From covering town to promoting it
By Danielle Smith
Leader Staff Writer
C.J. Carnacchio is no stranger to Oxford. Having worked in the community for 20 ½ years as a writer-turned editor for The Oxford Leader and living in the same community for the past 19 years, the 43-year-old has taken up a new position that will still serve the community he loves, just in a different way.
As the Communications and Grants Manager for Oxford Township, part of Carnacchio’s job makes him responsible for informing the public about anything from important meetings or hearings to utility work that will affect normal traffic flow, keeping the lines of communication open between the public and the township government.
“If there is something we think people need to know about, we’re going to let them know and we’re going to do that through our Facebook page, we are going to do that through The Leader, we are going to do that through OCTV, any of our local channels to let people know,” Carnacchio said.
On the grant side, Carnacchio said his job is to “locate potential grant opportunities, research them, (and) see if they are a good fit for the township.” These grants could help produce programs, facilities, or equipment, to name a few.
“The way I look at it, when it comes to grants, we’re looking to bring in money that’s looking to help enhance the health, safety, welfare and quality of life of Oxford residents, however we can do that,” he said. “A lot of grants are spend a little to get a lot and any grant money we get, it’s less money that comes out of township budgets, less money that comes out of the millages and benefits the community.”
While the title of grant manager is new to him, Carnacchio has plenty of experience when it comes to communications, thanks to his time with The Leader.
“My job with the newspaper I dealt with the public all the time, I dealt with public officials all the time, so in this job, now I’m just working for the public officials,” he said.
Carnacchio credits his vast knowledge of Oxford he has gained over the years as one of the ways which made him suitable for this new position.
“I’ve got a lot of historical knowledge about the community. Being here 20 years, you know what’s happened, you know why things are the way they are right now. I’ve got a lot of contacts in the community I’ve developed,” he said. “Whether they’ve spoken to me or I’ve listened to their concerns expressed at the meetings, I’ve kind of got an idea of what the public wants and what the public expects out of their local government.”
Aside from the new territory that comes with being the Communications and Grants Manager for the Township, Carnacchio has faced an extra challenge: no one has held this position before.
“There is no template for this job right now in the township, so it is going to be a lot of me finding my way and blazing some trails and just finding out what works and what doesn’t work,” he said. “There is going to be a learning curve; I’m not coming into this job by any means saying that I know it all and that I’m an expert on everything. There is going to be a lot of things that I have to learn, so sometimes people have to bear with me and be patient, but I think I have a good background to learn going forward.”
It is not every person’s dream to work in the town in which they live, but Carnacchio has now done that twice and has no intention of leaving.
“I don’t want to commute,” he said jokingly. “I do care about this town and I’m passionate about it and I just wanted to find a new way to serve it.
“Whatever I do at the township also affects me as a resident and affects me as a taxpayer. The same was true at The Leader … so I’ve got a personal stake in this town and I’ve built a life here, so I see this as a natural step forward.”
Carnacchio is optimistic as to what the future holds for his position at the township and what that means for Oxford as a whole.
“On the grant side, hopefully I can bring in some money to bring in resources to the community. Someday, hopefully I can point to a safety path and say, ‘I worked on the grant that helped bring that in,’” he said. “They way I want to make my mark is by helping the people of this community and informing the people of this community which, in a lot of ways, is the same thing I did at The Leader.”