John Vilagi

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 2-3-05, by Michelle Payne

``Police chief ready to retire ...

AVON -- The police chief might not be chasing after the bad guys much longer. After 25 years with the Avon Police Department and 18 years as chief, John Vilagi has started the process of finding his replacement.

"Sometime in the next six months to two years I will retire, that's why I asked them to administer the chief's test, so I can start working with my replacement now," Vilagi said.

Vilagi began his police career as a dispatcher for Sheffield Lake and joined the Avon force in 1980.

"It's been fun, when I first started I was only the fourth full-time guy, and now we just hired the 20th guy. Somewhere down the line I imagine we'll probably get up to 50 or 60 (officers)," Vilagi said.

The chief's test to determine Vilagi's replacement will be administered Feb. 20 [2005]. Typically the exam is given to officers, who are one rank below the chief. Since only one officer meets that requirement, additional officers two ranks below chief will be allowed to test.

The three officers eligible to take the test are Capt. Paul Romand, Lt. Keith Haag and Lt. Lawrence Fishback, Vilagi said. The candidate who fairs best on the exam will be named Vilagi's successor, but an exact timetable for the transition hasn't been established.

"The exam is good for two years, so I have within the next two years to retire," Vilagi said. "I just want to give my successor a good amount of time, so they have a good background when they take over." Regardless of when Vilagi retires, his presence will be missed.

"I hate to see him retire, there's a lot of experience there," said Avon Mayor Jim Smith. "He's something you just don't like to give up, but it's something for John to decide. I don't think anybody wants to see him go."

While he is undecided about plans for retirement, Vilagi is taking a laid-back approach to his future.

"I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up," he said. "I have an accounting background, but I am also looking at some other avenues as well." Vilagi already works as a certified public accountant for M.J. Baker and Associates Inc. but has no desire to venture into the accounting business on his own.

"Even once I retire I don't want my own firm," he said. "Eighteen years of being the boss is enough."

Contact Michelle Payne at mpayne@chronicletelegram.com

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