Fifty Chamber of Commerce members listened to facts on Mount Gilead and Morrow County levy issues on the May 6th primary ballot before speaker, Pat Davies spoke about the findings of the recent Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the county.
How each levy would impact the value, quality and enjoyment of life was a topic throughout the program. Erin Kelty of First-Knox National Bank spoke with feeling as she introduced Mount Gilead Superintendent of Schools, Jeff Thompson. She noted that the safety of children is at stake for the Mount Gilead Schools as they consider the ¼ percent Income tax levy for permanent improvements. She urged the Chamber members to support the levy for the continuing excellence of the district as well as for the safety of the children.
Thompson got a lot of information into a few minutes as he noted that the cost for the average household of this levy is the cost of a cup of coffee a week. He told how Mount Gilead Schools have already reduced the budget by more than $2 million over the past ten years. Monies from the levy will fund the replacement of school buses, many which are over 10 years old. It will also be used for updating student technology, repair of buildings and school safety.
Eddie Lou Meimer followed Thompson in encouraging Chamber members to support the renewal of the Morrow County OSU Extension Levy that will continue the 4-H program for youth, and fund Agriculture and Natural Resource programs, as well as Family Consumer Science and Community Development.
Meimer noted that more than 40 percent of Morrow County youth are in 4-H programs. The cost of the levy to the average $100,000 home owner is less than two pizzas per year.
Morrow DD Superintendent, Nancy Foglesong spoke about the urgency of the replacement 3 mill levy for Morrow County DD (Whetstone.) She noted that Morrow County currently has the lowest support of any county in the state. We are 88th out of 88 counties in support of our citizens and children with developmental disabilities.
There is currently a waiting list of 172 persons who are waiting to receive DD services. 112 have been waiting more than five years, some since 1994.
Foglesong said she recently attended the funeral of one of those on the waiting list.
“You shouldn’t have to die to get off the waiting list for our services,” Foglesong said.
Featured speaker, Morrow County Development Director, Pat Davies, spoke about the future of Morrow County. She said the findings of the Land Use Plan note that there needs to be development with growth. At the same time agriculture should continue to be supported. Agriculture is now 70 percent of the county’s economic production.
Davies said that the importance of preserving the land, agriculture and green space is prominent in several of the Land Use Plan’s recommendations. The plan urges county leaders to support agriculture growth as a priority. It recommends that development of industry and housing be confined to villages and areas where infrastructure is developed.
Davies ended her comments by encouraging Chamber members to support the levies on the ballot May 6th, all of which are issues that impact and improve the quality of life for residents. She pointed out that value and appreciation of life is improved for the county with these levies, whether it is for agriculture, education, or the Morrow DD residents.
Davies, a graduate of Northmor High School and West Point Academy added a personal note when she said she would like to see more young people have a reason to stay in the county. As her own children graduate from high school at Highland she sees that there are often too few opportunities for them to stay in Morrow County.
Another goal Davies would like to see obtained is a post-secondary institution in Morrow County for both youth and adult education. Local access in attracting a community college to Morrow County is important for “creating supportive training programs for local business and industry.”