Highland County Commissioners Shane Wilkin, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton proclaimed March 4-10 as Ohio 4-H Week in Highland County at their March 7 board meeting. Pictured (l-r) are: Jeff Duncan, OSU Extension Director and 4-H Educator Kathy Bruynis, 4-H member Kurt Hamilton, Shane Wilkin, 4-H member Braden Heizer, 4-H member Austin Leininger, 4-H member Logan Cummings and Terry Britton. (HCP photo by Rory Ryan.)
Highland County Commissioners Shane Wilkin, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton proclaimed March 4-10 as Ohio 4-H Week in Highland County at their March 7 board meeting. Pictured (l-r) are: Jeff Duncan, OSU Extension Director and 4-H Educator Kathy Bruynis, 4-H member Kurt Hamilton, Shane Wilkin, 4-H member Braden Heizer, 4-H member Austin Leininger, 4-H member Logan Cummings and Terry Britton. (HCP photo by Rory Ryan.)

Highland County Commissioners Shane Wilkin, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton proclaimed March 4-10 as Ohio 4-H Week in Highland County at their March 7 board meeting.

Kathy Bruynis, the Ohio State University County Extension director and 4-H educator, along with local 4-H members and junior leaders Kurt Hamilton, Braden Heizer, Logan Cummings and Austin Leininger, accepted the proclamation.

Bruynis said this year there are 800 youths in the club-based traditional 4-H program.

"We also have some real good news," Bruynis told commissioners. "We have 25 new advisers this year and three new clubs. The program is growing, and that's good."

Students from all area schools are involved with the county 4-H program, Bruynis said.

Wilkin pointed out that there are 1,400 farms in Highland County, and agriculture is the county's No. 1 industry.

"I believe there's $128 million in annual agriculture-related receipts in the county," Wilkin said. "That's quite an impact."

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• Commissioners also discussed several maintenance concerns at county buildings. The board voted, 3-0, to approve a contract with Roto-Rooter to reline existing sewer pipes at the Highland County Justice Center at a cost of $24,656 with a five-year guarantee.

Britton said the county had estimates for relining existing pipes and replacing the pipes.

"The quote to tear it up and replace it was $34,000," Britton said, "plus the cost of relocating inmates. That could take two or three weeks."

Wilkin asked Sheriff Donnie Barrera how many inmates were at the Justice Center this week.

"We have 72 today," Barrera said. "Last week, it was up to 85."

"So, at $55 a day for housing 72 inmates for three weeks, we're looking at an additional $83,000 for out-of-county housing," Wilkin said.

"That's if you can find a place," Barrera said. Barrera added that relining the existing pipes would be the least invasive for the Justice Center.

In other building maintenance issues, Britton reported that roofs have been leaking at these county buildings: the Administration Building, the Probation Department, the Hi-TEC Center and the county airport.

"We've got contractors looking at these," Britton said.

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Commissioners also met with Andrea Jaeger of the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System and Tim Koehl and Destiny Bryson of the Highland County Visitors Bureau.

Jaeger presented an update on the Arc of Appalachia's properties, trails, exhibits and services prior to requesting a resolution in support of a Clean Ohio Fund grant to purchase an additional 20 acres in Highland County as part of a 400-acre acquisition that also includes 200 acres in Ross County and 180 in Adams County.

The total cost for the 400 acres is $1 million, with 75 percent from the Clean Ohio Fund and 25 percent from the Arc of Appalachia, Jaeger said. She also said the township trustees have given their support of the purchase. The properties are on Cave Road and Skeen Road.

In a letter of support, the Visitors Bureau of Highland County said:

"The Arc has submitted a request for financial assistance from the Clean Ohio Fund to purchase approximately 20 acres of land in order to expand the Arc’s existing 2,500-plus-acre Highlands Nature Sanctuary in Highland County. The Arc’s interest in these properties is to be able to expand protection of the Rocky Fork Gorge, which is the heart of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. The Rocky Fork Gorge is one of the state’s most breathtakingly and geologically significant natural wonders.

"The Arc manages 18.5 miles of trails at the Sanctuary, all of which will be open to the public at no charge. The Sanctuary also offers public lodging at its eight fully renovated historic lodges. The addition of these two tracts brings the Arc closer to its goal of piecing together a 10-mile protected corridor on the Rocky Fork Gorge, connecting Rocky Fork State Park with Paint Creek State Park.

"The Highlands Nature Sanctuary continues to be one of the most significant tourism attractions for the County, drawing visitors from all corners of the state and beyond. For this reason, the Visitors Bureau of Highland County adds their support to this project and would appreciate your consideration of this grant proposal."

Commissioners voted, 3-0, to approve a resolution in support of the purchase.

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Koehl also updated commissioners on the 2020 World Heritage Site designations as selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance.

These sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity and are legally protected by international treaties.

"The Paint Valley region was the center of civilizations of the Paleoindian Period (13000 B.C. to 7000 B.C.)," Koehl said. "After the last Ice Age, they settled in the Miami and Scioto rivers watersheds. We have the largest concentration of ancient earthworks in the world."

According to Ohio History Central, "Paleoindians – an archaeological convenience designation – were the hunting and gathering peoples who originally discovered the Americas. They lived in Ohio in the last centuries of the Ice Age. Early Paleoindians hunted now extinct species of big game animals such as mammoth and mastodon. They also hunted deer and small game, fished and gathered nuts and fruit when available. Their distinctive spear points are found across North America."

Koehl said the current UNESCO focus for the 2020 site designation is on Chillicothe, Newark and Lebanon.

"The Arc of Appalachia has contacts in Columbus, and they can be a great partner for us to understand this and take advantage of the economic impact this can have," Koehl said.

Koehl encouraged commissioners to look into the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

According to UNESCO, to be selected, "A World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet. The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity."

For more information, go to http://whc.unesco.org/ and http://arcofappalachia.org/.

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Resolutions

Commissioners unanimously passed these resolutions:

• Commissioners requested an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds within the capital improvement general fund, other expenses, in the amount of $200,000.

• Job and Family Services requested a reimbursement of funds from CSEA Fund Account C-00 to public assistance in the amount of $8,204.66 for February 2018 child support shared cost distribution.

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Telethon March 28

Commissioners reminded the community that the 46th annual Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon for the Highland County Society for Children and Adults will be March 28. For more information, go to http://www.highlandcountypress.com/Content/In-The-News/In-The-News/Article/Patrick-P-J-Norton-named-poster-child-for-March-28-fundraising-telethon/2/20/43075.

Meeting date change

The commissioners will hold their first April meeting on Thursday, April 5 instead of Wednesday, April 4.