Depending on your perspective, Brandon Lenderink's timing could not be worse — or better.
The new director of Elbert County's Office of Emergency Management stepped into his position Sept. 9, just as Colorado's now-historic torrential rainstorms were taking aim at the Front Range and eastern plains.
“Brandon's been baptized by fire,” said Elbert County Sheriff Shayne Heap, referring to Lenderink's first week on the job.
Born and raised in the Denver area and now a resident of Kiowa, Linderink, 32, replaces Cory Stark as department director.
Stark, Elbert County's emergency manager since 2009, resigned in June in order to accept a position as the North Central Regional Field Manager for the Colorado Department of Emergency Management.
In his new role, Stark will assist 10 counties, including Elbert, in helping to bolster emergency management plans and programs.
Stark, together with a handful of other county officials, made up a panel that interviewed and then selected three finalists for the emergency management position.
Following a final round of interviews, Lenderink's name was submitted to county commissioners, who voted unanimously to approve the new hire.
Lenderink will be paid an annual salary of $50,000. According to Board of County Commissioners Chairman Robert Rowland, approximately half of the emergency management director's salary is funded by grants from the state.
“There was a time when it was more optional for counties and local jurisdictions to have emergency managers,” Rowland explained. “But in today's world, it has become a necessity.”
Heap said the county received interest in the position from applicants “all over the country” and the process of interviewing candidates and selecting Lenderink took several months.
“I'm looking forward to working with Brandon,” the sheriff said. “He's a very good communicator and really seems to have a passion for the community and the work.”
Lenderink actually spent much of his second week on the job in Boulder helping local, state and federal emergency response teams there.
“Brandon came to me and asked for permission to pack his tent, backpack and sleeping bag and head up north to help however he could,” said Rowland. “He's going to get some great experience.”
Rowland is impressed with Lenderink's “poise, passion and confidence.”
“He's going to grow and develop in this job,” the commissioner said. “I think he's going to be great.”