GUILFORD TWP. — On Neil Hassinger’s first day on the job as Medina County sheriff in 1997, he hired Tom Miller, a Brunswick councilman and former police officer.
On Monday, Hassinger will pass the job of the county’s top law enforcement official to Miller, who was elected sheriff Nov. 6.
“I’m confident Tom will do a good job,” said Hassinger, 74. “I’m sad to go, but now I get to see my grandkids more often.”
Hundreds of people showed up to see Hassinger off at his retirement reception Wednesday evening at Buffalo Creek Lodge, 8708 Hubbard Valley Road.
“When I first ran, I said I’d only serve one term,” Hassinger told his guests. “And four terms later, I’m finally fulfilling the promise to my wife to retire.”
His guests — including several local government officials — thanked him for his service.
“There’ve been three sheriffs since I was elected,” county Commissioner Pat Geissman told him, “but you’re my favorite of them all.”
County Prosecutor Dean Holman said he was proud to have worked with Hassinger.
“Together, we’ve prosecuted a lot of bad guys,” Holman said. “Sheriff Hassinger has given his life to public service, but now his life belongs to his family.”
Hassinger said he is looking forward to retirement.
“I’m hoping to be able to go to more of my grandkids’ ballgames, maybe do a little woodworking and traveling,” he said.
Hassinger has eight grandchildren, six of whom live in Wadsworth. He moved there from Tiffin when he became a trooper with the Ohio Highway Patrol almost 50 years ago.
He thanked the county community for keeping him around so long, and said they’re the reason he plans to stick around.
“I love this county. I’m staying here,” he said. “My wife and I might head down to Florida for a couple weeks here and there, but I don’t ever want to leave this place.”
Hassinger was elected sheriff in 1996, when he defeated four opponents in a landslide in which he took 41 percent of the votes and his closest opponent took only 27 percent.
Since then, Hassinger defeated three other batches of opponents.
“Being sheriff was the hardest job I ever had,” Hassinger told his guests. “I wanted to get re-elected, but I also had to do what’s right.”
Friday is Hassinger’s last day in office, which pays $84,065 annually.
“The sheriff is leaving,” Sheriff-elect Miller said, “and I, for one, am going to miss him.”
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.