Holy Toledo! Local Government Leadership Academy graduates 15th Class

The quality and long-term sustainability of any community depends on the caliber of its local leadership. One thing we can do to ensure a deep pool of qualified leaders is to engage individuals in leadership development, and the Toledo Local Government Leadership Academy is one such program.

Toledo Local Govt Leadership Acad 2016

Toledo Local Government Leadership Academy – Class of 2016

This educational offering marks the 15th year of an outstanding local partnership with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Sea Grant College Program and is the longest running local government leadership academy in Ohio. The 2016 class had twenty-eight graduates from various local government backgrounds. Since 2002, the Toledo Local Government Leadership Academy has produced over 300 graduates.

The Ohio Local Government Leadership Academy is designed for elected officials from county, municipal, and township governments, and for appointed individuals who serve on local government committees, commissions, boards or task forces. The purpose of the Academy is to provide useful programs that will enhance the leadership and decision-making skills of public officials. The Academy curriculum includes eleven workshops. A leadership certificate is presented to each individual who completes seven of the workshops.

General Workshop:

All participants in the Academy must complete the basic course, Public Officials and Public Service, which includes:

  1. Duties and Responsibilities of Public Officials
  2. Codes of Ethics
  3. Standards of Conduct
  4. Conflict of Interest
  5. Open Meetings Laws / Executive Sessions
Elective Workshop Topics:

To earn the Leadership Certificate each candidate must complete five additional workshops from those listed below. Most workshops are designed for two hours.

  1. Conducting Effective Meetings
  2. Communicating and Working With the Media
  3. Communicating and Working With Citizens
  4. Building Sustainable Communities
  5. Team Building (between each other/ other officials / and staff)
  6. Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution
  7. Leadership Skills and Styles
  8. Effective Decision-Making
  9. Intergovernmental Relations: Opportunities and Challenges for Cooperation
  10. Technology in Local Government

The Academy workshops can be offered on a local or regional basis as requested. The Academy will be sponsored by a local or regional organization or association that will be responsible for making all local arrangements, including facilities, equipment and securing participation. Enrollment fees will be determined by the sponsoring organization. Expense reimbursement will be paid to the instructor(s) for travel and workshop materials.

For more information, contact Joe Lucente, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension and Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

Using Higher Education to Strengthen Cities

Many large universities, land-grant and otherwise, reside in America’s largest cities. What is often overlooked is the impact that these universities can have on the communities that surround them. There are multiple partnerships with cohorts of universities that are using different methods to reach large audiences.

For example, seven universities have come together to “Collaborate for Change,” with the goal of sparking institutional reflection, engagement, planning, and redesign, making higher education more diverse and accessible. The seven universities in this example (the University of Akron is one) are located all over the country and are focused on building their cities up from within. Their work is framed within five areas of focus: To be collaborative, embedded, inclusive, accountable, and relentless with commitment (Urban University).

Downtown Columbus Ohio.(Jodi Miller)

Downtown Columbus Ohio. (Jodi Miller)

Ohio State is in a position to model this approach with communities, whether they surround its campuses or its various OSU Extension county offices. Ohio State is already a part of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) and Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), but individually, OSU has begun an effort to impact Columbus. A group of faculty, with one representative from each college (our CFAES rep is Julie Fox), has met over the last year to discuss the position that OSU has in the community surrounding the university, and in Columbus, with an emphasis on cross college collaborations to make the city better. This philosophy matches that of OSU Extension in the City’s and we hope to see it develop further in the near future.

(Submitted by James Stiving, Program Assistant, Extension in the City/Central Region)

Citation: Urban University
Urban Serving Universities Collaborate to Transform Higher Education, Strengthen Cities

Creating Healthy Communities

What can communities do to encourage their residents to increase physical activity and the consumption of healthy food choices? One approach is to model Washington County’s involvement in the Ohio Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) program. The CHC program focuses on preventing and reducing chronic disease and as it reaches into our communities, it creates multiple benefits.

CHC Basketball Court 2016-03-17According to the Center for Disease Control, Ohio’s leading cause of death is heart disease. The American Heart Association tells us that “brisk walking may increase life expectancy in some people and that walking improves your heart health.” To encourage walking and increased physical activity, the CHC program partnered with township trustees at Belpre Township Recreation Park and Arboretum, in western Washington County. The facility has a walking path that contains both level areas and some slightly elevated sections to challenge both walkers and runners. Meeting at the park to walk together generates social interaction and exposure to the outdoors, both of which have been shown to have a positive effect on mental and physical health. By Creating a Heart healthy Collaborative, the program provided a resealed surface for the nearly half-mile walking path. In addition to resealing and restriping of the basketball court, new backboards were installed. Benches were added to the walking path for rest spots to enjoy the serenity of the 25 acres of land included in the park, which boasts all sorts of native trees and a nature trail.

