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City manager says Delta is a good fit

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In searching for a city manager in late 2015, Delta City Council clearly stated a desire for "longevity" in the top job.

A brochure describing the job opening suggested candidates looking for potential "stepping stone" opportunities look elsewhere.

After narrowing down the applicants to four finalists, the city named David Torgler to the top position. He had most recently been town manager in Hayden, in northwest Colorado, but had also worked in communities in Washington, Wisconsin and Illinois. His undergraduate degree is from Western Michigan University; his master's is from Northern Illinois University.

Although he's well traveled, Torgler is feeling right at home in Delta. On the one-year anniversary of his appointment, he explained why Delta has been a good fit for him and his wife, Carmen.

"Delta is a community that my wife and I looked at because we wanted to make a longterm move to a community we wanted to be a part of," Torgler said.

They embrace life on the Western Slope, where they are close to outdoor activities they both enjoy. "The opportunities here in Delta are very appealing," he said.

They also enjoy the size of the community, which is similar to their hometowns, as well as the weather, the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the proximity to airports in Montrose and Grand Junction when they can get away to visit their two daughters. The orchards, the vineyards, the festivals ... "these are things that very much appeal to our lifestyle," Torgler said. "Carmen and I are enjoying becoming part of the community."

They have purchased a home, which is being remodeled, they've made new friends and they've found a church family. David is a member of the Delta Rotary Club and an occasional guest at the Kiwanis luncheon meetings.

While he says they felt Delta would be a good fit, they also believed they could be of benefit to the community, as well.

His first goal, Torgler said, was getting to know the community and understanding city council's priorities. With the five council members, three of whom were elected to office in April, he toured all of the city facilities, from the wastewater treatment plant to the golf course.

"I got to know our facilities at the same time that our city council was learning about them from our department heads," Torgler said. Because of their length of service and their knowledge of the community and the infrastructure, he said city staff is an invaluable source of information.

"That for me was a big accomplishment this first year," Torgler said. "In getting to know the city and its plans for the future, I discovered things that needed updating." He specifically mentioned a streets master plan and a parks, trails and open space master plan, both of which will hopefully be completed prior to preparation of the 2018 budget. The city has applied for a GOCO grant to help fund the parks, trails and open space master plan. As that plan unfolds, there will be an opportunity for public input. "I encourage anybody who has an interest in parks, recreation, the use of our trails and open space to attend those meetings," he said. Public input will weigh heavily as the city prioritizes future projects.

During his first year, Torgler also worked with the city council, department heads and community members to develop a strategic plan for the city. The focus, Torgler said, was to create a plan "that focused primarily on what was achievable and recognizable. It gave us the ability to then craft a budget that hit on the things that we're aiming at."

It was clear to all the participants, he said, that quality of life is of utmost importance to the city's residents. Everyone was also on the same page about providing and maintaining affordable and reliable city services, from water and electricity to streets and stormwater.

Economic development is another top priority. In Torgler's first year, the Delta Urban Renewal Authority was revitalized to enhance the city's ability to serve as a catalyst for the gateway and riverfront projects.

"We also continue to look at what we can do to work with local manufacturers," Torgler said. The city is participating in the purchase and redevelopment of the former Chaco facility, and it's addressing blighted properties throughout the community with a federal CDBG grant.

There's certainly no shortage of projects for the city manager, who appears to have the full support of both city council and city staff.

"He's been a breath of fresh air," said Mayor Ed Sisson, referring to Torgler. "He keeps city council informed of what's going on, and he lets the city staff do their job, which I really like. He's got my full support."

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