Incumbent Commissioner touts growth in infrastructure
By Bill Shope
Scioto Voice Writer
When Bryan Davis was elected Scioto County Commissioner four years ago, he pledged that, while he was in office, Scioto County would not return to “fiscal emergency” status-he believes not only has he delivered on his word, but the county is now in the strongest financial position in years. “In a little over 3-1/2 years we have made great strides in improving the quality of life in Scioto County. While progress takes time, I genuinely believe we are heading in a positive direction. A vibrant and positive feeling is in the air and it is being felt by many of our citizens. In the last few years we have seen our fiscal condition improve dramatically with balanced budgets, budget surpluses, and a ranking as one of the most financially stable counties in Ohio. Even Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost described Scioto as the “Comeback County”, declared the candidate seeking re-election to the same post this November.
Davis added, “As a small business owner, I promised to run the county like a business. We have done that and the proof is in our fiscal strength.” The Commissioner told The Scioto Voice that very same position of fiscal security has enabled Scioto County to see a dramatic jump in the area’s infrastructural improvements, which include the creation of a number of local jobs. “Due to our fiscal strength, we have been able to fund important projects, all while growing our surpluses. In economic development we have focused on infrastructure improvements, with waste water sewer being the main concentration. By adding 3500’ of sewer line in front of the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport in 2017, we have developed sewer infrastructure in Minford for future development at the airport as a result of the new Veterans Memorial Highway. The Briarcliff pump station project near State Routes 348/104 in Lucasville will be completed soon. It replaces an old plant and will increase development opportunities in that area. The West Portsmouth plant is scheduled for expansion in the near future while a new Ashley Corner plant (replacement) is being designed for future construction. The Haverhill/Franklin Furnace development corridor is undergoing a thorough study for the first time ever for sewer expansion for future industrial development. Once this infrastructure is built, this corridor will become much more viable for development. To add to the existing sewer infrastructure in and around Lucasville, we recently negotiated the purchase of the State owned and ran Lucasville WWTP for $1.00. This huge win will give Scioto County great flexibility to serve new and existing businesses as new economic development opportunities present themselves.”
Davis goes on to further emphasize the importance of having deep county coffers as a requirement to provide matching funds for grants that can address the county’s needs. “We have assisted Townships, Villages, and other entities, with Community Development Block Grants to refurbish senior centers, pave roads, and assist with recreational opportunities. We have successfully applied for and been awarded CHIP Grants that have brought over $1.6 million into our area to help refurbish owner occupied middle to low income housing helping dozens of citizens to save their homes. We helped fund a new county-wide GIS system to facilitate growth and development and we increased funding to the Soil and Water Conservation District this year to support agriculture, a major part of our economy.”
The continued focus on the development of the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport in Minford has not escaped the Commissioner’s attention either, as the new highway project nears completion, as plans for an industrial park to be located at the site are nearing completion. The reconstruction and realignment of Barklow Road in front of the airport has been given the financial greenlight in order to open traffic at the entryway to entice business development opportunities. Amenities such as flight simulators and increased hangar space have been overseen by the Scioto County Commissioners, as well.
The problem of literally cleaning up Scioto County has been a staple of Davis’ tenure as Commissioner and one that is being addressed in a number of methods. “We are continuing to work hard to clean up Scioto County. We have worked hard to promote a cleaner environment while setting up by resolution the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank). The Land Bank applied for and was awarded $2.725 million dollars to remove foreclosed blighted houses in Scioto County. Using local labor and a sealed bid process, the land bank has now been successful in taking down 77 blighted houses. Another 33 are in the pipeline to be torn down and hopefully more in the future. These properties are then sold and placed back on the tax rolls. This process removes blight and makes our area more attractive to investment.”
The opioid crisis has forced many governmental agencies across the state of Ohio to focus on improving officer safety and response time. To that end, Davis feels that the last four years, working with long-time Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini’s office, the county has put fiscal muscle to the problems law enforcement faces on a daily basis by helping to provide better methods of communication technology. “We have funded important needs to assist law enforcement and our courts. With the ever increasing demands on a justice system burdened by an opioid crisis, we have increased funding to help them fight the battle. We funded the replacement of the old county 911 system with a new NexGen911 system. We have assisted with funding the replacement of our Sheriff fleet of vehicles, as well as providing additional funding for investigating crime and other court related functions. We are in the midst of security upgrades to the courthouse which will be completed in the near future.” Some of those courthouse needs were addressed by providing open to close security in the form of a Scioto County Sheriff’s deputy in the lobby very day as well as other measures such as funding and helping to develop security measures that will protect a number of entryways to and inside the courthouse, a problem that many older structures present. “It is imperative that the residents of this county can feel safe and secure when they come to the courthouse to conduct their business. All across the country, violence in courthouses has increased-if we are not pro=active and vigilant, it can happen here,” Davis said of the measures, The cosmetic appearance and functionality of the courthouse has also been the target of renovation, as Davis said, “The Commissioners continue to provide courthouse renovations using local labor. Courtrooms and Judges Chamber’s, a new jury deliberation room, newly renovated and expanded Board of Elections, new Engineer’s offices, and newly remodeled first floor restrooms, are just some of the projects completed. More projects are scheduled.”
The courthouse annex, once helping to deplete county funds has now turned into a source of revenue for the area, according to Davis. “We purchased the Courthouse Annex cutting lease payments and saving hundreds of thousands of tax payer’s dollars in the future housing county offices. The Prosecutor’s office is located there as well as a number of other service offices, such as a Veteran’s Affairs office that genuinely help the people of Scioto County, along with creating yet another revenue stream.”
Davis is also happy with the impact of the two-season-old Doug Coleman Memorial Water Park located at Earl Thomas Conley/Riverside Park in West Portsmouth, citing, “We applied for recreation grants to build a splash pad at Earl Thomas Conley Riverside Park in West Portsmouth. In the last 2 seasons nearly 13,000 visitors have visited this amazing addition to not just our community, but to tourists visiting our area. The Splash Park has helped a number of small businesses located on the West side of the county with the increased traffic.”
Even with all of the accomplishments over the last four years Davis feels the Commissioner’s office has made or helped, it comes down to one thing for the candidate. “It is about service. We are elected to serve everyone in our county and I believe we have done that. We have worked hard to communicate the needs of our area from the courthouse, to the statehouse, to the White House. We have visited Washington DC 3 times in 3 years to fight for jobs and support of our workers. I have personally visited Congressmen, Senators, State leaders and administration officials to fight for our people. I always say, “Our area has many problems, but it has even greater potential”. We must continue this fight, for it is a noble cause and we must do it not just for ourselves, but for our children and generations to come. I have made myself available to everyone, and worked hard to solve problems for our citizens. In a time when it seems labels are put on everyone and everything, I have chosen to see everyone as a neighbor, friend, son or daughter of Scioto County and most of all, an American. Our best days are not behind us, they are ahead of us. And together we can continue to see progress; if we continue to believe and have faith that God will bless our area once again. “
Davis finished by making a simple declaration- “I am the only commissioner candidate with the experience and knowledge to continue this mission and I promise to continue the fight for you and your family and to better the lives of all our fellow citizens. I humbly ask for your vote on Nov 6th.”