Many resources available to local governments

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 15, 2004

It is a new year and there is a lot enthusiasm as we begin 2004.

The elections this past November brought us many new officeholders for this year, and I would like to congratulate all those who were either elected or reelected to office.

I know that so many local governments will face large budgetary problems in the upcoming year, and I want to express my gratitude to those officials who have dedicated themselves to not only finding a response to this problem, but also to improving their local communities as a whole, as well. Whether it is a township, municipal, or county official, most work very hard and care deeply about their communities.

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I urge you to talk to your local officials about your thoughts either to learn more about what they do or to share some of the concerns that you may have.

It is also important to recognize those who did not win in last year's election for their willingness to be involved in the process.

A democracy only works when we have people who are willing to put their names on the ballot. It is nice to say thank you to those individuals as well.

I wanted to take this opportunity to pass along some of the lessons I have learned in my 16 years of public service, and some advice for local officials beginning their service to the public in 2004.

It can be overwhelming with limited staff and expertise to deal with all the issues that local officials have to face.

I was elected the mayor of Wellston in 1988, when I was only 28-years old. I remember being faced with multi-million dollar challenges and having to appear in Federal Court on behalf of the city within five weeks of taking office.

I also was responsible for negotiating three expired labor contracts.

I was the youngest employee of the city, and very eager to get as much accomplished as I could.

One major lesson I learned from those first years of public service is that it takes time to straighten things out.

You may feel strongly about a certain issue in your community, but it's important to remember that those opposed to you feel just as strongly about their community as you do.

Conflicts are sure to arise, but just remember to consider everyone's opinion, and be willing to compromise.

The next is to know what your duties and responsibilities are and respect the role that the other officeholders and employees play. It can be an isolating experience to be a local official.

Local governments in Southern Ohio have a great resource at their disposal.

The Ohio University Institute for Local Government Administration and Rural Development (ILGARD) provides research, training, technical assistance and other services local governments, community leaders and nonprofit organizations. They can help local governments identify resources and help with planning and addressing community problems.

You can contact ILGARD for more information at 740-593-4388, or

There are also many local planning agencies that can be a resource for state and federal funds. In Adams, Brown, Clermont, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton Counties you can contact Ohio Valley Regional Development in Waverly at 1-800-223-7491, or

Local officials can also access the Governor's Regional Office of Economic Development in Chillicothe at (740) 775-0612.

This office has a community development specialist that can help small communities deal with concerns regarding state government. If a community has a need to fund an urgent project, whether it be grant or loan, the Ohio Water Development Authority has a Small Communities Infrastructure Group, which includes many agencies and can help coordinate funding for a project.

You may reach OWDA at 1-887-OWDA-123 or .

The success of Ohio is dependent on its local communities as a whole.

I want you to know that I am willing to help in any way I can to aid our local officials.

Some of the legislation that I have sponsored to help local communities move forward are the Rural Industrial Park Loan Fund and legislation to help local governments do their jobs more efficiently.

I encourage you to contact me if you would like to discuss any of my past legislation, or have ideas on what I can do to help your local community.

John Carey represents Ohio's 16th District. To comment, write Sen. John A. Carey, Ohio Senate, Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio 43215, or call (614) 466-8156.