Making good on a promise the Highland County Board of Commissioners announced a little over two months ago, Julie Bolender was introduced Wednesday as the county’s new economic development director.
Bolender, the current president of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce and a resident of Greenfield, said she counted it an honor to have been given the position, with commission chair Jeff Duncan saying she had deep roots in Highland County.
“I’m a graduate of Hillsboro High School, and my parents are John and Kay Rittenhouse,” Bolender said. “They’re still living on the farm that I was raised on, and I married a McClain graduate, which doesn’t happen very often. We are here, our kids are here, and my parents are still here, and my husband’s mother still lives in Greenfield.”
Leesburg Mayor Shawn Priest pointed out that Bolender’s grandfather was the funeral home director of Patterson Funeral Home in her village for several years.
Priest joined Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott, Highland County Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Wheeler, Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin and Greenfield Village Council Chair Phil Clyburn in welcoming Bolender to the position, which she said came with some challenges.
“What we’re facing right now is a lack of a qualified, capable, and at this time, a willing workforce,” she said. “Workforce development goes hand in hand with economic development, and we’re going to be looking at how we can prepare our residents to have employable skills. When we have a solid work force, that makes Highland County more attractive to industry coming into the county. We’re all in the same boat, and when we all row together, we’re going to be able to do great things for Highland County.”
Bolender will start her new duties on Thursday, May 20. Her office will be located in the Highland County Historical Society’s Scott House in Hillsboro.
Commissioner David Daniels said the review process is continuing for the updates to the county sewage use ordinances, with the hope a final document could be submitted in the next two weeks.
“We’d like to have it available on our website for people to see and understand what the new regulations are,” Daniels said. “There’s not a lot of changes, but the changes that were made are significant.”
He indicated that the financial aspects of the system along with penalties for not following regulations were the biggest changes being made to the ordinance, which he said had not been updated since 1996.
“This not only deals with the Rocky Fork sewer system, but also all of the sewer systems that Highland County operates,” he said. “This is a one blanket sewer-use rules that deals with all the systems that we have.”
Tara Campbell, deputy director of the Highland County Community Action Agency and in charge of recycling, brought commissioners up to date on recycling efforts her office spearheads.
She said that Khloe Welling, a fifth-grader from Fairfield Elementary School, was the winner of the Fifth Grade Billboard Contest recently held throughout the solid waste district.
Her award-winning artwork is on display on a billboard two miles northwest of Hillsboro on S.R. 73, and Campbell said it reflects her desire at enhancing educational efforts concerning recycling in the local schools.
“Right now, we don’t have any recycling education in the schools here in Highland County,” she said. “I think putting together a curriculum and putting it into the fifth-grade rotation, and including it in the billboard contest will get something a little more structured in the schools.”
Campbell said that two students at McClain High School headed up efforts at placing recycling containers throughout the school, and that the school was recently been awarded a $5,000 grant from the solid waste district.
“Both are juniors, so their goal is to expand that program next year through the school district,” she said.
Campbell said she was the recent guest speaker at the Hillsboro Women’s Club and the New Vienna Lion’s Club, and spoke about the county recycling program, the location of the bins throughout the county and upcoming events.
She said that two back-to-back recycling events are coming up in September.
On Sept. 18 at the Ross County Fairgrounds, the solid waste district will hold a household/hazardous disposal day from 8 a.m. to noon. It will be limited to residents in Ross, Pickaway, Fayette and Highland counties, and is intended for disposal of any type of household chemicals, in addition to old gasoline or kerosene.
The annual tire and electronic recycling event is scheduled for Sept. 25 from 8 a.m. to noon in the Highland County Community Action parking lot at the North High Business Center.
Also Wednesday, vice chair Terry Britton said that the county received notification Tuesday concerning federal COVID-19 recovery funding, and that the commissioners will be working to see “what direction we’re going to go.”
“It is pretty much limited right now as far as what we can use the funds for, so we’ll be working on that in the near future,” he said.
In other matters, a trio of revised and line item budget resolutions were approved along with four contracts.
One of the contracts approved the hiring of former Lawrence County Job & Family Services Director Donald Myers as interim director of the Highland County JFS post, effective from May 17 through July 16.
“This contract would be for him to come and help us through this transition,” Duncan said. “He would be able to go to work next Monday, and be with us for 60 days which would help us get to the new director’s position, and then stay on long enough to help him get his feet on the ground.”
He said Myers’ presence will allow for a smooth transition until Jeremy Ratcliff assumes the position as HCJFS director on June 14.
Another contract dealt with formally accepting a bid submitted by Miller-Mason Paving for the 2021 Highland County Chip Seal Program.
Two others were between the village of Greenfield and Distel Construction, Inc. having to do with a change order of $800.91 and a second pay request, both of which were related to the community development block grant administered by the commissioners office.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.