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Walsenburg selects new city administrator

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — Following a meet and greet with city staff and department heads last Friday and a day-long interview session on Saturday, the Walsenburg City Council announced September 19 they have selected the new city administrator.

Councilmember Greg Daniels praised interim administrator Steve Rabe, and the hiring process he created to fill the position. “It was set up so professionally by our interim,” Daniels said, “it took us over an hour to determine which was the best, Rabe did a fantastic job putting this together.”

Mayor Jim Eccher read a press release announcing James Toth of Valparaiso, Indiana had been offered, and had accepted, the position as Walsenburg City Administrator. “He is currently scheduled to officially begin work with the city around the 23rd of October,” Eccher said, “with formal approval of his employment agreement expected to occur at the council’s next regular meeting on October 3.”

Toth has experience serving local governments as an administrator, financial advisor and volunteer. His most recent positions have been as an investment advisor and financial planner with various private sector companies. He is now ready to return to a career that he truly enjoyed, that of a local government administrator, the press release said. Toth has served as administrative assistant to the city manager of Mankato, Minn., town manager for Dyer, Indiana and has served as president of the planning and zoning commission, vice president of the board of zoning appeals and as a member of the historic preservation committee for Crown Point, Indiana. He has a master’s degree in public administration of Indiana State University; a bachelors degree in business administration and an associate’s degree from Indiana University.

In other business:

• The city council voted unanimously to approve Ordinance 1106 on first reading, an ordinance that amends the city’s marijuana zoning Ordinance 1058. The new ordinance is designed to bring consistency to how retail marijuana uses are dealt with in all city zone districts, and in effect changes use-by-right to use-by-special permit various categories of the marijuana business from retail stores to testing and cultivation facilities in community commercial, agricultural open, wholesale light industrial and heavy industrial zones.

The city will have to conduct a public hearing on the ordinance before second reading is done. It is expected the public hearing and second reading will be on the city council’s October 3 agenda.

• Council unanimously approved both the AZTK and the Le Rube/Wahatoya Farms annexations on second reading; the annexations concern locations in the industrial park area and on West Seventh Street.

• The city council approved a $2,500 donation to The Fox Theatre. David Wise, president of that board, which is in effect the former Spanish Peaks Community Foundation, reported on the recent comedy show fundraiser saying the event raised $3,000. It was noted Wise put $2,500 of his own money into the production of that show. The money donated from the city will come from the General Fund, and will go towards the purchase cost of a new digital projector for the theatre.

• Council approved engaging Butler/Snow as bond counsel for the recently approved loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board for the City Dam project.

• Walsenburg Finance Director Mark Ellis reported the refinance on the bond issue accomplished earlier this year has showed a better interest rate than anticipated and it is estimated the move will save the city $1.13 M compared to the original estimate of $800,000.

• Huerfano County resident and Walsenburg business and property owner Greg McClendon appeared before the city council again, seeking records concerning past engineering projects near one of his residential properties located at 4th and Russell. In the citizen forum segment of the meeting he said he had received one document from city clerk Wanda Britt, but has been told the majority of the records he is seeking cannot be found. His property is subject to severe flooding due to the raised street and curbs and has for a number of weeks sought a solution from the city. Britt reported the city is still trying to find those records that may date back to the 1980s.

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