I was having a typical boring evening earlier this week when suddenly a series of messages started pouring into my phone, Facebook and other social medias. All asking me if it was true that Mike Orick had passed. I was stunned and immediately made some calls. Unfortunately the calls I made to people in the know all confirmed it. I was heartbroken. Long before either of our days in politics Mike Orick was someone I always considered a friend. And just like that my friend was gone.
I feel like I need to talk about Mike the school board member for a bit. Mike was my friend first and foremost but I also know just because someone is my friend that they are not necessarily going to be good at the office they hold. Well not only was Mike good at it he was great.
Mike Represented the 4th district well but more importantly he always tried to work in the best interests of all of our schools and the people that occupy them. I did not matter what district it was Mike was looking out for them. That does not always mean making a popular decision but it means making the right one. After talking to several board members both past and present they all agreed that Mike was a true man of the people and put the students interests first.
Mike was also part of the school board during some of its darkest times. The Martin scandal was one of the worst in our history. A sitting director of schools and his mistress defrauded our county and had school morale at the lowest I remember. Mike and the board stepped up and Donnie Poston became our director and made a dramatic turn around. All because Mike and a his fellow board members did what was right.
Later a small faction, led by the man I believe to be the worst villain ever to hold office in Campbell County, wanted to fire Poston. Mike was a leader in protecting the job of the man who made our schools improve in a short amount of time. Poston’s job was saved through the efforts of a Mike Orick led school board.
More importantly to me Mike was a friend on the political level to me. He was in my corner the first time I ran for office. I do regret that I did not get to serve on school board with Mike but that was not meant to be. Which is a shame because I feel the two of us would have made a great team in the 4th District.
Later when I did run for Alderman in Caryville Mike was right there for me. Though he had moved to Jacksboro by this point he still gave me plenty of advice on running my campaign and always had positive words for me. After I won he was one of the first ten people to call and congratulate me. More importantly his phone was always open if I needed an outside point of view. He was second only to Coach Bruce in being the person I went to for input.
Now my friend is gone and our political landscape is poorer for it. More devastatingly my life has another huge hole in it. I will miss Mike my political comrade but more importantly I will miss Mike my friend. I know my life is richer for having known him.
I hope his beloved wife Jennifer and his family find peace in his absence.