Elder Quest LLC owner to lead human services department

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— Routt County has hired Vickie Clark of Grand Junction to lead its Department of Human Services. She starts May 1.

County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said Clark brings exceptional communication and collaboration skills to the job.

"She'll be a good fit for Routt County," Stahoviak said.

"She has a good vision for the future of human services," County Manager Tom Sullivan added.

Clark has a master's degree in social services and 14 years experience in human services, including 12 years in Mesa County's adult services division. She left Mesa County in 2007 to start Elder Quest LLC, a private care management business that she owns and manages. Clark is also a frequent columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press.

Sullivan acknowledged Clark's previous focus on adult services but said her hiring is not part of a desire to shift Routt County's focus toward adults.

"The child issues, the youth issues are probably a bigger part of our workload," Sullivan said. "There's not any change in our focus."

Clark said she is confident in her ability to manage a broad spectrum of human services.

"I'm really confident that my skills will carry over," she said. "I'm up for the challenge."

On March 10, the Routt County Board of Commissioners approved a request by Sullivan to hire Clark at Step 4 of the county's pay scale for department managers with additional authorization to increase her to Step 5 with a successful six-month performance review. The county's entry-level pay for department managers is $79,539, but Clark will start at $87,942. Sullivan said he requested the higher salary for Clark because she exceeds the minimum requirements for the position.

"Her education and experience help to get us to that point," Sullivan said.

Clark said she looks forward to working for a smaller county.

"I was so intrigued by the fact that I might be able to work in a department where I could know everybody's name," she said.

Eye on the job

Clark, originally from the San Francisco Bay area, is no stranger to the Yampa Valley. She and her husband have a cabin north of Craig.

"I've been watching the job actually for several years," Clark said. "We've spent a lot of time in that part of the country and just love it."

Clark did not identify any specific goals for Routt County's Department of Human Services.

"My goal is just going to be to learning my job," she said. "I just need to spend some time figuring out what the goals of the people in the community are before I start spouting out my own goals."

One reason Clark will not start until May is that she is a first-time grandmother. She leaves today for Hawaii to visit her son and daughter-in-law, who just gave birth to twin daughters.

Clark fills a position held for 22 years by Bob White, who resigned in November. White said in January that he left the county on good terms for reasons including health concerns, a wish to spend more time with family and a desire to do more work on his North Routt ranch.

The Department of Human Services is responsible for programs such as child support enforcement, child and adult welfare and the county's early childhood development program, First Impressions. The department also partners with organizations such as Grand Futures Prevention Coalition and Horizons Specialized Services.

Nancy Smith, assistant county attorney for the Department of Human Services, and caseworker supervisor Mike Sidinger have led the department since White's resignation. Last week, the county commissioners approved salary increases of 3 percent for Smith and Sidinger for their four-month appointments as co-interim directors.

"I think they've done a very good job of keeping up with all the workload over there," Sullivan said of Smith and Sidinger. "They both stepped up very well, as well as all the other staff members in the department."

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

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