Hotchkiss town hall

Hotchkiss Town Hall 

The town of Hotchkiss announced the hire of Bruce Joss to become its next municipal judge. Joss currently serves as the municipal judge for the towns of Cedaredge and DeBeque. He is expected to begin his tenure in January.

The hiring committee consisted of Mayor Pro-Tem Mary Hockenbery, Trustee Patrick Webb, Police Chief Scott Green, Town Attorney Bo Nerlin, Town Clerk Ginger Redden.

Webb said the hiring committee was impressed with the amount of preparation that Joss put into his application process including reading all of the town’s ordinances. Julie Huffman, Delta Health attorney and Paonia municipal judge, also applied for the position.

Nerlin said Joss was honored to accept the position and will be able to preside over court beginning in January. Joss won’t be available until then due to work he is conducting on the Cedaredge municipal code.

“Based on some of the work that he’s doing in terms of updating the municipal code, we think he’ll be a great fit to work with Chief Green in terms of assisting both the police department and legal council with any updates that he might see to the town’s criminal code,” Nerlin told the board.

Hotchkiss Judge Lynn French recently stepped down following complaints over his handling of a shoplifting case involving former Marshal Dan Miller’s adult daughter. French had served as municipal judge for over 30 years.

In other town news, the council took another look at asking in-town businesses to register for a license. The mayor said the purpose was simply to know who and what kind of businesses are operating within town limits. The town already has a business license ordinance on the books; however, according to the town clerk while a fee is mentioned it is not applied.

“We’re already there with a business ordinance. I think it’s a matter of whether or not we want to follow through with this and get businesses to sign up,” Wilkening told the board.

Trustees agreed that the town should at least have a voluntary list of town businesses to keep better track. It was suggested that businesses could renew their information on January 1st of each year. Wilkening said the town would provide a certificate to businesses that register.

Attorney Nerlin told the board that he will work with staff to get everything in place to move the initiative forward.

“If there’s any sort of code update or amendment that we need to do we can present that to you but I feel like we have the direction from the trustees to move forward with getting this back up and running,” he said. “I think it would be good that we have a noticing aspect of things to let those current businesses within the town know that this is out there.”

Council held a follow-up discussion from a previous meeting on changing the hours that town parks can be available to the public.

“We need to have something where we don’t have confusion between county sheriffs and our officers as it relates mostly to the fairgrounds,” Wilkening said, adding that there has been discussion on keeping the fairgrounds open from sunrise to sunset.

Wilkening said the county will place signage at the fairgrounds with the updated hours. He said the changes are meant to bring consistency among parks in the Hotchkiss area.

Park times can be amended for special events. The town attorney will amend the existing ordinance providing the time changes. Wilkening also reported that the county closed all of the restrooms at the fairgrounds due to vandalism.

Toward the end of the meeting, trustees approved liquor license renewals for the Creamery Arts Center, City Market and Mahalo Beverages/ Tri-R Liquors. They also approved a special events liquor license for Delta County Livestock Association.

Hotchkiss Town Hall will be closed Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26 in recognition of the Thanksgiving holiday. The office will reopen on Monday, Nov. 29 at 8:00 a.m.

Lisa Young is a staff writer for the Delta County Independent.

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