Commissioners hear about homeless shelter


The Highland County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday heard an update from the staff of the Highland County Homeless Shelter, and issued a number of proclamations.

Greg Hawkins, executive director of the homeless shelter, said the shelter has served 280 clients since Jan. 1, 2016.

According to Hawkins, the shelter has a 75-percent success rate in helping clients find their own permanent housing.

Hawkins said some of the most challenging clients are those with felony records, since landlords often do not rent to felons.

Distance and transportation also create difficulties, Hawkins said, due to the homeless shelter’s location.

“We’re really not close to a lot of things,” Hawkins told The Times-Gazette after the meeting. “But we appreciate the support of the community, and we look forward to serving Highland County in the future.”

According to its website, the Highland County Homeless Shelter can serve up to 28 men, women and children for a maximum of 90 days, offering beds, food, shelter and resources for those trying to get back on their feet.

The commissioners issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 11-19 Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Also Wednesday, home care and hospice workers from Highland District Hospital attended the meeting.

Hazel Smith, manager of HDH’s home care program, said her staff continues to serve those who require medical assistance in their homes.

“We wear that badge proudly,” Smith said.

The commissioners declared the month of November Home Care and Hospice Month, and Nov. 8-14 Home Care Aide Week.

In other business Wednesday, commissioner Jeff Duncan said the Highland County Dog Warden staff will now be supervised more directly by the commissioners rather than the sheriff.

According to Duncan, the dog warden’s office is located at the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and dispatched from there, but the staff is employed by the county.

Commissioner Terry Britton told The Times-Gazette after the meeting that the sheriff’s office handled the dog warden’s scheduling and payroll. The county will take over those duties, he said.

The decision was made at sheriff Donnie Barrera’s request after dog warden staff requested benefits through the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents the sheriff’s office.

The dog warden’s office is not represented by the FOP.

Duncan congratulated the winners of the 2017 Highland County General Election, and expressed gratitude toward incumbents who were not re-elected, as well as those who sought public office in the first place.

The commissioners also voted to approve the installation of a new HVAC unit for the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office, approved the purchase of a new steam table for the sheriff’s office, renewed a number of contracts and approved routine financial resolutions.

Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin was absent.

Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.

Highland County Commissioner Terry Britton, left, and commissioners clerk Rhonda Smalley sit in session during a Wednesday commissioners meeting. County Commissioner Terry Britton, left, and commissioners clerk Rhonda Smalley sit in session during a Wednesday commissioners meeting. David Wright | The Times-Gazette
Board signs proclamations, discusses business items

By David Wright

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