James A. Wiechart, Mercer County Engineer


Mercer County Engineer Bio

Through the experience of having worked in 2 different County Engineer Offices for 29 years and being closely acquainted with all aspects of the activities, duties and responsibilities of that office Jim was more than qualified to be appointed to be the Mercer County Engineer in 2002. Jim was elected the Mercer County Engineer in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020.  He currently serves Mercer County in that capacity.

In 1993 Wiechart graduated from the University of Toledo’s College of Engineering with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. The Monday immediately after the Saturday of graduation Wiechart began his professional career as Paulding County Bridge Engineer. Upon having received his Professional Engineer’s License in 1997, Wiechart was appointed to the position of Paulding County Chief Deputy Engineer. In 1999 Wiechart was appointed to the position of Mercer County Assistant Engineer.

Wiechart obtained licensure in Ohio as a Professional Surveyor in 2000. In all, he took 4-eight hour-long state board exams to achieve his goals of registration in Ohio as an Engineer and a Surveyor. On one of those 4 examinations he achieved the highest score in the state of Ohio.

Wiechart’s areas of work expertise involve: bridge, culvert, roadway and drainage design and drafting, bridge inspection, supervision of the survey and design technical staff, right-of-way acquisition and working intimately with a detailed knowledge and a long track record of utilizing local, state and federal grant programs for local roadway and bridge improvements. Wiechart is not a novice to large projects having designed and drafted plans and managed projects for numerous multi-million-dollar infrastructure grant and non-grant improvements related to local roadways.

From the time Wiechart arrived in 1999, within the following 23 years, 204 bridge replacements and 25 bridge rehabilitation projects have been completed.  Also within that same time period over $42 million in competitive federal and state grant funds have been garnered for Mercer County local road ways.

The Mercer County Engineer crews have been able to continue to complete projects with less resources and manpower as county engineer personnel levels decreased.  In 2000, there were 31 full-time employees, while in 2024 there are 26 full-time employees.

“As quickly as our budget allows we are doing all we can to improve the safety and usability of our roadways by: widening pavements & shoulders, eliminating steep drop-offs, setting ditches back away from the pavement, and removing fixed, unyielding hazards near and adjacent to the edge of pavement.

Wiechart is a member of numerous trade, local and civic organizations:   The National Association of County Engineers, Past President of the County Engineers Association and currently serves as Treasurer, and serves on the District 13 Ohio Public Works Committee Executive and Integrating Committees, and is Chairperson of those committees.

Jim lives in Union Township with his wife Kit and their family.

Professional Qualifications and Duties of the County Engineer

In order to be a County Engineer in the State of Ohio, the officeholder must have a dual registration — Professional Engineer (P.E.) and Professional Surveyor (P.S.) — as required by Section 315.02 of the Ohio Revised Code:

“No person holding the office of clerk of the court of common pleas, sheriff, county treasurer, or county recorder is eligible to hold the office of county engineer. No person is eligible in any county as a candidate for such office or shall be elected or appointed thereto unless he is a registered professional engineer and a registered surveyor, licensed to practice in this state.”

“Provisions of this section are mandatory, and one who is not a registered professional engineer and registered surveyor licensed to practice in state is not eligible as candidate for office of county engineer or to be elected or appointed thereto unless he shall have previously served as county engineer immediately prior to his election.”

“It is not contemplated under the provisions of this section, that two persons, one being only a registered professional engineer and the other being only a registered surveyor, may be candidates for or elected to or appointed to the office of county engineer.”

Section 315.08 of the Ohio Revised Code states:

“The county engineer shall perform for the county all duties authorized or declared by law to be done by a registered professional engineer or registered surveyor…He shall prepare all plans, specifications, details, estimates of cost, and submit forms of contracts for the construction, maintenance, and repair of all bridges, culverts, roads, drains, ditches, roads on county fairgrounds, and other public improvements, except buildings, constructed under the authority of any board within and for the county.”

“The engineer shall not be required to prepare plans, specifications, details, estimates of costs, or forms of contracts for emergency repairs authorized under section 315.13 of the  Ohio Revised Code, unless he deems them necessary.”

There are four distinct roadway systems in Ohio: The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is responsible for the State Highway System. This includes federal highways, such as interstate and U.S. routes, and state routes; Within each county, the County Engineer is responsible for a network of County roads; Township trustees oversee maintenance of their individual township systems; and, municipalities maintain streets and alleys within their boundaries.

The County Engineer works with the County Commissioners and Township Trustees to carry out a wide variety of obligations that are established by Ohio State Law.

County Roadways: The County Engineer is responsible for all maintenance, repair, widening, resurfacing, and (re)construction of pavements and bridges in the County roadway system. Maintenance duties include traffic control, safety projects, mowing, and snow and ice control.

Township Roadways: The County Engineer serves as the engineering advisor to the township trustees for the maintenance, widening, and repair of their roads.

Bridges and Culverts: The County Engineer is fully responsible for the bridges and culverts on the County roadway systems as well as bridges on the Township roadway system and certain bridges within municipalities. Annual bridge inspections and evaluations of the condition and load-carrying capacity of each bridge are part of this responsibility.

The County Engineer participates in county and regional planning commissions. In unincorporated areas, (s)he may also be involved in the establishment and maintenance of petitioned and assessed ditches, sidewalks, and even county airports. In some cases, the County Engineer also serves as the County Sanitary Engineer, supervising construction of sewer and water lines.