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Yolanda Avila

We’ve all endured the Valentine’s weekend freeze. Thanks to Colorado Springs Utilities, there were no blackouts as there were in numerous cities across the country. There is so much to look forward to as springtime approaches. Let’s take a peek into our future.

The equitable rollout of the vaccine is in full swing. The virus respects no boundaries and it behooves all of us to help one another defeat this pandemic so we can get back to our lives and livelihoods. We have been working diligently through the challenges many people are facing, including technology, transportation and language barriers.

I know some people hesitate and others feel an urgency to receive the vaccine. In an effort to help build public trust in the inoculations, I received my first vaccination on Feb. 19.

As vaccine production has ramped up, our district will be on par with the rest of the city. We have partners that have stepped up to the plate at the UCHealth System, Peak Vista, Matthews-Vu and El Paso County Public Health under the direction of Susan Wheelan. Find out what phase we’re in and make sure to schedule your vaccine by calling Pikes Peak United Way at 2-1-1.

As we work diligently to contain the pandemic, it’s important that we continue to work on our residents’ safety through operational streetlights. Recently, I have received several emails and calls about South Academy, Fountain and Murray Boulevards as well as individual lights in our neighborhoods. Some of you have been told there is a backlog and it will take two to three months to replace the lights.

This is unacceptable, especially when, as the Southeast Express reported in October 2019, Southeast shoulders more than a third of the city’s pedestrian fatalities. The lack of lighting is certainly a contributing factor. Ample lighting throughout our district will ensure the safety of our community. Please contact me at Yolanda.Avila@coloradosprings.gov or 719-385-5492 so we can brighten our district.

It’s important to take care of our practical needs, but just as important are joy, laughter and enrichment. I have tasted your delicious food here in Southeast. I have listened to your music, and I’ve seen your expressions through art and dance. Let’s bring this all together in a cultural bazaar as a beautiful centerpiece for our district. We have a rich diversity that only exists in Southeast. It’s time to let the secret out. 

Presently, the largest gathering space we have (in pre-pandemic times) is at the Southeast YMCA, which can host 150 people. That’s not good enough for us. We’re going to need gathering spaces that can accommodate several hundred people to experience not only our local musicians, bands and dancers, but to also bring in nationally renowned performers in the spirit of our diversity. This could be a destination spot for our entire state.

As I look at all the gifts and talents around our district, I see how important it is to bring our diversity together. I’ve begun the process of working with the city’s economic team and interested stakeholders. Your suggestions and ideas will be invaluable to make this dream a reality.

Whether it’s by overcoming a pandemic, lighting up our neighborhoods or creating a diverse cultural bazaar — the Southeast is on its way to coming into the light.