Jon Stavney takes helm at regional organization
EAGLE — It’s been a tumultuous year for Jon Stavney, but he is heading into 2017 with a new job that he believes will play to his strengths and leverage the relationships he has built over the past two decades.
Stavney is the new executive director of the District 12 Northwest Colorado Council of Governments — an organization that employs a staff of 40 people and serves five counties and 22 municipalities. With his background in municipal government — serving as a town board member, mayor and manager in Eagle — as well has his stint as an Eagle County commissioner, Stavney is well positioned to both understand what the organization does as well as how the organization can expand its reach.
What do all those letters mean?
While local residents may have little to no knowledge of what the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments of does, the organization touches their lives on a daily basis. The council is something of a services clearinghouse.
The organization was born back in the 1970s as Colorado needed regional entities to administer federal grants. That role has expanded over time and today, the District 12 Northwest Colorado Council of Governments carries a $5 million annual budget — $200,000 of which comes from local government dues that are then leveraged to bring in federal and state dollars.
While people might not know what the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments is, they recognize its work with winter weatherization programs for low and moderate income homes. Those services include insulation, caulking, weather stripping, storm window installation, energy-efficient furnace installation and safety checks.
Or they have likely heard bout the Alpine Area Agency of Aging and the Retired and Senior Volunteer programs offered through the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.
In Eagle, customers at 7 Hermits Brewing Company have seen the council at work with the launch of the business’s beer canning program. That business expansion was funded through Northwest Loan Fund financing, a council program.
And interestingly, anyone who has ridden one of the 1,837 elevators located in Eagle Summit, Pitkin, Grand or Jackson County knows that they are safe because the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments oversees the elevator inspection program that inspects and issues permits for commercial and residential elevators, lifts, dumbwaiters and escalators.
“The NWCCOG does a lot of kind of unsexy programs,” said Stavney of the group’s far-reaching efforts. “We have, over time, been very responsive to people’s needs.”
Stavney believes the group plays an important role in maintaining institutional knowledge. Elected officials come and go, as do town and county staff members. At the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, however, the organization is built to weather political changes and provide ongoing support for member governments.
“I have a ton of faith in the heaving lifting we do at the local level,” said Stavney. “We have been an adaptable organization over time.”
As he looks at the challenges ahead for the council, Stavney said there will always be issues that require a regional outlook rather than a local one. He pointed to broadband services as an example.
The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments has a regional broadband coordinator who works with local governments, the Colorado Office of Information Technology and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and broadband providers to promote service development and deployment in western Colorado.
The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments has also been an active participant in Western Slope water issues. The organization’s Water Quality and Quantity Committee includes municipalities, counties, water and sanitation districts and conservation districts in the headwaters region of Colorado. The QQ Committee’s purpose is to facilitate and augment the efforts of its member jurisdictions to protect and enhance the region’s water quality while encouraging its use for the good of Colorado citizens and the environment.
“The QQ effort has been close to the heart for Eagle County communities,” said Stavney.
On a personal level, Stavney looks forward to expanding his grant writing and application skills and learning more about the myriad health and human service programs the council supports. As executive director he wants to provide resources and support to local leaders from Walden to Aspen.
Stavney is taking over his office from Liz Mullen who served in a many positions at Northwest Colorado Council of Governments for 14 years and most recently managed the organization as executive director, before stepping down at the end of October.
Karn Stieglemeier is the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments board president and a Summit County commissioner.
“The council is thrilled to have Jon on board. The combination of private sector and government experience and his enthusiasm for NWCCOG programs gives us confidence in a successful transition,” said Stieglemeier.
Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll said he is excited about the appointment.
“Jon brings a great wealth of knowledge in local government as our new director. He has been active as a board member with NWCCOG and QQ. He comes to the organization with a great sense of understanding on what NWCCOG does. He is an exceptional addition to the team and will help make for a seamless transition.”
The valley’s commercial and residential property markets are similar in some ways — availability is tight and nothing is what you’d call “cheap.”