County turns out to bid Jackson farwell
By Taylor Kaser -
Olen Jackson has served Morrow County in many different capacities for many years. Recently, he’s stepped down from his role as one of Morrow County’s three commissioners, a position he’s held since 1996.
Born and raised in Adams County, Jackson attended college in Kentucky. After graduation he came to teach in the Mt. Gilead schools. He taught a variety of subjects, but most enjoyed teaching physical education. In 1992 he retired from teaching after 30 years. His wife Ruby is also a retired teacher from Mt. Gilead schools.
But Jackson remained busy in public after retirement. Even before retirement, Jackson was part of the formation of Morrow County’s EMS.
For 24 years he served as the EMS Coordinator. He was involved in the 911 program and served as the supervisor for seven years.
Back in the EMS’s beginning, Jackson recalled when the ambulance service was provided for by the local funeral homes. The ambulances were very different back then, Jackson said they were actually modified hearses.
When he served for those volunteer programs, Jackson recalls being called out for quite a few late night runs. He remembers his students asking him in the morning if he had been called out, and they all knew if he had, they knew he wouldn’t be too lenient towards any of their shenanigans that morning.
All of his work involved with the EMS was solely voluntarily. He’s also a member of the Lions Club and has served on the Mt. Gilead fire department.
Jackson credits his experience serving on the EMS and other organizations in helping him to learn more about the county, and helping him in job as commissioner. Working in and with the community, Jackson says you really see how caring the people of Morrow County are.
A highlight of his commissioner’s career, says Jackson, was representing the county on the County Commissioners Association of Ohio board, a position he’s held for years. In 2007, he was elected president of CCAO and was also nominated to be the Association’s representative to the National Association of County Commissioners.
He explained that CCAO and NACO have a large impact on state laws and federal rules and regulations, and has been a very important connection for a small county like Morrow. Big counties like Franklin and Cuyahoga counties are able to pay for lobbyists to support their interests, so to have any voice in what is going on in higher levels of government, Morrow has to be involved with CCAO and NACO. During his time on those boards, Jackson said he met great people that otherwise he would have never met and with whom he spent nice experiences.
Things have changed a lot in the county since he first took office, noted Jackson. A major difference is the budget that the county operated on. Before, the county had a $9–10 million budget — he amusedly observed that you can do a lot of things and make a lot of people happy with that much money. But now the county has a severely reduced budget, while at the same time offering more services than ever before.
The key Jackson said to keeping the county moving forward is cooperation among elected officials. The commissioners are a board of three, he stressed the importance of “we” when making decisions and considering issues.
Jackson stated he’s proud of how well the county has withstood all of the state mandates, reductions and budget cuts thrown its way.
Other high points Jackson mentioned in his career was the expansion of I-71 and interchanges (which he noted has been in the works for very long time), the establishment of county zoning, the creation of a Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the efforts made to protect Morrow County’s environment to keep the county clean and rural.
In closing, he expressed his deep appreciation for everyone that he has served and worked with throughout the years. And even though he may no longer be serving as commissioner, there’s no question that Mr. Jackson will be just as involved in all things Morrow County as ever.