Steamboat Springs The Routt County commissioners returned from the Labor Day weekend Tuesday to find out that Director of Communications Ray Deichsel had resigned effective immediately for unspecified personal reasons. He served in the post for just 10 months.
The director of communications oversees the emergency dispatch system that serves law enforcement, emergency medical and fire services throughout the county. The commissioners have struggled to recruit and retain people for the job.
"He was doing a great job," Commissioner Ben Beall said of Deichsel, regret evident in his tone of voice. Beall learned of the resignation via an e-mailed memo from Deichsel.
Deichsel was hired Jan. 10. His predecessor, Dale Kuhn, also served less than a year. Deichsel was the county's fourth director of communications in five years.
Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak insisted the past four directors of communications resigned for strictly personal reasons. She said she empathizes with the dispatchers presently working at Routt County Communications.
"Believe me, the dispatchers were thrilled when Ray came, because they thought they'd have some continuity," Stahoviak said. "Along with law enforcement, being a dispatcher is one of the most stressful jobs in Routt County. For them to have this uncertainty is not easy for them and we know that."
Sharon Cleaver has worked in the communications operation in Routt County for 15 years. A supervisor in the department, she said Deichsel was good to work for.
"I think he was a very fair boss very open and honest," Cleaver said.
Deichsel's letter of resignation came in the form of a two paragraph memorandum dated Sept. 5.
"It is with great regret that I am advising you that effective immediately I am resigning my position as Director of Communication," he wrote. "This is being done for personal reasons beyond my control. I want to thank all with (whom) I have had the pleasure to work with for all of their kindness and professionalism. It is with great regret that I submit this resignation but hope that you understand."
The commissioners said they are aware of Deichsel's personal situation but declined to discuss the details. They said they feel comfortable that his reasons for resigning justify the abruptness of his departure. Deichsel was not at work Tuesday and could not be reached for further comment.
Cleaver added that the dispatchers have not heard any further word from Deichsel beyond his letter of resignation. His departure is impacting the mood in the communications office, she said.
"It was a shock to everyone here," Cleaver said. But she added that she believes Deichsel must have had no other option.
"He was just the type of person if there was any other way, he would have done it," Cleaver said.
Cleaver said that as of Tuesday afternoon, some dispatch employees were not yet aware of Deichsel's resignation.
The second departmental supervisor, Lori McCarty, found out about the resignation Tuesday. She said she is already scheduled to meet with the commissioners to discuss the interim period before the next director is hired.
McCarty acted as the interim supervisor for dispatch operations during a long vacancy in the director's position in the fall of 1999, Stahoviak said. At that time, administrative assistant Sue Heineman handled many of the administrative aspects of the director's job.
In his resignation memo, Deichsel recommended county Emergency Manager Chuck Vale as his replacement. Stahoviak said the commissioners won't begin to consider a future course of action until they have had a chance to meet with McCarty, Cleaver and Heineman.
Prior to Deichsel, Kuhn filled the director of communications role. He resigned after 10 months on the job, after coming to the county from Kansas Oct. 1, 1998. Before Kuhn it was Tom Carney, who started at the county June 26, 1996, and stayed two years until June 30, 1998. Before that, George Wisnovsky held the job for 10 months, from Sept. 18, 1995, until July 10, 1996.
Cleaver, who has seen all of the directors come and go for 15 years, said Mike Loth, who was in the post for five years, had the longest tenure.
The job carried a salary range of $44,200 to $47,400 when the search for Deichsel was under way.
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