Village Voices: Rhonda Coxon, Snowmass Town Clerk
For over 25 years, Rhonda Coxon has worked for the town of Snowmass Village. But for over a decade before she started as a clerk with town government, she oversaw reservations for the former Snowmass Resort Association.
On a recent afternoon in Town Hall, the Snowmass Sun sat down with Coxon to learn more about her experiences in Snowmass and what’s kept her in the village for so long:
Snowmass Sun: So how long have you lived in Snowmass?
Rhonda Coxon: I moved here in September of 1982 from Houston, Texas.
SS: Is that where you grew up?
RC: No, I’m an army brat. I’ve lived in Germany twice; I’ve lived in Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Nebraska. I’ve been around, but this is the longest place I’ve ever lived in my life.
SS: What made you want to come here?
RC: The SRA, which was the Snowmass Resort Association. I had a friend who worked for them that I worked with in Westin hotels.
I started working for Westin hotels when I was like 19 and then I went to airline travel school. … There are always a bunch of hotels that are hiring, so I got hired in Houston for reservations. I worked for the Westin Oaks and the Westin Galleria; it was two hotels at the end of a mall. One had 300-some rooms and another had 495 and I was the reservation manager for both hotels and I went through the whole Westin training program, so you work in every department of the hotel. A guy that was in catering came (to Snowmass Village) and said they were going to open up a new conference center. He asked me if I was interested and the people who were working at SRA at the time, I think it was the marketing and PR person, interviewed me and flew me out here. And after I visited I was like ‘I think I need that, I think I want to get out of Houston.’ So that’s when I moved here.
SS: How long were you working for SRA at the conference center?
RC: Well actually, our office was on the mall. I worked there until ’93, came in ’82, and the conference center opened in ’85. … It was just so different, it was a huge undertaking. There were like two people who worked in the res office and everything was written on cards and you called the hotel to find out if space was available. Well, by the time I left in 1993, we had three supervisors, 14 reservation agents, we did airline and hotel reservations, and everything was by computer. At that time my job got eliminated at SRA, I had three strong supervisors so they didn’t need me and they were combining some groups. I was kind of devastated because I thought I’d for sure still be there.
I worked with the Silver Tree for a little while after I left SRA. … Then I just saw the job for the town and I was like ‘OK, I’m going to try something new and different, I really don’t wanna be on the phone all day.’ Then after I started working for the town they dissolved SRA, I want to say three or four years after, maybe 2001, and everything went to ski.com. So it all went away anyway.
I guess everything works for a reason because where would I have gone? Another thing that’s really funny, when Rose (Abello) started here at the tourism department, we had a storage room that had all of the SRA files in it, and because I’m the clerk I had to figure out if there was anything we needed to keep and I got to go through all of those files again and my name was on stuff. It was like wow, this is really bizarre, so it all comes back every once in a while.
SS: How has working for the town been different than what you were doing in the reservation world before? Have you found that some of the same skills transfer over?
RC: Because we’re the town, my clientele now is the constituents, so I want to make sure everyone is registered to vote, that they have all of the information they need for business and liquor licenses. So you still have your clients, you’re just not on the phone constantly, and supervising that many people was quite stressful. I think I was in meetings more than I was at my desk, so I think this is a lot calmer, saner. And you know it’s true, you would get people calling you in October wanting to know exactly what the weather was going to be like the day they checked in. … I mean after however many years of that from the time I was 19 to ’93, I won’t say my age, you just kind of say ‘Oh my gosh,’ and the people got more demanding as time went on and I think it was probably a real good time for me to find something else.
And I absolutely love my job, I love being able to know everybody, I love that I’m still involved in the restaurants with liquor licensing and training. I get to go out and see everybody, see all of the special events, I do all of the liquor licensing for the special events, and you’re still serving a client it’s just a different client, it’s not the tourists. But I absolutely love dealing with tourists, too. If I see somebody standing in the hallway anywhere, I’ll ask them, “How can I help you?”
But yeah, I love serving the people who work and live here. Where else can you get first hand of what’s going to go on in the village if it’s not in the council chambers sitting up there for every meeting? I can’t tell you how many councils I’ve worked with and they’re kind of like friends for life.
SS: What do you think has kept you in Snowmass for so long, first in the reservation world and now with the town?
RC: The people and the community.
SS: What separates it from other places you’ve lived?
RC: Well, they were cities. Houston is huge, they used to have a sign on Westheimer and Gessner (roads) and it would just roll constantly and that’s how many people were moving into the city. They would keep track of it and it was during the oil boom so it was just crazy, but up here was just a whole different breadth of life, getting in the outdoors. The first time I snow-shoed I thought I was going to die. I learned how to ski in jeans, and the people, some of the people I met when I first moved here I still know. And then I got really involved with the chapel, too, and I just fell into a great crowd of people.
But I think just because it’s small. I love the fact that you don’t have a red light, I really like that. I was able to get housing, I’ve never lived outside of Snowmass since I’ve worked here. I just love it. And of course now, getting close to retirement age, I’m like I need to find someplace even quieter, where’s that cabin in the woods? But I think that’s just age.
SS: Do you have any goals as Town Clerk before you plan to retire?
RC: I think one of the main goals is to keep our technology up and make sure everything the constituents need is available on the website. … My goal is just to keep the public informed. I make sure everything submitted at council gets up the next day so everyone can see, like all of the public comments and everything, and I just think it’s important to keep people informed. Put all of the services out there that they need and I’d still like them to come see me too. They are allowed to walk in the office any time they want, it’s fine.
A lot of things have changed. All of our sales tax and business licenses are computerized now, there’s the marijuana license, first one, I never thought I’d be here to see that, I mean that’s how times change. It’s just keeping up with the technology would be my goal and making sure everything is where people need it.
With Base Village now there’s so much more but it was beautiful before when it was just the mall, too. So yeah, there are a lot more people and a lot more buildings, but it’s still the same little small town, which is really nice.
And retirement? I would love to retire, but it’s really not one of those places you can retire unless you own your house outright. But I’ll be here for a while, and when I leave? I’m not leaving forever. I’ll always come back. Always.
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