Retiring board member leaves with a lot of hardware, memories

After a festive sendoff Thursday, retiring Idaho Transportation Board member Gary Blick might want to consider changing his name.

Perhaps to Gary "Bling."

Every time he bowed to board colleague Lee Gagner, another medallion was placed on his neck, each representing a major project in the GARVEE Transportation Program. A couple from District 1. About four from Interstate 84. A few others from southeast Idaho.

But none from Gary’s neighborhood in District 4.

His was one of three districts the GARVEE program, funded by future federal funds, managed to circumvent. Gagner promised that businesses along U.S. 95 and I-84 would give discounts to the bearer of the medallions. Unfortunately, Blick would not be able to claim a discount in his own district.

Blick jingled like a reindeer on Christmas Eve every time he marched to the podium to accept another retirement gift.

Mike Pape, an ITD pilot representing the Division of Aeronautics, presented the outgoing board member with one of the division’s highest honors – the Infrequent Flier Award. In his 13 years traveling across the state for board meetings, Blick never gave up his aversion to airplanes.

Pape gladly showed Blick what he missed by preferring the ground to air travel. In keeping with the department’s commitment to frugality, Pape gave the retiring board member a package of peanuts, pilfered from United Airlines along with "future pilot" wings and a framed certificate.

Deputy Director Scott Stokes presented a lifetime achievement award to Blick for his commitment to highway safety and use of seatbelts. The framed certificate, and a large poster, depicted Blick shoulder-to-shoulder with Larry the Crash Dummy. The latter, in full crash protection gear, stumbled through the auditorium during the presentation.

A lifelong resident of rural Castleford, Blick never developed a taste for technology. He once tried to update his Twitter account using a rotary phone, quipped D-1 board member Jim Coleman. That inspired a gift of the newest technological breakthrough, a tablet. The red plastic device resembled an Etch-A-Sketch. But before giving it to his colleague, Coleman had to erase the tablet’s hard drive by inverting it and shaking it vigorously.

District 4 Engineer Devin Rigby read from a modified Port of Entry commercial vehicles inspection report that indicated Gary’s logbook was full and it was time to go “out of service.” Rigby also presented a trophy that featured a toy snowplow truck.

During his brief rebuttal, Blick admitted he laughed until his eyes burned and his cheeks cracked.

But he turned serious in offering his heart-felt thanks to fellow board members and ITD employees. “We have the finest staff in any government agency in any state,” he said. Blick, who was described as a trucker who farms, rather than a farmer who operates a trucking company, also complimented the department’s commercial vehicle services.

“It’s the best for relicensing trucks; I’ve always found them to be helpful; they answer questions and do whatever is needed … that’s the way the whole department operates.”

Blick said he was blessed to be born in a small community, to marry the girl down the street (Barbara), by 52 years of marriage, and a long, successful business career.

Retired board chairman Darrell Manning closed the formal ceremony by presenting a wooden wine stopper that he turned on a lathe and was fashioned from a historic Ohio buckeye treel. The tree, planted by the nation’s 27th President William Howard Taft, provided shade on the Capitol grounds before it met its demise.

See related story

Published 2-10-2012