Original Source: Wallowa County Chieftain
County bids farewell to longtime County Commissioner Mike Hayward.
A jovial and appreciative group of people gathered Friday night at Cloverleaf Hall for the farewell roast of Wallowa County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Hayward, who served 19 years on the commission before recently announcing his intent to retire to become general manager of Wallowa Grain Growers.
Luminaries who attended the event included State Sen. Bill Hansell; State Rep. Greg Barreto; Union County Commissioner Mark Davidson; Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart; Association of Oregon Counties Executive Director Mike McArthur and Umatilla County Commissioner George Murdock. Hayward’s family attended the event as well.
Although the event was billed as a roast, speakers took few jabs at the departing commissioner. Rather, speaker after speaker, including Hayward’s wife Bev, testified to Hayward’s huge impact on the community and his devotion to his commissioner duties.
In a fitting end to the event, Hayward himself took to the podium, thanking the citizens of Wallowa County for their support over the years. He mentioned several commissioners he knew who were voted out of office for not spending enough time in their counties.
“Yet, all I had here in Wallowa County were citizens thanking me for being willing to be gone away from my family in Salem, and I think that says something for the people of Wallowa County,” he said. “The most important decisions to the people here aren’t made here. They’re made in Salem, Portland and D.C., and if you’re not there, you have no say in what happens.”
In closing, Hayward thanked his predecessors who paved the way for the county’s natural resources development, Hayward assured his listeners he was not leaving the county.
“I still plan to be involved with the community. … I look forward to the challenge that’s ahead, and I thank all you people for supporting me over the last 19 years. I thank my family for putting up with me, and we’ll see how this works out.”
Hayward left a huge and positive impact on the people he met during his 19 years of service to the county. He earned the respect of both Democrats and Republicans during his tenure. As a tribute, The Chieftain collected the following quotes from just a small segment of the many people who have known or worked with Mike Hayward over the years.
“Mike Hayward is one of a kind. For nearly two decades, he has worked tirelessly to serve the people of Wallowa County and leave his community better than he found it. I’ve come to rely on his valuable counsel over the years, especially on the natural resources issues that are so important to rural Oregon. I have no doubt that Mike will continue to serve his community outside of elected office, and I wish him and his family all the best.” — U.S. Rep. Greg Walden
“I have long appreciated Mike’s thoughtful and wise counsel. I have absolutely no doubt he will continue to serve his community.” — U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden
“Mike has been a tireless advocate for Wallowa County and a fixture in this community for years. I can’t imagine Wallowa County without his leadership and it’s something we will all miss. I wish him the best in his new role and thank him for his longtime service to the County.” — U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley
“I haven’t known Mike all that long, but he’s very well respected up here. I got his endorsement when I ran for office. … He works hard, and that’s how you gain and earn the respect. It’s been fun to know him and I know if there’s anything I need, he’ll be available.” — State Rep. Greg Barreto
“It was my pleasure to serve with Mike for 16 years when we were both county commissioners, and it’s been my pleasure to work with him in my capacity as a state senator. He’s a quality guy who will be missed, and I wish him all the best on his new job.” — State Sen. Bill Hansell
“Mike is such a good listener. He’s very practical and reasonable and considers all sides to an issue. He’s level headed and it’s great to work with him on the Moraines Partnership as he’s the county’s representative.” — Wallowa Land Trust Conservation Director Julia Lakes
“Mike is just a straight-up good guy and he is very dedicated. He was dedicated to the community, to public safety and very supportive of the Sheriff’s office. I just can’t think of anything more to say than that, he was a dedicated guy.” — Wallowa County Sheriff Steve Rogers.
“I think it’s clear from all the dealings I’ve had with Mike that he really does love Wallowa County. He was a great public servant in the true meaning of the word ‘servant.’ I would talk to him and he would be going to these meetings like at 5 a.m.. He would work ridiculous hours from early in the morning until late at night — on the weekends.” — Wallowa Land Trust Executive Director Kathleen Ackley
“I really look up to Mike. I get advice from him, and I’ve been in meetings he was involved with and I’ve always admires how he handles sticky or difficult situations. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and I’ve certainly learned how to approach problems from him.” — Joseph Mayor Dennis Sands
“Mike worked to find the money to keep our fairgrounds. He stepped in and did a lot to keep that fairgrounds afloat, right down to mowing the lawns on his own time (side note: Ben Boswell notes that Mike mowed the lawn at his church as well). He did a lot of work for no pay — that wasn’t part of his commissioner job, it was over and above his commissioner job.” — John Hillock, Enterprise Electric
“He had great follow-through and he was good to his word. In a job like that with so many things going on, sometime things can get missed — but not with Mike. He was always on top of it. I guarantee he will be missed.” — Enterprise Mayor Steve Lear
“Above all, in my opinion, he’s a devoted family man. He’s done all that stuff and still had time for his family. In my opinion, Mike is the epitome of a public servant. He was really easy to work with; he did what he said he was going to do and you could depend on him.” — Foremer Wallowa County Commissioner Ben Boswell
“I’ve sat with him for seven years and listened to him deal with people, and I hope to God I’ve learned a lot from him. He has a way of dealing with people that made them feel like he cared about their problem even if he couldn’t fix it, and that’s pretty amazing. I don’t think the county truly understands the depth of his character. Everything he did for this county was hearfelt.” — Wallowa County Commisioner Susan Roberts
“Mike, having been a Republican, always stood on the side of what was in the best interests of the citizens of this county. He was heavily involved in so many state issues that came about, and he tried his best to serve the needs of the people. In my five years here he’s been a great help to me.” — Wallowa County Commissioner Paul Castilleja