PC commissioners visit White House


PREBLE COUNTY — The Preble County Commissioners attended a conference in Washington, D.C., at the White House, on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

The conference was geared toward creating a relationship between the White House, federal agencies, and Ohio county leaders. There were more than 80 Ohio county commissioners and county council members from 47 counties who accepted the same invitation.

The various commissioners and council members were able to meet with staff members from several federal agencies and were given a tour of the White House. The attendees welcomed the opportunity to share with the administration the current situation and concerns at the county level.

According to officials, a strong partnership between county and federal governments is pivotal in fighting the opioid epidemic, as well as addressing shared objectives such as improving infrastructure.

“We were extended an invitation from the White House — all of the county commissioners from Ohio — to visit the White House and then go through a briefing process,” Preble County Commissioner Chris Day explained. “We are the fourth state which has done this — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida have done this process. Typically they go through our associations, but they went directly to the commissioners this time. It started out with a tour of the White House and then we went into the briefing room. We spent seven hours there yesterday.”

Commissioner Denise Robertson added, “The Intergovernmental Affairs Office has all kinds of different departments and they all came in to talk to us about their role and their interactions with us, in opening the doors to contact them if we have any needs or problems.”

The briefing was held following the White House tour. According to Day, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was the first speaker they were supposed to hear, but he came in before they were ready to introduce Vice-President Mike Pence to the audience.

“He addressed us for about five minutes, very honest and then we proceeded on,” Day said. “There had to be almost 20 people. We heard from multiple agencies. They gave us their contact information – it was an outreach so we have a direct link to the White House. There were commissioners there who were having issues and when they spoke contact information was exchanged. It was an outreach to stay more accessible.

“Personally, I think it was a very good day. It was a great networking experience. We got to talk to a lot of people and their staff.”

“Monday night we were invited to NACo — which is National Association of Counties — and we were given an overview of what to expect. They gave us some policies that they Federal Government was enacting that could affect us at our level. They gave us an overview and an idea of some questions to ask,” Robertson added.

“The take-home for us and the residents of all the counties should be that Washington wants to work with us,” Commissioner Rodney Creech said. “I think in the past there have been walls between local, state, and federal. I was going into this wondering what we were walking into. To sit there and listen to the secretaries, the directors, and the department heads say for us to reach out to them if there’s a problem — the take home for me was that President [Donald] Trump and his staff want to work directly with us.”

Day added, “They want an open door policy. I felt that they were being transparent and willing to work with us. Hopefully this streamlines things. I felt it was very beneficial for us. I think it was eye opening for people in Washington, since our State represents the people. They realized that we’re the boots on the ground.”

“I think that one of the biggest thing is that people wonder why we’re going to Columbus or going to Washington. It’s not a vacation,” Creech said. “It is literally to gain relationships and connections with people so we can provide the best service to the county.”

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Preble County Commissioners had the opportunity to visit the White House for a conference on Tuesday, Aug. 29. There they got to meet various department heads and make valuable connections.
http://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2017/09/web1_1Whitehouse1.jpgPreble County Commissioners had the opportunity to visit the White House for a conference on Tuesday, Aug. 29. There they got to meet various department heads and make valuable connections. Submitted

http://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2017/09/web1_1Whitehouse2.jpgSubmitted

By Kelsey Kimbler

kkimbler@registerherald.com

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH