Before we get into this week’s topic, I feel like a quick update on a few current projects is warranted:

• The adoption of the Thoroughfare Plan is just weeks away. This comprehensive plan is a forward look at our current and future infrastructure needs and, simply put, is invaluable. The maintenance and improvement of our roads is heavily financially supported by INDOT and the Federal Government. The support we receive will be largely due to the fact that we have a plan in place. That is game-changing, and we will benefit as a community because of the planning we have done.
• The contract to move forward with a countywide marketing plan, in collaboration with the City of Crawfordsville, has been approved and signed. In the end, we will have a tool that will not only change the perception of our community but will help us create a “brand” that will set us apart and help us stand out from other communities.
• As directed by our citizens, we continue adding text amendments to our zoning code. The Plan Commission has recruited fellow citizens with specific knowledge of the issue to help in recommending changes or improvements to the presented CFO code. There’s an October deadline for the subcommittee to report its recommendations back to the Plan Commission.
This week, the most pressing issue is the hiring of a County Administrator. This idea was actually not one from the Commissioners but from the County Council. Admittedly, a modern idea and approach such as this from a historically conservative and progressively stagnate county council was quite a surprise. Of course, we listened to their proposal, and after doing our own due diligence, we came to the conclusion that there are tremendous opportunities to be facilitated by this idea. Having a full-time person, at the helm, presents opportunities that extend far beyond the council's primary objective of fiscal oversight.
What is the vision of having a county admin? It’s right in line with everything we have initiated the last few years . . . looking toward the future. It’s about freeing up capacity for advancement. It’s about capacity for innovative thought processes. It’s important to emphasize that this administrator position is not designed to reduce the impact of the commissioners, but rather be an extension of the Commissioners’ office to offer oversight of the projects in place.
Establishing a point person to manage the day-to-day processes will offset some of the Commissioners’ supervisory duties to free up time for continuity in setting the necessary building blocks into place that allows for steady progress. Our ability to maintain a “big picture” priority will allow time for more/better research, more detailed planning, networking, face-to-face recruiting, and a more concentrated effort to entice new business and retail to the community. An administrator might be tasked with representing the commissioners at some meetings or presentations, reporting back their findings and recommendations. I could go on and on about how this position, and others like it, will make us better prepared, more organized, efficient, and productive and I will agree that there is low hanging fruit in helping the council better manage our tax dollars. Implementing best practices alone will more than pay to compensate the position.
As we continue to make changes and improve upon our processes, it will only strengthen our ability to make our community more inviting. We will continue to educate and inform. Inclusion and transparency are critical to buy in. An educated and excited citizenry IS an unstoppable force. Our future is very bright!
Mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 21 for the next Coffee with the Commish event where County Engineer Jim Peck and I will discuss the Montgomery County Thoroughfare Plan. This will be an opportunity for you to ask questions and learn more about the plan. The event will take place at the Joshua Cup downtown Crawfordsville from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.. I hope to see you there!

John Frey is a Montgomery County Commissioner and can be reached at john.frey@montgomerycounty.in.gov. And check out the Commish Facebook page @montgomerycountycommish.