Steamboat Springs Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak was back at her desk in the downtown courthouse Monday for the first time since she suffered injuries to both shoulders Feb. 8 in a one-car accident in wintry conditions on Colorado Highway 131.
The veteran commissioner had been participating in county deliberations for nearly six months via telephone conference calls. It was easy to tell from the tone of her voice this week that she was pleased to be taking part in person again.
“I feel great. I really feel good,” Stahoviak said. “I have some pain in my right shoulder, but I can do everything I need to do.”
Stahoviak was a passenger, riding in her wheelchair, in the back of a van driven by her husband, Ron, and traveling northbound toward Steamboat Springs when it slid on an icy patch of highway.
The van crossed Colorado Highway 131 and ended up on its side.
Stahoviak said she had a reverse replacement of her left shoulder during a surgical procedure in Denver and a pin inserted in her right shoulder.
Stahoviak frequently helps to crystallize the discussion on everything from budget matters to development permits. She acknowledged it was difficult to play that role via weekly conference calls.
“Sometimes I just had to wait for a conversation to develop,” she said. “You don’t have the same interaction with people over the phone. The personal interaction is not the same.”
Commission Chairwoman Diane Mitsch Bush said Stahoviak was so well prepared during her convalescence that she was able to fully participate in hearings, although something is missing when you can’t read another person’s body language and facial expressions.
“She’s very effective on the phone,” Mitsch Bush said. “She prepares and she reads all of her materials. I don’t think we’d have reached any different decisions” if she had been physically present at the hearings.
The first half of 2011 was not the first time Stahoviak had to participate remotely in county commissioner discussions. She endured a lengthy illness beginning in 2003 and continuing off and on through 2004 and the majority of 2005. The illness ultimately resulted in the amputation of a portion of her left leg after doctors concluded she was not a candidate for a prosthesis. She has been a wheelchair user since that time.
Stahoviak said she might have returned to the courthouse the previous week, but a last-minute hitch with the wheelchair lift in her van necessitated a repair.
“I’ve had the support of everyone to be able to do this and I sure appreciate it,” Stahoviak said.
— To reach Tom Ross, call (970) 871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com