The face of Washington County government is changing in 2013, with a pair of longtime office-holders departing and two-thirds of the county commission being replaced.
Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer is stepping down after serving four full, six-year terms, plus three years of an unexpired one. County Engineer Bob Badger is retiring after three terms and many more years of public service.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Steve Weber was defeated in the 2012 Republican primary, and Commissioner Cora Marshall was edged out in the general election. Both were first elected in 2008.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Washington County Engineer Bob Badger, right, plans where to set up surveying equipment with Deputy Engineer Roger Wright as they look at land to be added to the Woodruff Cemetery in Watertown Township Wednesday. Wright will succeed Badger as county engineer at the start of 2013.
Susan Boyer, who was first appointed to the bench in 1986, announced last year she would not seek a fifth term. While the transition to retirement will take some adjustment, Boyer said she's counting down the days.
"It feels very good. I'm happy, looking forward to life after retirement," she said.
Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer, appointed in 1986 and re-elected five times.
County Engineer Bob Badger, elected in 2000 and re-elected twice.
County Commissioner Cora Marshall, elected in 2008.
County Commissioner Steve Weber, elected in 2008.
Judge - Randy Burnworth, former Marietta City Councilman and current common pleas court magistrate.
Engineer - Deputy Engineer Roger Wright, who has worked in the office since 1999.
Commissioner - Ron Feathers, local business owner.
Commissioner - David White, former Marietta City Councilman, small business owner.
That will include travel - like visiting her four brothers and their families in Canada, taking an Alaskan cruise in the summer and one day visiting the Great Wall of China - and being more active in local theater. She's the co-director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Players' youth theater production of "Little Women of Orchard House" opening this weekend.
Over the more than quarter-century she's been a judge, the essential functions of the court haven't really changed, Boyer said, "but the people that come to court are very different."
In recent years, she's seen more crimes resulting from drug abuse, such as thefts and breaking and entering. And changes in sentencing have made it difficult to send drug offenders charged with lower-level felonies to prison, meaning they remain in the local area, where there is only so much assistance available, primarily outpatient counseling.
"They need something a whole lot more intense, and that's not available to them," she said.
In recent years, Boyer has also seen more people representing themselves in domestic relations cases involving divorces and custody issues.
"I think today people go online and they get a couple of forms and they think they don't need to talk to an attorney," she said.
While Boyer understands some people might not be able to afford a lawyer, she said it makes the process more time-consuming because they do not understand the intricacies of the proceedings and court officials can ask questions but cannot offer legal advice.
During her tenure, Boyer said she feels the court has earned a reputation of taking care of and treating jurors with respect. They've also kept up with advances in technology.
Boyer said she will miss some aspects of the job, particularly interacting with attorneys on a regular basis.
"I like lawyers," she said. "They're funny people, they're interesting ... they have diverse opinions."
The closing of Bob Badger's 12-year tenure as Washington County engineer will also mark the end of more than four decades in the public sector. The 62-year-old Devola resident said he's enjoyed his work - which includes four years as a deputy county engineer and 18 as the city engineer for Marietta - and he's proud of many things that have been accomplished.
"But I'm tired of it," he said. "I've been in government engineering for 41 years. ... It's time to move on."
Just what he's moving on to has yet to be determined.
"What am I going to do with myself?" he laughed when asked what's going through his mind as retirement approaches.
At first, Badger said he just wants to "do nothing, be retired, maybe take a trip." After that, he's considering doing some project inspection work or offering freelance services to assist other county engineers. But he'd also like to volunteer at a local hospital and maybe help the Mid-Ohio Valley Players build sets for their productions.
Badger said he can see the fruit of projects in which he's been involved all around the city and county.
"We've done literally hundreds of bridges," he said. "In the city, I probably touched every street in it at least once."
One bridge that sticks out in Badger's mind is the Leget Bridge spanning Wolf Creek near Waterford on Washington County 32. It was completed in 2003, just in the nick of time.
"Right before we were finished with the new project, a truck hit the old truss bridge and put it in the drink," Badger said, noting no one was seriously injured in the crash.
Marshall said her involvement in the community didn't start with her election to the commission four years ago, and it won't end when she leaves the office.
"Washington County's been very good to me," said Marshall, 57, whose company, Marshall Real Estate, will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. "This was a way that I could give back."
Marshall and her husband also own a beef farm in Germantown and she's long had an interest in agriculture, buying animals at county fairs to support local students, a practice she plans to continue.
Serving as a commissioner has been "a rewarding experience," Marshall said. "Met a lot of nice people, been able to be involved with a lot of projects that will make an impact on the county for years to come."
Among those are making progress on upgrading sewer systems in the county to meet environmental standards, something that had been put off in years past. That included working out a shared services agreement with the City of Marietta to handle wastewater from Devola and provide capacity for future wastewater services, should they be mandated.
"This has helped allow them to do their upgrades and helped the county by eliminating a wastewater plant that was over 60 years old ... and would have cost in the millions to replace," Marshall said.
Technology has been updated in the courthouse, with the establishment of an IT department, and around the county, with the recent ribbon-cutting on a project to provide wireless broadband Internet service, Marshall said.
As her term comes to a close, Marshall said she's stayed busy and hasn't given much thought to her future in politics. A seat on the commission will be on the ballot in two years, and Marshall said she doesn't aspire to office on levels above the county.
"My heart and soul is in Washington County," she said.
Being a county commissioner for four years was a learning experience for Weber, a 32-year veteran of the Ohio Highway Patrol.
"Everybody thinks, 'Well, (commissioners) run everything - well, they don't," he said.
Commissioners set the county budget and oversee some departments directly under them, such as sewer, IT, courthouse maintenance and building permits.
As for other county offices, "you've got all the elected officials that have their own agenda - as they should - to do as they see fit with their departments," Weber said.
The favorite part of the job for Weber was interacting with residents, he said. Sometimes he could address their needs directly; other times there wasn't much a commissioner could do so he tried to point them in the right direction. His least favorite part was people "griping at you" over things he couldn't control, but he added that most people were reasonable after they vented a little.
Weber said he's pleased with the way county sewer issues and the dog warden's office were addressed over the last four years. The commissioners have also worked toward establishing an emergency operations center in the wake of this summer's violent windstorm that left the local emergency management agency scrambling after a generator fire. But that will have to be seen through by the new commission.
While being a commissioner has had its ups and downs like any job, Weber said he felt it was a positive experience - one he wished he'd tried a little sooner. He doesn't see himself running for public office again.
"I'll be 68 in February. I'm not one of these guys that'll stay in office 'til I'm 90. I don't think that's serving the public," he said.