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Longtime Washington County administrator announces he'll retire

Washington County Administrator Jim Schug, who will retire in January of 2012.

Longtime Washington County Administrator Jim Schug announced Thursday he will retire early next year after 25 years with the county.

Named county administrator in 1994, Schug began his quarter-century with Washington County as the director of the county's Community Services Department. He has worked in county government for more than 37 years in Crow Wing, Redwood and Washington counties, beginning his career as a social worker.

Schug, who lives in Stillwater, announced his plan to retire in late January in an email to employees. He had previously informed Washington County's five commissioners.

"I have told the commissioners that the thing of which I am most proud in my tenure as county administrator is the quality, experience, and character of all of you, the group that will carry this organization forward to the next level of excellence," Schug wrote in the email to Washington County staff. "I have assured them, and they agree, that you are the right people to make that happen."

Schug's 2011 salary is $150,065.

Commissioner Autumn Lehrke, who represents south Washington County, in an interview Thursday praised Schug as "great to work with" during her 10 months on the board and said "his knowledge base will be greatly missed."

"The one complaint I've heard about him is he doesn't take enough time off," Lehrke said. "I'm excited for [Schug], and his family and his grandchildren."

County Board Chairman Gary Kriesel, a commissioner for seven years, said he has witnessed Schug's skills as a leader. Schug respects the employees and is a positive motivator, he said.

"He truly appreciates the employees that works for him," Kriesel said. "He recognizes their efforts, and I think that's why he's so well-liked."

Kriesel said the five commissioners will discuss soon the process to replace Schug. Kriesel said his "expectation" is that it would be an internal search.

"I feel we have the employees within the county that could step up and do the job," he said.

Lehrke agreed.

"We haven't even started talking about what the next steps are," she said. "However, I'm a firm believer of promoting from within if the talent pool is there."

Even those who don't follow county government closely should appreciate Schug's contributions, Kriesel said. Over the years Schug has made recommendations to the County Board that led to the county's solid financial standing and its successful delivery of a wide range of services. Surveys have shown residents are satisfied with county government, Kriesel said.

"The buck stops at his desk," he said of Schug.

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