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Graham County jail, mine among Palmer's biggest accomplishments

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During his career as a Graham County supervisor, Jim Palmer worked to make sure the county's voice was heard.

Having retired from his position as District Two supervisor at the end of December, Palmer is still volunteering with the Eastern Arizona College Booster Club and the Community Board Band Advocates. A Thatcher resident, Palmer is also working at his son’s dental practice part-time. He’s been married for 45 years, and his oldest son is a major in the Air Force.

The county completed multiple projects during his tenure he is especially proud of, including the establishment of a jail district for Graham County and the completion of a new jail.

While in office, Palmer worked with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior to pave the way for the Safford mine to open and it has hugely impacted the county’s economic growth, he said.

He has also put stepped up to the legislature on behalf of the county and successfully gotten millions of dollars in appropriations, include some that assist nursing home patients.

“He shouldered the burden of getting a $500,000 appropriation. Every year Graham County shares the cost of long-term care for our nursing home residents, which is anyone who is considered a county patient,” said Paul David, District 1 supervisor. “Every year over the last couple of years it’s been about $1.75 million. Our county budget is $20 million. Jim has gone to the legislature, and we get an annual $500,000 appropriation every year to assist to maintain the essential county services. To assist our elderly and low-income people in the nursing home, He’s done that for eight years now.”

Palmer is fair, mild, service-oriented and family-oriented, David said.

“I like to be involved, and I like to do something that makes a difference,” Palmer said. “Because of my family, I am trying to make a difference. That is what drives me.”

Eastern Arizona College Athletic Director Jim Bagnall, who met Palmer in 1996, said Palmer has been an incredible supporter of the college.

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“Fundraising, supporting the athletic department, hosting tailgates and raising money for scholarships, whenever I call him, he’s there,” Bagnall said. “He’s the main person who kept it going all these years. He’s been a great help to us.”

Palmer and the Booster Club were instrumental in EAC getting new gym bleachers after a 2017 flood, Bagnall said.

“He's a big supporter of our teams. He’s always supportive of coaches and players,” he said.

Palmer loves seeing the good lives his children are living. Professionally, he'd like to believe he made a difference within the community.

“Whatever I’ve done, I’ve tried to make the world a better place, from the jail district to helping bring Freeport to Graham County or fighting for water rights,” he said. “There were lots of things I enjoyed and helping our little rural community is part of it.”

Over the years, Palmer said he has worked with some amazing people. He was also a cotton farmer for 20 years during his professional career. All of these experiences and the friends he's made along the way have made his life wonderful.

“I wouldn’t trade any of it,” he said.

Although many would say his accomplishments are outstanding, Palmer reiterated that he is not an unusual person. All he does is try to make the world a better place, he said.

“Try to treat people with respect. Try to make the world a better place, and do your part,” Palmer said.

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