The two newest faces in the Joseph Annex have been hunkering down to learn as much as they can, as quickly as they can about being a Union County Commissioner.

Union County commissioners Matt Scarfo and Paul Anderes recently returned from their first session of County College, hosted by the Association of Oregon Counties at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Designed primarily for new commissioners and high-level staff, the program offers a comprehensive overview of the responsibilities and authorities of a county, and a county commissioner or judge, including law, government ethics, public meetings and records, parliamentary procedure and much more, according to the AOC website.

Scarfo said it’s for new county commissioners in the state — like the “freshman” class.

Anderes and Scarfo will continue to take classes with the other commissioners through this year in Corvallis as well as in Salem.

Anderes said it was a good starting point.

“There was a history lesson on the structure of county government,” Anderes said. “There was also ethics training, and a good portion of (the session was) dedicated to the role and relationship between OSU extensions and all 36 counties. We talked about all the different programs they have and to some degree the county support or mission between the two entities.”

Scarfo said the experience showed him that networking would be instrumental in his new role.

“If I take anything away from this, it’s all the contacts I’m making with the other commissioners,” he said. “It’s very beneficial. We’re all going through the same issues and we’re all new to this. We can rely on each other.”

Scarfo said talking to the other commissioners and bouncing ideas off one another has been very positive.

Anderes noted this series is a continuing process that lasts most of the year.

“The culmination or graduation is next fall at the Association of Oregon Counties general meeting,” he said.

Throughout the year, the two commissioners will also learn about community and economic development, risk management and health and human services.

Scarfo and Anderes both said they’ve been busy as the new commissioners, but it’s well worth the effort.

“The one thing I knew, which has been confirmed every day, is the quality of people working at the county,” Anderes said. “They’ve been helping out a lot.”

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer