Helping People Kept Icon Serving Public For 40 Years

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Ronnie McDaniel has done a little bit of almost everything in and around the Rim Country and has more than a hundred stories to tell.

McDaniel, a lifetime resident of the Rim Country, first lived in Round Valley while growing up.

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Ronnie McDaniel has devoted his working life to serving his Rim Country neighbors.

After graduating from Payson High School in 1958, he worked in construction for about seven years.

In 1965, McDaniel was hired by the Gila County Sheriff's Office, where he worked for 22 years before retiring as the major area commander in charge of the Payson office for the sheriff's office.

In 1986, McDaniel successfully ran for the justice of the peace, and was re-elected four times before finally stepping down.

People that came before him when he was the Payson magistrate, he said, were obviously not happy, but most understood that he had a job to do.

"That is the way it (was)," he said. "I like people. The main thing is to be fair and courteous, and they will always respect you -- most of the time."

When the town of Star Valley incorporated more than a year ago, McDaniel was chosen as its first mayor after helping out in the incorporation process.

He said in retirement he is now able to spend more time with his family.

McDaniel said he moved to Star Valley early on and found a home at Dealer's Choice and never left because he loved it.

The former GCSO commander said he remembers when Payson was the size of Young and when there were no paved streets in the community.

He said he prefers the laid-back style that rural communities are able to provide to urban communities.

"The rural life is a lot more cherished," he said. "Probably, the thing I like most are the people I have known forever."

McDaniel is currently serving on the Gila County Facility Planning Citizens Advisory Committee, which will look at the jails and courthouses in Gila County.

"The jail is the No. 1 priority," he said. "I worked there for 22 years, and I understand the problems."

He said when the jail was first built, it was inadequate, and has worsened over the years.

McDaniel said he spent 40 years in public service and enjoyed it immensely.

"To me it was a public service," he said. "Public service means to help people, and that is what I liked the most."

The former justice of the peace said he enjoys helping the senior citizens, as well as young children.

He was instrumental in forming the first Little League and Pop Warner in Payson.

McDaniel, currently living in Star Valley with his wife of 30 years, Diane, said the weather in the Rim Country is certainly great and added it is a great place to raise children.

He said in retirement he now has time to go fishing and hunting as well as attend his grandchildren's games.

McDaniel and his wife have two children -- a son, who is a Department of Public Safety Officer and a daughter, who lives in Queen Creek -- and five grandchildren.

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