Fostoria economic development touted

Representatives from FEDC met with Seneca County commissioners Tuesday morning, sharing a three year analysis of their annual report.

Renee Smith, president of Fostoria Economic Development Corp., shared the economic development progress specifically in the Fostoria area throughout 2016, 2017 and part of 2018.

In 2016, Smith reported there were 146 new jobs that were created with 336 new jobs in 2017. Within 2016, there was more than $2 million in investments and $59 million in investments in 2017.

Smith also shared the number of projects that took place over the three years outlined and upcoming projects that are moving toward completion.

Smith also asked for the commissioners to consider a $30,000 request to FEDC to support the hiring of a full-time planning and development manager, additional marketing and promotional materials and to further benefit Seneca County projects.

In another matter, commissioners discussed what to do with the property at 108 Jefferson St., the Juvenile and Probate Court building, once it is vacated.

Commissioner Shayne Thomas said the county has about two months to prepare for what to do with the building when it is unoccupied. The plan is to host an auction and series of open houses.

Board President Mike Kerschner also discussed the possibility of establishing a “sharing station” for the community/county. Kerschner said they would like to have the station’s beta site possibly located in the commissioner office parking lot. The station would include non-perishable food items and hygiene items for those in need.

County Clerk Stacy Wilson addressed a need for commissioners to formally establish the IT Advisory Committee to establish formal seats at the table for future recommendations as there is a growing need.

On the matter of the area wind projects, commissioners approved a resolution to intervene for the Republic wind project. This resolution is to allow commissioners to have the right to be involved at the hearings at the Ohio Power Siting Board by a vote of 2-1 with Kerschner dissenting. This resolution was requested by the commissioner’s counsel Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Peas LLP, which was hired last week.

Kerschner expressed his opposition of voting for the resolution due to having hired the counsel without seeking local counsel, being represented by Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine who wrote to the commissioners asking to waive the conflict of interest.

Kerschner said it is irresponsible to spend taxpayer money for a law firm that most likely will cost six figures.

Thomas said he had asked local law firms who did not “want to touch (the issue).”

Bill Frankart said it is not feasible for townships to hire legal representation at the power siting board due to limited budgets.

“This is a gross injustice,” he said.

A Venice Township Trustee presented a resolution requesting commissioners rescind the alternative energy zone designation for Seneca County during the meeting.

In public comment, Nancy Seifert asked commissioners when they were going to allow the say of those in the county. She also asked the commissioners to attend a meeting of the anti-wind group to see why they were against the wind turbines for the county.

In other business, commissioners approved:

• A $500 appropriation adjustment within the Public Assistance Budget for wellness supplies.

• A $3,000 supplemental appropriation to the Ambulance Service Fund.

• Authorized the $136,572 purchase of two John Deere tractors through the Ohio Department of Administrative Services – Cooperative Purchasing Program on behalf of the Seneca County Engineer.

• Authorized the disposal of two 2016 John Deere tractors as unneeded, obsolete or unfit county property.

• Authorized the collection of maintenance assessments in 2019 on the Blanchard River Stream Enhancement Project.

• Certified the unpaid assessments to the County Auditor for delinquent sewer payments.

• Authorized a grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration for land acquisition, obstruction removal such as trees and road demolition.

• Approved a $23,670 request to purchase a new phone recording system for the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office.