New web portal hopes to provide solutions for county residents –
By Patricia Beech –
Where do you go for help when you don’t know where to go for help? That’s a question county commissioners have attempted to answer by adding a web portal “Adams County Cares” to their government website – AdamsCountyOhio.gov.
“The Adams County Cares program was launched in 2015 because oftentimes constituents have no idea where to turn when they have a problem,” said Commissioner Stephen Caraway.
The new portal allows county residents to bring their questions and concerns directly to the commissioners’ office.
“When I worked for the House of Representatives we were all about constituent services,” said Caraway. “Now if the people have a complaint or issue, they can click on the Adams County Cares icon, fill out the form and a commissioner will be assigned to address their concern.”
Caraway says that even though many of the concerns received through the portal do not fall within the purview of their office, the commissioners nonetheless take action to resolve the issues.
“When needed we refer constituents to the proper agencies to address their concerns,” said Caraway. “For instance, a lady in Seaman contacted us about a street issue, so we wrote the mayor and let him know about the problem.”
According to Caraway, people often do not know which government agency is set up to deal with their concerns.
“Last month I was contacted by a lady who hadn’t gotten her state income tax – which she filed in February,” he said. “The commissioners have no authority in that area, but we got her in touch with state lawmakers, and within a week she had her check.”
Caraway says his years of working with Congresswoman Jean Schmidt made him acutely aware of the immediate and desperate needs of people who didn’t know where to turn for help.
“Many times I have had gut-wrenching experiences with constituents who called us for help, some of their circumstances and stories were heartbreaking,” he says. “I’ve seen folks lose everything they have while waiting on VA disability or Social Security. I’ve seen them get sick, lose their jobs, and go into foreclosure while we waited for the federal government to speed up their cases. Eventually, they’d either get approved or turned down, but I’ve actually seen people die while they were waiting.”
According to Caraway, Adams County Cares allows the commissioners to more easily move the heavy machinery of bureaucracy, tear off the red tape, and connect people to the agencies that will best serve their needs.
“It’s a way for us to extend an avenue to constituents where they can bring forward their issues and concerns, and get the help they need as quickly as possible.”
Anyone interested in contacting the commissioners should go to AdamsCountyOhio.gov, then click on the Adams County Cares icon, and fill in the web form. Those who do not have access to a computer can call the Commissioners Office at 544-3286 and have the form filled out by hand.