The Highland County Board of Commissioners is seeking an individual to serve on the Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities after it was determined a recent appointee could not serve, due to a conflict of interest.
The commissioners had unanimously appointed Leo Kuhn, Cheryl Lyle and Donnie Barrera to the Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities during their Feb. 1 meeting. Kuhn and Lyle were subsequently sworn in during the board of DD's February meeting. However, Barrera, a sergeant at the Highland County Sheriff's Office, was not sworn in after the commissioners sought on a clarification to determine if his job would put him in conflict as a board member.
"We're just double-checking to make sure there's no conflict by being a public employee and serving on the board," Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin said in February.
Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins told The Highland County Press Thursday that she requested an opinion from the Attorney General's Office of the State of Ohio, which recommended she consult with the Ohio Ethics Commission. The ethics commission then sent back a case that outlined why they felt Barerra would be in conflict by serving on the board.
"Essentially they gave two reasons," Collins said, explaining the information from the ethics commission. "The Ohio Revised Code prohibits a public official to have interest in a public contract. As a board member, he would be a public official, and as a supervisor at the sheriff's office he would have an interest in a public contract. The second reason is that the sheriff's office would be the investigating agency if there should ever be anything to investigate (regarding the board or Hills and Dales), and that would be a conflict of interest, as a sheriff's office supervisor and a board of DD member."
Collins said she forwarded the information to Wilkin and to Barrera.
Barrera told The Highland County Press that he was disappointed he would not be eligible to serve on the board, because he respects the board's mission and the work they do.
"I had looked forward to being a board member," he said.
Wilkin said that Collins had advised the commissioners to advertise for the board position again, which they plan on doing in the coming week. He said the commissioners hope to have an appointment made by the board of DD's March 20 meeting.
People interested in serving on the board can contact the Highland County Board of Commissioners Office at (937) 393-1911.