NORMAN — Earlier this month George Skinner, Cleveland County District 2 Commissioner, celebrated his retirement after 22 years of service in office.
The retirement reception was held at the Cleveland County Courthouse where friends, family and coworkers celebrated the end of Skinner’s career as a public official.
“I loved being a county commissioner,” Skinner said. “There were always different things to do, different people to meet with. I just really enjoyed it — if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have done it for 22 years.”
Skinner first took office January 7, 1991 and has stayed busy over the years. He said they have done a number of projects and bond issues over the years that have saved tax payers a lot of money.
Whether it was getting schools funding for buildings or working on county roads, he was doing what he could to help serve his district and Cleveland County. When he took office in 1991 he said most of the roads in the eastern part of the county were dirt or rock. Today most of they have a hard surface.
“My road crew is better than anybody’s. We surfaced and resurfaced enough roads to where you can travel to Dallas and all the way back almost,” he said.
The most challenging project he took on was replacing Hog Creek Bridge on 149th St. he said. There were 3-5 acres of wetlands that were destroyed during the project, the road had to be built up about six feet and they had to curve it behind high-line poles.
“But we were able to get it done,” he said.
Road projects and bond issues weren’t the only changes that occurred over the years though. Skinner switched political parties about 10 years ago, changing from a Democrat to a Republican. Republican beliefs became closer to his beliefs he said.
“It helped me serve my district better. Most of the people in my district were Republican and it helped to stay with them,” Skinner said.
Politics aside, the thing he said he will miss the most is the daily routines and the people he worked with.
“I will miss the people that I work with tremendously. There’s a great bunch of people in our office and the courthouse,” he said. “I appreciate all the constituents that I have worked with over the years. They treated me great and I enjoyed working with them.”
Although his career as a commissioner is over, he has plans that will still keep him busy. Skinner said he plans on hunting, fishing, playing golf, seeing his grandchildren more, traveling more and “all the things I’ve been neglecting for 22 years”.
“All I’ve known is his campaign and him being a county commissioner,” said Skinner’s granddaughter, Emily Virgin, the District 44 state House member and a Democrat. “He was a great commissioner but an even better grandpa and dad to six kids and 11 grandchildren.”
Virgin said she remembers knocking on doors for him as a child when he ran for office. She was 4 years old when he first ran.
“You can credit him or blame him with my venture into politics,” she said with a laugh.
She said he always put the interest of the people and of his constituents above all and he is the most honest person she knows.
“It’s hard for me to give unbiased comments because he is my grandpa,” she said. “But he is definitely one of the greatest public servants Cleveland County has ever seen.”
“I just can’t say enough great things about him.”