Pictured, from left, are Highland County commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
Pictured, from left, are Highland County commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
The Highland County Justice Center is one step closer to the purchase and installation of a body scanner, following approval by Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and Gary Abernathy at their Wednesday, Jan. 15 meeting.

Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera has previously met with commissioners to discuss potential funding options for the request.

Barrera told commissioners Wednesday he has tentatively selected a Tek 84 scanner from Intercept Technologies, which he said is estimated to cost $149,000. He added that he still wants to see the scanner in person before making a final decision but has received positive feedback from other sheriff’s offices, including in Fairfield and Delaware counties.

“I’ve been doing a lot of checking with some of the local sheriff’s offices and the Maysville Police Department. The Maysville Jail has one of the Intercept systems,” Barrera told commissioner. “Everybody loves the system.”

Along with the $149,000 quote, the sheriff discussed other fees associated with the scanner. Barrera said that there is a $262 Ohio Department of Health fee for three years before having to be recertified, and a consulting company checks the radiation annually for $250 a year. After the “two-year, 100-percent warranty” expires, a $10,000 annual service fee will be assessed, Barrera said.

Britton asked if those fees would “stay constant.” “Yes,” Barrera said. “That’s pretty much the standard fee once it runs out of the warranty and you purchase the machine.”

“Is there going to be any extra employment for this?” Britton asked.

“No, they come in and do a three-day training,” Barrera said. “They stay on site. They train usually one or two people, and then they become the trainer, once they become proficient with it. They start training other officers, and soon you can have all your officers trained on this particular machine.

“Everybody I’ve talked to who has this machine says it’s a real simple machine to operate.”

Abernathy asked if they would have to do any “modifications” to the justice center to fit the machine, such as “tearing out a wall.”

“I believe it’ll fit right in where we have our DataMaster machine,” Barrera said.

Britton also asked if there was a security camera for the room where the machine would be placed. “We’re just trying to get down to all the costs involved,” he said.

Barrera said that if the camera isn’t facing that area or if there isn’t one in that room already, they could add one when the new camera system — which was approved by commissioners in November — is installed.

Barrera told commissioners that he would be willing to appropriate $49,000 from the commissary fund to put toward the scanner’s purchase. Aramark district manager Mike Colvin has also met with the sheriff and commissioners twice since December 2018 with options to help fund the scanner’s purchase, and “the offer’s still on the table,” according to the sheriff. “They’re willing to stay on board with something like that,” Barrera said.

“I think we have some funds set aside for this,” Duncan replied.

Barrera said that unless there is a medical reason to prevent it, each inmate would be screened through this machine. He spoke about its potential impact at the jail.

“Right now we’re at 97 inmates in our jail, and we’ve got one or two inmates that are locked down because we know they’ve got contraband on their body,” Barrera said. “We have to isolate them to keep them from the other inmates.

“I think the purchase of one of these machines is going to help alleviate — it’s not going to stop everything, of course, but it sure is going to alleviate a lot of the issues we have with getting contraband inside the jail.”

Barrera said the scanner is also “one of the lowest-dosage radiation machines that there is on the market.”

“An individual in this particular machine can go through this body scanner up to a thousand times in a year,” Barrera said. “They stand inside a box, like a telephone booth. They face away from the X-ray machine, and it does a four-second scan on the body, which is one of the quickest, so there’s less exposure. There’s no radiation splash outside of the box, where we could stand right beside it and look at the picture and not be affected.”

Britton told Barrera that commissioners are “ready to move forward with this, as long as you make your trips and take a look and see if this is definitely the thing that you want.”

Commissioners voted 3-0 to authorize the body scanner purchase, pending Barrera’s final decision, although the sheriff said he thinks they’ve chosen “the one we’ll be happy with.”

• • •

In other discussion Wednesday:

• Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the purchase of a used 2011 Ford truck from Dance Auto Sales in the amount of $15,070, to be used for plowing snow in the winter.

“We’ve got a truck we’ve been plowing snow with for several years, and last time we had it in for some service, it was deemed that maybe its lifespan was limited,” Duncan said. “We’ve been searching the area for a replacement for that vehicle. It’s a single-cab, three-quarter-ton, and it’s got a snow plow and a salt spreader on it.”

