MINERAL RIDGE - For 16 years, David Pugh has been a steady hand for some of Weathersfield Township's most pressing issues.
On Jan. 1, Pugh will retire as administrator, clearing the way for newly hired David Rouan.
"The township has been very good to me," Pugh said during an interview Thursday afternoon. "There are a lot of really great people her, and I have made a lot of good friends."
Tribune Chronicle / Ashley Newman
David Pugh, the Weathersfield Township administrator, works in his office Thursday at the Administration Building. Pugh will retire after 26 years with the township on Jan. 1, 2013.
Trustee Marvin McBride said the township "couldn't ask for better" than the years of service Pugh committed to the community.
"He was always a man of the people," McBride said. "Dave is an asset to our community."
Pugh, a lifelong Mineral Ridge resident, was born into a family that valued public service. His father, David A., helped build the Mineral Ridge Fire Station.
"He was one of the original guys who put a second mortgage on his home in order to build the station. He was one of those guys that loved to get involved in the community," the 57-year-old said of his father.
"I spent 38 years in the fire department myself, before retiring last year. It just comes from that long history of participating in the community. That is the way I've always been geared."
After graduating from Mineral Ridge High School and working for a short time as a paramedic, Pugh began working full-time with Industrial Steel. Almost immediately, he became active in the shop's union.
"I eventually became union president when I was only 20 years old," he said. "It was a small plant.''
In 1986, Pugh was elected to the Weathersfield Township trustees.
"I served as trustee for 10 years before I heard about the administrator position being open in 1996," Pugh said. "I was very interested in doing that, so I resigned as a trustee and applied for the administrator's job. I was lucky enough to get it."
The administrator position oversees the police, fire, road and zoning departments and the day-to-day operations in the township.
Pugh said he has faced a multitude of challenges, but the current economic situation stands alone.
"This downturn has been coupled with not only the bad economy, but the state taking a lot away from us. We will probably have to make cuts to services eventually. We've got good leadership here, though. So, we should be OK."
Pugh leaves his position concerned about the future of townships across the state.
"I do think there is a little bit of a hidden agenda and some people would like to see the townships go away," he said. "The state of Ohio would really like to see everything metropolitanized."
The administrator pointed to shared services between cities and townships as the wave of the future. While Weathersfield and Niles share services already, Pugh said he is expecting the relationship to expand.
"When you really sit down and look at it, there are some redundancies with cities and townships. Any urbanized township, like ourselves, has a police, fire and road department and all of those things,'' Pugh said. "The more people you can spread the cost out to, the cheaper it is."
But going too far could result in a loss of the personal connection between a small town government and its residents, he said.
"You get into a metropolitan situation, they're going to pick up the phone and not know who the person is on the other end," Pugh said. "They are just another person out there with a complaint. It would be nice to be able to find a way to keep that local connection."
Pugh plans to remain employed, either as road superintendent or possibly another position.
"I'm 57 and I'm not ready to just not work," he said. "I would like to work somewhere. What capacity that would be, I'm not sure."
Pugh currently lives in Mineral Ridge with his wife, Nancy. He has two sons and two grandsons.
New administrator Rouan served as clerk and fiscal officer in Weathersfield for 22 years.
"There won't be much of a learning curve with Dave, because he is familiar with the township and he knows a lot of the employees," Pugh said.
Trustee Steve Gerberry said, "We're going to miss (Dave Pugh) and he has been a great asset to the township. At the same time, we are going to move forward and we think Dave Rouan is going to be valuable with his experience on budgets and what the state is doing with our funding."