Commissioner Labhart to retire at year’s end

Evident by the more than 100 attendees at his retirement party Dec. 2, there’s no doubt Tillamook County Commission Chairman Mark Labhart will be missed after he steps down this year and moves to Sisters with his wife of 41 years, Melanie.

By Ann Powers

County Commissioner Labhart models a ceremonial blanket given to him by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde during his farewell party last week. Photo by Ann Powers

“What you see is what you get,” she said. “He is as sincere as they come. In our first year of retirement we are going to enjoy just being Mark and Melanie – and find out what that is like.”

And dozens stood and wished the both of them the best in that upcoming, well-deserved new chapter of their lives when they leave Tillamook County and make their move on Dec. 31.

Guests at the retirement event, held at Tillamook Bay Community College (TBCC), also offered the highest of accolades for Commissioner Labhart who has served on that board for 12 years. He previously worked for 34 years with the Oregon Department of Forestry – 21 years as district forester managing the majority of the Tillamook State Forest, which is about half of the entire county.

He was also the Type 1 Incident Commander on the State’s Overhead Management Team for 11 years.

“If a meteor dropped on this room I would submit that Oregon, not just Tillamook County, would be in real trouble,” state Sen. Betsy Johnson said. “The people gathered here today are a reflection of the high regard that we all have for Mark Labhart. If you just look around it’s mayors, city managers, city councilors, agency heads, the head of the Association of Oregon Counties, business people from around the state, federal staff, the head of Oregon Solutions, local institutions that are fabric of any place… and his wonderful family. This is a big-deal room of people that hold Mark in extremely high regard. My challenge is not to cry.”

State Sen. Betsy Johnson praises Commissioner Labhart’s successful public service career. Photo by Ann Powers

Labhart earned his Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Oregon State University. Following his graduation, there seems to have been no stopping him throughout his long and lustrous career.

“He’s the energizer bunny,” said fellow County Commissioner Bill Baertlein. “It’s impossible to keep up with him.”

No kidding. There’s an endless list of his esteemed positions and honors. Some of those include:

  • Board member of the Association of Oregon Counties;
  • Board member of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Cabinet;
  • Board member Marie Mills Center for developmentally disabled adults
  • Board member Tillamook County Economic Development Council
  • American Red Cross Cascades Region Community Champion Award for 2016;
  • TBCC Honoree Degree as Community College Champion for 2016
  • Appointed by Governor to serve on Oregon Resilience Plan Implementation Task Force
  • Appointed by Governor for the Federal Forest Payments Task Force
  • Appointed by Governor to serve on ODOT’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee
  • Appointed by the Governor to the State Flood Recovery Task Force
  • Member Council of Forest Trust Lands Counties since 2004
  • Member of the Tillamook Chamber of Commerce since 1984
  • Member of the Tillamook County Farm Bureau since 2004
  • Member Tillamook County General Hospital Civic Advisory Board since 2004
  • Chosen as Tillamook County Citizen of the Year in 2004
  • Chosen as Tillamook County Volunteer of the Year in 2002
  • Chosen as OSU Statewide Extension Cooperator of the Year in 2015
  • Chosen as Oregon’s Forester of the Year in 1989

“We in Oregon have been very lucky and very proud to have had (Commissioner Labhart) in a leadership role,” said Oregon icon, Gerry Frank, now 93. “My friends, you who have lived out here are going to miss this guy tremendously. And Lord knows today with what we are seeing on the national scene, we need good people desperately and we’re going to miss Mark Labhart desperately.”

Commissioner Labhart gave closing remarks by thanking everyone and quoting another beloved, longtime community leader – Mildred Davy.

“As always, those of you who know me, it’s all about you,” he said. “It’s not about me. I can’t thank you enough for making time out of your busy lives to be here to say farewell.

He ended with a few of his favorite Davy quotes including, “If you don’t have wrinkles, maybe you haven’t laughed enough.”

Which is what the Labharts plan to do in retirement – laugh a lot and enjoy time with their family. The couple has two grown children; Jeff who owns and operates with his wife a Gelato Company in Bend, and Megan who works as an international recruiter for Disney Cruise Lines. Commissioner Labhart and Melanie also have three grandchildren.