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Published: Thursday, 3/1/2007

Sharing 20 years of Delta's progress

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Gary Baker, outgoing village administrator, will take his huge knowledge of Delta with him to his new home in Williams County and his new job as Holiday City's part-time administrator. Gary Baker, outgoing village administrator, will take his huge knowledge of Delta with him to his new home in Williams County and his new job as Holiday City's part-time administrator.
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DELTA - As of this morning, Gary Baker is the former Delta village administrator.

But Delta Mayor Don Gerdes predicts Mr. Baker will continue to get some calls with village questions at his new home in Williams County and at his office in Holiday City where he is to start work as its part-time village administrator on May 1.

Mr. Baker has been Delta's administrator for 20 years - his 20th anniversary with the village was Friday, the day of his retirement party - and there isn't anyone else with such longstanding institutional knowledge of some of the village's innermost workings.

He was there when the steel plants were built between Delta and Wauseon and several subdivisions were developed in the village.

He was there when the village invested in its new water treatment plant.

He was there when the village offices were remodeled, when the village pool and shelter houses were replaced, and when the playground equipment, tennis courts, and skateboard areas were added to the park.

Mr. Baker started, however, with hardly any public sector experience.

Back in 1987, when he started on the job at a salary of $20,800, he was 40. He had sold the previous year Baker Furniture, which his family had operated since 1949 and he had owned for 15 years.

And he stepped into the village administrator's position without the hand-off that this week and last he has given Ken Knuth, who council hired this month to replace him.

When Mr. Baker became administrator, council had been running the village without an administrator for months - and was getting a bit tired of the duties - after letting a previous administrator go at the end of his probationary employment.

Mr. Baker said he's most proud of the streets that were paved and the other improvements that were made in the village, all while keeping the financial books in check. "The finances show we aren't a strapped community," Mr. Baker said.

His biggest disappointment, he said, is that he wasn't able to see more such work completed. He would have liked to spruce up the downtown by burying utility wires and adding new lighting, but funds for that project never seemed to be available.

"It all costs money," he said. "Our energies were focused on a lot of other things."

Paperwork requirements for almost every village function seemed to increase exponentially over the past 20 years, making that perhaps the biggest change in his duties, he said.

His salary increased along with those additional requirements and his years of experience to $51,500 a year.

But all through the years - even during recent disagreements with council - he was dedicated to the community, Councilman Marcy LeFevre said. "I think he will be missed more than people realize," Councilman LeFevre said.



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