NORTH CANTON A popular face in North Canton has recently retired after 40 years of service.
Mike Grimes, the city administrator and former police chief, retired at the end of 2017. Filling his shoes will be a big task, but Patrick DeOrio has taken over the position to the start the new year.
North Canton Mayor David Held said Grimes had a heart to serve North Canton.
"Mike did a fabulous job," Held said. "He brought a lot of stability to administration."
Held said Grimes will be missed, but he joked that he is only a phone call away.
Grimes grew up in the small town of Minerva, just 30 minutes south of North Canton.
"It was the kind of town if you did something bad your parents already knew about it before you told them," Grimes said.
Being in law enforcement was something he always wanted to do especially considering his grandfather and great-great-grandfauther were in law enforcement. Growing up, he said he would always play with toy guns.
Following high school, he joined the Air Force for four years and would meet his wife while serving in Taiwan. They moved back to Ohio, which was the first time his wife ever saw snow. Grimes began taking civil service tests in hopes of finding a police job.
While waiting for a job offer to come, he worked security for Mercy Medical Center. Following a shift working security, a friend encouraged him to take the police exam in North Canton.
Not long following the exam in North Canton, the Alliance Police Department offered him a job. He worked there for only a short period before North Canton offered him a job in March 1978.
"North Canton always had a good reputation," Grimes said.
In addition to the good reputation, Grimes said North Canton has always been known for having great schools. In addition, he was familiar with North Canton because his dad worked at the Hoover Company.
Starting out, he was a patrol officer before moving into the lieutenant role. After 22 years on the force, he became the chief in January 2000.
He served as chief just more than 11 years when in March 2011 he had another offer come his way.
Grimes was offered the city administrator job by Held, which was approved by city council. The city administrator job offered a wide range of duties with nine department heads reporting to him. Grimes said he always believed in working through them to solve concerns because they are the experts for each department.
"North Canton is lucky to hire good people at different levels," Grimes said.
Grimes said he has always been into service, safety and communication. He said when it comes to service, safety always has to come first. In addition to working with the department heads, he helped with hiring, which then generally goes onto the mayor for the final say.
He cites having effective, efficient government and living within means has always been the goal.
One of the biggest challenges came with the recession and the loss of the Hoover Company. Grimes said it was great the way everyone collaborated during a tough time to keep service for residents at a high level.
When Grimes started, he said the city had time cards for employees and now everything is done electronically. Advancements in technology has made the city more efficient, he said.
Growing communication is something Grimes put the wheels in motion on and hopes it will continue moving forward. He said communication with residents can be better and that is why the city is rolling out a new phone system in the next month or so and a new city website in March.
"We treat our residents like customers," Grimes said.
Grimes said North Canton sent out a city magazine twice in 2017 and also has been posting more on the city’s Facebook page to help communicate with residents.
In his 40 years working in North Canton, Grimes has seen a lot of change. He said one of the biggest changes is the growth that has occurred north of K-Mart on Main Street. When he first started, there were still houses in that area, which has now developed into retail and restaurants. Other changes Grimes recalls is the departure of the Hoover Company and the increase of traffic throughout the city. He said while traffic increases, that comes with growth.
"I will miss most the people that I had the pleasure of working with," Grimes said. "I learned a lot from them. You cannot do anything by yourself in this kind of business."
Grimes said he has always been a planner, but now he doesn’t have a plan.
Some hobbies he enjoys are riding his Harley Motorcycle and photography. He said he likes to go walking and find waterfalls to photograph.
He and his wife have been married 41 years and they have two sons. Grimes said he also is looking forward to spending time with his three-year-old granddaughter and another grandchild who is on the way.
"Being a grandparent is a lot more fun than being a parent," Grimes said.