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Published: Wednesday, 12/29/2010

Don't go wobbly

Their time is almost up, but Seneca County Commissioners Dave Sauber, Ben Nutter, and Mike Bridinger have one more job to do before the year ends and a new board is seated in January: Vote to support the renovation of the county courthouse in downtown Tiffin.

There is a growing tendency in local and state government for the people's business to come to a halt after an election. Officials who follow that trend forget that they were elected to govern until the end of their terms, not just until votes are counted in November.

No matter what business may appear before the Seneca County commissioners, it is not appropriate to delay action until Commissioner-elect Jeff Wagner succeeds Mr. Bridinger next week. Instead, it is the incumbents' duty to move forward now.

If Mr. Wagner disagrees with something the previous board did, he can ask to reopen the discussion. That's the way government works. Now is not the time to go wobbly.

Failing to act now will only encourage Mr. Wagner, who latched onto the courthouse issue during his campaign and remains an unbeliever, despite a mountain of evidence that the renovation will be fully funded and cheaper than building a new courthouse. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a $5 million low-interest loan for the project.

Few other undertakings in the history of Seneca County have been vetted as thoroughly as the proposed renovation of architect Elijah Myers' 1884 Beaux Arts courthouse. That spirited debate resulted in a good plan that deserves support.

The current commissioners meets for a final time today. They can send a message to potential donors that they are committed to making a restored county courthouse the centerpiece of a revitalized downtown.

A vote in support of the courthouse would be an appropriate capstone to the work of this board, and a tribute to the people who fought so hard to save both a piece of county history and taxpayer dollars.

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