Rio Grande County selects Schoen as new administrator

Skip Schoen

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County Commissioners announced during a special meeting on March 29 that they selected Skip Schoen as the new county administrator. He fills the vacancy left by Craig Barraclough, who resigned in November of 2022.

Schoen has been serving as the county’s Human Resource Director for the past 90 days but after hearing that the administrator position at the county was open, he applied along with several others and was chosen for the position.

“I have a steep learning curve to work through, but my main goal is to unite the county and improve communications through policy and procedure. Communication is the foundation through which we will be successful in servicing the greater Rio Grande County and offer the best services we can,” said Schoen.

Schoen is not a stranger to the San Luis Valley, having spent most of his childhood playing at his grandparent’s home which was located east of South Fork.

“I pretty much knew for the last 30 years that this was the place I wanted to retire. I enlisted while I was in school as a reserve Marine, and I married my wife shortly after we graduated. We were on the fence on whether we wanted to enlist in a military career or stay in Colorado at the time and we chose to go into the military,” he said.

Schoen and his wife then spent a majority of their formative years serving in the United States Marine Corps after a commission opportunity came up.

“I enlisted in 1989 but received my commission in 1995. Then we ended up doing a good full career in the Marine Corps, 33 years all together and 26 of those years as a commission officer before I finally retired in July of 2022,” said Schoen.

It was about 10 years ago when Schoen and his wife decided that Colorado was going to be their forever home and after deciding that they would be happy in a rural area like South Fork, they made the move and settled in without pause.

“My parents ended up living here and after my mom passed, my dad really became part of the community and made friends, so it was very easy for us to transition and be welcomed. We are very blessed to be surrounded by great people here. There are so many wonderful people here,” he said.

Schoen’s focus as the new administrator will be on communication and creating policy and procedures for the county to increase transparency and communication between all departments and the Rio Grande County Board of County Commissioners.

“We have a lot of work in front of us, but I am very optimistic by the environment of the county. We have really good department heads; we have really dedicated personnel that enjoy their jobs. The reasons I come to work are the same reasons they come to work which is to try and make a difference in this community and be a part of something that can deliver to the people of Rio Grande County,” Schoen said.

“I think the top priority, having benefitted from being in Human Resources for 90 days and getting to know the leadership and the county in general and the environment within the county, is to establish good teamwork amongst the departments and also to really focus on communication as a team and how we can most effectively take decisions made by commissioners and take that to effective policy and procedures to execute that direction and guidance to department heads,” he added.

Schoen is spending the first few weeks as the new administrator continuing to meet with department heads to ensure that good communication whether written or in person is created to increase teamwork within the county to best serve Rio Grande County citizens.

“Rio Grande County is an organization that you can trust. We are here to provide services to the best of our ability. The team that is in place at the county is a good team,” he said.