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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

Pennell will fill vacated seat as Paonia trustee

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Photo by Tamie Meck Barry Pennell (right) will be appointed to fill the trustee seat for the Town of Paonia vacated by former trustee Bill Brunner, who resigned from the board. Pennell was one of nine trustee candidates in the 2016 town election.

Barry Pennell will be sworn in as a trustee for the Town of Paonia at the Aug. 8 board meeting. Pennell will serve until a new board is seated following next April's election, when four seats are set to expire.

Pennell was appointed to the board at the July 25 town board meeting by a 3-2 vote.

"This is the second time I've thrown my hat in the ring," said Pennell, who was one of nine trustee candidates to run in the 2016 town election. He has experience in business project management, consulting, human resources, and teambuilding and is planning to open a local business in the near future. He currently serves on the board of the Western Slope Conservation Center.

Ross King also submitted a letter of interest. King, a former trustee who served four years on the board, was appointed town treasurer by the board last spring after a failed re-election bid. The appointment of a treasurer is required under Colorado statute.

Prior to the vote, trustees voted 4-1 to have King resign as treasurer if appointed to the board. Trustee Chelsea Bookout made the motion, stating that she would be "very upset" to see King resign as treasurer. "He has a working knowledge of what's going on." With budget talks beginning soon, and no other person identified to replace King, it would put the town "at a serious disadvantage," said Bookout.

Town attorney Bo Nerlin said he could find nothing in state statute prohibiting "service with a dual role," but noted that potential conflicts of interest could arise. "I would say it's probably not best practiced" for a person to serve as both treasurer and trustee, said Nerlin.

Trustee Suzanne Watson said King is "doing a fine job" as treasurer, but if appointed he would likely also serve on the town finance committee. "I kind of see the checks and balances portion of our system slipping a little bit that way," said Watson.

Because the town's financial viability is a primary objective of the town, "I think the treasury is more important to this town right now," said trustee Karen Budinger, who cast the dissenting vote requiring King to resign as treasurer.

Three citizens spoke in favor of appointing Pennell. "I think if we move forward out of fear and say ... we can't look at anything new because it could be bad again, I don't think that's a positive direction," said Mary Bachran, who also ran for the board in the 2016 election.

Budinger, Bookout and Watson voted for Pennell; trustee Bill Bear and mayor pro tempore David Bradford, who expressed support for King, cast the no votes.

Pennell will also serve on the town's Governmental Affairs and Public Safety Committee.

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North Fork
Paonia, Trustees
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