By Mike Stegall
Darke Co. Commission
“THE MEASURE OF WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE DO WITH WHAT WE HAVE” – VINCE LOMBARDI. That is my favorite quote. All of us look back on our life and wonder if what we have done has been purposeful, and have we done the best we could with what we had? In everything I have done I have tried to do it to the best of my ability. That is how my brother Dan, and I were raised, if it was worth doing, do it the best you could. Now that I am ending this chapter in my life, I look back and realize I’ve been fortunate to accomplish what I have. Was it my best? I’d like to think there is nothing I would do different, and I leave happy with my life to this point and look forward to what’s next.
There is, however, that time in your working career when you decide to call it quits. It really was an easy decision to make for me, as I have decided to call it quits three times now in my life. Once when I quit officiating football, once when I sold my business, and finally now as commissioner. I may be the exception, but all three times something inside me told me it was time. When I quit officiating, it was in the third quarter of a football game at Coldwater with Versailles. I was standing there after administering a penalty, and thought to myself that I really wasn’t thinking about what to do on penalties, I was just reacting, and I didn’t want to make a mistake and cost some team a game sometime. I decided right there, it was time. The same thing happened in my last playoff game that year… that confirmed to me it was time. So far, I have not regretted any of these decisions, and I am lucky to have no regrets.
I have loved being Commissioner. I have served three very good terms, and only history will decide how my tenure went. I think history will look favorably on my 12 years, but who knows? One thing I want to make clear is in my time here, I have worked with the best people in the business. You don’t hear it very often, but there are a lot of people in Columbus that deserve more respect than they get: That is everyone at the C.C.A.O. (County Commissioners Association of Ohio.) These people do invaluable work for the counties, and I have made friendships there that will last a lifetime. I will miss all of them, but I will try to stay in touch. They are good people! Everyone has been essential to the success we have had in Darke County, and I can’t thank my co-workers enough. We have a great team, and I hope it continues. Nobody, no matter what politicians tell you, does great things alone. Darke County has done great things together. I have been fortunate to work with the most conscientious, dedicated, and hard-working people in government. For all of my co-workers, THANK YOU! Thank You for making these 12 years successful and fun for me. The award for “BEST PEOPLE” has to go to my co- workers. I truly will miss all of you, wish you all continued success, and remember you have to keep working as a team to be successful. God bless you all!
Every business has its complainers and whiners. Being in politics seems to bring out more than any other business. Everybody in the world can do a better job than the people who are doing the job! Just ask them, they will tell you! For those that don’t really know me, know that I will listen to every complaint you have, that does not mean I will act on it, or do what you want, but I will listen. That was my job. Some of the complaints I heard were legitimate, some were minor, and some were out there! I have heard it all I think. The most complaints we ever got was when we started expanding the airport. Oh My God, you would have thought we were making human sacrifices to the FAA Gods, holding midnight voodoo rituals to thank the airplane cult, summoning black helicopters in the middle of the night to eliminate our enemies, and of course, we were the stupidest commissioners ever! It really became funny after a while, because it was the same people all the time! I call them the “Flying Hemorrhoids.” Every time we advanced anything at the airport, they would get on social media and complain, the same things every time; a waste of money, it’s too noisy, nobody uses it, it’s a waste of good farmland, it’s only for Midmark, it’s big enough now, nobody flies anymore and yada, yada, yada. No matter how hard we tried to explain the economic upside of the airport they didn’t want to hear it, we were just being stupid and wasteful of their money. We tried several times to explain “Grants” to them, but they didn’t want to hear that either. There was one gentleman though, his initials were JLD, who seemed to lead the bunch, not as the leader mind, but just the lead complainer. He has never acknowledged one good thing at the airport. I don’t believe he even said anything positive when Care Flight came to the airport! I do believe I have never met this gentleman. I am sure he is a decent fellow, and it is a shame that I never had the chance to sit and talk to him about the airport. I hold no malice towards him, I actually started to enjoy his rants! They were very good, and by good I mean he knows how to complain, and I can tell you he can complain better than most! Looking back on it though, all of them were good at it! Therefore, the “BEST COMPLAINERS AWARD” goes to the “FLYING HEMORRHOIDS.” The airport should continue to grow and prosper, add more planes, buildings, and people, so they should have plenty of ammo in the future to complain about! ENJOY!
