Read retires as county planner, sanitarian

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Tim Read, Mineral County’s Sanitarian and Planner, has decided to retire, and his last day was Friday, Aug. 31. He reflected on his 15-year career, which started as the sanitarian and eventually included county planner. (Kathleen Woodford/Mineral Independent)

After nearly 15 years of service, Mineral County Sanitarian and Planner Tim Read has retired. His final day was Friday, Aug. 31, when a group of fellow employees and friends gathered in the commissioners’ meeting room to bid him farewell.

He received a plaque presented by commissioner Duane Simons that read, “Mineral County would like to thank Tim Read for your 15 years of service as our Sanitarian and Planner. Our go-to man who wore two hats.”

They are two hats that may be difficult to find a new owner for since currently there are at least six other Montana counties searching for sanitarians. The job is currently posted, and in the interim, Land Solutions located in Charlo and Roland Environmental in Helena are contracted to help with Mineral County Planning and Sanitation.

Land Solutions has worked with Mineral County in the past with projects like the Community Fire Plan, county growth policy and Alberton zoning. Read said there are currently three active subdivisions, and two more almost ready to go. But this is no longer his concern as he sat at his desk Friday afternoon looking over Castle’s grocery store parking lot from his office window — contemplating his next life-chapter. One which will be filled with days of fishing with his seven grandkids, taking classes at the University of Montana with his wife, Dorothy, and enjoying his homes, one in Superior and one in Ronan.

ON THIS day, files, notebooks and trays spilled over his desk and work area, with papers and maps filled with regulations and letters.

“My registered profession is sanitation and I didn’t know anything about planning when I started this job,” he said.

Then county commissioner Judy Stang talked him into taking the job, which had a description that said, “and other duties as assigned.” Those “other duties” turned out to be planning.

Though Read didn’t intend on becoming a county planner, over the course of his tenure he has developed consistent rules and regulations for subdivisions, and dealt with many instances of finding sufficient road access for properties. “I added a lot of right-of-ways,” he said.

Stang was instrumental in developing the first set of subdivision regulations, and Read felt this saved the county the headache of lawsuits saying there were only two during his years working for the county.

ANOTHER BIG accomplishment was creating consistent addresses for residents for the county database. The database is critical for emergency responders when trying to find homes in the area.

“When I first started the responders pretty much knew where everybody lived or had a good idea of the area. But what happens now when you have someone new on the crew?” he asked.

The ArcGIS System was implemented over the past few years and now includes maps of the area, addresses that are sequential, or at least go from low-to-high in a specific direction, and has homeowner information which includes photos of the place. The project was a federal mandate and needed to be 911-compliant.

Another “hat” Read wore as sanitarian was to respond to wrecks on Interstate 90 when food was involved. I-90 has one of the highest rating for semi-truck wrecks, especially over Lookout Pass. He has seen his share of chicken, yogurt, blueberries, chick peas, potatoes and especially apples, spilled over the interstate lanes. “I can tell you how many apples there are on a semi-truck, depending on their size,” he quipped.

DURING READ’S party, people celebrated with a chocolate cake featuring a fish which read, “Happy Retirement, Gone Fishing.”

Some said they would miss his sense of humor and expressed gratitude for of his years of service.

“One thing I appreciated about Tim was that he always did a thorough job for the county,” said Simons.

Jim Ward and Carole Johnson with the Superior Forest Service both expressed gratitude for his support and how he was a valued asset for helping to protect Mineral County residents. There was also a ongoing joke about a famed “pirate party” Read had to deal with a few years ago. It was held at the Silver Dollar Bar in Haugan, and proved to be a challenge wrangling nearly 11 food trucks and hundreds of “party pirates” during the event.

Fellow employees wore pirate eye patches during Read’s farewell, a final joke to his challenging career with the county.

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