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Linn County Commissioners Roger Nyquist, John Lindsey and Will Tucker honored former Samaritan Health Services president and CEO Larry Mullins Tuesday morning for his 25 years of mid-valley service.

Chairman Nyquist presented Mullins — who now heads the Samaritan Solutions Institute, which, as its website states, "provides health care leaders with new perspectives on the changing health care landscape" — with a plaque for his role in improving regional health care and helping create thousands of jobs in Linn and Benton counties.

Tucker said he has greatly appreciated being able to get to know Mullins and his wife, Barbara.

“The projects we have taken on together have been successful and some of them had been wildly successful,” Tucker said. “Your vision has benefited Linn County many times over and your connections have been invaluable.”

Tucker said that Mullins immediately saw the value of both the COMP-Northwest medical school and Edward C. Allworth Veterans Home, and that rather than just voice his support, Mullins put personal and staff time into making both realities.

“We are already seeing the value of the medical school,” Tucker said. “You saw the need for more rural doctors. Now, we have them practicing and completing their residencies in our communities. They live here, work here and will, we hope, retire here.”

Tucker said that when Mullins learned about the potential to locate the veterans home in Lebanon, he devoted a staff person to a team that included Frank Moore, former Linn County Public Health Director, and county administrator Ralph Wyatt, to develop a “presentation that absolutely knocked their socks off.”

Tucker said the Lebanon, Albany and Corvallis hospitals have enjoyed rebirths under Mullins’ direction, and the quality of staff members is known statewide.

He said the upcoming development of an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center is greatly needed and the county recently committed $125,000 toward the project’s funding goal.

“This is critical for us,” Tucker said.

Tucker said it has “been a privilege to work with you.”

In other business, the commissioners:

• Adopted the county’s Transportation Safety Plan and expressed a desire to work with the city of Lebanon to propose a truck bypass route to direct heavy traffic away from the downtown corridor.

• Approved the expansion of the Harrisburg-Junction City Enterprise Zone. Linn County is one of four sponsors, including the Lane County Board of Commissioners and the Harrisburg and Junction City city councils.

• Approved spending $151,688 to begin updating the county’s telephone system. The three-year process will cost about $450,000 and will shift the county away from analog telephones to digital phones. The contract is with 10D Telecom in Corvallis.

• Approved purchasing 12,000 tons of rock for a total of $75,000 from the Wodtli Quarry near Sweet Home to be used to upgrade the Upper Calapooia Road.

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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