Nyquist named commissioner chairman; no decision on homeless site

Roger Nyquist was elected chairman of the Linn County Board of Commissioners for the 20th year Tuesday morning, Jan. 4, during the board’s first meeting of 2022.

Commissioner Will Tucker will serve as vice-chair.

Tucker and fellow commissioner Sherrie Sprenger said they’d like to see the chairmanship rotate among board members in 2023, as had once been a longstanding tradition. Tucker praised Nyquist’s leadership, saying he’s done “an exceptional job.”

Sprenger agreed and said rotating the chairmanship would provide the board an opportunity to see things “with fresh eyes.”

The commissioners also will no longer be assigned liaison status with county departments. Nyquist said that the commissioners have always helped anyone who’s come to the office or phoned in concerns without shuffling them off to an assigned liaison for help. “I’ve given a lot of thought to this and it’s from a bygone era before the Internet, email and cell phones,” he said.

Nyquist suggested that each commissioner submit a list of their key interest areas and set goals.

Sprenger said she values the liaison system, but is willing to test out the proposed process for a year or two. Tucker expressed mixed feelings about the process but said he was “happy to try it.”

State and federal committee appointments will continue as-is, the commissioners agreed.

Nyquist is serving his sixth term on the board. Tucker served three terms and did not seek a fourth term in the 2020 election due to family health issues. Commissioner Sprenger was elected to succeed Tucker in the 2020 election after serving 13 years in the state Legislature.

In March 2021, long-time Commissioner John Lindsey died and Tucker was selected by the Linn County Republican Central Committee among several applicants to fill out Lindsey’s remaining two years, as the situation that prompted his departure had changed. Tucker has announced he will be a candidate on the November 2022 ballot.

In other business, the commissioners:

— Approved the Albany Democrat-Herald, Lebanon Express and The New Era in Sweet Home as newspapers of record for legal notices.

— Held a public hearing concerning the proposed transfer of 2.68 acres of the former Willamette Industries mill site to the City of Sweet Home. City Councilor Angelita Sanchez said she would like to see an economic impact study surrounding the site and its possible use as a homeless camp before a decision is made. The commissioners said the county does not have authority over land-use issues within city limits, so zoning and permitting falls under the city’s jurisdiction. The commissioners did not take any action.

— Convened as the governing body of the 4-H and Extension Service district and elected Commissioner Sprenger as chair and Commissioner Tucker as vice-chair.

— Announced an elected officials meeting scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6, at the Linn County Expo Center.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer