ALAMOSA — Arlan Van Ry was sworn into office as the new District 2 Alamosa Board of County Commissioner member on Jan. 10. He replaced longtime commissioner Michael Yohn, who retired after 12 years of service.
There are three members of the board, each elected to four-year terms. Van Ry was unopposed in his bid for commissioner. Van Ry will join District 1 Commissioner Lori Laski and District 2 Commissioner Vern Heersink in their positions determining policy for the county.
His membership in the Alamosa Elks, American Legion, and the VFW Post No. 899 is part of a lifetime full of community service that will serve Van Ry as the newest member of Alamosa's board of commissioners.
Van Ry currently is the owner of Arlan's Pro Services in Alamosa, a business that provides staffing, drug testing, and background checks.
Van Ry was elected to the Alamosa school board in 2009, serving eight years. In November 2017, he was reappointed after no one ran for his district. He has also served on the Colorado Association of School Boards.
Although newly elected, Van Ry has been attending commissioners meeting for the last year to familiarize himself with the work of the board and issues about Alamosa County.
"I've seen how the meetings operate, and I've been there," said Van Ry. "Some of the challenges I see is that we are short on housing, either affordable or any kind of housing in Alamosa County. The whole Valley in general is really hurting for housing; whatever we can do to get housing in here is something I will work on.
"The catch-all is economic development and how we can get some new businesses in here and grow. Another thing I'd like to look at is the county, and the valley is looking at [electric] transmission lines out of the valley. We can utilize some of this land that is being taken out [ of agricultural production] for solar; this would bring in more jobs for at least a short time while we build solar. These are issues I'd like to work on in the near future, I know these are issues that may take some time, but at least we can get started," he said.
Regarding the building of transmission lines Van Ry added, "The company that I had previously had provided labor for different solar projects. When COVID hit we had about 70 employees and that was a lot of good-paying jobs. I'm looking forward to some of that happening again."
The San Luis Valley has several solar production facilities and is in a prime location to increase production. If more solar energy comes online, new transmission lines will be needed to export the electricity produced out of the Valley.
Van Ry is optimistic he will utilize his business experience in promoting regional economic development, adding, "I have a lot of background in small business and in owning a small company."
Van Ry is a veteran who has lived his entire life in the valley except for his military service. He joined the Army in 1988, and completed infantry training, airborne training, and the Ranger Indoctrination Program. From 1988 to 1991, he served with the 3rd Ranger Battalion. He was assigned to weapons pit where he served as gunner on the 60mm mortar. A year later, he was promoted to schools NCO where he oversaw sending other Rangers to military schools and arranging the training. Van Ry participated in Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama in 1989.
"We have a good VSO [Veterans Service Officer Bill Brown] in our county, and whatever I can do to help him out Is a priority," Van Ry said. "After you serve, you get VA [Veterans Administration] benefits, healthcare, and so many vets don't know about it or think other vets can use it. You've earned it, and you should apply for it. I want to work with our Veterans and get them the benefits they deserve."
Working with county employees is something Van Ry is looking forward to. A ride along with both the Road and Bridge Department snowplow crews and the Sheriff's Department is scheduled in the near future.
"I just want to see what the people in county government do," he said.
The Alamosa County Board of County Commissioners meets on the second and last Wednesday of the month at 8900 Independence Way in Alamosa. The next meeting is at 8 a.m. on Jan. 25, and the public is invited to attend.
Alamosa Veterans Service Officer Bill Brown can be reached at 719-589-1109 or at vsoalamosacounty.org.