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County workers, officials get acquainted

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By AJ Vicens

Jefferson County employs more than 2,000 people, but many of them hardly know one another.

In an effort to change that — and to let employees meet newly elected Commissioner Faye Griffin and newly appointed Treasurer Tim Kauffman — the county commissioners hosted a party in their office Feb. 12.

"We're all a team," Becky Baker, a 13-year veteran of the county building department, said while holding a cup of punch and cruising the commissioners' fifth-floor digs at the Taj Mahal. "This kind of reinforces that. That's the good of it."

Baker said she doesn't remember the last time she was in the commissioners' office, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. "But I'm glad to be doing it this time," she said.

Baker and several dozen other county employees came in and out of the gathering the morning of Feb. 12, eating cookies, drinking punch and talking with several elected officials, who stayed around after a morning meeting.

"It was great," said Kauffman, who was appointed to replace Griffin, who left the treasurer's office to become a commissioner. "I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout."

Kauffman said he continues to "be surprised by the staff of the county, who appear to take pride in their work. I could hear that as I was talking to them."

Kathryn Heider, spokeswoman for the county, said the gathering wasn't the first of its kind, but she doesn't remember the last time it happened. "It's once a decade," she said. "Not enough."

BJ Ellison, a 32-year county employee working for Open Space, enjoyed his time in the commissioners' office.

"I think it's great to get up here," Ellison said. County employees talk to each other, he said, but usually over the phone or through e-mails. "Seeing a face helps."

Ellison brushed off the idea that the gathering was in any way a waste of time.

"We are at work," he said. "Knowing who you're dealing with is important."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.