The Oak Creek Town Board formally appointed former associate judge Ralph Cantafio as the municipal court judge of Oak Creek on Thursday night.
Cantafio will take on the town's increasing caseload next month.
Cantafio, a Steamboat Springs attorney, will replace longtime Oak Creek municipal judge Bob Sonheim, who gave notice of his retirement earlier this summer. Sonheim will continue to serve as the municipal judge in Yampa.
Oak Creek's municipal court handles minor traffic offenses and municipal code violations such as dog-at-large tickets, Deputy Town Clerk Vivian Johnson said.
When Sonheim began serving as municipal judge a decade ago, he heard only one or two tickets a month, Town Clerk Karen Halterman said Thursday. Since then, the caseload has increased exponentially, and municipal court now is held several days and nights each month.
"It's not uncommon to have 18 to 25 people on the docket," Police Chief Russ Caterinicchio said.
Cantafio's first day of municipal court will be Aug. 21. He was out of town and could not be reached for comment Friday.
The Town Board also went into executive session for 45 minutes Thursday night to discuss Caterinicchio's performance as police chief, deeming the discussion a "personnel matter." The board members in attendance unanimously voted to take the discussion behind closed doors; Trustees Dave Fisher and Chuck Wisecup were absent.
After returning to public session, the Town Board reiterated its previous efforts to determine exactly which oversight powers the town government has over its police department.
The town's elected officials have expressed exasperation with Caterinicchio's denials to share records and information when police commissioners have attempted to review citizen complaints against the department. During the past several months, Oak Creek has worked to revise the town's police complaints process amid residents' complaints of heavy-handedness and over-enforcement of the law.
The Town Board has been working with its attorney, Bob Weiss, to delineate exactly what authority the town's elected officials and appointed police commissioners have over the Oak Creek Police Department, as well as what records they can access.
The Town Board is expected to appoint a replacement for former Mayor Pro-Tem Angie Krall at its next meeting on Aug. 14, as well as to approve an ordinance making it illegal to fill truck-mounted tanks with the town's treated water.