What can you do to help manufacturing and small businesses in Athens County become more competitive in the short run and the long run, as society moves toward a clean-energy economy?
Eliason - Working with small businesses to provide training programs and access to the county revolving loan fund will help them be competitive. Working with State officials to improve transportation in the area and increasing access to the internet will help as well. As chair of the Athens County Economic Development Council working with the Connect Ohio Initiative will help develop the internet resources needed to prosper in the clean energy economy. Continuing to explore options to deliver energy to groups of businesses will help reduce their operational costs.
Gaiser - Clean energy is not only coming, but is a reality that is here. We have to be responsible with our environment. Clean energy should be a priority for any new construction or manufacturing facility. How far in depth we go to mandate clean energy is determined by the cost of such mandates. The best solution currently, is to make sure that we are fully aware and utilizing grants and funding. We can have all the clean energy rules and guidelines we want, but we have to create jobs. People need to work and live in a clean environment.
How do you feel about having commissioner's meetings in the evening to accommodate citizen attendance?
Eliason - We have evening meetings now when there are projects that have a direct impact on the citizens. We had many meetings in the evening during the update of the county comprehensive land use plan. We have held meeting in the evenings in the past and there is not a lot of attendance at those meetings. Adding some “open house” meetings is something to consider. Since we are not a legislative body like a city council making all of our meetings in the evening will have cost and staffing implications for the board and those who conduct business with us.
Gaiser - I know that as a citizen, I would have attended commissioner meetings if they didn’t mean missing work to do so. I would support moving them to the evening if the demand was there, and the people of Athens County wanted that. I have been told that historically, there is better attendance during the day, then in the evenings. It makes sense to me to have it in the evenings for citizens to attend. However, if people do not come, it is an additional expense for staffing to have the office open in the evening.
What can you as a commissioner do to increase cooperation between the county and city?
Lenny Eliason - Cooperation with the city is high now. We provide recycling and trash collection services through the Solid Waste District and assist the city with Halloween by letting them use our facilities. The operation of 911 allows for people to access emergency services without having to know specific numbers for police, fire or ems. The city has seats on the regional planning commission so they can provide input on those decisions. We are working with the city on a plan to improve waste water collection services on the south side while providing sewer services that are needed to county residents outside
Gaiser - Commissioners should interact with and be play a role in Athens City. Athens City is directly involved with planning in the County within 3 miles of the City limits. Athens City is in Athens County. I know that’s common sense, but the Commissioners, too often, act like the County starts where the City stops. Commissioners should be active, and participate with the City because major parts of the workforce in the City are people who live in the County. Commissioners should take steps to help the people of Athens County, even if that means getting involved with Athens City.