Pending the results of a few final tests, the town of Green Mountain Falls could end its five-month period without having any local law enforcement.
As a result, the days of speeding in downtown GMF and disobeying code rules, such as intimidating geese, may be screeching to a halt.
Following a detailed interview process, along with much publicity surrounding the town’s lawless plight, elected leaders have picked an out-of-state finalist to assume the position as head marshal.
An official announcement could occur later this week, or shortly after the Labor Day holiday, according to Mayor Jane Newberry. “We are very excited. We are moving forward,” said the mayor.
Newberry wouldn’t name the person the town wants to hire, but confirmed that an offer was made. The potential marshal must complete a physical and psych test, according to the mayor.
However, Newberry stated that the marshal finalist was an out-of-state resident, who did considerable research on GMF.
“He (the GMF marshal finalist) is just the person we are looking for,” said Newberry. “He has a lot of experience and is good at building agencies from the ground up.”
Moreover, she admits that the massive publicity GMF received, regarding its so-called lawless plight, played a big role in the possible selection of a new high-quality marshal.
“I really want to thank the people who started all the rumors about Green Mountain Falls,” quipped Newberry. “You could say it was good karma. This person (the candidate the trustees want to hire) would have never heard of Green Mountain Falls if it wasn’t for all the national coverage we received. This really worked out for us in the end.”
The mayor was referring to the situation surrounding the sudden resignation of former marshal, Tim Bradley and his entire staff, following the April 2016 municipal election. The town overnight had no law enforcement protection, a scenario that captured much attention in major news outlets across the country.
However, Newberry stated that the town received good cooperation from the sheriff departments of El Paso and Teller counties during this period. But in recent weeks, many residents have grumbled about the lack of law enforcement visibility, and have urged leaders to speed up the hiring process. Law officers from the neighboring sheriff agencies can’t enforce any code violations.
At one time, the town got bombarded with nearly 50 letters of interest from potential candidates across the country, including retired law officers, current police officers and those seeking a career change. “They were all over the board,” said Newberry, in describing the queries it received for the job. “We have never had this much interest in our marshal position.”
Town leaders also appointed a marshal search committee, who narrowed the field down to about four individuals. Three finalists were recently interviewed by the trustees, resulting in a final job offer.
As for top priorities, Newberry said the new marshal must organize the agency from the ground up, including selecting reserve officers. Also, money will be tight due to many pressing concerns with road maintenance.
In fact, several years ago town leaders mulled the option of nearly doing away with the department and just using a marshal to do code enforcement work. However, most residents appeared to favor the idea of having a full-time town marshal.
New Town Manager Selection Looming
The town could soon have more than just a GMF marshal. Within the near future, GMF could have a new interim town manager, who also would assume the dual position as town clerk.
The town recently landed a state grant that pays a good portion of the expenses for this position for six months. “It is really a six-month experiment,” said Newberry.
The clerk/town manager joint position would be reviewed as a possible option for Green Mountain Falls. This could be the first step in reorganizing the way municipal business is handled in GMF, with more of a town manager-style of government. In the past, elected trustees have overseen individual departments and conducted all personnel decisions. Under this new proposed plan, favored by representatives of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the town manager/clerk would basically be in charge of day to day operations. The trustees would then get more involved in policy decisions and in making long-range plans.
According to Newberry, this temporary interim town manager could initially help the town in updating its ordinances and overseeing departments. This idea received a positive response during several recent trustee meetings. The town government also sent out a detailed press release and question and answer sheet, outlining the changes.
However, the idea of a town manager in GMF has gotten met with much opposition in the past, with many citizens arguing that it is an unnecessary expense. Previously, the town tried this form of government, when it promoted former Public Works Director Rob McArthur to the additional slot as Town Manager. But following the municipal election of 2014, this plan received the axe.
However, with the elections of 2016, more support has been garnered for the idea of having a town manager at the government helm. The big question hinges on money.