North Baltimore administrator has public service in her blood
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS, Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 21 June 2014 01:39
Kathy Healy was once told public service is in her blood.
|North Baltimore Village Administrator Kathy Healy. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Her former boss may have been on to something when he said that, as the North Baltimore Village Administrator will retire July 11 after more than 25 years of public service.
"Public service is a unique animal. You have to really love it in order to stay in it because you can't give everyone what they want all the time. They key is trying to find that compromise or a tactful way of telling them the answer is 'no.'
"I enjoy finding another solution and being able to look back at the communities I have served and know they are better off today than they were when I started," Healy said.
"Sure, there have been tough times. You can't work in the public sector and have it be sunshine and rainbows the whole time. We've tackled some tough issues."
In a small town like North Baltimore, the village administrator does a little bit of everything. North Baltimore has a mayor, council, police chief, fire chief and numerous other department heads, but the village administrator is responsible for keeping the village running on a day-to-day basis.
"You have to know a lot about many different things," Healy said. "But the main thing is that you have to be able to listen to the needs of the citizens and try to get your village council to find ways to help make that happen and help them."
The Kenton native got her degree from Ohio Northern University. From there, she moved to Florida to teach school before she moved back to Ohio and worked for the City of Kenton. She began working for Kenton's Parks and Recreation Department in 1985 and eventually worked her way up to the Safety-Service Director by the mid-90s. In 2004, she began working for a management consultant firm. It was with her work there she came upon her current position in North Baltimore.
Healy was consulting for the village while it looked to fill its then-vacant administrator position.
"The selection committee really wasn't that excited about any of the applicants and no one really stuck out," Healy said.
It was at that point that former Mayor Ned Sponsler asked Healy if she would be interested in the job.
"I really struggled with whether or not I wanted to make the move," Healy said.
But, after discussing it with her boss at the consulting firm, her next career move became apparent.
"My boss told me, 'public service is in your blood.'"
And off she went to North Baltimore where she became the village's first female administrator.
She remembers her initial impressions of North Baltimore, which affirmed her choice.
"I drove around and saw all of the great things we have here, a golf course, the trail, the park and the industry back then … it looked like the village had taken good care of its community and that meant a lot to me," Healy said.
"There are a lot of good people here. I was welcomed from day one."
"I also really liked the mayor and the composition of council. They just seemed to really work together as a team and they had a vision for the village." They also did a really good job with finances.
Healy was struck by the fact the village had begun tucking away money for capital improvement projects.
"Not a lot of communities do that or have the luxury to do so," she said.
And the small town feel didn't hurt either.
"I like the fact that your constituents can get to know who you are. In my opinion, this is the only type of government where you are going through the same thing your constituents are," she said.
Over the last several years, Healy has been one of several key players ushering in the largest infrastructure project in village history - a $15 million sewer-separation project.
While current residents are feeling the pain of the project when they pay their water/sewer bills, Healy said the project will be beneficial for generations to come.
"Twenty years from now, the people living here are going to appreciate that infrastructure."
And while Healy, and most other North Baltimore residents, will tell you the town needs more business and industry, she still sees the small village in southern Wood County in a light others might not.
"I've always said North Baltimore is kind of a diamond in the rough. You have to have an imagination for what the possibilities are for the community and you have to be able to see what a great community it could be," she said.
She also stands behind the workforce she helps manage on a day-to-day basis.
"The department heads here work tremendously well together. If one department is down a person, or we have a storm, everyone steps up to help.
"They care about the community they live and work in. I think that is one of the best things about North Baltimore."
Upon retirement, Healy has definite plans to take some time off and spend more time with family. Her retirement came as a result of changes being made to the public pension system.
However, she plans to stay in the village and hopes to find ways to help local business prosper through applying for grants and other funding sources.
"I want to find ways to raise some funds so that things aren't so tough on these small businesses," Healy said.
And she has high hopes for her successor to continue moving the village in the right direction.
"I hope the next person grows to care about North Baltimore as much as I do," Healy said.
Last Updated on Saturday, 21 June 2014 02:57