About 10 years ago, several communities in western Licking County wanted to work with each other and get to know each other better, and it's time to do that again, Harrison Township trustee Mark Van Buren said.
"Sometimes we read about each other in the paper, and we'd like to put faces with the names," he said.
Van Buren said he and Pataskala Mayor Mike Compton will host a meeting at 7 p.m. June 23 at Pataskala City Hall for what they hope is the first of the West Licking Co-op, an informal partnership among Pataskala, Harrison, Jersey and Etna townships, the village of Kirkersville and potentially the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District.
"We share a lot of the same services," Van Buren said. "Let's look at it as the western part of Licking County."
If all goes well, Van Buren and Compton hope the West Licking Co-op would meet quarterly at various places throughout western Licking County.
"We're one community," Van Buren said. "Let's have some open discussion about what we'd like to see in the future. The big part of this is about getting to know each other."
Van Buren, who is running for county commissioner Nov. 4, said western Licking County communities share two school districts, the West Licking Joint Fire District and the Pataskala Public Library.
Compton said he and Van Buren have discussed the idea of a West Licking Co-op for about a year.
"Let's forget about the boundaries," Compton said.
Compton said the surrounding communities take advantage of many Pataskala facilities, such as the Sterling Theater and historical society, and some residents aren't sure which businesses are in the city limits or in a township area.
Compton said local entities should also share utility equipment when possible.
"Let's say we all needed a road paver or something," he said. "Why duplicate things? This is just common-sense stuff."
Compton said he has floated the idea to Pataskala City Council, the West Licking fire board, local police officers and Southwest Licking water and sewer director Don Rector. He hopes they will all send representatives to the June 23 meeting.
Van Buren said representatives from Jersey and Etna townships and the village of Kirkersville have all been contacted.
He said he has received very positive feedback from everyone.
"Once the conversation has started, I think we can really make this into something," he said.