The Highland County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday agreed to give the $17,000 requested by Highland County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) last week so that the organization can hire an administrator for a sizable grant for water quality along the Clear Creek watershed.
As reported last week, representatives of the SWCD said the district’s workload has increased. Another employee is needed, they said, as the SWCD readies for implementation of an $850,000 grant, gained through a partnership with ODNR , the City of Hillsboro, US Fish and Wildlife, and the Wild Turkey Federation.
The grant, which is over a five-year period, is for conservation practices and water quality in the Clear Creek watershed, which comprises a total of 29,000 acres. The grant money does not allow for administrative expenses.
The money granted by the county will be matched by the state.
While there was talk last week of tying the project together with work being done by the Rocky Fork Lake Area Safety and Advancement Plan (RFL-ASAP), Commissioner Jeff Duncan said Wednesday that could not be done in time as the soil and water district must have a signed letter of intent for the grant by next week.
Commission Board President Shane Wilkin said the water quality of Clear Creek, which feeds Hillsboro’s water supply and eventually empties into Rocky Fork Lake, is good. The grant would help ensure that water quality remains in good condition. He said any issues there “could have a pretty detrimental effect” at the lake, which would certainly undermine all the work that is being done to make the lake a destination.
Commissioner Tom Horst echoed that, and added, “The lake is probably in the best shape it’s ever been in. We want to keep it that way.”
Horst made the motion to give the soil and water district the requested $17,000, with Duncan seconding. All three approved the motion.
Wilkin said the concern when the request was made last week was due to the additional costs of foster kids in care, which last year cost the county about a million dollars.
But with measures being taken at Job and Family Services, and the county having set aside a special fund this fiscal year for additional costs for foster children, Wilkin and Horst said things for now are better there.
On another matter, representatives of a new nonprofit organization met with commissioners to garner support for their initiative, which is to help other local organizations.
Right now the group, called Today’s Help, Tomorrow’s Future (THTF), is planning a Derby Days gala at Alley 21 on June 4 to raise funds for the Highland County Homeless Shelter.
According to THTF members on Wednesday, the shelter is “very low funded,” and is in need of some work and items are needed for those the shelter serves.
The group’s plans include providing a play area for children, installing a clothesline, tilling and fencing a garden, mowing, providing learning activities for children, and just supplying everyday necessities.
Liticia Walker of THTF said, “There is just such a need there and I don’t think people realize the need.”
Hollis Stevenson, also with THTF, said homelessness in the area goes unnoticed.
“You don’t see it,” she said. “(The homeless) are a very, very hard to recognize part of our population.”
Josh Walker of THTF said that among the things planned for the shelter; even the “small necessities” are needed. THTF President Steven Williams mirrored that thought, and also said this is an opportunity for the community to come together to help.
According to Williams, the group’s goal is to identify a local organization each year that THTF’s efforts can benefit.
June’s gala will include dinner, raffles, a silent auction, and more, with all proceeds going toward providing for the Highland County Homeless Shelter. Tickets are $50 and attendees should dress in their “derby best.” Seating is limited to 100 people. The event will be held in the Bicentennial Room at Alley 21 beginning at 7 p.m.
According to a press release, ticket price includes a pre-dinner comedy act, appetizers and beverages, a choice of three dinner entrees, and a dessert buffet.
Following the event, local band Blue Steel will be performing at Alley 21.
To purchase tickets call Steve Williams at 937-728-6612, Hollis Stevenson at 937-402-8686, or Liticia and Josh Walker at 740-542-0902. Contact the same for more information about the event, about the organization, or for questions on how you can volunteer or donate items.
Physical donations of items for the homeless shelter can be taken to the shelter, 145 Homestead Dr. in Hillsboro, daily between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Donations may also be taken to the Walker residence, 450 North St. in Greenfield, but call 740-542-0902 in advance. Monetary donations can be taken to any Southern Hills Bank branch or mailed to PO Box 1792, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.
Anyone interested can join the group at its next meeting on March 15 at 8 p.m. at Alley 21, Williams said.
As commissioners proclaimed on Wednesday, the annual Clean Up, Fix Up, and Pick Up Month is in April, and according to Randy Mustard of the Rocky Fork Lake Community Alliance, people will gather the last three Saturdays of April to clean up, fix up, and pick up around the lake area.
The first one was held in 2006, Mustard said, and the efforts through the years have been successful and made a difference at the lake.
People interested in helping out should meet at the campground store parking lot by 8 a.m. on April 16, 23, and 30. Volunteers are welcome to come and help for whatever time they can give.
On other matters, Duncan said the dog pound has been awarded a $2,500 grant for spaying and neutering from the Ohio Pet fund. Also, he said a washing station at the pound is in the process of being installed. The funds for that washing station were donated by an individual, he said previously.
Wilkin said that commissioners will meet on three different occasions through to Friday as they interview the three companies who submitted requests for qualifications for energy-saving projects on county buildings.
Wilkin said at a previous meeting that what it boils down to is that the savings that are had due to the improvements would pay for the improvements themselves. And if those savings don’t happen, the company that did the improvements would pay for what the savings would have been.
Commissioners are to discuss the matter further in open session the March 16 meeting of the board.
In other business, while meetings typically begin at 8:30 a.m. each Wednesday, the April 6 meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners will be at 10 a.m., and the April 13 meeting will begin at 11:30 a.m. The meetings are open to the public.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.