`Progress report’ on Silt presented
Anybody who says you can’t fight City Hall hasn’t met Shannon Bailey.
The Silt resident single-handedly created, printed, distributed, collected and compiled the results of a survey – she calls it a “progress report” – regarding Silt’s town government and staff. Bailey was to present the results of her five-page, 37-question report at the Silt Board of Trustees meeting Monday night.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints,” she said, “and it wasn’t just from one, two or five people. I felt if I documented these concerns we could do something about them.”
Bailey came up with the questions on the survey “off the top of my head,” she said. The questions concern the performance of the mayor, town administrator, community development director and building inspector. Printing costs were paid by private donations, she said.
Bailey went to the local public utilities office earlier this summer and discovered there are 890 households registered in the town of Silt. Going door to door, she hand-delivered 510 surveys. “Out of all those people, only three people didn’t want to fill one out,” she said.
Bailey also printed an ad in this newspaper offering a survey to any Silt resident who wanted one. Bailey said residents completed and returned 8 percent of the surveys.
While news of the survey began circulating among Silt residents, town building inspector Dick Barrow resigned after taking a job on the Front Range. And on July 31, Silt town administrator Craig Ohlson abruptly resigned after his wife, Susan Jane Ohlson, admitted to keying Silt community development director Janet Steinbach’s car.
“They say it was just coincidence,” Bailey said Monday. “I don’t know.”
The survey results – although unscientific and worded in a somewhat leading manner – indicate a general feeling of dissatisfaction with, or at least a lack of understanding of, town government.
One question asked if respondents would be “willing to attend a question-and-answer session between the mayor, board of trustees, town administration and the people of Silt.” Twenty-four answered “yes,” while three answered “no.”
Another question asked if respondents “believe(d) if the town of Silt, you, a resident or a person who conducts business within the town would benefit from demanding the resignation of the current mayor, the town administrator, community development director and building inspector.” Forty answered “yes,” and nine answered “no.”
Bailey said she’s not surprised at the negative comments that came back.
“I see a lot of dissatisfaction,” she said.
She’s hopeful now that the survey can be used to create some positive change within the town.
“I think the survey helped make people a little more aware,” she said. “Thirteen people didn’t even know that board of trustee meetings are open to the public. There were people who didn’t know that the meetings are televised.
“It’s a lot nicer to sit on your couch with your feet up eating ice cream and watching the meetings on TV than it is to go to Town Hall and sit on those hard chairs. Maybe now they’ll get a little more involved,” she said.
After her civic experience, does she have any desire to run for public office?
“I feel like I’m qualified, but I don’t feel like maybe I’m qualified enough,” she said. “All I know is change is going to happen, and we need to do it wisely.”
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UPDATE: Both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of Interstate 70, according to a 12:20 a.m. update from Garfield County.