By Matt Clevenger
TROY — Miami County Commissioners Ted Mercer, Greg Simmons and Wade Westfall delivered their annual State of the County address in the Bravo Room at Hobart Arena on Friday, Feb. 24, offering an overview of the current state of the county, including highlights from 2022 and current projects.
“It’s the people of Miami County that make our community so great,” Commissioner Ted Mercer said. “The commissioners are blessed to have a good working relationship with all our cities, villages and townships.”
“Our doors are always open,” Mercer said. “If you have a concern about county government or services, we want to know about it. Your concern is our concern, and we’ll do everything we can to take care of it.”
Commissioners delivered an update on several major projects completed in 2022, including major water line and sewer projects in the Shenandoah subdivision and Camp Troy areas, and completion of a new water meter system.
“We can now read everyone’s meters from the office, instead of having someone physically go out and do that,” Mercer said.
Other projects finished in 2022 include the installation of new HVAC systems on the third floor of the Miami County Courthouse. Renovations to the grand jury room were also completed in 2022.
“It can now accommodate 13 jurors, a prosecutor and witnesses in a comfortable and safe environment,” Mercer said.
The State of the County address was hosted by the Miami Valley Chambers of Commerce, including the Troy chamber, the Piqua chamber, the Tipp City chamber and the Covington chamber. Approximately 140 local government and business representatives attended the event, which included a lunch provided by Stillwater Valley Catering.
Commissioners also discussed several projects completed by the Miami County Sheriff’s Department in 2022.
“The sheriff’s department is one of the biggest parts of our budget,” Commissioner Greg Simmons said. “We have a great relationship. The commissioners feel like we have one of the best sheriff’s departments in the state of Ohio.”
Commissioners used American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to purchase a Bearcat tactical armored vehicle for the sheriff’s department in 2022, and the Robinson Fund purchased a set of seven rifle-rated ballistic shields for the department to use at local schools.
“The sheriff’s department is in seven different schools,” Simmons said. “All those schools now have a ballistic shield.”
Projects for 2023 include completion of the new Commerce Center being constructed at the corner of state Route 55 and Barnhart Road, as well as renovations to the grandstand at the Miami County Fairgrounds.
“It’s going to hold the Department of Development as well as the drivers’ exams, the Ohio State Patrol vehicle inspections, the DMV and auto title,” Simmons said. “There’s even going to be some drive-up windows where you don’t even have to come in.”
The Commerce Center is currently scheduled to open sometime in July or August. “It’s going to pay for itself over time,” Simmons said. “Not only pay for itself, but Miami County government will be making money on that as well.”
Renovations to the Miami County Fairgrounds grandstand are expected to be completed in time for this year’s fair, Mercer said.
“That grandstand was built in 1912,” he said. “It cannot handle any more duct tape.”
Concrete areas around the grandstand will be re-paved, restrooms will be remodeled and the seating area will be cleaned. The original seats are still in good condition, Mercer said, and will be re-installed to conserve costs on the project.
“The actual seating is in perfect shape,” he said. “It would have cost a fortune to get new seating.”
“We spent about $3.2 million on this,” he said. “It was going to cost another $1.5 million.”
New lighting will also be installed in the track area.
Commissioners also formally announced a $250,000 contribution from the county that will help to start fundraising efforts towards building a new animal shelter to replace the existing facility on North County Road 25A. The funds will be donated to MC Paws, a new non-profit organization that was recently formed to support building a new shelter.
The current animal shelter facility was built approximately 52 years ago, Mercer said.
“We’ve got to make some improvements,” he said. “The current facility is just not capable of doing what we’d like for it to do.”
“We are making a $250,000 contribution from our unrestricted ARPA funds to kick-start the campaign,” Mercer said. “The County Commissioners place a high priority on animal health and welfare.”