Vonnie’s Voice Prompts New Laws in Wyoming
Two, four, six, eight, meet me at the garden gate.
If I’m late, do not wait, two, four, six, eight.
For some, this may only be a child’s rhyme used for teaching numbers and counting. But for many living in Leadville Today this elementary school song means so much more. These words which are inscribed on a memorial bench at Leadville’s Pitts Elementary School/The Center, honor kindergarten teacher Vonnie Flores whose life was cut short eight years ago when she was murdered by a stalker in July 2010. Earlier this month on March 12, at the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne, those words often sung by Miss Vonnie rippled out a bit further to help stalking victims with the enactment of HB0008.
“Yesterday in Cheyenne,” posted Vonnie’s daughter Dawn Todd-Flores on the Vonnie’s Voice Facebook Page, “6 years of hard work and determination paid off for my Mom and her team as (Wyoming) Governor Matt Mead signed their stalking bill into law!”
It’s another giant step forward for victims in the name of a Leadville teacher, and for this round of legislative victory, a sister, to Vicki Kadlick who passionately helped to drive the legislation through the Wyoming process, the state where the two sisters were born and where Kadlick still resides.
But for readers who may not know, the story begins closer to home. After the tragic murder of Flores by a stalker who also ended his own life, Vonnie’s Voice was formed, giving her family and friends a platform to make a difference, protect stalking victims and raise awareness about the issue, so that others would never have to experience such a loss.
Vonnie’s Voice was started in 2011 as a Lake County non-profit whose primary objective is to raise awareness about stalking and support stalking victims’ rights through strengthening legislation. The group’s first efforts were realized in May 2012, when Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signed HB12-1114 into Vonnie’s Law.
The legislation was a major victory and led to many fundraising efforts to generate monies for stalking and domestic violence victims, which eventually led to the Miss Vonnie’s playroom for children located in the local safe house operated by The Advocates of Lake County. Vonnie’s Voice has also distributed winter coats to kindergarteners, and has issued scholarships to Leadville high school graduates who have a passion for teaching.
Then three years ago in 2015, Gov. Hickenlooper strengthened Vonnie’s Law even further by signing HB 15-1060 into law which requires defendants to acknowledge the terms of the protection order by signing it in the presence of a judge, prior to their release from jail on bond. This added component is significant, as it could have helped to close the gap in Vonnie’s situation, as she was murdered by a neighbor after he was arrested for stalking. Her attacker posted bond, was released from jail without first seeing a judge, after which he tracked down his victim and killed her. These new laws help provide added protection for victims.
Both Colorado measures were carried through the legislative process by a very committed Rep. Millie Hamner (D), who, unfortunately is term limited and will see her final days representing Lake County as the 2018 session comes to a close.
“I brought the expansion of Vonnie’s Law (HB 15-1060) in her memory, and to prevent future tragedies of this type,” Rep. Hamner said. Thanks, you made a difference Millie!
During the same time that the Colorado efforts were being realized, Vonnie’s sister Vicki Kadlick was fighting for the same changes to the laws in Wyoming, where the siblings were born and Kadlick still resides. After 6 long years, those efforts were realized earlier this month, casting an even wider net of protection for stalking victims.
“All of our hard work finally paid off!” Kadlick reported via social media, thanking everyone who helped support the effort.
And to you, sister Vicki . . . no doubt, that legislative victory would have warranted a resounding “You Go Girl,” from Miss Vonnie, who is deeply missed and wonderfully honored by so many! Job well-done!
For more information about stalking awareness and rights, connect on the Vonnie’s Voice Facebook Page.