Former Greenfield City Manager Ron Coffey is pictured with his family at a March 30 reception at Greenfield City Hall. (HCP photo by Jim Jones.)
Former Greenfield City Manager Ron Coffey is pictured with his family at a March 30 reception at Greenfield City Hall. (HCP photo by Jim Jones.)
A retirement reception was held Friday, March 30 at Greenfield City Hall for former city manager Ron Coffey.

Coffey initially announced that he would retire at the end of 2017, but agreed to serve the village while a search was under way for his successor.

City council has a tentative agreement with a new city manager to begin by mid-April.

Coffey was approved to replace retiring city manager Betty Bishop by Greenfield Village Council on Jan. 2, 2013 and started working in that position on Jan. 27, 2013.

Last year marked Coffey’s 20th year in public service, following his work as a court administrator in the Highland County courts from 1997-2013. He also worked in the private sector for more than 25 years.

Coffey told The Highland County Press last year, “There was discussion of another of two-year contract, and I said one year was all I was seeking. I’d like to get my 20 years of public service in, and we’ve got some other issues to deal with. We’ll never be completely caught up, but I feel like we made some progress in the last four years.”

Coffey said he wanted to allow the village council to have ample time to “find whomever they think is the best person to keep things moving forward.”

“Moving forward” has been a theme of Coffey’s tenure as city manager, both literally and figuratively, as the Greenfield Rail Line Improvement Project, begun under Bishop’s term in office, was brought to fruition under Coffey.

Along with ensuring that the project would not adversely affect local wildlife or water, a title search had to be completed on the entire 29.5 miles of railroad, and bids on the project were over a million dollars over their initial budget. Although Coffey said “everything took longer than expected,” work began on the project in 2015, and it has helped support about 1,000 jobs.

“It supports Johnson Controls – now Adient – in Greenfield, Candle-lite in Leesburg and Huhtamaki in New Vienna,” Coffey said. “Other associated jobs are also affected, like Greenfield Research. So supporting these thousand jobs has been important to the region.”

Additionally, the village of Greenfield has seen new jobs added to the area, after a major employer shut down early in Coffey’s tenure.

“Within a month or two of my becoming city manager, we got the notice that RR Donnelley was going to close,” Coffey said. “Greenfield lost 166 jobs with that closure. It was a real relief to have the announcement that Corvac Composites had purchased the building and was coming in there to manufacture automotive parts.

“They’re still ramping up, but they will be providing 175 jobs. It’s nice to see more jobs coming in than the ones that left.”

“Hopefully, when I step down, if things aren’t done there will be a smooth transition,” Coffey said. “I hope they find someone who will love Greenfield and work hard to make it better, too. I want to cooperate with them with the time comes.”

Coffey told The Highland County Press earlier this month that he was pleased with council's selection as the next city manager.

“I want to thank the people of Greenfield for their support through the years, members of council and all the people I’ve worked with,” Coffey said. “I haven’t made everybody happy, but I knew that going in. It just isn’t possible. But I think people will acknowledge I’ve done the best I can and will continue to do that. I was born and raised here, and I love Greenfield, so the one thing I want to continue to see is better times for Greenfield.”

Following Friday's reception, Coffey said, "The number of people who came by for the reception really surprised me, and it was a very happy occasion with a lot of hugs, some storytelling and plenty of good memories.

"I'm very happy to be retired, but will miss the staff and all the people I've had the pleasure of working with these past five years. I'm looking forward to sleeping in and taking some R&R before taking on any new commitments," he joked.