Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak will spend the holidays and the final two weeks of her 20-year political tenure in the Doak Walker Care Center. And that’s the good news.
Although Stahoviak told me Friday that her convalescence from yet another surgery has afforded her a transition from the nonstop work of being your county commissioner into retirement, I’m left with an indefinable sense of regret over the fact that she isn’t there this month at the right side of the long oak table where she used to park her wheelchair.
Don’t be alarmed. Stahoviak is back in Routt County and recovering well after undergoing surgery this month at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver to have an artificial hip removed from her left leg. It was her right leg that was partially amputated in 2005 after a series of knee surgeries and the discovery of an infection in her femur.
When she began feeling back pain this autumn, Stahoviak went to doctors who determined that it was related to a problem with her left hip. But the artificial hip obscured a large infection in the joint and delayed the diagnosis. There was some concern that she could lose a second leg, but her doctors reassured her that the infection, while large, was not of the nasty nature of a staph infection. However, her surgeons at St. Luke’s and at Yampa Valley Medical Center are in agreement that it is best not to implant a new artificial joint in her hip due to the likelihood that it would trigger a return of the infection. So, she is undergoing rehab again.
I don’t want to go any further into Stahoviak’s medical history. But I can say that she has endured considerable adversity with courage and an unwavering commitment to her work. When people ask Stahoviak how she remains so cheerful, her typical response is, “I don’t have any other choice.”
Most people don’t know how many times she has joined in the deliberation over complex issues and decisions at the Routt County Courthouse via a telephone conference call. But she’s always a full participant.
Throughout her five terms on the Board of Commissioners, Stahoviak has never failed to prepare well, and she has displayed a keen analytical mind, demonstrated compassion when it was appropriate and always had the courage to say “no” when she felt it was necessary for the greater good of all of her constituents.
She is hopeful that her physicians will allow her to be in the commissioners’ hearing room on Jan. 8 when her successor, Tim Corrigan, is sworn in, but it’s no sure thing. And county staff is planning a reception later in January.
But you still have time to wish her Happy New Year with a quick note or card. Send your messages to Stahoviak in care of the Doak Walker Care Center, 1100 Central Park Drive, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com