Hanging up his hat: Routt County manager Tom Sullivan announces retirement after 19-year tenure
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County’s first and only county manager publicly announced his retirement Tuesday. Tom Sullivan has scheduled his last day for March 31, following 19 years in the position.
During that time, he oversaw several major capital improvements, according to a news release from Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan. Those include multiple expansions of the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, a remodel of the Historic Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs and construction of the Routt County Justice Center and the recently completed Combined Law Enforcement Facility.
The announcement comes just three weeks after Deputy County Manager Dan Weinheimer accepted a city manager position in Newburg, Oregon. His last day will be Feb. 14.
“We know this will be a time of challenge and opportunity for Routt County,” Corrigan said in the release. “We are confident our department heads and all of our employees share our commitment to maintaining a high level of service to the community, and we will work in partnership with all of our leadership to ensure a successful transition.”
During his tenure, Sullivan served as a jack-of-all-trades manager to respond to unexpected leadership changes. In 2014, he spent his Fridays during the winter serving as acting manager of the airport following the resignation of former manager Dave Ruppel. While it was a stark change of scenery, Sullivan said he quickly adjusted to the new duties.
“Management practices are all the same, regardless of the department,” he said. “It’s more about developing relations with those department in the first place.”
Whenever turnover occurred — from 2014 to 2015, seven department heads left their positions — the county was able to find qualified replacements, Sullivan said. He points to Routt County’s natural beauty as a major draw for qualified candidates.
“Who can complain about living up here?” he asked rhetorically.
Asked about his reasons for retiring, Sullivan said the pieces have just fallen into place. At 69, he has been planning to hang up his hat for some time. He sold his house near Stagecoach Reservoir last year, and the lease on his current house ends by April.
After his final day, Sullivan plans to move closer to his family just outside St. Louis. An avid motorcyclist, he has been on a hiatus after he hit a deer in September. The crash fractured his right ankle and caused severe road burn, but he has made a near-complete recovery. He is waiting for stiffness in his ankle and foot to improve before he gets back on two wheels.
The county plans to hire a recruiting firm to find a replacement for Sullivan, according to Commissioner Doug Monger. An interim manager will serve as a temporary replacement, Monger said, adding he does not expect any disruption in the county’s day-to-day operations as a result of Sullivan’s retirement and Weinheimer’s departure.
Monger was on the Routt County Board of Commissioners when Sullivan was hired in 2001. He selected the county manager for his resiliency and management expertise.
While he commended Sullivan’s leadership, Monger turned an optimistic eye to the future.
“Things reorganize. Things go on. No one is irreplaceable,” he said.
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