Community mourns the loss of a leader

I’m sad I won’t get the chance to meet Mark Hayes.

I consider it my biggest regret thus far in Tiffin. I have made it a point to visit groups and community organizations but hadn’t yet been to a Tiffin City Council meeting.

Mark reached out to me and invited me in a way I’ve come to learn was very typical of him — with kindness. The first couple of meetings after he reached out, I could not for a variety of reasons. I had another work commitment one week. I wanted to spend the evening with my family the other. Another I was just plain weary at the end of a long day.

I had planned on attending soon — and still will — but I knew that I missed out.

I would have enjoyed talking to him about being the public address announcer at Calvert Catholic Schools athletics events. Prior to moving here, I was the football announcer for Michigan’s St. Mary Cathedral School, the school my wife taught at and daughters attended. I would have enjoyed hearing stories of him coaching volleyball and softball, as I too have coached a number of sports.

I would have loved hearing about the inner workings of Tiffin City Council, a group that has been at the forefront of so much during his tenure with the council, which goes all the way back to 1999. All accounts point that he was an excellent civil servant. Mayor Aaron Montz pointed out Hayes brought knowledge, humor and friendship to those he served with. He was re–elected for three terms on the council, was chairman of the Finance Committee and served as the council’s representative to the Seneca Regional Planning Commission.

I would have enjoyed hearing about his role as an employee of North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, where he worked with students with disabilities. That sounds a very intriguing and noble thing to do for a career.

The City of Tiffin and Seneca County mourns the loss of one of the good ones. Mark Hayes was the kind of guy to whom compliments were quick and criticism was virtually non–existent.

In a town of collaborators, Tiffin has lost one of its best. Along with the rest of community, I mourn the loss of Mark Hayes.

• In other news, it’s been a busy week in the office with me putting some time in designing the paper. I love getting into the thick of the different jobs here, as it allows me to put myself in the shoes of the behind the scenes people who make the A–T what it is. In fact, my plan is to take this column space once a month and feature a different person at the paper, writing about who they are and what they do. Stay tuned.

• Because of spending so much time in the office, I didn’t get out and about as I would but I was able to do some neat things over the past week or so. First, I was thankful for the invite to attend the Allen Eiry Center’s annual picnic on Wednesday. I was greeted by such delightful people, most of whom had very specific opinions of the A–T. I loved the feedback, and really enjoyed getting to know some people in town. Most importantly, I heard about the Allen Eiry Center, which offers a number of great opportunities to local seniors.

One piece of feedback that I get often, and I suppose I don’t mind: “You don’t look like you’re older than 23!” Hey, I’ll take it!

• I’m a huge sports fan and a huge high school sports fan. I guess it’s the old local sports journalist in me. So, I was thankful my older daughter, Isabelle, wanted to join me at the Columbian High football game last Friday. I just love the atmosphere of high school and college games, and the Columbian Tornadoes did not disappoint. Not only did they blow out Toledo Waite, they did so with style, swirling around the field and flashing impressive speed like a — dare I say it? — tornado. The home stands were packed, the band and cheerleaders were awesome and it was an overall great time by this football fan. The early success of some of our local football teams has me excited about what is to come and has me planning to be at a high school field somewhere every Friday night.

Jeremy Speer is the publisher of The Advertiser-Tribune. He can be reached at jspeer@advertiser-tribune.com.