In this article from the Feb. 27 edition of The Beacon on the Ohio Township Association Leadership Academy two township officials who attended the leadership academy and were incorrectly identified.
Judy Johannsen is the Fiscal Officer for Portage Township, and has been since 1989. Art Castillo is a Bay Township Trustee.
The Beacon regrets the error.
It can be a difficult task to get elected as a township trustee or fiscal officer around Ottawa County. It can be much harder to acquire the knowledge and expertise on how to be a success as a township official.
To shorten the learning curve, the Ohio Township Association Leadership Academy was created by Ohio Township Association.
In January, elected officials Art Castillo, a trustee for Bay Township, and Judy Johannsen, the fiscal officer for Portage Township, completed the rigorous course to earn diplomas.
“It’s time consuming and quite difficult to complete the extensive course work in order to graduate,” said Molly Sass, a Portage Township trustee whose family has long been an integral part of political life around Ottawa County. Portage Township is one of 12 townships in Ottawa County, with each electing a fiscal officer and three trustees.
The purpose of the OTA Leadership Academy, said Sass, is to enhance the leadership and decision-making skills of the township team through participation in a variety of its workshops.
The courses begin with the General Workshop, which is designed to provide an overview of the basic issues, expectations and practices associated with serving in public office. To graduate a township official has to attend six of the 10 elective workshops.
The workshop topics range from Conducting Effective Meetings to Communicating and Working with the Media, Team Building Leadership skills and Style and Technology in Government.
Married to Jim Sass, who recently retired after a 12-year stint as Ottawa County Commissioner, Molly Sass knows all about the late night meetings, communicating with township residents and managing conflicts. A schoolteacher, she is now a Portage Township trustee.
Her father-in-law, Harold Sass, was a farmer and a Portage Township trustee for 28 years. Jim Sass took over as township trustee from 2000-2006, then moved up to Ottawa County Commissioner.
Molly Sass has benefited by being a graduate of the OTA Leadership Academy. So have other local politicians, including Scott Everhardt, Richard Kaiser, Matt Montkowski, Matt Miller, Mark Stahl and Katherine Dale.