County Attorney’s contract non-renewed

Alan Hassler

by Tara Walker T

he Grand County board of county commissioners met on January 2, 2018 to start a new year of business. While the board quickly voted to retain Lee Staab as county manager, Alan Hassler will not continue to serve as the county attorney. Linke was in favor of retaining the county attorney while Cimino and Manguso were opposed ending in a 2-1 vote in favor of not retaining Hassler.

County Commissioner Rich Cimino explained that while he would he did not recommend renewing the contract, he did recommend severance pay for three months beyond termination of his employment.

Commissioner Linke responded, “I don’t think it is the right thing at this time to dismiss the county attorney. There have been some things and some issues. Overall he’s done a good job and made a lot of progress in light of a difficult year with (assistant county attorney) Mr. Franek being ill and has made a lot of headway streamlining the operation. I think it’s short sighted to terminate based on those grounds.”

“I respect those comments,” replied Cimino, “I came on last year and had many citizens and colleagues discuss the services of county attorney and I wanted to observe myself firsthand for a whole year. I think it is in the best interest of the county to seek a new direction. I think it is a good time at the end of the contract as he’s completed most of the contract.” Cimino admitted that while the end of the year was difficult, other counties have similar issues and have to work through those. Counties can also hire contract attorneys as needed when similar situations arise.

Commissioner Linke gave closing remarks before voting, “I don’t believe this is the proper time to change out. I think there have been some learning curves, but those issues have worked themselves out. I think this is very shortsighted to terminate the county attorney. We don’t have any real legitimate grounds to do so. There’s been a few mistakes that have been made and I think have been corrected and I strongly disagree with the decision at this time.”

Manguso and Cimino voted to oppose renewing Hassler’s contract while Linke supported retaining Hassler as county attorney. Per his contract, Hassler will be assisting with transition to a new county attorney.

As of January 3, the Grand County Website had this to say about Hassler, “Mr. Hassler has roots in Grand County, and he brings to the position a wealth of experience as he has served as a municipal and county attorney for several entities.”

Hassler began working for Grand County as county attorney in July of 2015 after Jack DiCola resigned. In the past, Hassler has served as attorney for the town of Kremmling, as county attorney for Rio Blanco county as well as assisted other towns and counties in a contract capacity. Hassler is a 1974 graduate of West Grand.