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A Letter From Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice

4:06 AM · Jan 22, 2020

January 21, 2020 There’s a good piece of advice for any aspiring local elected leader: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” Local governments are charged with delivering a host of state and federal services for their residents. The funding for these services is often competitive, meaning there’s only so much pie to go around. That means it is even more critical these days for county commissioners to be present at the table to get their County a slice of the pie. If you are not present, then your needs are not being properly considered, and that means you often get the crumbs. At the end of the day, getting the recipe right is critical. Getting it wrong means someone goes hungry. Knowing this, county commissioners have two options. The first option is to sit back and wait for an allocation, no matter what that might be. The second option is to get involved and step up to the table. That means traveling to conferences and meetings, making face to face contact with state and federal officials, serving on boards and associations, and actively advocating for their constituents’ interests. It is critical to stay in the loop on forest management issues, and add a voice to important budgetary conversations. If we don’t fight for our piece of the pie, no one will. When traveling to regional and national conferences, we meet commissioners from around the U.S. Many, if not all, use the same funding source to attend. A recent report failed to explain what Secure Rural Schools Title III funds are designated do to, among other things, to promote education by ensuring open dialogue with elected leaders and agencies. In the end, 90% of a commissioner’s decisions come down to funding. The county commissioner who stays at home has to settle for what they get and then make do. The county commissioner who steps up and gets involved has the opportunity to bring home more resources for their county’s benefit. The recent criticism of county commissioners travel expenses actually shows how prudent the commissioners have been in spending education travel funds. We hope readers understand that local leaders don’t travel to these conferences because they’re glamorous or attend association meetings for the prestige. These are important business trips on behalf of the people they represent. And the return on the investment has been significant. We’ve seen the results, most recently in the federal ruling in favor of O&C Counties, clarifying that timber land shall be managed for the sustained yield production of timber. The effort to build the case took an exhaustive effort, including substantial efforts made by our Douglas County Commissioners. The victories achieved this year will have a real and long-term effect on the economic stability of our timber communities. We invite you give us a call and give us a chance to tell you more about what these trips really mean to Douglas County. Whether it’s timber or transportation, housing or health, every aspect of a county’s well-being is dictated by the ability of its commissioners to be at the table. Sincerely, Chris Boice Chair of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners Information (541) 440-4201