County officials sworn in, commissioners honored to serve

Madison County Commissioner Dan Happel (left) and Madison County Sheriff Dave Schenk sign certificates at their swearing in ceremony in Virginia City last Wednesday.   Photo by Steve DiGiovanna

Madison County Commissioner Dan Happel (left) and Madison County Sheriff Dave Schenk sign certificates at their swearing in ceremony in Virginia City last Wednesday. Photo by Steve DiGiovanna

Newly elected and re-elected Madison County officials were sworn into office in a brief ceremony at the Madison County Courthouse last Wednesday.

For Dan Happel, the ceremony kicked off his first term as county commissioner from Madison County Commission District 2.

“I’m excited,” Happel said in an interview from his office on his first day of work Monday. “It’s going to be fun. I’m really looking forward to this.”

Happel is the only new official at the county on Monday. Re-elected officials taking the oath of office again included County Attorney Chris Christensen, Justice of the Peace MaryAnn O’Malley, Sheriff Dave Schenk, Clerk of District Court Bundy Bailey, Treasurer Shelly Burke, Clerk and Recorder Peggy Kaatz Stemler and Commissioner Jim Hart.

In preparation for his new job, Happel recently attended a training session for elected county officials in Helena. The training was provided by Montana State University Local Government Center and the Montana Association of Counties. The curriculum includes courses on the functions of county government, local government law, the Montana legislative process, county special boards’ governance and human resource management.

“It gave you a good understanding of some of the pitfalls that county commissioners enter into because of the some of the personnel problems,” Happel said. “I think the thing I came away from it with more than anything else is that there’s an awful lot of commissioners in Montana that work together to get bills through the legislature.”

For Hart taking the oath again reminded him of the responsibility given to him by Madison Valley voters.

“I very much appreciate the confidence Madison Valley residents have placed in me,” he said.

He is also looking forward to the year and working with Happel on the board of county commissioners.

“With each of our different perspectives on various issues,” he said. “I think we’re going to work very well together.”

Happel, who is passionate about being involved in government, is excited to make a difference.

“To me it’s exciting to be able to make a difference and that’s it in a nutshell,” he said. “I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t think I would be able to make a difference.”

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