Highland County Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin on Wednesday declared March 5-11 Ohio 4-H Week.
Three outstanding Highland County 4-H students attended Wednesday’s board of commissioners meeting, led by Highland County Extension Director and 4-H Youth Development Educator Kathy Bruynis, to accept the proclamation.
Lane Frost, a Fairfield senior who plans to major in political science at the University of Dayton, said his favorite part of 4-H is the variety of projects students can work on.
Quinn Walker, a Lynchburg-Clay senior who was able to attend the inauguration of President Donald Trump through 4-H, said her favorite aspect of 4-H is the unique opportunities it affords students. Walker plans to attend the University of Cincinnati to become a nurse anesthetist.
Braden Heizer, a Fairfield senior who plans to major in agricultural engineering at Ohio State University, said one of his favorite aspects of the 4-H experience is teaching and mentoring younger 4-H students.
In other news, Wilkin said some local farmers have been approached recently by solar companies interested in installing solar technology on their land, offering contracts that look appealing at first, but deeper down benefit the company more than the landowner. Wilkin and commissioner Jeff Duncan recently attended a Highland and Brown County Farm Bureau meeting where Wilkin said officials warned farmers not to sign right away and consult with their local Farm Bureau before moving forward.
Wilkin and commissioner Terry Britton recently attended a legislative briefing in Chillicothe, communicating with state representative Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and senator Bob Peterson on a number of topics, including indigent defense reimbursement, fifth-degree felony prison time, and Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) tax policies.
Wilkin said the state offers 50-percent reimbursement for indigent defense and voting equipment costs, but the percentage the county has seen is more in the 40s. Wilkin said there have been negotiations to get more money from the state on the grounds that legal documents say “The State of Ohio v. [Defendant]” rather than “Highland County v. [Defendant].”
According to Wilkin, Peterson said during the meeting that a recent proposal in the state budget bill requiring fifth-degree felony incarceration sentences to be served in local facilities has many Ohio judges concerned. Peterson said the six-month budget process is only two months in, and the bill will spend three months before the House of Representatives – although most of the action takes place in the last 10 days.
Another discussion topic at the briefing, Wilkin said, was the $800,000 hit the county will likely take with changes to Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) policies. As previously reported by The Times-Gazette, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber sent a letter to the Highland County Commissioners last August saying the county will no longer be able to impose sales taxes on MCOs, which are funded by Medicaid.
Wilkin said at the time he had spoken with Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger, who said there may be ways to temporarily fill the gap – although he added those methods “would not be lasting.”
Commissioners also passed a resolution establishing a Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities endowment fund and added a line item to the Board of DD budget in the amount of $190,000 for other expenses.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.