Many people say that once they retire, they will travel more.
Bob Jasper means it.
The Summit County Manager announced Wednesday that he will retire at year's end, and
already plans on being in Vienna on Christmas and in Hawaii next spring.
"I am serious about traveling when I am done," he said.
Jasper arrived in Summit County in January 2010, after county leaders switched forms of government from a three-member commission to a county council supplemented by a county manager, with the latter serving much as a mayor does in other types of governments, he said.
It was a challenging assignment: be the first county manger and lead department heads after most were used to being largely autonomous or at the very least, siloed from one another as different commissioners divvied up the departments. "Many of my colleagues urged me not to come here," Jasper said.
But he did, and used his experience in county government for more than three decades to manage a county that was in the hole when he joined to a county that now has the fund balance four times the required amount by the state. He has been able to balance the needs and wants of both the urban east and rural west sides of the sprawling county.
So when Jasper made the surprise announcement about his impending retirement, he received the rare standing ovation from County Council and the audience for his achievements. The reserved manager even got choked up for a moment. "You're up there with the best," he told County Council.
"As its first county manager, I think Bob Jasper has done a very good job for Summit County," said County Councilman Roger Armstrong. "Summit County is now better able to serve its residents than when Bob started."
"We are definitely better off than we were five years ago," said Assistant County Manager Anita Lewis, who was the commission's administrator before Jasper arrived and has been with the county for a quarter-century.
Among Jasper's challenges was cutting 10 percent from the county's budget over the years and laying off 10 percent of his staff, in part because of the effects of the Great Recession. (There are more than 300 staff members throughout the county, whom Jasper called "some of the most dedicated workforce I have seen throughout my career.")
But Jasper was able to put into place an experienced team during his five years, adding a new community development director, public works director, library director, health department director and county engineer, along with hiring an economic development director for the first time in the county's history.
Armstrong said, "Bob also has deep experience with financing structures available to counties and budgeting strategies and we will need to diligent to make sure that his replacement is no less skilled."
Brian Bellamy, Summit County human resource director, has been tasked by County Coouncil to hire a recruiter to fill Jasper's position, Once hired, the recruiter will investigate candidates with years of experience managing Western counties. The council is also looking for members of the public to serve on a selection committee.
"Mr. Jasper has been kind enough to stay with Summit County while this process takes shape, allowing us flexibility to get the right person for the job," Bellamy said.
Jasper has more than 38 years of experience in county government, with management positions in Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada and California. He holds an undergraduate degree in human services from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a masters degree in public administration from the University of California, Riverside, according to the county's website.
Jasper has traveled to 24 countries in his life, Come the end of 2014, that number will steadily grow.