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Copeland letter says he will leave office Friday

The on-again, off-again retirement of Lucas County Commissioner Bill Copeland is on once again.

After saying last week he wasn't sure when he would leave office, he signed a letter yesterday that stated Friday would be his last day as a commissioner.

“It wasn't anything in particular,” said Mr. Copeland, 80, who has been plagued with health problems. “I just decided that this was it and that I needed to retire.”

The announcement was welcomed by Paula Ross, chairman of the county's Democratic Party, who had started planning for a central committee vote to find a replacement after Mr. Copeland announced in November that he would retire last week.

Within a few days, Mr. Copeland rescinded his retirement date, saying he wanted to help resolve a $1.5 million skirmish involving two of the contractors involved with building Fifth Third Field.

As late as Thursday, he said he wasn't sure when he would retire and that if it weren't for his health, he would like to serve for the remaining two years of his term. Yesterday he said he didn't think the fight over the ballpark would be finished anytime soon, so he saw no point to staying in office.

The uncertainty has frustrated Ms. Ross, who wanted to start the replacement process if retirement was inevitable. Yesterday she said she didn't think the party could name a new commissioner until sometime in January.

“It would be extremely difficult to do this during the holidays,” Ms. Ross said.

She said state law requires the party to wait five days after a vacancy occurs before its Central Committee can convene and name a replacement. Candidates must first appear before a 16-member screening committee, Ms. Ross said.

Twelve people have applied to be screened, including Toledo City Council members Wade Kapszukiewicz and Bob McCloskey, Sylvania Township Trustee Dennis Boyle, and Oregon City Council member Jim Seaman.

County Commissioner Harry Barlos said he hopes Ms. Ross accelerates the process so a new commissioner can be named this month because he wants a full three-member board available to consider the county's annual budget.

The county will pass a temporary budget by the end of December. Maggie Thurber, who defeated Commissioner Sandy Isenberg in November, will take office in January.

Mr. Barlos said he wants the annual budget completed by the end of January and he doesn't want to put it together with only two commissioners.

“I hope both individuals are quick studies and embrace a county budget where there's more money going out than coming in,” Mr. Barlos said. “We need to collectively make this decision.”

Mr. Copeland's last meeting will be today.

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