At this point, it’s doubtful that even the True Grit spirit of “Reuben Cogburn” can help a rural town that has operated without any police personnel in nearly seven months
In fact, elected leaders now have decided to keep the job position open indefinitely and to enlist the help of other nearby law enforcement experts, such as El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder. It also will rely on the help of their new town manager, John Pick, in selecting a marshal.
GMF Mayor Jane Newberry conceded that after much interest initially in the new town marshal position for Green Mountain Falls, when a second search began, the pursuit has stalled. She reported receiving seven letters of interest in the initial week, but hasn’t obtained any inquiries since then.
The search for a marshal hit a wall several months ago, when its head finalist from North Carolina couldn’t successfully complete the final testing for the position, sending the trustees back to square one and re-fueling its search.
During last week’s meeting, the elected leaders didn’t give any firm commitments regarding when town would find itself with a new marshal patrolling the streets, and putting a halt to speeding motorists and code violators. Officials from the El Paso and Teller County Sheriff departments have assisted the town in the interim period, but according to residents and business owners, there hasn’t been nearly as much law enforcement presence. Plus, sheriff deputies from adjoining agencies are prohibited from enforcing any code violations.
Initially, the town wanted to end the application process on Nov. 1. But the trustees agreed this end date isn’t realistic with the lack of applicants. Newberry stated that Elder planned to reach out to other agencies to see if any retired law officers may be interested in the job. She also was asked about any of the previous candidates who originally applied for the position last spring.
Of the seven candidates, Newberry stated three of these marshal contenders had applied before and were among the list of finalists.
Meet the new boss. Green Mountain Falls Town Manager and Head Clerk John Pick takes the oath of office last week from Mayor Jane Newberry. Pick has assumed the duties as the town’s first combined town manager/clerk for a six-month period, as part of a joint $48,000 contract between GMF and the state Department of Local Affairs. Photo by Rick Langenberg
Renee Price, who has served as the main administrator for GMF for a number of months, takes that oath as the town’s official deputy dlerk, working under the direction of the new interim town manager John Pick.
New Town Manager and Deputy Clerk
As for other personnel matters, GMF officially began its new town manager experiment by swearing- in Pick as its new head boss and city clerk, and Renee Price, who has served as an administrative assistant for a number of months, as the deputy clerk.
The trustees designated the duties for both positions.
Pick will serve as the interim town manager/clerk, under a new $48,000 contract for six months. He hails from the northern Colorado area, having served as an interim manager for a variety of cities.
With this new role, he will become the main contact person for citizens and oversee day-to-day operations. This is a big change from the way the town has operated for decades with trustees overseeing individual departments.
After that period, elected leaders will evaluate if the town manager/clerk form of government is a good fit for the town. Then, the government would have to see if it could finance this arrangement and try to secure addition grant money. Under one program, the state would assist the town in funding the town manager/clerk position for three years.
The contract cost of this position has become the talk of the town at local eateries and at the post office, with some residents alarmed at what the town may end up spending for the job. Trustees, though, caution that they don’t plan on spending the same contract allotment for a permanent position, if local leaders opt to take that route.
In one of his first official tasks, Pick made a recommendation to the trustees last week to select a group of possible independent contractors to assist the public works department for maintenance work and snow removal activity.
This idea was suggested by new public works supervisor RJ Viers. He compared the system they would like to emulate to that a substitute teacher set-up. He said they wanted to get a list of possible contractors to help the agency on a needed basis, especially with winter approaching.
However, not all the trustees were thrilled with the idea. The plan was vetoed by both Newberry and Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Thorne, who wanted the public works contractor program developed more before they endorsed the plan.
In other issues, the town heard a public hearing on its 2017 budget last week. Few comments were made by citizens regarding the fiscal plate for 2017 that calls for a significant $1 million-plus expenses in capital improvements, if they can snag the necessary grant funds. Former trustee Mac Pitrone requested that the town get more realistic with the capital projects it plans to pursue. He also objected to spending money to help assist the Thin Air National car show, contending that the town was basically paying “them to come. “I don’t feel the town should pay for them to have their event here.” This is one of the town’s more popular summer events.
A representative of the group, Bob Collins, announced last week that the event will be returning to Green Mountain Falls in 2017 on July 15. Last year, the event’s future in Green Mountain Falls appeared in limbo. However, Collins lauded the support they received last summer, reporting a successful rally with nearly 200 vehicles and a $2,600 donation to the Silver Key group. He said GMF was listed as one of the sponsors in an official plaque.
Getting down to business. New GMF Town Manager John Pick and Public Works Supervisor RJ Viers study details of a plan to improve road maintenance and snow removal efforts by hiring more contractors at a meeting last week. Photo by Rick Langenberg