Officials begin process of replacing county attorney
Garfield County officials are getting set for the long process of replacing outgoing county attorney Don DeFord, who will step down from his position on Jan. 2.DeFord, who has worked as attorney for the Board of County Commissioners for more than 25 years, told the Post Independent he and the board agreed in November that it was a good time for him to retire.DeFord said he was not sure what he might do next, but added that he planned to take some time off before making a decision about his future.Commissioner John Martin said on Friday that DeFord’s departure has nothing to do with a recent controversy involving DeFord’s office, the Antero Resources natural-gas drilling company, and the company’s efforts to install a pipeline near Silt.DeFord and his staff in November filed a lawsuit against Antero and several landowners, over an allegedly botched Antero pipeline project intended to carry the gas produced by eight wells, among other material.But the commissioners ordered DeFord to withdraw the suit a week after it was filed, despite DeFord’s contention that legal action was part of the county’s normal procedures in code-enforcement cases.County officials had concluded that Antero violated the county’s codes concerning pipeline installation after a county building inspector checked on a stretch of trench across land owned by Bob Regulski. The inspector imposed a stop-work order on the project after concluding it was sloppily installed and could pose a hazard if certain deficiencies were not rectified.DeFord and an assistant, Cassie Coleman, told the commissioners they filed the lawsuit to give “teeth” to the county’s code enforcement effort, and Commissioner Trsi Houpt agreed.But commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson overrode Houpt and voted to kill the lawsuit.DeFord said on Dec. 3 that the commissioners would be setting up a “recruitment team” to find his replacement, but officials with the county this week said they are planning to hire a “head hunter” firm to do the searching.According to Martin, the county took applications from three head-hunting firms and eliminated one already. He said the commissioners will meet next week with the other two – Baenziger Associates, and Peck & McKinney – to determine which will be the one contracted to search for DeFord’s replacement.The commissioners then expect to interview three finalists for the contract, perhaps in February.In the meantime, Martin said, the commissioners will name an interim county attorney, possibly from within the legal department’s email@example.com
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