TEMPERANCE - The Monroe County Road Commission has assigned a handful of top-level administrators to serve as liaisons between the agency and the county's 15 townships.
Road commission Managing Director Ralph Lange said the informal program will serve as a way to not only remind his coworkers to keep track of what their customers are going through, but also to get their message out.
"It's an effort within our top group here that we need to get out and become engaged with the communities as much as possible," Mr. Lange said.
The Monroe County Road Commission has improved its image among most local officials in recent years as it has made strides to professionalize its services and be more accountable to its main customers: the county's 15 townships. "We want everybody to know who we are, what we do and how we're doing it, and how we can better serve them," Mr. Lange said.The road commissioners have said they want to one day pass a county-wide road millage that would allow them to spend more money annually to repair the county's roadways.
But even as the agency has improved its operations, one nagging complaint has continued to dog those efforts: a general lack of communications. Road Commission officials are hoping the liaison program can address at least some of those concerns by putting a familiar face on the agency in each township.
"We will be there firsthand to talk to a person, get back with them, and take care of a problem if we can," explained Nancy Tienvieri, the former Bedford Township Clerk who now holds an administrative job with the Monroe County Road Commission. Mrs. Tienvieri will be one of five people attending local board meetings.
"When it comes to projects, the townships will still deal directly with the various departments as they always have," she said.
Mrs. Tienvieri outlined the new program to the Bedford Township Board last week, and in doing so said she was assigned to fill the role for the county's largest township.
But her assignment raised concerns among some township officials who privately expressed discomfort with her level of political activity in the township and her involvement in a pair of zoning lawsuits being adjudicated against the township.
Township officials were attempting to meet with Mr. Lange this week regarding Mrs. Tienvieri's assignment.
In her previous role as Bedford Township's clerk, Mrs. Tienvieri was the signatory to the secret settlement agreement that would have allowed a mobile home park developer to build a site in Bedford Township. That agreement was later partially voided as illegal, but the decade-old case remains open.
More recently, she made news when she claimed that, while she was in office, township officials regularly guided paid consultants to give reports favorable to the position that the local officials held. Her claim, included as part of a zoning lawsuit filed by Whitman Ford, was refuted by the two township supervisors she worked with.
One of those supervisors, LaMar Frederick, questioned the liaison program.
"It's shielding the road commissioners and the managing director from the citizens they serve," Mr. Frederick said. "Most citizens want to go to the top when they want to get their issue resolved. They want to go to the top because if the staff has no jurisdiction and no authority, what good does it do to [negotiate] with a courier?"