County picks new attorney, vets officer

By Luke Groskopf Journal staff writer

Two prominent Montezuma County jobs have been filled.

The Board of County Commissioners on Monday announced that John Baxter had been chosen as the new county attorney, and Enrique “Rick” Torres as the county’s first full-time veterans services officer.

Commissioner Steve Chappell said contractual terms with Baxter were still being negotiated. Since January the county has cobbled together an ad hoc team of individuals for legal counsel, following the departure of longtime attorney Bob Slough, whose contract was not renewed by the commissioners. Michael Goldman and Jeff Robbins, of Durango law firm Goldman, Robbins and Nicholson, have sat in on BOCC meetings and offered general counsel. Social services cases, which Slough also handled during his tenure, have been covered by Dolores County Attorney Dennis Golbricht (dependency and neglect) and Mark Reider (child support). Baxter will assume these roles as well, though the exact timeline is uncertain.

Baxter currently works as a trial attorney in Durango. He previously served from 2000 to 2006 in the state Public Defender’s Office. He graduated from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law in 2000.

Torres’ nomination comes as a relief to the approximately 2,800 veterans in Montezuma County. Until now, processing claims had fallen to Bud Carriere, who works on a part-time basis of 15 hours per week. Some veterans had complained that cases grew so backlogged that they traveled to La Plata County to process their claims.

The county renovated a portion of the annex building as office space for Torres. Carriere is being retained as an assistant.

More than 30 applicants submitted resumes, and after consultation with leaders from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans posts, the commissioners narrowed the list to five finalists. Torres, a 20-year Marine veteran, currently lives in Naples, Fla.

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