Commissioners appoint MC president to port authority board

Marietta College President Bill Ruud will be appointed to the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority Board after two of the three Washington County Commissioners voted in favor of the proposal by executive director Andy Kuhn.

Ruud was interviewed face-to-face by commissioners Ron Feathers, Rick Walters and David White, with White casting the only dissenting vote at Thursday’s weekly commissioners’ meeting.

“I met with (Ruud) yesterday and expressed to him some concerns about his plans regarding the City of Marietta and this position would be giving him undo leverage and an alleviated position of influence towards (what the college is looking to do),” White said. “To be honest, the response he gave me was very artful dodge.”

The college has expressed interest in vacating Butler Street as a city through-way in order to build a new student center and improved commons spaces.

The other two commissioners approved the appointment, with Feathers adding that he thought the interview went very well.

“I think he’s got a very good vision for the area and it’s nice to have someone from the outside that has been pretty successful in higher education to see where we’re lacking in this area,” Feathers said. “I think he will be an asset to the board when it comes to thinking outside the box on economic development.”

Kuhn commented by phone that he did not think there would be any conflicts of interest with the addition of Ruud.

“From our perspective, we do our best to deter persons who might have an individual interest outside of the best interests of the community as a whole,” he said. “The people on our board are consummate professionals…we are grateful to the commissioners for this approval and we look forward to working with Dr. Ruud on all of our educational needs in the community.”

Ruud could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the Washington County engineer and the commissioners agreed to a three-year collective bargaining contract with Teamsters Union Local 637 which would impact roughly 30 employees.

The agreement was brought back to the table at the weekly meeting Thursday when county engineer Roger Wright asked for a discussion.

“I will make a motion that we accept the agreement. The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that (county prosecutor) Kevin Rings looked at definitely satisfies any concerns I had with the contract,” Feathers said.

Wright said that this is the first time the county has contracted with the Teamsters Union.

“There are some good things in there and some things we’ve compromised on, but overall I’m happy with it,” he said.

The commissioners also met briefly with Dan Stephan Sr. and Dan Stephan Jr., as well as counsel Abe Sellers, to discuss a trade off on property owned by the Stephans between Marty’s Print Shop and the former Chase Bank drive-thru on Third Street that the county has purchased. Eventually the discussion entered executive session with the two parties abiding by a gentleman’s agreement to think about the suggestion. The concern from the commissioners was that they did not want the county to have to pay for any further surveying of the property, which Pickering and Associates had already done when the county was looking to buy the former bank building.