Elbert County in market for a new manager

Commissioners discuss hiring a replacement for Ed Ehmann, who has been on leave for more than six weeks

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Retired lawyer Rick Brown took to the podium at the June 14 Board of County Commissioners meeting to address the "shifting status of the county manager position" in Elbert County, he said.

"We've been told he's on sick leave, that he resigned, that he's on vacation," said Brown, who lives in Kiowa.

Whatever the case, he said, "It's apparent you will soon need to be hiring a position for the chief executive officer of the county."

County Manager Ed Ehmann was promoted into his current role, at annual base salary of $109,000, at the Feb. 26, 2014 BOCC meeting. Prior to that, he had been employed with the county for seven years as the public works director.

On April 26 of this year, Ehmann's contract as county manager was extended at a BOCC meeting, one in which the three county commissioners took turns expressing their gratitude and confidence in Ehmann's contributions and capabilities.

Ehmann notified the county later that day that he would not be able to return to work for the next two weeks, according to Commissioner Danny Willcox. He has been on sick leave since that time. No official information has been available as to the specifics of why Ehmann has been out.

At the June 14 meeting, Brown recommended a handbook to the commissioners titled "How to Hire a Local Government Administrator," published in conjunction by multiple Colorado state agencies.

Commissioner Grant Thayer explained that the commissioners had contacted an agency in early May when they realized they would be required to hire a new county manager.

Thayer expressed gratitude for the legwork Brown had done and said the commissioners already had several of the books in hand.

"We're reviewing the internal job description right now," Thayer said. "We take the position very seriously. Whoever we are able to finally hire will affect this county for a very long time.

"Even if they stay for only three years," he said, "their effect goes on a very long time. We take this very seriously."

No official documents regarding Ehmann's departure have been filed. As of the morning of June 15, he was still listed as county manager on the county's website.

Ehmann - along with the board of county commissioners, former commissioner Robert Rowland and County Attorney Wade Gateley - has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by a county employee. Kyle Fenner, the county's director of community and development services, alleges that officials spied on her computer and made defamatory statements intended to embarrass her. She works in a "hostile" environment, her lawyer says.

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