Ohio House speaker in Tiffin

PHOTO BY JIMMY FLINT Ohio House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger (left), R-Clarksville, speaks during the Seneca County Board of Commissioners meeting in the Fort Ball Room at Seneca County Museum Monday evening as state Rep. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, looks on.

Ohio House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger addressed county residents on Ohio General Assembly legislation during a special county commissioners meeting at Seneca County Museum, 28 Clay St., Tuesday evening.

Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, joined state Rep. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, for a day in Seneca County. The pair visited the meeting after a tour of the Fostoria Learning Center, 342 Perry St., earlier in the day. The two also spent time at Heidelberg University, the Seneca County Justice Center construction site and other locations in the county.

Rosenberger said he enjoyed his visit.

Reineke thanked Rosenberger for helping secure state funding for roof repairs at the museum and for spending time in the county.

“I’m glad to do it,” Rosenberger said, before adding that it could not have happened without Reineke. “Bill is your advocate and he does a good job. He’s always fighting for your area.”

Rosenberger said he and Reineke discussed happenings in the area, including reinvestment in old buildings and economic development.

“It’s pretty impressive,” he said.

Rosenberger said this year’s state budget was difficult to prepare.

“We wanted to make sure we were tightening the belt,” he said. “I’m proud we continue to invest in areas that are important.”

Rosenberger’s examples included funding for K-12 education, higher education and fighting the opioid epidemic.

He also commented on pending legislation regarding loosening wind turbine setback regulations.

Commissioner Shayne Thomas has provided testimony in Columbus regarding the potential changes and said he is to testify before the state Senate Wednesday.

Thomas said 2014 legislation effectively killed new wind-energy projects in Ohio, including a $400 million investment that could have occurred in Seneca County.

“Over-regulating the industry curtailed a $400 million project,” he said.

Rosenberger said he blocked some changes to that legislation because of a need to respect the process. He said changes recently were made to the law and he wanted to ensure property owners are protected.

“I’m sure we’re going to get to a compromise,” he said.

Rosenberger said a bill was approved in the House and is sitting in Senate chambers.

“We’re ready to sit down with them and do it,” he said.

Thomas also thought a compromise would be reached and the $400 million project for Seneca County could get the green light. He said about 300 landowners are signed up for the program.

Thomas said the goal is to find a solution that is economical for wind energy businesses and works for residents.

“This diversifies farming income,” he said, adding that most of the sites would be in the eastern side of the county.

Thomas said detractors of looser regulation say turbines are not aesthetically pleasing, produce noise and can produce shadows that can be distracting.

In other news, Commissioner Holly Stacy said plans for the justice center time capsule are being finalized.

The contents of the time capsule will be placed in a locker and a cabinet from the 1884 Seneca County Courthouse. The capsule is to be located on the west wall near the main entrance of the justice center.

Stacy said residents could take a picture of themselves and post it to social media with the

#SelfieTo2067. She said participants should include their location and names. She said posts online will be added to a flash drive in the time capsule, which is to be opened in 50 years.

Stacy also said school yearbooks, artwork from students and student predictions are to be included. Thomas said area restaurant menus and other items also will be added.

Tentative deadline for selfies is Nov. 1, Stacy said.

“Anyone who wants to can be involved,” she said.

In other business, Seneca Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Charlene Watkins said Seneca County was one of six municipalities approved for a grant to fund an active transportation plan.

She said the plan will not cost the county and is valued at about $17,600.

Watkins said the plan will provide base maps, demand maps and a prioritized list of 10-20 routes. She also said the plan will help to identify funding sources.

She said the goal is to connect Seneca County to the North Coast Inland Trail. The trail, a bike and pedestrian path under construction in several areas, eventually will span about 105 miles from Lorain to Toledo.

Watkins said the planning could begin next year and she expects the plan to take 12-18 months to be created.