Trustees headed back to the drawing board

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

Green Mountain Falls’ leaders have struck out in closing the deal on what many locals perceived as a sure, forthcoming pick for a top town position.

In a slight setback, the town trustees could not reach the finish line in selecting the town’s next head boss.  According to Judy Egbert, a consultant for the town who participated in the process, the trustees opted to search for more applicants and review more resumes submitted after the initial cut-off date.

Mayor Jane Newberry

Mayor Jane Newberry said an offer was made to one of the two finalists, but  she stated that offer was rejected. The mayor said the town is now reviewing four possible applicants for the position.

The two main finalists were Emily Katsimpalis, the former assistant town manager for Buena Vista, and Kyle Coleman, the assistant manager for the village of Estero, Florida. 

Both finalists appeared for a full day of interviews and meetings on April 30. In addition, the town manager finalists had a meet and greet with local residents during which they informally discussed big issues of concern.

In fact, the two contenders even gave brief introductory statements. During last week’s meeting, at least one local resident complimented the board for the process and put in a plug for one of the candidates.

The trustees had an executive session following last week’s regular meeting. Prior to the session, the mayor was hesitant to say when a final decision would be reached. 

According to Egbert of GovPro Consulting, the position is still open until it is filled.  

But the clock is ticking for the trustees to make a decision on the town manager slot. Jason Wells, the town’s current interim town manager for the last 14 months, is currently searching for another full-time position in the area, and hasn’t expressed an interest in the full-time manager job.  Also, the partial funding from the state for the job runs out in the middle of next year.

In an earlier press release, Wells lauded the quality of the applicants they received for the job.  Originally, the town received 22 candidates from across the country and a committee narrowed down the field to a few. Then, the final cut was made to the final two, with Kasimpalis and Coleman both invited to spend a day in GMF.

But the trustees are under pressure to make a good decision. Their first pick for a full-time, permanent manager ended on a failing note, with the trustees deciding to fire Verla Bruner, after she only served six months on the job. Bruner now works as the head clerk for Palmer Lake.

At the time, concerns mounted whether a lack of communications existed between the board and the former town manager. Newberry said the former manager wasn’t the right fit for the job.

Oddly enough, the trustees have appeared quite satisfied with their two previous interim managers, Wells and John Pick. Both of these officials have been strong supporters of the town’s bid for hiring a full-time manager. The trustees also have appeared committed to the town manager style of government, which is much different from the way the town has operated in the past. 

The position, though, has stirred mixed opinions in the community, with some locals questioning the need for this role and wanting to spend more resources on road improvements, instead.

New Office of Emergency Management

In other GMF news, the town trustees heard a report last week from Jim Reid, regional director of the new Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management. This office now combines the resources of the city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County under one roof.

Still, it’s not sure how this change will impact towns like GMF. 

“You are in a tough situation,” admitted Reid. He said as an incorporated town, GMF had to deal with many crisis situations on their own. And as far as road maintenance, he contended their office could not offer much assistance. “We are there, but limited in our scope,” said Reid.

But he said their office could assist the town with major flooding incidents, an area he perceived as a real weakness for GMF’s current level of services. Reid believes the town is well served with its current fire departments, but not so much on the flooding disaster front. “We are here for you,” said Reid. “The county is a resource.”

But he didn’t give too many details on specifics. He said their office currently serves about 700,000 people and a 2,100 square-mile area. And when a big disaster strikes and the area experiences a mandatory evacuation, such as the Waldo Canyon fire, Reid was emphatic that local leaders leave the area and don’t try to come back.

He related that they experienced problems with this scenario in the past. 

Wells stated that their office was a big help in responding to last year’s flood, especially at the outset of the disaster. He cited the mid-term recovery effort as areas where question marks occurred, such as with handling debris accumulation.