Ruth Haas, mayor of Cygnet for 21 years, will retire at the end of the year. She said she won't miss the Monday night council meetings or the complaint calls at all hours.
Jeremy Wadsworth Enlarge
CYGNET, Ohio - After 21 years as mayor of this southern Wood County village, Ruth Haas is retiring at the end of the year, and she can't stop smiling.
No more Monday-night council meetings, no more phone calls at all hours from people complaining about broken water lines or power outages.
"We used to have a lot of water-line breaks before we got new water lines, and a lot of times they happened on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve day," she recalled.
While the village of 564 people runs its own water, sewer, and electric utilities, it also had been plagued with brownouts for years before the electricsystem was overhauled this summer. The mayor remembered one Thanksgiving when the power was out for several hours.
"We had a lot of people cooking turkeys, including myself," she said with a laugh. "We just chuckled about it because we couldn't do anything about it."
Still her phone rang and rang.
"People called and I said, 'We know it's out. It's going to get fixed. We can't help it. I have a turkey in the oven too.' What are you going to do?" she said.
Her light-hearted approach may have been what kept her in office so long. She was opposed for re-election just once in five terms and kept her job despite the fact she didn't campaign against her challenger.
"No. Nothing. I just said the people would help me out, and they did," Mrs. Haas said, adding, "Would you put this in the article? I would like to thank the people for returning me to office five times."
Mayor-elect Nancy Myers, who worked as Cygnet's clerk-treasurer when Mrs. Haas served on Village Council, said it was an adjustment when Mrs. Haas became mayor.
"She was the first woman mayor of the village and sometimes it was kind of hard for the men to accept that, but all in all, I think she's done a real fair job with the village," Ms. Myers said.
Mrs. Haas, a native of the Mount Blanchard area, moved to Cygnet in 1974 with her husband, Robert, and their two children. A bank teller for 40 years, she said she decided to run for council after coming home one day to find that the village had "chopped" the trees in front of her house. She knew the trees belonged to the village, but she felt she should have been told the work was going to be done.
"I was just upset and I told [the mayor], 'I'll be on the ticket next time,'•" she recalled.
After winning a seat on council, Mrs. Haas became mayor in 1986 when Mayor Eldon Martin died, and she, as council president, moved into the spot.
Looking back on her years in office, she said she's most proud of the $2 million sanitary sewer system and $1 million wastewater treatment lagoon built during her tenure as mayor. She said she also enjoyed the "hundreds" of wedding ceremonies she conducted.
Still, Mrs. Haas, 73, said she's looking forward to seeing Ms. Myers in the mayor's job, which pays $410 per month.
"She's younger than myself," Mrs. Haas said of the new mayor, who's 61. "It's time for me to go out and her to come in."
Ms. Myers said she knows Mrs. Haas had a thankless job at times.
"In a small town you don't get a lot of people who want to run," Ms. Myers said.
"It's a lot of [responsibility] for no money, and you don't have a lot of people wanting to do that. You get a lot of criticism from people, but you do the best you can do and that's all you can do. She's been real dedicated, and she's done her job and the town has improved and hopefully it will continue," she said.
Council is holding a retirement party for Mrs. Haas from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at the village fire hall. Her final council meeting will follow at 7:30 p.m.
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