The continuing “dramatic effect” that foster care has on the county’s budget was one of many topics discussed during Wednesday’s meeting of the Highland County Commissioners.
Commissioner Shane Wilkin said an increasing number of children needing foster homes is a “residual effect of the drug issue.” He added that this is a challenge that reaches beyond Highland County. “Everybody’s facing kind of the same thing,” he said.
The lack of foster homes in the county, coupled with medical care for involved children, is “definitely taking a dramatic effect on our budget,” Wilkin said.
In all, the county has 175 kids in care, with 32 of those in the pre-adoption stage.
In comparison, commissioner Tom Horst said he recently read in the Wilmington News Journal that Clinton County is seeking foster homes for 69 children in its network.
“We need people in Highland County to come forward and help with this,” Horst said.
He added that from speaking with foster parents, the experience seems to be a rewarding one. “It takes a special person,” he said.
On a related topic, commissioners said they are finalizing the job description for a deputy director at Job and Family Services (JFS). The Times-Gazette previously reported that the county intends to hire someone for the position in preparation for the retirement of current director Deborah Robbins.
On Wednesday, commissioners said that they are looking to hire someone with a background in Children Services.
Also discussed was Hobart-Carl Smith Drive. Horst said that Careytown Road is now open up to the lower entrance of Lowe’s. He said that the hope is to “have Careytown open by the end of the month,” specifically with a goal of Aug. 27, “if the weather cooperates.”
Wilkin added that “a lot of credit” on the project goes to Highland County Engineer Dean Otworth.
“I know I think (Hobart-Carl Smith Drive) is going to help a lot,” Wilkin said.
Along with alleviating traffic congestion, Wilkin said the road will allow the Highland County Sheriff’s Office to have better access to the western half of the county. He added that it will also “hopefully” open up that area to industry.
In other business, commissioners accepted a bid from Baldwin Farms for the Leesburg Industrial Park. The bid is for a $13,500 yearly payment for three years.
The Times-Gazette previously reported that the bid was put out for crop ground to be farmed.
Also accepted were bids for roof repairs at the Highland County Dog Pound. A bid for $1,585 from Angles Mobile Home Service will include repairs to the adoption center roof at the pound. A $2,880 bid was accepted from Gary Cox for roofing over the dog kennels.
Commissioners also signed a contract regarding divider panels at the pound. A motion concerning the panels was passed earlier this month. Horst said the dividers will be installed next week.
Also on Wednesday, commissioner Jeff Duncan said that repairs to the Highland County Justice Center roof are “coming along real well.” The project is expected to be complete after one more week of work.
Duncan also said that improvements to the back side of the Hi-Tech Center have begun.
Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley provided a handout detailing the permissive sales tax for this month, which totaled $543,953. In comparison, the county received $519,029 in permissive sales tax last August.
The total amount received by the county for this year is $4,268,547.
Among the resolutions commissioners passed on Wednesday was one from the county engineer requesting that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) review and declare a speed limit on Ervin Road, starting at U.S. 62 and ending at Holladay Road.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.