Front-row seats for gov’t

PHOTO BY JIMMY FLINT Sentinel Career Center Operations Director Bryan Zimmerman (left) gives a tour of the future back-up emergency operations center for the county as commissioners Shayne Thomas (center) and Holly Stacy look on at Sentinel Career and Technology Center Thursday.

Seneca County commissioners told students at Sentinel Career and Technology Center to get involved in the political process during a regular business meeting at the school Thursday morning.

Commissioner Mike Kerschner answered questions from students about the role of commissioners.

“Our job is to represent the citizens of Seneca County,” he said.

Kerschner said the county has more than 57,000 people and commissioners work to represent the interests of everyone. He said they are in charge of the budgets of county departments.

One student asked what young people could do to help improve the county.

“Participate in local politics,” Kerschner said. “If you have something to say, get ahold of one of us or come to our meeting.”

Kerschner said if people want change, they should get involved.

Commissioner Shayne Thomas said students can help by staying in the county.

“Build your family and build your career here,” he said. “We want you here. … Think of this as your home.”

Commissioner Holly Stacy presented a proclamation to Sentinel students and the students who participated in the SkillsUSA competition. She said 27 students earned gold medals in the statewide competition, with 59 earning medals.

The proclamation thanked students for their community service and congratulated SkillsUSA participants.

Stacy said the school provides high-quality career technical training that is important to the community and commissioners enjoy working with students. 

An example of collaboration between the county and the school is a building being constructed at the school that is to house the county’s backup emergency operations center.

Sentinel Operations Director Bryan Zimmerman gave commissioners, other county personnel and residents a tour of the facility.

He said the exterior was constructed by Clouse Construction, but a lot of interior work was done by building trades and electrical trades students.

The building will have classroom and lab space for students in the public safety program.

“We’re excited about this space,” he said.

Zimmerman said contractors who handled HVAC and plumbing work allowed students to shadow them and help.

He said instructors saw construction of the facility as a great learning opportunity for students.

In other business, Kerschner said the county received four requests for a $50,000 historic connection grant. He said commissioners are to evaluate the requests individually and then compile their rankings Tuesday. Kerschner said a project likely is to be chosen that day because the application is due by April 28.

Thomas said the people administering the grant told him funding could be split between projects and projects could be partially funded.

Commissioners also discussed progress on the joint justice center, one day after a topping-out ceremony on Courthouse Square.

Kerschner said the ceremony was a significant milestone and marks good progress.

Stacy said decisions are moving forward for the time capsule, which is to placed in the new facility. She said ideas from residents still are welcome.

During new business, commissioners approved:

• The Ohio History Connection Agreement for the Seneca County Museum Organizational Development Project.

• Appointing Andy Faber, Julie Hall and Rob Brown to the Revolving Loan Fund Committee for one-year terms.

• A discounted rate for Bascom Sewer District for Hopewell Township trustees in exchange for landscaping work.

• A project to fix the roof at Seneca County Sheriff’s Office.

• Authorizing commissioners, the Seneca County Maintenance Department, the Seneca County Emergency Services Department, Seneca County Juvenile/Probate Court, the Seneca County Museum and the Seneca County Dog Warden to use credit cards for expenditures. The change in policy follows the recommendation of State Auditor Dave Yost.