Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario and Emergency Manager Chris Bornholdt speak before the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners in Rifle on March 14, 2022. Bornholdt was recently honored by the Colorado Emergency Management Association (CEMA) with its President’s Award.

Bornholdt honored with the CEMA President’s Award

March 16, 2022

Garfield County Emergency Manager Chris Bornholdt has received the prestigious President’s Award from the Colorado Emergency Management Association (CEMA) for his leadership during recent disasters affecting the county and region. Bornholdt was honored in late February in Loveland at the Colorado Emergency Management Conference.

Known for his willingness to assist agencies throughout the state, Bornholdt was elected in 2021 to chair the Northwest All Hazard Emergency Management Region Executive Board. He worked as agency administrator during the Type 1 Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek fires in 2020 that burned 130,007 and 32,631 acres, respectively, in and around Garfield County.

“Chris received a very prestigious honor from the state’s emergency managers association, the President’s award,” said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario to the Board of County Commissioners. “There are other awards given out to emergency managers in Colorado, but this one goes beyond the rest. It’s presented by the president of CEMA. Several of us snuck down there to surprise Chris, as he didn’t know the award was coming to him.”

He added that Bornholdt was selected for his efforts to assist other emergency managers across the state.

“He’s a mentor, helps with training, and provides advice while working hand in hand with them,” Vallario added. “It’s a very impressive reason for the CEMA president to bestow this award. Chris is continuing that trend of providing quality emergency management guidance to other managers across Colorado.”

Since September 2020, Bornholdt has worked with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on a Garfield County Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP), during which he acted as liaison between the landowners and Garfield County.

During the COVID pandemic, Bornholdt served in the unified command as co-incident commander along with then Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long. He served in this role for roughly two years when the pandemic was raging throughout Colorado.

In 2019, Bornholdt was appointed by Stan Hilkey, executive director of Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS), to chair the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s All-Hazard Advisory Committee’s (HSAC) Training and Exercise Subcommittee. He serves on the Northwest Region Health Care Coalition Board and the Chair of the Garfield County Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Bornholdt was honored by the recognition from his peers and said the accolade was unexpected.

“I was completely surprised when they called my name for the award,” Bornholdt said. “I had no idea I was even in the running.”

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