Auglaize County Commissioner Spencer meets with federal officials

WAPAKONETA — Auglaize County Commissioner Doug Spencer joined 79 other Ohio county commissioners in Washington, D.C., last week for a special conference with government officials.

Officials from more than a dozen different agencies, including Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Resources, Homeland Security, Veteran Affairs and NASA, gave presentations Tuesday on the functions they serve in the government and what they can do for Ohio. They let the county commissioners know they have an open-door policy, Spencer said.

“To me, that was the focal point of the conference,” he said. “They wanted to let us know if we needed anything from their agency, all we needed to do was ask.”

Kellyanne Conway gave a presentation on the opiate epidemic and what the federal government planned to do in order to fight it, Spencer said. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue discussed water quality with the commissioners as well. Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise appearence and spoke with the commissioners for five or 10 minutes, Spencer said.

“No matter your politics, it’s fascinating to see how the Founding Fathers set up our government and to meet all of those different officials,” Spencer said.

Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation Jeff Rosen gave a presentation on a new road construction grant, referred to as INFRA, he said.

“He was one I wanted to catch up with,” Spencer said. “I didn’t get a chance. I will have to catch up with him (this) week.”

Auglaize County is interested in building a new terminal at the Neil Armstrong Airport, which is why Spencer wanted to talk to Rosen, he said. A grant is available through the Department of Transportation. Through the grant, the government would pay around 90 percent of the cost for infrastructure construction, Spencer said. However, airport terminals are not a high government priority.

“I wanted to see if I could get some kind of conversation going and see if transportation could help us overcome that issue,” Spencer said, adding the Auglaize County commissioners would like to get the terminal built by July 2019, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Spencer said he also intends to contact Secretary of Health and Human Resources Tom Price about Auglaize County’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. He wants to make certain the funding for that program stays in place so the county can continue to help needy families pick themselves back up, he said.

“It will be interesting to see, with my forthcoming correspondences, what kind of responses and reactions I get back,” Spencer said.

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By Bryan Reynolds

Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362