Clallam County administrator Jim Jones sets retirement date

Jim Jones is stepping down as Clallam County administrator. Jones, who was hired as the county’s top executive in May 2006, announced last week that he plans to retire on Sept. 1, one week after turning 65.

“Jim has been integral to the successful financial management of Clallam County, providing stability and expertise to several different Boards of County Commissioners over those years,” board Chairman Mark Ozias said in a statement on Feb. 8.

“In addition to his strong record of financial management Jim has been vital to the success of many county-wide efforts including helping to build strong partnerships with a multitude of fellow governments and community organizations.”

In a Friday interview, Ozias said the board would discuss the vacancy in a Feb. 20 work session. Commissioners will develop a timeline for the transition by the end of March.

“We are going to engage the services of a professional search firm to help us identify and vet candidates,” Ozias said in a telephone interview.

The board has discussed the possibility of splitting the function of the county administrator into two positions: a county executive to oversee day-to-day operations and a chief financial officer who would oversee the budget and lead a newly-created finance department.

“We don’t know exactly how that will shape up, and that’s part of what we’ll be talking about in public,” Ozias said.

“We feel that the organization has grown to the point that we just need to be doing something a little bit different.”

Jones, who had hinted at retirement in past meetings, has offered to help with the transition to ensure a stable hand-off, Ozias said.

“The Board of County Commissioners is deeply appreciative of Jim’s many years of service and of the thoughtful and professional manner in which he is assisting with this important transition,” Ozias said in a news release.

In a Friday interview, Jones said he had long planned to retire at the age of 65.

He said he informed the board about his intention to retire last August.

Jones said the timing is right because county finances are relatively solid and current Commissioners Bill Peach, Randy Johnson and Ozias are “working well together.”

“I don’t an anticipate there’s going to be any real issues or concerns,” Jones said.

In retirement, Jones said he planned to remain active with civic and charitable groups, play golf and travel with his wife, Debbie, while he is “young enough and spry enough to do it.”

“This is really an opportune time for me,” Jones said.

“I’m excited to be able to do it, and the county’s in a great position to be able to weather it.”

Jones planted his roots on the North Olympic Peninsula after leaving active duty as an Air Force officer and pilot in 1976.

He had played basketball at Peninsula College, married a Crescent High School graduate and earned business degrees from the University of Washington and University of Texas.

Jones worked at First Federal Savings & Loan in Port Angeles for 17 years, holding a variety of administrative and supervisory positions.

He was executive director for business and operations at the Port Angeles School District for nine years before he was hired as the Clallam County administrator.

Looking back, Jones said he was most proud of the fact that he left all three organizations in “better shape to deal with the future than when I found them.”

“It’s not about me,” Jones said.

“It’s about developing your team and giving your team the support they need and get out of the way.”

Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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