I have had the privilege of working, over the past 35 years, with many dedicated and devoted local residents. Most utilized much of each day, which would usually have gone to business, family and personal time, to perform important public service for our Blaine County community. Few public servants anywhere put in more time and effort than do the Blaine County commissioners. 

Too often, public servants and their contributions to our community are taken for granted by a public who thinks, “Well, that’s their job and they’re getting paid for it.” In fact, most public servants give us more time than what they get paid for, and our Blaine County commissioners lead in that category.

Too often, the public takes for granted all the public-servant decisions and policies they like, but intensely remembers any one decision or policy they didn’t like. In fact, that one disliked decision or policy often overrides the hundreds of decisions and policies they did like.

I’m not complaining about those aspects of being in the public’s eye; I was a county commissioner and I knew what the job entailed, and sometimes I felt how the public reacted when they didn’t agree with their commissioner. But I don’t want to be a member of the public today without acknowledging the extraordinary public service career of Commissioner Larry Schoen.

For the past two decades, Larry has been deeply involved and totally committed to public service; first with the Fire District; then, with the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission; and, for the past 12 years, as the Blaine County commissioner from the 1st District.

During this long and distinguished public service career, Larry Schoen has been a leader in protecting our environment, especially our waterways, and he has been in the forefront of supporting the county’s comprehensive plan and its ordinances. He has worked with state and federal agencies to include Blaine County in opportunities for cooperation and benefit. He has always placed the community’s larger interests over any narrow parochial interest associated with his own business. He has been modern in his approach to governmental organization, circumspect in his appreciation for history and tradition, and progressive in his outlook for the future. Above all, he has done his homework on every application and piece of legislation, so that even when I didn’t agree with the outcome, I knew that Larry had come to his decision through diligent research and thorough analysis.

I don’t want this to be just a “puff piece” on Larry Schoen. I had differences of opinion about some decisions and I didn’t always agree with his manner of presentation; however, I never doubted his sincerity, integrity, intelligence and commitment to our community. I was proud to work with him; I would be proud to work with him again in whatever he undertakes, and I celebrate and deeply appreciate his long public service to our community.

Thank you, and best of luck, Larry, in whatever lies in your future.

Blaine County resident Len Harlig is a former county commissioner.

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