An information technology upgrade costing nearly $412,000 was approved Wednesday by the Highland County Board of Commissioners, with sheriff Donnie Barrera and chief deputy Brandon Stratton telling the commissioners the last software upgrade was installed 24 years ago.
“Our last upgrade was in 1996, and this upgrade will allow us to go mobile,” Barrera said. “This would put us up to where the majority of the sheriff’s offices in the state of Ohio are at right now.”
Funding for the upgrade would come from the S-22 Coronavirus Relief Fund, with commission president Jeff Duncan saying it would qualify since it falls under the guidelines of providing less direct personal contact with the public, and with the officer filling out reports in his patrol vehicle rather than coming into the office.
Stratton elaborated that going mobile meant there would be a computer in every deputy’s car so the officer would have all necessary information at hand in the field, and would also allow the citizens of Highland County to contact the office online.
“Right now, we handle somewhere around 40,000 calls each year, and take upwards of 3,000 reports,” Stratton said. “This would allow officers to basically sit in the car and do reports there rather than having to come back to the office each time.”
He said that by upgrading, the office would also be able to share information with other counties such as Fayette and Ross while the officer is in the field.
The current system in use at the sheriff’s office can no longer be upgraded, he said, and a “band-aid” approach has had to be used to keep it operational.
“The issue with that is that in 2021 the state of Ohio is going to have a lot of changes,” Stratton said. “There are changes coming for law enforcement and the way we report things to the state, and without this upgrade I’m not sure how we’re going to be able to give them all that data.”
He noted that at present, the sheriff’s office employs different programs for day-to-day operations, and the proposed upgrade would combine and streamline them into one operating program.
The five-member COVID-funding review board, which consists of the three Highland County commissioners, prosecutor Anneka Collins and auditor Bill Fawley, approved the $411,920 funding request.
Commissioners also approved a telephone system upgrade proposal from Greystone Systems, Inc. for the sheriff’s office at a purchase price of $24,850.
Barrera said the upgrade would help with 9-1-1 coordination and compatibility enhancements that are expected in November.
Commissioner Terry Britton said that the preliminary non-automotive sales tax receipts for July in Highland County reflected a 20-percent increase, with Duncan calling it good news for the county.
Figures provided by the Ohio Department of Taxation showed an increase in receipts from $430,930 to $515,248.
Abernathy said he met with representatives involved with the proposed Marching Mothers monument bench that was approved for installation on the courthouse square.
“It’ll be placed near where the large Civil War monument is now, and the smaller monuments will be moved,” Abernathy said. “A new retaining wall similar to one around the fountain will be set on that corner to match and be a bookend, and the Marching Mothers monument bench will be sat there facing High Street.”
He said it would be a great tribute to a very important event in Hillsboro history, with construction beginning on the new retaining wall in the spring of 2021, and the monument bench scheduled to be placed in early October.
“Our thanks to the Bagshaw family for taking care of the other side of courthouse square to make it symmetrical and make everything look good,” Duncan said. “Mayor Justin Harsha and Harsha Monuments is donating the monument bench, putting in the footer and the whole deal.”
• Three line item budget resolutions were approved, along with a resolution authorizing Duncan to participate in the Ohio Public Works Commission State Capitol Improvement and Local Transportation Improvement Program, and a resolution that authorized the sale of unneeded or obsolete property of less than $2,500 in value to those officers deemed qualified by the sheriff.
• A sales and service agreement was entered into with Canon on behalf of the Clerk of Courts office for upgrading the office’s copier.
• It was approved to allow the Ohio Emergency Management Agency to use warehouse space at the North High Business Center for storage of surplus personal protective equipment. Duncan said the Ohio EMA would need the storage space through the end of 2021.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.