Four candidates race to fill two seats –
By Patricia Beech –
Township will choose between four candidates to fill two seats on the township’s Board of Trustees in the upcoming November election.
Local townships are the most grassroots form of government, allowing citizens to contribute their talents, skills, and ideas to improve quality of life by delivering important programs and services.
Township trustees live in the communities they serve and are limited by law in the amount of taxes they can levy. Many trustee duties are similar to those of council members in local village governments. They include adopting a budget, setting health and safety ordinances, and overseeing programs and services.
Ohio charges its townships with maintaining roads, the primary function of most townships. Ohio trustees can also set up parks in their jurisdiction, work with their local fire department, and run the township cemeteries. The trustees make these decisions as a board, rather than as individuals.
As public officials, trustees must also follow state law in carrying out their duties. Ohio, for example, sets standards for responsible trustees: They vote in the interests of their community; they attend township board meetings; they follow state laws on open meetings and public records; they know the township’s tax structure, its hiring and firing policies, and its zoning rules; and they know the state laws and standards that the township has to follow.
In Meigs Township, Bill Setty, Matt Nichols, and Bob Wallace will share the ballot with incumbent Trustee Paul Baker in this election cycle. Voters should vote for no more than two candidates to serve one term commencing Jan. 1, 2018.
Peebles resident and retired business owner, Paul Baker has served as a Meigs Township trustee for 12 years.
“I’m a people person and I enjoy the work I do for the township,” says Baker. “Right now, I think our township is in pretty good shape, and if we have complaints we try to take care of them right away.”
Baker says the township’s greatest opportunities revolve around staying in touch with the people and keeping the area’s 38 miles of roads in good condition.
“People don’t like gravel roads so we tar and chip them,” he says. “This fall we’ve already covered 10 roads which we also keep ditched, and the culverts cleaned out to prevent standing water on the roads.”
Baker says the greatest challenge the Board of Trustees faces is taking taking care of the township cemeteries.
“There’s more involved in it then people might think. We’ve opened up a new section in Evergreen Cemetery in order to meet the demand for lots, in addition to keeping the area mowed and in good condition.”
A self-employed business owner for nearly six decades, Baker says he takes a conservative approach to the complexities of budgeting for the township’s services.
“We have to watch our finances,” he says. “We can’t spend township money where it’s not really needed.”
In addition to roads and cemeteries, township trustees work with the local fire department and are responsible for upkeep in the area parks Baker said.
“We take care of Jacktown Park and keep it up for family reunions and other get-togethers,” he adds. “It’s important that we maintain these areas for our citizens to use.”
Bill Setty, a military veteran and lifelong resident of Meigs Township, says he has always been an actively engaged community member, and if elected trustee will bring a fresh perspective to community issues in the township.
“I have always wanted to serve my community,” says Setty. “I believe I have the vision and experience necessary for our growing needs in Meigs Township.”
As a concerned community member, Setty was instrumental in bringing a new county water line up State Rte. 781 to residents whose wells were condemned after the 1997 flood. As Plant Superintendent for a Department of Energy (DOE) contractor, he was able to reallocate several thousands of dollars worth of retired DOE fire equipment (for hazardous chemical spills and fires) to the Peebles Fire Department at no cost to the department, the township, or the taxpayers.
He says the township’s greatest opportunity is developing infrastructure along State Rte. 32 at the Peebles intersection which could attract new businesses and industry in the area.
“With the planned closing of the DP&L power plants and the significant loss of jobs, we need to find additional ways to bring industry and employment to the area,” he says. “We need to seek federal funding and tax incentives that will help offset the loss of employment and inspire growth in our community.”
Setty has had extensive experience working with budgets and maintaining roadways.
“I’ve managed federal budgets of 20 million annually while working for the Department of Energy over the past 19 years,” he says. “I have many years experience in heavy highway and building construction, starting out as a Laborer and working up to become a Project Manager. I’ve also worked for a contractor for the DOE and have been responsible for managing many different organizations and processes such as construction projects, operations of Nuclear Facilities and every aspect of maintaining the roads and grounds of a 3,777 acre complex including 32 miles of paved roads and 16 miles of gravel roads.”
Asked why he chose to run for trustee, he answered, “I believe we have an obligation as Americans to create a better tomorrow for our children, and I want to make our community a better place for the next generation.”
Matt Nichols is a full-time farmer and resident of Meigs Township. He says being a township trustee is “something I’ve always wanted to do.”
“As a farmer, I’ve had extensive experience working within a budget,” says Nichols. “ I know how to say no when necessary – you can only do so much with the funds that you have to work with.”
Nichols says that upkeep of roadways is the township’s greatest opportunity and challenge.
“Our roads are in good shape right now, but there’s always something that needs fixed, and I believe in taking care of what you have the funds to do. Whenever you deal with people, there’s always someone who’s not going to like what you do, but you can only do so much.”
Bob Wallace is a co-owner of the Wallace-Thompson Funeral Home and a former member of the Peebles village council for nine years.
“Community service has always been a high priority for me,” Wallace says. “As a member of the Peebles village council and the Peebles Area Business Association, I have been involved in many projects that have benefited our community, schools, and first responders.”
Wallace says the township’s greatest opportunity is its people.
“Our trustees need to listen to the residents of Meigs Township and move in the direction that they wish to see for the future,” he says. “If elected, I will utilize our county’s resources and work with fellow trustee members and county officials to place our township in the direction the residents want it to move forward.”
He says the greatest challenge facing the township is lack of funds to provide needed services.
“Like all small townships we have to strictly budget our funds,” he says. “I believe my experience operating three funeral homes in our county, with several full and part time employees for over 30 years, has prepared me to face that challenge.”