Routt County Routt County received 25 applications for its new, full-time public safety director position at Yampa Valley Airport, and officials hope to have someone selected within the next two months.
"I hope to have someone hired by mid October at the latest," Airport Director Jim Parker said.
Five finalist applicants have been identified and Parker is beginning to set up times to interview them.
The position opened up after Routt County and airport officials decided to expand the county emergency manager position and the public safety positions to full time.
For 10 years, Chuck Vale both part-time positions. When the jobs went to full time in July, he was given the choice of which he wanted and went for emergency manager position.
"I'll still be doing both until there's a replacement for me," Vale said.
With the onslaught of wildfires this summer 89 and counting he's been putting long hours at work and is welcoming the change.
"The process is moving right along," Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison said.
He also is looking forward to the change so Vale can start concentrating solely on emergency needs in the county.
Primarily, Vale will work on being proactive in fire prevention issues, like getting accessible water supplies in rural areas, road widening and creating defensible space around rural homes built in wooded areas. He also will organize Routt County's first hazardous material cleanup crew.
Once a full-time person airport public safety steps in for Vale, Parker is expecting an overall better situation to emerge.
"The position will fit into the schedule. There's a lot of things that can be going on in the summer," he said.
Though the core of the airport's safety director's responsibilities revolve around the winter tourist season, working full time in the summer will allow better organization of the different elements in the department, Parker said.
Certification manuals, budget work, and coordination of mutual aid groups and law enforcement agencies concerning airport security issues can be looked at more closely with a full-time safety director, he said.
"Overall, the department will become a little more efficient," Parker said.
Most of the finalists for the job are from out of town, which could be a liability when those people learn more about the facts of life in the area, he said.
First and foremost is the salary.
Unless the applicant has considerable experience in airport safety, the bottom range of salary, $39,939, will be offered. Experienced directors will be asked to take $40,643. That may not be enough for some people applying.
Plus, there are issues about cost of living in Routt County and the amount of snow that the area receives that could detour non-alpine people from coming to Routt County, Parker said.
"Some of them may drop out after they hear some of that information," Parker said.
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