Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barerra informed county commissioners at their bi-weekly Wednesday meeting that his office will discontinue it’s K-9 program immediately, citing workforce constraints and the growing expense of training not only an officer, but also a dog.
“Sgt. Craig Seaman was our K-9 handler for the last 11 years,” he said. “He approached me before the recertification deadline of Jan. 8 to disband our K-9 unit because of the stress and wear and tear on both him and our dog, D’Jango.”
Seaman and D’Jango began as an active duty K-9 team in October of 2014, Barrera said, and were employed in tracking suspects 38 times, 21 subject apprehensions and 24 drug finds, in addition to public relations work visiting schools and local organizations.
“The K-9 program is demanding and expensive,” Barrera said. “Craig has to work with his dog constantly, not only training on the job, but also training at home, and it takes it toll on both of them.”
Barrera said the sheriff’s office could receive assistance in the event it needs a K-9 from the Hillsboro Police Department, Greenfield Police Department or Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Commissioner Gary Abernathy expressed appreciation to Seaman, acknowleging “it’s a tremendous amount of work to keep up the training and having a high energy dog 24 hours a day seven days a week.”
Seaman told The Times-Gazette it was his idea to end the program due to the lack of training hours being made available due to his other duties as a supervisor and road patrol officer with the sheriff’s office.
“The training hours just weren’t there to maintain proficiency,” he said, “and it came down to my decision to retire the dog and end the K-9 unit.”
He said that typically a service dog in the K-9 program has an operational lifetime of about eight years, and at six years of age, D’Jango could have performed two or more years service depending on health and circumstances faced in the line of duty.
The relationship between he and D’ Jango is “tight,” Seaman said, especially when riding in a police cruiser together eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week.
In retirement, D’Jango is getting a good home, since Seaman said that under the Ohio Revised Code, he is able to adopt his partner as part of the family for the grand total of $1.
“He’s sitting pretty now, he’s got the easy life,” Seaman said.
In other matters, Nancy Stranahan of the Arc of Appalachia briefed commissioners on the organization’s activities in 2018 and plans for the new year, including additions to it’s March 8, 2019 Clean Ohio Grant proposal.
In that proposal, the organization wants to add roughly 4.5 acres of vacant land on Browning Road along the Rocky Fork Creek corridor in Paint Township in Highland County to its other holdings.
She also informed commissioners that a property earlier involved in the grant proposal, Gods County II on SR 753, had recently sold to a private investor and that they would continue in their negotiations to acquire the property from the new owner.
Also Wednesday, commissioners affixed their signatures to three contracts.
One was a subordination agreement between commissioners and Cecil and Maria Burns, owners of property on Pin Hook Road in the Fort Hill State Memorial area.
The remaining two contracts were a satisfaction of mortgage between the county and Babington LLC for installation of sewers, while the other was a contract between the Highland County Engineer’s Office and MasterMind LLC for guardrail inspection studies and location inventory.
Commisioners also approved 11 resolutions, seven of which were line item transfers within the county budget.
Two of them were blanket resolutions covering the cost of travel for necessary meetings for County Recorder Chad McConnaughey and County Engineer P. Dean Otworth.
The remaining two resolutions authorized Otworth to establish alternative schedules of vacation leave and holidays for appointing authority employees, while the other gave him the power to use existing county employees through “force account” in road construction and improvement projects in the coming year.
According to businessdictionary.com, “force account” is a business term for contracted construction work paid for on the basis of actual time taken and materials consumed.
Commissioners then went into recess pending the arrival of Highland County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Kevin Greer, who had requested a meeting with the board regarding intended repairs to the courthouse.
Commissioner Jeff Duncan, chairman of the board, said the recess was to accommodate Greer’s busy schedule, and also commended him for “stepping up to make these repairs out of funds through his office.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.