Sixteen years ago, a 54-year-old James Watercutter decided to run for Heath City Council.

Sixteen years ago, a 54-year-old James Watercutter decided to run for Heath City Council.

At age 70, Watercutter, the scrutinizer of Heath's budget and finances, has decided not to run again.

"If you can't give 100 percent, which is what city residents deserve, you've got no business doing it," he said.

His dedication is what some of his peers say they will miss.

"Jim's always been dedicated to the city," Heath City Councilman Richard Morrow said. "To watch his dedication, it's something to appreciate. He's always had the city in mind, all the time."

For others, it's his absolute attention to detail -- whether it's a line in a 200-plus-page budget that doesn't make sense or the wording for a new ordinance about to become law.

"He's a stickler for the details," council president Jeff Crabill said. "I didn't always agree with his position, but I certainly respected his attention to detail and his drive."

Crabill also remembers Watercutter as a mentor who helped when Crabill first was elected to council eight years ago.

"I consider Jim a mentor for when I first got on council. He was quite helpful in the process and showed me the ropes of city council," Crabill said.

Watercutter moved to Heath in 1963, after leaving the U.S. Marines. He worked for a while in Dayton before finding a job at the former Newark Air Force Base.

As a councilman, Watercutter is most proud of being part of building two new fire stations and helping to pass a 1.5-mill fire levy for personnel, he said. The city installed tornado sirens during his tenure and enacted an emergency action plan for natural and domestic disasters, also providing equipment for safety forces. Watercutter said he has been an advocate for adding more safety personnel and worked with officials to widen state Route 79 on the city's south side and to make improvements to Route 79.

His list of accomplishments includes helping to convert his former employer, the Air Force Base, into the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority and helping to start the city's first Independence Day celebration, called the Star Spangled Celebration.

When asked what advice he would give to future council members, he said, "You've gotta' be very open to people and establish the proper priorities. You can't avoid giving people answers. You work for them; they don't work for you."

Watercutter is finishing 28 years of public service, having served 12 years on the Heath school board prior to running for council.

Watercutter plans to continue working with the Licking County Veterans Alliance, which holds funeral services for local veterans.