Siemsen Replacing Mary Root in County Land Use Position

Keith Siemsen

Keith Siemsen

The Prowers County Commissioners approved the appointment of Keith Siemsen, Environmental Health Manager for the county, as the Environmental Health and Land Use Manager, Prowers County Floodplain Administrator, and Prowers County Planning and Zoning Supervisor.  This move will consolidate two offices under one director in light of the retirement of Mary Root which takes effect at the end of May, 2015.

Siemsen, Root and Tammie Clark, Public Health Director for the County, had been in discussion with the commissioners on this possible department merger since Root announced her planned retirement several months ago.

Clark said the consolidation is a smart financial move for the county and even goes back to a point in time when the positions were under one umbrella.  Clark explained how the new line-up will work during Root’s retirement part at the County Annex Friday afternoon, May 29.  She said other counties were contacted to see how their departments worked under a similar plan, “We wanted to equate the work load and explore how much detail was given to 1041 regulations.  We decided, as a county, to just merge the two offices together.  About ten years ago they were actually together at that point.”

She highlighted some of the advantages of the new plan, “We’ll be more efficient and will save the county money, and Keith Siemsen is well qualified to fill the new position.  You can’t replace the 25 years’ experience that Mary has and we know it will take time to build that up, but we do have the person for the job.”  Seth Odette will remain as the county’s food program manager and will conduct school inspections, child care, restaurants and all that falls under that umbrella.  Odette, said, Clark, will take on some additional roles for health environment such as West Nile, radon and noxious weed concerns.  Clark added that even though Mary Root has retired, she’ll keep in touch for a while to lend some experience to any issues that may develop.  The transition has been planned as for the past six weeks, Root and Siemsen have worked side by side, reviewing land use rules and regulations.  Clark added that Root has packaged her department to the point that it’s ready to be handed over to Keith.  She said, “She’s made it to where it can be the best and easiest transition you could expect.”

Root spent several minutes visiting with early visitors for her party at the Annex, greeting and exchanging some comments and memories with her colleagues.  When asked, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, how she felt about her retirement, she gave a one word reply…”Wonderful!”

Mary Root at Appreciation Party

Mary Root at Appreciation Party

She and her husband plan to move to their house in Westcliffe where they’ve kept a residence for over a decade.  Root says she plans to do a little high altitude hiking, “We’re up about 8,800 feet and there are some peaks in the area at 14,000 feet.”  She added that over the years she and her husband have volunteered at two scout camps near a lake in the community, so she intends to stay on the go.

By Russ Baldwin



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