COLUMBIA CITY — Like her counterparts, newly sworn-in Whitley County Commissioner Theresa Green has hit the ground running, learning what she can and looking ahead to how she can best serve the county.
Green recently outlined four major initiatives she hopes to focus on during her term.
One of the biggest of these is improving and expanding broadband internet coverage throughout the county.
It’s a project, she said, that is already on the road to improvement. Currently the county has a contract with Mercury Wireless that provides tools for wireless coverage to outer parts of the county in less invasive ways. This could mean on top of existing barns or poles, etc.
Throughout the last year, as more adults and students found themselves working from home, county officials recognized it was an important project to tackle.
“(Internet) is a necessity to live your life,” began Green, adding, “it’s imperative for our children’s education.”
At the most recent commissioner meeting, Green presented information regarding a broadband committee. This will be a diverse group that will be formed with the purpose of finding the best solution possible.
The goals, Green said are to “get funding, find a solution and see it to operation.”
“The stars,” she added, “are aligned,” and Green asked the community for patience as the county works towards this effort.
Something that has been on county officials’ minds for quite some time has been finding a solution to the county’s jail problem. The jail is overcrowded, and new measures must be taken to bring the space into compliance. After multiple studies, many have found that the real need is for a bigger jail, but what will that look like?
Green said this is a project that should be addressed sooner rather than later. In her research Green found that each month the county waits, it costs the county $100,000 more due to infrastructure and rising construction costs.
“We want to build this right,” Green noted. “We need to keep law enforcement safe. The whole point of the project is to alleviate overcrowding in the jail.”
Officials have been considering different options. Early thoughts seem to indicate the need for a new building, but no official decisions have been made or announced. Instead, Green said she and her fellow county officials will continue to do their research to ensure whatever decision is made is “the right fit for Whitley County.”
Something else on the horizon is the revising of the Whitley County Comprehensive Plan. The plan was first drawn out in 2011. More recently, a steering committee was created that so far has conducted public input meetings to find out what changes need made, what projects should next be pursued and more.
Green made note the county will keep the shell of the plan, but provide updates where needed and outline more information on the points that need it.
The committee is expected to wrap up its work in the coming months, and Green said she hopes that the new plan will be in effect later this year.
Lastly, one of the biggest initiatives for Green is to “make county government more transparent for the county.”
County government may seem like a mystery to some, she says, and one of the ways she hopes to make it more accessible is by reaching the community where they are, through social media and other avenues, and letting the public know what is going on in their community and when meetings are taking place.
Green is currently the youngest commissioner in the state, and she hopes that more younger people start to get involved in their local community, whether through community projects or county government like her.
It’s the next generation, after all, who will be the next leaders, and Green says she hopes to inspire future leaders to get involved as well.
“We always need younger people involved,” Green said. “The county is ready for positive change and we hope to bring that sense of hope to future leaders.”
These are just some of the projects Green hopes to tackle in her term. What she wants the public to know is that she will remain dedicated to what is good for the county as a whole.
“I am dedicated to all the citizens in Whitley County and I will work on all these initiatives and make myself as available as possible (for those who have questions or want to know more),” Green said. “The best is yet to come.”