Pictured (l-r) are Highland County commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
Pictured (l-r) are Highland County commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and Gary Abernathy discussed implementing flood insurance in the county and approved a bid to remove bushes outside the Highland County Courthouse during their Wednesday, July 10 meeting.

According to Duncan, commissioners have received “correspondence from FEMA” — the Federal Emergency Management Agency — regarding flood insurance in Highland County.

“That’s been an ongoing discussion here in the county,” Duncan said. “During our mitigation planning with EMA, the discussion came up again. This is something that the engineer needs to kind of agree with.”

Abernathy told the other commissioners that Highland County engineer Chris Fauber said “he’s willing to look at it.”

“Dean [Otworth, former Highland County engineer] never wanted to do it,” Abernathy said. “It will require additional personnel somewhere to administer this, and some more money, but we are the only county now in Ohio that is not participating in this program. We should take another look at it.”

Britton said that he expected there would be “a lot of questions” to consider with implementing flood insurance.

“There’s no zoning in Highland County, so that’s one big issue,” Britton said. “There’s also a cost associated with just joining FEMA. I know Dean was really adamant about this.

“People build into these low-lying areas and then want to get this flood insurance. They really shouldn’t build there, but how to control that is the question.”

Joining FEMA means flood insurance can be obtained “more affordably,” Abernathy said, but Britton added that the administration of the program locally would be “the big question.”

No action was taken on the proposal, pending feedback from Fauber. Also during the discussion, Abernathy said that FEMA has also provided the county with “new flood plain maps,” which are available in the commissioners’ office for the public to view.

• • •

Commissioners voted 3-0 to accept a bid from Brad Roades to remove two bushes outside the Highland County Courthouse.

“One of them has passed away, and the other one is not looking so well,” Duncan said. “Commissioner Britton had talked to Brad Roades about looking into what it would take to remove and replace those. We were waiting to see about the progress on the fountain.”

Britton said that Roades will be the contractor for the fountain project outside the courthouse as well as providing landscaping, and Roades recommended that the county have the bushes removed until the fountain project is completed.

“He said he could remove those for $120,” Britton said.

Commissioners agreed to accept the bid.

• • •

Britton reported that the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) has asked Highland County if they would be interested in hosting a meeting to review the state budget, “once it gets finalized.”

“They’re going to do the four corners of the state and they’re asking if we want to host the southwest [meeting],” Britton said.

Duncan and Abernathy agreed, and Britton said he would let the association know.

• • •

Also during the commissioners’ meeting, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner invited the community to participate in the 2019 Highland County Health Collaborative Community Assessment Survey, which can be accessed at http://www.highlandcountyhealth.org (or the survey’s direct link, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B7DNLBM).

“We’re trying to increase the number of people who take the survey,” Warner said. “About 200 people in the county have taken it, and we’d like to get around 600.”

The survey is estimated to take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to complete.

“It helps us to get some good data about health effects in the county,” Warner said.

Those with questions about the survey are encouraged to call (937) 393-1941 and ask for Warner.

• • •

Commissioners approved the following resolutions during the meeting:

• A request from the Highland County Airport for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to Capital Improvements – Airport in the amount of $77,710.

• A resolution to authorize waiving the monthly sewer fee for a property that was verified as being vacant, 11640 Cathy’s Court, effective March 1, 2019.

• A resolution for additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to the T-01, Chore Service Budget, in the amount of $7,000.

• A request from the Engineer for a modification within the Engineer’s Budget in the amount of $100,000.

• A request from DD for an additional appropriation within the S-05 Community Residential DD budget in the amount of $350,000.

• A resolution to rescind Res. No. 19-141 which was a request from Probation for a modification within T-20 Pretrial Supervision budget in the amount of $5,295 (which passed June 12). Also during Wednesday’s resolution, commissioners approved a request from Probation for a modification with T-20 Pretrial Supervision budget in the amount of $497.

The following contracts were approved, also by a 3-0 vote:

• A contract between the Highland County commissioners and the Highland County Engineer’s Office and Miller-Mason Paving Company for 2019 pavement repair, in the amount of $450,000. Commissioners had already approved that bid during their June 26 meeting.

• The Commissioners – Probation (Maintenance) Subsidy Grant request for post-audit appeal.

• Commissioners also voted 3-0 to authorize the president to execute a notice of award for the OPWC wastewater system repair/replacement, which was awarded to Keen Pump Company July 3.

Also on Wednesday, commissioners:

• Held an executive session for economic development with Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth vice president Katy Farber;

• Heard a presentation from Aflac representative Linda Kujawa on insurance programs available to county employees;

• Hosted Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission's second round Highland County caucus meeting; and

• Held an executive session regarding personnel.