POMEROY — Good things come to those who wait, even if sometimes it is a very long wait.
But sometimes waiting just is not enough, you have to help it along. Such is the case with the Meigs County Rest Areas.
Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 10 Deputy Director T. Steve Williams spoke to the nearly 50 people in attendance at Tuesday morning’s groundbreaking ceremony about just how persistent the local officials have been in wanting the modernization of the two rest areas along U.S. 33 in the county.
“I was appointed to this position on January 12, 2011,” said Williams. “The very next day there were three guys at my office. My boxes weren’t unpacked, I was in jeans trying to get organized and it was the three Meigs County Commissioners, saying when are you going to upgrade those stinking, filthy rest areas in Meigs County.”
Williams said, “Can I unpack first? They said no, get the rest areas updated.”
He noted that without the support of the commissioners the modernization of the rest areas would not be taking place.
Perry Varnadoe, Economic Development Director in Meigs County, said that a year and a half ago this project was basically dead. He credited the hard work of Williams for helping the county to make sure the upgrades happened.
Commissioner Tim Ihle added that it was not just because of the current commissioners that the project was taking place. Ihle, who is in his second year as commissioner, noted that the process of getting the upgrade to the rest areas began long before he took office.
“One of the first things that happened when I was running for commissioner was I was hearing comments about the roadside rest,” said Ihle.
Ihle, along with fellow commissioners Tom Anderson and Michael Bartrum, stated their appreciation for all those involved in the project.
“Great to have a good team,” said Bartrum. “When you have a good team, things are going to happen.”
“We will use them, believe me,” Anderson reassured Williams and all those in attendance.
State Representative Debbie Phillips told of a similar approach to that experienced by Williams during her first weeks in office. by the commissioners
“One of the very first letters I got after I was elected state representative was a letter from the Meigs County Commissioners and Perry Varnadoe about this rest area, and they sent me pictures,” said Phillips. “I told them they definitely get a prize for being the first folks to send me pictures of a toilet.”
Phillips said that the modernization and upgrades is about more than just flushing toilets and running water, it is about making a good impression on those visiting or looking to bring new business here. “It is also about how we move forward together and how we keep growing the community.”
State Senator Lou Gentile, Todd Shelton from Senator Portman’s office, and Marilyn Ashcraft representing Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor also spoke about the work that has went into the project and what it means for the county.
The Meigs County Rest Ares moved to the current locations in 1961, after being located near Middleport beginning in 1938. Since 1961, the rest area has been updated once — in 1987 — to the way that it is currently.
The new facility will have running water and flush toilets, something that the current facility does not have.
Williams said that the project is currently under contract with D.V. Weber Construction, a local Meigs County contractor. Work on the project is expected to begin within the next week to two weeks.
The project will be completed by D.V. Weber Construction, who was awarded the $444,799 contract in June of 2012.
The current facilities will remain open until just after the Labor Day holiday, with the new facilities expected to be operational before Thanksgiving.
The new, modern rest area will feature modern facilities, while not taking away from the rustic look. Williams added that the facility will look like it belongs in the wooded area it will be located in.
Several local and state officials took part in the official ground breaking, turning a shovel of dirt to mark the start of the project.