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Progress highlighted in county address

County commissioners highlighted the progress and economic impacts of the past year during the 10th annual State of the County Address on Tuesday morning at the county courthouse.

County commissioners James Carter, Doris Herringshaw and Joel Kuhlman spoke about accomplishments from 2013 and plans for 2014.

Carter had several economic positives to present.

“Despite the continued uneasiness in the national economy, Wood County has remained strong,” Carter said

A study on the economic impact of the National Tractor Pulling Championships found that the total impact is over $36 million, Carter said, with more than $30 million of that being in Wood County.

Approximately 30,000 people visit the area for the event, with 63 percent of those people travelling 100 miles or more.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the pullers to ensure their future success,” Carter said.

Also the commissioners have approved the 2014 budget of $37.1 million which Carter said is among the lowest levels in the past decade.

“Our savings have allowed us to pay cash for certain capital projects,” Carter said.

Five bridges will be designed and built in Wood County in 2014, Carter said. The Ohio Department of Transportation will also begin widening Interstate 75 this year.

Herringshaw highlighted the University’s recent projects. The University has invested more than $200 million in the health center, the Stroh Center, the Wolfe Center, residence halls and dining facilities.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation is scheduled to open in November of this year.

Smaller infrastructure changes have also occurred.

In the past few years, boiler systems in the Wood County Justice Center and the courthouse were replaced with more efficient systems, Kuhlman said.

There is also a new unisex ADA-compliant restroom on the first floor of the courthouse, Kuhlman said. There wasn’t one before because the building was constructed prior to ADA being put in place.

“It was about time to make a place available for those that needed this,” Kuhlman said.

The county will also be helping people in the area of transportation.

A team is creating a “county-wide, non-emergency transportation plan,” Herringshaw said. “Transportation has long been a concern in Wood County. Finding the right balance of services and cost has been a challenge.”

Herringshaw said the service could be used for things like non-emergency medical appointments, drug treatment and mental health appointments.

Herringshaw closed the address by telling citizens how they can be involved.

She went over the locations of 2014’s town hall meetings, including Bowling Green.

“We welcome anyone who has any comments or items they wish to discuss to our open forum. We want you all to be involved citizens in Wood County,” Herringshaw said. “Citizen participation in local government is imperative.”

Participation in the local economy is also important. Herringshaw encouraged people to shop in Wood County to benefit local retailers and the local economy.

“When you and your family purchase items in Wood County, that penny remains here,” Herringshaw said.

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