Miller, Betty J.

Written by Linda Kirkpatrick on .



Betty Miller

(1927 - 2012)

Betty Miller was born in Bluefield, West Virginia and moved to Jefferson County in 1959 where she resided until the late 1990s.

She was elected to the State Legislature in 1964 and served one term.

She was active in the incorporation of the City of Lakewood in 1969 and served for six years as the first woman elected to the city council. In 1974 Miller was appointed by Governor Richard Lamm as the Executive Director of the Department of Local Affairs.

Beginning in 1977 she served four years as the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Jimmy Carter. She then became the District and State Director for U.S. Congressman and Senator Timothy Wirth for eight years.

She served as a County Commissioner for Jefferson County from 1993 - 1997.  As a commissioner, Miller was a strong supporter of the Open Space Program; the county-wide planning effort known as Future Jeffco; and promoted open, service-oriented government.

She played a pivotal role in the preservation of Evergreen's Noble Meadow in 1994, as the county had rejected previous proposals to purchase the property, turned off by the types of public pressure exerted by the community.

The three-pronged effort – the inaugural project of the Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT) – had a price tag of $2.3 million to prevent development of much of 408 acres stretching west along Squaw Pass Road, adjacent to Elk Meadow Open Space Park.  In addition to having a developer willing to work with MALT, it involved a $1.4 million investment by Jefferson County Open Space, a $700,000 bond issue through the Evergreen Park and Recreation District, and $200,000 in cash donations – all of which had to be accomplished within 5 1/2 months.  Of that acreage, 281 acres would be preserved in perpetuity under a conservation easement, 117 acres would be annexed into Elk Meadow Open Space Park, and approximately 10 acres would be developed for the Buchanan Rec Center.

Despite negative attitudes by other county officials, Miller was personally impressed with the proposal as well as the professional and respectful approach of the Noble Meadow Task Force that incorporated community participation with dollars, unlike previous appeals to the county.  She changed the opinions of public officials to make the project successful.  Evergreen thus became "the poster child" and served as a shining example of how best to win county approval for acquisition of open space.

Miller held a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Ohio University and received many awards, including Outstanding Woman of 1972 from the Lakewood Sentinel, 1977 Citizen of the Year from the Lakewood Board of Realtors, the Third Annual Leo C. Riethmayer Outstanding Public Administrator Award in 1980, and Lakewood's Historical Belmar Village 1994 Woman Who Made A Difference.

"Betty Miller was a remarkable public servant - dedicated, effective, straightforward and honest," said friend and Jefferson County business owner Greg Stevinson. "She cut across all partisan boundaries and won the respect of everyone who had the good fortune to work with her."

In 2006 a statue honoring her as a community leader was installed at the Belmar Library.

Sources:  Jefferson County Archives, Jefferson County Public Library, personal relationship