Friday, September 7, 2012

County engineer retires after 41 years

Jim Koonce lauded for service

Express Staff Writer

County Engineer Jim Koonce officially retired from his position with Blaine County on Tuesday after 41 years of service.

“We’re losing a very special person,” said County Commissioner Angenie McCleary. “It’s hard for me to imagine you not being here.”

Koonce has been the county’s engineer since the 1970s, working on everything from floodplain maps to county rights of way and a myriad of other issues.

The latest large and somewhat controversial project that Koonce was involved in was the solidification of the county right of way out East Fork Road near Triumph in 2011. The original plat had drawn the right of way through several buildings that predated the plat, and Koonce was tasked with making recommendations for how to fix the problems created by those errors.

“It’s a horrifically screwed-up mess out there,” he said during a public meeting in July 2011.

That sort of honesty is typical of Koonce, commissioners and county staff said Tuesday, along with integrity and a keen sense of professionalism.

“I just know, Jim, every time you are at one of our meetings, it makes the day go better,” Commissioner Tom Bowman said. 

The commissioners presented Koonce with an antique surveyor’s transit, which measures horizontal and vertical angles in the field. Koonce said he was grateful for the appreciation shown for his hard work and for the transit.

“I trained on these things 50-some years ago,” he said, adding, “I’ll just treasure it forever.”

Kate Wutz:

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