Post-meeting release 3/17/22
Commissioners recognize March 13-19 as AmeriCorps Seniors Week
[Tiffin, OH – March 17, 2022] – The Seneca County Board of Commissioners hosted several Seneca County RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) volunteers during a meeting this morning.
The volunteers told stories about their service and the commissioners read a proclamation recognizing March 13-19 as AmeriCorps Week 2022.
Ariel Nearhood, program coordinator for RSVP, said that local residents aged 55 and older work to help local food pantries, during blood drives, at schools and through organizations like The Salvation Army.
Last year, volunteers helped provide 500 meals to seniors in need, helped local students and school districts and helped senior citizens deal with loneliness during the pandemic.
Tiffin City Councilman Ken Jones said he has been volunteering through the program for about 15 months. Jones said due to his history as a Boy Scout, he tries to do one good deed every day.
“I get as much out of it as they do,” he said of his volunteer service, adding that he has tried to provide companionship and friendship to seniors.
Several other volunteers shared their stories with one prevailing theme: although these volunteers don’t get paid for their time, they earn something much greater than money. They feel good about themselves, and they know they are making a difference in the community.
Nearhood discussed an upcoming Volunteer Fair event from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on May 17th at the Allen Eiry Center. She was hoping to spread the word about the event, which is to feature the many volunteers across the county. It is also an event in which those who are interested in volunteering can learn about more opportunities. Nearhood said it is free for any organization that wishes to provide information about their volunteerism opportunities.
Commissioner Mike Kerschner thanked all the volunteers in attendance.
“[This is] just another example of the wonderful folks in Seneca County who are willing to volunteer their time and treasure … God bless them,” he said.
In other action, the commissioners briefly discussed the latest news that Apex Clean Energy has requested to re-open the Republic Wind case through the Ohio Power Siting Board. The Republic Wind project would have brought a considerable number of industrial-sized wind turbines to the county through a 200-megawatt project. The OPSB denied the project’s application last summer.
Since then, Ohio legislators approved Ohio Senate Bill 52, which gives local governments more authority over the siting of major wind and solar projects.
The bill allows county commissioners to take action to prohibit all solar and wind projects generating 50 megawatts or more in some or all unincorporated areas of the county. It also gives commissioners the ability to prohibit wind projects generating between 5 and 49 megawatts.
In November of 2021, the commissioners used the powers assigned to them through this legislation to restrict large alternative energy projects across the county.
On Thursday, the commissioners re-affirmed this decision, confirming that the county prosecutor’s office submitted the resolution prohibiting these types of projects to the Ohio Power Siting Board.
According to an Ohio Power Siting Board released Thursday afternoon, the OPSB denied separate applications for rehearing filed by Republic Wind, LLC and a group of local residents regarding the OPSB’s decision to deny an application filed by Republic Wind to construct a 200 MW wind-powered electric generating facility in Adams, Pleasant, Reed, Scipio, and Thompson townships in Seneca County and York Township in Sandusky County.
In other action, the commissioners discussed the Friday deadline to submit state capital budget projects ideas. After a lengthy discussion, the commissioners narrowed their support down to two county projects.
One project would see the offices in the RTA Building (Treasurer, Auditor, Recorder, Tax Map) moved to the East Tower. As part of this project, the county would spend about $3 million of the project’s estimated $6.8 million price tag to renovate the structure. If the county moves forward in supporting the project, the hope is that close to $850,000 could be awarded via the state capital budget, while a private citizen has also indicated that they would provide about $3 million to the project. As part of the project, cultural space and an arts/event room would be included, and a glass atrium addition has been proposed.
Another project includes teaming up with Sandusky County and Vanguard-Sentinel Career and Technology Centers to create an EMT Public Safety Training Facility that would be the catalyst for an expansion of the safety service program offered through the school. The program would address a need for more certified firefighter/EMS personnel countywide. The total start-up cost of the program/new facility is expected to be about $850,000. It is unclear how much each county would provide and how much the state capital budget may appropriate.
The commissioners made no decision on which project is a greater priority but planned to submit packages of information about both projects to state legislators by Friday. The commissioners also scheduled a work session for 3:30 p.m. next Wednesday to explore the East Tower project. By next week, the board hopes to have a priority list for these state capital budget requests.
The board is also working with Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership to send a support letter for the Community Kitchen Project. The kitchen will focus on connecting local growers and businesses to the community, providing opportunities for groups to cook and eat together, housing a diverse set of cooking classes and creating ways to give back to the community by preparing food.
Outside of the state capital budget, the commissioners are also expected to continue work on their own local capital budget priorities. On March 10, County Administrator Stacy Wilson provided a packet of information to the commissioners including capital project priority recommendations from the county administrative team. Wilson worked with county staff to rank and prioritize capital project requests.
The county can use some or all its $10.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to work on some of these capital projects.
More work on this is expected to occur in the coming weeks.
All new business from the meeting’s agenda was approved.