Houpt hits the ground running | PostIndependent.com

Houpt hits the ground running

Lynn Burton

Tresi Houpt didn’t waste any time in making a pair of head-turning proposals at her first county commissioner meeting on Tuesday.

First, she suggested the county personnel committee look into making Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday in 2004. Next, she said the commissioners should consider shifting their meeting day away from Monday.

The reason for moving the meeting day is so commissioners will have more time to review meeting materials and ask the staff questions before the meetings.

“Granted, I’m new,” said Houpt, who was sworn in Tuesday morning. “But it just seems to me like it makes sense to look at the meeting dates.”

After the meeting, commission chairman John Martin said Houpt can ask to refer the King holiday idea to the personnel committee for a recommendation, and the meeting day issue is “open to discussion.”

Giving employees the day off for Martin Luther King Day isn’t unusual for Colorado counties.

“A number of counties recognize Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday,” said Larry Kallenberger, executive director of Colorado Counties Inc. “There are probably more on the Front Range, but there are others.”

Garfield County employees currently receive eight full days off as paid holidays: New Year’s Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, said Garfield County Human Resources Director Judy Osman. County employees also receive a half day off on Christmas Eve.

State and federal employees receive a paid day off for Martin Luther King Day, which this year is Monday, Jan. 20.

Houpt said she first thought of honoring the late civil rights leader after the commissioners authorized the 2003 paid holidays during a December meeting.

“He is a person who made an impact on our country, so this would be a time for us to reflect on that,” Houpt said.

Houpt said the civil rights movement was one of the most important events in the United States in the past 100 years, and King should be recognized for his leadership.

“I think it’s as important a day as the other holidays,” Houpt said.

Houpt said she plans to introduce the King holiday proposal later this year.

As for switching the county commissioner meeting days, Houpt said the commissioners receive their meeting information packets the Thursday afternoon before each Monday morning meeting. The packets include staff reports, correspondence, land use applications and other materials the commissioners use to make decisions.

Sometimes, commissioners have questions about the materials over the weekends, and the questions go unanswered until meetings themselves. When that happens, Houpt said, meeting agenda items are sometimes continued to a later date, which can be a hardship for members of the public who attend to address specific issues.

Houpt said any new meeting day wouldn’t be put into effect for six months to a year.

In other business during Tuesday’s special meeting, the commissioners reappointed Martin as the board chairman, and appointed Houpt as chairman pro tem.

The next Garfield County Commission meeting is at 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20. The commissioners meet the first three Mondays of each month.

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