Boyd Britton stepped down from his position as a Grant County commissioner after more than 15 years, completing nearly four terms.
Britton, easily recognized for his handlebar mustache, resigned June 29, attending his last county court meeting on June 27.
Attorney Rob Raschio, who has a firm in Canyon City, was appointed interim commissioner on July 3 to fill out the remainder of Britton’s term. Sam Palmer and Gordon Larson will be on the November ballot for the position.
Britton and his wife, Bonnie, have lived in John Day for 22 years and owned Boyd Britton Welding, which they opened six months after arriving. They plan to move to Show Low, Arizona, near family.
Britton served as a commissioner with three judges, Dennis Reynolds, Mark Webb and Scott Myers.
County Judge Scott Myers said there were ups and downs at times on different issues serving with Britton.
“It was interesting to work with him,” Myers said. “We agreed on several things and disagreed on several things, but we always respected each other’s right to an opinion.”
Britton said his approach to serving as a commissioner was “Let’s get it done,” noting the court has to work together to accomplish goals.
He said he advocated for Community Counseling Solutions to take over the management of the county health department.
“I think it’s a model for the rest of the state to have mental health and public health in the same building,” he said. “CCS has done a fantastic job. It’s something I feel strongly about.”
Britton said he recalls walking with a group, led by park manager Dennis Bradley, around the perimeter of Bates State Park. He said he was proud to help establish it.
He said the best thing he’s done for Grant County was inviting Susan Jane Brown, an environmental attorney who litigated many timber sales, to tour the area. The discussion eventually led to the creation of the Blue Mountains Forest Partners collaborative, in which Brown still participates. He said because of the formation of the collaborative, there has been a significant increase in timber volume harvested with few lawsuits.
“The collaborative group and the stewardship contract will leave the longest lasting impact on the county,” he said. “The pendulum has started swinging the other way. With the choking of the forest with all this fuel, the environmentalists see that with the halting of timber activities, our forests are becoming unhealthy.”
Advocating for collaboration has sparked some animosity locally.
“The last few years, my big concern is the divisiveness and vitriol that has come out,” Britton said. “That disturbs me, and it doesn’t need to be that way. We should be able to disagree without hating each other. We’re becoming a community that we didn’t used to be.”
He said he was proud of the way the county came together against the Aryan Brotherhood, who tried to set up a headquarters in the area.
“Grant County politely let them know that there was no place for them here,” he said.
Britton was the announcer at many local parades, including the ’62 Days, Grant County Fair and Timber Truckers Light parades.
Behind the scenes, as a licensed pyrotechnician, he said he often helped Prairie City put on their fireworks display.
He said he was honored when asked to provide funeral services for Lois Hill, Dollina Humphreys and Earlene Holliday over the years.
Bonnie said Boyd has created many welding structures and signs over the years.
“Boyd’s legacy for being a welder will be here forever,” she said, adding he made the welcome sign for Prairie City, signs for the Forrest Conservancy and Oxbow for the Confederated Tribes and agricultural support signs (near Picture Gorge and Bear Valley), as well as private pieces of art such as elk, eagles and crosses.
He also made the rappel tower for the Forest Service in 2001. His most recent welding jobs were installing handrails for the Monument Senior Center and making head gates for the Oxbow Ranch on a property near Baker City.
Britton employed a bookkeeper, two welders and a machinist through his shop. He said he’s enjoyed his customers.
“They’ve been great,” he said. “They’ve been loyal. We’ve tried really hard to take care of our customers.”
Britton said he and Bonnie enjoyed a visit to Show Low while visiting her sister nearby, and that started their interest in a move to Arizona. Boyd said he plans to work as a welder there.
“I couldn’t have done what I’ve done as a businessman and a county commissioner without Bonnie — we’re a team,” he said. “We really love Grant County, but it’s time for the next chapter of our lives.”