The Highland County commissioners formally extended their state of emergency declaration Wednesday due to the COVID-19 pandemic that was scheduled to expire Friday, April 17.
The new emergency declaration will now extend through Sunday, May 17.
As previously reported in The Times-Gazette, the measure was described as a formality that opens up avenues for supplies and reimbursements.
Highland County Emergency Management Agency Director David Bushelman said previously that state of emergency declarations were more for the benefit of jurisdictions like Highland County to help the procurement process, and loosened restrictions imposed by minority buying and bidding mandates.
“Director Bushelman is recommending that we extend it an additional 30 days to get us past some of the dates that the state has currently laid out for us,” commission president Jeff Duncan said. “That hopefully will cover us until we get to the point where we start opening things back up.”
He said that though the county was still in what he called “lock-down mode,” county business was still being conducted despite some having to work remotely from home, and some offices utilizing minimal personnel with rotating staff.
“As we’ve been talking about in the last few meetings, if you have county business to be done, you might want to make a phone call first,” Duncan said.
Also under discussion Wednesday was replacement of the large heating and cooling unit that services the kitchen area of the Highland County Justice Center, which Duncan said was “near the end of its life span.”
Britton indicated that of the four bids that were submitted to replace the unit, Weller’s Plumbing & Heating supplied the lowest bid, and commissioners moved to accept their proposal that totaled $75,210.
Duncan said he felt that several capital improvement projects that were planned for the county throughout the summer should be delayed due questionable revenue caused by the pandemic, but that the justice center HVAC unit replacement should be moved to the forefront.
“Of all the projects that we have on the table for this year, this one is probably number one priority wise,” commissioner Terry Britton said. “I know I’ve been harping on this for the last few weeks, but this lock down is going to create a financial impact on everybody in the county, and that’s something that we’re going to have get into and try to figure out.”
He said it was concerning when looking at the cutbacks neighboring counties were being forced to make due to a loss of tax revenues related to Gov. DeWine’s stay-at-home order.
In other matters, a single resolution was approved directing an additional appropriation for Highland County Common Pleas Court.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.