The Highland County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday heard an update from the Arc of Appalachia, a regional conservation nonprofit, and approved a resolution in support of the organization obtaining 20 acres of Highland County property as part of an expansion project.
Andrea Jaeger, who works with the nonprofit, said hiking trails on the Arc’s preserves in Highland County are open and free of charge.
The Arc is responsible for conservation efforts and maintenance at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary and Fort Hill Earthworks, Jaeger said.
According to Jaeger, a number of new program offerings are in the works, such as education days for Rainsboro Elementary students and guided hikes.
For more information on programming, visit www.arcofappalachia.org.
After some discussion, Jaeger requested the commissioners approve a resolution in support of the nonprofit obtaining 20 acres of land in Highland County as part of a grant-funded 400-acre expansion project.
According to Jaeger, the Clean Ohio Trails grant will cover 75 percent of a $1 million land acquisition project in Highland, Adams and Ross County. The Arc will cover the remaining 25 percent, Jaeger said.
Most of the land is located in Adams County and Ross County, according to Jaeger.
In Highland County, Jaeger said the organization will obtain 20 acres of property on Cave Road and Skeen Road, portions of which were donated to the organization by private owners.
According to Jaeger, the organization was previously given approval from township trustees for the acquisition, and required a resolution from the commissioners in order to be awarded the grant.
Board of commissioners President Shane Wilkin said while the board has had some disagreements with the Arc of Appalachia in the past, he was in favor of granting the request.
The board unanimously approved the resolution.
Also present at Wednesday’s meeting were Highland County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Destiny Bryson and Tim Koehl, who was recently installed as president of the visitors bureau board.
Bryson and Koehl both said they supported the Arc’s request.
Bryson said the trails, parks and lodges in the Arc’s preserves generate considerable tourism revenue from out-of-county visitors.
Koehl said the Arc of Appalachia and its connections in Columbus could play a key role in the Paint Valley being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to Koehl, the Paint Valley area was the “center of culture” during the Paleoindian Period due to its topography and mineral deposits, and as a result, has a large concentration of ancient earthworks that make it a prime candidate to be a world heritage site.
Koehl said he has attended meetings where the idea has been discussed, and nearby communities have been investing resources in securing the title. Koehl urged the commissioners to do the same.
Also Wednesday, the commissioners declared the week of March 4-10 4-H week in Highland County.
The board heard from Kathy Bruynis, Highland County OSU Extension director and 4-H youth development educator, about various 4-H programs. Bruynis said there are three new 4-H clubs and 25 new counselors in the county this year.
Eight hundred students belong to local 4-H clubs, according to Bruynis.
Also present for the proclamation were 4-H club members Braden Heizer of Leesburg, Logan Cummings of Seaman, Kurt Hamilton of Lynchburg, and Austin Leininger, also of Lynchburg.
In other matters, the board approved a contract with Roto-Rooter for sewer line repair at the Highland County Justice Center.
Commissioner Terry Britton said the project will cost $24,000, compared to a $34,000 quote from a different company for complete replacement.
According to Britton, the floors in the justice center would have to be torn up to replace the bad sewer lines, and Wilkin added that the cost for housing the jail inmates elsewhere during the project would be excessive.
Britton said the repair includes a five-year guarantee.
Britton also said the county will soon have to address roof leaks in a number of county buildings, including the administrative building, the Hi-Tec Center, the probation department and the airport.
Wilkin said the 46th annual Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon for the benefit of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults will be held March 28 at the NCB main office in Hillsboro.
The board issued a reminder that the regular commissioners meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 4, will instead be held Thursday, April 5 at 8:30 a.m.
The commissioners also approved routine financial resolutions.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.