Wayne Whiton, Lewis County’s risk and safety administrator, is moving on to start a new job in state government. With his resignation effective Friday, county leaders said they have big shoes to fill.
“When he came in, there were a number of safety concerns we had, including courthouse safety,” said county commissioner Bobby Jackson. “Wayne immediately addressed a lot of those situations for us. His leaving is hard, but he has put some things in place for us that are going to be very good to follow.”
Whiton has been with the county a little more than a year, following a career as a safety and risk specialist in the K-12 education field. He’ll be joining the state’s Labor & Industries Department as a safety specialist. Whiton said his time in local government has been a learning experience.
“It’s been fascinating, because I had no idea the whole legislative process and the steps that it takes to get something from an idea to a concept,” he said. “It’s a little bit delayed or slow sometimes from my perspective, but it’s actually good because you have time to develop a policy and procedure and make sure all the stakeholders have a say.”
Whiton said his biggest accomplishments with the county were the implementation of a new accident prevention plan and lockout-tagout safety procedures for equipment.
County manager Erik Martin said there’s no timeline yet for finding Whiton’s replacement, as the county is determining what its leadership roles will look like.
“I’m working on organizational structure for the board anyway,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly, but I don’t want to wait too long. That hasn’t been decided yet.”
County leaders praised the expertise Whiton brought during his tenure.
“His relevance to our situation is just spot-on — we needed him to do the things he did,” said commissioner Edna Fund. “As we had the power outage (last week), he got that whiteboard and started putting everything we needed to do. He’s always on the job. He always gave concrete things that we needed to do.”
Added commissioner Gary Stamper: “He’s very in tune with what the county needs. He did a good job.”
Whiton said Lewis County presented a special challenge, and one that made the job interesting.
“It’s been a really good job,” he said. “There’s a lot of moving pieces. This is a huge county. It’s really complicated and everything is so interdependent.”