CITY OF OURAY: Morgenthaler says goodbye to city
By Sheridan Block
Following two and a half years of work with Ouray's city administration, Community Development Coordinator Ann Morgenthaler will be pursuing other opportunities in the Town of Telluride.
Morgenthaler will take the role of "Planner II" for the town, working primarily in planning and zoning with Telluride's building director and architectural review staff.
"I really loved the planning aspect (while working in Ouray)," she said. "When this opportunity popped up, I was intrigued by it and it turned out to be a great opportunity for me."
Morgenthaler insists that she was not actively searching for a new job.
"I've loved working for the city. The city's been so good to me and I've learned a lot," she said.
In January 2012, Morgenthaler was hired by the city, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, as a community development intern. At that time, she was pursuing her master's degree in Public Administration with the University of Colorado Denver. Morgenthaler completed her internship and earned her degree in December 2013, after conducting a city-wide survey on the city's communications with its citizens and presenting her findings and recommendations to city council.
The city hired Morgenthaler as a full-time community development coordinator in January.
According to City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli, Morgenthaler's contributions to the city have been "immense." He added that the community development coordinator position is a "critical role in any healthy municipality" and was something the city had been lacking for some time.
"Ann and her work has been outstanding in showing us how important that position is for our community and we benefitted from having her as a student," he said. "This is a significant loss for our organization and our community."
During her time with the city, Morgenthaler said, she's learned much about public administration and working in small municipalities and engaging its citizens. Along with the citizen survey, Morgenthaler contributed to the administration by maintaining the city's Facebook page, helping launch the city's monthly newsletter, organizing the beetle kill outreach program with Barbara Uhles and assisting the planning commission with code changes and regulations.
"I'm so appreciative of getting to see a wide variety of projects," she said. "It's a sad departure for me. Everyone here has been like my family, but for me professionally, this is a really exciting change."
Even though she will be working in Telluride, Morgenthaler will maintain her residence in Ouray. She said she still plans to be involved with community affairs and volunteering with local organizations.
"We wish all the best for Ann. We hate to lose her. She's been a great asset as a person on our team," said Rondinelli. "We'll move forward. We hope to find somebody just as good, but it will be hard."
The city is seeking a replacement for Morgenthaler and will have the position posted for three weeks before beginning an interview process. Rondinelli told city council on Monday night that he expects to fill the position within six weeks.
However, with a number of other matters to address, Rondinelli suggested that the council consider hiring former Pagosa Springs city manager Mark Garcia on a temporary basis. Garcia owns GOV-PLUS, a consulting company catering to municipalities in Southwest Colorado. He has a history of working with the city as project manager for the phase one of the geothermal project at Box Cañon, work at the Skyrocket culvert and with the city's water tank. Council will meet Wednesday afternoon to further discuss a contract with Garcia.