State of Wapakoneta, Auglaize County strong, officials say

WAPAKONETA — Even as the city of Wapakoneta is experiencing some transition with personnel, city and county officials hope to build on previous efforts to keep the community moving in a positive direction.

That was the message at Wapakoneta’s State of the City, County and Schools event Thursday at the Wapakoneta Eagles. This year’s event was the first to feature Mayor Dan Lee, along with Tyler Price, the city’s new safety services director.

For Lee, this is an exciting time to be in Wapakoneta with the city experiencing growth in areas such as infrastructure.

“We just finished our water plant that’s opening up that will be able to provide all the water that our citizens need and our businesses need to be productive,” he said. “We’re wrapping up an $85 million reconstruction of our water reclamation plant. That will be going online in about July or August, and it will be able to take all the water that we put out back in.”

Lee also pointed to street reconstruction currently taking place in the city, as well as a potential three-million-gallon water tank currently under consideration that would help ensure that clean water is still available for residents and businesses even during emergencies.

“Our businesses that are here are going to be able to expand,” he said. “They’re going to be able to say, ‘Hey, we can get more water and use more water, so we can afford to expand into our next phases.’ Then when other businesses look to move to Wapakoneta, we can say, ‘We can take you. We can supply that for you, whether it’s water, electric or sewer.’ We’ve really been set up to launch into a new phase in Wapakoneta with development.”

Auglaize County Commissioner Doug Spencer also touted the current financial state of the county while also pointing out projects currently under way in the county. One of the largest projects is the $6.7 million renovation and expansion of the Auglaize County jail from a 72-bed to a 102-bed facility currently underway. This will include going from 13 beds for women to 21, along with five dedicated beds for women with mental health needs.

“The interesting thing is we’re doing it within the existing footprint of that jail, repurposing space so that we don’t have to add another facility that connects to the current one,” he said. “If you do that, you now have increased overhead once you’re operating that. So we’re quite excited to get this off the ground, and hopefully in a year’s time, next year, this will be talked about as being done and went about as smooth as smooth can be in a construction project.”

Wapakoneta schools Superintendent Aaron Rex updated attendees on current happenings at the city’s school district, including the creation of a new maker space at the high school with 3D printers and modeling software, as well as upgrades to the school’s welding shop to bring in newer welding technology.

“We offer a new course in aviation and allow our young people to learn about the FAA, pilots, airlines and more,” he said. “Wapakoneta City Schools is a great place for kids.”

Price, who just started in his new role a week ago, pointed attendees to a new Forward Wapakoneta survey that city administration created to learn what community members believe the city needs moving forward.

“The city hasn’t had something like this since 2008,” he said. “We’re hoping to update it looking toward the future. Things have obviously changed in the last 18 years, so we’re hoping to move forward with that and get input from the community.”

To participate in the survey, go to Residency in Wapakoneta is not required to participate.