New Castle fills vacant council seat
NEW CASTLE — Town Council is back to seven members following the appointment of Scott Owens, a resident for nearly nine years who currently works in human resources, to a vacant seat Tuesday evening.
Council selected Owens from a group of four candidates who expressed interest in the seat formerly occupied by Art Riddile.
Riddile was unanimously appointed mayor in early May following the resignation of Bob Gordon the previous month. Gordon moved to Battlement Mesa and resigned, per the requirement that elected officials live within town limits.
Owens will serve the remainder of Riddile’s term, which expires in April 2018, at which point he will need to decide whether or not to seek re-election.
At the start of the meeting, Riddile shared his excitement at having a large number of candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Owens, who is originally from Michigan and moved to New Castle in 2007 with his wife, survived two rounds of voting, which was done to whittle the field down to two. The first vote brought it down to Owens and Brad Gates, who serves on the town’s planning and zoning commission.
Owens won with four votes, while Gates received one. Councilor Frank Breslin was not present.
Council spent about 50 minutes interviewing the candidates before voting. During his interview, Owens stressed responsible development that would allow the town to grow while maintaining its cultural and historical identity.
Asked by Councilor Graham Riddile for some“low-hanging fruit” that the town could pursue to improve New Castle, Owens said recreation — a sentiment echoed frequently in town meetings as of late.
The town is working with the Bureau of Land Management to evaluate some trails on federal land, with the hope that some of the illegally made trails could be brought into an official trail system.
In his letter to council, Owens listed his involvement in the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, which has worked with the town and others to help jump-start the ongoing trails effort. Along with trails, Owens also said the Lakota Canyon Golf Course is another outdoor asset that the town could promote.
Owens, who has two young daughters, said his current job as director of human resources at Mountain Family Health Centers would translate well to serving on council.
On that note, he said the time commitment would not be an issue.
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UPDATE: Garfield County authorities have identified the woman whose body was found north of Rifle near Colorado Highway 13 last week as Sunny Morrisette, age 38, of Rifle.