Highland County Commissioner Gary Abernathy said the Department of Justice has asked for clarification on line items in the proposed budget for an embattled federal economic development grant for the Rocky Fork Lake area, but there appears to be progress.
“Tuesday afternoon, our clerk Nicole Oberrecht was on a call with the DOJ,” he said, “and in going over some things in the budget, their comment was the items ‘weren’t major’ and they were overall happy with the budget in general.”
Abernathy said federal officials still have questions that commissioners will need to answer and explain, and that the grant process “continues to be worked on.”
Commissioners are still waiting to see if their request for a 24-month extension for the grant will be approved by the division of the DOJ that awarded the grant, replacing a 12-month extension already in place since late September.
The $843,000 grant, known as the Rocky Fork Lake Area Safety and Advancement Project, is designed to combat crime, eliminate residential home blight and boost economic development in the lake region.
In other business, Commissioner Jeff Duncan gave an update on the acquisition and delivery of new cars to Highland County Job and Family Services, calling the purchase a “cost-saving measure.”
Earlier in the summer, JFS began examining mileage costs and determined it would be more cost effective to lease vehicles for county use rather than reimburse employees for using private vehicles, Duncan said.
“In 2017, we paid out $73,434 in mileage reimbursement,” JFS Director Katie Adams said. “In calendar year 2018, we are set to match and probably surpass that figure.”
She said her office has children placed all over the state of Ohio with caseworkers going in different directions, using their own personal cars to transport clients and children.
“We ran the numbers on what we’re doing now compared to what the costs would be in leasing a fleet of vehicles,” she said, “and the short answer is, it’s a $17,000 savings to the agency per year.”
Also Wednesday, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner updated commissioners on an uptick in HIV cases in nearby areas. Warner said his department is working with local health care providers on keeping an outbreak from occurring.
Duncan congratulated area FFA chapters that participated in the National FFA Convention that ended over the weekend in Indianapolis, Ind.
“Students here in the county received their American FFA degrees and that’s quite an accomplishment,” he said. “Agriculture is a big part of our local economy, and it’s to be commended for what the local schools do with their FFA programs and their students.”
Commissioners also approved routine financial resolutions before recessing to allow Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley time to finalize a wire transfer to the United Kingdom.
“Children’s Services was processing a payment to Birmingham, England,” he said, “and we found last week that one of the routing numbers that the bank over there provided to us wasn’t a working number, but the problem was rectified and we were to complete the transfer of funds.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.