By LYDIA BAULER
The tumultuous wind farm debate, as well as Seneca County Commissioner’s role in it, remained the public’s key concern during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled commissioner’s meeting.
As they have in weeks past, anti-wind advocates from the townships attended yesterday’s meeting to speak against erecting wind turbines in Seneca County.
Two community members questioned commissioners, Holly Stacy and Shayne Thomas, about their stance on the turbines when there seemed to be a “majority” in the county against the project. They sited the “many” signs in yards around the county as evidence of the county’s constituents rejection of the AEZ and the wind turbines.
A township resident questioned whether or not it was the duty of the county commissioners to represent what the majority of their constituents wanted.
In response, both Stacy and Thomas said it was their job to try to serve the greater good of the county.
“My job is to do what is best for the county,” said Stacy.
Further, she said it was the job of the commissioners to do research and use the “information they have” to make informed choices on county issues.
In addition, she pointed out there was no “scientific data” proving the majority of the county were against the wind farms and supporters have less incentive to be vocal because two current projects are moving forward.
According to published reports, even if the commissioners voted to rescind the AEZ now, it would have absolutely no effect on the existing projects that have already been approved through the establishment of the AEZ in 2011.
Those two projects already call for several turbines to be placed between Republic and Bellevue.
Separately, the commissioners discussed a change order recommending the removal of sandbars and islands from Wolfe Creek. Unilliance, Inc., the company hired for Wolf Creek Logjam and Selective Tree Removal Project, suggested this additional work be done now as part of the existing contract, according to County Administrator Stacy Wilson’s debriefing on the change order.
The commissioners decided it was Seneca County Engineer Mark R. Zimmerman’s call on how to move forward.
“I say we go for the gusto and get it done based on the amount of time,” said Stacy. “As long as Mark (Zimmerman) agrees that it is allowable within the means of this project.”
Unilliance’s quote for the removal of the land features ranges from $3,200 to $9,000. According to Stacy, “the money is already there” for the project if the order is signed.
Also during the meeting, the commissioners approved Seneca County Sheriff’s request for an additional appropriation to purchase a new fingerprint scanner.
Stacy said while the current scanner is working, the vendor recommended replacing the machine. The current fingerprint scanner is about 8 years old and the typical lifespan of the machine is 6 years, meaning it will likely need replaced due to age soon.
In other business, the county commissioners:
• Discussed the “master plan” special session tentatively slated for 9-11 a.m. Aug. 3 between the stakeholders at the County Farm Campus. The various entities will come together to talk over future strategic planning for the space. An agenda is expected to be sent out to attending groups soon.
• Opened bids for the 2018 LPA quardrail project for various townships. The county received one bid from a Columbus-based company, M.P. Dory, for $317,365.90. The county engineer’s estimate was $321,478.
• Scheduled a bid opening for the CSB restroom upgrade project; however, they received no bids.
• Opened bids for the County Road 19 and County Road 39 re-pavement project. Three companies from around Ohio placed bids ranging from $850,843.82 to $923,659.11. The estimated price of the project was $840,068.
• Authorized the Seneca County Board of Commissioners to enter into a contract with Aero-Mark, Inc. for a pavement marking program.
• Discussed the cleaning of the Justice Center. The governing body had considered hiring an outside agency to assist with the “everyday cleaning” of the new space, such as bathrooms and offices, according to County Administrator Stacy Wilson. The commissioners decided at the beginning of 2018 to explore whether it would be more cost effective to employ an additional internal staff member or another company.
According to Stacy, after gathering a handful of quotes, it was determined that it would be cheaper to hire Clean Team than bringing on an additional internal full-time cleaning staff member.
The county currently has three employees working to keep various buildings spic-and-span; however, the large size of the new Justice Center is too much for them to keep up with, said Stacy. Additional help is needed to support the current cleaning staff.