COVID-19 tops brief agenda for commissioners


With only one resolution and one item up for discussion, Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Gary Abernathy and Terry Britton had an abbreviated agenda during their regular Wednesday meeting that was dominated by discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commission President Duncan said that county services continue and that county employees were still at work, but each department has “shortened its staff.”

“A lot of them are working from home that can do that,” he said. “They’re rotating staff in and out, and trying to comply with the governor’s orders to keep everyone safe.”

He said that prior to Wednesday’s commissioners meeting, he had been at the daily briefing of the Highland County Emergency Operations Center.

“Sheriff (Donnie) Barrera is there representing law enforcement,” Duncan said. “David Manning represents all of the fire chiefs, the board of health was there as was Dave Bushelman from the Emergency Management Agency, Marc Bayless from Highland District Hospital, and prosecutor Anneka Collins sits in on that meeting as well.”

The EOC is in continuous contact with all of the county life squads, Duncan said, and Highland District Hospital was staying in touch with other medical facilities in neighboring counties.

“All of the medical supplies coming into the county are now going through the emergency operations center, and then they’re allocated as needed to the hospital, life squads and individual doctor’s offices, as requested,” Duncan said. “I feel confident, and those people are putting in some long hours.”

Britton said the pandemic could have a detrimental effect on county finances, and recommended that both budgets and spending be watched closely in the near term.

“Some counties are putting out statements where they’re cutting their budgets,” Britton said. “But I think we just need to be prudent and err on the side of caution.”

He expressed hope in President Trump’s statement Tuesday that the country could return to some sort of normalcy by Easter, calling it “a great goal, and if everyone remains focused and strong, we can get there.”

In other matters, the sole resolution approved dealt with capital improvements at the Highland County Airport.

Under discussion was the next county records retention committee meeting, which Duncan said would take place immediately after the commissioners meeting next Wednesday.

He indicated it was a bi-annual meeting that dealt with changes in keeping county records up-to-date.

“We have the new body scanner at the sheriff’s office,” Duncan said. “We’ll have to create some policy as to how long those records will be kept, and we’ll get guidance from the sheriff’s office as to how that happens.”

He said the committee consisted of himself, county auditor Bill Fawley, clerk of courts Ike Hodson, prosecuting attorney Anneka Collins and recorder Chad McConnaughey.

Abernathy, who had been working closely with dog warden Lanny Brown II in the recent remodeling improvements at the Highland County Dog Pound, said that the facility would be closed on Saturdays until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak, but would remain open normal hours Monday through Friday.

Commissioners also expressed well wishes to longtime county maintenance employee Chuck Taylor, who recently announced his retirement and whose last day will be Friday.

Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.

Shown from left at Wednesday’s weekly board of commissioners meeting are Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and clerk Mary Remsing. from left at Wednesday’s weekly board of commissioners meeting are Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and clerk Mary Remsing. Tim Colliver | The Times-Gazette
Duncan says behind the scenes efforts keeping county safe

By Tim Colliver

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