Moffat County Commissioners gather for their weekly meeting Tuesday. It was the first meeting in five weeks that all three commissioners were present. John Kinkaid, center, acknowledged Tuesday that his five-week leave of absence was to check himself into rehab for alcohol and prescription drug abuse at the Harmony Foundation in Estes Park.

Photo by Noelle Leavitt Riley

Moffat County Commissioners gather for their weekly meeting Tuesday. It was the first meeting in five weeks that all three commissioners were present. John Kinkaid, center, acknowledged Tuesday that his five-week leave of absence was to check himself into rehab for alcohol and prescription drug abuse at the Harmony Foundation in Estes Park.

Commissioner John Kinkaid returns from rehab, hopes to restore trust from Moffat County


— It’s been a long five weeks for Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid, who abruptly left town in April to check himself into rehab for alcohol and prescription drug abuse.

Kinkaid said Tuesday that he initially was hesitant to tell the community why he took a 30-day leave of absence, but ultimately he decided that telling the truth was best for him, his constituents and his family.

After being treated at the Harmony Foundation in Estes Park for five weeks, he says he’s better equipped to help fellow commissioners Tom Mathers and Chuck Grobe run Moffat County.

“I want to apologize for having to take off,” Kinkaid said. “Now that I’m back, I want the rest of Moffat County to know that they are going to have the best of me.”

The county paid Kinkaid his normal salary while he was gone. He received roughly $3,000 from the county during his stay at the treatment program. To prove to the community he’s dedicated to his work and that he’s not taking advantage of the situation, he and his wife dropped off a check Tuesday at the Moffat County Fair for $3,000.

“We felt it would be in the best interest for everyone if we donated my net income back to the community,” he said, noting that it’s up to Moffat County Fair officials to decide how to spend the money.

Fair officials confirmed the donation Tuesday.

His medical expenses at the Harmony Foundation totaled $19,000. He and his wife, Paula Kinkaid, decided to use money from their retirement fund to pay for rehab rather than have the county pay for his treatment.

“I took care of it privately. We took it out of our pension,” he said. “We did not have the county pay for it.”

Fearful of what the community will think now that the truth is out, Kinkaid said he hopes to restore faith in his abilities to successfully continue as a commissioner.

“(The community) can expect really good things from me. I’m back to being fully functional,” he said.

Kinkaid took office Jan. 8, which was the day after he retired as a control room operator at Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association’s Craig Station. Although he was sworn into office in January, it wasn’t until April 19 that he stopped drinking and abusing prescription drugs.

“I had a problem, and I took care of it,” Kinkaid said. “By taking care of myself, I’m also taking care of the residents of Moffat County.”

His wife has been on an emotional roller coaster since he left for rehab.

“He had to do it. Our life was not going to go on if he didn’t get help,” Paula Kinkaid said through tears Tuesday. “It was the hardest thing that we’ve ever done in our marriage. I love my husband. I wanted what was best for him and for us.”

The couple has been married for 33 years and has three children and one grandchild. Kinkaid is confident he made the right decision by gaining sobriety.

“I believe with every fiber in my being that I made the right decision, and now I can look forward to the future,” he said.

He understands the firestorm that might follow by going public with such news, but he hopes that his fellow community members and his fellow commissioners will better understand his past behavior.

“I’d like to say publicly ‘thank you’ to Chuck and Tom,” Kinkaid said.

Grobe declined to comment on the matter.

Mathers said he still has faith in Kinkaid and is hopeful that he will bring more to the table post-treatment.

“I’m tickled pink that he’s finally back,” Mathers said. “There’s a pretty good workload at the county. I think he can make a good commissioner. I told him that he really needed to get on board, because he got a late start here.”

It took a lot of guts for Kinkaid to be open and honest about his situation, Mathers said.

“I wish there were more politicians that would be as forthright and honest as John has been about this,” Mathers said. “You get tired of all the cover-ups. And now you get someone who finally tells the truth, even if it’s not a nice story.”

Kinkaid said his drug and alcohol addiction started roughly two years ago when he first started taking Ambien, which is a prescribed sleeping aid to treat insomnia.

“I started because of my shift work at the power plant,” he said. “I worked 12-hour rotating shifts.”

To get good rest in between rotating hours, he started taking Ambien. Next, he began taking Xanax on a regular basis, which is used to treat anxiety.

“Alcohol got into the mix, and that’s when things really started to go south,” Kinkaid said.

Despite his addictions, he said “at no time was I under the influence at work.”

He hopes that his story of recovery will inspire others.

“If anybody in the community is struggling with alcohol or prescription drugs, maybe my story can be an encouragement to get help,” he said.

Kinkaid knows that it’s not going to be an easy road ahead.

“I would ask the community to have an open mind and to be observant and watch me,” Kinkaid said. “I realize it won’t be an overnight process.”

Noelle Leavitt Riley can be reached at 970-875-1790


lonelyone 3 years, 11 months ago

You can only take one day at a time John. Over coming any addiction can't be easy, but hopefully you have no more problems.


Barry Barnes 3 years, 11 months ago

John,glad to have you back! good luck in your journey as County commissioner.


juju 3 years, 11 months ago

Should Mr. Kinkaid have tried to solve his problem before running for county commissioner?


