On May 20 I attended the city’s virtual employee award ceremony, where Wheat Ridge employees were honored for work completed in 2021 that aligned with the city’s ACTION values. ACTION stands for Accountability, Change, Teamwork, Integrity, Opportunity and Now, and city employees are expected to uphold these values in their work and interactions.
As I listened intently to the work attributed to the award winners, it occurred to me how challenging this last year or so has been for so many in our community and how much we have accomplished during this time.
In the last two years, city council enacted four new licensing programs designed to improve quality of life, health and safety in our community: massage, tobacco, short-term rentals and hotels. Megan Schmitz, licensing technician, won the ACTION award for her work in 2021 to enact these licensing programs while delivering exceptional customer service to the licensees.
Never in the limelight and busy behind the scenes, police department training and accreditation manager Mary Kyler won the award for Accountability. Only 10 percent of Colorado agencies meet the strict standards for the Commission on Accreditation in Law Enforcement’s certification, and Wheat Ridge’s compliance rate is among the best in Colorado at more than 99 percent.
Scott Cutler, senior planner, won the 2021 award for Change for his work for the short-term rental licensing program and his involvement in the city’s race and equity work.
The Parks and Recreation Department’s aquatics team won the Teamwork Award for the way they navigated the challenges associated with pool closures, health mandates and staffing shortages in 2021. I have been hearing from constituents that some of the reduced pool hours have been disappointing, but I didn’t fully appreciate the work that went into keeping our pools open during these past two years. Congratulations and thanks to supervisor Barb Kloberdanz and her team of Jake Rightenburg, Greg Skon and Diamante Hornyak.
Despite the changing health mandates, the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center was a hive of activity in 2021. It was a challenge to navigate the various restrictions, mask mandates and patron concerns, but facility coordinator Clarisa Petri and facility assistant Tyler Ayers managed challenges, conflicts and process changes with Integrity.
The relocation of the Intermountain Healthcare hospital to Clear Creek Crossing presents a once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity to shape the future of the existing location in central Wheat Ridge. Lauren Mikulak, Stephanie Stevens, Steve Nguyen and Sara Spaulding lead the master planning effort to reimagine the future of the legacy campus.
The award for Now, which emphasizes timeliness in responding to the needs of the organization and community, went to forestry technician Jim Roemmelt and open space supervisor Andrew McDonald for their quick work to implement council’s requested hazardous tree removal grant program.
Finally, special “Move the Needle” awards were presented to three employees. Neighborhood engagement specialist Ashley Holland and senior neighborhood planner Jeff Hirt won the award for their meaningful work in community engagement. Marianne Schilling, Assistant to the City Manager, won the award for her leadership in sustainability, homelessness and race and equity initiatives.
Congratulations and thanks to all the award winners. While 2021 was a challenging year, Wheat Ridge accomplished a great deal thanks to you.
Contact Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-235-2800.