At the last official meeting of her term on Tuesday, outgoing Teton County Commissioner Barbara Allen was honored for her years of service to the community.
During Teton County’s weekly voucher meeting, the chambers at 200 South Willow St. filled with colleagues and friends who celebrated Allen’s contributions with plaques, words of praise and a standing ovation.
Commissioners Mark Newcomb, Smokey Rhea and Paul Vogelheim, among others, praised Allen for her knowledge of planning, her skill in running meetings, her “wicked” sense of humor and for many Teton County accomplishments during her four-year term on the board.
“Over the past year and a half, Barb has served as our chair. I think with her leadership, your board of county commissioners (with the help of our fellow electeds and all our county employees) has been the most productive time in my tenure as commissioner,” Vogelheim said. He listed accomplishments ranging from the approval of Housing Action and Integrated Transportation plans to the instigation of one-of-a-kind efforts in the region, such as the Snake River Management Plan and Zero Waste Resolution.
Planning Director Tyler Sinclair recognized the sacrifices Allen had to make to be a public servant and lauded her for always being prepared and willing to challenge the status quo. “You are consistent in what you stand for – a balance between private property rights and conservation — and you never waiver from that. At every meeting you are trying to balance that, knowing what you are trying to achieve, and I’ve always appreciated that.”
“We very much appreciate the partnership that you created for us,” Town of Jackson Administrator Bob McLaurin said. “We worked through a lot of difficult issues. You were always civil, you were always fair…. You have left the place better than you found it, and we appreciate that.”
Allen has been a commissioner since January of 2013. Prior to that, she served for six years on the Town of Jackson Planning Commission. She announced in the spring that she would not seek re-election in order to place more focus on family and business as a Realtor.
Allen commented that it had been an honor and a privilege to be part of Teton County and public service. She realized how much pride she holds in the organization when, during election season, she heard stones being thrown at the county. She began reviewing the last four years and found that the list of what Teton County electeds, staff and volunteers have accomplished is “astounding.”
Allen noted impressive accomplishments including: A new Snake River boat ramp; 44 housing units completed at the Grove housing development (with 24 more set to break ground in the spring); work on a wildlife crossings master plan; hiring of a new county commissioners’ administrator; land development regulation revisions; a study to ensure employee compensation is competitive with other resort towns; perfect audit scores every year; landfill and Recycling Center facility improvements; a new housing department; Pathways on 22, South Park Loop and Broadway; and adept tackling of community emergencies, such as forest fires, landslides, propane explosions, avalanches, lost hikers, public health scares and other unplanned occurrences. “We’ve been kept safe,” she said.
“All of these things happened in addition to the day-to-day work that people here in the organization do,” Allen said. “I don’t know how anybody could have done any more than what they’ve done in the last four years… I leave today really impressed.”
Allen’s seat on the board of commissioners will be filled by Greg Epstein, who was elected in November. Epstein and incumbent Commissioner Natalia D. Macker will be sworn in on Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 8:30 a.m. at the County Commissioners’ Chambers.