Colette Erickson 3 years, 11 months ago

This is the first - and probably last - time I can say I agree with Mr. Mathers' position and opinion, as expressed in this article. Good luck Mr. Kinkaid, in your recovery. Thanks for your honesty. You are certainly not alone in this.


btyjo77 3 years, 11 months ago

I think the honesty Mr. Kinkaid has put out there for everyone in the community is very noble and he should not be punished for trying to take care of an addiction!! As if that wasn't hard enough! He done so out of his own pocket and has donated the salary he was paid back to the community!!!

I wish you the best in your recovery Mr. Kinkaid, making a stand against addiction is not easy. I'm sure your family and friends are standing behind you as should your community for making a decision to better yourself, your life and others around you.


melonie barrett 3 years, 11 months ago

If he had been anybody else other than john kinkaid,one of the good ole boys,he would have had to take leave of absence without pay which should of happened.Keeping this from the community is totally WRONG.Makes you wonder what all goes on in this town that is illegal,mainly being done by police and politicians.?????????????????????????????????????


Jason Phillips 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't agree with most of Kinkaid's politics, but I think this is an admirable move both to get help and to willingly repay his salary. I wish him well in his recovery.


Jobeth Haydon-Tupa 3 years, 11 months ago

I find it admirable that not only has Mr. Kinkaid shown complete transparency in light of what he and his family have endured the last few months, but, he funded it himself, donated the county salary he drew during this period to a major county function, and continues to hold his head up. We all have our trials and tribulations in life, it's how we overcome them that makes us the folks we are. I would say The Kinkaid Family is a shining example of how you should work through your troubles, and responsibly, privately, handle one's affairs. I wish you continued success in all future endeavors.


sc428 3 years, 11 months ago

I believe Mr Kincade did offer to take unpaid time off. He also made a donation to the county in the same amount as his wages AND paid for his medical costs. I'm sure at least part of those expenses were covered under his county benefits We should all allowed to have a personal crisis..Most of us have the luxury of having them privately. Mr Kincade please take things one day at a time and thank you for your honesty


nootsie76 3 years, 11 months ago

Its not easy to admit you have a problem, let alone announce it to a whole community. I admire him he could be an inspiration to a whole lot of people. Good luck John lots of prayers for you.


seschen 3 years, 11 months ago

It's nice to have you back John, and I too am praying for you.


Jobeth Haydon-Tupa 3 years, 11 months ago

Disgusting, Yamparob. Care to pull back the curtains on that glass mansion you must be inhabiting? We all falter, it's how you rebound that counts. I guess there is a certain superciliousness, that comes with the anonymity of the Internet. I would imagine that you would find yourself far less vocal and judgmental if you had to attach your face and name to your pointed statements.

Honesty is an attribute we should all be in possession of, not just a standard we hold elected officials to.


cforevereyez 3 years, 11 months ago

If he were the King of Rome, it couldn't be more tragic.

And you thought Lindsay Lohan was a drama queen.


yamparob 3 years, 11 months ago

Well shoot the messenger. I am happy when someone overcomes an addiction problem. I just pointed out the inherent dishonesty John exhibited in his campaign. Silly me, I though it was mostly Democratic Party politicians who pulled stuff like this. A new low standard has been set in Moffat County's Republican Party. Which given the 'landed gentry' that rule the party here...


Jobeth Haydon-Tupa 3 years, 11 months ago

There is no shooting of the messenger. Because, quite frankly I am not sure exactly what message it is that you are trying to convey, Is it one of hypocrisy, or is it one of jealousy and entitlement? Your chosen use of the phrase 'landed gentry' has many meanings, but the common thread amongst all of them would be 'those who have'. So my question is, the crude way in which you pointed out that you do not agree with the way Mr. Kinkaid has chosen to represent this county, is it because of an underlying jealousy of what you perceive to be a 'good ol boy' establishment, that you personally feel excluded from due to your current 'have not' status? Because, if that is the case, I completely understand now why you have chosen THIS forum, and THESE circumstances to pick at Mr. Kinkaid's political career and personal life, because, you otherwise consider yourself subordinate to the people of political stature in the community, which is really your own hang up, and has nothing to do with this article in the first place, other than your comments about integrity, which I think we're undermined above, when the paper explained his actions, in the what was done and why.

(I have never met John Kinkaid. I do not have any dogs in his political or personal fights.I understand the meaning of your words about integrity, although, I do not necessarily agree. What I do not condone or understand is why you would allow the meaning of your original message to get muddied with phrases such as, 'then he goes back to the pills'. It seems like a spiteful, jab, added last minute to demean a person, and yet diminishes your original point. I think were it not for the anonymity of the Internet not only would you have left out the last bit, but, I would think you wouldn't have commented in the first place, so my final question, am I wrong?)


melonie barrett 3 years, 10 months ago

Yes I think you are wrong cologrl,sounds to me like you are trying to defend mr kinkaid,even though you have never met him.sounds county to me


yamparob 3 years, 10 months ago

Hey cologrl: It has been fun reading your emotional reactions. bottom line: John sold himself in a way he wasn't. Glad I didn't vote for him. All good things must come to and end, so I am signing off. Good by.


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