ST. GEORGE – Eight Washington County elected officials raised their right hand and took their oath of office Tuesday during the meeting of Washington County Commissioners, beginning their terms this year.
Among those officials sworn-in Tuesday afternoon were: Commissioner Zachary Renstrom, Commissioner Victor Iverson, Assessor Tom Durrant, County Attorney Brock Belnap, Recorder Russell Shirts, Clerk-Auditor Kim Hafen, Treasurer David Whitehead and Sheriff Cory Pulsipher.
While some were new to their leadership positions, others renewed the oath they’ve carried out for years.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners welcomed back Alan Gardner, who has served on the executive board since 1996, while first-term elected members Victor Iverson and Zachary Renstrom joined him on the commission.
Iverson, who was previously the natural resource adviser for U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, has had a head start in his role as commissioner since replacing Denny Drake on an interim basis in July 2014 when Drake resigned to serve as a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I’m very energized by the fact that you know, the new commission and Commissioner Alan Gardner being our Chair,” Iverson said. “I think it’s going to be fabulous and I look forward to working with Zach. I think we kind of bring a different perspective and we believe the county’s been run in a very good and efficient way and we just look forward to continuing Washington County’s success, working for Washington County’s success, and so I think it’s going to be a great year here in 2015.”
Renstrom, a patent attorney and entrepreneur, was elected to the second position after beating out Commissioner James Eardley, who was in his 16th year in office, during the April Republican nomination convention.
Durrant, a long-time employee of the County Assessor’s Office, won the Republican nomination with over 60 percent of the vote, beating out David Miller and Chris Isom. Durrant was unopposed in the general election.
The Washington County Attorney’s race was arguably the most publicized of the Primary Election races in Southern Utah. Belnap maintained his position with his victory over Republican Primary challenger Nathan Caplin.
Incumbent Pulsipher was re-elected as Washington County’s Sheriff with 88 percent of the delegate vote, soundly defeating challenger Hank Kodele.
Unopposed candidates Shirts, Hafen and Whitehead were elected by acclamation.
Lights, cameras and action
Another item on the commission agenda was final approval in moving forward with updating the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility camera system.
“The control panels that run all the doors and the operations and everything as well as camera system, is outdated,” Pulsipher said. “The company that originally installed it is no longer in business so we’re having failures and it’s really, really hard to you know fix things, so we’ve been working over the last couple of years to get that all replaced and updated.”
Pulsipher said a request for proposal was just finished, the contract was approved and with the County Commission’s final approval Tuesday, they can get the project started, which will include all new control panels, cameras and the security system. The update will make the facility nicer and safer, he added.
“We had the incident a little over a year ago with the inmate that escaped as a result of some of the issues that we’ve had,” Pulsipher said, “and we’ve had to make changes in policy to overcome those, but this is going to help us move forward and actually make it more secure and a better environment for everybody that’s out there.”
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.