Susan Hansen has worked for Delta County for 23 years, 20 of those years as county administrator. She will leave that post Friday, Sept. 28.
The Board of County Commissioners plans to have her work on occasional special projects in the future.
Jan McCracken, currently office manager for Internal Medicine at Delta County Memorial Hospital, served with Hansen for eight years as county clerk and recorder and eight years as county commissioner.
"Susan started out in planning and was so pleasant, so positive and so full of energy. When she became county administrator, the employees were glad to have her in that position. We saw her as being a good representative for all of us," McCracken said.
"Susan was a wonderful resource to me. She helped me understand the county clerk's budget, how it worked, how I could make it more efficient. She functioned as a mentor to me and I respected her and her opinion."
From her broader view as a commissioner, McCracken said, "Susan really cares about the county and its people, its welfare, and she steered the county in a very conservative fiscal way. She kept the reserves going and watched the dollars. Whenever there was a need, Susan showed the commissioners how to pay for that need."
Current commissioner Doug Atchley also acknowledges Hansen's fiscal care of county resources. "Susan's leadership, her conservative style of management, has really paid dividends during these economic times," he said. "The county has no debt. How many other counties can say that? It is a great fiscal benefit not having to pay interest on debt. It was Susan's conservative guidance before the 2007 recession came to the forefront that keeps our cost of doing business less now. We continue to provide services to the people of Delta County. There have been cuts, but they have been equitable and fair and have provided value to the taxpayer."
McCracken says Susan never stops thinking, is always searching for ways to make things better, whether it's the budget, city planning, land development or good elections. She wants to be certain whatever is put forth is the very best it can be. "Susan consults good sources. She is always well prepared, giving written information to the county commissioners and clerk and recorder (who records commissioner meetings). She has been our source for history on issues. She knows where to find details," McCracken said.
"I have often wondered, 'How does she remember all this?' Her memory is incredible. There will be a huge vacuum without her memory."
Before his retirement as president of Wells Fargo Bank and before being elected as a commissioner, Doug Atchley worked with and observed Susan from the bank's perspective. He attended numerous Board of County Commissioners meetings. He admired how she conducted herself with the many different commissioners and a wide range of the community. "She has a great ability to work with all types of people.
"She is a great listener, always has a thoughtful suggestion, a unique ability to involve the thought process of people and the ability to calm people down. She is competent and has the ability to get things done," said Atchley.
"The work Susan did in coordinating and mediating with the North Fork Coal Working Group is a noteworthy accomplishment," he said. "The situation was so divisive, so contentious."
Both McCracken, who was a commissioner in 2006, and Atchley, who remembers the occasion well, think one of Delta County's finest occasions was the recognition of Susan Hansen as County Administrator of the Year by Colorado Counties, Inc. The recognition was from her peers, many of whom had sought her advice on their problems in their counties. McCracken said in giving her the award, Susan's Delta County officials and other county officials throughout the state were acknowledging the work Susan had done with counties, her wealth of wisdom, her logical mind, how she dissects "where we are and where we want to go" and her humble attitude of "I just did what I was supposed to do."
Jim Crook, recently retired Mayor of Crawford, was appointed to serve a one-year term on Crawford town council in 1987. Susan was the town administrator/clerk, her salary paid by a grant. When the grant was over she remained as town clerk. After his one-year term, Crook was elected as mayor, a position in which he served for 24 years.
Crook said Susan was always doing something to improve things. She obtained a matching $500 grant from Kellogg Foundation and Colorado State University for the betterment of the town. Several Crawford people volunteered to help in the projects. They installed "Welcome to Crawford Country" signs at three entrances to the town and sent the Crawford newsletter to residents in the North Fork Valley. Susan led the effort in getting the three towns to work together to establish and improve a North Fork trail network.
"Susan knew about a county job that opened," Crook said. "She felt bad about leaving Crawford but the town was small and couldn't offer the salary the county could.
"She is a wonderful source of information. I always called Susan Hansen when I had questions about some matter and she would set me straight. At the County and Municipal Quarterly Meetings, where we would prioritize grant monies and discuss county-municipal issues, Susan explained the information very well."
Crawford recently had to decide what to do about the town hall building: renovate it, leave it as it is or sell it. Community meetings were held to discuss the options.
"Susan loves the old school, loves Crawford and was at all the meetings. At one brainstorming meeting, a committee was formed, Friends of Crawford Town Hall, and Susan was chosen to chair that committee. The town put in $150,000, there are two anonymous gifts of $30,000 each and a third for $25,000, if a commercial kitchen is part of the renovation. The Colorado Historical Society granted us $106,000," said Crook.
"With the money in hand we will do the work in phases, the first phase will replace all windows and doors and the second phase will cover the rest of it — electrical, kitchen, bathrooms, and will preserve one room as an original classroom."
At the Old Timers Newcomers Dinner in February, Susan was presented with 'Volunteer of the Year' award. She also picked up the 'Non-profit of the Year' award on behalf of Friends of Crawford Town Hall.
Although Susan Hansen has spent her career as a public official, she is a very private person. She has firmly refused to let the county commissioners or county staff host a retirement reception for her. Individuals who wish to thank her for her service or wish her well will need to do so on an individual basisblog comments powered by Disqus