By Ed Fincher
Keely Whittington, formerly of Gulfstream Group, was recently hired as the Pagosa Springs projects manager, according to Town Manager David Mitchem, who already had several jobs lined up and ready for Whittington to take over when she started Oct. 8.
“She worked for Gulfstream here at The Springs Resort,” Mitchem said. “She supervised the building of the new three-story hotel.” She also worked for Gulfstream Group, a property management and real estate company, in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.
A five-person team consisting of Mitchem, town planner James Dickhoff, town council members Tracy Bunning and Clint Alley, and Michael Davis of Davis Engineering sifted through more than 50 applications before finally deciding on Whittington. The team unanimously recommended her for hire.
“She just seemed to have a good grasp on project management and what it takes to do it well,” Mitchem explained. “She really stood out during the interview process and we actually had some folks who were certified in projects management, and she simply outclassed them in the interview process.”
Other than her personality and charisma during the interview process, Mitchem didn’t point to any specific attribute that made Whittington a more desirable candidate than other applicants; some of whom Mitchem admitted had a degree and/or certification in projects management. Whittington has a B.A. in Spanish from Wesleyan College in Macon, GA, and had worked for Gulfstream Group since 1992.
“We’ll get her involved in updating the town’s Comprehensive Plan,” Mitchem said. “There’ll probably be some involvement in Reservoir Hill and moving that plan forward. The Town to Pagosa Lakes Trail is another project.”
As a projects manager, one of Whittington’s main duties, besides managing various projects, will be grant work: researching grants, finding grants to pay for the projects the town has planned, and writing applications for those grants.
“We’ve got a number of projects,” Mitchem said. For example, “the CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) projects we’re working on. Those are grant projects that we’ll get her involved in. There’ll be some involvement in the Riverwalk. We’ve got some grant deadlines coming up for that.”
The Riverwalk was one of the main topics of discussion during the town council retreat held Aug. 17, when Mayor Ross Aragon expressed frustration over how long the project was taking and how there never seemed to be any progress.
When council member Kathie Lattin asked what still needed to be done and what had been done so far, Mitchem responded, “The temporary easement was acquired a year ago, and was reported to council. The permanent easement was acquired a month and a half ago, and was reported to council.” Mitchem was referring to an agreement the town had just reached with the owner of The Springs Resort to allow the Riverwalk to cut across The Springs property.