Franklin County views 2018 as a year of seeing projects move forward.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners’ goals for the year include seeing infrastructure and road work being started at Proximity Park, possibly more economic development projects, seeing the new emergency radio system come on line, streamlining operations as much as possible, looking closely at the budget, and having a full year of being in charge of tourism and the visitors center, and the dispatch center.

“There are some really good things happening in 2018,” Richard Oglesby, county commissioner, said. “We are going to see things come to completion in some areas and start to see the benefits of what we already have invested in.”

A project already invested in is Proximity Park, a joint venture with the City of Ottawa to build a new business park on 300-plus acres south of Ottawa. The county was charged with improving Montana and Kingman roads, which are the major roadways into the new park.

“We are on the cusp of getting plans done for the infrastructure and the roadways hopefully soon,” Oglesby said. “We hope to [make] that a presentable place so it is much more marketable and we can start to see some return. There has been some dirt work done. You are going to see a lot more in 2018. It is something that people can start to get a vision of [in 2018].”

Many of the foundation’s aspects of the project were completed in 2017, such as getting an official name, formulating a marketing plan, approving plans for the first phases of construction and securing financing.

Oglesby said another goal is to continue to attract economic development. He said economical development brings in additional jobs, builds the workforce and spreads the tax base.

“The county contracts with FCDC [Franklin County Development Council] for those services,” Oglesby said. “We are all the face of economic development. When we are out in the public, we can continue to talk about what a great place this is to live, work, to retire in, to raise your kids in, be friendly to those that are here to make our county and make our cities attractive places for people to want to come and live in.”

Oglesby said the budget is always a top priority of the board.

“We need to prioritize what needs to be done,” he said. “I grew up with the theory ‘if you watch your pennies and your dollars will come together.’ It is a little bit here and there that makes it all work. We continue to look at ways we can try to save money, streamline things as much as possible. Nobody likes to see their tax [bill] go up. We are doing the best we can with the structure we have in place to create a tax base and lower that overall in the future.”

A couple of streamlining items were the county taking over tourism in 2017 and moving the 911 dispatch center from under the direction of the sheriff’s office to the commissioners in January 2018.

Oglesby said one of the things that the county saved money on in 2017 was the new emergency radio system. He said Derek Brown, county administrator, and Janet Paddock, county clerk, did their homework to secure a lower interest rate for the project.

“They were able to save the county money, the city money and a lot of other entities money by going out and finding better rates than what was offered to us in the beginning,” Oglesby said. “That is important.”

Oglesby said making the county a better place to work also is a priority.

“We need to take care of our employees with them being one of our greatest assets,” he said. “We need to keep that retention factor.”

The new emergency radio system will soon be on-line, which will benefit the whole county, Oglesby said.

“We are set up in a much better way to take care of the [residents] in case of an emergency,” he said. “It will provide a lot better safety for those out on the frontline.”