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Governor appoints McCulloch as new Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner
Governor appoints McCulloch as new Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner

County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer swears in Don McCulloch as Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Dec. 2, 2009) — It took almost a month, but Gov. Jay Nixon finally decided on Tuesday to appoint Don McCulloch to replace Bill Ransdall as Pulaski County’s presiding commissioner.

In a press release issued Tuesday but not officially posted to the gubernatorial website until Wednesday morning, Nixon announced that he has named McCulloch, 64, to fill a vacancy created on Nov. 3 when Ransdall accepted Nixon’s appointment to the Missouri State Tax Commission.

McCulloch was the Democratic nominee for the position; the Republican candidate was former Western District Commissioner Dennis Thornsberry, who served in that role from 2000 to 2008 when he declined to seek re-election.

McCulloch is a career law enforcement official who retired in 2008 after 14 years as the Waynesville police chief; he previously served as the Pulaski County sheriff who filled that position after Sheriff Paul Long but was defeated for re-election in 1992 by J.T. Roberts, at that time a retired state trooper, who served three terms as sheriff until 2004. Before serving as sheriff, McCulloch had been the Waynesville police chief and returned to that position after he was defeated. He also owned the City Barber Shop in Waynesville for many years and served as chairman of the state’s regulatory board for barbers.

“I had a saying when I was a police chief and had the local barber shop that if you came to Waynesville, you got clipped one way or the other,” McCulloch joked.

After retiring as police chief, McCulloch was appointed as municipal judge for the city of Waynesville and was required to resign from that position as a condition of his appointment to the presiding commissioner post.

He originally came to Waynesville when he was stationed as a military policeman at Fort Leonard Wood, married a local woman, and decided to stay in the community. He’s also served on the Waynesville Park Board, as chairman of the Pulaski County 911 Board, and as president of the Waynesville R-VI School Board.

McCulloch said retirement doesn’t agree with him, and he wants to return to being active in the community.

“After a year and a half, it’s really going to be good to get back to work. I believe a person could rust out before they wear out,” McCulloch said.

McCulloch repeated his earlier commitment to the Pulaski County Democratic Central Committee to run for re-election in 2010, and to do so as a Democrat. He was forced to give up his job as a barber due to medical conditions, but he said his health has improved to the point that medical issues won’t be a problem in running for re-election. He’s been a Waynesville resident for 45 years, owns his home, and sold a secondary residence elsewhere in the state after selling his barber business.

McCulloch acknowledged that one of his biggest challenges will be the 2010 budget, which must be completed in less than two months.

“We’ll have a pretty steady four weeks of budget review,” McCulloch said. “I have worked with budgets on many different levels and I will be trying to get familiarized with their system, but I look forward to working with that.”

McCulloch said he wants to speak with his two fellow commissioners, Bill Farnham and Ricky Zweerink, as well as County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer, before deciding whether to begin budget hearings in December or wait until January.

Farnham, who has been serving as interim presiding commissioner for the last month, proposed Monday that the commission meet from 9 to 11 a.m. rather than from 9 to noon because of lack of business. McCulloch said he didn’t know yet whether he’d want to continue that practice. He also said he hadn’t given much consideration to the possibility of night meetings but would be open to the idea if there’s interest.

“I think they need to look at the schedule and if the agenda doesn’t go beyond that and it would be OK to limit those hours; we could always stay and take care of business,” McCulloch said. “I’ve often thought that maybe we should in different months go out into different townships and actually hold a commission meeting for those who cannot get out … some of our elderly citizens really don’t have the ability to drive or get out.”

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