Erick Knaus selected as Routt County’s new attorney, succeeding John Merrill July 31
Steamboat Springs — Routt County commissioners have chosen current assistant county attorney Erick Knaus from among three finalists to replace County Attorney John Merrill when he retires at the end of July.
“We had about 12 applicants,” Commission Chairman Doug Monger said. “We short-listed three, had two interviews last Friday, and we’re offering the position to our more-than-qualified, assistant county attorney.”
Merrill quipped that if he “makes it to July 31,” he will have been with the county for 24 years.
Knaus described Merrill’s career at the county as demonstrating “terrific commitment.”
Asked what he enjoys most about his work, Knaus said it’s the broad range of work that comes through the door in a county attorney’s office, and particularly, in a small county like Routt.
“In most large counties, attorneys have very narrow specialties,” Knaus said. “When I go to conventions and ask people what they do, they might say, ‘Oh, I just do children’s dependency and neglect cases, or mental health holds for adolescents, for example.”
In Routt County, “we do whatever comes through the door.”
Monger pointed out that hiring Knaus for the job means they will be back in the process of hiring a new assistant county attorney, but there is optimism they might find that candidate from the other applicants for Merrill’s job.
“The good news is the two finalists who didn’t get the job were very qualified,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. “I would have hired either one of them. This was not an automatic thing. That means Erick knows he was the best candidate.”
“I’m glad they let the process play out,” Knaus said. “That’s the way it should be.”
Knaus came to the county in late December 2010 when he was named to replace Joanne Eldridge, who left the county attorney’s office. Eldridge, a former officer in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, left to take a civilian post with the Army’s legal department in the Washington D.C. area.
At the time of his hiring, Knaus ran his own general practice law office here, but he came to the position with extensive experience as an assistant district attorney in Colorado including two years in the 14th Judicial District, which includes Steamboat. He worked as an attorney with Feldmann, Nagel and Oliphant in Steamboat Springs prior to opening his own office in 2007.
He has both undergraduate and master’s degrees in psychology from the University of Colorado and earned his law degree at the University of Denver.
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While warm days and nights are fueling strong flows in the Yampa River through Steamboat Springs, the pace of runoff is expected to dip this week.