By Lisa Young

Staff writer

Hotchkiss town council paid tribute to retiring town clerk Marlene Searle and welcomed new Trustee Kris Hillman to the board during its Oct. 8 regular meeting.

“We want to make sure we have a public send off for her, as short as it may be, per her request,” said Mayor Larry Wilkening regarding Searle.

Trustee Patrick Webb was given the honor of presenting the retiring town clerk with a parting gift basket filled with items donated by local businesses.

“We visited the businesses here in town, once they got over the shock that you were leaving they couldn’t move fast enough to contribute something ... of sheer gratitude for the way you’ve shepherded our city for the last three decades and have kept us secure and financially secure,” said Webb as he presented the gift to a Searle.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mary Hockenberry read a heartfelt proclamation in honor of Searle highlighting her work ethic, dedication, knowledge and experience as she guided a succession of mayors and council members in the performance of their duties as well as her day to day work at the customer counter and behind the scenes. Searle served in her position for 38 years.

The proclamation ended saying, “With deep gratitude and appreciation for her remarkable service, the Board of Trustees wish Marlene many happy years in her well deserved retirement and declare October, 8, 2020 Marlene Searle Day in Hotchkiss.” The proclamation was signed by Mayor Wilkening.

With emotion, Searle addressed the board and the audience thanking everyone in attendance.

“It’s been great, it’s been fun, you learn a lot, you never stop learning but you have these two, Ginger and Karen, so it will go on very smoothly, if not just call me. It took me a long time to get here but I am ready and it’s time,” Searle said.

Deputy town clerk Ginger Redden replaced Searle in September and Karen Laing was hired to take Redden’s position.

The board acknowledged the interest of Terry O’Brien and Kris Hillman to fill the vacant board position following the resignation of Esther Koontz in September. O’Brien graciously withdrew his name expressing support for Hillman who was unanimously approved by the board and sworn in by the town clerk.

Trustees approved the 2020 Model Traffic Code Ordinance upon second reading while discussion on the 2018 Building Code and Board of Adjustment was tabled until the next meeting.

Trustees accepted the lone bid for trash services from Double J Disposal and approved a $458 donation to the Center for Mental Health. The bid from Double J reflected a slight increase on fees charged to the town.

The board also approved two letters of support for grants efforts regarding a new Electric Vehicle charging station in Hotchkiss and a planning grant for trails on behalf of The Nature Connection.

Kim Shay, representing the Chamber of Commerce, said she hopes to have the new EV charging stations placed at the museum by the end of the year. She also told the board that work on a new trail system is receiving support from Delta County including the purchase of land to complete the trail system near the fairgrounds that will provide safe crossing over the river.

Council will work on the 2021 budget in a work session set for Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. The next Hotchkiss town council meeting is set for Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m.

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