May 6, 2014 8:57 PM by Greg Dingrando
COLORADO SPRINGS - After getting more than a $100,000 raise less than a month ago, the CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities is facing his first big crisis.
News 5 has learned Jerry Forte is on vacation out of the state. As of Monday night he had no immediate plans to return, his staff told us Monday there was no need, but now we're told Forte is headed back to Colorado Springs.
Forte was notified immediately when the fire broke out and he's been in contact with his staff ever since, but he's still not here and we've yet to hear from the utilities leader himself. His absence has sparked mixed feelings. Some say its not that big of a deal while others are outraged.
When the fire first broke out it didn't take long for the plant's emergency plan to kick into high gear.
"We have incident command that has been activated. We have full logistics, operations, environmental, all doing a a top notch job," said Bill Cherrier the Chief Planning and Financing Director for CSU.
But they're doing it without their top leader; something Forte's right hand man said isn't a problem.
"My take is he's doing his exact job that he needs to be doing at the time where he's at," said Cherrier.
But some Colorado Springs residents disagree.
"I believe its his duty to be there and follow up on his work," said Garry Turks.
"He should be here taking care of his city for sure," said Vanessa Fry.
They said the fact that Forte just got a massive raise only makes it worse.
It was the city council that gave him that raise so we tracked a few down to get their take.
"People have time where they have vacations and they take those vacations and make sure they have quality people in control when they're gone. I'm confident Bill can handle this situation," said councilman Keith King.
Jan martin said Forte did nothing wrong by being on vacation and that he won't be gone much longer.
"I talked to Jerry a little while ago and Jerry is on his way home right now. So he will be here soon," said Martin.
But some residents said with a fire of this magnitude it took too long.
"I would have been on first airplane back to handle that. Work before pleasure I believe," said Turks.
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