Award Time Arrives For Key Local Employees
In earlier days of the Teller sheriff’s department several decades ago, officers performed many roles, including that of jailer, dispatcher, dog catcher, floor sweeper, janitor, commander, counselor and yes, occasionally, an acting sheriff.
It wasn’t quite Mayberry R.F.D., but the agency operated outside a small historic jailhouse that was later condemned by the feds and it had its fair share of challenges with limited staffing and a growing rural county.
That scenario changed somewhat with the arrival of limited stakes gaming in the 1990s and even culminated last year with the opening of a new $7 million-plus headquarters in Divide.
Yet, the small town, folksy tradition of the department, and its links to the past, still remain.
These good old days were relived last week. In an emotional ceremony, and one that generated a huge crowd, Stan Bishop, a fixture of the agency for decades, was honored for 35 years of service during Thursday’s county commissioners meeting.
This highlighted a score of awards handed out to fellow officers, and key county players and employees, including the annual top leadership honor.
The county commissioners found themselves taking a back-seat role, with County Commission Chairman Dan Williams admitting they were no match for Teller’s assortment of star performers. “We feel like a warm-up band for Led Zeppelin,” quipped Williams.
The awards show was capped near the end of the session by the special honor for Bishop, featuring a slew of complimentary speeches by the commissioners and cheers from the crowd.
Bishop is mostly known for taking a lead role in running the jail. But he served under six different sheriff administrations, and held a variety of positions, including undersheriff.
The commissionesr lauded him for his “quiet and calm leadership.” He was almost described as the matriarch of the agency, spanning several decades.
Probably the most emotional comments came from Sheriff Jason Mikesell, who complimented Bishop for helping him get his foot in the door as a law officer and motivating and inspiring him and playing a key role in his career advancement “He took me under (his wing) and worked with me,” admitted Mikesell. “He was the first person I went to (when I had a problem or issue to deal with.).
“You can’t say enough words for someone who dedicated their life to this agency,” concluded the sheriff.
Bishop himself admitted the sheriff’s department has changed dramatically from the time he first started working for the agency in 1981. After a stint with the Cripple Creek Police Department, he worked consistently for the Teller sheriff’s department since 1987. He was described as the stable anchor that helped man the agency during certain turbulent times.
During brief remarks, he complimented the growing professionalism of the agency. “This has been a good year for us,” said Bishop, when commenting on their new headquarters. “Our agency has grown.”
Bishop unveiled a few details about his early years with the agency, when officers had to do a variety of jobs, including dispatcher, jailer, commander, counselor, and the head law officer on hand.
Bishop has a litany of stories about the agency’s history.
The honor for Bishop was just one award handed out last week. The sheriff’s department also honored communications specialist Tommy Allen, Deputy Mark Cline and dispatcher Holly Erickson, who all received sheriff commendation certificates. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Laura Hammond received her five-year award and Corporal Matt Williams got his 10-year service award.
The other key award, involving the annual leadership title, was given to former Interim Public Health and Environment Director Martha Hubbard. Hubbard was praised for the job she took in coming out of retirement and running the Teller agency during a crisis period, at the peak of the pandemic. At the time, Teller wanted to get away from relying on local restrictions/mandates and impose a pro-active, vaccination and education program, involving more cooperation and communications with county residents and businesses.
In late October, the county selected Michelle Wolff, as the permanent director of the agency, at the recommendation of Hubbard.
Mountain Lion Hunting Ban Plan In Trouble
In other action, the commissioners reported that opposition has been growing to a new bill outlawing hunting of wild animals, such as mountain lions, bobcats and lynx. Commission Vice-chairman Erik Stone stated that several of the key bill sponsors have dropped out.
Teller leaders have strongly opposed this legislation.
Stone stressed that this effort is part of a bid by urban lawmakers to regulate rules in rural areas. Williams agreed and compared it to Teller officials trying to govern how to operate subway systems in big cities.
On the downside of the state legislative picture, the commissioners conceded they are fighting to protect the rights of their office to serve as the board of health. This is a growing fight across Colorado, with some lawmakers striving to ban county commissioners from serving as a board of health.
The current commissioners say this could have disastrous impacts for small rural counties with limited resources.