- Associated Press - Saturday, January 24, 2015

SILVERTON, Colo. (AP) - Long-simmering chaos, counteraccusations, feuds, firings, recall elections and gridlock left the Silverton town government paralyzed, prompting town officials to close Town Hall just to be able to get some work done.

Town officials closed Silverton Town Hall after disruptive residents refused to leave, prompting the interim town manager to call the sheriff’s office.

Interim Town Manager Mark Garcia called San Juan County Sheriff Bruce Conrad when one angry Silverton resident went to Town Hall raging at Mayor Chris Tookey and refused to leave.

“A couple of citizens here are very critical of the mayor. Basically, one man came in here, very disruptive, to verbally abuse … myself and the mayor,” Garcia said. “I asked them all to leave, and they refused. So we called the sheriff. Then I shut down city hall and sent the mayor home because she’s trying to help, but she’s just under a lot of duress.”

Residents protested after the council met to select one person to fill a vacant trustee spot and rejected all three candidates.

The council’s inability to reach a deciding vote, as well as the looming recall election, stirred residents, the Durango Herald reported (https://tinyurl.com/oo997ja ).

The current trouble began escalating in September, after the Town Council voted to investigate whether Public Works Director Gilbert Archuleta had spoken ill of Town Administrator Brian Carlson, violating a niceness contract imposed on the two feuding men by the Town Council.

Since then, both workers have been fired, one town trustee quit in November, and another is facing a recall election Feb. 10 for several reasons, including pursuing an agenda to terminate Archuleta.

Garcia said since Silverton’s new clerk tendered her resignation and quit under pressure and amid turmoil, it’s been a struggle just to keep Town Hall functioning.

He said the place is so understaffed that the mayor has been forced to perform basic administrative tasks such as answering phones.

“It’s hard to explain,” Garcia said. “There’s definitely a divide in the community.”

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