PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Solid Waste Authority and the Wood County Recreation Commission will soon he headed by a co-director to oversee both agencies.

Andy Hartleben will be taking on that role, starting Oct. 5, officials announced. Hartleben has been chief deputy for the Wood County Assessor and has served 18 years total in the office.

Hartleben is looking forward to getting started. He is excited about the possibility of leading two organizations.

He has served five years as a member of the Solid Waste Authority board, but he did not have any experience with the recreation commission.

However, he said he understands its mission about creating healthy opportunities for people, especially young people.

Hartleben previously served on the board of the Parkersburg Boys and Girls Club. He knows there are many youth in this area who live in a single-parent home while others are being raised by their grandparents or other family members.

He feels he can help provide opportunities to those people to help create healthy lifestyle choices as well as have activities they can do after school.

”This is the right time to breathe new life into that organization,” Hartleben said. ”I want to create those opportunities and make Wood County/Parkersburg a better place.”

In a press release issued by John Reed, director of the Solid Waste Authority, the recreation commission was encountering financial difficulties that could not allow it to employ a full-time recreation commissioner while the Solid Waste Authority has been in a strong financial position over the past several years.

County Commission President Blair Couch, who also is on the board of the Solid Waste Authority, recommended that rather than seeking additional tax dollars to fund the recreation commissioner, the two agencies join forces to employ a co-director.

Reed, who also is Parkersburg City Councilman, was planning to retire as of Jan. 1. The board requested and Reed accepted to stay on part-time after retirement to handle only the compliance complaints.

”This would allow the new director time to co-direct both agencies,” Reed said. ”I will be working as needed.”

The Solid Waste Authority presented the offer to Sean Andrews, president of the recreation commission, in July, and both boards agreed to terms which would share in the cost of operation and administration.

”I believe the arrangement will be good for both organizations due to finances,” Andrews said.

With the pandemic and schools and other organizations shutting down, the recreation commission was unable to offer many of its programs.

”We lost a lot of programs,” Andrews said, adding that impacted the commission’s finances.

The arrangement will end up saving money as both organizations will share the expenses of a director.

Andrews believes Hartleben will be good for everyone involved.

”Andy will be a good director for both organizations,” Andrews said. ”It is a good situation.”

Couch said the recreation commission, established in the 1940s, was a worthwhile organization worth saving as it provides youth sports.

”Having the two together can help teach the rec kids about recycling,” Couch said. ”Wood County Rec has touched so many lives, but it has been on the decline in recent years. This will be a chance for it to get built back up.”

As the country is still dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Couch wasn’t sure if the recreation commission could offer basketball and track programs. He expects it will be in 2021 before youth sports programs can return.

”During this time, Andy will be able to find out which programs are working,” Couch said.

He felt bringing the two groups under one director was a wonderful idea. He thanked Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce and City Attorney Joe Santer in reviewing everything to make sure it could be done.

”It is a wonderful idea,” Couch said. ”We are thankful to everyone for being able to work it out.”

A memorandum of understanding has been worked out between the organizations which will spell out the duties of the director. Hartleben will have the time to find what needs to be done and how to approach handling the challenges of both organizations, Couch said.

”This is going to be a work in progress over the next year,” he said.

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