CHC Cottage 2016-03-17A park on the eastern side of Washington County relied on the program in hopes of Creating Happy Children through the purchase of a slide and a mushroom cottage playhouse. The playground was severely lacking in equipment after it was determined that its existing equipment would not meet insurance standards. Located in the main village park and across the street from the elementary school, the park sees much activity. According to the Surgeon General’s testimony in “The Obesity Crisis in America,” many children carry excess body weight. He has also encouraged children to be physically active at least 60 minutes per day. This playground equipment will encourage playing outdoors allowing children to burn more calories, improve cognitive development, and stimulate their senses.

Another contributor to good health is nutritious eating habits.  Funding through the CHC program provided for the expansion of a community garden. This program Created Healthy food Choices via production of fresh vegetables for the community, providing residents healthy food items. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a heathy choice that can help control weight, combat diabetes, and improve overall well-being.

Extension Community Development in Washington County engages in co-discovery and learning; and in this case, a key partner was the Washington County Health Department. In collaboration we were able to identify the needs and engage communities in efforts that aligned with the mission of the Creating Healthy Communities program.

(Submitted by Darlene Lukshin, Program Specialist, Washington County & Buckeye Hills EERA)

Retail Market Analysis Program: Community assessment and considerations

What economic sector employs more than 1 million Ohioans in over 120,000 establishments and either directly and indirectly supports 1 in 4 Ohio jobs ? That would be the Ohio retail sector which is also directly and indirectly responsible for almost 18% of Ohio’s Gross Domestic Product.

An economic sector of such importance should be the focus of ongoing attention and, as discussed in a prior blog post, can benefit from a Retail Market Analysis (RMA). RMA is a tool that identifies retail market trends within a local community and informs local and regional development strategies designed to build and strengthen this critical economic sector.

Does your community need an RMA? Review the checklist below to determine if so. While there is no correct score to help you decide whether it is time to conduct an RMA, the conversation stimulated by this checklist should be fairly informative.

  • RMA 2016-03-10Does your community’s main street have empty retail store fronts?
  • Have retail businesses closed and no one is sure why? Was it possibly preventable? What could have been done?
  • Are retail jobs created and/or retained by local businesses being tracked, measured and reported? How?
  • Does your community have a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy? If yes, is an RMA included?
  • Is there an identified person who acts as the economic development coordinator that could lead and conduct an RMA? Who is it (are they)?
  • How would you describe the working relationship between elected/appointed officials and the retail merchants?
  • Are new retail businesses moving into or being created in the community?
  • How and to what extent is data relevant to the local economy being collected from retail businesses on a regular basis?
  • To what degree is existing data being analyzed to assess trends?

After reviewing responses to this list, it may soon become apparent that your community is not paying enough attention to the retail sector.

If you want to learn more about Retail Market Analysis and how it can help your community, contact: David Civittolo (civittolo.1@osu.edu), Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics.

Growth in PV Solar Results in New Safety Awareness

Solar Safety - panel 2016-03-04

More Ohioans are investing in photovoltaic (PV) solar systems to power their homes, businesses, and agricultural operations than ever before. Photovoltaic solar projects certified by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) increased from 14 in 2009 to 1,834 in January of 2016. Significant cost reductions, favorable energy policy, and the ‘green’ appeal of PV solar systems help explain the growth in popularity, but the growing popularity is also a cause for concern.

The growth of PV solar systems installed on residential and commercial buildings presents new safety hazards to system owners and emergency first responders. When exposed to light, a grid-tied PV solar system will generate direct current (DC) electricity that travels through wires and combiner boxes to an inverter that converts the energy to alternating current (AC) electricity. The inability to power-down PV solar panels exposed to sunlight creates potential concerns for emergency first responders looking to extinguish a fire. Simply put, when exposed to light, the panels will generate electricity energizing the system’s DC wiring, causing first responders to proceed as if the building is energized.

Solar Disconnect 2016-03-04In response to this safety concern, the 2014 National Electric Code (NEC) developed rapid shutdown standards for PV solar systems on buildings (NEC 2014, Section 690.12). In general terms, the Section 690.12 Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings requires that energized conductors (AC or DC) can be de-energized on demand, limiting the energized portion of the conductors to not extend more that 10 feet from the PV array or more than 5 feet within a building. Ohio adopted the 2014 NEC for commercial applications effective January 1, 2015 and residential applications effective February 8, 2016.

To learn more, read the fact sheet posted here.

(Submitted by Eric Romich, Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Energy Development)