Gary was elected to his first term as Delaware County Commissioner in November 2012 and assumed office on Jan. 2, 2013. In 2014, 2015 and 2018, Merrell was elected as President of the Board of Commissioners.
Merrell’s career began in Oklahoma where he worked for The Oklahoman newspaper; this ultimately led to several moves and many executive positions in the newspaper field. In 1986, Merrell was recruited to Columbus, Ohio from Oklahoma and began working at The Columbus Dispatch. After 14-1/2 years and several promotions, he left The Columbus Dispatch in 2002 as Vice President of Advertising. That year he moved to Athens, Ohio where he served as publisher of The Athens Messenger and group publisher of Brown Newspapers in Southeast Ohio. In 2007, Brown Publishing brought Merrell to Delaware as vice president of various papers in central and northwest Ohio, as well as publisher of The Delaware Gazette.
Gary has served with the Chamber of Commerce in both Athens and Delaware counties (formerly board member and executive member), Rotary, and the United Methodist Churches in communities where he has lived.
Merrell has also served as secretary of the executive committee of United Way of Delaware County, on the board of the Strand Theater, and on the development council for the Stratford Ecological Center. For the past four years he has served on the board of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO); he has also served as a member of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and on its executive committee for four years.
Other boards directly associated with his role as commissioner have included the 9-1-1 Board, DKMM Solid Waste District Board, and the Delaware Jobs and Family Services Community Planning Committee, to name a few.
Merrell is always well prepared for the tasks at hand and enjoys working with his fellow commissioners for the benefit of Delaware County residents. He hopes to accomplish several goals, with the support of Commissioners Benton and Lewis, related to saving taxpayer dollars and increasing economic development opportunities within the county. His mantra will continue to be that of striving to do more with less and he will continue his efforts to avoid duplication of services and bureaucratic inefficiencies for the benefit of Delaware County residents.
Along with his fellow commissioners, past successes during Commissioner Merrell’s six years as commissioner have included the Sawmill Parkway extension, the new courthouse which was completed in 2017, negotiations for the outlet mall at I-71 and Rts. 36/37, the sanitary sewer master plan, reorganization of the Regional Sewer District, an emphasis on economic development in the county, and a revamped Finance Authority.
Merrell believes Delaware County must have a strong retail base, smart residential growth, and—the area requiring full attention—quality job creation. All of this can and should be done while valuing and protecting the rural agricultural areas of our county, which are a truly unique asset.
Future projects include the purchase and remodeling of the career center’s north location (an important part of the facilities plan), remodeling the historic courthouse, selling unneeded county real estate, completion of the branding project, planning and building a new sewer plant in the Alum Creek area, completing the east/west road corridor, Big Walnut interchange, just to name a few.