BOCC makes appointments to variety of county board seats

Adds seat for Met Rec to STOR; one additional seat for planning commission in February

[ By Katherine Nettles ]

County commissioners made several appointments to county boards and commissions on Tuesday, January 26 following interviews they conducted last week on January 19. Several boards had more applicants than positions available, and commissioners encouraged those who did not get appointments this time around to stay engaged and consider reapplying in the future. Board member choices such as a Tourism and Prosperity Partnership (TAPP) seat that had more applicants than positions available came harder for the commissioners than others, and a surprise additional vacancy to the planning commission delayed part of that appointment process until next month.

Commissioners appointed Pam Montgomery and David Baumgarten to the Library District Board. Commissioners suggested that the two other applicants, Micah Russell and Heather Hughes both have programming skills that might be helpful down the road, making them potential additions to that board in the future. Susan Wyman was appointed to the Extension Advisory Committee, with Melody Roper and John Mugglestone re-appointed. Glo Cunningham was reappointed to the Land Preservation board, and Steve Otero was reappointed to the Veteran Services board. LeeAnn Mick was reappointed to the Historic Preservation board, with three additional north valley appointees: Shelly Popke, David Russell and Heather Thiessen-Reily.

Wynn Williams and Bill Ronai were appointed to the two TAPP board openings. After last week’s interviews, all were in agreement that Williams was an asset based on his past experience on the board, especially since one open seat was being vacated by the board’s chair.

“Wynn’s been a steady hand on the wheel, and at the ICELab,” said commissioner Jonathan Houck. He also said the two candidates would bring balance across the valley as a whole. “Different people want different things from TAPP,” said Houck. “I see both Wynn and Bill stepping up to balance all those pulls in different directions.”

Commissioner Liz Smith commented that Ronai’s experience as a CFO would provide strong financial oversight, the need for which has been the subject of many conversations regarding TAPP in recent years.

“I believe that trying to keep these as apolitical as possible just gives additional credibility to the position,” commented commissioner Roland Mason, whose votes for Williams and Ronai were ultimately carried by all.

Former county commissioner candidate Dave Taylor and Mt. Crested Butte town council member Roman Kolodziej had also applied.

One of the reasons Kolodziej had applied was to have more representation from Mt. CB on the board. The Mt. CB town council has expressed concern that there is not enough representation and say from the the towns of CB and Mt. CB regarding TAPP’s strategy and budget.

Taylor had openly criticized TAPP during his campaign for county commissioner last fall. Mason said the financial critiques that Taylor brought up could be helpful, but affected “the good faith of people coming on the board.”

Smith agreed. “When I hear people saying that things are wrong despite the evidence…and when you look at what TAPP has done for Gunnison County, that success is undeniable,” she said.

Houck said that Taylor’s suggestions to establish mechanisms to audit and monitor TAPP are already in place, and Taylor’s suggestions to defund certain aspects were overly simplistic. “Those are simple answers to very complex things that TAPP has to contemplate,” he said.
The two TAPP board members who joined commissioners in the appointment process, Gary Pierson and Kelley Baer, were initially leaning in favor of Kolodziej.

Pierson is Dean of students at Western Colorado University (WCU) and represents WCU on the TAPP board, and Baer is director of sales at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) and represents CBMR on the board.

Baer said she agreed with appointing Williams to retain the knowledge he brings, since “coming out of COVID we know that things are going to be different,” she said. “What I sort of took away from this was Roman asked some really great questions,” she said, and was leaning toward him for the other spot.

Pierson said Ronai was his top choice. “I think he brings a different skill set and different set of eyes to the table.” But he struggled with choice between Kolodziej and Williams. “I saw a kinder, gentler Roman than I’ve seen in the past,” he said of Kolodziej’s interview and approach. Pierson said he also thinks more Mt. Crested Butte representation is important, but he did understand the commissioners’ perspective as well.

STOR Committee
All standing seats on the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) committee were reappointed: Joellen Fonken representing the Upper Gunnison River Water District; Steve Guerrieri representing the Stock Growers Association, Roman Kolodziej representing Mt. Crested Butte; Mark Voegeli for CBMR; Brandon Diamond representing Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Matt McCombs representing the US Forest Service Gunnison Ranger District; and John Norton representing TAPP. Mallory Logan for the city of Gunnison and Mona Merrill for the town of Crested Butte were also reappointed pending their formal applications.

There were three additional at-large openings, which went to Jake Jones with the Crested Butte Land Trust, Tim Kugler with Gunnison Trails and Hannah Cranor, who is vice-president of the Stock growers Association.

As they discussed last week during an interview with Hedda Peterson of the Gunnison County Met Rec district, commissioners voted unanimously to amend the STOR charter to include an additional dedicated seat for Met Rec. They then appointed Peterson for that seat, noting that Met Rec’s recent deBrucing and restructuring would align well with STOR goals. Meanwhile, the Met Rec board voted at a board meeting last week to allocate $70,000 to the STOR committee.

Planning commission
At the time of the Planning Commission interviews last week, there were three regular openings and two alternates. Since then, board member AJ Cattles announced he was resigning due to a busy schedule and some significant projects coming online. So with an additional open seat, commissioners decided to reappoint Vince Rogalski and appoint two previous alternates, Andy Sovick and Scott Cox, to become regular members, and re-open the process for one more regular board appointment and two alternates. Interviews will be held early next month, and appointments will follow. Those who applied as new members will still be considered, and new applicants are also welcomed.

“We’ve got a lot of good applicants but we’ve got a whole different scenario than we did,” explained Houck. He also said the commission could use more up-valley members to balance it out.

“I appreciate living in a community where people want to be involved in these boards and committees,” said Houck. He noted that many other counties struggle to find applicants, or struggle with applicants who have an ax to grind and have personal vendettas or political motives. “We tend to have a lot of people who passionately and from a place of service want to be involved.”

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