Describing the current emergency 9-1-1 system as “old and outdated,” Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera told the Highland County commissioners Wednesday that 9-1-1 coordinator Scott Miller and Emergency Management Director David Bushelman were in the final stages of applying for a grant to upgrade the system.
He said the cost of the upgrade was in the neighborhood of $167,000.
“It is a reimbursement grant,” Bushelman said. “It’s a 60/40, so the county would have to pay all of the bill up front and then get reimbursed 60 percent, so that would leave the 40 percent from county funds wherever they come from of $67,019.53.”
Miller said the upgrades to the current system would put it NexGen compliant with state requirements, and would add additional features not available with the system the county currently uses.
“You’ll be able to go text to 9-1-1,” he said. “Another feature is the Rapid SOS clearing house, a built-in program that assists GPS coordinating for cell phones, and another feature called CLQ, which is caller location query, and that will allow us to send a link via text message to a person’s cell phone that they can click on and it’ll come back to us with a location.”
He said the grant to acquire equipment from Central Square Technologies will go through the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and would require a letter of support from the commissioners before the end of the year.
The last upgrade to the county 9-1-1 system was in 2015, Barrera said.
In other news, the leadership team from FRS Transportation briefed commissioners on the progress being made in bringing rural transit to Highland County.
Roger Cheesbro, CEO of FRS Transportation and Family Recovery Services, Transportation Director Damon Lucas and Highland County Mobility Manager Joe Adray, said the purpose of their appearance was to express appreciation for assisting them in securing grant funding for the service, now slated to debut Monday, March 2, 2020.
“The commissioners have been involved in the transportation expansion in Highland County since 2001,” Cheesbro said. “They were instrumental in helping FRS Transportation get that first grant of $60,000 to get the project off the ground, and we’re well on our way now of bringing public transportation to Highland County.”
He said they received approximately $1.1 million in grant funding from the state, most of which will go to operational funding and the purchase of vehicles.
“That gives us enough time to do all the legwork since we did the presentation for ODOT for the grant,” he said. “We’ll be working with stakeholders in the community to establish routes in Hillsboro proper and in Greenfield proper.”
He said that in addition to those routes, there will be a connector route between Hillsboro and Greenfield and that issues concerning costs, timelines and frequencies still need to be worked out.
Allowing people with health conditions to remain in their own home was the goal of Highland District Hospital’s Home Care program, according to Hazel Smith, the program manager.
“The goal is to keep the people in their homes as long as they’re safe, and get them well so they don’t have to go back into the hospital,” she said.
Smith and several members of her home health care team, in addition to hospital president and CEO Randy Lennartz, were on hand to receive two proclamations from commissioners, one designating the week of Nov. 8-14 as Home Health Care Aid Week, and another calling for the month of November to be observed as Home Care Month.
She said that Home Health Services of Highland District Hospital has been recognized as among the HomeCare Elite, a list of the top-performing home health care agencies, of which she said her department was in the top 25 percent nationwide.
Commissioners issued another proclamation on behalf of the Highland County Homeless Shelter in observance of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Nov. 16-24.
Executive Director Greg Hawkins told commissioners the local shelter is a 28-bed facility that was nearly full due to the onset of cold weather, and that it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, offering its clients safe, temporary shelter for up to 90 days.
Duncan, in reading the proclamation, noted that there were many reasons for hunger, homelessness and the shortage of affordable housing for low-income residents nationwide and in Highland County.
Abernathy reported that Virginia Purdy and Sue Smith agreed to co-chair the countywide efforts in the upcoming 2020 census, and emphasized how important it is for everyone to participate in the once-per-decade canvassing.
“The fact is it benefits us to count every person in the county,” he said. “This is where funding is determined, and the federal and state funding is dependent upon us to find out how many people we’re serving.”
Several other topics brought up for discussion.
It was decided that Britton would replace Abernathy on the Highland County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), saying it would be more beneficial for the county to have a commissioner “who was going to be here for a while” to sit on the CIC board. Abernathy recently announced his decision to not run for re-election next year.
In a progress report on ongoing repairs and upgrades at the Highland County Dog Pound, Abernathy said he requested a list from volunteers of what they felt were needed repairs, and publicly thanked John Russell for his work on gate repairs at no cost to the county.
Also Wednesday, commissioners decided to upgrade the insurance coverage on the Highland County Courthouse, which Duncan pointed out is the oldest courthouse in continuous use in Ohio.
The current policy calls for replacement of any damages to the courthouse in the event of fire or natural disaster, and they agreed to upgrade it to a reproduction policy, which would enable repairs to be made to reproduce the original state of the building to the extent that modern materials will allow.
Britton said the upgrade from replacement to reproduction would cost an additional $1,768 annually.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.