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Peterson selected to lead Met Rec district as district manager

South valley representatives resign

By Mark Reaman

The Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District (Met Rec) continues to experience transition. Two board members quit on the same day last week that the board offered the new full-time district manager job to a local resident who has been in the local non-profit arena for years.

The board extended the district manager offer to Hedda Peterson during its May 15 board meeting and she accepted the position this week. She will begin work June 17 and replaces Lori Patin, who was let go last winter after she hired an attorney before her annual job review. Peterson has worked for the Crested Butte Land Trust since 2012.

Three people had applied for the position: Peterson, Lauren Daniel and Paula Swenson. After a 40-minute executive session to discuss the candidates, Met Rec board president Dave Clayton said all three had exemplary interviews but Swenson had withdrawn her name from consideration.

“We have two outstanding candidates,” he said. “Either one of them could fill the job with no issues.”

Board member Derrick Nehrenberg nominated Peterson. “I think we are lucky we had two great candidates,” he said. “To me it boiled down to demonstrated experience.”

Board member Ian Billick said he too was impressed with the candidates. “They did a nice job in the interviews. I appreciate Hedda being on the South District Advisory Council and coming to the meetings. She also has experience in consensus building that can be valuable in the future.”

“I feel Hedda has more program management experience and experience dealing with contentious issues,” added Clayton.

Board member Paul Wayne Foreman voted against the hire. “[Peterson] is an excellent person but I’ll vote against this because I don’t think the district warrants having a full-time district manager,” he said. “I scratch my head wondering how the person will fill 40 hours a week, especially with the finances being outsourced. I’m not voting against her but I’m voting against the concept.”

The board voted 3-1 to extend a contract to Peterson.

South valley reps resign

Foreman then asked to address the board at the end of the May 15 meeting. He expressed concern that Met Rec operations manager Bill Cote would be replaced soon, saying the three north valley board members had, in his mind, made it clear last year they wanted to “transition” to a completely new staff. “Are there any plans to transition Bill?” he asked.

“At this time, no,” responded Clayton, who earlier in the meeting outlined that he and Cote would complete a job performance review and work on rewriting the operations manager job description and setting goals for the position. “It is important for Bill and the new district manager to work well together. But nothing is currently in the works.”

“It seems it is still on the table,” responded Foreman.

Foreman reiterated his doubts about the district manager being able to be a full time job. He noted that the finances would be handled by a Salida firm that charges $65 per hour for bookkeeping and also cited the recent increase in legal fees for the district.

“I’ve never been part of a board where there has been a voting block like this,” Foreman said. “I’ve never felt less part of a board. With that, I’d like to tender my resignation as part of this board.”

Clayton said he understood Foreman’s decision. Foreman will write a formal letter of resignation. A one-sentence resignation letter was sent to Clayton by board member Larry Parachini earlier in the day. Clayton informed the board of that resignation at the start of the meeting and outlined the process of how board members are replaced.

The district will place advertisements in the local newspapers in search of candidates to fill the board seats. The board then has 60 days to appoint someone. Clayton said the goal would be to ideally have interested people submit letters of interest so the board can appoint replacements at the June meeting.

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