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Officials adjusting to new roles: Knipp, Stephens learning new positions

The Lawrence County Commission hosted its first meeting of November at Frisch’s Big Boy in Ironton last week and it heard from two officials who are becoming oriented in their new offices.

Lawrence County Auditor Paul David Knipp, who was selected by county Republicans last month to fill the seat vacated by Jason Smith, was present and gave a report on his first days in office.

He commended those working in the office.

“We have one of the best staffs,” he said. “It’s been a great week and a half on the job and I look forward to continuing to serve.

His predecessor, Jason Stephens was also on hand. He has been serving as state representative for the 93rd district, following the resignation of Ryan Smith from that office. Smith took a job as president of the University of Rio Grande.

“I’ll give a report from Columbus,” Stephens said, noting that he had been appointed to four committees — primary and secondary education, ways and means, workforce economic development and state and local government, where he is vice chair.

He said there had been no controversial business in the Legislature in the last month, and noted the main business was changes to humane societies.

“But we’ve got some interesting bills coming up,” he said.

Stephens said it was “a learning process” on the new job.

“The important thing is having conversations with other people and telling them our story of southern Ohio,” he said.

Stephens, the first person to serve from Lawrence County in the seat in more than two decades,  said he had to take 20 minutes to learn the layout of the capitol.

“It’s a beautiful place and it’s very humbling to step onto that floor,” he said.

He said one thing he has noticed is that few other legislatures have served in local government positions like auditor and county commissioner.

“Hopefully, I can be a resource there,” Stephens, who held both offices in Lawrence County, said.

In commissioners’ reports, Commission president Freddie Hayes Jr. reminded visitors of upcoming events for the weekend, while DeAnna Holliday spoke of a ribbon cutting they attended on Friday for the grand reopening of the South Point Walmart, which recently underwent a $4.5 million renovation.

Holliday said it was important to shop at the store’s location in Lawrence County, rather than ones in neighboring counties. “It’s important that people spend their money in Lawrence County,” she said.

“We are primarily funded by tax dollars. And we should think about our choices when shopping.”

In other business, the commission:

• Rejected all bids received for the Rock Hill EMS station

• Voted to authorize the port authority to proceed with the design build for the station.

• Promoted a paramedic from part-time to full-time.