The end of 2011 brought a lot of transitions to the ranks of Wahkiakum County's public employees and volunteers.
Three county employees retired after decades of public service--Kathy Durrah, a clerk in the auditor's office, Danny Eaton, a skipper of the ferry Wahkiakum, and Eddie Blaine, a member of the road crew on the Westend. It's time for a break--I hope they enjoy it.
Some of the people leaving their jobs leave big shoes to fill, and I hope we'll continue to see them involved in public service.
David Goodroe has left the Cathlamet Town Council. Besides having a good head for business and an ability of not getting too rattled in tense times, he understood the town's budgets and accounting as good as anybody I've ever seen. His fellow council members grew to rely on his expertise.
Fred Johnson has retired twice now. A couple years ago, he ended a career as county prosecuting attorney; this year he retired from the Cathlamet Fire Department. He has served as an emergency medical technician and assistant chief for years, having joined the department around 1978. Johnson will keep busy: He has been ordained a deacon in the Catholic church, and he is working with the parish priest to bring a St. Vincent de Paul food program to St. Catherine Catholic Church twice a month.
Concern over health issues has led Judy Bright to retire as administrator of the county's Department of Health and Human Services. A nurse practitioner, Bright could work in clinics, and she also proved to be an effective administrator. She has been involved in health issues at the regional level where she has helped direct response to disease outbreaks and she has been a key player in getting the region's health care providers working together to implement mandates of the federal Health Care Reform Act.
Those are big shoes to fill. Good luck to all, and we hope to see you involved in community affairs in the future.