Speaking to members of the Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday, May 25, Jeff Fryman, mayor, said he was frustrated.
During his State of the Village address, he outlined several major street projects that had been completed in the last 20 years.
But “watching the politicians, state politicians, and politicians in Washington, D.C., they don’t get anything done,” he said.
“They spend a lot of time and a lot of money, but I think it would be better if they would work five days a year.
“Get in, get a couple of bills passed, and go home. They would get a lot more done.
“Local government is where you get the chance to see what good government can do for you.”
All of those on council picked up on that line of thinking, that they could make things better in Archbold.
“I’ve worked with 10 or 15 different councilmen over my 18 years on council,” Fryman said. “It’s very satisfying to stand with those guys, and look back at what we did.
“That’s how to make government better for people. Get out of their way, make their lives better, and see if we can draw families to our community.”
So far in 2016, there has been good news.
A waterline project linking a pipeline on East Lutz Road to another on St. Rt. 2, done in cooperation with the Fulton County commissioners, is completed.
That will provide a margin of safety for Sauder Village and Pettisville, as an old waterline on St. Rt. 66 had developed problems.
A street imprint project will be done this year at intersections in the historic downtown area.
Also, a project on Pleasant, Wilson, and Beech streets will finish most of the major street rebuilding projects.
Fryman said the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation named Sauder Woodworking, Archbold’s largest employer, as the Business of the Year.
He said the company is working on “two nice projects” that will add almost 300 new jobs.
Also, ConAgra announced the closing of the Trenton, Mo., plant, with its work moving to Archbold.
“While we sympathize with the people of Trenton, we’re excited” to have the work coming to Archbold.
He said the project will mean an investment of $60 million, with at least 110 new, good-paying jobs.
Also, he said, tax collections for 2016 are off to a good start– the best since 2008.
Fryman commented on Dennis Howell, village administrator, who is due to retire this summer.
Working with Howell made him a better councilman, Fryman said.
“The more you knew, the easier you were to work with,” Howell said to Fryman.
Fryman said when Joe Wyse took over as police chief in October 2014, “he made a lot of great changes.”
Wyse made it clear he wanted to be out of the office, on the streets, meeting with people and building relationships.
“That’s exactly what council was looking for,” Fryman said.
Wyse had to twist Fryman’s arm on one thing: he wanted APD to rejoin the Multi-Area Narcotics Task Force, also known as the MAN Unit.
The MAN Unit is a multi-county drug enforcement task force.
A community must commit one of its own officers to the unit full-time, pay that officer’s salary, plus pay $25,000 to be part of the unit.
Fryman said he wondered how they would sell the idea to council, but Wyse pointed out illegal methamphetamine labs had been discovered in town and heroin was gaining in popularity and coming this way.
Wyse told Fryman, “I don’t want to be behind a problem. I want to be out in front of it.”
Fryman said council bought into the idea.
He looks at MAN Unit membership as a quality of life issue.
“Quality of life for our kids, quality of life for our schools, quality of life for our community.”
He said the $25,000 charge “is a drop in the bucket compared to what a family would pay to get a kid out of the hospital or out of treatment” for a drug addiction.
The Archbold MAN Unit officer has been doing good work. In one particular case, Fryman said he’d been very alert and made a drug bust made on just hard work.
“It was all heads-up. There were no leads. He thought about a guy on probation, checked on him,” and made an arrest, Fryman said.
When that officer returns from the unit, APD will benefit from his special training and experience, which he can share with other officers.
In September 2015, Wyse suffered a serious stroke.
Fryman said Wyse is making progress, taking steps in the right direction.
“We all hope someday we get him back,” he said. “It’s a tough road, but he’s motivated.
“We still call him our chief.”
For now, Thom Ross, interim chief, and Leo Wixom, interim assistant chief, are in charge and are continuing with the changes Wyse installed.
When asked about economic development, Fryman said the best partner Archbold has is the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation.
Matt Gilroy, FCEDC director, has marketed the Archbold Industrial Park to the point that it is considered one of the top five sites for new business in the state.
Fryman said there are several potential new companies considering Archbold, describing them as in “the jitter stage.”
Those involved in the projects are not talking publicly about them, “but several properties have been looked at,” he said.
Howell said Archbold was one of two potential sites for a food products company, which later decided not to build.
Other potential new employers could bring in a combined 150 new jobs to the village.
But Howell said over his years in government, he learned not to get too excited about a project in the exploratory stage, because about one in ten comes through.
That, and Howell said the surest way to kill projects is “to talk about them publicly.”
Summing up, Fryman said, “We live in a very competitive global economy.
“Archbold has historically been a progressive community that doesn’t sit back and let the future take care of itself.
“As village leaders, we are always looking for ways to improve Archbold, whether it’s our infrastructure, investing in roads, utilities or equipment, or enhancements to our quality of life by investing in parks and community events.
“Our mission as leaders is to create a solid foundation on which our businesses can survive and thrive.
“But our highest priority is to create opportunities that enhance the quality of life of every citizen of Archbold.”