County bids fond farewell to outgoing officials
GSPI Managing Editor
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Garfield County officials, staff and friends said good-bye Monday to outgoing Sheriff Tom Dalessandri and Commissioner Walt Stowe.
“This past summer was really taxing, and it was easy to turn the field stuff over to you,” said Commissioner John Martin to Dalessandri, in a brief presentation during the afternoon reception at Courthouse Plaza.
“We’ve been through some really sticky issues, and lo and behold, we’ve survived,” said Commissioner Larry McCown in a brief tribute to Stowe.
Dalessandri, a Democrat, and Stowe, a Republican, failed in their re-election bids against challengers in the Nov. 5 election.
Today, Republican Lou Vallario will be sworn in as the new Garfield County sheriff and Tresi Houpt, a Democrat, will be sworn in as a new Garfield County commissioner. The ceremony is at 9 a.m. at Courthouse Plaza.
Martin, McCown and County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf hosted the reception for Dalessandri and Stowe, and presented them with beautiful antique oak and glass ballot boxes, with wooden carrying cases, reminders of Garfield County’s past.
Dalessandri used the antique boxes as a springboard for a brief speech.
“These ballot boxes represent freedom, they represent democracy, they represent us as a people, they represent public service, and the public watching over government.
“Public service is a difficult job. At the same time, it’s very fulfilling. You feel, hands-on, your successes and failures. There’s not a greater honor,” Dalessandri said.
He noted that over his eight years of service as sheriff, “we’ve had our laughs and our fights,” and called his colleagues in Garfield County government “the greatest people and the greatest public servants I’ve ever known.”
“Public service is a strange animal,” said McCown, in honoring Stowe.
“You feel good at the end of the day when good things happen, and you have trouble sleeping at night when they don’t. And if you have another life, it becomes your second life.”
McCown said it has been a pleasure to serve with Stowe for the past four years.
“We haven’t always agreed, but Walt has acted in what he thinks are the best interests of Garfield County,” McCown said.
Stowe noted that during his term of office, the commissioners decided on a location for and built a new county jail, and built the Courthouse Plaza, the events arena at the fairgrounds, and a new road and bridge facility near Rifle, and they have continued expansion of the Garfield County Airport.
But he is most proud of bringing the wages of county employees up to within 10 percent of the market rate for their jobs.
“When I started four years ago, our employees were at 70 percent of the state average in wages. Now, the average wage is reaching or exceeding the 90 percent level of market.
“I was fortunate enough to come in when the economy allowed us to make these changes,” Stowe said.
“I’ll miss the people I’ve worked with,” Stowe added. “We’ve done a good job, and improving the stead of the employees is the one thing I’m most proud of.”
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