Barbara Balding, one of Boise Countys new commissioners, says shell be working out of a makeshift office at her old farmhouse in Clear Creek.
Shes carved out a 4-by-6-foot area for her computer in a room stuffed with trophies and car-themed items.
My husband has allowed me a little space in his mancave, said Balding.
The 68-year-old former bookkeeper and county treasurer and graduate of Boises Borah High was sworn in Monday. Shes the chairwoman of the three-member commission.
Also new to the commission is Vicki Wilkins, a 52-year-old former Washingtonian who has lived and worked in the county for 21 years. The Centerville resident has held jobs as a land surveyor, mapper and fire mitigation/weed control specialist. She also did a stint working at the county dump.
Wilkins was out the door at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday to be sure she was on time to a work-related meeting over the mountain in Emmett.
Gem County has an awesome emergency operations system, she said in a call from Horseshoe Bend on her way home. I was there for a roundtable and workshop.
Balding and Wilkins have joined Commissioner Jamie Anderson a 58-year-old career forest engineer and grant writer who took office in 2009 to form an all-female county commission. It appears to be a first in Boise Countys 150-year history, according to Clerk Mary Prisco.
It might be a first for Idaho as well.
Thats just not something weve dug into, said Daniel Chadwick, executive director of the Idaho Association of Counties.
Chadwick said he thought Gooding County had an all-female commission several years ago. Gooding Chief Clerk Denise Hill said that would have been the case in 2007 if one of the female commissioners had not resigned in 2006.
CALM AFTER THE STORM
Six of nine elected positions in the county are now held by women, and the mayor of county seat Idaho City is also a woman.
Boise County citizens are looking for change, looking for some way of fixing our issues, said Mayor Jackie Bridwell, who took office in 2009.
The commissioners say gender was a nonissue.
I dont think the voters realized (they were putting) three women in, but I think theyre proud of it. Its nice to see the county recognized for doing something good, Wilkins said.
The county has about 7,000 residents, many of whom work in Ada, Canyon or Gem counties. Its been through tumultuous times in recent years, trying to resolve how to pay off a $5.4 million legal judgment handed down by a federal jury in 2010. The county is on track to be free of that debt in about seven years.
Were just looking forward to moving forward and getting back to doing business without having a huge cloud hanging over our heads, said Boise County Sheriff Ben Roeber.
Balding, a mother of three, defeated two opponents in the Republican primary, including ex-Commissioner Roger Jackson.
Communication is important but difficult in the rural county, where it can take an hour to drive between the mountain communities of Garden Valley, Horseshoe Bend and Idaho City.
I ran for change, as far as trying to get more people involved in their county government, Balding said. I realize that a lot of them work in Boise, but they need to pay attention because ultimately the bottom line is when they get their tax bill.
Wilkins said she decided to run because she was tired of sitting around the coffee shop and complaining with everyone else.
I want us to be able to hold our heads up, said Wilkins, whose son, Scott, is Idaho Citys police chief. Her other son, Steven, is a Boise County sheriffs deputy.
She narrowly defeated incumbent Bob Fry, a former state representative and State Tax Commission member.
GETTING TO WORK
The commissioners oversee 100 full- and part-time employees and hold the strings to a roughly $8 million budget.
Commissioners are paid $29,465. The part-time job comes with full-time hours.
Anderson, who took office in 2009, said she works up to 80 hours a week.
I dont understand how they consider it a part-time job. Ive already received 112 emails and had over 50 phone calls, Wilkins said of her second day. I have meetings every single day for the next month and a half.
Boise Countys largest employers are the county and the Idaho City School District.
Tourism-related business is the major industry in the county, which draws campers, hikers, skiers and travelers of all sorts. Bogus Basin is in Boise County, and this season is proving to be much better than last, thanks to plentiful snow.
The commissioners have other reasons for optimism, including the rebuilding and reopening in February of the former Warm Springs Resort, now called The Springs at Idaho City.
Things have definitely improved, and Im proud of it, Anderson said.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413