Summit County’s assistant county manager for the past 14 years is retiring
Summit County is wishing one of its most steadfast employees “Happy Trails” at the end of October, as assistant county manager Thad Noll is retiring after 14 years of service to the county.
Noll has been in charge of the county’s community development, public works and transportation departments since Nov. 1, 2004. He will be leaving exactly 14 years to the day on Nov. 1. He oversaw the development and construction of many infrastructure projects that improved the livability and sustainability of the county as it continues to grow in population and service needs.
In community development, Noll oversaw county planning, building inspection, open-space management and housing. In public works, he oversaw the road and bridge department, the SCRAP and landfill, and engineering and county-owned facilities. Noll also oversaw the county’s transit program and other transportation matters.
Noll said that the most rewarding item he worked on was the Iron Springs project that reconfigured Highway 9 through Frisco. The new alignment made trips to Breckenridge shorter, and the new bike lane also provided a more scenic and fun biking experience.
Noll is also proud of the work he and the county did on the Swan River Restoration project, which he considers to be the most challenging and contentious, but the most valuable as far as a legacy project.
“It’s spectacular product left on the ground for generations to come,” Noll said. “Sometimes we have a duty as a government to be good stewards of the environment. People were unhappy with the truck traffic and the noise, but we can’t let this river be a dead section of river. We have a duty to restore that habitat to what it was before it was destroyed.”
Duty is a familiar theme in Noll’s life. Originally from New Jersey, he graduated from West Point in 1979. Informing his reputation as a straight shooter, he spent the better part of the next two decades as an artillery officer in the Army, stationing all over the country as well as in Germany and South Korea. During that time, the Army sent him to the University of Kansas for grad school where he studied transportation and logistics.
Noll retired from the Army in 1995, then moved to Summit County and worked for Keystone Resort as its public works director. In 2001, he left to work for the City of Colorado Springs as a traffic engineer and senior transportation planner before coming back to Summit to serve in his current role.
Looking back at his career, Noll said that his long stint as assistant county manager in Summit was by far the best job he’s ever had.
“It’s been fantastic, amazing,” Noll said. “I really gotta tell ya, all of the things that people say, ‘governments are too fat, too this, too that.’ But every single person I work with, their interest is making this a great community. That makes it such a blast to work for that county government — we’re all truly trying to make things better for the community.”
Nolls’ replacement will be Bentley Henderson, who comes to Summit from Archuleta County, where he served as county administrator.
“I think he’s a phenomenal fit for the job,” Noll said. “He grew up in Colorado, worked in ski resort communities. He understands this culture, and he thrives on it.”
Noll acknowledges that there will be a personality and management style shift from himself to Henderson.
“He will be very different than I am… not worse, not better, but he brings a different energy to the job,” Noll said. “But I think it’s important for the county to change and have different people in positions to mix things up and push fresh ideas.”
Noll and his wife Lisa will make their next port of call in Merida, the capital city of Yucatan state in Mexico.
“I’m on a new adventure,” Noll said. “I don’t know what I’ll do there, but there’ll be a lot of learning and exploring, and getting to know the place ahead of me.”
In departing Summit, Noll wants to thank every single citizen who made his tenure possible and fruitful, and wants people to remember that we are all in this together.
“I ask that we keep thinking about others instead of ourselves,” Noll said, with a hint toward the passage of Ballot Initiative 1A. “Keep voting for the common wheel. We are all contributing to the community; for some it’s money, some it’s work, some its volunteering. The more people we can include in the doing, the less we have to do and the better off we all are. I want people to keep thinking of the common good, or whatever you want to call it.”
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