LOGAN — The Hocking County Commissioners are running fast to keep up with a lot of new initiatives and public demands. At the Thursday meeting, they heard, discussed and acted on a wide variety of topics.
From the continuation of the Hocking County Dog Shelter reorganization process, to a report of increased businesses, to adding two new positions, to a levy request from Hocking County Board of Developmental Disabilities (HCBDD), to a presentation on the Union Furnace Sewer Facility Project, they had a full agenda and a room full of people.
The meeting started with Belinda Moder, a concerned citizen, who was on the agenda with the intent to get questions answered and rumors confirmed or dispelled about the changes that have taken place since February at the Dog Shelter.
General business covered the number of county lodging, businesses and new businesses. There are 295 units of lodging, 289 businesses and three new businesses reported in May.
Information about the demands of the current county custodial position was shared. With the increased cleaning responsibilities in all of the buildings, one full-time person is not able to cover, according to Commissioner Sandra Ogle.
The Commissioners decided to approve a job posting for a part-time, 20-hour a week, custodial position.
They also discussed the four sewer projects that are currently in process throughout the area: Rockbridge, Union Furnace, Murray City and Enterprise.
An additional position was approved to be advertised as full-time with the responsibility of assisting with all of these sewer projects.
Both positions are being advertised through Job and Family Services and are open to the public.
The HCBDD Superintendent, Jill Squires, presented budget information to justify their request for a levy to be placed on the fall ballot. No action was taken by the Commissioners, but they heard the details from Squires.
The proposed 1.5 mill tax would go to the general operating fund and would bring in an additional $100 on a $100,000 house. Within the past year, there have been state funding cuts that have and will continue to negatively impact the services being provided. Drastic cuts in staffing and programs will take place if a levy does not get on the ballot and be passed.
The first public hearing took place on the Union Furnace Sewer Facilities project. A report provided to the Commissioners by Gary Silcott, Principal of Stantec Consulting Services, explained the national objectives of the grant providing the funding, the program types and guidelines, the details about the Union Furnace Sewer System, as well as the timeframe for the application submittal.
About $600,000 is needed for the project with $500,000 coming from the grant and $100,000 from the residents.
There will be 89 families along state Route 328 as well as along some side streets who will benefit from the system. An evening meeting will be held in September or October at the Union Furnace Elementary School to share more details and answer residents’ questions.
Residents in attendance at the meeting from Union Furnace were asked by Commissioner Waugh what the general attitude of those living there is.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of input. Like this meeting today, it was only at the Post Office. Like the meetings at the school in the past. A lot of people were there through word of mouth,” replied a resident.
The meeting ended with public comment. The conversation veered back to the dog shelter.
Greg Howe, describing himself as “a tax payer,” asked about how the Commissioners will oversee the Humane Society.
Ogle replied that a monthly report, like the others presented at their meetings, will be requested and read every month.
During public comment, Major Caleb Moritz representative of the Sheriff’s Office, volunteered to oversee a rehab effort for the current shelter to be able to be used as a temporary holding location for dogs picked up by the Sheriff’s department.
Moritz explained that there are times when they may need to have a temporary location if the dogs can’t be taken to the Humane Society for a number of unexpected reasons, like overcrowding or middle of the night drop offs.
Also during public comment, public participant William Kaeppner addressed the crowd about how he’s been attending as many Commissioners’ meetings as possible since 1994 and his “disgust” for the way the Commissioners have been treated on social media and in the meetings, during all of the dog shelter issues.
Kaeppner pointed out twice that he feels like the concerned group for the dogs is trying to get the Commissioners to “hurry up and do something.”
Details shared by all of the Commissioners in several previous meetings show that they are working through a process that has several small steps that have already been taken since the issues were brought to their attention in February. Minutes and action taken also reflects their future intentions to evaluate and plan over the next 18 months with the partners who they are working alongside, The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, The Hocking County Humane Society, The Hocking County Prosecutor’s Office, and concerned citizens.
Hocking County Prosecutor, Benjamin Fickel, spoke near the end of the session to more specifically explain why the dog shelter efforts have to be done a certain way.
Potential volunteers and donors are being directed to the Sheriff’s Office during the next 18 months while the reorganization process takes place.
Much conversation took place throughout the entire meeting about being cautious with funding. Before the meeting adjourned, President Sandra Ogle, confirmed that the two new positions (custodial and sewer) being added will come from the general operating fund.
Major Moritz confirmed that the new Dog Warden’s position is not an addition to the Sheriff’s Office budget, rather it was worked into their current budget.
“That’s a key phrase. ‘It’s a start,’” Commissioner Gary Waugh said emphatically.
Throughout the meeting he also pleaded with those concerned, “Just let us do it, please.”
The next Hocking County Commissioner’s meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. at the Hocking County Courthouse.