Meeting Release

Seneca County Commissioners meeting focuses on Elope at the Eclipse, Fostoria Economic Development Corporation

By Sheri Trusty, Seneca County Media Relations Coordinator

Thanks to Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Destination Seneca County, thousands of people visited Seneca County to view the eclipse on April 8. Many of them came days earlier to celebrate the event, shop at local businesses and enjoy the myriad of amenities that the county has to offer. On April 11, the Seneca County Commissioners presented a proclamation to Executive Director Bryce Riggs and Director of Marketing Marisa Stephens for the hard work and passion they put into attracting visitors to the county for the eclipse.

The Seneca County Commissioners presented a proclamation to Bryce Riggs and Marisa Stephens during the April 11 commissioners’ meeting. Shown here are, from left, Commissioner Tyler Shuff, Riggs, Stephens, Commissioner Bill Frankart and Commissioner Anthony Paradiso.

Over and over again, visitors expressed surprise and pleasure over the organization of the event. Everything went smoothly, making it enjoyable for participants across the county.

“There were no issues at all in the community. We had a number of folks in the county without any glitches,” Commissioner Bill Frankart said. “It shows we have a strong, unified county.”

Riggs and Stephens reflected the recognition to their staff and the many community members who helped make the event a success. Riggs said the event took “a lot of collaboration across the county.”

“You can’t teach heart and hard work,” Stephens said. “We have a lot of that here in the county.”

All of that hard work boosted the local economy and created a sustainable effect as thousands of people discovered the charm and amenities of Seneca County, making it probable many will return.

“A lot of communities didn’t plan things and didn’t get the economic impact that we received,” Riggs said.

The commissioners are grateful for the months of work Briggs and Stephens poured into planning the event.

“I appreciate your group,” Shuff said. “The event was very unique, and it got more PR than I could have ever imagined.”

Fostoria Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) President Renee Smith attended the commissioners’ meeting to provide an update on 2023 progress and plans for 2024. FEDC’s success included about $100 million in capital investments and the creation of 140 new jobs.

“We did a great job in Fostoria,” Smith said.

FEDC President Renee Smith gives updates during the April 11 Seneca County Commissioners’ meeting.

Smith said the Fostoria Learning Center served over 2,800 individuals last year, which was a 40% increase from 2022. The center offered 65 programs and certifications, which is a 44% increase.

“We’re not just serving Fostoria and Seneca County,” Smith said. “We serve five different counties.”

In 2023, FEDC took over county grant management, assisted with capital budget requests and administered the county landbank. Smith’s work benefits many different county entities, including the sheriff’s office, county judges and the Seneca County Museum.

“You’re doing a great job of controlling the grants but keeping your foot on the gas pedal,” Commissioner Anthony Paradiso said.

Looking ahead to 2024, FEDC is investigating the possibility of expanding the collaboration between the Fostoria Learning Center and Vanguard Sentinel Career and Technology Centers, and it is researching options for addressing the local housing demand.

“At the end for the day, we couldn’t do anything without our members and the support of the Seneca County Commissioners and the City of Fostoria,” Smith said.

Mircea Handru, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Ottawa, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties, provided updates to the commissioners. A OneOhio Region 17 Information Session will be held on April 22 at 10 a.m. at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center at 928 W. Market St. in Tiffin. The meeting will provide information on the 2024 OneOhio Regional Grant Cycle.

Handru announced that the Phoenix Recovery House is now accepting applications. Any male Seneca County resident interested can apply at

Handru congratulated the directors of the Departments of Job and Family Services in Seneca, Sandusky, Wyandot and Ottawa counties for being recognized during Governor Mike DeWine’s State of the State address. DeWine praised the group for their groundbreaking program, Northwest Treatment Foster Care Project.

There will be no Seneca County Commissioners’ meeting on April 18, and the April 25 meeting will be moved to 10:30 a.m.