Infrastructure improvements top county accomplishments


The commissioners highlighted the financial position of the county, as infrastructure and justice improvements topped the list of accomplishments at the annual State of the County Address on Wednesday.

“The state of the county is really pretty good right now. With our American Rescue Plan Act money that we were able to do some major water and sewer improvements for the citizens of the county and some of the other projects, it has freed up some of the other money,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said following the presentation.

Commissioners Craig LaHote, Ted Bowlus and Herringshaw all presented for the annual event, as did Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson and Judge Dave Woessner.

In December the commissioners approved a $50 million 2023 budget. Topping the list of projects started in 2022 was the jail renovation and expansion project. Expected to be complete in 2024, the full cost is approximately $28 million.

Herringshaw said that the ARPA funds received totalled $25.4 million. She called the funds a “once in a lifetime opportunity for Wood County.”

“In late June, we finalized the allocation of our ARPA funds, focusing on eligible projects that would impact a large number of county residents and provide lasting benefit to our community,” Herringshaw said.

In addition to water and sewer, those projects included: identification and replacement of lead drinking water service lines, two stormwater improvement projects, a light detection and ranging map of drainage patterns and watershed boundaries, expansions of the Wood County Landfill and the health department building, improvements to county air-handling systems and additional financial support to the Cocoon, Habitat for Humanity and the sheriff’s office and jail employees.

Those highlighted projects were among many infrastructure related items funded in 2022, but there were also programs.

Support to help with the opioid crisis was highlighted by Bowlus.

In March 2020 the state and local governments created the One Ohio Memorandum of Understanding, which created a system to distribute proceeds from the national opioid litigation.

Bowlus said that the first of the $52,569 payments was received. This will continue for 18 more years.

Bowlus said there are additional settlements also pending, because the crisis isn’t over. He said that it is now focused on fentanyl, the much more deadly opioid.

Dobson also included the crisis in his talk. The Wood County Addiction Response Collaborative is diversion program which was expanded in scope in 2022. The program helps survivors of opioid overdose find treatment.

Bowlus also listed off the road and bridge construction projects that he called “a priority.” He gave credit to Wood County Engineer John Musteric for the attention to the 107 miles of county roads that were resurfaced, provided a treatment and bridges that were replaced.

Road improvements happened on the Napoleon and Campbell Hill roads roundabouts, and resurfacing to Poe and Mermill roads. Three bridges were replaced, on Long Judson, Cloverdale and Fostoria roads.

LaHote ran down the list of financial and economic accomplishments from 2022.

“Economic development in Wood County continued to thrive during 2022, with nearly $1 billion in new private sector investments and commitment of over 800 new jobs,” LaHote said.

Topping the list was First Solar groundbreaking for their $270 million investment in a 1.5 million square foot research and development facility in Perrysburg Township. Also in the township is the $39 million expansion for IMCO Carbide Tool, nearly doubling operations.

The speakers each mentioned the flip side of all the good news, which comes off the lingering pandemic related issues. Each noted the supply chain delays, increased costs for material and equipment and staffing shortages, all of which had created disruptions.

The jail project was most prominent.

Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn commented, after the presentation, on the situation with delays in the jail construction and the evolution of the jail reality that required the new facility.

“I’m very excited about the jail. It’s not as exciting as building a bridge or paving roads,” Wasylyshyn said. “We have an outstanding jail, but we have unfortunately become a mental hospital and a detox facility. It’s one of those things that we have to do to serve the inmates that we have. With this expansion, which is a long time coming, we will be in great shape for many, many decades to come.”

Wasylyshyn is proud to note that it is the only jail in the state that has received a 100% inspection by the Bureau of Adult Detention for the entire 18 years he has been sheriff.

“The most significant delay was for COVID. The commissioners literally invited me to a hearing the week COVID broke out and shut everything down,” Wasylyshyn said. “They wisely postponed until things calmed down after COVID. That is why we had that two-year delay. It was completely understandable why the commissioners waited to see what was going to happen with our economy.”

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