New Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks, far right, addresses the council during her first meeting on the job Wednesday night. Seated with her are Attorney Helen Sigmond, center, and Alamosa City Clerk Judy Egbert, left. City councilors seated above are from left Charles Griego, Rusty Johnson and Leland Romero.
ALAMOSA — Heather Brooks attended her first council meeting as the new Alamosa city manager Wednesday night.
Alamosa Mayor Kathy Rogers said Alamosa’s new city manager “hit the ground running,” already attending a Colorado Municipal League conference and getting acquainted with city staff and issues.
“Thank you so much for being part of this team,” said Rogers, who resumed a Tuesday morning meeting routine with Brooks that she had maintained with former City Manager Nathan Cherpeski.
“I look forward to working with you as one of the team. It’s going to be great. We truly welcome you,” Rogers told Brooks.
Brooks said, “I have been extremely impressed by the professionalism of city council and the civility that exists among you.”
Rogers said, “We really do have a lot of respect for each other, and we all have what’s best in mind for the city as our number one goal.”
Brooks said she was also impressed with the city staff and their willingness to meet with her and help with her transition.
“It’s going to make the job very easy.”
Brooks said she and her husband were raised in Lamar, so coming back to Colorado after 10 years in Missouri was like coming home. She said her family wanted to live in a small rural town, and Alamosa has been very welcoming to her.
The council selected Brooks out of five top finalists to fill a vacancy left by Cherpeski, who took a job as city manager in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The city had received more than 40 applications for the vacancy.
Brooks earned her undergraduate degree in Greeley and a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Kansas. She was serving as assistant city manager in Cape Girardeau, Mo., when she applied for the Alamosa vacancy.
Councilman Josef Lucero told Brooks during her first official council meeting on Wednesday that from what he had seen so far, she was going to be an integral part of this community and a great asset for Alamosa.
Brooks’ first meeting was cordial and smooth with routine items of city business coming before the council.
City councilors extended thanks to those such as Interim City Manager/Police Chief Craig Dodd who kept the city running smoothly between Cherpeski’s departure and Brooks’ arrival. City councilors also complimented staff for successful events like Ride the Rockies, which Alamosa hosted earlier this month.
The council also commended the Alamosa firefighters who have assisted with regional firefighting efforts such as the West Fork Fire Complex in the South Fork area. Firefighters have spent long hours on those assignments, Fire Chief Don Chapman said.
In addition, the council thanked Arvin Van Ry for his years of service on the airport board. Van Ry, a former city councilor, gave his resignation from the airport board on Wednesday due to family health situations. Van Ry estimated he had served on the airport board for 14 years or more. A pilot, Van Ry said this had been a love and passion of his, and he had been a strong advocate for airport improvements. A new terminal will be a testament to his efforts and that of the other members of the airport board.
“I give you the credit for being the driving force in a lot of things that have happened,” said Councilor Marcia Tuggle.
“It’s not just me. It’s the airport board,” Van Ry said.
Councilor Lucero, who holds Van Ry’s former seat on council, said, “You have contributed so much … You are definitely going to be missed on the airport board.”
“Thank you for your service to the city,” Councilman Rusty Johnson added.
Councilor Charles Griego, who has filled in on the airport board when Van Ry has been unable to attend, invited Van Ry to continue to participate when he can.
“You had a very strong influence on that board,” Mayor Rogers told Van Ry. “You have been awesome.”
In addition to welcoming Brooks and giving farewell to Van Ry, the city council during its June 26 meeting:
• heard a request from Cheri Myers for a dog park. Myers said she believed a dog park would not only assist community members but also be a benefit to tourists who visit Alamosa. Dog parks help bring people together, she added. Councilor Tuggle suggested Myers present her idea to the city parks/recreation department. Lucero said the council has talked about this before and has suggested a portion of the ranch property might be suitable for such a purpose.
• approved the Naranjo petition for annexation on the west side of Ross Avenue approaching 20th Street.
• approved the Herrera Vigil Chavez petition for annexation on the west side of Highway 285 down West 10th Street to the west.
• rezoned 216 Victoria Street, the former Alamosa Open High School, from residential medium to commercial business to accommodate a dental office.
• approved the first budget amendment of the year to accommodate such items as police department grants, Friends of the Library donations and golf clubhouse facility improvements.
• approved an intergovernmental agreement for the Alamosa fire department to provide stand by services at the regional airport, duties the fire department have performed since March.
• approved a panhandling ordinance the council had previously tabled until Dodd and others from the police department could meet with representatives of La Puente to determine if the ordinance could be improved before being voted on. Dodd reported that after meeting with La Puente representatives, everyone agreed the ordinance was adequate as it was originally presented and still gave folks the right to seek assistance. Dodd said La Puente will be developing and distributing a flyer describing what is allowed and what is not.
• congratulated Councilor Leland Romero for his appointed to the presidency of the regional municipal league group. Alamosa will host the regional meeting in September.