler Gardner, Seth St. Germain, Max Howard, Casey Baker, Tony Stephens, Mike Valdez, Shane Baird, Brian Leewit, Sgt. Robert Taylor, Sgt. David Longenette, Jim Cornett, Stephanie Hoselton, Jacob Posey and Erika Pray. This event honored people with so many amazing stories of bravery and survival, and the 59th district is extremely proud.

Western State Colorado University in Gunnison will be recognized in two venues this month as one of 20 colleges and universities nationwide that exemplify the mission of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment to restabilize the Earth’s climate through education, research and community engagement. It’s a very exciting moment for Western State to be recognized on a national level for its commitment to the education and prevention of climate change.

On a final legislative note, my father asked that I mention he was very proud to hear House Bill 1193, a bill he is sponsoring with Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, was approved Monday morning on voice vote. HB 1193 creates the Advanced Industries Export Acceleration Program, which would provide matching seed money, up to $15,000, to help qualifying Colorado advanced-industries businesses develop an export operation. The program would include training and consultation services through the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade. This bill is about exporting products, not jobs, and will help Colorado’s advanced industries move to the next level.

To those of you who have reached out to our family with support and concern, thank you very much. I know my father is eager to get back to work. He continues to be proud to serve all of his exceptional constituents in the 59th district. If you’re aware of any other outstanding accomplishments by your friends and neighbors in District 59, please let us know, and we will congratulate them in an upcoming letter.

Mike McLachlan represents House District 59 in Colorado’s General Assembly. The district encompasses La Plata, Archuleta, San Juan, Ouray and Hinsdale counties and part of Gunnison County. Call McLachlan at (303) 866-2914 or email mike.mclachlan.house@state.