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Four-county DHS manager resigns

The state Department of Human Services manager for four Southern Oregon counties resigned abruptly last week, indicating she wanted to devote more time to personal interests.

Ida Saito, 51, who led DHS programs in Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake counties, left work on Thursday with plans to use accumulated leave until her retirement is official.

This may seem sudden, but it is a decision I have struggled with for some time, Saito wrote in an internal e-mail to dozens of colleagues. I am looking forward to spending time with my grandchildren and pursuing all those hobbies and interests that have been on hold for the past several years.

Frank Lucas, Saito's assistant manager, will serve as interim director, said Patricia Feeny, a DHS spokeswoman. Lucas plans to retire within several months, so another manager will be named.

We need to do some maneuvering in short order, Feeny said.

Saito's departure caps a 27-year career in state social services. She spent about 24 years managing local welfare services. In 2001, Saito was one of 16 managers named statewide after separate branches of state agencies merged to form an integrated DHS. In 2003, Saito assumed responsibility for Lake and Klamath counties when another manager stepped down.

Saito's resignation came as a surprise to many, Feeny said. She had no explanation for the abrupt departure, other than Saito's e-mail. Saito did not return a call to her Grants Pass home Tuesday.