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Priggel stepping down after eight years

Thursday, December 21, 2006

(Photo)
Martin Priggel
Scott County news

BENTON -- After eight years as Scott County's chief executive officer, Presiding County Commissioner Martin Priggel is ready to hand over the reins.

Priggel's last day as presiding commissioner will be Dec. 31 with his last County Commission meeting being Thursday.

On Jan. 1, Jamie Burger, currently the second district associate county commissioner, will officially become presiding commissioner. Gov. Matt Blunt will then be responsible for appointing someone to fill the two years remaining in Burger's unexpired associate commissioner term.

"I feel real confident they are going to do a good job," Priggel said. "I've been very fortunate to work with excellent commissioners the entire time I've been here."

From the beginning, Priggel made it clear that his intentions were to serve no more than two terms as presiding commissioner and, true to his word, he declined to run for a third term.

"One thing about Martin is when he tells you something, his word is his bond," said Dennis Ziegenhorn, first district associate county commissioner.

Having served the county as he intended, Priggel hoped to step down without fanfare.

"I'm just planning on riding off into the sunset kind of quietly," he said.

It will be hard to step out of the public eye completely unrecognized, however.

"More people know I am retiring than knew I was running for the position," Priggel said.

In seeking the office, Priggel said his goal was simply "to make Scott County a better place for people to live and raise their families."

While there were many significant improvements made in the county during his terms which indicate his goal was achieved, Priggel hesitated to list them.

He said he doesn't want to sound like a quarterback taking all the credit for a football team's win when it truly was team efforts involved.

Some accomplishments Priggel was involved in are very visible: the construction of a new jail, renovations to the interior and exterior of the courthouse, renovations and updates to the Scott County War Memorial.

Others were just as important but not as obvious to those not directly affected such formation of drainage district on the east side of the county or the prudent use of the county's money.

"He spends the county's money like it's his," Ziegenhorn said.

Burger noted how Priggel has left the courthouse better than he found it in more ways than one.

"He has raised the level of professionalism in the courthouse and the way county business is conducted," Burger said. "He earned the respect of county officials and county employees with his hard work and dedication to the county. I think it's carried over to several, several people and I think it's shown in the way the public perceives the county."

"He's very persistent," Ziegenhorn said. "He stays on top of things -- if the tractor's broken, he fixes it."

After leaving office, part of his time will probably be dedicated to Bootheel Agri-Energy's ethanol plant in Sikeston, Priggel said, and he may lend a hand on the family farm occasionally, although it is in the capable hands of his three sons.

But for the first time in his life, he said, there will not be responsibilities demanding his attention.

"Scott County has been good to me and the people of Scott County have been good to me," Priggel said. "I hope I've been able to give a little bit back."