Dale Wilgus has retired after 20 years as Delaware County treasurer, clearing the way for Jon Peterson to take over the job four months ahead of schedule.

Dale Wilgus has retired after 20 years as Delaware County treasurer, clearing the way for Jon Peterson to take over the job four months ahead of schedule.

Wilgus has served five terms as treasurer and did not seek re-election last year.

Peterson won the seat in an unopposed election in November. He was scheduled to take office in September. The Delaware County Republican Central Committee on May 27 voted to appoint Peterson to the job now.

Peterson had to leave the Ohio House of Representatives because of term limits. He earlier served as county auditor.

"It's 37 years since I first appeared before this body (the central committee) asking for your support sometimes I prevailed, sometimes I haven't, but I've always been treated fairly," Peterson said after the vote, choking up when he told them how much it means to him to have their support.

"It means a lot to end my chapter in public service back home," he said.

He also spoke about how honored he was to "follow someone who epitomizes public service. We know Dale has been extremely committed, dedicated, competent, qualified and well-experienced in his position. But perhaps more than all that, he is very steady. There is a reason why he's never received adverse publicity or been portrayed in the newspaper in a bad light because he epitomizes public service."

In his introduction, committee member Jeff Burkam told Wilgus, "From my perspective you showed yourself to be the epitome of what a true Republican conservative should be. You did your job, you were there every day . not in the back in your private office ... but out front with all the other folks working away.

"We need to recognize people like you who truly were public servants. We call many people today public servants, who may in their own way serve the public, but that's what you truly were in every way. You knew your job. You were there every day and you did it."

Wilgus received a standing ovation from those at the meeting.

"I'm not good at speeches," he told them. "It's been my privilege to serve Delaware County for a number of years and 20 years as county treasurer. I have really enjoyed the job. Enjoyed serving and now I guess it's time for me to ride off into the sunset."

He wished Peterson well and said the "great staff" he is leaving behind will make his job easier.

Peterson said he will spend the first few weeks getting to know his staff and the details of running the office, but he will be busy helping the county commissioners tackle the county's budget woes.

He actually assumed the office May 26 after the commissioners made him temporary treasurer until the central committee could meet Wednesday night.

Wilgus left office on Friday, May 22 and by state law the office must have a treasurer to conduct business, said commissioner Todd Hanks.

One of the first things he did, Peterson said, was to give up his assigned parking space. "It's the treasurer's office, not the treasurer. I used it just one time."

As auditor, Peterson bought the first computer for the county in 1988 and installed many of the operating systems the county uses.

He said he has much to learn because technology has changed over the years.

He plans to be at the June 1 commissioners meeting, asking for a delinquent tax section for the office as a way "to make the payment of taxes more accessible," including the possibility of escrowing taxes, paying online and using debit or credit cards to pay taxes, he said.

"I'm not a bull in a china shop. You've got to walk before you can run, so we will spend the next six months looking at what works and what works well," he said.

Setting up a new division would require the addition of someone to oversee it, but the county has $1.3-million received from the Ohio General Assembly for costs associated with the collection of delinquent taxes.

"We have it. We might as well use it," Peterson said.