EDITORIAL: New leaders needed in 2017

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Powell is hiring.

In the coming weeks and months, new leaders will be chosen to manage the Powell school district, the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Park County Fairgrounds.

The people picked for those three positions will all impact the Powell community in different, significant ways, potentially for years to come. Here’s some unsolicited advice as those hiring processes begin.

Superintendent

Park County School District No. 1 Superintendent Kevin Mitchell notified the school board last summer that he will step down in June 2017.

We’re glad Mitchell gave school leaders so much advance notice, because refilling his position will be one of the most important hires that will be made in Powell in the coming years.

When parents decide where they’ll raise their family, a quality school district is one of the things that often rises to the top of the list. And Powell’s schools, with their longstanding reputation of excellence, have long been a draw for families.

It’s the combined work of hundreds of teachers, staffers and other administrators that make Powell’s schools special, but we believe sustained excellence is a sign of strong leadership.

Powell’s schools have generally avoided the contention and conflict that has rocked some other area districts and we have to believe that’s a credit to Mitchell’s steady guidance and solid decision-making over the past decade.

As the board looks to replace Mitchell, we hope they’ll select someone who shares his strengths.

Chamber director

Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jaime Schmeiser announced last week that she’s leaving the chamber for a job at Mountain Spirit Habitat for Humanity.

We’re thankful for the friendly face and stability Schmeiser provided at the chamber over the past four-and-a-half years. Don’t forget that when she took the job in 2012, the chamber had gone through four executive directors in four years.

In seeking a replacement, chamber leaders should search for someone who’s similarly ready to make a serious commitment to Powell. They must also find someone with a passion and vision for making Powell a good place to live and do business.

Lately, it’s been difficult to walk through downtown without feeling a bit of unease at the empty storefronts that seem to be growing in number every couple of months.

Of course, as any bright-eyed optimist will recite for you, every challenge is an opportunity. That’s the kind of tired cliche you may read on a 2017 inspirational wall calendar, but it also has some truth to it: This is an opportunity for all of us — from chamber leaders to consumers to budding entrepreneurs — to consider Powell’s future.

Let’s find someone who has some great ideas.

Events coordinator

Echo Renner resigned as the Park County Events Coordinator earlier this month amid what has felt like unending conflict over the management of the county fair.

As county commissioners begin looking for Renner’s replacement, we’d urge them to take this opportunity to hammer out exactly what the job is.

Notwithstanding the previous coordinator’s missteps, it’s clear that part of the continuing problems is the lack of clarity about who answers to whom at the fairgrounds, who’s supposed to be doing what and what exactly it means to be an events coordinator.

It’s time for commissioners to sit down with the fair board, the county’s buildings and grounds department and anyone else who’s going to be giving orders on the grounds and talk until everyone’s responsibilities have been defined — and then adhered to. We’re glad such a meeting is in the works, because these issues have persisted for too long.

More gray areas are bound to be discovered later, but we hope those are the kinds of conflicts that can be resolved by hiring someone who’s a strong communicator.

In fact, that may be our greatest wish for all three of these positions: finding someone who can listen and communicate effectively with others.

Picking the right leaders for these posts would go a long way toward heading Powell in the right direction in 2017.

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