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The Wade Gateley era officially began this week as Elbert County's new top legal official was introduced at the March 12 BOCC meeting.“I've been practicing law in Colorado for nearly 32 years and am looking forward to taking over the reins here in Elbert County,” said Gateley. “This is an exciting opportunity.”Gateley, whose first day on the job was March 10, was introduced at the Board of County Commissioners' meeting by County Manager Ed Ehmann.“We're excited to have Wade as a member of our team,” said Ehmann. “His experience will be a valuable asset to Elbert County.”Gateley replaces Alex Beltz, who resigned as county attorney in February in order to accept a job with a Denver law firm.Currently living in Colorado Springs where he has been operating his own law practice, Gateley served for 16 years in a part-time capacity as Kit Carson County's attorney.“My wife has a job in the Springs, so at least for the time being,” he said, “I will be commuting to Kiowa.”During his first BOCC meeting, Gateley listened attentively but did not speak until near the end, when he was asked a question pertaining to a pending oil and gas permit application before the BOCC.“I'm going to get our new attorney's feet wet,” Commissioner Robert Rowland said, before asking the question, which Gateley answered to the commissioner's satisfaction.With the recent dismissal of a lawsuit filed by county resident Don Pippin against the BOCC — which accused commissioners of defamation by labeling Pippin a “potential terrorist” — Gateley's biggest initial challenge is following up on an appeal by the county to an administrative judge's ruling that the BOCC violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act in its hiring of local consultant Tim Buchanan to promote a proposed 2012 mill levy hike.In that case, the judge fined Rowland personally $1,000, a controversial move that prompted Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office to intervene and ask that the judge's ruling be invalidated because Rowland is a public official and not liable personally for decisions made by the entire BOCC.
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