The Highland County commissioners heard Wednesday from Mark Lucas, local spokesman for Ohio Stands United, who encouraged them to proclaim Highland County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.
In his presentation, Lucas described his request that commissioners pass a resolution declaring Highland County a sanctuary county for gun rights and ownership as “largely a symbolic gesture.”
“Ohio Stands United is a statewide, grass roots group of citizens who are looking to get each county in the state to stand in support of our Second Amendment rights,” Lucas said.
He said that as of Tuesday, commissioners in Clermont, Pike, Scioto, Vinton, Jackson, Lawrence and Meigs counties had passed resolutions declaring them Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties.
The most recent county to take a supportive stand was Pike, which did so Monday, while Highland’s neighbor to the west, Clermont, joined the group’s ranks on Jan. 13.
“What the resolution is, it’s stating that as a county we will support the constitution,” Lucas said. “And like I said, we recognize that it is mainly a symbolic gesture on the part of these counties.”
Information available from the Ohio Stands United website said that hundreds of counties nationwide have declared themselves sanctuaries over the past two years in an effort to push back against anti-gun legislators who have advocated gun-control measures in the wake of recent high-profile mass shootings.
In the past few weeks, the group added, dozens of counties and cities in the state of Virginia have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in response to that state’s proposals for new restrictions on firearms.
In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine has proposed legislation in the wake of the mass shooting that happened in Dayton on Aug. 4.
The acronym “STRONG” comes from the elements of his proposal, which are Safety protection orders, Thorough background checks, Rigorous due process, On-going help to those in crisis, New state background checks, and Greater penalties for gun crimes.
The STRONG Ohio plan is designed to address gun violence that includes longer prison sentences on repeat violent offenders who have guns, allowing authorities to have the ability to involuntarily commit people and seize their guns if it’s determined they pose a threat of violence due to mental illness or addiction, and also allows sellers to conduct voluntary criminal background checks before selling someone a firearm in a private transaction.
Duncan said the commissioners have been closely following sanctuary county reports and had received correspondence regarding the group in recent weeks.
“Upon visiting with the prosecutor and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, you know that we cannot legislate any laws of any kind,” Duncan said. “We reached out to the County Commissioners Association to see what their position was, and they told us at this time they don’t have a position.”
Also Wednesday, sealed bids for three different concrete box culverts were opened for county engineer Chris Fauber’s review and recommendations.
The bids submitted were for two structures measuring a span of 14 feet, a rise of seven feet and a length of 60 feet; and a third with a 12 foot span, five foot rise and a length of 54 feet.
The four companies that tendered bids, according to Fauber, could submit one bid where the company would install the project along with a second, alternate bid, where they would provide only the box culvert for county installation.
A pair of issues were discussed during Wednesdays meeting, one a continuing update of a policy memo of rules and regulations for private parties using the conference room of the Hi-Tech Center, and the other a clarification of recent state regulations regarding salary schedules for elected county officials.
“It was quite confusing, and counties all over the state had been trying to figure out when raises were supposed to kick in,” Abernathy said. “Typically, elected officials can’t get a raise during their term in office, but in some of the legislation it appears that they can, and the budget that we passed had four or five instances of salaries that weren’t exactly right due to the confusion.”
The officials affected by the confusion, and whose salaries have now been rectified, were Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera, auditor Bill Fawley, Fauber, prosecutor Anneka Collins and commission president Jeff Duncan.
“It was confusing especially with the prosecutor’s and sheriff’s salaries,” Fawley said. “It was spelled out in one place where they got a raise each year, but in another part of the code it said there would be no raises during their term in office, but they’ve been fixed now.”
In other matters, three resolutions and six contracts were approved by commissioners.
One of the resolutions was a budget transfer, another was for the awarding of a reinforced concrete storm sewer pipe bid to Forterra Pipe & Precast, and the other authorized the purchase of two cruisers for the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.
Four of the six contracts that were accepted as submitted included indigent defense services with the village of Greenfield, county mileage certification for 2019 with the engineer’s office, professional consulting services through Maximus Consulting and Advising Services, and a contract with Highland County Community Action Organization for a home improvement program.
Commissioners also executed an additional pair of contracts on behalf of the county engineer, one for the purchase of a Leeboy asphalt track paver from the McLean Co. and the other from Southeastern Equipment Co. for a Kobelco final excavator.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.