Highland County Community Action Deputy Director Tara Campbell shares an update with commissioners as Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley looks on. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Highland County Community Action Deputy Director Tara Campbell shares an update with commissioners as Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley looks on. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and David Daniels heard updates on Highland County Community Action programming and discussed the latest permissive sales tax numbers during their Wednesday, Sept. 21 meeting.

Highland County Community Action Deputy Director Tara Campbell shared information about a $500,000 grant recently received by HCCAO, plus provided a “quarterly update” on the county’s recycling program in her meeting with commissioners.

As reported earlier this month in a press release, “Highland County Community Action Organization (HCCAO) has been awarded $500,000 by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) provide workforce training, education, wellness coaching and recovery support to help address the substance use disorder crisis in Highland County. The award is part of a recently announced $12 million package through ARC’s INSPIRE Initiative, which addresses the region’s substance use disorder crisis with investments that strengthen services in the recovery ecosystem and help facilitate workforce entry and re-entry.”

Campbell said in the press release that HCCAO is implementing programming to offer “a holistic approach to employment and training assistance, while continuing to support their recovery through peer support, wellness groups and overall health education.”

On Wednesday, Campbell thanked commissioners for submitting a letter of support for their grant application.

“Back in March, Community Action had requested from the commissioners a letter of support for the Appalachian Regional Commission INSPIRE grant,” Campbell told commissioners. “It was a workforce grant created to help people who are in recovery or want to go into mental health and recovery professions.

“We were awarded that grant a couple of weeks ago. It’s $500,000, and it will be a wellness recovery and employment program, so the goal is to help folks who are in recovery or again want to go into those professions or in post-treatment to get educated, training and get into employment.”

During that meeting in March, Campbell said the funding was being sough to replace their current grant from the Paint Valley ADAMH Board. Using the three-year ARC grant, HCCAO planned to expand their current peer support programming to include a “workforce component.”

Campbell said Wednesday that HCCAO has also received a “little over $300,000” grant from the Greater Ohio Workforce Board Area 7 to help get their new program up and running.

“I think we'll be able to get a really good foundation for this program and hopefully, in the future, create a model that can be used in other places, but also be able to easily get funded again to continue to train these folks,” she said.

Britton asked if HCCAO had made “plan to create space” to accommodate this new program. Spacing problems at county buildings — including the Hi-TEC building, where OhioMeansJobs is housed — is a recurring topic at commission meetings.

Campbell said she thought staff would use the new Community Action space in Greenfield “to start out with, and then we will just kind of work on creating a space” to accommodate the program.

“My guess is as with all of our programs at OhioMeansJobs, if there are participants from Hillsboro or Greenfield, our staff will move back and forth to meet the needs of those participants,” Campbell said. “Both office spaces will be utilized, but for the actual staff — which there's three staff to start this program that'll be hired — those staff will start out in Greenfield.”

Britton told her the commission is “interested in talking” to Campbell further about the grant’s implementation.

“That would be great,” Campbell said. “I've talked to the Appalachian Regional Commission a couple of times in the past couple of weeks, and they have offered a lot of help in the fact of trying to create a model that works. We tried to put together a lot of best practices when we wrote the grant, and I think if we work with ARC on technical assistance and other places that are trying to do things like this, if we can get a really good model here in Highland County, hopefully that'll be something that we can hone in and really get going good here and expand.

“That's always the goal, to do the best we can so create a good program.”

Duncan congratulated Campbell on HCCAO receiving the grant.

For the quarterly recycling update, Campbell invited local residents (no businesses) to participate in the tire and electronics recycling event, set for Saturday, Sept. 24 from 8 a.m.-noon at the North High Business Center. Items are being accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“The first five passenger tires are free, and $4 for each passenger tire after that,” Campbell said. “People can also bring it two free tractor tires, and then it's $40 per tire after that. That's a pretty good deal, especially in our community with so many farmers and people that have tractors.”

Other acceptable items include truck tires, OTR tires, CRT monitors, printers and TVs, for a fee. For a complete list of acceptable electronics, go to ait-recycle.com or contact HCCAO.

Campbell said the recycling program also “recently closed out last year's EPA grant,” totaling $5,000.

“We used the grant as we said we would, which we use it for advertising and to supply inventory in the litter library,” Campbell said. “We have bags and containers for people and groups to come and use to clean up our roadways and waterways and public areas.”

Campbell encouraged any groups or individuals interested in hosting a fall cleanup day to contact the recycling office to access the litter library supplies.

• • •

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, auditor Bill Fawley shared the updated permissive sales tax receipt totals for September, showing $819,584.19 collected. That is a slight decrease from both the previous month and from the same month last year, as the September 2021 total was $825,364.92.

“They’re off just a little bit, but not terrible,” Duncan said. “We’re still doing good in the sales tax department.”

As previously reported, in August, the $820,521.93 total was the first month the county saw an increase over the previous year’s totals since April, after three straight months of declining permissive sales tax numbers.

Despite now having four months’ worth of receipts lower than their 2021 totals, the county is nearing $7 million collected in the first nine months of 2022, at $6,925,955.23. That is an increase of $233,525.59 over the same time frame last year.

• • •

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

• A resolution to set the time and date for a public viewing to be held Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 10 a.m. and a public hearing to be held Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 11 a.m. in the Highland County Commissioners Office. That resolution is in response to a petition filed by the Union Township Trustees to vacate a number of platted, but never developed, alleys/streets in the Village of Russell.

• A resolution authorizing Highland County Engineer Chris Fauber to prepare and submit an application to participate in the Ohio Public Works Commission State Capital Improvement and/or Local Transportation Improvement program(s) and to execute contracts as required.

• A final resolution in the matter of the bridge replacement on Township Road 239 0.88 — Straight Creek Road project.

• An additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to Spay and Neuter Other Expense in the amount of $1,000.

• A Capital Improvement Community Park, Recreation/Conservation Project Pass-Through Grant Agreement among commissioners, the State of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Clay Township Board of Trustees for the former Buford school property.

“That's to remove the school down at Buford and build a new park down there,” Duncan said, with Daniels adding that the grant is through ODNR’s NatureWorks program.

• A final contract among commissioners, the county engineer, State of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Transportation for the bridge replacement project on Straight Creek Road over Baker Fork.

• A purchased service contract among commissioners, the Highland County Department of Job and Family Services and FRS Transportation.

• A 2022 Highland County Chip Seal Program change order for the Highland County Engineer and Miller-Mason Paving Co.

At 10:30 a.m., commissioners held an executive session with counsel Brett Geary of Clemans, Nelson & Associates to discuss personnel. No action was taken.