Pictured (l-r) are Highland County commissioners David Daniels, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Pictured (l-r) are Highland County commissioners David Daniels, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and David Daniels took action on several recent topics of discussion — including an alley closure, ARPA projects and a grease trap issue at the Justice Center — and approved a contract for a potential Extension office move Wednesday, Aug. 3.

Following a public viewing on Lake View Drive, commissioners reconvened at 11:02 a.m. and voted 3-0 to approve a resolution to vacate Lake View Drive in Paint Township.

Commissioners previously received a petition filed by Paint Township Trustees to vacate the alley.

“We met with one of the adjoining landowners, and the other landowner David’s been in contact with over the phone,” Duncan said. “They're both in favor of closing the alley. We had the engineer with us, and he saw no reason why we should object, and we haven't heard him anything from anyone else, any kind of objection.”

According to the resolution, “the vacation sections [are] to be applied equally between” two parcels on Spring Hill Drive.

Also during that second session, Daniels made a motion to amend their agenda to include accepting a quote to repair the grease trap at the Highland County Justice Center.

Britton said at the July 27 commission meeting that the county was seeking quotes to replace the grease trap in the kitchen at the Highland County Justice Center. After ongoing issues, he said it has to be replaced, adding that it was expected to be “a pretty costly replacement because it's in the floor.”

“We've got a problem with some of the plumbing out of the Justice Center, and we were waiting on a third quote and just haven't been able to achieve it,” Duncan said Wednesday.

According to Duncan, the county received a $19,300 quote from Mr. Rooter, which included the plumbing repairs only; and a $20,750 quote from Cornele Plumbing, which included both fixing the grease trap and replacing the floor tiles after the repair work is complete.

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Commissioners are exploring a potential move of the Ohio State University Extension office to the Highland County Fairgrounds, as they voted to authorize an architectural contract during their regular 9 a.m. session Wednesday.

Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the limited professional service agreement with WDC Group, LLC. Daniels told The Highland County Press that the county is hiring this firm to review possible options for an Extension office building at the fairgrounds.

The Extension office is currently located in the Highland County Administration Building. According to Daniels, both spacing and parking issues at the administration building are factors in looking into the possible move, based on talks with Extension staff.

No official plans have made, nor has an exact location been determined, he said, as this is just the first step in the process.

The contract approved Wednesday is to help commissioners determine “what it would take to build a building to house [Extension] and their operations out on the county fairgrounds,” Daniels told The Highland County Press.

“We asked Extension, ‘if you could design your own space, what would it look like?’” Daniels said. “They've kind of come up with a concept and we thought, OK, what's it cost? This guy is going to put together cost estimates and kind of redefine the space, and then if we decide to move ahead with it, then he will do the actual engineering and do the actual architect work and get the permits.”

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At 9:15 a.m., commissioners held a bid opening for the interior dog kennels, including labor and materials, at the new animal shelter.

As previously reported, commissioners accepted a $1.2 million quote for the new animal shelter on North Shore Drive during their Wednesday, June 15 meeting. The tentative layout plan for the proposed new, approximately 6,000 square foot building, as discussed in December, included a 36’x40’ front section of the building, which would include a reception area; adoption/play room; offices; a restroom; an exam room; and a mechanical room. The center section has space for 40 kennels with “doggy doors and outside access” to dog runs, with the back section proposed to have a cat room, a puppy room and a storage room.

Both digital and physical bids were accepted for the kennels for the facility. According to commission clerk Ashleigh Willey, seven “placeholders” accessed information about the project on BidExpress, the county’s online platform for accepting bids, but no online bids were submitted.

Commissioners received two bids in person: one from Midmark in the amount of $218,996.25; and one from JR Enterprises totaling $281,630.

No action was taken Wednesday, pending review by the architects, but Duncan said they expect to award the project at their next meeting.

As of July 27, “site prep” was being done at the site of the shelter, according to commissioners. Duncan said Wednesday that the architects also informed him that they had to update some information for the state.

“I did talk to the architect a little bit about the dog pound, and the state sent back something that they needed corrected,” Duncan said. “He’s going to go ahead and correct it, and that way the contractor can go ahead and start. He said it would just a minor thing, but he said he would send to the state as quick as possible.”

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During the regular passage of resolutions, commissioners voted 3-0 to approve two resolutions related to local American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) projects.

In separate motions, commissioners authorized funding of the “Highland County District Library Hotspots Project” and the “Highland County Senior Citizens Center Home Delivered Meals Project” with Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds as established under the American Rescue Plan Act.

As previously reported, on May 11, the commission voted to commit funding for at least nine projects. Highland County is receiving nearly $8.4 million in coronavirus recovery funds, but the commission received over $16 million in requests for funding from various entities, according to Highland County ARPA Coordinator Nicole Oberrecht.

Prior to that vote in May, the commission had already informally agreed to fund the library hotspot project and the Senior Center meal project. The library was seeking $46,500 to purchase 50 units from T-Mobile in order to provide internet hotspots that patrons may check out for use at home. The Highland County Senior Center requested $10,000 for their home-delivered meals program to help offset the rising costs of food and fuel.

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In other discussion, Duncan noted that all three commissioners were wearing green in recognition of Child Support Awareness Month.

“We talked to [Highland County Job & Family Services Director] Jeremy Ratcliff earlier in the week, and he said they would be celebrating that and asked us to wear some sort of green in support of that,” Duncan said.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services encouraged individuals to wear green on Aug. 3 in recognition of the statewide campaign. For more information about Ohio’s observance of Child Support Awareness Month, see the story at: https://highlandcountypress.com/Content/In-The-News/Social/Article/Wear-green-campaign-coloring-contest-mark-Child-Support-Awareness-Month/2/74/82141.

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In other action, commissioners approved the following motions, each by a 3-0 vote:

• An additional appropriation resolution within the Engineer’s budget from unanticipated revenue in the amount of $15,201.

• A budget modification resolution within the general fund from Contract Services to Contract Repairs in the amount of $10,000.

• Fairfield Township Trustees have filed a petition to vacate a 16.5x198 alley located in Fairfield Township, East Monroe, Highland County. Via resolution, the commission agreed to set a time and date for a public viewing to be held Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. and a public hearing Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 11 a.m. in the Highland County Commissioners Office.

• Commissioners authorized the commission president to execute a contract with Johnson Controls for labor and parts for five-year hydrostatic testing at the Job and Family Services office.

• Commissioners approved a Highland County Community Action Organization request for satisfaction of mortgage for a Community Housing Impact and Preservation (CHIP) Program project.