Jessie Powers

Jessie Powers

CHAUNCEY — The Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia, a council of governments formed to oversee funding and management of the Baileys Trail System, has finally received its first executive director — current Athens County Planner Jessie Powers.

She will begin her time at ORCA Tuesday, Sept. 8. Powers has been with the county since Feb. 27, 2017, when she took over the position from Miranda Kridler, who resigned after holding the position for about 20 months. County planners are not elected, and previously the county has opened up applications for the position to find a suitable replacement. 

According to Athens County Commissioner Chris Chmiel, Powers has relinquished her position as Planner. The Board of Commissioners is exploring options on what will come next for that position, he said. Chmiel also noted that since he has started as a Commissioner for Athens County in 2013, there have been several county planners.

"We've had a lot of planners," he noted. "It's challenging to lose her, but I'm very happy for her. She's a competent, qualified person and I look forward to working with her in her new role."

He noted that ORCA has a lot of potential, and said Powers would be a good leader for the organization.

Powers has been a major proponent of the Baileys Trail System since it's inception, and her appointment as ORCA executive director will build on that knowledge. According to job postings for the executive director position, Powers will earn about $65,000 annually and will be tasked with:

  • Researching emerging recreation trends and applying it to the local region
  • Developing concepts for new projects that fit the region and enhance overall arts, culture and recreation experience
  • Be a communication liaison for regional outdoor recreation for member entities
  • Spearhead volunteer outreach and management
  • Work with higher education institutions to identify research gaps and develop data 
  • Increase community awareness of ORCA's work and program value

ORCA board member and Chauncey Mayor Amy Renner applauded Powers' hiring in a press release.

“We believe Jessie's experience with grant management, planning, and the Southeast Ohio region are going to make her a huge asset to ORCA," Renner's statement read. "Her contributions thus far to the Baileys Trail System and other outdoor recreation projects are going to make this a seamless transition and we are excited to see what the future holds."

Powers will be tasked first with leading the community and advocating the development of the Baileys Trail System that highlights new product development and experience enhancement in Southeast Ohio.

According to the ORCA release, Powers will focus on establishing regional partnerships to capitalize on the area's outdoor recreational resources in addition to working on community engagement.

Powers will also help to further the goals of significant community studies and task forces by analyzing projects and preparing them for production and implementation, in conjunction with ORCA board members, the ORCA advisory committee, and related groups. Additional key responsibilities will be to identify and nurture business development opportunities by providing financial support through private, corporate and philanthropic channels, and to manage the distribution of information on recreation opportunities to the community and other stakeholders.

“The critical need to diversify our local and regional economy has come into sharp focus in recent months, but these challenges open new possibilities and novel approaches to rural economic development,” Powers said in a statement. “ORCA was established precisely to meet this moment. I’m looking forward to continuing the effort to revitalize our region sustainably, from the ground up.”

Established in 2019, ORCA was established in 2019 at the request of local governments to be a council of governments. Membership currently includes the City of Athens, the Village of Chauncey, the Village of Buchtel, the City of Nelsonville, Athens County and York Township. ORCA’s mission is to develop outdoor recreation opportunities across governmental boundaries that create sustainable and equitable economic development, inspiring communities throughout Appalachian Ohio.

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