After nearly five months without an Agriculture Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures, Colusa County officially filled the position on June 1.
For a little over a month, Gregory Hinton has been serving in that capacity. According to Supervisor John Loudon, it was worth the wait: the county appears to have found the perfect match.
“We’re very excited to have him here,” Loudon said. “He seems to have the perfect background, and it seems to fit our county perfectly – it’s a very good fit.”
Hinton said that the feeling is mutual.
“(My experience so far) has been great. The people that are there, and everybody down in that office, will cover for one another. I like that — small community sort of atmosphere – it is just worth everything to me, and for me, it’s a perfect fit,” Hinton said. “I don’t feel out of place, I feel welcome, and that’s worth everything when you go into that office.”
Hinton, who lives in Orland, was born and raised in Paradise, and graduated from Chico State with a B.S. in Microbiology.
“Not the typical ag (background), but similar,” Hinton said.
Before coming to Colusa County, Hinton spent 15 years working as a biologist in the agriculture department of its northerly neighbor, and that experience has helped ease his transition.
“For fifteen years I was a biologist in Glenn County. (In terms of) specific programs, I had the opportunity to run everything in ag at one period of time – I’m pretty diverse in that,” Hinton said. “Also, when I first started, I worked with air pollution as well.”
Hinton said that he has faced a learning curve in overseeing the county’s migrant housing and the airport.
“The airport has been a learning curve for me – not that I’m not excited about it. You get to wear many hats. You try to focus on what you’re comfortable with, and every time you get something that comes across your desk, like with the airport and migrant housing there is a learning curve,” Hinton said.
Hinton does have a background to build on in terms of the airport – he retired as an Air Force reservist in 2006, after 21 years total and four years in active service, during which he cross trained as an aircraft scheduler and aircraft mechanic.
“That’s probably how the airport fell back into my lap. During the interview process, they wanted to know what I had with airports,” Hinton said. “I think it’s more interest than knowledge, as far as being an airport director. It’s a far cry from actually working on jets.”
Hinton said that he has a good group of staff and volunteers to rely on, and credited the agriculture department for their work – in terms of the airport, migrant housing, and beyond. He specifically commended the work of Assistant Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures Mary Anne Azevedo.
“Gosh, we were without a commissioner there for five months, since Joe (Damiano, the former Ag Commissioner) essentially gave his notice. Mary Anne has been the interim commissioner, and has been doing a fantastic job, which is great. It makes my transition for my coming in there pretty easy. She was able to step in keep that office running.”
Hinton said that he still has much to learn, and that the department is in the thick of its busy season with rice, particularly with pesticide regulations.
“There are lots of pesticides out there, and just lots of work. If you have pesticides, you have issues come up as far as drift, and we’re just trying the best we can from where we can put regulations,” Hinton said. “My philosophy on it is that it’s best worked out prior to us getting involved, and I think the whole community of Colusa County feels that way as well.” ■