As 2014 begins, Seneca County Commissioner Holly Stacy said she is pleased by the changes she helped to implement in the county over the past year and has several goals to benefit residents in the next three years.
She said she ran for office with a passion to serve, along with making the commissioners accessible to the public and building on cooperation between the county, Fostoria and Tiffin.
Stacy said making the commissioners more accessible to constituents was important in the past year and she hopes to continue with that change into 2014.
"We made some changes with our reorganizational meeting in January where we incorporated using the work sessions," she said. "It's been very beneficial this year with the fact two of us are new, for people to come in and give background information to us. I think that's worked out well."
In additional to work sessions, Stacy helped to implement the quarterly evening meetings. Last year, the commissioners held evening meetings in Fostoria, Attica and Bascom.
"At a different level of accessibility, someone who is not going to make a 10 o'clock meeting in Tiffin on a Tuesday," she said.
She said she hoped to continue the meetings this year.
"We're going to change it up," she said. "The suggestion is to do the first month of each quarter so we don't hit the holidays."
Stacy also wanted to focus on improving the jobs outlook for county residents, and in the past year, she helped organize a jobs fair.
She said the idea came from the office of U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, and that the county offered to work with him to promote existing jobs in the county. The Jobs Fair, which occurred in May, gave county residents the opportunity to apply for about 300 job openings.
"I think the Jobs Fair was a really good place to start," Stacy said. "At that time, we started putting that together, we could inventory pretty quickly 300 jobs that were unfilled in the county. We're going to continue that effort (in 2014)."
Stacy also ran on the idea of fostering cooperation among entities around the county, including Fostoria, Tiffin, villages and township trustees.
"I think we've had that cooperation this year," she said. "There's been a change of leadership on various fronts in those entities and then also working with other community-minded groups."
She said working together would help promote the area and would make the county more prepared for regional projects, such as the SR 53 Coalition.
"I think we all realize it's very much a regional game, and we need to be at the top of our game in this county and we need to cooperate," she said.
Stacy said several projects, such as the construction of the new Seneca County Youth Center and Seneca County Agency Transportation buildings, were under way when she took office.
In addition to construction of new buildings, the energy efficiency program was implemented recently by the Seneca County Board of Commissioners.
"It's exciting to see that progress so we can continue to do what are charged to do," she said. "(We must) do the best we can with the revenues we're given so we can provide the best services that we are charged to provide across the county."
Stacy said she had several goals for her next three years in office. She said she wants to continue to strive for efficiency in county government.
"Specifically, I want to assess the feasibility of a human resources position within the county," she said. "We've got various departments that end up having to perform the functions of an HR person when the need arises."
She said the HR position would help the county be more efficient, along with keeping up with regulations and maintaining hiring processes.
"What any employee can expect or should be able to expect is always fair compensation, good working conditions and mutual respect," she said. "I'm not saying we're not doing those things, but I think there's a way maybe we can do it better and help streamline the process."
She said she also would like the county to remember its roots in agriculture.
"It is our No. 1 industry. That's not going to change," she said. "I think we want to not lose sight of that for several reasons. One, on the economic development side, maybe we can focus on that industry for where we might be able to have some growth."
Stacy said she thought the industry had more to offer, including growth in agriculture-related careers and spin-off businesses.
She said she also wanted to look into a more realistic plan to support county EMS and director Ken Majors.
Although she said it was important to recognize volunteers who have been in the program since the beginning, she also supported getting more volunteers.
"If people don't feel safe, they don't want to be wherever it is they don't feel safe," she said. "We have to have that."
Stacy said one of her favorite parts of being county commissioner was meeting with individuals and local leaders who are passionate about improving the community.
"It's an awesome job," she said. "Public service isn't the easiest thing for people to do. You either have an interest in that and the ability to do it, which comes together based on various things, but I've had that interest for a while and getting to put it at this level, it really has been an awesome year."