April began with a bang for the city, with a record turnout for the biannual city election.
Cortez City Clerk Linda Smith was hoping 1,500 voters would turn out, and 1,509 ballots were returned by the deadline. Five council seats were filled, and by a 2-1 ratio, citizens approved extending the recreation center tax at a reduced .035 percent rate. That vote ensures that this facility will have the revenue needed to continue to provide programs and maintain the building, while keeping fees reasonable. Thanks to all who voted ‘yes’ and to everyone who took the time to vote.
One of the most important decisions the new council will make will be hiring a new city manager. Though current City Manager Shane Hale is departing in mid-May, he is still hard at work moving projects forward, tying up loose ends and providing council with a plan as we begin our search for new leadership.
Before election results were announced, sitting council members and candidates met to discuss the steps involved in the hiring process, draft a job announcement and discuss possible interim mangers. We all agreed that Chris Burkett would be an excellent choice and, by the end of the week, ads announcing the city manager position had been placed with the International City Managers Association, Colorado Municipal League and County/City Managers Association, as well as local publications.
A timeline has been established, and if all goes according to plan, we hope to have a new manager hired by the middle of August. Staff and citizens will be involved in the process, so stay tuned.
You may have noticed a new addition to the Colorado Welcome Center sign announcing the addition of Crow Canyon Connections. Crow Canyon staff has joined Welcome Center staff to enhance the tourist experience. They will offer special programming and merchandise featuring the area. Stop by and see what’s new. Sometimes it’s fun to see your hometown through the eyes of a tourist.
Just in time for spring, TEZ Talks, First National Bank, City of Cortez and Cortez Retail Enhancement Association are bringing in Mike McGrath, host of public radio’s “You Bet Your Garden” and former editor-in-chief of Organic Gardening magazine. If you love to garden, come get some tips from an expert. He will be at the Sunflower on May 19. Though it’s free, you must register online at sunflowertheatre.org. There are still spots available, but don’t wait too long to place your reservation.
Third Thursdays became the “in” event last summer, and Jon Brooks, the city’s manager of marketing and events, and Mark Drudge, CREA executive director, promise that it will be even better this year. They are now accepting vendor applications. Their offices are located in the Colorado Welcome Center or give them a call at 564-4096 to reserve a table. The dates for this summer’s Third Thursdays are June 21, July 19, Aug. 16, and Sept. 20, from 5-8 p.m. in Montezuma Park. Mark your calendar and plan to come. Jon promises strings of lights this summer to add to the ambiance!
Though delayed several months, the city is moving forward on the downtown median project. Bids were re-advertised, and as of this writing, five firms have expressed interest. The city will accept bids until 3 p.m. April 18, at which time they will be opened and read out loud at the service center. Bids will be presented to council for approval at the April 24 meeting, and notice released soon thereafter. Work can then begin and should be finished by late September. Such projects always involve some inconvenience, but we ask for your patience. I know that the finished project will be well worth it.
We had a lovely rain in Cortez last weekend, and there are beautiful blue skies as I write this column. With warmer days, spring is here, and with it the promise of new beginnings. There are exciting things in the future of our city, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months bring.
Karen Sheek is the mayor of Cortez, a position elected by Council members. Reach her at email@example.com or during her office hours from 12:30-1:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.