In the latest development in a long-running dispute, the Montezuma County commissioners have forbidden Tom Hooten of the Colorado State University Extension Office from entering the extension’s new quarters in the county annex.
Hooten could not be reached for comment, but several sources told KSJD that Commissioner Larry Don Suckla told Hooten directly that he is not allowed in the building. On Monday, at the commission’s first meeting in three weeks, Suckla said the board had “kicked Tom out” two weeks earlier and said that a new extension director had been hired. Hooten is not a county employee, but works for CSU, and the commissioners said the process to remove him was so complicated that they tried a different approach. The county contributes approximately $108,000 a year to fund the extension office, which provides numerous agriculture-related services, including the 4-H program. Last October, Suckla said he had lost confidence in Hooten and wanted him removed. The commissioners threatened to stop funding the extension office, but decided not to after a visit from the western regional supervisor for the Extension Service, CJ Mucklow. At that time, Mucklow agreed that an outside extension agent would supervise Hooten. On Tuesday, Mucklow told KSJD that Hooten is “absolutely” still employed by CSU. Mucklow said he is working to resolve the dispute with Montezuma County. He confirmed that a new director has been hired but said it hadn’t been official until Tuesday.