Looking to prove there is strength in numbers, former Ohio Rep. Jennifer Garrison recently opened a law office in Marietta to assist landowners interested in oil and gas leases.
Garrison said during her time in office she watched as oil and gas exploration boomed and began expanding to southeast Ohio.
"There are landowners being approached about leasing opportunities all the time and from what I've seen the most successful vehicle for getting the best value and protection is joining a landowner association," Garrison said. "A lease is the law of your land and it is extremely important to know what you're signing. Everyone should seek legal advice through an association or an attorney."
Garrison, who was an attorney before becoming a legislator, said joining a landowner association makes a deal more attractive to a larger corporation. Those who join the group agree to allow for the exploration of deep minerals on their properties in exchange for upfront cash and a percentage of the profits, if the resources are developed.
Garrison said her new practice, called Southeastern Ohio Landowners Association, will focus solely on forming landowner pacts for area residents.
"If you're dealing with a company the size of Exxon and you have 100 acres, they may be interested in a lease but I don't think you'll have much pull to negotiate," Garrison said. "If we pull several landowners together and offer one of these companies 20,000 acres, there's a better chance to negotiate for a better lease with more concessions that you may not otherwise get."
Southeastern Ohio Landowners Association
Address: 250 Front St.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
7 p.m. today:
Noble County landowner meeting - Soakum Valley (former Steelworkers Union Hall), 43734 Marietta Road, Caldwell.
7 p.m. Tuesday:
Washington County landowner meeting -Lafayette Hotel, Mississippi Queen/Delta Queen Room, 101 Front St., Marietta.
Tuesday and Wednesday:
If you have a question about the association, your mineral rights, an oil and gas lease or whether you are eligible to join, you may take advantage of two free clinic opportunities. No appointments are needed, you may walk-in.
Monroe County landowner screening clinics - behind the Duke/Duchess on Ohio 78 in Woodsfield from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Washington County landowner screening clinics - Garrison Law Office in Marietta (250 Front Street) from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Garrison said she's planning a series of informational events this week, including walk-in clinics at her office Tuesday and Wednesday. There is also an evening meeting set for 7 p.m. today at the Lafayette Hotel. There is no fee for the event.
Garrison said the nonprofit landowners association will charge a small percentage of bonuses or royalties as a fee for membership.
Robert Chase, professor and chairman of the Department of Petroleum Engineering and Geology at Marietta College, said landowner associations are being formed all over Ohio.
"From what I've seen around the state, it is definitely advantageous to band together, either as an independent group or as a larger group," Chase said. "You are definitely more likely to get a better lease negotiated."
Garrison moved to Marietta in 1990 and worked for a local law firm for about three years before opening her own practice, handling mostly family law. In 2004, Garrison unseated former Ohio Rep. Nancy Hollister for the state's 93rd District seat and was re-elected again in 2006 and 2008.
In 2009, Garrison announced she was running for secretary of state in the 2010 general election. However, she withdrew from that race in January and opted not to run for re-election to the Ohio House.
Just before Garrison's tenure as a state rep was about to expire, she resigned to take an appointed position as a member of the State Employment Relations Board. She held that position less than a month after the Ohio Senate rejected her appointment and 77 others made by outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland.
Garrison was listed among the final five candidates interviewed for the president's position at Washington State Community College but the post ultimately went to Bradley Ebersole, former vice chancellor for academic affairs at Baton Rouge Community College in Louisiana.