Wednesday, October 7, 2015

(Updated throughout) Business wonk has been named acting Ohio Widlife Division chief

An administrative numbers cruncher has taken the chair of leading the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife.

On an acting basis, the Wildlife Division’s assistant chief Susan Howard is filling in as the agency’s chief.

Howard will maintain this position until the Natural Resources Department’s director, James Zehringer, names a permanent replacement for Scott Zody.

“I am pleased to share with you that Assistant Chief Sue Howard has accepted the position of Acting Chief of the Division of Wildlife while we work to name Scott Zody’s replacement,” Zehring said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working with Sue in this capacity.”

Zody left as the Wildlife Division’s chief October 2nd  after nearly four years. This four-year stint is close to the national average of 3.8 years for fish and game agency heads, Zody said also.

Zody has returned to Fairfield County as the chief-of-staff/chief deputy for Fairfield County Auditor Jon A. Slater Jr.

Zody also at one time held Fairfield County Board of Commissioner’s clerk-manager job from August, 2007 through January, 2011 when he returned to the Natural Resources Department.

He was with the Natural Resources Department at various times during Republican administrations for more than 25 years, nearly four of which were as the Wildlife Division’s chief.

In her 29 years with the Natural Resources Department, Howard has held various administrative positions, being noted for her ability to carefully track and manage any number of policy, fiscal and other, similar, chores.

Among her responsibilities during those 29 years Howard had worked in the agency’s licensing section as well as posts within the Wildlife Division’s business operations group, said Zehringer.

While fulfilling the duties of chief, Howard will oversee the Wildlife Division’s entire operation; from business administration to biology to public and communications to law enforcement.

Zody said that Howard being named his replacement – at least one on interim basis – was a smart move on the part of Zehringer.

With nearly three decades worth of hands-on work with the Wildlife Division Howard’s “been there and done that,” Zody said.

“Sue is a great choice for the interim chief’s job; she’s a hard worker and she’s competent,” Zody said. “

As for who will be named the Wildlife Division’s permanent chief has now become the vortex of speculation that seems to always swirl around the agency.

It is said that at least some of the position holders within the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council – a governor-appointed body that oversees the Wildlife Division – have sent a letter to the Kasich Administration asking that someone outside of the tidal pull of politics be appointed.

Zody has long been active in Republican politics.

And some law enforcement agents within the Wildlife Division have similarly chafed at not seeing someone with an officer’s commission holding the chief’s title during several of the most recent incarnations of that appointed position.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.


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