Retirement is “definitely different,” Dale Wolfe said.
He retired as a part-time security officer at the Crawford County Courthouse in November; his wife, former county auditor Joan Wolfe, retired in late October.
“Suddenly … after 43 years of marriage, neither one of us are working,” he said. They spend time with their four grandchildren, who all are active in sports. “So that does take up some time. But I have plenty of time to spare.”
So Wolfe, 3865 Knauss Road, decided he’s ready for a new role, continuing a lifelong dedication to serving the community: He’s one of three Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for county commissioner in the May 3 primary.
Incumbent Tim Ley, 3365 Stephenie Drive, is seeking a second term on the Crawford County Board of Commissioners. Corey Orewiler, 2850 Spore Brandywine Road, also is seeking a spot on the fall ballot. No Democrats filed in the race. Any independent candidates considering a run have until May 2 to file petitions with the Crawford County Board of Elections.
Long career at Bucyrus Police Department
Wolfe grew up on a small farm in Wyandot County and was active in 4-H and FFA.
“It was an enjoyable way to grow up, but then again again I didn’t get to do some things; I was needed on the farm,” he said. He graduated from Wynford High School in 1975.
His first job was in radio, at the old WYAN in Upper Sandusky.
“I started out as a nighttime disc jockey and ended up the operations director,” he said. “I went from there and applied at both Ohio Power and at the Bucyrus Police Department in ’78.”
He ended up spending a year at Ohio Power before accepting an offer from the police department and beginning a career in law enforcement in 1980.
After 13 years as a patrol officer, he served as lieutenant on the afternoon shift 1993 to 1996, then was promoted to captain. He eventually moved into the executive officer’s position, serving as second in command to police chiefs Mike Corwin and Ken Teets, he said.
Wolfe began working at the courthouse in 2010
After retiring from the police department in 2005, he did a few different jobs – including owning an ice cream stand, serving a stint with the Wyandot County Sheriff’s special deputies and spending a summer hauling 3-day-old chicks from Indiana for Eagle Nest Poultry – before becoming the security officer at the Crawford County Courthouse in 2010. He continued in that part-time position, which is part of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, until his retirement in November.
Wolfe has been active in the Republican Party and served on several boards in the county. He’s a 50-year member at the Emanuel United Church of Christ near Nevada.
All three of Wolfe’s children have gone into some kind of public service, he said.
His oldest son is a lieutenant with the Delaware County EMS, where he is a paramedic. Among other roles, he’s chairman of the Crawford County health board, the assistant fire chief at Holmes Township and serves with Wyandot East Fire and Rescue.
His daughter is the chief deputy clerk of the Crawford County Clerk of Courts, and his younger son is a Bucyrus police officer.
“So we’re all serving the public or have served the public at some point,” Wolfe said.
‘Very conservative when it comes to finances’
Wolfe said he’s been following local politics for quite a while, and got involved with the local Republican party around 2006.
“And then the last 11 years of sitting in the courthouse, you hear all kinds of things and see what happens in most of the offices within the county, because you’re there on a daily basis,” he said.
He got to know the current commissioners and other office-holders.
“There have been some things that I would have done differently through the years, especially protecting some of the taxpayer dollars,” he said. “I think sometimes we take on projects that are more elaborate than they need to be, or we may be able to accomplish the same goal for a lot less money.”
He criticized commissioners’ decision to build a new evidence storage building outside of the Crawford County Criminal Justice Center. Before 2020, the Sheriff’s Office used old National Guard building at Southern Avenue and Fairground Road for that purpose. The building is now used by Seneca-Crawford Area Transportation (SCAT).
The county could have repaired that building and continued using it, he said.
“The other thing that I probably would have done is I would have looked a little harder to find an existing building that we could have renovated and served the same purpose,” he said.
“One of my big things is I’m very conservative when it comes to finances,” Wolfe said. “It’s the taxpayers’ money, mine, anybody that’s paying taxes in the county. And I think they should get the best and biggest bang out of it. And that’s one of the things that I would like to watch very closely.”
Wolfe admitted he doesn’t know all of the issues facing commissioners at this point, “because I haven’t been in that office.”
Wind turbines don’t ‘have a place here in this county’
But he has strong views on one issue that has had the commissioners’ office in the public eye in recent months – wind turbines.
Apex Clean Energy has been leasing property across northern Crawford County for a proposed 300-megawatt, 60-turbine wind farm, Honey Creek Wind.
“I don’t think they have a place here in this county,” Wolfe said. “I think it’s too rural of a county – in a way it’s a rural county, but in another way, we’ve got more population than many of the other places that have wind turbines. There are possible issues with health; that worries me.
“There are issues simply with quality of life – and I think to me the biggest thing is quality of life. Most of us live in a county like this because we enjoy the outdoors. We enjoy going outdoors at night, having a get-together at night, having a bonfire or just a small fire. And I think if you start putting the number of industrial-sized, bid wind turbines in the northern part of the county that they’re talking about doing, that would disrupt that immensely in my opinion.”
Wolfe said when he learned about Honey Creek Wind, he was “hearing pretty much one side.”
“And I believe very strongly in personal property rights,” he said. “The government in my opinion many times steps in when they shouldn’t.”
But after doing his own research, his opinions began to change, he said. He visited Hardin County, where a wind farm began operating last year, and spoke with some farmers at a feed store. He researched information on Apex’s website and spoke with people who had examined lease contracts, he said.
If he were a commissioner today, Wolfe said, he would vote to restrict industrial-scale wind energy development in the entire county.
Last month, the commissioners announced they will seek public input on a proposal that would effectively prevent the development of wind farms in the county during a public meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in the youth building at the Crawford County Fairgrounds.
After the hearing, commissioners can adopt a resolution designating unincorporated land in the county as a restricted area, prohibiting construction of wind farms. If such a resolution is passed, people who support wind farm development would have 30 days to circulate petitions to request a referendum vote on the decision.
“At which point everybody in the county would have the opportunity to vote whether to keep the restrictions that the resolution had in place or to get rid of those restrictions,” Wolfe said. “I think that is at least a better option than just simply forcing them on the community.”
Wolfe said if he’s elected, he would bring the same approach to all issues.
“I have been in some form of public service for most of my adult life,” he said. “It’s obvious that my wife and I both consider public service to be something that’s important. … It’s a noble thing to sincerely work for the public. I think that’s been passed on to my children. By the jobs and professions they’ve chosen, I think it shows that. …
“If I am fortunate enough to be elected, my pledge would be to listen, to actually investigate issues that come to the commissioners, search out both sides, and then make a decision that’s best for the public, for the county. It may not be the most expedient, it may not be the most elaborate, but after doing my research, it’s going to be the best I believe for the public.”
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