A decade of service

By Matthew Jonas
Posted 2/2/11

Because of health problems, the Idaho Springs city council is losing a man who may have been one of the longest continually serving council members.

But as Rick Adams leaves the council, he …

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A decade of service


Because of health problems, the Idaho Springs city council is losing a man who may have been one of the longest continually serving council members.
But as Rick Adams leaves the council, he reflected on his time in office, his hopes for the city and the advice he has for the person taking his Ward 1 seat.
It was announced last week that Adams is stepping down to prepare to undergo chemo/radiation treatment for cancer.
The treatment comes after an 11-hour surgery in August to remove skin cancer that had spread to his parotid (large salivary) gland.
Adams learned recently that he would have to return for treatment for another tumor that was discovered during a CT scan.
“That’s going to take awhile, so that’s when I finally told (Mayor) Jack Morgan I thought I better turn in my resignation and fill that seat,” Adams said. “… I would have loved to have been able to come back and finish out the year, but just this radiation/chemo is a fairly long process.”
Anyone wanting to follow Adams’ medical progress can visit www.minerstreetnotes.blogspot.com.
“I pray a lot, and I have a real large prayer support from all over the country, and that’s pretty much the only thing that keeps me going,” Adams said. “Fortunately I still have a sense of humor, and you can’t really get through this stuff unless you’re able to laugh at it.”
Morgan said in a written statement that Adams was sincere in serving his constituents over the years and was an asset to the city.
“I know him as an honest, fair individual who served this city in a very professional manner,” Morgan said. “His participation and dedication as a council member will be truly missed.”
Morgan said that a letter thanking Adams for his years of service is available for the public to sign at City Hall.

A decade of service
Adams was first appointed to fill the remainder of Jack Russalesi’s term in 2001 after Russalesi was hired as the city’s administrator.
“He called me up and said, ‘We had a vacancy on the council. I would like to have your letter on my desk tomorrow,’ “ Adams said. “And I thought, ‘Well, I guess I could put in four years of service to my community.’ “
Adams, who has owned and operated local business Cornerstone Graphics since 1972, ran for election in 2003 and began serving his first regular term.
“I thought, ‘Well, I’ve lived here for quite a while, and I can give back, and I’d like to be someone that could represent people, that people could talk to and (who) didn’t really have an agenda,’” Adams said.
Adams said he wanted to be the type of representative who would make the feelings of those he represented known to the council.
After his first regular term, he thought about letting the mantle pass to someone new.
“I thought, ‘Well, that should be plenty,’ but I did have quite a few people that came and said, ‘We think you ought to stay on there,’ “ Adams said.
So he did — and for 10 years, he sat behind the big table in city hall working on the city’s business.
Adams said many people don’t realize what public service requires of elected officials.
“I don’t think people really have much comprehension. … Most people don’t even know who’s on city council or know of a lot of things that are going on — unless they have a problem, and then they find out,” Adams said.
Adams said the experience opened his eyes to what it takes to make a small community function.
“(Residents) have water service and police service and have streets that don’t have potholes in them, and it takes a lot,” Adams said. “I don’t think people understand that, and it’s kind of an almost no-win situation. No matter what you do to try to do the right thing, you are always going to have somebody that’s upset.”
Adams said that during his tenure, the city accomplished a lot. Many of the accomplishments can’t be seen because they’re beneath the streets, related to clean water or part of the city’s infrastructure.

Interstate 70
Adams said that one of the most contentious issues during his years on the council, and one that will continue to remain important, is traffic on Interstate 70.
“Early on, CDOT was pretty, I guess you could say, combative as far as wanting to just come in (with) six lanes — and of course our problem is that we are a small community,” Adams said.
He added that many people who live near the ski areas don’t really care what happens to Idaho Springs.
“It’s been a real battle to sort of salvage the city as a historic district and keep some kind of communication going with CDOT where we can come up with a plan that will work (and) that won’t wipe the town out,” Adams said.

The future
Adams said the city must continue to improve communication with residents.
“We’ve done retreats and newsletters and surveys and town hall meetings. (We need) a plan to really hear what the concerns are and not be so isolated,” Adams said. “I guess people think, ‘Well, they don’t really care,’ and that’s one of the things we really try to overcome.”
As to anyone interested in stepping into the Ward 1 seat, Adams’ advice is to be open to the idea of being a public servant, to listen, even if you don’t always agree, and to make sure the idea is represented fairly to the council.
“And whatever the situation might be, keep a sense of humor because sometimes you get into some interesting situations on city council,” Adams said. “And don’t take things personal if people are yelling at you — just take what they’re trying to communicate and pass it on.”

Contact Ian Neligh at couranteditor@evergreenco.com, and check www.clearcreekcourant.com for updates and breaking news.


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