An Amish path possible


A possible path for the Amish community in southeastern Highland County might be coming, according to Highland County Engineer Christopher Fauber at the weekly Wednesday meeting of the county commissioners.

Fauber said the organization had a consultant come in and talk about ways the county could possibly use some of the $450 million that Governor Mike DeWine set aside with the Appalachia Regional Commission.

He said they applied for a multi-use path, like a bicycle path, that would be wide enough to have buggies pass through. He also said the path would make a safe route for the Amish community “mainly” in the southeastern part of the county toward Hillsboro.

Fauber said that if the application is approved, a free study would be approved and completed to see the costs associated with the path. He said that when the county gets to that point, it would need to connect with Hillsboro to coordinate how the path would work within the city limits. He also said they were hoping to find out in around six weeks that the study could be approved.

Fauber said he was trying to keep the path on as many county sections as possible to help upgrade those facilities, but some bridges as well.

In other news, commissioner Dave Daniels said that “major” repairs are being looked at for the Rolling Acres and Rocky Fork Lake sewer systems over the course of the next two or three years. He said the improvements are needed because “certain components” are at the end of their useful life and need to be replaced. He said there are other components that must be bid out and that the commissioners are looking for different funding scenarios.

Daniels also said that the improvements will cost around $4 million. He said the Rocky Fork Lake sewer improvements were estimated to be around $3.4 million, with the Rolling Acres sewer improvements being around $600,000 to $700,000, with those numbers dependent on the bids.

Daniels said the result of the improvements will mean increased user fees and costs from those on the systems, but that decisions haven’t been made about those figures.

Commissioner Terry Britton, said the county is looking at all the different avenues of funding for the project, including possibly low-interest loans.

Britton said the county was still looking for a place to put the possible MARCS Tower, with its “best option” at the moment being in Concord Township. However, Dave Bushelman, director of the Highland County Emergency Management Agency, said that a location in Marshall Township would be better and the biggest bang for the county’s buck by 40 to 50 percent. However, Bushelman also said that the area in Concord Township would help fill in some of the area in Marshall Township and the holes around Mowrystown.

Regarding the Marshall Township location, Britton said it would be better but the county doesn’t have a location there and would have to lease or buy ground in that area.

He said that for the whole tower package, the commissioners put together a cost estimate with the engineering at $60,000, the tower at $600,000, the shelter at $220,000, the radio, control antenna and other similar aspects at $400,000, for a total of $1.28 million. Britton said that with the $750,000 in the state capital budget set aside for the project, the county would need to put together $530,000 for the remainder of the project.

Dick Miller, a field operations manager with the MARCS program, said the organization has leases in its systems but that they’re “not cost-effective.” Miller said the state would pay for the lease, with MARCS doing the lease negotiations with the prospective landowner. He also said the organization would want at least a 25- to 30-year lease due to the significant increases in the tower business.

Britton said there was a possible landowner located across the field from the other Marshall site that was an interested party and that the county would contact them to start the process of getting them in touch with Miller and MARCS.

Scott Miller, Highland County 911 coordinator, was in attendance to speak about the possible Text to 911 system. The system, which the commissioners later approved, would have already been required by the state with the next-generation development the county has received.

For this system, Miller said he was “hoping” that the system would take six to eight months to get up and running.

He also said that Thursday, Friday and Saturday seemed to be the busiest last year, with 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. being the busiest time of day. He also said the organization took 37,232 calls for service last year, adding that number doesn’t count the number of times the phone rang.

Miller said 8,740 fire and EMS calls were dispatched last year, the highest number ever recorded since it started a central dispatch system.

Britton said that the board of commissioners received a notice that they would be receiving a second allocation for the opioid settlement. He said the county would get $22,972.42 before May 2, 2023. He said the commissioners planned to work with the prosecutor’s office and the probation department to work to find a way to help the opioid situation in the county.

Britton said the commissioners met with Adele Evans, Ohio Department of Transportation regional manager, about a possible Transportation Improvement District that could come to Highland County. He said there would need to be discussion on it because it could bring extra grant money, but it would also have its own board and a cost related to that area.

The commissioners opened bids for mowing services at the Highland County Justice Center, the Hi-Tec Center, the Highland County Courthouse, the old Highland County Dog Pound, the new Highland County Dog Pound and the sewer treatment plant.

The board approved the apparent low bidder of Gaines Mowing Services, with the condition that the company has all of its licenses for herbicides, of $530 per week, about 26 mowing sessions, with landscaping, weed control and fall clean-up at the Hi-Tec Center for $900, and landscaping, mulching and fall clean-up at the Highland County Courthouse for $725, for a total of about $13,780.

The commissioners also approved a quote from Intrado and the Life and Safety Solutions Co. for the Text to 911 systems for a one-time fee of $3,725 and a yearly recurring fee of $16,000 for a five-year plan.

The commissioners approved a letter of support for the Highland County Community Action Organization to help expand its parking lot at the Jefferson Street Business Center in Greenfield.

The commissioners approved a measure from the Ohio Cardinal Land Conservancy regarding zoning and planning in Penn Township relating to an agricultural easement program.

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

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