Woman Of Year Is A Gila County Revolutionary

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Tommie Martin has three major goals and a knack for stirring things up.

The Gila County Board of Supervisor vice-chair is our Woman of the Year for her dedication to improving the safety and ecosystem of the county.

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Tommie Cline Martin was former Gila County Supervisor Ron Christensen's hand-picked successor when the longtime leader decided to retire. Since taking office in 2006, Martin has worked tirelessly to get money into the county to combat the ongoing fire hazards created by what she considers decades of mismanagement of the forests in the Rim Country.

Martin's tireless efforts on boosting forest health, focus on solving regional water problems and concentration on improving county correctional facilities make her a good person to have in Payson's corner.

"I'm impatient to get these things done," Martin said. "I want action."

Martin is a third-generation Gila County native who was born and raised in Payson and Star Valley, and currently resides on Payson's Main Street with her husband Ron. She said that her upbringing on a ranch has translated into a love for the land that drives her to vociferously protect it.

"Part of what drives me is looking at this country through my grandmother's eyes," she said, "We've done everything we can to kill this land. I am very determined to change the national resource management approach."

Retired Gila County Board of Supervisors chairman Ron Christensen, who endorsed Martin as his replacement, said that she has been trying very hard to put together improvements on public lands and natural resources.

"Tommie is a very dedicated official," Christensen said. "I've known her for a long time and she has the knowledge and ambition necessary."

Martin said one of her biggest accomplishments in 2006 was getting the attention of both the U.S. Forest Service and Congress on the issue of fire prevention for the Tonto National Forest.

"Everyone in the West is facing the same problem," she said. "I'm determined it's going to be us first."

So she worked on getting funding from the national government and increasing forest fire prevention efforts. She's currently putting together a budget that she can send to Congress to receive funding for 2008 to finish fireproofing Northern Gila County.

The Tonto National Forest didn't experience a major fire in 2006, something Martin is very proud of.

"We've completed firebreaks around Payson, Star Valley, Pine/Strawberry and East Verde Park," she said. "We never made the news last year because we never caught on fire. Now it's just keeping the ball rolling."

Another ongoing county improvement that Martin has a huge hand in is the Gila County Facilities Planning Committee.

The committee is comprised of volunteer representatives from around the county and is currently evaluating the need for new jail and courthouse facilities in Payson and Globe. Martin expects a recommendation by May of this year.

"Whenever there's an issue she tries to include everybody," Jo Johnson, Martin's executive assistant said. "I'm amazed at her people skills."

Current GCBOS chairman Joe Sanchez said that Martin was fundamental in getting the facilities planning committee started.

"She just has a wealth of information," he said.

Martin said she plans on running for re-election for the board of supervisors in 2008.

"I think I need at least another four years to make things happen," she said. "When I've gotten done what I need to get done, I'll let someone else do the things they need to do."

When she finally does leave the board, Martin said she'd like to return to school, possibly to study alternative medicine.

As for the possibility of seeking a higher office, Martin said she hasn't really considered it.

"I would do it only if it would open up ways to accomplish the aforementioned tasks," she said.

One thing seems apparent -- the Gila County revolutionary doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime in the near future.

"I don't think I'll ever retire," she said.

And that is good news for the residents of Payson and Gila County.

"There are probably many people deserving (of the Woman of the Year award), but Supervisor Martin is an excellent choice," Sanchez said.

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