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Sep 21, 2013 9:44 PM by Zach Thaxton

Hickenlooper attends Fort Lyon ribbon-cutting

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday for the newly-reopened Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community in Bent County.  The sprawling 550-acre campus east of Las Animas had previously served as a minimum-security correctional facility until it was shuttered in 2011 amid budget cuts in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

"Fort Lyon will give homeless veterans and others the opportunity to gain new job and life skills," Hickenlooper said via a media release Saturday evening. "This collaborative effort between the General Assembly and Bent County transitioned the historic facility into its new purpose of helping the state's most vulnerable individuals. We thank everyone involved in making the opening a reality."

The facility has admitted 25 residents since opening in September, but could eventually house up to 300 homeless individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues.  Saturday's event was part of Pedal The Plains, a bicycle event to promote economic development in Bent County, which has suffered economically with Fort Lyon's closure and prolonged drought.

Fort Lyon, established in the 1860s, has served as an Army fort, a Navy sanatorium, a psychiatric facility for military veterans, and a minimum-security prison.

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