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New city manager takes the helm at Trinidad city hall

TRINIDAD — When Gabriel Engeland first arrived in Trinidad from Gilbert, AZ last month, he took over his new office on the 3rd floor at City Hall and hit the brick streets running with municipal business in hand. But, attending to the city’s day-to-day business in a small community also means forging strong business bonds with the leaders of Las Animas County. “It is a very important relationship to have,” Engeland said to the Las Animas County Commissioners March 3 during their regular meeting as he entered his second week on the new job. Later that evening during the regular meeting of the Trinidad City Council, he was introduced to the several personalities that make up the council. Being a city manager in a small, but growing community in southern Colorado with ties to its southern neighbor in Colfax County, N.M., means Engeland may wear several hats at once while learning the ropes of city businesses, but it is not the first time he has done so. During the three years working for the city of Gilbert, located near the Phoenix metropolitan area, he served as an assistant to the town manager, development services director, parks and recreation manager, and economic development administrator. “There’s a lot of differences between Gilbert (the government), and Trinidad (the government) but the one thing that is the same,” Engeland said, “People wear a lot of

different hats and perform a lot of different functions”. Engeland’s desire to live in the Trinidad area was inspired by a trip he made with his Navy friend based in San Diego to see a Bob Dylan show at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo nearly a dozen years ago. During their journey, the younger Engeland, at age 22 at the time, spent the night in Trinidad. “We had a really fun experience here,” Engeland said of the trip while making the point of his attachment to the southern Colorado area. Local people from all over the city has thrown out the Welcome Mat for Engeland and his wife, Amanda, since his arrival. “The community here has been phenomenal,” he said. “Everyone has gone really far out of their way to make my wife and I feel welcome.” While the couple does not have any children, the Engeland’s have adopted a puppy locally through the Noah’s Ark Animal Welfare Association. Engeland was meant to work in the public sector from the time he obtained his undergraduate degree in Community Service from Central Michigan University and his Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Top on the priority list as the new city manager, Engeland aims to have city government operate with, “The highest quality service at the lowest possible price.” This translates into closing the gaps in the budget deficit over the next 3-5 years. “We have to get our operating general fund to a sustainable point,” Engeland said. When he is not busy with the city, Engeland enjoys the many hiking trails that are offered in the Spanish Peaks region. Engeland also likes to fish. “As soon as I get the budget under control, I’m going to go fishing,” Engeland said with a slight chuckle. There will be a community meet-and-greet at Trinidad City Hall in the council chambers Tuesday, March 17 from 5:30-7p.m., followed by the regular meeting of the Trinidad City Council scheduled to start at 7 p.m.