PDT Staff Writer
Steve Wells has spent most of his life in service to the community in one capacity or another — the last six as Scioto County Community Development Director. He has now decided to step back and spend some time traveling and more quality time with his grandchildren. Wells handed in his letter of resignation to the Scioto County Commissioners Tuesday, making his resignation official as of the end of the year.
“There is so much going on,” Wells said. “I wish I was 20 years younger.”
“The people of this area are tremendous people,” Wells said. “Once you convince them they will support you to the nth degree. They have been disappointed at times, and it’s hard to get that confidence back. You don’t ever want to let that confidence go. I have personally tried my darndest to not embarrass them, and you never hit a hundred percent.”
Wells has been involved in business and government as far back as he, and most of the area, can remember.
“I ran around a lot of different industries for 19 years. I was an engineer at Williams Manufacturing. They closed down in 1976, if memory serves right. And I went for a year and some months to the city of Portsmouth, as a grant writer and planner,” Wells said. “Then I went back into industry, and then I came back out and worked for the County Commissoners, then the village of New Boston in development. I then headed up the old SEDC (South Eastern Development Commission) for a while. I moved on to the (Scioto County) Vocational School (now Scioto Career Technical Center), then back to the county. So they’ve had a hard time getting rid of a bad penny.”
Wells said he believes the area can look for an upturn.
“We’re right now getting more calls from all over the world, people are looking at this valley,” Wells said. “They’re coming and going. They’re talking to people. It is an absolute most positive time I have seen. And as a community in general I see us really pulling together.”
Wells cited the work being done by downtown business leaders who have been meeting on Thursday morning, what the Scioto County Commissioners have done, and the work done by the leaders of the village of New Boston.
“Everybody’s been a part of everything,” Wells said. “We’ve got Fluor (B&W) in here helping, and we’ve got a four-county group forming that’s going to jointly market, because no one group can afford the bill by themselves, so they’re leveraging resources, and it’s a tremendous time. I wish I was 20 years younger. I’d love to be a part of it.”
Wells said there have been challenges, but all of the people have pulled together.
“What they’ve (Commissioners) gone through with fiscal emergency, and with how they have rallied everybody around that cause and got it taken care of, I could write a book,” Wells said. “It’s an amazing thing.”
Wells said this past year something happened that has made his family extremely proud. He referred to the days when he was in economic development, back in the old SEDC (SouthEastern Development Commission) days, and the New Boston days. He said development entities could always rely very heavily on the utilities like AEP as partners. He said they were a tremendous help with money and professional labor.
“They did more than anybody could really imagine,” Wells said. “Then, when the rate structure changed in Ohio, the utilities all dropped out of economic development, so communities were pretty much on their own and they (communities) were never able to take up the slack. That was hundreds of thousands of dollars that we could not afford. Well, AEP is back in the business, and our youngest son, Timothy, is the State Economic Development Manager for AEP. We’re very proud of him and we’re very proud that AEP is back in the business.”
Wells said the county is currently working with AEP.
“They have a software that will be recording all the marketable building sites in their service area - and certainly we’re in the middle of that - and for the software alone the license would be $5,000 a year,” Wells said. “Well, I haven’t got that in my budget. Neither do any of the other communities up and down the river, but AEP is letting us in free because they’re taking care of the billing and they’re taking care of the coordination of it.”
Wells said his latest stint with the county has been “a very rewarding time.”
Wells said he has no plans etched in stone.
“I’ll probably make a pest of myself and get kicked out of the house,” Wells said. “I intend to travel and play with the grandkids.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.