County seeking MARCS upgrade


Local emergency service agencies are trying again to secure a grant that would allow for the purchase of MARCS radios.

Highland County Commission President Shane Wilkin said at Wednesday’s commission board meeting that he and Dave Bushelman with the sheriff’s office and the Highland County Emergency Management Agency recently met with Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger’s office in regard to the grant written by Bushelman.

The grant, Wilkin said, is for more than $483,000 and would allow for the purchase MARCS radios for 14 agencies, seven EMS/fire agencies and seven law enforcement agencies.

Commissioner Jeff Duncan said seeking the grant was the second joint effort of the agencies to purchase MARCS radios. Last year Highland County was denied.

Neighboring counties have the MARCS system, Wilkin said, and since Highland County doesn’t, any inter-county communication between law enforcement and emergency services that originate on the road must be relayed through dispatchers.

An example that highlighted the need for the upgrade was a recent vehicle pursuit that was in and out of Highland and Fayette counties, with communications between deputies having to go through dispatchers since they couldn’t communicate via radio.

In other business on Wednesday, the Ohio Auditor’s Office released Financial Health Indicator reports for the state’s 247 cities and 88 counties. According to a press release from state auditor Dave Yost’s office, the reports are meant to “help cities and counties better assess their financial health and make informed budgetary decisions to avoid potential future fiscal stress.”

Out of 17 indicators all color-coded to show the level of financial health, Highland County’s report shows 10 green (positive outlook), three yellow (cautionary outlook), two red (critical outlook), and two black which are indicators not applicable to Highland County.

But according to Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley there is some confusion as to how the state has come up with some of its numbers, and even after a phone conference on Monday with a representatives of Yost’s office and other commissioners from other counties, there are a lot of unanswered questions.

Fawley said later he thought the tool is “a great theory,” but without some more understanding the tool doesn’t mean much.

He noted one of the county’s indicators was shown as critical because it reflected the county borrowing money to pay off the Justice Center, which it did to secure a new loan at a lower interest rate, but the indicator didn’t take into account the payout.

The county auditor also noted that more than 80 percent of Ohio’s counties had “something other than green” in their reports. Additionally, the reports were only done for cities and counties, not the state or townships, nor other municipalities below a city status, and not school districts.

To see the report, go to and click on the “search for a city or county” tab, then search for Highland County.

Commissioner Terry Britton reported that he attended a meeting of the solid waste district where data from 2015, the most recent data available, was reviewed. Throughout the four counties that comprise the district, 40,660 tons of materials were recycled that year.

A full list of recycling bin locations throughout the county is available at

Britton said the district has two collections days set for the summer: an electronics only collection on Aug. 5 and a tire collection on Aug. 19. The sites for the collections are yet to be determined.

Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said the health department is currently doing community health improvement planning as part of the process for the Highland County Health Department to become accredited. The planning includes identifying issues and figuring out strategies to remedy them. To that end, a public meeting will be held on Feb. 16 at 9 a.m. at the health department, 1487 N. High St., suite 400, Hillsboro.

The Highland County Board of Commissioners meets in regular session every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. on the second floor of the county administration building, 119 Governor Foraker Pl., Hillsboro. The meetings are open to the public. The board office can be reached by calling 937-393-1911.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.

Commissioners Jeff Duncan, left, Shane Wilkin, center, and Terry Britton, right, are pictured during Wednesday’s meeting of the commission board. Jeff Duncan, left, Shane Wilkin, center, and Terry Britton, right, are pictured during Wednesday’s meeting of the commission board.
New radios important for cross-county communication

By Angela Shepherd

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