New Hinsdale County Administrator Deanna Kysar Cooper has been at her post just over a month and is emphatic as she describes a “sense of returning home” and enthusiasm as she delves into a multitude of exciting county projects.
Over a coffee interview earlier this week, Cooper cites a plethora of on-going county projects which she is now assisting in along with other county administration, the obvious ongoing focus being at-times complex county-sponsored programs for renovation of Hinsdale County Courthouse, Ute-Ulay Mine complex,
the Hill 71 communications site and 30-Mile Resort on the upper Rio Grande, together with fine tuning the county’s OHV ordinance, assisting with efforts to acquire a new vehicle for the back country ranger, and a multitude of more routine county matters which cross her desk on a daily basis.
Looking up from her coffee, Deanna’s eyes flash and she smiles brightly, “There’s never a dull moment.”
She was hired as Hinsdale County Administrator following interviews late last year, taking the place of former Hinsdale Administrator Paula Davis who retired in October, 2016.
“Lake City,” she says, “is one of the few communities in Colorado which has not lost its original character. It’s an absolute pleasure to come back and go forward like I never left.”
Looking ahead, Deanna notes there are undoubtedly challenges ahead for the county “but nothing we can’t conquer by working together utilizing the mission and vision of Hinsdale County and the community of Lake City.”
She gives high marks to fellow Hinsdale County employees whom she works with on a daily basis, emphasizing the dedication which she sees in everyone who works for the county. “There’s not a single person working here who doesn’t have the county’s very best interests at heart.”
Within the county’s administrative offices, she particularly mentions diverse working talents which Administrative Aide Sandy Hines, Building Inspector Jack Nichols, and accountant Lynn McNitt bring to their positions. Also essential to overall county operations, she says, is county grant writer Kristie Borchers.
“The county could not run smoothly without everyone’s personal input and contributions. It’s a well-functioning team.”
Added to the mix are the diverse talents and interests brought to the county by its three commissioners. Commissioners Dozier, Whinnery and Thompson are “three individuals, each with their own specific areas of expertise. The county is fortunate to have those separate talents providing a nice balance to the board,” she says.
“It takes everyone working on the same page for continued, forward momentum,” the new administrator adds.
In the interim between the prior administrator’s departure and her own arrival early last month, Deanna was preceded by Interim Hinsdale County Administrator Mike Bordogna, a former Lake County administrator at Leadville, Colorado. Now returned to Leadville, Bordogna is credited by Deanna as an “absolutely fabulous resource. We were fortunate to have him in the interim and are happy to have the ability to reach out to him for advice.”
A Gunnison native and 1985 graduate of Gunnison High School, Deanna learned the work ethic early, assisting on her family’s ranch east of Gunnison. The cattle and hay ranch was first acquired by her grandfather, Vern Kysar, in 1958 and was later operated by her parents until its sale in 1986. Deanna’s father and his wife, Gib and Penny Kysar, now live in Olathe, while her mother, Mary Lou Kysar and her partner, Rex Hyde, are residents of Grand Junction.
Deanna’s husband of 31 years is Mike Cooper who lived in Lake City as an elementary school student in the mid-1960s. He later returned to Lake City on frequent visits during the years his parents, the late Dick and Mary Lee Cooper, developed and operated Castle Lakes Campground on the upper Lake Fork. His grandmother was Frankie Swank Cooper, sister of the late Joel F. Swank.
Mike graduated from Gunnison High School in 1978 and for seven years worked for Caprock, a feed lot at Leoti, Kansas, after which he returned to Gunnison and worked 14 years at Fullmer’s Ace Hardware and the majority of the last 16 years in Missouri at Kirksville Farm and Home. Most recently, he worked as assistant manager for RP Lumber in Moberly, Missouri.
After meeting Mike and following their marriage in 1986, Deanna was duly introduced to Lake City, sharing their dual passions for outdoor activities including riding, hiking, hunting and fishing.
Recalling her past days in Lake City with her in-laws at Castle Lakes Campground, and Joel and Celia Swank, Deanna says there were “always plenty of projects… there was always a good time and always an adventure.”
Between 1991 and 2000, Deanna worked nine years as transfer clerk in the office of Gunnison County Assessor Judy Smith, enjoying her over-the-counter work assisting the public and honing her skills at mapping, title work and records research.
Since 2001 — with a three-year stint at Springtown in north-central Texas 2007-10 — the Coopers have been residents Missouri, living on a 36-acre farm at Moberly, which they have now sold.
For the past 16 years, Deanna has held administrative positions in the health, corporate telecommunications, and real estate sectors, most recently working as Director of Development Activities at her alma mater, Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri, where she received a BS Degree in Business Administration.
Deanna’s work at the university included coordinating and assisting alumni activities ranging from informal gatherings to black tie ceremonies. As Director of Development for CMU, she focused on “building relationships” in three principal areas — enlisting individuals with particular talents, time to aid the university, and, most of all, philanthropic support. Her work as CMU Development Director was centered on the university campus in Fayette, with frequent travel on behalf of the university to a total of 18 different states in the western U.S. “I was fortunate in the opportunity to build and connect relationships that resulted in a little over $4-million of philanthropic gifts during my tenure and $20-million capital campaign.”
Deanna describes Central Methodist University as “the only Methodist flagship university” in Missouri, which dates to 1854. Well known for the calibre of its graduates, the four-year liberal arts university’s enrollment averages just over 1,000 students.
Mike and Deanna are the parents of two adult children who make their homes in Missouri. Daughter Jessica Cooper Miller, 29, received Honorable Discharge as an MP from the Missouri National Guard in 2016 and now works as Victims’ Advocacy Coordinator for Boone County at Columbia, Missouri. Mike and Deanna’s son, 25-year-old Clayton Cooper, is a resident of Kansas City where he is a pro-care specialist for STRYKER, a medical equipment company.
The Coopers’ son-in-law, Ryan Miller, is on his second combat deployment with Missouri National Guard at Qatar, Saudi Arabia.
“The mountains have always been home to us,” says the exuberant county administrator, “and it’s a pleasure to be able to return. I am looking forward to serving Hinsdale County and the opportunity to work with the many individuals who have succeeded in maintaining the character of this great community.”
“It’s great to be back!”