Duncan said the truck at Dance Auto Sales has 56,000 miles and is also a three-quarter-ton truck.

“It’s kind of hard to find a three-quarter-ton, single-cab truck,” Britton said. “We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it, but it’s something that we have to have. The old truck that Chuck [Taylor] was using is rusting apart.”

• Permissive sales tax receipts are up slightly from this time last year, at $538,501.61 compared to $532,304.23 in January 2019.

“It’s $6,197 better than last year, so we’re off to a good start,” Duncan said. “It could be better, but it certainly could be worse, so that’s a positive thing to start off on a positive note for that.”

• Abernathy invited the public to the first meeting of the Highland County Community Fund, which is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. in the Highland County Administration Building’s basement meeting room. The board will hear a presentation from representative of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.

According to Abernathy, “The foundation will work in coordination with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio to create opportunities for Highland County citizens and communities by inspiring and supporting philanthropy and assisting various projects and initiatives through grants.”

• Duncan noted that they are awaiting quotes to repair the back door of the Highland County Courthouse, which will be discussed at a future meeting.

• Britton announced that Chuck Taylor, who he said does maintenance work and writes programs for the county, has informed commissioners of his plan to retire at the end of March.

“Chuck knows a lot about the inner workings of most of the county buildings,” Duncan said.

Abernathy said Taylor is a “go-to guy” for the county whenever any issue arises, while Britton said he has “been a great asset to the county for 39 years.”

“We’re sad to hear that, but on the other hand, congratulations to Chuck,” Duncan said on Taylor’s retirement.

• • •

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

• A transfer from County, Transfers Out, to W-75 in the amount of $30,000 per capital match.

• A blanket resolution to cover all travel of Recorder Chad McConnaughey to all state and district meetings as deemed necessary for 2020.

• A request from the Engineer to establish alternative schedules of vacation leave and holidays for employees of the appointing authority for whom the state employment relations board has not established an appropriate bargaining unit pursuant to section 4771.06 of the Revised Code.

• A resolution to authorize the Engineer to use the existing county employee forces and proceed by “Force Account” in the construction, reconstruction, improvement, maintenance or repair of roads, bridges and culverts as determined by the County Engineer in Highland County during the year 2020.

• A blanket resolution to cover all travel of Christopher Fauber, P.E., P.S., Highland County Engineer, to meetings for 2020.

• A request from Job and Family Services for a reimbursement of funds from CSEA to Public Assistance, H-00 in the amount of $14,605.76.

• A modification within County in the amount of $5,935.

• A request from the Sheriff for a modification with the Sheriff’s budget in the amount of $1,267.

• A request from Probation to establish a new fund, T-32 JRIG Incentive, and a request for an appropriation from unappropriated funds in the amount of $29,161.95.

• A request from Probation for a budget modification within the T-31 JRIG fund in the amount of $17,747.

• A request from Probation for a budget modification within T-33 Community Control in the amount of $25,000.

• A request from Probation to establish a new fund, T-37 SFY 2020 Specialized Docket Subsidy. The new fund shall have the line item and appropriation in the amount of $75,000.

• A request from Job and Family Services for a reimbursement from Public Assistance to County General Fund for central services support for calendar year 2020 in the amount of $32,352.

• A request from Job and Family Services for a reimbursement from Child Support Enforcement to County General for central services support for calendar year 2020 in the amount of $2,985.

• A request from Juvenile Court for a budget modification within M-00 Youth Services in the amount of $34,947.33.

• A request from Clerk of Courts for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to Certificate of Title, Other Expense in the amount of $100,000.

• A final resolution replacing Bridge No. HIG-CR10-0162.

• A modification within County in the amount of $37,980.

Commissioners also approved three contracts:

• A contract with the Montgomery County Microfilming Board for the 2020 calendar year, as they “are currently storing some records on microfilm” for the Highland County recorder’s office, according to Duncan.

• The annual indigent defense services agreement with the city of Hillsboro for 2020.

• A contract between the engineer’s office and Sidwell Company for GIS services to improve their records retention.