Six Eagle County officials take office
With tears in his eyes, Joseph Hoy was sworn in as the new Eagle County Sheriff as a packed room of residents and county staff said goodbye to Jody Caruthers, Sara Fisher and Donna Barnes. Barnes was the county coroner for 24 years, Fisher was the clerk and recorder for 10 years and Caruthers served to terms as county assessor.
“This has been quite a morning for all of us,” said Commissioner Arn Menconi. “It’s very unique for us to come together, not only the staff but the people in the community. Community is about bringing people together.”
Those taking the oath of office were: Commissioner Tom Stone (second term); Joyce Mack, county assessor; Kara Bettis, county coroner; Don Corcoran, county surveyor; and Teak Simonton, clerk and recorder.
The swearing-in ceremony followed the State of the County Address given by Michael Gallagher, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners.
“For the State of the County Address last year we were still wounded from the horrors of 9/11,” Gallagher said in his speech. “I report to you today that the state of the county is excellent. We have a multitude of community improvements and accomplishments that testify we are, indeed, Colorado’s best-run county.”
Gallagher said the financial state of the county is “excellent” as a result of conservative fiscal policies and strong budget management.
“I am proud to report that we have continued to enhance the quality of county services without adding additional staff and without incurring additional debt,” he said. “We have kept the mill levy at the lowest level of all Colorado’s counties.”
Gallagher also highlighted: the opening in 2002 of the new El Jebel Community Center; the construction of Miller Ranch Road; and the ground-breaking for affordable housing at the Berry Creek 5th in Edwards.
“And you have this board’s affirmation that the purchase of the Golden Eagle senior complex is safe and sound,” he said.
Also, he said, the board has approved wildfire regulations aimed to protect structures and reduce the risk of wildfires.
At the ceremony, more than two dozen county employees received service awards, including:
– Robbie Arndt for 10 years as a social services clerk.
– Steve Hansen for 15 years with the county’s technology team.
– Pat Magdziuk for her 15 years with the Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
– Linda Pankuch for 15 years as an accounting clerk.
– Sheila Vigil for five years in the Assessor’s Office.
A reception with sandwiches and cookies followed the swearing-in.
“The ceremony was wonderful,” said Peter Bergh of Singletree. “I’m pleased all these county employees were recognized today. Too often we lose sight of the people who make things work.”
Gallagher remains chairman
Democrat Michael Gallagher will remain chairman of the Board of County Commissioners.
At their weekly meeting Tuesday following the swearing in of of Commissioner Tom Stone and other newly elected officials, Stone made a motion proposing Gallagher for the chairmanship and himself as the new vice-chairman of the board.
Gallagher, who represents District 1, or Vail, Minturn and part of Eagle-Vail, seconded Stone’s motion; Commissioner Arn Menconi, also a Democrat, voted against it.
Although it isn’t a requirement, the chairmanship has rotated in the past 20 years among the commissioners representing Eagle County’s three districts. Gallagher, was the chairman in 2002. Commissioner Tom Stone, who represents District 3 (Basalt, El Jebel, Gypsum, McCoy, Bond) was the chairman in 2000 and 2001. Following that tradition, Menconi, who represents District 2, or Avon, Edwards, Wolcott and Eagle, would have been the new chairman.
“It would have been nice to receive the chair,” Menconi said Tuesday. “But what’s more important than the board’s decision is the support of the citizens I represent.”
The chairman of the board has an elevated role of responsibilities. He represents the board in situations in which it needs a sole representative, and he signs county documents.
Gallagher didn’t return repeated calls for this story. Stone , meanwhile, said he supported Gallagaher’s nomination because he was unaware of Menconi’s interest in being the new chairman.
“I knew that Michael had an interest to become the chairman,” Stone said. “But Arn had never expressed to me an interest for the chair.”
Menconi said he expressed to Stone his interest in becoming the chairman in December.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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