Good Day, All:
WOW! The last 3 years as 2nd Vice President, 1st Vice President, and President have been such an amazing experience. I say both “Farewell!” and “Thank You!” for my time as your 71st MACo President.
I have read and listened to 12 such farewells since becoming a commissioner. Each President stamped his/her special mark on the office. Seven of those 12 Presidents are still at work: Commissioner Mike McGinley (Beaverhead County), Commissioner Carl Seilstad (Fergus County), Commissioner John Ostlund (Yellowstone County), Commissioner Greg Chilcott (Ravalli County), Commissioner Joe Briggs (Cascade County), Commissioner Todd Devlin (Prairie County), and Commissioner Bill Barron (Lake County). Add to the list of STILL working, thank goodness, but before my becoming commissioner are Commissioner Bob Mullen (Jefferson County), Commissioner Carol Brooker (Sanders County), and previous MACo Executive Director and Stillwater County Commissioner, Harold Blattie. (I hope I have not missed someone.) Thank you for guiding me along.
The words “thank you” to MACo staff seem insufficient, but that is the best our English language can do. All of you are an incredible group of professionals. Eric (MACo Executive Director), Jason (MACo Deputy Director), and Shantil (MACo Communications Director) made my time during the 2019 Legislative Session literally stress free. Commissioner Martens (Rosebud County), I trust your time in 2021 will be similar. Both you and Commissioner Gorder (Richland County) can look cheerfully forward to your work with MACo staff. If I were to list each staff member, I am sure I would sadly leave someone out, just as I left out some family last fall at this time. A testament and thank you to my family is that we can make fun of each other, resulting in humor rather than sadness. Thank you all!
In the next few words, please allow me to talk briefly about what I did before becoming a commissioner and how that laid the foundation for “So, you want to be a county commissioner?”
Some of you are aware that prior to my being a Madison County Commissioner, I had the good fortune of teaching both business and English for 30 years. That time also included 20 years as a basketball and track coach and 27 years as a basketball official. My daughter Caitlin once asked while in my second or third year as a commissioner (it’s now going on 13 years, btw), “Dad! Can you just not find a job where someone isn’t yelling at you?” Frankly, I guess the answer is, “No!”
So, why compare a commissioner with a teacher, coach, and official instead of with any other trade or profession? Maybe it is a case of misery loves company; I don’t know. Part of what we learn in life is from our environment; technically, for 46 years counting my own schooling, my environment was in education.
In general, what I learned over 30+ years and brought to Madison County and to MACo is that goals are set in order to improve or maintain the system. Sports TEAMS are often good examples of improving or maintaining, such as Alabama or New England football, Tennessee or UConn Women’s basketball, Yankee and Red Sox baseball, Butte and Sidney wrestling, Ennis and Wibaux football.
What did I do during those 30 years of teaching? Mostly I encouraged, assisted, prepared, prodded, and taught kids to be adults. Improve and maintain a positive and productive life.
Similarly, commissioners often encourage adults to be adults. Look around your office, your building, your community, and your county. What do commissioners do? (Some say commissioners must make sure not to look out the windows in the morning, because that is scheduled for the afternoon.) Commissioners plan for and create goals with positive, tangible, foreseeable outcomes, like road, bridge, building, or airport projects. Most often, though, commissioners work on less tangible, usually more head-scratching activities like SRS & PILT, housing shortages, health care, agriculture and forest issues, employees, disasters, and nursing homes, only as a short list of a mind-boggling list of topics. What commissioners do is work at improving and maintaining a system that is already in place. I trust, along with the staff that I mentioned earlier and all of you commissioners, that MACo continues improving and maintaining a very strong system. Shane and Doug, you are surrounded by a great team.
As a final thank you, all of those years as a teacher and as a commissioner have afforded me the opportunity to meet, to encourage, to listen to, to work with, and to learn from the BEST people one could wish to be associated. All of you are included in THE BEST!
These last 3 years also afforded opportunities to represent all of you while traveling to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Portland, Spokane, Nashville, Las Vegas, and Columbus (in both Ohio and Montana). The most fun travel, however, was to District Meetings throughout Montana. Our state is spectacularly diverse and beautiful.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! See you down our well-maintained road!
Madison County Commissioner