Highland County Health Department Commissioner Jared Warner appeared before the county commissioners Wednesday to update them on the county’s current COVID-19 status, and to witness their approval of a resolution to begin the process of placing a renewal levy for the Highland County Health District on the November ballot.
“This is a renewal of what was passed in 2000,” Warner stressed. “It is not a tax increase.”
The proposed o.5 mill tax levy would generate $241,720 annually over a span of five years. Warner said the passage of a similar levy in March brought funding for the health district up from 1988 levels to the present day, and that he hoped voters would do the same with the next levy.
“Levy funding overall provides 50 percent of the health department’s funding,” he said. “And we’re looking to keep that 2000 levy as a renewal and keep that same funding that we’ve had for nearly two decades now.”
Warner briefed commissioners on Highland County’s current status during the pandemic, stating that the county had a total of 38 lab-confirmed cases, in addition to nine probable, for a total of 47 cases.
Of those 47 cases, Warner said 34 had recovered, one had died and one was currently hospitalized, with 12 that were “actively sick.”
“I think it’s interesting to note that we haven’t seen the number of increases that Hamilton or Warren counties have seen,” Warner said. “But, we have essentially doubled our numbers on the quarantine side of things from two weeks ago.”
He said at that time there were 13 individuals in quarantine, where on Wednesday morning the count stood at 32.
“The state is rolling out their statewide prevalence survey, and I believe the postcards are already in the mail,” Warner said. “They’re randomly selecting 12,000 households throughout the state of Ohio and from that will be selected 1,200 for PCR (polymerise chain reaction) and antibody testing to give us an idea on where overall prevalence levels are.”
He emphasized that if any Highland County residents receive a postcard in the mail that it isn’t a scam, but an ongoing legitimate state health program.
“On July 14, we’ll have the Ohio National Guard in town doing testing at our nursing homes,” Warner said. “It doesn’t require us to do anything, but they did let us know they’ll be doing testing on staff at these facilities, and they offer the option to test residents as well.”
To reassure the community, he said the military personnel will be dressed in hospital scrubs instead of the usual battle dress uniform.
There were also discussions for the development of regional rapid response testing teams, he said, to deal with any large clusters of COVID-19 that may surface at businesses, nursing homes or schools.
Guidelines for reopening the schools in the fall were to go out to the county school districts later Wednesday, Warner said, with a conference call scheduled for Tuesday, July 7, in addition to ongoing discussions with the Highland County Fair Board on holding a full fair in September.
Commissioner Jeff Duncan said that a little more than $1 million in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funding had been received, with more than $500,000 earmarked for the county and the remainder dispersed to villages, townships and the city of Hillsboro.
“It was better than we anticipated,” Duncan said. “We thought maybe if we got a half-million dollars countywide we’d be fine.”
Jared Wren with Hecate Energy briefed commissioners on the progress of construction of the solar panel electrical generating facilities being planned for southern Highland County between Buford and just north of Mowrystown.
“We’re moving forward with the major items on the 300-megawatt project associated with the Ohio Power Siting Board certificate,” Wren said. “Some of those include maintenance plans, complaint resolution processes, emergency response, and other major preconstruction items like the road use maintenance agreement that we need to comply with to move everything forward.”
He said that the company plans to begin construction on the 300-megawatt project during the third quarter of 2021 and said the delay was brought about by pandemic-caused supply chain interruptions.
Also Wednesday, a proclamation was issued by commissioners saluting Edward Lee McClain Day in Greenfield, which will be held on July 19 as an annual celebration of the life and legacy of the philanthropist whose school complex bears his name.
“You often hear it takes a village to raise a child,” Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin said. “Edward Lee McClain had that vision, and he built this school to raise up generations of leaders, and it truly is the heart of the community.”
In other matters, five line item budget resolutions were approved, in addition to the resolution on behalf of the health district’s proposed renewal levy.
Britton encouraged everyone to complete their 2020 Census form if they hadn’t done so already, and said that according to the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission, Highland County had a 61.5 percent response rate.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.