Voting panel offers thanks

Seneca County Board of Elections personnel hosted a lunch with Seneca County commissioners Friday afternoon to celebrate the election panel’s new home.

The board moved into its new location, next door to its former location in the County Services Building, 71 S. Washington St., Aug. 3.

In March 2017, the board approved a $151,700 renovation plan for the space, which formerly was Hoperoy’s Hallmark Shoppe. A ribbon-cutting ceremony occurred in January.

Lori Ritzler, elections board deputy director, thanked Commissioner Holly Stacy for her leadership, Seneca County Building and Grounds Maintenance Supervisor John Logsdon and his crew for their hard work and County Administrator Stacy Wilson for keeping the project organized and bringing it to fruition.

Ritzler said the space, which is larger than the previous office, has improved the elections board.

“We can more efficiently perform our jobs,” she said. “We can finally work smarter and not harder. It’s wonderful.”

Board Director Jim Ehrman thanked the county for funding the move and renovation.

“It makes a huge difference, saving staff and hours,” he said. Ritzler added that for the first time that she can remember, very little seasonal help was brought in.

Board member Mary Puffenberger also thanked all those involved in the move. She said having an in-house training room has been key to making the office more efficient. Before the move, training occurred at the Seneca County Public Safety Building, which also removed a staff member from the office.

Puffenberger said the organization trains more than 200 poll workers each election.

“Thank you,” she said to county personnel in attendance. “You’ve done a really good job.”

Board member David Koehl recalled his first day on the elections panel about four years ago. He said a need for more space was discussed then and was on many agendas before the move was made.

“I can tell the office works much better now,” he said.

Board member Mike Bridinger said there were many people to thank.

“You guys do an awesome job,” he said to county personnel. “I can’t thank the commissioners enough for appropriating the money.”

Bridinger said the new space has allowed the staff to flourish.

“We have really, really good employees here,” he said.

Commissioner Stacy said she was grateful commissioners had the foresight to upgrade the elections board’s space.

“Let’s do it and do this right from the forefront, so you can do your jobs,” she said of the county’s thought process.

Board President Jim Fruth said he was pleased with the upgrade.

“For years, it had been on the agenda. I was probably a grand champion complainer,” he said. “It’s so nice to work with (the commissioners) and to thank you instead of nagging and complaining.”

Logsdon commended the board for being willing to re-purpose chairs, cupboards and desks.

“With your cooperation, you have all of this,” he said. “It turned out really nice.”

Fruth said it’s nice to hear validation from poll workers and residents about the improved office space.

“It was so amazing to conduct the last election in here,” he said.

In other business, Ehrman said St. Andrew Catholic Church in Liberty Township has closed, so the board must find a new polling place for Liberty Precinct A.

Ehrman said the church still is to be a polling location in November, but a new location must be found for next year’s primary.

One suggestion for a new place was to consolidate the precinct into Bettsville’s polling location, but no decisions were made.