More than a half a million dollars have been recommended for projects in Highland County through Ohio’s 2017 Capital Budget Bill, including funding for a pedestrian walkway connecting uptown Hillsboro with Southern State Community College, assistance for KAMP Dovetail, and upgrades for the historic Scott House in Hillsboro.
The announcement was made on Tuesday, according to Highland County Commission Board President Shane Wilkin at Wednesday’s commission board meeting. The items are subject to approval by the state legislature when it considers the budget bill, but their inclusion at this stage is usually an indication of final support.
Wilkin said the recommended projects included $200,000 to the city of Hillsboro for the construction of a pathway to Southern State Community College, $150,000 for KAMP Dovetail, $110,000 for the William Scott House, $35,000 for signage at the end of Carl Smith/Hobart Drive, and $25,000 for a parking lot lighting project at the Hi-Tech Center.
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings said Wednesday he was happy that the sidewalk project is on track to become a reality.
“The fact that we have not had sidewalks on our main streets for decades has always been a concern to me,” he said. “We’ve essentially had a man-made foot path. This is good for safety, which is important. It’s not a sexy infrastructure project, but when it’s done people will wonder how we ever went without it.”
Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin said, “We are very thankful and fortunate to have been awarded $200,000. (State Senator) Bob Peterson and (House Speaker) Cliff Rosenberger both played vital roles in helping Hillsboro receive this gracious gift, and for that I want to thank them.”
Wilkin said city officials began exploring the project nearly three years ago, “and this is another piece of the financial aspect of making Hillsboro more walkable. The project will help connect our residential neighborhoods with our business corridor. We hope to never again see a wheelchair on North High Street as all of our citizens will now be able to commute on a sidewalk.”
A pedestrian bridge was recently put into place along North High Street near Taco Bell in anticipation of the sidewalk project being completed.
Linda Allen, executive director of SATH, which operates KAMP Dovetail, said Wednesday, that the $150,000 for the camp will be used for upgrading the nurse’s station, building a laundry facility and for more storage.
Allen praised Rosenberger for his ongoing support of KAMP Dovetail, saying, “If not for him this wouldn’t happen. He supports us so much.”
KAMP Dovetail has made several improvements in recent years, and the funds recommended this week will add to those achievements. Two years ago, the camp at Rocky Fork Lake built a new shower house that provided eight handicap accessible showers and restrooms, something Allen said took eight years to get funded.
Commissioner Tom Horst said the funding for the Scott House will be used for maintenance and repairs of the historic structure, which is now owned by the Highland County Historical Society.
Horst said commissioners were “very pleased” with the awards made to Highland County. He said the county still has funds from the last award that are slated to be applied to improvements to the county courthouse.
In addition to the projects within Highland County, Shane Wilkin said Clinton County received funding through the Capital Budget for a MARCS communications tower placement near Highland County which will also serve Highland County, he said.
The state’s Capital Budget is enacted each even-numbered year, according to the Office of Budget and Management website, and focuses funding on education, supporting local infrastructure and state agencies’ critical infrastructure needs, as well as community projects. More than $2.6 billion was appropriated for Capital Budget improvements across the state for fiscal years 2017-2018.
In other business, commissioners briefly discussed a policy regarding the use of naloxone by the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, though no details of the policy were divulged.
According to Horst, the Highland County Health Department has procured grant money for the purchase of naloxone for law enforcement agencies in the county, but policies by each agency need to be adopted before officers can use the opiate antidote drug.
Health department director Jared Warner said the grant is for $1,800 and will purchase between 18 and 20 naloxone kits through the state, with each kit containing two doses of the drug. The kits will be available to any interested law enforcement agency in Highland County, he said. And once the health department has its policy in place, Warner said, training with the interested agencies will begin.
The policy for the sheriff’s office is to be reviewed by the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office, and then revisited at next week’s meeting.
Barrere Street in New Market Township is scheduled to be viewed on May 11 at 9 a.m. by commissioners and Highland County Engineer Dean Otworth in preparation for the street to be vacated. A public hearing will follow at 10 a.m. on that day in the office of the Highland County Board of Commissioners.
The commission board meets each Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. on the second floor of the county administration building at 119 Governor Foraker Pl. in Hillsboro.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd. Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.