The Clark County Commission approved its strategic plan on Wednesday, which includes several objectives, including a master plan for facilities, creating a countywide 9-1-1 dispatch center, eliminating opiate addiction and substance abuse, modernizing the Clark County Fairgrounds and developing a countywide economic strategy. FILE PHOTOS/STAFF

Clark County plan includes combined 9-1-1 dispatch, modern fairgrounds

The plan was approved by commissioners at Wednesday’s meeting. It will focus on three key areas — promoting access to services, improving quality of life and promoting economic development.

“This strategic plan should give us clarity to focus and a framework to gather input and eventually take action on complex, long-term challenges,” Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt said.

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The five objectives outlined as part of the plan are:

• Develop a master plan for facilities.

• Combine the city/county 911 dispatch.

• Eliminate opiate addiction/substance abuse.

• Modernize the Clark County Fairgrounds.

• Develop an economic development strategy for Clark County, Springfield and the Community Improvement Corporation.

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Strategic plans have been discussed in the past, but it’s the first time the county decided to do one, Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said. The county recently created a capital improvement plan for its budget, as well as budget management and debt management policies, he said.

“Those plans have been very helpful,” Lohnes said.

Each of these five objectives will have its own work plan, Flax Wilt said, which could include hiring more consultants in the future. Subcommittees have already been created for the five objectives, she said.

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The 9-1-1 dispatch subcommittee is expected to meet in August, Lohnes said.

The dispatch center and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office administrative offices could be moved to the Springview Government Center, opening up more area at the Clark County Jail, he said. The extra space at the jail could be remodeled into a court-ordered treatment center in conjunction with Mental Health Services, Lohnes said. A similar plan has been in the works for several years.

Officials have talked for years about a combined city-county dispatch center that could speed up emergency responses by keeping people from being transferred to other jurisdictions based on the type of phone being used.

“We’re moving it to a space big enough to be a combined (dispatch center),” Lohnes said. “We’re working down the road to combine. There are several options on the table.”

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The facilities master plan will calculate the county’s building square footage that will help create space where needed, he said.

The commissioners also want to improve opiate education, support recovery for individuals and enforce laws to battle substance abuse in the county, according to the plan.

“That’s the one that’s a community-wide issue,” Lohnes said.

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The county commissioners want to finalize the purchase of the former Ohio National Guard armory near the fairgrounds later this year in hopes of attracting a hotel and other commercial development, the plan says. It will also look to evaluate opportunities at the lake and hold events 52 weeks per year, it says.

Last year, County Commissioner Lowell McGlothin also campaigned on the idea of greater cooperation between Clark County, Springfield and the CIC. He was happy to see the item listed in the plan and believes it can improve economic development, he said.

“It would help to be more forthcoming with each other,” McGlothin said. “We’re all trying to do the same thing and that’s bring jobs to this area. We have to work together to do that and it was received very well. It will happen … We’re moving forward and that’s a good thing.”

Flax Wilt championed the idea of a strategic plan during her campaign for office last fall.

“I’m happy we’ve been able to fulfill one of the promises I made,” she said. “It doesn’t mean all of these things are done, but hopefully it means we have laser focus on a few priority issues we can tackle with appropriate resources behind them.”

The county spent $3,000 to hire Columbus-based consultant Murphy Epson to facilitate the plan earlier this year.

The strategic plan will run through 2020 but that won’t affect the commission’s ability to to plan for the future, Flax Wilt said.

“We need to make sure we’re thinking long-term, not just about a four-year political term, but about what’s best for not just this generation of taxpayers, but the next couple generation of taxpayers,” she said.

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