County icon stepping down
January 11, 2013
his 16-year's service on the Board of
Boundary County Commissioners, Ron Smith
showed his great appreciation for the
people he was privileged to work with.
In 2002, he and fellow commissioners
took time to thank Dean Miller for 19
year's service on the Boundary Community
Hospital Board. Left to right;
Commissioner Dan Dinning, Smith, Miller
and Commissioner Walt Kirby.
By Mike Weland
If the late Gladys Richardson earned the
sobriquet "Ma Badger," it would be safe to say
Ron Smith has earned the title "Pa Badger." As a
devout Badger fan and the longest serving
commissioner ever to serve the people of
Boundary County, Idaho, his greatest joy has
been to watch "his" students and his community
After serving the people of this wonderful place
for five years as sheriff from 1983 to 1988 and
as county commissioner for 16 years, 14 of those
as commission chair, his final official day in
office is Sunday, January 13.
He has seen plenty of change during his years as
a public servant, helped resolve a lot of issues
that divided not only the people of Boundary
County, but the various entities of local
government as well. He was often the driving
force who pushed to bring disparate groups to
compromise and move forward, always with his
great good humor, his smile and his unstinting
faith in the good in the people who call this
place home, his manner so deft that people
didn't even realize they were being pushed.
He saw us through many difficult times during
his tenure; floods, fires, snow storms, new
federal regulations that threatened to cost
millions, an infamous standoff and more, not
often in the forefront, but helping and trusting
in those whose job it was to handle the various
contingencies. He took control when he had to,
which wasn't often, getting everyone back on
track and working for the good of the county.
And he always gave credit where it was due,
lauding the people he had the privilege of
working with regardless of the situation. He
stood up for them, gave them what was needed and
backed them up.
No matter the official difficulties he faced,
his support for the Bonners Ferry Badgers never
wavered; he and his wife, Evelyn, have seldom
missed a game, home or away, and their house was
often filled with students for team barbecues or
in preparation for school events. A parade of
Junior Miss contestants, later to be known as
Distinguished Young Women, practiced for the
grueling interview portion of the competition in
the Smith's living room, kids came together
there to cram for important tests and the
Perhaps his favorite official duty as county
commissioner was in helping "his" Badgers attain
their dreams. He wrote hundreds of persuasive
letters to other officials on their behalf,
helping countless students be nominated to U.S.
service academies, prestigious colleges and
universities, helping them gain scholarship
assistance to enable them to reach their highest
They were persuasive because they weren't canned
form letters ... he watched these students come
up, knew and share the sidelines with their
parents, stood in the front ranks with them to
pass school levies and bonds to make sure that
Boundary County students had the opportunity to
excel. Every one of the many letters of
recommendation he wrote were personal, telling
first-hand the accomplishments and drive of the
person about whom he was writing.
In most cases, his recommendations were heeded,
and he took great joy in watching kids go off in
pursuit of higher education, excel, and come
back to visit and tell of their journey.
County Commissioner Lee Pinkerton.
While his tenure as county commissioner may be
at an end, Ron's commitment to the community he
loves will not waver, you can count on that.
At 9 a.m. Monday, a new county commissioner will
be sworn in to take the seat Ron has so ably
held for so many years.
"Please allow me to extend my genuine praise and
gratitude to Commissioner Ron Smith for his
years of exemplary service to the citizens of
Boundary County," incoming commissioner Lee
Pinkerton wrote after winning election in
November. "Commissioner Smith performed his
elected duties with honor and commitment and he
has duly earned our communities’ respect and
adulation for his civic devotion."
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