[ back ]
Brooks discusses county roots
County government has its roots in old England with some French “thrown in,” says Paula Brooks, president of the Franklin County Commissioners.
“The origin of county government goes back to old England, prior to the invasion of the Normans,” Brooks said when she spoke at the Feb. 7 First Saturday at Green Lawn program. “That was in the days of the shires, the original form of government. When the Normans came in, they brought their French form of government.”
“The word ‘county’ comes from the French language,” she continued.
She traced the evolution of county government and explained its operation and how it differs from city and state government.
She noted that Franklin County was created in 1803, shortly after Ohio became a state, and still operates the same, although the geographical boundaries are significantly smaller. When it began, Franklin County stretched from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, but as the state’s population grew, new counties were formed by chipping away into existing counties.
County government operations differ substantially from city or state government.
“Counties can’t do anything until the state legislature gives us the authority,” she said.
And she drew on her experiences in city government when she said “in Upper Arlington, when we had a problem, council could draft an ordinance to deal with it.”
“County government’s jurisdiction is all encompassing, she said. It takes in all the cities and all the townships, thus making it important to work together with different entities.
One example she cited of various governmental bodies working together was with the Big Darby Accord, “so we can retain the rural flavor of the county.”
Another accomplishment she pointed to was the development at Rickenbacker Air Force Base where numerous jobs have been created in recent years.
“The future is global, and we’re looking at 20,000 jobs - good jobs that pay deceit wages,” she said.
Another project of the county, this one more visible, is the construction of a new courthouse in downtown Columbus. The facility currently in use was found to be full of asbestos and unsafe “so we had to bite the bullet and build,” she said.
Once the new courthouse at the corner of Mound and High is occupied in 2011, the current building will be stripped of the asbestos and be renovated for reuse.
“We’ll rip out the bad stuff and reuse the building,” she said. “The county continues to grow and that means more jobs to be developed.”
The First Saturday programs, held the first Saturday of every month, focus on history of the Columbus area and recognize the accomplishments of people interred at Green Lawn. This particular program paid tribute to the county commissioners buried there.
Green Lawn Volunteers, through their research, have determined at least 43 commissioners are buried at Green Lawn.
Among them are architect George Bellows Sr., early railroad promoter Joseph Briggs, JayCees national vice president C. William Brownfield who wrote the JayCees creed, and several who have streets named for them.
The next First Saturday program will be March 7 when Robert Foos talks about his ancestor Joseph Foos. It was Joseph Foos who suggested the name of Columbus to the Ohio Legislature which had accepted a donation of land on the east side of the Scioto River for the permanent capital and was looking for a name of the area. Foos had a hotel and tavern in Franklinton, served in the Ohio Legislature, and has a street named for him.
The programs, which are free and open to the public, are held at 11 a.m. in the
Huntington Chapel in the middle of Green Lawn Cemetery.
[ back ]