Commissioners name acting JFS director

Wilkin elected OVRDC chairman

By Angela Shepherd - [email protected]

Katie Adams on Wednesday was named acting director of Job and Family Services until the current director returns from a leave of absence.

The motion made during Wednesday’s meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners was carried without opposition.

Adams was hired as deputy director of JFS in November due to the impending retirement of current JFS Executive Director Deborah Robbins.

Commissioners have worked with Robbins and Adams to reduce costs at JFS associated with kids in foster care. Last year the county had to pay out about $1 million for those costs, due to the number of children in foster care and the lack of foster homes locally, because children often must go to foster homes outside the county, some as far away as northern Ohio.

Another cost-cutting measure was seen to on Wednesday following an executive session. According to information provided by commission board president Shane Wilkin after the meeting, “in order to provide a more efficient and economical operation” an in-house attorney position at JFS is to be no more. Instead, the agency will contract those duties with the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office.

In other business, commissioner Jeff Duncan announced that Wilkin was recently elected chairman of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC). Wilkin previously served as vice-chair.

The OVRDC coordinates federal, state and local resources encouraging development in the 12-county southern Ohio region it represents.

On another matter, Duncan reported that Clay Township has submitted a request for additional funds to assist in the cleanup of trash from a property previously deemed a public nuisance. Wilkin said the township has already received $5,000 toward the clean-up of more than 1,500 tires on the property. He said the township can apply for up to $5,000 more, as per the newly adopted recycling policy in regard to grant money annually available through the county’s solid waste district.

Clay Township would have to match any funds provided by the county through the recycling grant, as would any other township receiving money for an eligible project.

Wilkin said the township could formally apply for the funds, and if no other township applies for funds by the July 1 deadline, then Clay would be able to apply for more assistance.

In other business, after reviewing qualifications submitted by three companies for energy-saving improvements, commissioners on Wednesday chose to go with Plug Smart, an Ohio-based energy services company.

Duncan said that the company will look at all the county buildings and come back to commissioners with a plan to employ energy-saving, and therefore cost-saving, improvements. Wilkin previously said what it boils down to is that the savings that are had due to the improvements would pay for the improvements themselves. And if those savings don’t happen, the company that did the improvements would pay for what the savings would have been.

Duncan said it was important to commissioners to be able to use as many local contractors as possible, and that was something that could be accomplished with the company the board chose.

Duncan also reported that a dog wash station at the Highland County Dog Pound is installed and operational. He said an anonymous individual donated the funds for the wash station and Hedges Supply donated the plumbing and fixtures.

Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley reported the permissive sales tax receipts total for January as $640,112. The money is from sales taxes collected in the county in a given month. The money is received by the county monthly and goes to the county’s general fund.

Meetings of the Highland County Board of Commissioners typically begin at 8:30 a.m. each Wednesday, but the April 6 meeting will be at 10 a.m., and the April 13 meeting will begin at 11:30 a.m. The meetings are open to the public.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.
Wilkin elected OVRDC chairman

By Angela Shepherd

[email protected]