by karla pomeroy
Thomas S. “Scotty” Hinman announced his resignation late last week in a public letter to the citizens of Big Horn County.
His letter states, “Regrettably I must resign from my position as county commissioner due to health issues. I greatly appreciate the opportunity that you have given me to serve you as commissioner for the past six years. It has been an honor and privilege that few get to experience, and for that I thank you.”
Hinman is in the midst of his second term as a commissioner, having first been elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.
He said the one thing he is most proud of in his six-plus years as a commissioner is when a few years ago they could not give raises to the county employees he did not feel it was appropriate for the commissioners to take a raise that had been approved previously by resolution. He said the commissioners spoke to the other elected officials “and they agreed with me, that it wasn’t right.” The commissioners then passed a resolution to freeze elected salaries for four years.
Hinman said he would like to see someone from Hyattville or Burlington apply and be appointed to have those areas represented on the commission.
“Whoever does get appointed, I hope the Republican Central Committee will come back with a person who will be honest and work for the county,” Hinman said.
He added, as in his letter to the citizens, that he appreciates the opportunity he had to serve the county and “I regret I am not going to finish my term.”
The process of replacing Hinman will be the same as the vacancies filled for county clerk and clerk of district court last year, except that a slightly longer timeframe is made available for filling a vacancy for a county commissioner.
Per statute, the commissioners have 20 days after the seat becomes vacant to declare a vacancy and notify the Big Horn County Republican Central Committee, since Hinman was elected on the Republican ticket.
The chairman of the county central committee, within 20 days after receipt of the notice, must call a meeting of the county central committee. At the meeting the committee shall select three persons qualified to fill the vacancy and transmit the names to the board of county commissioners. The board of county commissioners shall fill the vacancy within 20 days after receiving the list from the county central committee.
During the selections for a new clerk and new clerk of court, the central committee accepted letters of interest and then conducted interviews at the meeting.
The central committee is advertising this week for letters of interest from registered Republicans to be sent to Chairman Dave Mattis by 5 p.m., May 7. Send or drop off written applications to 432 Sixth Avenue North, Greybull. The committee will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 9 at the Big Horn County Weed and Pest meeting room on Highway 310, to hear from the applicants, ask questions and select three candidates to forward to the commissioners for appointment.
Commission Chairman Jerry Ewen said he received the same letter from Hinman on Thursday and as chairman he declared a vacancy on Thursday, April 18.
“We’re not going to take 20 days. We’d like to get it done as quickly as possible. I’d like to have the new commissioner on board for the budget process,” he said.
He added, “Regrettably it has to be done but our thoughts and prayers are with Scotty and his family. He’s been a faithful county commissioner and a good friend and is really going to be missed.”
Ewen said while the top three candidates will be up to the central committee, “I would like to have someone with a vested interest in the county; someone who is a team player and will take the time to do the job right. It’s basically a full-time job.”
He said applicants need to be willing to commit to the job and realize there are additional duties outside the two meetings a month.