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Hiring and pay frustrations at the courthouse

WALSENBURG- A frustrated Debbie Reynolds sat down with the Huerfano County Commissioners on Tuesday to voice her problem with county hiring wages and county salaries. Reynolds, who is County Treasurer and Public Trustee, took exception to how new county hires can start off making more money than long-time county employees. She pointed out she has employees who have taken advancement tests over the years with no raises, and the county just hired two new employees for over $28,000. “I understand there are vacancies needing to be filled, but this is very frustrating,” Reynolds said. Commissioner Max Vezzani responded by saying it was a fair question, but there wasn’t enough time at the Tuesday meeting to go into details, but she was not the only department head to come to them to complain about hiring practices. Vezzani asked County Administrator John Galusha to set up a luncheon meeting with department heads to discuss their concerns. Galusha told the commissioners how the organization that runs the Fox Theatre is looking to donate the building, perhaps to the county. The question was, would the county be interested in owning it? Vezzani said the theatre was a very important asset to the county, and if they could facilitate keeping the theatre running with the proper conditions, then he was all for it. An immediate sticking point was the offer for the theatre came with restrictions on the deed, stipulating what could and could not be done with the building. Galusha urged, and the commissioners agreed, that it would need to be a ‘clean deed’ before they would consider taking ownership. Vezzani, though a fan of the Fox, said he didn’t want to be down there every weekend making popcorn. Management of the theatre would probably be turned over to the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation, one of the few local non-profits with a paid director, who could manage a volunteer staff to show movies. Another topic of discussion for the commissioners was the deteriorating condition of the HVAC system on the county jail. Stale air, high humidity and mold are just some of the complaints the commissioners have been getting. Galusha reported that a price estimate from last year to completely re-do the jail’s HVAC system would cost around $700,000. That was a bit of a conversation killer right there, except to say that was a lot, and the commissioners need to think about it. In other business, the commissioners approved hiring a level one clerk for the county clerk’s office and an I.T. person for the second I.T position. They also approved a wine tasting event at the Career Building Academy for the Spanish Peaks Healthcare Foundation for February 28.