New town manager is on the job | SteamboatToday.com

New town manager is on the job

Nick Foster

A new man is at the helm in Hayden.

Town manager, Russell Martin — or as he prefers, “Russ” — was at Town Hall on Monday for his first official day on the job. The self-described quiet and casual 28-year-old may sound similar to manager Rob Straebel, but Martin said he will not be the same.

“I’m bringing outside experience and a different perspective, so my view won’t be the same as Rob’s,” Martin says. “I hope to bring similar guidance. At the end of the day, I want to get Hayden to the next level of what the people want.”

Martin has an extensive background in small-town governments. He has worked as a human resource director and planner in Minturn and Red Cliff for two years and as a regional planner in Richfield, Utah, for four years. He holds degrees from New Mexico State University and Utah State University.

“My job is to provide (Hayden governmental boards and commissions) with the process of running the town — to give a clear indication of the where members of the community are with their ideas and be reasonable about growth,” Martin said. “I’ve seen the boom-and-bust trend in Colorado towns. I’m here to smooth out the ride. I want to avoid the bumps.”

Town Clerk Lisa Johnston said Martin made it clear to the town staff that he does not want to be the leader as much as he want to be a part of the town.

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But being in a leadership position, Martin said he has dealt with all types of people — pro-growth and anti-growth, involved and uninvolved. Even when faced with extreme disagreement on issues, Martin said he is always open to hearing the other side, because “there is never one side to a story.”

“I want to be a part of the community,” Martin said. “I will give the townspeople respect, and I hope they give me respect. I think that’s a good relationship.”

Part of the challenge of gaining respect from the community is getting to know people, Martin said. He got a head start on that Monday. Between setting up his e-mail and voice mail accounts and reading minutes from recent Town Board meetings, he met his co-workers, town trustees, Mayor Chuck Grobe, school Superintendent Scott Mader and various visitors.

Assistant Town Clerk Susan Irvine — who, with planning consultant Tim Katers, took over much of the planning efforts in Straebel’s absence — said she is relieved help is just one office away.

“Russ has a lot of expertise, and I’m looking forward to that expertise,” Irvine said. “The logistic part of things will be easier. Our outside planner, Tim Katers, is great, but he’s four hours away. That’s not logistically simple.”

Martin said he was surprised by the staff’s workload. He said he wanted to tell everyone to relax as he watched them running around the office frantically.

“It was a stressful day,” Johnston said. “We were putting together Town Board packets. And we’ve been doing everything in Rob’s absence. We didn’t have a choice. The work doesn’t stop just because there’s no town manager.

“Russ didn’t come a day too soon.”

“They’re hard working,” Martin said of the town staff. “I’m surprised with the longevity of the staff. They know how this place works, and the people of the town should be pleased with that.”

— To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com