Phillips takes reins

New town administrator
hails from Ohio

Heather Alvarez can take a deep, cleansing breath.

When town administrator Tom Yennerell left in December for a job in Henniker, N.H., Alvarez stepped in to fill his shoes, on top of her responsibilities as clerk and treasurer.

Alvarez admits the last four months have been a stretch. But if feedback from the Mancos Town Board of Trustees is any indication, she's done a fine job.

Mayor Rachael Simbeck took a moment at last week's board meeting to officially recognize and thank Alvarez for her work. The trustees, town staff and citizens in the audience applauded.

On Monday, Alvarez passed the torch to Andrea Phillips, who moved here from Columbus, Ohio, last week to fill the administrator post.

"I'll be taking directions from the Board of Trustees - they set the policy, and I'm responsible for carrying it out and overseeing day-to-day operations of the town," she said.

Phillips' resume shows 10 years of public-sector experience. Most recently, she worked for seven years as a budget management specialist for the city of Columbus. Prior to that, she was a policy analyst with the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, which advocates for better school buildings.

The Mancos job isn't Phillips' first spell in Colorado. She studied political science at the University of Colorado-Boulder, graduating in 1999. As a student, she visited the Four Corners and camped at Mesa Verde National Park. Phillips later finished a dual master's degree in public administration and city and regional planning at Ohio State University.

Columbus boasts a population of 800,000 people, but Phillips says she understands and appreciates small-town living from her youth in Granville, a quaint hamlet 35 miles from the city.

Phillips and her husband, Matt Besecker, have purchased a house in Mancos, which they share with their miniature schnauzer, Omar. They enjoy hiking, camping and otherwise exploring the outdoors.

Phillips beat out two other applicants with local roots. Sherri Dugdale, assistant to the Durango city manager, is a Mancos resident. Mark "Mac" Myers, also of Mancos, served as district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District after Jim Wilson's death, and retired from law in 2011.

A selection committee interviewed all three finalists in February and opted for Phillips.

"I'm excited to be here. It's a beautiful area. My husband and I are looking forward to meeting residents. I'm excited to get started working," Phillips said.