Although just 10 people attended the special meeting of the Board of County Commissioners on Sept. 20, it is likely that every citizen of Elbert County will be impacted in some way by a decision that was made public at the meeting.
From a trio of …
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From a trio of finalists, Sam Albrecht was selected for the position of county manager. Albrecht, an Elbert County resident, has a master’s degree in business administration and has more than 25 years of leadership and management experience, primarily in the nonprofit sector. He is the principal officer of Albrecht Consulting Solutions.
Albrecht succeeds Ed Ehmann, who resigned in June after more than three years as county manager.
The commissioners spent much of the meeting describing the process of how the new county manager was chosen and why Albrecht was their final choice.
“One of the things we're finding is that you get what you ask for,” said Commissioner Grant Thayer, “because the (final three) gentlemen we interviewed — each and every one of them fit what we asked for.”
“This is one of those positions that you fill very carefully,” said Commissioner Chris Richardson, “because it is going to impact the county for a long time.”
Richardson said that two panels, which were made up of Elbert County citizens and county employees, met with the finalists.
“The panels were for discussion about what they thought, not acting as advisory committees — nothing formal set up beyond the interview and sharing their feedback,” said Commissioner Danny Willcox.
“They didn't rank them. We didn't want to see that,” he said.
Willcox said they chose people for the panels who represented the various sectors within the community.
The private citizens on the first panel represented the areas of agriculture— rancher Lee Benjamin of Simla — and working professionals — lawyer Ric Morgan of Elbert.
Schools were represented by Elizabeth School District Superintendent Douglas Bissonette, and Elizabeth Police Chief Stephen Hasler and Rattlesnake Fire Protection District Chief Cass Kilduff represented first responders.
A second panel consisted of six county employees: County Attorney Bart Greer, Undersheriff Troy McCoy, County Assessor Billie Mills, County Engineer Sean O'Hearn, County Treasurer Rick Pettitt and County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder.
The commissioners also met with each candidate one-on-one for individual interviews.
“The person in the position of county manager has to create and maintain a team environment,” Willcox said. “It's incumbent upon the county manager. That's why the county employees' input was so valuable in the decision we made.”
Willcox cited Albrecht's interpersonal skills and ability to fit in with the citizens and culture of Elbert County as strong factors for his selection.
Former lawyer Rick Brown spoke with prepared remarks during the public comment portion of the meeting.
He stated his frustration with what he believes was a lack of public involvement during the selection process.
Brown, who lives in Kiowa, said that he had hoped the commissioners would “… give an opportunity for the public at large to meet with the candidates … it's disappointing that you didn't do it.”
Willcox responded with a statement after the meeting.
“We believed we had citizen involvement with the people we had chosen, but in hindsight, we could have brought in more on those panels,” Willcox said.
Marlene Groves, also of Kiowa, weighed in on the selection process after the meeting.
“In a perfect world, there would have been more citizen involvement,” Groves said, “but when I look at the citizens' part, they're very high-caliber citizens.”
A start date for Albrecht is not firm, but Richardson said he expects it to be by the first week of October, since contract details had yet to be ironed out.
Thayer expressed optimism with the selection of Albrecht as county manager.
“This is going to help us change our culture,” Thayer said, “make it forward-moving, less reactionary.”
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