Letter from the Chair to Lane County staff, welcoming the new administrator. by Pat Farr


I wrote this letter to all staff members of Lane County regarding Steve Mokrohiski, our new County Administrator.  It was delivered Monday April 21:

To Lane County Staff:

I am thrilled to be the Chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners at this critical and exciting point in Lane County’s history.

Steve Mokrohisky was chosen as new county administrator after a long and deep search had presented the board with a field of highly experienced and qualified finalists.  His selection was the culmination of many hours of recruiting, interviews and screening that left us with a clear choice for leadership in this county organization.

I met with two County Commissioners from Douglas County Nevada (where Steve was serving as administrator), who confirmed to me that we were making the right choice.  They did this through their initial demonstration of unfriendliness toward me, the Chair of the Board that was spiriting away their chief.  Happily it was only a show of rancor, however, which turned to congratulations followed by lengthy discussions of the great work he had done in their county.  They described to me the various means of enticement bordering on coercion that they had employed in trying to keep him there.

But to no avail.  Steve Mokrohisky accepted the job in Lane County and is moving here with his wife, who is a nurse practitioner in Nevada, and their two young children. His first day as our County Administrator will be May 5.

He has confided in me that among the attractions of the job were the challenges that we will face addressing current and future needs of this community (the size of Connecticut) and significantly the resources we have in place to ensure success—in particular the professional staff who work here.

I spoke with Steve on Friday about how his first few days and weeks on the job will transpire.  He has told me in no uncertain terms that his success will not be possible without the men and women who work here first feeling supported and successful in the multi-faceted work they do.  And I have been assured that his initial energy will be funneled toward ensuring that support and success.

I am personally looking forward to seeing our work—that of the staff, the administrator and the board—unfold over the coming years.

I would like to thank you in advance for the satisfying work in which we will together be engaging.



Pat Farr,

Chair, Lane County Board of Commissioners

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How to be a Hero: Making Shepherds’ Pie. by Pat Farr


Every now and then I am going to add something that is nothing to do with policy, strategy or news.  Here’s a sample:

                       SHEPHERDS’ PIE

My mom always called it “cottage pie”–likely because it was made with beef not lamb.  I actually never heard of “shepherds’ pie” until I moved to the United States.

It doesn’t have to be plain or rugged.  This recipe allows for a great deal of latitude in ingredients and timing–not unlike effective policy making as I have tried to practice it at the local and state level.

Shepherds' pie April 13 2014

I made this particular version one Sunday in April 2014 for our traditional Sunday Dinner.


  •   2lb   Ground Sirloin
  •   3lb.  Russet Potatoes, mashed (making the potatoes is a critical step in the perfect pie)
  •   1-1/2c.  Chopped Carrots
  •   1c.  Chopped Onions
  •   1c.  Chopped Celery
  •   1/2c.  Frozen Peas
  •   1/2c.  Frozen Corn
  •   1c.  Asparagus Spears (or your choice of green veggie)
  •   4c.  Rich Beef Stock
  •   1/4c.water and 3T flour, smoothed together
  •   Ground Pepper
  •   Minced Garlic
  •   Butter
  •   Paprika
  •   Mushroom Gravy

Brown the beef in a large sock pan or sauce pan.  Add the onion, carrots, celery and spices.  Stir and cook until the onions are clear.  Add the beef stock and simmer like soup until the carrots and celery are tender.  Add the flour/water mix and thicken.  Add the peas and corn and simmer until all is warm.  This can now be set aside or refrigerated until cool.

Peel the potatoes and cut into 2-inch or so cubes   Rinse them until the water is clear.  Boil in salted water until the potatoes are fork tender.  Drain, reserving 2c of the water.  Add 4T of butter and about 3/4 c half and half.  Whip with hand held mixer or in a KitchenAid food processor.  Allow to cool with a lid on.

In an oval 4″ deep casserole, ladle in about 3″ of the meat and vegetables from the soup.  Spread the asparagus on top evenly.  Place the potatoes in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag and cut out a 1″ triangle from the corner.  Pipe the potatoes evenly over the meat and vegetable mixture.  Spread with a fork, forming furrows and peaks.  Shake paprika on the surface and place in a 325 degree oven until the top of the potatoes begins to firm.  Brush melted butter over the top and place under the broiler until the top becomes golden brown.

Serve with mushroom gravy (my preference).  YOU ARE NOW OFFICIALLY A HERO!

Enjoying Sunday Dinner:  Shepherds' (or cottage) pie with Dad and Lois, October 2013.

Enjoying Sunday Dinner: Shepherds’ (or cottage) pie with Dad and Lois, October 2013.


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