County commissioners back land deals

At the Seneca County commissioners meeting Tuesday, Black Swamp Conservancy presented a resolution in support of five county landowners who have applied to the Agricultural Easement Purchase Program.

Executive Director Rob Krain and Farmland Preservation Program Manager Chris Collier explained that through the competitive program, the Conservancy has protected land in Seneca County. The applications would permit landowners to farm on their land permanently.

In addition to state funding, federal grants also are applied to the Conservancy’s efforts, potentially tripling the money available.

Seneca County Commissioner Fred Zoeller reluctantly agreed to support the applications, calling the program a “double-edged sword.” He said, “It’s good for the landowners and agriculture. I totally support that but it also could potentially hurt economic development.”

Stacy and Krain clarified that land in areas of key economic development is not accepted into the program.

The resolution passed and the board signed off on the applications.

Travis Gase from Boy Scout Troop 444 also presented an update on his Seneca County cemetery renovation project. He has lined up the equipment and manpower to begin the project and has made 80 forms to realign and straighten the gravestones.

So far, Gase has raised $2,495 in donations to pay for lumber, concrete and other expenses. He plans to continue soliciting funds and asked the board to front the additional $4,000 needed to start the project. All unused funds are to be returned to the county at the end of the project.

Zoeller suggested the board approve an upfront payment and accept the reimbursement so the project would get done in the summer.

Commissioner Holly Stacy said the board would have to verify whether it could provide the money and accept reimbursement, but supported the idea.

Zoeller asked for a detailed plan of other organizations from which Gase intended to solicit funds “so we have some reasonable assurances that there’s a strong effort being made.”

The board thanked him for his efforts and planned to have more information concerning the project next week.

In other business, Job and Family Services requested approval to repave its parking lots. The board had included the project on the CDBG application as a secondary project and are waiting for grant funds. Since it was listed as a secondary project, the board said Job and Family Services should postpone the work until it receives funding through the CDBG program.

Board President Jeff Wagner hopes to have paving completed before the end of the year.

The board is to meet with the Board of Elections at 5 p.m. Aug. 19 regarding space and their current issues.

In response to the resignation of Law Librarian Lisa Russell, the board is to meet to assess the value of the department.

Zoeller updated the board on the coalition supporting changes to the SR 53 corridor between SR 23 and SR 2. The coalition is to meet with Ohio Department of Transportation in Bowling Green to start the application process. Zoeller said he hoped that with ODOT’s input, the project can be a high priority.

Due to the Wolf Creek hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the board is to meet at 9 a.m. at the Commissioner’s Office. There is to be no work session that day.

In new business, the board approved:

A supplemental appropriation of $24,778.95 for the SFY 14 Community Corrections Fund.

An appropriation adjustment of $1,960 within the General Fund.

A supplemental appropriation of $1,000 within the DARE Fund for 2013.

A supplemental appropriation of $8.61 for the General Fund.

An appropriation adjustment of $2,603.67 within the General Fund.

Authorization of an agreement with Vaisala Inc., for the Seneca County Airport AWOS Maintenance Agreement.

Authorization of the agreement proposal with Renz & Associates Inc. for the Tier I Assessment of Former Underground Storage Tank System located at the Seneca County Courthouse Annex.

A resolution for the establishment of the Arson Registry fund.

A resolution authorizing a contract agreement with Warner Mechanical for the HVAC Energy Efficient Upgrade Project at various county buildings.

A resolution authorizing the FY2013 Ohio Airport Grant for Removal of Trees on behalf of the Seneca County Airport.