It’s now official after months of speculation and even some concerns over the future of small town law enforcement in the Ute Pass.
The town of Green Mountain Falls has hired a marshal, ending a nearly year-long pursuit for a head lawman. However, the new marshal won’t assume his official duties until March 20.
According to a press release by GMF Town Manager/Clerk John Pick, the town has selected Virgil Lynden Hodges as the new GMF Marshal. Hodges is currently a lieutenant with the New Mexico State University Police Department, where he has been employed for the past nine years. Previously, Hodges worked for the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico Police Department, from which he retired in 2007 after a 21- year career. Before that,. Hodges worked for his home-town Police Department, Dexter, NM, for six years and served with the Military Police in the U.S. Army.
Hodges is being hired at a salary of $40,000 per year, in accordance with the town budget. He also will also receive a relocation allowance of $2,500. At his request, the town has agreed to allow him to remain on his current health insurance through the New Mexico retirement system with the town paying the new marshal what it would have incurred for employee health insurance
“I am honored and a little humbled that the town of Green Mountain Falls is willing to take a chance on a small- town boy who grew up and dedicated himself to service of communities both small and large,” said Hodges, according to the press release. “I have never forgotten where I came from and hope to earn the trust of the community and the residents both year- round and seasonal. I will assure you of an impartial, fair and honest effort to enforce the laws and ordinances of the State and Community in a manner that is consistent with small town values and understanding that I grew up with.”
The announcement of a new marshal isn’t too surprising, as the GMF Board of Trustees met behind closed doors last Friday and agreed to make an offer to the finalist for the position. Mayor Jane Newberry stated last weekend that all testing requirements had been completed, and the only unanswered questions hinged on whether the finalist would accept the town’s offer, and when he could start The town had previously narrowed the field down to two, consisting of Hodges and another Colorado candidate.
GMF hasn’t had a marshal or any regular local law enforcement presence since April 2016, when former Marshal Tim Bradley quit, along with the entire reserve crew. For months, the selection of a marshal has eluded town leaders.