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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The appointed guardian

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mike Crawford
OREGON COUNTY -- Mike Crawford serves as Public Administrator for Oregon County.

He was first elected in 1996. His office is located on the second floor of the Oregon County Courthouse at Alton.

He is another one of the elected officials in the county who is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He is either guardian, or conservator to over 50 people in the county, all appointed by a court.

"As a guardian, I help people with placement (finding a place or facility to live), and I am the over-seer of their medication. As a conservator, I help them with financial matters," Crawford said.

Crawford not only works with the elderly but deals with some people who suffer from mental illness.

He said he currently has Oregon County residents placed in five different county's because of the limited amount of skill care in the area.

"In my opinion there is a large void for people who suffer from mental illness in our rural areas. They seem to have fallen through the cracks," he said.

He said most facilities are full, such as the stress unit at Ozarks Medical Center, and he has had to send people to Mountain Home and Poplar Bluff.

"There are older people in our area who have no relatives, or no close relatives. Some of them are in nursing homes. I make all the medical decisions for these people. I see that their bills are paid," he said.

He said he is also responsible for the deceased's estate and has to make sure that he secures the deceased person's assets if no family member is close.

Crawford said he is held accountable for the money he spends and makes an annual report to the state.

He said when he began his job he had just 17 people under his care.

"I think one of the reasons more people are needing the assistance of my office is the fact that people are getting older and more people and their families are becoming aware of what resources my office offers," he said.

Crawford said he learns something new everyday. "I get attached to my people and they get attached to me," he said.

He said making decisions for people who are not able to make them for themselves is often challenging. "I try to use a lot of common sense and ask God for wisdom," the public administrator said. He said he also relies a lot on doctors and other experts in certain fields.

Crawford said he has always liked a good challenge.

"There is by far, more good than bad in my job. I get to deal with people from all walks of life. The medical profession, law enforcement, the courts and of course the people who need my help. In my job you have to be willing to step up to the plate and fight for the people you need to help," he said.

Crawford and his wife Beverly live just outside of Alton. He is a graduate of Couch High School and attended college at Williams Baptist for two years. He also served several years in the Missouri National Guard.

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