Highland County Commissioners discussed the local foster care situation during their meeting Wednesday.
Commissioner Shane Wilkin said there are about 144 children in the custody of Highland County Children Services. Currently, there are 12 foster homes in the county. That number, Wilkin said, will decrease to 11 following an upcoming adoption.
“The drug issue is affecting the Children Services dramatically,” he said.
As an example, Wilkin said he has spoken with a deputy at the Highland County Sheriff’s Office. He reported that after just two households saw child removals, the number of children in custody jumped from 135 to 144.
Wilkin added that these removals are “not a thing we can control.”
Commissioner Tom Horst added that such effects from drug use are being faced across the country. “It’s not getting any better,” he said.
“Everyone’s fighting the heroin issue,” Wilkin added.
Wilkin then said the number of children in the county’s custody is “becoming a financial issue that will have to be addressed.” He said that some children are in homes that are three hours away from Highland County.
Horst added that “some of (the kids are) … clear at the other end of the state.”
In other businesses, commissioners said that Candle-Lite will be celebrating its 175th anniversary. Wilkin said the company is “the oldest continually operating candle company in the United States.” He added that it is the second oldest such company in the world.
Commissioners said Candle-Lite will hold a celebration on July 25. Wilkin said the company has “quite the line-up coming, to the tune of the Speaker of the House, as in Mr. Boehner.”
Commissioners also discussed the RFL-ASAP (Rocky Fork Lake Area Safety and Advancement Planning Process) meeting held on Tuesday. They said that a whiteboard at the meeting listed between six and 10 local businesses as hiring.
Horst also said that he recently spoke with Greenfield City Manager Ron Coffey about the ongoing railroad project. He said that a total of two crossings have been “taken care of right now.”
Commissioner Jeff Duncan then said that “some concerns (have been) expressed to (him) about the traffic flow” with the the constructin of Hobart/Carl Smith Drive. He said he spoke with Highland County Engineer Dean Otworth and that possible solutions are still being considered.
He added that Otworth said the project is “running a little ahead of schedule.”
Wilkin added that commissioners “apologize for the inconvenience” due to the construction of that project, “but in the end, it will allow for better access all the way around.”
Duncan also told commissioners that the primary repairs at the Hi-Tech Center, including the parking lot and storm sewers, have been completed.
Commissioners said they are currently looking at options for new flooring in the center’s meeting rooms.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.