Kristi Hartless has done more cooking in the first two months in her new Arkansas Valley home than she did in her entire life.
Twenty-three years after a horseback riding accident paralyzed her from the waist down, the popular La Junta teacher is living in a wheelchair-accessible house for the first time, due in no small part to a community that rallied around her.
“The people who live in La Junta look out for each other,” says Neil Fisher, a measurement technician in our La Junta office. “If one of our neighbors needs something, we work together to take care of that person.”
“If one of our neighbors needs something, we work together to take care of that person.”
When a close friend realized that Kristi’s home was not only difficult for her to navigate but cold and unsafe, she made it her mission to get Kristi in a new home.
Word spread through the small southern Colorado community.
When the message reached our gas technician Harry Kinner in La Junta, he knew his team would be willing to help, and the local office jumped into action to deliver heat and hot water.
Supervisor Chris Bauman directed the team to install a natural gas service line and meter at no charge. And the team brought local contractor Habitat Construction onboard and coordinated details with Kristi.
On a sunny September day, measurement technician Neil Fisher set the meter at the new home, and in October, Kristi moved in.
“This house has been life changing,” Kristi says. “For the first time in my life since the accident that put me in the wheelchair, I had house that was accessible and safe for me. Before, I always froze in the winter and fried in the summer. Now I’m comfortable in my house.”
Kristi has humbly extended her thanks to all the people who helped make her dream of a safe and wheelchair accessible home into a reality. But for our La Junta office, supporting the people who make up the heart of the Arkansas Valley is the best part of the job.
When it comes to helping our community in need, as Chris puts it, “This is what Black Hills Energy does.”