New commission chair sees opportunity in challenging times

By Josephine Birdsell
Staff Writer

The Greater Hilltop Area Commission elected commission officers at its January meeting.
Rachel Wenning was elected chair of the commission. Wenning has served on the commission for two years. She served as vice-chair in 2020.

“We’ve had so many challenges this year,” Wenning said. “I think when there’s times of change and times of challenge, there’s also a lot of opportunity. So, I think we have a lot of freedom to try new and different things this year, which is great. And I’m excited about that.”

“Wenning’s got a lot of great connections around the community. She stands up for people who cannot stand up for themselves,” said Patrick Barnacle, commissioner.

Dan Fagan was elected vice-chair of the commission. Fagan has served on the commission for two years. He served as treasurer in 2020.

“I’m in this whole-heartedly. I want to devote my personal free time to this. I have no greater agenda than to help this commission function at its optimal level,” Fagan said.

“He is incredibly passionate about the Hilltop and the people in it. If there’s a volunteer opportunity in the Hilltop he is there. If he isn’t there, it’s because he’s taking care of somebody,” said Jennie Keplar, commissioner, “His heart is in helping others.”

James White was elected secretary, marking the start of his second consecutive term. Sean Maddox was elected treasurer.

In other news, the MidOhio Regional Planning Commission announced its free home weatherization service in the Hilltop.

MORPC will visit Hilltop residents who choose to participate in the program and inspect their home’s energy efficiency, including their gas appliances, hot water tank, furnace and home installation. MORPC will then address any significant energy waste they find, free of cost, potentially by installing new home and attic insulation, furnaces or lightbulbs in resident’s homes. The project is funded by Columbia Gas of Ohio and the Ohio Development Services Agency.

The program aims for “long-term reductions of energy costs for low to medium income households,” said Robert Williams, MORPC representative.

The program is available for individuals and families who own or rent single family homes, duplexes or other buildings with up to four units. Residents living in homes with multiple units must have consent from all building tenants to participate. And residents who rent their homes must have landlord approval before MORPC can make any home modifications.

To participate in the program, residents can contact MORPC at (614) 621-1171 or visit their website at

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