Prieto does it all for Carbondale, and better yet, in two languages
Ask Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling what he most appreciates about his office assistant, Dina Prieto, and he’ll say, “Most is tough.”
At the top of Schilling’s list is Prieto’s fluency in Spanish and English.
“We serve a large Latino population,” Schilling said.
Prieto translates recreation brochures and other town publications, and translates water bills for Spanish-speakers making payments at Town Hall.
“She does a lot of that type of thing, for all the staff at Town Hall,” Schilling said.
Then there’s Prieto’s maturity.
“She’s just 21, but in my opinion she’s way above a 21-year-old,” Schilling said.
“She’s got good computer skills. She’s a very professional person.”
Prieto was first hired as a part-time police department assistant two years ago, then became full-time with the town 18 months ago when she was named municipal court clerk.
“I love working here. It’s great,” she said in her understated, soft voice. “I really like my co-workers. I like working with the public, the people. Everything about my job I like.”
Prieto was born in the Mexico state of Durango, and moved with her parents to Alamosa when she was 5. She hasn’t visited Mexico for several years, “But my parents try to get down there once a year. My dad’s father still lives there.”
Prieto attended Centauri High School in La Jara, just south of Alamosa, but graduated from high school in San Diego after living there two years. Her dark eyes light up when San Diego is mentioned. “It was great. I liked everything about it,” she said.
Prieto has three sisters and two brothers, ranging in age from 4 to 23. She and one of her sisters moved to Glenwood Springs after high school because they had friends here. Soon, the sisters called their parents, Celia and Rosalio Prieto, and urged them to come out.
Today, the whole family, except for an older brother in college, lives at Mountain Valley Mobile Home Park in Carbondale.
“The people of Carbondale are friendly. It’s a nice community,” she said.
Even after adding court clerk to her duty list, Prieto continues to expand her skills.
She is studying to to become a certified court interpreter. She interpreted for a Spanish-speaking couple at a Carbondale liquor license application hearing a few months ago, and giggles at her first public translating experience.
She was prepared to interpret for a friend in civil court, but when the other party’s interpreter didn’t show up, the judge unexpectedly asked her if she would be comfortable interpreting for both.
“That was really scary,” she said.
Prieto is also preparing to become a U.S. citizen. That process includes an interview with Immigration and Naturalization Service officials later this month in Denver.
“They question you on history, and look at your speaking skills and writing skills,” she said.
There is also a written test, which includes tough questions about the U.S. form of government.
“I’ll start studying pretty soon,” she said.
Prieto and her family attend a Christian assembly that holds services at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Glenwood Springs. She also likes to just be with her sisters and friends.
“We like to go to the recreation center in Glenwood Springs and play basketball or volleyball. It’s a nice place,” she said.
As much as she likes Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, Prieto still dreams of San Diego.
“Maybe one of these days I’ll move back,” she said. “They have some beautiful places you can go.”
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