Commissioner Weigle named liaison to county Port Authority

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners appoint all five members of the county Port Authority board, but now they want one of their own to begin attending meetings to keep them apprised of what is going on.

Commissioners agreed at last week’s reorganizational meeting to create the position of Port Authority liaison, with new Commissioner Tim Weigle, a former Port Authority member, appointed.

Weigle, who served 15 months on the Port Authority before being elected commissioner in the November election, suggested creating the liaison position and volunteered to be that person.

When asked why Weigle thought they needed the position since commissioners appoint the Port Authority members, he said, “I think there were a lot times we weren’t getting the information to commissioners like we should.”

The action came just days after commissioners replaced Weigle on the Port Authority board with recently retired Columbiana City Manager Keith Chamberlin, effective March 2. At the same meeting, commissioners also replaced long-time Port Authority member Steve Cooper with former commissioner Penny Traina.

Speaking of his stint on the Port Authority, Weigle said there were times when they could have done a better job of keeping commissioners in the loop on economic development projects being pursued and other relevant information. As commissioners learned with the Buckeye Water District lawsuit, there are also times when they can still be held financially liable for the actions of a separate, independent-operated agency such as the Port Authority.

“I can keep commissioners informed about new businesses coming into the county or (Port Authority) expenses that could come up that might involve commissioners,” Weigle said, adding commissioners might be able to assist on some of the projects being pursued by the Port Authority.

Weigle said improved communication would also eliminate situations similar to the one that occurred when the Authority and county engineer both applied for the same grant without the other’s knowledge.

“Sometimes we might be working toward the same thing and talking to the same people,” he said. “In that respect, (the liaison) can ensure we’re working on the same project and not going after the same grant.”

Weigle intends to attend as many Port Authority meetings as possible, starting with the Jan. 21 meeting. “I’m just saying we can improve on our communication and work closer,” he said.