If you watch television enough, you have noticed that all politicians get insulted quite a bit. It comes with the territory. Being called stupid, irresponsible, a liar, and other things comes with this job. Some of the time, people are right though. Politicians in Washington seem to lie all the time. (Maybe that is a federal requirement? I’m not sure.) Anyway, I don’t think your local officials lie, at least not on purpose, (unless they are stupid!) because we are here all the time and can hear from our constituents daily, face to face. I think that’s a good thing! You should have access to us, and I have always welcomed that. I have written the “Commissioner’s Corner” column since its inception, I have had “Coffee with the Commissioner” meetings since my election. When I was a Greenville Township Trustee I wrote “Township Talk.” Before I was elected, I had “Coffee with the Candidate.” I have been accessible. In that time, everyone has been very nice to me when we meet, even if they disagreed with me. However, social media is a different animal. People say things about you they would never say in person. I do get a kick out of some of the insults. You cannot insult me and hurt my feelings. I am funny that way. I do enjoy a good insult when it’s funny, and has a slight hint of truth to it. The funniest thing that was ever said about me was from a man named Tyler Ward. I did get to meet Tyler once at A&B Coffee, and I enjoyed telling him that his insult was funny and I loved it! Nobody likes to be insulted, but if it’s funny and has an element of truth, well heck, you gotta love it! Several years ago there was an article in the Daily Advocate about something we were doing in our office, I don’t remember what it was. Anyway, there was a picture of me standing in a white shirt with a red vest on. At that time, I was about 40 pounds heavier than I am now. You could tell that I was a bit….uh….Chunky! Anyway, I was scrolling through the comments, the usual complaints and insults, and I came upon Tyler’s comment. All the other comments were about us wasting money etc., Tyler literally made me laugh out loud when he said “HE LOOKS LIKE HE ATE JIM TRESSEL!” NOW THAT’S FUNNY, and I don’t care who you are! I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard at an insult! I still laugh at it because IT WAS TRUE! So Tyler, you my friend win the award for “BEST INSULT.”
This is a very rewarding job. Yes, you take a lot of grief, but the ability to help the people and watch your county grow is worth far more than what it takes from you. I love it! I cannot thank those enough that have helped me get elected and campaigned with me. There is one person in particular I need to thank and that is Betsy Ward. Betsy was my first campaign manager. She was quite the little task master, she had something or some place for me to be every night in 2010 and wore me out. She knows her stuff, although sometimes we disagreed and sometimes she had to advise me “Don’t ever say that again!” I didn’t listen. One time was at the League of Women Voters in 2010. My two opponents and I were asked if we had served in the military. Dave Niley and Keith Smith both said yes they had and proceeded to tell the audience of their experience. When they asked me, I said “No, I have not served in the military, but, I have been married 34 years, that’s the same thing!” The audience laughed, Betsy and my wife Rose…not so much! Boy, did I hear about that after the meeting! Thanks, Betsy, your kindness and work ethic has made your business, A&B Coffee, a great place for people to visit. You and your family are the best, and I love you like a daughter. There are many others who sacrificed their time and energy to help me get elected, and you know who you are. Thanks to all of you from the bottom of my heart!
I am now 68 with 17 years in politics (I was Greenville Township Trustee for 5 years before I became commissioner) it is time to say goodbye. I am leaving the County with Matt, Larry and Marshall in charge. They will do fine and I have no worries there. Marshall has a lot to learn, but hell, I learned it so anybody can! The team that Darke County has is THE BEST! Don’t believe me? Talk to the people in Columbus at CCAO and the Capitol, they will tell you about Darke County! I am proud that you allowed me to serve you for 12 years. That is an honor for me, and you all have given me far more than I deserve. I will still be around, Darke County is my home, playing golf, traveling, writing on Facebook, aggravating people and maybe making all of you laugh, too. It has been one hell of a ride! Thank you all and God Bless each of you!
Mike Stegall, Current County Commissioner until midnight Dec. 31, 2022…then it’s Party Time!