Sen. Rob Portman’s three-day tour of educational and business interests in southern Ohio necessitated the Highland County commissioners to change their normal meeting schedule to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday since all three we part of his roundtable discussion on jobs and jobs growth earlier in the day at the Southern State Community College Central Campus in Hillsboro.
Commissioners Gary Abernathy, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton joined members of the Hillsboro business community and the Highland County Chamber of Commerce in dialogue concerning Portman’s JOBS Act, a component of which is to make high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs more affordable by expanding access to Pell Grants for low-income students.
Britton said the commissioners have been invited by the White House to take part in discussions concerning infrastructure, energy and deregulation in the form of a conference call scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 21.
He also said they had been invited to go the White House as part of a delegation that includes county elected officials from Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio for State Leadership Day on Oct. 3.
“Jeff, Shane (Wilkin) and I attended this two years ago,” Britton said. “We’re not sure if we’re going to go this time or not, but it was definitely a worthwhile trip that we made last time.”
Good news was received on two economic fronts, with Duncan reporting that not only were tax receipts up nearly $18,000 from this time last year, but Muirfield Energy, which he said does the “energy shopping” for the county, had submitted a three-year contract that could save the county almost $2 million in energy costs.
Enhancing health care for county employees, which Abernathy said took a hit with the closure of DHL nearly a decade ago, again became a foreground issue with commissioners moving to add a vision option to county employees’ health insurance coverage.
“It would be a 50/50 type situation where the county would pay 50 percent of the vision,” Duncan said. “The employee would pay the remaining 50 percent, and we’re also going to add a $15,000 life insurance policy to that.”
Abernathy said that benefits have become an increasingly important subject when dealing with both current and potential employees, adding that in some cases it is even more important than salary.
“I’m really thrilled that we’re in a position that’s better, and we’re able to now offer the vision insurance and the life insurance that will allow a county employee to purchase additional life insurance if they want,” he said. “I think we’re all three very happy that we can start to build our benefits package up a little bit.”
In other matters, commissioners approved a total of 16 resolutions, two of which were for the county engineer for truck acquisitions, five related to Highland County Job and Family Services, with the remainder being line-item budget transfers.
One contract was approved with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in regard to a subsidy grant agreement for justice reinvestment and incentive funding.
Also Wednesday, commissioners issued a proclamation on behalf of the Hillsboro Towne Club, which was founded in the summer of 1938 by a group of young women for the mutual improvement of its members intellectually and socially.
Duncan noted in the proclamation that over the years the club has supported many causes, such as the fight against polio, the school milk fund, the American Red Cross, Buckeye Girls State, the Heart Fund, Girl Scouts, Children Services and others.
Commissioners then went into executive session to meet with legal representatives from Clemans-Nelson regarding personnel matters.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.