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Published: Monday, 1/3/2011

Newest Seneca County commissioner likely to vote for courthouse renovation

TIFFIN — Attending his first meeting as a Seneca County commissioner Monday, Jeff Wagner said he would most likely vote to move forward with renovation of the county's 1884 courthouse.

Mr. Wagner said he had believed the best option was to tear down the courthouse, but he is open to renovation after studying the issue and meeting for several hours with Dwight McCabe and Jim Seney, two members of the Seneca County Courthouse and Downtown Redevelopment Group.

"After the meeting I do feel a little more comfortable with the cost estimate. That was one of my big questions — the $8 million cost estimate," Mr. Wagner said. "I'm not 100 percent comfortable, but I do believe you've done your homework and $8 million is probably a reasonable figure."

Mr. Wagner, a former state representative, took the place of Commissioner Mike Bridinger, a long-time supporter of saving the courthouse.

While the board did not vote Monday on a resolution pending before it that would move the project forward, Mr. Wagner and the two other commissioners, Ben Nutter and Dave Sauber, said they intended to vote yes on the resolution once the county prosecutor has approved its wording. They had sought assurances that the development group would be able to raise $1,645,000 toward the renovation project.

"We've come this far. We've got cost estimates, loan approval, some architectural work done," Mr. Wagner said. "It doesn't seem unreasonable to pass some sort of resolution, if we can work it out here, to allow you time to work on the fund-raising campaign. I will monitor that. I will ask questions along the way, and I will seek to reverse course if I don't think it's working."

The board is expected to vote on the resolution Thursday.

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