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Published: Wednesday, 1/3/2007

Hancock County prosecutor to be judge in Findlay

FINDLAY - Hancock County Prosecutor Robert A. Fry will begin the new year as a Findlay Municipal Court judge.

Gov. Bob Taft announced his appointment yesterday to the post vacated when Municipal Court Judge Vernon L. Preston was appointed to the Lima-based Third District Court of Appeals. Judge Preston will fill the unexpired term of Robert Cupp, who was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Mr. Fry's appointment to the municipal court leaves a vacancy in the prosecutor's office that the Hancock County Commissioners are expected to fill temporarily as early as tomorrow. The Hancock County Republican Central Committee will then meet to name a successor to fill out the remainder of Mr. Fry's term.

The leading candidate for the job, Mark Miller, serves both as the county's Republican party chairman and as chief criminal assistant prosecutor under Mr. Fry. Mr. Miller said yesterday that he is the only candidate so far who has expressed interest in the prosecutor's job, but added that he will not take part in the central committee's vote to name Mr. Fry's successor.

"I won't run the meeting or do anything," Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Fry, 53, who earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Ohio Northern University, has worked in the county prosecutor's office for 26 years, serving as prosecutor since 1991.

"It was time for a change, time to move on," he said.

Mr. Fry said becoming a judge was something he had always aspired to, but he didn't expect to get that opportunity until the recent turn of events.

"When Judge Cupp got elected, I knew there was a potential for the opening on Findlay Municipal Court, so I sought the position," Mr. Fry said.

Both he and former State Rep. Mike Gilb, a Findlay attorney who did not seek re-election in the last election, were nominated for the judgeship.

Mr. Fry said he will tender his retirement to county commissioners effective at noon tomorrow to give them time to name a temporary replacement by Friday, when his appointment to the municipal court bench becomes effective.

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