A Conversation With County Manager Rick Eckert

Montrose County manager Rick Eckert. Courtesy photo.

Montrose County manager Rick Eckert. Courtesy photo.

MONTROSE–(June 4, 2013)  He has been on the job for just six months, dealing with tough issues and big decisions from the start. It’s not easy, Montrose County Manager Rick Eckert acknowledges—but then, nothing worth doing ever is. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges that has faced Eckert since he came to work for Montrose County at the start of 2013 was the controversial road and bridge audit released in May, which indicated discontent among the department’s staff and allegations of mismanagement, and which resulted in longtime County Road & Bridge Supervisor Brian Wilson stepping down.

“I have been through worse things,” Eckert said, “but never so early in a new position. It has been very challenging, and not a lot of fun. But sometimes tough things need to be done, and when that is the case I do them.”

Eckert said that county commissioners had asked him to look into complaints about the road and bridge department, and to do what needed to be done. An independent audit was conducted by County Technical Services, Inc.

“I am proud of our commissioners,” Eckert said. “The transparency that they wanted here was fantastic; it was a very tough job, but we did it.

“The public had concerns.”

Eckert’s vision for Montrose County over the next five years includes economic development, and he sees a blueprint for success in the work completed by Scott Shine and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

“I have been extremely impressed with the DDA and what Scott Shine has accomplished,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing I would like to see county-wide; this could work in Olathe, it could work in Nucla.

“Montrose County has so much potential,” Eckert said. “The variety of places to go and see, from the Black Canyon to Paradox and the West End, is amazing. I have never seen so much diversity of landscape anywhere—this is a great place to be, the climate is just about perfect, and the people are fantastic too.”

Economic improvements include new industry “specific” to Montrose, he added.

“We don’t want just anything—we want to keep the nature of our community,” he said. “We love it here. I wouldn’t miss the Olathe Corn Festival for the world, and I can’t wait for the Montrose County Fair.

“The opportunities to enjoy life here are really off the charts.”

Excellent employees are one of the county’s major assets, Eckert added, and said that he intends to make sure that Montrose County is a good steward of public funds.

“Your tax dollars will be well spent,” he said. “I don’t run from hard decisions or hard tasks. And I want the community to know that you are getting more than your money’s worth from every one of our departments.”

The addition of Katie Yergensen as media relations manager will ensure that the county is communicating well with constituents and with the media, he noted.

And though his time here has been spent largely in leadership, Eckert said that he and his wife have been able to get out and enjoy the things that make Montrose County so appealing.

“We are in love with the West End,” he said, “and we had a chance to get out on the plateau the other day on Hwy 90. We head out into the county nearly every weekend, and once in a while of an evening.

“I was born in Colorado Springs, but I have lived all over,” Eckert said, “from the Middle East to Alaska…the people and the opportunities here are incredible. There are such a variety of small businesses, and little shops and stores that are just a pleasure to go into!

“This is home.”