Heltzel left a lasting impression

When Paul Heltzel ran for Trumbull County commissioner, he said that if he won he would hold the office for just one term. The idea was to get in, clean up an inefficient and corrupt county government, then step aside.

The problems were bigger than that. So Heltzel ran for, and won, two more terms. Trumbull County is better as a result.

Sadly, the 69-year-old Heltzel died Monday morning. He succumbed to a battle with cancer. Though the terrible disease cut his life short, he lived and served in this community long enough to leave a lasting impression.

Prior to his election, county government was languishing under an FBI corruption investigation that resulted in many convictions. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on unnecessary maintenance supplies, and some suppliers were purchasing large quantities of tickets to elected officials’ fundraisers. All the while, commissioners raised taxes, routinely hired friends and relatives, and rubber stamped large invoices.

After Heltzel took office in 2005, the bad news waned. In the ensuing years, much was accomplished. The once controversial Trumbull County Tourism Bureau reorganized and has been running smoothly for many years since. The county’s projected $5.6 million deficit when Heltzel took office is now a balance. The hiring binge ended. Invoices are scrutinized.

That’s because Heltzel brought unusually impressive credentials to the job. He held degrees from John Carroll University, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Notre Dame. He also had extensive business and legal careers in the private sector.

In addition to cleaning county government, Heltzel served the community through his participation in many service groups and nonprofit organizations. Yet he always kept family as the cornerstone in his life.

Here’s to Paul Emmet Heltzel. He delivered professionalism, and commanded respect, everywhere he served.