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Commissioners select Jack M. Harper II as interim county manager


At a May 14 special meeting, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) voted 2-1 to hire Jack M. Harper II as the interim county manager following the departure of previous county manager Derek Woodman.

Woodman departed the county following the BoCC voting to not renew his contract at a May 7 meeting.

Commissioner Veronica Medina opened the May 14 meeting by noting that the board had not discussed the topic at the BoCC work session held prior to the meeting due to it running long.

County Attorney Todd Weaver explained that the first item before the board was the potential appointment of an interim county manager, if the board was prepared to do so.

He added that the board could discuss potential options and could table the item or not move forward with a selection if it felt that it was not ready to make such a selection.

Weaver stated that, due to it being an interim position, the interim county manager job did not need to be posted externally or internally or advertised as long as it does not last longer than nine months.

Commissioner Ronnie Maez stated that, following Woodman’s departure the previous week, he began reaching out to potential candidates he was aware of.

He indicated that he spoke with former county manager Bentley Henderson, who served as county manager from 2014 to 2018, and he expressed willingness to serve as interim county manager.

Maez stated that Harper also “reached out,” and Maez spoke to him and asked him to submit a resume, which he provided.

He added that he sent this resume to Weaver and asked it be distributed to the other members of the BoCC.

Medina stated that she had spoken to Harper and had also heard comments from “community members” on Harper, including from Pagosa Springs Town Manager David Harris, who knows Harper “very well and gave him a very high rating as somebody that would be very capable in filling the job for interim county manager,” and Jason Cox, who also knows him “very well.”

“Just very good reviews from those two, as well as speaking to Jack myself and his availability to be here,” Medina said. “He has a place to live, which I think is always important because that’s what we always run into … them not being able to find a place to live, and, secondly, he would be able to be here starting next Monday if the board moved forward with him, so he would be able to start immediately. There would not be a huge delay.”

Maez added that Henderson indicated that he could begin serving as interim county manager in a “short period of time, but it was a longer period of time than what you just stated.”

Medina stated that she did not have a resume for Henderson.

Maez replied that he asked Henderson to provide a resume, but that he had not sent one by the time of the meeting.

Commissioner Warren Brown commented that he was aware of Henderson, but had not spoken with him about serving as interim manager and that he had reviewed Harper’s resume and “it certainly appears that he has a long history of experience and education.”

He stated that he had also spoken to Cox, who “gave him a rousing review, which I certainly don’t doubt.”

Brown added that he was not able to speak with Harper and asked that the BoCC “give it a bit more time because I need to be able to vet and I would like to consider Mr. Henderson’s resume when it comes in. So, I would like to hold off on this decision if we can for those reasons.”

Maez responded that Henderson indicated that he would provide his resume by the afternoon of May 13, but he had not.

“So, I don’t know if he’s changed his mind or not or if I should reach out to him again,” Maez said. “But looking at Jack Harper’s resume and I too spoke with Jason Cox — he gave an exemplary response to Jack saying that there really isn’t anything that that guy can’t do. ... I’m looking at the fortitude for our county and the continuity of our staff, and I think we need to get some type of leadership in place probably sooner more than later. … I don’t know, I’ve been through this before, and the longer you wait the worse things get, too.”

Maez then moved to select Harper as interim county manager, which Medina seconded.

The motion passed 2-1, with Brown voting against.

According to his resume, Harper most recently served as the city manager of Fulshear, Texas, from 2018 to February 2024.

Local media coverage reports that Harper was fired from his position at the city of Fulshear by the city council on Feb. 12 following an executive session.

The council did not publicly speak on the reason for the firing, according to the report.

It notes that, on Feb. 7, the city council placed Harper on administrative leave following the council hearing complaints from staff about Harper.

Prior to working at Fulshear, Harper served as the assistant city manager for Waco, Texas, from 2014 to 2018; as the Hillsboro, Texas, city manager from 2006 to 2014; and as the Stamford, Texas, city manager from 2002 to 2006; among other positions.

Harper holds a B.A. in political science and a master of public administration degree from Texas Tech University, as well as a wide range of city and county management and leadership certifications from Texas and national associations and organizations.

At the BoCC meeting, the board also voted 2-1 to move forward with a job search for a permanent county manager, with Brown voting against the motion.

Woodman comments

In an interview, Woodman commented on the BoCC’s decision to not renew his contract, stating, “Disappointing is an understatement, to say the least. I think over the last two and a half years, we’ve built a great team and made massive progress, and we were progressing in the right direction, and I find it extremely disappointing that two of the commissioners apparently did not see it that way and that they would rather stymie the progress for something else. … It’s extremely unfortunate where … I’ve worked my tail off for this county and making great progress, rebuilding departments and getting people put in the correct places that were motivated and wanted to do their job and were knowledgeable and capable.”

He commented that the county built both the public health and water quality departments during his tenure “very successfully.”

Woodman also highlighted several other accomplishments during his tenure, including increasing staffing in various county departments; completing and moving forward various county infrastructure projects including a new courthouse, a county transit facility and a remodel of the county administration building; raising wages and implementing paid time off for county staff; completing a wide range of paving projects, including work on Piedra Road and Cascade Avenue; and improvements to the landfill, including increased compliance with state guidelines, the addition of scaling for weighing incoming waste and purchase of new equipment.

Public works director investigation

At the May 7 BoCC meeting, as part of the discussion of renewing Woodman’s contract, Brown stated that a criminal investigation was being conducted into the former county public works director, whose tenure was marked by a significant amount of unauthorized change orders and spending related to county road projects.

In an interview, Brown added that he understood that this investigation was being conducted by the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office.

Medina indicated that she was not aware of the criminal investigation at the meeting, which she reiterated in a later interview.

In a communication on May 13, Medina stated that she had not learned further information about the investigation.

In a May 13 communication, Sheriff Mike Le Roux states, “I can confirm that a preliminary investigation is occurring. At this time I am unable to comment on whether it is internal or criminal.”