Baird appointed temporary county executive

The Grand County Council Chambers were almost empty during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday, March 17. All members except Chair Mary McGann called in; the only member of the public physically in attendance was a reporter for The Times-Independent. Photo by Carter Pape

The Grand County Council voted Tuesday, March 17 to temporarily delegate its executive powers to Grand County Administrator Chris Baird for the extent of the county’s state of emergency to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in Moab.

The decision gives Baird executive decision-making power that is normally instilled only in the county council. Council Member Curtis Wells pointed out that the proposal from the Change of Form of Government Committee, which may be implemented in two years if approved by voters, would instill similar powers in the county executive.

Council Chair Mary McGann praised Baird for the job he was doing in his role as the county responds to the coronavirus pandemic, in a bid to prevent the local healthcare system — or, more accurately, Moab Regional Hospital — from getting overstretched by any potential coronavirus disease outbreak in Moab.

“I want to recognize the effort that Chris Baird has put in on this emergency,” McGann said. “I am proud and excited to have him as our county administrator. I don’t think anyone could have risen to the occasion any more than he has.”

Baird responded by saying that he was “impressed with everyone in this entire community” and that it was “heartening to see us all come together and figure this out.”