ST. CLAIRSVILLE Circumstances forced Commissioner Charles R. Probst, Jr. to retire early, but he plans to seek reappointment to his seat and to continue to campaign for voter support and run for re-election.
Nov. 30 will be his effective date of retirement.
The decision was motivated by legislation at the state level, which Probst noted would have adverse effects on his retirement if he did not retire by Nov. 30.
"Retirement wasn't a passing thought in my mind," he said. "It floored me."
He added that at 56 years old he expects to continue his service. He will ask the Democratic Central Committee to re-appoint him to his seat so that he can finish out his term, then he will continue his campaign plans to seek re-election.
He was aware of these circumstances in the summer and has been arranging his affairs so that the board's business will continue smoothly during the transition. He added that he was disappointed in the state legislature for disrupting a term with this legislation. He gave the opinion that a retirement deadline should have been set for the end of his term.
He said his decision was made necessary by circumstances, pointing out his pension, benefits and health care would have suffered.
He noted that he had paid into the retirement system during his time as a township trustee and in the East Ohio Wastewater Authority.
"I've paid into this system almost my entire life and I stood to lose a lot of my benefits if I didn't retire," he said, adding that retiring and returning to his commissioners' position would not be an extra cost to the county.
Probst said he also hopes that he has proven himself to the voters of Belmont County with his service on the board. He said he is open about his decision and reasoning and invites any campaign opponents to submit their own backgrounds for criticism and scrutiny.
"The voters of Belmont County have elected me four consecutive times," he said, adding that he has received continued support throughout the announcement. "It's been an honor to be elected four times."
He added that while the county is past the recession of the mid-2000s, this remains a crucial time for the area, when proven leadership will be necessary to make the most out of the current economic upturn and to maintain the momentum of new development.
Probst is currently involved in many diverse projects related to growing the county. He noted that the county has worked to expand infrastructure and water and sewer services to meet the needs of expanding and incoming businesses. A second industrial park is also being planned.
He said he has served as a full-time dedicated commissioner."I had a good paying job before I was a county commissioner. I resigned because the job demanded it. The hours demanded it. This is not a part-time job," he said, adding that a typical day can run for 12-14 hours. "Belmont County residents deserve a full-time commissioner."
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org