From left, commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton are pictured at their May 15 meeting. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
From left, commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton are pictured at their May 15 meeting. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and Gary Abernathy discussed local grant funding and applications, as well as other financial matters such as permissive sales tax receipts and the proposed state budget, during their Wednesday, May 15 meeting.

Duncan announced that the county has received a $484,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission for Rocky Fork Lake wastewater system repair/replacement.

According to Britton, the county is also contributing approximately $121,000 to the sewer system upgrades.

“This is for grinder pump replacements,” Duncan said. “We’ve been in the process of trying to replace them. We did replace 200 of those last year, and so we’re going to try to do as many of these as we can. I think there’s approximately 1,600 of those pumps down there, and they’re all in excess of 20 years old.”

Due to the pumps’ age, they had “gotten to the point that it was more expensive to repair than it is to put in new,” Duncan said.

Britton added that “They’re increasing that line size and putting a new pump station in, and that’s for an economic development site on the east side” of Rocky Fork Lake, “so that was a good grant to get.”

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Commissioners voted 3-0 to authorize the president to execute two grants through Highland County Recycling, one for the village of Leesburg and one for the village of Highland. As previously reported, Highland County Recycling & Litter Prevention outreach specialist Clinton Davis met with commissioners regarding the grants during their May 8 meeting, and Duncan said that commissioners had wanted to look into the applications before voting.

“I did talk to the clerk in Leesburg about some equipment in question as to what they were going to use that equipment for, and we felt like they’re going to use it to clean gum and cigarette butts off the streets,” Duncan said. “In talking with Clint at [Highland County] Recycling, we feel like it’s an acceptable request.

“In their grant, they also had in there cleaning up a property and had $1,000 for that. They notified me that property had been sold and the owner was going to clean up the property, so they didn’t need that additional $1,000.”

The grant for the Village of Highland would be used “to lease dumpsters for some cleanup in the community,” Duncan added.

• • •

Commissioners received an update on the county’s permissive sales tax receipts, with May’s number ($540,582.77) showing an over $87,000 increase from the previous month and an over $37,000 increase from the same month last year.

“We’re trending higher, so that’s good news for the county,” Duncan said.

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Commissioners passed a resolution thanking Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio House of Representatives for their support of state indigent defense reimbursement and calling on the Ohio Senate to continue this support in the state budget bill.

“With the governor’s budget, that will cover approximately 80 percent of our costs, and with the House’s amended budget that’s gone through, there’s an additional $35 million that’s going to take care of the balance of that,” Britton said. “We really appreciate that, and I hope that the Senate sees to pass that on.”

Britton said that this issue is the County Commissioners Association of Ohio’s “number-one priority for all the counties.”

“It’s about a $300,000 deal for us, so it’s pretty important,” he said.

• • •

Commissioners approved the following other resolutions, each by a 3-0 vote:

• A request from EMA for an additional appropriation from unanticipated revenue to W-76 Right-to-Know in the amount of $5,048.50 to Other Expense.

• A request from the Engineer for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds within the Engineer Budget in the amount of $155,870.

• A request from the Engineer for a modification within the Engineer’s budget in the amount of $20,000.

• A request from the Board of Elections for a modification within their budget in the amount of $10,000.

• A resolution to authorize and direct the President of the County Board of Commissioners to submit an application for Community Development Block Grant to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

• A resolution to rescind Resolution No. 19-102, which had been a request from Highland County Airport for additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to Capital Improvement – Airport in the amount of $23,121.12 and approved May 1.

• A resolution to vacate a portion of an alley, also known as South Street, in Fairfield Township effective May 15, following a viewing at 10 a.m. and a hearing at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

• • •

In other miscellaneous business:

• Commissioners have been notified that work to install a backup 911 microwave system at the Highland County Sheriff’s Office is underway.

“It’s designed to then save us money from the phone bill we’ve been paying, which will then let us use the savings to buy the body scanners the sheriff’s been wanting,” Abernathy said.

• Commissioners voted 3-0 to authorize the president to execute a memorandum of understanding for Local Area 7 Workforce Development System.

• Commissioners will be writing a letter of support for the Alternatives to Violence Center for Justice Assistance Grant funding.

• Britton said that he has received a $1,500 estimate to repair the electrical circuits by the Highland County Veterans Memorial and will be speaking to the VFW Post 9094, who have expressed an interest in helping to fund the repair.

• Commissioners have been notified of a need to replace a dead bush in front of the Highland County Courthouse and to repair a “culvert that’s starting to cave in” at the Highland County Justice Center.