Sheriff Barrera announces retirement


Sheriff Donnie Barrera announced his retirement from his post, effective May 31, 2024, at the Wednesday meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners.

Barrera made the announcement with a statement read by the commissioners, saying “It’s been a pleasure working for the folks of Highland County. I will miss all the great people throughout the county who I have had the pleasure of serving as your Highland County sheriff.”

Barrera said he planned to stay around Highland County “for a while.” He also said he plans to find work somewhere else that was “a little less stressful.”

“You’ve done a great job out there and we really appreciate what you’ve done,” commissioner Dave Daniels said.

Daniels also said the board would pass a resolution at next week’s meeting that would install Randy Sanders, who defeated former Highland County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brandon Stratton in a March primary election for sheriff, as sheriff on an emergency basis. Barrera’s current term was not supposed to officially end until Jan. 5, 2025.

Stratton was relieved of his duties with the sheriff’s office by Barrera a few days after the election pending the results of an investigation. Details of that investigation have not been released.

In other news, Daniels reported that the board of commissioners would be in Columbus on Thursday to meet with the Ohio Department of Taxation, Ohio Department of Development and the Ohio Power Siting Board to discuss pilot payments and permit issues related to solar projects in Highland County.

Daniels said the county requested the meeting to discuss some of its problems and also look for solutions. He said that some of those issues have been related to completion and reporting timelines in terms of when a project becomes operational and should be making payments, as well as general traffic and paper flow problems.

“It’s going through three different departments out there,” commissioner Terry Britton said. “It seemed like that it’s, I’m not gonna say that they don’t know what they’re doing, but they don’t really, they just pass it on, you know, there’s no conversation.”

The board of commissioners opened four bids on an Ohio Public Works Commission project for paving 4.35 miles of New Market Road. The bides were from Fillmore Construction for $1,098,969, Miller-Mason Paving Co. for $983,516, Cox Paving Co. for $1,240,843.760 and The Shelley Company for $1,209,758.750.

Highland County Deputy Engineer Christian Dunlap said the county needs to hold the bids for “up to” 60 days. Highland County Engineer Christopher Fauber said the money for the project doesn’t get released until July 1, but the county tries to do the bid early so the project can be on schedule.

The board of commissioners also held another bid opening for playground equipment and park improvements in Clay Township. The first bid was from Kyler Construction and Excavating for $199,283, with their bid including the demolition, site preparations, concrete plaza, shelter plaza, fencing, ball field, drainage, electric, gravel and miscellaneous. The second bid was from Fillmore Construction with items one through four giving a bottom line of $295,843. There were also bids on multiple alternates, those being Alternative 1 for $33,860, Alternative 2 for $9,900, Alternative 3 for $2,500, Alternative 4 for $28,000 and Alternative 5 for $70,000.

The board of commissioners said the bids were under review.

Julia Wise, executive director of Highland County Community Action, was in attendance to discuss the organization’s application for the Community Housing Improvement and Preservation Program. She said their application is in progress.

Multiple members of ARC of Appalachia were in attendance to talk about updates on their program. Kim Baker, outreach coordinator with ARC, said the organization’s scope is over 11,000 acres of protected land, and reported almost 100,000 visitors in its 13-acre radius in 2023. Baker said the organization is currently in the process of renovating some of its old bridges, with one already finished and two more to go.

She also said bats are finally returning to the caves. She said their little brown bats came back last year and the tri-color bats which winter in the caves are also “slowly rebounding.”

Baker said something new the organization has is its Cliff Run Nature Preserve. She said it is about 300 acres and is located just east of Paint Creek State Park on the Highland-Ross County line.

There were eight resolutions approved by the board including a request for the creation of a new fund for a Greenfield special election.

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

No posts to display