Fond farewell to Mike Curry


We all knew this day was coming. We watched as Commissioner Mike Curry walked into the Clinton County Board of Commissioners meeting at 7:30 a.m., which is his norm.

He looked over the agenda, reviewed the bills submitted by the various county departments, and made a few notes. He cracked a few jokes, and laughed at a few of mine. At eight o’clock precisely, he called the meeting to order.

Today’s meeting would be like the other 90-plus sessions this year with one exception — this meeting would be Mike’s last as a county commissioner.

A year ago, Mike called us into the hallway of the courthouse and announced to fellow commissioner Kerry Steed and me that he would be retiring after his term ends on New Year’s Day, 2017.

Mike has been a public servant for 25 years. “It is just time,” he said. “I want to spend more time on the farm, and do some other things, too.”

His first elected position began as a Liberty Township Trustee, serving nine years in that capacity. At the end of this term, Mike will have served 16 years as a county commissioner, making him one of the longest-serving commissioners in Clinton County history.

Mike brought a strong work ethic to both of those positions. In the middle of winter you might have seen him driving a snow plow clearing snow from township roads. As a commissioner, he was an expert on the county budget, and often burned the midnight oil with his calculator protecting taxpayer’s money.

An officeholder told me last week, “There is more to Mike than the tall, quiet farmer you see around the courthouse.”

Indeed there is.

He worked on a number of different committees on the county board, giving a voice to those who often have none. Mike expanded the safety net for Clinton County’s most vulnerable citizens through his unparalleled commitment to the children of Clinton County as a board member of the Clinton County Family and Children First Council, and has been a lifelong friend of the 4-H programs in Clinton County.

Although he’s soft-spoken, Mike could be riled. “Quit putting words in my mouth,” he firmly reminded me early on in my tenure. It has been a running joke for us ever since.

Mike told me last week his work on several major infrastructure projects has brought him the most satisfaction. “The 73 By-pass and the sale of Clinton Memorial Hospital were the two largest and most difficult projects I was associated with,” Mike said. “Like any job, there have been stressful days and ones that have brought me much satisfaction and pride.”

We were chatting one day and I asked Mike if he had played sports when he was younger. “I had to make a choice. I could either play baseball in the summer, or be involved in 4-H,” Mike said. “I opted for 4-H.”

His love of the Clinton County Fair and 4-H has continued over the years. Mike has been a 4-H Advisor for more than 35 years and was a 4-H member for 10 years. He received the Clinton County Friend of 4-H Award in 2002.

“Is there a motion to approve the minutes?” Mike asked as he began the meeting. Mike continued to preside over the session as the commissioners approved a variety of bills.

Then it was over. The meeting ended just as it had begun 16 years earlier, with handshakes, good wishes, and some laughter. Mike cleaned out his desk, gathered his personal keepsakes, and said goodbye to his colleagues. He was gone.

Mike’s departure was a tough goodbye for a lot of people. He carried a lot of institutional knowledge down the steps of the courthouse and out the door with him. Suddenly, Mike stopped, looked up at the courthouse dome, and took a deep breath. He quietly walked to his pick-up truck and headed onto 68 North and into the future.

It has been an honor to work with the tall, quiet farmer from Mount Pleasant. We will miss him.

Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner.

Pat Haley

Contributing Columnist

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