Don Baragary announces retirement plans
Cooper County Presiding Commissioner Don Baragary is announcing his plan to retire at the end of his current term on December 31, 2022.
Baragary first stepped into office on January 1, 2015 hoping to utilize his background in business to benefit the taxpayers of Cooper County and that is exactly what he's done.
When asked about accomplishments while in office Baragary stated, "There have been many things accomplished over the last seven years but those have all been done as a team. I have been blessed to work alongside other Commissioners that include Paul Davis, David Booker, Charlie Melkersman and Danny Larm. It has been our goal to run things like a business and remember that we have the responsibility to take good care of the taxpayers' dollars while providing the services to improve the county's infrastructure and enhance public safety. I guess some of the most rewarding projects have been the upgrades to the exterior of the courthouse, the current project to upgrade the interior of the courthouse, the road improvement projects that include several bridges, the upgrading of the sheriff office vehicles, road and bridge equipment and the road and bridge shop facilities to help improve efficiency. One large project coming up next year is a major upgrade to the county's communications system that will complete the restructuring of the E911 and EMA departments. The Commission has been able to complete all those projects while substantially growing the cash reserves at the same time. The most recent accomplishments for the Commission have been the involvement with the Rocheport Bridge Project and the announcement of Kawasaki Motors Mfg coming to Cooper County."
Commissioner Baragary went on to say "Not all the decisions have been easy or for that matter popular. We as Commissioners have taken a stance that there is a big difference between right and wrong and haven't backed down making the tough decisions. When we discovered corruption among the ranks we were not very popular with a portion of the general public. When we stood up against the local health board about their overreaching regulations on the area's agricultural community we weren't very popular with some people. Ultimately over 100 farmers stood up for their livelihood and entered into litigation that could cost the health board hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars.
When we pushed back by disallowing the charging of thousands of dollars to the cities by the County Clerk for work that is mandated by state statute, we were sued by the County Clerk and the City of Boonville. The judge ruled in favor of the County Commission. That ruling is being appealed by the County Clerk. All of this needless litigation costs thousands of dollars, wasting taxpayers' dollars because of either overreaching regulations or someone seeking personal financial gain. It's not always popular when you stand up for right over wrong."
There are several offices coming up for election in 2022. Presiding Commissioner, County Clerk, Recorder of Deeds, County Collector and County Treasurer. When asked about those elections Baragary said "I hope that well qualified and honest people would be interested in running for county government positions. They are very rewarding and well paying jobs. The Presiding Commissioner position pays around $46,000 and the other positions pay just under $64,000 for offices that are only open 35 hours per week. That's pretty good jobs for this area."
When asked why he is retiring Baragary stated "If I were to serve another term I would be 71 years old. I have a lot of things I would like to do while I'm still in good health like travel more with my wife Joy and ride horses with my kids and grandkids. I just think it's time to step back and enjoy life and let someone else serve. I hope that they enjoy the job as much as I have."