Retiring after a lifetime of public service

Dec 28, 2018 | Around Ottawa County | 0 comments


Jim Sass inherited a love of farming, as well as a desire to be active in the community from his father, Harold Sass. After a long, fruitful political career, he decided to not run again for Ottawa County Commissioner and is eager to focus on farming.

“Jim’s office from now on is going to be the chicken coop back on the farm,” said his wife Molly, sharing a laugh. “He even loves heading out to the barn in the pitch dark to feed the cattle before dawn.”

Harold Sass was a farmer, and a Portage Township trustee for 28 years. Jim Sass took over the township trustee job from 2000-2006, then moved up to Ottawa County Commissioner for the last 12 years. There was still a Sass on township rolls, with Jim’s wife, Molly, a schoolteacher, taking over as trustee.

Sass has always been an outdoorsman. For 21 years, he worked for the Ohio Division of Wildlife and was area manager at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, west of Port Clinton.

A graduate of Port Clinton High School in 1972 and Ohio State University, Sass has served on a long list of government boards and committees over many years, ranging from the Ottawa County Farm Bureau to the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) and Ottawa Regional Planning Commission.

“It’s going to be great to get reacquainted with my wife, Molly, and our grandkids Ramble and Ransom,” said Sass. “I’m a third generation farmer, and it is what I enjoy.”

Sass even judges the hog calling contest at the Ottawa County Fair.

The Sass’s daughter, Laura, is a biology teacher at Biomed Science Academy in Akron. His son, Scott, is an engineer who has been working to find a way to make plastic into a biofuel.

Even though Sass will be eligible for Medicare in February, it’s a good bet he will still be a valued consultant to the farming groups and public agencies he has served so long, such as the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation and the OSS Solid Waste Direct.

The only Democratic among the county commissioners, Sass prides himself on being able to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“I’m most proud of the cooperation I received from most in local government,” he said. “I worked hard to get along with everyone, because I wanted to do the right things for the community. I know the future of Ottawa County requires the rejuvenation and expansion of the economic engine in Ottawa County.”

Sen. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green agreed, presenting Sass a proclamation from the Ohio Senate as Rep. Steve Arndt gave him a proclamation from the Ohio House for his long career in public service.

“Jim has been a great public servant and great to work with even though he’s not on the same side of the aisle,” said Sen. Gardner, a Republican. “It’s been a great honor to work with him.”

Sass is also quite honest. At the retirement part last week at the Ottawa County Courthouse, he presented Molly with a bouquet of roses.

Five of the roses are yellow, because that’s Molly’s favorite color, said Sass. But if you mix maize and blue, the colors of that team up north, you get the color yellow. The other seven roses honor his beloved Buckeyes, and Sass will be taking Molly to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., to watch Ohio State play the Washington Huskies on Jan. 1.

Sass’s problem solving ability, said Tim Brown of the TMACOG, was a reason he was on that regional council of government.

“A lot of what we did was sit around the same table and talk about regional issues facing northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan,” said Brown. “We faced serious challenges and issues, with Lake Erie being one of them, and not always agreeing.

“Sass got that, and was always working to solve problems. He always put people first, and finding agreements whenever possible. That is an import trait in a leader. Being someone who is willing to listen to the other side.”

Jim and Molly Sass

Retiring Ottawa County Commissioner Jim Sass presents his wife, Molly, a bouquet of roses at this recent retirement party at the Ottawa County Courthouse. (Photos by D’Arcy Egan)

Ottawa County Commissioner receives a congratulatory proclamation by the Ohio Senate from Sen. Randy Gardner, left, and also from the Ohio House from Rep. Steve Arndt, right.

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