By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

In With The New

Local Government Gets Bit Of A Makeover As Political Newcomers Take Office

 

Bonnie Davidson / The Courier

Elected officials are sworn into office Dec. 31 at the Valley County Courthouse. Swearing them in is Valley County Attorney Nick Murnion, second from right. The others, from left, are new Justice of Peace Christine Hillman, new County Commissioner Paul Tweten, new Public Administrator LeRoy Kountz and county Treasurer Brenda Anderson.

A crowd large enough to fill a court room showed up on New Year's Eve to welcome the newcomers and to say goodbye to those going out of Valley County Office. David Pippin stepped down as County Commissioner and Paul Tweten took over the seat. The other newcomer is Christine Hillman who is now officially sworn in as the justice of the peace.

Pippin retired after two terms of service, or 12 years. David Reinhardt will be taking over the chair position this year during his third term as a commissioner. Paul Tweten remarked that he had some big shoes to fill and that this year he would be focusing on learning the job. Tweten spent a few days training for the position with MACo (Montana Association of Counties). He said that the three day training went well.

"I learned I didn't know a lot, I learned about the laws and I learned about MACo," Tweten said.

He said that he wanted to focus on bringing long-range plans for all county departments. He brings to the county government over 14 years of experience working with the county's road and bridge department. He explained that the Milk River Bridge project is one of the big projects that he'll be keeping an eye on, but with a short budget there could be some challenges ahead.


"It's just going to be major learning experience, I'm excited to work for the folks of Valley County," Tweten said.

Hillman said that she was new to the position and she was anxious to get started. She said that she spent the day before swearing in getting her office situated, checking on where forms were and packing up her office at Helland Law. She wasn't excited to leave her old job behind, but she was looking forward to taking her seat. She also spent about one week training in Missoula. Her young daughters were in attendance of her swearing in and got to sneak a peek at where their mother was going to work.

"This will be full-time learning experience at first," Hillman said.

Pippin did say a few words on leaving his position behind. He said that one of his favorite memories is watching the county surviving major disasters and realizing that the county does come together well. He has many people that he will remember, some he said had passed on. He said that he will continue to stay active in some issues, such as bison and sage grouse.

"It was great being here, I enjoyed it and I would definitely do it all again," Pippin said.

He said that he felt he did the right things for the county over the years and that was the drive for a lot of his decisions. He said that over his two terms they saw a lot of improvements. A big one he noted was Scottie Pride Drive. Things he thought he would miss were the people on the job. He said that the employees of the county had a lot of credit due.


"We've been blessed with good crews and we've seen a lot more positive here than elsewhere," Pippin said.

Bonnie Davidson / For The Courier

Departing Valley County Commissioner Dave Pippin shares a few words before new officials are sworn into office. Pippin stepped down and Paul Tweten won election to his seat.

 

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