Town’s administrative assistant dives into recreation planning and zoning codes
She’ll learn the nuts and bolts of local government by working with various town departments. Her tasks will range from the tedious, such as rewriting a portion of the town’s zoning code and processing building permits; to the exciting, such as helping plan a recreation center for the community. There will also be plenty of meetings, ranging from the Town Council and town planning commission to broader-scope entities, such as the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments and the ECO Transit board.
“It’s like an interactive classroom,” said Esbenshade, who has already had a presence at Town Council meetings and at a NWCOG gathering.
The internship is co-sponsored by the town of Gypsum, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the University of Colorado at Denver.
Esbenshade, 21, a political science major, recently graduated from the University of Colorado. The internship is part of her master’s degree program. In addition to working full-time for the town, during the next two years, she’ll return to Denver every two or three weekends for classes.
Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll is familiar with the program. It’s the same way he got his start in public administration. Shroll came to Gypsum 10 years ago, after serving a two-year administrative internship with the towns of Crested Butte and Norwood.
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Shroll acknowledges the decision to hire Esbenshade was based, in part, on his loyalty to the internship program. He also says the Gypsum is growing and it will take more people to run the town in the future.
The cost of the program – Esbenshade’s $26,000 annual salary – is split by the town and the Department of Local Affairs. Additionally, Esbenshade will be entitled to the approximately $5,000 benefit package full-time employees receive.
“Essentially, the town gets a full time employee for a discount price,” Esbenshade says.
Last month, Shroll went to the CU graduate school and interviewed 13 potential candidates for the internship. He was looking for somebody who wanted a long-term career in local government.
“Annie interviewed well. She demonstrated energy, and enthusiasm for the job,” says Shroll, adding that had he not found a suitable candidate, he would have waited to fill the position.
Esbenshade’s goal is to eventually end up a town manager. She’s renting a small home in Gypsum and so far, has found her small town experience to be positive. Outside of learning town administration, her interests include skiing, golf, tennis, biking and hiking.
“This is a perfect fit,” she says.
“We’ll try to get her feet wet in all aspects of local government – administration, planning, and finance,” says Shroll, “Hopefully, when she leaves, she will have some experience.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.