County’s Chief Administrator Leaves for Kansas

The work of Phillip Smith-Hanes, Humboldt County’s respected county administrative officer, was honored by the Board of Supervisors at the last meeting he’ll be at.

Smith-Hanes finished his work with the county on Jan. 29 and is moving to Ellis County, Kansas, where he’ll work as lead administrator.

A resolution commending Smith-Hanes was the main item on the morning agenda of the Jan. 26 supervisors’ meeting.

The resolution states that during his six-year stint as the county’s administrative officer, Smith-Hanes “led the County through a difficult recession with persistence, forethought and great commitment to serving the community.”

Smith-Hanes’s leadership is described in the resolution as having “contributed not only to an improved financial outlook for the County, it has also inspired a team approach to problem solving.”

Supervisor Ryan Sundberg praised Smith-Hanes’s conservative approach to spending. “He is extremely stingy when it comes to county money,” he said.

Smith-Hanes began working for the county in 2005 as deputy county administrator. Due to the level of his work, his position was re-classified as assistant county administrator in 2007.

Appointed as county administrative officer in 2009, Smith-Hanes advanced community participation in county budget hearings by establishing live, interactive internet streaming and public access TV feeds.

The county’s successful Measure Z public safety sales tax measure is also mentioned in the resolution as one of his most valuable contributions.

Supervisor Rex Bohn noted the reason for Smith-Hanes’s resignation and described it as a notable accomplishment in itself.

“The reason he’s leaving is so he can be closer to his mother and father as they grow older,” he said. “To make that kind of commitment is probably more admirable than anything else you’ve done on this earth.”

Smith-Hanes’s appointment as lead administrator followed the retirement of former County Administrative Officer Loretta Nickolaus, whose leadership has legendary status.

Board Chair Mark Lovelace, the only board member who was supervisor when Smith-Hanes was appointed, recalled the transitional phase.

“I remember your interview and the certainty that ‘He’s the guy and we’re going to be in great hands’ and you’ve demonstrated that every day for the last six years you’ve been here,” he said.

During a public comment session, various department heads credited Smith-Hanes for encouraging collaboration and enhancing communication.

Interim County Administrative Officer Cheryl Dillingham said Smith-Hanes’s work will have a lasting effect because “he’s given us the tools and the ability to carry on the good work that he has started.”

Asked to comment on his work in Humboldt, Smith-Hanes simply said, “It’s been a great experience for me and I greatly appreciated your support.”