Story by Deb Olsen/Photo by Corey Kopischke
Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak was recovering from a partial leg amputation at the Doak Walker Center in 2005. She asked to borrow a quiet room –which happened to be in the ICU– to set up a conference call so she could participate in a commissioners’ meeting.
“The county has to go on,” Stahoviak explains, as if anyone would have phoned in from the ICU rather than miss a meeting. “Besides it was a gravel pit hearing,” she says, half-jokingly.
In her 20 years as a commissioner, gravel pit hearings have been among the most contentious. Stahoviak hypothesizes that is because they pit neighbor against neighbor. “When both sides care deeply – that’s the most difficult.”
“Caring deeply” personifies Stahoviak’s career as a public servant, first as volunteer, then as an Oak Creek town board member and finally as a county commissioner since 1993.
“We take the interests of all of our citizens to heart. We talk about the issues, looking at them from all sides. Then we come to a consensus and move on. I’ve seen some truly good things happen that way.”
Stahoviak points to the improvements at Yampa Valley Regional Airport as an example. “What has happened out there is phenomenal.”
The new justice center in west Steamboat is another success story, although a failed election and confusion about the future of the historic courthouse presented obstacles. “We came up with a great solution, a beautiful building that we can all be proud of.”
She also cites the groundbreaking Purchase of Development Rights initiative that has resulted in preserving thousands of acres of agricultural land in Routt County. Stahoviak hopes guidelines for oil and gas drilling will be shaping up by the end of her final term. In 2013, an all-new board could be seated.
“We’ve solved all the ‘easy problems’ for them,” Stahoviak quips. Now for the big ones: a holistic transportation system, affordable housing, early childhood education…
“Community service has been my life. Now I’m just ready to be home,” Stahoviak sighs.