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2 hang up hats from Stark County posts

Friends, family and coworkers crowded into the basement of the Stark County Courthouse Thursday at a retirement party for former county commissioners Chet Willer and George Nodland. Everybody laughed and shared stories over cake and punch and it was clear both men have impacted numerous residents.

"Their experience is going to be missed," said Bob Zent, who is also a former county commissioner. "We learned a lot together."

Stark County Auditor Alice Schulz said she is going to miss them as well.

"They have both been so much help to me," Schulz said. "They've done a lot for the county."

Willer was on the commission for 14 years.

"It's time to get some new blood in there," Willer said, adding he enjoyed working for the county.

"I'm going to miss being with the other commissioners and with the staff there."

Nodland retired from the commission after eight years because he was elected to the state Legislature.

While on the commission, he enjoyed working with the road department and was appointed vice chair of the state transportation committee.

Nodland and Willer have been a part of several big decisions and projects in Stark County.

"I'm pretty proud of what we did and I think the county is a better place now than it was 14 years ago," Willer said.

Both were involved in improving Highway 10, as well as improving technology for county workers.

"We started slowly upgrading old computers and servers and systems for all the departments," Nodland said. "My whole purpose of being a county commissioner was to try to better Stark County and move into the 21st century."

Nodland's and Willer's jobs weren't always easy, though.

"I think the hardest part was going to all those meetings," Willer said. "We have to go to so many other meetings than just the commission meetings, because you're on so many different committees."

Nodland said it was hard not being able to please everybody.

"There are some things that you just can't do," Nodland said.

Both men said they are confident that the commissioners who filled their seats -- Jay Elkin and Pete Kuntz -- will do good things for Stark County.

"I know they're oriented toward public service," Willer said.

Despite the expertise of the new commissioners, Willer and Nodland will be missed by many in Stark County.

"They've been great commissioners," Schulz said.