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Detention center has new administrator

The Archuleta County Detention Center has a new jail administrator, slated to begin work at his post Nov. 8.

Ronald Hager, most recently of Arizona, accepted the detention captain position last week, contingent upon passing a background check, said Sheriff Pete Gonzalez.

The previous administrator, Capt. Mencor Valdez, retired Sept. 3 after 23 years of service to Archuleta County, 20 serving as ACDC’s first administrator.

Of the 13 applicants for the position, eight were interviewed.

What Gonzalez described as a strong pool of candidates to replace Valdez required additional interview steps to be taken before choosing between Hager and another candidate.

The original panel that was put together to interview the candidates was unable to choose between two finalists, causing Gonzalez to hold one-on-one interviews.

“These people were both off the charts,” Gonzalez said. “They were both tens on the scale of ten.”

In the end, Gonzalez believed that Hager edged out the competition as a slightly better fit for Archuleta County “by a slim hair,” and was available to start sooner.

“I didn’t quite flip a coin, but I was prepared to do that ... they were that equally matched,” Gonzalez said.

“His experience, his professionalism, his desire to see the jail prior to meeting with me, he seemed very personable,” Gonzalez said of Hagar’s qualifications. “He’s had experience as a warden in the Department of Corrections — he has the education, the experience.”

Hager’s resume touts a 30-year career in law enforcement, beginning in Arlington, Va., where he served as a deputy sheriff, sergeant, captain and chief deputy sheriff over 10 years.

Hager has also worked for the American Correctional Association as an auditor, assessing correctional agencies for compliance with ACA standards and served as the executive director of Friends of Guest House, Inc. — an Arlington correctional program for women offenders.

For a short time, Hager worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a program advisor before becoming jail administrator for the Salt River Indian Reservation in Arizona for a year.

Elsewhere in Arizona, Hager has worked as jail commander and bureau chief for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility in Oregon as an administrator, and worked as an associate faculty at Cochise College for online classes.

Hager earned an associates degree from Northern Virginia Community College in corrections curriculum in 1989 and a bachelor’s of applied science in public agency service from Northern Arizona University in 2007, among other education accomplishments.