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County hires new administrator

Heppner Gazette-Times of Heppner, Oregon

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Morrow County ended its search for a new county administrator last Wednesday with the hiring of Gerald "Jerry" Sorte. Sorte's official start date is currently set for Dec. 1.

The Morrow County Court recently voted to hire an administrator to take over some of the current duties of Morrow County Judge Terry Tallman. Upon Tallman's retirement at the end of 2016, the county court plans to eliminate the judge position and operate with a full-time administrator and three part-time commissioners.

As a stipulation of his employment, Sorte, 35, will live within Morrow County. Sorte brings with him wife, Misty, and their two young children, who plan to arrive just before Christmas.

Sorte was raised in Corvallis, OR and attended Corvallis schools. He graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in political science and minor in economics and then obtained a master's in public administration from the University of Missouri.

He is the son of Bruce Sorte, the OSU Extension Community Economist for Eastern Oregon who has worked several times with local organizations like Willow Creek Valley Economic Development Group. Jerry Sorte also has a strong planning background, including previous work experience as a planner in Polk County, OR for about eight years and his current position as assistant director of — administration in Fulton, MO.

Sorte said he viewed the position in Morrow County as an excellent opportunity to return not only to his home state but also to an area with which he has a connection.

"I was fortunate when I was growing up in Corvallis to have parents and grandparents who spent a lot of time in the eastern part of the state, and I feel a connection with the eastern part of the state, as well," he told the Gazette. "When I saw this position open up, I felt it was a great opportunity. I feel very honored to serve in this capacity in Morrow County."

County commissioner Leann Rea said Sorte was one of three "excellent" candidates the county brought in for a tour and some face-to-face interaction. While the candidates each received tours of all five county communities, Rea said the selection committee was impressed that Sorte was in Heppner a day early and already had traveled the county on his own and gained an understanding of the area before the tour began.

In the end, Sorte was the first choice of all five selection committee members. Besides Rea, other members of the committee were county judge Terry

Tallman, county commissioner Don Russell, county human resources director Karen Wolff and county finance director Rick Worden.

Rea said the time touring the county was valuable for the selection committee because they got a chance to know Sorte.

"We got to visit about everything," said Rea. "He has lots of ideas for economic development. When we got his references they were absolutely stellar — they don't get any better. I think he will be a real driving force for economic development, especially for the south end of the county."

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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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