Chuck Doud/The Madera Tribune
A nice display of courtesy and respect opened the 2017 term of the Madera County Board of Supervisors, starting with an informal chance meeting in the foyer of the Madera County Government Center Tuesday morning. Supervisors Tom Wheeler of Oakhurst, Rick Farinelli of Madera and Max Rodriguez of Madera happened to meet informally outside the doors of the supervisors’ chambers along with newly elected Supervisor Rob Poythress. They were talking with Dave Wolin, the county’s film commissioner and owner of Creative Marketing Services, of Oakhurst.
The gathering could have been a little tense, because Poythress was about to be sworn in to replace Farinelli as the District 3 supervisor, but the tension disappeared because of the good natures of the men who found themselves together. They knew they were there to conduct the serious business of government, but they didn’t mind sharing a smile and a laugh and some good-natured ribbing.
Later, when Rodriguez had been sworn in for a fourth term and elected to replace Farinelli as board chair, and Poythress had been sworn for his first term and seated in the District 3 seat, Rodriguez praised Farinelli for his work as chair.
“Rick leaves big shoes to fill,” Rodriguez said as he began a tribute to Farinelli. “This man used to show up at 8 o’clock in the morning and not leave until 5:30. And then he would go to meetings after that. He worked hard and earned his money.”
Farinelli also would host town halls to inform the citizens about the issues of the moment, particularly about water. And Farinelli would show up at meetings hosted by others, mainly to listen and learn from others. He set a good example as a public servant.
In his own remarks, Farinelli praised Poythress, who defeated him in the November election. “I really like it,” he said, “that someone with Rob’s qualifications is taking over my position.”
Farinelli also had shown Poythress around the various offices and departments of county government, introducing him to those who make the county work.
“He was surprised that county government is so big — much bigger than the city,” Farinelli said. He was referring to the fact that Poythress had been Madera’s mayor before deciding to run for the District 3 supervisorial position.
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County Supervisor David Rogers, who represents the Chowchilla area, said he has acquired a Sohmer baby grand piano and now plays mostly classical music on it two hours every morning.
“I was a concert pianist when I was younger,” he said. “I’ve been playing piano 50 years.”
He said he tackles the great classical composers before going to work to tackle the problems of the county.
“I think it makes me better at what I do the rest of the day,” he said. “It stimulates the mind and the body.”
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County Auditor Todd Miller spoke briefly before the board after the reorganization had taken place. He placed in chairman Rodriguez’s hands a copy of the county’s annual report, which had been completed by Dec. 31.
“This is the first time in several years that report has been filed on time,” Miller said.
When Miller took over as auditor in 2014, the reports were far behind, which meant the county often found itself unable to qualify for grants.
Miller praised his staff for the work done in getting the report out on time.